Marvel Dice Throne Board Game Review
Updated: Sep 15, 2022
Marvel Dice Throne
WBG Score: 8.5
Player Count: 2-6 (but really 2!)
You’ll like this if you like: Disney Sorcerer's Arena, Dice Throne, Marvel Champions.
Designed by: Gavan Brown, Nate Chatellier, Manny Trembley
Dice Throne first came out in 2018. It was billed as a Yahtzee style fighting game. Pitting warriors from different backgrounds in a fight to the death. Or at least, to the end of your hit points. Death seems a bit much in retrospect. Clever card play was added to the dice chucking fun, and a legendary game was born. I was never that attracted to it as the characters all seemed a little too generic for my liking. But then, after the success of Season one and Season two, kickstarter and franchise money came to play and the Marvel version was made! Thor vs Captain Marvel?! Yes please. Let's get it to the table and see how it plays.
The hardest thing in this game is picking who you want to play as! All the characters are so cool, you will want to try them all! You can randomly determine the characters, but where is the fun in that. Sit there, look through each one, pour over all the cool powers, and agonise over who you want to try first. When that is done, grab a drink, perhaps have a comfort break, then go back and change your mind a few more times, then collect the character you have eventually settled on. Change one more time, then open that characters box of treats.
Each character is set up in their own box, with their player mat, health and combat power dials, cards, and dice all neatly stored, ready for you to play with. Open them all up in front of you, and you are ready to go. The simple accessibility to get this game to the table is one of the huge highlights to this game.
How to Play
On your turn, you will roll all of your dice. You can re-roll as many of them as you like up to three times. Each player has their own special abilities, clearly shown on their player boards. Your aim is to match the dice symbols to one of your powers to enact its abilities. This part is very much like Yahtzee where you are looking for straights or groups of the same symbols.
When you have finished rolling and decided what power you want to use, you then announce the Offensive Ability you have chosen. Your opponent can then try and change your roll with their own powers and cards. If they do, you can then change your attack if required, or use any un-used re-rolls. Once the dust is settled, generally what happens here is your opponent will then roll for their own defense against your attack. Each character has a different type of defence, either blocking some damage or giving damage back. Both players will adjust their health accordingly and then the attacking player does it all again! That's right. You get two attacks per turn!
The game will go like this, back-and-forth until one player looses all their health. There are Upkeep phases where players resolve any effects of status tokens played on them, an Income phase where you increase your Combat Points dial by one and draw one new card into your hand. But the bulk of the game comes with the dice. Roll dice. Choose an attack. Enact damage on your opponent. Great fun!
Despite the dice being the obvious star of the show, it is the clever card play that makes this game for me. You start the game with two Combat Points and get one more each round. These are used to play your cards. Each card needs a certain number of Combat Points in order for you to play it. The cards will allow you to manipulate your or your opponents dice, increase the powers available to you on your player board by upgrading them, and as a way to gain your own Status tokens, taking them from your character sheet, and adding them to your player board for later use.
The status tokens are all unique for each character and offer hugely varying selections of abilities. I am a big fan of Spiderman's ability to create Combo's and essentially have extra turns. That feels great. Loki has suitably tricky powers allowing him to foil his opponents attacks with special cards that only he has access too. And I loved Captain Marvels Cosmic Ray, that allows her to add one dice rolls number from two dice, to any attack. Each power felt suitably thematic and accurate to the characters abilities from the comics and movies we have all loved over the years.
The status effects are all very easily explained and used. Each character has their own character sheet which holds the tokens, and details each one very clearly. Everything about this production screams quality and careful planning.
Is it Fun
Getting Marvel Dice throne to the table is so simple. The game trays are so good and useful for a quick set up and put away. Each character feels very different and it will take a while to learn their own particular strengths and abilities. But the game itself is a breeze to learn and teach. Playing Dice Throne feels fast and fun. Sure, it is often luck based due to the dice, but there are so many options for most dice rolls, and a lot of opportunities to manipulate your luck with your cards and powers. There is a lot more strategy to this game than first meets the eye.
As you play, you will become obsessed with rolling what you need for your Ultimate move. Each player has their own unique special move, activated from rolling five sixes. Which, on its own, sounds hard and rare. But with your re-rolls, dice manipulation, and extra powers, it does happen usually once per game. And when it does, oh goodness does it feel good! You just hope you're the first one to roll it.
Do You Feel Lucky?
There is something magical about dice. Throwing dice. And getting cool things from throwing the right dice feels good. Sure, there is a luck involved, but I think that this is where a lot of the joy comes from. No one would cheer as loudly at a Vegas table if someone won big after clever card play. Watch the Poker finals to prove this. I am not saying it isn't absorbing or fun to watch, I am just saying the cheer from winning big from something luck based like Roulette is often bigger than winning something strategy based like Poker. Why? I think this comes from the instant result. Generally, a good move in a board game comes with careful planning over time. Whereas something good happening to you that is luck based happens in a moment. Flip a card. Push your luck. Roll a dice. As these five dice crash and roll around your table (or dice tray) you will be hoping for some luck. And when it comes in, it feels great! You go from zero to hero in a moment. That quick progression and instant success is a spectacle to watch and experience.
Some games can be ruined by this. If you are working hours with clever strategy only to be blighted at the last moment by another playing getting lucky, that does not feel good for anyone. But when a game is built on this mechanism of luck and dice throwing, this frustration is replaced by joy. It wont be for everyone, but if you want a game that involves a bit of luck from throwing dice, than this could be the one for you. It's not all luck, such as a game like Strike, but you cannot avoid the fact that luck plays a big part.
Each player has access to their own special status powers and cards that can affect your luck, and manipulate your fortune to your advantage. Some characters are trickier than others, but they all take a little bit of working out. And this process of studying your character and developing an understanding as to how best use each one is a real joy to me. There is something to be said about working out the best match ups, although I don't think I am quite there yet. But I am enjoying trying to understand each character more, depending on who I am up against.
This game is bi