When it comes to movies and games, Superheroes are one of my biggest likes for a theme. My favourite game, Sentinels of the Multiverse is a pure superhero co-op and I watch nearly all of the superhero movies that come out, both from Marvel and DC alike. That being said, I’m definitely more of a Marvel fan boy, I like the characters more, the teams work better and when it comes to the movies, Marvel puts out better stories. No flame wars please, this is just my opinion, but you got to admit, DC movies have been suffering a bit in recent years with the odd exception. The Dark Knight Rises I swear has more plot holes than there are minutes in the movie!
Marvel Legendary is another co-op I really enjoy, again because I get to play with all my Marvel greats in one game. However, the theme in that game can sometimes feel a little abstracted with the deck-building mechanic, especially when other players are buying heroes that you’re also using. And when it comes to theme, the less said about the DC Deck Building Game the better.
Custom dice are also a big hit for me in games, giving you that cool tactile response as well as something pretty to look at and hold. So now we have a combination of both, with superheroes and custom dice galore in a quick 2 player game. Other non-superhero sets exist, and even though the focus here is on Justice League, I will be covering Dice Masters as a whole as well.
Designer: Eric Lang
# of Players: 2
Play Time: 30+ Minutes
BGG Rank/Rating: 1536 / 6.08
Dice Masters does something unique, in that it manages to achieve both extremes with regards to the component quality. Taking the good side first, we have loads and loads of lovely custom dice, all unique to each character in the set with custom faces all over and a cool symbol to distinguish one from the other. Naturally these had to be the best part otherwise the game would be dead on arrival.
In the middle ground we have the cards, detailing very cool artwork of all the characters as well as the possible faces on the dice, but being stored very badly in booster packs, to which you need an iron on standby to flatten them out after opening the pack up. The cards and dice are loose in each pack – meaning that the cards are easily bent in transport.
And then in the other extreme we have the bags and mats. The mat is very basic fold up plastic and I swear the last time I saw bags like these was on a Ryanair flight to the Alps, used more appropriately for when you’re air sick. When you’re in game putting your hand in the bag, you almost expect to be pulling out a handful of sweets from the Pick ‘n’ Mix stand rather than cool shiny dice. It is however pretty commonplace now for players to substitute alternative bags or obtain custom mat images from BGG and print their own on neoprene material.
Face Smashing With Your Favourite Team
The rules for playing Justice League Dice Masters are the same as with all the other sets, albeit with occasional alternative keyword mechanics on some of the cards. For this reason all sets in the Dice Masters franchise are fully compatible and you can go mad with creating all sorts of weird teams. For me however I’m a bit of a purist so I’m sticking to superheroes/villains only.
To begin with, you only have your basic 8 dice consisting of sidekicks, also known as the red shirts, considered as cannon fodder that gets knocked out frequently. You also choose a team of heroes and/or villains that you can recruit later. As well as die faces that depict the character’s stats from fielding costs to attack and defence values, each die also has energy symbols. If you can roll enough of them, allow you to purchase additional dice from your chosen team of heroes and villains.
As the game progresses you will gather dice from your powerful fighters and battle your opponents dice. Special action dice can also be purchased which are special abilities that both players can use, again if you roll them. Any unblocked attacks will hurt your opponent directly and drain his life. The simple way to victory is to take your opponent’s life down to zero.
The appeal of Dice Masters is in the combinations of characters and abilities that are available to you. Not just in your chosen team but in the set in general. The variety is endless and even though you have to accept that there is an element of luck (duh, we’re rolling dice here), there is also a good level of tactical depth as you decide on the best way to utilise the dice you rolled or which new ones to purchase in the game. You might really want to fight alongside Superman, but circumstances might favour adding Wonder Woooomaaaannn!! Sorry I find it incredibly difficult to say or write her name without linking it to her theme song.
Despite the tactical level shown here, Dice Masters is still a relatively simple game to play, however you may end up checking FAQ’s every now and again for clarifications with all of the abilities being chucked about the place. No different from any other trading card game though really and in casual play you’ll just come up with your own house rule anyway.
Am I Fighting With Superheroes Or Little Cubes?
As cool as it is to have your own personal team, the theme isn’t dripping from this game as you play it. But that’s not to say it’s not strong. The abilities and statistics of the dice and cards do tend to match up with the heroes in general. Superman is naturally very strong in his stats, Batman is full of tricks with the special action dice and Wonder Woooommaaannnnnn (damn it!) bolsters your sidekicks to a formidable fighting force.
The affiliations that the characters adhere to are also in line with the comic book universe. Of course utilising heroes from the same group will work nicely, particularly in the case of the Justice League and the Legion of Doom. Whether you opt for mixing everyone up or fielding a team solely from the Justice League is up to you entirely.
But even though you’re rolling dice at the end of the day, you can’t help but be sucked in to the fight itself, especially when your favourite characters from the movies are duking it out. In the Marvel sets I love fielding an Avengers team and I cannot wait for Age of Ultron, so that I can field a S.H.I.E.L.D based team led by Phil Coulson. It’s all well and good having Nick Fury in your bag, but you know deep down you’re gearing to purchase that first 7 cost Hulk die to lay the smack down with.
A little imagination is required to picture the fights occurring, but then isn’t that a common thing that superhero geeks like to do? Come up with matchups that haven’t been shown before? Like I said, the theme isn’t dripping from this game, but if you’re doubting how strong it can be, ask yourself this. Would you be remotely interested in this game if I replaced superheroes with medieval knights and squires?
The Richard Garfield Effect
The above named effect is in homage to his incredible success with Magic the Gathering and Android Netrunner, both great games though I only play the latter now. I attribute this to the inherent willpower test that occurs with all collectible games, which is the desire to own everything in the set or at least obtain the super powerful cards that sell for silly amounts of money online. It’s a problem with collectible games that puts a lot of people off and with good reason. After all, unless it’s a game you’re going to play often or you’re a collector by nature you don’t want to put a game over your financial commitments.
With Dice Masters it comes down to whether you will care about tournaments or not. It is definitely evident that in tournament play, the super rare cards are commonly (oh the irony of that statement) used and have a powerful edge over others. Not always, but certainly enough. But if you’re playing casually or just at your friendly local gaming store, then this game is actually relatively cheap in comparison to get into.
A starter set costs around £12 and it contains enough dice for two players to have some introductory games with some pretty major characters from the theme; plenty of games to get your monies worth and see if you enjoy the game or not. For about £18 you can instead dive a little deeper and get a collector’s starter box which contains trays for storage as well as some booster packs.
Once you’re done with that and fancy some more each booster only costs around £0.80 to £1.00 depending on the supplier and comes with two cards and two dice to match. You can get several boosters for what barely amounts to pocket money these days. Yes you can go nuts and grab an entire gravity feed booster box. . . . . . which suffice to say I’ve done as I’m a bit nuts. . . . . . which will give you more than you need from one set, but you certainly don’t have to. So in essence compared to the likes of Magic the Gathering and even Living Card Games like Android Netrunner, Dice Masters is a very cheap collectible game in comparison.
Dice Masters is a really entertaining game that despite having a collectible nature, isn’t actually that expensive to get into if you aren’t a Completionist. Buy a starter set and some boosters, trade for the characters you like and you’re set for some great games. Some power creep does exist in some of the super rare cards, but if you’re not playing in tournaments, you can completely bypass this issue.
Taking the concept of dice bag building from Quarriors and tweaking it, Dice Masters rewards tactical play even though there is an element of luck as to be expected. The sheer number of combinations of different heroes/villains means that you can always field a fresh team to try something new, allowing for endless re-playability. The dice look great and are a joy to roll and the cards for the most part have some good artwork, but be warned that the conditions will vary when buying boosters and some flattening will be required.
With so many sets out already and more on the horizon, I can only say I personally prefer the Marvel sets to this DC set, purely because I like the Marvel universe more than DC. You may think otherwise or if superheroes aren’t your thing, then you’ve also got Yu-Gi-Oh and D & D Dice Masters to look at as well. Pick a theme you like and have fun with lots of dice!
You Will Like This Game If:
- You have a strong interest in the theme of whichever set you pick.
- You like custom dice and need a quick 2 player duelling game.
- You don’t want to have to splash out as much money as with other CCG’s.
You Will Not Like This Game If:
- You don’t want to spend on boosters with the frequent release schedule.
- You intend to play in tournaments and are concerned about power creep.
- You aren’t interested in any of the themes currently released.
The following two tabs change content below.
I'm known as The Broken Meeple, a blog, podcast and YouTube channel devoted to board and card games. I live in Portsmouth, UK, working as a Chartered Tax Advisor and I enjoy playing games of many genres and varieties with as many people as possible.