- For ages 8 and up
- For 2 to 4 players
- Approximately 30 minutes to complete
- Active Listening & Communication
- Counting & Math
- Logical & Critical Decision Making
- Pattern/Color Matching
- Strategy & Tactics
- Risk vs. Reward
- Cooperative & Team Play
- Hand/Resource Management
- Child – Easy
- Adult – Easy
Theme & Narrative:
- Take on the role of a powerful Marvel Hero and do battle!
- Gamer Geek approved!
- Parent Geek approved!
- Child Geek approved!
We live in a golden age of comic book heroes! There are movies and TV shows, cartoons and comic books, video games, and board games available to us to dive deeper into our superhero love. The Dice Throne line of games makes its debut entry into the exciting world of Marvel heroes by pitting four well-known characters into a battle royal. While each is a powerhouse on their own, able to tackle most foes easily, it’s a different outcome each time these superheroes (and villains) combat one another. If anything is certain, nothing is certain until the very last dice is rolled.
Marvel Dice Throne: Scarlet Witch v. Thor v. Loki v. Spider-Man, designed by Gavan Brown, Nate Chatellier, Manny Trembley and published by The Op (USAopoly), comes with four superheroes that can battle each other, team up, or take on other characters in the Dice Throne universe. The component quality is excellent, with thick cardboard throughout, standard card quality, and easy-to-read text. Each character also comes with its own game tray, making it easy to store and quickly get to your table for some dice-rolling action. Finally, the illustrations and graphic design by Damien Mammoliti, and Manny Trembley is bright, colorful, and stylized.
Getting Suited Up
To set up the game, complete the following steps.
First, give each player the game tray with the superhero character of their choice. In this game, there are four to choose from, and each, while no more powerful than the other, does play slightly differently based on the superhero’s superpowers and thematic gimmicks within the rules, making them unique to play. This is to say that no one character in the game has an insurmountable advantage or weakness to exploit. But it should be noted that each character has its type of complexity which, as far as I can tell, is how one should judge the level of dice manipulation in the game needed to fully utilize the powers of each superhero.
The superhero character includes the following notable names:
- Scarlet Witch, a powerful wielder of chaos magic (complexity rating of four out of five)
- Thor, the god of lightning and tackling challenges with brute force (complexity rating of three out of five)
- Spider-Man, a web-slinging do-gooder (complexity rating of two out of five)
- Loki, the god of mischief and illusions (complexity rating of four out of five)
Second, have each player empty their game tray. The Hero board should be unfolded and placed in front of the owning player. The Hero board contains all the information the player needs to quickly understand how their superhero does super things. Each player should take a moment to review it before continuing.
Third, read the Hero leaflet that contains additional information on the Hero. After reading the side that summarizes the character, set it down next to the Hero board. Place on the Hero leaflet any of the character’s tokens. It should also be noted that some Heroes will require additional steps to set up the game beyond what is noted here. These will be detailed in the Hero leaflet.
Fourth, take the Health dial and set it to the starting health value. The starting health value is based on the type of game to be played. For example, if playing a “One versus One,” each player would set their Health dial value to “50”, while in a three-player game, each player would set their Health dial value to “35”. Place the Health dial next to the Hero board.
Fifth, take the Combat Points dial and set its starting value to “2”. Place the Combat Points dial next to the Hero board. Place the dice next to the Hero board, as well.
Sixth, take the Hero cards and shuffle. Place the deck face-down next to the Hero board. Draw the first four cards to create the player’s starting hand.
That’s it for game setup. Have each player roll one die. The player with the highest value goes first and is referred to as the “Starting Player”. Re-roll if there is a tie.
Marvel Dice Throne is played in turns with no set number of turns per game. Each player’s turn is summarized here and is broken down into phases. Progress through the phases sequentially, starting with upkeep and ending with discarding cards.
There are some cards that can be played during only certain phases or anytime during the game. These cards are listed as such.
During this phase, the player reviews their Hero to determine if they have any Status Effects or Abilities that can or should be activated and resolved. If there are multiple effects and abilities, the player may resolve them in their chosen order. When calculating damage and healing, these values and results are applied simultaneously, thematically speaking, and are resolved at the end of this phase.
At the start of the game, most Heroes will not have much to do during this phase. As the game progresses and the player improves their Hero, there will be more to think about and tinker with.
This phase is skipped by the Starting Player on their first turn.
During this phase, the player will increase their Combat Point value by one unless their Combat Point values are already at their maximum (in which case, ignore this update).
The player will also draw one card from their Hero deck, adding it to their hand. If the player’s draw deck is ever depleted and they need to draw a card, take the discard pile, shuffle it, and place it face-down to create the new Hero draw deck.
Main Phase (Part One)
The player may complete any of the following options during this phase as often as they like and in any order that makes sense to them.
Sell Any Card
The player may select any one card currently in their hand and place it in their discard pile. They then increase their Combat Points value by using the Combat Points dial. Cards used in this way are never resolved for their effect.
Play Main Phase Action Cards
Main Phase cards list a value next to a star and an “M” icon. The value is the amount of Combat Points spent to play the card. If the player doesn’t have the needed points, they cannot play the card.
The player may select one card from their hand, place it in front of them, pay the Combat Points cost by adjusting their Combat Points dial, and then resolve the card’s effects later on their turn. Once resolved, the card is placed in the player’s discard pile.
Play Hero Upgrade Cards
Ability cards list a value next to an arrow pointing up icon. The value is the amount of Combat Points spent to play the card. If the player doesn’t have the needed points, they cannot play the card.
The player may select one card from their hand and then place it in the matching space on their Hero board, overlaying the previous text.
All abilities to be upgraded fall into one of three categories. These are “offensive,” “defensive,” and “passive.” Each ability also has three levels of improvement. The first is “Level One,” which all Heros start with. There is also a “Level Two” and “Level Three”. The amount the player pays for the upgrade is based on the current and new levels of the ability. A player can immediately level ability to its maximum if they have the Combat Points (Level One to Level Three). However, if the player is leveling from Level Two to Level Three, they only pay the difference between the two.
Offensive Roll Phase
This phase is all about rolling those dice and determining what to do with what Lady Luck (and randomness) has provided. The Offensive Roll phase is completed by following a small number of sequential steps.
- Roll all the player’s dice up to three times. The first roll should include all of the player’s available dice. The second and third rolls are optional. The player selects the dice used in the second and third roll, allowing them to set aside any dice that have the value they need.
- Announce how the dice will be used. The player now uses the dice values rolled to “power” an offensive ability. They tell how they plan to use it and describe the effects. Of course, the player also has the ability to not do anything at all with the dice values rolled. Any player may elect to play a “Roll Phase Action” card if applicable during this time.
- Adjust the dice as needed based on dice manipulation. After announcing what the dice will be used for, the player’s target and teammates can alter the dice values rolled. This might change how the dice are used, requiring the player to announce a different offensive ability. It could also allow the player to re-roll a number of dice.
- Activate the offensive ability. After all the dice are set, the player announces the offensive ability and pays for it using the required dice. Some offensive abilities have variable effects with additional steps. Resolve any effects that do not require a target.
Targeting Roll Phase
This phase is all about resolving what was selected as the offensive ability during the previous phase! Players will complete the target roll phase using sequential steps like the previous phase.
- Roll one die. The die value may be manipulated with cards unless the ability used is an “ultimate”.
- The die roll determines who is the target of the offensive ability.
- A die roll of one or two targets the opponent to the player’s left.
- A die roll of three or four targets the opponent to the player’s right.
- A die roll of five allows the player’s opponent to select which of the player’s opponents is the target.
- A die roll of six allows the player to choose any opponent to be the target.
Defensive Roll Phase
Now that the ability has been selected and the target hit, the player who was the recipient of the attack has an opportunity to block, dodge, and avoid the attack. Of course, this phase is only needed if a player is the target of offensive ability. Like the previous phases before this one, it’s resolved using sequential steps.
- Resolve any effects from the used offensive ability that does not cause damage.
- If the attack can be defended, the target of the attack may now activate one defensive ability.
- The target of the attack rolls the number of dice indicated by their defensive ability.
- The die results are now resolved, including any non-damage effects.
- All players now have the opportunity to play cards that are allowed during this phase or spend Combat Points on status effects.
- All damage, healing, and prevention of damage are accumulated and applied. The application of these points is considered simultaneous, thematically speaking. Use the Hero’s Health dial to keep track of the fluctuating values. If a Hero’s Health dial ever reaches zero, the Hero (and the player) are out of the game!
Main Phase (Part Two)
This phase is completed in the same manner as the first main phase.
The player must now discard down to six cards in their hand. If they have more than six, they sell any number of cards from their hand for Combat Points until they have no more than six cards.
This concludes the player’s turn! The next player in the turn order sequence now takes their turn, starting with the upkeep phase.
Going Beyond the Basics
The previously summarized player’s turn boils down the actions to their most immediate and actionable steps. There is, of course, much more to it than what I am suggesting. As the game progresses, the player’s Hero has more abilities to activate, more ways to manipulate dice, and might even have a companion alongside them that has their own rules. For example, Thor’s companion is his hammer.
There are also several rules we will not go into detail about. These include status effects, stack limits, interruptions, and the many ways cards are resolved. In all cases, we found that the rules provided with the game did an outstanding job of explaining and walking the reader through how they are resolved and used.
Winning the Game
The game continues until only one team, or player remains, depending on the game mode used. Congratulations! It was a fine battle!
Visit the games’ website to learn more about Marvel Dice Throne: Scarlet Witch v. Thor v. Loki v. Spider-Man, including the other Dice Throne Marvel-themed games.
The Child Geeks eagerly jumped on this game, opening the box and rummaging around in its contents. They knew each of the heroes in the game and immediately started claiming who was their favorite and why. After all that excitement simmered down, we went to teach them the game. None of our Child Geeks had difficulty learning the game, but there was a wide margin for error throughout, which mainly depended on the Child Geeks’ age. Specifically, the younger Child Geeks will need some handholding, but nothing more than gentle reminders of how to resolve the next step. In all cases, the Child Geeks played the game with ease. According to one Child Geek, “This game reminds me of role-playing games. I roll the dice, decide who I want to attack, and hit them hard! I really liked it!” Another Child Geek said, “My favorite part was upgrading my hero to make them super strong and then crushing my dad. I think it’s funny when he fake cries when my hero wins, and he loses the game.” When the last hero fell, the Child Geeks announced that Marvel Dice Throne was victorious!
The Parent Geeks enjoyed themselves, finding the game engaging, easy to follow, and a good mix of surprises. As one Parent Geek put it, “The game is great. You know what you want to do and roll those dice in hopes you can get it done. Teamwork is important here as you’ll need to assist your friends to get the dice they need. I found the game enjoyable throughout and would gladly play it again.” Another Parent Geek said, “A lot of fun. I’ve heard about the Dice Throne games for a while and always thought it was just a Yahtzee variant. While it’s true, you roll dice to get certain sets, that’s where any similarities end. This game was a real joy.” When the last dice were rolled and the effects resolved, the Parent Geeks determined that Marvel Dice Throne was a true winner.
The Gamer Geeks had all played the Dice Throne games before and threw the game on the table with reckless abandon. As expected, those Gamer Geeks who liked Marvel immediately showed the game love, while the others approached the game with the same sort of healthy skepticism that I have come to expect from our elitist crowd. Games were swift and brutal, with the Gamer Geeks demonstrating that the dice may control options, but the true gamer understands that the cards rule the day. According to one Game Geek, “Anyone who tells you this game is too random hasn’t taken the time to look through the cards. This is where players get to flex their strategy and tactics. The dice will define your limitations, but the cards define how those limitations are overcome and used. I’ve played these games for a long time, and this new version introduces more Dice Throne goodness with a healthy dose of Marvel awesomeness.” Another Gamer Geek said, “I was certain that this was going to be a vanilla version of Dice Throne with Marvel superheroes pasted on like so much ugly wallpaper. I was wrong. Each character brings a unique approach without being overpowered or underwhelming. I’ve played all four, and my favorite was Loki, mostly because of the manipulation and fun of really getting into the game’s mechanics. I want this game.” The Gamer Geeks cheered in excitement for Marvel Dice Throne when all the votes were in.
What a treat this game was to play with our groups! Each game was full of twists, turns, nail-biting moments, and surprises. Each game was different and kept our players leaning forward and engaged with the game from the start to the end. There is just something about dice rolling and bouncing on the table that makes everyone open their eyes wide and hold their breath for the result when the dice come to a stop. That was what every turn felt like, regardless if it was a turn I was actively participating in or not. I looked forward to the outcome, no matter who was hit, healed, or ignored.
There is a difference in the Heroes. I still believe that none of them are more potent than the others, but there is most certainly a level of play that each provides that is different. Make no mistake, however, that each Hero will make you think, but some give the player more paths to traverse, and with more options come more considerations. Take that into account when playing the game, as you’ll want to give the more complex Heroes to players who enjoy digging into games and the less complex Heroes to casual players. Honestly, this boxed set included someone for everyone.
Do play this new version of Dice Throne when the opportunity arises! Whether you are a Dice Throne fanatic or new to the game, Marvel Dice Throne is worth sitting down for and playing.
This game was given to Father Geek as a review copy. Father Geek was not paid, bribed, wined, dined, or threatened in vain hopes of influencing this review. Such is the statuesque and legendary integrity of Father Geek.