Marvel Dice Masters: Uncanny X-Men Starter Set Review
Making its debut in 2014, the Dice Masters series of games won me over in a huge way with Marvel Dice Masters: Avengers vs. X-Men. Once I got a hang of it, I found the game to be fast and entertaining while keeping the spirit of the characters intact through their card abilities and generally-excellent dice designs. It also didn’t hurt that the game is generally sold at a very attractive price point. That said, I also had a few problems with the terrible paper bags that are used to contain dice and the fact that only one playmat came with the game as a centrefold in the manual.
Next in the lineup is Marvel Dice Masters: Uncanny X-Men. Fully compatible with all Dice Masters games, this starter set has the same general pros and cons of the original, including those crappy bags and only one playmat in the middle of the manual. The key difference is that the game comes with a new set of basic action cards, character cards and character dice.
Uncanny X-Men comes with 10 new basic action cards that any player can draw from. They don’t make the Avengers vs. X-Men cards obsolete, though they add a number of new options to the gameplay. Some of the standouts include Imprisoned, which lets you capture your opponent’s die or dice until you hit your opponent, and Transfer Power, which gives you the opportunity to field a die from your used pile for free. Veterans of the game will appreciate the ways in which they spice things up and complement the basic cards you already have.
Like Avengers vs. X-Men before it, this also comes with 8 characters that are represented with two dice and three cards per character. Since the focus here is on X-Men, you’ll get 8 X-Men characters in the set. Included here are Angel, Cyclops, Iceman, Juggernaut, Kitty Pryde, Magneto, Quicksilver and Wolverine. No offense to the Avengers vs. X-Men lineup of Beast, Captain America, Hulk, Human Torch, Iron Man, Storm, Spider-Man and Thor, but I prefer the Uncanny X-Men lineup.
All of the cards feature quality art, and the dice are of the same level. In cases where an Avengers vs. X-Men version of that character exists, they share the same iconography and stats, but feature different colours and dice treatments. I like the distinction, as it gives people a reason to continue collecting for characters they already have. It might break consistency, but I personally wouldn’t stop you from using two different dice designs for the same character in the game.
As for what these characters can do, you’re getting another great batch of abilities that make sense with the characters they’re paired with. Two of the biggest mechanical additions are the inclusion of blank cards and the Heroic keyword. Blank cards have no inherent special abilities, though they generally give you access to character cards and dice at a cheap price. Wolverine, Angel and Cyclops also have cards with the Heroic keyword on them, which means that if they’re played alongside of another Heroic die, they gain some sort of benefit that wouldn’t have been possible if they were played separately.
Playmat (pictured above) not included
Though it’s not listed in the rules, if you have at least two Dice Masters starter sets, you can now play this as a 2v2 game. I like the game as a 1v1 battle, though the game’s inability to support four players made it impractical at most of my game nights. Now that official rules exist for team battles, this one will be much easier to get into the rotation.
For newcomers, casual players or those who actively partake in the competitive scene, the Marvel Dice Masters: Uncanny X-Men starter set is a great addition to your collection. You still get the same awesome gameplay and even better characters than the original. If you’re nutty about the series like me, you’ll probably want both, anyway. If you’re new to the scene, don’t lose any sleep over Avengers vs. X-Men and grab this one instead.