Marvel Dice Throne is a standalone expansion to the popular Dice Throne franchise that brings fan favorite Marvel heroes and villains into the fray. Featuring a new spin on the classic Yahtzee formula with some clever card play, Marvel Dice Throne is a back and forth battle of luck and wits. The retail edition of the game was provided to us by the OP Games to review.
The core box of Marvel Dice Throne features Miles Morales Spider-Man, Scarlet Witch, Loki, and Thor; a decent amount of variety in play styles and complexity. This works out great for bringing new people into the game without overwhelming them or having an experienced player easily dominate the game. New players can grab Spider-Man for a straightforward combo hitting play style while a more experienced player could go with Loki or Scarlet Witch, who take more effort and planning to pull off. Playing head to head or in teams, players will take on the persona of their chosen hero and attempt to knock out their opponents.
If you are familiar with the mechanics of Yahtzee then you can go ahead and skip this next paragraph but for the uninitiated I will explain how it works, as it forms the foundation of Dice Throne and the comparisons are unavoidable.
Players in Yahtzee have a pool of 5 standard six sided dice that they can roll up to three times in an attempt to create specific point scoring sets and combinations of dice. Each time the player rolls, they choose to roll as many of the dice as they wish, keeping the results of the ones they don’t want to roll. You then check off the combo you hopefully made on the score sheet and play passes to the next player. If you can’t score anything on your turn, you have to cross out a scoring opportunity of your choice, eliminating those potential points from the game. Once all of the players have either scored or crossed out every box, the game ends and the player with the highest score wins.
So does Marvel Dice Throne innovate on the Yahtzee formula in a way that is compelling and interesting? Yes.
Since you are reading a review, I assume that one word answer probably isn’t good enough for you, so let’s dive a little deeper into what makes Marvel Dice Throne stand out, the things it gets right and maybe, less right.
When you open up Marvel Dice Throne for the first time, you will notice you have custom inserts for each character that contain all of their play materials and keep everything neat and organized. Set up is quick and easy with all of your pieces ready to go out of the insert. Rather than the standard Yahtzee score sheet and plain six sided dice, each character in Marvel Dice Throne features unique abilities, cards, and custom six sided dice. Rather than maximizing a score sheet, dice combos activate character abilities that deal damage. The objective here is to knock your opponent out before they do the same to you.
While the character abilities tend to be mechanically similar for each dice combination, the actual execution of those abilities is thematic to each character, with many including special tokens that have additional triggers or effects that really make each character feel unique and have its own play style. Whether it’s Spider-Man’s web blast tying up the opponent, or Loki’s Illusions, each character has been developed to really feel different.
Besides the shift from points to damage, Marvel Dice Throne gives the player several tools to make each turn feel impactful and fun, even if you were unlucky with the dice. There is always something you can do, even if it’s just a weak basic attack. You won’t burn a whole turn crossing out a score box because of a bad roll or a miscalculation on dice probabilities like you can in Yahtzee. In the extremely unlikely case you don’t roll anything usable, the cards just might save you. Each character has access to a unique set of cards that range from minor boosts to game winning saves and combos. Card abilities include things like choosing your dice faces, forcing rerolls on your opponent, blocking attacks, or even upgrading your abilities. The cards can really make or break your game.
While the cards do fun and interesting things, they are also my biggest gripe with the game. There is a tendency in the modern board game arena to try and eliminate luck from dice rolls. That is ridiculous to me, but it’s definitely a thing that some people look for rather than just… I don’t know… not playing games with dice rolling as a main mechanic. Bad roll? You probably have a card to mitigate that. Your opponent got an awesome roll? You probably have a card to mitigate that. This card manipulation can save you and also generate powerful big hitting turns, but it also drags the game out and can lean towards negatively impacting the fun around the table.
For me, there is no greater sin in board games that use cards than the dreaded “nope, you’re dumb and I cancel your turn card” and yet, everyone feels the need to include their variation of this card in their game.
Having someone erase your turn is not fun. It might be ok in the mindless card based party games that clog the market but has no business in a strategy game or really anything that you may actually become invested in. In Marvel Dice Throne, it looks something like beating the odds of hitting your Ultimate ability (which is a 4.7% chance without card manipulation) and then your opponent plays a card to force you to reroll one or even all of your dice.
You could just choose to play the game without the cards, but they are so heavily integrated into the fabric of the game that you’d be losing part of what makes the game work. I am a competitive gamer and nothing gets my blood pressure up faster than a canceled turn. That may not bother you at all, but it’s something you should be aware of.
As mentioned at the beginning, you can play the game head to head, in teams, or other game modes like King of the Hill. While you CAN do those things, I would just play head to head. If you have a group of four players, then just play two head to head games and swap opponents between games. Team play has further rules on targeting and adds more people to impact dice rolls and just drags on without adding anything to the experience.
Stick to 2 players and do a tournament if you have more players and more sets. I’d even recommend the other Yahtzee killer, King of Tokyo, for larger groups over trying to make Dice Throne work outside of a duel.
The game production is what you would expect from a modern premium board game. The custom dice are the highlight and the rest of the components are nicely manufactured so I would expect them to hold up well. The GameTrayz are excellently done as usual and the artwork is action oriented and brings the theme out easily.
There is plenty to discover with Marvel Dice Throne. Replay ability is high and the core mechanic is familiar and fun. If four characters isn’t enough for you, you can integrate all of the characters into your existing collection if you so choose or expand with more characters in the Marvel line.
Marvel Dice Throne
Marvel Dice Throne does a great job of building on the foundation of Yahtzee while giving you plenty of new toys and mechanics to explore. The characters are unique and the theme comes out easily. As a dice game, there is a large amount of luck as expected, which can be mitigated or further marred by the addition of cards. Overall it’s a fun one that easily finds a place on my shelf.
- Marvel characters fit easily into the system
- Characters all feel unique
- Easy to learn and play
- Card play can be frustrating