Reviews October 3, 2015
DC Comics Dice Masters: War of Light
Reviewed By: Kenneth Seward Jr.
Appropriate Ages: 14+
Average Game: 1hr
Cost: $19.99 (Starter Set)
Competitive board games can be a lot of fun. Whether you’re vying for the best property in Monopoly or foiling the dungeon master’s plans in D&D, besting your friends is part of the magic. Unless you’re playing with a sore loser who “accidently” bumps the table, ruining the game…I hate that guy.
One of the better competitive games I’ve played as of late is the DC Comics Dice Masters: War of Light. Sent over by WizKids, this edition of the popular dice-battling game features over 30 heroes and villains from the DC Universe that have dealt with the Lantern Crop. I’m talking Hal Jordon, Sinestro, Atrocitus, John Stewart and so on. There are even characters who’ve wielded power rings who aren’t apart of a Lantern Corp; like the brief moment that Batman wore a yellow ring. Basically, it tailored to those of us who love DC’s Lantern comics.
For those of you who’ve never played Dice Masters before, let me briefly outline the rules of play. The goal is to attack your opponent(s) with your hero and sidekick dice until their life points are completely depleted. The board is set up with each player’s chosen hero cards, basic action cards, and dice. Each player will get eight multi-imaged die, from which they’ll pull four to be rolled on the game mat (at the start of their turn). Based on what they rolled, they’ll decide what to do next; either spend some dice to buy a hero die, use them to attack their opponent in a later phase, or save them to block their opponent’s assault when it’s their turn.
All purchased dice will be placed to the side to be used in later rolls, so thinking ahead is key. Though, even with the best dice available, the results of a given roll could cost you some points; that Batman die would have been great if it landed on his symbol and not a generic energy image. I could go further into the rules, but I’m afraid my explanations would start to confuse some. What you need to know is that the rules are explained well enough in the included materials – it may take a game or two before you’ll be able to grasp everything, and another game or two before you’re confident enough to play without the rule book.
What I like about Dice Masters is that victory (or defeat) is never certain. A proficient roll of a hero die with the right abilities could turn the tide. On the flipside, having all powerful dice but poor rolls could quickly cost you the game. Most of my wins and losses came down to strategic thinking and a crazy amount of luck. And that was just in a one on one match. I’m sure playing doubles would be insane. The other thing that I like is the collector’s side of things. Like any card building game, players can purchase foil packs containing two random cards and dice to be used in later games. Besides their given attributes, all of the cards are numbered and carry rarity stripes (to let you know how rare the card is). Most of them have different versions that are differentiated by a subtitle. All of them feature great artwork that seems to have been pulled right from their comics.
The only thing I didn’t like was how passive Dice Masters was with using the DC license. Outside of the names and art, there wasn’t anything that set this version apart from other Dice Masters sets I’ve played – the Age of Ultron set is identical. Now I understand why WizKids would make them similar to one another. For one, it makes it easier for players to jump to different sets because the rules would be the same. It also allows players to mix and match cards from different versions to create a mash-up of sorts. That being said, it would have been nice to at least have abilities that represented the characters on the card. Instead of reading “Batman allows you to roll an extra die this turn”, why not word it like “Batman throws a batarang, preventing you from rolling this turn” or something to that effect. As it stands, you could paint anyone on the cards to swap abilities and no one would notice.
One thing I can’t deny is WizKids craftsmanship. Everything from the dice to the player mats* feels…I don’t know, professional? The mats are made from durable neoprene or synthetic rubber, the same type of stuff you’d find in a laptop sleeve. Even after being rolled up for days, it lays nice and flat when you’re ready to play. The cards aren’t so thin that it takes careful handling to avoid tears and the dice images seem resistant to chipping. What makes the quality stand out more is the cheap entry fee. The Starter Set (housing enough cards and dice for two players) is $19.99 and extra foil packs are only $0.99. If you really got into Dice Masters and wanted to go all out, you could buy a collector’s box to store your growing library of cards/dice for $24.99. Ultimately, they sell fun dice-battling games that are well made for a decent price. That’s a win, win, win situation if I ever saw one!
The DC Comics Dice Masters: War of Light is a great addition to the Dice Masters series. And while that’s mostly due to the fact that the base Dice Master game is so good, it’s nice to be able to play as our favorite Lanterns. The price of entry is low and there’s the potential for growth with new editions being released over time; buying foil packs shouldn’t break the bank. I’m certainly looking forward to collecting more heroes and challenging my friends. Except for that one guy who flips out every time he loses. He’s um…a friend of a friend…
*Mats aren’t sold with Starter Sets, costing $19.99 each.