I've a Red Dragon and Black Widow. . . Roll Initiative! - Dungeons & Dragons Dice Masters Starter Review

Coming soon in the pipeline is a review of Dice Masters: Justice League on GamesQuest which gives an overall opinion on Dice Masters in general and a brief look at the cards of Justice League. This is the first of two reviews on The Broken Meeple for the Dungeons and Dragons starter set and the Yu-Gi-Oh starter set. Now I do not have extensive knowledge of the Dice Masters roster of cards so I'm going to focus on the starter sets in general - do they have potential for mixing with other Dice Master genre's and how solid is the set by itself if you're only going to stick to one.

My personal exposure to Dice Masters has so far been solidly with the Marvel sets being a bit of a Marvel movie fan. So I own many cards from the three Marvel sets to date, being AvX, Uncanny X-Men and the newly released Age of Ultron. So naturally you can already tell I enjoy the game, but it does have some issues depending on how much you're going to expose yourself to the tournament scene. I feel the game is best played on a casual basis, but others will no doubt decide for themselves on that front.

Now however we have a new theme which isn't directly related to all the superhero sets. Dungeons and Dragons has entered the scene providing possibilities that will make the mix-aholics among us very cheerful with their first set (of many no doubt) "Battle for Faerûn". This can of course be mixed with previous sets, however could this work just as well by itself?



Designers: - Mike Elliott and Eric Lang (2015)
Publisher: - Wizkids
# of Players: - 2
Ages: 14+
Time: 15-30 Minutes
BGG Rank/Rating: 704 / 7.88


Dice Masters Got A Face Lift!


When looking at the cards up close, I started to wonder whether the license had changed hands or something. For months we had been used to some subjective artwork and the annoyance of having to iron your cards upon receiving them to cope with the bending. But these are in a whole different league and no I don't mean Justice. The cards themselves feel that little bit more sturdy and the artwork is just gorgeous now. Detailed and vibrant pictures of monsters and characters and spells litter the set, especially the dragons which even though an all-dragon deck probably isn't a viable one, it would certainly look good on your play mat. There are even some little touches like gold patterned borders and alignment colour coding that on their own wouldn't be much, but just works when combined with everything else. This is definitely the most visually appealing of all the Dice Master sets to date.



Of course we're still stuck with the paper "sick" bags as standard, but they do their job and every single Dice Master player out there has either substituted a different bag from another game or just acquired their own personal printed bag online (my new ones should be in the post any day now!) Storing the dice in the box is fine, but acquire any further boosters and you're going to need an alternative setup to which I recommend either a hobby case or the Collectors Box which contain dice trays. I went a bit mad and acquired a large wooden dice tray box from a Kickstarter project, but that's me, you don't have to go that far!

Like previous Starter Sets, the box contains everything that 2 players need to get started playing Dice Masters. There are 24 Character Cards (8 characters with 3 different cards each), each with 2 matching dice and 10 Basic Action Cards with 4 sets of 3 coloured dice. There are also the 16 Sidekick Dice, 8 for each player - you know, the annoying little white dice that get in the way of rolling your favourite characters!


D & D Nostalgia


The clue is in the title, this set is focused on Dungeons and Dragons and so you'll get monsters, adventurers (e.g. dwarven cleric), spells and equipment all taken from the D & D universe. If you've ever indulged in the classic roleplaying system, these will become instantly familiar to you and immerse you into the game further. But that being said, if you've ever watched a fantasy movie in your life you'll recognise the themes here. Very few people don't know what elves, orcs, zombies, etc. are and magic spells/weapons aren't exactly a new concept. A few particular monsters will only be familiar to D & D veterans, but it's not going to leave new gamers feeling alienated.


Power To The Meta!


Those who are wanting something new to turn the Dice Master world upside down need look no further. Battle for Faerûn introduces 7 new card abilities though only 4 of these can be found within the Starter Set. Dragons have Breath Weapon attacks that can be used to deal damage to your opponent and all of their creatures. Adventurers gain Experience when they knock out a monster, making them stronger as the game goes on. Trolls can Regenerate (re-roll when knocked out therefore hard to kill), and Vampires can use Energy Drain attacks to spin an engaged character down one level. All of these concepts are taken directly from the roleplay system and tie in thematically.

You can see that on its own, there's a lot of variation in the cards and abilities in this set to make it a solid, limited tournament favourite among many, but if you're one of those that likes to enter the Unlimited tournament scene regularly, you'll want to take a serious look at these cards. High tier mixed decks use a lot of cards from this set, particularly the basic actions from the starter pack (I'm tired of seeing Magic Missile and Polymorph so often)!

But I believe that this set is one that works especially well without mixing. When the Uncanny X-Men set was released, it had some good cards, but didn't feel very different aside from a few new abilities as it was still Marvel. Age of Ultron is similar and even the DC Justice League set is superheros at the end of the day. Dungeons and Dragons is fundamentally different from that genre however making this stand out a lot more from the rest of the pack as truly "stand-alone".


Verdict


It can't be denied that D&D Dice Masters is going to introduce some extremely powerful cards to the Unlimited meta scene. Cards from the starter set alone have become staples in some high tier decks. So if you want to remain competitive in the wide Dice Masters scene, you're certainly going to want to check out this edition.

However even on it's own without mixing this is a very good starter set for introducing yourself to Dice Masters.Fans of anything related to Dungeons and Dragons will find something here to remind themselves of dungeon crawls of old, but even someone completely new to the system won't have trouble understanding the cards if they've seen any movie or read any book even remotely within the fantasy genre.

The artwork and quality of the cards has taken a significant step up from previous sets to the point where you're not even sure it's made by the same publisher. The look is consistently gorgeous and detailed and I have no second thoughts stating that this is easily the most visually appealing set Dice Masters has put out. I'm a bigger fan of Marvel superheroes then I am Dungeons and Dragons, but I still believe as an overall package on its own, that this is the best out of the Dice Masters range to date.

If you are interested in any of the Dice Masters sets click here to find a stockist near you!

http://www.findyourgamestore.co.uk/



You Will Like This Game If:

You enjoy Dice Masters and want to go crazy on mixing genres - some cards here will really power up your teams.

You have an interest in Dungeons and Dragons or even fantasy settings in general.

You want a collectible game that if handled correctly, won't drain your wallet as much as CCG's.


You Will Not Like This Game If:

You own all the superhero sets and have no interest in mixing genres.

You don't intend to expand the game - the starter set is great, but it's only going to last you so long.

You don't want luck to be a heavy influence in your games.

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