Full disclosure: A review copy of Marvel Dice Throne: Captain Marvel v. Black Panther was provided by The Op.
I was originally going to do this in late November, after I got a chance to look at Dice Throne Season 2, but given that I’m going to go see Black Panther: Wakanda Forever on the 12th of November, this seemed like the ideal time to release a review of a Black Panther-themed board game. Partially Black Panther-themed, at least. I’ve been really enjoying the Dice Throne series. There’s a lot of it, granted, but it’s been fun, it works well with other sets, and it’s pretty cohesive in terms of strategy and style. I like it. I’ll get to Season 2 in my own time, but in the meantime, let’s check out the first of the Marvel Dice Throne boxes!
In Marvel Dice Throne: Captain Marvel v. Black Panther, two Marvel heavy-hitters are going one-on-one. Whether it’s Carol Danvers wielding both literal and figurative star power or T’Challa and his vibranium suit, you’re going to have a lot of power at your fingertips and a pretty tough fight ahead of you. They both have different skills and only one of you (maximum) can come out on top; who will win this battle?
Generally speaking, this sets up and plays the same as Dice Throne Season 1, so my review has the full details there. The new thing is the new characters, which have their own effects:
- Captain Marvel is a powerhouse! With cosmic-powered blasts, she can take down just about anyone. Use Cosmic Flare to deal damage every turn, Radiance to add some attack and defense to your defense, or Cosmic Ray to just wipe out your opponent. Carol understands that the best offense is a good offense, but her defense isn’t too shabby either.
- Black Panther may not usually glow, but you should watch out for when he does. Empowered by the Heart-Shaped Herb and his vibranium suit, T’Challa’s focus is quite literally the death by a thousand cuts. His suit can occasionally let him prevent damage, but his primary outlet is that every time he’s hit by anything, his suit stores some of that energy. Once it overloads, it releases it all in a powerful blast that charges him up and deals some pretty good damage. So, ideally, you wouldn’t hit Black Panther at all, but that’s not really this kind of game.
Player Count Differences
Dice Throne, generally, can be played with more than two players. See my original review for more information on that. For this particular iteration, however, since there are only two characters in the box, it only plays with two players.
- Black Panther charges up when taking any damage, so taking small amounts of damage every turn is great for him. Your goal should be to try and get Vibranium Suit as often as you can, so that you can consistently minimize the damage you’re taking. It might take a few rounds for players to notice that you gain Kinetic Energy any time you take damage, so they may do small hits to you early in the game that can convert back to Kinetic Energy. That’s pretty good! Encourage that. If they end up warding off and trying to do other things, that’s fine. If you take damage on a Defensive Roll? That’s Kinetic Energy. Damage from the Upkeep Phase? Kinetic Energy. Keep in mind that you can get those pretty much whenever, so try to find ways to take small amounts of damage all the time.
- Especially when fighting Black Panther, Captain Marvel should save up and deal heavy damage all at once. Black Panther’s energy absorption is bad news for small-scale damage; as mentioned, every time he takes any damage of any sort he adds a Kinetic energy token. That means, every eight times he gets hit by anything you do, he’ll blast you back. And he hits back hard! Instead, focus on getting Cosmic Ray upgrades so that you can charge up big hits; he has no ability to prevent damage on Defensive Rolls (though Vibranium Suit and some cards will prevent damage), so if you can roll big, you can take a big chunk out of his health.
- For Black Panther, going after the upgrade that reduces the Kinetic Energy stack limit to 7 is always a good idea. This is particularly clutch. Some cards will have you spend Kinetic Energy, but lowering the stack limit to 7 as a Passive Upgrade means you can usually pop off a couple more Kinetic Energy blasts over the course of a game. And those blasts give you CP, let you draw cards, and they do damage to your opponent; it’s pretty much the best of everything! So make sure you do that as much as you can.
- Upgrading your moves is generally pretty good. For Black Panther, they’ll sometimes grant additional Kinetic Energy; for Captain Marvel, they may grant other status effects or increase the raw damage output of her moves, which is also great. I just generally recommend looking after which moves you can upgrade and how much power you can squeeze out of them.
- As always, do what you can to prevent another player’s Ultimate. Make your opponent reroll dice, try to change the values, whatever. You pretty much never want to get hit by an Ultimate, especially because you not only take a big chunk of damage, but you also have to then deal with your opponent essentially maxing out their status effects. It’s almost never worth it, so try to prevent it before it happens. You can’t do much once it does.
- If I’m going for a straight, I try to get 3 / 4 and reroll my 6s and 1s to get 2s and 5s. This is just a general strategy, but the straight can go multiple ways. Any straight has to have a 3 and a 4, so why not roll the other dice and hope that I can get the right numbers in my favor? There’s probably some better probability math to that, but it mostly works out. Plus, plenty of characters have abilities that activate with a bunch of 3s and 4s, so even if I miss out on a straight, I can usually fire off something else pretty good.
Pros, Mehs, and Cons
- These are two Marvel characters that I do like quite a bit. It’s a good two-pack! Granted, the debate of “can Captain Marvel beat Black Panther” is outside of the scope of this review, but I enjoy both characters and was excited to see them together in a set. I think all the core sets were built pretty well for this kind of thing.
- I think that the abilities work really well with both characters! The characters’ abilities make sense with their characters and the comic book lore, which is nice. I appreciate how authentic the characters always feel in Dice Throne; it speaks to an impressive amount of design work, which I respect.
- It’s nice to have a smaller-box version of the Dice Throne line, just so I can maybe take my two favorites with me rather than schlepping around the entire Season 1 / Season 2 chest. I haven’t decided on my favorites yet (and would probably need to pivot to video to do that in any useful way), but I like that I now have a two-pack, a four-pack, and an eight-pack for me to carry and accessorize once I finally go through all of those motions. Ideally, by then, I’ll have played or played against every character anyways, so I should have a pretty good sense of it all.
- The cards and boards have some nice art on them as well! Especially for the Marvel stuff, I like how they went for an original design rather than just trying to emulate the MCU versions of all the characters. It’s tough because there’s a real temptation to do that, but the art style here is so comic book-esque that it really works well. I also really like the color work and the art on the cards. It all looks great.
- I like that the trays are really built for generic Dice Throne characters, so they work with everyone. It’s just a nice touch. GameTrayz always makes such nice stuff.
- Still plays pretty quickly. I’m pretty sure all games take about the same amount of time unless you’re breaking out a six-player free-for-all or something that I don’t even think is allowed, but it always impresses me that no matter the character, Dice Throne is pretty well time-boxed. Like I said, it all feels well-designed.
- I am both pleased and impressed that this version of Dice Throne integrates with the others. I’m going to keep being pleased and impressed about that, to be honest. At a certain level it’s like Super Smash Brothers; I understand that work is done to balance every character against every other character, but I’m sure there are still unfavorable matchups (and I’ve seen Smash Tier Lists to that effect). The nice thing is that I imagine that at the level I’m currently playing Dice Throne, if a similar tier list exists, it probably doesn’t affect me at all. Even having the various boxes be able to play against each other is a pretty impressive design feat.
- I’m always impressed at how balanced Dice Throne feels; it really feels like the right player can win with any character against any other character, depending on how the cards and dice play out. This set in particular feels that way; my games have been close but satisfying and consistently interesting every time. It’s not so close that it feels like the outcome is random, but it is close enough to stay exciting every time, which is a good feeling!
- This is mostly me being taxing, but I do miss the kind of swirled translucent dice that are in the other Dice Throne games. The solid colors are fine, but the swirled colors looked really good. I assume there’s a cost reason for this, but I do miss the fancy dice from Dice Throne Season 1. On the plus side, they’re still etched, which looks nice.
- I’m a bit amused that Captain Marvel’s Cosmic Flare is a real liability against Black Panther. It’s just a funny thing that she has a way to deal one damage every Upkeep Phase, which just charges Black Panther’s suit little by little. Not ideal and a direct consequence of several of her attacks, which ends up begging the question of “should I use a card to discard my own Positive Status Effect?” It’s interesting.
- I would have liked some higher-complexity abilities, though these are both pretty easy to learn. I think this is a very easy-to-learn set, which is a great entry point. I’m just a grump and wanted Black Panther to be a higher complexity level than he is, in-game. These are relatively basic characters, so this might be a good set to pick up if you’ve never played Dice Throne. There’s still interesting stuff to do with each of them, granted; I was just looking for more complexity.
Overall: 7.75 / 10
Overall, I enjoyed Marvel Dice Throne: Captain Marvel v. Black Panther! For my first foray into Marvel Dice Throne, I thought it was pretty good. I think that playing all of Dice Throne Season 1 made me want a bit more complexity than I got from this initial set, but that’s okay; I’m sure there are more complex Marvel heroes elsewhere. If anything, I think this might be a very good set to lead with, since it’s fairly low-complexity and there are pretty good strategies for beating the other character with your character. It’s nice that that presents so clearly, since it makes the game feel balanced, to some degree. As a reviewer (and as someone who hasn’t played the game a ton), I’m always hesitant to comment on balance as an Objective Fact; it’s dicey. But as a feeling, I think that games tend to do well when they make the players feel like it could have gone either way. Dice Throne generally tends to do that, and Captain Marvel and Black Panther feel almost perfectly balanced against each other, which I like. Their abilities are complementary and work well in conversation with each other, which makes this box in particular feel well-designed. And a good game, in my opinion, creates that kind of feeling. I was pleased with this one. Having some pretty great art to boot was just a bonus, though it gets me very excited about the rest of Dice Throne I have ahead of me. If you’re a big Black Panther fan like me, you are looking to get into Dice Throne, or you just want a quick dice fighting game, I’d recommend this set! It’s a nice place to get started.
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