Dice Masters – The Amazing Spider-Man Basic Actions Review

Last time, we looked at the starter characters in Amazing Spider-Man, and this time, I want to move on to have a bit of a think about the basic action cards in this set.

Before I get too stuck in, just a few thoughts about Basic Actions as a whole. Basic actions are unusual in this game, in that they are available to both players. Whilst there are a few effects which can penalise your opponent for using action dice in general, and few effects that can increase the utility that you get out of your actions, the general principle is that you need to be sure that whichever actions you bring will do you more good than they do your opponent.

Bearing all that in mind, there’s nothing in this set which immediately leaps out at me as something that will re-define the game. In the previous set, War of Light, we had Big Entrance, which had the potentially to bring high-cost characters in to play a lot sooner than had previously been possible, this time, the options look more complex.

Archnemesis!

ArchnemesisThe first card up is “Archnemesis!” – this card essentially pits two fielded character dice in a head-to-head battle: it can be a good way to make sure that you deal the full force of your attack to that one character your opponent is refusing to block with and stubbornly keeping in the field, but it also allows them to do the same – if your team has a lynchpin character, especially one with moderately low defence, then this is probably one to steer clear of.

It’s also worth keeping in mind the Global on this one. For the cost of a shield, it has the text “Target character has D equal to its A until end of turn.” Clearly, there’s some major potential here – either boosting the defence of some of the glass-canon characters out there, or as a way of knocking out your opponent’s low-attack blockers. It also looks like a rules-headache waiting to happen, especially if someone uses the Ant-Man global to swap attack and defence!

Cost 4                  
Target character die you control and target opposing character die deal damage to each other equal to their A.

Global: Pay [1 Shield]. Target character has D equal to its A until end of turn.

 

Back for Seconds!

BlueBeetle
It’s a nice effect, but below level 3, he’s just too easy to take-out.

Next up, “Back for Seconds!” an action which allows you to field a character from your Used pile at level 3. It’s worth noting that this is an Underdog effect, so like any Underdog card, it’s only going to help you if you’re generally keeping your field zone light. It’s also a 4-cost, so you want to be targeting big characters with it.

This card seems like it would best in a build where you are depending on big hits from some 5 or 6-cost characters, or else characters with a significant stat-jump at level 3 who are just too fragile at lower levels. There’s certainly potential to build around it, but if you just stick it in casually, you’re likely to get stung.

Cost 4
Underdog – (You may use this effect when your opponent has more character dice in their Field Zone than you do.) Field any character from your Used Pile at level 3.

 

Betrayal

BetrayalBetrayal is a really interesting card, one which interacts significantly with the number of characters you have fielded – although strangely, it rather works against the Underdog mechanic that fills much of the rest of the set. For a cost of four, you can deal a damage to your opponent for each character they have in the field, with a 1 in 6 chance of adding the dice to your prep area to use again next time. This card will work brilliantly against anyone using Gobby, or any kind of strategy that involves building a wall of characters, although you want to make sure that you aren’t keeping too many characters active yourself.

I can see potential for this in a Guy Gardner deck where your opponent wants to throw as many sidekicks in your way as possible to avoid taking those big hits to the face. I’m also keen to try it with a team based around action die that doesn’t really want to field things. At 4 cost it’s still on the expensive side, but it could have its moments.

Cost 4
Deal 1 damage to target opponent for each character die in their Field Zone.

** If Betrayal dealt at least 2 damage, put this die in your Prep Area.

 

Exposed

Iron fist
I could have used a different image, but I’m still feeling pleased about getting a second dice for this…

Exposed! Is probably the first action in this set which fits obviously into a specific build – for a cost of 3 energy, this card makes your opponent pay a life for each non-villain they block with this turn, so it’s a nice trick for a villain-heavy build to have up its sleeve. The fact that your opponent pays life rather than taking damage is an extra bonus, as it means that it can’t be dealt with by Vicious Struggle, Captain America, or Iron Fist.

It does also come with a global, which allows your opponent to impose a similar life-tax on blocking to you. At 2 bolts for the overall right to block, this is probably too expensive to be used extensively. However, sod’s law says it will come back and bite you at the worst possible moment.

Cost 3
Target opponent must pay 1 life for each non-[Villains] assigned to block this turn.

Global: Pay [2 Bolt]. Target opponent must pay 1 life to block with one or more characters. You may only use this once per turn.

 

Great Responsibility

With purchase cost of 5 comes Great Responsibility, and this card is Dice Masters equivalent of not only letting Uncle Ben’s killer get away, but offering to carry his bag too. Assuming you actually find the resources and have nothing better to buy for 5 energy, this dice still requires you to sacrifice a character (i.e. moving it to used) in order to KO one of your opponent’s characters (i.e. letting them re-roll it next turn).

If you’re paying full-price for this, I’m going to go out on a limb and say that it’s completely useless. If you have built around getting action dice cheaply, then it has potential, but I think I’d prefer one of the other 5-costers.

Cost 5
Sacrifice a character to KO target opposing character (sacrificed characters are placed in the Used Pile).

 

Slander

SlanderIt’s probably fair to say that Slander is a bold choice of action card to bring with you to the table. At 2 cost, there’s a good chance that your opponent will be picking it up at points, just by virtue of running out of dice of their own that they can buy. On top of that, this action has the potential to chuck an almighty spanner in the works of pretty-much any build, as its ability blanks a character’s ability text until the end of the turn.

The obvious place for this, besides the binder, would be in a team that relies on swarming with cheap, blank characters – high in efficiency, low on powers. The trouble is, that this still requires you to outpace your opponent, and it will likely only be the occasional character on a few turns that you’ll be able to blank of your opponents – this feels like it’s too high on risk and too low in reward to be worth bothering with.

It’s worth noting that this also comes with a global, which allows you to send a retaliatory point of damage from a “when attacking” or “when fielded” ability. However, as already mentioned, purchase cost 2 means that you can’t look at this just as a global, you have to assume it’s getting bought.

Cost 2
Target opposing character loses its ability text until end of turn.

Global: Pay [1 Fist]. When a “When fielded” or “When this character attacks” ability damages you, deal 1 damage to target opponent.

 

Spidey’s Last Stand

Spidey’s Last Stand offers a very limited form of acceleration – true it will allow you to draw and roll 2 dice, but not only does it cost you this dice, but you also have to sacrifice a fielded character. The fact that the two dice are coming out at this point means you won’t get to re-roll them, so even if you do draw your key character, you actually reduce the likelihood of getting them on the right face.

AccelerationActions

The obvious comparisons for this dice are with the AvX action Gearing Up, and the more recent Nasty Plot. Both cost 1 more, but for that one-off additional purchase cost, you avoid having to sacrifice the character. I’d say I see more of Nasty Plot, as it allows you to set up for a really big turn, complete with the appropriate re-rolls. Don’t bother.

Cost 3
Sacrifice a character to draw and roll 2 dice (sacrificed characters are placed in the Used Pile).

 

True Believer

True believer is an interesting card, which allows you a cheap (2-cost), straightforward stat boost, nice whether you’re relying on using Overcrush to go through your opponents, or swarming them to go round. Obviously, you opponents will throw it back at you just as readily, although it plays well against a direct damage team who don’t plan to attack.

VultureThe tricky part about evaluating this dice is the global, which is a powerful, but potentially confusing one. For 2 masks, on your own turn only, you may remove a character from the field zone. This poses various questions, not least being “where does it go?” is it still “active” whilst it’s not in the field? This one just feels like a rules argument waiting to happen: not worth the hassle – unless of course, you’re running the uncommon Vulture.

Cost 2
Target character gets +2A and +1D until end of turn.

Global: Pay [2 Masks]. Once during your turn, you may remove one of your characters from the Field Zone until end of turn.

 

Web Blast

At a cost of 3, Web-Blast offers some targeted damage, with the potential to KO a character altogether, either if they have 2 or lower D, or if you have few enough characters to trigger Underdog. The nice thing about this, is that the character is stipulated as a non Spider-Friend, so this one is at least fairly easy to build around, in terms of not having it blow up in your face. However, that still doesn’t necessarily mean it’s worth spending a dice on. The KO-ed dice is always going to be available for your opponent to roll again next time, so if anything, this will be increasing the power of their turn, and as an action dice, you can only use it on your turn, meaning that any attacking characters will get at least one swing at you before this can be used.

This is a card I can see being useful in certain circumstances: ideal for removing a key character, especially one with a high field cost or large defence (Firestorm springs to mind), but I suspect that there are just better things out there.

Cost 3
Deal 2 damage to target non-[Spider-Friends] character die.
Underdog – (You may use this effect when your opponent has more character dice in their Field Zone than you do.) Instead KO target non-[Spider-Friends] character die.

 

With Great Power…

Doc OcFinally for this set, “With Great Power…” is another 3-coster, which allows you to spin all of your character dice up a level or, on double-burst, spin them all to level 3. Eighteen months too late, this card looks like an ideal antidote to Tsarina, or something with the potential to squeeze maximum value out of characters whose stats are disproportionately weighted towards their higher levels: Someone like a Dr Octopus whose attack can double from 4 to 8 between levels 2 and 3 could be a good target, as could a character who you want to sit in play but has low defence at level 1 or 2.

There is, of course potential for complicated builds which spin one character up and another down, in order to utilise various abilities, but I’ve not had the time to put that level of thought into things.

Cost 3
Spin all of your character dice up 1 level.

** Instead spin all of your character dice to level 3.

 

Conclusion

Overall then, I certainly don’t think this is the most exciting set of action dice we’ve seen, nor do I predict any of them changing the overall shape of the game in the way that something like Big Entrance did. However, there are still one or two that could find a place in the right team.

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