The Best There Is
The only X-Man to appear in all the films so far, Wolverine is also the most prolific mutant in Dice Masters. We have now seen him in 3 different sets, as well as making two appearances as an OP promo card, and it seemed like it was time to give him an article of his own.
Avengers vs X-Men
I first got into this game back at the end of the summer 2014: I went down to the FLGS to watch a tournament, and decided to pick up a starter set. As it was £12, I decided to get three boosters to round the price to the next fiver, and in my first pack, I pulled a Super-Rare Wolverine. I was hooked and, as such, still have something of a soft-spot for the original Wolverines.
Wolverine’s AvX dice bears the distinctive scratch-marks left by his claws, and his dice are all fist energy, all bearing the X-Men affiliation. He has high attack and field-costs, but low-ish defence, which makes for fairly poor efficiency overall. However, if you’re getting the best use out of him, these figures won’t really matter that much.
All of these early Wolverine cards focused on attacking alone, Wolverine as the outsider (although he still carried the X-Men affiliation), which means that used rightly, you probably aren’t too bothered about his defence stat anyway. The thing to worry about here is how likely you are to be attacking alone – when AvX first came out, there were a lot of people using Mr Fantastic and Phoenix for their “forced attack” globals, along with a massive amount of “Distraction” which could either ensure that Wolverine wasn’t attacking alone in the first instance, or simply that he wasn’t attacking at all.
The common card, “Wildboy” allows you to spin down a single opposing character by one level when Wolverine attacks alone, which has never seemed worth it, and the tussle is basically between the Rare and Super-Rare versions.
The Rare, “Formerly Weapon X” is a 4-cost, the cheapest Wolverine card out there, and when he attacks alone, he gets a +4A +4D boost to his stats, making his attack 9, 10, or 12. For a 4-cost character, this is remarkably powerful, but it does tend to rely on you getting some kind of Overcrush onto him, as otherwise, he can be stopped in his tracks by a single sidekick.
The Super-rare, Canucklehead is a rather pricier option at 6 cost, but when he attacks alone, he cannot be blocked. Expensive to set up, and inevitably single-use (unblockable means straight to used), 5-8 unblockable damage is still nothing to be sneezed at. Sadly, the rare is one of only 2 cards I’m still missing from AvX, so I’ve not been able to try this out in practice, but one player in our local area does fairly regularly bring the super-rare, along with an ability to boost his attack, and a global to stop anyone who might be running distraction, and it’s certainly still a powerful effect.
Walking His Own Path – 7 – Really taking the idea of Wolverine as the Ronin, this OP card from the first cycle did away with Wolverine’s team affiliation, and gave him an ability centred around his healing factor. Once again, he needs to be the lone attacker, but this time he can double your life.
Healing is certainly a powerful effect, but this Wolverine is a tricky one to pull off. The card is a seven-cost, and even though you probably don’t need him too early in the game, it’s an expensive thing to set up. The fact that the healing is capped at 10 is also irritating, meaning that your best-case scenario is that he gains you 5 life. Compared with a starter-set Beast dice that costs 1 to purchase, 0 or 1 to field, and gains you a point of life when KO-ed (going back to prep for next time), this doesn’t seem worth-while, even if moving from 10-5 down to 10-2 up does seem like a pretty good deal.
As with most returning characters in the Uncanny set, the Wolverine dice for his second outing were the same moulds as the first, with the colour-scheme swapped from blue-on-yellow, to yellow-on-blue. Once again the dice had a burst at levels 1 and 2, and once again, no card was printed with a burst ability.
Two of the four cards in this set had “Heroic” abilities, shunting them into the long-awaited article on that trait, but I still want to look at the others here.
The Best There Is – For a cost of 5 fists, this version of Wolverine “deals double damage to characters that block him.” That’s pretty much guaranteed to remove any blocker, with a damage range of 10-16, and even multiple blockers are going to be swept aside much of the time. The trouble with this, is that Wolverine was already going to be knocking out most characters, and this still doesn’t do anything about throwing a single side-kick in his path. It’s also not clear how it would work with Overcrush.
Not Very Nice – 6 Fist – On the subject of Overcrush, Wolverine’s 6-cost option looks like an interesting option for this, especially as you have the chance to KO the dice blocking him before resolving combat damage. Given than he remains blocked once his blocker is KO-ed, without that overcrush, he isn’t going to hurt your opponent, but he will be returning to the field unscathed, which probably gives your opponent something to think about.
At 6-fist purchase, 1-3 for fielding, and a further 2 fists to trigger the ability, this is probably too expensive to bother with (just use Formerly Weapon X), but it’s still interesting.
Wanted – 6 Fist – Coming in the Days of Future Past OP, this version of Wolverine bears the iconic art from the classic 80s comics, making it highly desirable for collectors- unfortunately, that’s basically where the interest ends, as his ability is both convoluted and ineffective. As noted above and many times elsewhere, without overcrush, damaging an opponent with a character is a tricky business, and this adds n a whole extra level of awkwardness, as you go through all those tricks, just to target one of your opponent’s villains. Once again, all of the standard things fall into place about being able to block with a single side-kick. This just doesn’t seem worth the effort.
Having skipped the Age of Ultron set, Wolverine returned in Amazing Spider-Man with new dice: now shield energy, he has fractionally less attack at levels 1 and 3, very-slightly improved defence at his lowest level, and a less extortionate field cost at level 3 (only 2). Overall, the dice itself more-or-less balance out in terms of power level, but the high purchase costs of the cards in the Spider-Man set weigh fairly heavily against them, providing very low efficiency.
As I’ve noted in the Spider-Man set review article, these dice are the first to offer any positive synergy for X-Men, but the price at which they come makes it difficult to use effectively.
Targeted – at a cost of 7, this is certainly an expensive option, but if you can give him overcrush, the possibility of boosting his attack does look interesting: If you are running characters like Storm who you want to KO so that you can re-field her, then combining with a direct-damage global could be useful. If you have the uncommon blink, then sacrificing her would also trigger things, but you can only do so to cancel an effect that’s already targeting one of your characters, leaving you either tied up in knots creating elaborate loops of abilities and triggers, or else reliant on your opponent to trigger the effect.
Not for the first time with this current wave of characters, the ultimate conclusion seems to be that the first set of Wolverines were better than anything which has come since. The enduring popularity of the character suggests that we might see him again in the future, although it will be interesting to see whether this is still the classic version, or whether we get an Old Man Logan, or a Laura Kinney