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Review: DC Dice Masters: War of Light

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WoLcover

Rage, greed, fear, willpower, hope, compassion, love – even life and death.  These powerful emotions swirl in the heart of a conflict that threatens to consume and destroy the universe.  At least the DC Comics universe.  As all of the Lantern Corps engage in an epic war threaded throughout time and involving all of your favorite DC heroes, can you tap into the lanterns’ power batteries and wield its control successfully?

How to Play

War of Light is the second DC Comics Dice Masters set.  It revolves around the various Lantern Corps.  It also includes the Teen Titans.  Yep.  There are a handful of popular characters and villains recurring from the first DC set, Justice League.  However, here of course each of those is associated with its role in the War of Light story arc.  The general mechanics and game play remain the same as with other sets and IPs across the system.  You can reference our review of the original Marvel Dice Masters sets for the basic rules.

Every Dice Masters game should be played on a pretty mat.
Every Dice Masters game should be played on a pretty mat.

Skittles in Space?

I feel it my professionally amateurish duty to insert the disclaimer here that I’m not very familiar with DC comics, its heroes and villains, and their universe.  I’m more into Marvel.  Indeed it was really difficult to not automatically stamp War of Light with a 1 out of 10 just because it doesn’t have Captain America.  However, I am a professional amateur here, so I did some research.  The various Lantern Corps, the tie-ins to the emotional spectrum, their various histories, and the War of Light story arc is actually pretty intriguing, if not somewhat convoluted.  But then again, most every comic book story arc is confusing and convoluted with all of their retconned back stories and alternate universes.  Keeping up with everything is indeed a hobby in and of itself!

I also don’t have an extensive collection of the release – just the starter set and a handful of booster packs, so I can’t go into great detail about all of the different powers and abilities.  But again, I did some research, because professional.  Some elements added after the first Marvel sets include Overcrush (first introduced in Yu-Gi-Oh Dice Masters) and Continuous.  Characters with Overcrush can deliver excess damage leftover from being blocked directly to the player.  That’s extremely useful and usually forces your opponent to gang up with multiple defenders, thus preventing the cheap chump block.  Continuous is an ability that remains in effect at all times, not just when active on your turn.  This concept isn’t necessarily new, but the clarification of its presence is a welcome addition here.

Pure beauty.
Pure beauty.

With this release, WizKids continues to show steady improvement on quality and components seemingly with each new set.  The artwork is still amazing – they had little room to improve on from the first Marvel release.  The cheap, but durable, paper dice bags included in the starter set are actually full-color illustrated, instead of the plain red and blue.  Otherwise, the dice are printed better with fewer nicks, offsets, or missed inks.  They are also sharp looking and vibrantly colorful, thematically fitting within the rainbow of lantern hues.  The cards also suffer less warping, it seems.  On the other hand, the lantern iconography can be very confusing.  There are eight lantern colors each represented by slightly different symbols.  Where each character’s lantern affiliation is noted, the symbol is appropriately colored, so easy to identify.  However, when lantern corps are indicated in card text, it’s only black and white, so difficult to ascertain until you become very familiar with the set.

So what exactly does War of Light bring to the Dice Masters table?  A lot of character abilities mirror or relate to many concepts Dice Masters players are accustomed to.  One unique emphasis, though, seems to be placed on reserved energy.  Specifically there are more uses for saving up energy in your reserve pool during your action phase and your opponent’s turn.  In past sets, reserved energy was primarily used to trigger global abilities.  But now there are some options to employ excess energy in blocking or dealing damage.  Yes, it can be specific to energy types and situational based on characters, but this aspect could prove an interesting and influential trend if it continues through future sets.

Never bring a knife to power ring fight!
Never bring a knife to lantern ring fight!

Most characters in War of Light have a lantern affiliation which can strongly interact with other Lantern Corps in significant ways.  This broadly impacts the Dice Masters metagame in two major ways.  First, there appears to be tons of ways to build lantern-specific teams with crazy fun synergy.  You can run with a strategy in which your team builds off of and supports each other for a coordinated attack and/or defense.  You can also build a team that is more suited to thwarting the efforts of opposing lanterns.  That can be somewhat more limited in effectiveness, as it depends on what your opponent is fielding, but an option nonetheless.  Still, this is a very strong set for constructed play.

On the other hand, many of these lantern-specific abilities will make the set more restrictive when mixed with other Dice Masters sets.  For casual players, like me, it’s not a great concern.  However, tournament players and especially rainbow drafters may find the synergy with non-lantern characters from the Justice League or even the Marvel sets sorely lacking.  While the story arc is pretty broad in scope, War of Light is still specific to one thread in the DC Universe.  Team affiliations that feed off each other have always been a part of other releases – such as Avengers, X-Men, and Villains in the Marvel sets.  But since everything is allied to a lantern color here, it’s more pronounced.  I think appropriately, this set exudes the feeling that it’s part of a larger family, yet more contained and primarily effective within itself.

It's in the bag, baby!
It’s in the bag, baby!

The Teen Titans members, however, look to have more viability with other sets.  For the most part, they are not affiliated with any Lantern Corps and so their abilities are more encompassing.  Unfortunately, for fans of the Teens, there aren’t enough to really build a fun team around.

The set’s Basic Action cards are quite interesting and completely practical to incorporate with other sets and/or games.  They provide some powerful new abilities and globals that veteran players will appreciate.  For example, Big Entrance lets you purchase dice for 1 less energy and put them directly into your bag, potentially getting characters into action sooner.  Monument to Evil does direct damage to the opposing player and more on double bursts for each active Villain you have.  It’s situational and expensive, but any damage you deal directly to your foe without worrying about it being blocked is nice.  Stealth Ops does essentially the same thing by naming a character, spinning it down to Level 1, and making it unblockable.  Again, some interesting elements to experiment which adds up to more of a good thing in the Dice Masters system.

Bringing the action to you!
Bringing the action to you!

Bottom line is DC Dice Masters: War of Light is a well-produced set that adds a good deal of options and variety to the whole system.  It can be interchanged and mixed with previous series – especially the Teen Titans and Basic Actions – but it does feel more self-contained and self-supported.  The synergy is definitely maximized within itself, as opposed to combining elsewhere.  So it’s fun for casual players, ideal for constructed decks, a no-brainer for Green Lantern fans, an essential collector’s edition for DC die-hards, but a bit of a mixed bag for Dice Masters tournament goers and really iffy for rainbow drafters.  Much like the lanterns, it covers a variety of spectrums.

 

iSlaytheDragon would like to thank Wizkids for providing a review copy of DC Dice Masters: War of Light.

  • Rating 8.0
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Summary

Pros:

Improving quality
Expanded options
Lots of synergy within set
Interesting new basic action cards

Cons:

Not as synergetic with previous sets
Lantern icons can be confusing
No Captain America

8.0 Very Good

I have lots of kids. Board games help me connect with them, while still retaining my sanity…relatively speaking.

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