Thanos Rising - Avengers: Infinity War
Thanos Rising: Avengers Infinity War is a cooperative dice and card game for 2-4 players.
In the game, players recruit heroes and assemble a team to face off against Thanos and his villainous forces in an effort to thwart him from accomplishing his master plan: Collecting all six Infinity Stones to power the Infinity Gauntlet and wreak havoc on the very fabric of reality. Building upon the strengths of the characters on their team, as well as other players, winning requires critical thinking and communication to reach a common goal.
Dice rolling, Co-operative play
Designer: Andrew Wolf
Category: Dice-Rolling, Co-operative Play
Price: $49.94 Amazon.com
Thanos Rising: Avengers Infinity War is a board game tie-in for the Avengers film series. Using recognizable characters from the Marvel Cinematic Universe, players work together to thwart the schemes of the evil Thanos and save the very fabric of reality.
Unless they have been living under a rock for the last decade, most everyone has seen at least one of the Marvel Cinematic Universe films. (I suspect that number is much higher for readers of this site.) No MCU movie has been as widely anticipated as Avengers: Infinity War, so it was no surprise to learn that the film’s merchandising would include a tabletop game.
Thanos Rising: Avengers Infinity War (hereafter, I’ll just call it Thanos Rising) puts players in the shoes of beloved Marvel heroes as they work together to foil the titular purple space-baddie’s dastardly plan. The goal of the game is to stop a number of Thanos’ minions (seven to ten, depending upon how much of a challenge players want). The primary ways players lose are if ten heroes die or Thanos collects all six Infinity Stones.
Each player begins with a team base card, its matching token, and its starting hero. As an example:
The main action of the game takes place on a circular board, containing slots for nine character cards. From a shuffled deck of heroes and villains, nine are randomly dealt, such that each “sector” of the board contains three. All character cards list symbols corresponding to the game’s die faces, along with a damage meter and a special ability.
In the center of the board sits one of the coolest, most unnecessary bits of game-chrome I’ve ever seen: a large, painted plastic figure of Thanos. He begins facing a random sector, and as the game progresses, he will rotate to interact with other sectors. When the primary board is all set up, it will look like this:
A supplementary board is placed nearby, showing the all-powerful Infinity Gauntlet. This board is double-thick, with sunken spots for the six Infinity Stones. Tiles placed around the edge keep track of how close Thanos is to collecting each stone.
At the start of a player’s turn, she places her team token in one of the three sectors of the main board. She then rolls the Thanos die and the Infinity Stone die, which will cause something bad to happen. The Infinity die will advance one of the six tracks on the Infinity Gauntlet board, getting Thanos closer to controlling one of the Stones.
The Thanos die will rotate him left or right, cause the Infinity die to be rolled again, or activate the abilities of all villains outside his sector. Once these dice have been resolved, Thanos damages the heroes and activates the villains in his own sector.
After the Avengers have been sufficiently smacked around, they get to return the favor. The active player rolls a set of dice as indicated on her team base, and matches the results to one or more cards in her current sector (where she placed her team token). She may re-roll multiple times, but must either assign a die to a card or forfeit a die each time she wishes to do so.
If her assigned dice fulfill the requirements listed on a character card, she resolves it. If the card is a hero, she adds it to her team, removing any existing damage on it, and if the card is a villain, she deals it one damage and receives a bonus token as a reward.
Recruiting new heroes is a critical part of Thanos Rising. Each member of a player’s team provides a special ability, such as granting extra dice or removing damage from another hero. The villain cards can deliver quite a wallop, so players need to bolster their team in order to compete.
As Thanos collects the Infinity Stones, he will become more and more powerful. If a roll of the Infinity die shows a stone he has already collected, he will get a special action such as adding a counter to another stone’s track or damaging the active player’s heroes.
If players beat the requisite number of villains in time, they win. Otherwise, if ten heroes are defeated or Thanos collects all six Infinity Stones, their best efforts fail and they lose.
Thanos Rising is an enjoyable co-op battle. Too often, licensed tabletop products feel like bland, uninspired cash grabs, but this one has a nicely-designed game underneath it. As a lifelong reader of Marvel Comics, the theme appeals to me personally, but I think folks unfamiliar with Marvel will still be able to enjoy the play experience.
The components are attractive, creating an eye-catching visual when set up. Having Thanos physically looming over the play area majorly enhances the overall flavor. His figure could have easily been a simple cardboard token, but it’s a thousand times cooler as is (plus, it totally tickles my action-figure fancy). The Infinity Stones are nice and chunky, and the dice engraving is intuitive and easy to read. All told, USAopoly went really overboard on this game’s production, and it is the better for it.
Thanos Rising offers a difficult challenge. It’s critical for players to quickly recruit new heroes to their team, as each individual character ability helps develop its owner’s engine. The game includes a dose of “dice luck,” but these powers can help mitigate the randomness. A downside to the heroes’ abilities is that they seem more “gamey” than actually true to the source material. By this, I mean that an ability such as “roll an extra die” doesn’t scream the Avengers theme. It works fine, but it doesn’t make me feel like I’m blasting space-minions with a repulsor ray. More universe integration would have really enhanced the experience.
My feelings about Thanos Rising echo my feelings about another USAopoly title, Harry Potter: Hogwarts Battle – I liked it, but it didn’t blow me away. (Though, between the two, I like this one more.) It’s encouraging to see that games with licensed, mass-market appeal are being taken more seriously, design-wise. This one has a solid card-and-dice system to it, adorned with some sweet pieces. Thanks to the Marvel brand, it’s bound to sell well, and I think buyers will be largely satisfied. Check this one out, especially if you love the MCU!
A review copy was provided by USAopoly.
+ Amazing production
+ Avengers theme works well
+ Game system is well-crafted
- Thematic immersion could be stronger
- Can suffer from too much downtime with four players
- Rules are a bit vague