It's been a loooong time coming but I was finally able to get a group together to play Thanos Rising. I have The Batman Who Laughs Rising, and ordered the Avatar TLAB version, so I really really wanted to make sure I liked this game. It is a dice building cooperative game, where you and up to three other friends (four total) work together using characters from Infinity War (movie version) to try to stop Thanos from getting the Infinity Gauntlet. It was a pretty easy setup, here is what it looks like right when you begin.
As you can, the beautiful Josh Brolin stands in the center of the play area, and on his turn he attacks whatever zone he is looking at. There are three zones, with three cards in each zone. For example, the bottom zone (where Thanos is facing) has Thor, Okoye, and the Collector in it. Each turn you have to pick which zone you are going to go attack. Then Thanos attacks you (based on what you roll on the Thanos dice), then you get to assemble your dice pool and roll to either defeat villains in your zone, or recruit heroes in your zone. When Thanos attacks a zone, you put a damage counter on the heroes there, and when their health boxes are filled, they are defeated and removed from the game. Once ten heroes are removed (including ones he removes from you), you lose! Example below.
You can also lose if Thanos finds all the Infinity Stones. There is a pretty cool Gauntlet piece where once Thanos rolls the same color enough times (5 times), he gets a permanent boost from whatever stone he gets. Once Thanos gets all six stones, you also lose! That's how we lost our third and final game. We were one turn away from winning! Probably! But we had no time, no time at all.
The Gauntlet mechanic is cool, and definitely adds a thematic running clock to your whole experience. You win by beating ten villains, but that gauntlet progress counter just keeps growing and growing. The biggest part of the game is the dice rolling you do on your turn to recruit allies and defeat villains. Each faction has a different area of expertise. The Avengers are good at rolling red dice, Guardians blue, Mystics green, and Wakandans blue. Each colored dice has a different set of icons on them, so you need to strategize and go to locations that give you the best chance of success. When you go to a zone, you roll your dice and then put the matching symbols you roll onto the card you want. If you match all symbols, you get to recruit the card and get its special ability (until Thanos inevitably kills them too). For example (photo below), if I wanted to recruit Okoye, I'd need to roll a blast symbol, a web symbol, and an eye symbol, then I would be able to recruit her and replace her with another hero or villain from the deck.
Once you defeat ten villains, you win! You lose if Thanos kills your team leader (RIP Gamora AKA me our first two games), kills ten heroes, or collects all stones. We did better each time we played, but the learning curve was pretty easy and the difficulty seemed a bit much but that's the point of Infinity War right? I know what it's like to lose. A lot now.
My Two Cents
Definitely a fun experience, with some added levels of cooperation and difficulty, enough to make it interesting the entire game. The dice rolling is definitely punishing, relying on a lot of 1/6 chances to succeed, but strategizing and picking the right location to go to definitely makes the game repayable and gives it a sufficient amount of challenge. The game time is probably the best part, in a world that keeps giving us 2-3 hour games (looking at you Fantasy Flight), it was nice to play a complex game that only took 30 minutes to an hour. Heck sometimes it was only ten minutes if I killed our group quick enough! I recommend getting it and playing it with friends/family that like the MCU, it's an excellent introduction to dice building games for beginners.
I played with three of my friends, and this is what they had to say about it. Included one of their hands in the photo above because he is trying to be a hand model.
Mike (Dr. Strange)
Strength/difficulty of villains. Character Array
Replayability limited, too dependent on 1/6 dice rolls
Matt (Black Panther)
Storyline incorporates into gameplay in a cool way. Good team play and good strategy mechanics
Little to random sometimes, if board starts with too many villains its an uphill battle
Rich (Captain America)
Fun, cooperative, interesting gameplay dynamics. Good use of villain characters.
Difficult, card/character abilities are limited