Thanos Rising Board Game Review (USAopoly)

4

Thanos Rising is the most okayish game that I've ever been angry about. A cooperative game for up to four players, Thanos Rising gives players the chance to build a team out of the heroes that they know and love -- all while fighting back tide after tide of villains. As players progress, Thanos assembles his gauntlet stone by stone... and if he manages to put it together, the players (and, well, the universe) lose. It's a compelling theme for a game and there's a decent game somewhere underneath, but a litany of strange design and component decisions hobble it. Thanos Rising is one of the most inherently unfinished games that I've ever played.

Game Details

Players: 2 to 4

Game Time: 60 Minutes

Age: 10+

Genre: Dice Rolling / Recruiting

How Do You Play Thanos Rising?

Players begin by selecting their team -- there are four sets, including the Avengers, the Wakandans, and the Guardians. Each theme has a special action and a starter set of dice, in addition to a starting hero. Players take turns rolling their dice for resources, with which they can either purchase new heroes or fight villains. At the beginning of each turn, Thanos will move and will make progress towards finding one of the infinity stones. When Thanos moves, he injures heroes and players deployed in that area. When he gets enough progress, he will acquire one of the infinity stones, and begin to use the power of that infinity stone.

Your goal is simply to kill enough villains before Thanos is able to kill off your heroes or assemble the gauntlet. It isn't a complex game, but there's a certain amount of appeal to it. It goes by quickly, the dynamics are constantly changing, you're able to build up your characters, and you can work together as a team by trading off special abilities and bonuses. Heroes also work well and synergize together, even if you can see which characters are clearly not the fan favorites.

What's in the Box?
4 leader cards * 4 leader mats * gauntlet card * infinity power cards * infinity power stones * one gigantic Thanos figurine * enough yellow gauntlet research tokens * not enough red damage tokens * red dice * green dice * black dice * blue dice * yet still not enough dice

 

What's Wrong With Thanos Rising?

There's so much wrong with this game it's difficult to know where to start. Let's begin with the useless Thanos figure, which towers over the board and serves no purpose except to point vaguely in a direction. 

This is not a good figure, and in fact, it's painted so poorly that some of the paint came off in the box. But that's not the core problem. The core problem -- which is frustratingly inexplicable -- is that there aren't enough pieces in the game

Damage in this $49 game is represented by cheap, clear, red plastic cubes, and you will easily run out of them in a four player game, leaving you to attempt to scrounge up additional cubes from wherever you can. You will also constantly find yourself passing dice around between players, as each player has a "set" of dice they use, but there aren't enough dice available to fill each set. 

Oh, also, they misprinted their dice.

Maybe it isn't a surprise that the game is bad. It is an obvious cash grab. But there's the makings of what could have been an interesting and good game, somewhere beneath the greasy layer of apathy. You can build a solid roster of heroes and you often need to make strategic decisions, both regarding where you should best deploy and where you should expend your resources. The game is challenging, especially at the beginning, and there is a real sense of urgency as Thanos discovers the infinity stones and begins to build power. 

So it's baffling that within the architecture of the game, someone decided that a Thanos figurine was important, but that having enough damage counters was not. It's baffling that someone, somewhere, thought to make Thanos' eyes on the box cover glossy, but did not proofread the manual. There is a sequence of mistakes that were made in the development of this game, each one building upon the other and creating this haze of carelessness and ineptitude. 

Thanos Rising Board Game Review
  • PRO: If you love the Marvel franchise, it really isn't a bad cooperative game to play with your friends.
  • CON: It's produced so carelessly and cheaply that it's an insult and an affront to the player. 
  • CON: Ultimately, this game is worth about half of its price.