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Marvel Dice Throne Doctor Strange vs Black Widow Review

Marvel Dice Throne: Doctor Strange vs Black Widow Review

For a review of the core dice throne battle system, check out my review of the Marvel Dice Throne four hero box.


One of the coolest things about Marvel Dice Throne is just how well the game translates the powers and abilities of each hero to its system. Doctor Strange is my favorite superhero. So I was excited to see how he played, and I’m pretty happy with the result.

You can find a video version of this review on my YouTube Channel!

Black Widow and Doctor Strange both possess some pretty unique mechanisms that push them further up on the complexity scale compared to the other small box that contains Black Panther and Captain Marvel.

A close up of the Black Widow Player board
The artwork is great!

Doctor Strange utilizes spell cards that he can prepare and cast for a variety of effects. While Black Widow is all about upgrade cards and time bombs. Both fit nicely within the Marvel Dice Throne roster.

Gideon’s BiasMarvel Dice Throne: Doctor Strange vs Black Widow Information
Review Copy Used: YesPublisher: The Op, Roxley
Number of Plays: 8+Designers: Gavan Brown, Nate Chatellier, Manny Trembley
Player Counts Played: 2Player Count: 2 (up to four with additional characters)
Fan of Genre: PartiallyGenre: Dice Roller, Hand Management, Combat
Fan of Weight: NoWeight: Light
Gaming Groups Thoughts: Enjoyed ItPrice: $29.99

Doctor Strange

The Doctor Strange Player Board
Doctor Strange’s playstyle really captures the magic of the hero.

Stephen Strange is a master spellcaster. Instead of his spells reflecting solely on his character board, they have been split into a separate mechanism. This design choice really amplifies his playstyle into feeling like the sorcerer supreme. Much like how Loki’s illusion cards really sell his character.

Once per turn, Doctor Strange can prepare a spell card from his hand, and many of his abilities allow him to then cast a prepared spell. Every Spell has a prepare and cast effect. This gives Doctor Strange a satisfying element of planning within his gameplay. Since multiple spells can be prepared at a time, you have plenty of versatility about which ones to cast and when.

Flames of Faltine and Chains of Krakkon cards
Spell cards make Doctor Strange a flexible character.

Spells can range from simple damage additions with Flames of Faltine, making an attack undefendable with Chains of Krakkan, to healing with Mists of Morpheus. Spells like Rings of Raggadorr can help you combo up effects by playing spells from your discard pile.

The catch is, you have to roll specific powers in order to actually cast the spells. Your bread and butter are going to be Mystic Bolts which requires a small or large straight. Wand of Watoomb is much more difficult to land, and while Astral Incursion can allow you to cast a spell, it adds an additional 1 in 6 roll to do so.

Fangs and rings spell cards
Spells have to be cast by using specific abilities, but they can be freely prepared once per turn.

This means you have to rely much more on manipulating your own dice. Doctor Strange’s status effects can help you accomplish this. Premonition allows you to draw additional cards to help find those dice-manipulating cards while Deja Vu essentially gives you a do-over. You can throw away your previous roll phase to start a new one if you didn’t get the result you wanted.

On the offensive side, you can inflict Crimson Bands to prevent other players from playing cards during their next roll phase. Doctor Strange has a ton of control over the battlefield between his spell cards and status effects. Properly timing the spells is crucial to doing well, so you definitely want to hold on to your dice-altering cards until the right moment.

Wand of Wabtoomb ability on Doctor Strange's Player board
Doctor Strange relies heavier on dice manipulation than other characters.

At the same time, you have to put the hurt on the other player pretty quickly as Doctor Strange doesn’t have much in the way of defense. His Cloak of Levitation can block damage, but you only roll two dice, and only a single face actually blocks damage.

Doctor Strange also has no upgrade cards whatsoever, his spells take up that space. Combined with spell casting, his powers are potent enough that he won’t need them, but it takes some extra effort to split that difference.

Cast away card
Holding onto the Cast Away card can help launch a spell in a pinch.

The spell cards do a wonderful job of translating the sorcerer supreme to the Dice Throne System. Spell slinging, and the lack of upgrade cards give Doctor Strange a unique playstyle that illustrates the character in a satisfying way by bringing a touch of wizardry to the game.

Black Widow

The Black Widow Player Board
Black Widow is all about upgrades and bombs.

While most characters have upgrade cards, Black Widow is centered around them via her passive ability, Red Room Training. Once she has five upgrades on her board, all of her attacks gain extra damage. The concept is further enhanced if you manage to upgrade Red Room Training, as it allows her to draw a card whenever she plays an upgrade.

Black Widow’s other key trick is her time bombs. At the start of the opponents’ upkeep, they roll a die for each time bomb they have, on a 6 they disarm it. On any other roll, the bomb flips from 2 to 1, then if it happens again they take 4 undefendable damage.

Black Widow's Grapple upgrade card
Many of Black Widows’ upgrades add additional abilities

The time bombs also tie in with her upgrades because once you have 6 upgrades, all your time bombs Automatically start on the 1 side. Black Widow takes some prep to get going, as a large portion of her damage is through the time bombs, and upgrades.

Many of her abilities, such as Widows’ Gauntlets scale with the number of upgrades on her board. However, she can also upgrade her abilities faster than any other hero, thanks to her Covert Ops status effects.

Widow's Gauntlets and Red Room Training upgrade cards

She can spend them to either look for an upgrade, or just play one free of cost from her hand. The kicker is, she also starts the game with three Covert Ops. The longer the fight goes on, the stronger Black Widow becomes as she continually adapts with new upgrades while whittling her opponent down with time bombs.

She also has a pretty strong defense between her Sabotage defense ability and her agility tokens. Agility tokens have a 50/50 chance of halving any damage coming at her when you choose to use them.

Black Widow’s playstyle isn’t as far outside the box as Doctor Strange’s. But she’s still a unique hero within the roster given her focus on upgrades and attrition. Most heroes are lucky to play two upgrades in the span of a match. Black Widow can commonly put five or more down, all while slapping you with ticking tidbits of undefendable damage.

Vengeance and Hacked upgrade cards

There are a couple of issues. The first is her theme. Her mechanisms are actually quite thematic, but I can’t say that it feels like Black Widow. The playstyle reminds me more of what I would imagine Batman to be, and this is amusingly not the first time I’ve felt that way. In Marvel Champions, I also felt that Black Widow felt like Batman.

I think this is largely due to so much of her comic book and movie characters being outside of direct combat. It’s difficult to capture her role as a spy and double agent within various game systems, so she’s usually reduced to a gadgeteer.

Black Widow's Dice
Black Widow has to rely on extra dice rolls for success.

Secondly, Black Widow relies heavily on randomness in a game that’s, by nature, already random. In some games, you will cut every big attack directed at you in half with Agility. In other games, you take all of it to face, and the tokens feel worthless. Every now and then your opponent will also get a lucky streak of disarming your bombs, and there’s not much you can do about it.

Marvel Dice Throne is largely about luck mitigation and manipulation. Some of Black Widow’s mechanisms feel like a coin flip that’s disconnected from the rest, and it doesn’t feel good when that happens.


Doctor Strange and Black Widow are great additions to the hero roster if you’re already a fan of Marvel Dice Throne. I’m less inclined to recommend it as your first box, however, due to the higher complexity of the heroes and Black Widow’s heavy reliance on extra dice rolls. Her inconsistency could leave a poor first impression if it’s your first time setting foot into the Dice Throne universe.

Baton Strike and Hacked cards
Black Widow requires some setup but ends up stronger than the average hero once you have invested time into upgrading her.

Both heroes are indeed fun to play, and Doctor Strange in particular is represented quite well with the Dice Throne architecture. I’m a bit biased here as he is my favorite Marvel Hero, but I really enjoy playing with his spell cards and all the planning that goes into his playstyle.

If you don’t feel like rolling the dice on your first purchase, pick up one of the other boxes instead. However, if you’re happy to gamble on a bit of magic, or want to add some sorcery to your existing Dice Throne game, Doctor Strange vs Black Widow is a solid choice to pick up.

Interested in the card holders I use in my photos? They are from InfinitionsTabletop on Etsy

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  • Two heroes with unique playstyles
  • Doctor Strange is captured perfectly within the Dice Throne system with his spell cards
  • Black Widow’s unique focus on upgrades and attrition is neat


  • Black Widow’s reliance on extra dice rolls can make her feel inconsistent
  • Black Widow’s playstyle feels more like Batman than Black Widow.