Warhammer 40,000 Dice Masters: Battle for Ultramar Campaign Box Explored
“In the far future, there is only WAR…and some dice”.
Warhammer 40k is a time-honored miniature game about weird factions fighting to the death in the grimdark future. The lore can be a little…uhhh…over-wrought and the game itself has some issues but nothing beats the pure spectacle of it, and even though I don’t play very often, it still holds a warm place in my heart. So, as you can imagine, when I heard that my new obsession (DiceMasters) was merging with my old obsession (Warhammer 40K), I was a bit excited, and, oh boy, did this deliver! Let’s take a look at what this brings to the table.
In the box you get 10 new action cards, 24 Space Marine Ultramarine cards, and 24 Chaos Plague Marine cards. If you know anything about 40k then you know it was a given that poster child Ultramarine’s made the cut as one of the first factions, but I really wish they had chosen something different for the other one. I know Chaos has a big following, but considering that they’re essentially just evil Space Marines I can see this turning off people who are less familiar with the lore. Why not have Orks in the big? They’re just as iconic as Chaos but visually very different then Space Marines.
The next thing to talk about are the two new abilities introduced, Range X and Frag. When a die with range attacks it allows all attacking and opposing die with range to simultaneously do damage equal to their range score to each other. This allows for a sort of precombat round and really changes how you have to think about attacks. I love this mechanic and think it adds a nice extra dimension to the game. It plays very fluidly and thematically goes well with the source material.
The second ability, Frag, I’m not so fond of. When a die with Frag attacks and KO’s a blocking die all die that didn’t block take one damage. This is not only pretty easy to play around, but also a tad wordy. It never felt like this ability had any real impact on the game. I will say it’s super flavorful but overall a pretty big miss.
One of the best things about this set are the action cards. I’ve always been a fan of more complex actions that change up gameplay in interesting ways. It’s nice when you can build around action cards and it keeps the game fresh. Most of the actions are pretty powerful too so you aren’t stuck with any duds that’ll never see play.
These two are my favs from the set. “Chaos Warp” is so fun and insane that I have trouble not playing with it. Its power is questionable, considering I’ve only killed myself with it, but I can’t resist taking the chance whenever I play it! “Into Battle” is very strong and has led to some fatal rushes while playing. For me, I love anything that lets me prep more die and the fact that a lot of time you get to use them right away is just icing on the cake.
First on deck for the Space Marines is Primaris Aggressor. Relentless Advance is ridiculous if you have a bunch of ranged die and can snowball very quickly for you. Boltstorm Gauntlets are very powerful too in a more conventional sense.
Even though the Frag ability has been pretty underwhelming for me, the Primaris Repulsor’s Krakstorm Grenade Launcher and Hover Tank utilize the ability better then any other card in the game. It’s third card is uninteresting but still solid.
The Favored of Guillimand from Primaris Intercessor and Mark X Gravis Power Armor from Primaris Inceptor (gotta love these names), allow you to really go nuts and swarm out your opponent. The fielding discount on the former is the better of the two abilities, in my opinion considering it can be hard to punch through with the Inceptor unless you pair him with an ability like Bolter Drill or Excessive Ordinance.
Now were talkin! Primaris Reiver and Primaris Redemptor Dreadnought are the first die where all three of their cards are great! These guys do a fantastic job of pushing damage through. I’ve had good results swarming with Rapid Infiltrator and Hail of Fire, but really all six of these are pretty close in power level.
Now we come to the last of the Space Marine cards. Roboute Guilliman offer some expensive but powerful options and a less powerful global ability. His Master of Battle is my favorite, which shouldn’t surprise you considering how much I’ve said I like aggressive rush strategies. Varro Tigurius gives you some strong options, with the standout being Chief Librarian. Anything letting you prep more die is always welcome.
All right, Chaos time! Let’s start with the heftiest option here, Mortarion. I feel that most of his options are a little underwhelming for the price. Host of Plagues can be game breaking in the right circumstances but it requires a little luck and honestly your seven-cost die should be a little game breaking anyway. Malignant Plaguecaster has two interesting board clear options and one boring Frag card. I can see Blades of Putrefaction ending games if luck is with you.
Next up we have two die with cards capable of setting up powerful engines. Typhus’s Host of the Destroyer Hive might not be flashy, but Plague Marines are pretty good at defending and with the right action die, attune abilities can really wear down the enemy through attrition. We also get Foetid Bloat-Drone’s Plague Probe (again with these names…) which can set up some devastating board advantages with its global ability.
Lord of Contagion has two cards, Plaguereaper and Manreaper, that do fantastic work alongside the aforementioned Plague Probe. In conjunction these cards allow you to set up back-breaking rushes or just powerful attrition games. Speaking of attrition, Noxious Blightbringer gives us two strong cards that punish the opponent for just buying die. Dolorus Knell zaps them for buy action die and Cursed Plague Bell zaps them for spending wild energy. Pick your…uhmmm…poison.
Finally, we come to our swarmy options, both literally and figuratively. Poxwalker gives us a rare one cost die and two options with the swarm ability that are great at pushing damage through. The only problem is that with WizKids moving away from a collectable game, your only options to get the fourth copy of one of these dice is to buy another box which will not only cost more but also give you a bunch of useless extra die and cards. I really wish WizKids would change up this distribution model or at least allow us to buy the extra die without buying all the other stuff. I’ll pay for it, just give me the option!
With that out of the way lets close on the Plague Marine, a die that gives three great card options. With abilities that support different styles of gameplay, this guy is exactly the type of die I like to see in these sets and is another mark of a really well-designed game.
So, there you have it, WizKids has very successfully ported the 40k universe into DiceMasters. In spite of a few small gripes I think that this set is stupendous and well worth the money. You can play each force in a number of different and interesting ways and there are very few flat-out duds in the set. They also do a great job of capturing the feel of the 40k universe and I’m excited to see future expansions into this line!