Thanos Rising Board Game

We recently got our hands on the “Thanos Rising – Avengers: Infinity War” board game, and we had great a time playing it!  We thought it would be fun to share our review of this Cooperative Marvel themed game. 

Thanos Rising is made by USAopoly – best known for making a variety of theme-based Monopoly games, like Game of Thrones Monopoly, Dragon Ball Z Monopoly, Walking Dead Monopoly, etc.  USAopoly also makes other games like Telestrations, Harry Potter Clue, Rick & Morty Munchkin, Marvel Codenames, Harry Potter Hogwarts Battle, Samurai Jack: Back to Past, Blank Slate and many other popular games.  

Thanos Rising: Avengers Infinity War is a cooperative dice/card game for 2-4 players. In the game, players recruit Marvel Super Heroes and assemble a team to face off against Thanos and his villainous forces.  Player work together in an effort to thwart Thanos from accomplishing his master plan – collecting all six Infinity Stones to power the Infinity Gauntlet and wreak havoc on the very fabric of reality.

Thanos Rising Box Contents

What’s Inside the Box?

  • 1 Thanos Figure
  • 1 Infinity Gauntlet
  • 6 Infinity Stones
  • 42 Asset (Hero and Villain) Cards
  • 4 Team Base/Summary Cards
  • 4 Team Deployment Tokens
  • 15 Power Dice
  • 1 Thanos Dice
  • 1 Infinity Stone Die
  • 50 Damage Counters
  • 30 Infinity Stone Control Counters
  • 30 Bonus Tokens
  • 1 Deployment Zone
  • Rules

What is a Cooperative Game?

Thanos Rising is a Cooperative Game (Co-op game).  In a cooperative game, players work together in order to achieve a goal.  The players typically play against the game and the game’s controlled villains.  In typical board games, there is one winner, and everyone else loses.  In Cooperative games, you win or lose as a group.  Some of the more popular Cooperative games are Pandemic, Arkham Horror and Forbidden Island.  Cooperative games are great for families and friends.  

In Thanos Rising, the players are working together to keep Thanos from collecting all 6 Infinity Stones.  Players do this by recruiting additional heroes onto their teams and fighting off Thanos’s Villainous Associates (like Corvus Glaive, Ebony Maw, Proxima Midnight, etc.) before Thanos collects the 6 Infinity Stones.

Thanos can win if he completes any of the following:

  • Collects All 6 Infinity Stones
  • Defeats 10 Heroes 
  • If any one player has all the Heroes on their team defeated.

The Players will win if they defeat 7 Thanos Villains before Thanos wins.  

How You Play Thanos Rising 

Here is a very simple overview of how you play Thanos Rising.  Each player takes a Starter Hero Card, the matching Team Base Card and the matching Team Deployment Token. 

Team Gamora, Knowhere and a Team Marker

The Four Team Choices are:

  • Dr. Strange and Sanctum Sanctorum 
  • Captain America and Avengers Compound
  • Black Panther and Wakanda
  • Gamora and Knowhere

Thanos is placed in the middle of the Deployment Zone and randomly surrounded by 9 Heroes & Villains from the Asset Deck.  Thanos will be randomly facing one of three sectors in the Deployment Zone.

Thanos in the Deployment Zone. The Deployment Zone has 3 Sectors.

The first player is decided by whom has most recently watched a Marvel movie – kind of funny.  Let’s say Gamora is going first.  Gamora places her Team Token into one of 3 Sectors in the Deployment Sone.  She is hoping to recruit a hero or defeat a villain in the Sector.  

First Gamora will roll Thanos’s 2 Dice.  One die will randomly allow Thanos to acquire a fragment of the Infinity stone.  The other die will tell players if they need to rotate Thanos Left or Right for his next attack.  Thanos will then attack all heroes in the sector directly in front of him.  Then any villains in that sector will also attack.

After Thanos attacks, Gamora gets her turn.  She starts with 4 dice and rolls her dice in an attempt to:

  • Recruit more Heroes onto her team
  • or Damage/Defeat a villain.  

Rolling Dice is somewhat similar to Yahtzee and King of Tokyo.  Players roll and reroll until they resolve their turns.  

Power Dice Facings

There are 4 different types of Power Dice in the game: Red, Blue, Green and Black. 

  • Red has stronger Battle Powers. 
  • Blue has stronger Technology Powers. 
  • Green has stronger Mystic Powers. 
  • And Black has stronger Cosmic Power. 

Based on your Team Base card, you will be starting with different dice than your teammates.  Gamora will be using Knowhere’s Base Power of 3 Red Dice and 1 Black Die.  Gamora will also get a bonus red or black dice if she can successfully recruit another Cosmic character to her team.

Team Gamora, Knowhere and a Team Marker

After Gamora is done, she removes her Team Marker from the sector she attacked in. Player 2 now gets a chance.  Player 2 chooses a sector, rolls the 2 Thanos dice, and resolves those Thanos dice.  Then Player 2 attempts to recruit additional Heroes to their team or defeat a Villain.  Play continues this way until Thanos wins or the Marvel Heroes win.  It really is not too difficult to play Thanos Rising.  

How You Recruit Heroes

Random Heroes will pop up in the Sectors of the Deployment Zone.  You will try to recruit Heroes to your team, but Thanos will try to defeat them before you do.

Here are a couple of heroes in the game – Rocket and Mantis:

Rocket and Mantis Hero cards

If an active player can roll the matching “Recruit symbols” with their dice, they will successfully recruit that Hero to their team.  That player will be able to use the special abilities of that Hero in later turns.  The more Heroes you can recruit, the stronger your team will be.  You might obtain more dice to roll, or be able to heal fellow heroes, or manipulate dice rolls, etc.  

In our example, if Gamora can recruit Rocket to her team, Gamora will be able to roll an extra die (Based on her Hero Ability), and Rocket’s Hero Ability will allow her to change one technology-face-roll or a space-face-roll to any die face! 

How to Defeat Villains

Corvus Glaive is a pretty strong villain.

In order to win the game, you will need to defeat 7 villains.  If an active player can roll the matching Damage symbols with their dice, they will successfully deal one damage to that villain.  You can only do one damage to a villain each turn.  In this example, Corvus Glaive requires 3 damage during gameplay in order to defeat him.  He will remain the in his Sector of the Deployment Zone until he is fully defeated.  

Every time a Hero or Villain is defeated in the Deployment Zone, they are removed from play, and their empty space in the Deployment Zone is filled with a random Hero or Villain from the Asset Deck.  Every time a Hero is successfully recruited from the Deployment Zone, their empty space in the Deployment Zone is filled with a random Hero or Villain from the Asset Deck as well. 

Obtaining Bonus Tokens

Bonus Tokens can be powerful!

Bonus tokens can be super useful in defeating Thanos and his cronies.  Every time you deal one damage to a Villain, you are randomly rewarded with a Bonus token.  Bonus Tokens are “one-time use”.  They will act as dice rolls, or allow you to roll an extra dice, or allow you to heal heroes.  

Pros and Cons

Pros:

  • Beautiful Artwork and High Quality Components – There is a lot of awesome licensed artwork in this game.  Thanos sitting in the middle of the table looks amazing, and it’s not just a lame prop.  When he spins in your team’s direction, you feel a sense of dread … “Oh no, Thanos is coming!”.
  • The Theme is Awesome! – Some games themes can be horrible.  But the theme here is fantastic, especially for Marvel Fans.  Thanos wants the Infinity Stones, and you have to stop him.  
  • Easy to Teach / Easy to Learn – There are a lot of components here, and it looks like a scary game to teach and learn, but it really isn’t.  This is a great introduction into dice-games and deck-building games.  The box says ages 10 and up, and this feels about right to us. 
  • Great Box Design – All the components fit nicely back into the box.  
  • Good Rulebook – The rulebook is large and in full color.  The rulebook explains the game quite well and has plenty of great photos.  
  • Cooperative Gameplay – This is a great Co-op game.  And it feels like each player is in charge of their own choices.  Sometimes, in games like Pandemic, players will submit their choices to the most experienced player at the table.  This game allows each player to make their own choices, and improve their own teams.  But players must also work together.  You have to heal each other, and pass around Bonus Tokens to your teammates or Thanos will destroy you.  
  • Team Building – Building up your team is fun!  Each game will have a completely different feel, because every time you play, your team will be built differently.  Captain America will be trying to build a different team than Gamora, Black Panther and Doctor Strange.
  • Helping Others – A lot of your Hero cards and Bonus Tokens help your teammates.  That’s pretty cool.  
  • Bonus Tokens – Placing a ping of damage on a Villain might feel unsatisfying to some players.  But you are rewarded with Bonus Tokens which are super helpful in the long run.
  • Dice – I really enjoy dice rolling games.  There are lots of dice in this game.  It’s nice too that the Thanos Dice are larger than the Hero dice.  It makes it easier to find the Thanos Dice when all the dice get grouped together.  Anyone familiar with Yahtzee, King of Tokyo, and Bang The Dice Game, will be familiar with the dice-rolling mechanism.  It’s fun and easy.  

Cons:

  • Luck and Randomness! – Villains will appear from the Asset Deck in a random order.  Sometimes you might get bombarded by Villains on the initial setup. And sometimes the strongest Villains will appear at the very beginning of the game, before you have recruited a single Hero.  There are times you wish the strongest villains appeared in the end-game phase.  The shuffling of the Asset Deck can greatly impact game play.  
  • Bad Rolls – You might have games where you have trouble recruiting Heroes, and Thanos is just grabbing his gems and punishing you badly.  Just Lady Luck doing her thing.  
  • Weird Hero Licensing – This is more of a quirky comment, but it appears Chris Pratt, Robert Downey Jr., Chadwick Boseman, Tom Holland and Benicio Del Toro wanted more money or something for their “Likeness Rights”.  Star-Lord, Iron Man, Spider-Man and Black Panther have their masks on.  And The Collector’s Face is simply greyed out.  It doesn’t affect game play whatsoever, but it’s kind of funny.  And maybe that’s why Gamora is considered the leader of the Guardians of the Galaxy in this game.  
  • Downtime – Some players might get bored when it’s not their turn.  This game might actually play better with 2 players.  I have only played this game with 4 players, and we enjoyed ourselves.  I don’t mind watching everyone else take their turns in co-op games.  It’s also easy to run to the bathroom, grab a snack, or grab a beer/soda during other players turns.
Thanos Rising

Final Thoughts

I had a blast playing “Thanos Rising” with my friends and family.  The game looks intimidating at first, but everyone will pick up the game-play very quickly – especially with all the Teaching Videos online these days.  

The theme is fantastic!  Some games can get very tight and the intensity can build near the end.  The most recent game I played came down to the wire.  Thanos needed one more Infinity Stone to win, 9 Heroes were defeated, and we needed one more villain to win.  The game came down to the very last single dice roll.  It was awesome.  

And the game is not that easy to win.  The game is easy to learn and easy to play, but sometimes Thanos might punish you, and badly.  This aspect does not bother me at all.  If I won every game, the game would get boring.  It makes the game that much more satisfying when you defeat Thanos!

The Co-op Portion of the game is great.  You have to work closely with teammates.  Some heroes will be better on other teams than yours, and you will have to forgo your urge to recruit those heroes.  You will also have to heal your teammates heroes, because if any other player at the table runs out of heroes, you will lose.  You also need to pay attention to your teammates rolls.  They may need some of your bonus tokens to defeat a villain or save a hero.  

There is also the interesting balance of recruiting heroes and defeating villains.  It’s great to recruit heroes, but if you let villains sit out in the Deployment Zone too long, they will continue to punish you with their attacks.  

I highly recommend this game if you are a Marvel Fan and like Co-op Games.  It’s great a Family Game as well.  And it’s easily re-playable as different heroes and villains will appear each time you grab it from your game shelf.