The “Rising” Series
The OP, 2018-2020, Designer: Andrew Wolf
Images courtesy of Boardgamegeek.com. All images were provided by the publisher through W. Eric Martin or Ross Thompson
In 2018, a board game was released called Thanos Rising, which was released alongside The Avengers: Infinity War. It was a co-operative game that allowed two to four players to team up and take down Thanos and his allies before he gained all of the infinity stones. Players did this by rolling dice, and using character abilities to defeat seven villains before the Infinity Gauntlet was complete.
Since then, The OP, the company that publishes the “Rising” series, has released a number of other games in this line that are fairly similar, yet all have differences. At the store, a number of us have been playing the heck out of the “Rising” series. If you don’t know, there are five of them at this moment.
Now, I can already hear from some of you, wondering which one is best. That would be a little revealing this early in the review, but let me tell you the basic mechanics of this series first.
At the setup of the game, each player will choose which team they want to be on. Once they’ve figured that out, they’ll take the main character card and place it next to the team, and that will tell them which dice to roll when the game begins. Overall, the board is quite simple. It is either a hex, circle, or square, and some cards will align the edges of those features. The player will decide which location to head to so they can recruit cards from whichever location they chose. After they’ve chosen their location, the player will roll a set of villain dice which shows where the villain moves, and any other effects will happen due to which game you’re playing. When the villain moves, they will damage each hero card at their location, including your team, if you’ve chosen the location the villain moves to. If there are any villain cards at the location, those villains will activate as well. This can either work in your favor, and not much happens, or it can chain out to some really rough stuff.
Once the villain has finished, the player gains dice from their team, both through their team card and character abilities. They roll the dice and are looking to either damage a villain or recruit another hero. Recruiting is simple. You have to match the dice symbols on the card. If you want to damage a villain, you need to roll the dice symbols on the card. Most of the “Rising” games tell you that you can only damage a villain once on your turn. However, there are some characters that would allow you do this action twice, but overall, you deal one damage. When you roll dice, you must lock one of them on a character or villain. If you cannot, you should see if your team gives you any abilities. If there’s still nothing you can do, you must discard one dice and continue rolling. You do this until you have spent all your dice, or you’re unable to perform an action. When you recruit a character, you remove all the wounds it may have gained and place your new team member next to you. If you wounded a villain, you give them one damage cube, and gain a bonus token. If you defeated the villain, you remove it from play, and at the end of your turn, fill in all empty spaces on the board. Also at the end of your turn, if there are any hero cards filled with damage cubes, they’re removed from the game and set in a pool since losing hero cards are one of the ways you’ll lose the game.
This is, overall, how most of the “Rising” games work. But I would like to go over the differences in win/lose conditions for each.
Thanos Rising: Avengers Infinity War – You win the game by defeating seven villain cards. If you would like to enhance the difficulty, you can add more villains that need to be defeated. You lose the game if ten or more heroes are defeated at the end of any given turn, or if Thanos gathers all six infinity stones.
Star Wars: Dark Side Rising – You win the game by defeating seven villain cards. If you would like to enhance the difficulty, you can add more villains that need to be defeated. You lose the game if ten or more heroes are defeated at the end of any given turn, or if the Death Star becomes fully operational.
Harry Potter: Death Eaters Rising – You win the game by defeating Voldemort. Voldemort can only be damaged by the number of Death Eaters you’ve defeated (i.e. if you’ve only defeated one death eater, you can only damage Voldemort once, and he needs five damage to be defeated). You lose if 8,9, or 10 heroes have been defeated, it all depends on the player count, or if four locations have been corrupted.
The Batman Who Laughs Rising – You win the game by defeating the Batman Who Laughs. The Batman who laughs will be revealed on a track that gives the villains special abilities throughout the game, or hinders the heroes. You lose if the track gets filled in completely, or if ten or more heroes are defeated by the end of any given turn.
Spongebob Squarepants: Plankton Rising – You win the game by fulfilling seven food orders. You can always add more required orders if you want more difficulty. You lose if Plankton gains enough ingredients to discover the Krabby Patty secret formula, or if ten or more characters run out of time.
There is also one overall lose condition. If any player loses all members of their team, the game is lost. There are more finite details to some of these, but if you’re interested in any, I can let you discover them for yourself. Overall, like I said, the “Rising” games all have a slight difference, but one thing remains to be said.
Which one should you get?
If I had to give you an answer, it would be “whichever IP you’re interested in.” The OP has delivered a great co-operative game system that appeals to many. Do you love the MCU? Hands down, get Thanos Rising. You’ll gain the feeling of having that pressure of defeating a number of villains before Thanos obtains the infinity stones. Do you love Harry Potter? Pick up Death Eaters Rising. It has always given me that final Battle of Hogwarts feel and the big change here is that you have to defeat Voldemort instead of just ending the game with villains. Do you love Spongebob? Pick up Plankton Rising. There’s not only a great feeling of stopping him from getting the Krabby Patty formula, but the humor of the show comes through here as well. And lastly, are you a DC fan? Pick up The Batman Who Laughs Rising. While I feel that it combines a lot of changes from when the system began, it’s IP is odd. I don’t mean this in a bad way, but I do feel that a regular Justice League or Batman game would have fit the bill here. I have not read The Batman Who Laughs, but I’ve heard some odd things about it. So the theme here is good but not strong. I’ve definitely had more fun by treating it like a regular DC comics game.
That brings me to Star Wars: Dark Side Rising. I cannot recommend this game since it’s not something that can be purchased here in the US. This title was released through the EMEA distribution over publication rights. So, here at the Portal, we can’t get it for you. However, if you’re overseas reading this, I did have a good time with the game. It’s mostly similar to Thanos Rising, but parts of the Death Star have a smaller track to activate unlike each infinity stone having the same amount of time to activate. And if you enjoyed Star Wars: Rebels, this game is for you.
So should you buy a “Rising” game? Absolutely. Even though it focuses on dice, you can gain tokens, and use the synergy of your team to help bring down the bad guy. And in the end, who doesn’t love chucking dice.