I wanted to bring the basics on Dice Masters back to the front for new players and those looking to get refreshed into the game. Back at The Reserve Pool I did a series of articles for new players called “The Transition Zone”-a place for casual, kitchen table players to learn how to move more into competitive play. Today I wanted to start with one of my favorites and most often referenced articles I have done-how to start building a team in Dice Masters. I made some modern updates as well. Enjoy!
This week in The Transition Zone we will take a look at moving from the casual to the competitive world when it comes to team building. How do I move from the casual kitchen table games to games in a more competitive arena when it comes to constructing a team?
Many of you who get into this game start with an introduction to the game based on favorite characters, or starter sets or maybe a theme team or two. Once these games help you get experience under your belt, basic action cards and the wide array of globals become the next line of interest for many people. Now suddenly a new world of gameplay is revealed and you start to see how mechanisms within the game work. Combo plays open your eyes to the idea of actually building a team instead of smashing a few cards together and hoping for the best outcomes.So if you are really ready to move up, you need to start looking at construction of a team.
And at this point, building a competitive team means you want to make teams that have a high win percentage. How do I construct a team that can be competitive? What are the key components to a team build that will make sure I am covering the bases that I need to? Do I even need to cover all of the bases? Do I go all aggro, do I bring control, do I need both? How do I know what will work best?
For every team you will ever build there are a few core aspects you need to include in the construction to assure success with the team in competitive play. These components are:
There is nothing more important than this. You need to know how and why you will win the game you will be playing, and your win condition should be easy to name. You may even have a few different win conditions. But these should be easy to identify and you should know how to execute them in most game situations. Certain characters or combos work to drive your win, and you need to be able to know that above all, this is the primary means to winning. Does that mean you can’t win another way? Of course not-you can win in a variety of ways. But do not leave it to chance or extensive perfect alignment of just the right rolls of dice, the cards, the stars and the planets. Be confident and push to the win condition before you opponent can stop you.
In this game, win conditions are going to come from either combat damage or direct damage. Combat damage is going to come from characters getting past any line of defense or stops you have set up. Direct damage can come from a few different sources-character abilities, action dice or globals. Knowing what your team can do and how it does it most effectively is key to coming out on top in this game.
You will draw and roll four dice, and every single turn you will repeat this process. But what if you could roll more? Or what if you could roll exactly what you wanted? What if you can manipulate the chance that is inherent in this game and bring it down as low as possible? This is where ramp and churn come into play.
Ramp is rolling more than the four energy you will get in that repeated sidekick roll. Now just buying other dice will add to the energy potential for each roll, to a maximum of four dice giving up to eight energy. But to really take advantage of this, you need to ramp faster. There are a variety of globals, character abilities and action dice that can give you more dice to roll on your turn-knowing how to use them and especially knowing how to use them better than your opponent is key.
Churn is similar but slightly different in its definition. Churn allows us to keep certain dice, usually sidekicks, from slowing us down by keeping them out of the bag or moving them quickly through the bag. Churn allows you to roll the dice you really want and move passed ones you are less interested in. Using this may not get you more dice every turn but it will get you the dice you need when you want them. Don’t underestimate the need to have at least one if not both of these abilities on your team.
You will face characters you do not want on the opposite side of the board. These will be the big monsters who can absolutely wreck your plans or smaller, annoying control pieces that just won’t go away and can find ways to lock down your board. These guys don’t move easily, and often hurt you when you try to move them or find ways to avoid being moved in combat. So how do you address them? You need to have targeted removal options. This can look like certain globals or even character abilities like Intimidate or Call Out that target characters and allowing you to get them out of the picture. Whatever you choose, have a way to take a guy off the board.
Sometimes you will face many characters you don’t want on the board. Little weenies teams that rely on swarm or other means to flood the field can clog up the board and create a nice hefty wall that you need to get through. This could be done with direct damage, or ways to jump the wall. But there are times where you need a few characters off the board to go in and hit your opponent for damage. In these cases, you need ways to remove multiple characters. This can come from character abilities like Breath Weapon, allowing you to pay for direct damage and board clearing levels of damage, or it may come from the right combination of cards and globals being played. Just make sure that you are prepared to remove multiple characters especially if you need to swing in for your win con through combat damage.
Control or counter cards do exactly what the name would imply-they help you to control your opponent and keep them from doing what they want. It is you imposing your will on them. Control keeps them from playing their win condition or slows them down in the process of trying to use it. It can also slow down things like ramp, churn and their own counters. These cards will allow you to dictate pace, but they do not alone win you a game. Don’t rely on them to be your win conditions, but instead look at it to be a way to protect your win condition or address the meta powerhouses.
The game over the years has shifted from aggro, control and a happy medium in between those two things. Right now I feel like we are in a place where control pieces are very strong for character cards, but controlling or slowing down action dice is difficult at best.
Turn one/turn two
Every team build needs to have consistent buying in the beginning. There will always be a small amount of variation based on what you see across the table, but for the most part you should always have a solid turn one and turn two buy strategy. “If I roll this type of energy, I know my options are _____” should help point you towards your win condition. If you don’t know where you are going early, chance will be your initial driver and this game doesn’t allow for that to be successful. Minimize chance and know where you want to go. You should practice ideal rolls, sure. But more importantly what happens when you roll a single fist and two sidekicks turn one? Practice the bad rolls and know how to manage around them. Only then will you be prepared to mitigate chance in the game.
So if you are sitting down in front of your binders of cards and stacks of dice trying to figure out where to start, make sure to keep these components in mind to create a successful team. Know where you are going and know how to get there. Cover all of these bases and you know what your team can do offensively and defensively. Don’t be the guy who doesn’t know what his team is doing and you won’t be the guy whose team is losing.