This past fortnight saw the launch of the 3rd Marvel set for Dice Masters, the 4th Superhero set, and the 6th overall.
Up until now, I’ve been buying in to the Superhero sets and trying to assemble a relatively comprehensive set of cards (aside from spending money I don’t have chasing after super-rares), but due to personal circumstances, I’d already decided that this was a set I was going to have to pass on.
Fortunately, one of the regular Dice Masters players at our local shop was buying an entire gravity feed (90 boosters, or 180 cards and dice), and he decided to organise a Rainbow draft to give us all a chance to play with some of the new characters (or possibly just to save himself a little bit of time and effort opening all the packets).
For those not familiar with it, Rainbow draft is a format for Dice Masters where players arrive without a team, and build it on the spot.
- Each player opens six random booster packs, checks that the dice match the card, and place all the dice in the middle of the table, so that all players can see how many of each character are available, the cards go in a pile face-down, so no-one else can see which version of a particular character has been drawn.
- They then choose one card from their pile (now their hand), and pass the remaining cards to the next player around the table.
- Each player takes the dice for the card he just chose (drafted) and places it in his own area
- He then picks up the pile of cards passed to him by his neighbour, and chooses another card.
- This process repeats until each player has 12 dice and cards.
- Players then open another 6 packs, and repeat the process, but this time passing the cards in the opposite direction.
- Once done, players should have 24 cards with matching dice. They then have to assemble a tournament-legal team (max 8 characters, max 20 dice, within the limits stated on the cards), adding basic actions from their own supply.
There are a few reasons why I like the Rainbow draft format. First of all, it puts players on a fairly even footing – it can be intimidating for a new player to turn up to a tournament, and discover they are facing a team built on a backbone of highly powerful super-rare cards. I remember my first tournament, where I got soundly beaten by two players with Tsarina, then crushed a guy who had brought “natural”
Secondly, it’s a good opportunity to try different cards out. If your only regular opportunity to play this game is in tournaments, then there’s always an inclination to stick with something tried and trusted that is more likely to win you the prizes. (I have an odd relationship with this game: I really don’t care about “winning” but I do want to get the Promo cards, many of which are generally given out for winning/placing well in the tournament. I went to the nationals, and missed the last 8 by making a silly mistake in my last game, to go home quite happy that I could be back an hour or two earlier, but kicking myself for missing out on the alternate art Cable and the AvX starter I needed to get extra dice…)
In many respects, the skills for playing a Rainbow draft are the same as for playing any game of Dice Masters, knowing when to spend energy and when to field characters, when to attack and when to hold things back, keeping track of the cards on the table, identifying the potentials and the dangers.
That said, there are also elements which are different. A key thing to try for is to work out early on what you’re trying to do with your team – I once won a Rainbow Draft event for the Justice League set, simply by getting an Aquaman that allowed me to buy Justice League characters cheaply, and a Martian Manhunter and Firestorm who were cheaper to buy (because they were Justice League) and could hit hard, with Overcrush and Direct Damage. By contrast, my least successful Rainbow Draft event was the one where I ended up with a single “Heroic” character.
Last Sunday, the decision basically made itself for me, when I looked at my opening hand of cards. At that point I wasn’t expecting to pick up anything besides a start for this set (although I have since received a very generous donation of some spare duplicates from a fellow-player), so knew I wasn’t likely to be seeing this card again. Plus, who doesn’t want to play a ten-cost character with up to 9 attack and built-in overcrush?
Super-Rare Thanos works with “infinity” counters (aka 1p and 5p coins I found in my wallet) – every time one of your villains does combat damage to your opponent, place an infinity counter on him – his purchase cost is reduced by two for each token. My mission was simple then – do combat damage to my opponent with villains.
I picked as many villains as I could – ideally looking for those with more than one dice, or those who didn’t cost too much. Sadly, the problem with a villain team is almost always one of cost, and the draft format doesn’t help this. Still, I managed to put together a 19-dice with 7 of the 8 characters, and 18 of the 19 dice being villains. I had the maximum 4 Thanos dice, so if I could get him cheap enough, there was potential to bring a world of pain to my opponent.
In the end, my suspicions were confirmed – the team was just too slow, and needed better ramp. I made errors along the way – failing to spot the potential of the global ability on my opponent’s Iron-Man was probably the biggest, as it would have allowed me to turn side-kicks in to villains, and attack during the first couple of turns when there were no blockers out.
I think there’s definitely fun to be had with Thanos, especially with some of the lower-cost villains who you can get out more easily in the first few turns, but it won’t be me using him again any time soon.