With the release of the most recent Dice Masters set, it struck me that it was time for a new review article. For the Spider-Man set, I divided things up into Starter Characters, Basic Actions and Booster characters, but with the emphasis this time round being so strongly on Batman and Superman affiliations, it seemed fitting to look at them in that light.
In large part, a thematic Superman team builds itself- there are 8 different characters with the Superman affiliation, all of them from this set. They are Clark Kent, Kal-L, Krypto, Lois Lane, Power Girl, Steel, Supergirl and Superman himself. Although some of those characters have appeared in other sets (Superman, Supergirl) the affiliations were different, so you would lose a lot of synergy by bringing in a Justice League Superman or a Red Lantern Supergirl.
However, whilst the choice of which 8 characters you bring is fairly straightforward, actually putting together a viable team is tricky: the characters skew towards the expensive side, and where there are cheaper characters (Krypto, Lois Lane) they tend to be a different energy type to the big hitters who are mostly Shield energy.
Let’s have a quick look, character by character.
Lois Lane is the cheapest of the bunch, with a blank 2-cost or a choice of 3-cost options. I’ve tried a few different options so far, but I think the best in a superman team is the uncommon, who gives your other Team Superman characters +1A when attacking. As already mentioned, she’s a fist character, which is a shame, as none of the bigger folk are, and all of her abilities key off of other Team Superman characters, but she’s just too cheap to leave out.
Krypto is your other low(ish) cost character, with a blank 3-cost and a selection of 4-cost options. Again his energy type is a little unhelpful (Bolt), but there are some interesting effects on the 4-costers. “Test Pilot” gets +1A +1D for each different active Team Superman character in play, so can get monstrous late in the game, and “Super Loyal” has the Fast keyword, meaning he deals damage before other characters, potentially allowing you to knock out opposing characters and keep him in the field, despite his low defence.
The Man Himself
It’s only right that a “Team Superman” build should be focused around the last son of Krypton, The Man of Steel himself, and you’ve got (roughly) 3 different characters you can put on the team for this.
Clark Kent has a series of effects which involve you getting hold of Superman dice when he is KO-ed by combat damage. For my money, the best is the Rare, which allows you to fetch a Superman from your dice bag or used pile AND field it at level 2! With 5, 5, 6 on defence, he’s not that easily KO-ed if your opponent isn’t attacking with big characters, but otherwise, this just seems great.
In his public guise as Superman there are options again, with high-cost big-hitters, featuring Iron Will, damage cancellation globals, and a little bit of accelerated dice draw. However interesting these may be, the cost is prohibitive (7 for “Super-Strength” with Iron Will and Overcrush), and the only one I’ve seriously considered using was Hero of Metropolis, a 6-coster whose purchase price goes down by 1 for each different active Team Superman character you have active. It doesn’t take too much work to get him down to 3 or 4 cost, and make sure you bring all 4 dice, because the chances are you’ll be picking up the last one for free.
The last of the Supermen proper (depending on which earth you come from, is Kal-L, Earth 2’s slightly older Superman. He uses a re-coloured version of the Superman dice from the Justice League, with the same big numbers. Each of his versions allow you to pay a shield during your main step to give him some kind of boost: in an open format, the uncommon, “Trained by Superboy” looks best as a cost of 2 Shields makes him unblockable by anyone other than Team Superman characters, but if you think you’re likely to run into someone who has a suitable defender, it may be worth forking out the 7 for his rare version “Unmasked Wonder” – once you’ve got over the purchase cost, you only need to pay a single shield to deal his attack to every attacking character, rather than just the one he blocks.
The other character appearing in 2 versions in this team (sort of) is Supergirl. Supergirl herself is basically an immovable object, with high defence, and a mixture of abilities which make her harder to remove, whether that be Iron Will, immunities, or additional costs for opponents to target her. The rare, “Impregnable Defence” can also block a large number of weenies, but at 6-cost, I’ve never actually got her out.
Supergirl’s Earth 2 counterpart, Powergirl is another character who belongs firmly in a Team Superman build, with a series of abilities that key off of having her and another Team Superman character active. There are a lot of different directions you could take her in – extra draw, harder to block, or direct damage to opponents, but my personal favourite is Solar energy Absorption. With so many expensive characters, a Team Superman build can take a while to get going, and she can help you steady the ship if you’ve suffered too much damage setting up. Her 6 bolt cost isn’t ideal, but Krypto can help you get there.
Last on the team-sheet is Steel. Probably the least exciting of the characters, he nonetheless offers a few options, either simply as a 4-cost Shield character, or if you want to go heavy on global manipulation: his “Super Support” card forces opponents to pay and extra energy (or life) to use globals on your cards, which could be fun when combined with something like the common Kal-L, whose global allows you to swap a character’s A and D.
Overall, the possibilities for Team Superman are interesting if not earth-shattering. With a bit of luck you can get some really big hitters in play, so some kind of access to Overcrush would really benefit this team. Given the vulnerability of basic actions to opponents, I’d probably consider swapping in the Rare Mary Jane from the Spider-Man set, in place of Supergirl or Steel, to allow some in-house access.
There are a few different ways to play around with this set. You could take the Clark Kent who allows you to buy a superman for 4 life when KO-ed, the more expensive Superman with built-in Overcrush, and focus more heavily on getting the life-gain Power Girl out early, or just rely on pounding your enemy into submission with a head-on assault.
A Team Superman build isn’t particularly nuanced, nor is it massively fast, but if you can survive the early rounds, it definitely has some solid potential.
There are a few basic actions which interact directly with the Team superman affiliation. Man of Steel is a 3-cost which prevents 2 damage to a character die. Whilst this may not seem like an amazing deal, it is Continuous (it sits there until you use it), and provides cheap life-gain if you have an active Team Superman character, so is probably worth it.
To the Rescue is a bit more hit-and-miss, being a single-use dice, but it allows you to field your Team Superman characters for free, which can help with so many 2 and 3 field-costs. At only 2 energy to buy, it’s probably worth considering.
Trusted Friend looks worth bringing to the party, just for the artwork (I think Harley and Powergirl may have different feelings about the current situation), but whether you want it or not is questionable. The ability is near-useless: reducing the purchase cost of a single character by one, it’s actually WORSE on its action side than the 2 energy face. The global is a more complex issue: it allows you to give someone the Team Superman or Batman Family affiliation for the turn. If you’re relying on unblockable Kal-L, this could actively hurt you, so think carefully before you include this one.
Overall, a Team Superman build seems good within the context of World’s Finest. In an open context, I think it would be trickier to build: if you take out too many of the characters, you lose the benefit of the synergy, but you’ll need to do some tweaking to make sure all the angles are covered. Next time, I’ll be looking at their new opponents, the Batman family.