I said a little while ago, that Dice Masters is a game which poses quite a few challenges for me.
I’ve never been the world’s most competitive gamer. I don’t set out to win at all costs – obviously it’s nice to have at least a sense of being in the game, but the overall outcome isn’t a big deal.
However, what I do like, are promo cards – there are a lot of promos out there that offer interesting new takes on characters, or make certain builds that bit more viable. Given that WizKids OP kits generally involve a participation card (or 2) and a prize card, I don’t want to do so badly that I miss out on some of the cards.
As I’ve lamented on here in the past, our local Dice Masters community was reduced to near-extinction this spring, and for a while, there was no play happening at all. Right now, we’re back to monthly tournaments, with an average turn-out of 3 or 4, which means I can experiment a bit, and still (hopefully) take home the promos, as the turnout is low enough to finish last and still get the prizes.
When trying to build a competitive, constructed team, there are a few characters that tend to appear early on, which cost 2. This led me to wonder something: was it possible to build an entire team of 2-cost characters? (obviously, it’s possible, but would it be any good). I’ve been playing the game long enough, and have made it to enough OP events that I had a fairly good set of dice available to me (Civil War is the only Superhero set where I’m missing multiple commons and uncommons), and I eventually went for the following
Iron Fist: (Rainbow Draft 20015)
Mary Jane: MJ (AS)
The opening for this team is fairly straightforward: turn 1, you want 4 energy including a mask: you buy a Big Entrance, stick it straight in the dice-bag, then use the global on Villainous Pact to draw a dice. With any luck, this means 4 character dice going straight into the bag on turn 2.
To get an idea of how fast this team can be, a perfect roll turn 2 (Action for Big Entrance, and Fists or Question Marks on the 4 sidekicks) can put 4 Guy Gardeners in the bag – as 2 of his character faces have a 0 field-cost, it’s not beyond the realms of possibility to be swinging for 20+ damage on turn 3.
Even though the perfect storm of an opening won’t go off very often, this team still covers a lot of bases. Guy Gardener and Tsarina are both really good attacking characters – they hit hard and Tsarina’s spin down/take damage effect can really eat away at your opponent’s life.
MJ adds overcrush, in case your opponent manages to get a wall of sidekicks in the way of Guy, and if you can manage to get a decent lead in the life stakes, Rocket deals a damage to each player when he attacks, which speeds the game up, hopefully in your favour.
On the control side, Beast is still my favourite blocker in the game: gaining life for being KO-ed whilst blocking is always a good start, and being able to damage the opponent as well on the burst level, is even better. Constantine’s protection against “When Fielded” effects can completely nullify some teams, and Iron Fist’s ability to reduce damage from character abilities also neutralises a lot of the death-by-a-thousand-cuts tactics out there.
Pepper Potts is probably the dice that fits here least well: gaining extra defence when blocking is generally a good thing, and certainly helps against bit-hitters with Overcrush, but it runs slightly in the opposite direction to Beast (who wants to be KO-ed), and was a bit tricky to balance.
I played two matches in the tournament. The first was against a fairly inexperienced player, who was using a Civil War team – Having Iron fist on hand to nullify Black Widow, Venom and Moonstone left him with no really option besides wearing me down with combat damage, and my team was much too fast for that. A fairly comfortable 2-0 victory.
The second match was against a slightly more experienced player, with a more diverse team. He had lots of dice acceleration – I was able to control the Gambit “When Fielded” with Constantine, but the Beast who draws dice when he blocks did help him keep rolling lots of dice turn-by-turn.
The first game in the second match, I got a quick-ish start, and was able to get him down to a lowish life-total. From there, the game bogged down, but I had enough of a lead to grind out a win.
In the second game, I just couldn’t get going: the main problem was that I completed failed to roll characters with Guy and Tsarina. I let some attacks go through in the hope of having a clearer field to attack into, and when I failed to get the characters to attack with, I found myself a bit behind. Despite having masses of dice acceleration, he didn’t really have a killer character (something like a Hulk or a Thanos would have destroyed me, and done it quickly), and this game got really slow in the middle. Looking back, I should have stocked up on Beasts and a Pepper or two, and I could have ground out a draw. As it was, I stayed fairly aggressive, and was eventually overwhelmed with sheer weight of numbers. 1-1 for the match, and with only a minute left, we called it a draw.
The third match finished 0-0 after the hour had elapsed, meaning I won the tournament overall.
We were using the DC Bombshells OP kit which, aside from having art that I really like, contained some cards that look really useful. The Stargirl will definitely find a place in my Justice League team, and the Lois Lane who gives Superman Overcrush could be useful too.
The alt-art version of Mera is unlikely to get much use, as I don’t like the high variance of the global ability, but still a nice card to have in the collection.
One thing which I did find quite surprising on Sunday, was the fact that both my opponents were running Songbird. Obviously having 2-cost characters is useful in teams that aren’t based entirely around low-cost, but I never saw her ability get triggered. The fact that she is a villain meant that I couldn’t use the Villainous Pact action dice to force through attacks, and she’s big enough for a 2 coster, that she was part of what eventually wore me down in the one game I lost. Still, I feel like there are better options out there (if you go up to 3-cost, the Uncommon is a virtually indestructible blocker).
Reflections on the team of 2
Ultimately, I was pretty pleased with the performance of this team. It can do a lot, and can be played aggressively (smash with Guy before they get set-up) or defensively, (getting Iron Fist and Constantine out first). With a turnout of 3, we all got the promos, so an overall win was definitely just a bonus. That said, I’ve encountered a lot of stronger builds in the past that this would have struggled against.
In terms of changing this team, there are a few possibilities. The bolt characters seem like the obvious place to make the cuts – Pepper in particular felt surplus much of the time. If I was sticking with the “Everything costs 2” theme, I’d probably go for the Civil War Maria Hill who can block any number of sidekicks, as this makes life easier when an opponent tries to swarm you (I considered her this time, but only have 1 die for her, and everywhere locally is out of Civil War boosters).
If I were to stray a little from the starting concept, I think there are definitely some higher-cost cards that could make this team really sing. The rare Lantern Ring from War of Light would have won me the game I lost, as all those characters I failed to roll would have been converted to direct damage from sitting on the energy.
Failing that, the sheer number of cheap dice this team accumulates, along with a little draw from the global means that you often have energy you just can’t spend. Possibly, I might consider a really high-cost basic action, although this would limit the early-game rush.
Overall, I think the best bet would be a massive character – Hulk is the obvious option with all those fists, but I’m still itching to actually get Natalya Romanova unleashed in a game situation – I don’t think I’d use both, as I’d have to cut Pepper and Rocket to fit them in, and that would mean no Bolt characters, making it that bit harder to hit 7 AND a Bolt/? On the same turn. Unblockable Thanos would also be a good finisher for this team.
Hopefully with play at the FLGS resuming, I’ll be able to post more on Dicemasters in the coming weeks and months. We’re going to be doing a Rainbow draft of Flash/Green Arrow when it comes out, and our FLGS has been confirmed as one of the 4 venues in the UK to get a WizKids Regional (finally some reward for the never-ending string of Heroclix posts on the Facebook group, as I think it’s the success of Heroclix OP that has secured it). Keep checking back here for updates.