In a break from the recent tide of Arkham content, I wanted to drop in again on a topic that’s been a bit quiet on here for a while: Dice Masters.
It’s no secret that our local Dice Masters scene has been struggling for numbers: we managed a very successful Regional Championship at our FLGS back in November, but December’s tournament (open, constructed, but with prize-priority going to those using at least 4 dice from the recent Dr Strange set) was another flop with only me and one other turning up, not enough to run the event (in the end we had 1 game of Destiny then went home).
The Thursday between Christmas and New Year had been designated the Wizkids mega-day, and they were running events for Heroclix, Attack Wing, and various other games including, of course, Dice Masters.
After some long Facebook discussions, they’d settled on a 1-set-only constructed format – aside from AvX (banned for reasons of availability), you could bring dice from any set, so long as they were all from the same set. It was going to be touch and go again for numbers, but I like the team-building challenge that this sort of event creates, so I went along, armed with a team, plus a box from another set. In the end, there were only 2 of us: me plus the shop’s WizKids event organiser (he probably has an official title, but I don’t know it). One of our regulars was off with the flu, and his daughter is reliant on him for transport. Others were still busy with family etc. Still, I managed to give both my main and my back up teams a run-out, and wanted to share some thoughts on them.
Part I – Dawn of Justice
The set I had chosen for the event was Justice League – the third released overall, and the first DC (as opposed to Marvel) set. There are a good number of characters in the set with the Justice League affiliation, and they have a fair amount of synergy between them.
I’ve used variations on this build in the past – it can do quite well in limited formats (there’s a commons and starters only version which works quite well), but is just too slow for Regional-championship style events. For today though, I was optimistic.
I had also been wanting to take another look at this set since we did the DC Bombshells OP Kit a few months back – the OP Stargirl finally gave me a use for a set of dice that were otherwise doing nothing, and felt like it might add the missing ingredient this team needed.
In the end, I went with the following line-up:
- Aquaman – Arthur Curry
- Batarang – Tool of the Bat
- Batman – World’s Greatest Detective
- Firestorm – Atom Rearranger
- Green Lantern – Willpower
- Martian Manhunter – Green Martian
- Stragirl – DC Bombshell
- Wonder Woman – Champion of Themyscira
Basic Actions: Assemble! and Teamwork
First two purchases for this build (dice permitting) are always Aquaman, who reduces the purchase cost of Justice League characters by one, and Wonder Woman, who reduces their field cost by one. All the characters in the team have the Justice League affiliation, and the Batarang is the only card without it.
Of the remaining characters, Stargirl spins herself and other affiliated characters up a level, Firestorm does a bit of targeted damage, ideal for clearing out sidekicks, or glass cannons like Quicksilver and Ant-Man (both of whom I ran into this time out). Manhunter has good numbers and overcrush, Batman gives you healing along with a bit of direct damage. Lastly, Green Lantern is the card half-elf Bard should have been: an attack boost for all your characters, but capped at 2, and on a 6-cost character, so a good closer, but not a turn-3 death sentence.
The basic action cards played very little part- I didn’t buy Teamwork, although it could have added a little to what I was doing – technically, of course, this is an OP card, and some might argue that it’s an AvX card, either way, I don’t think it would have made much difference if I’d removed it (also, I just really love this card- I once gave it a whole article to itself). Assemble! was mostly chosen as I thought it was too expensive for there to be much chance of it being using against me, but again, I think I would have got more use out of it than my opponent, if I had wanted to shell out the 5 needed.
As it turned out, for my control option, Constatine: Hellblazer would have been a better option than Batarang, as most of the damage I took came from Shadowcat, but overall, this team works well, so long as the game isn’t going to be over inside 5 turns. I won my first game, lost the second after a massive swing reduced him to 2, but left me with an open field, then won the last fairly comfortably by the time we’d both figured out what the other was trying to do and I was able to keep the field full until I could get the critical hit off.
Part II – Keeping it in the Family
As there were only 2 of us there, after the first match was over, I threw together a team from the other set I’d brought with me, World’s Finest. Keeping the Jingle Bells theme going, I opted for a “Batman Family” team. I mentioned Alfred on here a few weeks ago, as a card I was really impressed with at Regionals, and after he failed to get his day in the sun alongside Wong in the flying Sidekick team I’d built for the Dr Strange event, he was my first pick, followed by the remarkably powerful Bruce Wayne Uncommon.
In the end, the team looked like this:
- Alfred Pennyworth – MI5
- Batgirl – Stealth bat
- Batman – Natural Leader
- Bruce Wayne – Matches Malone
- Catwoman – Former Burglar
- Commissioner Gordon – Rallying the GCPD
- Oracle – Hacker
- Robin – Kid Detective
Basic Actions – Teamwork, Vigilante Justice
This build definitely had a few kinks in it that could have done with a bit of play-testing to iron out. For one thing, Alfred is a 2-cost, 4-dice blocker with zero total field cost, making him an ideal early purchase – however, he’s also the only Shield character in the team, meaning it has a slight tendency to ramp into a dead end.
Catwoman and Batgirl are both hard to block, along with being cheap, but I mostly just sat them out in the field along with Oracle who I didn’t really use in the first game, but proved to be a real game-changer in the second.
Once you have a string of Batman family characters fielded, Batman himself can be recruited for very little (I don’t think I ever paid more than 2), while Bruce Wayne – probably the card in this set that feels almost broken – is the ideal companion to get him into play, and damage your opponent at the same time.
I like the variety of options that this build has – you can get a lot of damage through from Barbara and Selina if your opponent sticks out a wall of sidekicks, or you can overwhelm them by building up weight of numbers, with some characters getting really big (Robin is a 6A, 4D minimum when Batman is out). In the second game, I used teamwork for a massive swing, and even managing to block half a dozen of the biggest hitters, 4x Alfred the Butler for 25 damage was an impressive sight to behold.
For something flung together in a few minutes, this build acquitted itself really well. There are other characters that tempt me from the Batman family – either the rather expensive rare Dick Grayson (6 cost but gets +2A, +2D and becomes (essentially) unblockable when a Bat-family dice is KO-ed), or one of the various versions of Nightwing, who all deal damage to target characters when they attack – I think the play here is to take the common Nightwing, and have him take out one of your own characters as he attacks, to ensure maximum Grayson carnage. Of course, the difficulty with those changes (aside from not owning the rare) is what to swap out – probably Commissioner Gordon and Catwoman would give way, along with Batgirl for the super-rare version would be the optimum version.
As an aside, it’s also worth mentioning the amount of double-duty you have people doing in this team – Bruce Wayne, Batman, Dick Grayson, Nightwing, Robin, Batgirl and Oracle – they may look like 7 characters, but they could easily be only 3 different people!
Overall, I really enjoyed getting some games of Dice Masters in, and in particular getting in some games with dice that don’t hit the table all that often. As far as I’m aware Oracle is the only card across the 16 which gets a regular spot in top constructed teams, although my estimation of Alfred as a blocker continues to go up – he just doesn’t go away.
For 2017, I think the store will be pushing Dice Masters events fairly heavily again, and hopefully the local player-base will be back to a state of health. I know for a fact that neither of these teams would have been quick enough to survive in an open format, so I hope we continue to do various limited formats – I’d be keen to see an “any Marvel” or “any DC” event (they could even do “Any D&D” although I wouldn’t be taking part in that one).
As a final Christmas cherry on top of the afternoon’s gaming, I walked away with 2 very nice cards as a reward for my efforts (in turning up, more so than in winning). Neither of these are cards I use particularly often, but they’re certainly both playable, and it’s nice to have something unique to show for the day.