• How It Works: Your Life Total

    It's been a bit since we did a How It Works, but today I wanted to talk about one of the most important parts of this game, your life total. Your opponent's life is your objective, and your life is a precious resource that must be protected lest you end up losing all of it. Today we will talk about your life, how to use it, lose it and gain it back.

    First things first, let's lay down the basics of life in this game:

    -Each player starts with 20 life.
    -Life can't go above 20.
    -The first player to 0 life loses.

    Let's look at the ramifications of each of these basics and how we can value certain game effects, because of them.

    With a value of 20 health as our goal, team design should look to deal 20+ damage in a single blow, or in reliable chunks of damage that hit 20. We can chip away at our opponent, but dealing one or two points a turn leads us to needing 10 turns before we can win. On the other hand, chipping away at health can bring the 20 value down to a more manageable number to obtain in one turn.

    With life unable to go above 20, we find Life gain to be a limited strategy, and more of a tool to mitigate chip than to prevent your opponent from winning. Gaining 10 life a turn doesn't stop you from losing 20, and with powerful cards like Half-Elf bard allowing teams to easily swing for 30+ damage, losing 20 is very possible.

    Lastly, the first one to 0 loses, meaning, that even in situations where you dealing damage to your opponent would trigger an effect that would kill you, since your damage resolves first, you still win. There are only a few exceptions of effects that deal damage to both players simultaneously, and it is these effect that can cause a draw in a round.

    Now, we've talked about what life means, and how it works, but what can we do to get the most out of it?

    There are some innate ways to use life as a tool to help you win. First, if you don't draw enough dice in your Clear and Draw step, you lose a life and gain a generic energy, effectively letting you spend life to gain resources.

    Second, when you are attacked, you can let characters go unblocked to take damage, but force those characters to be sent to the Used pile. Thus you can use life as a resource to remove characters from the field.

    We also have some popular card mechanics that trade life for an advantage. The Basic Action Viscous struggle can trade 1:1 damage taken for damage dealt, while its effect is active. Silver Surfer lets you trade 2 life for a drawn and prepped die. Many game effects in Civil War let you trade 1:1 for life from each player, including Rocket Raccoon and the Luke Cage global.

    As you can see, there are several ways to use life as a secondary resource to gain a small margin of advantage. A lesson competitive players learn early is, "It's not over until you're at 0", and this game, more than other Collectibles, this couldn't be more true. In Dice Masters if your opponent attacks and can't kill you, he loses much of his board state, possibly putting him behind you in tempo and aggression. So long as you can reliably prevent him from reestablishing a threatening posture before you can win the game, you lost life doesn't matter. Remember that the only point of life that matters is the one right before 0, so play your game and plan to win, until you lose.
    Comments 4 Comments
    1. The Mad Pierrot's Avatar
      The Mad Pierrot -
      Awesome article! I remember hearing you talk about this once on the podcast and as a new player, realizing I can utilize my life points as a means of "character removal" (take a hit to move to the used) really changed the way I play the game.
    1. StrangeBrew's Avatar
      StrangeBrew -
      If a new player could only learn one lesson from an experienced player in Dice Masters, it should be "Life is a resource", hands down. Once I learned it in the back of my head, down in the lizard brain, I started winning more games overnight with no other changes. Same cards, same dice, same opponents. Better pilot. Great article.
    1. Mordred414's Avatar
      Mordred414 -
      This happened to me just this past week. I was at 20, my opponent 15. I could do 14, and thought I had it in the bag, because if I could just survive one more turn, I could Red Dragon Global his last life away. I swung for 14 unblockable damage (Rare AVX Angels boosted with Blessing and an uncommon S.H.I.E.L.D. Helicarrier) and saved a couple sidekicks to block on my opponent's turn. I was going to beat Bard Blitz with a completely non-meta team! I was so pleased with myself!

      My opponent got a perfect roll and swung in for 22.

      Moral of the story? Wait til you have that one extra damage. This game can swing crazy fast.

      I quote Magic: Duels of the Planeswalkers on Xbox: "Having one life is fine, as long as your opponent has zero."
    1. BenSaidScott's Avatar
      BenSaidScott -
      Heroic Defense plus End of Days triggered by using Ultraman makes me wish life could go above 20. Regularly gain 15 life a turn using that team.