• Level Up: The Pivot

    This article is part of a series of topics intended to focus on high-level technical play and, in general, improving your playing skills. "Level up" topics go deep on a timeless aspect of the game, concepts that are unlikely to change even as cards do. Sometimes external, sometimes internal, but always about Dice Masters.

    Last time, I discussed how Dice Masters is a deck building game and the implications of that fact. These implications go far and wide (and beyond what I wrote in the article), but one of the key elements is the idea of snowballing. However, it's not just snowballing the amount of dice rolled or snowballing damage on the board.

    Rather, it's both - a snowball of resources that morphs into damage. At some point, the dice that you buy become less of a consideration and what you do with those dice becomes much, much more important.

    The point where you move from primarily ramping resources to primarily ramping damage is the "pivot" from the title, and it's an important principal that many Dice Masters players miss. Note that this doesn't mean that there's a time that you ought to stop using ramp mechanisms; quite the opposite. The issue becomes that many players mistake the crazy things that can be done with things like Professor X or Resurrection with success in the game, and that's not always the case. One must recognize that this game has an end point, and that end point has little to do with dice manipulation.

    Most often, this miss comes from a poor allocation of dice. These are the players who simply can't stop buying dice. They feel that there's energy there, and so it must be used.

    This instinct probably comes from other card games. The idea of efficiency is drilled into one's head - have a plan to spend all of your mana. If two plays are close, the "better" one is often considered the one that takes up the most mana. This is not true in Dice Masters, not if the play involves buying an unneeded die.

    Just because I can buy something does not mean that I should buy something. This temptation can often feel strong in the face of a card like the Elf Thief, but should be avoided - try to spend on globals instead if you have a dead die. If you allow your fear of Thief (or even just your fear of not spending some energy) to put an unneeded die into your bag, you really make a mess of things.

    By overbuying, you reduce the probability that you'll draw the dice that you need. You prevent yourself from moving a crucial die from used to prep with a global like Resurrection - because you still have another die in your bag that you couldn't empty out. In general, in a game that already deals with the variance of a die roll, you also add far more variance to your draw than necessary.

    Once you have your key pieces in place - other than needing to buy a counter like Prismatic Spray or a second copy of an important die - you don't need to buy anything more. Next time you play, focus on the dice that you're buying and ensure that you have a reason to do so. If you don't, axe it.
    Comments 6 Comments
    1. pk2317's Avatar
      pk2317 -
      Excellent article! Very hard habit to break.
    1. archivist's Avatar
      archivist -
      Great advice. I see this so often, in both new and veteran players. I call it "going shopping". Sometimes I coach players to bring just one die of each character (unless it's a swarm die or low purchase cost die to use as blockers or for some other combo trigger) and play a few games with this build. It removes the temptation to "go shopping" and helps build bag/cycling efficiency skills.
    1. The0retico's Avatar
      The0retico -
      Interesting. I saw this often - some players tend to buy unreasonable dice jsut because they can - like characters they run just for globals. The problem I have is buying extra dice for consistency - e.g. I buy second Polymorph to make it more likely to draw it on turn 4, because it is vey unlikely I can ramp efficiently on turn 3. Thank you for providing some food for thought!
    1. Goshawk's Avatar
      Goshawk -
      Great article. I'm very new to the game and believe this was my problem recently. We had a rather long-ish game (probably my 10th game or so), and I had what I though was a good process to create energy, more dice, etc. What I did was just what you caution against above - I was buying dice for the sake of buying them, and was buying the wrong dice.
    1. StrangeBrew's Avatar
      StrangeBrew -
      I am sure I have lost games by not knowing when to stop buying dice. Great article.
    1. Dave's Avatar
      Dave -
      Quote Originally Posted by StrangeBrew View Post
      I am sure I have lost games by not knowing when to stop buying dice. Great article.
      This could be an article on its own (and perhaps it will be!) but in general, to determine whether or not to buy, there are two things to consider:

      1) Other games, when thinking ahead, you're thinking of resource allocation. Let me use Hearthstone as an example because of the linear mana progression (you start with one and get an additional one every turn, so playing on curve is key) - if I play this four mana thing on turn four, I can now play both of these two mana and three mana things on turn five. Very basic. Here, though, you need to think more about your draw. If I buy this, how will it impact what I can get out of my bag and when? Take your ramp globals into account as well as any possible ramp disruption that your opponent has. Also consider if you can afford to field it if it comes up character.

      2) How does buying this die fit into my plan? This is obvious but still missed frequently. How does this die help me win? How does it synergize with other things?

      If you can justify it based on those points you're probably ok.