• Level Up: To Buy or Not To Buy

    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.

    The previous article about overbuying and the "pivot" - the point at which you start exchanging resource shenanigans for damage output - was met with some comments, PMs, and email wherein many Dice Masters expressed the same sentiment. In short, many players have realized that they over-ramp and/or over buy at times. If this is you, know that you are not alone! Many players, both new and experienced, have discovered this shortcoming in their game. Today's article should provide at least one methodology to help get around this obstacle.

    From my perspective, there are three things to consider:

    [top]Forget What You've Learned


    A lot of these decisions have to do with looking ahead. Buying dice is not about the turn that you are on, it's about the turns that you will have in the future. You must consider this when making any decision as to the allocation of dice.

    In other games, when thinking ahead, you're frequently thinking of resource allocation. Let me first use Hearthstone as an example because of the linear mana progression - you start with one, and gain an additional one each turn so by turn four, I have four mana, turn five I have five, and so on. The thought process there is, given equal quality plays, if I play this four mana thing on turn four instead of this three mana thing, I can now play both of these two mana and three mana things on turn five.

    Similarly, in Magic, if I have five mana up, I would be more likely to play the card that takes up most of that cost now (unless I'm saving for an instant on my opponent's turn) than to play less. The next turn, I know I'll have at least five mana, and with card draw giving me new potential options, I may have a better play in that way. Very basic and easy to do because you can know for certain how many resources you have to spend on future turns. This was somewhat recently covered as a basic heuristic for Magic strategy on the reputable Limited Resources podcast.

    So yeah, forget all of that.

    None of that is the case in Dice Masters. There is no guarantee whatsoever as to your future available energy. You may roll all energy. You may roll zero energy. Your opponent may make a play that hurts your ability to ramp. As a result you must forget the lessons from those other games, because you can't play with the same level of resource certainty. Instead, you should think more about your draw, which you can control. 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 and plan out the ways that you can curate your bag. And, of course, consider heavily any possible ramp disruption that your opponent has.

    [top]Still, don't forget the costs


    From a cost perspective, you may also want to consider if you can afford to field it if it comes up character or have a use for it if it is an action. If you draw it, what else are you likely to draw with it? Can I field everything that I'll want to field on such a turn? Am I going to need another die in the field more than this one, making this one a potentially dead die for a while? Especially if it comes up a character face? Is its energy or fielding it going to impact my ability to ramp effectively?

    It can be easy to swing too far the other way on this issue and ask too many questions, thereby finding ways to justify not making a purchase even in situations where buying the die is prudent. Learn to be discriminate when asking things like the above. If the answer is that you need the die, then you need the die! Just know why - don't be impulsive. In general, the theme of this series as well as The Attack Zone Podcast is not just to make the right play in the moment, but to know why it is the right play so that you can make it always.

    In general, these decisions must be made more tactically (adjusting to circumstances) since the variance of dice can throw any long-term plan to the wolves, especially if that long-term plan is too inflexible.

    [top]Stick To the Plan


    Just because you need to be tactical doesn't mean that the plan goes out the door once the game begins. The important question to ask is - 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? Sometimes in asking this question you may realize that a card actually has no place on your team. After all, with only so many slots, cards and their corresponding dice must have some sort of purpose.

    Other times, you may see that someone bought the die that they put on a card that was only included for its global. This is the quintessential "I feel like I need to buy something" play. In this case, while the die may be on the card, that's been done purely out of necessity. It's best to forget about those dice unless you have a clear reason for it, or if it is a luxury you can afford.

    Back in DCJL draft, a friend managed to put together the Flash/BAC bounce team. It's not as good as bolts are in that format, but it can be competitive. He bombed out. Why? After the Flash and the Lex and the actions, he just kept buying things. He couldn't get the actions and Flash dice through his bag on a reliable basis and so Flash couldn't hit consistently. He admitted that he wasn't sure why he did this afterward - he just felt like he should be buying dice because he had the energy.

    In that instance, he let the plan get away from him. He had he right dice in place at first, but by being too liberal in his resource allocation as the game went on, he couldn't execute.

    * * *

    When you're developing your team and learning to use it most effectively, understanding the tactical nuance to your overall strategy will give you the knowledge to avoid overbuying or otherwise poorly allocating resources. Recognize the differences between Dice Masters and other games and plan out your draws as best as you can and you ought to see improved results.
    Comments 3 Comments
    1. jourdo's Avatar
      jourdo -
      I am totally guilty of overbuying. I need to learn to just say no.
    1. Son of 'L's's Avatar
      Son of 'L's -
      Great article.

      I thought I'd offer an example from my own experience about 'avoiding temptation'.

      At a local weekly event last weekend I ran a team which was centered around Sinestro - Corps Namesake and the common elf thief.
      There were several turns over the event where I would field an Elf Thief, steal the last bit of energy from my opponent's reserve pool, and use that energy to field a Sinestro, which would then go through unblocked in my attack step.

      The point is there were several turns on the day where I could have fielded Level 2 or Level 3 Elf Thieves and chose not to do so, because I didn't have any Sinestros out on those turns. Elf Thief was on the team to disrupt my opponent's ability to pay the cost of blocking Sinestro. Fielding those dice and potentially getting them stuck in the field where I wouldn't be able to take advantage of Elf Thief's "when fielded" ability wasn't going to help my long term goal.

      And even being fully aware of exactly why I was doing it, it always felt at least a tiny bit weird to simply move those dice to the used pile (at the end of my main step) rather than field them. But with the deck I was playing, that was the right move.
    1. Jwannabe's Avatar
      Jwannabe -
      Excellent article as always. A good example of this is cycling "when fielded effects".

      Elf thief is the most popular at the moment so I will discuss it. At a 2 cost, it is very easy to buy 4 every game.

      Or

      You can buy 1 or 2 and use a golem or blue eyes to guarantee cycling them every turn and be able to get your win condition through your bag more consistently.

      Parallax can also make the need to purchase excessive copies of dice pointless by smoothing out rolls or reusing dice effects multiple times.

      There are other examples of leaner purchasing patterns, but elf thief was easiest to explain.

      I appreciate you opening this discussion, I understand the principle but enjoy thinking and analyzing my playstyle compared to others.