• Reading the Rainbow - Back to Basics

    The Rainbow Draft. Since the Mesopotamian era (3100 - 539 BCE), it has been many people's preferred way to play Dice Masters. Now, even though the Uncanny Enkidu and Gilgamesh Vs Adapa sets have both long since been taken out of rotation, it is still an exciting way to play the game. Since Shadowmeld left the keys in this perfectly good article series, I thought I would take it for a spin. Please join me for the next edition of Reading the Rainbow*!

    Staff photographer pk2317 captured the moment when Shadowmeld passed me the Torch. It was a fun day!

    If you could not already guess, this series will be devoted to playing in, having fun with, and winning Rainbow Drafts. Right out of the gate, I'd like to talk about a few basics that make me a "Crafty Drafter That Brings the Laughter". In the future, we will focus on specific sets, cards, and combos to look out for... but let's go ahead and start at the beginning. At the risk of sounding like a Buzzfeed article, let's look at the "Top 6 Friendly Rainbow Draft Tips That Will Help You Crush Your Friends"!


    The very first things to look for in any draft (after the Super Rares, of course) are inexpensive characters. Anything with a cost of one, two, or three fits this bill. Sure, you go ahead and draft Ms. Marvel.... I'll take the 2 vanilla Ant-Man. Speed kills in draft games. Since you are likely not going to be able to field a team that has a perfect set of cards that all compliment each other, GET SMALL. Almost all cheap characters can fit into any team in a draft.

    Obviously, not all 2 and 3 cost characters are created equal. Let's look at Civil War:


    As you can see, common Justice is far better than the uncommon Maria Hill. But, if the choice were the common Mary Jane instead of Maria Hill...

    ... we might have to consider which direction we are heading with our team. Inexpensive characters aren't just bodies, they can also be a great way to pick up some needed energy. If we are building toward characters, then maybe MJ is the way to go**.


    It is important to at least have a passing familiarity with the set that you are drafting. What are some of the best cards that you are most likely to see? What are some popular strategies that other people in your group like to use? Which cards have the best synergy?

    For instance, if you end up with a rare Kryptonite, be on the look out for common Kal-L. It makes for a one-sided combo that just might have flown under the radar.

    Just knowing what is in the set can help you guide your early draft picks, especially if you have a hand that isn't all that great on the surface.


    I have a friend... let's just call him Mike. Mike doesn't read The Reserve Pool on a regular basis (mistake number 1). Mike also drives about 50 miles each way to play in our Rainbow Drafts... and only ever brings two Basic Actions. This should go without saying, but I'm gonna say it anyway: BRING ALL THE BASIC ACTIONS!

    Before the draft, find out which BACs are legal. Is it anything but Swords of Relentless Light? Only Marvel? Only TMNT and YGO (for some reason)? No matter. Bring all of the actions to the draft. Since you don't know what tools you'll need for the job, bring the whole toolbox. If you end up with Babs, you are going to wish you had brought Magic Missile.

    She dropped her ice cream, and brought no BACs that would have helped her ramp.


    In Rainbow Draft games, walls are going to happen. Lots of walls. All the walls. There is simply no way around it***. Busting through a wall is going to, usually, be next to impossible. There are always tricks to make your characters unblockable, or to KO enough to get some damage through. The best strategy, however, is going to be to lob damage over the wall. Direct damage is worth its weight in gold, and this is double true in draft.

    Some examples of Direct Damage cards in Faerun Under Siege are:

    ... and anything with a breath weapon.

    Any time that you can sneak a point of damage (or two) over a wall, you can break the stalemate and go for the victory. Sometimes it may seem like it isn't doing much, but direct damage wins games in drafts.


    Both of these cards win Civil War drafts. However, you rarely (if ever), need to draft more than one of each. Or, you might feel compelled to draft a different version to keep your options open. When I draft, I assume that every good card I pass will be used against me. If I plan on sending one giant overcrushing character, for example, I cannot let my opponent draft this (even if I don't plan on using him):

    You might even surprise yourself and put a card you "hate drafted" on your team. Remember: a Rainbow Draft is really two games in one. If you can win the first game (the draft itself), you'll be in a great position to win the main event.


    One more quick tip: field Sidekicks. Unless you are doing an Uncanny X-Men draft and can use Professor X's vaunted Global, then field your Sidekicks. Not only does it get blockers out from the beginning, but it also helps you get to the dice you need much more quickly. Also, with all the effects that allow you KO things or deal a single point of damage, they turn into a source of stored energy for future turns.

    Think of fielding a Sidekick like eating an Oatmeal Creme Pie. You eat the pie and store the fat (the fielded Sidekick). Then, when you need a bit of extra energy, you use exercise (or, you know, Shocking Grasp) to release that potential energy for next turn. Then you can eat more OCPs, or enjoy the fruits of your labor by buying a five cost character. I feel the metaphor is starting to get away from me... but the point still stands. Fielding Sidekicks is perhaps the most overlooked basic Rainbow Draft strategy.

    Before I leave you this week, I'd like to do one more thing. A thing I'm calling "Six Packs In a Vacuum (Or, An Excuse to Buy Six Packs of Dice Masters)". I know the title sucks****, but stick with me here. We have six packs and, without knowing the number of dice in the rainbow or any of our cards in the second group of packs, we will try to determine our best selection.

    There are times in a draft that you'll end up passing a good card to your neighbor. In this case, we're going to be passing several. Let's take a looksie...

    Punisher - We have two different versions, but the common Unlikely Ally is probably stronger here. In drafts, it can be difficult to field multiple non-SK characters in a single turn. That being said, we have better first round picks in this hand.
    Captain Marvel and Ms. Marvel - Probably not. Although, I did recently win a draft game with Ms. Marvel (Hi Joe!).
    Rescue - Just not a powerful enough card for first pick. I have seen it used effectively, though.
    Iron Man - There will only be a few of these floating around, but he's more likely to be someone we grab in the middle or near the end when pickings are slim.
    Maria Hill - As we discussed above: she is inexpensive, but we have better choices coming up.
    Goliath - Since we've done our homework, we know that he has one of the two character Globals in the set. Hopefully he'll wheel, although depending on our team we may not want to give our opponent a way to pump up their characters.
    Speedball - Here we go. This card wins drafts. There are very few cards I'll pick over common Speedball (Uncommon Venom comes to mind). This cat can stop most draft strategies.
    Rocket Racoon - If your draft allows Vicious Struggle, then this is the card for you. He's from the starter, so you know there will be very few of them floating around anyway. His cost of 2 with a great stat line (1/1, 3/1, 4/1) makes him fantastic in draft.
    Black Widow - Another starter character, this is the defensive all star in Civil War Rainbow Drafts. This card has shut down my strategies in the past. At our last CW draft, in fact, a player used this to keep almost all of my sidekicks on the board and out of rotation for energy or Venom damage. She always has to be considered.

    Our real choice is between the last three cards I mentioned. I'm tempted to say Speedball, but Rocket (if VS is allowed and if you are a jerk) and Black Widow are also valid choices. If you have any thoughts, let me know in the comments!

    That wraps it up for this edition of Reading the Rainbow. I hope everyone enjoyed it. Starting next week, I'm going to try something that has never been tried (as far as I know) with a series on The Reserve Pool. Also, with Rainbow Draft Weekend 2 coming up, remember to go back and visit previous editions of this series. Shadowmeld has several great articles about sets that you are likely to see (and that you likely haven't drafted for awhile).

    Until then, crack some packs and get set to draft!

    * Now with 100% more Narwhal.
    ** Although I would be hard pressed to ever pass Common Justice in a Civil War draft.
    *** Pun totes intended.
    **** Pun super totes intended.
    Comments 7 Comments
    1. IsaacBV's Avatar
      IsaacBV -
      Love it! Glad to see RtR back, glad to see it piloted by one of my favorite writers as well! 100% Narwhal ftw!
    1. POWatson's Avatar
      POWatson -
      Uncommon Marduk was a total gamechanger. Marduk Mash dominated the meta for 200+ years. You kids have no idea how good you have it.
    1. CeeQue's Avatar
      CeeQue -
      I was sad when the team brew switcharoo hiatus was announced. But I hoped the returning feature might be the six pack. This is so much that and more!
    1. Mausphart's Avatar
      Mausphart -
      As a physics teacher I was going to call you out on your vacuum pun but you trumped me with the wall pun. Great job and welcome back 6 pack!
    1. OddballNarwhal's Avatar
      OddballNarwhal -
      Quote Originally Posted by Mausphart View Post
      As a physics teacher I was going to call you out on your vacuum pun but you trumped me with the wall pun. Great job and welcome back 6 pack!
      As a physics user, I agree that you should have called me out. Thanks for not doing that, though, and I'm glad you enjoyed the article!

      Quote Originally Posted by CeeQue View Post
      I was sad when the team brew switcharoo hiatus was announced. But I hoped the returning feature might be the six pack. This is so much that and more!
      Yeah, Switcharoo got Switchcanned... for now. I think drafting, much like Kickboxing (at least per Lloyd Dobber), is the sport of the future.

      Quote Originally Posted by POWatson View Post
      Uncommon Marduk was a total gamechanger. Marduk Mash dominated the meta for 200+ years. You kids have no idea how good you have it.
      I know, right? I routinely invite them to vacate my personal grass area... what, with their fancy internets and Marilyn Mansons.
    1. StrangeBrew's Avatar
      StrangeBrew -
      Great article. Looking forward to more of the RTR reboot.
    1. Awesome Dave's Avatar
      Awesome Dave -
      Oddball, this is great stuff. Thanks as always! I hereby pledge to read this new series with devout interest.

      That taken care of, I'd now like to whine and moan and stomp my feet and beg for you to reconsider keeping switch-a-roo alive! I can't begin to tell you how many fun and crazy new combos that article series has taught me and my family (five of us play). You can't in good conscience abandon an entire family to the dark, cold, cruel world of non-switch-a-roo-ness, can you?

      Pretty please? With a pile of SR's on top [ or, feel free to insert your favorite replica for the standard 'cherry' in this plea]?

      Can you at least work in some sort of crazy combo mini-feature, like maybe with the six-pack? Drafting is indeed my favorite way to play, but I can't afford to do so often. I love the cross-set combos that come completely out of left field that I used to find time and again in your stellar column.

      Gandalf the Gray would want you to continue. So would Gandalf the White. Pretty sure of it.