• Energy Identity


    Once, a long time ago (ok, "long" relative to how long Dice Masters has been around), I wrote an article wondering about the so-called energy pie of this game, a concept I related to the color pie found in Magic: The Gathering, type in Pokemon, and the like. Ostensibly, the energy types in Dice Masters are supposed to be reflective of the abilities and persona that the representative character inhabits. Sometimes we've seen the mark hit, dead on. Other times, perhaps it has been a miss. I thought I'd look at each energy type, talk about what I think it means, and give the best and... least good example of each.

    [top]Mask


    Mask is pretty interesting, because it is supposed to represent cunning, stealth, and general wits over brawn. The Ravenclaw of Dice Masters, if you will. Masks have dominated the game in one form or another - consider the Relentless global, powered by masks and now banned. Consider Professor X, powered by masks and going strong. I think the best example of a mask is the Elf Thief from Dungeons and Dragons: Faerun Under Siege.

    I'm not picking the thief because of how ubiquitous the card has been. I think it embodies the spirit of what mask is. Thief, especially its common iteration, allows for cost avoidance and also the pilfering of energy. Mask has always struck me as a control oriented color (see also: Oracle or Ronin) and the ability of Thief to circumvent certain game mechanisms and make life more difficult for the other player seems particularly mask-y to me.

    As for the worst? I'd have to say Multiple Man: Pile On! Now, note that I'm not saying that Multiple Man is a bad card - it's just not a great mask in this particular iteration! Of the fifteen cards that have been printed with the Swarm keyword, eight are fist, well over 50%. And they've been particularly memorable fist characters as well, especially the venerable Kobald and Stirge. The Swarm keyword is certainly on-theme with the character, it just doesn't seem to fit the energy type. Part of that is a limitation of the dice. It wouldn't be easy to make one version of Multiple Man a fist and the others mask or something like that. In fact, this guy probably had to have Swarm lest there be an uproar - I just don't think it fits mask particularly well.

    [top]Fist


    Fist is about the brawny bruisers, loads of physical damage just pouring out all over the place or at least some representation of physical prowess. There are lots of ways that we've seen this communicated in Dice Masters, especially in regards to global abilities. The vast majority of globals that have granted an attack bonus have been fist-powered - Cone of Cold and Anger Issues among them. And what a better energy type to power such a strategy?

    In the cast of Fist, there are several strong contenders for the best representation of the character. Still, I'm going to go with Guy Gardner: Blinding Rage. The fist character that was so aggressive, he inspired a full-art prize card and the first banning in the history of the game. How's that for a punch to the face? Guy is pure physical damage, coming straight at you every turn since he is constantly required to attack. Not only is this on-theme for the feisty Lantern, it's a great representation of a fist character in the game.

    That's not to say that all fist characters have been great at staying on theme.

    Agent Carter's rare, "Answered the Call," has an ability that screams mask, or perhaps shield, to me far more than fist. It reads, "While Agent Carter is active, Sidekick character cost 1 more to field." Once again, I don't think that this is a bad card by any means! It's a pretty cool card. Still, the control that it provides doesn't seem to fit with fist. Not to mention her stat line, which emphasizes defense over offense.

    [top]Shield


    Shield characters are those that emphasize defense, whether through stat lines favoring protection or abilities that offer some degree of damage mitigation or prevention. I would say that these abilities have to be inherent to the card itself and not a side effect of what the card makes possible. For example, Constantine "Hellblazer" can certainly prevent "when fielded" damage from occurring, but that isn't the sole purpose of his ability, just a side effect.

    Among the best would be Human Paladin "Lesser Emerald Enclave." With a global ability that provides a nice amount of damage reduction and an active ability that protects from globals, Paladin does a nice job at shielding your own side of the board while not necessarily impacting the other. I think that is a key element of shield - it should not seek to be an aggressive piece, but rather a protective piece.

    The worst character at representing shield is a tough one, because shield seems to go all over the piace on theme. Luckily, there is one shield character in particular that just completely ignores any semblance of shield being protective: Half-Elf Bard: Master Lord's Alliance. Let's ignore for a second the fact that it's ability is the most "pushed" ability we've seen in the game before and since. Let's ignore it's position in the meta. Let's focus on the fact that a character with an energy type that is primarily about protection has an ability that not only promotes attacking, but also pours on the physical damage? It's a slap in the face to the theme of the energy type in addition to whatever problems you think it causes with the game.

    [top]Bolt


    Bolt is a place where I like to live. I love direct damage. I love it in aggressive decks, I love it in controlling decks. I just do. And that's what bolt provides - immediate damage to the face. It is truly wonderful. Bolt characters should be about that "ranged" sort of damage, whether large or small, or otherwise charging things up in some way, shape, or form.

    I would also submit that bolt has been the most on-theme color. I can't name just one great representative in the bolt category. Gobby, at least three different Firestorms, Human Torch, Quicksilver, Blue Beetle, Merlyn, and so many more all do a great service to Bolt characters and their means of doing direct damage. Bolt probably saw its heyday in DC Justice League draft and in-set play, running teams like Firestorm/Cheetah/Hawkman/Blue Beetle/Red Tornado, and whatever else you could get in there. Another strong point for bolt were some of the Jinzo/Nova control teams, like the one that JT and I took to PDC States in West Virginia early in 2016.

    That's not to say that all of the Bolt characters have been wonderful. Oh, my, no.

    Apocalypse: Awakened has absolutely no business being in this energy type. First, his stat line indicates either fist or shield - it's a lot of damage and also a lot of defense. His ability is all shield, granting +5 defense on the turn he is fielded. It's a real head-scratcher. There is very little about him that is representative of what bolt characters tend to embody. His uncommon and rare are just as bad, pointing to what may have better been served as a shield character. We have example after example of amazing, on-theme bolt cards. Apocalypse simply misses the mark and is a Bolt-poser.

    Boo!



    I myself would like to see a hard look at the identity of each energy type in Dice Masters. Too many of them can operate as a jack of all trades, and also the master of all of them too by giving them tools that work for anything. While it may be more an exercise in theme for this game, given that we have no deckbuilding restrictions whatsoever, it would certainly do more to make the theme come alive beyond just sharing the names and artwork of familiar superheroes.

    What say you, dice fans? What cards represent their type well? What cards do so poorly? Tell us in the comments!
    Comments 4 Comments
    1. pk2317's Avatar
      pk2317 -
      I counter you with Apocalypse: Earth-295
    1. Lordfajubi's Avatar
      Lordfajubi -
      Wolverine: pretty much any of them but Canucklehead in paticular is textbook fist

      Spider-Man: Any of them should be masks, fists meh ok I guess, bolts? Um no

      Captain America: Super Soldier-Supreme defense ability and a fist character??? What!?

      Magneto: any-should have been bolt, maybe shield but not mask.

      Aunt May: any of them-not sure what I would make her but an 80 year old woman as a shield, um no

      Hulk: Green Goliath- textbook fist

      Juggernaut: textbook shield

      Pretty much all I can think of off the top of my head, oh yeah one more

      Silver Surfer: any-should have been bolt, maybe fist but shield does not fit him at all.

      That's my 2 cents
    1. StrangeBrew's Avatar
      StrangeBrew -
      I've always appreciated that some versions of our more famous Fist characters (Wolverine, X-23, Black Panther) have been "Glass Hammers" with High A, Low D,it just seems to make sense thematically.
    1. Ed-Bird's Avatar
      Ed-Bird -
      I would have to half-agree about Multiple Man. Swarm may not fit the Mask trope, but Multiple Man has always used his clones to distract and confuse. "Oh, there are a bunch of bad guys, I need to duplicate." is definitely his style. His clones are the bystander reading a newspaper that trips a villain as he runs past. VERY mask.

      I say Storm is a bad example of a mask. It is only recently that her meteorological manipulation has been explained as a psychic ability. That being said, it fits. But, she LITERALLY calls lightning and impedes opponents with massive gales. That's aggressive and definitely fits Bolt.