We're trying a new format here at TRP - TRP Chat. Michaela, Randy, JT, Dave, Isaac, Patrick, and Paul have jumped in a Slack chat room to discuss some of the changes that the new Modern format presents. A lightly edited transcript is below.
memmek2k (Michaela, Token Minority): I didn't want to just copy and paste everything in our other channels without explicit permission (which you are giving me by posting in this channel).
randy (Randy, Blame Him for Mask Ring): What, wait, I didn't click "accept"!
randy left #trp-chat-articles
randy joined #trp-chat-articles
memmek2k: Did you click "accept" this time?
randy: I did.
memmek2k: It's a sneaky button. It's small and it moves around. You gotta catch it.
randy: I made that button my snitch
memmek2k: Okay, so. Tonight's (and tomorrow's depending on traffic) discussion is on the new Modern format. We'll talk about the following points one at a time.
1. What do we miss the most from Golden Age already?
2. Which control pieces do we see taking up the mantle, or: why is Dwiz not that great?
3. Which aggro pieces/beatsticks do we see taking up the mantle?
memmek2k: I'll start. I miss Hellblazer. I loved that card. It was a no-fuss, no-brainer two cost that was a fantastic opener for any control team. I tend to like mid-range teams that are usually just a turn or two behind at first, and Hellblazer made it so easy to catch up. Not to mention he completely stopped when-fielded effects on demand; the closest thing to that now is Hellcat: Hell's Belle.
jthomash2 (Our Lord and Majesty JT, Two-time National Champion and Possessor of Unlimited Confidence): I will miss untargeted board clear.
memmek2k: Yeah, there's a dearth of non-targeting effects that are really strong enough in Modern.
jthomash2: Even weak ones.
memmek2k: And the ones that are there can only be triggered a limited number of times, or they're not enough damage at once, or both. Lockjaw is a great example - he'd be so much more effective at 3 damage.
jthomash2: Iron Fist helps. Have to look at FUS dragons too.
memmek2k: Yeah. Still, nothing as good as Green Goliath or Imprisioned.
jthomash2: Nothing even as good as Doctor Doom.
memmek2k: Let alone Angelo Fortunato.
randy: I think there are a few "make your opponent reroll stuff" abilities that don't target that could be nice. But even then, it's only 50% removal on non-sidekicks. Umber Hulk had a niche in the meta, will the spoiled Flip Batman or SR Black Cat replace it?
memmek2k: Flip Batman I could definitely see doing some work. Especially since Parallax, Fabricate, and Momentum will be in Modern. Lots of ways to keep fielding him.
randy: Right. Also why I think it will be easy to meet the Underdog prerequisite for Black Cat
memmek2k: Though at the same purchase cost as batman, I'm inclined to go with his restrictions over the Underdog mechanic. But we have a suspicion that spider friends is worth taking a second look at, and Black Cat definitely works there.
randy: She's also a mask.
memmek2k: ...so Mask/Ring and Bat-family are still powerful. Got it.
randy: Haha. Bingo.
jthomash2: Yep. Maybe Mask/Ring can have a backup wincon with combat.
randy: Honestly, what I'll miss most that becomes Golden Age exclusive are the pieces that were almost good enough to build a team around. Or pieces that once had a place in competitive play, and just got outdated, like Nick Fury: Patch.
memmek2k: Poor Psylocke.
randy: Or the Aquaman that reduces all JL costs by 1. And the Teamwork basic action. Just pieces I always enjoyed trying to build around, considering taking to events, but ultimately decided "if there was just something that made this a little better..."
memmek2k: RIP Fireball-Jocasta.
randy: RIP indeed. I tried so hard with that combo...
memmek2k: It was so fun too. My partner ran Jocasta-Mjolnir for the first WKO we went to and did decently well.
randy: Another card, the 3 cost Iron Man from AoU was really the prime candidate for the new Suit Up abilities. Gone.
But yea, running different variations of Mask/Ring at every competitive event for the past year and some change, there's nothing I'm really going to miss, as most of my current build is still Modern legal. Losing PXG is huge. But not just for my team. For the game as a whole. I think the post-PXG era will be very exciting and am looking forward to finding ways to sustain ramp
memmek2k: Conversely, my key pieces are gone and I'm in the middle of an existential crisis about what kind of player I am.
I think that your phrasing is exactly write - players will refer to a "PXG era," of plentiful ramp and incessant churn. A year from now there'll be a Make Dice Masters Great Again movement to reprint PXG.
memmek2k: (kidding on that last bit)
jthomash2: Imagine if it comes back as a synergy ability on a SR...
memmek2k: Oh, I hope not. Innately one-sided PXG would be rough.
randy: I am freaking out a little about losing Resurrection, BECAUSE PXG is gone. I know Villainous Pact and OP Robin have similar globals, but I like the lack of stipulation on Res. Really hoping we see a reprint in the Supes/WW starter.
memmek2k: Okay, next item. What control cards do we expect? I expect Elf Thief to continue to be popular on teams that bring Transfer Power, Blink - Transmutation, or other globals best used on your opponent's turn, but i could also see a movement toward sidekick hate. R Agent Carter is exceptionally strong, especially if your team is set up to not need to cull sidekicks from the bag for churn. I also expect to see a lot of Dwarf Wizard, but I don't think he'll actually be the right call in a lot of cases.
dave (Dave, Purveyor of Grade 8 Nuts and Bolts): Dwarf Wizard is going to be in a weird spot. The conditional removal that we still have like Cockatrice easily handles him. Not to mention Raven, obviously, who will be a presence. The argument for him of course is that a lot of the things that used to be better than just using him, like Imprisoned, are going to be gone.
memmek2k: Right. And that's the thing - the weakest forms of removal still deal with Dwiz. And the effect doesn't persist for the remainder of the turn like it does with Hellblazer or Kryptonite or Cold Gun.
dave: The knock on Cold Gun is of course that it can't block. So what it really comes down to is picking something and realizing that the matchup may just not be a good one for what you picked sometimes. I really think that's where the upcoming flip Batman will have a spot on a great many teams. As well as anything else nontargeted that we get.
isaacbv (Isaac, Responsible for Your Plane Delay Due to His Guns): ...Did we start?
isaacbv: Control depends on how you define it. Is control board clear? Then Flipbat, Black Cat, Lockjaw, Black Bolt-Medusa. Is it targeted removal? Then Batgirl, Static, Canister, Polymorph. Is it protection? Then Raven, Elektra, Batgirl. Is it tax? Then Lyssa, Oracles, Venom, Agent Carter. Is it prevention? Then Hellcat, Doctor Light, Blink - Transmutation. Is it blanking? Then Slander, Loki, Dwiz, Cold Gun. Is it action dice hate? Then Oni, Gnome Ranger, Storm. Is it damage mitigation? Then Ronin, Lex.
dave: That's the broader point. It's lots of things, and what you use will generally depend on the wincon you're running out there with.
randy: If control is disrupting your opponent from doing what they want, I think Raven and Ronin are the gold standard and *require* non targeted removal.
dave: Well, they can help you keep board advantage but they don't establish it themselves. However, in a sense, they "remove" the other player's targeted removal effects since they're not relevant with those cards out there.
shadowmeld (Patrick, Resident Nefarious Geneticist and soon to be Nefarious Broadcaster): With the looming threat of ring, I think they do.
dave: Sure. But it's a different kind of control and what you're saying is just a function of them being in an archetype. What they do is provide a means of removing value from the other player's team.
shadowmeld: Are the only answers to Raven's blanket also mask characters? New Batman?
dave: That we know of this minute, Delayed Blast Fireball, or End of Days, I suppose, though that's a double-edged sword. Cloudkill if you can set up the damage on your side. Breath weapon, though not any one on its own. Still, it can clear around her even if she's temporarily protected by Ronin. Bahamut + White Dragon perhaps. Not cheap, but it is an imposing board and there are enough tools to reach for it. I think Dragons may still have some life. Every team is going to be slower to set up in some capacity so we may have to redefine "speed" in Dice Masters.
isaacbv: Black Bolt-Medusa would affect Mask/Ring Raven. I like Black-Black-Medusa. Black Bolt and Medusa to KO them all, Black Adam to send them back or take damage.
randy: Yea. I also like them with Raven because they are both masks. I know I'm beating this like a rented mule, but so many good mask pieces that can go in a variety of directions. And Raven protects them all.
dave: Yeah, good point. We're starting to taper into ways around the team, though I suppose the point is that there are ways around it that also could probably work against anything. So if a couple of other strategies prove effective enough, it could impact how much you actually see some of this. If a lot of teams pack tools to get around Raven that prove to be effective, is there a point to running Raven?
randy: All depends on cost/effectiveness of the tools.
shadowmeld: I think the better point is that everything that gets around her is mask... So she stops 75% of teams.
dave: Hence my caveat "...that prove to be effective."
randy: If the best tool out there makes me reroll stuff and only has 50% success rate... maybe.
dave: Well, you're assuming that every team will be mono-energy. Nothing stops me from running BB Medusa and cheap characters with stats of whatever energy type. They don't have to be mask-centric teams.
randy: The point being, I think her denying the ability to target your mask/Titans makes her serious control, given all the mask/Titans options out there. Not unbeatable, but you need an answer.
dave: Except they just sit there and do their thing. And going for Raven early means you waited on, say, Oracle. So you locked your board, fine, I'll establish my own. You're using Thief? Great, my ramp strategy doesn't generally have me saving energy.
pk2317 (Paul, Seriously-I-Think-He-Hacks-the-Rules-Forum): Think we'll see a Raven-type protection for any other energy? Or does PBard fill that role?
shadowmeld: Other answers that I have found are Enormous Destruction... But it is also a reroll.
isaacbv: pk2317, that would be crazy wouldn't it?
Fists and Avengers
Shields and Superman
Bolts and Villains
randy: That'd be great!
isaacbv: ...Maybe villains is too much. Bolts and Spider-man.
dave: I don't know that I'm as enthusiastic about that. I'd rather see Raven gone than cloned. Despite the fact that there are ways around her, she creates non-interactive game states.
isaacbv: But those things, just add more board sweep, add more non-targeted effects than we currently have.
randy: Or just don't rely on targeting abilities. Let's say I get Cap w/ Moljnir. Suddenly, I'm less concerned with your Raven.
shadowmeld: I like the target prevention of recent sets, Batgirl and Electra. In contrast, with the layering of Raven and Ronin, you quickly establish a need for multi-threat or chip damage.
shadowmeld: And funnelling your opponent while preventing any direct interaction on your side is strong... Super strong. Ronin prevents overcrush/big damage 1/turn strategies. Raven prevents force block. At that point, she forces a slow game just as much as elf or oracle ever did.
randy: Getting those two might force your opponent to buy Flip Batman, or Hellcat, or other preventative pieces that aren't necessarily part of their win con.
shadowmeld: Meanwhile, you get 1/5 pieces needed to win with Ring.
randy: No need for Oracle to tax anything when they have to buy whole characters to get around your set up. Now, teams that PLAN on BBolt and Medusa aren't having to buy anything extra.
shadowmeld: but you still have 7 slots to fill to counter that.
shadowmeld: And Ronin still stops the X that is attacking alongside Bbolt.
randy: It might not be the best. Not saying R+R will win Worlds. But I think that's where control builds start at this point, still having a starter and gravity feed set to go before Worlds.
shadowmeld: Right, I think THAT is the measure of speed. Turn 1 2 cost mask, turn 2 raven/Ronin, 3 Raven/ring, 4ring/Ronin, 5-6 win? More or less as you can ramp.
randy: Maybe not even Ring. Maybe you fit Medusa and BBolt on the team with R+R, find a way to swing for the win with them.
shadowmeld: Right, but as you find the options. I would even put ring on either way, and buy BBM against an early Dormammu
randy: You know, you mention 2 cost mask...
randy: I don't think Elf Thief will be as effective without PXG, but there's no other 2 cost mask that can field for no cost on every face. So he's still the fastest/cheapest. Even if he doesn't steal anything.
jthomash2: randy: that is not technically true.
shadowmeld: Ummm Rust Monster?
memmek2k: Yeah, but Thief has better stats than Rust Monster.
dave: But if characters that get around the setup can also win? And they're not going out of their way to do something, they're doing with they were going to do anyway.
randy: I agree. Wouldn't be shocked to see mask teams that have 2 strategies. Going 1st control. And going 2nd get around control. Ignoring jthomash2's and shadowmeld's rust monster comment.
There are 3 action dice you could buy as an opener, and just have weaker board position. But if one is Rip, and you had a solid used pile gimmick that might not be terrible. I mean, if using Kal-l you could worst case get a 3 dmg SK in early with chimmies, or get a few damage with an action face Rip die on turn three. ... Worst case though. Short answer, Elf still the best universal.
randy: Because there still will be some strategies that save energy. Star Labs and Bane taunt come to mind.
shadowmeld: Elf, Ronin, Raven, Ring, solid core. Flavor to taste, 1 card for mirror, one card for removal, two cards for your own econ engine? BBM, Dormammu and ramp?
memmek2k: I think we're starting to get away from likely control cards and into @randy's us Nats build lol
randy: Haha. What do you mean? I'm running Fiends. :wink:
memmek2k: What about aggro/beat stick cards? I wouldn't be surprised to see Dick Grayson bomb and Gorilla Grodd. But those are the low hanging fruit for the format
shadowmeld: Grayson bomb is great, it beat me at a WKO last year. Grodd is also great, and in fact might be a good answer to Raven, with Cone of Cold. Too many threats to just Ronin away.
memmek2k: Right; who cares if I can't target, I'm just going to smash over your whole field and KO it all anyway
randy: The Front Line started to shine end of 2016. Wouldn't be shocked to see it be more prominent.
memmek2k: I've also gotten really fond of bringing S.T.A.R. Labs and R Merlyn as an energy fixer for S.T.A.R. Labs. Which has the wonderful benefit of having Merlyn as a backup wincon.
randy: Anything that is conditionally unblockable has to be considered
shadowmeld: If you are gonna do that, bring Speedy Delivery. I've been toying at SR WWoman, plus shield Ring and S.T.A.R. Labs global to use the shields on. The shield team needs a force attack effect to really work, though.
randy: With limited ramp, might be hard to reach for 6+ costs early, but Bizarro with a force block is aggressive.
shadowmeld: I actually think it should be easy to get to a 6 cost purchase, it just becomes a matter of will that 6 cost win. Because you can reliably get 1, then after that, things become messy. You can give up your turn 1 to ramp, then get a 6 or 7 turn 2, the benefit being a thin bag and big dude, but thinner field.
dave: It comes down to choosing a good six cost! Yeah, I'm a fan.
randy: Guy Gardner is still in the mix
shadowmeld: He is, but the ruling that made his bonus applied really weakened him. Transfer power or Kal-l wrecks him. Plus he gives your opponent control over end of turn, and easier global decisions. I think he is a solid example of a card balanced around skill. He is a great tool to work your way into the game with, but once you hit higher tier play, he can actually hold you back in some situations. Big E, Miri, Guy is still a thing though. However, turn 1 rule and no Red Dragon slows that quite a bit.
I worry that there are too many tools to stop one big hit characters like Bizarro or even Dick. Mera is still out there, Ronin, Blink...
randy: So what about chippy direct damage? WL Deadman, Hammer Cap, uncommon Venom. Maybe even Rocket, despite hurting you too.
shadowmeld: VS is still a thing. It won't be a turn 3 thing, but it can quickly become a multiplier tool for chippy damage teams. It also acts to disincentivize rush teams from getting an early chunk in. I don't think Luke Cage global would be the right tool any more either, but maybe something one sided, like ASM Ice Man.
What about Rotting Goblin? SK making is super prevent right now, and Rotting Goblin could be a great companion to S.T.A.R. Labs. Combine him with threats like Transfer Power flanking or TFL and your opponent might think twice about their SK situation.
dave: I was looking at that too. It could come forward but I don't like that it's dependent on what your opponent does. SK fielding ought to be somewhat prevalent though you can also play around it.
shadowmeld: Right, but the idea is to punish them for not fielding sidekicks by 1) clogging their bag and 2) having a thinner field than you allowing you to get strong hits with TPower. Or even Displacer Beast.
dave: I should point out that we are falling into the trap a little bit of "everything has a counter." Going too deeply down that rabbit hole can lead to some bad builds. It's important to be aware of threats, but if things are going to be more open (which we think they will) then there will be some match ups that just are bad for you. And that's fine, because that's the case in a lot of games. I would worry a little less about having the wrong tech and more about having too much tech because you tried to defend everything.
randy: I think the number/popularity of counters for a specific piece are directly proportional to how effective it will be in the meta. Yea, maybe some of the comments went down the rabbit hole, but I think it is valid conversation while assessing what will and won't be power pieces in the new environment. Just because we are saying some things will be good, doesn't mean I'm abandoning the simple idea of "find a win condition, and engine to make it run, and surround it with parts to help it fire with as little disturbances as possible."
dave: Oh sure. And I'm not trying to invalidate that at all - there are no bad ideas in brainstorming. But it's important to note it. If you're not careful you can metagame yourself right out of it, and I know we've all seen people who have done that. Sometimes those people were us, me included.
jthomash2: You're wrong Dave. Common vixen. Common Lolth. Those are always bad ideas in team building brainstorming.
That concludes our first TRP Chat! Did you enjoy this article? Did JT get something wrong for once (unlikely)? Let us know in the comments.