I wonít claim that I am an expert Dice Masters player. I am a mediocre drafter, and a subpar deck builder. Yet since I began playing in the competitive scene of March 2016 I have officially played in 7 WKO events around the western United States and have won 6 of them. In every event that I won there were approximately 20 or more people and in my first event there was more than 50.
So how did I do it? What is the secret to winning a WKO? Is there a secret to winning?
To answer this I would like to go through my personal process of approaching all of the competitive tournaments I have played in.
Step 1: Know your playstyle
I have played control since I started back in 2015. I have never been able to get great combos to work effectively (if at all). I have also never been able to get a turn 3 kill in a competitive scene using my deck ever. In fact the only time I have pulled off a turn 3 kill competitively was when I played a Vicious Struggle team against itself. This is because I donít excel at turn 3 kills, or in planning to win using a great combo. I understand that this is a weakness of mine and I donít play that game. Even when I read about the latest greatest turn 3 kill beholder or bard team I avoid them. I know that if I play those teams I will not win and I will not succeed because that is not my play style.
Where I excel the most is in making decisions every turn consistently that will give me an advantage over my opponent. I know how to slow my opponentís ability to purchase their turn 3 kill. I know how to make my opponent purchase dice when they donít need to. I know how to make my opponent mess up their purchase order to accommodate my playstyle. This ability to make my opponent make bad plays is usually how I win games. There is rarely a game I win where my opponent did not make a mistake of some sort, and they make them because I encourage them to do so.
Knowing how to best play to your strengths will win you more games than playing with the best cards available. I cannot tell you how many bard blitz, beholder, bard buzzsaw, sidekick rush, guy rush, tsarina, Gobbie teams I have beaten with worse cards just because I knew how to make my opponent make mistakes.
Step 2: Know your team
I have often heard people say at tournaments that they threw their deck together the night before the big WKO event. I have even heard people say they were just playing a deck their friend said was good and they hoped they did well at the event. As soon as I hear these words I know that these people probably donít know how to play their decks and probably are not going to do well at this WKO. The mistake these people have made is they are approaching the WKO like they would their Thursday night local throw down game.
When I went to my first WKO in Lacey Washington I had played the deck I brought in over 100 different games against myself and other people. I had played against every Meta that was popular at the time and I had played against the mirror match in over a dozen games. I knew my buy order against every single deck I played against that day. I knew what countered what, I knew how I could disrupt my opponents plan, and I knew what to buy when I rolled 4 fists on my first turn. I was prepared for almost every scenario I could expect to see.
Why is this important? When you have to make decisions during a game you are encouraging yourself to make a misplay. I am not saying that thinking is bad during matches, I am saying that 90% of your buys and rolls should be muscle memory. If you do not know how to play every little advantage your team can give you, then you are not playing optimally and you are setting yourself up to not place in the top 8 at your event.
This month I played in my 7th WKO with a deck I had played over 500 games with before. I left that WKO as the winner with a record of 11 wins and 0 loses throughout the day. I didnít lose a game going second against any team I faced, not against the mirror match, and not against anyone in the top 8. How is that possible?
It is because I knew this deck, I knew every card, I knew every weakness it had. I won't say I didn't have some clutch rolls, but there was not a play I saw all day that surprised me or caused me to question what I should buy or what I should not buy. When you know your deck so well that every move is the optimum move you can make then you setup yourself to win.
Step 3: Practice at a disadvantage.
I have already mentioned that I have played the teams I bring to tournaments many time before I show up to the big event, but I also do something I think is unique when I practice my team against others I expect to see at the meta.
When I play my team against a beholder team or a bard buzzsaw team then I play my side of the board as normal, but I play my opponent perfect. What does that mean?
When I play my opponents team they hit every single mask they need to PXG. They roll every character they need and on the exact face they need. They roll every type of energy or sidekick that they need every turn. They pull the exact die they need to on their turn. I donít even roll my opponent teams die or put them in the bag. I just see what my opponent needs to win and I use it. I play my team at such an extreme disadvantage and see if I can still win. If I can, and can do it consistently, then I have my tournament team.
It is also a great way to get yourself ready for those teams. Since you are so used to the beholder team getting its turn 3 kill every single time, the team feels weak during the tournament when it misses its rolls. When Bard Buzzsaw doesnít have the energy it needs to do perfect fabricates and taunts, you almost wonder why that team is considered a threat at all.
I play with others as well, mostly to see what techniques they might use with a popular team that I am unfamiliar with. Then I incorporate those tricks into my own self play.
Step 4: Always know your odds.
What are the odds of you rolling the die you need on the side you need? What are the odds of rolling a different die and getting what you need? Knowing the odds on any given turn will help you make the correct decision. I am a fan of statistics, so I know the odds of getting my perfect energy turn 1. I also know what the odds are for my opponent to pull the die he needs out of his bag and roll the side he needs. By playing the game using statistics you increase your odds of victory and reduce the odds of your opponent being able to get what he needs to win.
I am not saying you need to sit down with a calculator for every play. But knowing things like how many die are in his bag, how many characters he has to roll to win, how much energy he needs to win, are all very helpful things to know.
If you have seen me play in any tournament I am constantly asking my opponent how many die he has in his bag so that I can make sure I am calculating my odds correctly at any given time.
So there you have it. Winning a WKO is doable, but it takes a lot more than just luck and a lot more than just bringing the best 10 cards you have seen on the intranet that week. I wish you all luck and I hope you see you at the next tournament I play in.