• So you want to win a WKO?


    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.
    Comments 11 Comments
    1. memmek2k's Avatar
      memmek2k -
      For the record, this is the same process I went through to win a WKO. I have also helped train two other players in my scene in the same philosophy; one has Top 4'd at the last 3 events and the other just Top 2'd.
    1. Dave's Avatar
      Dave -
      100% especially on muscle memory. The more decisions you already know how to make the better you'll be.
    1. archivist's Avatar
      archivist -
      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.
      What is so ironic, given a challenging tournament setting and the techniques you described to win, is your opponent does not have to answer this question.

      Very good article.
    1. Jthomash2's Avatar
      Jthomash2 -
      Such excellent points. The reality is that many of us who are obsessed with this game can easily overlook the detail-oriented practice that helps drive success. These points are always good reminders. I'll echo the thoughts above regarding muscle memory though, because that can really impact decisions regarding roll and reroll step. I probably spend more time deciding what to reroll than I do in my main step. Knowing what you really need in the main step drives what you decide to reroll here. The main step should be practically auto pilot.
    1. cnhiggins's Avatar
      cnhiggins -
      I am very new to the game and told myself that I would never get involved at the competitive level. To me as a new player, it seemed that everyone seemed to have the same team. Through this article and just learning more about the game itself, I can see that the variation is in the subtle differences; that two people with the "same" team might not play the team the same.

      I probably still won't go into competitive play (mainly due to lack of time, money to invest in building those teams), but I can at least start to see the work that goes into it; the practice involved have confidence in your own team and structuring the games how you want them to play out. I love just coming up with fun and thematic teams that would never be viable competition teams :0)
    1. memmek2k's Avatar
      memmek2k -
      Quote Originally Posted by archivist View Post
      What is so ironic, given a challenging tournament setting and the techniques you described to win, is your opponent does not have to answer this question.

      Very good article.
      They don't have to, but since it's a perfect information game with team sheets, it's usually in their best interest to just answer, rather than the active player wasting time counting dice. I usually joke locally,
      You can either tell me how many dice are in your bag, or I'll take the time to count. Your choice.
    1. Jthomash2's Avatar
      Jthomash2 -
      Quote Originally Posted by cnhiggins View Post
      I am very new to the game and told myself that I would never get involved at the competitive level. To me as a new player, it seemed that everyone seemed to have the same team. Through this article and just learning more about the game itself, I can see that the variation is in the subtle differences; that two people with the "same" team might not play the team the same.

      I probably still won't go into competitive play (mainly due to lack of time, money to invest in building those teams), but I can at least start to see the work that goes into it; the practice involved have confidence in your own team and structuring the games how you want them to play out. I love just coming up with fun and thematic teams that would never be viable competition teams :0)
      In the Bard Era, I might not say what I'm about to, but in Modern it's anyone's guess what will win. I only bring this up to not sell short your chances. The first time I ever played a game outside of my or my friends' kitchen tables was CanNats 2015. I felt practiced for that event, but mid game saw an opportunity and went for it to win a top 4 game on turn 3. So again Mike hits the nail on the head - thinking is worth it, just have enough practice in your pocket to know when you can lure your opponent into making mistakes and how to capitalize on them.
    1. cnhiggins's Avatar
      cnhiggins -
      Quote Originally Posted by Jthomash2 View Post
      In the Bard Era, I might not say what I'm about to, but in Modern it's anyone's guess what will win. I only bring this up to not sell short your chances. The first time I ever played a game outside of my or my friends' kitchen tables was CanNats 2015. I felt practiced for that event, but mid game saw an opportunity and went for it to win a top 4 game on turn 3. So again Mike hits the nail on the head - thinking is worth it, just have enough practice in your pocket to know when you can lure your opponent into making mistakes and how to capitalize on them.
      Now I just have to find the time then haha! I will also say that my wife is less accepting of my new hobby/passion. We are also tight on money and Dice Masters isn't the priority. Hopefully this game last a long time so I can maybe get into the competitive scene!
    1. Yort's Avatar
      Yort -
      Quote Originally Posted by Jthomash2 View Post
      I probably spend more time deciding what to reroll than I do in my main step. Knowing what you really need in the main step drives what you decide to reroll here. The main step should be practically auto pilot.
      I am constantly reminded of this when I play my 6-yr old. He'll roll, and then he'll immediately grab the one die that he sees that he doesn't like. And I'll stop him and say "hey, hold up - what if rolling this ONE die doesn't go the way you hope? What's your plan then?"

      I love the idea of playing against a perfect opponent, might have to give that a go.
    1. cnhiggins's Avatar
      cnhiggins -
      Quote Originally Posted by Yort View Post
      I am constantly reminded of this when I play my 6-yr old. He'll roll, and then he'll immediately grab the one die that he sees that he doesn't like. And I'll stop him and say "hey, hold up - what if rolling this ONE die doesn't go the way you hope? What's your plan then?"

      I love the idea of playing against a perfect opponent, might have to give that a go.
      I can't wait until my two year old can understand how to play so that I have someone at home to play haha! We are to the point where she wants to "play dice" which just means dumping them all out on the floor and finding matches. It's building useful skills, just not the ones that will help play the game. And before anyone says it, yes, I may be a bad parent for letting someone under the age of three play with small choking hazards haha. She hasn't tried to eat them yet... the cards are off limits though. She took a bite out of one card and that was it
    1. Prozac's Avatar
      Prozac -
      I've had my son cracking packs for a year now. He just turned 5. I use them as super hero flash cards. He knows so many obscure Marvel and DC characters now. I'm looking forward to him being my player 2 in a few years.