• Control Part One - Imposing Your Will

    A concept that's been popular in competitive collectable games as long as Magic: The Gathering's "Counterspell" has existed is the control deck.

    The purpose of a control deck is in the name - to control everything that your opponent does to the greatest extent that you can. An MTG Salvation article notes two flaws that are common to a pure control deck:
    1. In order to reach the point of total control, one needs many resources and access to many cards
    2. Generally, if one's opponent can play more spells and threats than one can respond to, pure Control decks can have difficulty recovering.
    The article goes on to list the following two ways that control decks overcome these issues:
    1. Continual card drawing is a major aspect in control decks, as it keeps one's resources consistently available.
    2. The vast majority of cards that are not win conditions or card drawing spells are spells that react to any threat one's opponent can play, so that you can, ideally, respond to everything.
    While we don't have anything quite so direct as Counterspell, the structure of Dice Masters enables us to use both of the "solution" strategies within every game, yet decks that include control elements are often limited to blocker control or "bad bargain" cards like Punisher: "McRook." So what can we do to control our opponent?

    <h3>Card Drawing - aka, Churn</h3>

    We have tons of options to keep our dice fresh and our resources plenty. Don't believe me? Listen to the second episode of our podcast.

    The obvious choice to start this off is Beast: "Mutate 666". He's cheap, his dice production skills are well known, and he provides a wonderful means of mitigating Black Widow: "Tsarina". With all the myriad options that are out there for faster dice, I like this one the best for a control deck. You need the resources early and often - Beast gives that to you.

    Other possible inclusions are Gambit: "Ace in the Hole" or Green Goblin: "Norman Osborne" (Or Nogg, as we affectionately call him).

    Silver Surfer is an intriguing option - he could get you to a five-cost character faster, but a lot has to go right to make that happen.

    <h3>Response to threat - Globals, Assassins, and Storm</h3>

    Globals! The globals keep your opponent in check - this means you want to have Magneto to reroll the villains, Mr. Fantastic or Phoenix to force an attack, and Distraction to pull back an attacker. The caveat is that the globals are available to everyone, but if you play correctly, you'll be set up to use them when you need them.

    Assassins push characters off of the board for you. This is known. While it gives your opponent the chance to reroll them a turn later, it gets them out of your way for now. These are people like Hawkeye: "Longbow", Punisher: "McRook", and of course our trope namer, Deadpool: "Assassin." We need to pick these with an eye towards synergy for the rest of the squad, so let's return to this one in a moment.

    Storm is obvious, but lets rule out two of them right away - I want no part of "Ro" or "Goddess" for this one because the rerolled dice go to the prep area. Our assassin is already doing that. I'd much rather go with "Priestess" or "Wind Rider", because it puts the dice in used. "Wind Rider" also has the chance to do some damage - certainly insult to injury.

    <h3>Win Conditions</h3>

    A control squad doesn't need a bruising win condition. It probably can't afford them anyway. No, this squad doesn't want a punch-out, just the ability to annoy someone to death.

    Storm helps by doing damage for each die that she moves to the used pile, but that's not all.

    With all of these characters that we might want who have "when fielded" activations - Storm, Gambit, Hawkeye - I like Human Torch as a win condition here. Constant damage. Storm now has the potential to do a max of five - one for fielding with Torch, two per opponent's rerolled die. Hawkeye now knocks out a character and pings your opponent. And the beat goes on. I like "Johnny Storm" over "Flame On" because I can use the character damage from "Johnny" in many ways - including, say, to kill Hawkeye or Storm so that I can trigger them again next turn when I field them.

    <h3>And the squad is...</h3>

    [u][*]Beast "Mutate 666" - Cost 2 - Justification: Churn, Tsarina fodder[*]Gambit "Ace in the Hole" - Cost 3 - Justification: Churn, "when fielded" trigger[*]Storm "Wind Rider" - Cost 5 - Justification: Dice control, "when fielded" trigger, direct damage[*]Human Torch "Johnny Storm" - Cost 4 - Justification: Win condition - all the "when fieldeds" trigger him, super annoying.[*]Hawkeye "Longbow" - Cost 4 - Justification: Assassin, "when fielded" trigger[*]Mr. Fantastic "Brilliant Scientist" - Cost 3 - Justification: Global forces attack, costs one mask. (Changed from Phoenix, unless you like Phoenix. She's still a possibility)[*]Magneto (UC or rare) - Cost 6 - Justification: Global forces villain die reroll[*]OPEN SLOT. Possibilities include Loki "Gem Keeper", Silver Surfer (any), Professor X (any), all for various reasons. I'm going to try several of these, but I'm partial to Silver Surfer - that may well get you an early Storm.[/list]Basic Actions

    [u][*]Distraction - Cost 4 - Justification: Global forces return of an attacker[*]OPEN SLOT - Choose carefully here; this may be a "dump" slot and you don't want something that could accidentally benefit your opponent.[/list]This is all based upon the reasoning above and a fairly formulaic adherence to the wants and needs of a control deck. I don't think that it's new, nor do I think that I'm the first one to conclude this, but more on that in a second.

    Phoenix/Mr. Fantastic and Magneto are only going to get one die apiece - you have them purely for their globals. If you use Silver Surfer, I'd recommend the same. The focus here has to remain on your control elements. Having access to the globals is all you need for those three; otherwise, you need your character dice from the other slots to win.

    Most of your cards are doing their thing as a result of being fielded rather than attacking, which means that your opponent can't use the globals against you. Conversely, with the means to get dice a little faster (Beast, possibly Silver Surfer) and cycle through them a little faster (Gambit), you should have the energy that you need when you need it. True, (s)he can force you to attack with someone, but you can pull them back easily - but if your opponent is spending energy on that rather than establishing their field zone, then you likely have them where you want them.

    <h3>Does It Work?</h3>

    I don't know; this is part one and I haven't played it yet. In conversation, poking and prodding the various elements that could make this up, it seems that it would be effective. This is in my queue to try, and I'll post the squad that I use afterward as well as my dice distribution. In researching for this article, it seems that others have independently found themselves drawn towards a similar structure, so I'm certainly not alone in my examination and justification.

    What intrigues me is that we're doing this without a single super rare, and that it has answers for the super rares that are in circulation. I also think that effective variations of this deck could be made using uncommons and commons almost exclusively.

    We'll continue to examine this in part two, where we'll narrow down to a deck and look at some of the synergies that you can take advantage of with this deck.
    This article was originally published in blog: Control Part One - Imposing Your Will started by Dave