• D&D Dice Masters: Battle for Faerun by the Numbers

    Thanks to Nationals and various other things, there's been quite a delay on running the numbers for D&D Dice Masters: Battle for Faerun. Well, good news, dice fans - the time is now, the place is here, and we're going to get this show on the road. Join me on a journey into averages, a voyage into spreadsheets, a charge into charts, as we investigate the statistics of the set

    Purchase Costs: Bell-ieve It Again

    If the graphs are too small to read on your Device Of Choice, you can click them to enbiggen them.

    Hey, look at that, we've got a bell curve again - or at least an approximation of one, anyway. Our 'peak' is still at 4, and we've got the same number of 3s and 4s, which is pretty good. That said, it's still got more of a flat tail on the upper end, though I will say it's not as pronounced this time; there are less 6s than there were in Yu-Gi-Oh, though we have more 7s to keep that top end heavy. We did shed a lot of the superheavyweight 8s from that set, though, so between that and a few more 1s and 2s than before it's clear that the set has slimmed down a little. It's not a big surprise, then, that we end up down almost three-tenths of a point of energy on average, at 4.36 average cost per die (4.31 if you include the gear and abilities). I'd like to think this is in response to the meta favoring 2 and 4 cost characters, but I think that might be incidental to that pattern; since this set ends up very similar to the curves to the previous two, I think it may just be that the developers have found their intended curve and are sticking more or less to it.

    Interestingly, we have a pretty narrow band for our energy types (outside of 'newcomer' generic, who previously hadn't been seen outside of basic actions) - only about a quarter of a point of energy separates the average cost for Fists (4.30) and Bolts (4.56), with Shield and Mask falling between (4.38 and 4.54, respectively). Generic comes in at 3.53, fitting for its support role. I find this relative closeness a little odd, because looking at the other sets it kind of felt like each energy type was coming into its own personality a little - Fist with some bruisers and lots of fast punchy characters keeping them low, Masks hogging all the cheap characters, Bolt being big and expensive - but here they are in a big pile, with everyone having its share of cheap and expensive characters. Similarly, there's no huge imbalance in representation in this set, either - outside of the generics having four, each energy type has nine dice this time around. Since I chalked YGO's split up to theme, I'll assume that D&D's deep monster/character library allowed the designers to take a more balanced approach this time.

    Fielding Costs: Less of a Valley or TFC5, Where Are You?

    First things first, the Owlbear in the room - yeah, it looks like there aren't any TFC 5 characters this set. Them's the breaks, I guess. Secondly - the average TFC for the set is 3.19, again almost three-tenths of a point down from YGO. Are we going to keep going down*? Before long we'll be in dire straits, as it'll be characters for nothing, sidekicks for free!

    Musical puns aside, you can see that this isn't entirely dissimilar from the YGO's fielding costs - big spikes for 1/4/6, less so for the others. Outside of poor, absent TFC5, though, we've got slightly better representation in the 2s and 3s, and that, combined with out 0 ringer, no 5s, and fewer 8s, contributes to make the set average fairly low. It's basically saying that on average you will field a character this set for one energy, which sounds like a pretty good deal.

    More importantly, the repeated pattern suggests to me that the developers consider those TFC niches important; in my mind, 1s are the ideal footsoldiers/'weenies', 4s are your larger midgame characters, and 6s are your endgame bruisers. Putting that together with the stats and purchase costs, we can see a little bit better how all this is being balanced; take Purple Worm for example. If you look at his statline (and at the graphs further down), you'll see that he's got some seriously bruiser-level stats, what you'd normally expect on a TFC6, despite being a TFC4. Looking at his purchase costs, though, they're inflated - higher than what you might expect a midgame purchase to be. So it all evens out...unless, of course, you can find ways to mitigate the expensive parts and capitalize on his values elsewhere, like with Limited Wish.

    Trends aside, we have a new TFC outlier this time as well, in the form of a totally new number, sort of. Kobold walks in with a TFC of 0, same as a Sidekick/NPC, which he largely matches in attack and defense also. It's interesting to me that he exists, because he almost explicitly seems to be there for energy or other shenanigans (like Swarm), basically only to be character'd in emergencies. Compared to Morphing Jar's decent stats, and similar on several 2-cost characters, it's a change of pace and one I wouldn't mind seeing more of in the future, but then again I love seeing tradeoffs and interesting specialization come into play.

    Moving back to the energy types, we have a bit more of a spread than we did with purchase costs, but still nothing too wild - Shield comes out highest at 3.67, with Bolt next at 3.33, and Mask and Fist tied for value champion at 2.89. Not too surprised that Shield ended up highest, given that it has more than its fair share of TFC 6 characters; this pretty handily explains everything else being cheap, as all that's left to balance the top side of the equation are a few remaining 6s and the 4s. Again, everything being pretty close overall speaks to me of homogenization a little, which is still surprising given the profiles the types seemed to be moving for.

    Stats: Down, Down, Down

    YGO had stat gains across the board for its characters. How did D&D do? If you read the section title, you probably have an idea:

    Overall, we're looking at D&D characters coming in about a half a point lighter statwise than their YGO counterparts, with the sole exception being 2-cost defense (which is up a little). Looking at stat values versus TFC paints a similar picture:

    It's important to remember that the 2/3/5s for YGO shouldn't really be looked at as they only represent one or two dice each, but you can see the same trend, mostly, on the ones that do matter. 1s are down over half a point of offense and nearly a full point of defense. 4s are down nearly three-quarters of a point of offense but actually up half a point of defense, which looks like it correlates to generally good stats on their level 3 faces and that same spike on 2-cost sides we saw earlier. 6s lose about half a point on both stats.

    So what's the deal? Honestly, I'm not totally sure why YGO spiked up and D&D is back down to similar stat balances to UXM. Maybe it was an experiment in higher-powered dice and seeing what they did to the game; maybe it was to balance out abilities thought to be less good; maybe it was just to dial back the speed of the game in this more self-contained set. Regardless, D&D is back in a slightly more defensive mode, which is fine - the experience mechanic sort of speaks to longer, more back-and-forth games (and, incidentally, probably explains some degree of the weakness of TFC1 characters - I think they have somewhat devalued stats for their costs to try and make up for the Experience benefit), so maybe weathering the storm is a bit more intended. If nothing else, I'm a bit more ease about weenie swarm teams after seeing D&D; the intent no longer looks like that we should drown under a wave of superpowered TFC1 characters.

    Conclusion: Lessons Learned, Moving On

    The first thing, as noted just a bit ago, I've taken from D&D is that WizKids looks like they're still sussing out their power curve a little. We're not moving up from YGO; we returned to similar-to-UXM levels of die stats. That said - I don't feel disappointed by these characters or their effects (at least not when played in-set), so clearly they're balancing that step back in other ways - abilities, general game pacing, etc. This is fine - while I wouldn't say Dice Masters is still in its infancy, with only four sets (soon to be five) under its belt, I wouldn't call it an eternal dynasty, either. (Yet.) It makes sense that it's still evaluating where it wants things to be, especially in a set that, based on central mechanics, works out to want to be a little more self-contained than others.

    The second point is that, with the focus on a few TFC points, and several sets released, I do think we're starting to get some insight into how things are balanced at least from a raw stat perspective - again, consider the Purple Worm example. Now, I'm not going to say that we can break this down to a quick and dirty point system for evaluating cards - abilities are less cut and dry, and also factor into balancing a card, of course - but it's certainly a step on the path to a framework for saying 'this care is mechanically strong, this card is mechanically weak.' Not that we necessarily need a lot of help with that - everyone can tell that Morphing Jar is good for its cost, and Man-Eater Bug is not - but once we pin it down, it can help us all be on the same page a little better when evaluating characters.

    Lastly, and not numbers-related: outside of that whole Stirge thing, I'm a big fan of this set and looking forward to more D&D DM in the future...and running number on it as well, of course!

    *I haven't run the numbers on DC yet - look for that next week! - but my gut feeling looking at the set says 'no'.
    Comments 3 Comments
    1. ToaEmpoleon's Avatar
      ToaEmpoleon -
      Oh my gosh! This is great! MORE GRAPHS
    1. RJRETRO's Avatar
      RJRETRO -
      Hahaha, I'm so glad you did this. This was on my list of things to do, and it would have taken forever.

      It's really interesting how the sets change each time a new one comes out. It's really an exciting time to be a DM fan.
    1. Vapedaveb's Avatar
      Vapedaveb -
      I really love the statistical analysis I get from this site. Thank you and great work.