• Justice League DC Dice Masters By the Numbers

    What's that, The Reserve Pool Reader? You say a new Dice Master set has come out, and you'd like to see what sort of trends it's making with the number-stuff in the set, but you don't want to sift through all that math? Good news - I've got you covered.

    Before we start in on that, though, I'd like to make a bit of a confession - Justice League was looking like the set I was going to be skipping. Not because RARGH DC BAD or anything, though I'll admit my relative lack of knowledge helped to make the decision at the time, but just due to a bit of set fatigue with so many in such a short period of time. After getting my hands on it at Nationals, though...while I might not be picking up a gravity feed, I'm looking to draft the heck out of this set, and I'm building my collection (or at least, as much as I can while drafting) that way. It's a ton of fun, and playing it I started to see the trends I'm going to be talking about later on. Overall I think it's been a positive shift in direction!

    Wait, you say, a shift in direction? Yes, but I'm getting ahead of myself. Let's start in the usual place; if the charts end up a little small, you can click on them for a better look.

    EDIT: Full disclosure: on my first run through this I mislabeled a couple of character's energy types, throwing off the numbers for types. I've since corrected the numbers. Friends, don't let friends math and multitask.

    Purchase Costs: Spike Bottom

    So, uh, how about those 4-drops? Because, you know, almost half the set costs four to purchase, and between three, four, and five, you cover over 87% of the set. I guess this is a central distribution, but I don't know if I'd quite call it a bell curve - just a little too spiky in the middle for me. That said - that's not bad, and makes it no surprise that the average purchase cost in JL is 4.14 - a hair higher (4.15) with the non-basic actions. This is the lowest it's been in any set, even BFF with its crazy fire sale Kobolds and adventurers, by a decent margin - it's about .15 from BFF, and almost half a point lower than UXM, the last 'main' set.

    I sort of like this shift. Everyone likes four cost characters as a good balance between power and ease of purchase, so they're giving us plenty of choices, and fives are increasingly becoming affordable 'big play' characters with blockbusters like the common Firestorm and Deathstroke. That said, it's interesting to see so few two cost characters after having better representation of them in YGO and BFF - maybe they're stepping back on that a little? I do approve of the fewer 6/7 cost characters, given that teams will rarely bring more than one of them with intent to buy, and I think that ties in to how much they're favoring the five-cost characters; my take on this set is that they're trying to bring down purchase costs, making it less onerous to pick up your team while 'on the move' - fielding characters and using globals. It's not quite the realm of math, but the assorted tribal purchase cost discount characters - Harley Quinn, Aquaman, etc. - seem to lend a little credence to this idea, as does something we'll see with fielding costs in a little bit.

    Energy types aren't doing anything too drastic this time, mostly - each flavor has 10 dice. Slightly surprisingly. Bolt narrowly grabs purchase cost winner this time, coming in at an average of 4.02; Shield and Fist were also under average and not far behind, at 4.09 and 4.11 respectively. Surprisingly, Mask is the heavyweight this time around, going a fair bit over the norm at 4.47 on average. Not surprising, considering that it has Green Lantern and Shazam - two of the more expensive characters this set - and a number of other characters that trend more towards 5 than 4 or lower. Not sure if they're trying to do something here, or if it's just how the theme cookie crumbled this time, though I think the low Shield numbers suggest they're still heading towards making it the affordable weenie type...or just making up for AvX/UXM. Regardless, I think it's important to remember - that 'high' 4.47 is lower than UXM's second cheapest average, so it's pretty relative.

    Fielding Costs: Blast From The Past?

    First off - TFC 5 is back from its hiatus, with a nice tan. Secondly, what we have here is...eerily similar to the AvX TFCs, actually. Sure, there's a few more 3s, and a few less 6s, but otherwise it's a pretty similar distribution. The set average is 3.74, way higher than BFF's low of 3.19, and actually slightly higher than UXM (which had 3.66). It's not quite as bad as AvX's 4.08 - thank goodness - but it's definitely a shift, and one that I imagine some people would be scratching their heads about with everyone favoring TFC 1/2 characters as much as they can since pretty much the game came out. So what's up?

    Personally, I think that what DC is doing with its fielding costs along with its purchase costs is saying, 'look, we understand you only have so much energy in a given turn, and a lot of things you want to do with it, so we'll make it a little easier to buy your characters to get your engine going, but you're going to have to make some hard decisions about who to field and who not to if you want to advance and/or get things done.' They don't want us fielding four characters and still having energy left to do six globals, and while I realize the current state of that is in part due to a certain global that results in a net energy gain, it says a lot when you can take your knocked-out characters and your drawn characters and put ALL of them back on the field and still have energy left to do a bunch of things because they're cheap. They want us to have to pick characters to roll as energy; they want us to rely on churn or abilities to keep ourselves fed; they want us to use the Sinestros of the set to set up discounts so we can get everything we want to do done. It shouldn't be rote that we get to do everything we need to do with average rolls. And I can get behind that - it means a bit more planning and thinking and plotting out, and makes more avenues for skill to come into play.

    Energy-wise, Shield took the Cheap Award with an average TFC of 3.1; Mask was almost right on the nose with 3.78, while Fist came in a little expensive at an even 4. Bolt, as usual, was picking up the rear with an AvX-esque 4.3. Shield is usually way higher in TFC so I feel that between this and its plummeting purchase cost average, we have a sure sign that THE SHIELD WEENIE HYPE IS REAL. Mask wound up picking up a lot of big guys for theme reasons, I think, which explains why it isn't hovering nearer to Shield. I'm not too surprised by Fist being where it is given that it tends to be a fight between punchy weenies and big bruisers, with maybe a little more weight on the latter this time. Bolt being expensive is increasingly par for the course. Nice to see we're getting a bit back to roles after things being sorta samey in BFF.

    Stat Values: No Follow-Through

    YGO stats were up, BFF stats were down. Where's JL?

    The FC 0/1s are nearly identical, and 3 isn't that different; JL 3-cost faces are about half a point of attack lower than those in BFF, apparently. The only real notable weak face is 2, with JL being half a point of attack and almost a full point of defense below the same in BFF - a pretty significant drop, especially given how many 4s and 5s and 6s they want us to use. So...kind of down, then. But maybe we should be comparing to another main set?

    Comparing to UXM...yeah, we're about on par, maybe slightly lower. UXM trends slightly more powerful than JL, but it's rarely by much - only the attack on 1s, and the stats on 3s (thanks, Batman, and Braniac, and all the other stat-wimpy TFC6ers) strike me as significantly lower.

    Looking at the set's ASV to TFC numbers shows a couple of interesting things:

    Note the dip in defense at TFC5 - that's Martian Manhunter. Say hi, J'onn! Flash's relatively mediocre stats also don't help to perk up the numbers when you have a relatively small sample size, either. More notably - yeah, that's confirmation that the TFC 6 characters are sort of weak numerically this time around. Only Superman actually manages 8/8, with Shazam and VIbe being next closest at 7/7. It's a hard life being a DC bruiser, I guess. Otherwise, we're not too far off from BFF, or UXM, here - we just lost it on the top end this time. Kind of surprising given that there's usually a build to those characters, but then again, this set is featuring a lot of cheap-purchase TFC 6 characters like Vibe and Red Tornado, so they're using the lower stats to compensate I imagine. It's interesting, and kind of cements TFC 3/4 as 'best stat bang for your buck' in my mind with this set, comparing them to the tiers above and below them.

    So yeah, stats are a little down this time around, particularly at the upper end. I believe it was likely part and parcel of their purchase/fielding cost designs for the set, making it so they can balance some cheaper 'big guys' with neat abilities, but maybe it was thematic too? Superman is the strongest and toughest, naturally; that said, while I can't pretend to say I know the relative toughnesses of DC characters, I'm fairly certain in my limited knowledge of them that Captain Cold and Darkseid shouldn't be at the same power level. So...yeah. Balance, probably.

    Conclusion: Let's See Where This Goes

    Like I'd said way back in the introduction - even just from playing with this set in draft, I really got a feeling of a shift in what they were trying to do numerically in the set. You buy your dice more easily, then juggle getting and returning them to the field with all the other stuff you have to do a bit harder than you did before. It feels like more of a puzzle, and while I imagine some people might poo-poo some of the set for being hard to fit in with a streamlined mixed-set team because of that, I think it makes for some fun play internally. The big question is, will Age of Ultron build on this concept? We haven't seen tons of the set yet, but I will note that from what we have seen recently, we've got four TFC4s, six TFC6s, one each from TFC 0/1/2, and two TFC3s. Signs point to 'quite possibly'!
    Comments 3 Comments
    1. pk2317's Avatar
      pk2317 -
      You might want to double-check your energy types - I was just counting them for the Wiki and I got 10 across the board. Just double-checked on DicemastersDB and confirmed.
    1. Jthomash2's Avatar
      Jthomash2 -
      All due respect for the intense analysis here (and a giant thank you), but Deadman is a shield, not a mask.
    1. TRPEvan's Avatar
      TRPEvan -
      Quote Originally Posted by pk2317 View Post
      You might want to double-check your energy types - I was just counting them for the Wiki and I got 10 across the board. Just double-checked on DicemastersDB and confirmed.
      Quote Originally Posted by Jthomash2 View Post
      All due respect for the intense analysis here (and a giant thank you), but Deadman is a shield, not a mask.
      ...indeed he is, and checking again it looks like pk2317 is also right. This is probably why I shouldn't try to multitask while making my Giant Sheet of Numbers.

      I'll update the article/charts sometime this weekend to make them Not Wrong.