• Reading the Rainbow Yu Gi Oh Draft Episode 8 Mike Elliott and the Beginning of It All

    Welcome Back Folks, and sorry to have missed Thursday's posting, but thanks a million to @Wifey for her awesome article about getting one's spouse into gaming. I know I have uses some of her strategies to get my wife interested in some of the games I play. She hasn't quite caught the Dicemasters bug, but she is fully supportive of my interests so there's nothing more I could ask for than that.

    The last time we met, we discussed the dilemma of good cards versus rare cards, and today, we're going to draft a hand of Yu Gi Oh with one of the men who brought us such a great dilemma. Mike Elliott is a name we should all recognize as it is on the cover of all of our Dice Masters rules books, but we might also recognize him from other portions of his 20 years in the industry. Ten years at Wizards of the Coast and one of the lead designers of Magic the Gathering, was quickly followed by a stint at the Seattle office of Wizkids and their Hero Clix product line. After that office closed, Mike moved to work on several free lance projects, including Battle Spirits, Thunderstone and Quarriors. You know Quarriors right? that game in all of our Dicemaster's rulebooks that WizKids thinks we will like. They're probably right though, because Quarriors is basically a non-collectable version of Dicemasters; dice, cards, levels and all. From there Mike and his Quarriors partner Eric Lang began work on the first series of Dice Masters. Six months later, they began work on Avengers versus X-men.

    You heard me right, there was a set that was designed before AvX, that set, was Yu Gi Oh. Yu Gi Oh was released after AvX because of the duration of licencing negotiations (think, serial number issues) but was the first incarnation of the game. Over the weekend I got a chance to talk to Mike at Dice Tower Con in Orlando. First things first, the Con was amazing, and thanks to the Dice Tower people, and the Brandon Board Gamer People who organize the con itself, you guys can miraculously put the most rabid fans of board gaming, into the same room as some of the best designers in the world, and make it all feel like we are hanging out at the biggest Friendliest Local Gaming Shop ever.

    Meanwhile, Mike Elliott was kind enough to give me a half hour of his time to talk about Dicemasters, the past, the current metas, and the future of the game. What you all are really here for though is the Yu Gi Oh draft scene, and Mike also agreed to be my second celebrity guest drafter. Today he is going to look at our last hand of Yu Gi Oh and tell me what he would draft for a 6 man draft using the rainbow below.

    "Something to remember," Mike reminds me as I hand him the cards to look through, "Rainbow drafts were a fan creation, we weren't planning for them this far back, so our playtests didn't know what to look for."

    Shadowmeld: "I guess that should be obvious now that I know that Yu Gi Oh was before AvX. That probably also explains why Yu Gi Oh has many wording issues that one would think would have been caught after AvX's release, and why Yu Gi Oh is for the most part the only set with errata."

    Mike: "Right. Ok let's see here..."

    As I'm watching Mike sort through the cards and read each one, I'm holding my phone up so he can see the image of the Rainbow. I see him sort the Lord of D.'s, Man Eater Bug, Black Luster Soldier and Trap Hole off to one side; obviously not first picks. Mike begins sifting through the remainder, drops the Winged Dragon of Ra, likely for its cost, as well as the Baby Dragon, perhaps because it has no text. Holding two Red-Eyes, a Blue-Eyes, Injection Fairy Lily and the Rod in his hand he glances at the rainbow.

    Shadowmeld: "There are 3 Blue-Eyes, 4 Red-Eyes and two Millennium Rods in the draft, as well as many Lilies," I say from a quick glance, and memory.

    Mike: "I'd probably take the Millennium Rod"

    Shadowmeld: "Alrighty. Now for pack two."

    Mike picks that one up and begins sorting...

    Mike: "Oh, this Marshmallon is a first pick for sure!" Mike chuckles with sarcasm, and starts his pile of "nopes".

    I watch as he methodically drops both Saggis, both Sangans, and Marshmallon into a pile.

    Mike: "The hard thing about Yu Gi Oh is there's not a lot of midrange. It is either cheap guys or big purchases. To that end I'm heavily favoring this Time Wizard."

    Shadowmeld: "I know what you mean, he's a Professor Global on legs. One thing I would take a note of is that Time Wizard is really good for more than that ability though. He's also got the Thousand Dragon Fusion icon, and looking at the rainbow, there's 4 of him, but only one Thousand Dragon."

    Mike: "That is a good point. Also their ability is very similar, and for one more the dragon has much better stats. Yeah, I'd take him."

    Handing me the cards back, Mike looks at me and says "What would you pick?" I can only feel that this is a bit of a test.

    Shadowmeld: "Definitely the Thousand Dragon, and hope the Time Wizard wheels. Along those lines I would also pick the Baby Dragon from the first pack. the dragon has decent stats for his cost, is low enough I could buy him early, and ramps me into a free Thousand Dragon. The Baby Dragon also fits many of the Yu Gi Oh archetypes that do exist including dragons and a small bolt archetypes.

    "Don't get me wrong, the Millennium Rod is also a pretty solid choice, but I'd just prefer getting a threat of my own before picking a card that lets me take my opponent's threats for a turn."

    Mike: "Good point."

    From here I thank Mike and we exchange cards, but the conversation's not over. Mike and I get to talking about Dice Masters, some tales of yore, some "predictions" for the future and some of the issues with the present. He is really looking forward to the sets that are to soon be coming out including War of Light, TMNT and another set that's in the works right before or after TMNT. He couldn't tell me what that set was, but just that the train of dice were going to keep flowing. I told him we would continue buying because his product is truly that good, the community for it that friendly and content that amazing.

    Thanks to Mike Elliott for allowing me the time to interview him, and for playing along with my celebrity draft.

    As for the rest of you guys, thanks as always for reading, and feel free to post below any questions you have for me about Yu Gi Oh, my talk with Mike, Dice Tower Con or just Dice Masters in general.

    PS Mike Signed off on Operation Vixen, the plan is in the works!
    Comments 4 Comments
    1. TheDoubleBursts's Avatar
      TheDoubleBursts -
      Ummm... the set he is not allowed to talk about yet is: The Amazing Spider-Man for those wanting to know. (However, at this point, it is common knowledge the set is coming.)
    1. Ken's Avatar
      Ken -
      Great article and very cool you got a chance to talk with Mike! It does make sense YGO was designed first. That makes me wonder if the serial numbers were a WK misstep instead of a Konami one. Either way, I'm glad that that has been "corrected" or a least not repeated. I guess if there is ever another YGO set, we will find out which company wanted it. If it is Wizkids--and given this new YGO-designed-first info it seems more plausible than ever that it was--I hope they further correct the situation by just changing the rules to drop the serial number matching requirement.

      Eric Lang answered a question from Jason Levine on the live stream from Dice Tower Con about the origins of DM. He mentioned that he and Mike and Wizkids long had the idea that it would be cool to do a collectible version of Quarriors, but that they wanted a cool license to do it with and that one day "Justin" [I assume he meant Justin Ziran, WK CEO] called him up and told him excitedly, "We got Marvel!" I thought Eric implied that that got the ball going, but it could have been my preconceived notions that made me think that. I'll have to dig up the clip to know for sure.
      @Shadowmeld --did you record the interview, and if so, do you plan on releasing the full thing?
    1. Shadowmeld's Avatar
      Shadowmeld -
      Actually, @TheDoubleBursts , he was referring to the set after ASM, but we can all assume there will be something next, so it is not much of a spoiler.

      @Ken no, unfortunately I didn't get the interview recorded because it was an unplanned last minute thing. Mike and I were both just wandering around the main hall in the last hours of the con.
    1. IsaacBV's Avatar
      IsaacBV -
      Great write up, awesome that you got to spent time with him!