• Reading the Rainbow Broad Strokes Episode 1 Quantity

    Welcome back Folks! Last time we wrapped up our segment on Yu-Gi-Oh drafts and got to talk with one of the Game Designers, Mike Elliott. Today we do something a bit different than the normal. As we eagerly await the Age of Ultron release in a few weeks, I figured I'd do a series on the "Broad Strokes" of Drafting, and in a way, Dice Masters in general. Today, we're going to start with a discussion about Quantity.

    Lately I've seen folks drafting for numbers of the same dice, and while sometimes that can be really good, drafting 4 copies of a 7 drop character isn't going to help you if you don't have the economy to purchase him even once. To help figure out what is a good number of dice to buy, let's talk about why we draft more than one card of a character, and why we don't draft 4.

    DC is rather fresh in our minds, I'm sure, as some of us are probably still drafting this newest set, and Age of Ultron, while exciting, is not yet qualifying us for OP cards. To that end let's use an example form DC.

    Let's say we successfully draft these 4 cards as our first 4 cards in a DC draft. Glorious, right? The perfect combo of cards to create a bolts wall deck, that churns our bolt characters into a death by 1000 cuts monstrosity. The next hand we get, turns out to be amazing too:


    Man, so may good choices! what do we choose?

    My first advice is to Read the Rainbow. This may seem didactic, but it really is crucial for us to look at what is out there before we decide what dice to take.

    Cheetah has 6 dice. (hey, it could happen... )
    Firestorm has 2 dice.
    Red Tornado has 4 dice.
    Blue Beetle has 3 dice.
    Hawkman has 5 dice.

    Next, let's look at what we value these cards for, and how many we would bring on a constructed version of this team.

    Cheetah is a solid all around competitor. Good stats for a 3 drop, direct damage to circumvent walls, and a low enough cost that when we do buy her, we can still field, ramp or save energy. On a constructed team we would bring 3-4 of her and probably actually purchase 2.

    Firestorm is a great defensive character, with a large defense on all faces, a decent attack on most faces, and a direct damage ability to allow him to contribute, without exposing himself to threats. When we post him on the field, two copies of his ability don't help us, and with the high purchase cost, we are unlikely to buy two of these guys, as such, on a constructed team we'd probably bring 2 of them.

    Red Tornado is just like firestorm in his qualities. Large defense, average attacks, solid when active ability and cheap enough that we could buy multiples if we needed to, but not so cheap that we'd want to be buying one each turn. In constructed we would probably bring two of this guy, but if it came down to needing another die somewhere, we'd probably put one here before we put one on Firestorm.

    Blue Beetle is one of our "win harder" cards. Once we can buy him that usually means we've stabilized the board, gotten Red Tornado and Firestorm on the field and have a few Cheetahs cycling through. Blue Beetle helps us burn down our opponent that much faster and really does a lot to diversify our threat structure. At 4 cost, and with his stats, he'd probably be a card we only bring 2 dice of in a constructed format, and in the long run might not even get purchased.

    Lastly, Hawkman, is amazing for all of the reasons that Cheetah is amazing, with the exception of her affiliation, and Hawkman's requirement that he be blocked to trigger his effect. In constructed we would probably bring 3 of him, but as he fills the role of cheetah, we would probably want to count his dice as cheetah dice for most purposes.

    Ok, now let's look back at our choices and talk about why we would choose one over the other:

    We would take this Cheetah card for a few reasons. First, we definitely want to have one or more of her in the long run, so we can ensure cheap cost bolt characters cycling through. Secondly, every Cheetah we take is a Cheetah someone else doesn't get. Looking at the rainbow, there are six Cheetahs, and with six players that's one Cheetah each. Each Cheetah we take is one opponent that doesn't get a Cheetah, and one opponent that has to find a more difficult win condition.

    We normally wouldn't take this guy over things like Cheetah or Hawkman. This rainbow though, is telling us we should really take this guy. If this were rare or uncommon Firestorm we would let i go, but instead, the common is the one card an opponent would need to start building the Bolts meta. If you draft this Firestorm, you know no one else is going to have the option to go bolts. That is a strong position of power to be sitting at, knowing that your opponents can't bring one of the top draft strategies in the entire set.

    We already have the uncommon, we really don't need his common card, and we also don't need to deny that common to others. If there's another Uncommon, we could take it to deny our opponents that choice, but for now we'll leave the 3 cost textless androids for our next packs; there are enough of them.

    This guy is slightly worse that Cheetah, but at least he's not a villain. If you notice a lot of villain hate out there, some Blue Beetles missing, some Lantern Power rings that aren't circling around, or even just someone building a Batman deck, perhaps you could take Hawkman and use him over cheetah. Both characters have tons of dice in the rainbow though, and while the uncommon Hawkman is harder to get your hands on, he's not so good that we should pick him over something else just to deny our opponents.

    Lastly, we have this guy. While the common Blue Beetle does great things for our Cheetahs he's actually a bit expensive for what he does if our opponent isn't also fielding villains. This cheaper version might actually be a decent pick up if we decide to go the Hawkman route instead. However, with what we have now, we definitely don't need 2 dice of him before we need two dice of any of the other choices.

    Bringing it all together, we see that there are a few options to us, and those options have more to do with what is in the rainbow than they have to do with how many dice we actually need to get our team to work. We could take another Cheetah, but there are a lot of them, and even if we don't get another one later on, we already have one die which is all we technically need to win with her. We can take the uncommon Hawkman, common Tornado or the rare Blue Beetle, but those are basically sub par versions of Cheetah or Firestorm. Speaking of Firestorm, if we take the only other Firestorm, it does two things for us. First it garuntees that we are the only team that can build bolts in the most efficient way, and secondly by discouraging others to pick bolt characters, it gives us better reliability that characters such as the Hawkman, Blue Beetle and Red Tornado will wheel back to us.

    Remember, it's not about how many Shazams or Swamp Things you can draft, f you weren't planning to buy them. In a draft format, you are more likely to buy 2-3 drop characters 2-3 times. You are likely to buy certain 4 drops once. Your strategy might be to ramp to a particular 5 or 6 drop character, but you're only likely to buy that one high cost character the whole game. Finally, you are unlikely to ever buy that 7 drop, unless you have planned for him, and if you do he better win you the game when you roll his character face.

    These numbers and ratios are all highly dependent on the cards you're talking about, but as a good rule of thumb, don't worry about more than 2 copies of a single card unless you know you will be utilizing that third die every match. Always compare the number of dice you'd want to have, to the number of cards you've seen pass you and the number of dice in the rainbow. Assume at lest one other person is drafting the cards you want, and plan accordingly. If there's no one drafting what you want, or no cards you thing you want from a pack, draft the cards you think your opponent needs, especially the ones that have very low dice counts. Half of the path to victory is getting the better draft than your opponent, and a key strategy to that is denying your opponent resources, whether those be low cost characters, quality globals or high powered victory conditions.

    As a side note, never intentionally grab that 4th die. You'll just get passed a 5th one and kick yourself for picking something useless, when you could have opened your self to a better opportunity.

    That's it for this week folks. I'll e starting an AoU preview soon, and then follow that up with the actual AoU series, but until then, I should be dropping random draft knowledge on you as we go. Thanks as always for reading.
    Comments 3 Comments
    1. Necromanticer's Avatar
      Necromanticer -
      I think this is pretty much spot on. I generally don't go for hate drafting, but if I know that I have 1 of the 2 Firestorm dice, there's no way I'm letting the 2nd one slip through my fingers, especially since I know it's also the common. Denying my opponents that key character is going to heavily boost my power and I can reliably assume that I'll get at least 1-2 more chances at Hawkman and Cheetah because of how many dice there are in the rainbow.
    1. ToaEmpoleon's Avatar
      ToaEmpoleon -
      I started reading these a while ago and I love this series. I think this is all good advice, I think there would only be a barest competition between cheetah and firestorm but with there only being 2 firestorm he wins (also he's a huge keystone).

      P.S minor typo in the 4th from last paragraph, hawkeye instead of hawkman.
    1. Shadowmeld's Avatar
      Shadowmeld -
      Bah, Hawksomethings are all alike MIRITE?

      proceeds to correct typo.