• The Transition Zone: Casual to Competitive Play

    Welcome to the world of Dice Masters, and all of the fun this game brings. I find myself writing about it not because I searched out an opportunity to do so, but because I really love this game and want others to play and enjoy it the way I have. Many of you may be fairly new to the game, and wondering how do I go from being a "kitchen table" player to a competitive player? Is there a way to transition from casual play to playing at organized events with people who aren't my friends or kids and eventually move into the competitive world?

    Today I wanted to start a series of articles to help you learn some of the ins and outs of the competitive and organized play scene outside of just deck-building and how you can transition yourself from the casual to the competitive: welcome to The Transition Zone.

    I find myself in a place that sits right between casual play and competitive when it comes to Dice Masters. I love playing the game, and learned primarily through playing with my son at home. We were and are still literal kitchen table players. We grew our group with other friends and played mostly when we got together. There has been lots of discussion over what dictates a game of Dice Masters to be casual vs competitive or if there is even a reason to draw a line. I have seen it from both ends of the spectrum, having played numerous games with friends, online, organized play (OP) events and the qualifiers at Worlds. They have all provided me different experiences, but some things remained the same. When it comes to competitive vs casual, you need to keep these points in mind when determining how your game will proceed.

    1. Know how your opponent wants to play

    When I sit down to play my son at home, I know how our games are going to go. We are going to have a good time playing different characters or combos, many of them not the most dynamic or powerful but they are cards and characters we want to play. He loves Limited Wish and Phoenix Force, so that hits the table a lot. I enjoy trying to play odd teams against him to see what will or won't work. My son wants to play for fun, and wants to enjoy the game at home, and so we play that way. Now fast forward to the most recent OP event we had written up here. If you read that report, you will know that he won and gave me one heck of a game. Then and there, he wanted to play more competitive and we did. The environment and event led to that type of play. So know before you even start what type of game your opponent is expecting. It's like the old saying goes, don't bring a Gobby to a Unicorn fight.

    2. Know your opponent's experience level

    If you are going to line up against someone who wants to play this game, make sure you know how much they have played and what may be new to them. Maybe Johnny Swarm and High Hopes are terms and teams they have never seen and so you need to be prepared to explain what you are doing and how it works. Thinking of flexing out a Lord of D ring combo? Maybe Mystic Box transferring or AiA? Be ready to explain what it does and why they can't do so many things if it is new to your opponent.

    Their experience as an overall gamer is important also. I expect to have a much different game against someone who regularly plays Magic the Gathering and someone who regularly plays Monopoly if it is both their first time playing the game. Some terms and definition of styles may not be something they are used to hearing so be patient and be helpful.

    Conversely, if I know that you play this game a lot and are lining up with some heavy hitters and/or constructed teams that give the impression that this is not new to you-I expect we are going to have a good time playing at a different level.

    3. Know what sets your opponent has access to

    When I started playing online, the opponents that brought Yu-Gi-Oh to the table had a distinct advantage over me. I had little experience in the set and frankly I skipped it when it first came out because of the IP. I was all over the superheroes and the idea of Yu-Gi-Oh did not appeal to me in the least bit. But guess what happens when you don't collect a set? You cannot be competitive in this game as a whole. Don't line up to play a casual game with someone who just loves superheroes by bringing your swarming D&D team and telling them they just need to buy "x" to win next time. Use what they have if that is all they want to play. At least you still got play, right?

    4. Be flexible

    I enjoy this game, regardless if I am playing at a World's event or playing with my son. I take no less interest or enjoyment in this game based on my partner. If someone wants to play a game with only Certain characters, or random cards thrown together or they want to pick two off the wall teams for you to go head-to-head with, let them. Because in those cases you are probably playing friends or family, it is probably not a tournament or OP event, and guess what-you still get to play Dice Masters! I am just happy to play, and willing to teach someone else with a lineup or set that may not ultimately interest me, but in the end will still mean I got to play.

    5. Help bring others to the level of interest you have

    We recently had a DC rainbow draft where the guy sitting next to me was brand new to the game. We started with passing in the direction that he was handing me cards. Early on in the drafting, he was asking about cards and dice and why there were only certain cards and numbers of dice out. I tried to answer all his questions, and when he asked about how he should draft and what certain cards meant, I tried to help him out. When he was making his team and had this certain green stripe Black Manta with the one Black Manta die that was on the table and a team of 6 villains and he was asking if he should use the Manta, I told him yes. And then I told him how to best use it. Because ultimately I want more people to play this game, and if someone has a good time and can be competitive early in their learning curve, they will come back and we will continue to grow new players.

    6. Have fun playing this game!

    By far my best advice is to keep the main thing the main thing. Why do we play games? At its root, why do you play a game? If the answer isn't "to have fun", then maybe reconsider playing. No matter if it is teaching someone for the first time, playing with friends, playing at an OP event or trying to play at a highly competitive level fun should be the take-away. If you do not make the experience enjoyable, I don't want to play you ever again. This goes for all of us. So when you line up against your opponent and try to determine how the game will play, know that having a good time and enjoying yourself should be what stood out the most to all parties involved. Yes winning is nice, but not at the expense of a positive experience.

    So that is my input into the discussion of casual vs competitive play. What do you think? Are there instances where one seems to be the way you prefer to play? Do you find yourself in these situations often? How has this gone well or not so well in your experiences? Join us in the comments below!
    Comments 6 Comments
    1. KingMatticus's Avatar
      KingMatticus -
      Excellent article! I want to really get my scene going around here that I could see some competitive play!
    1. timbowyer's Avatar
      timbowyer -
      As a fairly new player (4 casual games and 1 op) I'm still getting to grips with the game and it's intricacies.

      I'm already aware that as a one property player ill never be truely competitive (I'm marvel only) but I'm ok with that, any game where im rolling dice is good for me.

      My one op has taught me a lot of things my casual play would never have and these are already filtering through to my casual game and therefore in to the games of the people I play casually with.

      My approach is casual is the time to play characters/combos that I like the idea of whereas competitive play has to be more considered with counters for some other strategies considered. My first op has taught me the value of having at least one way to clear characters from the field that would just sit there!

      I appreciate the differences between the two types but am lucky enough my local op group seem to be incredibly friendly and welcoming and whilst competitive they seem to all be helpful and willing to go out of their way to help both new and established players . I'm already looking forward to trying to persuade a few to come along and give the ops a go in an attempt to try and boost the local community!
    1. jevansfp's Avatar
      jevansfp -
      Isaac, great article. I really like your new logo. This seems like the perfect topic for you to explore and I can't wait for more articles like this. I'm also someone who plays a lot with my 11 year old son. While it is something that we are trying to get my 15 yr old and my wife to play also, but trying not to push to hard. The DC female heroes dice bag your daughter made for me is for my wife as a bribe to get her to want to learn to play. My oldest would be really good at deck building and looking for the combos that make this game so fun. I sense that he is reluctant to do so because he knows what a rabbit hole it will be for him once he gets started.

      @timbowyer Something to consider, as you play more organized events and experience more cards from other sets, think about trading some of your extra Marvel cards for some of your favorites that you play against. Either at the OP event with other players, or here on the Reserve Pool's trading forum. If you can't find anyone to trade for them, many of the commons and uncommons can be bought for less that a dollar from coolstuffinc.com with $0.99 shipping for as many single cards (and matching dice) that you can package into one order. There are some great YuGiOh and D&D cards, but you don't have to commit to buying the whole set, so you can save your money for Age of Ultron.
    1. geneaber's Avatar
      geneaber -
      Like Isaac, I never thought I would play competitively having never done anything like that before. All you need is a dedicated set of others learning the game along with you in order to ease your transition from a "kitchen table player" to a player in OP events or other tournaments.
    1. JorduSpeaks's Avatar
      JorduSpeaks -
      A friend and I recently went up against a guy who said, "Hey, let me test out this new list I made." What my friend and I heard that he did not say were the words "for tournament play." So he was unprepared when we both used lists that were designed to try and stop the Gobby/Johnny Storm list that is stomping all over our local meta. It was not a happy time.
    1. Ressless's Avatar
      Ressless -
      What happened , did he went upset about it and how strong your cards are? Well everybody has different views of how to play and once say get it, they will maybe think different or do trying something competitive.