• The Transition Zone: Reading the Opponent

    So you have your team ready, and you have looked at the structure of how to best build a competitive team. You have taken the time to test it out in a variety of settings. You even have an awesome name for your team. You are the homebrewing king. You arrive at that constructed event because you know the differences in OP event styles that are out there and you slap that team down on the playmat and determine that you are player 1. Time to draw, roll and move forward with your plan. 3 turns later, you are on the receiving end of 20 points of damage and it is game over player 1. What happened?

    Today, in The Transition Zone we examine the flip side of the coin when it comes to competitive play: the other player-your opponent. What can you read from your opponent and his setup, cards, dice and early buys that will help you end up on top.

    First, a personal story. The other day I was playing on vassal against Canadian National Champion JT, and he pulled out his team from that victory tour in the great North. I put together a team I have had fun playing with in various incarnations, a team that is/was my current competitive team. He went first, and bought what he wanted and I went into my planned and preferred first few moves. And before I knew it, I had lost. Quickly. So we went again, and I tried to do the same thinking that I could make something happen. And it didn't, and I lost again. Next game, I took a few minutes to really study his board, his globals, his game plan and what I could do to stop it. So I used what I had but completely different then how I wanted to play it. And I won. And I lost another game. But the take home for me was that I was be being overconfident. I didn't take the time to look at the other side of the board and I payed for it.

    So when you line up against your opponent, where do you start? After making sure they have all of the correct and legal dice and card combos, then you begin to study the board. In Dice Masters, there is no hidden information. All of the cards, dice, and ways I could possibly win are right in front of you. These are the things you need to consider when examining your opponent's board-state:

    1. The 8 main cards
    What did your opponent bring? Is there a crazy familiar combo? Is there something in those card choices that stands out? I am not going to go through all of the championship teams here, but you should be familiar with the parts that make up all of the hot meta teams. Know the High Hopes, Flying Sidekicks, the Worlds and National champs builds and everything in between. Look for combos that you know or even the ones you don't know, try to figure out how certain things synergize for your opponent. If you can study the 8 cards even for a few minutes and try to figure out how your opponent will use them, you can try to stay one step ahead of them.

    2. The Dice
    We can only bring 20 total, but the where and the how many are important. Does you opponent have any dice loaded to the max on a card? Then she will definitely be buying those dice. Is there just one on the die on a certain card? What do you think the likelihood of her buying that die is? Pretty low. She is bringing that card for its effects in the global department most likely. Pay attention to the number of dice bought, especially if you have characters like Constantine, or need to know when buying prismatic spray or other defensive control minded cards will be necessary.

    3. The Basic Action Cards
    You do remember that with these both yours and theirs are available for purchase right? If you ignore these cards, do so to your own demise. Your opponent, if skilled in play, chose the BACs he did because with them he will beat you. It may be for their globals, or the way they allow other combos to happen when he buys them-but don't let these dice and cards get ignored. If he brings direct damage cards and starts buying them turn 1, you may want to buy the rest on your turn 1. Don't give your opponent free reign on his BACs without paying attention to them.

    4. The Globals
    Of all the areas of underprepared play, this one is often the worse. Before the game even begins, while you are studying your opponent's cards, you should be taking in all of the globals his 10 cards could bring into the mix. Try to understand how he is playing them to his advantage, and how you can stop that. Determine which if any work directly against your plans and if you need to adjust your strategy. And lastly, do any of his globals benefit you enough that you want to bring it into play? There are so many globals that can swing a game one way or another, and if you do not pay attention to your opponent's globals, you have given him an upper hand right off the bat.

    5. Buying order
    What your opponent purchases early should influence your game plans. Purchases throughout the whole game are important, but those first few turns are so vital to see what the plans are. Look for certain key combos and combinations. There are infinite lists of T1/T2 purchases that could be made but for me to just list them all for you to try to memorize isn't the way to get better at this. A skilled opponent will reveal their plans in these purchases. It is with this information that you can react. Maybe you need to find removal, or a defensive approach to their purchases. Or maybe their purchases don't affect your aggro plans and you can plow ahead as scheduled. But don't neglect their buys-your opponent's turn isn't a chance for you to check your text messages.

    There are other components to solid game play, but when it comes to reading your opponent these are the most important to keep in mind. What else have you found that helps? Let me know in the comments below. Good luck and I hope you can put some of these traits into practice and make them a habit to help shape you into a more competitive player.
    Comments 5 Comments
    1. Ressless's Avatar
      Ressless -
      Good Article, i really like to look some minutes at the board of my opponent. I try to be fair and sportsman and try to explain mechanics on my cards so we dont get interrupted in the match with a "Huh? What did you do?"

      Globals is a very important point. Often you have your enery and Character dice on the reserve pool and your not sure what will your opponent do next if you do this and that. Globals can give you a hint, or maybe paranoia, but at least your on the safer side to think about them like "What can he do with it? Can i do the same to him, does he want that?" and and.
      Thanks IsaacBV!

      PS: Sometimes i try out an all out global control team, just to see what crazy or really annoying things can happen for my tested teams.
    1. jevansfp's Avatar
      jevansfp -
      Great article! My biggest problem tends to be forgetting to buy my opponent's BAC dice or use their globals. We plan and hone our 10 cards and the globals we bring with them and combos that they help us set up and our preferred T1/T2 buy order that it is easy to forget to modify your plan. He's right (and he's very good at doing this in competitive play despite his missteps that night with JT on Vassal). Check to see if their globals and BACs help you play your game better, try to figure out their win condition. If Formerly Weapon Ten or Canucklehead is there with an attack pump global on the board, start buying your control/removal dice early (or save energy for Mera's global) if you didn't bring distraction.
      Also, in competitive tournament play, don't give out more information than you have to. Your cards and dice are their for them to analyze. Put on your poker face. Be friendly. Be non-committal about your strategy. Change the subject. Like @Randy said, listen to what they talk about and what they ask you about.
    1. Jthomash2's Avatar
      Jthomash2 -
      @IsaacBV , thanks for not throwing me under the bus and talking about how I totally failed to do this the game you won that night. Getting punched in the face by my hulk is no fun. So this is definitely a two way street. And there may or may not be some gamesmanship to what cards and dice you bring as well as the way you set them up. Bringing 3 SR Red Dragon dice and 17 dice total can give your opponent something extra to think about.
    1. IsaacBV's Avatar
      IsaacBV -
      Thanks for the comments guys!
    1. Isawa_mo's Avatar
      Isawa_mo -
      Shhh! Stop telling people all the secrets! In all seriousness though. Great article. The better players will always make their plays with their opponent's next turns/victory condition in mind. What do they have in the bag right now? Why did they buy that action and what can they do with it? Most of the time, there is some answer for you in a build, you just have to find it. "Darn, I missed my roll, but wait, they are running Parallax." It may be as simple as "Do I want to Blue-Eyes that SK this turn, or hold it for defense?" Your opponent's board and bag state will tell you where to go. "Are they running Red Dragon, Baron Zemo and Magic Missile? Maybe I should buy a couple of those before they get going". Will it slow your victory condition down a little? Sure. It is worth it, however, if it thwarts half of what your opponent is trying to do.