• Individuals Sharing a Common Goal

    Dice Masters surely is not the first game to have an awesome community that sometimes has trouble finding a groove, fluctuating in attendance, and seeing two vastly different styles of play (casual and competitive) vying for time and attention. For me, though, it's the first game I've loved so much that I've been a big part of the community. So of course, it's also the first time I've struggled with these issues. As the person coordinating the Dice Masters play at my FLGS, where I also happen to work part-time, I want the game and community to thrive. So how on earth can we please most of the people most of the time and keep the dice rolling?

    Listening
    I listened to the tournament players. I listened to casual players, to new players who never joined the community., to those who quit, and even to my own instincts. What I heard was a mixture of painful, enlightening, frustrating, and funny stuff. Sometimes it even made me want to take my dice and go home. Thankfully, I didn't, and in the end I listened to (or maybe grilled) my colleague Tim about how he had taken Pokemon at our store and made it huge. With every answer or idea, Tim inspired me, and now I think we're on to something big.

    Introducing the Nerd Store Dice Masters League!
    I'm so excited about League that I want to say it's sure to make everyone happy all of the time! But of course that's not possible. I can promise, however, that League is really, really cool. Modeled in large part on what Tim told me, we now host low-key League/open play for two hours followed by a tournament every week. League participants can earn points without entering competitive play, and tournament entrants don't have to join League. So why would they? Awesome prizes, of course! This is where WizKids came to the table and was amazingly supportive.

    My boss contacted Justin Ziran, and told him what we hoped to do. I don't know their conversation, but I do know that my hopes for our group becoming a League hinged on whether we'd be approved to use the OP kits for League prizes instead of the regular tournament structure. With a thumbs up from Justin, a squee of joy from me, and a commitment to keep WizKids informed on how things are going, we got the opportunity to try this pilot program out. And although we only have a couple of official weeks under our belts plus the two weeks prior when we started rolling out the whole idea to our regulars, I just couldn't be happier!

    Early Results
    Adjusting our schedule to have both open play and tournaments weekly instead of offering casual play some weeks with competitive play others was an immediate improvement. For tournaments, we get the same level of participation just more often. We shifted our prize support to booster packs, since promos are awarded for League participation, and less pressure on winning to get OP cards resulted in more willingness to try new combos and teams. That in turn has allowed us to alternate between unlimited constructed and all the other formats we've been dying to try. The paupers (commons and starters only) and affiliation constructed tournaments so far have been huge hits, and I'm already getting requests for other formats to try.

    With League, we are getting participation from folks who haven't played competitively (...yet), and they are excited about choosing promos once they've earned their points. We encourage them to play in at least the big event at the end of each season with a special prize drawing, so the idea is to eventually convince the casual gang that tournaments aren't really intimidating. With our new program, they truly aren't! We're laughing so much, enjoying great games, marveling at unexpected combos, seeing characters in play that you don't see in the meta, and still ending with bragging rights for the winner plus packs for everyone to open up.

    How We Roll
    I'm a worrier, so I am not going to rest easy on this new venture. I'll keep working at it, but this confessed neurotic is crazy optimistic about our Dice Masters League. To fully embrace our goal, I checked out the definition of “league,” and there's one that struck me as most fitting - “individuals having a common goal.” That is a perfect reflection of our community. Both the competitive players and those who are playing simply for fun and camaraderie have more in common than I thought when I first started listening. The underlying truth is that we all really love Dice Masters and want to enjoy the hours we spend at it with other folks like us. Like in life, things may not always roll your way, but it's easier to handle the defeats and more fun to celebrate victories when you're doing it with friends. That's League.

    I'll write more and share our journey as we move ahead. Please let me know what you think of our League adventure, and may the dice rolls be ever in your favor.
    This article was originally published in blog: Individuals Sharing a Common Goal started by kaywillow
    Comments 20 Comments
    1. SarkhanMad's Avatar
      SarkhanMad -
      So the League is an open play session?
      How are points awarded for League?
      How and when are OP cards distributed to League?

      What is the prize structure for tournaments?
      What is the special prize for end of season tournament?
      How long is a season?
      Does the League run on the same "season"?

      Cost of entry into League and/or tournaments?
    1. Flexei's Avatar
      Flexei -
      In addition to SarkhanMad's questions:
      Do you report your games in the WizKidsEventSystem?
      Have you had any issues with people not wanting to explore different builds because they care about leaderboard points?
    1. Indy Mon's Avatar
      Indy Mon -
      Great post! Would love to hear more details

      We have had great success with exploring "funky" formats in our store as well. We run two events every Saturday morning so we have 8-10 events each month. Only one of those is unlimited constructed. As to Trubie's question, I don't know about Kirsten's experience, but I have people who care about leaderboard points but the different formats have not mattered to them one bit. A win is a win and you just need to try to make and pilot the best team you can for the format you are playing.

      I honestly believe that this idea is THE way to get dice masters flourishing at a store. Always doing drafts price out a lot of players. Always doing unlimited turns off players and gets boring to many if not most players--even the very competitive. A league with varying formats keeps things fresh and fun. Keep up the great work!
    1. archivist's Avatar
      archivist -
      Kuddos to you kaywillow - glad to read about your experiences and best of luck in the future.

      Our league (ComicHeroU) is going into its 3rd season and we are incorporating some of the points you made in your article to accommodate competitive and causal play.

      @SarkhanMad , here's our info:

      So the League is an open play session?
      No, we have a constructed format based on the theme of the season. Last season, it was achievement-based.

      How are points awarded for League?
      Two ways: Win/Loss and varying points for achievements

      How and when are OP cards distributed to League?
      We distributed a basic OP package after every event (1 card for the person with the most wins, 1 card for the runner-up and a fellowship). Everyone got to pick from a deck of previous participation OP cards.

      What is the prize structure for tournaments?
      We awarded 2 gravity feeds to the champion, based on Achievement Points (their choice from AvX to AoU - the most recent release at that time), 1 GF for the runner-up and 1 GF to the player with the most wins who did not already receive a tournament grand prize.

      What is the special prize for end of season tournament?
      none

      How long is a season?
      Season 2 was 5 events played over 7 weeks (played each Saturday afternoon with a break due to 4th of July holiday and one down-day because of attendance).

      Does the League run on the same "season"?
      We split ours up by calendar (a Winter League, a Summer League and a Fall League). Each season has a different theme. Season 1 was constructed team builds, with an "All-Star" team for the final event; Season 2 was Achievement Point based. Season 3 will be something different (working the details now).

      Cost of entry into League and/or tournaments?
      We had a one-time cost of $10/player to enter the league. This helped our store with the costs of the grand prizes, but we have a gracious store owner who greatly supports the game.

      @Flexei (Hello there Trubie!!)
      Do you report your games in the WizKidsEventSystem?
      Yes

      Have you had any issues with people not wanting to explore different builds because they care about leaderboard points?
      No. We are more focused on who has the best W/L record for each event within our group. Our group's culture is more social and experimental. We enjoy having new players - teaching the game is important to us - and for the few of us who are sanctioned Tournament players, we do a lot of play-testing, knowledge sharing for our competitive builds outside of the League structure, but sometimes you just want to do some wacky builds without the pressure of having to win a tournament or worrying about ranking status. Many times, we uncover a nifty combo from these League events.

      Of note: we have a core (regular attendees) of 10 players, with 4-8 semi-regular or new players in our group. Also of note: to give you a sense of our social aspect, almost every night after our weekly gaming session, most of the group goes out to dinner together. Out of these experiences, what started as a casual gaming group has turned into lasting friendships. THAT is my greatest take-away from this game.
    1. grungebob's Avatar
      grungebob -
      I would love to see the details of this... The store that I play at has been on the decline from a weekly 6-12 players to 2-6 players the last month and some new, fresh ideas on running events may help.
    1. archivist's Avatar
      archivist -
      @grungebob - what details are you interested in?

      One question: why has the play at your store declined? Depending on that situation, what is being discussed in this thread may not help and other remedies (than a League scene) would need to be explored.
    1. SarkhanMad's Avatar
      SarkhanMad -
      Quote Originally Posted by archivist View Post
      Have you had any issues with people not wanting to explore different builds because they care about leaderboard points?

      No. We are more focused on who has the best W/L record for each event within our group. Our group's culture is more social and experimental. We enjoy having new players - teaching the game is important to us - and for the few of us who are sanctioned Tournament players, we do a lot of play-testing, knowledge sharing for our competitive builds outside of the League structure, but sometimes you just want to do some wacky builds without the pressure of having to win a tournament or worrying about ranking status. Many times, we uncover a nifty combo from these League events.
      How can you answer no to this question when you're using W/L record?

      Only way you could, is because the players are making that possible, not the structure of your league.
    1. SarkhanMad's Avatar
      SarkhanMad -
      In an attempt to prevent hijacking this thread, I would still like to hear more from @kaywillow
    1. Ressless's Avatar
      Ressless -
      @archivist i really like the idea with the most Wins and the second place and also a pick from last packages. I will suggest that to my shop owner if i get a league rolling at our store.
    1. archivist's Avatar
      archivist -
      Quote Originally Posted by SarkhanMad View Post
      How can you answer no to this question when you're using W/L record?

      Only way you could, is because the players are making that possible, not the structure of your league.

      I said: "the best W/L record for each event within our group". Each event = within the league structure.

      A league can still be ran without concerning oneself with Leaderboard Points.


      Or maybe I'm misunderstanding your intent with these questions?
    1. SarkhanMad's Avatar
      SarkhanMad -
      So, W/L record earns OP cards.
      achievement points earn GF's.

      achievement points ~ leader board points
    1. archivist's Avatar
      archivist -
      Ah, I see the confusion.

      Achievement Points in the League construct I described are only relevant to the League standings - they are not connected to the WK Leaderboard, even though they are the same words.

      Some example achievements from our Summer League:
      A single character die does 15 or more damage during the Attack Step. Score 1.0 (achievement) point for each occurrence.
      Win a match with 20 life remaining, score 1.0 (achievement) point for each occurrence
      Roll 15 or more dice during your Roll and Reroll Step, score 0.5 (achievement) points for each occurrence

      These points were tallied at the end of each event, then totaled at the end of the League. Points for W/L were also included in this total for overall score in determining the winner. Since we entered this event, and the results from all of the matches, into the WK system, points also were recorded on the WK Leaderboard for the W/L only.

      The person with the best W/L record also received a GF. Note: the player with the most wins was not the player with the most overall points. Sometimes, a killer team construct that maximizes obtaining achievement points was not a good team for winning a match. It was the player's preference on how they wanted to approach each event.

      Most wins, 2nd most wins and fellowship (usually to the newest player or the person with the most losses) for that specific event received OP cards.
    1. grungebob's Avatar
      grungebob -
      Quote Originally Posted by archivist View Post
      @grungebob - what details are you interested in?

      One question: why has the play at your store declined? Depending on that situation, what is being discussed in this thread may not help and other remedies (than a League scene) would need to be explored.
      A couple things happen... The staff member that was the judge moved and just another player did move away at the beginning of the decline (about month ago), but I believe it was boredom of a rotation between 3 formats (rainbow, constructed-draft, and unlimited constructed), a lack of actually trying to do anything to build upon our group (getting new players involved over have knowledge of the events) and a Wiz Kids Event System site that is very poorly designed for anything Dice Masters, pretty much a HeroClix system.

      So I'm in Las Vegas, our store was the only store with a weekly event since AvX since week 2 of release with only 1 other store having a random event (month to 2 months). As a previous HeroClix player, I could play every night somewhere. With Dice Masters, it's becoming almost non-existent, but never was given a push to advance. So maybe a season event could bring excitement to people that have gotten bored of the 3 events and help bring people back on the regular. The other is to make events known and I personally looking into demoing or judging small events for other stores that sale Dice Masters, just so people know about the game.
    1. IsaacBV's Avatar
      IsaacBV -
      Great discussion here guys. I am excited to see where the community continues to grow when it comes to leagues, Pro Dice Circuit and other ways to compete!
    1. kaywillow's Avatar
      kaywillow -
      Quote Originally Posted by SarkhanMad View Post
      So the League is an open play session?
      How are points awarded for League?
      How and when are OP cards distributed to League?

      What is the prize structure for tournaments?
      What is the special prize for end of season tournament?
      How long is a season?
      Does the League run on the same "season"?

      Cost of entry into League and/or tournaments?
      Sorry for the delay. I just saw your response and it was a really hectic day at the store with MTG BFK releasing. Not as much fun for me as Dice Masters, but made for a long and busy day. I was planning on doing a more detailed blog this weekend with some of this info, but let me get you some answers.

      Points: Each person gets 1 point for showing up, 1 point for each opponent they play during league, 1 extra point for teaching a new player or playing a youth (since they play slower and we don't want experience players avoiding newbies or young people), 1 point for playing that season's "theme team", 2 points for every friend they refer who joins league, and 2 points for every tournament entry. We track points on their League Card.

      OP Cards: There are 32 points on the card, and each 8 points corresponds to an energy type. The first 8 is the bolt. Achieve the bolt, and players get 2 packs. Get to 16 (fist), and they get a participation promo. At 24 (mask), they get another participation promo and a free tournament entry ($3), and then at 32 (shield), they receive a premium promo, and can enter the drawing for the special prize at the final Leaugue Tournament that season. We have a binder, and I've put a set of the participation level OP cards on one page for the fist level. The 2nd page has some of the same OPs as well as some different participation promos. The 3rd and final page has the top level OP cards.

      Tournaments: Prize support is solely packs based on entry.

      End of Season Prize Drawing: This is going to vary. This first season it's the Thor The Mighty OP card from AvX, which I had to get on eBay. Our store wasn't playing then and can no longer get the first two AvX kits we missed. Next season is going to be Villainous Vixens themed, and the big prize is the full art Harley Quinn (also eBay). We may go to SR cards, mats or other cool items in the future, but I have Spider-Man The Amazing for the season after Harley.

      Seasons: We last 6 weeks for each season. I am a little concerned right now about filling the cards for some folks, but we're monitoring that. We have two more weeks, and I've had one person complete so far. It is doable, but we'll see if we need adjusting (like allowing anyone with 24 spaces completed to get into the drawing). The season is the League, so the tournaments are really not necessarily on the season schedule except that one tournament every 6 weeks has the drawing for League members who filled their cards. One key thing to not discourage late entry into the League is that the cards are good for TWO seasons. If they join in week five, that's okay. They can't do the drawing, but they can keep the card. With the next season, we just double-stamp, giving them points on both cards. They will get the awards still except they can only get one entry for the big prize in the second season.

      Cost: League entry is $5/season. Tournaments are $3.

      Hope this helps, and promise to do another blog (hopefully still this weekend) with our outline and the inside of our card. Will probably include thoughts on the response we've gotten.
    1. kaywillow's Avatar
      kaywillow -
      Quote Originally Posted by Flexei View Post
      In addition to SarkhanMad's questions:
      Do you report your games in the WizKidsEventSystem?
      Have you had any issues with people not wanting to explore different builds because they care about leaderboard points?
      I do report the tournaments in WES for The Nerd Store. While I do register the participants for the League/Open Play in WES, I can't finalize it without W/L. I've mentioned it to Justin and he shared with the appropriate team at WK. They haven't come back with any solution on that so far, but it isn't urgent for us either. Our folks have not been very concerned about leaderboard points. They are much more concerned about earning those League points. :-)

      In terms of exploring different builds, they were actually LESS experimental before League and were really resistant to anything but super meta, competitive builds in unlimited format to earn the premium OP. With weekly tournaments, we actually alternate between fun formats and unlimited. They can still hone new competitive teams every other week, but with the theme each season and the format variants (more on that when I reply to IndyMon), there's actually a lot MORE creativity with our gang now.
    1. kaywillow's Avatar
      kaywillow -
      Thanks, IndyMon! And thanks, too, for letting me be a lurker to see your alternative formats. I will definitely be "borrowing" plenty from your group's creativity. I completely agree that both the variation of themes and the budget-friendly blend of different kinds/formats of constructed tournaments with occasional drafts keep things fresh and maximizes fun. I hadn't found a really solid thread in the forum to help with format variant ideas, but maybe I missed it. Otherwise, maybe we should get one going. I know your creativity has inspired me, and I love that we're growing support and participation for this game!
    1. kaywillow's Avatar
      kaywillow -
      Quote Originally Posted by grungebob View Post
      A couple things happen... The staff member that was the judge moved and just another player did move away at the beginning of the decline (about month ago), but I believe it was boredom of a rotation between 3 formats (rainbow, constructed-draft, and unlimited constructed), a lack of actually trying to do anything to build upon our group (getting new players involved over have knowledge of the events) and a Wiz Kids Event System site that is very poorly designed for anything Dice Masters, pretty much a HeroClix system.

      So I'm in Las Vegas, our store was the only store with a weekly event since AvX since week 2 of release with only 1 other store having a random event (month to 2 months). As a previous HeroClix player, I could play every night somewhere. With Dice Masters, it's becoming almost non-existent, but never was given a push to advance. So maybe a season event could bring excitement to people that have gotten bored of the 3 events and help bring people back on the regular. The other is to make events known and I personally looking into demoing or judging small events for other stores that sale Dice Masters, just so people know about the game.
      I'm sorry about your declining participation. We had the same thing starting to happen, and that was the impetus for League. We have done some other things, too, that may help you like hosting "Learn-to-Play Dice Masters" sessions in our store during other activities. I'll be doing that again on Halloween with our Halloween ComicFest. For learn-to-play, I build kits of 8 SK dice, one BAC, and 4 characters with 2 dice each. If the new players really like it, I offer to let them take the kits home. The League/Open Play time is also great to encourage people to come in. We promote it pretty heavily to customers coming to the counter who purchase games and/or comics, since Dice Masters is great for both of those customer bases. Since I started getting into Dice Masters, I've gradually converted two of my colleagues to regular players as well, which definitely helps. I never really gave up but was never pushy. It has taken time even with the co-workers, but the same thing has happened with our regular customers. After months of occasionally noting what an addict I am, an every-Wednesday comic book customer finally said, "So about this Dice Masters...will my wife like it?" He bought a starter and 10 packs Monday, came back Wednesday and said "She loved it - we played til 1am" and he's promising to come to League Tuesday. I never imagined he'd be one of my converts. Just told him often how much I love this game!

      I've played at other stores, too, but mostly I just learn and have fun when I'm there. Our other local-ish (we're willing to drive to play more!) stores have a scene, too, so we're lucky that way. I avoid pilfering other players from fellow shops, of course. However, if your other local stores don't have a scene already, you may be able to offer Learn-to-Plays or just sit and play in their game space if the stores are friendly with each other. It can be sticky if they aren't. Just playing in a high visibility location can have an amazing impact on interest though. For the "random event" place, random definitely didn't work well for us. The weekly consistency has made a HUGE difference in participation.

      The nicest thing, though, about League time is that it's not intimidating to newer players. We promote it as "a perfect time to come learn", and emphasize that we're very casual, not competitive, can help with team builds, etc. Since it's 2 hours of dedicated time for simply playing, people seem more likely to try it once. Then we laugh a lot and have so much fun, it's easy to convert people to League members. I've managed to teach three couples in the last two weeks, and the gals are at least as into it as their husbands/boyfriends. I'm convinced they would never have come along if we only offered tournaments.

      Wish you all the best, grungebob! Keep us posted.
    1. Ressless's Avatar
      Ressless -
      So since the entry is here again.

      I got really motivated by this to start again to create a community around this game. I already have set a Concept for the league. 2 Leagues you could say.
      Still in planning phase and i wish i could do a achievement point system like yours but for that we have to few players.

      So i go first just with different Event formats and a standard league and watch how well it goes for 2 Months. If there is success and growth on players i think then a additional price pool would make sense.

      But thanks again to all for this nice ideas!
    1. archivist's Avatar
      archivist -
      UPDATE:

      The list of achievements we used in our Summer League event has been posted on the Dice Anon website. Open the Episode 16 Podcast article and click on the link: Summer League Doc.