Howdy Folks,
I know you were probably expecting the return of Reading the Rainbow this week, but the holidays have led me to begin a new series. I'll be interspersing the two article series as sets release and drafting interests wax and wane. With that said, lets' talk about the new series.
How it Works will be a series about the inner workings of the game mechanics of Dice Masters. We will look at each piece of the larger puzzle and analyze the different ways we can manipulate just that piece, and look for what effects give us the biggest return for our investment. Today we will be talking about the Draw Step.
Looking at it in it's most basic form, the draw step is a point where we take 4 random dice from our bag, and roll them into our Prep Area. Let's start with this simple definition and ask a few questions:
-Why 4 dice?
The reason we are drawing 4 dice in our draw step, is that at the heart of the game, we start with 8 dice, and drawing 4 allows us to draw half of them. This basic starting point is carried over in several deck building games where you are given 10 or 12 cards, shuffle them and draw half to determine you starting hand. In Dice Masters, we start with 8 sidekicks and while we do randomize which ones we draw, what is really different about this game is the fact that the dice rolls are what truly randomizes our stating two draws. So, why 4 dice? because that gives us half of our starting resources.
-Why randomly drawn from a Bag?
The reason we are blind drawing from a bag, is that we are looking to simulate the shuffle and draw mechanic that deck building games use to give us randomization of cards after our deck resets. In Dice Masters, when our bag resets, we have a predictable chance of drawing any particular die, based on how many dice are actually still left in the bag. For example on turn 2, if we bought 2 3 cost dice, and fielded two sidekicks, then we are looking at a 4/8 chance of drawing any particular die. This means that on any given draw, we are half the time going to get the character die we want. This chance to draw what we want is the reason we have the blind draw. Couple this 50%ish chance to draw what we want, with the 6 different faces of the die, and of course our single reroll, and we're looking at a complex statistics problem(which I wouldn't want to bore you with) to find our odds of getting the character we want on a face we want. This step of randomization can be manipulated decreasing the quantity of dice in the bag on a given draw step. Doing this manipulation properly is a skill utilized by savvy players. Another way to manipulate this probability of drawing is to increase the number of dice drawn. The last way we can manipulate the probability of what we draw is to put into the bag exactly what we want to get out of it. While this last method may seem like an extension of the first, there is a subtle difference. First though, let's talk about how we can execute these three types of manipulation.
Manipulations:
First, we will talk about limiting the number of dice we have in the bag. The easiest way to do that, is to field as much as possible, limiting the number of dice we have in circulation. This innately increases the rate at which we get to draw a particular die. In our example above, we had 6 sidekicks and 2 characters in the bag, and two sidekicks on the field. If we hadn't rolled those sidekicks, our chances of drawing the character we wanted would have dropped from 4/8 to 4/10. This might not seem like much, but look at the cycle as a whole. If we draw 4 dice and don't get the die we want, with 4 dice in circulation, that means we're guaranteed to draw it the next turn. If we had 10 dice, we could miss the die we want two turns in a row and not get it until turn 5. If that example isn't a stark enough example, how about this, if I miss a character face on a character i draw turn 3, in an 8 die pool of dice, I'm looking at getting another shot at that die, at the latest, turn 6, in a 10 die pool, the latest I could get a shot at that die again would be turn 8. I could buy Hulk, go all out to get him on turn 2, miss the reroll on him in turn 3, and never see him again until turn 8. And all of this assumes I keep my pool as low as 10 dice. Buying more dice in the turns between leaves us not getting hulk until possibly turn 9!
The second method of manipulation we talked about is to draw more than 4 dice. There are a few ways to to do this, most of them are done outside of the draw step itself, but swarm characters make a good example of mid-draw manipulations. With a swarm trigger we can draw an extra die, increasing our chances of drawing what we want. If we have a kobold in the field, we can effectively eliminate kobold dice from our probability calculations as they each individually trigger another draw. So, with that in mind, let's look at one kobold in the field and a pool of dice with 1 hulk, 2 kobolds and 7 sidekicks. Before we were talking about 4/8 or 4/10 chances to draw what we want. Now, we can look at the above pool, and consider it a 4/8 pool, despite there being 10 dice in there. The reason is, if we draw a kobold, it will give us another draw, thus changing our pool from 4/10 to 4/9 (we drew the kobold, going to 3/9, who then gives us an extra draw, 4/9). The same would happen if we then drew the other kobold, dropping us to 4/8. Thus, whether we draw them or not, the kobolds don't count against our chances of drawing what we want.
The last method we'll talk about is to fill our bag with only the dice we want. Similar to the first method, this can be done by fielding Sidekicks or putting dice we don't want in our Prep Area instead of the used pile, like one does with the Professor X global. However, there are some even more powerful ways to ensure that we have the dice we want. If we are able to empty our bag, we can use globals like Resurrection or Villainous pact to force ourselves to draw a die. Should we execute this method right after making a few purchases, the dice we purchase, as well as any left over dice in our used pile will go to our bag, instead of those plus the dice we use this turn, as would happen on our next draw step. Big Entrance, Transfer Power and Summoned Skull global also give us ways to fill our bag with characters we want instead of our whole used pile. These effects are more of a brute force method, and are thus a bit more expensive and difficult to pull off, but nonetheless effective tools.
In summary, effectively managing you bag and what you draw out of it is the first step in ensuring your Dice Masters experience goes the way you hope it will. In order to plan your next turn effectively you have to predict what you are going to draw. Once you learn to predict your own draw step, the next move is to predict your opponents. Advanced players will use the tools at their disposal to disrupt their opponent's bag management, whether through removal tools that send dice to the used pile, or anti-global tools that prevent or discourage bag management effects, like Professor X's global or Resurrection. In the end, it is always a different experience from one team to the next, but the skills needed to predict outcomes, understand interactions and plan ahead are at their core the same from one game to the next. This article series will continue to bring you those sorts of lessons, and in the future, perhaps they will serve to help all players understand the game just that much better.
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