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Churning My Stomach: The Clones

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Cloning is the term that I coined about three minutes ago for the dice that allow you to pull a copy of that die from the used pile. Think about Human Torch "Matchstick" or Hulk "Annihilator" for examples of these types of cards.

My biggest issue is that they pretend to be tutor cards - like the famous one from Magic the Gathering pictured here - and yet they don't provide anything at all like a tutor.

We touched on this a little bit in our second podcast episode, and I wanted to take some time to go in-depth about what the problems are with them, how one isjustshy of being good, how one IS good if you use him right.

We should also take a look at how this might be improved as we move into the future of Dice Masters.

<h3>Tutors and Problems with Clones</h3>
One great type of card common in CCGs is called a "tutor." A tutor, I believe named for Magic: The Gathering's "Demonic Tutor", is a card that allows you to search your deck for another card and put it into your hand. These are great cards. They enable you to ensure that something is available for you to use immediately. It puts the right tool for the job in place so that you can use it. Great!

That's how this is supposed to work, anyway. The clones in Dice Masters seem to function a bit differently.

In Dice Masters, with one exception, these dice are grabbing you copies of themselves and themselves only. Further, other than Punisher, they're grabbing them from the used pile. This is not ideal.

The used pile means that when you field, say Human Torch "Matchstick", in order to benefit from his ability, you must have purchased another Human Torch recently enough that there is still over in used. Since the ability only applies to copies of himself, this is highly situational and very unlikely to have happen.

Worse, this actually discourages you from using churn abilities, because they will force you to reload your bag faster. We all know how important churn is, and it seems ridiculous to undertake a strategy that makes churn less desirable.

<h3>The Bad</h3>
The worst example of this is Annihilator Hulk. I've gone in depth about my disdain for him and so I won't belabor the point here. Suffice it to say that he requires two copies of this six-coster to have been purchased, one of them to be fielded, and the other to be in the used pile. Situational and expensive. Pass.

Human Torch "Matchstick" is cheaper and yet has other problems. Why do I want him unless my plan is to have four Human Torches out for some reason? And even so, I still have to purchase all of them, and this one lacks the abilities that make the better Human Torches - Flame On and Johnny Storm - so desirable. The stats aren't that good.

As it stands, there's little reason to include either of these cards in your squad. On the one hand, they suffer from some similar issues as Beast "Genetic Expert", where a big knock on it is that it doesn't carry the ability of its more popular form. But for these cards it goes deeper than that. Unlike with Beast, where you're exchanging a useful ability for a useful ability, these versions offer you very little in return. The die stats are nice, mostly in the case of Hulk, but it's the abilities that sweeten the pot, that help you find ways to damage your opponent, and these cards lack such abilities.

<h3>The Good</h3>

Punisher "Vigilante" is very close to being good. This is his uncommon form, which costs 5 and reads
"When Punisher assigns to attack, search your bag for a Punisher die and put it into your prep area. Your opponent can prevent this by paying 3 life."

Punisher isn't bad because his die has to be in the bag, a much more likely proposition. The downfall here is that like Hulk, he is really at his best when he has the abilities of his other forms. On the plus side, Punisher isn't a bad attacker. Still, since you're limited to three dice on this one, and this five-cost die is just starting to fall on the side of being a bit too expensive. One five-coster? No problem, easy to get. Two of the same? Then it had better be your win condition. I don't think that this form of Punisher can comprise a win condition.

Ghost Rider "Brimstone Biker" is the closest we have to a true tutor, although he doesn't clone since his ability doesn't target his own die. He costs just four, and when he's fielded, you can pull a die from used and put it in prep, as long as it wasn't a die that paid for Ghost Rider. This can do an enormous amount to save you time. Instead of a needed die going through the bag as normal, instead of waiting up to three to four turns before seeing the die, you have the chance to roll it on your next turn. Katie talked a lot about him here.

<h3>The Future!</h3>
We ought to see a character that can truly tutor something out of your bag to your prep area. A specific die, not a blind draw. Because of how quickly dice can recur in this game, there may need to be an added cost to it for the convenience.

Atrue tutor card does cost you little bit of tempo, but as we've discussed over and over again, churn in this game is very different from your average CCG and therefore neither is tempo. Because of that, some additional cost would seem to be necessary. If it's as simple as fielding the die, you would see that potential tutor die over and over as it gets KO'd and moves to the prep area and consistently have your pick of dice. That's too game-breaking.

An appropriate cost can be informed by the Silver Surfer global, which allows you to pay a shield and two life to put a die from your bag into your prep area. This global is accessible any time. If we attach a similar ability, but targeting a specific die to a "when fielded" trigger, this means that you also had to pay for the purchase and fielding of the die.Ghost Rider doesn't have - and I'd argue doesn't require - such a limitation because he's pulling from used, but in the case of pulling from a bag, it seems necessary. Perhaps this could be tied to a team affiliation - it would still be useful, but would further reduce the potential for rocking the boat too violently.

What would the ideal tutor card look like for you?
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