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Behind The Dice - A look at local stores and the TO's that run events

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Hello Dice Masters Fans, and welcome to the first article in our new series, Behind The Dice, where we will be profiling event TO's and the stores where they run events. Since this is a new series, I thought the best place to start would be the stores that I play at in Austin, Texas – Mothership Books and Games and Dragon’s Lair. These two stores are a mere 6 miles apart, but work together in supporting the Dice Masters Community. Their TO’s, Matthew Jasek (Mothership) and Chris Fedor (DLair), have known each other for years, and strive to create the best possible scenes for their players. Below is an interview that I had with both of them about DM and their individual stores.

What got you into dice masters?
(Matt J.) I played HeroClix several players in our group were excited to try out the new game from WizKids when it first came out. I never could get a starter but I was able to borrow dice from friends. We’d play at Emerald Tavern because they served alcohol and we wanted to have a good time. Eventually it got too competitive and people stopped coming and since no one had a large collection yet, it was easy to walk away from the game at that point. Still wanting a faster, less space intensive game to play besides HeroClix, I convinced a few of the original players and some new ones to meet up at Mothership on Sundays around the time Uncanny was released and it all kind of grew from there.

(Chris F.) I got into it because I was already a fan of Heroclix. I love competing in “What If’s” with Marvel and DC and all the other 3rd party titles that come with Wizkids. Also, the affordability of it is amazing

How often do you hold events and how do you format them? How do you determine the type of event you’ll hold each week?
(Matt J.) We hold events every Sunday and usually play constructed unless a set has been released. My area had a ton of Dice Masters scenes start up and then die off because it got too competitive so we try to keep it super casual and and based along some type of theme. We will also try to hold a Little Cup tournament once a month which allows people to play competitively, but doesn't require anyone to buy all the power cards.

(Chris F.) We hold events weekly and rotate a nice sandwich of Constructed – Draft – Sealed - Constructed. With us focusing more on competitive Dice Masters, we aim to keep the formats more challenging and based on upcoming tournaments and formats. We've been fortunate enough to consistently host events since the game dropped.

What has your venue done to attract new players and keep long standing players interested in the game?
(Matt J.) We haven't had to do much to attract new players as people will come up to us while we play and ask about the game. It's a visually appealing game, there’s super heroes and a bunch of dice being tossed around, so that gets people intrigued. Before the last couple of PDC’s a couple of us were up every night playing so people really took notice.
I think the occasional competitive event helps us retain long standing players, but I think the one thing that helps us more is our relationship with the big game shop in town, Dragon’s Lair. Their T.O. Chris and I got together and decided that Dragon’s Lair would be the “competitive” venue, while Mothership would be for “casual” play. This lets competitive players get the challenge they crave while newer and casual players can learn the game and unwind. Of course, we have a bunch of crossover as competitive players like to make silly theme teams and newer players like to test their limits. I think this arrangement keeps the whole scene healthy. It’s the perfect balance.

(Chris F.) We've tried a few things but usually we like to give excellent support and take advantage of event kits and packs for prizes. Our players enjoy the opportunity to win OP kits and extra packs. That seems to keep them coming back for more!

What are some unique constructed events that you have run?
(Matt J.) Its not super unique, but for International Women’s Day, we did a Lady’s Night event.
I'm currently running a series of Little Cup events for the SR Black Widow. They're kind of a fun way to get the power cards into the hands of talented players who just never had the opportunity to grab these cards before their price became unreasonable. The first event last month was a huge hit and we are planning on having a second “Tussle for the Tsarina” event after the WKO, but before the PDC State Championship.

(Chris F.) We've run a few unique constructed. All villains was fun but the most fun was a mix and match draft with two different series. It really forced players to think outside the box and made some interesting combos.

What does your current meta look like?
(Matt J.) We really don't have much of meta because of our casual nature. I do notice a bunch of kobolds. I'm interested to see if the other swarming characters in D&D 2 are as popular.

(Chris F.) Our current meta is a bit in flux as people have just started prepping for the WKO and a combination of secrecy and experimenting has effected it. We've seen some interesting ones involving new Lanterns as well as tried and true agro and control.

Do you have a wide range of age groups playing? How do you cater to them if you do?
(Matt J.) We have adult professionals all the way down to middle school students. The nature of our more casual environments keeps things very relaxed and no one ever feels pressure to win at all costs. This allows us to maintain a healthy age range of players.

(Chris F.) We don't have too wide a range, mostly adults in the 20's and 30's right now, though when kids come in we always make sure to match them with our long time members who have a great attitude and are great teachers of the game. We had a younger kid show up for the PDC and everyone helped him. It was great to see.

Do you hold demo nights?
(Matt J.) No, though that is one of our projects for this year, I’ve just distracted practicing for the PDC’s! Hopefully after States, I will be able to start demo nights.

(Chris F.) At the moment we don't hold a demo night instead offering one if someone is interested in the game or comes in on the night without dice

How has your local scene evolved/changed since the start of the game?
(Matt J.) Though many of the original players have moved on, we have enjoyed a large, and sustained playgroup over the past 6-8 months. We routinely have between 8 and 12 players each week. Everyone just wants to spend a lazy Sunday afternoon having a good time.

(Chris F.) The group started decently but it has had some burnout. Recently though it's been growing back as new players are encouraging friendly play. Though I will say that the competitive events have spurred a lot more discussion on how to improve and increase game play!

What are you and the local players most looking forward to with the new D&D2 set?
(Matt J.) I want to see the Shield swarm, common potion and ring. I know my venue went nuts on release day and we sold 14 gravity feeds. (I can attest to the excitement – I was there for the 12 person draft Release Day – TheConuctr)

(Chris F.) I'm very interested in seeing how the meta is affected. The last D&D release created some incredibly powerful abilities that changed meta and effected some of the biggest tournaments in the country. It's always fun to see if this set will live up to that.

Did you or your players attend any PDC’s? What were their thoughts/reaction to the events?
(Matt J.) We hosted a PDC and it was a great event. Some of our players were not used to the competitive nature of it, but we did have a regular place second! We also had a PDC down the road at Dragons Lair, so we were very fortunate to have two in our back yard. I attended five PDC's and everyone walked away loving it.

(Chris F.) We hosted a PDC and it was a blast. The players loved it and I think they just want to see more tournaments like this. If the PDC can keep it up, it could become the greatest asset from a 3rd party the game could ask for.

Is your store planning on supporting/sponsoring any players for the upcoming PDC State & Regionals or WizKids National or World events?
(Matt J.) I probably will for my YouTube channel, but I don't think Mothership will be sponsoring any Dice Masters players.

(Chris F.) We are hosting the WKO Regional for Dice Masters here and are looking forward to holding the Texas State PDC as well. In the future I hope to expand our PDC and Wizkids coverage because they only help improve and grow the community.

Favorite card and/or character?
(Matt J.) Green Goliath. If I’m not running it, I’m feeling unbalanced.

(Chris F.) Favorite Character is Namor but I love Venom Angelo Fortunato as he helped me a lot in the early stages of the game.

Card you worry the most about seeing on the other side?
(Matt J.) Prismatic Spray. Nothing can stop it.

(Chris F.) At this point there is no one card I'm afraid of. There are plenty of things I don't want to see though; Tsarina, PXG. Beast, and Constantine. Though nothing that overwhelms the entire game for me.

Most memorable Dice Masters moment?
(Matt J.) Anytime that I can pull off a win when I thought for sure I was going lose, or a crazy combo in a game. There must be a half dozen times I've done this and told myself “That’s epic, you will never forget that!” But I'm old and I did so I can't give you a specific example.

(Chris F.) When Dice Masters was scarce in the early days, my gf and I accidentally stumbled upon a shop that didn't have any sales and still had 2 gravity feeds of AvX. Mind you it was IMPOSSIBLE to find them when the game came out, so to find two feeds was incredible. We bought them immediately and pulled some fun cards including a SR Wolverine

You've both mentioned the other store across the way – Can you talk about how you've helped to support each others store? TO?
(Matt J.) Teaming up with Chris at Dragon’s Lair was a no brainer. I already playing HeroClix at both locations and, like in Dice Masters, Mothership is the casual venue and DLair was the competitive venue. Keeping the same dynamic gave new players a chance to grow into the game. Having the two venues focusing on two styles of play allowed the scene in town to thrive.

(Chris F.) Matt's always been a great player in our store and a friend. When he went deep into Dice Masters we both started talking about how to improve the community. He had become a staple for us at our events and we wanted to tap into working together on building this up.) For a time, Dice Masters was stagnant in the area. Plenty of sales but the tournament scene was missing, or small. Having him open up tournaments over at Mothership helped give it a little bit of a pulse again. We talked about how to share events, us doing slightly more competitive, and them more casual, while avoiding over saturation. Matt also helps us a lot with our events, and is even our TO for the WKO! Also, it completely makes sense. Both stores have benefited from the teamwork and I consider Mothership an amazing place to go to for your Dice Masters needs. It just proves that it's not about competition. Working together in this niche market of tabletop gaming can actually be better for stores.

Well folks, that’s your first look Behind The Dice. If you’re a TO, store owner, or a player and think your store should be profiled for the grater good of the DM community, then send me a PM (The Conductr) and we will work on adding your store to the list! Also, if there are questions that you think we should be asking, please send those my way as well!
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