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A Few New Variants

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So, as many of you also do, I play Dice Masters a lot, often with the same people, in the same location, on the same day. Your games may have gotten stale and you are aware that with so many tournaments coming up you need to be as fresh as possible. So I’ve been thinking of ways of adding variant rules to help you keep that creative spark in your game.

I know there are already a bunch of options for variants out there. But I came up with three more new (I think) ideas for what players could do to change up that routine and test your teams to the limit. The idea behind these variants is not to create teams based around them, but more to test and explore your already established teams.

Now for the record, I haven’t tried any of these yet, but any feedback would be greatly appreciated and I’ll update the blog, once I have tried them out, to let everyone know how they went. Anyway, without further ado:

1. Variant name: The Big Cull.

In short: You will be culling dice from the field after they've survived a turn.

The spiel: So, before Dice Masters, Eric Lang and Mike Elliot designed a game called Quarriors. Quarriors is the basis for Dice Masters, but rather than a one vs one game it was a multiplayer game. While the games have many similarities one of my favourite mechanics from Quarriors that has failed to make the jump over to Dice Masters is the culling of dice. Dice culling is the ability to remove some dice out of your bag and the game for good.

How it works: In Quarriors, characters that survive a round score points and allow you to cull one die in your used pile. This wouldn’t work as well in Dice Masters so I decided to change the ruling slightly: if a fielded character survives until your next turn you may cull that individual die. So if you have a sidekick fielded on turn 1 if it is still there on turn 2 you would be able to cull the die and remove it from the game.

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What effect would it have on the game: I think it would be a good exercise in learning to manage the energy available to you. It would be easy to cull sidekicks early in the game, but that may cost you from early game purchases, or not giving you enough energy to field characters at a later date, relying on rolling character dice on energy. It would probably speed the game up a lot, and make the need for PXG a bit more useful. It may also encourage more aggressive play, trying to KO sidekicks before your opponent can cull them.

2. Variant name: Ready and Waiting (RaW).

In short: Before the game begins you add four dice to your bag, using the dice from your team.

The spiel: A good way of learning about how your team works effectively is thinking about what your early game purchases are. If you have an ideal roll what are you going to buy on turn 1? What about turns 2 and 3? What is your ideal bag state? This gives you a chance to think about that before the game even gets under way.

How it works: Using your allowed max of 20 dice choose 4 dice to add to your bag, declare which dice you have selected to your opponent. At the most basic level there is no limitation to which dice you choose to put into your bag. You may, however, want to change this in case someone decided to put all 4 of their Guy Gardners in the bag. So further optional variants would include not being able to have repeats in the four dice you select, or selecting a max total purchase cost which those dice could add up to (to stop people putting in 2 Red Dragons and 2 Hulk’s). The most important change to make is to say that no-one can attack on turn 1 and that all character text is blank. This stops Wolverine Weapon X, or Nova from doing a lot of damage without any potential ways of stopping them.

What effect would it have on the game: With this variant I honestly have no idea how it would benefit or change the game I just know it would be a really interesting exercise and would really make you think about what dice you selected to go into your bag. If you put two characters with TFC of 6 in your bag what happens when you roll both and are unable to field either? Do you put cheap dice in there to try and gain a field advantage or do you go for the win straight away? What are the most important dice for you to have? My feeling is that this will really test an aggro teams limits and would benefit control teams. Imagine facing a turn 1 Jinzo!

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3. Variant name: What’s Mine is Yours.

In short: Play a best of three games, but, before each game both players in secret choose one character from their opponents’ side to put in their team. If you want to raise the stakes forbid players from taking back their cards in game 2 and 3.

The spiel: A good way of getting to know your team is by seeing it through the eyes of another player. In this variant your opponent will dissect your team, trying to take out what in their opinion is the best card in your team, and ultimately will use that same card against you. How will you deal with the card that your hoping will be a game winner? This variant will also give you experience at being able to look at opponents teams and understand how they work and what’s important in them.

How it works: After laying out your teams each player takes one dice from your each of your opponent’s character cards. In secret choose a dice and both reveal the dice at the same time. Return the rest of the dice and take your opponents card plus all of those dice. When selecting cards you are not allowed to take characters with the same title, so if you have a Constantine on your team you cannot select your opponents’ Constantine. When doing this also ignore the max 20 dice rule for teams. After playing the first game repeat the steps, selecting another character in secret - the same again after the second game.

What effect would it have on the game: This variant introduces a whole new meta game to the game. Do you take the card that you think is your opponents win condition? Or do you go for the card that fits best into your team? Do you try and steal their ramp? Or do you go for the card that hurts your team the most? These choices will only get harder the more rounds you play. Once into the game learning to play your team with one of your characters missing will force you to adapt your strategy and will benefit the player who is most adaptable.

Bonus optional variant: Rather than taking a character card from your opponent you give one of your cards to your opponent. This will allow you to see what might be superfluous in your team, and what some cards are that you might be able to swap out in order to improve your team. I would recommend doing this with the proviso that any swapped characters globals would be off limits to the player who got rid of that card; for example, if you were to give away your Professor X with the global that global would no longer be available to you.

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Anyway they are three variants I think may add a spark to your Dice Masters games and might improve your teams and help you as a player become more competitive, just in time for the WKOs and National Events this summer.

Let me know what you think, and I would be especially keen to hear from anyone who tries these variants out. I will post an update when I myself have tried them out.
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  1. GNGJ's Avatar
    I really like #3! Both variations have utility and could completely change your team.
  2. pk2317's Avatar
    Regarding #2, it's already a standard tournament rule that the first player cannot attack on their first turn.