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Son of 'L's

One Player's Adventure at the Calgary WKO

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Let me begin by offering my congratulations to Tom Sutherland on winning the Dice Masters Calgary WKO this past Sunday Ė and that was after a long day of judging the Heroclix WKO the day before.

The day was a whole lot of fun Ė itís always a pleasure to meet more Dice Masters enthusiasts for the first time, and there were about half a dozen people who came down from Edmonton (plus one who came up from Lethbridge) in addition to the dozen or so locals. I kind of lucked out in the ďfresh face across the tableĒ category Ė of the seven games I played three were with players from Edmonton (Ryan Pace, James Galarneau, and Rob Severn) and one with the player from Lethbridge (Colton Svennes). Iíd actually met Ryan and Colton at the PDC Provincials the week before, but itís still nice to get some games in with people who arenít part of my Ďusual crowdí.

The site of the event, Eastridge Hobbies, is as much (or more) a sports card and memorabilia store as a games store. That might not be to everyone's taste, but for those of us who were there it suited us fine. It was a fun place to play, and there was plenty of space for our field of 19 for the main event.

I went as a participant, not a reporter, and I didnít even think about writing a report like this about it until after the fact. So by necessity this report is going to be focused on my own experiences, but I did make top four for whatever that's worth.

I know what I brought of course, and since I played seven games I saw the teams of seven other players. Since my focus was on my own games, I donít really know what the other 11 people were playing.

Giving that caveat, what was popular? Well, Constantine Ė Hellblazer seemed to be on most of the teams I played. I think five of my seven opponent brought Professor X Ė I was surprised it was still (or maybe I should say Ďonce againí) that prevalent. I think I was matched up against two teams with Zombie Magnetos (and one player I never matched up with mentioned he was also running him).

As for me, hereís the team I used: http://dm.retrobox.eu/?view&cards=3x...x25wol;3x34asm

Now, this team was an experiment of sorts. Iím sure some people will be aghast at the idea of taking a team thatís not tried and true to a WKO, but the way I see it if it works like Iím hoping great Ė if not, thereís Side Event Rainbow Drafts.

I based my team around the new Half-Elf Bard Ė Master Lordsí Alliance which, when it attacks, gives +1/+1 to each attacking die for each of my other different character dice.

The team also includes Guy Gardner Ė Blinding Rage, Miri Riam Ė Beacon in the Dark, and Big Entrance. Thatís a combination most readers will have seen at some point, and while I didnít intend it to be the focus of mine, it did offer me a potential Plan B if I thought one was needed.

Miri was on the team for her effect, but the reason Guy made it was because there are only so many 2-drop Lantern character of different colors. (I could have gone with the vanilla Guy, and there were moments during the day when I was thinking I should have, but there were others where I was quite happy I opted for Blinding Rage.)

Munk Ė Empath and Lyssa Drak Ė Keeper of the Book of Parallax satisfied the 2-drop lantern of different color criteria, so they went on the team.

That leaves me with 4 Lanterns of 4 different colors (and energy types). So the plan is to buy a Big Entrance on Turn 1, get it on its action face on Turn 2, then buy as many Lantern dice as I can afford (preferably of different characters). Get at least 1 Munk, 1 Lyssa and 1 Guy in the Field Zone with a Bard in the Used Pile (newly purchased or otherwise) then field Miri and use her effect to but the Bard in the field. Thatís the ideal scenario of course, and things never went that smoothly, but thatís what makes the game fun.

If you're counting, Iíve only accounted for five slots and one BAC so far, so what else did I include?

I think the card who went into Character Slot #6 will be a largely unknown one to most of you: Gnome Ranger Ė Master Lordsí Alliance from the Faerun under Siege starter. Heís an adventurer with card text: ďWhile Gnome Ranger is active, your other attacking character dice gets +1A.Ē I donít remember this card getting a lot of love (or attention) in the FUS previews I watched or read, but if Iím not being confused by the poor grammar, thatís still a very useful ability. Heís a 3 cost bolt, and heís on the team as a concession to reality and an acknowledgement that my plan of using Miri to accelerate getting a Half-Elf Bard into the field is a little ambitious. Itís a little easier to use Miri to grease the wheels on a 3-coster than a 4-coster. And I seem to recall I got a Gnome Ranger out in one my early games where his ability made enough of a difference to get me to lethal.

For my other basic action card I used With Great Power from ASM which allows you to spin all your characters up one level (or, on ** spin all of them to Level 3). Great BAC when youíre up against a Tsarina team, right? Did I think to buy one when I was up against Tomís Tsarina team in my Top 4 game? No.

My other two characters were Ant-Man Ė Biophysicist and the common Elf Thief from FUS . Both of these were basically afterthoughts Ė I donít think I bought an Elf Thief die all day, which in retrospect may have been shortsighted of me when I think of how many opponents brought PXG. Then again, I only allocated two dice for him, so how often would I have been fielding one anyhow?

So how did the day go? My first two games were against Conway Luong and Ryan Pace. I must confess I donít remember much about these two games. I think Conway was at 17 life when I got 3 +5/+5 sidekicks (buffed by the attacking Bard) past his wall. And while I remember Ryan himself, I canít really recollect any details of the game we played.

My Round 3 opponent was Michael Luong, who was running a Buffed Sidekicks team. Not Flying Sidekicks Ė He was using the common Wonder Woman from War of Light (Loved by the Gods) as his make your SKs unblockable trick. That card requires rolling three or more shields to trigger said effect, but he had plenty of shield characters to put into circulation. He used that to nail me at one point with 3 unblockable SKs buffed to 4A each, but I managed to outlast him.

In Round 4 Colton clobbered me with his Gobby Ė Blue Eyes White Dragon team. Pretty much the same way he did at the PDC Provincials the week before, even if I was running completely different teams for the two events. Before that I hadnít seen anybody bring a Gobby card into my presence for months, and I hadnít missed him in the slightest.

My Round 5 opponent was James Galarneau. What I remember about him team was he had Polymorph, Magic Missile, Zombie Magneto Ė and also Hulk Ė Green Goliath but he never got any of the latter out (or even bought one.) This was one of the games where I was glad I opted for Blinding Rage over Seeing Red. I pulled two Guy Gardners on Turn 3 and sent them (and some friends) through his open field for a total of 13 damage. He bought all 3 Polymorph dice and his Zombie Magneto. I canít remember what else he bought, but I donít think he did buy a great deal else. I kept KOing his Z-Mags with the Magic Missile global (He kept Polying it back in, so it was at Level 1, which has only 3 D). I remember he never used Polymorph on my characters, much to my relief. Iím not sure he was aware he could have. (If Iím playing a new player at a routine weekly event, Iíll point out opportunities (missed or about to miss) to them, but I donít give strategy tips to my opponents at high level competitive events like WKOs).

That left with a 4-1 record, so it was on to the Top 8 round.

My opponent for that round was Rob Severn. He was running a team with several Justice League characters including Green Lantern Ė Brightest Day (who when he attacks, does one point of damage for each different attacking JL character.) Green Lantern was his big gun, but I got a Bard out and got lethal before he got GL out. He was one of the few opponents, possibly the only one, canny enough to realize the character from my team he should be naming with his Constantine was Miri Riam. Of course, he had his Loki Ė Gem Keeper preventing my Guy Gardners from being fielded at the time, so (unlike most others) he had no reason to name Guy with his Constantine. I managed to prevail despite those difficulties, and it was on to the Round of 4.

I was matched up against eventual champion Tom Sutherland and his Tsarina team, while at the next table Colton (my Round 4 opponent) and his Gobby team went head to head against Jason Smallenburg and his Gobby team. Tom and I both play regularly at the same stores, so there wasnít really any element of surprise working here.

In retrospect, I think I played rather poorly in this game. Donít get me wrong Ė Tom is a great player and deserves full credit for the victory, but I feel I should have given a better account of myself. Looking back, I think most of the problem was I let myself get completely weirded out by a bizarre die roll on Turn 2.

I went first. Tom had Professor X on his team so I was aiming to buy a Big Entrance with a or left over for PXG. I wound up stuck with an unwanted sidekick after my reroll. I opted to buy a Lyssa Drak and keep a for PXG. That was my first mistake Ė I should have gone for Big Entrance and left PXG for later. On my second turn, Tomís field is empty, I still have the one sidekick in my field and Iím rolling six sidekick dice. On my initial roll I get pawn, pawn, pawn and when I see that I get discombobulated. Seriously, how often do you get two matching sets of three when you roll six sidekick dice?
As I keep looking at the dice, trying to take in what I rolled I start hearing this siren song: ďSend the sidekicks through for 4 damage, and PXG like crazy . . . send the sidekicks through for 4 damage, and PXG like crazy . . .Ē

I completely forget that Iím already a turn behind on my original plan of buying Big Entrance, and I end up giving in to the temptation.
Now 4 damage is 4 damage, but doing that delayed my purchasing and fielding of other character dice. With the advantage of hindsight, it wasnít actually a tradeoff that worked in my favor.
Tom started rolling out his Tsarinas and since Iíd put myself behind on character purchases I wasnít left with much option but to take it in the face.
So Tom was off to the final, where he ultimately prevailed. The silver lining for me was I didnít have to go and get curb stomped by a Gobby team (again).

So whatís my assessment of how the team worked?
On the whole it worked pretty well. Big Entrance, the Lantern characters, Half-Elf Bard and even Gnome Ranger I was able to use more or less as I intended.
What would I change if I used this team again?
I need to think about if Elf Thief has a role on this team. At the moment, Iím thinking the answer is probably no. In practice, you rarely steal any energy with him, but if you have the near-constant threat of fielding one you do discourage your opponents from keeping energy in their reserve pool to use for globals. Thatís not something thatís actually all that helpful with this team.
Ant-Man will almost certainly be replaced, although I will need to think about what said replacement will be. He has a pretty good punch for a character with minimal purchase and fielding costs. Thatís redundant on this team, and he wonít do much to help if my plan starts going off the rails for some reason.
Iím on the fence about what I will call the other Basic Action Card: With Great Power. Was it a bad choice? No, I donít think so. But are there better ones? Likely yes. I just have to figure out what they are.
While there will continue to be a Guy Gardner on the team, I may switch to a different version. The must attack if able restriction on Blinding Rage can be a liability on this team, and the attack bonus wasnít of much utility in most games. So the vanilla 2-cost Seeing Red has its appeal. As does the 3-cost Heated , since it counts as both Red and Green Lanterns, which allows me to get some extra mileage out of Miri Riam. On the other hand, the attack bonus did prove useful at some points, and thereís the sheer intimidation factor Ė opponents see Blinding Rage on my side of the table and he becomes the focus of their attention, almost to the point of tunnel vision, and they overlook the other threats in my toolkit. Not a bad thing, at least from my perspective.

I will wrap this up by mentioning Tom was very gracious in victory. He posted an absolutely glowing review of the weekend on the Eastridge Hobbies Facebook page, as a part of which he declared ď. . . and every single opponent was a pleasure to sit across from.Ē
As one of those opponents, that was enormously flattering.

I can repeat the sentiment, with complete honesty (if a lack of originality) for my own set of opponents.

So my thanks to the venue (Eastridge Hobbies) and the other competitors for making it a great day.
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