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Confusing Card of the Week #62 - Losing Life, Paying Life, and Damage

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Greetings Fellow Dice Fans!

Today, we're going to take a look at Losing Life, Paying Life, and Taking Damage game mechanics, and not any one particular card.

Losing Life

Losing life is one way to decrease the life total of a player. Losing life is not the same as taking damage or even paying life. The loss of life is not something that you typically have an option to do. Typical reduction and redirecting damage methods will not work when you lose life.

Example Card - Spider-Man: The Amazing

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(Minor note - his Max Dice is four. You can find the info, here.)

This Spider-Man forces your opponent to lose half their life, rounded down. This loss of life is not optional. There are not any abilities that I can find at this time that specifically stop life loss.

Paying Life

When you pay life, it's typically because an ability is requiring you to pay it for an ability or as part of a cost. This type of payment is not optional if you want to perform the action, unless an ability would allow you to forgo the payment.

Example Card - Jinzo: Trap Destroyer

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His ability is an addition to a payment which means you can bypass paying this cost with an ability like the one on Beholder: Lesser Aberration (from Faerūn Under Siege), because he allows you to use two different Global Abilities for free. There is a great debate in the community over Beholder's ability and we're still waiting for an official ruling. But regardless of the Beholder's ruling, paying life is still different from loss of life and damage.

Damage - Combat Damage and Ability Damage

Damage is another way to decrease the life total of a player. Damage is divided into two categories, Combat and Ability. Combat damage is damage that's done to a player's life total by a character's attack. Ability damage is damage that's done to a player's life total by an ability that the character (or Action Die) has.

Example Card - Cheetah: Cursed Archeologist

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Cheetah has an ability in her text box that says she deals one damage to the defending player when she attacks. This is a perfect example of ability damage. Even though she does the damage when she attacks, her ability is what allows you to do damage to your opponent. If Cheetah is not blocked, she then deals combat damage to the defending player in the amount of her attack value, either two or three depending on her level.

Example Card - Vicious Struggle

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Vicious Struggle is an example of a card that only does one type of damage - ability damage. If my opponent has a Vicious Struggle ability active and I attack with a character and it isn't blocked, the character will do combat damage to my opponent, but Vicious Struggle will do ability damage to me.

Ability damage can be done to characters by Action Dice as well, so long as the text on Action Card says that it can be done to a character.

Characters can deal ability damage and combat damage to each other as well.

Example Card - Hawkeye: Longbow

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Hawkeye's ability does his attack value in damage to a target opposing character when you field him. Hawkeye's ability is what's doing the damage to the character, it's just using his attack value as the amount. Hawkeye will do either three or four ability damage when he's fielded to a target opposing character. If this Hawkeye is engaged in combat, either blocking or being blocked, he will do either three or four combat damage (depending on his level) to the character he's engaged with.

An ability that increases a character's attack value is not considered ability damage. It's increasing the amount of combat damage that the character can do. Anger Issues Global, for example, increases a character's attack by one for a Fist Energy. The use of the ability increases the amount of combat damage that the character can do.

Official Sources

You can find the official ruling on WizKids Official Rules Forum (WORF), here.

Final Thoughts

What type of damage is best for competitive play? What type is best for casual play? There isn't a solid answer to that. Ability damage, like that from Vicious Struggle, has been fairly popular in competitive scenes. It really comes down to personal preference and player skill. Not every player can pilot a Vicious Struggle team successfully. Not all players like to attack. Try different cards and different teams to help broaden your scope of abilities and possibilities!

This CCW article obviously doesn't cover every possible example or every card that uses these type of abilities. This article is meant to be a brief, descriptive guide for the different types of damage. If there are card interactions involving losing life, paying life, or damage that you need assistance with, feel free to message me or comment here. You can also find information on The Reserve Pool Forums.

Is there a card your confused on?
Is there a combo that seems too good to be true?
Leave me a comment here or message me on Facebook at Dice Dice Kitty and thanks for reading!
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Special thanks to The Reserve Pool for the use of their site.

Roll on, Dice Masters!


  1. pk2317's Avatar
    What about Overcrush? It's an ability, so wouldn't any Overcrush damage be ability damage?

  2. DiceDiceKitty's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by pk2317
    What about Overcrush? It's an ability, so wouldn't any Overcrush damage be ability damage?

    I see what you did there, sir.

    One can only do so many Overcrush articles about it the damage still being combat damage... and that ability takes up most of any article that it's included in. XD

    What do we say to the ability Overcrush? "Not today. You've had your articles."