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Life in the Casual Lane

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Although I enjoy the tension of an elite tournament, most of my Dice Masters playing time is spent in casual events.

I’ve “officially” – meaning what is recorded in WIN – played 680 games (as of the writing of this article) and several dozen more that have not been recorded. The vast majority of these games were under casual circumstances.

I’ve also been a TO for my FLGS for over 3 years, since the AvX days, and being in this position requires me to create new approaches to the game to keep my player-base interested and entertained.

The following are several of these approaches, and the rationale behind them, that I’ve employed over the years to maintain a vibrant DM gaming group within a casual format.

1. Be consistent
This means keeping the same day and time for your event. The cooperation of your game store is a big part of this. People like consistency and plan their lives around it. If you constantly have to change the schedule, you will have a difficult time maintaining a play group. Also, use Social Media to publicize and provide the format for your event so players can prepare their teams. I personally don’t like arriving at a venue not knowing the team building parameters, having to lug dice and cards I won’t use and being rushed to create a team right before the event.

2. Don’t restrict yourself to the Standard formats
I’m glad we have multiple formats to apply (Golden, Modern, PDC Prime), but don’t feel you need to be boxed-in by these formats. Develop alternative formats by removing sets or cards that don’t fit into a theme. Now that we have over 2100 cards, there is a wealth to choose from. Example, for our next event, players have to construct three teams – one all Villain, one all non-Villain, and one just D&D cards. Before a match, whoever wins the roll-off chooses which team to play and their opponent chooses a different team (i.e. Villain vs D&D).

3. Be flexible with rule interpretations
I do not mean that you should create your own rules, but there are several card interactions that are not clearly defined in the rules. When faced with this situation, use common sense based on similar rulings or guidelines, be consistent in your rulings (i.e. don’t change the answer from game-to-game), and be fair – don’t rule on a situation to give you or a buddy an advantage. In summary, don’t let these ambiguous rule situations get in the way of having a fun experience.

4. Ban cards
We all follow the latest ‘meta’. These Tier 1 team builds are successful for a very good reason – they consistently win. But they do more to erode the fun of the game than anything else. So ban them from your casual play. I’ve consistently banned Black Widow, Green Goblin, Hulk, Human Torch, Bard, Lantern Ring, Guy Gardner, Vicious Struggle and now Ultraman because of their successful consistency and frankly, because they are stale. If you are striving for a casual gaming group, nothing dampens this more than players who show-up with these ‘meta’ team builds and beat everyone else trying to play a casual team. To cater to those type of “Spike” players, occasionally hold a non-casual event to ‘scratch that competitive itch’, but let everyone know when you are holding such an event.

5. Start a League
A league event is a series of events played over a span of several weeks that have an end goal – usually within a point structure. While the format of a league leads to more competitive play, you can temper this in the variety of events that are offered or the conditions (e.g. the cards from the team that won the previous event are banned for the rest of the league event). Have most of the individual events require specific formats that test a player’s team-building skills. Example, in a previous League event, players received points for making a team using the Fantastic Four (well, Three) cards. This led to some creative teams and fun games.

6. Get input from your players
This one is just common sense. Ask your group what format they want to play. Build on their ideas and don’t be weary of trying something new.

For me, running an enjoyable casual setting has resulted in hours of playing Dice Masters with a group of players who, over the years, have become good friends. We all look forward to meeting-up every Thursday night to roll our dice and try our latest goofy team build. I hope these points help you in creating a similar setting.
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  1. TheConductr's Avatar
    Love it. We are, essentially, in week 35 of our Legacy tournament where the top team gets banned. The league keeps getting replenished with new sets coming out its so much fun to dig deep into the list of 2200+ cards!
  2. IsaacBV's Avatar
    Solid write up, thanks for the insight!