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[top]Learn How to Play

[top]Basic Strategy

This section will be Riptide's Back to Basics series from Dice Masters Rules

So you are starting out in Dice Masters. You have already been to the Wizkids website. You have read the rules. You have even seen the Watch It Played videos. But what next?

Well, you start surfing the net for fan sites, like this one. You come across some superb ones likeDice Anon or Sidekicks and Shields. You even start listening to the podcasts put out by The Bachelors of Dice or The Reserve Pool. But still, you feel a little lost among the jargon and concepts employed in the game. Well, if that is true, then this article series is for you. I will be flat out honest, I doubt veteran players will draw much from this series, but maybe it will serve as a reminder. New players, you will find this series much more helpful.

This is a complex game, and even simple concepts need to be properly introduced. I think that best accomplished in individual articles that take the time to set-up scenarios and build upon each other. Below you will find a list of the articles, as I currently intend to write them. You can follow a link to the articles as published or simply browse below through the topics.


The single most important concept new players need to grasp is churn. But before we can discuss that we need to look at ramp. In order to succeed, you need go bigger and faster. Ramp is all about making that happen.

So before I go too far, I probably should define ramp. Ramp is the ability to generate more energy than normal. The baseline for normal is based off our opening turns. In our first turn we draw four dice, and have a high probability of rolling 4 energy symbols. So 4 is the normal and anything that increases our accessible energy above 4 is providing ramp. The clearest and easiest way to ramp is to simply buy dice in order to roll them for energy. For example, on turn three we draw 3 sidekicks and 1 basic action die from our bag. If all the dice roll energy, we now have access to 5 energy and have successfully ramped.

Now, simply buying dice will slowly cause ramp to occur, but in order to truly succeed, we want to ramp faster. Thus I need to introduce a second concept, churn. Churn is the ability to rapidly move dice through our bag. Thus churn consists of anything that can help us draw dice and/or remove dice from our bag. Now this helps in two ways:
•First it gives us more dice to use towards energy. Simply put, if we draw 5 sidekicks instead of 4, we now have access to possibly 1 more energy.
•Second, we get access to higher priority dice quicker. Now, for ramp purposes this means we will have more dice with faces with 2 energy. But, that is isn’t the only advantage. It also means we gain quicker access to our purchased characters. This allows for quicker response times with those characters and means getting our victory plan in motion faster. Since churn also accelerates our ramp, that also means access to bigger better stronger characters faster.

Now lets look at some different ways that currently allow ramp. For this, I will be sticking with Avengers vs X-Men (AVX) and Uncanny X-Men (UXM) cards as I have not familiarized myself with the Yu-Gi-Oh (YGO) cards yet. The concepts will still apply to that set, and to any that follow. So where to start?

First lets look at what is a pure churn/ramp ability, the global ability on the Silver Surfer cards from AVX. Basically what we get is the ability to spend 1 energy this turn in order to have an extra die in our prep area next turn. So we sacrifice 1 energy now, for hopefully 1 or more energy later. This also reduces the number of dice available in our bag. Think about it. If we use this ability turn 1 and also purchase at least 1 character or action die, then we may be able to draw that die as early as turn 2. How so?

Well if we count dice in the bag after using Silver Surfer’s global on turn 1, then we will only have 3 dice present. Thus when we draw from our bag at the beginning of the next turn, we will draw those 3 dice and then have to refill our bag before drawing our 4th. Now, it isn’t likely for us to draw that purchased die, but it is possible, and it insures it will happen on turn three if we missed it on turn 2. If unsure think back, and count dice in the bag. When we refilled, we added five dice (4 sidekicks and our 1 first turn purchase) to our bag. We then drew out 1 more to complete that draw, leaving 4 in the bag. Assuming we don’t use the global again on turn 2, we know that we will be drawing those four dice on turn 3. Of course if we had used it, we will still be getting those 4 dice, plus another one. Not bad.

If you happen to be able to grab some dice and test the Silver Surfer churn, you should. Make sure you take the needed time to see and understand this core aspect of the game. It will make you more aware of the results of churning in the middle of your games.

Now, not all churn is created equal. The Silver Surfer global can be used once per turn (technically that is per player that brought it, but you can happily ignore that line of thought for now if you are new). Gambit – Ace in the Hole, and Beast – Mutate #666 could feasibly be used multiple times in a turn, assuming you can cause their ability triggers to go off multiple times. That could involve fielding a pair of Gambits or blocking with more than a single Beast. In addition both abilities sometimes allow for you to choose a preferred outcome. But lets delve a little deeper still.

In Gambits case, we are changing a little bit from the Surfer paradigm. Here we aren’t getting the die later, but now. That can allow for some neat manipulations of your die bag. Of course, Gambit also usually won’t help you ramp, as his field cost will often use up or be more than the energy that you receive from the die he rolls (especially if he is on his third level).

Beast on the other hand is setting up for the following turn. Appropriate since the ability only works when blocking. This allows for actual ramp along with the churn. But even better, is that when on his burst face, he is capable of removing an unwanted die from the bag while gaining a wanted die. Sure, it will sometimes get rid of a die you wanted to draw, but it does provide that extra bit of churn to get back to the dice you really want.

But then we come across cards like Professor X. They don’t initially appear to help churn, because they don’t actually take dice out of your bag. You aren’t wrong to think that. Instead my definition churn probably needs to be extended to cards or abilities that can stop unwanted dice from ever entering the bag. Professor X, when used properly, filters the sidekicks out of your bag, and allows for possibly 2 extra energy per use on the following turn. Now that is a spectacular ramp and churn card. Proper use of Professor X allows for buying 7 cost characters as early as turn 2. How so?

Well lets start counting available dice. Lets assume on turn 1, you are able to purchase a single two cost die, and get left with 2 energy that can be used on Professor X’s global. You then wait for your opponents turn (silly transition zone) then use the Professor X global twice. The first usage will move the 2 sidekick dice currently in the used pile to the prep area. The second usage will move the sidekick die used to pay for the Professor X global the first time to the prep area. Now, on turn 2, you have 3 sidekick dice in prep and get to draw 4 from your bag. That is 7 possible energy.

Of course, I have been referencing early turn churning and ramping. That is mainly because it is easy to discuss the first couple of turns, since everybody’s first 2 turns are extremely similar. That said, applying these theories to the mid and late game is what sets better players apart from weaker ones. Breaking someone’s ramp will often win you the game, assuming that you didn’t have to break yours. Simply put, you will have faster access to your characters/monsters and more energy to purchase what you need and to use the global abilities that will support your team. Always ask yourself when planning out your turn, how can I churn better? You will find that most of the time, following that path will lead to greater success.

[top]Global Utilization

Global utilization is a critical element of energy usage efficiency. More efficient use of available energy, means that you have often accomplished more with your available dice. Thus we want to maximize our energy efficiency in ways that we can leverage as an advantage over our opponent. Unused energy often accomplishes nothing that contributes towards our victory (yes there are exceptions to that rule, but that isn’t for an article aimed at beginners). Since Morphing Jar – Canopic Jar is currently the only 1 cost character, we can’t rely on dice purchases in order to fulfill that need. Nor would we want to, as crowding our bag is a way to destroy our churn effectiveness. Globals provide cheap uses for our energy, but they are more than that. They are critical to our success, as they provide efficiency, flexibility, and access to otherwise inaccessible abilities.

But globals accomplish more than just being energy dumps. Certain globals drive the game in new and interesting fashions. They provide or supplement whole new strategies. Globals also serve as our primary way to respond to our opponents on their turn. We can’t hold action dice or characters, so we really only have globals to which to turn too (once again exceptions exist, but they are called exceptions for a reason).

Thus we can see that knowing how and when to properly utilize our globals can shift the game in our favor in useful ways. Lets run through a few general tips on global utilization.

First tip, read both players globals. Not surprisingly, people like to bring useful globals in their decks. This means, often, that your opponent’s global abilities are also useful to you. Now this doesn’t always hold true. When you are sitting at two life, your opponents Silver Surfer global ability just isn’t that useful. But assuming that they brought something like the Blue Eyes White Dragon – Monstrous Dragon (Global: Pay and knock out one of your monsters to reduce the cost of the next die you buy by 2 energy), and you happen to have an extra sidekick and energy, you may be using that global as often as them. Most often I have found that attack pump and churn/ramp globals are the ones that will provide the biggest benefit to you. Other globals tend to be more specific in nature. This can also be applied when building your team, but that is a later article in the series.

Second tip, wait to use global abilities. You gain little by tipping your hat early on your plans. The threat of a global ability can be enough to alter how your opponent plays. There is no need to utilize the global from your Horn of Unicorn until after you have seen how your opponent will block. That would just be giving your opponent more information. Since everything is open, it is rare that we actually can bluff our opponent, but holding your global abilities for as long as possible, does allow it. Of course, other global abilities are just stronger at later points. The infamous Professor X global (PXG) is better on your opponents turn than your own, because a secondary use of it will allow a sidekick die that was used to pay for its first use to be moved. For clarification, as that is a confusing sentence, consider that you have three sidekick dice in your used pile and two in your reserve pool that are showing a energy. If you use PXG twice on your turn, you will only get three sidekick dice in prep area, as each used gets stuck in your transition zone until the end of the turn. However, if you waited until your opponents turn to use the global, then you could get four sidekicks in your prep area. The first usage would result in two sidekicks moved to the prep, and the sidekick used to pay would go to your used pile. Then the second usage of the global would move both of those sidekicks to the prep area, and the final one used to pay the global ability cost would get left in used.

Third tip, don’t forget to use global abilities. While it may be important to wait, it isn’t a good idea not to use those global abilities. In fact, some a lot of the tactical aspects of the game reside in the timing and denial of global abilities. Critically, you need to understand how globals function in the main phase. According to tournament rules, the active player can do as many actions as they desire, with the inactive player essentially unable to respond (once again, exceptions abound, but you they require some sort of trigger to come into play). Then the active player can allow the inactive player to use a global, if they wish. Critically, if the inactive player passes on this opportunity, and the active player chooses to pass as well, then the main phase ends. It is very important to understand that concept. The main phase ends when the inactive passes, followed by the active player passing. What compounds this even more, is that after the main phase ends if the active player chooses not to attack, then the turn ends immediately. No player may play anymore globals that turn. So beware of canny players trying to take advantage of the situation to deny global abilities. Make sure that you get to play your globals. And likewise, don’t be afraid to be one of those canny players, as global denial is a powerful thing.

Fourth tip, don’t be afraid to use global abilities for out of the box reasons. Most people see the Magneto global above and think about how great it would be to use it against their opponent’s fielded villains. But there is nothing stopping you from using it on your own villains. But why do that? Well, Gobby does damage every time he is fielded, and sometimes our opponents won’t let us get him off the field in traditional ways. This gives us a different method to accomplish it. Or what about the Doomcaliber Knight – Dark Cavalry (If an opponent uses a global ability, you must spin this monster down one level to cancel the ability and prevent that ability from being used again this turn.) Why not waste a few globals to get this guy spun down where he can no longer stop you from using that PXG or Blue Eyes global.

So that more or less covers global abilities.

[top]Attacking and Defending

Considering that we only have two major steps where we actually have some form of control in this game, it may be a good idea to finally talk about one of them. So lets jump into how to attack and how to defend properly.

Attacking is about more than just dealing damage, it is about controlling the pace of the game. You will often hear people refer to this as tempo. Much like a football team that runs a no huddle offense or a basketball team that runs the fast break, going with an up tempo attack can quickly overwhelm your opponent. It can also leave you wide open and overextended when it comes to playing defense. Of course, one doesn’t have to go up tempo, they can instead choose to go the grind them out style. And honestly, those stylistic choices are what get many teams labelled as either Aggro (or aggressive early game, push the pace up-tempo teams) or Control (or grind it out, long game big picture, remove options from your opponents arsenal) teams.

But even before we can discuss stylistic choices, we need to discuss how to actually use the attack phase to control the game, whether that is going up or down tempo. And in order to do that, we need to discuss the defenders advantage. In dice masters, the defender has a steep advantage over the attacker in most situations. This makes sense when you look at it objectively. The attacker has to commit his attackers before he knows who the defender will choose to use in defense. Further, the defender gets to decide the actual match-ups, by choosing exactly which defenders will block which attackers. Finally, the defender also gets to recover prior to the attacker, as the defender will get a full turn before the attacker can again field characters. Even more so, good defenders can make use of an attack to actively churn their dice, and we all remember how important churn is.

So that explains why the defender has an advantage, but it doesn’t explain how you can take manipulate the attack phase to alter the game tempo. I think that is best covered in two parts, how to manipulate from the defense and how to manipulate from the offense.


Well the defenders have the advantage, so this ought to be easy right? Well, yes and no. The one advantage the attacker usually maintains is that, they don’t have to declare an attack at all. So as the defender, you are inherently reactionary; dependent upon the attacker to make that first crucial attack declaration. Or, you know, you could bring cards that force characters to attack. Mr. Fantastic has a perfect global ability for doing that. Other globals and special abilities also force attacks from characters/monsters, and they should be a serious consideration when building your deck. You want to force attacks where you have significant advantages as the defender.

But once they do attack, everything gets easy? Well, yes, unless they are a smart player, and honestly you should assume all opponents are smart until they have proven otherwise (and by proven otherwise, I mean that you have already soundly defeated them. Then and only then can you afford to doubt their abilities.) Your opponent is not going to make blocking easy for you, if they can. They will try to pull out inefficient blockers and remove good ones through the use of special abilities. Regardless of their shenanigans, you need to ask yourself two questions. First, how can I effectively reduce the damage done to me? Second, how can I improve my game position? These questions seem trivial, but they pack a lot of wallop when you start to look into their depths (like an abyss!).

The first question is primarily there because you don’t want to take unnecessary damage. You especially don’t want to take lethal damage. When answering this question, make sure to count all your opponents possible attack, including things like pumps (abilities that add to the attack value of characters). Getting into this habit will help you quickly determine your best blocking options and keep you from losing to a sneaky combo. But, damage reduction isn’t everything, as winning a game at 1 life counts the same as winning at 20 life. And this is where that second question really kicks in. You want to look how you can improve your own game state. What do I mean? Well, remember that reference to churn earlier, this is your opportunity. Lets suppose you have a few sidekicks lurking on the field, that you would love to get back into rotation due to an ability to use the sidekicks to ramp. Well, why not toss them in front of a couple of attackers, get them knocked out, and back into your prep (and ready to roll on your next turn). Or what if your opponent is attacking with a character that has a while active effect that has been hampering you all game (Dr. Doom – Reed Richard’s Rival jumps to mind). Why block that character? Let him through and he will scurry off to your opponent’s used pile, giving you at least one turn without him hampering your ability to play the way you want, all for a little life. Those are just a couple of the ways you can improve your game situation through smart defending, and many many many more exist out there. So always keep an eye open for smart defensive moves, and don’t be afraid to sacrifice a little life if it will lead to a better game state for you.

The Best Defense

Of course, throughout this, I have made attacking seem pretty bad. And maybe I have even over sold how good defenders have it, considering that I like to play an up tempo attacking style. So clearly, as the attacker I can accomplish some things that are beneficial to me. You can to, but only if you do so in a smart fashion. There are several aspects to consider when deciding how and when to attack. First, you should look to see if you can kill your opponent. If the attack will definitely reduce your opponents life to zero, then it shouldn’t even be a question whether you are going to do it. Second, you should see if you can set-up a future win through your attack. Not every attack has to be a hail mary for the win. If you see an opening where you can slip through 1 to 19 damage, and not open yourself for a severe counter attack, you should take it. At that point, you should really be asking yourself, how will the damage I do effect my opponents play? Will this put him into range for a future kill? Will it cause him to abandon his strategy or use valuable resources defending against the attack. This becomes especially true when your opponent would like to use available energy for ramp/churn abilities, but instead has to use it to stop damage from your attackers. Third, you should analyze whether your attack will improve your game state. This can be by getting a character knocked out in order to ramp with the energy in future turns, or through making your opponent block with a character that is actively hampering your ability to play the game as you want it to be played. Removing that Loki can be just as important to the victory as the final attack that kills the opponent.

Finally I would like to point out, that just threatening an attack can be a critical part of this game. As stated in the defenders section, the attacker usually maintains the advantage of knowing whether an attack will happen at all. This becomes important for the usage of global abilities, as the timing of when globals can be played is very strict. But of course, you already knew that, if you have been keeping up with this series.

[top]Direct Damage vs. Attack Damage

A punch to the mouth or an arrow to the knee from across the room. Which one is better? Which one feels better?If they both get the job done, should I even care?

This is more or less the same sort of comparison as that between Direct Damage and Combat Damage. But first, I suppose we should specify the difference. Combat damage is what you normally expect out of damage. Combat damage involves having a character/monster/hero attack your opponent and deal damage to them. This would normally entail the characters being unblocked, but I also include the ability to overcrush or send through damage as if unblocked under the attack damage banner. Direct damage on the other hand doesn’t require the an unblocked attack. Instead it is things like Wind-Rider’s or Johnny Storm’s ability that damage the opponent directly.

So which is better? Well the one that wins you the game is the better one in all situations. But each form of damage has its own benefits and detriments. So let’s look at each in turn and discuss what strengths and weaknesses exist.

Direct Damage

The biggest advantage that direct damage has, is that it doesn’t require attacking to be effective. This means that for most direct damage effects to occur, you don’t have to worry about your opponents field. You can sneak damage in at opportune times and never need to check to see if they can block it. Of course, this also leads to one of the biggest disadvantages, direct damage can lure you into not developing your own board. If you don’t have to worry about attacking, then why worry about getting enough characters to attack. Not having enough characters then leaves you open to your opponents attacks. Of course, don’t fall into that easy trap. Don’t ignore completely the whole attack phase of the game. The second major advantage is that you are relying on a non-basic rules route to win the game. This means that you are depending on the card text of your characters to carry the game over any sort of stats that they may have. This allows you to utilize underpowered characters that would otherwise fail the vanilla test, knowing that their damage is independent of the core stats. Of course that also means that there is a fulcrum to the strategy that if removed will stop the damage. So be aware of someone targeting your fulcrum and stopping your damage.

Combat Damage

Combat damage is in some ways easier to understand, though I would argue that it is more difficult to successfully utilize. The biggest advantage one gains from using combat based damage sources is that you will build a board. That board is necessary to successfully carry out attacks against the opponent and get past his blockers. Further, many of the tricks and abilities in the game focus on combat based actions. Stat boosts, damage multipliers and combat control abilities like the Relentless global all benefit combat damage. And that isn’t surprising since combat is a whole phase of the game, and something that we discussed at length in the last article in the series. On the negative side, we do run into two major issues. The first is that your attacks inherently deplete your own board. And that snowballs into the second, in that if you can’t control the board state, then you can’t successful attack on a consistent basis. As your own attacks destabilize your board, that can become a huge issue, unless you have designed your team to only need a single attack to win.

So, Riptide, what is best in the game?

Honestly, both. The most successful players are going to use a combination of direct damage and combat damage to successfully beat their opponent. The Flying Sidekick team does it. The Spider-Bomb team does it. Even the early AVX teams did it. You need a mix to consistently win, as it provides flexibility. Flexibility to arrive at a victory condition means that you aren’t stopped by a single play or single bad roll. So until next time, when I discuss character/monster removal, try out a little bit of both strategies.

[top]Character Removal

You can win without characters. Powerbolt and certain global abilities could be combined to get you there. It just isn’t all that likely to happen.

Because characters are so important. Because it is nearly impossible to win without them. Because you are aware that your opponent has built a team with the end goal to use his characters to beat you. For these reasons, we need to discuss exactly how to get rid of these characters. What sorts of character removal is available, and what benefits does it provide for you? It will become obvious that all teams, from highly aggressive rush decks to pure control decks, want some character removal.

Hard Removal

The first broad category I want to cover is hard removal. Hard removal is any form of complete removal of a character from the field. This includes capturing a character, controlling a character, sending it to used, and sending it to prep. All hard methods get the character off the field and out of your life for at least a a moment (well technically not true when controlling a character, but it gets it out of your opponents field). This makes hard removal most useful for dealing with your opponent’s characters that have while active abilities, or in certain cases your own characters that have when fielded abilities. Hard removal is a useful thing to have in pretty much all decks, but not necessary for all.

Further, not all types of hard removal are created equal. Abilities that KO or send dice to your opponent’s prep aren’t usually as effective as abilities that send opponent’s characters to used, as you know that your opponent will get a chance of bringing them back the next turn. Even similar abilities aren’t of the same caliber. Rogue’s capturing of an enemy character tends to be of a shorter duration than Imprisoned, and often effects fewer, but more powerful characters. Other cards, such as the Deadpool which knocks out a character, often don’t happen as early in a turn as you would like.

So, what makes good a card good at hard removal? Well often that comes down to what you need in your deck, but suffice to say, flexibility of what it can effect, longer durations of removal, greater number of removed characters, low cost, and an ability to get around targeting restrictions are some of the most important things. How you weight each of those factors, now that really is completely dependent on your deck build.

Soft Removal

A character doesn’t always have to be gone from the field in order to actually be removed from being effective. Sometimes, all you will need is soft removal. Soft removal is taking away some part of a character’s normal game interaction in order to limit its effectiveness. Soft removal would include abilities that stop a character from attacking, blocking or using its game text.

The global ability on Relentless is one of the most important soft removal abilities currently in the game. Often the player using Relentless just doesn’t want their opponent to block their character, or use that one particular blocker. They aren’t concerned with the actual capability of the character, just that they aren’t there to stop the incoming attack damage. I also tend to lump in other combat control tricks, such as Toad, into this mix. It isn’t that the character is always knocked out by the damage. It could be removed either through getting blocked and knocked out, or allowed to pass through and damage the player, effectively removing it from the field. No, what makes this more of a soft ability is that it doesn’t ensure the character will be removed; they may simply be blocked and bounce back to your opponent’s field.

Due to its very nature, soft removal is even more dependent upon your deck than hard removal. Storm is a hard removal card that can fit into about any deck. Relentless only works in some decks (however powerful those decks may be). Thus as a general rule, what your soft removal does is completely out of this articles purview. Still you know you want your soft removal to be cheap, able to effect multiple characters, and be long lasting.

Character Prevention

Ben Franklin is attributed the quote “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” Honestly, nothing could sum up the goal of this last form of character removal as well as that quote. If a character isn’t allowed to ever enter the field, then you never have to worry about removing it. Mainly this type of character removal is limited to things that stop the opponent from fielding a character, but I also include things that send certain characters directly to the prep area under this heading.

Loki and Venom are two of the bigger players in this arena at the moment. In Loki’s case it is very clear that he stops characters from being fielded. Worried about character? Loki says he can’t come out to play. Of course, this has its drawbacks, as if a character is already in the field, Loki can do nothing about it. Yeah, so Loki isn’t the end all answer to character problems. Venom goes the other route. He essentially stops little characters from remaining in play, including sidekicks. Of course, this also does nothing for a character that really only wanted to use its when fielded ability. Storm from above loves an opposing Venom.

I hope this gives you some insight into the overall feel for what sort of character removal is available and how it can be used.

[top]Team Building

We have gone over a lot in this series so far. We have hit on ramp/churn, global utilization, attacking and defending, direct vs. combat damage, and even done a little concerning character removal. The thing everyone always wants to ask, the thing that I have yet to cover in detail is deck building.

Now I know some of my other esteemed colleagues at this and other sites hate the term deck building, but I use it intentionally over team building. Teams, as I define them, do not include basic actions. Your team consists of 8 cards, while your deck consists of 10 (your team plus 2 basic actions). I use this as my definition, because the word team does not include actions in the grouping. But more important than the usage of the term, we need to know that team and deck get bandied about in a fairly interchangeable fashion.

So then, how do I build a team? It is actually quite easy. You need to fill in a certain set of roles. While not all teams need to have all these roles filled, as a beginning player it is best not to ignore any of the roles. Top flight deck builders (I am not one of those people) know when they can break the rules. Everyone else is better served by sticking within the rules. They are rules for a reason. The other thing I would note, is that cards selected to fill out the team can often fulfill more than one role, or that it may be necessary at times to use more than one card in a role. So what are the roles?

Role 1: Winning

You have to begin any deck construction by deciding how you are going to win the game. If you don’t have a plan for winning, then you don’t have a competent deck. This means, at least with the sets currently available, you need to decide how you are going to damage your opponent. Decide if you are going to take a direct damage, combat damage, or combination approach to dealing your opponent a death blow. Then add the cards (usually more than one) necessary to succeed at that plan.

Role 2: Ramp/Churn

As was discussed in the first article in the series (I don’t count the introduction), ramp/churn is required to be successful. So right after you get your win condition, figure out what sort of ramp/churn you are going to be utilizing. Keep in mind, ramp/churn is most useful when it can utilized throughout the course of a game, so anything that can be accessed earlier and more often will tend to be better.

Role 3: Character Removal

Your opponent will not allow you to just waltz in and execute your game plan. You shouldn’t allow them to do so either. Thus you need character removal. Even highly aggressive early kill decks make use of character removal and yours should be no different. You will need at least one character removal card, if not two. Though, I will mention, it is usually best for the two types of removal to be different in nature (hard/soft removal or prevention).

Role 4: Cheap Purchases

All teams need some cheap purchases. If your team consists solely of dice that cost 4 or more to purchase, you will lose the game. Thus, plan on including at least one card with 2 cost dice and probably one card with 3 cost dice on your team. More isn’t a bad thing either. Of course, these cheap purchases will often be able to pull double duty, bringing some additional ability for ramp/churn, character removal, and/or a useful global ability.

Role 5: Global Support

We talked extensively about global abilities and how to use them. You should include globals that will either support your main plan or shore up weaknesses in your deck. You should also consider closely what sort of globals can be used to control the combat phase, since that is often where the game gets won and lost.

Some Closing Thoughts on Deck Building:

I do not advise mono-energy builds. It seems like they would work, and they will up to a point. However, as the guys at Dice Anon have pointed out several times, we already have all the types of energy forced upon us. Thus, you should try to maximize your ability to spend all your energy every turn, by giving you multiple types of dice/globals to spend it upon. You don’t necessarily have to bring all four energy types, but I would include at least three in your build.

You should feel free to build your team how you want, but these rules will help in a scratch built construction. To really further your own builds, I suggest looking at the team builds currently being played. Figure out how they fill each of these roles and how they can actually be improved. Everyone wants to create the next big thing, but as others have said before, we stand on the shoulders of those that came before us. Innovation occurs, often not through reinventing the wheel, but through improving upon the ideas of someone else.

[top]Advanced Strategies

[top]The Transition Zone: How to Build a Competitive Team

This week in The Transition Zone we will take a look at moving from the casual to the competitive world when it comes to team building. How do I move from the casual kitchen table games to games in a more competitive arena when it comes to constructing a team?

Many of you who get into this game start with an introduction to the game based on favorite characters, or starter sets or maybe a theme team or two. Once these games help you get experience under your belt, basic action cards and the wide array of globals become the next line of interest for many people. Now suddenly a new world of gameplay is revealed and you start to see how mechanisms within the game work. Remember that there are plenty of people who are just learning how PXG works along with a wide variety of things we now take for granted. But if you are ready to move on, you need to start looking at construction of a team.

But at some point, you want to make teams that have a high win percentage. How do I construct a team that can be competitive? What are the key components to a team build that will make sure I am covering the bases that I need to? Do I even need to cover all of the bases? Offense or defense?

For every team you will ever build there are a few core aspects you need to include in the construction to assure success with the team in competitive play. These components are:

Win condition

There is nothing more important than this. You need to know how and why you will win the game you will be playing, and your win condition should be easy to name. You may even have a few different win conditions. But these should be easy to identify and you should know how to execute them in most game situations. Certain characters or combos work to drive your win, and you need to be able to know that above all, this is the primary means to winning. Does that mean you can't win another way? Of course not-you can win in a variety of ways. But do not leave it to chance or extensive perfect alignment of just the right rolls of dice, the cards, the stars and the planets. Be confident and push to the win condition before you opponent can stop you.


You will draw and roll four dice, and every single turn you will repeat this process. But what if you could roll more? Or what if you could roll exactly what you wanted? Wouldn't you? This is where ramp and churn come into play.

Ramp is rolling more than the four energy you will get in that repeated sidekick roll. Now just buying other dice will add to the energy potential for each roll, to a maximum of four dice giving up to eight energy. But to really take advantage of this, you need to ramp faster. PXG gives us the biggest early ramp allowing for multiple dice rolls early in the game.

Churn is similar but slightly different in its definition. Churn allows us to keep certain dice, usually sidekicks, from slowing us down by keeping them out of the bag or moving them quickly through the bag. Churn allows you to roll the dice you really want and move passed ones you are less interested in. Red Tornado is my favorite example of this ability, as he can quickly filter out sidekicks and allow you to roll the dice you are looking for. Don't underestimate the need to have at least one if not both of these abilities on your team.

Targeted removal

You will face characters you do not want on the opposite side of the board. These will be the big monsters who can absolutely wreck your plans such as Hulk, Jinzo, Thanos and others. These guys don't move easily, and often hurt you when you try to move them. So how do you address them? You need to have targeted removal options. This can look like many of the Storm cards in AvX to combos like BEWD and Solomon Grundy like World champion Dean used on his team or Jade Giant like Canadian champion JT used on his team. Whatever you choose, have a way to take a guy off the board.

Board Sweep

Sometimes you will face many characters you don't want on the board. Little weenies like sidekicks, kobolds, beasts, drones or Peppers can clog up and create a nice hefty wall that you need to get through. This could be done with direct damage, or ways to jump the wall. But there are times where you need a few characters off the board to go in and hit your opponent for damage. In these cases, you need ways to remove multiple characters. This can look like Green Goliath Hulk or an Umber Hulk or a variety of other cards. Just make sure that you are prepared to remove multiple characters especially if you need to swing in for your damage.


Control or counter cards do exactly what the name would imply-they help you to control your opponent and keep them from doing what they want. It is you imposing your will on them. Control keeps them from playing their win condition or slows them down in the process of trying to use it. Constantine, Zombie Magneto, Prismatic Spray are such examples in the game. These cards will allow you to dictate pace, but they do not alone win you a game. Don't rely on them to be your win conditions, but instead look at it to be a way to protect your win condition or address the meta powerhouses.

Turn one/turn two

Every team build needs to have consistent buying in the beginning. There will always be a small amount of variation based on what you see across the table, but for the most part you should always have a solid turn one and turn two buy strategy. "If I roll this type of energy, I know my options are _____" should help point you towards your win condition. I was discussing this with Shadowmeld the other day, and he said it well: "every team needs to know where they are going on turn one and two, and after that probability dictates buying". If you don't know where you are going early, chance will be your initial driver and this game doesn't allow for that to be successful. Minimize chance and know where you want to go.

So if you are making that team to take to your next event, make sure to keep these components in mind to create a successful team. Know where you are going and know how to get there. Cover all of our bases and you know what your team can do offensively and defensively. As our fearless leader Dave recently told me: "People try to build too much toward every card helps you win that they buy too much and have zero protection". Don't be the guy who doesn't know what his team is doing and you won't be the guy whose team is losing.

[top]Strategy Resources

[top]Sister Blogs

The Reserve Pool is one of a few Dice Masters Blogs providing quality content to the Dice Masters' Player Community. For other strategy ideas and further information, take a look at this list of reading.

Dice Anon - an excellent strategy blog.

DiceMastersDB - an in-depth and expansive online database, collection manager and team builder. - an in-depth and expansive online database, collection manager and team builder.

Sidekicks And Shields - an excellent fan blog.

Dice Masters Rules - an independant site containing a fairly comprehensive FAQ, along with strategy tips and card reviews. Last updated March 2015.

[top]Sister Podcasts

There are a few more Dice Masters themed Podcasts out there updated at various degrees of regularity.

The Bachelor's of Dice

Dice Anon

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