The ability to generate more energy than normal (based on drawing 4 dice and rolling them).



[top]DiceMasters Rules - Back to Basics: Ramp/Churn (28 Jan 15)


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:
ēFirst 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.
ēSecond, 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 isnít 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 Surferís 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 isnít 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 donít 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 Ė Ace in the Hole, and Beast Ė 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 arenít getting the die later, but now. That can allow for some neat manipulations of your die bag. Of course, Gambit also usually wonít 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 donít initially appear to help churn, because they donít actually take dice out of your bag. You arenít 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 Xís 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 everybodyís 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 someoneís ramp will often win you the game, assuming that you didnít 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.

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