We’re back with Part Two of Paul & Seth’s Father & Son Dice Masters journey.
Where we left off at the end of Part One: Paul & Seth had been brewing their team’s for this year’s Nationals, got some practice in with one another., and were now in the contest…
On Friday, the constructed qualifier, Seth had a mixed bag of results: enjoying the times when his team came together, even knocking back a couple of Bard teams out there, though they were usually too quick and heavy hitting to keep back over a best of three. Probably the stand out result on reflection was Seth holding last year’s champion Patrick to a draw. No mean feat given what a really fluid player Patrick is: never seemingly having any doubt as to his next choice of roll/character choice/global. Patrick was part of the Irish crew that came across from Kilkenny to show us all exactly how the game should be played in 2015. Seth came nineteenth (we think) and was in no way discouraged: he’s always been more than capable of putting a team together in rainbow draft and was looking to finish top 8 the following day.
Saturday, Seth drafted a team based around Songbird: Reformed Villain, and four other Thunderbolt characters: Punisher (Unlikely Ally), Radioactive Man (Gamma Rays), and Black Widow (Mistress of Pain). In two of the three 8-player pods, it transpired that two super-rare Ronins were drafted, and Seth faced them consecutively in his first two rounds; really quite shockingly poor luck, due to angering the Dice Gods in some previous life. He lost both games, along with the next game: still reeling from the injustice of it all and coupled with some spookily good dice pulling from Seth’s opponent, that was his weekend over sadly. If he had won any one of those games, Seth would have qualified for the Sunday, as he rallied and managed to defeat both his opponents in the next couple of rounds, as his team build deservedly came good. The final match was a thriller; after a win each, his opponent, Louis, repeatedly captured Seth’s characters using Imprisoned; while on 17 life, Seth let all of his opponent’s characters through except a sidekick and took 16 damage, before swinging back through with enough damage for lethal to win next turn. Not quite enough for a reappearance on Sunday, but a great game to catch the end of as I watched over his shoulder.
I have no idea who decides these things, but a week or so later, looking through the results on WIN, I found that Seth had been granted the Fellowship award for Saturday. A small thing I know, but we had no idea on the day itself, and I was really chuffed for him. If Stephen Cassidy (Element Games) had any involvement in this award, then a big “Thank you” from me: appreciated. Also, huge congratulations on stepping in at short notice and doing a sterling job as TO. Apologies too for mishearing you laying out the rules for top four cut on the Sunday and almost setting the Dice Masters mobile lynch-mob onto you.
As for my weekend: the Bard team started out on Saturday with two or three straight wins (the details are hazy without looking up on the WIN) and to be honest the team didn’t need an expert pilot to be effective. Forgetting Bard for a moment; the combo of Oracle (MI) and Elf-Thief (Lesser) are worth consideration in many teams. Sadly for me, my lack of finesse in being able to see two/three turns ahead, especially in combination with poor rolls, meant that when I came up against players of the calibre of Andy Short, Patrick and Ben (the eventual UK champion) then my lack of fine tuning in my team selection and lack of intuition in the subtleties of dice management would always leave me exposed. These skills would hopefully have developed over time if I had crammed in more than two days’ practise!
On the final Sunday, it was all a haze to be honest. I could not shake the feeling that I had fluked my way there with Seth’s team. I am not being humble in the slightest when I say that finishing fourth was about the best I should done given my limited prowess as a player.
I was dreading facing Andy’s Doomsday team again having not come close to a win the Friday previously, and Patrick had swept me aside with ease earlier that Sunday. It was during these games that I discovered that Bard was even more over-powered than I ever thought possible for a card with a ridiculous ability anyway: the attacking dice benefitting from other characters in the field who did NOT attack made “Bard-Maths” an extra level more mind-bending. In the second game I was then told when facing two incoming Bards that he also (get this!!) STACKS. Farcical.
When I faced Patrick again in the semi-final and then lost the first game I sat there and waited for the Bard/Hulk combo to sweep me away. Then Patrick proceeded to roll as garbage a set of rolls as is possible in the second game: my Bard rolled through. The deciding game was just as comical: Patrick may as well have handed me his dice bag and let me choose which sides they fell on. Polymorph failed him successively when he had saved up about eight bolt/”?” combos for the magic missile and Hulk pairing that simply did not happen. I was in the final, and I didn’t quite know how.
I have read Ben’s article elsewhere on this site that I was being helpful/generous in reminding him to pick characters with his Hellblazer’s ability. This may be true, but he was the one who initiated this friendly/fair-minded approach: even picking dice out of his bag and announcing: “you would have picked this character anyway” when I had forgotten AGAIN. A great spirit to play the game in (such a difference to a particular opponent last year).
It was in this first game that I actually regretted my decision to swap out Antihero for Hellblazer. Two-thirds of my team were Imprisoned and I had no way to force action die re-rolls. Argh. Kudos to Ben for his choice of Breaker the Magical Warrior (common) to cover this scenario, even though he didn’t actually need him out in these games.
In a pre-final discussion, Ben and me would chat about how Bard was simply getting more ridiculously powerful with each passing ruling that I was hearing about, and somehow this discussion had a Derren Brown style effect on Ben and he forgot his Bard-Maths at a crucial time, as I attacked with a pair of Lute-players during my final turn to take the match to a decider.
I cannot speak for Ben, but when the final game started I was shattered, and a little sick of rolling dice! Naturally, this meant that I forgot Seth’s top tip when you go second and buy Dwarf-Wizard and he comes out too early (no opposing character to pick) then DO NOT FIELD HIM. I did. I couldn’t then get him knocked out to re-field him without screwing up my ramp/next purchases. Game ballsed-up on turn three. Sob. “You’re playing the team wrong again Dad”
Well played Ben, you had a really impressive weekend. Well played Andy, I can see your combo being stolen by several teams in the coming months. Well played Patrick, you were truly robbed: I feel your pain! A pleasure to see Polymorph being used so, so effectively.
To finish up this sprawl; any child aged 6 or more loves computer games/apps/gaming consoles. That is not changing any time soon and it has been that way for nigh on 40 years now. I was determined, though, that Seth would have a chance of experiencing actual interaction across a table with other actual humans (usually) playing a physical game, and hopefully having loads of fun doing it.
For me personally PC/console games have always been there and I enjoy many of them, but the fact that I’m utterly rubbish at them almost certainly made me determined to foist the enjoyment I have in moving cards and plastic miniatures around a table top onto my lad. The irony is that it turns out that Seth is really good at computer games too: playing Star Wars Battlefront over the last few months, he was hurtling toward Rank 50-plus in a matter of a few days playing-time (this is good, I think!) I am stuck at around Rank 14 (with help from Seth) and getting no better. Doh. Still the game looks beautiful, while I respawn for the hundredth time…
Like a load of kids around Seth’s age Minecraft is a huge draw , and obviously I’m too old to see the thrill of it, but seeing him and a couple of school-mates laughing and shouting out together, as they run around a kingdom that they have part-shaped is board-game-esque to my mind and really good to see. How this element works online in different parts of a city/country/globe I’m not so sure: even in a world as innocent as Minecraft, once you are online there is always that small percentage of people who, maybe, simply log on to destroy what you have created. This element becomes irrelevant playing a game around a table, with like-minded friends. The communal aspect of board gaming, playing a co-op or a competitively themed one, keeps the worst excesses that emerge online, at bay.
Of course we’ve all played as kids with those who will flip the board over in a sulk if losing heavily. Simply don’t play with them again (unless they change the way they play, of course).
Having said that, I will go purple with rage if I see one of my cards being bent, picked up with a greasy hand, or plonked into a puddle of spilt drink. Not sure there if there is a life lesson to pass on there except: “Don’t make a Dad with OCD angry. You won’t like him when he’s angry.”
During the week (courtesy of the Teacher’s strike) we had two of Seth’s friends staying overnight. Obviously the PS4 was booted up and (I think) lots of fun was had blowing away those Rebel scum. Later though, and again the next day, we opened up “Rapidough”. Not exactly a board game I know, but as a fun, social, interactive (and competitive!) experience it’s hard to beat and definitely one of our current faves.
The four of us howling with laughter as one person misunderstood a card and, rather than picking one option of the three available, tried to model, in playdough mind, a “Ravioli-Paw-Cobra”. Seth was so red-faced with laughter I was convinced he would lose control of his bladder. These moments are hard to imagine being re-created via a console, or even with a pair of virtual reality goggles strapped to your face.
(Side note: in three generations we have gone from “Don’t get so close to the TV. It’ll damage your eyes!” to “Stick this 3D display as near to your corneas as possible”)
One of the downsides for me now, though, is that I cannot set out a game of (Solo!!!!) Space Hulk Death Angel without either having to start again as a two-player mission or, if I am deep into a game, Seth taking control of (all) die-rolling duties and offering advice on (all) tactics. Only joking son, I love the fact that you want to play! (Honest…)
Also, and this is important I think, playing these games with a decent crowd you are learning to win AND lose with a dignity/humility/good grace. Unless you’re playing a cheat of course: then, you can just punch them!!
This year’s Expo was great fun for the pair of us; a really impressive cohort of helpful, considerate, courteous and yet still competitive players. Those of you who think you do not fit this description: look in the mirror. You know who you are.
There you go folks – I hope you enjoyed reading Paul & Seth’s Special Guest Blog post as much as I did.
I’ll be back later this week with some more posts on a few different subjects so watch this space.
Feedback & Comments always welcome! 🙂