Here is the next post in our ‘Special Guest’ UK WKO series. This re-cap was written by TJ Bozilla, who was in attendance at the Scottish Regional WKO hosted by Settlers in Hamilton.
Saturday 12th November saw the first of the UK Dice Masters regional events kick off at Settlers in Hamilton. Dice Masters has been supported there since AVX came out and at the moment Settlers have a regular pool of about 14 folk who drop into at least one or two of the weekly events each month and casual players at the weekends. Recently in Scotland, scenes have started up in new venues in Perth and Glasgow and with posters in other local retailers and trying to entice folk up the M74 via social media, we’d hoped to see some new faces. Alas, it was not to be and work and family commitments meant some regulars had to miss out, so we ended up with a group of nine. It was therefore a shame that one person had to sit out each round.
The numbers determined that we’d have four rounds of Swiss followed by a cut to top four. The venue elected to run games as best of 3 with a 50 minute time limit. The WizKids version of Orac did its thing and we were matched up.
Our scene had evolved into one that enjoyed to play longer games rather than follow the current meta quest to win in as few turns as possible. It wasn’t surprising therefore that as the teams were laid out no Lute Playing Half-Elves or Vicious Struggles seemed to be on any of the mats. However, there were plenty of inventive combos that had been kept away from recent “Bring Your Best Nights”. It was funny to note how slots had also been taken up with counters to tactics that had recently been proved to be successful locally, for example teams having a cross over character to stop Grodd & Merlyn from going unblocked and ways to spin your characters to level three to counter Umber-Hulk.
In the run up to the event I switched and re-switched my team, thinking I’d cracked it only to realise in testing it was way to slow, tweaking it, spotting how easily it could be unpicked and then with a week to go chucking it all out. I decided on a mask ring team as I’d recently got the SR Zatanna that I thought would be a useful disruptive element.
That also led me to include Hal as another cross over character so that even if the rolls did not fall my way the ring would chip away with mask, bolt or fist energy. To protect my characters Raven was a given, Lyssa was there to tax life at the start and disrupt fielding choices later game, Ronin was added as a counter to rush teams and un-blockables and Storm gave me non-targeted removal. I wanted Blink Transmutation for it’s global so I could pull back my attackers and my other BAC was field promotion as I guessed one of our players would be running Umber-Hulk to devastating effect. The final slot went to Rip-Hunter so I wasn’t depending solely on the other player having ramp and because others play the PXG game better.
First game I was paired with Kyle who has the advantage of great mental maths skills and as we’d gone about 50-50 most games we’d played in constructed, I knew I was in for a challenge. Kyle likes using Guy Gardner and recently has been utilising him to good effect along side the Spider-Man that pulls all blockers towards him. He had PXG for ramp, the pesky Elf Thief to steal energy and Psylocke as removal. Like me, he had a BAC to spin characters up, but he went for the cheaper 3 cost “With Great Powers.” Rounding off his team was the Firestorm that can pick off characters with damage when he attacks and one of Kyle’s other favourite cards; Jocasta. However, I was surprised that his usual methods of triggering her were not on the team. I should have known better.
I called the roll and elected to go first getting my field set up over the next few turns with Lyssa, Raven, Ronin and a few Hal’s. Kyle was taking things slower than I expected buying Firestorm and Jocasta rather than Guy, building up a wall of nine dice. I’d thought in my head he’d forgotten none of my mask characters could be targeted when Raven was out so was surprised that he was launching an attack with Firestorm thinking all he could pick off was a sidekick. Then came the words “and I’m doing my eight damage to Jocasta”. I burst out laughing and shook his hand. I was just about to roll down my life counter when I suddenly thought and replied “I absorb that damage into my Ronin”. Phew! I was then able to bring out the ring and swing for game a few turns later. Game two Kyle went more for the Guy Rush with the Spidey pull. I’d spotted he was fielding sidekicks first game so made Zatanna a priority buy. I was on the back foot from the off and had to manage my energy for blinking his attackers back, using my control pieces as blockers and just as time was called my luck ran out and he was able to go through with enough for game. So we ended all square.
Game two I was paired with Patrick who I always enjoy playing and who was instrumental in making me feel welcome when I first joined the group as we’re of a similar generation. He’s the king of craft made mats and deck boxes and his dice bag looks like a Wizard’s Sack but is actually a bag for a whiskey bottle. Unfortunately Patrick’s son Yvan had nabbed the cards he wanted for his team and so he confessed he threw something together at the last moment, due to this he picked Gnome Ranger thinking it would cancel continuous action dice.
After I’d annoyed him with the combo a while ago he had Ring of Magnetism and Lord of D to shut down targeting. This mainly disrupted my use of Blink Trasmuation’s global, so I knew I had to time things carefully and make good use of Ronin. Patrick’s Black Adam sending my KO’d attackers to used was another headache I needed to get around. Storm just did not want to blow people to prep as time and time again even his sidekicks came back up. However, under the protective gaze of Raven, Lyssa, Zatanna and the Ring; they did their thing and I was able to take two games in a row for the win in the 50 minutes.
After a break for fresh air it was round four pairings and I was matched against Michael. I knew this was probably a must win game if I wanted to make top four and also knew it was the most challenging match up I could have been given at that point. Michael has managed to top the WizKids UK leader board for several quarters over the past year and came second in the UK Nationals draft qualifier. He is an excellent all round player in terms of team building and piloting. My only advantage was I’d helped him test a number of teams over the past few weeks so could guess what I would be facing. Michael’s team was built around the use of the Lesser Beholder utilising Blue-Eyes and Rip Hunter’s globals for free when it was fielded. This discounted the cost of his next purchase and put it into prep.
Quickly he was able to have a cycle of Beholder’s going utilising Resurrection to provide even more ramp. Then once Umber-Hulk is bought, the aim is for the Beholder’s to use the global on stealth ops to spin down any characters on level three so they get rolled when Umber-Hulk fields. The icing on the menacing cake with these big brutes in the field is Gorrilla Grodd who gave the whole lot Overcrush . To counter Blink globals, Elf Thief was in the mix to steal energy and Prismatic Spray to stop the use of anything else getting in the way, with Constantine there to hold up opponents attacks. Should he need to the Beholder’s global could also be used to store the Prismatic Spray until it was needed. I had planned for most things and got his life total down a bit, but Prismatic Spray was my undoing. Once that started cycling into the mix he was able to spin down my characters, ignore Ronin and hit me with his over-crushing brutes for the victory.
Standings were read at this point and the WizKids Orac was being as odd as ever so eventually we were paired for round four. I had a slight chance of top four if my SOS was strong and I won, as four players were sitting on 2 wins and a tie and myself and another were on a win a tie and a loss. So I knew I’d be facing someone with a better standing round four and even guessed it would be Mark. Mark is the other half of our hard travelling heroes that went down to the UK Nats and who I had been leap frogging back and forth in the leader boards over the last year. He had to at least tie, I had to win. Mark’s lucky charm is the AVX Venom that reduces non fist characters’ defence by 2. I’d scanned my team the night before and knew that if I hit my Field Promotion BAC at the right time everyone but Storm could stay in the field. Alas, Storm was my removal so unless he ventured Venom into the attack zone I’d have to play around it.
The rest of Mark’s team worked by intimidating characters out with the Punisher, blanking with Dwarf Wizard, holding things up with Hellblazer, taxing with Lyssa and Elf Thief and ramping with PXG. My Raven meant that he never fielded a Dwarf Wizard or purchased a Punisher. What he did have though was a D6 that would get put on Goliath each time I used a global, this ticked down the cost until he could buy him cheap. Game one went to plan and even with his Venom hitting the field I was able to get the Ring out early and use my energy to either Blink my characters back, re-roll his sidekicks with Zatanna or PXG after hitting for Ring damage. The cross over characters really worked well with the Ring, meaning I was always hitting with multiple damage each swing. I took game one. Game two was much longer and the rolls went against me and in favour of Mark. I knew I was getting into trouble when he started doing his trade mark counting and calculating his potential swings by tapping his fingers on the board. Our life totals went back and forth and then he went ahead. Time was reached and it went to turns. On the final turn of the game I did not have enough to counter and he went through for game. It was the tie Mark needed and I went out.
Top four cut was Mark, Michael, Kyle and Matt. Pictured above is Matt’s team. Our Black Country Turtles obsessed ex-wrestler had a range of win cons at his disposal. With Gobby, Jocasta, Grodd and Two Face all being rather nasty threats, with Hulk Out thrown in for good measure, along side his buffing Foot Ninjas. His team was rounded out with three of his favourites: Deadman for character shut downs, Storm for removal and Beast for ramp.
Those of us that dropped out decided at this point to do a draft side event and elected to “chaos draft” for the first time. We proved the nay-sayers of chaos drafting wrong as not only was I able to get four dice on Namor in the draft, but between four of us there was two Super Rares pulled!
Luckily by drafting we had earned foil promos and by going top eight we had earned more. This meant we did not have to stick with the BAC’s we’d brought for our teams and instead could utilise shiny Big Entrances, Front Lines or Slanders if it suited. I managed to put together a reasonable strategy of unblockables and boosts, our house rules allow you to swap out cards in a draft before the pairings are announced so with a bit of experimentation I managed to win the our first ever Chaos draft. It proved to be a fun format we’re keen to try again.
At the top four table Michael managed to defeat Matt and Mark pipped Kyle, meaning the final was going to be between our Hard Travelling Heroes. Game one went to Michael, game two to Mark, game three went to turns and ended on equal life. Our wise T/O Sven, decided that it would be decided by one final game. This eventually went to Michael who earned all the shiny things and super rares. None of which he had previously managed to pull. A worthy winner.
It had been a long, but happy day, expertly hosted by the Settlers staff as usual especially the wise Sven. It might not have been uber meta compared to some WKO’s around the world but it certainly showed invention and a healthy competition. But it was time for the road home and bed before entering the unknown world of competitive HeroClix the next day, a world that proved to be a friendly place and where a novice with a “fun team” can some how fluke his way into a top eight placing.
The other teams in contention for those interested:
And young Yvan