For any of you readers who are a part of the wider gaming tabletop community I imagine it can’t have escaped your notice that a new collectible dice/card game was released recently – Star Wars: Destiny.
As the news was announced, and as the promotion machine at Fantasy Flight Games picked up pace leading to the release date, I watched with interest how Star Wars: Destiny was being received & discussed by the Dice Masters community.
In the worldwide picture, as you’d imagine, opinion was varied. There was clearly a proportion of the Dice Masters community making plans to ‘cash out’ and move wholesale to Star Wars: Destiny as ‘their’ game. Their reasons were many: some attributed their decision to boredom with the meta, expressing a tiredness with things like the dominance of The Bard and repetitive teams at the competitive level. Some were driven by their frustrations over Wizkid’s management of Dice Masters with ill-written, ambiguous game-texts and loooong waits for rules clarifications on the Rules Forum. And some simply loved Star Wars much, much more than the Dice Master’s IPs and followed their passions.
I definitely saw the impact of it in my local scene. A number of players in my most regularly visited FLGS have moved over to Star Wars: Destiny and have sold their Dice Masters collections to raise funds for building their collection in their new preferred game.
A handful of my players sit firmly in the ‘stale meta’ camp. They were single IP collectors and felt like they could not remain competitive, even at the local, casual level, without expanding their collections to include IPs they did not want to explore, and felt this even more so at the National level. For them: Star Wars: Destiny was an attractive alternative that was in the right place at the right time.
I also knew a handful of players who felt they were behind the curve. I was chatting to a friend down the FLGS who had recently flirted with Dice Masters a little bit and one of the attractive elements to Star Wars: Destiny was, as he put it, “getting in at the ground floor”. He was able to get on the game at point of its release, and felt he was playing too much ‘catch up’ with Dice Masters: the volume of product was too over-whelming and off putting.
I have room in my world for both games, and have continued to regularly play Dice Masters while I dip my toe in the water with Star Wars: Destiny. I find both enjoyable for different reasons and am fortunate to have the means, as well as the inclination, to invest my time & money in both.
Being known down my FLGS as “the Dice Masters guy” I get asked about how the games compare quite a lot, and to finish up this blog I’d like to share some of my thoughts and the answers I generally give…
The ONLY similarity is they both involve dice & cards
They are very different games otherwise. My take (admittedly after much less comparable play time with Star Wars Destiny than Dice Masters) is generally this: Dice Masters is like chess, Star Wars Destiny is like fencing.
That’s kind of where I’m at. Dice Masters is tactically different in the sense of thinking ahead with your plays, tying moves together to position your opponent where you want them, protecting the ‘King’ (You) and there’s a feeling of it the way players take their turns.
Destiny is about the cut & thrust, the characters are like Epees or Sabers or Foils, you respond to your opponent’s move in a more reactive way (Lunge, parry, dodge, block – there’s even a card called “Riposte”) You have to deal with things more in the immediate moment. The elimination of characters feels more like the way a player scores points in fencing.
They each bring different pleasures in their own different ways.
One of them costs a lot more than the other to be competitive
I anticipate that Star Wars Destiny will require a much larger investment (set by set) to be competitive player than Dice Masters.
I recognise that I’ve only got one release of Destiny so far to judge it by, and things may change, but so far ‘The Awakenings’ has shown me that it will likely be a bigger cash sink than Dice Masters.
This is because of the game’s model and the distribution of dice. Simply put: if I want max die of four on the Dice Masters ‘Super Rare’ card i want to use then I can acquire them through the collection of commons/uncommons (who also come with the same dice) If I want max die of two (a maxed out die on your team in Destiny is called ‘elite’) on my Legendary card then I have to acquire two of the Legendary, because dice are unique to the card.
This is no easy prospect in Destiny. When I pick up a Gravity Feed of Dice Masters I am usually pretty close to a full set of common cards, a full set of uncommon cards, a strong showing on Rares, typically two Super Rares, and a near complete set of dice (four per character). So far with Destiny I am over two Gravity Feeds in and have still yet to complete an uncommon set (I would actually carefully consider a trade of my first born right now if you had an ‘Electroshock’ and ‘It Binds All Things’ going spare, the only thing is that children seem to be widely more available than Star Wars Destiny product right now) and I’ve got a number of rare & legendary rarity cards that I only have one copy of, and therefore just one die for. This limits my team building options massively, and even a third Feed purchase is no guarantee of filling the gaps.
It’s even more complicated yet still. I am currently fortunate to own an Elite Vader (a Lengendary with two dice), which is awesome, but to make an eVader competitive team really pop, really kick ass, I need another couple of hard to find rare & legendary cards (and the aforementioned uncommon I’m missing: “It Binds All Things”), which will mean a singles market assault on my wallet (I’m not even going to go into the singles market prices in Star Wars Destiny, a mismatch of supply & demand I’m hoping is the only reason for the madness that is singles prices) or yet more buy in on the chase packs.
So far, to sum it up, on the first set of Star Wars Destiny I have spent as much as I’ve spent roughly on the last two & a half sets of Dice Masters. Destiny, I think, is going to cost a lot more then Dice Masters in the long run.
One of them is better produced & better supported
There’s no denying it, as much as I love Dice Masters, it’s a pretty shoddy game sometimes when you consider its production values, quality control, and customer support. Not so the case with Destiny.
Even the most fanatical, hardcore fan of Dice Masters is unable to deny this. There are issues with Dice Masters that are well reported, from the challenging, ambiguous way the rules & game-texts are written through to the bent cards in booster packs & ill-printed dice. Rules questions are sporadically answered on the Dice Masters rules forum and we are left guessing & debating all the time. Organised Play information drips out slowly, decisions over locations are unfavourable (on these shores at least) and prizing can be underwhelming with dodgy game-texts or unpopular alt-art/blank-art cards on offer.
None of these problems have been evident in Star Wars Destiny so far. The cards are well protected in the boosters and come out straight when you open them. The rules documents are solid & clear from the outset (‘Terms’ are clearly defined!) and online ruling debates over forums & Facebook groups are less frequent or, if they do happen, less convoluted and the answer can usually be found in the core set rules document. The FAQ & card clarifications section of the Destiny rules has been swiftly updated with answers to anything that has come out of the wood work.
The Organised Play set up appears more polished and…well… organised. The OP packs are more prestigious and useable in future games. Store selection across the country for events seems more appropriate & evenly distributed to maximise opportunities for players to get to an event.
One thing is for sure: they both have their problems with getting stock into stores. The launch of Destiny has been plagued with supply issues and I suspect shipping delays will be a regular occurrence with the game. This is no different for Dice Masters – release dates get pushed out, and stores often struggle to re-supply. Both games require patience on that front.
One has no secrets
One of the most attractive features of Dice Masters to me was always the fact that there is no secrets in the game play. You lay your teams out for all to see.
Star Wars Destiny follows a more traditional CCG model where you build a deck and hold a hand of secret moves from your opponent.
I’ve played CCG’s for many, many years and the one thing I have learnt is that holding hands of hidden cards somehow attracts a certain type of player that comes along and sucks the fun out of a game with ‘smarm’. They just love to sting you with a clever little move, and there is just something in the attitude of how they do it that makes things unpleasant.
Thankfully, I’ve not experienced that yet at my FLGS – I’m fortunate to play in a local community that is made up of top notch, above the line players. But the game is at high risk of being ruined for me in the wider play experience of Regional & National events. Star Wars as an IP has such a wide appeal that I am certain I will encounter one of these negative player experiences at some point.
There’s my 2 cents folks. I enjoy both games for different reasons and try to stay as balanced as possible with the pros & cons comparisons I discuss with other local players. Is it a risk to the survival of Dice Masters? No, I don’t think so, at least; I hope not. They’ve both got something to offer and it’s my hope that players can see a space in their gaming world for both. With any game there is an undoubted ebb & flow of interested players and for Dice Masters, in my local area at least, for every player lose we gain a player.
I can find space for both and I may, in time, start to write more about Destiny and start to expand the BritRollerSix content, but am keen to wait and see if the game pans out for me. It’s early days yet.
What about you guys? Have any of you Dice Masters lovers started to play Destiny? How have you found it? Have I been fair in my assessment? Let me know in the comments below…