We’ve got a Special Guest Contributor today: our 2017 UK National Champ; Andy England.
Andy headed out to Columbus, Ohio for the World Championship event taking place at the Origins Game Fair to represent good ole Blighty on the World stage.
He’s back in the Queen’s Country and has put together the following re-cap to share his experiences of playing at the highest level Dice Masters event.
So I did it, I went to the Dice Masters World Championship! I’m on the flight home now and it still hasn’t properly sunk in yet. I wouldn’t have thought that when I first tried out this game a little under 2 years ago it would have led me to National Champion and competing in the World Championships against some of the best players in the world!
So this is my recap of my time at the event, the games I played and my thoughts on the teams & team building.
First things first, I was never planning on playing in Worlds. Even when I exceeded all my own expectations and became UK National Champ (I need to get this in as much as possible whilst I can lol) I was not intending to make the trip. However, with some very generous help and unbelievable support from family & friends I found myself booking flights and thinking “what on earth am I going to play with only a few weeks play-testing available?”
Brewing a World-Class Team
The Ultraman team that had served me so well at Nationals was a good place to start, however, with rotation coming into play the win-con, removal and half of the engine of the team was no longer legal in competitive play. I reached out to the awesome community we have and messaged guys from the UK along with the Double Burst podcast, who actually did an awesome “Brewing Buddies” segment that really helped me out.
We put together some teams to play against; one being a Guy Gardner rush team. Prior to Bard taking over the meta, my regular opponent and great friend Mickey has run an absolutely brutal Guy team, so it seemed like a good starting point. The more he played it, and geared it towards beating me, the stronger and stronger it became. No one would expect that though right? I mean who plays Guy anymore…
I also tried out a Multiple Man Ring team, which I did not get on with and thought was too slow without PXG. Oh how wrong could I have been.
Too Big to Fly sucks balls. As soon as Mickey had put this into his team Ultraman was flailing. If I could get Ultraman onto his lvl 1 face all was good. Put him out with Storm – Extra Lightning and with Superhero Registration Act I could pull through kryptonites and smash home for lethal damage. It meant usually taking a big hit in the face, but I could do enough damage to win whilst Guy cycled through. With a lvl 2 or 3 Ultraman however Too Big to Fly literally knocked him out of the air and left me open, and dead. Buying 2 Ultraman die helped on occasion, as did WOL Batman – Cowardly and Superstitious Lot, however both caused issues with ramp and buying order, and time was running short.
The Guy team was showing more potential, but we could not get it to fully click. A combo of Big Entrance, Guy, Miri, Chalkboard and the Clay Golem gave loads of options of buying cheap to bag, prep or used and Miri gave options to drag in additional Guys to the field. It was good but more time was needed to fully get this one cracked.
Revisiting the Multiple Man Mask Ring team showed more potential than I thought, more so against the Guy build than Ultraman. We seemed to be at a bit of a rock, paper, scissors situation that wasn’t helping my choose.
Rotation was causing problems, but there was also the new Batman set coming out, which I would not be able to get my hands on in time. (Editor note – Andy was unable to integrate Batman cards to his team because the UK ship date for the set was literally the week he was due to fly to Worlds.) The new SR Darksied looked incredible, we did proxy it a couple of times and when he’s active you can pretty much buy anything you want. So I had the option of spending the Friday before Worlds scrambling around trying to get my hands on specific cards from the new set, but I did not feel like wasting a day of the experience doing so. Therefore I decided just to ignore it. I had a bit of knowledge on the cards, but ruled them out of any builds.
I could go on for a lot more about things we tried and tested, but the above is probably boring enough.
I need to say “thank you” to some guys in the UK that I pestered with messages over this time:
Ben Scott, who is the one of the best Dice Masters players ever, Chris Williams, the True Mister Six himself, and Johnny Ellis, who’s rules knowledge is truly on point. Thanks guys your help is very much appreciated 🙂
Heading Out Across the Pond
So with 3 possible teams and a small sideboard of cards I got on the plane…
I got into Columbus on the Thursday evening, and set out to the convention centre early Friday morning to check it out and see what I could see of the US Nats and hopefully get into some side events.
I managed to get in on a rainbow draft, which was the first time I was able to see some of the Batman cards in the flesh. I managed to pull out a win, however it was set up as a ‘one game and done competition’. It was, however, good to get a game under my belt, but I was itching to try out the 3 teams I had brought with me as possibilities for Sunday’s event.
Signing up for a World’s Qualifier seemed the only way of doing this, so I payed my chips when registration opened at 2pm to see if I could work out what to take. At this stage I hadn’t realise if I had got to the top 2 of these I would have scuppered someone else’s chance to play in Worlds, luckily I didn’t manage it. I would have been gutted if I had done so, and I’m glad not to have got that far in either of the Qualifiers I was a part of.
The first qualifier I played in I took Ultraman, as he’s my favourite. The first round went well against a Mask Ring team, played by a really nice lady and I’m gutted I can’t remember her name. So Ultraman is looking good. Next game was against Jason Evans and his Guy Rush team. As I found when I play tested the team; Too Big to Fly stopped me from getting the Ultraman combo off and Guy Gardner smashed through for the win. Jason was a really nice guy and introduced me to Isaac from TRP, which was really exciting.
I immediately signed up for another qualifier and went with the Mask Ring team to see how that fared. I’d also had chance to see the team lists from US Nats by this point, which had an unbelievable number of Guy Gardner teams in it, so much for no one playing him!
This qualifier was one of the highlights of the trip for me, as I met three guys from Kentucky who ended up taking me under their wing and stopping me from being a Billy No Mates for the rest of the trip. Thank you Joe, Sean and Cory, it was massively appreciated and very kind.
So I was drawn against Joe who was running yet another Guy Gardner team. I won’t go into the specifics as there isn’t many, Joe brought me down, in one game, by just buying two Guy dice!
By the end of this pod of qualifiers it was time for the Wizkids Fan Appreciation presentation. It was pretty cool, however my jet lag was kicking in and I was struggling to keep awake in the room. I had some thinking to do, so once it was finished I made my was back the hotel to brew and decide what to do for Worlds the next day.
So what to take?!?
The Last Minute Re-Brew
With the games I had played and the teams I’d seen taken to US Nats, it was clear that Guy Gardner was definitely a thing. So I needed to work in protection for this in whatever team I brought. I had played a lot against Guy Gardner about a year ago, so I have a few ideas on how to get around it. Mera global is, in my opinion, one of the best defences against Guy, as you can wait for the swing and then make whatever damage 5 or over just 2. No more massive swings, as long as I have Masks…
It becomes a problem if Guy only goes through for 4, as it is still a big hit if there are a couple of him, and you can’t use the Mera global.
I ruled out the taking a Guy team myself as it was clear the teams being run had been fine tuned, where the team I had was a bit WIP. So a choice between the other two…
If I took Ultraman could I put Momentum in as a BAC? I could then re-roll him after he gets knocked out by Too Big to Fly and trigger his ability again, however, I would lose One Against Many, which was a big part of the win-con. I could add in the Batman – Cowardly and Superstitious Lot, he would be additional damage, and he could be another big body to then knock him out instead of Ultraman.
If I took my Multiple Man Ring team; I was taking the team that did better in the play testing we did, but was the one I had played least. I’d toyed with the idea of taking out Too Big to Fly, as it is an answer to my OP Scarecrow pinning down Multiple Men and Elf Thieves, however using the global on it i can pump the Guy’s attack to 5, then Mera it to 2. If I come up against a Multiple Man Mask Ring team then hopefully having to have to use Fists to pump their attack will hopefully minimise the amount of Masks in the Reserve Pool, and lessen the attack (didn’t work).
Weighing in the options I decided on Ultraman…. waking up the next day, I decided it was too risky and took Multiple Man Ring Team instead.
The Big Day
I got there early and I was tired, I’d been up late deliberating over the teams and, with jet lag, coffee was definitely needed.
I registered and took my seat ready for the first game.
Then they announced the format for the day. The first 4 games of Swiss pairings would be best of 1! Best of 1! WTAF
I have not played games in a tournament setting that were not best of three, and the thought of getting smashed for just 4 games and that being that, filled me with dread.
Ok, game face Andy, game face, let’s do this!
Game 1 was against Brian Le who was running a team using a few cards from the Batman set, so I hurriedly looked through his cards to familiarise myself with what they did. He got out Batwoman – Kate Kane (villians side) & Lex Luthor – Citizen of Metropolis out which slowed my buying and fielding of Multiple Men, and did me 2 damage on each of my clear and draw steps. Luckily I had done a few points of damage at the start and managed to eke out at least 2 point of damage each turn so I could chip away for the win.
I was up against Sean Marcum, who I’d met the day before during the qualifiers. He was running a very similar Mask Ring team to myself, so I knew I had to get out of the gates fast. I purchased OP Scarecrow quickly, to try and stop his ability to attack, this coupled with his inability to roll Masks throughout the whole game saw me win game 2. Sean went onto get into the top 16 and played awesomely well throughout the whole event.
I was told that I was very likely to have got through to the top 32 cut at this point. This was good as the next 2 games didn’t go anywhere near as well…
Alex Rodriguez was my next opponent, and his team was brutal. It was set up to stop damage from pretty much anywhere with the global for stopping direct damage with Long Live the Resistance, and combat damage with the Mera global. He bought Multiple Man dice fast to ensure a good number of Masks each turn, and I was stuck with nowhere to go. He brought out Parademon – Strength in Numbers and pinged through damage with Swarming Multiple Men that I could not stop. It worked really well and chipped down to zero life. It was a really impressive team built and piloted brilliantly.
There isn’t a lot to say about the last game as it was over very quickly. Ethan Villa is by far the best player of a Ring team that I have seen. He knew what to buy, and when to buy it. It is clear that he has put a lot of time and effort testing out his team, and it was only turn 4 or maybe 5 and he had blown me out of the water!
So Swiss was over and, after a brief lunch break, I was glad to see that I had managed to get into the top 32.
I was grabbed at this point and advised that I was going to be on the twitch streaming for the next game! This was going to be amazing!
I was paired against the German National Champ Stefan. I was excited to be on the stream and was hurriedly texting friends back in the UK to let them know. I was also keen to see what I would be facing. Stefan had a very similar team to myself with Multiple Man and the Ring. A few different tech pieced, and Big Entrance to fire them out extra quick.
(Editor’s note – the Twitch stream is in the Wizkid’s channel “Past Broadcasts” section and will be available there for 30 days after it was broadcast. You can find Andy’s game in this vid HERE for the next few weeks.)
I took game one, and felt confident and in control. Somewhere in the middle of game 2, the tide changed in Stefan’s favour and he hit the rolls he needed and made some really good plays. Game 2 went to him as he pumped his characters with the Too Big to Fly global and managed to swing in with enough Masks to do lethal. Onto game 3, and the time was running short. Soon we were into turns and I was falling behind. I failed to get the rolls to rip in a ring, and Stefan hit a beautiful combo of Big Entrancing in a good number of Multiple Men and getting level 3 characters out. I ripped in another Ring to try and do something in the last turn, but Stefan had done enough to chip away the last bit of my life to do lethal and knock me out of the competition.
So that was me done.
I was buzzing to be on the live stream and it totally made the whole trip worthwhile. I can’t wait to dissect the whole game and work out how I can improve my game in the future.
I stayed on to watch the remainder of the tournament, and watched some superb games of Dice Masters, including the final which was as close as it was tense. I managed to meet and chat with a number of people from both The Reserve Pool podcast and The Double Burst podcast, and got them to sign my card binder which will make an awesome memento of my trip and the experience.
Looking back on it now I am a little disappointed not to have progressed further in the competition, however the overall experience has been out of this world awesome and I’m really happy I was able to make the trip. I was really interested to see how the level of play in the US compared to back n the U.K. and was happy to see that although there was a lot more players, the level of play I witnessed was similar to back home.
So what next?
A little break from Dice Masters is in order, and time to play a few other games for a bit I think. Then it will be time to start prepping for next season’s WKOs….