Hi folks – the first item in our post-event coverage kicks off with a tournament report from the one & only Shadowmeld himself.
Shadowmeld performed exceptionally throughout the event, with his only loss coming in the final round against the eventual winner; General Nemesis.
Enjoy Shadowmeld’s insights into his team and the event!
TLDR: practice your team and find folks willing to help you test against a variety of things.
So I know there are a lot of newer Dice Masters players that haven’t been around since the AvX days, so some of you might not remember who I am. I’m Shadowmeld, the self-titled “Nefarious Geneticist”, known for helping my friend RJRetro brew weird teams with his small collection and posting them in a podcast called The Prep Area. RJ has since moved on from DM, and The Prep Area has gone through several iterations since then, before itself moving on from the DM world. But I have kept pretty active in the competitive scene, if only to bring my off meta brand of team building to those events in hopes of keeping the meta wide. Even my interest wanes at times, so coming into the UKGE, I had not played DM for over 6 months, besides a single IG draft and a WDA golden-aged event.
How then, was I able to ramp up my meta knowledge to pull off a 2nd place finish? (Sweetie, Spoilers!) The Answer: practice and good opponents. My ride started with DMArmada’s video on Rare Moon Knight and Asuka discounting the SR She Hulk. I looked at that video and decided that there had to be a better Avenger to pair it with. After some searching, I found the Doctor Strange from Avengers Infinity. Having played old teams like Beholder and Viscous Struggle, I knew the idea of doubling up on actions can get strong quick. Diving down that rabbit hole I envisioned a Moon Knight and Strange, across the field from 7 opposing characters letting me play one betrayal for 21 damage, since both Strange and Moon Knight would copy the effect.
The team I was toying with was displayed on the WDA during a UKGE prep event. To that point I had only refined the team with some sparring against Jo Vega (3rd place UKGE, More Spoilers Sweetie) and his Ivy/Collector team.
We traded pretty well, with my Might of Astares actually punishing his “when fielded” team pretty handily, but both of the teams suffered pretty hard when we missed an Asuka, and his had the stamina to recover in the end. That’s when I was lucky enough to get some practice against other players. Specifically ComicsMike dropped a team with Becky, God Catcher and Thor on it to just throw different wincons at me to see if my control team could handle those wincons faster than they could go off. Mind you these wincons were relatively unassisted, so If I couldn’t stop them on this team, it’d be very unlikely that I could stop them on a team that was completely focused on one or two of them. Moon Knight fell flat. I was practising without Typhoid Mary, and as I went along I kept realizing that if I can’t use her, I wouldn’t stand a chance at stopping things like Thor or Becky.
Another thing I learned from playing the Moon Knight team was that there was nothing in the meta to stop action dice. If I could play betrayal and just Betrayal my opponent to death reliably, there isn’t anything my opponent could do to stop that. However, I learned that even going this route, and trying to do something like Static Field to keep their characters in the field to maximize Betrayal, I was going to get shut down by Eddie G, Istrid Horn or Nefarious Broadcast. Looking at those three, Angela stops Istrid, Turk B. and other main-step globals can stop Eddie, and Broadcast is an action, and we already know that nothing stops actions. This is where my team started to come together: “Nothing can stop actions, so let’s only play actions.”
God Catcher’s an action. Nefarious Broadcast is a great action to pair with God Catcher, since it makes God Catchers before the attack step, and stops Kate Bishop/Static Field (one of God Catcher’s best counters). So just buying 2 God Catchers and a Broadcast represents lethal. In the current meta of the game, this is literally the cheapest/fastest wincon, as it requires only 6 energy, 3 dice to land on 50/50 rolls and an open board. The rest of the team simply comes down to how to get that all more reliably.
An interlude here, as I began this article telling you all about my wacky off meta team builds. This team is not that. This team is off meta, only because Andy attempted to define the meta as “not-meta”. So, yes, my team is an absolute, unapologetic beat-down of epic proportions. It won several games in literally 3 turns, even going first. A thing that hasn’t truly been doable since the era of Bard. This sort of beating is rough on an opponent, but fortunately, like many other turn 3 teams in history, best of 3 matches truly balance things out. In every match that I donked my opponent turn 3, I also lost the second game, and we had to play 3 games. In the 45 minute time window, 3 games seems ridiculous, but when one of your games literally takes 3 minutes 35 seconds, that becomes less of a burden. The time constraints for this tournament are yet another reason I chose this team.
In order to get that turn 3 lethal though, we needed specific pieces. Let’s discuss those now:
Thor – his global let’s you buy a GC for 2 bolt energy. We re-roll for this energy first turn, every time.
Clayface – If we buy one God Catcher for 2, Clayface can let us buy the second God Catcher for one mask! (assuming there is a second Thor global to use)
Arnim Zola – Some may think this guy is on the team to block Becky’s and other overcrush strats, but frankly, he’s on here because he is a low fielding cost double bolt character that we can buy when we miss double bolts, to then Clayface out to buy a GC for certain turn 1.
Villainous Pact – This let’s us arrange our bag nicely so that we can have 2 GC and one other purchase (broadcast?) in our bag/prep turn 3.
So great, we have our turn 3 lethal pieces all set up. What if they go first and field a character, or field some SKs?
Hawkeye – This global can be used before we Broadcast to eliminate SK blockers right before we swing, or right after they Collector in a blocker.
Scott Hall – This global will let us taunt off a blocker on the opponent’s turn, turning a single bolt into full removal. Taking 1-10 damage from taunting something off is no big deal, if we are guaranteed lethal.
Lastly, we sometimes miss, and get a bag full of messy junk.
Supreme Intelligence – Nefarious Broadcast can be used as a super strong counter to Iceman teams, turning off their ability to deal any damage on our turn, and otherwise shutting down ramp for many teams. Cycling a Broadcast over every turn with this global is akin to playing Prismatic Spray to control PXG back in the first DnD set days. This global lets us cycle over with any two energy. Better than actually buying more Broadcasts and clogging our bag.
Atlantis – The global here gives me something to use unwanted fists or shields for. In the end it helped bringing this over Collector, as it slowed Iceman a bit to use this ramp. However, there were other ramp tools that I might have used instead to get the same effect of thinning the used pile before I prep with Villainous Pact.
That’s the team: focused on hitting hard and fast, using the biggest creatures in the Modern meta: 10/10 beat stick tokens.
God Catcher has a big weakness though: Intimidate. The minute my opponent buys a Gazer, Yellow Lantern Ring, or worst of all, The Rock!, my plan has to change. As you can likely see from the on-stream games I played against RonathanPxPx, sometimes, buying a God Catcher is the totally wrong move. However, this team can pretty easily transition into a mediocre SR Thor build. Armin Zola is a cheap 2 cost bolt that can help buy Thor fast and early, and then field for minimal investment and still have good attack stats. Being able to act as a blocker against things like Becky is also strong, and being able to buy enough of them that Becky wants to remove them instead of Thor is great!. This aspect of the team is pretty one note though. Buy Thor, buy Arnim, field everything over and over. We can, however, use Villainous Pact to push through for that last bit of lethal as well. In fact, I didn’t mention it above, but Villainous Pact was also our true wincon with God Catchers if we failed to get that early game lethal.
All in all, this team tries to run tight and lean. I only brought two God Catcher dice, because I only own two, and only regretted that decision in my final match. The team should be cycling it’s dice every turn if you thin your bag down right, so having more God Catchers just becomes a temptation. Buy as little as possible, cycle as hard and fast as you can. It is better to Atlantis than to buy a second Broadcast or a third God Catcher. It is better to Supreme Intelligence that Armin Zola than it is to buy another. If you aren’t threatening to lethal an opponent every turn, they will get enough time to buy things that can actually hurt you. Don’t let them do that.
All in all the event was a great experience. Round one I got lucky and Kim flopped all of her Asuka rolls and never got her team off the ground. Round two I faced the very excellent LucanO. My dedication to turn 3 strategies for the team ended up out pacing his shotgun strategy of dropping 2 unblockable God Catchers at the same time. It was an interesting example of, in my opinion, knowing when to change strategies because you aren’t the beat down. Round 3 my match against Peter ran the gamut of the team, first game was a turn 3, second game I got ground out by his Iceman strat, third game I switched to Thor and burned him out faster. Round 4 versus Ron, Thor ended up making his Yellow Lantern Ring purchase a waste, giving me that one turn advantage on him, and helped me run a leaner bag.
The finals were a very interesting match up. My Thor mode was obviously weaker than Nemesis’ so I had to go God Catcher, but he brought Static Field, so I would need that Broadcast. The first game; he let me go first, and rolls went perfect, so BAM, 3 turn lethal. Second game, I flopped the roll on a pair of God Catchers, and was quickly ground out by Thor damage, despite my KOing Thor 3-4 times and hoping he lands energy. The Third and final game, I hit only one GC, but only after he had solid blockers. That GC kept smashing that Thor in the face, every turn, with Broadcast denying the Static Field effect in all but one turn. But that God refused to be caught. He rolled back every turn, over and over. I eventually got ground down in life, missing lethal a few times because of missed God Catchers or Villainous Pacts. All in all it was an epic struggle, and the dice determined the victor. That is what Dice Masters is all about!
Good games to everyone!