It’s that time of year again when the conversation about a competitive Dice Masters rotation rises to the top of the community’s consciousness; prompted by movement in Heroclix set legality and the realisation that “it’s usually about this time of year” players have started to wonder about the possibility of rotation, question whether it should happen, and speculate about what it may look like. Here are some of our thoughts at the MoD about whether we will see a Dice Masters rotation this year…
The History of Dice Masters Rotation
To begin with; let’s set the scene for any newer players to the game who may not be familiar with Dice Masters rotation.
A “Set Rotation” in a collectible card game is when older sets are “rotated out” and become no longer legal for competitive play. There can be any number of reasons for this but it mainly serves to re-fresh the meta and shift the dominant strategies at the top end of competitive play to keep it from becoming stale and repetitive. It also serves to improve accessibility to the game for new players who want to start playing the game but may be overwhelmed by the volume of older releases to engage with.
There have been three set rotations for Dice Masters since it’s been released. These were:
In the very first rotation the card pool was divided into two categories: “Golden Age” and “Modern Age” which became the standard categories for rotation each subsequent time.
|Golden Age||Modern Age|
|Cards are legal from any set, unless specified on the Wizkids official ban list||Legal cards are from a list of sets, which were released after a specified date (with the exception of any cards banned on the Wizkids official ban list)|
The “Modern Age” card pool in each instance was also the main focus for competitive events, with Championship titles in those years awarded for performance in the core Modern tournament. “Golden Age” card pools were largely used for competitive side events or casual, fun formats at the local level.
One interesting note: you may have noticed that there was no rotation in 2019. Wizkids decided at that point that there would be no rotation that year citing intended synergy between the legal sets at the time and upcoming scheduled releases.
There’s clearly somewhat of a small pattern that’s emerged over the years, and with May/June start dates we’ve seen announcements historically come around this time of year, which is why some folks have started talking about it.
So… Will There be a Dice Masters Rotation This Year?
There’s been no official word from Wizkids at the point of writing this blog post, but there is some rational speculation in the community that we might see rotation skipped in 2021, much like it was in 2019.
This is a reasonable opinion to hold at present – with repeated set release delays and continued shipping challenges through the last 12 months it would be fair to wonder if it would be appropriate to rotate right now. I’ve not done the maths, but I’m pretty certain that if a rotation took effect in May this year the card pool would be on the lighter side when compared to previous rotations, and with no evidence that all announced sets for this year will actually release in 2021 it may remain on the lighter side for some time yet. We could also find a card pool without a legal set that has all you would need to start playing, at least until the Fantastic Four Vs Galactus set is released. (Which is inevitably going to be re-scheduled to the back end of 2021 at the VERY earliest). All of this points to the possibility of no Dice Masters rotation for 2021.
We’ve also got evidence of Wizkids skipping a rotation in the past for Dice Masters based on theme/set synergies and a desire to not separate some sets with a rotation. When this previously happened in 2019 it was suggested that card rotation would negatively impact synergy potential across the Batman set and the Justice Campaign box, as well as X-Men First Class with X-Men Forever. This reasoning may also hold true in the current game state; with a new DC Dice Masters set in the pipeline with Superman Kryptonite Crisis (that may play well with Justice and it’s associated team packs) and 2 X-Men-centric releases in the Marvel Dice Masters space that could fit well with X-Men Forever, we have further evidence the scene is set for no rotation this year.
Didn’t Heroclix Just Get a Rotation Announced Though?
They did, but outside of the shared terminology of “Golden Age” and “Modern Age” there hasn’t really been any past indication that the 2 games mirror each other in approach when it comes to rotation. For example; in 2019, when there wasn’t a rotation for Dice Masters, there was one for Heroclix. The fact there’s been a rotation for ‘Clix doesn’t necessarily mean that Dice Masters will follow suit.
There is a curious element to the Heroclix rotation that has turned a few heads and prompted some discussion: that of a middle batch of legal sets under a new category called “Silver Age”. While this is most definitely intriguing (and not entirely new – it’s been explored in an unofficial capacity already by local play groups and the Thursday Night Dice Fight Online community) it’s possibly worth remembering that Heroclix turns 20 years old in 2022 and has a MUCH larger pool of historical release. It’s also of note that, while no formal decisions/announcements have been made, in a recent conversation I had with Wizkids it was suggested to me that Dice Masters is just too young to warrant a third competitive category as it would present challenges in attracting new players.
We should also remember that Heroclix has seen a much more steady release schedule throughout the last 12 months of Covid restrictions compared to Dice Masters. I don’t follow it closely, but I know that there has been at least 4 ‘Clix releases compared to the 1 Dice Masters release since March last year. (Any ‘Clix folk out there that can fact check me on that please?) This places ‘Clix in a much stronger position to warrant a rotation when compared with Dice Masters.
As if that’s not enough to raise doubts; there’s also some stuff going on with a new rules set for ‘Clix too that really puts the game in the right position to justify a rotation right now. So… the question of Dice Masters following Heroclix’s lead with a rotation that holds a Silver Age element could be a non-starter, with the time simply not being right for Dice Masters to adopt a similar approach.
The Dice Masters Meta is Getting a Bit Repetitive
There is certainly a case for seeking a means to re-fresh the meta a bit, it has been somewhat repetitive in terms of the competitive space for longer than some may like, but the truth is that rotation is not going to be the solution.
The simple fact of the matter is that the cards proving most challenging to the feel of the meta are in the more recent releases chronologically, so the the rotation cut off date would have to be a deep cut. This just can’t happen right now with the set release schedule as disrupted as it is presently. Jimmy O’Brien, the Dice Masters Product Manager at Wizkids, has also suggested numerous times in the last 12 months that the development of the meta around the stronger cards had been factored into the game’s design decisions and cards to bring some balance exist in the upcoming sets. This means that its mostly a practical issue of set delays and the implication is that the meta will feel flatter at the top when the new set eventually arrive.
We also must acknowledge that the meta hasn’t been formed through any competitive events formally arranged by Wizkid’s themselves. They have endorsed and supported online play through these challenging times, but there have been no official titles attached to any of the Online events nor has there been any new, prestigious prizing published for the online events. This may be a factor in a “no rotation” decision, particularly as formal competitive events are possibly some time away yet. It is a question of whether a rotation is merited at present when informal organised play is already free to run formats and ban lists to manage the tone of the event they want to run.
the long and the short of it is that player desire to shake the meta involves a number of factors that a rotation won’t address, putting another score in the column towards no rotation for Dice Masters this year.
You Don’t Think We’ll Be Getting a Dice Masters Rotation in 2021 Then?
I don’t know for sure, but I’d be very surprised if we got a rotation this year: the need for it is minimal at present and there is just too many reasons in the ‘no’ column. If a rotation is announced I think it would have to have a pretty creative angle to not negatively impact on the size of the card pool and not infuriate players further on the issue of release delays.
That said – I’ve been wrong before and I’ll be wrong again and it may happen, we can’t rule out that it may happen but at a different time of year than it has historically, or it will take place but with a “shallow cut”. One option may be to not necessarily rotate, but introduce some additional card bans to the official list, for example.
Let us know in the comments below your thoughts on the matter; do you think there should be a rotation? Do you agree that its unlikely? Is Dice Masters too young for a Silver Age format? Let’s have a chat…