About a half a year ago, I became addicted to Kickstarter. Okay, that’s an exaggeration. But, I did support several gaming themed campaigns. One of them arrived in a huge box. It took so long to be delivered that I forgot about it and wondered what the postman delivered. “Ah”, said when I opened it, “Roll Player Adventures. It’s a game I ordered on Kickstarter, I explained too my family. I got the game because it sold itself as a single or two player action game similar to Dungeons and Dragons.
As I mentioned in my previous article, I hadn’t finished the newest adventure for our duet campaign I still havne’t completely finished it. I have the first part of it done now. At the time, I suggested we try Roll Player Adventures instead. Quinn agreed and off we went.
This game takes forever to set up for the first time. There’s so many different types of cards, dice, tokens, maps, and books. Plus, you need the rule book to set up your characters (thankfully, in this game, they came premade, so that saved some time) and an adventure book to set up the adventure map. Some of the set up is intuitive and (again) thank goodness for that. Some of it makes no sense without the context of the game, but you figure it out quickly enough.
Again, the gameplay is mostly intuitive if you’ve ever played a dice game before. A few things are difficult to understand, but the rules are mostly comrehensive. We screwed up more than one ruling, but it was just the two of us. Ultimately, no harm, no foul.
You move your party around the map. There are encounter tokens that can be either a skill check, combat, or sometimes both. There are also the defined areas on the map. Here, you run through a story that changes based on your decisions. Skill checks and combat work similarly. You need to build a die pool from the die bag, roll them, and match numbers and colors on the card to pass the check or win in combat.
You draw dice from the bag, roll them, and try to match them. While this might seem like an almost impossible task, you can buy certain colors using your attribute points. You have a hand of cards that lets you alter die rolls or colors. All in all, we’ve only ever gone past round one on a couple of fights. In etween fights, you can rest to get ready for future challgenges. Rinse and repeat this process as you work your way around the map until the book tells you “The End”.
After that, you advance your character and you can “save” the game. This sets you up for the next play through so that you don’t spend as much time getting ready. The second time we played took a lot less time to set up and a lot more time to play.
Roll Player Adventures: Overall, a fun game
Both times we played, Quinn mentioned how much fun he had. He talked about the game at dinner to Christine and both of his brothers. We were supposed to play more today, but we took a two hour hike and we just finished eating dinner. I think tomorrow might be busy, too. So, you might have to wait until next week to hear more of our exploits against the enemies of ulos.
Welcome to Adventures in Dice Masters! Honestly, though, I can’t promise that it will be all that adventurous. But, we are talking about Dice Masters. So, you are getting genuine retro content during our promised retro content month to celebrate the anniversary of the page. The only reason I know about Dice Masters is that I picked up a set so that we could review it when the podcast was still active.
So, why now for Dice Masters? Well, we went on our annual family vacation to Cape Cod a couple of weeks ago. That’s why we weren’t around for a week. You all noticed that and missed us, right? Right?! Well, in any case, Liam suggested that we play Dice Masters. I don’t know if he was serious or if he thought I might forget or blow him off.
I didn’t. As soon as we got home and settled in, I pulled out the cards and started sorting through them. Life as a collector is generally getting excited that you received a shipment of cards or comic books before the sobering realization that you now have to organize and find a place to store your new goodies. And that, my friends, begins our Adventures in Dice Masters. I told you that it might not be all that adventurous.
I have to admit that I’m not very well versed in the strategy of Dice Masters. We have played the game a few times, but certainly not enough for me to know all of the key words and most of the cards like I do Magic the Gathering. So, when putting together my team, I started with the Green Dragon from Dungeons and Dragons. Why did I choose this particularly powerful (maybe?) and potentially game ending (not so far) card of doom to start my team? I just wanted to use an card not from the Marvel Universe. For whatever reason, we have a twice as many Marvel cards as DC and only a handful of Dungeons and Dragons. I wanted to vary my team with the three universes.
While reading the Green Dragon card, I noticed that it had an ability that allowed you to spin down the dice of your opponent. I thought that was an interesting addition that the dice allow that cards don’t. With card games, you can remove them, but there’s not the same level up or down effect. Unless you’re playing some of the older MTG sets (and there might be some obscure game that takes advantage of it, but I can’t be expected to know all the games) where they have the level up cards. And, so, the theme of my team was set in place. Also, for some unknown reason, I decided to make my team rainbow with one card for each color and two miscellaneous. And now, I present the team for your scorn and ridicule.
Rainbow Spin (A Noob’s Dice Masters Team)
Captain Marvel – Human/Kree Hybrid (Red): So far, in the two games that I’ve played, this has been the key to making the team work. I got her out in the first game and was able to hold Aiden off until he made a mistake and got too aggro one turn. I wasn’t able to field her the second game and his aggro blew me out of the water.
Sabretooth – Survivor (Orange): This one combo’d very well with Captain Marvel in the first game. I’m not sure if I was applying the rule correctly, but the two of them just held down the board for so many turns until I was able to set up for lethal.
Marvel Girl – Telekinetic (Yellow): I thought this character would be an integral part of the team, but I don’t think I’ve played it once. It would have been helpful in the second game against Aiden to save me a turn or two.
Green Dragon – Master Dragon (Green): Again, this is where the team all started. But, like Marvel Girl, I haven’t even had a chance to play the die. I don’t think that I’ve even bought one of the dice yet. Best laid plans, I guess.
Beast – Kreature (Blue): Along with Sabretooth, Beast provides relatively cheap defense while I try to dig for my more expensive dice. Again, combo’d nicely with Captain Marvel in that first game even if I’m not entirely sure that I was applying the rules correctly.
Psylocke – Ninjutsu (Violet): She was an unexpected MVP in the first game. Spun down a few characters. She even got a knockout or two. I will have to buy her more aggressively in the third game.
Giant Man – Original Avenger (Miscellaneous): This character is cheap for a lot of stats. Also, with sidekicks, you can easily spin him up to max level. I like this character a lot.
Doomsday – Unstoppable Rampage (Miscellaneous): Like Marvel Girl, I haven’t played Doomsday at all in the two games we’ve played. But, he is a strong character and the Iron Will keyword is a nice touch.
Smash and Shockwave: Both of these hope to take advantage of all the spinning down I am going to be hopefully doing. They are a bit redundant, but smash is cheaper and so far I haven’t had a need for any AoE. Maybe I will reevaluate after the third game to see if I can replace one of them with another card.
And, so we conclude our adventures in Dice Masters. The team fits very well with my personality. It is a possibly terrible team, but I have a ton of fun playing it. Stay tuned for more Dice Masters content as our two games have inspired me to buy more dice and cards. They’ll be here next week some time. Until then…
Later this week, we’re going to do another episode of Noob and Sons in celebration of the release of the new Thor movie last week. Coincidentally, Chris and I had a text conversation about how he has been unable to unload his Dicemasters. Regular readers of the page know that he and I had discussed if there might be a way to exploit inefficiencies in the Magic the Gathering market during Standard rotations mostly. Since new cards lead to new synergies and new decks, it would stand to reason that you could flip cards that gained value due to the rotation.
So far, he has found that the strategy works for the most part. This has inspired me to attempt the same. However, I’m probably already behind the curve for this set, so I’m going to wait until January and the release of that set to try my hand at the market. Since he was so successful with Magic and he doesn’t play Dicemasters as much because he doesn’t have a built in playgroup like we do here, he decided to unload the ones that he could on eBay, too. But, he has been finding little success in the Dicemasters market.
That got me thinking about the reasons behind the seeming lack of interest in Dicemasters and why he hasn’t been able to as readily turn them into a profit, even as he is attempting to unload what should be high value cards. They range from the good (I’m not completely tuned in to all of the competitive scenes, but I rarely see anything about Dicemasters tournaments except during releases of new sets), to the bad (Wizkids just tends to overproduce their product, so it doesn’t have much resale value), and always the ugly possibility that the game isn’t as popular anymore and will go the route of so many other promising games.
While I won’t necessarily say that any of these are good reasons for the lack of value of the cards, this is the best without question. Yes, it is true that games are mostly driven by their competitive scene these days. Therefore, it could be argued that a game that doesn’t have much of a competitive scene isn’t one that is worth following to begin with and could lead to a collapse similar to the one that I’m going to discuss in “The Ugly” section. It could be argued. Which, naturally, means that I’m going to argue in the counter.
Bear in mind that I’m a fan of most competitive scenes. I watch more Twitch than anything else and split my time between Magic, Hearthstone, and Pokemon. I’ve never been able to get into RTS, FPS, or MOBA streams, but I have watched more than one Street Fighter match and today I was watching Yu Gi Oh with the boys. I am all in on watching other people play card games.
However, in the past, if I’m not careful, I find that getting involved in the competitive aspects of a game take away the fun of the game from me. A few times after watching Magic the Gathering GP or PT coverage, I’ve come away with the illusion that I might be able to build a competitive deck and “go pro”, so to speak. Luckily, reality is undefeated and has reminded me, in the most certain of terms, that I’m a father of 3 and a husband. Also, I have a “real” job. Sure, it’s one that offers me ridiculous amounts of time off, but during the school year (which has increasingly been more of the year) is busy beyond belief and I have no time to devote to a career in Magic. So, little to no competitive scene in Dicemasters removes all delusions before they have a chance to even form.
In addition, the reason that cards generally become expensive is because they can be found in decks that are popular among the pro crowd. If there is not much of a competitive scene, then cards (or dice in this example) won’t be expensive and we can still afford to buy them. Keeping me from getting delusions of grandeur and keeping the game affordable are two very good reasons that I’m glad there is not much of a pro scene in Dicemasters, if any at all. Maybe it isn’t good for Chris’s pocketbook, but he’ll survive.
Once again, I don’t agree with conventional wisdom here. Actually, I’m not sure if it is conventional wisdom or if it is just classic internet squeaky wheels squeaking for that grease. Chris and I have had more than one conversation about speculators in the past and I always argue that game makers should just drop all of this silliness like the reserve list in Magic and just release as much product as possible to kill the secondary market. Again, probably working against my interests what with my attempts in the future to figure out that market and make some extra money from it.
But, that just goes to show what a good guy I am. I am willing to risk potential future earnings so that everyone gets a chance at the cool cards that they want without having to pay the equivalent of the GDP of a small island nation for them. Alas, as it seems like Wizards of the Coast don’t care one way or the other about the secondary market, especially with recent reprints, they do care enough about rarity of cards to not completely overprint.
Their kids division seems to have no such respect for rarity. I noticed it first when we opened a box of the Pokemon throwback set to do a family draft/sealed event a few months ago. We opened what seemed like rare cards. When I went to check them on eBay to see if we could flip them for money for another box, I was surprised that none of them sold for over 15 bucks at the time. While that might seem like a hefty sum for a tiny piece of cardboard (and you might be right), having sold new Magic cards for upwards of 75 bucks, 15 is a drop in the bucket. I can’t be sure, but I think that a contributing factor is that lack of scarcity.
The worst of these possibilities is that Dicemasters is an idea that has run its course. Chris and I have discussed on more that one occasion that we enjoy the game, but it is quite limited in strategy and scope. I admit that I haven’t paid as much attention to the game as I should be, but they don’t release nearly as many expansions as other card games, which could cause things to get stale quite easily. Also, Magic uses the new sets to play with synergies between mechanics and cards in new and interesting ways.
Maybe the lack of expansions in Dicemasters has caused interest to wane and people just don’t care about the game anymore. The tabletop graveyard is littered with the corpses of games that nobody cares about anymore. Heck, one game that I loved and was, by some accounts, still very popular, is dead and buried. All thanks to that abomination called Hearthstone. It isn’t out of the realm of possibility that Dicemasters may be suffering the same fate.
No competitive scene? Perhaps, but there might be a vibrant scene that doesn’t translate to streaming. Dying completely? Again, possible, but I highly doubt it. They have a new D&D set coming near the end of this month and I’m sure that they’ll try to cash in on the massive cash cow that the new Avengers movie is sure to be next year. Heck, they might even see what selling power there is in the Black Panther movie. If I had to hazard a guess, I would say that WizKids just prints tons of cards because their stuff is geared to kids and they don’t care if there’s any secondary market. Further, kids aren’t going to be able to shell out ridiculous amounts of money for cards in a secondary market, so there’s not even an incentive to push for one simply in the name of keeping the game fresh in people’s minds. So, they just flood the market with cards, hope for the best when it comes to people buying them, and why fix what ain’t broken.
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