Preparing for a big tournament can be a difficult process. Typically, the most efficient way to prepare is doing multiple play tests and iterations of different competitive teams. Your experiences in using the previous Dice Masters sets will surely be tested against certain opponents. That being said, with just a month between the release of Dice Masters Battle for Faerûn and the national tournament, adaptability may prove to be the key to taking the championship.
For anyone trying to jump straight into a constructed tournament with only a little experience, my best advice is to be prepared for the various powerful Global Abilities in the game. The most important ones to keep in mind when building your team are Professor X, Doomcaliber Knight, Relentless/Swords of Revealing Light and Distraction. Various cards like Ring of Magnetism: Action Attraction are considered powerful largely because of how they affect the use of these powerful and flexible actions.
While discussing the relative viability of the top cards from the D&D set, we must consider the main ways competitive teams tend to take their opponents down to zero life. While teams that depend on Direct Damage sources are extremely reliable, they typically deal their damage slowly. Teams that depend on dealing combat damage usually win in one or two decisive bursts following a form of mass board clearance. Both types of teams can diverge heavily on how much risk they are willing to take in order to spend their character dice as energy. By doing so, they can buy a powerful card that will significantly increase their damage potential or decrease their opponent’s damage potential.
Although I’m only giving my best guesses as anyone else could, I hope some of my thoughts about the cards I consider the most game changing will prevent some of our Nationals contenders from overlooking something.
Assuming you already have a grasp of which routes to victory you are planning to go down, the very first thing to do when reading through your Dungeons and Dragons Dice Masters cards is note all of the different Global Abilities. When assessing which ones you think would be good for your team, always remember to consider if the benefits the Global provides are sufficiently one-sided. One Global Ability to definitely look out for is the one on Polymorph. This is the first time in Dice Masters that we have such a reliable form of character level manipulation. Every team can benefit from it, but who benefits the most? The answer is in the faces. The teams that will reap the most one-sided benefits from this ability are teams that use expensive characters and characters with powerful Burst Symbol bonuses. This is because the differences in stats between levels 1 and 3 are typically larger for the most expensive characters. Also, do not forget to put yourself in your opponent’s shoes. Consider whether or not your opponent’s ability to level up your characters would hurt your team. For example, many characters are more powerful when they are lower levels because of their Burst Symbols.
Though it goes without saying, since Basic Actions are shared resources like Global Abilities, they should be assessed in the same way. Many players bring certain Basic Actions purely for the Global Abilities attached to them after all. In general though, Dungeon and Dragon’s Basic Actions are particularly outstanding and deserve special attention. One should absolutely assume they will see some of these Basic Actions at Nationals. Make sure to spend some time play testing with or against them in order to get a feel for the correct timings in order to purchase them or activate their Global Abilities. Cards like Beholder: Master Aberration may lead to some fringe teams based around using Action dice as well. Beholder and Red Dragon’s Globals both lend those teams some reliability and are available in common cards.
Among the cheap card options from the Dungeons and Dragons set, Gelatinous Cube: Master Ooze is a standout control card. When considering it, however, you must recognize whether or not Gelatinous Cube is being cost effective. Gelatinous Cube wants to capture something more expensive than itself, so some setup is necessary. Halfling Thief: Apprentice Emerald Enclave is another 3-cost card that shakes up the game a bit. Those experienced with Professor X’s Global Ability will know that being forced to refill your bag before having the opportunity to prep the sidekicks you have in the Used Pile is very damaging. In the mid-cost range, Human Paladin: Lesser Emerald Enclave is another standout of the set. He can be purchased without needing to prep or draw extra dice and will single handedly make almost every Global you want to bring a one-sided affair.
The new set also brings in a few fringe strategies. Gear is something new and worthy of note. Gear stays on the field and only a few cards remove it. This can quickly get out of hand. Half-Orc Fighter: Greater Lords Alliance hugely reduces the cost of Gear and makes it possible to build up a fairly powerful low cost fighting force. Kobold: Greater Humanoid in particular is a great monster to equip with Magic Sword: Greater Gear. The dark horse of the set is undoubtedly Limited Wish: Lesser Spell. It is actually possible to buy it in the first two turns by prepping dice and using Thousand Dragon or Red Dragon’s Global Abilities to reduce its cost. With a little luck, characters whose costs were once considered too prohibitive can rise up and crush the competition.
If preliminary test results with Limited Wish in particular prove fruitful, a huge number of cards from the previous Dice Masters set might need re-evaluation for Nationals. This is the nature of a constantly updating game like Dice Masters, and is part of what keeps it fresh. I am willing to bet the person to be crowned champion will have figured out something much more profound than anything I have laid out here. The strongest teams will not be found simply by looking through card lists. Quite simply, the best way to prepare for Nationals is to play a lot of Dice Masters games against other skilled players. Find some at your next local Dice Masters event via the WizKids Event System. You can even find an opponent online and play against them over a webcam!