How to Teach Dice Masters
Greetings fellow masters, and aspiring masters, of dice. This article is intended to be a teaching guide to help experienced players teach new players how to play Dice Masters. As such, I will be using cards from across many sets to build two teams that should work well together to teach the basics of the game, some of the keywords, and some of the concepts involved in playing the game. The cards I chose are all commons and a single uncommon so they should be accessible to most players and ideally they are already part of your collection. The specific cards I chose are less important than the concepts they are meant to teach, so I encourage you to adjust or even replace the teams as you see fit.
This is not going to be particularly helpful to a brand new player trying to learn on their own. It is absolutely written with the intended goal of an experienced player teaching a new player. I don’t mean to scare away new players, but I want to warn you that I’m not going to get into much of the actual gameplay. If you are learning to play on your own I would recommend searching YouTube for a tutorial video, they are much more effective than the instructions in the book. Once you’ve got the basics down, please come back and hopefully this can help get your play to the next level.
As I mentioned on the podcast I would encourage a teacher to understand the starting point of the student. If the student is brand new to competitive gaming I would encourage you to ignore the text on the cards until they have an understanding of the steps of a turn, purchasing, fielding, attacking, blocking, damage resolution, and the flow of the dice around the various zones and bag. If the student has experience with other games I would encourage you to use any common knowledge to explain similar concepts in Dice Masters. For example in Magic: The Gathering they have Trample which is basically the same as Overcrush in Dice Masters. I would also encourage you to point out key differences, like in Magic a creature cannot attack on the turn it is cast, but Dice Masters has no such limitation when characters are fielded (other than turn one).
On to the teams.
For the student:
Carmine Falcone – Strategist
Cheetah – Cursed Archaeologist
Hal Jordan – Green Lantern’s Light
Hulk – Big Green Bruiser
Kryptonite – Green Death
Medusa – Tangled Up
Professor X – Recruiting Young Mutants
Saint Walker – Bro’Dee Walker of Astonia
Polymorph and Big Entrance as basic actions.
For the teacher:
Black Widow – Stinger
Clay Golem – Lesser Construct
Green Dragon – Apprentice Dragon
Nitro – Explosive Personality
Oracle – Master Investigator
Songbird – Screaming Mimi
Two-Face – Good Ol’ Harv
Wasp – The Winsome Wasp
Hulk Out and Superhero Registration Act as basic actions.
Now, the reasons each card was chosen and the concepts I intend to teach starting with the student team.
Carmine Falcone – has a decent “when fielded” ability that punishes players for walling up with sidekicks. He can teach a player how to influence their opponent’s actions and choices. He also teaches the importance of cycling dice with “when fielded” abilities.
Cheetah – has one of the most straightforward “when attacks” abilities in the game. She can teach a player about burn damage and playing aggressively.
Hal Jordan – is a cheap Crossover and Green Lantern affiliated character with good stats. He and Saint Walker are meant to teach a player about affiliation synergy.
Hulk – has Overcrush and an ability that makes him a more persistent attacker. He can teach a player about Overcrush and the importance of blockers. He also requires a player to have a basic understanding of ramp and the importance of having a purchasing curve.
Kryptonite – is a non basic action and a great utility card. It can teach a player about using non basic actions and blanking problematic opposing characters.
Medusa – has Deadly and is a great defensive character. She can teach a player about Deadly and the importance of having a defensive strategy.
Professor X – has the most prolific global in the game and very little reason to actually purchase him. He can teach a player about ramp and the importance of utility characters. He can also teach a player about the potential downside of providing your opponent with a useful global.
Saint Walker – is a cheap character with decent stats but requires another character to do pretty much anything. He can teach a player about affiliation synergies with Hal Jordan. He can also teach a player about the downside of buying a die without having its proper support available.
Polymorph – is a widely used basic action with a useful ability and a useful global. It can teach a player about the difference between fielding characters and moving them to the field. It can also teach players to prioritize the dice in their field so they know which to spin up and spin down.
Big Entrance – is a commonly used basic action that discounts purchase costs and allows players to place dice in their bag rather than the Used Pile when purchased. It can teach a player about the importance of bag control and purchase order.
The teacher’s team is a bit more control focused with the overall idea being that when the student begins to understand one strategy you can counter it and teach them to use another strategy.
Black Widow – has a very useful Aftershock ability that can be used both aggressively and defensively. She can teach a player about Aftershock and punishes blind aggression. The teacher would use her in response to Cheetah or Hal Jordan/Saint Walker rush in the early game.
Clay Golem – has Fabricate and can redirect damage from the player to the die. It can teach a player about Fabricate and the impact KOing your own characters can have, as well as how redirects work. The teacher would use it in response to Cheetah or Carmine Falcone to mitigate direct damage or with Nitro to demonstrate KO effects.
Green Dragon – has Breath Weapon. It can teach a player about Breath Weapon and how “when attacks” effects can impact the game. The teacher would use it in response to a student building a wall and to encourage some aggression.
Nitro – has a strong “when KO’d” effect that can be used as targeted removal. He can teach a player about the importance of “when KO’d” effects and the difference between Aftershock and “when KO’d” effects, as well as how and when to use targeted removal. The teacher would use him to KO Medusa or with Clay Golem’s Fabricate to demonstrate targeted removal.
Oracle – has a very strong “while active” ability that stifles an opponent’s use of globals. She can teach a player about “while active” effects, as well as resource management and prioritization. The teacher would use her to slow the student’s use of Professor X’s or Wasp’s global or the Polymorph global, as well as to demonstrate how “while active” abilities work.
Songbird – has a strong “when blocking” ability that can shut down Overcrush and makes a powerful wall. She can teach a player about the KO requirement of Overcrush and the importance of having contingency plans. The teacher would use her to stop Hulk’s Overcrush and slow down other repeated attacks.
Two-Face – has a strong “when attacks” ability that allows him to get damage past a single blocker. He can teach a player about the importance of having blockers in the field and the timing of assigning attackers and blockers. The teacher would use him to deter reckless aggression and to break down timing within the Attack Step.
Wasp – cannot be targeted by opponent’s global abilities and has a useful global. She can teach a player about globals, targeting, and how damage from multiple sources works. The teacher would use her global to damage opposing characters either before the Attack Step to clear blockers or during the Attack Step to add enough damage to KO blockers, as well as teaching the student about globals, timing, damage, and targeting. The teacher would use her die to teach the student about targeting and what it means when a card says you “can’t” do something.
Hulk Out – is a popular basic action that gives a character die Overcrush and possibly +1A when used. It can teach a player about applied abilities, buffing, and Overcrush. The teacher would use it to demonstrate how Overcrush works and would also encourage the student to buy it for Hal Jordan and Saint Walker early rush strategies, as well as what to look for on * and ** faces of actions and how they can change the effect from the action.
Superhero Registration Act – is a popular basic action that provides reliable ramp and churn. It can teach a player about action ramp and churn. The teacher would use it to demonstrate action ramp and encourage the student to use it in place of Professor X’s global as a response to Oracle, as well as demonstrating another option for controlling “when KO’d” and “when fielded” abilities.
Wow, that’s a lot of ideas to cover in a game. How do I expect you to cover all of that with a new player? You’re going to want to play multiple games with your student. Either play a few games in a row or plan a few teaching sessions. Let them get confident with their team over a few games and give them the comfort of consistency by letting them play with the same team. The method I use is first explain the concept, then walk them through it, then let them get a feel for doing it without your help, then counter it and present a new idea. This can allow you to cover a few concepts in a game without trying to cram everything in at once.
You may have noticed that I gave a guide for characters and actions to be used by the teacher in specific situations, but not for the student. That is because this is intended to be an active learning exercise that allows the student to help guide the course. If the first thing they want to do is smash faces with Hulk, teach them how to get there first. Encourage the student to influence the lesson plan.
Be sure to teach your student how to counter your counters. Kryptonite is more or less the all-purpose counter on the student’s team and I would recommend waiting to teach them about it so they don’t use it as a crutch. Let them try to Overcrush on Songbird a time or two, let Black Widow Aftershock them, let Clay Golem shut down Cheetah, and let Oracle wreck their ramp before showing them how Kryptonite can fix all of those problems. The tricky part for the teacher is using those obstacles to help the student find a new path without frustrating and discouraging the student. You don’t want to withhold Kryptonite to the point of frustration, but it can overshadow other options for dealing with obstacles.
If you don’t have the cards I listed or if you just don’t like them for one reason or another, switch them, scrap them, or build your own teams from scratch. You can use whatever you like to teach a new player the game, but I would highly recommend you consider each piece of both teams and look at what you intend to teach with them. This isn’t meant to be the perfect teams for teaching new players, it should be a guide for you to build teams that work for what you want to teach and what your students want to learn. The point is to look at everything you’re bringing to the table and be ready to clearly explain why each piece is there.
One final and extremely important bit of advice, DO NOT GET COMPETITIVE WITH YOUR STUDENT. The last thing you want to do is hurt a new player’s pride or discourage them from learning. This doesn’t mean you need to let them win, but if you beat them and you have 18 life remaining the lesson is likely to be buried underneath that defeat. You are trying to create a close and interesting game that makes them want to try again whether they win or lose.
I hope you find this guide helpful. As always we welcome any comments, suggestions, or criticisms. If you have a couple of teams you like to use for teaching or a different method for introducing players to the various mechanics and concepts of the game, please share them with us by commenting on this article, commenting on a post on Facebook or Reddit, commenting on our Facebook page, or by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org Thanks for reading, thanks for listening, class dismissed.