Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Ready To Play vs. Tournament Legal Play

I was at Fantasium a week or so ago, and saw that they had received the first shipment of the new WWE Dice Masters. They had the Campaign Box and both of the expansion boxes. And I love the Dice Masters games. They're good, and they're 100% cross-compatible. Which is nice.

It means I can field Ninja Turtles while my opponent has an army of Space Marines, and there are no hiccups or other issues.

Here's what I don't like, though:

The Campaign Box gives you three of each included character's dice.  The expansions give you two of each included character's dice.  In tournament play, you can have up to four dice for each character you include.

So, while you can play tournaments with just the base game, you might be at a disadvantage compared to someone who bought two base sets (or two copies of the expansions).  But buying two copies of these gets you a bunch of extra cards. Two copies of the base game gets you a bunch of extra cards and a couple of extra dice (and a bunch of extra Basic Action and Minion dice).

There are a few other oddities, too. Like Bret "The Hit Man" Hart has three dice in the base game, and two dice in one of the expansions. But the expansion dice are a different color.

It's frustrating. It's still better than the random distribution they were using, though. And it's dramatically better than what Fantasy Flight has done with their Legend of the Five Rings card game (L5R).

A tournament-legal deck for L5R includes 1 Stronghold, 1 Role, and then two decks of 40-45 cards each (the Dynasty and Conflict decks).  The Dynasty deck can only contain cards that are neutral or from a single clan. The Conflict deck can only be neutral or from a single clan or from a single other Clan puchased by using Influence.

I'm going to ignore the Conflict deck for a moment, here. Let's talk about the Dynasty deck:

The base game includes 20 neutral Dynasty cards and 15 Dynasty cards from each clan.  That's 35 cards for someone's Dynasty deck. There is no way to make a tournament-legal deck from the starter box. There's not even deckbuilding strategy involved, either. To play in a tournament, you need to buy more cards. And, unless you buy a bunch more, you won't have many options for deck construction, either.  Their expansions all include "play sets" (three of each included card), which is nice. But why doesn't the base set even include the ability to put together a single tournament-legal deck?

Let me put on my Grumpy Old Man hat for a second, here:

In 1993, when I bought my first deck of Magic: the Gathering cards, I paid $8 for a starter pack, and instantly had a tournament-legal deck in my hands. It wasn't a good tournament deck, but it was legal. Unless I had a banned card - but the banned/restricted list was still in the future. In fact, I played in a number of single-starter sealed deck tournaments. Because they were fun and viable.

Now, I know that a Magic starter is not $8 anymore. But it's still a whole lot less than the $40 that FFG is charging for their L5R starter. And WotC now produces non-random starters, too, so you know what you're going to get. And - yes - Magic is still mostly provided in random booster packs, where L5R (and Dice Masters now) are mostly sold as fixed starters and expansions.

It just throws up unnecessary speed bumps for new players.

With Dice Masters, you have limited options, but you can put together two tournament-legal sets from just the base game.

Honestly, it's almost enough to get me back into Magic.