War of the Spark

Before I start this article, I need to give a huge shout-out to Wizkids for sending out an advance copy of the new Trouble In Waterdeep Campaign Box and associated Team Packs.  It is a little bittersweet putting this article together as we should have been a mere few weeks from the official release of this product.  Unfortunately, due to the train pirates (who could not be ignored), we now have to wait until the new year before all of the Dice Masters players get a chance to try out these cards.  We are still going to try and share as much of this as possible though.

These just arrived here at DM North HQ, so we wanted to get the cards out into the wild as quickly as possible.  We didn’t want to cover the same things that had been done before by DM Armada and the CR Gameroom guys, so we decided that we would put our focus on what we do here and just jump right into Team Building.  These products were brought to our local store for the locals to dive in and make use of some of the new cards.  The cards were made available on a first come, first serve basis.  The only “cost” that I put on this was I wanted their honest opinion of the cards they used tonight.  So, this article will be a little different than my normal ones, as it will hopefully have some insight from my local players.

With a brand new toy box available to work with, the question was what did I want to mess around with first.  The God Catcher?  No… we have something special planned for that guy.  Volo?  Maybe… who doesn’t love a little beefy guy?  Actually, the first toy that I wanted to play with comes from playing with a newer (to me) card from a few weeks ago.

When we were challenged to use cards that we had never used before, the first card that I jumped to was the Half-Orc Barbarian with Cleave.  I really liked using this card and got some decent use out of the Cleave ability.  I realized that the bigger the stats, the better the ability.  Now, this is fine and good when you are playing within the D&D universe as you will have monsters to slay.  Dead Monsters equal Experience tokens.  Experience tokens equal bigger stats.

However, if you are playing outside of D&D, you will not generally be gaining Experience.  That is until now.  With the release of these new sets, there are now new ways to gain Experience for your Adventurers.

Durnan (from the Adventures in Waterdeep Team Pack) makes it fairly easy to start getting Experience for your Adventurers.  Just field them.  That’s it.  Early on, this will work well.  Once they get beefy though, they might be harder to cycle through to refield them over and over.

That is where Vajra (also from the Adventures in Waterdeep Team Pack) comes into play.  With her Spark ability, I would be able to add Experience tokens to the Adventurer of my choice.  All I would need to do is roll dice on their burst face.

Now I have a way to make my Half-Orc Barbarians bigger and badder, without needing those pesky Monsters around.  I mean, I will gladly KO one if it is there, but I am not dependent on them anymore.  Seems like an ok plan to start off with.

What Did You Play?

The Team:  War of the Spark.

Since I was going down the Spark hole, I decided to go all the way down into it and make it a focus of the Team build.  For that reason, I included Human Warlock (from the Zhentarim Team Pack) who will deal burn damage to my Opponent when I trigger Spark.  Likewise, the new BAC Wand will allow me to do the same when I Equip it to my other characters.  In theory, I can now have 3 other characters with the same ability as Human Warlock.  I am ok with that.  Also, the action dice happen to have 2 burst faces, so I have a chance of actually triggering Spark.

With that out of the way, of course I was going to include Yawning Portal.  This is Big Entrance on steroids.  Free fielding of your characters AND for every character you field this turn you reduce the cost of your other stuff by 1.  Oh yeah… the thing you just bought goes right into your bag.  I haven’t even used this card yet and I can see it getting lots of play in the future.

The one downside to Yawning Portal is that you need to actually field something in order for it to fire off.  This is why Professor X made the Team.  In a pinch, I could just field a Sidekick to get the ball rolling with Yawning Portal.  If I am using new old PXG (I am not sure what to refer it as anymore), I may as well go back to good old Mimic Ramp.  I am planning on buying lots of stuff and hopefully needing to churn through things.  Mimic Ramp is still one of the best tools in the game to do that.  Why not?

An unexpected gift also came from this card when I added it to Team Builder.  Did you know that Mimic has burst faces on ALL of his character faces?  I think I just found Spark‘s new best friend.  Instead of a 1 in 3 chance of triggering it with an action die, I have a 1 in 2 chance of triggering it with Mimic.  I like those odds so much better.  4 dice for you sir.

Oh yeah… and Billy Club was on the Team because Mimic Ramp.  Also, I was lacking that removal option on my Team.  With one slot remaining, I went for bag control.  Resurrection was the final piece of the puzzle.  I have been burned by Mimic too many times in the past, that I am using this as my back-up plan.

So, the pieces are in place.  Let’s see how the War of the Spark ran.

Game 1:

The player grabbed a God Catcher for his D&D Team.  He was loaded with Gear, and decent ways to use it.  With lots of actions available to him, God Catchers should in theory be flying.  T1 Yawning Portal for me (this will become a theme for the night).  Mimic did his flub the first time through, so I purchased a second right off the bat.  Once things stabilized and I got a Mimic in the Field, I then got Durnan out as quick as I could.  Then came the Barbarian Horde with Vajra and the Human Warlock sprikled in.  Once the Horde hit, it was swing with reckless abandon.  They were getting big fast, so Cleave was pretty good at removing threats (I think they ended this game with 7 or 8 Experience tokens on them).  Wand powered characters were softening him up with Spark damage while the Barbarians swung.  I managed to keep his Field thin with damage and Cleave.  With his GDM on the horizon, I swung with everything with lots of damage on board.  The God Catcher never really was a threat in this one, and he was not rolling as effectively as he could have.

1-0

Game 2:

This player dipped into Obscure with Kuo-toa and Drow Mercenary.  He also grabbed the anti-Adventurer Doppelganger who will be gaining Experience tokens as fast as my guys will.  He also had the dirty trick of combining the Great Drunkard with old school PXG.  Turn 1 Yawning Portal (told you there was a theme) and onto Durnan.  I skipped out on Mimic as PXG was a little easier to pull off.  Until the Drunkard hit.  Then I had the tough choice of Ramp but he gets big bodies or waste the energy.  It was here that I made the pivot to Mimic.  By then, the Barbarian Horde had already started up and I took the initial Drunkard hit.  They were not huge off the bat, but big enough that Cleave helped eliminate things and gain Experience from killing off the Drow Mercenaries.  The Drunkards were not a huge threat here as the Barbarians were up to the task.  I think I bought Vajra in this one to help with the Experience, but she was not a big player.  Like the other game, I keep swinging with the Horde and cleaving along the way.  Eventually, he let the damage through when he realized that it was only a matter of time before they broke through.

2-0

Game 3:

In this last game, the player did not grab any of the new stuff.  He instead built a “what is your win condition” Team.  It centered around Rare Collector (to buy your win-con), Foetid Bloat-Drone (for board clear), Doppelganger (to copy something), and Mr. Mxyzptlk (to effectively “blank” something of yours for a turn if he wanted).  Turn 1 Yawning Portal and then to Mimic.  Built to Durnan and then started building my Horde.  He decided to steal my Mimic Ramp with his tools so he could play the same acceleration game.  His Bloat-Drones wiped my Field quite effectively, but my stuff came back just as easily.  Usually with  Yawning Portal to save on the Fielding Costs.  It was back and forth with me swinging with my Horde and him wiping my Field the next turn.    Eventually, I had the numbers with a full Horde and a small army of Mimic’s copying their level 3 stats.  More than enough for lethal.  Spark really did not come into play here, although I honestly kind of stopped looking for it part way through the game.

3-0

Post-Mortem:

Let’s start off the post-mortem with talking about Yawning Portal.  This card is broken AF.  For a two cost, you get a ridiculous ability.  Any one of the abilities would have been fine on their own, but putting all of this goodness on one card that you are purchasing right off the bat is crazy.  It truly changes the economy of the game in such a big way.  Saving on Fielding Costs is excellent.  Reducing the purchase cost by such a huge amount is excellent.  Putting freshly purchased dice in your bag is excellent.  Doing all three of these things from a single action?  I don’t know that I would call it excellent.  At least not tonight.  This was a one sided acceleration that game my Team a distinct advantage on the night.  I don’t know that I would call that fair.  Maybe my tune will change when we enter the Yawing Portal Meta, and everyone has access to it.  There is little chance that this action will not be on just about every Team build once it hits.  The ability is just THAT strong, and changes the game.

Now that Yawning Portal is out of the way, let’s look at the rest of the build.  Mimic Ramp is Mimic Ramp.  If you are not familiar with that yet, you need to learn how to use it.  The speed at which you can Prep things is just crazy.  As long as he hits the Field, you are pretty much set.  It is when he misses that you have problems.

Half-Orc Barbarian was a beast on the night.  With the help of Durnan (and Yawning Portal) I had big Barbarians very quickly.  With them swinging and generally KO’ing something, Cleave became a very effective tool.  Vajra was a good supplemental tool to get more Experience onto the Barbarian, which just made the Horde that much stronger.  This was so effective, that I am actually sad that Cleave does not currently exist in Modern.  Maybe in a D&D OP kit?  Hint, hint Wizkids.  The new tools in this release really beg for the return of Cleave.

Human Warlock and Wand were an interesting tool to use with Spark.  Having multiple characters able to provide the same burn damage was not bad.  Not as effective as swinging with ALL THE BARBARIANS… but not bad.  The issue I had was with how Spark actually triggers.  Is it an “on/off” effect (how we played it on the night)?  Is it a “per die” effect?  That really changes how you look at it.  On the Dice Masters Keywords page, it says:

While a character with a Spark ability is active, if you roll a [BURST] face on one or more dice, use the Spark ability at the end of the current Step. During the Roll and Reroll Step, only check at the end of the Step.

That is quite obviously an “on/off” effect.  No matter how many dice roll the Burst, you only get a single trigger of each Spark ability.  However, when you look at the instruction manual included with the Campaign Box, Spark reads as this:

When you roll a die and it shows a single or double burst, activate this character’s Spark ability.

The way this reads, it leads me to believe that each die you roll with a Burst will trigger a Spark ability.  This interpretation makes Spark much better than it played tonight.  As far as I am aware, as of the time of this article, this has not been clarified officially by the Wizkids Rules Team.  For now, we are playing it with the weaker “on/off” interpretation but we really need to have this clarified.  Personally, I hope it does end up being the “per die” interpretation as that makes Spark more fun.

Wand itself was a little risky to bring with the Global it has.  I could have easily lost my Mimic Ramp because of it, but I was willing to risk it as I wasn’t convinced people would pay a life to stop it.  In retrospect it would have been a small price to pay to slow the Team down.

So overall, the question always is… would I play this Team again?  You bet I would.  I am really enjoying the underused Cleave ability.  Waterdeep has finally made it relevant.  As a Spark Team though?  It really wasn’t that effective.  Vajra defintely helped, but Human Warlock was really not needed here.  Wand more than made up for her.

As a first dip into the Waterdeep pool, this was a fun one.  The D&D sets have always brought something special to the Dice Masters table, and so far this release is no exception.

What are you most looking forward to trying out from the Waterdeep release?  How to you interpret Spark?  Let us know in the comments below.

Thanks for reading… and Curse those Train Pirates!

– jourdo

One Reply to “War of the Spark”

  1. Rob_L came up with a way to quantify the modern PXG globals that I like…you’ve got XFCPXG (field a sidekick) and XMFPXG (prep up to 2 sidekicks from used).

    Yawning portal is cray. Mimic ramp is a great way to cycle it; also I was thinking about SR Mister Miracle to give it boomerang, or the Supreme Intelligence global, since it’s a 2 cost…

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