Tonight’s theme was kind of a pseudo challenge based on another’s players planned build. He made a quip about Doom Patrol and basically challenged himself to build from that and JSA team members only. I decided to join in the misery and work with another of the weaker Affiliations. I went with one of the weakest Team Packs ever released and dove in with The Defenders. That was the whole guide to the build. Load up with Defenders and try and figure out a way to win.
What Did You Play?
The Team: How Bad Can This Possibly Be?
The Defenders have a few strikes against them as an Affiliation in Dice Masters. First, there are only 7 of them. You cannot field a full Team of these guys if you want. Definitely not the end of the world, but does create some restrictions. The second biggest issues is that they are not exactly cheap to purchase. There is only a single 3 cost character in the group and everyone else is at least a 5 cost. Purchasing will be a bit of an issue.
That is where this guy comes in. Luke Cage is really the centerpiece to the whole Team. With him, all of my characters drop to the 4 to 6 cost range. Still not great, but better than it was. The second part of his ability is another big part of the Team. Every other Defender that gets fielded after Luke is out will net me another die in my Prep Area. This is actually not too bad. The challenge is that I need to purchase and field a 5 cost character before I can get this Team going.
Given that the initial Ramp was going to be the challenge, I had to build around that hurdle first. Now there were lots of options to be had here, but I wanted to restrict myself to Modern tools and tried to stay “in universe”. This was self-imposed, just to see if I could get it to work. So, I really only have Modern Marvel actions to work with to help with Ramp.
Counterstrike was my first addition. The Global is… ok. Really, any Ramp at this point is good Ramp. I will take whatever I can get. The action itself was more interesting. My Team is absolutely going to be single Affiliation here, so I can move dice around much easier with this cycling through my bag. That was the plan then. Use Counterstrike to move over a Sidekick on Turn 2 and set up for a Luke Cage purchase on Turn 3. Not ideal, but you do what you have to do.
Knowing that this was going to be a single Affiliation Team, the other BAC was pretty obvious. We are going with the punch you in face strategy here, so Teamwork is in. Buff my guys and girls and swing into your Field. This was the win condition.
Hellcat is the only low cost Defender around, so I obviously added her in. She would be my first turn purchase in a best case scenario. Counterstrike would be the back-up plan if things went poorly. I really didn’t care which Hellcat was on the Team, but “It’s Patsy” seemed like a decent choice to sneak in a little burn damage along the way. You could swap it out for any of the others. It really didn’t matter.
Now we are into the mid-range cost characters. Hopefully by now, I have Luke Cage in the field making them easier to reach for. I chose this Jessica Jones because… Ramp. My plan would be to get her out and swing with wild abandon. Maybe I sneak in some damage? Maybe I remove a blocker? Maybe I Prep. All wins in my book. The second mid-range option was Iron Fist – Pulling Punches. He was how I planned on thinning out my Opponent’s Field. When he attacks, he pretty much wipes out the Sidekicks on the other side and burns my Opponent in the process. Since I will want to be thinning out the Field to win, this seems like a viable option.
Four Defenders down and three to go. Let’s get Clea out of the way first. I never saw a situation where I would want to actually use her. This version seemed like the best of the “maybe” options. If I bought her, I could deal some damage against the right Team. Not terrible, but not great.
Hulk was actually an easy choice here. My early plan would be to attack with Jessica Jones and Hellcat as much as possible. Jessica actually has a good chance to be KO’ed against many characters. Hulk will now punish you for doing that. In fact, he will punish you for KO’ing ANY of my characters. As bad of a rep as this Team Pack gets, I do love this Hulk.
Now for one of the other centerpieces of this Team. Yeah… I need a 5 cost and a 7 cost to REALLY make this Team fire. This version of Doctor Strange allows me to duplicate an action. My Teamwork now becomes doubly effective. One die doubles the buff. Two dice quadruple the buff. You get the idea. The good Doctor will allow me to make my punches fairly effective.
There we go. 7/8 slots taken up by all of characters with the Defenders Affiliation. With one slot left, I really wanted to include Daredevil. It still bothers me that he never made it into this pack. Unfortunately, all of the Modern versions of Daredevil are Spider-Friends. That would break my theme and I cannot have that.
If I cannot have the Devil himself, I would bring his Tool of Justice. The Global here lets me bank some energy for later turns. Another way to help get to Luke Cage in the early game. The action itself is the big player here. It is a 50/50 shot of removing something. I like removal options on this Team. I especially like removal options that can be doubled by Doctor Strange.
I think there might actually be something here. Are The Defenders as terrible as I think? Is it possible to win a single game with this group?
Let’s see how it ran.
Up against our resident youngster, who was bringing her Brotherhood Team with the giant Mystique. Hellcat and Counterstrike got me to Luke. Once Luke hit, I was prepping pretty regularly and reached for other Defenders. I bought who I could, when I could. Then it was time for Teamwork. I never actually got to Doctor Strange here, but was able to manage her Field enough and burn her down pretty decently with Hulk to swing in for lethal with some pumped up Defenders.
Against Team JSA/Doom Patrol! Actually, this was a “Power Bolt” Team more than anything. Doom Patrol is not very good, and JSA is marginally better. He did make good use of Red Tornado to help cycle his bag though. Against my better judgement, I chose not to buy his Power Bolts. I wanted to live or die with The Defenders. For better or for worse, I worked up to Luke as before and then the Prep machine started as I kept firing Hellcats at him as much as possible. I was taking significant damage from the Power Bolts, but it is a slower process without Boom Boom to make them THAT much worse. I was able to get to Doctor Strange in this one and then had a turn where I bought all three of my Teamwork dice in a single go. That same turn prepped one and sent the other two into the bag. The next turn I rolled two out of the three of them and ended up quadrupling the original buff because the Doctor. That was more than enough for lethal with the band of Defenders that I was swinging with.
Villains were the name of the game, and some clever use of Villainous Pact with Call Out would be the nail in the coffin. He had Malekith to make his Sidekicks bigger and more Villainy and he was managing to build a pretty big Field of them. That was a problem. For whatever reason, Luke took much longer to get to in this game and as a result I was staring down a big Field. I did manage to eventually start to keep some pace with him and get some bodies out. Once the Doctor hit, I was starting to stabilize. A well placed Billy Club got rid of Malekith (on the second try), and then Iron Fist was able to rid me of his wall of (no longer buffed) Sidekicks. This slowed him down as he needed to reset. I never could get set up properly for the alpha strike I was going for in this one. The end came when his Villainous Pact came up and I did not have Villains to block with. A victory for him, but at least I made him work for it.
We closed out the night (and the shop) with Defenders vs Defenders… and Team Arrow. Nice to see some other lesser used Affiliations on the night. He brought a blast from the past with Superhero Registration Act. I couldn’t resist the temptation with that available and I snagged one of them. This was a slow build on both sides. Both of us had to work to get to Luke Cage in order to start doing anything. SRA definitely helped though. We both got him out and started to buy other pieces. I went for Strange as quick as I could to help with my shenanigans. Now, my one SRA instantly became two. That got me to Hulk who came out fast thanks to Counterstrike. When he fired off his SRA’s, it cost him one damage if I KO’ed something thanks to the big green guy. Essentially this one was a stand off waiting to see who would get their Teamwork to fire off first. I had some blockers for his first shot, and selectively blocking allowed me to keep Hulk alive in order for him to do some damage to my Opponent. Then my shot came up where I rolled a Teamwork and Billy Club on the same turn. I was able to use both of these twice thanks to Doctor Strange. The Billy Club remove two blockers from the Field and my doubled Teamwork did the rest.
Huh… I was not expecting much from this build but it was actually not THAT bad. The overall purchase costs suck on this Team. The fielding costs are not much better to be honest. Somehow it kind of worked though.
Without Luke Cage, this Team does nothing. You need that discount to buy the other things. More importantly though, you need his Prep ability. Once I started to cycle my other Defenders, I was prepping like mad. Hellcat’s were flying and powering this machine the most. Jessica Jones also proved good for this. Her lower defense made her easier to KO and recycle, but her fielding costs hurt more than Hellcat. I think her actual ability may have triggered once or twice all night. She was just too easy to KO.
Iron Fist was actually excellent removal of those pesky Sidekicks. On a combat driven Team, where you need a thinned out Field… this was an excellent ability.
Clea was… “meh”. I never once considered buying her. However, since my theme was to use all of The Defender, I really had no choice but to include some version of her. Swap her out for any other version if you so desire.
Hulk is fantastic. I have been using this guy on some other builds recently and I love his ability. I have a hard time leaving him off of Teams that involve your characters getting KO’ed. It is a great ability choice to soften up your Opponent for a big punch.
Teamwork was that big punch. There is no surprise here. Any single Affiliation Team can make good use out of this action. The other BAC, Counterstrike, was really no slouch either. Being able to Prep whatever Defender I choose and get others into the bag is pretty good. Again, any single Affiliation Team can benefit from this. The Global is ok Ramp, but clunky in my opinion. It was better than nothing though tonight.
Let’s talk about my favorite part of the Team… Doctor Strange. I love any ability that doubles action use. On this Team, in particular being able to double both Teamwork and Billy Club made all the difference. The 7 cost aspect of him makes it difficult to reach for, but with Luke Cage out I never really struggled to buy him.
So, there you have it. A Defenders Team that did not do too badly on the night. It helped that others decided to join in on “choose a lesser Affiliation” theme. On any other night, I am not sure this Team would have done as well. The Team is incredibly slow. If you are lucky, maybe you can buy Luke Cage on turn 2… but that never happened. I was buying him on turn 3 or later in most games. The Team does not work without him in the Field. If I missed him, I was pretty much going to be toast.
Is this Team competitive? Not in a million years.
Would I play this Team again? You know what… Yes, I would. It was actually more fun than I expected it to be. While definitely not one of the powerhouse Affiliations of the game, this was an “ok” Team to mess around with.
What do you think of The Defenders? Can you find another way to make them effective? Why was Daredevil not in the Team Pack? Let us know in the comments below.
Thanks for reading!