A Dress Rehearsal

After a few weeks of drafting, our local community decided that we needed some jank in our lives.  What better way to visit something janky than to try to build around one of the newest Organized Play cards… The Hellfire Gala.

This card was introduced as the first alternative win condition in the game of Dice Masters. Instead of trying to beat your Opponent senseless to reduce them to zero live, you are trying to get 16 or more characters in the Field Zone. With that in mind, we decided to invite the local players to The Dice Masters Hellfire Gala.

We wanted to make Hellfire Gala the centerpiece of the Event, so we decided to encourage players to use it as the main win condition. We set out the rules for the Gala as follows:

  1. You will be required to bring your best outfit (Team) to the Gala. Your build will contain the normal 8 cards, 2 basic action cards, and 20 dice limits. However, each player will include a third colour BAC die (we recommend red to match our esthetic) on their Team and remove one Sidekick (you will start the game with only 7 Sidekicks). This BAC die will represent The Hellfire Gala Basic Action (which will be a common action that is active on the entire table for all players).
  2. Each player will start their first turn with the Hellfire Gala out of play and only draw 3 Sidekick dice. The remainder of gameplay will function normally.
  3. Should you bring your Opponent to zero life, you will receive 1 point for the Victory. However, if you win via The Hellfire Gala BAC, you will instead receive 10 points for the victory. The choice is yours.
  4. The player with the most points at the end of the evening will receive the highest honour of being able to bring Jean Grey home with them.

We chose to keep this to a Modern build to avoid a lengthy ban list (*cough* Switch *cough*), but really, it is up to your local play group how you would want to run this. We also put a time limit of 40 minutes on each game to avoid matches going on forever. To sweeten the night, there was a Jean Grey Hellfire Gala Organized Play card up for grabs for the winner

What Did You Play?

Given that really the goal of the night was to win using the Hellfire Gala, I tried to gear my Team to that. I thought it might be fun to try and make use of a card from Infinity Gauntlet that I had not had the opportunity to use before.

Rare Moon Knight really does nothing on his own. He requires another Avenger in order to have an ability. In this Format, there is one high priced Avenger that might be a strange choice. The good Doctor from the Avengers Infinity Campaign Box allows you to duplicate actions when they are used. The 7 cost price tag on Doctor Strange has always been a bit of an issue, but Moon Knight now makes that ability really affordable. With a plan in mind, lets get…

So, my master plan here is to double up on Hellfire Gala whenever it gets used and if I am lucky maybe that second trigger might be enough to push the total characters to 16. It seemed like a solid way to increase character counts fairly quick.

My build is basically dead without Moon Knight, so anything that would stop him from being fielded would mean a bad day for me. For that reason, I decided that removal would be my first priority. I went with a couple of different options here to get around the Draxes of the world.

  • Gazer (Evil Familiar) was the first choice for the Intimidate ability. This little monster would remove anything slowing me down for a turn, and hopefully allow me to get what I need in the Field Zone.
  • Deathbird (Treacherous) would be the next piece of the puzzle with her Deadly keyword. Simple enough to throw her in front of just about anything to instantly kill it. Pairing this with the Booker T, Ringside Announcer force block Global Ability means that this will be pretty easy to pull off.
  • Venerable Dreadnaught (Custodian of Knowledge) was the next addition. The plan is to have lots of characters in this format… right? Why not mix in some potential removal with Range?

To help recycle Gazer, and get access to some sweet discounts, Dark Phoenix is an easy addition to this (or any) Team. I am still missing a good ramp engine, but have noticed that all of my core removal options (which I will be focusing on buying multiples of) are shields.

Why not dip into the Rush basket and bring Rocket Racoon (Make Like a Tree) on board? Yeah, there is a risk of someone playing Madelyne Pryor (Dark Influence) to completely nullify this strategy… but what are the odds of that actually happening? To help manage Rush, I am including Big Entrance to hopefully drop the right dice in the bad at the right time.

With only one slot remaining, I really had no idea what I wanted, so I decided to give D’Ken (Obsessed) a try. This would give a second option to potentially use Hellfire Gala when it is not rolled. I am not sure that combat damage will be a big thing in this Format, but why not see if it can work? Also… another potential shield die to Rush with!

How Did It Play?

I am not actually going to go into the details of each game here, but nobody was able to get Hellfire Gala to fire off for the win all night. The best we were able to get to was 12 or 14 characters in the Field Zone. We were always just a couple short to make it work.

However, I will share this from my first round Opponent…

Post-Mortem:

The Dice Masters Hellfire Gala Format proved to be an interesting puzzle that none of us solved on this first go. I titled this article “A Dress Rehearsal” as a few of our players could not actually make it to this Event. Since the remaining players did not have a chance to make new Teams to play something else, we decided to use tonight to test run our Teams… and I am glad we had this opportunity.

Overall, it was a huge challenge to balance having characters in your Field Zone… but not so many that you open yourself up to giving your Opponent the potential numbers on their turn. How many characters do you field? How many of theirs do you remove? It was an interesting challenge.

Hellfire Gala works completely differently that I would have expected. My initial thought was it should be easy to get the Sidekicks out of the Used Pile and into the Field Zone with that action. That first ability of the card (draw and roll 2 dice) messed up the Used Pile on more than one occasion. That lead to not having the potential characters in the Used Pile when you needed them, due to a poorly timed bag reset. One player had the game in hand with Hellfire Club until he realized that he had to refill his bag before fielding the Sidekicks.

This type of a Format requires you to manage your Used Pile more than anything else, and none of us were able to control that properly. This isn’t always something you focus on in a normal game of Dice Masters. You are always trying to cycle things through the bag and get them into Prep in order to further your game. In this Format, it is almost the exact opposite that you want to try and accomplish.

With this in mind, let me pick apart the Team I built. I still like the idea of Moon Knight and Doctor Strange as it forces the Opponent to really think about when they want to trigger Hellfire Gala. It never proved to be a game winning strategy, but I think it made people do math before using the action. D’Ken, with his similar ability, never really came into play… but I think there is something there with a better focus on that character.

Even without Madelyne Pryor across the Field, Rush was clunky at best and I feel there are better ways to accomplish cycling through the bag. My removal core actually worked well, but Intimidate kind of worked against the end goal of Hellfire Club as it would trade the character count by adding one and removing one at the same time.

How do we make this better to manage the Used Pile? Honestly? I don’t really know. My first instinct is to try out something like a sacrifice mechanic (The Rock?) to put dice into Used. Something like She-Hulk (Greeny) to field extra characters each turn? She was used by another player, but didn’t really make the splash I hoped. Whatever it is that this Team needs to work better, I really want to find it to crack this puzzle.

At the end of the night, nobody took Jean Grey home with them, so she will be available for the next night of The Gala. I think we were all surprised at the challenge of this Format, and learned some valuable lessons to give us something different to build to for the next time we attend The Gala.

How would you build for The Dice Masters Hellfire Gala Format? What do you think is the best way to keep Sidekicks in your Used Pile so that they are there when Hellfire Gala rolls? Let us know in the comments below, or on our Socials (@dmNorthTV), or join the conversation on our Discord.

Thanks for reading!

– jourdo

2 Replies to “A Dress Rehearsal

  1. I was also at the rehearsal. In fact, I may have had something to do with Madelyne Pryor showing up.

    I thought I’d share my thoughts about the night with the audience.

    First, on the planning front, we all did much better on preventing opponents pulling off the Hellfire Gala win against us than in our plans for actually accomplishing the feat ourselves.

    The point of the night was to win at least one match via the Hellfire Gala alternate win condition. Said condition requires there be 16 character dice in the Field Zone (between both players) after its use. Using the action can add three Sidekicks from each player to the Field Zone (for a total of six) but that will only happen if each player has at least three Sidekick dice in their Used Pile.

    Sidekick dice can also be in a player’s bag, Prep Area or Reserve Pool and dice in those locations are unaffected by (the second part of) Hellfire Gala. (They can also be in the Field Zone on their character face, but those that are will already count towards the total of 16). So the trick is arranging to use Hellfire Gala when there are plenty of Sidekick dice in both Used Piles. Hint: This almost never happens naturally.

    It happens even less often when players are deliberately trying to not leave Sidekick dice in their Used Pile on their opponent’s turn, and when each player has only 7 Sidekick dice in circulation as opposed to the normal 8 (as one was replaced with the Hellfire Gala die). I think most, if not all, players were overly optimistic about how many Sidekick dice using Hellfire Gala would actually add to the Field Zone.
    I was certainly guilty on that front. I had control cards, I had cards intended to help me with fielding characters, and one card to help with my action dice usage, but nothing that really affected interactions with the Used Pile.

    For example, the BACs I brought were Target Lock and Poker Night. The former was intended as a counter for opponents who brought Swarm. The choice of Poker Night was, “It looks kind of fun, I’m not sure how to use it with a ‘regular’ team, nothing stands out to me as another BAC I should use for this format, and I don’t see how an opponent can use this against me.”

    For the next time, I’m seriously thinking about Mutation. Using the action allows me to put another Sidekick die into either player’s Used Pile without reducing the total number of character dice in the Field Zone. It wouldn’t be that useful unless I also had Hellfire Gala ready to use on the same turn, but it’s at least potentially useful, and Poker Night was pretty much a dead card at the rehearsal.

    One character I’m almost certainly keeping is Xavier Woods: Time For Francesca! The ability to reroll your action dice an extra time in the Roll and Reroll Step can potentially be very important in a game where you really want to win by using an action die.

    I’m not going to list off every change I’ve thought about – at least one of my likely opponents for the real thing will almost certainly be reading this – but I’ve pretty much concluded that dedicating too much of your build to messing with your opponent simply means neither of you will pull off the big win.

    So Target Lock is likely gone also – it’s only real use is as a counter to Swarm, so if I’m playing an opponent who isn’t using Swarm it’s basically another dead card. What will I replace it with? Perhaps Stretch. If things break exactly right, using the Global might allow me to both field an extra character die and put an extra Sidekick die in my Used Pile. As for the action itself – maybe it can be used to prevent the first part of Hellfire Gala from triggering an ill timed bag refill. Of course, at the risk of repeating myself, relying on drawing and rolling two separate action dice on the same turn is (forgive me) probably something of a stretch.

    So the team I brought will receive a major overhaul before the real deal a couple of weeks in the future. Will anybody (or anything, considering I used a non-basic action die) except Xavier Woods survive to be on the revised team? At this point, I don’t know myself.

    Thanks for reading, and happy rolling!
    -Son of L

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: