A Night At The Gala

After a dress rehearsal last time, we decided to play for keeps this week and run the Hellfire Gala Format one more time. If you are not familiar with what this is, please check out our previous description of the Format here.

For those that are not into clicking links, here are the basics of The Dice Masters Hellfire Gala:

  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 recommend that you put a time limit of 40 minutes on each game to avoid matches going on forever.

What Did You Play?

Last time we tried out this Format, I was convinced that copying actions (in this case Hellfire Gala) would be a key to success. I went for the predictable and consistent Rare Moon Knight from the Infinity Gauntlet set and used him to copy Doctor Strange from the Avengers Infinity Campaign Box. I am still convinced that this is a solid strategy for this The Hellfire Gala Format, so I dipped back into that well and chose to go with something a little newer… but less consistent.

Rare Forge, from Dark Phoenix Saga, performs the same function as Moon Knight/Doctor Strange in the first version of this Team. The plus is Forge takes up one card slot instead of the dynamic duo in the other build. This opens up some slots for more potential tools to make this (maybe) work. However, you are trading out the guaranteed copy with Moon Knight for a 50/50 shot of being successful with Forge. You also lose the ability to duplicate your own trigger of Hellfire Gala. It is a bit of a gamble, but this Format is still experimental… so why not try some new tools? With this as my “centerpiece” for the Team, lets spend …

The overall plan is the same as last time, but I want to try and make the machine work a little better this time. Probably the biggest issue that we found was keeping Sidekicks in the Used Pile when you needed them. The Hellfire Gala action itself messed this up on many occasions by making you draw and roll 3 dice before fielding Sidekicks. That ill-timed bag reset hurt.

I came across this guy as an option to work around that problem. Well… somebody steered me to him, but I cannot remember who brought him up (thank you to whoever that was). Stone Cold actually brings a lot to the table for this Format. Every time I would refill my bag, I have the option of filtering out 3 Sidekicks to the Used Pile… which just happens to be the magical number that the Hellfire Gala happens to need there to gain the full effect. In theory, Stone Cold will solve my Used Pile issues that I came up against numerous times the first time we played The Hellfire Gala Format. The big challenge is building up to the purchase cost of 6. Not impossible, but definitely a bigger ask for what is basically a “support” piece.

So, Forge is my new Knight and Stone Cold should help manage the Used Pile. I still need the accessory pieces to make this work. Let’s check them out below:

  • Grell (Blind Ambusher) was the first choice to replace Deathbird for the Deadly keyword. It proved excellent removal the last time, so I see no reason why I should not keep it going again. Obviously, I kept it paired with the Booker T, Ringside Announcer Basic Action Card (for the Global Ability). The bolt energy would also pair well with the Dark Phoenix Global (which I planned to use to help reach for Stone Cold).
  • Gazer (Tiny Beholderkin) replaced the Intimidate version from the last build. Intimidate did not work well previously as it proved to be a 1 character for 1 character swap. Not always ideal. This version, however… was an accident. I meant to include Beholder’s Dream to hopefully steal Hellfire Gala from my Opponent’s Prep Area to mess with them. I grabbed the wrong card and was stuck with this one. It had some potential with bag manipulation, but was not the original plan.
  • Sage (Xavier’s Mole) … speaking of bag manipulation, remember Corrupt? I felt that this keyword had a place in this Format as it was all about timing your Hellfire Gala pull when both Used Piles would be set up. The beauty of it is you can target yourself or your Opponent to set things up in your favor.
  • Joker (New and Shiny) was a last minute option to maybe help and double down on using the Hellfire Gala. Maybe I can roll it out from my Used Pile and surprise my Opponent with a well timed Joker attack. It is still a 50/50 shot at success, but even with a failure at least the Hellfire Gala ends up in your bag for the next turn.

To help make the most of my multitude of when KO’ed effects (and as already mentioned), Dark Phoenix (Pick Your Version) is on this Team. I am still lacking a really good Ramp engine. After spectacularly failing with Rush last time, I borrowed from Gord’s Team from last week for this build. Atlantis (City and Stronghold) would allow me to punt missed rolls or energy I did not currently have a use for over to the Prep Area for the next turn. It is a great tool, and in theory, offers a little more control of what goes into the Prep Area and when.

One last slot on the Team and I decided to double up on my removal options with Confront The Mighty. These gimmicky teams are very vulnerable to control, and this action gives a pretty good option to remove those annoyances. Who knows… maybe this could even pair well with my Joker strategy?

How Did It Play?

Again, I am not actually going to go into the details of each game here. The gimmicky nature of the Format does not really lend itself for a heavy strategic breakdown of the match-up. The games were more about setting up your board while messing with your Opponent as much as possible. I will say, that we did get to see a Hellfire Gala victory on the night (due to my math skills… or lack of). Full credit to all of the builds though as I feel this batch worked much better for everyone than what we brought to the dress rehearsal. Congrats to Gord for taking Jean home with the best dressed Team at the Gala.

Post-Mortem:

As this was our second shot at the Format, I feel we all learned our lessons from the previous experience. There was much more focus on managing your Field numbers and playing around with the Used Pile.

I am going to start off by talking about Stone Cold here. I have never used this card before, and I regret that. This provided incredible bag filtering to get to the dice I actually wanted. The bonus of putting the exact number of Sidekicks in the Used Pile made him excellent in the Hellfire Gala Format. This is definitely a character that I want to try in other builds, but he was absolutely perfect here. While not the win condition, Stone Cold was really the star of the show on the Team.

Atlantis was also a great addition (thanks Gord for the idea). While it proved to be excellent Ramp, it also served as a way to keep those Sidekicks out of your Used Pile when they might be helpful to your Opponent. However, this was a bit of a double edged sword. Sometimes, it was almost too easy to fall into the “put everything into Prep” trap. In a normal game, this is great. In this Format, you really need to plan your Sidekick allocation from turn to turn. When do you want them in Prep? When do you want them in Used? Definitely a big challenge with this Format. I still like this over Rush.

The dream of action duplication never really came up. I think players built more for that alpha strike with Hellfire Gala this time around. Maybe Forge still proved as a deterrent, but I am not convinced he was worth it. Is it still worthwhile to chase this down? Who knows?

While I brought the wrong Gazer to the dance here, I actually liked this better version of Corrupt. Potentially taking two key dice out of circulation was a big deal, and definitely came into play. Having said that, Corrupt was no slouch here. It actually proved to be a good tool and showed up on multiple Teams. If I were to build this again, I might go with a “when fielded” version of Corrupt vs the “when KO’ed” version I used. Both seemed to work, and both paired well with Dark Phoenix. I think the timing of fielding might be that much better and give you that extra character in the Field Zone.

Grell/Booker T was fine removal. It works, there is nothing flashy here. I might consider skipping it though in favor of using Confront The Mighty as the main removal option. I could then sub in something like Supreme Intelligence to help move over the 2 costs to the Prep Area.

Joker… I really wanted something to happen with you. It never lined up right though. I feel with a little better board management, it could be a good piece. Maybe lean into some other Basic Actions to get a better bang for your buck? While I am willing to give up on Forge, I think I might give Joker another look. The potential is there for a surprise Hellfire Gala… or whatever else you might need.

Like I said earlier, I think everyone was better prepared for the Gala this time around. There were definitely some interesting ways to attack the puzzle with much more success than we saw in the first week. Jean did manage to find a date this time around. Congrats again to Gord for winning her hand. Hopefully, the other players will share what they played in the comments.

Here we are for Round 2 with The Hellfire Gala Format. The puzzle definitely became more clear with a second look. How did we do? Again… how would you build for The Dice Masters Hellfire Gala Format? Let us know in the comments below, or on our Socials (@dmNorthTV), or join the conversation on our Discord.

If you are wanting to try out The Hellfire Gala Format for yourself, you can join Dice Social on May 21 (check out the details here) to try your hand at this very interesting Format. Looking forward to see what you bring to the dance.

Finally, if you are in the Calgary area, feel free to join us Wednesday May 18, 2022 at Sentry Box, starting around 6:30 PM local time. We will be playing all out Modern Constructed. If you want to join a great community, get in touch with us on the Calgary Dice Masters Facebook Group. Come join a welcoming community and play a great game live!

Thanks for reading!

– jourdo

One Reply to “A Night At The Gala”

  1. Well, technically I won the event. But it might be more accurate to say I was the beneficiary of Matt really wanting to see _somebody_ pull off a win via the alternate win condition on the Hellfire Gala basic action die. When he just missed doing that himself, he could have thinned his field by attacking. He didn’t, which made things much, much easier for me to pull off the Gala win on my turn.

    What Did *I* Play?

    This time around I decided to build a team designed to win via the Gala win condition. Messing with the opponent was of secondary importance.

    What was intended to be my core strategy involved Lita: Fan Favorite and Plague Marine: Vectors of Death and Disease. Lita would allow me to spin any Sidekick dice I rolled in the Roll and Re-Roll Step to their character face and field them. Plague Marine would KO them at the end of my turn, reducing the number of dice in my field on my opponent’s turn, but where Lita’s ability should be able to easily re-field them on my next turn.

    Note: Lita is a holdover from my first Gala team, and I’d decided to add Plague Marine before Matt posted the Rage Marines vs Bat-Plague video (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eY6f9_y1eSE&t=2s)

    She-Hulk: Greeny was on the team to reduce the need to cycle important character dice (particularly Lita) through my bag before fielding them. Note that Greeny’s ability fires before Clear and Draw, so if I have a She-Hulk die active with a Lita die in my Used Pile at the start of the turn, I can field Lita and make use of her (i.e., Lita’s) ability on that turn.

    I made the opposite mistake to Matt where Gazer was concerned. I had meant to run Tiny Beholderkin but mistakenly brought Beholder’s Dream. Tiny Beholderkin can potentially increase the number of character dice in the field after using Hellfire Gala by a net of one. It does require the opponent to draw two Sidekick dice from their bag at the right time to pull that off. The circumstance where I would have tried for that never arose, so the mistake wound up not mattering very much.

    Dark Phoenix was on the team to give me a method to KO Gazer when needed.
    Also added to the team was Eddie Guerrero: I Steal. If my opponent has Sidekick dice on energy face in his Reserve Pool on my turn, I can attack with Eddie to send those to his Used Pile then use Gala during the Attack Step Global Window.

    The last two character were Xavier Woods and R Drax, both holdovers from my original team. Xavier Woods gives me an extra shot at rolling action dice on the desired face during Roll and Re-Roll, and if you’re reading this you almost certainly know what Drax does. Yes, I did include one pure control piece.

    I went with Archnemesis and Mutation for the BACs. (Technically, I went with Energy Field, which has effectively the same global as Mutation at the actual event, as I decided I didn’t want to give my opponents the option of using the Mutation action against me.) Archnemesis was there primarily so I had the option of using its global to boost Lita’s poor D. (This also gave secondary reasons for including Gazer and Drax on the team, as 2- and 3- cost shield characters are potential fuel for that global.)

    Also, the action gives me a removal option in combination with She-Hulk (or Dark Phoenix, if I were to buy and field her.)

    Mutation/Energy Field was mostly a leftover from earlier tinkering with the team. There was a time when I was considering including the Uncommon Typhoid Mary on the team. She has a “when attacks” ability that allows me field a Sidekick die from my Used Pile – or two, if she’s on her Level 3 burst face, so I wanted a means of spinning her up. I ultimately decided to go in another direction as far as characters went. Somehow, I never really thought about whether I still needed Mutation/Energy Field.

    Like Matt, I’m not doing to discuss the details of the games. I will say I never did get the Lita/Plague Marine combo going like I’d intended.

    There was one point in my first game where I thought I had things nicely positioned for a potential Gals win on my next turn only for my opponent to Corrupt me and totally screw up both my bag and my Used Pile.

    There was one point where I did a mass attack to clear my field to prevent a potential Gala win by said opponent. Then, later once we’d gone to Final Turns, I attacked to finish him off and deny him any chance at a Gala win on his Final Turn.

    Matt almost had me in our game, coming up one character short in his all-in attempt. I did not on my following turn, although, as I alluded to earlier, I’m pretty sure Matt could have made things a lot harder for me if his heart had been in it.

    What would I do differently if there were to be a next time? (Which there isn’t going to be, at least not any time soon.) Probably be more pro-active about using Drax to counter my opponents’ Corrupt characters.

    The Gala was fun, but I think I’m ready to get back to some ‘regular’ Dice Masters.

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