‘Twas the week before Christmas,
And all through the store
Dice Masters was played
With a little something more.
No heroes, no villains,
Not a cape to be found.
Instead Teams were made up
Of Holiday characters abound.
In twenty sixteen,
Santa and Krampus appear.
Followed shortly next time
By a troublesome Reindeer.
This year gave a chance
To revisit the past.
Rewrite old mistakes and
Make new cards at last.
A yearly tradition,
With friends new and old.
Check out the Holiday Characters
That are brought into the fold.
That’ll be the end of the rhymes for this article (well, intentional ones anyways). I wanted to give this one a little Christmas flair. This is a yearly tradition that started back in 2016 when the holidays rolled around. It started with a few unique characters that fit the theme of the season, and grew from there. Instead of the usual “What Did You Play?” format, I decided to take a look back at the cards that have been created, and now re-created, since the beginning.
I want to try and give you some insight into what I was going for. Some worked out well, others… not so much. For every Venerable Dreadnaught, you are going to have a Vixen or two. Given that I am someone who can learn from his mistakes, I decided that this year would be a chance to revisit the past and fix some of the issues with the original characters. It also gave me a chance to move everything over to my new card template. The original versions of all of the cards can be found in our Custom Card Gallery here.
This will be a little longer than the usual write-up, so stay with me. Read on for the history of…
~ 2016 ~
This was the year that started the tradition. I wanted to create something fun for our Group for the Christmas Season. This was something of a surprise for everyone, which was both a good and bad thing. It was good because it was something new and unique. It was also bad because people did not know what to prepare for. These were all
the original characters that started this Holiday Tradition. The theme of this series was Tokens. It started out with “naughty” and “nice” tokens, but kind of evolved from there as it was getting too complicated to communicate what they needed to do without a giant wall of text.
Mall Santa was actually what started the whole idea. I found the artwork while diving through the internets and things snowballed (heh) from there. The idea behind this guy was that he would be powered by the kids standing in line. The ability also gave you a way to thin out your Sidekicks from rotation. His attack would grow, but with a relatively low defense he could still be handled.
You cannot possibly have a Christmas set of characters without the big guy himself. Santa Claus serves as the protector. If you do something naughty, like attacking, he will become a better defender. With his natural big butt, and ways of making it bigger, removing him would be difficult. I liked the idea of Santa being there to soak up the damage sent your way. However, during gameplay we found some issues with this design. The defensive boost was too much and this was quickly errata’ed with a sharpie.
For every action, there has to be an equal and opposite reaction. Enter Krampus. He would be the opposite of Santa. He would hate everything Santa stands for. He would be the way to wipe Christmas Cheer off the Board. Basically, the idea behind this guy was that he would have an army of minions that would do bad things to you depending on your dice rolls. He is the answer to dealing with Saint Nick.
Ebenezer Scrooge was a personal pet project of mine. His original version is still a very unique set of cards and I really wanted it to work. It was Dice Masters at its most random. This is a more toned down version of the character. The Flip mechanic did not exist when the original card was made, so this gave me a chance to try something new. His ability is to help bank your energy for when you need it most. However, there is risk associated with this. If you lose Scrooge while he is loaded with energy, you run the risk of hurting yourself. Greed has a price.
The BAC’s from this set served specific purposes and were modified to help deal with newer cards. Snowball Fight is just a basic removal, but with some added “splash” damage to give it a more snowball flavour. Bah, Humbug! is there to mess with the economy in every way. Make things more expensive. Force your opponent to choose between keeping energy and allowing you to Prep, or spend it all possible in a less efficient way. Gift of the Magi proved to be an original favourite due to the Global. You give the gift of Prep to your opponent, and if they accept it you are rewarded for your kindness. Secret Santa used to be a “special” action, but has been modified to be part of the BAC pool now. It is all about the mystery gift exchange.
~ 2017 ~
2017 snuck up on me a bit and this set came about really quickly. Shriek and the Green Devil Mask had proven to be really annoying cards. Attune was the new hotness. Lots of new mechanics had been introduced to the game.
Lump of Coal was the first card to answer the bad things. Originally, it was based off of an arbitrary “Naughty List”. You do a bad thing and you get punished. It created a dead die that would enter circulation into your opponent’s bag. The ability was modified from a Trap card to something that immediately takes effect. The trade off is that it gets more expensive the more you use it. This was another card that needed a little tweaking after playing with it. The die limit needs to be dropped to 2. Early purchases of this could make your opponent’s life really difficult if they didn’t deal with it.
I decided that Santa needed a helper, so I created the Christmas Elf. A really basic character that takes advantage of Infiltrate and Swarm (before it was cool with the Kree guys). The weak stats do not make this guy a huge threat, but the comedy value of having to block a 0 attack character is just awesome.
Next, came The Grinch. He is all about ruining your opponent’s Christmas by taking their energy. Killer Croc was such a perfect die for this character, but the stats were too good for the cost. I had to place an attack limitation on him to prevent abuse. The spin down mechanic also helps balance out his ability.
Yukon Cornelius and the Yeti were designed together. This year’s theme was veering towards Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. YC is your basic little bully who gets stronger the more people he beats up. However, if the Yeti is around those two are going to tangle. The Yeti’s ability was based around bouncing back from that big fall. I decided to simplify the ability from the original draft by tying it to the stun mechanic. There was some debate that YC was a little broken tonight, but there were answers to him. He might need a cost increase to balance him a bit.
Since I was drawing from one of the greatest Christmas Specials ever, I had to show some love to the title character… Rudolph. The original reindeer was broken AF. He was the reason for the full set redesign to be honest. We decided as a group to retire the horrible memories of this card and more to a much simpler ability that could still be handled. This also gave me an excuse to expand on my Affiliations in the Christmas crowd. Team Santa was born.
~ 2018 ~
I decided to draw from the Calgary Group for the theme of this year’s cards. The suggestions that jumped out for me were Frosty the Snowman and Jack Frost. This would be an ice themed set. Since I previously had a Yeti that dealt out Stun Tokens, I thought I would focus more on that type of an ability.
Frosty was first on the list. A local member suggested using Sidekicks to Fabricate him (you know… because kids build snowmen), and I had to go with that. Hence, the impossible purchase cost. You can ONLY buy him with Fabricate, and ONLY with Sidekicks. I decided Heroic would be something cool to bring back. He proved very effective when you flubbed your rolls and ended up with more Sidekicks than you wanted.
Jack Frost is the villain of this chapter. He would have an ability similar to a Breath Weapon. The only difference being that he freezes you in your tracks. The more things that are frozen, the more powerful he will become. After actually using this guy in a game environment, we realized he needed the most work. The ability is actually fine, but not at 4. He is a game ender. We all agreed that he needs to be pumped up to a 7 cost. The ability also has some wording issues that need tweaking.
I decided that Jack needed some help to freeze out the competition. The evil Snowman was made to fit that roll. When you kill him, he comes back a little smaller but in greater numbers. I wanted to make use of the Iceman die, but had to deal with the less than ideal stats for the character. Hence the A/D swap. I also liked the idea that he blew apart into smaller characters when he was KO’ed.
Blizzard was the main BAC created to go with this year’s theme. It is basically going to punish attackers by stopping stunning them when they attack. The Global is something I wanted to experiment with, and I was not actually sure how it would work.
Which One’s For Me? was actually a card I started working on last year. It was originally a little too much like Heist, so I tried to change things up a bit with the redesign.
Teddy Bear Toss was suggested by Son of L, since our local junior hockey team runs this event yearly. Basically, when the home team scores the first goal the ice is littered with thousands of teddy bears. These are then donated to children’s charities in the area. It is really an emotional thing to see live. The card was designed to function exactly like that. As soon as the home team hit the other guy, you rolled EVERYTHING on your next turn. I never got it to work, but I still liked the idea of it.
Good Tidings was a last minute addition, based on the artwork. I loved it too much not to use it. The idea was to have something to shut down Globals and Traps, but still have an out for your opponent.
The final member of the class of 2018 was Buddy. He existed because I realized that I did not have a way to spin up Rudolph within the set. Buddy fixed that. His Global actually proved fairly useful as well.
If you are still with me, I would like to thank you for reading this long. The next bit is a quick (I promise) assessment of some of the cards.
What Did You Play?
Every game, I played around with different cards. This was about having fun and there is nothing that is going to help build a meta caliber team here.
Teddy Bear Toss was up for grabs, but I went first so I didn’t get a chance to buy it. My first roll basically chose my strategy here. I rolled 2 Sidekicks and a shield. Fabricated Frosty on turn 1 and prepped for turn 2. More and more Sidekick rolls led to more and more Frosty’s. Pairing them up early meant that I was hitting fairly hard and fast. This first game is where we realized that Santa needed the sharpie errata. He was too powerful as it was.
Let’s just call this game a giant FUBAR. I decided to focus on Yukon Cornelius in this one and paired him with the force block Global on Krampus. Cornelius got big in a hurry. However, we screwed up this game in so many ways that it was hilarious. I messed up with Call Out and stunned characters, while he messed up with Infiltrate. Technically… I “won”, but I don’t think either of us really deserved it.
I wanted to mess around with the Elves and The Grinch in this game. I forgot about the life loss part of Mr. Grinch and hurt myself while I stole energy from my opponent. I bought up lumps of coal in the early game and it did mess with his bag. I stopped buying them after the second one, because it just felt like overkill. We decided that LoC needed to be maxed out at 2 dice after this. I got my 0/2 Elves stuck in the Field and had difficulty getting Santa out. I went back to Cornelius, and kept pulling things into him with the Krampus Global. Eventually I wore him down before he could get his stuff through.
I enjoy this Christmas Tradition. I enjoy designing the cards for these and see how they work in the real world. It does give me some appreciation for the Wizkids designers, as sometimes what you want to happen does not always translate from what you put on the card. Luckily, local errata are easy to deal with. I’ve already got some fixes to work on for what was played tonight. I already even have some of the 2019 cards in the works. Getting the feedback from the local guys is helping build this set into something I look forward to playing with every year.
What do you think of Christmas Dice Masters? What does your local scene do for the Holidays? We would love to hear about it in the comments below!
Thanks for reading and have a Merry Christmas/Happy Holiday.