Rules School – New “Spark” Keyword

Welcome to Rules School.  A series of articles that focuses on some of the intricacies found within the rules of Dice Masters.  Everyone from new players, to long time veterans, can find themselves in a confusing situation when certain game states come up.  Our hope with this feature is to clear up some of these situations and help your games go as smoothly as possible.

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After a long wait, the Trouble In Waterdeep Campaign Box and the Zhentarim and Adventures in Waterdeep Team Packs are finally getting into the hands of paying customers.  (In certain locations, at least.  Please ignore the sound of grinding teeth.)

This broad set introduces two new keywords.  One of them, Obscure, is putting a previous used ability, seen on cards such as Common Yuan-Ti Pureblood and even Rare Angel from AvX into a keyword format.

We’ve seen WizKids do something similar before, in the creation of the Fast and Overcrush keywords.

But enough about Obscure.


Onto today’s lesson…


The New “Spark” Keyword


The other new keyword, Spark, is the one I want to talk about today.

(Note:  In the discussion below, when I say “on a burst face” I will mean either a single or double burst face.)

My mother is a retired math teacher.  During her teaching days, one of her most often repeated mantras was, “When all else fails, read the instructions.”

However, in this case, that leads to the question of “Which instructions?”

The definitions of Spark on the WizKids online Keywords page and in the Trouble in Waterdeep rulebook (see here) contradict one another.  I’ve asked around about that and everyone who’s gotten back to me (plus the good people at the Rollin’ Thunder podcast) concur that the Keywords page takes precedence over the rulebook.  So, we will be using that definition going forward.

So let’s have a look at it:

Spark:  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.  (DDDM4)

For reference, here are a couple of cards with Spark abilities.  Note, that, as is the case with the Awaken and Energize keywords, Spark abilities will usually be different for different characters.  The keyword refers to a common triggering event for a variety of different abilities.


So what does the definition quoted above mean for players?

First, the Spark ability on an active character can be triggered once per Step.

Two parts to that.  Number one:  Once.  Not once per burst, or once per die showing a burst face.  Once total.

Number two:  Per Step.  Not per Turn.  Players don’t roll dice in the Clear and Draw or Clean Up Steps, but there are three steps where the Player rolling dice is possible – Roll and Reroll, Main, and Attack.  Rolling dice during the Attack Step isn’t common, but theoretically, at least, a player could use the Acererak global during the global window of the Attack Step.  If the action die being rolled came up on a burst face, Spark abilities would be activated.

E.g. If. whle Vajra and Doppelganger were active, a player were to draw a Grombrindal’s Fury die and roll it on a burst face during the Roll and Reroll step, their Spark abilities would trigger at the end of the Step.  Vajra would allow the player to add an Experience token to another Adventurer, while Doppelganger would get a +1A/+1D buff.

The player then uses the action during his Main Step.  That involves re-rolling the die, and if it lands on a burst face when he does, Spark abilities will activate again (since it is a different Step from the original activation).  Vajra could add another Experience token to an Adventurer other than herself, and Doppelganger would receive another +1A/+1D buff at the end of the Step for a total of +2A/+2D.

Note that the definition quoted above specifies that when you use Spark abilities, you use them at the end of the current Step.  So, in the above example, even if the player could trigger Spark in the Attack Step, Doppelganger wouldn’t get the (third) buff until the end of the Attack Step – which would be after combat damage has been resolved.  So Doppelganger wouldn’t really benefit in a meaningful way.  Vajra, on the other hand, would be able to add another Experience token to an Adventurer other than herself.

So, Pop Quiz:

At the end of the Roll and Reroll Step, after my rerolls, I have an Atlantis action die on a single  burst face, an Invulnerability basic action die on a double burst face, and a Mimic character die on a Level 1 single burst face.  How many times do Spark abilitities for each active character with Spark?

Answer:  Once.  Even though I rolled three dice with burst faces, and four bursts total, Spark abilities only trigger once/Step.

(It is theoretically possible those abilities could be triggered again in later steps.  That would require me to have the means and the desire to reroll one or more dice which might come up on a burst face during later steps.)



So there you have it.

A fast, lean primer on a new keyword that isn’t very complicated, but still may not have been quite as simple and straightforward as some players were expecting.

If any of you have any questions, the Comments box is right below.  I encourage you to use it.

But for now, class dismissed.

Son of L

2 Replies to “Rules School – New “Spark” Keyword

  1. It doesn’t seem that the burst has to be visible at the end of the step. If I used thrown brick as my only burst for example, and it get’s sent to my used pile, I still get the benefits of the Spark keyword right?

    1. That’s essentially correct.

      If you rolled Thrown Brick on a burst face during the Roll and Reroll Step, you would use any Spark abilities at the end of that step. (Remember that in the Roll and Reroll Step (only) you only check for bursts at the end of said Step.)

      If you rolled it (again, on a burst face) during the Main Step, say with the Acererak global, you can use the action (sending the die Out of Play) and you would still use any Spark abilities at the end of the Main Step.

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