Target Lock Fixation

There are some Dice Masters players, myself included, who, when they come across a new combo can become fascinated with it, if the combo is interesting enough.  We decide we want to use it in a game, just to see it go off, even if it doesn’t really help us win.

That’s what happened to me this week.

What Did You Play?

The Team:  Parademon Burn.

It started with an amped up Swarm team. Amped up, first by the Uncommon Queen Grabstab, which allows me to double the number of extra dice I draw from Swarm.  Second, by the use of Common Cosmic Cube which I can use to churn Sidekick dice (and other dice not of immediate importance) which means I will draw my Swarm dice more frequently.

That should set me up for some turns where I am rolling lots of dice.  It’s not inconceivable I could be rolling four or five character dice on a turn.  So I decided to include the Yellow Lantern Ring that gives Intimidate to all character dice in my Reserve Pool.  If I field 4 or 5 characters and remove an opposing character die every time I do, my opponent just might have a hard time blocking when I attack.

Which is my I chose to go with common Batiri Battle Stacks as my Swarm character. When I choose to go on the attack, having 3 or 4 of them in the field means they all have a decent A as a result of them all buffing each other.

I went with Big Entrance as my first Basic Action Card, so I could buy Battle Stacks at a discount.  If I can get one Battle Stack active and buy 2 or 3 of the other dice on the same turn with Big Entrance I can set myself up for a nice turn.


I decided to add another Swarm character – specifically Uncommon Parademon for the burn damage.  Which in turn led to me including Darkseid:  Erasure.  I went with it mostly for the global.  I don’t really want Swarm dice, or Cosmic Cube, in my Prep Area.  Darkseid’s global gives me a means of clearing them out if they do wind up there.









My last two character slots went to Dormammu and Clea.  I went with more expensive characters to test a theory from the last time I ran Queen Grabstab.  At that time I thought buying several cheaper character dice was diluting the effectiveness of my Swarm.

I expected if I could get my Swarm going, I could buy a 6 cost just about every turn,  And doing it that way, I’d be able to keep Swarming effectively.

Why Dormammu and Clea?  Well, Dormammu should shut down action dice teams.  And Clea, well I’ve been meaning to test drive her and her ability for a while now.  I figured this was a team where I should be able to buy her, maybe multiple dice of her, and she gave me a removal option, at least for low D characters.

The other BAC?  That was all about the combo.

The Combo:

The second BAC I ran was Target Lock.  For a peculiar reason – I wanted to see if I could get my crazy combo to go off, and said combo would require my opponent to use Target Lock against me.  So I decided to provide it for them.

What happens when, during my Clear and Draw Step, I empty my bag and all that’s in my Used Pile are Swarm dice that have been sent there by Target Lock’s effect?

This looks to be an infinite loop situation, so it would repeat 3 times and shut down, by this ruling:

The only problem is, what, exactly, makes up the loop?

Does Target Lock trigger only three more times once my bag empties?

Does it matter whether have one die or two dice (or more) to draw when the bag is empty?

Yes, I’m aware of the weakest interpretation guideline:

Of course, what that means is, if we had two (or more) reasonable definitions of what makes up the loop in question, we should use the ‘weaker’ choice.  And I’m finding it a bit of a struggle to come up with one to start with.

We’ve discussed it a bit behind the scenes here at DM-North, and we’re leaning towards Target Lock only sending 3 more dice to the Used Pile after the bag refill, but we’re a long way from certainty.

In one way, it would be nice to know, but since it never came up on this night, so it’s extremely unlikely to be of more than academic interest unless both players are trying to make it go off (one for Parademon burn damage, the other for Prep, maybe?)

I could go on, but that’s probably enough for now about a combo that never went off in what is still actually a ‘What Have You Played’ article?

(FWIW, my thinking, at the time of the event, was that if the combo had gone off, my bag would have refilled three times, and I would have drawn a total of 12 dice for the Target Locked Swarm character – the 3 prior to the first refill, and 3 more after each of the refills.  So I would have done 12 damage, and my opponent would have Prepped 12 dice.  At this point, I have no idea whether I was right.)

So how did my games turn out?

Game 1:

Up against a Taskmaster: Photographic Reflexes team which included Dwarf Wizard and SR Multiple Man.  That Taskmaster is the one who copies all the keywords of other active characters.  The other characters were mostly on the team to provide the keywords Experience, Overcrush, and Fast for Taskmaster to copy.

An amusing bit at the start where he sent his 0A Dwarf Wizard through my empty field for no damage.  He’d only fielded him to trigger his Yawning Portal die.  And, of course, he wanted to re-field him when he actually had something to blank.

Which ended up being my Queen Grabstab.  I did get Clea on the field eventually, but not before Dwarf Wizard had 4D (3D face and 1 Experience token), so I couldn’t use her to remove him.

So no double Swarm for me, although Queen Grabstab and her 8D on Level 3 did prove useful for blocking a 7A Overcrushing Taskmaster.  It proved to be a long game, and for most of it my opponent only had one Taskmaster die in his Field (on a 6A face with one Experience token).

A lot of my early draws and rolls were not quite what I was looking for.  I did get to field test how Target Lock worked against Swarm, since he was running SR Multiple Man.  I found it worked pretty well.  The extra ramp was useful, but didn’t really make up for the loss of Queen Grabstab’s double Swarm effect.

It took time – quite a lot of it – but he built up his field faster than I was able to build up mine.  I’d done some burn damage along the way, but not enough, and he’d been able to deal me a few points of damage here and there as well.

He finally got to a point where a mass attack would give him lethal.

(He put a Target Lock on my Batiri Battle Stack, so if I’d survived the turn, I had a decent chance of the combo going off – but there was no way for me to survive the turn.)


Game 2:

God Catchers, Obscure characters, Thrown Brick and Improvised Weapon.

He was using God Catcher for removal, not trying to hit me for 10 damage, and they were very effective in that role.

Having Yellow Lantern Ring so I could Intimidate God Catcher tokens into oblivion was enormously helpful.

He hit me with unblockable characters multiple times, but never seemed to deal more that 2 damage at a time.

I got some Swarm going, eventually getting a Dormammu die out.

He had a God Catcher token and two actual character dice (different characters) in his field, just enough that Dormammu prevented him from using any action dice.  That completely wrecked his turn, because he had two Thrown Bricks in Prep, and was also rolling a God Catcher die and one or two Improvised Weapon dice.

He KO’d Dormammu by forcing him to block his God Catcher token.  He came up energy on my turn, and I never got him back on the field, but the damage was done.

A couple turns later I outnumbered him enough to get to lethal via combat damage.


Game 3:

This player had an 8-dice team (1 die/card) so I decided to forget about Target Lock and, in turn, the combo.

He had the Superman who Preps a die when he takes damage, Jimmy Olsen, Tabaxi Rogue and Mr. Mxyzptlk.  Plus Superwoman for her global.  And Magic Missile.

I decided to buy my Parademon dice first this game, and go straight to the burning.  I also bought my Cosmic Cube early.

As for my opponent, he got Superman, Tabaxi Rogue and Mxy out.  Then he used Mxy to turn one of my character dice into a copy of Superman, used the Superman global to turn the rest of his energy into bolts, then pinged my ‘Superman’ with all of that energy, dealing me burn damage from Tabaxi Rogue.

We were roughly even on burn damage, when I got Clea out.  The character die he had in his field were Superman, Jimmy Olsen, Tabaxi Rogue and Mr. Mxyzptlk.  The latter three all have a max D of 3.  So Clea used her ability to ping off one of the three on his turn, and another on my turn, and he found himself with not enough blockers for my abundance of attackers.



Well, I never got the combo to fire, and I’m not going to waste any more time trying.  Target Lock has never been anywhere near as popular as its stablemate Thrown Brick, and if my opponent isn’t inclined to use it – well, there’s not going to be any combo.

As for the action itself, Thrown Brick can be, as I expected, very disruptive against Swarm teams.  It can be useful in other situations, but against Swarm is where I find it really shines.

Also, I ended up eating some humble pie on the night.  In a Facebook discussion not that long ago, I flippantly commented “Why would anyone play Poxwalker: Diseased Horde when they could play Batiri Battle Stack: Lesser Humanoid?”

There actually is a reason, as I was reminded on the night.  Battle Stacks might have better stats and a similar but improved character ability, but unlike Poxwalkers, they are Monsters, or at least have the D & D Monster banner.  (I don’t know enough 40K lore to know if Poxwalkers fall under the definition of monster there).  And with the release of the Waterdeep box and packs, the Dice Masters player base is paying more attention to the Experience keyword than ever before.

As for the team itself, I thought it worked well, when Queen Grabstab wasn’t blanked, and when my Swarm catalyst dice weren’t being removed by attacking God Catcher tokens.  So, maybe a little bit vulnerable to opposing control pieces.

I’m fine with Battle Stacks as my primary Swarm character, since I’m running Big Entrance.  (Yes, Yawning Portal will probably work even better.  I may have to test that when I get my hands on the team pack with YP.)

I had Dormammu active for 1 turn on the night, but having him there for that turn completely turned around the game in question.  He can disrupt action dice teams that badly.

As for Clea, she was awesome.  I’d never seen anyone use her (I’d once included her in a previous build, but never bought her).  Once she’s active, I essentially have a once per turn triple strength version of the Magic Missile global available to me.  Which can be amazingly useful.  And her A-D stats are nothing to sneeze at, either.

Would I play this team again?

Well, I’d swap out Target Lock for a different BAC, of course.  Right now, I’m leaning towards Flying Hammer/Wallop/Smash! as the global can prevent my Swarm catalyst dice from being punched out while force blocking.

I’d also consider running different versions of both Parademon and Darkseid.  I went with the Erasure version of Darkseid primarily for the global, since I intended to use Target Lock (to demonstrate its utility to entice my opponent into buying it.)  Using Target Lock should end up with me prepping dice, and the Erasure global gives me a means of getting my Swarm and/or Cosmic Cube dice out of my Prep Area (they’re a lot more helpful to me in my bag.)

The common Darkseid allows me to sacrifice Parademons to capture opposing characters until end of turn, which might be useful.  It would be a way of eliminating God Catcher tokens, at least.

As for the Parademons, the burn damage is useful, but a promo Black Widow on the other side of the table would completely shut it down.  A 4-cost for my second Swarm character is expensive.  I’d consider going with the common, even if an otherwise blank 3-cost still isn’t great.

I’d also reconsider the dice counts.  While I’m skeptical that having a second Cosmic Cube would we as useful as the first, a second Yellow Lantern Ring might have been useful, particularly in my second round game.

There you have it – the combo, and the team.  Feel free to share any thoughts and observations about either in the comments below.

Thanks for reading, and happy rolling!

Son of L






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