The local Achievement wrapped up its latest season last week, and before we go on to start the new one we’re having a special Zombie Apocalypse Dice Masters event this weekend and next. (One of the players couldn’t make it this weekend, so it’s being held over).
In this format there is a de facto third team of ‘undead’ threatening both players, whose actions are dictated by special rules, rather than being controlled by a live player. This is known as the Herd. The two players in each game use a specially prepared dice bag known as the Graveyard. The Graveyard contains an assortment of Zombie, Skeleton, Mummy, Wraith and Vampire dice. I think it also includes one Atrocitus die.
At the start of the game, there is a single die, known as Patient Zero, in the Herd. A Lich or a Valindra Shadowmantle die is used for Patient Zero.
Each player takes two turns as in a normal game.
After that, beginning with the starting player’s third turn, after a player completes their Roll and Re-roll Step, their opponent rolls all dice in the Herd. Any of those dice which roll character faces are placed in the Field Zone between the two players.
At the end of the active player’s Main Step, if he has more Noise than his opponent he will be attacked by all undead dice in the Field Zone. Noise is determined by the number of dice (including both character dice and continuous action dice) in a player’s field zone.
Defending against the undead is made more complicated by a special rule a special keyword.
First, undead characters which are unblocked deal their damage but remain in the Field Zone.
Second, all undead characters are considered to have the (new and unique to this event) keyword Infected, Any character damaged by an Infected character is KOed.
Another new and unique to the event keyword, Slow, is considered to apply to all undead dice except Patient Zero. Slow characters deal their damage after all characters who aren’t Slow.
The next wrinkle is that any time a character is KOed, whether an undead character or one controlled by either player, a die is added from the Graveyard to the Herd.
Actually, yes. All games in this event will use four specially created Basic Action Cards, as opposed to BACs being separately chosen by each player. Furthermore, at the start of each game, each player places one Basic Action die or each color in their Used Pile, leaving only one of each color available for purchase.
The Basic Action Cards used were these . . .
Furthermore, there were restrictions on Team construction: no D & D characters of any kind, no Hulk from the Thor set, and no Atrocitus.
What Did You Play?
The Team: The Zombie Horde is My Win Condition
In most games in this format, your primary concern will end up being the Herd, not your official opponent. Usually, the game will end when one player is eaten by Zombies. Having been warned about this in advance, I did something that’s usually a bad idea: I built a team designed not to lose, rather than to actually win.
First card on the the team was Black Widow – Mistress of Pain from Civil War. She can block any number of characters with a printed fielding cost of 0. So a single Black Widow die would be able to block any combination of Level 1 or 2 Zombies, Level 1 or 2 Mummies, Level 1 or 2 Wraiths and Level 1 Skeletons.
Then, seeing that players would begin the game with four Basic Action Dice is their Used Piles I decided to include Chalkboard and the common Question, a 2-cost who has Gadgeteer. Chalkboard and buy Question on Turn 1, Field him and attack with him on Turn 2, and the Gadgeteer allows me to roll a Continuous Basic Action Die in my Used Pile. If I roll an action face, I can field the die. This gave me an opportunity to start making use of those action dice (well, one of them) right away.
I put Iceman – Too Cool For Words on the team for his global. It gave me the option to field Sidekicks, but get them off the field quickly if I felt the need. Foot Ninja – Shinobijitsu was a bolt Ally with Swarm, giving me a potential ramp option, even if it would be awkward to use in this format, but because this is a Bolt Ally I can use the Iceman global on Foot Ninja dice if I wanted to.
I put Giganta on the team for the Spin Down global, but in this format there’s unlikely to ever be any reason to spin down my own characters – any characters taking damage from the undead are going to be KOed because of the Infected keyword.
The last two cards on the team were a couple of Uncommons from ASM. Vulture, for his ability to damage every Attacker when he blocks, and Daredevil for his ability to block up to two characters.
Tsarina team. He bought Black Widow dice and attacked with them as fast as he could get them out. He was slowed down because we all started the game with the basic action dice in the Used Pile. I poked him on the early turns with a couple of Sidekicks, then did everything I could to provoke attacks from the Herd, and get as many characters as I could (on both sides) KOed to grow the size of the Herd. He whittled me down to about 8, where I went into discretion mode. He kept fielding and trying to attack with his Widows, only to discover he had to block with them in order to survive the horde of undead, but he was still taking some damage each turn. Soon enough, his life was down to 0.
This clever fellow brought Super Rare Jocasta, along with common SP//dr. He fields Jocasta, blocks Patient Zero with her when PZ attacks. Jocasta’s ability redirects the damage, so Jocasta doesn’t take damage, Patient Zero’s defense is high enough Jocasta doesn’t KO him. Nothing is KOed, nothing is added to the herd.
Word is SR Jocasta is banned for next week.
The two characters he tried to make use of were Green Goblin – Goblin Lord and the Angel – Soaring Rare, both from AvX. Goblin Lord gives Sidekicks +1/+1 and Angel becomes unblockable when his controller uses an Action Die. He was unable to make much use of either of them, however. The Herd’s Field Zone grew quite rapidly, quickly getting to the point where both of us had to keep our fields completely empty as a matter of survival.
NOTE: This quasi-stalemate was not unique to this game, It happened in a couple of other games involving other players over the course of the event.
Some readers might think the ‘Make Some Noise!’ Basic Action might help get things moving here, but since nobody was paying Fielding Costs, any player who was hit with one had little problem removing it before the undead attacked.
‘What’s For Dinner?’ was actually more useful in this situation, at least if you can manage to field it and two or more characters on the same turn. You sacrifice one of the characters to use WFD, and attack with the other(s), leaving yourself with an empty field.
I’d bought the last WFD, giving me two of the three, and had managed to pull off the above tactic a couple of times, which, combined with some early chip damage, brought my opponent down to 7-8 life. Feeling his situation was hopeless (I was still at full health), my opponent conceded.
On the team: I had some trouble rolling character faces on Black Widow, but when I was able to get her out she proved as useful as expected. The Question was okay, but after having played in the event, I don’t think the Gadgeteer ability is actually all that useful in combination with these specific action dice.
In this format, the character dice you buy on early turns are very important, because the undead Field Zone can get unwieldy quite rapidly, and if it does, there’s not a lot of point to buying more character dice.
Which means this is a format where you might want to consider putting several cards on your team just for their globals. Which begs the question which globals will help your team more than your opponent’s.
In my own case, the Giganta global was a poor choice. The Iceman global was used against me in the Jocasta game, but I wasn’t winning that game regardless, and was a non-factor in the other two.
On the event as a whole:
I did enjoy the event, but while some playtesting had been done beforehand, it’s pretty clear not all the kinks had been worked out.
It was clear the organizer intended to make another tweak or two beyond the Jocasta ban – something to avoid the long stretches where neither side would field anything (something I agree needs fixing) and perhaps some minor changes to how some of the Basic Action Cards for the event would work. I heard some of the ideas, but I’m not sure if they’re final, so I’m not going to share them right now.
We’ll see how well these adjustments turn out next week.
Thanks for reading, and happy rolling!