Two for the Road

I interrupt my regularly scheduled Out of the Shadows article to bring you a love letter to Shriek: Sonic Beam and Green Devil Mask: Lesser Trap.

Well – not exactly.  But as rotation nears, and these two cards are rotating out of the Modern format, I wanted to share my thoughts about these two cards, as they fade away into my second least favourite format (Golden – but that’s an article for another day).

Shriek: Sonic Beam.  Love her or hate her, you can’t deny she has had a significant effect on the meta in Dice Masters since her release way back when in the Spider-Man: Maximum Carnage (SMC) set.  There are a LOT of cool cards in that set (Don’t believe me? Check out our essentials list!), but I think most would agree that those cards were overshadowed by Shriek. She’s a 3 cost bolt with a max 1 fielding cost, and a 2 or 3 defence stat.  You could buy her first turn, going either first or second, and guarantee a Shriek die on your third turn with good bag control (or second turn, back in the good ol’ days of Rip Hunter’s Chalkboard Global Ability: Pay shield; the first die you purchase this turn is added to your Prep Area instead of your Used Pile).

Shriek was the card everyone wanted and needed.  She was the new hot stuff.  What was so special about Shriek, you ask?  Well, when fielded, she permitted you to ignore all the text on an opposing character’s card for as long as Shriek was active.  The character that was being ignored didn’t have to be active, or even purchased; all you had to do was field Shriek and the magic happened.  Your opponent’s win condition was now nothing more than a blank card; the control piece that your opponent had in play was no longer controlling my die; if I got my Shriek out first, I could play that mini-game we all learned to love to hate – Shriek the Shriek, so your Shriek becomes useless and can’t shut my win condition down.

Shriek became the go-to control piece.  It was easy to bring a Shriek.  Shriek was everywhere; as part of a team pack, anyone could have her.  She wasn’t super-rare, she was super-common.

There are a lot of players that don’t like Shriek and what she did to the game, for various reasons.  I won’t elaborate on those reasons here – feel free to chime in down in the comments section if you would like to share your reasons for disliking Shriek.

For me, though, as a newer player, Shriek was vital to my team builds.  I didn’t (and still don’t) know what all the cards do or how they interact; even when I read them, I don’t always see the possibilities…I need to play them to figure out how they work, and work together, or see someone else do it.  If I sat down across the table from something I was unfamiliar with, though, I could usually figure out what needed to be controlled, and Shriek was able to do that for me, almost all the time.

Then, I learned that everyone else knew how effective Shriek was as well. So I needed to learn how to remove an opposing Shriek die, so that my Shriek would become available to me again.

Finally, I learned that I needed to build a team with multiple win conditions and multiple control pieces, so that if my win condition or control piece was shut down, I could pivot to another strategy.  Now, I didn’t ALWAYS do these things, even though I knew I should; but learning them, and applying them to various degrees on various teams made me a better team builder, and I think many players could say the same.

Green Devil Mask: Lesser Trap, from the Dungeons & Dragons set Tomb of Annihilation (TOA), is another card that many players dislike, especially those who like building teams with big fields of characters.  This was a Trap, and it sat in your field until triggered by your opponent.  As soon as your opponent fielded their fourth character die, they would have to reroll their active character dice, and any that rolled characters would go to the used pile. There is plenty of controversy around this card and a ruling surrounding it (as well as the oft-asked question of, do the dice go directly to used, or instead go out of play – see a rulebook for that answer), but no one could argue it wasn’t an effective control piece.  As an action die, it couldn’t be targeted by Shriek: Sonic Beam, but there is a ruling that permitted it to be targeted by Blob: Appetite for Destruction (When fielded, choose an opposing card, cancelling all previous choices.  your opponent may not purchase or field that card’s dice until Blob leaves the Field Zone), so there was a way to potentially stop it from being purchased or fielded.

I think this card really affected a certain play style – that of a big field of attackers.  If that’s your style, then it would have been a big pain in the behind to play against.  Some of those players decided to face the trap head on and roll through it.  They found ways to get the dice they needed from used to their prep area for the next turn.

Other players, like me, learned to play a leaner team.  I built teams that didn’t depend on wide fields of characters to do damage.  I looked for ways to win with a maximum of three characters in the field.  This taught me how to build more effective teams, how to purchase more effectively, how to use Global Abilities and Action Dice to better advantage.  A side result of this is I learned how to better manage my bag, and I became a more effective player.

Both of these cards were annoyances in the beginning, but as I played with them, and against them, I learned how to build more effective teams; teams that could pivot; teams that didn’t need a ton of characters or actions to perform well. I learned how to control my bag, my used pile and my prep area. I learned how to use these cards to my advantage, and also how to work around them if they were across the table.

I’m sure that in the future, there will be more cards that initially present as annoyances.  But by taking a look at what I learned from these cards, I am actually looking forward to seeing more annoying cards in the future, so I can continue to learn and grow as a Dice Masters player.

I’m glad these cards are moving on, not because I hate them, but because I’m ready to learn new ways of playing this game, which means new characters and abilities to master and control.

What are your thoughts about Green Devil Mask: Lesser Trap and Shriek: Sonic Beam?  Were you a lover or a hater of these cards?  Did you learn anything different than I did?  Will you miss these cards, or are you happy they are on their way out?  Share with me in the comments.

Until next time…

-jbouwme

One Reply to “Two for the Road”

  1. To me it felt right to have Shriek and Green Devil Mask have their run in modern. I assume we will see similar type of characters, traps or actions in the future sets. It is fun to have a variety of options for playing and I enjoyed them being part of the game. The fun I have playing this game really hinges on a point you made in your article, “I didn’t (and still don’t) know what all the cards do or how they interact; even when I read them, I don’t always see the possibilities…I need to play them to figure out how they work, and work together, or see someone else do it.”
    Dear Wizkidz;
    Please keep the funky stuff coming. It is a blast to sit down and explore all the possible options that can happen during a game while we figure out how interactions work and work together. The offer of a new adventure every time the game is played is really exciting.

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