During our draft event this weekend, a couple of people mentioned a mechanic they thought was missing from this game: culling. The first game I played with the effect was Dominion, where it’s called trashing, and it is a staple of deck building games. The precursor to Dice Masters, Quarriors, made use of it extensively. When a die scores a player has the option to permanently remove from the game (cull) any die in their used pile. If you haven’t played many deck builders, this may not make sense immediately. In the Dice Masters context, picture your bag with all 8 sidekicks and the Hulk you bought the turn before. Now picture it with 6. Now try 3. The less garbage you have, the more often you will draw your purchases. There have been many times when I’ve drawn 4 sidekicks and wished for a cull. But while there are hundreds of characters, globals and powers in the game, there is no culling.
I don’t think that’s likely to change, at least not any time soon. It’s not like the designers don’t know what culling is. A choice was made to keep it out of the game, and has been made again – 4 times since AVX. I think it likely that they wanted to really take the game away from its deck building origins; to make it more like Magic and less like Dominion. But of course I don’t know their reasons. Since it doesn’t exist I don’t know what effect it would have on the game – but I have some ideas.
One thing to keep in mind about culling: it’s a long term benefit. In the short term, this turn and probably the next one, it does nothing for you. You won’t gain anything from culling until your dice have gone back in your bag and you’re drawing a new set. Also, its pretty minimal on its own. If you only cull one die, you might never notice a difference in your draw. Only once you cull multiple dice do you start really seeing value from it. For those reasons, I don’t see culling as being particularly overpowered – or even necessarily all that useful – in Dice Masters. The game is too fast. You don’t refill your bag often enough for culling to shine, and by the time you’ve culled 4 sidekicks you’ll probably be dead, because your opponent was buying Gobbys.
That said, how valuable culling could be would depend largely on how difficult it is to cull. A 6 cost character that allowed you to cull a single die when fielded (or blocked or whatever) would be useless. A 1 cost global that allowed you to cull sidekicks from your used pile just might transform the game. But would it be a positive transformation? I tend to think so, but without testing its only a guess. A more reasonable global might cull sidekicks from the reserve pool instead of used – costing you two total energy instead of 1. Spending 2 energy for a long term benefit might not, ultimately, see very much play. But it might also introduce a whole new level of strategy to the game.