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How to Succeed in Duelmasters

The name of the game is DUELMASTERS. It’s very important to remember that, because it seems to me that the majority of the players I see out there (notably long-time players) have forgotten that, and, unfortunately, they are spreading that sickness to new players, who don’t seem to notice that the game is not called “Getting to Primus” or “Winning Tourney Championships.” It is called DUELMASTERS

The object of the game is to become the DUELMASTER.


Seems easy, doesn’t it? Well, it’s not–it requires some skill and determination and a willingness to learn how to win, win, win, and not listen to some know-it-all Primus-head who says, “You’ll never get anywhere with that worthless warrior!” That’s bullshit, plain and simple, and frankly, you don’t have to listen to them.

When I started playing Duelmasters, it was the autumn of 1990. The game had been in existance for some years, and they had just installed the laser printer (before then, it had been printed on dot matrix printers). The best players in the game were the ones who could, and did, rule the =regular, basic arenas.= ADM was something folks played in for added fun, once they had finally been pushed off their cushy DM Throne and thrown onto the Isle (a punishment for being successful in the arena, which is precisely what they’re calling Primus now). Primus and the Regional arenas came along about a year later, because ADM 100 (the only ADM arena at the time) was getting a little crowded.

But the point of the game was still to become Duelmaster, and hold that throne against ALL comers. No matter what. If you could take the throne and hold it, you were a GREAT Duelmasters player, hands down, and it didn’t matter one way or another if you had warriors in Primus or won at tournaments.

Apparently, this was insufficient for certain managers, who find that they have no purpose in life and certainly no self-respect if they are not worshipped by all Duelmasters players (which certainly does put them in a spot of esteem in the real world, let me tell you). So they started going on about how important Primus is, and how important tournaments are, and wrangling for more than two and a half tourneys a year (back then, the FtF was a giveaway tourney, mostly for local players, and there certainly weren’t any held on the east coast–there weren’t even “prizes,” the winner of FtF tourneys got a cool plaque). So they bitched and whined and got a second FtF, and the more they bitched and whined and whined and bitched, the more they were caved in to. Tournaments became a strange focus for this game Duelmasters, and the vision was knocked askew. No longer was the Duelmasters’ throne the goal of the game–suddenly everyone just “wasn’t great” unless they had Tournament Victors, or better, a Tournament Champion!

Managers pinned their very self respect on the fact that they never got a Tournemant Championship, which, in my opinion, is what is really strangling this once very fine game.

There is one manager playing DM today that understands what the name of the game is, and he plays it. This is Wayne Smith, i.e., “The Consortium.” I’m sure you have him in a local arena, and have worn out your lungers and slashers and whatnot against his Towering Walls of Scum, who are notorious for taking the throne and holding it for turn after turn after turn after turn after turn. (If you’re in Iaye, you know him as “Lenpro,” and should ask him about Herr Panel. If in Zensu, ask “Pandora” about Scarlet. And ask Fandil the Wise, in Ardivent, about any of his greats there.

The Consortium is proud of the fact that he plays =DUELMASTERS=. He knows how to take the “worst” rollups and have them rule arena after arena, apparently without any effort at all. It became my duty in life to create slashers and strikers (and even the occasional lunger) to defeat Consortium Wastes and TPs. I succeeded, every so often, but alas, usually that meant my firebrands got yanked out of the arena much faster, and could only hold the throne for one or two turns. Still, that meant I succeeded.

I held the Duelmaster throne. I held it many, many times over the years. I win. End of game. (Fortunately, it’s an open-ended game, and when you win, you’re permitted to start over with a new piece. But some managers can’t do that. They have to go on and on and on and on and on and on with the same old piece, no matter what happens…)

Unfortunately, I can’t give you a succinct study of how Wayne does it; you’ll have to ask him. Some of his best successes have been some of the dirt-ugliest rollups I ever saw. It was amazing. He was a god of DM to me. My specialty were those firebrands: slashers and strikers and aimed blows (I innovated the slasher style, BTW. Before me, no one knew how to run them, and they were considered the worst style in the game. Unfortunately, my best have been consigned to the abyss, and I can’t even display them proudly as examples of their greatness. Well, I know a certain manager who will take credit, because his slashers– making good use of my designs–are going to burn up the upper ranks where mine were. And he’s not shy about taking credit).

The point of this article is to impress on new players the fact that you =do not= need to win tournament victors/championships or get all your warriors to Primus to be a good manager. The point of the game is getting the Duelmasters throne. Hold it as long as you can. Take on all comers, and if they whine about losing to you, laugh at them. They can’t take the heat? Well, stay out of the arena.

The very most important part of the game is to =HAVE FUN.= And if you are not having fun, then =don’t play.= I am boggled constantly by those who don’t seem to be enjoying themselves at all, but they won’t (or can’t) quit, always trying to get that elusive “tournament championship” or “top of Primus” or “top of Gateway” or “top of whatever” that really isn’t even part of the game.

If you’re going to play Duelmasters, enjoy yourself. Play =Duelmasters.= Have fun. And don’t stress about the “next level.” Because unless it’s important to you to be some hotshot amongst the three or four dozen managers who think THEY’RE hotshots, it’s not important. Enjoy yourself. That’s the key.

— Kathy R. Coleman, aka Tex, aka Raf, aka almost all the fictional characters in Alastari (whose names might remain there, but the souls are here with me)

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