How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Diamond Dynasty
Since its inception, the Diamond Dynasty suite of modes is something that I wanted to like. The combination of collectible card game, roster management and baseball simulation should have been right in my wheelhouse. Yet, year after year, it quickly took a backseat to the stalwart Franchise mode; then, later, the vastly improved Road to the Show.
Something about Diamond Dynasty just didn't click for me. Maybe it was its reliance on online play for a truly engaging experience. The management and collection side of things also just made building a roster a min/max experience -- simply start all of your best players and never look back.
So, imagine my internal surprise as I admit that in 2016, shortly before the All-Star Break, Diamond Dynasty has been my go-to mode. In fact, I'm hardly a month into my franchise, which I started shortly after the OS Rosters were released. What happened?
This change may not be solely responsible for attracting me to the mode this year, but it certainly has allowed me to play more games. As a father of a burgeoning 8-year-old softball superstar, my gaming sessions are becoming more sparse and scattered. The three-inning games allow me to get maximum gameplay from my short periods of gaming. Plus, I love the pressure that demands playing for one or two early runs.
The new dynamic ratings of each card is a literal game changer. Instead of just changing your lineup each time you unearth a better card, you now need to adjust daily. In a way, this addition captures the feel of fantasy baseball, except you actually get to play with the players in your roster. I'll admit that I sometime fire up the game just to see the ratings changes and make adjustments to my lineup, even if I don't have time to start a game.
The new missions have really given structure to my gameplay. The rewards are just enough of a boost to encourage me to collect a certain team, conquer a stronghold or start specific players. These goals provide purpose, so that even a loss can feel productive. I care less about the Captains portion, but it's still a nice surprise to see I can afford a second-tier card.
Again, I'm primarily a single-player guy, preferring to battle the AI rather than suffer the cheese, cursing or quitting of a random online user. To that end, Diamond Dynasty never really provided engaging gameplay. Yes, you could play the CPU or download a user's roster, but that often seemed aimless.
The new Conquest Mode is like a baseball board game, and is the perfect "one more turn" experience to partner with the great gameplay of The Show. I think there is some room for improvement for this mode, spicing up the gameplay so it's not so Risk-y. But for a first attempt, it's a really enjoyable feature.
As I have written about before, Battle Royale is my favorite new addition for 2016. Despite being exclusively online, my experiences have been largely positive. The mode captures the best part of Diamond Dynasty along with the fun of a player draft. The choices you are asked to make are sometimes tough; a good draft can quickly go downhill when you realize you are really weak at one or two positions.
Initially, I thought the need to pay 1,500 stubs was too much and an annoying limitation. Now, I am excited when I hit that plateau and get to re-draft and try again. It forces another choice, specifically where to spend your hard-earned currency. Would I mind if Battle Royale was "free" all of the time? Not at all. But perhaps the thrill of paying the entrance fee makes the mode all that more enticing.
If you, like me, have been primarily an offline, franchise-only player, I really encourage you to take a look at the mode. In a year where franchise sees minute improvements, Diamond Dynasty feels like a brand new experience. It's addicting, challenging and varied, and three months in, probably the best way to enjoy The Show 16.