That ACEC Thing… Again

Average Converted Energy Cost (ACEC) has been a key component of DBS Deck Building for a while now and with the recent updates made to the game entering the Zenkai format, we need to revisit the importance of this metric and how it has scaled alongside the spike in power creep we have seen.

Before we do that, I want to set the stage with the following opinion: Red and Blue have the best Z Battle Cards. This opinion leads me down the path of those being the “best” standalone colors in the game right now.

Just an example of where we are setting the bar:

Beerus, Airy Annihilator – Costs 2 & 2Z, Barrier, 10k, on swing it removes a large threat and pumps itself, then you can pay an additional UU to switch it to active, remove a threat, ignoring Barrier, and it gains Dual Attack for the turn.

Cell, Awakening of the Created – Costs 3 & 2Z, Deflect, 25k, Critical, on play removes all opposing threats, cost 5 or less, from play, and then can switch to active, and has the potential to gain Triple Strike.

Rush Attack SSB Vegeta – Costs 2 & 2Z, Deflect, 15k, generates free combo power, negs something by 15k, and then can gain an additional 10k, Double Strike, Barrier, and switches to active.

SS4 Son Goku, Defender of Life – Costs 2 & 3Z, Deflect, 20k, Double Strike, deals a damage, gains Barrier on play for the durn

The question then becomes, if these are arguably the best 2 and 3 cost cards in the game, and you always have access to them – how does our understanding of ACEC and the value of a card shift?

Let’s look towards the boogeymen of the format – SS4.dec and Dragons

SS4 is a top tier deck that has it all: efficiency, card draw, free combo, and the best 4 cost Battle Card in the game. With that being said, aside from the 4x Unison and the 3-4x SS4 Gogeta, the deck only plays cards that are free or costs 1 energy.

4x Unison – 8
3x SS4 Gogeta – 12
4x SS4 Son Goku, Preparing to Brawl – 2 (Assuming they will be free 50%)
4x SS4 Vegeta, Preparing to Brawl – 2 (Assuming they will be free 50%)
4x Vegeta, Rivalry United – 4
4x Son Goku, Rivalry United – 4
4x Son Goku, Adventure’s Advent – 2 (Assuming they will be free 50%)
3x Rushing Warrior Pan – 1.5 (Assuming they will be free 50%)
2x Crown – 2
1x FDC – 1
3x VIP – 1.5 (Assuming they will be free 50%)
4x Super Combo – 0
3x Testing the Opp – 0
1x Dark Broly OR – 0
1x SCR – 0
4x Tutor Vegeta – 0
3x Bean Goku – 0

Total Energy Cost = 40
Total Energy Cost/Total Cards in Deck: 40/52 = 0.76 ACEC

Dragons is a top tier deck offering a hyper aggressive strategy with solid card advantage and very powerful removal that attempts to either put the game away or put the game very far out of reach within the first few turns. Aside from the decks premier threat in Omega 8, and the SCR, the rest of the deck costs 1 or less.

Dragons

6x Balls – 0
4x Syn, Dread Destroyer – 4
4x Omega 8 – 8
4x Haze, Gathering Evil – 2 (Assuming Activating from hand 50%)
4x Oceanus, Assembling Evil – 2 (Assuming Activating from hand 50%)
4x Nuova, Tenacious Evil – 4
4x Eis, Reanimating Evil – 4
4x Naturon, Congregating Evil – 4
4x Beerus Super Combo – 0
4x Testing the Opp – 0
3x Dragon Thunder – 0
2x Beerus, Unceasing Rage – 2
2x Almighty Resistance – 4
1x Vegeta SCR – 4

Total Energy Cost = 38
Total Energy Cost/Total Cards in Deck: 38/50 = 0.76 ACEC

When we look at these two powerhouses within the format, we quickly see how much 1 energy is worth in their respective archetypes. Vegeta and Goku, Rivalry United are both 1 cost, 20k bodies, with very relevant skills; and Syn, Dread Destroyer is a 1 cost, 20k double striker, that draws a card on play, and has an incredibly relevant attack trigger. Essentially, both archetypes have access to an SS3 Gogeta, Thwarting the Dark Empire – but much easier to play, and in some cases are better.

Turn by Turn Scaling

With SS4.dec and Dragons being the gatekeepers of the format, it is important to recognize how they scale during the first few turns, and what their ceiling is in terms of actions/attacks they can generate on their awakening turn. Dragons are the most explosive of the two since they feel at their best going wide with their energy on turn 2 instead of devoting that 2 energy to a Unison, whereas SS4 really thrives with the Unison in play so it sacrifices going wide for the advantage engine.

The next time you’re testing, be sure to track all the actions and attacks taking place the first few turns of your games. This is important to understand when it comes to selecting your next deck, and properly preparing to face these decks moving forward. Now that we have set the stage of the work you should do to properly understand the strength of the two red decks, each with an ACEC of 0.76, let’s look at the real reason why we’re here.

The Most Important Card Previewed

[Auto] U, if your Leader is Blue: When this card is added to your Z-Energy, choose up to 1 of your opponent’s Battle Cards with an energy cost of 5 or less and place it at the bottom of its owner’s deck.

Yep. That is a card.

We’ve just spent most of this article trying to identify the true value of 1 energy/1card, but it has mostly been based around offense. Power Reclaimed takes this and turns it on its head because now there is a way to get rid of a very relevant threat for 1 energy, that can’t really be interacted with. If you go through the pool of relevant decks, you’ll see a lot of threats that cost 5 or less that this card just absolutely dumpsters. Not only that, but with the introduction of Z-Energy rewarding you for comboing, it isn’t like you’re just going neg on the exchange – you get your money back when you then drop a card like Beerus or Cell.

I know, I am probably hyping the crap out of this card and people will think I am crazy, but just hear me out on a more nuanced topic – what happens when a game goes late and your ACEC is low?

We talked about scaling and how the above decks really focus on trying to end the game within 4 turns. One thing we don’t usually touch on is what happens when those decks can’t win on turn 4, or earlier. ACEC ends up going out the window completely, because as your pool of energy expands, your card quality is not scaling with it.

Syn, Dread Destroyer, and the Rivalry United cards are absolute monsters during the first 2 – 4 turns of a game, but once the opponent gets to their turn 4, 5, 6, etc. the quality of those cards just doesn’t line up with the high-cost cards your opponent now has access to. Additionally, you lose the squeeze on resources that comes from “fighting in a phone booth”, since when a game is compressed, the defending player has less chances to draw the out. With another way to stifle aggression, and the recent ban list, blue has yet another way to drag the aggressive player into deep water, allowing them plenty of time to concoct how they’re going to demoralize the enemy.

Conclusion

I could end up being completely wrong about this, but my gut is telling me that the format went from one extreme, to a slightly less extreme, but in the opposite direction. Don’t get me wrong, both red decks are going to continue to be the gatekeepers for the rest of the decks trying to dip their toes into the competitive pool, but ultimately, even with Bean being errata’d, blue is coming out as the biggest winner post-bans. Between Dimension Magic, Baby Hatch SCR, the rest of the floodgates, Buu Unison, Dirty Burst, Beerus Z, Cell Z, and now Power Reclaimed… the color is almost guaranteed to make it to the late game. Now it is up to you find out how you’re going to take advantage of it.

Pre-Side BO1: Aggro Syn

Untap List:

//play-1
1 Syn Shenron // Syn Shenron, Negative Energy Overflow (bt10-093)

//deck-1
1 The Power of a Super Saiyan (bt13-120)
2 Krillin, Moments Before Comeback (bt11-097)
2 Zamasu, Sacred Disbelief (bt9-091)
3 Negative Energy One-Star Ball (bt10-119)
3 Syn Shenron, Destruction Incarnate (bt10-115)
2 Furthering Destruction Champa (bt1-005)
2 Swift Retaliation Cooler (ex06-27)
1 Pan, Time Patrol Maiden (bt15-155 scr)
2 Omega Shenron, the Ultimate Shadow Dragon (p-284_pr)
2 SS4 Bardock, Fighting Against Fate (p-261)
3 Syn Shenron, Shadow Dragon Leader (bt10-116)
4 Oceanus Shenron, the Anemancer (bt12-113)
4 Haze Shenron, Venomous Mist (bt10-117)
4 Nuova Shenron, Flame Shot Unleashed (bt12-109)
4 Eis Shenron, the Cryomancer (bt11-112)
4 Omega Shenron, Allies Absorbed (bt12-108)
4 Rage Shenron, the Electromancer (bt12-112)
4 Negative Energy Five-Star Ball (bt12-116)

//sideboard-1
2 Oceanus Shenron, Negative Energy Explosion (bt14-135)
2 Vegeta, Unison of Fury (ex12-02)
1 Max Power Kamehameha (ex13-34)
2 Frieza, Divine Transformation (bt12-100)
2 Forbidden Power (bt15-119sr)
3 Mechikabura, Plotting Revival (bt10-096)
1 Syn Shenron, Destruction Incarnate (bt10-115)
1 Syn Shenron, Shadow Dragon Leader (bt10-116)
1 Negative Energy One-Star Ball (bt10-119)

DBS Fest events are coming up, so I thought I would take some time to discuss a powerful and flexible archetype that would allow you to pivot each round depending on your level of comfort with each matchup you face throughout the day.

Aggro Syn… Still Bananas

First, let me say that I understand with the banning of Fu, Shrouded in Mystery, that Control Syn is definitely a contender. The thing is, having the ability to put any deck on the backfoot with the potential of winning on turn 3 every game is really hard to ignore.

Aggro Syn is probably the most efficient and consistent aggro deck that exists and the ability to catch players off-guard when they’re expecting Control Syn is incredibly appealing to me. Not only that, but since we’ve lost Power of a Super Saiyan, we are now given the opportunity to try something different and use those card slots for aggressive tools like Furthering Destruction Champa and SS4 Bardock, Fighting Against Fate. The deck also can reliably deploy Pan SCR offensively as another free threat that can go for lethal when you reach critical mass.

The other thing that is appealing about catching players off-guard with Aggro Syn is that their removal options and floodgates may be flat out wrong. You also pick up huge percentage against decks that rely on charging dual-color cards in order to keep their deck functioning. This means that games when you’re on the play, you’re almost guaranteed to have a turn 3 kill as long as you have the means to awaken and get your normal board established.

Turn 1 – Eis for Rage Ball

Turn 2 – Leader swing, activate Rage Ball, Rage 2 swing, Oceanus into Nuova, play Nuova, rest Nuova, play Syn 4 from drop, sack Rage 2 for Omega 8, warp Oceanus, pass turn.

Turn 3 – Warp Rage 2 and take a life, play 9 drop Syn, swing with Omega and take a life, awaken, activate an Oceanus, rest Nuova to get Eis, Leader swing combo to 25, Eis swing, combo to 25, Swing Syn 9, combo to 40, Warp 7 dragons to play Omega Triple Striker, Over Realm 6 for Fighting Against Fate, play a One-Star Ball, Activate One-Star Ball for Syn 4 drop.

Against slow decks, this deck is an absolute dream. When you are lined up with other aggressive decks or midrange decks though, we can pivot completely since 4x Rage Ball, 4x Rage 2, 4x Nuova, 2x FAF, and 2x FDC are all “flex” slots and allow more than enough room for you to get your control package plus relevant tech cards.

We all know that Soul Striker, Gogeta: Xeno, Golden Frieza, and King Piccolo are the 4 decks that folks are talking about the most. Soul Striker has a hard time dealing with Aggro Syn, and so does King Piccolo. Against Gogeta: Xeno you’re incentivized to be more of a hybrid variant because Gogeta likes to tap out on turn 1 and 2. Against Golden Frieza, you can pivot and rely on your late game in order to win. Basically, Syn Shenron is the only leader that can offer you the ability to cover your matchups by playing three completely different variations between your main deck and sideboard. That is pretty insane to think about.

Conclusion

There are definitely some changes that could be made to the sideboard for whatever you fear the most or you just wish you had more of. There is also an argument to expanding the main deck to 52-54 cards to get some of those control pieces in the main to open up your sideboard even more. This list however is really trying to keep the main deck lean so that we can consistently reach that critical mass turn. What I really want to drive home here is that although Control Syn is a strong pick for these upcoming events, playing Aggro Syn or Hybrid Syn is probably going to be your best option if you’re trying to take advantage of this new competitive format. Happy testing <3.

#scrubfamisbestfam #KTHXBAAAIIIIII

Dropping the (Post-Ban) Hammer with Gogeta: Xeno

Untap List

//play-1
1 Son Goku & Vegeta // Gogeta, Fateful Fusion (bt12-122)

//deck-1
3 Mira, Dimensional Superpower (ex15-05)
1 Pan, Time Patrol Maiden (bt15-155 scr)
2 Furthering Destruction Champa (bt1-005)
2 Super Kamehameha (bt8-104)
3 Supreme Kai of Time, Time Labyrinth Unleashed (bt13-135)
4 SSG Trunks, Power Awakened (bt16-107)
3 Secret Identity Masked Saiyan (bt10-140)
4 Vegeta, True Fighting Spirit (bt12-133)
4 Son Goku, True Fighting Spirit (bt12-128)
4 SS Vegeta, the Prince Strikes Back (bt11-130)
4 SS4 Vegeta, Feigned Greeting (p-307)
4 SS4 Son Goku, Beyond All Limits (p-262)
4 Supreme Kai of Time, Summoned from Another Dimension (p-288)
3 Gogeta, Fearless Fusion (bt12-137)
3 SS3 Gogeta, Marvelous Might (bt12-136)
4 SS3 Gogeta, Thwarting the Dark Empire (p-308)

With the long-awaited ban announcement taking place, GoX (Gogeta: Xeno) looked to be one of the primary targets on the list. Although the hit did take away some of the raw card advantage for the king of thwarting, it still left us with an easy shell to alter. Additionally with ROTG, the archetype picked up such a strong addition with SSG Trunks, Power Awakened.

Just the Beats and Only the Beats, Please.

SSG Trunks truly is a homerun for the archetype that adds a threat that doesn’t have to be played from hand, a 20k Dual Attacker, and a way to easily fuel powerful Over Realms such as Secret Identity, SS4 Son Goku, and SS4 Vegeta. All-around the card is an absolute banger and provides such a high amount of pressure at any stage of the game.

Turn 1, Thwarting

Turn 2, SSG Trunks + Fatty Over Realm

If you’re on the play, how is any opposing deck going to deal with you.. profitably? They’re not.

This is probably the best first two turns you will see from any deck in the format, and GoX is the best at facilitating it. The deck overall may have lost those advantage pieces with Smoke Dragon and Trunks 3 being banned, but the deck added the fattest beats to make up for that loss.

Unison Adjustment

Mira is the boy. The ability to tick up to warp a Trunks or a piece needed for fusion is exactly what this deck wants/needs. Additionally, the -2 ability is something the opponent always has to be concerned about as the game goes on. Again we’re losing that raw advantage from Smoke, but we’re picking up a value generating Unison that creates tension.

A Lesson Learned

As with every archetype I test and attempt to master, there is always a lesson to be learned and passed onto future Matt. With the game of DBS changing so much over the last year, we too must evolve and learn that the rules of engagement must change as well. DBS last year was definitely focused on maximizing the power level of your deck, whether it be offensively or defensively, within the first 3 turns of the game. This meant that you’d sacrifice card quality in some spots in order to reach critical mass at the appropriate time and establish control of the game.

DBS now is wildly different. With the amount of bans put in place, floodgates available, and checks within a given format; games now are going to go to turn 4 and beyond, almost always. What this means is that your deck must consist of absolute bangers across the course of the game, or have ways to consistently draw bangers every single turn. When you look at decks like Soul Striker and GoX, there is such a low number of cards that you’d hate to draw on turn 4 and beyond. This, along with other factors, is why then end up being so strong. They don’t require you to play niche, engine based cards. Instead, you’re left with just.. bangers.

Whereas when you look at decks like King Piccolo and Syn Shenron, and you breakdown each card’s raw power level.. they definitely come up short in those spots. The only difference is that Syn Shenron has a high potential early game, and a turn 6 ability to establish board control. Whereas King Piccolo’s card power level stays medium throughout the entirety of the game with no crazy spikes.

Golden Frieza is interesting because the deck does have high card quality, since it is Yellow. The major difference is that it must play lesser cards to act as a velocity engine to power you through your deck to find your high-powered threats.

This philosophy leads me to believe that Soul Striker, Gogeta: Xeno, and Golden Frieza make up Tier 1. King Piccolo and Syn Shenron end up being a step behind at Tier 1.5.

Conclusion

Gogeta: Xeno would easily by one of my top picks for the fest events coming up. People may be trying to strategize against you, but everything changes when they’re staring down Thwarting and SSG Trunks in the first two turns. I encourage you to test the list as is before making any wild tweaks. In general, I think this shell is a great starting point and provides you with enough power and consistency to show you how good the tandem of Trunks and Thwarting really are. That and you’ll probably be inspired to explore more Over Realm options in the future. Happy testing ❤

#scrubfamisbestfam #KTHXBAAAIIIIII

ROTG Brews: UG Control – Army of One

Untap List:

//play-1
1 Broly // Broly, Evil Unleashed (sd8-01)

//deck-1
2 Dr. Rota, Unknown Potential (db2-042)
1 Son Goku and Son Gohan, Saiyans of Earth (db1-091)
1 Son Gohan, Confronting Invasion (bt15-071)
1 Nappa, On Guard (bt15-085 r)
4 Hasty Dispatch Dyspo (db2-092)
1 Supreme Kai of Time, Spacetime Unraveler (bt12-154)
1 SS3 Son Goku, Man on a Mission (bt11-127)
2 Majin Buu, Unadulterated Destruction (bt14)
3 Zarbon, Cosmic Elite (p-223)
4 Majin Buu, Unadulterated Malice (bt14-082)
4 Senzu Bean (bt1-053)
1 Jiren, Army of One (db2-123)
3 Realm of the Gods – Champa Destroys (bt16-069 r)
4 Cell’s Earth-Destroying Kamehameha (bt9-132)
4 Android 16, Steadfast Comeback (eb1-64)
4 Kusu, Angel of Universe 10 (bt16-139)
4 Android 18, Bionic Blitz (bt9-099)
4 Ribrianne, Punishing Passion (db2-069)
2 Broly, Unrealized Ambition (bt6-063_pr)

With Realm of the Gods releasing soon-ish and the new ban list removing Cell Surge from the format, this created a void that left Green in a really awkward place. This is mostly due to Saiyan Showdown and Realm of the Gods providing very little to support to Green as a whole. Realm of the Gods did however introduce two key cards that drew my attention back to hand control, Kusu and Realm of the Gods – Champa Destroys.

Why Starter Broly?

Put on the map in recent months by the Asian National Championships and then Wang Poh Ann finishing top 4 at the World Championships, it was proven that Starter Broly had the makings of a championship level strategy. Here are a few reasons why:

The leader promotes protecting life in the early game – when you can combo your hand away knowing that you’re going to awaken and draw a fresh set of six cards, it creates awkward exchanges for the opposing player since they don’t know when you’re going to take life or choose to protect it.

The leader refuels every turn – this to me is probably the biggest reason why I took the approach with the list above. The ability to draw so many combo based cards that drive hand destruction on a turn by turn basis is absolutely game warping. Not only that, but you’re pretty much guaranteed to see every card in your deck, which means you don’t have to play a high number of finishers.

The leader has built-in removal every turn – tempo in DBS has shifted more and more towards battlefield presence. As the game has become more fair and actions per turn as come down substantially, having a leader that can remove any threat every turn without paying energy is something that is pretty broken.

What does this deck do?

In this list we want to spend our energy and resources on our opponent’s turn to reduce their hand size as much as possible. We then abuse the leader’s ability to draw a fresh set of cards every turn to keep fueling this strategy. As the game winds down we want to win through slowing chipping away at our opponent while managing their resources, or one-shot them with Jiren, Army of One.

We NEED to Combo

We have 19 cards that allow us to discard the opposing player’s cards during the combo step. This is the main reason we are cutting negates outside of Buu. Especially since Buu plays really well into the hand control strategy, and is a card we can combo to setup Army of One.

I have also thought about playing the 4th Champa Destroys and the full 4 Marcaritas, but 4x Senzu Bean isn’t enough to play all these 1 cost combo cards lol.

*Note: To avoid being punished by Zamasu/Cheelai Super Combo on our turns, we need to combo our cards defensively so that our first swing on our turn can be the refuel.

We got that good D

Another neat part of this deck, which was a late addition by Frisco Fahs, is the Dyspo/Blocker package that keeps fueling our defense or our leader’s removal ability.

Dyspo is another free combo with a ton of upside for this deck. The ability to just bring back a blocker at will to end your turn, or to turn on your leader skill is just too much value to pass up. Especially since we aren’t really doing things on our turn, aside from maybe spending two energy to activate a Ribrianne.

Nappa, On Guard is a blocker with some super cute upside. Son Gohan, Confronting Invasion provides a way to help reduce Unison Markers and self-awaken, and Rota is pure value by allowing you to untap your only Blue energy.

With this package, Zarbon, Buu negate, and plenty of combo power – it is going to be incredibly hard for decks to break through and kill us before we reduce their hand size to 0.

How are we winning?

It is a long, grindy road to victory but we do have a few ways to close a game out:

1.) Chip shots plus hand control

2.) Man on a Mission plus existing board to take opponent from X to 0.

3.) I have been waiting so long for this…

Probably one of the coolest cards ever printed and honestly, with a lot of these combo based hand control cards, Army of One is finally setup to see some major shine. Being able to combo your hand down to just Army of One while reducing your opponent’s hand to 0 feels borderline oppressive at times. I truly hope everyone messes around with this style of win condition as we get further into ROTG testing.

A Lesson to be Learned

A lot of folks have probably already gathered this while playing DBS, but it has become much more clear to me as of late that Hand Control is probably the closest thing to a true control strategy in DBS when compared to the traditional archetypes across other games. When playing control, you’re focused on reducing your opponent to 0 threats on board and minimal cards in hand while protecting your life total in an effort to turn the corner and close out the game with one of a few win conditions within your deck. Your deck is constructed with the majority of cards being ways to answer your opponent on a 1 for 1 and X for 1 basis, with the leftovers being slots for actual threats/win conditions.

Isn’t that insane how that description matches DBS Hand Control so perfectly? I know I am probably late to the party lol, but just wanted to share my own revelations. If anything, this makes me an actual fan of Hand Control strategies, whereas before I was always kind of medium on them.

Anyways… happy testing ❤

#scrubfamisbestfam #KTHXBAAAIIIIII

Realm of the Gods: LebronJames.dec

Untap List:

//play-1
1 Trunks // SSB Vegeta & SS Trunks, Father-Son Onslaught (bt16-071)

//deck-1
2 Secret Identity Masked Saiyan (bt10-140)
2 SS Trunks, Altering the Future (bt13-093)
4 Mecha Frieza, Robotic Riposte (p-331)
2 Swift Retaliation Cooler (ex06-27)
4 Son Goku, Steadfast Assistance (bt15-096 sr)
1 Zamasu, Sacred Disbelief (bt9-091 c)
3 Krillin, Moments Before Comeback (bt11-097)
1 Bergamo, Ferocious Roar (db2-108)
1 Pan, Time Patrol Maiden (bt15-155 scr)
1 Furthering Destruction Champa (bt1-005)
1 Putine, the Dark Sorcerer (bt10-139)
4 Turles, All Too Easy (bt15-107 sr)
2 Realm of the Gods – Black Kamehameha (bt16-092)
2 Frieza Army Reinforcements (eb1-48)
2 Vegeta’s Final Flash (bt9-133)
4 The Power of a Super Saiyan (bt13-120)
4 Bulma, Future on the Line (bt16-084)
3 Vegeta, Father-Son Teamwork (bt16-079)
3 Trunks, Father-Son Teamwork (bt16-083)
4 SSB Vegeta, Future on the Line (bt16-077)
4 SS2 Trunks, Future on the Line (bt16-081)

With Realm of the Gods we already touched on the other “top tier” archetype, Red Goku Supreme, but today I want to take you through my current list for what I believe is far and away the best deck coming out of ROTG – Yellow Trunks/Vegeta, aka “LebronJames.dec”, because this deck truly does do it all.

A segment about tempo in current standard DBS

Before diving into why this deck is so strong, I want to take a second and talk about how the definition of tempo in DBS has shifted, for better and for worse.

In previous formats, tempo in DBS was determined by APT (Actions Per Turn) and ACEC (Average Converted Energy Cost). This meant that top tier decks were, by all standard card game definitions, broken. Games were less about the trading of resources and more about reaching critical mass as quickly as possible and snowballing that supreme advantage into a win.

Coming off of a ban list, then Nationals/Worlds, and now with Realm of the Gods, we’re in a completely different world. Tempo has now shifted back into being about the ability to use most of, if not all of your energy on both offense and defense, addressing board states on an X for 1 basis, and maintaining card advantage/parity on a turn by turn basis while playing offense and defense. This overall is a much healthier place, but leads to formats being much easier to solve when you have clear-cut best leaders/archetypes that do the above items better than the tier below them.

Spoiler alert: Trunks/Vegeta combined with the available yellow toolbox checks all of those boxes and is clearly a top tier archetype.

What does Trunks/Vegeta offer you?

Yes, Trunks/Vegeta forces you into playing the cards within the archetype, but there is no downside. SS2 Trunks, Future on the Line is probably one of the most absurd tempo generators we have ever seen. With your awakened ability, it draws 2 cards on play, offers you a Barrier Blocker, and includes an auto ability that dictates the way your opponent has to structure their turns. This is one of those cards I have talked about recently that creates tension.

In case Yellow didn’t have enough, the archetype also offers you SSB Vegeta, Future on the Line which again draws 2 with your leader ability on play, then also lets you KO any Battle Card in rest mode, ignoring Barrier. This means that combined with Yellow’s other disruptive effects like Riposte and Steadfast, we now have a super clean, efficient answer to any opposing threat at anytime that also draws us 2 cards.

The craziest part about this archetype is that the leader acts as the facilitator:

Just the ability to awaken early and ensure your engine is always online is really over the top. There is 0 downside to opting to play a Trunks , Vegeta, or Bulma from drop, your first evolve each turn draw 2 cards, and you now have a leader with built-in Double Strike that pairs beautifully with Swift Retaliation Cooler, as if that card needed any buffs.

The level of defense is offensive

One of the things that has stood out to me with this archetype is that once you have a Trunks 3 drop online, and you combine it with the other tools Yellow has available, games become about whether or not you want to let your opponent do something to you, or if you want to take a damage.

See below:

Against this lineup plus the additional threats of:

How does any “fair” strategy play around all of the tools you have at your disposal. As stated above, games end up being played on your terms which truly is the ultimate form of control in DBS.

The amount of removal is offensive

Trunks Unison offers a high impact attacker with the ability to use the 0 ability to neutralize a smaller threat, or the -3 ability to draw a card and get a strong X for 1.

Turles, All Too Easy on play has the ability to draw a card and KO 1 threat, or KO 2 threats on play.

SSB Vegeta has the ability to kill any threat in rest mode.

Secret Identity is the best Over Realm and always nets an X for 1.

It is just insane how many tools this archetype has access to.

You will notice that I excluded Trunks/Vegeta 8 drop from the deck:

While I do love the card, I am just a huge fan of reducing the number of cards that I can’t combo and more importantly, getting my money’s worth right now. I want my cards to pay me immediately, and with the amount of disruptive effects running around, Trunks/Vegeta 8 drop is just too risky/costly of an investment at this time.

And for those reasons:

I'm sorry But I'm out - Mark Cuban is not impressed | Meme Generator

Conclusion

If you’re looking to make an investment in Realm of the Gods, Yellow Trunks/Vegeta is where I would invest my money. The required cards from the set for the archetype are all easily attainable/affordable since they are lower rarities and this means all of your cards you have obtained from previous sets continue to get a ton of use. The jury is still out on Icarus vs Trunks/Vegeta, but to address a wide meta game, I love the versatility that Trunks/Vegeta provide within their engine. Another thing is that this archetype is forgiving enough for all levels of player, but leaves a ton of room for mastery so you can sleeve this up at any competitive event and have a chance at topping. I know there is a ban list announcement looming so we’re all holding our breath to see what happens to Power of a Super Saiyan, but in the meantime, enjoy this list posted above on Untap and as always – Happy Testing ❤

#scrubfamisbestfam #KTHXBAAAIIIIII

Realm of the Gods: GY Jiren

Untap List:

//play-1
1 Jiren // Full-Power Jiren, the Unstoppable (bt9-053)

//deck-1
1 Pan, Time Patrol Maiden (bt15-155 scr)
1 Fu, Shrouded in Mystery (bt3-118)
4 Son Goku, Steadfast Assistance (bt15-096 sr)
2 Son Goku, Return of the Dragon Fist (bt14)
2 Basil, Fatal Rampage (db2-111 (2))
4 Mecha Frieza, Robotic Riposte (p-331)
2 Swift Rescue Dyspo (ex19-19)
1 Zamasu, Sacred Disbelief (bt9-091 c)
3 Krillin, Moments Before Comeback (ex19)
3 Vegeta, Unison of Fury (ex12-02)
4 God of Destruction Toppo, Skillbreaker (ex19-18)
3 Dyspo, Unprecedented Speed (bt9-121)
3 Realm of the Gods – Black Kamehameha (bt16-092)
4 The Power of a Super Saiyan (bt13-120)
4 Marcarita, Angel of Universe 11 (bt16-144 sr)
2 Frieza, Divine Transformation (bt12-100)
3 SS Trunks, Altering the Future (bt13-093 spr)
1 Putine,The Dark Sorcerer (bt10-139 uc)
3 Toppo, Bestower of Justice (p-199)

Realm of the Gods definitely has some solid archetypes that will make a splash on the competitive scene. As always though, I love to dive into the lower tier of decks from the past to see if there is anything interesting going on that is worth exploring and has the ability to teach me something new while playing some interesting games of DBS. This version of Jiren checks all of those boxes.

The New Tools

Marcarita, Angel of Universe 11 is an absolute homerun for the archetype. It is another Universe 11, with Barrier, that you can play for free off of your front side leader skill, it can make your opponent discard a card on play or when combo’d, is a blocker, and lastly it gives you a reliable answer to Battle Cards played via skill or when an opponent triggers a Counter skill.

Realm of the Gods – Black Kamehameha is another way to avoid having to activate your leader skill on defense, provides the upside of being a strong removal effect during your turn, and offers you another highly playable extra card to get your Riposte and Steadfast online early.

What is this deck about?

Jiren in previous formats offered the ability to abuse the Successor mechanic and produce an overwhelming amount of attacks, alongside a combo-oriented endgame with Cell Xeno on turn 2/3. Once Set 10 was released and we saw the rise of free counters and decks with reduced ACEC (Average Converted Energy Cost), Jiren then had to transition to more of a midrange deck only used to take advantage of specific meta game shifts.

This variant of the deck still stays focused on playing a solid midrange game, but leans much harder into powerful cards across the progression of your energy curve to make up for hand/board size disparity. For instance, your standard flow often is:

Get a Marcarita established on turn 1.5.

Disrupt your opponent’s board on turn 2 via tap effects.

Deploy a SS Trunks Unison and Awaken on turn 3 to pressure the opponent’s life total or board. Then leave up an energy to save your Trunks from losing markers.

On turn 4, get the highest value out of your SS Trunks Unison before playing Toppo 4 and either stacking markers on Unison of Fury, or pressuring life total via the -3.

Play a Frieza 5 or Dragon Fist on turn 5 to either stabilize or take over the game.

Hopefully play a Fu, Shrouded to close the game out on 6, if the game gets that far.

The reason for this is because at each spot of the curve turn 3 and beyond, we have to be deploying a threat that either gets us back in the game or puts us ahead. These threats also require multiple answers. SS Trunks requires 20k swings, Toppo 4 drop requires removal and Vegeta Unison requires attacks invested, and Frieza 5 is an x for 1 that can’t be answered by skills. Couple these threats with our leader’s ability to be invulnerable and we now have a solid way to stay in each game with the potential of completely taking it over and grinding out a victory.

Overcoming the challenge of not drawing enough cards

Even if you don’t sleeve up this deck, we all know that we all have our favorite archetypes that fall victim to this new world of drawing 2 or more cards a turn and drawing 3+ cards on Awakening. It ain’t easy to keep up with these youngsters, which means that the overall power level of the cards in your deck must be higher on average in order to be successful. This leads us to rely on powerful effects that can net x for 1’s and often forces us into a more curve based approach since we can’t afford to lose pace both in hand size and board size. Not only that, but we also need to play more copies of these higher costed, impactful cards since we don’t have as high of a chance to draw them as our opponent’s do.

If you’re able to keep pace with your powerful, curve based, x for 1’s then you have the ability to keep the game close to parity, if not swing it into your favor. This ties us into our last article where we talked about creating tension. If you’re able to establish a tension generating threat on board multiple times over, this is how you will catch up on tempo, hand size, and board size. The major difference with an archetype that draws less cards is that you won’t have the ability to “pour it on”/overwhelm the opponent with your advantage; instead, the game is much more grindy even when you’re ahead.

Conclusion

Jiren is a solid tier 2 archetype that offers a lot of fun and interesting games. Not only that, but it also allows you enough open deck building space to be creative and try out some cards you may have never been able to test before. I personally have been playing a lot of games with this archetype over the last few weeks, and each time it either impresses me with how well it can perform, or teaches me something regarding deck building or the upcoming format pacing that will all translate to the other, more competitive decks I am working on. I hope you get a chance to enjoy some games!

Happy testing ❤

#scrubfamisbestfam #KTHXBAAAIIIIII

Realm of the Gods: Supreme Disruption

Untap List:

//play-1
1 Son Goku // Son Goku, Supreme Warrior (bt16 -001 uc)

//deck-1
2 Broly, Crown of Retribution (p-177_pr)
2 Koitsukai, Mechanical Courage (db2-143)
2 SSB Kaio-Ken Son Goku, Concentrated Destruction (db2-001)
1 SSB Vegeta, Unbridled Power (bt16-147 scr)
1 King Piccolo, the New Ruler (eventpack 08)
3 King Vegeta’s Imposing Presence (bt13-030)
4 Afterimage Technique (bt5-023)
4 Yamcha, Merciless Barrage (bt10-008 sr)
2 Syn Shenron, Unison of Calamity (bt10-004)
2 Gotenks, Unison of Rage (ex11-02)
3 Piccolo Jr., Descendant of the King (bt12-004)
4 Frieza, Universe 7 Combination (bt16-011)
4 Son Goku, Ultra Mastery (bt16-021 sr)
4 SSB Vegeta, for the Universe’s Survival (bt16-012)
4 Android 17, Heeding the Call (bt16-009)
4 Golden Frieza, for the Universe’s Survival (bt16-010)
4 Android 17, for the Universe’s Survival (bt16-008 sr)
4 Son Goku Sign of Mastery (bt16-006)

Throughout testing Realm of the Gods, it has become very apparent that Red Goku is easily one of the best decks being released. A lot of lists are already available in the Facebook group and throughout the YouTubes, but today I wanted to show you a different take and also touch on some points you may want to take into your own deck building as we move forward into ROTG format.

The Basic Lineup

When reading the leader it becomes quite apparent that 1) the leader is the engine and facilitates these lower cost threats with built-in removal, and 2) it is advantageous to play 30+ U7 cards in your list to ensure you can awaken early and make sure your best threats are online. This is why I just go ahead and max out on all of these cards.

Vegeta is a two cost, Deflect, Critical threat that DRAWS A CARD and gives -15k to two Battle Cards, ignoring Barrier.

One cost Android 17 is free combo power and additional Burst if milled off the top and has the upside of being a turn one cantrip.

Three cost Android 17 is a one cost, Double Strike threat that when attacking can find a Mono-Red U7 card and add it to hand.

Golden Frieza is a one cost, 19k Dual Attack threat that gives -15k to something on play. (Great with Syn Shenron Unison)

Son Goku, Sign of Master is a one cost, 19k threat that gives something -15k on play with the upside of potentially drawing a card.

… Hold Up a Sec

Please be sure to understand that this card is an absolute monster and provides the highest value drip we have seen in since Turles, All Too Easy. One energy offensively or defensively, -15k to something, if the thing dies, draw a card, and you get a 19k attacker. Snapped.

Super Combos – You Have Options

In this version of the deck I opt for 4x Frieza super combo since Sparking 5 is super easy, barely an inconvenience. There are some Red/Blue brews out there that play Beerus super combo, so keep that in mind since both cards have the U7 trait. I do not think I would ever consider Backbone, unless there was a hyper aggressive deck that could kill you before you achieved Sparking 5.

Frieza also tends to be a target for your awakened side leader ability fairly often. Having guaranteed draw super combos is pretty tight, can’t lie.

The Finishing Blow

Son Goku, Ultra Mastery is easily one of the coolest finishers this game has ever seen. A four cost, Deflect, Double Strike, Dual Attack Battle Card what gives -35k to your opponent’s board and on the first swing looks at the opponent’s hand and makes them discard ANY card cost seven or less is basically everything I have ever wanted lol. The discard aspect also is what partially led me down the path I took with this list and the Unisons selected.

SSB Vegeta SCR – this is strictly for the whammies and for being on theme. Not only that, but wiping all Battle Cards, ignoring Barrier, is a pretty huge effect. Pan, Time Patrol Maiden and Spacetime Unraveler probably end up getting the nod over time, but we have to at least try with the best boy.

The Unison Plan

“As the format becomes more fair, threats that keep tempo, demand the opponent’s attention, and generate raw/virtual card advantage, on play and overtime, become the most important cards in the game”

If you take a walk through the card pool you’re going to notice that the quality of battle cards that trade with your opponent’s resources profitably is pretty slim. Playing various games with Blue SS4 Vegeta and Green/Yellow Jiren (coming soon), it just became so clear that Unisons like SS3 Gogeta, Buu, and Yellow SS Trunks were often the best threats that allowed the player to keep generating offensive tempo, net immediate value, draw multiple resources from the opponent, and generate that raw/virtual card advantage needed to keep hand size and the board state manageable.

The way I tend to simplify what I am talking about with these types of cards is I often say they create tension. In that moment when card is being cast, a problem is being presented that often has the ability to completely swing the game when it comes to hand sizes and/or board state. The opposing player has to have a solution either in that moment or on the following turn. If the solution is not available, the likelihood of keeping tempo and pace tends to slip out of reach.

That is ultimately what led to this more varied style of Unison base because I wanted to accomplish a few things with each:

Piccolo Jr. – Draws a card immediately, has an Auto that provides value over the course of the game, and requires the opponent to invest three damage into getting it off the board. If the opponent doesn’t, that equals another card draw for you, another attack, and the ability to leverage Yamcha.

Gotenks – Has the ability to pump your leader and take a life on play to gain some immediate value and the opponent has to invest attacks into getting the markers down to to at least one in order to prevent the immediate cash-in that lets you peak at their hand. If they don’t, it means another attack, and if you have two markers you can just cash it in to peak at their hand and snipe a resource.

Syn Shenron – In this fair format Syn Shenron has been really impressive. Once it comes down it can create an immediate impact by shrinking two Battle Cards by 15k and it allows your Battle Cards to attack your opponent’s Battle Cards in active mode, which is pretty huge considering the type of cheap threats you get to play. Syn Shenron’s minus two effect is also a difference maker since it allows you to again peak at the opposing player’s hand and make them pitch a Battle Card with 25k power or less. This again creates that tension where your opponent has to invest resources, or they get punished.

Deck Philosophy

If you haven’t picked up on it already, we’re an aggressive slanting mid-range deck that focuses on board removal, and sprinkling in targeted hand disruption along the curve to keep ourselves ahead of the opposing player’s threats and potential answers. We also are relying on Unisons to be raw/virtual card advantage threats that create tension and force the opposing player to keep pace. Then once we get to turn four, we’re jamming our Son Goku, Ultra Mastery to pile on the pressure and again using targeted hand disruption to mitigate the opposing player’s threats and answers.

Additionally, the deck offers natural defense with Yamcha Counter: Play, Sparking super combos, and makes the best use out of Afterimage Technique and King Vegeta’s Imposing Presence. If you think about it in terms of playing a fair game based around Battle Cards, this deck kinda has it all.

Conclusion

There are so many ways to build this deck and ways to try and take advantage of the U7 synergies available. It truly is enjoyable to play because all of the cards for the archetype printed in Realm of the Gods are absolute bangers. You have efficient threats with built-in removal that can draw you cards, access to a great pool of red Unisons and tech choices, and a fantastic, flashy way to close out a game in style with Son Goku, Ultra Mastery. As stated above in the philosophy of this version of the deck, the goal truly is to create tension for the opposing player by presenting those damned if you do/don’t scenarios. If there is anything you take away from this article, it definitely should be that. This certainly is a Realm (LOL) that DBS is entering – Happy testing ❤

#scrubfamisbestfam #KTHXBAAAIIIIII

Realm of the Gods: SS4 Vegeta

Untap List:

//play-1
1 Vegeta // SS4 Vegeta, Ultimate Evolution (bt11-032)

//deck-1
1 SS4 Vegeta, Rise of the Super Warrior (bt11-052)
1 SSG Son Goku, Miraculous Transformation (bt-16 spr)
4 Son Goku, Calamity Challenger (bt14)
3 SS2 Trunks, Heroic Prospect (p-219)
3 SS Trunks, God-Sealing Technique (bt10-044)
3 SS3 Gogeta, Super Warrior Evolution (p-234)
2 Zen-Oh, Edge of Space (bt10-055)
4 East Kai, Keeping Watch (bt5-044)
1 Baby Hatchhyack, Saiyan Destroyer (bt11-153)
2 Vegeta, Disciplined Warrior (bt11-054)
2 Android 17, Turning the Tide (db2-036)
2 Kale, Rampaging Demon (bt15-042 sr)
3 Majin Buu, Assault of the Agents of Destruction (bt13-034)
3 SS Vegeta, the Interceptor (bt16-030)
4 Dimension Magic (bt5-050)
4 Senzu Bean (bt1-053)
4 Realm of the Gods – Beerus Destroys (bt16-045 r)
4 Ultra Instinct Goku’s Kamehameha (bt9-131)

What is up scrub fam!? Happy New Year and we are starting to work on them resolutions which for me includes a return to writing.. semi-regularly. At this point though, I understand the content game well enough to know that a lot of folks really just want the list and an easy way to upload and play, so moving forward a pic of the list and the text needed to import to Untap directly will stay at the top of these posts as we move forward – happy testing <3.

Why SS4?

SS4 Vegeta has been one of my favorite leaders/archetypes since Vermilion Bloodlines and as new previews roll in each set, I love to see what the new tools offered can do for the archetype. Realm of the Gods definitely dropped some generic Blue bangers that I feel give a much needed shot in the arm to the archetype.

The other piece of this decision to explore SS4 Vegeta is the fact that the format has slowed down so much after multiple ban lists. This has brought up the Average Converted Energy Costs (ACEC) pretty significantly reducing the overall actions per turn/tempo an aggressive/aggro slanted midrange deck can present. This means that big d*$k energy strategies become much more viable.

The New Additions

With the new cycle of extra cards, the one that quietly snuck by was Beerus Destroys. When you read the card it doesn’t necessarily jump off the page, but the card offers Blue a solid, efficient removal option offensively, and the ability to cycle it defensively for a boost and the ability to swing some early tempo against pesky threats that cost 2 or less. The appeal to Beerus Destroys in SS4 Vegeta is that it now gives you eight pump effects to ensure that early ramp and the card works beautifully with UI Kamehameha on defense to provide a ton of combo power for little investment in terms of energy and cards in hand since Beerus Destroys cycles on defense.

SS Vegeta, the Interceptor is a huge pick up for Blue. For three energy you’re getting a 20k Dual Attack threat that on play lets you bottom deck two of your opponent’s threats – which for Blue means that surviving to the late game becomes must easier for you. Not only that, but Dual Attack is a great keyword for fighting opposing Unisons, and being a 20k body means that a swing at the opposing leader is going to trade for a super combo, or two 5k’s in the late game.

Only a single copy in our main deck, but the card always tends to perform well at any point in the game whether you’re on the backfoot trying to stabilize, or you’re in a favorable spot and trying to pour it on. Since the card can feel really heavy in multiples, I would recommend no more than two copies in your main deck if you choose to make any edits to the list. Sitting with two or more in hand at any time just makes your hand feel pretty unplayable at times, and since we have plenty of bridges through the added removal options, floodgates, and Buu Unison there really isn’t a need to go all in on the miraculous transformation.

The Unisons

You can certainly play around with the Unison slot, but since we’re really on the plan to ramp on turn one on the draw or turn two on the play, it makes the most sense to play Unisons that take advantage of our available energy. SS3 Gogeta on your turn two, going second, is such a powerful threat that can reset the board and push the pace if needed and AOD Buu turn three, on the play, just completely takes over the game – especially in this much slower format.

Side note: another reason in favor of higher cost Unisons is the fact that you actually want your opponent to swing at your leader early on to take some damage. If you drop a two cost Unison on turn two, you can guarantee your leader is never going to see a card from life from there on out.

The Payoffs

The payoffs can always change, aside from Turning the Tide. In this list, I really am trying to be in full control of the board at all times, so I lean into Kale, Rampaging Demon to provide a powerful sweeper on five that hits non-Barrier threats cost three or more, and has the upside of being a Barrier, Dual Attack sweeper that hits all opposing threats, including Barrier. Lastly, SS4 Vegeta, Rise of the Super Warrior is in there as a way to pull ahead in those grinding games by either drawing four cards, or ramping two and drawing two.

With the ban list looming some alternative late game threats include:

Roshi is already a threat on the cusp of being in my current list. The additional card draw each turn, plus a 25k Barrier, Dual Attack, Critical threat that offers removal is super appealing. I can already see myself trimming a SS Vegeta, the Interceptor for the first copy of Roshi.

Tragedy Overground has made its way into a lot of older SS4 Vegeta variants, and there is for sure merit. Nine energy to me is just a bit too pricey at the moment.

Energy Annihilator is cute, but has the potential to take over a game if unchecked. I am definitely not sold on it.

God Break.. hear me out lol. If the card comes down, the attack is going through – which is huge. Another thing to keep in mind is that it can evolve over our four copies of Calamity Challenger.

Another approach can be to lean into four and five energy threats like Obuni, Golden Avenger, At All Costs Vegeta, etc.

Lastly, you can always lean into Calamity Challenger and main four copies of Path to Infinite and Ultra Instinct -Sign- Son Goku from Cross Worlds.

The Tech

Basically every top strategy tries to play Battle Cards on your turn, so drawing multiple East Kais means you can readily tax your opponent’s hand or their removal options.

Calamity Challenger to me is just a Blue staple since I adore cheap cantrips that can be used as a threat or for additional defense. Calamity Challenger is also just a great way to soak up that additional energy or two you have left over on some turns. They’re also great because since they’re four cost Battle Cards, it is hard to get two for one’d by a Secret Identity Masked Saiyan if you do have multiple in play.

Conclusion

In a more fair world, ramp strategies have to be explored. If you haven’t sleeved up SS4 Vegeta yet, now is the time. Of course there is always the risk of having our best closer banned, but with the tools available from Realm of the Gods the deck definitely feels like it has a lot of its old weaknesses accounted for. In most games you were hard mulling for your UI Kamehameha since there were just four copies, but now you have another strong pump effect that makes the mulligan much more forgiving. Not only that, but you now have solid removal options at almost every spot on the curve to mesh with your floodgates to buy time to the late game. This is a great time to learn the following lesson: as average ACEC goes up – removal gets better since the energy exchanges are closer to even and late game bombs become king.

Happy testing!

#scrubfamisbestfam #KTHXBAI

Leveling Up: 5 Ways To Unleash Your Dormant Potential

It certainly has been a minute since I’ve written a Patreon article about improving within the Dragon Ball Super Card Game… sorry about that (to those who enjoy reading these things). To be honest, life has gotten in the way – and it has been the best possible thing for me in regards to my growth within competitive DBS.

I’ve had two of my best results within DBS happen recently and there are definitely a lot of factors that contributed to that – the main ones being that DBS once again became just a hobby and I was able to take my natural abilities and instincts from playing TCGs over the years and just rely on those to carry me through my deck building, deck selection, and decision making within the game itself.

To address the first part of that, for a while DBS was such a huge part of my life. It was the vehicle to hang out with friends, compete, act as a creative outlet, also provided income via content creation/the 3xG Patreon, and of course I did a lot of other activities related to the game – honestly to a point where it just wasn’t fun to play and the drive to compete/succeed just wasn’t there anymore.

The thing is about that, once you take something and make it your biggest focus, you become so mentally and emotionally invested that you end up with your self-esteem and self-worth tied to what you are able to accomplish or create in that space. It isn’t healthy and is definitely not the best way to generate positive results – there’s too much pressure on any and every action you take that you end up with some form of choice paralysis and your anxiety gets to an all-time high before every game you play, because YOU make the results matter.

Leading up the the Gamerz event and the Columbus regional the boys and myself didn’t get to spend much time testing at all. Between my new career, relationship, and overall focus on just living and loving life – DBS took a backseat. Instead, I relied on my skills and knowledge from the past and combined that with just “goldfishing” or “shadow playing” to make sure my decks functioned and the theory used would come to life on a regular basis.

Today I want to walk you through some important points that can help with participating in competitive events or just act as a refresher/re-engagement tool for anyone who is burnt out within the competitive scene.

#1 “If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle.” – Sun Tzu’s “The Art of War”

This quote truly hits the nail on the head when trying to describe how to best be prepared for events. If you walk into an event only knowing what your deck can do, then you’re going to struggle trying to learn matchups on the fly. If you walk into an event not knowing the full potential of your deck and not knowing what the rest of the field is capable of, you’re doomed to fail. However, if you walk in and know exactly what your deck’s full potential is, alongside what the rest of the field’s full potential is, you’re setting yourself up for success.

Yes testing for me was limited, but I spent any available free time watching YouTube, reading through Facebook posts, engaging in our FOExPPG team chats, and checking out decks on deck building sites to learn what decks to have on my radar. Not only that, I spent a lot of time talking through various theories, and also the full potential of each deck, alongside the crux of each deck. From there I began to think of how to capitalize on those weaknesses whilst playing something with a really high power level to match what the rest of the format was doing. From there I would just spend my time goldfishing/shadow playing the deck to find all of the interactions and to help fine tune ratios.

To break this down further, looking at the format heading into Gamerz the narrative within the community was focused around how diverse the format was. Not only that, but decks that have to commit resources in the first 2 turns were incredibly popular – King Piccolo, Launch, Mecha, etc.

This meant that if you could out-tempo the opposing player in the first 2-3 turns and try to kill on 3, you could easily win a lot of game 1’s. Then of course in post board games you have the ability to still be high tempo, but the added disruption could get you there. Mecha Frieza was the perfect fit for this due to the ability to abuse Giant Ball and Tyrannical Blow in conjunction with Frieza 4 drop from Battle Evolution to act as your early game pressure that snowballs into U9 Assemble, which also helps you get to your wincon of Cell Xeno or Bergamo beatdown on turn 3.

Heading into Columbus, the narrative within the community was that Mecha, Dark Broly, Vegeks, and King Piccolo were the best decks. The goal heading into this event was to avoid mirror matches since the field was more narrow. Not only that but if you look at Mecha, Dark Broly, King Piccolo, and Vegeks a few things stand out to me: awakening with a high life total seems appealing since it gives you a buffer, Dark Broly and Vegeks both play Dark Power Black Masked Saiyan and Koitsukai in their 65, God-Sealing is incredible versus Bergamo and Demigra, Heroic Prospect is solid, playing a lot of negates is good for reducing combo steps, a reliable board wipe is great right now, Gohan 4 drop that kills a 3 or less, ignoring Barrier, is great against Mecha, Bean is busted, Zen-Oh Super Combo gets you out of being tapped out by your opponent… the list goes on for a while.

While Frisco and Jose ended up on Soul Striker Boujack, I went with SS2 Gohan instead due to its ability to access God-Sealing on turn 2 with Zen-Oh Unison, the ability to generate cheap threats without being hurt by DPBMS or Koitsukai, being able to balance out play/draw with Zen-Oh Ramp, consistent access to Gohan 10 drop, abusing Buu Unison, awakening consistently on turn 2, access to 8 negates main board between Dimension Magic and Vegeta 1 drop, being able to ramp harder to Turning the Tide when on the play, being able to main deck the Gohan 4 drop that kills a Barrier threat 3 or less, playing a deck that loves 4x Zen-Oh Super Combo – basically, SS2 Gohan was the perfect call for the event, in my opinion.

These two scenarios above both show the power of knowing the enemy and knowing yourself. As stated before, there was minimal testing involved for both of the decks used in these events – it just came down to being familiar with the format enough to be able to speak on and theorize what cards and turns within the game were the most impactful, then seeing how we could beat prey on that for that specific weekend. This honestly is probably the hardest thing to learn, since you have to balance the targeting you’re trying to do with playing something inherently powerful. It is very easy to lean towards playing something that is too narrowly focused on targeting that you sacrifice overall power or too narrowly focused on being powerful that you lose matchup percentage in pre and post board games.

When analyzing a format I tend to look at a few things:

1. What threats do the best decks HAVE to play in order to be optimal? How do they play those threats?

2. What cards trade positively with those threats? (Generate X for 1’s, God-Sealing Versus Bergamo – you trade 1 card for 2 of your opponent’s energy and you stop a threat)

3. Among the top decks, what does the ceiling look like on power turns (turn 2.5 – 4, 2.5 refers to you having 2 energy heading into their turn 3)

4. What cards best disrupt those turns that fit into a powerful strategy?

5. Once we stifle a power turn, how can we best capitalize and take over/set ourselves up for a win?

#2 All the Small Things

The details always matter – this alone truly separates the top tables from the rest of the pack. Cards in hand, cards in drop, cards in warp, what card does my opponent have the ability to play this turn, what cards hurt me in this position, what sequence of plays gets me back in the game/what sequence of plays can my opponent string together to beat me, etc. – this list of items should be running through your head constantly throughout a game, this is the kind of information that keeps you engaged.

When you’re dialed in at a granular level and you’re aware of everything going on within a given matchup and the game state on a turn by turn basis, the results are staggering. The ability to predict, prepare, and either choose to act or be reactive based on the data presented is such a huge boon. It isn’t just as simple as shuffling up and hoping you draw well, there is another human on the other side of the table that is trying to defeat you and you are forced to interact with the cards they are choosing to play – you have the choice to just be aloof and care free, or the choice to keep repeating the questions in your mind about what is going on within the game so that you can make the best decisions possible based on all discovered and yet to be discovered data.

It takes a ton of time and practice to get to this point, but the hardest part is consistently executing each round, regardless of opponent.

This leads into a piece about “farming” lower levels of competition. The early rounds of a tournament are so crucial to reaching top cut/placing high overall. Sometimes you either select a deck based on a particular matchup and face a deck that hard counters you early in the jungle, or more often than not, you’re just not dialed in because you don’t take your opponent seriously and you think you can just coast to a win.

The way I’ve combat this is from watching a Magic streamer named Michael Jacob, who’s handle is Darkest_Mage. When he plays a game via Arena or MTGO, regardless of whether or not it’s a rando in testing, or a well-known player in a tournament, he refers to them as “enemy”. Of course I still interact and engage in conversation with my opponents, because having fun is paramount, but when I just think about the game itself, I always think in terms of being against the enemy, the person/deck that is actively trying to defeat me/end my tournament. Doing this has helped me stay dialed in for the past few events, and has also aided in any testing I do as well.

#3 I Control My Own Destiny, Not The Game

Every decision you make within a game matters. What you charge, how you sequence your turn, what damage you take, what you combo, what turn you decide to go for game, how you plan to punish a mistake, what cards you try to trade up for, etc. – it all adds up across the course of a game of DBS. That’s the most beautiful part of this game. This means that when you’re playing, you shouldn’t be thinking of the match result, you should be thinking in terms of how well you’re making each decision throughout a game.

This is so important because this is what pulls you out of the results oriented mindset and puts you in a place where you’re focusing on all of the things that matter while the game is taking place. Not only that, but it helps you better find what may have went wrong for you during the course of the game and takes you away from trying to blame variance. Variance exists in every card game, but I can guarantee 99% of losses are tied to a decision that was made at any point of a given game – from the mulligan, to the last few turns.

Speaking of mulligans! When looking at your opening hand you have to ask yourself a few questions:

1. Does this hand support my most optimal plan for turns 1-3? (If it is post-board you have to still prioritize the cards that make your deck function so you have more chances of drawing to your sideboarded outs, your second priority should be drawing any needed tech for the matchup)

2. If not – what cards are missing?

3. How many copies of X card am I playing and what are my chances of drawing it if I only get to draw Y cards on the redraw?

Based on this info I will determine how many cards I throw back. I tend to be really aggressive when it comes to the mulligan since I stick to that rule of making sure my hand supports my most optimal early plays. The mulligan also usually plays into my deck selection as well. I love playing a deck that has the ability to mulligan for a certain set of cards to get the early game card draw going – SS2 Gohan just needs a skill-less and an enabler and Monarch just needs a U9 Assemble or a Frieza 4 drop plus an extra card to get going.

#4 A 15 Card Sideboard does Nothing, but a 15 Card Sideboard with Intent is the Most Powerful Asset

Best of 3 is my format of choice and the reason for that is because of my strength in post-board games. I’ve spoken on this before, but having a detailed plan is the most important part about building a sideboard, especially when such a high percentage of games take place after sideboarding. Having a plan is one thing, but take that another step and walkthrough what cards you can side out in each matchup to create the best configuration for that given game. The thing that puts that over the top is when you then sideboard based on being on the play vs being on the draw.

When you’re on the play, you want to be as proactive as possible, since you get to strike first and have the ability to spend your energy in the early turns to punish the opponent’s strategy with your sideboarded answers. On the play you also get to keep the overall cost of your deck the same since your threats that cost 2+ energy can come down without too many repercussions.

When you’re on the draw, it’s more about reacting and being able to control the pace of the game through your sideboard cards to disrupt the opponent’s power turns which are usually 2-4. Also when you’re on the draw you should take a look at your threats depending on the matchup to see whether or not the game is ever going to get to the point where you can deploy them or ask yourself if they are expensive enough to where a single answer will be a blowout since you’re going second.

When creating your sideboard you really should be thinking about cards that are relatively inexpensive that either act as harsh annoyances to the opponent’s game plan or are just stone cold axe murderers within a given matchup. It is also important to know what your main board is naturally strong against/weak against so you can properly configure your entire 65 to sure up those weak spots or enhance those strengths within a given matchup. You also when choosing your sideboard cards should write down the purpose of each card.

Sideboard for Gamerz:

3x Vegeta, Unison of Fury – Dark Broly

2x Final Spirit Cannon – Any matchup where I would need to tap down something without a combo step in order to trigger Bergamo and go for game

2x Released from Evil – Reboot Gohan

1x Tyrannical Blow – Any matchup where 3 drops or less/unisons mattered a lot

1x Secret Identity Masked Saiyan – Any matchup where this card was an X for 1

1x Final Flash – Any matchup with a troubling threat whether it be something annoying with barrier or a huge finisher

1x Planet Vegeta – Post-board consistency with saiyan tech package

1x Son Goku, Absolute Annihilator – Invoker on the play and Baby

1x Son Gohan, Changing History – Blue decks

1x Dark Power Black Masked Saiyan – King Piccolo and Vegeks mainly

1x Mechikabura, the Broken Seal – Any deck that was weak to having their important card named or another way to stall Dark Broly

This is so important because once the tournament is over you can grade how well each deck served its purpose/whether or not you may have gotten the format wrong. Where I went wrong at Gamerz was with my prediction of seeing more blue decks/the actual impact of 2x Final Spirit Cannon, alongside my worry about Reboot Gohan and 2x Released from Evil. In hindsight, I could have played 1x Final Spirit Cannon, 1x Released from Evil, and played 2x Nimbus in the side – which would have been so good in top cut rounds.

Its also important in deck selection to make sure that your deck can balance out the play/draw disparity. This is something a lot of players miss when trying to determine what the best decks are within a given format. This also plays into how I landed on mono-yellow Mecha and Blue SS2 Gohan – powerful decks that can awaken consistently and have a way of generating card advantage and threat advantage for little to no energy on the play and draw.

#5 Shadow Playing/Goldfishing is Underrated

Understanding how a deck functions is the most important part of this game. Often times we find ourselves without someone to play with or just not enough time in the day/week to properly test. Building a deck on Untap/Octgn or in paper, then setting up a game for you to draw, mulligan, and mock play the first few turns trying to find the ceiling and crux of a deck is invaluable. This is the basis for all of the data I used heading into the last few events – I understood how the decks wanted to best function, and I found ways to prey upon that desire.

From here I would start to develop my theories and with any free brain space I would begin processing what a game would look like and how the cards would best trade against each other across the course of an actual game. Then of course I would bounce that data off of the 3xG Bois and the FOExPPG team to gain their feedback and take that into my calculations.

I’d then start constructing a deck to capitalize on all of the data points available that is also powerful whether it is a mainstream archetype or not. I’d shadow play/goldfish to make sure the deck can function as intended. Next, if life permits, I’d run that deck against other decks I have built to make sure it checks the power level box. Then finally, if life permits, I’d run the deck against the best decks/decks I’m trying to target to make sure the games play out similar to what was in my head. From there I would make my adjustments to then correct any issues whether it be a lack of consistency or a lack of overall power.

All of this starts with that initial shadow playing to test each of the best deck’s functionality though – isn’t that wild? This is probably the one thing a lot of players do, but don’t necessarily leverage the data as much as they should. Also keep in mind that if you’re shadow playing and you fall in love with one of the best decks, that is okay too! From there you can take that deck and see how it can capitalize on the given format/fix the issues you’ve noticed within the current configuration – that is exactly how I landed on Monarch (mono-yellow Mecha), because Frieza 4 drop from Battle Evolution made it so that you always (hyperbole) found multiple U9 Assembles, which as we know is the card that skyrockets the deck’s power level and consistency.

Conclusion

As you can see from the rants above, there’s still a lot to learn/re-engage with when it comes to competitive DBS. I hope going over these points helped in some way, because for me they have been huge in my own development over the last few months. As you head into your next local or your next major event, I hope you can keep some of these items in mind and see how well you’re doing on these five points. I look forward to hopefully making more content like this, especially with the next set coming out, and I thank you so much for taking the time to read my thoughts about stuff and things.

#scrubfamisbestfam #KTHXBAI

A Look at the Format

Another PPG webcam qualifier has passed us by and the perceived meta game continues to do some moving and shaking coming off of the Pro-Play Tour just last weekend.

Top 16 of the Pro-Play Tour – Invoker Winner

5x Dark Broly
4x Mecha Frieza
1x Reboot Gohan
1x Turles
1x Invoker
1x Launch
1x Syn Shenron
1x Red Broly
1x Clashku

The narrative of top 16 – with 5 copies of Dark Broly and 4 copies of Mecha it is very easy to tell that public enemy number 1 heading into the event was Red Broly. With these more mid-range decks making it into top 16, they fell prey to both ends of the spectrum – leader based aggro of Gohan and Turles, and of course Invoker being the overall winner in the finals.

Top 8 of the Webcam Qualifier – Red Broly Winner

2x Red Broly
2x Reboot Gohan
1x King Piccolo
1x Turles
1x Golden Frieza
1x Mecha Frieza

The narrative of top 8 – with 2 true mid-range strategies and the rest of cut being more aggro we are able to see that players this week were trying to punish Invoker, Mecha Frieza, and Dark Broly. With decks like Turles and Reboot Gohan punishing those three strategies, it left quite a large opening for Red Broly to reclaim the throne this week due to the fragile nature of Dormant decks. Another thing to keep in mind – look at these decks in top cut; the only one that is truly weak to Mechikabura is Red Broly. This is another reason why Dark Broly took a step back.

What I Would Have Played this Weekend

There have been so many builds of Dark Broly to come out over the past few weeks, and I have spent a ton of time in the lab myself – in preparation for the chains coming off (official today). In the case of this list there are a few main deck inclusions that stand out:

3x SS Bardock, the Tenacious – in a world of aggro decks, opposing mechikaburas trying to timewalk you, and having to worry about tech cards like Dark Banisher, Dark Masked King, etc. Tenacious is a brilliant way to answer them all and the card stays incredibly relevant in a ton of match-ups.

2x Super Kamehameha – This is a main deck concession to Toppo, Heroic Prospect, and anything else that costs 3 or less and could ruin our best turns. Additionally, this can serve as well timed removal against aggro as well.

The Board – Simple and On Purpose

Our sideboard plan is meant to give us more of an edge against Reboot Gohan while still having a ton of cards that hit a lot of match-ups without having to truly sacrifice our deck’s integrity – this is probably the most important part about side-boarding right now.

Reboot Gohan

Against Reboot Gohan our plan is to get our money out of the thiccest blocker in the game alongside Brainwashed and Kai SCR:

Turles

Similar plan for Reboot Gohan, but since the clock is not as fast we actually need to shift to more removal and add in Dark Powers to be able to punish the Crusher Corp.

Red Broly

Step 1: Dark Power Black Masked Saiyan
Step 2: Mechikabura
Step 3: SS Bardock, the Tenacious
Step 4: Mechikabura again or kill the batman

Blue Decks

We need to punish their counter game and then increase our removal potential. The only change occurs if they’re playing Obuni in game 1, then you may want to bring in Dark Power Black Masked Saiyans as well.

King Piccolo

Mechikabura is so bad in this matchup, so we instead opt for some Dark Powers and then sacrifice some 30ks in order to give us access to a board wipe to go along Tenacious in the main. We keep Super Kamehamehas in here in order to help combat Toppo, Righteous Aid.

Vegeks

Another case of Mechikabura being bad so we opt again for Dark Powers and then Secret Identity to go alongside our Tenacious D. Super Kamehameha gets to come out here since there are no viable targets, nor targets you really care about.

Invoker

Arguably our worst match-up, but also not expected to do well this weekend since it won last weekend. We know we have to be aggressive so we cut some defense in order to help counter their pile of negates.

The Format is an Onion – IT HAS LAYERS!!!

Red Broly
Syn Shenron
Mecha
Dark Broly
Reboot Gohan
Turles
Invoker
Vegeks/Gogeta Xeno
King Piccolo
and MORE!!!

A lot of the community has spent time trying to define this format and it has led to a ton of discussion. There are a few ways to try and simplify it, so let me give you some of the most high level views I have seen expressed so far:

Frisco’s Way – The Two Extremes and Nothing in the Middle Beats Both

Red Broly

Everything else

Invoker

The Triangle

Red Broly

Mecha

Dark Broly

The Spectrum

Hyper Aggro – A. Red Broly, B. King Piccolo, C. Vegeks, D. Gogeta Xeno

Dormant Decks – A. Reboot Gohan, B. Turles

Interactive – A. Dark Broly, B. Mecha, C. Launch

Control – A. Invoker, B. Syn Shenron

The way I tend to look at this format is more so on a spectrum for each of the decks that share a common thread and then rank them in order of what deck is the best option based on the previous week’s meta game. The information listed above is based off of the information from the Pro-Play Tour in preparation for the 1/31 webcam event.

Dormant and Invoker overperformed at the PPT which means that I want to be on Red Broly if I am aggressive to be able to punish Dormant. I also would want to be on Dark Broly if I am looking to be interactive since 30 bodies punish Dormant as well. Red Broly also gets the nod over Invoker, and Dark Broly just needs to be prepared for the match-up where as the other mid-range decks have no shot. On the other hand, if I wanted to play a Dormant deck I would opt for Reboot Gohan since the clock is much faster against the other 3 archetypes.

Let’s look again at the top 8 from this past weekend:

2x Red Broly
2x Reboot Gohan
1x King Piccolo
1x Turles
1x Golden Frieza
1x Mecha Frieza

How should this information impact the spectrum?

Red Broly still remains the best option because if aggro and Dormant show up, Broly is still the best option to combat both.

For Dormant based decks, if Red Broly is king – then I want to be on Reboot Gohan so I can fight in the phone booth with them.

Mecha and Dark Broly both get worked over by Reboot Gohan, Turles, and King Piccolo – it seems Launch has the best shot here.

For control, if Red Broly is option A, Reboot Gohan is option A, and Launch is option A – then I for sure want to be on Syn Shenron this week.

Conclusion

This format is absurdly good, and for the first time in a good while it feels like there is solid meta game churn on a weekly basis that allows for new decks to claim the top spot in their respective archetype. The challenge then becomes – are you willing to put in the work? If yes, you’ll be heavily rewarded with solid tournament performance. If no, then you will stay behind every single week. Reading formats isn’t easy, and trying to simplify them is such a difficult task and can often lead to mistakes in deck selection or preparation. My advice is to learn the potential of what each top deck can do going forward and learn how to break down the most important cards and interactions within the format. There is a huge reason why Mechikabura 2 drop went from being the best battle card in the game last weekend, to mediocre this week – things ALWAYS change, so be ready!

#scrubfamisbestfam #KTHXBAAAIIIIIIII