As the 3xG #scrubfam is aware, Frisco, Jose, and myself spent an entire weekend together messing around (pause) with all of the cards spoiled from Vermilion Bloodlines, and even adjusted as the new SCR’s were revealed by having access to Jose’s printer at home to get them printed to test with the moment they were revealed. Huge shout-out to Frisco getting the proxies together and another to Jose to using his work printer to get the entire set printed, and of course for being the most *accommodating* host (tilt). I can tell you that playing paper games felt so amazing and having all of the proxies ready to go made our weekend super easy and incredibly fun.
Decks we Tested
I posted some of the lists on the Facebook group, but for sure will be diving into them in the coming weeks so you all can see what these decks looked like over the weekend and where our heads are at heading into this new environment.
The best way to truly articulate the way this format is going to look is to first look at the two decks that, quite honestly, demonstrated the highest power level overall over the weekend: Red Gogeta and Red Broly.
The first thing that stood out about these decks is just how damn good they were at ALWAYS doing their thing. I know in previous weeks I worried about the consistency of Broly, but the promo 1 drop truly CHANGES EVERYTHING! Vampa went from being medium to absolutely snapped, and awakening turn 2 went from being a detriment to being incredibly powerful. Not to mention the overall power level of Kale Unison skyrocketed. I digress – ultimately these decks instantly became the pace setters for the rest of the decks we were playing due to their combination of overall power level plus consistency.
Gogeta operates in this space where since it has such a high level of consistency both the pilot and the opponent know for a fact that Gogeta 6 is always coming down on turn 3, this then shapes the way the entire game is forced to play out before both players even start playing. If we operate under this assumption, this means any deck that is less consistent, nor has an answer for what Gogeta is about to do is immediately removed from being within that tier. Broly is faster, just as consistent, but much more susceptible to floodgates stopping them from closing the game in time – but the opponent HAS TO HAVE IT, or they die.
As I begin to look back on older deck lists from when previews began, and even ones that folks are posting now, you can definitely see them viewing the games from a much different lens, one that honestly won’t age well into the series 11 environment due to the above powerhouses that completely shift the way that games will be played.
Do Something Powerful First, Then Stop Their Turn
When Vegeks was at the peak of his powers we often talked about how the series 10 format was defined by the floodgates available, well it seems that is the case again here in series 11, but there is a caveat to that – your deck has to also be doing something powerful and consistent enough to be able to compete turn by turn and punish the opposing player when you get the chance to stop them for multiple turns.
As you can see, there are a ton of options when deciding on what floodgates to play, the tricky part becomes choosing which ones and how many to play of each without diluting your deck’s core strategy too much. Don’t forget, Blue has Baby Hatchhyack SCR as well. If I had to rank them in any particular order:
1.) Baby Hatchhyack – stops everything, costs 0 + a card
2.) Dormant Potential Unleashed – sometimes costs 0 + a card, reduces the amount of attacks to 2
3.) Violent Rays – costs 1 + a card, conditionally can stop all but the leader and Unison attacks
4.) Heroic Prospect – costs 1 with Unison, counters are easy to access, conditionally can stop all but the leader and Unison attacks
5.) Flying Nimbus – costs 1 + a card, reduces the opponent to 3 more attacks if they control a Unison and didn’t swing with the Unison or Leader first
6.) Toppo, Righteous Aid – costs 2 + a card, counters are easy to access, opponent can attack as long as they have resources, played early enough it usually stops the turn
7.) SS4 Son Goku, Protector of the Earth – costs 5, reduces the opponent to just a leader and Unison attack if you wipe the board with the minus 2.
8.) Vegeta, Ready to Rumble – costs 4, opponent can attack as long as they’re willing to sacrifice energy
9.) Son Gohan, Baby’s Minion – costs 3, counters are easy to access, opponent can attack as long as they have resources, played early enough it usually stops the turn
10.) Is That All You’ve Got – costs 1 + a card, has a low floor, but high ceiling based on board state
11.) Protector of the People – costs 1 + a card, best against decks with smaller attackers
This means that even beginning to enter this format, you need to be selecting your deck based on the floodgates available to you alongside your deck’s ability to do something powerful and consistent enough to play with these new, more potent strategies entering the fray in series 11. This list of cards along along with the options available has led me down the path of avoiding counter: play cards completely, outside of the free ones, and not playing decks that are trying to go one for one with negates or removal in game 1 configurations. Instead I have been focusing on trying to do something powerful while dedicating between 4-10 slots on ways to derail the opponent’s turn entirely as opposed to just one for one’s.
I hate to reference old games, but Dragon Ball Super’s new pace of playing be reliant on actions/attacks per turn reminds me of both Score and PanZ trading card games. Where when these floodgate cards start to come out the decks also became so consistent and powerful that you no longer could play real blocks anymore, you would just play effects that stopped all attacks or ended combat instead. Why waste time countering each attack or countering/removing the opponent’s thing? You can just stop them from killing you and buy yourself another powerful turn.
Now that we’re starting to reach this space with the floodgates available you have to instead focus on making your deck do its powerful thing 90+% (arbitrary) of the time, then you can begin dedicating slots to addressing the rest of the decks in the format. Play Vs Draw is always important, but in series 11 it is definitely magnified in pre-board games. In game 1 you focus on doing your thing, games 2 and 3 you focus on delaying the opponent a turn or 2 if you’re on the draw, or if you’re going to be on the play you want to make sure you’re still dedicated to doing your thing, but bring in extra help to buy you another turn just in case. Often times you’ll find that this leads to a neat pattern of escalation where tension is just building and each player is forcing the opposing player to have it, then finally it snaps when one player is defenseless and the other player can capitalize.
Though we aren’t so far removed from series 10, we are definitely seeing the pace of games being pushed harder in series 11 which honestly is refreshing. The series 10 format was very fun due to the amount of decks available and honestly series 11 offers a similar feel so far, but with the added speed and tension that the new, more powerful archetypes provide the games all feel much more rewarding when it comes to deck construction, mulligan decisions, and your awareness of certain cards within the format. I for sure am excited for Vermilion Bloodlines to release and of course to provide more in-depth content as the format begins to develop online.
***DISCLAIMER*** Not every game will play out that way and certainly the deck construction from the general population will ultimately decide what games look like heading into series 11, this is just my observation from playing games over the weekend and what seemed to matter vs not matter. Below I am going to give you some quick takes on some competitive decks.
1.) SS4 Vegeta – the tension created by the leader and the snowball effect of Zen-Oh combined with minimal slots dedicated to floodgates plus SS4 Unison easily bridges you to the late game where you win with Turning the Tide.
2.) SS3 Reboot – probably the best deck for abusing Baby Unison and Baby 5 drop.
3.) Soul Striker – probably the 2nd best deck for abusing Baby Unison and Baby 5 drop.
4.) Baby – good in a format with aggro decks that are leader reliant or that have to commit all of their resources to trying to close a game early
1.) Red Gogeta – not the fastest, but the most powerful and consistent turn 3 deck in the game
2.) Red Broly – fast, powerful, and consistent just can get hosed by defensive draws featuring multiple floodgates
1.) Dredgeku – makes every match-up, aside from Syn Shenron, much closer to fair and if the deck consistently opens a Unison it is primed to win almost any match-up
2.) Gotenks – the best Cell: Xeno deck, it just happens to be hyper linear due to the size of the engine and sometimes Grim Reaper of Justice isn’t good enough (crazy, I know)
3.) Reboot Gohan – falls victim to decks with a plethora of negates and ways to shut down the turn, but Reboot Gohan leader can still win an entire game out of nowhere if the opponent doesn’t have the answer.
4.) Majin Vegeta – same syndrome as Reboot Gohan except the leader has a harder time winning the game on its own.
1.) Syn Shenron – the best yellow deck, not close. Against any fair-ish deck Syn Shenron 4/9 just dominates games. With the preview of 2 drop Eis Shenron you’re now playing 8 copies of your best ball which doubled your overall consistency.
2.) Gotenks – if you enjoy playing fair games and need to sleeve up Raider’s Warcry, you play this deck.
1.) Vegeks – the best black deck, and arguably the best deck in the format. Heading into series 11 I would probably play between 50 and 54 cards to be as consistent as possible.
2.) Dark Broly – not the best match-up spread overall, but if we see a downturn in Violent Rays, this deck has a chance to shine. The deck is powerful and rewards the pilot, it just happens to not be fast enough and falls victim to the best cards in the new format.
1.) Invoker – Violent Rays breathed new life into the archetype and outside of a few bad match-ups due to play/draw disparity if the format falls into a mid-range space, Invoker is setup to do extremely well.