The Importance of ACEC in Modern DBS

ACEC – Average Converted Energy Cost

Akin to most other resource based TCG’s, the longer a game is in development – the cheaper (cost wise) and more powerful cards have to become in order to create churn within current formats and give incentive to players to buy the new cards to remain competitive in whichever environment they decide to play in.

With this knowledge comes the need to adapt and be able to read the room, so to speak, when a new set releases and you’re trying to determine competitive viability of both new and older archetypes that have been juiced up from the new set. The best metrics for this task fall on the shoulders of my two favorite things: Actions Per Turn (APT) and Average Converted Energy Cost (ACEC).

At this point in time I believe I have gone over Actions Per Turn at length (TL;DR the more you do on a turn, the better), so today I want to spend my time on Average Converted Energy Cost – especially with Vicious Rejuvenation on the horizon, and the many new archetypes primed to make an impact on the meta game!

Breaking it Down

ACEC is calculated by looking over your deck list and counting each card and its in-game cost, then averaging it out by the total number of cards counted. When I state “in-game” cost, I mean the cost you’re more than likely to be paying for it – ex: Great Ape Bardock, Raider’s Warcry is a 4 cost Battle Card, but I will be playing it most often for the 2 energy combo cost so I count it as a 2 cost when calculating my deck’s ACEC. Another example would be the “free” counter plays enabled by Unisons, I would definitely count those as 0 – this is a huge reason why Unisons are so important in modern deck building, but more on that later.

There is always such a clear distinction between the best decks in a format and those that slightly miss due to their ACEC just falling short of that “tier 1” status. Today I want to take a look at the maximum potential of a few decks and calculate their Average Converted Energy Cost just so you can see how this metric does truly tie to a deck’s overall success within a format.

Here are some examples:

The GOAT – Chris Welch’s Winning Hiru Storm List

Fu 7 – 1, 1
FDC – 1, 1, 1
Nimbus – 1, 1, 1
Planet Vegeta – 1, 1, 1
Progenitor – 1, 1, 1, 1
Grandpa – 1, 1
Will of Iron – 1, 1

To set the stage we have to start with the deck that truly started it all in terms of Actions Per Turn and Average Converted Energy Cost – Hiru Storm comes in at 0.38 with its max potential being a total cost of 19 out of 50 cards. This is just raw counting, but if you then put Bean and Unyielding into the mix where they each net an energy, you can truly see how utterly broken this deck was and will always be.

Pre B&R Vegeks

Trunks OR – 1, 1, 1, 1
Dark Power Black Masked Saiyan – 1, 1, 1, 1
Power Burst – 1, 1, 1
Extinction Attack – 1, 1, 1
Splintering Mind – 1, 1, 1, 1
HPESK – 1, 1, 1

If there is any reason Trunks, Elite Descendant had to go here is why – ACEC of 0.42 (max potential w/ a total cost of 21 out of 50 cards). This level of efficiency is simply unmatched, even by OG Storm.

Red Broly

Vampa – 1, 1
Violent Rays – 1, 1
Unison – 1, 1, 1, 1
Broly 1 drop (7 copies & Free 60% of time) – 1, 1, 1
Broly 4 – 1, 1, 1, 1
Broly 5 – 1, 1, 1, 1
Broly 6 – 1, 1, 1
Paragus (Free 60% of the time) – 1

With an ACEC of 0.46 (max potential when 1 drop Broly and Paragus are free 60% of the time 23/50) – Red Broly clearly sets the pace for the rest of the format in S11, and heading into S12. This means that if you’re trying to compete your ACEC needs to be close, or a single one of your cards has to generate just as much value or more in order to keep pace in a given game. This is why at 3xG we stress the importance of floodgates and other X for 1’s since as the game continues to scale this way our philosophy and approach to deck building and meta gaming has to change as well.

Majin Vegeta

Zarbuto – 1, 1
Dormant – 1, 1
Majin Vegeta 3 (Leader Skill) – 1, 1, 1
Babidi – 1, 1, 1, 1
Majin Buu 7 – 1, 1, 1, 1
Death Ball – 1, 1
Focused Breakthrough – 1, 1
Majin Vegeta 1 – 1, 1, 1, 1

Majin Vegeta went on quite the streak in a large number of series 11 events and garnered a ton of respect along the way. This list ALSO comes in at an ACEC of 0.46 (max potential of 23/50). Pretty easy to tell why this deck ended up being so successful – it really only loses to itself.


Mechikabura – 2
2 Cost Unisons – 2, 2, 2, 2, 2
5 Cost Gotenks – 3, 3
Death Ball (Sparking 50% or time) – 1
Zamasu – 1, 1
Ribrianne – 2, 2
Gohan – 2, 2
Roshi – 1, 1, 1
Gokule – 1, 1, 1, 1
Reaper of Justice – 2, 2, 2, 2

Green Gotenks was definitely a gatekeeper deck in the series 11 format came in at 0.88 (Total energy cost of 44 in a 50 card deck). Gotenks was definitely the perfect combination of disruption alongside relatively cheap, powerful threats and led it to being the #1 mid-range deck of series 11 format.

Red Gogeta

Gotenks Unison – 2, 2, 2, 2
Gogeta 5 – 3, 3, 3, 3
Birth of a Super Warrior – 1, 1, 1, 1
Violent Rays – 1, 1, 1
Toppo – 2, 2, 2
Gogeta, Time for Payback – 3, 3, 3

Red Gogeta came in at 0.84 (total energy costs adding up to 42 out of 50 cards). With Gogeta having just a slight edge over Gotenks, why did it underperform? Too many 3 cost cards which allowed for the more defensive blue decks to setup shop, and Dormant Potential Unleashed is much more powerful than Violent Rays in a format where Vegeks was S Tier.

How Some Series 12 Builds Stack Up

Post B&R Vegeks Weenies ACEC is 0.48 (max potential w/ a total cost of 24/50)

Goku 1 – 1, 1, 1, 1
Vegeta 1 – 1, 1, 1
Kai of Time SCR – 1
Dark Power Black Masked Saiyan – 1, 1, 1, 1
Power Burst – 1, 1, 1, 1
Extinction Attack – 1, 1, 1, 1
HPESK – 1, 1, 1, 1

This version of Vegeks is my personal favorite in early S12 testing due to how well it keeps the ACEC down and enables the early awakening to turn the Unison into another lethal threat to go aside your weenies and leader plus HPESK.

King Piccolo’s ACEC is 0.56 (max potential w/ a total cost of 28/50)

3x Violent Rays – 1, 1, 1
4x Unison – 2, 2, 2, 2
4x Piccolo 6 – 1, 1, 1, 1
3x Piccolo 4 – 1, 1, 1
4x Piccolo 1 – 1, 1, 1, 1,
2x Piano 1- 1, 1
4x Attack of the Demon Clan – 1, 1, 1, 1

King Piccolo hasn’t been hyped up enough and Frisco’s brew will definitely change your mind. All of the threats in your deck cost 1 or less and the Leader acts as the engine for the machine – that always is a huge boon when it comes to these aggro/combo archetypes.

Whis’s ACEC is 0.70 (max potential w/ a total cost of 35/50)

Max Power – 1
Vados Unison – 2, 2, 2, 2
Goku 3 – 1, 1, 1, 1
Vegeta 3 – 1, 1, 1, 1
Beerus – 1, 1
Whis 1 – 1, 1, 1, 1
Nimbus – 1, 1
Restrain – 1
Tyrannical Blow – 1, 1
Cooler – 3
Vegeta Unison – 2, 2

We step slightly down in when it comes to ACEC, but Whis is quite potent with the ability to present free 15k’s each turn and can leverage the leader and Vados Unison to again act as the engine for the deck.

Syn Shenron’s ACEC is 0.72 (max potential w/ a total cost of 36/50

Mechikabura Unison – 4, 4. 4
Syn 9 – 1, 1, 1, 1
Syn 4 – 1, 1, 1, 1
Syn 1 – 1, 1, 1, 1
Eis – 1, 1, 1
Omega SR – 1, 1, 1
Nuova – 1, 1, 1
Nimbus – 1, 1, 1

Syn Shenron’s cost is deceptive due to the Unison. If you were to cut the card all together the average ACEC would then dip to 0.48 (24/50) – which when thinking about a tanky mid-range/control archetype is pretty wild. This deck fines Syn Shenron 1 drop consistently, has new tools to keep it alive, and has the ability to get into the red zone early to make that turn 6 leader activation a guaranteed kill.

Shroom & Salsa’s ACEC is 1.04 (max potential w/ a total cost of 52/50

Mechikabura (Leader Skill) – 1, 1, 1
Tenacious – 1, 1
Gravy Skill-less (Leader Skill) – 1, 1
Dabura Unison – 1, 1
Masked King – 4, 4, 4
Towa 1 – 1, 1, 1, 1
Shroom 5 – 1, 1, 1, 1
Shroom Skill-less – 1, 1, 1
Salsa 5 – 1, 1, 1, 1
Salsa Skill-less – 1, 1, 1
Kai of Time SCR – 1
Dark Power Black Masked Saiyan – 1, 1, 1
Power Burst – 1, 1, 1
Protector of the People – 1, 1, 1
HPESK – 1, 1, 1

A deck that a lot of folks think is hyper competitive, Shroom and Salsa offer one of the highest ACEC’s so far due to the preferred finisher costing 4 and just the amount of cards that have a 1 energy requirement to be played. Don’t get me wrong, the deck is quite efficient with the amount of 1’s it plays – but ultimately the lack of “free” just leaves a lot to be desired in comparison to the decks listed above.

Context Always Matters

ACEC is a fantastic metric to keep track of when deck building and trying to determine the viability of newer and older archetypes whenever a set comes out – just don’t forget that context always matters when determining a deck’s overall success and sometimes there are additional factors such as leader abilities that can contribute to a deck’s ability to manipulate its ACEC such as Soul Striker or Vegito.

Even when approaching those decks, keeping track of ACEC is the best way to figure out your overall potential for Actions Per Turn and of course how you can best respond to whatever your opponent does if they are on one of the better decks in regards to ACEC. This is such an important thing to learn in DBS due to how games tend to snowball so quickly. If what your deck is attempting to do cannot trade up/evenly or completely mitigate what your opponent is trying to do – then it is time to move onto a different build and work on increasing your max potential.

Another great example of context mattering took place just this past format with the lack of Red Broly being played causing the whole entire format to not turnover as it potentially should have (in theory):

If Red Broly is level 1 – Syn Shenron is the natural predator at level 2
If level 2 is Syn Shenron – Vegeks puts the work in at 3
Gotenks and Dormant are level 4 – Dark Broly eats it at 5
Heroic and Baby Hatch at 6 – Invoker eats at 7
Red Broly then turns it back over

Instead the format changed into:

Vegeks is level 1 – Green Gotenks and Dormant is level 2
Dark Broly beats up on Gotenks and Dormant at level 3
Heroic Prospect and Baby Hatch are level 4
Invoker is level 5 – Red Broly is the natural predator at 6
Syn Shenron is 7 – Vegeks then turns the format back over

Absolutely wild how just lack of promos takes Syn Shenron from level 2 down to level 7, and the same with Red Broly going down from 1 to 6. Your deck choices for the first and last weeks of the format are just so wildly different – that is pretty neat when you start to look at it that way. I know it is just numbers shifting around, but the amount of reads or meta calls that can be made just changes so much in each system. PS I love this shit.

Unisons are Gud, but 1 Cost Unisons are Gudder

As we talked about earlier on, Unisons have had such a huge impact on the game – especially when it comes to ACEC. The ability to enable free counter: play battle cards and other free effects helps drive the cost of your deck down so much and of course enables a higher number of potential actions on both players’ turns. 1 cost Unisons are the “new” Lebron James of DBS – they do it all, they do it better, and they do it more efficiently than anyone else.

In my honest opinion, Unisons that cost more than 2 (outside of Mechikabura due to the Syn Shenron archetype) are now unplayable.

***Note that Soul Striker and SS3 make 3 cost Unisons either 1 or 0… which is absurd***


The release of series 12 is truly going to do a lot to the current format – we all need to adapt and start thinking with a different mentality as we approach competitive play and deck building in general. Consistency and efficiency are just so much more important now than before due to the power level of the engines being released and just how crucial the first 3 turns of the game are now. Your deck needs to be built either with the intention of doing the most possible in the first 3 turns, or doing something powerful enough in the first 3 turns to trade up/evenly or completely mitigate what the opposing player is trying to accomplish.

The game has changed and of course the world around us has as well, but one thing still remains the same:

Me inhales:

This game and community is truly there best there is, the best there was, and the best there ever will be. Stay safe and stay hungry.

Thank you for everything – I love you all.

#NewYearNewMentality #ScrubFamisBestFam #KTHXBAAAIIIIIIII

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