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.
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.
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.