Tobye writes in with the following strategic tip for this week:
One of the mysteries I come across in competitive play is a lack of life counts going on. This could be due to the fact that I like to play opportunistic-explosive style decks that need to know exactly when to all-in, but it really is a vital piece of information for any player.
If your deck is capable of doing 15+ life cards of damage in a combat, which almost every deck is, you should keep close tabs on your opponent’s life total. This is not just important for knowing when to go all-in, but also, just as importantly, when to stop attacking. If your opponent plays Dragon Balls, the last thing you want is for them to string together a combo of them and steal the game at the vital last moment. Similarly, against a Tenshinhan deck, your opponent will often have a slew of preps at the bottom of his deck. You need to know how to manage these situations well, and knowing when to stop attacking to force them to draw badly for the following 2 turns can be crucial for closing out a game.
And this does not just go for your opponent’s decks. You should always keep very good tabs on your own life deck total as well. There are times when it is really beneficial for you to take the larger life card damage attack and block the smaller one as it may put you within touching distance of playing out all your Dragon Balls. Or alternatively, early in a game, to see if it’s worth taking a big hit to put key cards in your discard pile to be retrieved (with Visiting the Past, Namekian Flinch, etc.), without it putting you at risk of game-ending damage reach in the following turn.
Finally, it can give you a little room to mind game. When you ask for a life count and they reply “heaps”, then “42” after you are a little more persistent, that can be all it takes for them to reconsider a combat against you in future. This is harder to imagine when playing something in the meta as they should be able to gauge your damage well. But when you are behind something off meta like blue Raditz or black Nail, that can turn around and end a game in a single turn from nowhere and your opponent has no solid match-up experience, it can be seriously intimidating.
So today’s tip: treat your life in Dragon Ball Z as your parents treat your life, with extreme scrutiny and micromanagement.