While Fahad’s Black Krillin deck took out the honours at the recent Australian Dragon Ball Z National Championships, eyes around the world were focused on Tobye’s run with Saiyan Turles as he stomped through the qualifying rounds (losing only to a mirror Saiyan Turles match-up and a Black Krillin deck by the miniscule margin of 1 life card). The little bald man was to prove his undoing in the Top 8 finals as Michael exacted revenge for a number of Top Cut exits a decade earlier in Score Z times, but the fact remains, “How did Saiyan Turles smash face?”
Curiosity burning, we asked Tobye to report in with how his deck worked, and how he decided to play Saiyan in the first place.
I came 7th in the Australian Dragon Ball Z Nationals with a Saiyan Turles deck. Yep, it happened. It was a great experience. Even my opponents were excited when they lost, as who doesn’t want to see Saiyan crush faces?
You might be wondering how some scrub managed to luck his way to 7th place with a suicide Turles deck. Well, I’m not as good as I used to be, but I’m not your average scrub. And I wish it were luck, it would be easier to explain. Instead I’ve written some 2,000 words on it.
Pre-Event Play Testing
It’s a week out from the event, and after thorough play testing with the team, nothing conclusive was decided except the Top 3 were strong for a reason. Namekian was the weakest of the three by a good margin. I thought I would play blue Raditz as it only struggled against Ginyu and dominated the other two (if I had have known I would dodge every single Ginyu player throughout the event, I would have gone blue Raditz in a heartbeat!).
With my deck seemingly decided, I wanted to have a little fun, and fun for me can only mean Saiyan. While messing around, I noticed a good bunch of synergies I had discovered worked with a bunch of other little synergies.
Intrigued, I mentioned the Saiyan deck to my play test group.
“NO. FRIENDS DON’T LET FRIENDS PLAY SAIYAN.”
Meekly, I requested they at least humour me. Nope. With memories of a local tournament scrub out with me experimenting with Saiyan Goku clear in their minds, they would not do anything that may, in any way, lead me to playing Saiyan for the big event. So, I had to go to OctGN for a few fun matches. And it stomped.
I felt like a madman. As if I could see dead people and no one would ever believe me. I couldn’t turn to my friends, as I couldn’t believe it myself, so how could they?
Just a few days before the event, we had one more practice day. While there, much to the irritation of my friend, I put together the Saiyan deck. We made a deal: if it lost a single game, at all, to any of the top 3 decks, it would be immediately abandoned and never spoken of again. So the six hour play testing gauntlet began…one after another, Turles broke faces. It was an incredible display. But, even after a flawless night of games, it didn’t seem right. It felt like some bizarre fluke occurred many times in a row in an attempt by the cosmos to throw me off course.
I was going to stick to good ol’ blue Raditz.
But later another guy from the group stated how he was still undecided on decks and just wanted any advice. So, I thought maybe he can try Saiyan, just in case he is really stuck and desperate. Facebook updated trickled in over the next 24 hours: “Saiyan is pretty lame.”, “Wow, actually it can go right off”, “This is actually really super consistent”, “I love this deck”, and the final update that clenched things for me: “I have unsleeved and pulled apart my other decks. I am playing Saiyan tomorrow.”. After that last update, which was only a few hours from the event, my friend looked at me from across the table and said “I’ve changed my mind. You have to play Saiyan.”.
Why Saiyan has historically not been successful in Panini Dragon Ball Z
This has a simple explanation: people want to play Saiyan in a way that doesn’t work. Everyone has this stalwart idea that Saiyan can only be hyper-aggressive physical beats. This mindset has only been applied to Saiyan, as you will see every other style has had a myriad of obscure builds being trialed.
The truth is that hyper-beats is an all round weak play style in Panini’s version of Dragon Ball Z. It’s not just Saiyan – try it with any other style. The abundance of Black style decks packing defensive bursts and combat enders, Namekians powering up and levelling up and Namek Dragon Ball 6 being utterly unbalanced lead sensible players far away from suicide builds. Also, the very small life decks mean it’s much easier to land 1 or 2 meaningful energy attacks and just grind away, instead of having to continually land stage damage that very rarely converts to life damage.
How Saiyan was successful
Saiyan has some amazing value cards. And I don’t just mean Saiyan Elbow Drop, look at Saiyan Outrage, Saiyan Enraged, Saiyan Backbreaker, Saiyan Grab and Saiyan Body Blow. These are all +1 cards! In fact, Saiyan Enraged provides far more value when timed right, generally equating to, well, winning the game. Same as Saiyan Backbreaker, and Saiyan Body Blow for a Tree of Might which then searches a Quickness Drill… makes Blue Lunge look bad.
Now forget card advantage value for a second, and look at some other value: Saiyan Drive By on 4 anger is a bigger life card swing than a Black style Krillin’s Destructo Disk, plus you gain an anger, AND you get to stack a card on top – which can be endurance to widen the life swing even up to 10 cards, or setup for next turn, or even something to draw next phase with a Saiyan Enraged or Saiyan Grab! How a card of such potential has gone unnoticed for so long is beyond me.
Then another gem is Saiyan Rescue. This card…you just don’t understand. It does what needs to be done. It’s not just about the Saiyan Menace loops (which are again insane value even if they have 0 allies), but restoring Tree of Might if they have been knocked out so you can Saiyan Body Blow for it, or rejuving your Quickness Drill so you can search it out next turn with your attached tree. Or maybe you want to edit your discard pile so your Quickness Drill draws exactly what you want, gain you that anger you need to level up or simply just put back a tool. This card is so underrated and so valuable.
How to play Saiyan successfully
Saiyan style is about being a bully. Always attack people who are weaker than you and who are unable to fight back. It also means never fighting someone stronger than you. Get this notion out of your head that you need to enter every combat. This is the surest way to die. You need to enter every key combat, which is totally different.
If you draw a hand full of attacks that only really do damage with their effects having no relevance, and your opponent is around 7 stages, just pass. Other styles have tricks you don’t have. And for Turles, beating someone down from 10 stages to 0 is really no different than beating them down from, well, any number of stages. His stage damage output is insane. So don’t freak out about letting them power up a few turns if you have to. Be a bully, be a coward.
You might then think, “What about all the board presence they will accrue?”, except you probably didn’t think it with the word ‘accrue’. And yes, it sucks. But surprisingly, Saiyan has the answers! Run 3 Saiyan intimidations. It’s just a must. 1 for 1 is great when all your other cards are 2-3 for 1. You need to banish those key problems. Also, play Namek Dragon Ball 4. 2 for 1 = value. Lastly, Saiyan Energy Focus is the highest value card in the game with the right timing. Yes, what you target isn’t permanently removed, but if you are about to lay down the game ending combat, it is irrelevant that those cards stay in play. In fact, it actually helps against certain drill decks. Also, and this is my favourite move, you can turn off your own Namek Dragon Ball 4 meaning you can charge face first into Krillin’s Destructo Disk without risking your board. This card is very often a 3-for-1 even before you count it as an attack, which when done by a tree’d up Turles, is always going to be relevant damage.
One more way to clear board though, is to enter on them when they are stage locked all the time. Force them to pop Visiting the Past to merely stay alive, or Black Power Up the hell out of there. They can’t casually take 2 hits from Turles in order to save those power cards, because Turles will kill you. So when they are too low to fight, enter with almost any hand. Do it with 2 cards, heck, do it with 1 or 0 if you have to. Yes, you can make plays with 0 cards if you have Saiyan Enraged or Visiting the Past in play. Just don’t be reckless, be aware of all the ways they could escape a lock (Black Finger Block) and make sure you play around it (only use energies).
Another key element to playing Saiyan well, is to manage their discard pile. I chose to use Saiyan Strength Test, Devastating Blow, and the glory hound of the deck: Saiyan Cheap Shot. Turles’ Level 3 power is also great for this. When it comes to the late game, they will get Namek Dragon Ball 7. Just expect it. Every game. And you will be amazed how utterly useless, and even detrimental it can be when their discard is full of chaff. As so many decks rely on DB7 as a win condition, it makes sense to remove that condition.
Oh and did I mention Saiyan Domination? No? Well that. Only one of that, but a big that.
What Turles brings to the party
The music, beer, food and women. There would be no party without Turles. His Level 1 is rightfully feared and can allow you to lay waste to an opponent from out of nowhere. The fact he then crits off all 5+ life damage attacks is amazing. But a great, game changing advantage that most people don’t consider about his Level 1 though, is that turning off endurance means you can always calculate, to the life card, how much damage you can do to them. This makes it so much easier to make decisions later in the game when you are faced with the usual “Will they die if this hits?” You really shouldn’t underestimate how valuable this ability is.
His level 2 is horribly underrated. It’s amazing, shockingly good. You are forcing them to hold a block for an energy against a deck that will drop them to 0 stages with a single physical attack. And if they don’t block it, they need to have 8 stages (or 10 if you have a Tree of Might!) to avoid you critting and angering up! It is sooooo good! The trick when you get to level 2 is to camp it, until you can enter and burst from 2 to 3 (hopefully off his level 2 power itself), removing all their stages and lining up the spectacular level 3 game ender.
His level 4 is classic bully tactics. Does nothing while they are already crushed in body and soul, but brings them right back down if they dare try to improve their situation. There is no real subtlety or plays to make off this, just use it when you should obviously use it.
I think Saiyan is the least explored style, and it has shown that it can indeed tear chunks out of any other style. If more people looked at Saiyan, the entire meta would be forced to diversify as you simply can’t run a Ginyu into Saiyan Turles and expect to win even 1 out of 10 games. And he also has favourable matchups against Krillin and Piccolo, even if not as drastically favourable as the Ginyu matchup. It’s a much safer bet to top cut with it than playing one of the top 3 and flipping a coin each round. I highly recommend you try out the build, try it out again, and really try some unorthodox plays and see how it handles itself. It requires a very different mentality that most players aren’t used to, but it works.
We’ll be unveiling another Saiyan preview from Evolution tomorrow with analysis kindly provided by Tobye. To stay up to date with the latest TAK Games Evolution reveals and analysis, like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter @TAKGames_au.