Our first preview for Perfection is a great addition to Black Style that has the potential to help it in a few tricky match ups.
Including Black Sidestep in your deck will very much be a choice based on your local meta. Black as a whole doesn’t have a lot of effects that can deal with an opponent’s Dragon Balls, and Black Sidestep thus helps in some way to bridge a gap for the style. Currently, Black Style’s best bet to deal with Dragon Balls is to generate a critical damage effect. When you’re coming up against a triple threat Namekian with MPPV to keep an eye on, or another dedicated Dragon Ball victory deck with mass endurance, this can be hard to rely on consistently.
If your opponent is getting a little too greedy with their Dragon Balls in play, this is a great answer. With energy attacks like Optic Blast, Crushing Beam and other styled attacks like Namekian Double Strike that help make up a large part of the included attacks in opposition decks, it’s safe to say having this card as a bluff to draw upon and keep your opponent guessing can be a great way to force your opponent to potentially make a crucial misplay.
When compared to Black Style’s existing set of amazing energy blocks including Black Corruption, Black Swipe and Black Resistance, it’s not an auto-include, but it may fit in a meta where you need to tech around Namekian or pesky Dragon Ball victory players.
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.
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.
A touchy subject for some, the meta is a source of constant conversation. While some believe it is stale and the same three decks can be viewed vying for dominance every week, others say there is massive variance in the range of viable decks. Maybe the truth lies somewhere in the middle.
Since Heroes and Villains and Movie Collection dropped, loud cries exclaimed the meta must shift. The usual suspects of Ginyu, Piccolo and Krillin have been winning more often than not, with all notching wins at Regional Championship events around the world. A well thought out plan and a good read of the potential field and you can have half the battle won for yourself. This is the classic Rock, Paper, Scissors situation hiding within Panini’s Dragon Ball Z TCG.
No one style of deck has an impressive match up over all others, and we have seen the ebbs and flows of this in the different types of decks winning Regional level events. While there are the usual suspects in the mix, there are some great decks that can be the rock that smashes away an opponent’s scissors.
Let’s take a look at some of the potential Big 3 decks, and their counters:
The focus here is on Blue Ginyu as it has the most favourable match ups against other decks. While it is strong, the deck does have vulnerabilities you can exploit. Its greatest foe is the bald man. Krillin is dangerous to Ginyu in both the favoured Black style and emerging Orange variant. With his Level 1 critical damage effect, he is a constant thorn in Ginyu’s side that the opponent must be aware of to play around. Team that with the disruption and removal possibilities in Black, or the sheer board presence of Orange and Ginyu is forced to work for every card in their deck.
However, there are other great counters outside of the Big 3. Orange Goku has shown it can be an equally annoying thorn in Ginyu’s side. With Orange Destruction a constant threat; Heroic Assistance providing targeted recursion of the discard pile and Goku’s ability to maintain board presence, Ginyu can be left with few options. Blue Piccolo running Blue Dominance is also a good choice with Piccolo’s Level 2 power, hero allies providing control and drills like Blue Positioning Drill amongst others causing Ginyu to become locked down and denied its strength in maximising combat actions.
Some other decks that can provide Ginyu with headaches are:
Red Garlic (if he can remove or keep Nappa ally off the field)
Nappa (Black or Blue style)
Black Krillin would have to be the most consistent performer of this year’s Regional circuit. Though it has only won two Regionals in the US, it consistently makes up the largest percentage of decks within Top Cut. With his great action on level 1 with the auto critical effect generated with his power and the Black Mastery, he provides Black an answer to the biggest flaw in its arsenal, control of anger and allies.
If Organised Play was a National Geographic documentary, Black Krillin’s natural predator would be Piccolo Namekian. While the match up can be won by Krillin, it takes some great draws and much luck to help get on top of a deck that can come at you with all three victories in its kit bag. The constant anger gain and the way Namekian can generate card draw once set up can leave Krillin with little to stop an MPPV victory, or even get decked out if Namekian can chain a few nice combats with multiple energy attacks.
Anger decks like Red Tenshinhan can also give Krillin a run for his money, due to Krillin only being able to consistently deal with 1 anger each combat. Orange Goku can also be favoured in the match up if Krillin lets the opponent get set up.
Some other decks to consider:
Black Nappa (Physical Beats)
Orange Krillin (Fight fire with fire!)
Movie Collection‘s release saw players drop away from Namekian Piccolo, particularly as decks capitalising on Blue Dominance emerged. Locking down Namekian’s constant anger generation while mitigating the rejuvenation Namekian provides through Blue’s own targeted recursion with Blue Positioning Drill can help to prevent Namekian Piccolo from changing gears constantly to pull out one of its triple threat victory conditions. For this reason, Blue Piccolo matches up favourably to the Namekian style version by taking advantage of all the tools it provides – allies for control, his level 2 power, and anger slowdown from the Blue Mastery. Using Blue Positioning Drill and drawing with his power helps you cycle through cards in your hand that might not be optimal to the match up.
The pure damage output and constant threat of being able to fish out Frieza allows Ginyu of all colours to cramp Namekian Piccolo’s style. Blue tends to be more reliable than others as it has the advantage of slowing down all three victory conditions, where Orange and Black can be vulnerable to an anger victory.
Other decks you may wish to trial against Ginyu are:
The main takeaway is that while the Big 3 have their advantages, with the right forethought and purposeful playtesting, you can take another deck to provide an element of surprise and counter the meta environment you expect at your next Championship level event. The more chances you give yourself to sit down to favourable match ups, the more chances you have to make Top Cut and receive awesome prizes.
SDCC Promo Krillin offers a distinct advantage over the standard Krillin Lvl1.
There is no doubt that a well-made Black deck in the current environment can wreak havoc on your opponent’s best-laid plans. As I explained in our State of the Game – Black Style article, Black style is all about manipulation of a player’s cards in hand and reducing the cards potentially available to them in their Life Deck and Discard Pile. Black Krillin ramps up control another level by teaming manipulation with critical effects on a frequent basis. This is the deck I’m currently running and I find it very strong against some of the more dominant decks in the metagame.
Krillin’s Personality Cards
Krillin’s powers have great synergy with the Black Devious Mastery and compensate for areas where Black style is lacking. I currently run the San Diego Comic Con promo of Krillin’s Level 1 personality to leverage his Level 1 power as long as possible which creates a floating effect that stays active until a card is discarded from a hand. The discard can occur in any fashion, via the Mastery or other card effect. This critical effect can help discard allies or lower an opponent’s anger – anger control which is sometimes lacking within the currently available Black Style card pool.
But Krillin’s higher level powers won’t leave you at a disadvantage. If you are forced up to his higher levels, he has some great powers that disrupt your opponent’s hand.
Style of play
Black Scout Maneuver makes a welcome return in Panini DBZ to help keep your opponent’s future plans in check!
The best way to play this deck is defensively. You need to let your opponent come to you and force their hand, using your turn to regroup and set your board up to wait for the right time to push your advantage.
To play Black well, you need to understand your opponent and the style they are playing. You need to know the threats in each style so you can use cards like Black Searching Technique and Black Scout Maneuver to get rid of future headaches. This makes it very important to research other styles’ strengths and then read your opponent’s play.
As Black has a hard time utilising the help of Allies, and has no protection in the form of drills, I play nearly all the blocks available to me in my deck. Make sure you have enough defense to counter your opponent. The stand out Black blocks are Black Finger Block for physical and Black Swipe for energy attacks. Make sure you make the most of your limited defensive resources, as most secondary effects help you manipulate your opponent’s hand in some way. Weigh up your options and choose wisely!
Most Black Style attacks have cool effects to help manipulate your opponent. My favourites include Black Energy Web and Black Defensive Burst. If these attacks are successful, they prevent your opponent from performing either energy or physical attacks for the remainder of combat. Sometimes a powerful offense is the best defense!
One of the most powerful attacks in Krillin’s arsenal.
In this particular deck, you should also consider running cards like Krillin’s Solar Flare and Blinding Energy Move. If you find yourself at the losing end of a tough combat, these cards can help you get out of a jam. This deck’s objective is to hit and run, so do what you can and then leave your opponent hanging.
Without a doubt, the most effective card is Krillin’s Destructo Disc. An attack hitting for 5 life cards and 1 stage can sometimes make all the difference, particularly if you’re looking for a critical effect.
This deck shouldn’t rely offensively on physical attacks as Krillin’s power levels are too prohibitive. Aim for attacks with effects that remove cards from your opponent’s discard pile, as most top tier decks attempt to use their discard pile to their advantage.
Try and avoid energy attacks with high costs as they may eat away at valuable stages you need to absorb against a physical beatdown deck.
However, there are a few other cards that may help support your plans. For setups, look at Black Searching Technique which allows you to rid your opponent’s deck of two potential threats – whether those threats are attacks, or allies, or setups. Another setup to check out is Visiting the Past where you can pick and choose something from your discard pile that will help you – will an extra defensive card be what you need, or is it time to finish off your opponent with an additional energy attack?
Another fun card to look at is Black Reflection, which can add a whole new level of frustration to your opponent as their attacks are thrown back at them. Your options are limitless!
Do you need some help tweaking your deck for your local metagame? We’d love to help you out. Feel free to send in your decklists to firstname.lastname@example.org and we will give you some advice to maximise your potential.