ARG Las Vegas and Pro-Play Games Atlanta, as well as several local ARG invite events are quickly nearing this weekend, and you may still be on the fence of what to play. Don't fret, as you're in luck! This past weekend, a large 249 person event took place, the European Open Championship, and it should give us a glimpse of what to expect at your event of choice. Janemba Mill ended up taking first place and third place, with a deadly Broly Victory Strike deck taking second. There were also other successful decks in the top 16. This gives us a great starting point at what to anticipate this weekend to help prepare us. Let's take a look a deeper at a few of those top deck lists, discuss their strengths, discuss their weaknesses, and finally go over what I would personally go in with to an event this weekend. Let's start with the tournament winner - Janemba.
This deck has been floating around since the US Nationals, with a recent win at the Atlantic City Pro-Play Tour 2019. The idea of this deck is to stall out the game as much as possible, and discard your opponent's deck. Occasionally, the deck can also steal games with pushing damage as well, especially if your opponent is hesitating on drawing cards with game effects. Let's take a look at the winner's list...
[1st Place] European Open Championship - Augusto Gavaia
1 Janemba (p-086)
4 Unbreakable Super Saiyan Son Goku (sd2-03)
1 Group Leader Pilaf (bt2-048)
4 Saike Demon, Rockin' Out (bt5-046)
4 Great Saiyaman, Town Hero (bt5-032)
2 Son Goku, Striving to be the Best (tb3-021)
4 Childish Heart Janemba (bt5-049)
2 Deadly Defender Vegeta (bt5-034)
2 Raging Spirit Son Gohan (bt2-039)
4 Demon Sword Janemba (p-078)
4 Reality Bender Janemba (p-076)
4 Infernal Villainy Cell (bt5-073)
2 Kami, Global Unifier (bt5-108)
2 Time Control Chronoa (bt4-104)
4 Dimension Magic (bt5-050)
4 Senzu Bean (bt1-053)
3 Mafuba (bt2-064)
2 Burnished Bonds Borgos (tb3-029)
2 Group Leader Pilaf (bt2-048)
2 Courageous Heart Yajirobe (bt2-052)
1 Mafuba (bt2-064)
2 Ready Stance Son Goku (bt5-028)
2 Son Goku, Striving to be the Best (tb3-021)
2 Dark Power Black Masked Saiyan (bt5-112)
2 Dende, New to the Job (bt5-109)
A strong late game, with an impeccable defense makes pushing last damage against this deck difficult, with an inevitability to end the game with milling the opponent to death. Consistent battle card removal also makes clearing the board a breeze compared to most meta decks.
Easy to pilot. Don't spend all your energy every turn and keep it for defense, or if you do spend it, keep a Dimension Magic handy. After watching a player pilot the deck (check out some of the past streams from either Pro-Play Games or this past weekend's Euro Championship) and getting in a few practice games, you should be good to go.
Early aggression can catch the deck off guard if your hand is flooded with 1 cost combo cards and no Senzu Beans, or if they are able to break past the defenses early. If your life goes from five to three, you're going to have a more difficult time blocking damage, as 4 life is the sweet spot in life management. This is a deck where an early OTK (one turn kill) can catch you given the opportunity.
Mirror match can be abysmal. While the better player always has experience and ideally would come out on top, the match can end over who draws faster and more frequent Janembas. This particular build has thought of that, and has included four copies of each and four Saike Demon for faster and cheaper Janembas.
Broly Height of Mastery Victory Strike
This is the second deck type we'll be taking a look at and it is the latest entry on the top tier list. Essentially the deck uses two new promo cards, the new leader Broly, the Awakened Threat (P-092) and the just-released battle card Son Goku, Path to Greatness (P-115) promo card to swap into the absurd Height of Mastery Son Goku (BT4-075), shutting down the opponent's options to counter the onslaught of attacks that would be heading the opponent's way. To go over-the-top, the winner used Son Goku the Awakened Power () to push out an auto win against several decks, like his top 4 match against a Janemba player. However, a very similar list that went undefeated in the swiss rounds did not run the card, and was more focused on being aggressive. For this article, let's take a look at the winner's list...
[2nd Place] European Open Championship - Casper Hersø Hansen
1 Broly (p-092)
1 Son Goku, the Awakened Power (tb1-097)
4 Bardock, the Progenitor (bt4-073)
4 Full Surveillance Jaco (bt5-088)
4 Intrepid Dynasty Son Gohan (bt4-084)
2 Vegeta, Striving to be the Best (tb3-051)
3 Prodigal Dynasty Son Goten (bt4-085)
4 Son Goku, Path to Greatness (p-115)
4 Height of Mastery Son Goku (bt4-075)
4 Time Control Chronoa (bt4-104)
2 Mira, Creator Absorbed (bt4-108)
4 Successor of Hope (bt4-095)
3 Bad Ring Laser (bt1-108)
2 Cold Bloodlust (bt1-107)
1 Planet Vegeta (bt3-105)
4 Time Magic (bt5-101)
4 Universe 7 Representative (tb1-095)
1 Bad Ring Laser (bt1-108)
1 Cold Bloodlust (bt1-107)
2 Crusher Ball (bt1-110)
2 Flying Nimbus (bt3-104)
1 Planet Vegeta (bt3-105)
1 Prodigal Dynasty Son Goten (bt4-085)
4 Dende, New to the Job (bt5-109)
3 Trunks, Power Overseeing Time (bt3-111)
Winning with this deck is very easy turn 4, as long as you draw your cards. Aggressive versions of the Broly, the Awakened Threat can win even faster if you catch the opponent off-guard. The deck can easily push its victory condition with Bad Ring Laser as a stop gap if they are able to counter the Height of Mastery Son Goku play.
The deck has a lot of defensive options, like Time Magic and Cold Bloodlust to stop the opponent's key battle cards, like Foreseeing Hit and Haru Haru, Attacker Majin.
Janemba can be a weakness. It can mill your win conditions. This is fixed with Trunks, Power Overseeing Time being able to grab them from the drop area, but this does slow your play down, and your answer to mill can be discarded as well. Janemba can also block your win-condition. If the combo doesn't have a substantial amount of combo power to back it up, it can easily outlive the onslaught of the attack.
Overrunning the board with blockers. Multiple blockers means less energy being tapped down which means more options the opponent has to stop you from going off against them.
This deck does have a very linear style of play (Son Goku, Path to Greatness - > Height of Mastery Son Goku -> Son Goku, the Awakened Power), and because of that, things don't always go the ideal way. It does take a bit of ingenuity to know when to ditch the plan of going straight combo and going to a more aggressive route (say against a Janemba player trying to mill you out; this is what happened in the finals match between Augusto Gavaia and Casper Hersø Hansen). I do believe this weakness is easily patch-able, and players are going to adapt and play a more aggressive version of this deck that makes it less combo based, and more on smarter plays which will put it at an even better position than it is in today.
This is a deck that has seen some niche play and success from previous events, and has been popularized by the likes of Tim Palacios, and Scott Dashy. This past weekend, it saw two top 8 placings at the event. This is probably the most "fair" deck on the lists that showed up, but don't underestimate its strength. Well placed Chain Attack trunks into Zen-oh, the Plain God or Fearless Pan could end the game for the opponent very quickly. Let's look at one of the top 8 deck lists...
[Top 8] European Open Championship - Johnny Chow
1 Pan (bt3-001)
4 Intensifying Power Trunks (bt4-012)
4 Everybody's Pal Yamcha (p-077)
4 Master Roshi, Martial Expert (bt5-012)
1 Pui Pui, Magician's Lackey (tb2-016)
4 Quick Rush Trunks (bt3-011)
3 Burst Attack Son Gohan (p-049)
3 Digging Deep Vegeta (bt4-010)
4 Double Shot Super Saiyan 2 Vegeta (bt2-010)
3 Fearless Pan (bt3-008)
2 Glory-Obsessed Prince of Destruction Vegeta (p-063)
4 Chain Attack Trunks (sd2-05)
3 Foreseeing Hit (tb1-008)
3 Pride and Justice Toppo (bt3-026)
3 Zen-Oh, The Plain God (bt2-060)
4 Afterimage Technique (bt5-023)
1 Planet M-2 (bt3-030)
2 Fortuneteller Baba, Earth's Seer (p-085)
2 Bodyguard Ledgic (bt3-015)
4 Dende, New to the Job (bt5-109)
3 Time Control Chronoa (bt4-104)
4 Haru Haru, Attacker Majin (bt3-120)
Pan is not an aggro deck. Pan is mid-range deck that creates openings where it can and combat the opponent's game plan. Ping the opponent's life, push damage where you can, and placing down a well timed Chain Attack Trunks into Zen-Oh, The Plain God can heavily put the game into your favor. In addition, Pan has a strong burst when she awakens, usually netting you two cards, two extra energy , and two +5K modifiers that can decimate the opponent with the appropriate end game cards like Fearless Pan or Foreseeing Hit. Afterimage Technique, while not a true negate for an attack, is usually better in most cases (sans against Mira, Creator Absorbed).
Against the two previously posted decks, Pan is the underdog. Against Janemba, you're going to want to create a sizeable board early, push damage as much as you can, and place a well timed Chain Attack / Zen-Oh late game to reduce the overwhelming amount of defense that Janemba can have at times. To finish the game, Fearless Pan is your all-star as amassing a significant amount of Double Strikes could push damage to where you want it to be. Against Broly, it depends on how they are playing it. If they are playing combo, and you started first in the game, Foreseeing Hit can easily shut them down. If they are playing aggro, you're going to want to survive as much, using your Afterimage Techniques at the appropriate times (if you can kill a Bardock, the Progenitor with them, even better), and last until turn 4 where you need to drop a Foreseeing Hit to stall the combo out and try to push the last 3-4 damage you need.
Shenron - This is the deck Pan really wants to avoid. It's very rough, as they don't attack you early so you're not drawing up cards from your life. You'll have to rely on Digging Deep Vegeta to help you awaken and use the awaken turn as much as you possibly can to kill the opponent before they set up and kill you. If you can manage to set up a bit, you could be able to catch them with a well-timed Chain Attack Trunks into Zen-Oh, The Plain God, or a perfectly placed Foreseeing Hit. But if you don't see those cards, it can be over for you quickly. Your opponent will set up their kill turn, and it will be game over.
Those were just some of the lists that did well this past weekend. There were other successful decks as well, such as several different Shenron builds, a Broly Veggies build, Red Frieza variants (most Red/Yellow, but there was a mono-Red build), and even a Vegeta Baby deck. So, after going over the results from this weekend, what do we play for our upcoming event if we want to do well?
Janemba has shown that in the past two events it is a top tier contender, but my personal experience lends me to believe that a variant of the Broly deck will be refined further this weekend, making it the top choice. The deck has quickly shown it's a force to be reckon with, and players still are not prepared for it. Forum posts on the Facebook Discussion group keep suggesting it to be unbeatable. That's up for debate, but this weekend did show that's not going to always be the case.
Regardless, if you want better results, one can never substitute experience. Personal preference and play style should also come into factor over what people just spout as the top tier deck. Go in with something you're comfortable with. If you are not already playing a top tier deck, and you want to make the switch, that's perfectly fine, but get enough games under your belt to make it worth it. If you don't, you could catch yourself off guard from a deck that you didn't expect, and I believe that's always a possibility.
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How many cards are in a deck of the Dragon Ball Super Card Game (without your leader card) ? If you said 50, you're wrong for competitive tournament play. Your deck has 65 cards in it, and it's just starting with a select 50 in the first game of a match. After the first game in a match, this is your chance to pick the best cards against your opponent, switch out any iffy ones, and craft a deck that will have less shortcomings against your opponent. Today, I want to look at sideboarding practices and their impact on your game.
What is the main purpose of a sideboard?
What do we want to do with our sideboard list? There's a few different approaches that can be done - putting in counter cards against specific strategies (Group Leader Pilaf), disruptive cards that can turn the game quickly into your favor (Haru Haru, Attacker Majin), switching out colors or key cards for completely different deck approaches (going from Senzu Bean and Whis' Coercion in the main deck to Cold Bloodlust and Flying Nimbus); all of these choices have been known to work. Let's look at the card roles for a sideboard.
Counter cards are cards that hurt the opponent's strategy. Cards like Group Leader Pilaf, Time Control Chronoa, Flying Nimbus, Bad Ring Laser, and Mafuba fit here. These are used when your deck is weak to a particular deck style of play or matchup to try and slow the opponent down or prevent them from winning the game. Maybe your deck doesn't have a lot of removal? Playing Masked Saiyan, the Mysterious Warrior could clear out some of the board for you.
Disruptive cards are cards that punish the opponent for playing a particular cards or playing certain strategies. Haru Haru, Attacker Majin is a free attacker that can actually put energy in active mode, attack with Critical, and cause having for the opponent (especially in multiples). Dende, New to the Job can punish the opponent for playing an extra energy in the game. On the other end, if you're opponent's deck is slow, Objection could be sided in and used to accelerate a win condition that your opponent didn't consider.
Swapping Colors / Threats (AKA Transformative Sideboard)
This can cause the most havoc if done with the right deck. If your current list isn't cutting it against certain match-ups and you want to catch your opponent off-guard, a Transformative sideboard can really improve your game if done right. Switching colors or key strategies in and out of the deck can make the opponent's sideboard useless, make them ill-prepared to handle what you can do in a game, and so on.
Understand the Card's Purpose
Have you ever been guilty of netdecking (aka taking a deck list you found online, and playing it card-for-card)? You probably copied the sideboard too. Is this correct? While the "moral" standing of netdecking is always debated on, one should never do this for the sideboard. That sideboard was designed by the player for what he expected to play against at the event. The metagame, the popular and most powerful decks at the time, change almost monthly for this game, as new cards release, different decks and strategies appear and knock over past contenders, etc. Sure, you could just play the sideboard card-for-card, but you might notice a few shortcomings from the list, or not understand why a card was used and use it sub-optimally. Maybe a certain card under-performed, and the original deck author wasn't too keen on it in the first place. The other possibility is your local game environment plays different cards than the Regional event.
Coming back to card roles, if you're an decent player, and you read my list of card roles, you may have thought X card could have fit a different role than I listed it in. That's because when you're building your sideboard, if the card is flexible enough, it can fill multiple roles. Narrow use cards, while particularly strong against certain strategies, should only be used if you plan on playing against a lot of a certain deck or if your deck is overall well-rounded, but has a particularly bad match-up that you fear. Then there are more open-ended options. Let's look at Scientist Fu:
[Over Realm 7] : 1
[Auto] When you play this card using [Over Realm], draw 2 cards.
25000 - Attack
Now let's make up a scenario. I built a deck a Goku's Lineage deck with a bunch of 1, 2, and 3 cost cards and the reason I wanted to add this card to it was I needed an answer to hand discard. Cell Chain kept destroying me, and when I played against it with this it brought me back to favorable conditions. However, I also noticed that while playing a game against Red Pan, my opponent kept playing down Chain Attack Trunks and Zen-oh, The Plain God, and they kept shutting me down with my hand size and board. So game two, I put this in and noticed a deck improvement. Later in the tournament, I played against a Red Frieza deck that got out a quick Final Showdown Frieza and kept shutting down my board. I realized I could play a 1 drop battle card from my hand, or a slightly higher costed card to bait the life loss with Frieza's auto, and use Scientist Fu to close out the game.
You Don't Have to Sideboard Every Game
This may come as a surprise to you, but you don't have to sideboard every time after a game in a match. If you put counter cards in your main deck, or your deck has a strong win-percentage in a particular match-up, it may be better to play what you're currently using. There's also the possibility that your sideboard is used very aggressively, and you swap out 10 cards at a time against several different decks. That's perfectly fine. Just remember that the sideboard is an extension of your main deck. With that being said, you need to get practice with your deck, learn how to play it, tweak it, learn its shortcomings, then take the appropriate time to develop a sideboard for it, and know which cards to take out for which matchups. If you can do this, you're golden like Frieza.
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