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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