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Monthly Archives: March 2015

dragons-of-tarkir

 

SIGN UPS ARE CLOSING!! 

The Dragons of Tarkir Prerelease gives players their first opportunity to play with Dragons of Tarkir cards. Players choose from one of five different Prerelease Packs: Dromoka, Ojutai, Silumgar, Kolaghan, & Atarka.

Prerelease Pack Contents:
4 Dragons of Tarkir booster packs
1 Fate Reforged booster pack
1 seeded booster pack
1 Activity insert
1 Clan information card
1 Spindown Life Counter
* Entries are $30/ea

Game 1 Starts Friday, March 20th at 11:59 pm, immediately following FNM. Please plan to arrive by 11:30 pm for check-in and pre-game instructions.

Game 2 is a Saturday Afternoon game @ 6:30pm. Please arrive by 6pm.

All sign ups must be paid by 3/10. Pre-orders for booster boxes will also be available starting 3/20.

Nerd-ho!

 

Feature20150224_DiceSet

Howdy all,

After doing a Saiyan set review last week it really got my creative juices flowing. Before I get into the deck lets talk about combo. In Magic the Gathering and TCG’s in general combo describes a specific type of deck. This type of deck is often looking to setup a certain board state (maybe draw certain cards or cast certain spells) that leads to an unfair and usually game winning turn. One of the most powerful combo deck in the history of magic is storm. Storm cards copy themselves for each other spell played in a turn, combo-ing with cheap/ free spells for a huge one turn victory out of nowhere.

Not only do I think that there may be a powerful combo deck in DBZ, I think that storm may be lurking in DBZ. This deck tries to setup a big turn were it plays as many cards as it can in one turn and hopefully kills your opponent in the process. I present this with a word of caution. This is theory crafting and I have no idea how good this deck is without some real testing. It might be terrible or it might be fantastic but more likely its in between.

The Little Engine that Could:

Ok lets get start. Any good combo deck has to have an engine. These are the cards that make the deck work. These cards often look terrible on the surface but when added into the right mix you got dynamite.:

Each card works to make your attacks hit just a little bit harder. By themselves the bonus is small and insignificant but when enough combine together each attack will hit for huge chunks of life. Your plan is to assemble 2 or more of these cards in a single turn and than follow up with a huge barrage of attacks to try to take advantage of the damage bonus. Gohan (lvl 1 or 2) the dragon ball and Saiyan Offensive Rush can stay on the table and not take up a card in you hand. This is important as you want to maximize the number of attacks you can play in the turn you decide to “go off”.

Putting the Pieces Together:

The next key part of a combo deck is card draw/ card manipulations. You want to be able to draw the engine cards early and draw the gas (the cards that combine with the engine) later. Although Saiyan has a limited number of card draw effects will wok with what we have now:

 

The point of these cards is to dig into what you need. Saiyan enraged is especially good allowing you to have additional cards in the turn you decide to go off. As I said you have limited options here but luckily there is one more card that can help fuel you engine:

By most accounts battle pausing is a bad card. Although it looks like cards advantage is often is just a 2 for 2 plus pumping your opponent up to punch you in the face. In this deck it can do much more. On the turn you decide to go off this card can return a couple of key cards to greatly turn the tides in your favor. The main targets for this spell Saiyan Energy Toss, Saiyan Elbow Drop, and Saiyan Multi-Blast. If nothing else you can trade it those extra engine pieces when you don’t need them for any 2 random attacks.

The Gas:

Attack, attack, attack and attack. Your deck wants a ton of attacks. In fact you want so many attacks that when you decide to go off you hope you have 4 attacks in hand and even a couple more on top of your deck to draw into. This means that we are going to have to build this deck much differently than your standard 10ish setups, 15-20 blocks and 30 ish attacks. Due to the limited card pool this will lead to using a lot of filler attack cards to fill up the deck but there are a couple I would like to highlight.

Saiyan Elbow Drop

This is one of the best cards in the deck (and in Saiyan in general). With only Gohan and a single Saiyan Offensive Rush this card will deal 5 life cards and +3 at stages twice. That’s around 20% of there deck in a single attacks. Combined with a few more engine pieces this card can easily shred your opponent apart all by itself.

Saiyan Multi-Blast

Free attacks are extremely powerful especially when getting a huge boost in damage. The main danger here is that this card draws on hit. Overall its a high risk, high reward card that can be huge if unblocked. Play it late and hope to avoid blocks.

Saiyan Energy Focus,Saiyan DominationSaiyan Surprise and Saiyan Pinpoint Blast

These are you leading attacks. Depending on the situation these cards can shut down the various on board/ event based blocks that you opponent is holding onto. You are trying to maximize your damage in one turn and these cards help with limiting you opponents options to stop you big turn. Enough talk already lets put it all together:

Gohan Goes BOOM!!

Personality

Gohan Resilient Child

Gohan Young Warrior

Gohan Determined

Gohan Armored

Non-Combat-13

Namek Dragon Ball 1 x 1

Saiyan Enraged x 3

Saiyan Offensive Rush x 3

Visiting The Past x 2

Saiyan Preparation x 2

Battle Pausing x 2

Blocks-4

Saiyan Focus x 2

Saiyan Lightning Dodge x2

Attacks-43

Gohan’s Masenko x 2

Saiyan Acute Rapid Slam x 3

Saiyan Cheap Shot x 3

Saiyan Direct Strike x 3

Saiyan Domination x 3

Saiyan Elbow Drop x 3

Saiyan Energy Focus x 3

Saiyan Energy Rupture x 2

Saiyan Energy Toss x 3

Saiyan Gut Kick x 3

Saiyan Left Kick x 3

Saiyan Multi-Blast x 3

Saiyan Pinpoint Blast x 3

Saiyan Surprise x 3

Saiyan Uppercut x 3

Notable missing cards:

Gohan’s Power Punch

This is not a styled cards and it raises your anger 2. Usually raising your anger is a bonus but this decks wants to stay at Gohan lvl 1/2 as long as possible, which is hard enough with all the Saiyan attacks.I have considered Empowered Flying Kick to keep your anger in check but Gohan’s power is so weak that the cards is pretty bad.

Saiyan Power Up

Although I mentioned this card earlier, I feel that it is strictly worse than Visiting The Past. I may be wrong as Gohan is fairly soft and may need the extra stages to begin his chain of energy combats (the mastery powers you up with each attacks).

Saiyan Clothesline

One of the best cards in Saiyan but as i mentioned before Gohan doesn’t have the power stages to take advantage of this card.

Confrontation and Time is a Warrior’s Tool

I didn’t include these because I don’t own them and i don’t think they are essential to the list. Time could definitely replace a block but confrontation is a give or take. You would likely have to cut an attack for confrontation making it only so-so for the deck. If you are striping a block, confrontation feels fantastic, but if you miss , you could be missing out of 8 life cards of damage or more.

Blocks

This deck runs 4 block as you want to maximize the number of attacks in the deck. It might be more correct to run one time is a warrior’s tool and no block at all but I included these for two reasons. There are some attacks you will badly wish to block, so hold onto these for emergencies. Last, the draining of there stages is very relevant with the power matters cards in Saiyan.

The general flow of the deck should go something like this:

-Assemble engine pieces (2 or more if possible w/ Gohan)

-Try to build up on board advantage (Saiyan enraged and Visiting the past)

-With a hand full of attacks pull the trigger, play you leading attacks and damage advantage effects and chain out into and elbow drop to try finish you opponent off all in one turn.

-Rinse and repeat

Please let me know how the deck works for you. It looks great in my mind and on paper but until a few testing games are played you never know.

Take it easy,

Dustin

Howdy all,

A new set is coming. It will be full of many goodies and baddies but before we can really understand what is coming we need to look at what we already have. I hope that in this set 1 review I can help identify what each mastery does well, what each mastery does not do well and what each mastery is looking for in the upcoming set. Being an engineer, I will be doing this with a copious amount of maths. For those that like math, enjoy. For those who don’t like math, I will be including some word thingies too.

The main things I will bee (buzz buzz) looking at is relative strength of all the energy attacks/ physical attacks and other effects for each mastery. Through this we can see where the strength lies for each mastery and what each mastery can improve on. When looking at the strength of card effects I was looking for a couple of things: Card advantage effects, destroy on board effects (ally, drills and so on), powerful interactive effect (play from banish) and other such nonsense. 1-2 of these effects is low on my scale, 3-4 is medium and 4 plus is high. This is based on my own call so you can argue if you want, not that it will do you any good.  Onward to maths!!

Energy Combat Comparison
Energy cost Life damage Stage damage Effect power
Black 2.7 5.6 1.4 Low
Blue 2.0 4.3 0.0 Medium
Namekian 1.7 4.4 0.0 Strong
Orange 2.1 6.0 0.0 Strong
Red 2.0 4.5 0.0 Strong
Saiyan 2.1 4.2 0.4 Medium

Looking at the relative strength of the energy combats for each mastery we can see a couple of interesting things.

-Black is arguably the most damaging (counting mastery of course) but does so at a very high energy cost. Black also lacks real game changing effects on its energy attacks making them rather weak overall. Grade C

-Blue is on the low end of damage and although has a couple of powerful effects, lacks depth in its energy combat. Grade B

-Namekian is super cheap, low on damage but rich with powerful effects (grabbing dragon balls, drawing and so on). Grade A

-Orange does a ton of damage and its drill tutoring makes its cards effects rather strong. Grade A

-Red although lacking in numbers has quite a few powerful energy cards. Grade A

-Saiyan (who cost is negligible due to stage gain) lacks the depth of powerful effects to stand above the rest. Grade B

Physical Combat Comparison
Energy cost Life damage Stage damage (AT+) Effect power
Black 0.0 1.4 3.5 Strong
Blue 0.0 0.7 2.6 Strong
Namekian 0.0 0.0 3.1 Strong
Orange 0.0 2.0 2.0 Strong
Red 0.0 0.0 2.5 Strong
Saiyan 0.0 0.7 3.3 Medium

Looking at the relative strength of the physical combats for each mastery we can see a couple of interesting things.

-Physical combats seem to be the main source of effects (such as knocking out allies and such) and as such i would expect decks to be running these just for there effects if for nothing else.

-Black again lead the charge is raw damage. What it lacks in on board death dealers it makes up in tricky cards that play banished cards or stop attacks. Grade A

-Blue has a number of hard hitting attacks but also has a number of low damage large effect cards. Grade B

-Namekian has decent damage and strong effect. not much to say here… Grade A

-Orange has a limited number of attacks but has very strong effects. You will likely be playing a limited number of these based on your decks needs. Grade B

-Red damage is deceiving. Although they have a number of hard hitting attacks red also has a number of low damage strong effect cards that it will want to play. This makes red a little unreliable. Grade B

-Saiyan punch things, punch things hard. What Saiyan has in damage it lacks in strong effects for this reason i can’t quite give it an A.

Grade B+

Stops
Energy Physical Both Effect power
Black 4.0 3.0 0.0 Medium
Blue 5.0 6.0 3.0 Strong
Namekian 3.0 4.0 1.0 Strong
Orange 4.0 4.0 0.0 Strong
Red 3.0 4.0 1.0 Medium
Saiyan 4.0 3.0 0.0 Low

When it comes to stops blue is king at doing nothing. I give second place to Namekian/orange. Namekian due to its ability to rejuv and gain anger while dropping stops and orange due to the the strength of its stop drills. Its silly that blue gets as many stops as it does considering its rather redundant with its mastery but hey if you want to be “that control player” blue is the deck for you.

“Other” Comparison
Anger Gain/ card Anger Drop/ card Simple Card Advantage Effect power
Black 0.3 0.1 2.0 Strong
Blue 0.1 0.3 5.5 Medium
Namekian 0.7 0.1 9.0 Strong
Orange 0.2 0.0 8.0 Strong
Red 0.6 0.0 6.0 Low
Saiyan 0.8 0.1 3.0 Low

This table compares drills, events and all that other stuff. I did consider each mastery when calculating anger and it is rather telling.

-Red is third place in average anger gain!! This is crazy to me and shows just how powerful Namekian anger gain really is.

-Orange and red have no anger drop at all. Keep this in mind when building. You may have to face high level MP’s and there is little you can do about it.

-Although blue is the king of anger drop, it is nowhere near the gain power of the top 3 (red, saiyan, and Namekian). You may slow them down but it may be impossible to stop them.

-I defined simple card advantage as: cards that read you draw a card (with little or no cost) or cards that had multiple turn effects (powerful drills and/or setups) that are equivalent to plus 1 card. What we see is quite telling. The leaders in card advantage are the leaders in the meta. Red is an exception due to its relatively low strength of its effects.

-Black seriously lack cards advantage. I know we don’t want to print a straight discard a card effect but these one of mine/ one of yours effects put black way behind compared to every other mastery. Sure banish cards in decks is quite powerful, but without a great source of card advantage black has the potential to just get crushed in combat versus most other decks.

-Oh ya grades… Black B, Blue B, Namekian A, Orange A, Red C and Saiyan C.

Ok so what does this all mean.

-Black is overall a B-, strong effects and strong damage but at high stage cost, black lacks board control and has relatively low anger gain. Focus on MP’s that have high PUR and/or can deal with on board threats at low levels. Nappa might fit here due to his ability to smack allies in the face and Krillian/Piccolo fit well due to there high PUR.

-Blue gets a solid B. Blue can be a limited beat down deck but quite the beast of a control deck. If you want to play the deck that make your opponent do nothing here is the style for you. Remember your MP will be at level one most of the time and level 2 only in the best case. I think nail may be a natural fit here due to his chipping away ability and strong MP block but Frieza also come to mind considering some of the new cards that are coming.

-Namekian gets an A+. What is lack in limited on board control it easily makes up for with a huge amount of card advantage and solid cards. By far one of the most powerful masteries, it is limited most by the MP’s that can use it. This mastery can often try to win in all three ways (dragonball, anger, and damage) without having to play bad cads to do it. Very scary, very flexible and thankfully limited to only a handful of MP’s.

-Orange gets a A-. Not quite as strong as Namekian but given enough time can be nearly unstoppable. Orange is a late game beast. It can setup boards full of drill that can put there opponent in a near unwinnable situation. Lacking a ton of anger gain, you want to focus on MPs that can generate there own anger or are very powerful at low levels (cough Ginyu cough). Orange can be beaten through speedy beats, or anger/dragon ball victory but survival victory can be very difficult to achieve through its wall of on board effects.

-Red gets a B-. Red lacks the consistency to be a top tier deck. Many of its cards have very powerful effects and/or combo together in awesome ways but over the course of a game red can be out classed due to a lack of consistency. Right now red is slightly undefined. Is it an anger deck or does it use its anger to do other things. Hopefully as more sets are release red can find its nitch.

-Saiyan gets a C. Although its mastery and attacks are quite powerful it lacks the card effects to deal with every situation. Also its lack of real card advantage puts it behind in combat.

Well I hope that helped. As the new set is release I am excited to see if each mastery will get what it need to fill its gaps. Who knows where we will be in a few months but I can’t wait to find out.

Dustin

As a long time TCG player (magic for ~20 years and Star Wars before that), I hope that I can shed some light on what I think can make a card game successful and perhaps what Panini can do to keep this game going for many years to come.

Formats:

In a TCG cards are released in expansions or sets. These sets are than often grouped into blocks (2-4 sets). These blocks can be grouped together to form formats. These formats are a limited cards pool from which decks are built to compete with other decks in the same format. But why, do you ask, would you want to limit the number of cards you can use to build decks?

-Limited card pools create more diversity (in decks) and not less. By having a limited cards pool, players are allowed to try more cards without being punished for not playing the most powerful cards. A limited card pool often leads to limited number of “overpowered” cards and therefor a more diverse pool of decks to play with.

-Formats lead to decks changing over time. By having a format that changes as sets are release (new blocks come in and old blocks come out) the most powerful decks will change over time. You will no longer be able to play your crazy old deck but you can now look at the new cards and find the next format crushing deck. Much like magic, there should be many formats to allow players to be able to play their crazy decks built from all the cards release, but I feel having a more limited format leads to a more interesting and fun play experience.

-Having a format that changes over time allows for designers to be more creative. Formats help designers by allowing for: Limited competition among card design- since you don’t have to compete with all the old cards that have already been designed, Creative design of specific cards-you can re-release personalities or other cards in these new worlds (with new abilities and design), Be more thematic – put cards in different settings or worlds (start at dragon ball child Goku and move forward through the series), and even tell a new story with each new block.

-A limited card pool helps to prevent the dreaded power creep. In an open format, cards will always be compared to the entire pool of other cards that have been created. This leads to cards slowly becoming more powerful overtime and other cards slowly becoming useless overtime. A limited pool allows the designers to make cards that are interesting and cool without having to worry about if it is good enough to replace card x or y.

-The legacy effect. An unlimited cards pool often lead to decks that are so focused at what they do that they fundamentally break the game. Examples of this from the old DBZ are block everything decks that stall and stall and stall until the opponent is dead, and one turn kill decks that get just the right combination of cards to kill your opponent before they can do anything. These types of games can be un-interactive and frankly not fun. There are those that love these formats with there broken decks and broken card combos (and sometimes I do) but a format of have and have not (most money wins) can be very frustrating to the average player.

Looking at MTG as an example one of the most popular format is standard, which is made up of the last 2 of blocks and a core set. The core set includes cards that are staples and/or basic and can often be reprints of previous sets (not required to be reprints though). The blocks are often focused on specific stories/worlds and contain more interesting and complex cards. As new blocks/ core sets come old ones are replaced leading to an ever changing format. On the extreme other end in legacy which include all the MTG cards ever printed with a long ban list of certain cards.

Draft/Sealed:

Due to the way cards are release in DBZ sealed is the only “limited” that currently exists. These limited formats are an important addition to a TCG for several reasons.

-Cheap entry- Drafts in particular allow a player to get a fun competitive experience that can be much less money than building a constructed deck.

-Limited events allow players to experience new cards as soon as possible. Limited events are a common way of celebrating a new set allowing players to try out the new cards the night of the release.

-A different competitive experience. Limited events often lead to interesting combos and play experiences that just are not seen in a normal constructed environment. This is especially true with DBZ that only allows freestyle decks in limited formats.

I have no idea if draft could ever work for DBZ. Due to the deck building (pick a hero first) this may never work but perhaps Panini could focus on supporting the sealed format. Currently it can be quite costly but it seems like a very fun and interesting experience.

Card specific balance has been talked about by others in the past and I feel that Panini has done quite a good job trying to find a balance of interesting and good cards without making too many over the top. As many of you know the old DBZ slowly got overrun with card advantage and many many many combat stoppers. I hope that DBZ can remain a game that focuses on interesting combat and player interaction without falling off the power creep cliff.

Dustin