Backlash Without Backlash

Lets go back to Origins 2003. This was the site of the third ever DBZ CCG National Championship. At the time, Roshi Dragonball and Cell/PTT Namekian Energy Beats were widely considered the big guns and were the tournament favorites going in. In the previous two National Championships I had finished 2nd and T8 respectfully. I had lost in both tournaments due to very uncharacteristic mistakes at the worst possible moments finishing with a 20-3 overall match record in National play. Unfortunately, my days of competitive playing were well over. Instead of participating, I would be judging the tournament along with Chippy and Aik, ensuring everything went smoothly.

The day before the tournament I spent the day “gunslinging” against players at the Score Booth. For the most part, I was piloting tier 2 decks. I was still stacking up the wins, but every now and then I would have to bust out one of my personal in house decks I had perfected in the Score Warroom. My favorite deck at the time was a Colorless Roshi Ball/Random Backlash. This was the deck I would have used if I was allowed to participate in the tournament. I wanted to play cause I felt very capable of taking the tournament down and wanted to see how one of my best decks compared to that of the playerbase. Even though I wasn’t able to play, a good friend of mine (Jesse Zeller), had no clue on what deck to play and only had a few hours to decide. Being curious on how this deck would fare in the tournament I gave him a crash course on the Roshi Ball/Backlash deck and gave him the greenlight to pilot it at the tournament.

The only problem was, for whatever reason, I was not given the IR promos in time to include in my deck. I do not remember what I ended up replacing them with, but the deck Jesse ended up playing wasn’t at full power. With that being said, I still felt without cards such as Pose With Style and Releasing the Sword the strategy was sound enough to work. To the best of my memory (been 10 years), this was the cardlist the deck Jesse used in Nats, minus the IR promos.

Roshi Colorless Ball/Backlash (51)


Sensei (1)

x1 West Kai Sensei

Main Personality (3)

Master Roshi Lv. 1

Master Roshi Lv. 2

Master Roshi Lv. 3

Dragonballs (7)

x1 Earth Dragonball 1
x1 Earth Dragonball 2
x1 Earth Dragonball 3
x1 Earth Dragonball 4
x1 Earth Dragonball 5
x1 Earth Dragonball 6
x1 Earth Dragonball 7

Noncombat/Drill (17)

x3 Initiative
x2 Caught Off Guard Drill
x1 Goku’s Lucky Break
x1 Vegeta’s Smirk
x1 Pose With Style
x1 Hero’s Lucky Break
x1 Where There’s Life There is Hope
x1 Teaching the Unteachable Forces Observation
x1 Releasing the Sword
x1 Fatherly Advice
x1 Orange Destruction Drill
x1 Orange Lifting Drill
x1 Goku’s Capturing Drill
x1 Victorious Drill

Physical Combat (9)

x3 Earth Dragonall Capture
x3 Saiyan Power Block
x2 Cosmic Backlash
x1 Vegeta’s Physical Stance

Energy Combat (2)

x1 Nappa’s Energy Aura
x1 Frieza’s Force Bubble

Combat (13)

x3 Trunks Energy Sphere
x3 Pure Defense
x3 Blue Leaving
x2 Land in Pain
x1 Time is a Warrior’s Tool
x1 Saiyan Truce Card

The deck borrowed heavily from the two previous decks I used at Nationals. “Styles”, which was my Trunks Saiyan Turbo Ball deck, and “Dirty Haymaker”, an Android 18 Perfect Backlash deck. The deck is based on the premise that it’s very difficult to beat a Dball deck if you can’t hit them or even keep them in combat. Cards such as Initiative, Teaching the Unteachable Forces Observation, and Earth Dragonball 4 allowed me to get around an opponent drawing and entering with Huh, while Saiyan Power Block and “Pure Defense” allowed me to get around dangerous cards such as “Gohan’s Kick”. The fear of entering vs. a deck that has the ability to set up their hand and the threat of a random backlash helped to keep the defense total low. As long as a card such as Releasing the Sword or Initiative was in play, there was always the fear of entering only to have the Roshi deck pop Initiative, end combat, only to draw an already predetermined hand that could seal the game before it even began. If you get caught with your pants down there was always the option to go into “Suicide Dball” mode and finish the game turn 2 or 3 if you can get a Earth Dragonball 7 or WTLTH in hand/play before your deck is empty. There was one huge weakness for the deck though. If somebody were to run a 1-3 Goku Saiyan deck I had to ball out QUICK or hit a Random Backlash which was possible, but far from optimum. Turns out Jesse ran into the eventual National Champ (and a co-founder of this site) Joshua Morris running this very deck type in top 16 of finals. I think with the IR promos this was winnable, but without, Jesse was basically showing up with a knife to a gun fight.

So whats the reasoning behind showing a decklist with cards that are now restricted (such as Initiative and Pure Defense) or nerfed (Master Roshi lv1)? Well, although Master Roshi was very dangerous, I had a villian version that used Vinegar with Roshi sensei to totally destroy other dragonball decks. It was the setup potential of Roshi that eventually forced me to go Hero, but could a modern version of a Vinegar HT deck work based off of the principles learned in “Styles”,”Dirty Haymaker”, and “Roshi Ball/Backlash”? I don’t know, but lets find out.

By nature, Without being able to manipulate your draws, the deck is going to have to cut some weight in the form of non-combats. With Initiative and Pure Defense now restricted to 1 per deck and Caught Off Guard Drill being Heroes Only, we have 6 cards cut right off the bat. Go further and cut out the now banned Cosmic Backlash (could easily have been cut in original decklist) and the Earth Dragonball Captures (due to dragonball stealing coming from MP Power/Roshi Sensei) and we are starting to get a different beast based on a similair strategy/engine. More defense will have to be added and since we will be needing power stages to fuel Vinegar’s unblockable attack, Pikkon’s Leg Catch becomes a very valuable and versatile addition. Add in 3 Vegeta’s Jolting Slashes and now we are getting somewhere. After some tinkering here and there we come up with the following decklist.
Vinegar Colorless Dragonball (51)


Sensei (1)

x1 Master Roshi Sensei

Main Personality (4)

Vinegar Lv. 1 HT

Vinegar the Fighter Lv. 2

Vinegar the Henchman Lv. 3

Vinegar the Attacker Lv. 4

Dragonballs (7)

x1 Earth Dragonball 1
x1 Earth Dragonball 2
x1 Earth Dragonball 3
x1 Earth Dragonball 4
x1 Earth Dragonball 5
x1 Earth Dragonball 6
x1 Earth Dragonball 7

Noncombat/Drill (10)

x1 Releasing the Sword
x1 Initiative
x1 Goku’s Lucky Break
x1 Vegeta’s Smirk
x1 Hero’s Lucky Break
x1 Where There’s Life There is Hope
x1 Orange Destruction Drill
x1 Orange Lifting Drill
x1 Eyes of the Dragon
x1 Victorious Drill

Physical Combat (8)

x3 Pikkon’s Leg Catch
x3 Saiyan Power Block
x1 Vegeta’s Physical Stance
x1 Nappa’s Physical Resistance

Energy Combat (5)

x3 Vegeta’s Jolting Slash
x1 Nappa’s Energy Aura
x1 Frieza’s Force Bubble

Combat (15)
x3 Trunks Energy Sphere
x3 Blue Leaving
x3 Up Close and Personal
x1 Stop
x1 Pure Defense
x1 Cell’s Defense
x1 Dazed
x1 Saiyan Truce Card
x1 Time is a Warriors Tool

As you can see this deck is built to be able to defend itself while in combat and is far less noncombat dependant. Knowing this, and due to having to keep the decksize down for draw quality reasons, we skip including Land in Pain or Winter Countryside. The deck, like any other, is very suspect when entered against first turn. For this reason I stayed with the Earth Dragonballs and kept WTLTH for the suicide ball trick in case things get started off on the wrong foot. Against most decks you will be going for dball victory, but don’t laugh at what an unblockable attack for 5 can do. I’ve included the odd choice of Up Close and Personal to buff Vinegar’s attack in case I need to improve my chances of dealing 5 life cards to steal a dball while still replacing the card in my hand.

When building decks, I always try to keep in mind older decks that didn’t quite work due to some odd reason. I think that by tweaking your older deck strategies to the current format, you not only build your overall deckbuilding knowledge but gain valuable deck archetypes to playtest other decks you may build in the future. It’s through this very trial and error that breakthroughs eventually manifest. Now days you aren’t going to build a deck that can consistently provide an answer to anything thrown at it.

This deck is nowhere near the top tier in the current format as dragonball victory is much easier to disrupt than it once was, but have fun, try new things. It’s a game after all. Feel free to leave suggestions as this deck was built quickly based on an ancient strategy. Interested in what direction some of you guys Would take it. An example could be a more complex modification where you drop the Orange Drills and Blue Leavings and Vinegar HT for a Saiyan Heritage Personality (such as Trunks) and Saiyan Mastery (for the card draw). Possibilites are endless.

4 Comments to "Backlash Without Backlash"

  1. tommy says:

    saiyan power block was limited to 1 at some point, not sure if it was after gt was introduced though. however, without backlash, i definitely think it would be better off using a mastery. it would be easy enough to say run orange mbs but then it becomes every other orange mbs deck, just with vinegar and roshi instead of yajirobe. you could take out the truce card, the orange drills, and the power blocks for a blue terror and the blue style mastery cs that way you always have some sort of block. maybe blue betrayals as well, who knows. but yeah, great article as always dez, keep writing them ;)<3

  2. Valdez says:

    Saiyan Power Block, Pure Defense, and Initiative were the 3 cards that made this strategy work. The matchup vs any beatdown deck usually came down to whether or not the beatdown player could successfully play a Gohan’s Kick with the ability to finish the dragonball deck off that combat. This meant that not only did they have to draw this card into their hand early, but I also would have to NOT draw one of these cards. With Pure Defense and Initiative being restricted I’m losing 4 of the cards that made the strategy so effective in the first place. If I take out the Saiyan Power Blocks in favor of going non Saiyan TW, I will be down to only 2 of the original 9 cards that made this deck tick. So I’m basically forced to go Saiyan TW or stay colorless unless I want to stray from the original spirit of the deck. But maybe that IS the point I’m trying to make. How you can take a few cards, change them out and have a deck that plays far differently because of the options it gives you effect the games mechanics in a slightly altered way.

  3. DBM says:

    Cool article. You could run Alt EDB 3 in order to completely beat the mirror, as well (if there was a mirror)

  4. Shane Steinhauser says:

    Dragonball and Cosmic Backlash… You might as well be cheating. =/

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