Namekian Style Domination!

A little over a month after the release of Panini America’s Dragon Ball Z TCG and already a clear dominant deck has emerged: The Namekian Style (usually Piccolo). It seems to be the topic du jour of the community, with that subject popping up daily on the Retro DBZ Discussion Page and generally erupting every time a new tournament report is posted. While it’s certainly not the first time in the history of the Dragon Ball Z where a deck is overly dominant in the environment (or even just the Namekian Style being bonkers), but it is troubling that this is occurring with the limited card pool of just a single set and Panini America’s uncomfortable silence when it comes to interacting with the playing community.

So what exactly went wrong with the Namekian Style and how easy will it be to fix the issue?

S030 Namekian Knowledge Mastery


For starters, let’s peel away what is and isn’t driving the Namekian Style to victory through the mastery. We can immediately eliminate the mill effect from playing Dragon Balls. While I’m certain that ability has proved useful in some matches, it’s not a win condition and more often than not I see players completely forgetting this part of the mastery. It’s just fluff, I’m not sure why that effect is there but it doesn’t particularly contribute to an overall deck strategy (which is what masteries should be encouraging/helping/directing), and seems like “just another effect” on the card. Either way, to get back to the point, that effect is not what is bringing consistent victories to the Namekian Style.

Then there’s the effect that prevents your last Dragon Ball from being captured through Critical Damage effects. A pretty decent effect (and the one that concerned most folks before the full set was publicly known), but this is more of a defensive effect than anything else. The nuances of this effect could take up a whole article on its own, but to cut to the point for this article let’s just say the Namekian Style is not winning events consistently because their last Dragon Ball can’t be captured. I’m not discounting this effect or the previous one, as I’m sure both of them have contributed to match victories, I only am pointing out that they are not directly contributing to overall deck strategies and are not the reason why the Namekian Style is a consistent winner.

The way the Namekian Style is consistently winning is through beatdown and the most powerful personality victory, and that’s where the last part of the mastery is coming into play. The whole gaining anger from any rejuvenation or shuffling the deck does is absolutely the part of the mastery that dictates the decks you build and the way you play the Namekian Style. It’s the part that is making the Namekian Style dominant. But here’s the absolute most beautiful thing about this whole situation: there’s another mastery with almost the exact same power! The Saiyan Style! So why is the Namekian Style the one that’s out of control? Well, now we have a style that we can do a side-by-side comparison with.

S025 Saiyan Empowered Mastery

Both the Saiyan and Namekian Style gain an anger when they Rejuvenate, though in some slightly different ways for both, but in general the same mechanic triggers an anger gain. The Saiyan Style goes a step further and also gives you an anger every time you perform an attack, but also prevents you from winning by MPPV. The Namekian Style does not stop you from winning by MPPV. But taking into account each way each style can gain anger, let’s look at the numbers and see if this adds up between the Saiyan and Namekian Style.

Number of Saiyan Style Attacks: 20

Number of Namekian Style Cards that Shuffle or Rejuvenate: 23

Oddly there is only one Saiyan Style card that Rejuvenates, which is Saiyan Enraged. Saiyan Style cards seem to just ignore that part of the Mastery, whereas the Namekian Style makes its name on it. Further, any card that shuffles or Rejuvenates will activate the Namekian Style which includes Freestyle cards and personality powers. The Saiyan Style however will only trigger if the Rejuvenated card is a Saiyan Style card and only Saiyan Style attacks will gain the anger bonus as a secondary effect. Meanwhile, the Namekian Style has ways to Rejuvenate or shuffle cards while attacking, blocking and during the Planning and Rejuvenation steps.

The Namekian Style has more cards and more opportunities to gain anger through the Mastery than the Saiyan Style, yet the Namekian Style can win by MPPV while the Saiyan Style cannot.

On the surface, it seems like an easy fix would be to just take away MPPV from the Namekian Style. The Namekian Style right now is a bit too consistent for it’s own good, with many cards serving multiple functions (even in the discard pile). What is clear is that something will need to be done in the near future to alleviate the stranglehold the Namekian Style has on the tournament scene, as well as ensuring that in future sets the Namekian Style won’t continue to grow exponentially out of control. Consider the future of sets where the Namekian Style as is either gains more blocks and attacks that can Rejuvenate or alternatively have no cards that can Rejuvenate.

Either way, it’s a slippery slope that needs climbing and I hope that Panini America will address it soon. How do you feel about the Namekian Style? What would you do to fix it, if anything? Let us know in the comments and on our Facebook Discussion Group.

Later, BroZ!

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21 Comments to "Namekian Style Domination!"

  1. Shannon says:

    Changing it to something like this would go a long way to helping balance it out:

    Card Power:
    CONSTANT: Whenever you Rejuvenate any cards from one of your card effects, raise your anger 1 level. Whenever a Dragon Ball enters play, your opponent destroys the top card of his Life Deck.

    Removing the ball capture part for me is the biggest question mark. That part honestly does go a long way, when a good Namekian player uses this to manage being able to play ball 3, 5 or 7 multiple times a game by just making sure that one of those is the only ball out there with all the “shuffle a ball back in” effects. But having that on there makes it less likely that we’ll see the rise of old school style Ball decks. Sure Blue has three chances to capture the last one, but its still a big hurdle for them to over come and I think keeps that whole archetype on a permanent leash.

    Even if the Mastery is nerfed in a way like I suggested, I’d still say Namekian is the best deck. With massive amounts of rejuve and being able to pull off big damage combats with Piccolo lv. 3, Onslaught and Overtime, it becomes a formidable beat down deck that can simply outlast many other beats.

    • miyamoto1 says:

      Good analysis but your version of mastery would change it from the best to even worse than saiyan one.
      -Ball protection effect is there because 90% of secondary effects requiers shuffling ball to use
      -Anger from only rejuvenating would be too slow since namekian have barely coupe cards for additional draw
      – anger from only rejuvenating effects force you to enter combat while you stripped mastery from defensive effect on DBs which would make namekian style even more defensive and annoying than it’s now.

      Overall, i see that this mastery is clearly more powerful than the rest but i stil think this all discussion is pointless. We should wait for set 2 and then, if masteries will be still imbalanced, should think about erratas.

  2. Max says:

    namekian isn’t that big of a problem ginyu is a huge problem

    • Joshman says:

      I feel that Ginyu should have been a Set 2 or Set 3 personality. He will lose power as more cards gain the ability to auto Critical or destroy/banish allies. I agree that right now he’s in an environment that is ill equipped to keep him in check.

  3. easy fix. Make Namekian Mastery’s anger gain via rejuvenation or shuffling to once per turn.

    (Remove continuous Symbol) Once per turn Whenever you Rejuenate or shufle cards into your Life Deck, Raise your anger 1 level. (Insert continuous Symbol) Whenever a Dragon Ball enters play, your opponent destroys the top card of his Life Deck. While you control 1 Dragon Ball, it cannot be captured by a critical damage effect.


  4. Stryyder says:

    I understand that the capture a ball effect isn’t what is consistantly helping Namekian to win, but I believe it is one of the reasons why the game is so imbalenced at the moment. In essense, the Namekian mastery is negating one of the 3 ways to win this game.

    One of the biggest problems with old-z was always the proliference of Dragonball decks. Decks that existed to just sit there, avoid getting into combat, and eventually get all 7 DBs out. It seems that in trying to limit that from happening again, Panini has inadvertantly killed the strategy altogether. With this first set, there is no sane reason to play a deck focused on dragonball victory. Because once you come up against a namekian player, as soon as they play one dragonball, your game is over. They would easily be able to recognize how you want to win, so by keeping only one dragonball in play, they ensure you can’t win. Now, of course, there is one exception, and that is Blue Trick, but again, once they know what’s going on, don’t expect to keep blue trick on the table.

    So really, you now have only 2 ways to win the game, win by MPPV or Survival. Considering certain characters have cards that negate your ability to win MPPV (Goku, Ginyu) and Saiyan negates it as well, giving this amount of anger gain to Namekian is even more ridiculous. And I haven’t even nentioned Gohan level 4, which is near auto-win by MPPV in namekian as soon as you get to it.

    So yeah, while the db protection part of the mastery may not directly contribute to Namekian winning, it does limit your opponent’s deckbuilding options, giving you one less this to worry about considering when building your deck.

  5. Piccolo is more the problem than the Mastery, and even that will be less a problem over time.
    The Namekian Mastry is a stable triple threat card (all three victory conditions). Namekian’s weakness is supposed to be one on non-interactivity. Sure, Namekian can win all three victory types, but it does little to interact with the opponent’s Game Plan. As long as the other styles gain more cards that help their primary game plan and Namekian holds even-ish, it’ll even out.

    Namekian Maximum Will (at common), Namekian Side Kick, and Namekian Elbow Strike (both Statrter cards) are about it for it’s Anger lowering game outside of Critical effects, unless there are more card images somewhere I’m missing. What I don’t understand are why there are Namekian Cards that gain more than 1 anger, like Namekian Chop and Namekian Right Throw.

    As far as Piccolo goes, he adds a lot of card advantage with little downside to a Mastery that takes card advantage and runs with it. With the low cost on his level 1 power for another guaranteed Rejuvenation, anger is easy on 1. His level 2 is basically all profit, netting close to the same effect as his level 1, but letting you dump a bad card out of your hand to get a redraw. At least his Level 4 only lets you Rejuvenate on a Hit.
    As I look over Piccolo, I wish he were more about Critical Hit effects and less about Rejuvenation. It’d make him more viable in Red and less of a profit house in Namekian.

    Ex. Level 1: Energy Attack doing 3, costing one, HIT: Critical Damage Effect.
    Level 2: Discard a Card to get a Crit effect, Make the opponent destroy 2 life cards and draw a card on styled. (lose the Rejuvenation and make the crit effect standard, basically).
    Leave 3 and 4 the same.

  6. It only stops stealing via Critical Damage effects.
    I think they are trying to push Namekian as the Dragon Ball Style, it’s anger game is just proving too stable at the moment. The issue of stealing Dragon Balls will be less of an issue when cards and abilities that specifically steal Dragon Balls come out, rather than relying on Crit effects.

  7. Chipmunk says:

    Good article! Only thing I would take not (and I guess it would make things more subjective) is the card counts. Instead of doing a full count, why not just count the ones that are good? Sure, Saiyan has 20 attacks. But how many of those are good? Namekian may already have more shuffle/rejuv cards than Saiyan has attacks (23 to 20), but I believe that gap will be much wider once you weed out the “bad cards”, as there are more Bad Saiyan Attacks than Bad Namekian Shuffle/Rejuv cards. The gap is much larger than just 3 cards…

    Good jorb, keep it up!


    • Joshman says:

      Well, in addition to having a well thought out and defended position that can be respected, I also want to be a little provocative too. I felt the raw data would achieve that goal in the simplest way.

  8. Panini shouldn’t touch it at all. Why should they? Piccolo Namekian certainly isn’t unbeatable or overly dominating, at least where I live. Then again, we have a good group of vets who are great at making a variety of decks that are all capable of beating each other. Maybe some other people don’t have something like that in their area.

    Panini just needs to stay out of it, and I’m glad they’ve stayed silent at this point. If they tried to come in and balance things out (Even though it’s not necessary), they’d inevitably just end up making things worse by inadvertently making something else too powerful in trying to neuter Namekian.

    Even with it only being the one set at the moment, there’s plenty of variety to build and no one deck is unbeatable. And, who knows who the new set will bring in.

    • grimlock64 says:

      Yeah, maybe instead of erratifying and nerfing cards, maybe just wait until the next set to see what kind of tools they add to our arsenals. I, too, have a friend who rocks a mean Piccolo Namekian deck (though he doesn’t have enough cards to do a full Namekian deck yet becuase of lack of starter decks in our area, but I let that slide because we just play for fun), but it’s nowhere near unbeatable. I come pretty close some games with my Black Ginyu deck (and again, I need to tweak it once we get more starter decks in my area).

      So really, folks, wait until the next set is out, THEN decide if we need to nerf it or not (which I agree with the above poster, we don’t want).

  9. Tyler Martin says:

    I agree with Will Jonathan on this topic, and my agreement comes out of a strong distaste for endless erratas and a CRD as large as the bible. Inevitably, trying to balance a card game environment leads to overbalancing in another way, take for instance the classic example of Piccolo The Trained.

    Namekian PTT was very dominant as a certain stage of Score’s game, and to correct the imbalance Score decided to errata his power to give you 2 anger every time you entered combat. I’m sure the reasoning behind it was you could use the power a couple of times and then you wouldn’t be able to use it anymore, but what inevitably ended up happening was the deck went from overpowered to damn near broken. Now, not only did you get PTT’s awesome ability, but on the turn you leveled you got another personality power from his level 2, then could use Supreme Kai’s Ki Push to lower you back to level one and repeat the cycle. This was made even more exceptional by Namekian’s ability to tutor energy combat cards so it ended up working like a well oiled machine. After they realized their horrible mistake, they made his power an action, which was compensating far to much in the other direction, making him almost unusable and invalidating the Namekian style around the time GT was released.

    When there is a clearly dominant style, which is the case we find currently with Namekian, I find the best approach is to simply move forward with the knowledge into the next set. Instead of taking the nerf stick to Namekian, upgrade the other styles so they are on par. Balance is a tricky thing, but let’s imagine the next sets has maybe 1-2 cards that activate the rejuvenation aspect of the Namekian mastery, and a lot of other things that maybe go more along the mill or dragonball aspect of the style. Meanwhile, the other styles gain a much needed boost to make them more competitive (not that they aren’t now, but some are clearly under powered like Saiyan). Its sort of like Namekian got two steps ahead this set, and instead of pulling them back forcibly, simply allow the other styles an additional step in the next set in order to catch up, then with set 3 Panini can proceed accordingly.

  10. Travis Pisani says:

    My orange ally deck just obliterated a namekian anger deck. Its true it has a crazy ability but so does the blue protective mastery. I think the drawback is the amount of events and setups in the namekian style plus virtually ZERO endurance cards

  11. Am I the only one who finds the wording on the Panini set to be vastly inferior to Score’s version? Panini DBZ sounds so “cold”, for lack of a better term. Too much like every other card game ever made.

  12. Well, Gohan and Piccolo namekian have won 2 out of our last 7 weekly tournaments, Ginyu blue and orange has won 2, We had Krillin Orange, Vegeta Saiyan, and Piccolo Black win the other 3 weeks … beating Ginyu and Namek decks. Namekian is not an overpowered Mastery or style at our shop. We have 10 to 15 players who were all formerly regional and world ranked in the previous game. I just think there are a lot of noobs playing the game and writing their opinions on how OP namekian is when we have beat it with every other style in tournaments and test matches. It’s only over powered if you’re a noob who doesn’t put in anti-anger cards or banish your opponents discard pile. We had a Trunks black banish deck that destroyed every Namekian deck it played, but then lost to Piccolo black in the final match. I dunno … I just think you people need to step your game up and see that namekian is just as good as any other style, It’s not dominating. I’ve seen vegeta saiyan kill piccolo in 4 combats, piccolo dies around level 2 or 3 and never sees level 4. Gohan namekian is a little broken because of the level 4 infinite anger loop but if you banished his discard pile well enough he’s manageable.

    • Joshman says:

      One of the things I’ve noticed is folks like to counter this with anecdotal evidence like “Well I can beat the deck”, “It’s not a problem for me/my area” or “It must be noobs playing.” It’s a very limited and somewhat egocentric way of looking at things and it ignores the Namekian trend as reported in events nationwide and the very math on the cards which is presented above.

      That’s why this post looked at the hard numbers of this style compared to a similar style. Regardless of ones own personal views and beliefs, one cannot deny the hard data of both the trend in tournament reports and the design of the cards themselves.

      It’s just a foolhardy stance to counter data with personal bias and consider that an argument.

  13. […] long last Panini America has woken up to the current environment and community feedback, finally releasing a Dragon Ball Z TCG Current Rulings Document, what we affectionately call a CRD. […]

  14. […] Namekian, the previews and we discuss what I see as major design issues with the style (something I’ve talked about before). Click below to give a listen and enjoy our previews below (you might even hear additional […]

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