Change the Future: An Analysis of What We’ve Seen and What We Might Expect to See in Panini’s DBZ TCG PART 2 by Danny Rider
Danny Rider continues his dissicussion of thing we might see in future set of Panini America's Dragon Ball Z TCG. If you missed part 1 you can read it here.
Set 3 gave us no Golden Card reprints. Many in the online community are ok with this as it was an eventuality given the small amount of cards that could actually be translated word for word. Moving forward we should probably expect more spiritual reprints of cards like Red Relaxation. If the mechanics for Empower, Focused Attacks or Sensei deck cards return, this would open up the opportunity for more Gold cards, but the list wouldn’t be all inclusive. I’ve mentioned it in past discussion with folks online, but I really see the opportunity in Gold reprints to serve more as a tool for Panini should they eventually adopt a block format in Organized Play. Building in the deck restrictions of a block format, but having Gold Prints of cards like Visiting the Past, Blue Neck Beam or Namekian Fusion would pacify some players who may need to replace their past play sets while allowing for new and extended interactions between present and future PanZ cards.
Both Heroes & Villains and The Movie Collection sets really expanded on the concept of attachment cards; how they work with certain styles and the various effects they can bring to the game. Despite the immediate impact of cards like Wall Breaker, I think we are only beginning to see what Attachments are capable of. The mechanic itself opens up a multitude of possibilities, either with personality sets or within particular styles. Imagine an effective submission style deck utilizing attachment moves like Score’s Half-Nelson. Perhaps a Saiyan personality that pumps damage for each attachment on them (Broly)? The idea of Attachments representing hamstringing injuries or complications an opponent might suffer during combat which go beyond the “remainder of combat” timeframe is as deep as it is varied. There are definitely some arguments as to the addition of this mechanic and how it impacts deck construction or provides players with yet another card type that interacts similar but differently than Drills and Set-ups, but like it or not, Attachments are here and I think they are here to stay.
One reason I am already anticipating the next Starter set is the probability of new Masteries. New masteries means new play styles, deck builds, meta variations, deck interactions and overall fun in gameplay. The chance that Saiyan style might actually be able to MPPV is enough of a draw for me, but what else might we expect from new masteries? Will they be combination reprints like some of what’s been seen already, or will they be completely new and fresh? I think both options are likely, but I also think the key components to the new masteries might already have surfaced in the game, and we just need to look at what is already in the pool that a new mastery would enhance better than additional support cards.
Red received some great bumps in Set 3 and it has always had plenty of cards that offer critical effects which tie into the existing mastery. But in the last two sets we’ve also seen Red Style gain several attachments and cards that play with attachments as well as drills and drill tutors. There are definitely current builds which utilize both of these tools well, but a mastery that enhances attachments or provides an additional benefit to attachments, or offers something in the lines of Orange Mastery’s drill searching could put these styles into fluidity. Perhaps something like, “Your Physical Attacks do +1 stage for each drill you have in play. Your attacks gain “Raise your Anger 1.” You may not win by MPPV.”
Blue remains one of the best styles to use in anger reduction, but several things have emerged in the card pool early enough to possibly hint at a mastery which would further enhance these particular modes of play: Copy attacks and Set-up attacks. Copy attacks have received numerous support cards in the style, but outside of the starter Frieza level 2 personality there aren’t any other personalities who can take advantage of or compound the hurt copy attacks provide. Having a mastery that would improve the ease and efficiency of how Blue Copy plays would not only draw players to the style, but also allow the current copy pool to shine. Perhaps a mastery which reads: ‘Your attacks do +1 life cards of damage. Once per combat you do not discard a card for a styled copied attack you perform.” Or as simple as “Your styled set-ups gain “Raise or Lower a players anger by 2.” The wording is loose here, but you get the idea.
Black and Orange started the game with amazing masteries, as well as excellent support cards but starting in Set 2 Orange began to shift into familiar territory with physical attacks. Black attacks began to include consistent anger and damage as well. I actually think both of these styles could easily receive spiritual reprints of their Worlds Games Saga Masteries, with Orange improving its damage output and Black adding some level of control to its building aggro style.
Namekian’s mastery and existing card pool has been and continues to remain so strong that I think even with a new mastery, there will be many players who continue to play the current mastery with consistent success. That being said, over the last two sets there have been some clever cards toying with ally interaction that I think could point to a potential new way for the style to play. Namekian ally would be reminiscent of some Score decks, but also would touch on the spirit of Piccolo befriending Gohan and old cards like Namekian Friendship. The fact that the Hero Ally pool is not as aggressive as the Villains’ could mean that a deck like this would need a mastery to help it move forward, but one card that I think could help lead the way is “Namekian Erasing Blast” from Set 3. I also think a few cards like a styled Group Attack or Ally Wins would help move this style of play forward. Will we see it reflected in a new mastery or just support cards? It’s hard to tell, but I think given how powerful the current mastery is now, it shouldn’t be surprising if the next mastery is milder in effect or a step in a completely different direction.
The same could be said for Saiyan style, which despite some needed support in the Movie Collection (some which was villain specific) has remained the least dominant style in the game. I believe a lot of this is tied into trying to avoid the rampant dominance that Saiyan displayed in the aggressive beat down environment of the Score version. Traditionally the style has been one of card advantage on top of power advantage. In the tighter confines of 60 card matches, this type of edge could be too detrimental and throw off the fragile balance the game has currently obtained. That being said the card pool for the style has begun to include some interesting Set-ups, drills and of course, attachments. For the most part the style still has relatively few cards that increase anger without the current mastery, so the potential for a low level Saiyan control deck is a possibility, but I think a smarter move would be to build on cards like “_______” or the current amount of Endurance that the style already possesses. Something that nets a card advantage or anger gain the first time you destroy a card from your deck, or raising your anger once each time you use Endurance when taking damage would allow for players to really begin to try the style out in new ways. At the very least, if the style isn’t going to receive constant card advantage, it should begin to receive a built in damage modifier. Hopefully the right improvements are factored in so players can finally feel the might of the Saiyans.
So all this talk about styled cards should make you think about Named Cards, specifically their distribution amongst the sets. Currently all MPS have 2 named cards a piece. As the game progresses though, it should be likely that the main characters will begin to see more of their signature moves represented through named cards in the game. Goku’s Instant Transmission, Vegeta’s Big Bang Attack, Gohan’s Kamehameha or even Trunks’ Burning Attack. That’s easy enough to fit into a starter set if those personalities are the feature of the expansion, but what about characters that might not see inclusion in the new sets or additional personality levels? Tien’s Tri-beam, Frieza’s Finger Laser or even revisiting the villains of Set 3 long after they have gone? Without the risk of filling a set with these additional personality cards and reducing additional styled card content, the odds are that we aren’t going to see new cards for these characters in a main set.
Does this mean that some characters may become flashes in the pan as more named cards emerge? Not entirely, though it could mean that those personalities eventually get locked into a single build that they can still function in competitively, which is unfortunately dull and would provide an environment where a player sitting across from a Wheelo player in two years could know exactly what is in their opponent’s arsenal. Since we haven’t yet begun to circle personalities in sets, it remains to be seen how the Named Card work out in the future. It would be fantastic to play a Goku freestyle deck (and have the return of the Freestyle), but there are some critical components missing before we get there…like a colorless block. Whether or not Freestyle returns, having an expanded pool of named cards and signature moves preserves the thematic of Dragon Ball Z and provides players the opportunity to play their character the way they want to.
An easy way to deal with this small dilemma would be Capsule Corp-like collector tins/expansions. Small, potent little boxes filled with a couple new personalities and some new expanded content for personalities or styles that are approaching the point of being eclipsed entirely. I think if this method were followed, it would be a great benefit to the game as I have already mentioned how diversity in the meta is an important factor in the ongoing health of the game.
Heroes & Villains contained 10 ally cards and The Movie Collection contained 8. Both sets provided 4 Main Personality sets and 2 named cards for each personality (H&V also included an additional card for Trunks and Ginyu). H&V provided 98 styled cards and 10 colorless cards while TMC gave us 101 styled cards and 9 colorless. If the current trend for booster expansions continue, it is most likely that we will continue to see 4 new MP’s per expansion along with 2 named cards for each personality. The pool for Hero allies isn’t entirely tapped yet and the possibility that some allies may begin to have different alternate is always a way to continue to provide roughly 8-10 allies per set as well. If this trend continues, and characters do not see too many additional named cards added, we can expect the card pool for each style to grow fairly quickly.
There are a couple factors which would limit playable styled growth in the sets: Inclusion of new card types, styles / mechanics, new Dragon Balls or a decrease in overall set size. A new set of Dragon Balls would likely be a healthy addition to the next starter set however, and while there are some potential mechanics that could be worked into the game, they wouldn’t entirely reduce the amount of styled cards we would see as a whole.
I should also point out that some of the numbers shown above highlight the slim chance we have to see a freestyle mastery. Currently, the Freestyle card pool contains 4 commons 8 uncommons, 10 rares and 8 ultra rares, with some of those rares and ultra rares specific to Hero or Villain. That’s a 60% rarity or higher card pool! In addition, very few of these cards have existing synergy with each other. Unless the next several sets contain 6-10 common or uncommon colorless cards (and blocks) at the price of lowering styled card content, the play options for a freestyle player are extremely limited. Even including the 2 named cards for an MP (on average 50% rare), the possibility of freestyle remains not only a long shot, but also a concept that has no integrated support currently existing within its own card base. Whereas the base support for future masteries of the existing styles may already exist in the current card pool, current freestyle cards offer more in support of the meta game than they do in relation to their own archtype. Also, without the inclusion of several more named card attacks for each character, a future Freestyle mastery would most likely suffer the same fate of the World Games’ Freestyle Mastery: Lots of expectations, and no playability. There are a couple other quick predictions about the future that I think people should be excited or interested in thinking about.
- Vegeta as a Hero: Will he interact with his villain MP set? Will the way he is developed pave the way for past rogue personalities like Androids 16 and 18 and Buu?
- Majin Vegeta: Will he interact with his villain MP or Hero MP set? Will Majin Vegeta cards only be named cards for Majin Vegeta?
- Additional Power Stages: Something that might help further add to the power level / PAT game would be to increase the number of stages on progressive personalities similar to Score’s Cell Saga Starter MP’s.
- Teen Gohan, Future Gohan, Adult Gohan and Kid Trunks: If made will these be separate personalities, or will rules need to be created to explain how they interact with current versions of themselves?
- Will every third set be a Movie Collection expansion?
- Trunks Saga: Will we see a few mecha-Frieza images on cards to come and maybe a King Kold personality or will the game rush right into Androids and Cell?
- Hercule: Will he have the same power as previous versions? Or is having Stare Down/Confrontation, Dual Spheres and Focused Assault and Sagacious Strike too much? Also, will he actually be Mr. Satan?
Well I think I’ve talked enough about what we’ve seen and what I think we can expect to see. I’ll be eagerly looking forward to the next step in the games’ development to see how much of these predictions emerge into truth and what falls by the wayside as rampant speculation.