Theory-crafting 101: A Little Help from My Friends

Hey everyone!

Today is my birthday! So to celebrate (and because it’s that time of the week again), let’s take a look at our next TC101 list together!

I just wanted to say thanks to everyone that has been a part of the blog and FanZ community so far. It has been a great experience getting to be a bigger part of the community once again and I look forward to seeing where FanZ takes us in the future. And it’s all thanks to people like you reading and contributing to the community’s efforts and supporting the game we all love!

Alright, with that mushy stuff out of the way, let’s check back in with our good friend King Kai and see what we can do to try and make him see some more (or any, really) event participation!

The List

MP Levels and Mastery:
1 – King Kai, Mentor
2 – King Kai, Joyful
3 – King Kai, On the Move
4 – King Kai, North Kai
M – Orange Retribution Mastery

Blocks (13):
3x Orange Refocus
3x Orange Energy Absorption
3x Orange Energy Catch
3x Orange Juke
1x Time is a Warrior’s Tool

Allies (6):
1x Gregory – Speedy
1x Tenshinhan – Returned
1x Chaozu – Resurrected
1x Yamcha – Action Ready
1x Icarus – Supportive
1x Puar – Cheerful

Setups (4):
2x King Kai’s Tactics
2x Visiting the Past

Drills (8):
2x Orange Assistance Drill
1x Orange Aura Drill
1x Orange Check Up Drill
1x Orange Captivity Drill
1x Orange Crying Drill
1x Orange Steady Drill
1x Orange Burning Aura Drill

Events (2):
2x King Kai’s Joy Ride

Energy Attacks (27):
3x Orange Left Burst
3x Orange Eruption
3x Orange Rage
3x Orange Fierce Attack
2x Orange Electricity
2x Orange Power Point
2x Orange Precise Shot
3x Overpowering Attack
2x Pesky Barrage
2x Allied Blitz
2x Blinding Energy Move

What Are We Trying to Accomplish

Alright so this list is trying to do a few things, but luckily they all weave together nicely!

First, we are trying to be an MPPV list. Second, we are trying to be an Ally list. And Lastly, we can be an Allied Blitz/Energy Beatdown Survival list. Now those all might sound like very different things, but luckily for us King Kai is designed to do it all!

Normally, leveling in an Ally list (with the exception of Ginyu) will turn off our ability to use our allies. However, King Kai’s levels are designed to give some, if not multiple of our Allies the ability to make action regardless of his power level, so we aren’t strictly cut off from using them. Next, because we are an Energy based deck, our stages will naturally be low enough where one good hit from our opponent will put our allies up and running again – especially because King Kai sits in A & B brackets. Finally, thanks to the majority of anger sitting on Orange’s Energy Combat cards, and with the help of Orange Captivity Drill plus our Mastery, we should be able to jump levels rather quickly!

Now there is a pretty hefty amount of Planning Step cards in this list, so you will have to use your best judgment on how to get around that fact, but as long as you don’t get caught in bad situations, it shouldn’t be a crippling aspect of the deck.

The Power is Yours!

That’s it for this week!

Don’t forget to vote in the poll below for next week’s article! We had a tie at the last minute for 3rd Runner up, so 3 lists will be returning for this week’s poll instead of the normal 2!

Until next time, FanZ Warriors!

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Prepping for the Final Kais: What to Expect?

Image result for dbz supreme kai and grand kai

Hey everyone!

Today I wanted to post my thoughts on what to expect when preparing for the last two major Kai events for this OP Season.

There has been a lot of talk over the last week or so about what decks are the recurring top tier, and a lot of speculation on what may have a fighting chance to dethrone them. So I want to devote today into going over that, and to possibly help guide you towards the decks to play, or at the very least, to watch out for over the next few weeks.

The Events

But first, what are the last two events for this season, and what are the style prizes for winning?

Well those would be:

Supreme Kai – Saturday, July 29th at Paradox Comics-N-Cards in Fargo, ND

Card Creation: Saiyan Style

Grand Kai – Saturday, August 19th at Gencon 2017 in Indianapolis, IN

Car Creation: Namekian Style

What Decks Should You Expect?

So at this point in the season, I feel like there have been a few front runners in terms of the latest “Top Tier” strategies. The two biggest being:

  • Namekian Restored Gohan – Winner of 3 out of the 4 previous Kai events
  • Saiyan Empowered Broly – Winner of East Kai

That being the case, I believe there are a few others lurking on the sidelines that have the potential to jump out and make a name for themselves again before the end of the season. These are likely:

  • Red Ascension (aka Ferrari) Trunks
  • Blue Resolute Goku
  • Orange Retribution A13

These three decks have been known to put up numbers in the past, and I believe that they are all positioned fairly well in the current state of the meta. Whether they will prove themselves to be Kai Winner status remains to be seen, but I would bet my hard-earned Zeni that they have a fighting chance to steal the throne away from our top two performing decks of this season.

Rogue Decks to Consider

With these staple decks defined, what are some of the potential lists to worry about playing against if you are playing one of these top decks, or potentially bringing yourself to catch the current meta off guard?

Well firstly, as talked about over on our sister podcast, the KMDcast, MPPV decks feel like they have the potential to completely blindside a large majority of the meta, should they come unprepared. MPPV decks have had a rocky place in the meta ever since Wall Breaker hit the scene way back in Heroes & Villains, but an explosive version of that style of deck, especially one with the capability to dictate the flow of combat, could really dominate in the current field.

Likewise, MPPV decks with the ability to switch gears into powerful survival strategies could help hedge their bets against decks primed with crit effects and de-leveling tools.

Some of these possibilities are:

  • Awakening Vegeta – in: Red Ascension, Orange Retribution or Saiyan Rampaging.
  • Black Perceptive Tenshinhan
  • Orange Retribution Gohan
  • Red Enraged Piccolo

With the Legacy Bonus Ruling in effect, some interesting control options also present themselves for the meta to explore leading up to these events. Black Devious builds capable of controlling their opponent or dishing out large amounts of damage along with minor disruption could showcase that the style is truly back in flourish.

These options are likely:

  • Black Devious Krillin
  • Black Devious Raditz
  • Black Devious Tenshinhan
  • Black Devious Mercenary Tao

Lastly, the real name of the game this OP season seems to be critical effects and board control. Being able to stop your opponent from amassing a large board state – whether they be Setups, Drills, Allies, Dragon Balls or a combination of any/all of them – is going to be the key to victory. There are a number of decks capable of disrupting this sort of strategy, but rather than name specifics for this final section, I’d like to just present a list of cards to consider when fearing these board heavy strategies.

The tech of choice, in no particular order:

The list can go on and on, but the big point is that the card pool contains a large portion of tools capable of holding back the perfect storm that seems to be these top tier lists. If you are savvy enough to know when to play these cards in order to get the best advantage possible out of them, then I feel you will be setting yourself up to do well against these Juggernauts of the format.

The Time for Training is Nearly Over

With Supreme Kai ready to take off tomorrow afternoon, and Grand Kai right around the corner, the time available to prep is dwindling by the minute. Will you be ready to take on the challenges that lay before you?

Thanks for checking out today’s article! As always, please make sure to check back to this week’s TC101 article and vote on which deck you’d like to see explored next week!

Good luck to those that will be playing in Supreme Kai tomorrow. I look forward to hearing about the (hopefully) diverse meta choices that present themselves. If South Kai is any indication, each style has the chance to push on through to the top!

Until next time, FanZ Warriors!

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Theory-crafting 101: Maximum Over-Saiyan

Hey everyone!

Today’s article is a deck that has had the potential to exist for quite some time now, yet I haven’t seen a ton of people exploring the possibilities. With only a single card in this list coming from the FanZ card pool, I wonder if this might have been a sleeping giant that never got its moment in the sun…

Well, let’s take a look and you be the judge!

The List

MP Levels and Mastery:
1 – Vegeta, Experienced
2 – Vegeta, Imposing
3 – Vegeta, Energized
4 – Vegeta, Pinnacle of Power
M – Saiyan Rampaging Mastery

Blocks (13):
3x Saiyan Outrage
3x Saiyan Arm Catch
2x Saiyan Escape
2x Saiyan Energy Deflection
1x Saiyan Obstruction
1x Saiyan Crouch
1x Time is a Warrior’s Tool

Setups (7):
3x Saiyan Enraged
2x Saiyan Peace
2x Visiting the Past

Events (2):
2x Heroic Energy Sphere

Energy Attacks (26):
3x Saiyan Denial
3x Saiyan Burst
3x Saiyan Energy Outburst
3x Saiyan Tantrum
3x Saiyan Rapid Fire
3x Vegeta’s Final Flash
3x Vegeta’s Galick Gun
3x Quick Blast
2x Crushing Beam

Physical Attacks (12):
3x Saiyan Face Strike
3x Saiyan Dive
3x Saiyan Body Blow
3x Sinister Choke

What Are We Trying to Accomplish?

So this deck really relies heavily on Saiyan Denial to shine. While the deck still puts up an impressive amount of damage without it, the fact that Denial turns cards like Saiyan Dive into a 12 Life Card Damage attack on Level 2 for 0 stages is pretty insane. However, while we are on Level 1, the most damage our Mastery can put out is 1 stage and 2 life without Denial or 3 life with Denial, because of Vegeta’s Level 1 parenthetical text.

Because of this, we’re trying to stay away from a lot of the gimmicky “This card’s Endurance counts as higher” cards for this list or cards that have an extremely high Endurance but a generally weak effect in order to help keep the deck threatening while on Level 1 or when Denial is not attached.

Not only is this list a heavy hitter, but it also can keep MPPV as a relevant strategy thanks to cards like Saiyan EnragedVegeta’s Final Flash and Saiyan Face Strike pumping out 2+ anger when we need it the most. These cards can also act as potential combat enders if we use them to jump to Level 3 or 4.

All-in-all, I think this deck has a great potential as a Double Threat strategy and look forward to seeing how it handles itself in the wilds.

The Power is Yours!

Thanks for checking out the article for today!

As always, please make sure to vote on the deck you’d like to see covered in next week’s TC101. Every vote counts as the top 2 runners up will return in the following week’s poll to keep the dream alive. So let your voice be heard!

Until next time, FanZ Warriors!

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South Kai Tournament Rundown: Crane School is in Session

Image result for dbz crane school

While South Kai slowly fades into fond memories for those that were involved and we gear up for the last two events in the OP season this year, I wanted to take a quick look at the journey that Tao faced down in Slidell, LA last weekend.

Unlike other Tournament reports, since I didn’t make it passed Swiss, I’m going to try and keep my match reports short and sweet. Also because some of the specifics are starting to give way even in my own memory at this point some 6 days later :p

I want to give a quick shout out to Showcase Comics & Collectibles. They ran a very smooth event, and I really enjoyed myself at their shop. If you are in the area, I would definitely check them out.

Alright, so without further adieu, let’s jump into what went down for DBZ’s #1 hired gun – Black Devious Mercenary Tao.

Round One

So turns out there was a bit of an error in entries. Instead of the event being 28 people, we find out that it is only 27, as someone was entered in twice , but with a small misspelling in their name. This leaves me with the Round One bye.

I go talk with Joey DiCarlo, and he mentions that he has a deck with him, but that he wasn’t intending to enter as the Dev Team try not to play in sanctioned events since they have more testing and higher knowledge of what decks are likely to do well. I inform Joey that I didn’t drive 8 1/2 hours to try and get a free win. I came to play the game that we all know and love, regardless of the outcome. We take a quick poll of the room, and the verdict is pretty clear – We Want Joey In!

So needless to say, Joey and I end up being paired together. And also needless to say, my good nature is the death of me, as Joey’s Black Perceptive Tien puts the hurt on pretty badly and pretty quickly.

Our match has a very interesting pace. The self-mill from Tien starts to catch up to him as he misses every opportunity short of a Black Gut Crusher with no legal target remaining. Joey hits two big combats that really turn the tide in his favor however. Both involving Black Swirl naming Mercenary Tao’s Puzzles, both of which end up rotting in my hand as the only combat-ender/block for those particular combats. At the end of the match, Tien stands tall as the better of the two Crane Masters.

My Record: 0-1.

Round Two

Round Two I’m paired against Chris Clotfelter sporting his Namekian Knowledge Piccolo, so I know right away this game is going to be a grindy one.

He jumps to level 3 fairly quickly in the game, but I eventually start to find my anti-anger cards and am able to stop his chances of MPPV-ing for a while. However I start to realize the same issue I had against Joey Round One; the random mill is starting to kill me. With no real way to rejuv cards outside of having my attacks blocked, the damage from Knowledge is starting to pile up. And since Namekian’s best rejuv effects are on their blocks, I’m trying desperately not to attack unless I absolutely need to.

Eventually he does make his way to Level 4, but at that point I’m nearly dead. He winds up getting DBV and Survival on me in the same action, an overkill if ever there was one haha.

My Record: 0-2.

At this point I’m starting to second guess what I was going to play for the rest of the event. I came in expecting MPPV, stage lock and physical beats, but have so far played against two energy heavy mill plans, something my deck has a glaring weakness too! Things are not looking great.

Round Three

My opponent this round is Stoney Hogan, playing Saiyan Rampaging Gohan. The sight of this picks my spirits up a bit. This is likely a physical beats deck and likely an MPPV deck. Time to see just how prepared I am for this.

Turns out, very. Unfortunately, our match is fairly one-sided as I clamp down on his anger hard and begin to end combat left and right, with MT’s Super Dodon Wave already in place to papercut my way to a very slow, painful victory.

My Record: 1-2.

After the match, Stoney and I play another game where he tests out the deck he had considered playing instead – Saiyan Dynamic Drawku. That game goes much better in his favor, and while not the official game, it goes to show that sometimes you should trust your instinct on what the better deck choice is.

Round Four

Unfortunately, my Round Four opponent’s name escapes me, although he was a very fun opponent to play against. He was sporting a Red Ruthless Drawku build, and again the gears start spinning in my head.

While not an MPPV list, combat is vitally important to this deck. I’m able to get him to  burn an early Visiting the Past into a Puzzles as my first action, completely killing his momentum and shifting the game in my favor. From that point on, his discard pile, hand and deck became incredibly difficult to protect from Tao’s pokes and prods. Any real push for momentum is met with one of the 8 ways for me to end combat or from tricks like Black Strength Display or Black Memories shredding his hand apart, stopping him dead in his tracks. He is left as another victim to the papercuts.

My Record: 2-2.

Round Five

The final Round finds me paired against Daniel Behee, a player I have tested with numerous times on OCTGN (though not with this particular build). He is running Orange Retribution Frieza with the Premiere Level One. Is that anger you plan on gaining… I think we can see where this is going.

The control is real this game with a first combat, first action Wall Breaker from my side of the table. From that point forward its a tug of war game to keep Wall Breaker and Dodon Wave off thanks to his tech card of Afterimage Technique.

Luckily, since Tao is able to shuffle a card from hand into his deck to draw, neither one of those cards is left on top to be taken as damage and they find their way to my hand over and over again until I’m finally able to Black Searching Technique the Afterimage out of his deck (along with his Sagacious Strikes eventually), basically sealing off his chances at getting to Level 2 until it is far too late.

The cuts run deep in this match as well.

Final Record: 3-2.

Final Thoughts

As I mentioned in my previous write-up: Mill, DBV and Energy Beats are a surprisingly hard match for Black Tao to handle, at least with the build I was playing. I commented on a few changes I think I would have made on some straggler cards in the list, and I think turning those into tech slots for those harder match-ups might have made it more plausible to walk into Top 8 with my Rogue Brewer head held high.

That being the case, I was happy with the results I put up, taking home the Best in Black Playmat, and look forward to taking yet another unknown MP to a winning record at the next event I attend, though that likely won’t be until next season, as Fargo is a bit far away and Gencon is sold out at this point.

I hope you enjoyed this quick write up. If you haven’t already checked out my previous article about the deck itself, its strategies and the changes I think should be made, I highly recommend checking it out. Tao is an MP I have a deep love for in the game, and nothing would make me happier than to see him played more regularly in the competitive meta.

As always, please don’t forget to go check out this week’s TC101 article and vote on the poll for which deck you’d like to see published next! The only votes that don’t count are the ones never cast in the first place!

Until next time, FanZ Warriors!

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Visions of the Future: Dev Team Hints on Set 10!

Image result for dbz baba crystal ball

Hey everyone!

I know that set 9 has barely had time to learn to crawl yet, and there is still so much to talk about and explore with Legends; however, I got a chance to sit and talk with the head of the Dev TeamJoey DiCarlo – this past weekend at South Kai, and he drop a few hints for me to share with you all at what we can expect from set 10 dropping later this year!

So I thought what better time than the present to take a look at what will be coming down the pipeline and piece together what it could mean for the game moving forward!

Let’s dive into it, shall we!

Hint #1: The Time Period

This one should come down as little surprise I feel, given that we just came out of another movie/supplemental set, but set 10’s time line will pick up where the story last left off – starting at the 7 year gap after the defeat of Cell and ending at the Gohan vs Majin Dabura fight!

So what does this mean we will see in the set? Well likely:
– The Great Saiyaman arc
– The World Martial Arts Tournament arc
– The beginning of the Babidi arc

What we likely won’t see:
– Goku SSJ2
– Majin Vegeta
– Majin Buu

Hint #2: The World Martial Arts Championship Belt is a card!

That’s right folks! You too will soon be able to rep gold like The Champ himself very shortly in the game!

Not only is the belt in the game, but I’ve heard tell that it will likely be a non-Styled Attachment! Those looking to play cards like Unleashed in less promoted Styles, like Orange and Black, may soon get your wish if the belt is good enough!

As founder of the WMAT Format, which is played on the Dragonball Z OCTGN League, I know I’m personally excited to see what the Champ Belt will do (and may look into customizing or signing a few to give away for the official event if able)!

Hint #3: Number of MPs in the Set

Since set 10 will be a starter set of sorts (similar to Premium, Evolution & Awakening), we will be receiving a total of 8 full MP stacks as well as several single levels to help promote weaker MPs.

What could these full stacks entail? Well if I had to guess…:
– Gohan (as The Great Saiyaman)
– Videl
– Goten
– Kid Trunks
– Android 18 (as a Hero stack!)
– Majin Dabura
– Majin Spopovich
– Babidi

As far as the single MPs, my guess would likely be:
– Hercule (possibly a different level 1?)
– Krillin
– Piccolo
– Vegeta (Hero Level) [possibly to help with the Evo stack?]

Allies for this set may turn out to be any of the following:
– The Announcer
– Chi-chi
– Bulma
– Marron (Krillin & A18’s Daughter)
– Supreme Kai
– Kibito
– Majin Yamu
– Majin Yakon
– Majin Pui Pui

Hint #4: Heritage Matters!

Our final hint for the set is a rather interesting one – that of “Heritage Matters”.

Now for those that played in the original ScoreZ days, you may remember cards with the text “Namekian Heritage Only” or “Saiyan Heritage Only” dictating that only MPs of that particular heritage could use those cards.

Likewise, those who played the “Re-Z” brand of the game may recall that each MP and Ally in the game came keyworded with a particular heritage (called traits in the game): Human, Saiyan, Alien or Namek.

Could this be a similar mechanic that checks to see which sort of trait/heritage your personality has? Certainly we already have guidelines on “Heritage” of sorts thanks to the MPs that are allowed to use the Saiyan and Namekian Masteries.

What exactly will this mean for the game moving forward? Only time will tell!

Gaze into My Crystal Ball…

And that’s all she wrote for this one!

I hope seeing a few of these hints has gotten you excited about what may be in store for us in the future! I know I’m personally excited to see a few of these things see the light of day, should I be correct on some of the speculation presented above.

But until we get closer to the end of the year, all we’re left with is our crazy thoughts and hopes to keep us guessing on what might be.

Please don’t forget to check out the TC101 article for this week and vote on your favorite deck idea that you want to see broken down and discussed!

Likewise, please make sure to check out the KMDcast YouTube channel if you haven’t already. Matt Coombs, Wayne “Dakid” Bettis & myself drop some DBZ knowledge each week on the latest events, happenings in the meta, etc. It’s a lot of fun, and we want to hear more feedback from the audience on what they’d like to hear from us moving forward!

Until next time, FanZ Warriors!

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Theory-crafting 101: I Have to Protect My Image!

Hey everyone!

Today’s TC101 list looks to me like it could be a real sleeper powerhouse in the meta! I’ve always wanted to make Nappa a thing since his release, and as more and more tools came out to try and buff him, I think he’s finally almost made it!

Let’s take a look at what we have and see where it can take us:

The List

MP Levels and Mastery:
1 – Nappa, Rested
2 – Nappa, Supportive
3 – Nappa, Overconfident
4 – Nappa, Enraged
M – Saiyan Dynamic Mastery

Blocks (10):
2x Saiyan Focus
3x Saiyan Blocking Hand
1x Saiyan Flip
3x Saiyan Outrage
1x Time is a Warrior’s Tool

Allies (5):
1x Vegeta – Impatient
1x Turles – Fighter
1x King Vegeta – Ruler
1x Paragus – Desperate Father
1x Bardock – Oozaru

Setups (10):
3x Saiyan Flight
2x Saiyan Peace
1x Saiyan Tactics
1x Saiyan Menace
2x Visiting the Past
1x Tree of Might

Events (4):
3x Nappa’s Confidence
1x Saiyan Rescue

Physical Attacks (31):
3x Saiyan Overhead Kick
3x Saiyan Headbutt
3x Saiyan Uppercut
3x Saiyan Body Blow
3x Saiyan Thrust
2x Saiyan Clench
2x Saiyan Elbow Drop
3x Nappa’s Energized Charge
3x I’ll Dig Your Grave!
3x Sobering Hammer
3x Android Arm Breaker

What Are We Trying to Accomplish?

So first and foremost we get to start the game on Nappa’s shiny new Level 2 thanks to Dynamic Mastery. Also, we are clearly doing Saiyan Clench shenanigans, as most Nappa decks tend to do.

The added +2 stages of damage from his new Level 2 is going to make this deck feel really powerful right out of the gate, as you basically get to start the game with a bonus Tree of Might attached to you!

Another great thing about “Clench Nappa” these days is the amount of relevant Saiyan Allies! As you can see, we are playing all Saiyan Allies in this list, making some of our turns potentially devastating if we happen to see Turles and Vegeta on the board at the same time! The damage can pile on incredibly quick if your opponent happens to find themselves without a block at the wrong time.

I really wanted to play Saibamen in this list, but there are just too many negatives against them to justify even one slot. First, they aren’t Saiyan, so I can’t get them with Saiyan Overhead Kick and Turles does nothing with them. Second, they don’t have a Constant Power, so I can’t get them with Sobering Hammer either. Lastly, because of the ruling on memory, if you have at least 2 Saibamen in play, you can only activate one of them (as memory checks name per owner), meaning the ability to run more than one in your deck is completely wasted! I’m so sad to see a preview card I got to spoil rot on the wayside, but as of this writing, they just aren’t worth sleeving up 😦

The Power is Yours!

And that’s our list for this week! Thanks for checking it out and let me know what you think in your testing with it.

Also, please don’t forget to vote on the poll below on which deck you would like to see written up for next week!

Until next time, FanZ Warriors!

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Black Crane Style: South Kai Deck Analysis

Hey everyone!

For those that were unable to attend South Kai this year, I have to say, you really missed out on an amazing day of DBZ!

With 28 players strong, great competition, and a wide spectrum of decks, it really was the perfect storm of circumstances to make it one of the better events I’ve been to. Everyone in attendance was immensely fun to talk with and play against, I got to meet several Retro personalities for the first time in person, and created some bonds with some great people in the process.

You’ll definitely see me back in Louisiana at some point!

But this post isn’t on the event itself. That post will follow later. I wanted to first present my thought process on why I decided to play the deck I did, and what changes I think could be implemented to see it go the distance in other events to follow.

The Night Before

So the first thing I wanted to point out before we go diving deep into deck analysis and revision territory is that Black Devious Mercenary Tao was not at all on my radar for South Kai prior to packing for my trip down to Slidell.

I tend to bring a number of decks with me whenever I travel to an event, in hopes of getting some insight on what will be the better choice through testing, talking to others about the meta, and general familiarity with the decks present with me. While in the process of sorting through my collection to put the two decks together that I was considering to play for the event (Orange Adept Chilled and Red Ascension Kami), I came across my Blue Resolute Tao shell I had played during set 7 and recalled a conversation we had in passing during one of our KMDcast recordings – is Black Devious Mastery good for Mercenary Tao?

For those who might not be aware, Mercenary Tao has been my MP pet project of choice since his release in set 7. I have written a previous article on this very blog about my Blue Resolute build, how to handle piloting it, and the pitfalls of playing him against some of the heavy hitters in the meta. What I’m trying to get at is, Tao is no stranger to me, but to the larger player base of the game, he is completely uncharted territory; making him a very appealing Rogue choice for an event, should you know how to maneuver your way to victory.

As I pieced together the other decks and thought about what he gained from the Mastery, I started running across glimpses of what potentially could be run in the Devious build and started pulling them to the side. By the end of it, the deck felt much more feasible than I had given it credit on the podcast, and so I decided to sleeve it up and take it on the road in hopes to try it out.

Luckily, Joey DiCarlo posted in Retro that some last minute testing was taking place right as SJ Brown and myself checked into our hotel room; so we rushed over to get some insight on the possible meta for the next day. I was eager to see just what Tao could do.

The testing didn’t go quite as planned. While I was able to get most of my opponents to under 12 cards left in their deck, none of the games came out in my favor. So if that was the case, you may be wondering, why did I bother playing the deck in the event anyway?

Well, it’s pretty simple, even though the testing didn’t end in my favor, I saw a lot of the glaring issues my initial build presented, and the glimmer of actual potential against the powerhouse decks of the meta. Once we returned to the hotel room, the think tank of SJ, Matt Coombs (via text) and myself brainstormed the possible solutions to the list. We needed to give it the knockout punch it needed to seal a game away.

South Kai Deck List

As a reminder, since the Legacy Bonus Ruling is in effect for this deck, FanZ created cards were off the table and the following cards in the list were “(Limit 1 per deck.)”: Black Smoothness Drill, Black Strength Display, Black Memories & Unleashed.

Here is the list as it was during South Kai:

MP Levels and Mastery:
1 – Mercenary Tao, Old Foe
2 – Mercenary Tao, Reckless
3 – Mercenary Tao, Armed
4 – Mercenary Tao, Shielded
M – Black Devious Mastery

Blocks (13):
3x Black Corruption
3x Black Resistance
3x Black Knee Catch
3x Black Delay
1x Time is a Warrior’s Tool

Setups (8):
2x Black Searching Technique
2x Black Power Up
1x Black Memories
2x Visiting the Past
1x Villainous Visage

Drills (1):
1x Black Smoothness Drill

Dragon Balls (2):
1x Earth Dragon Ball 2
1x Earth Dragon Ball 7

Events (11):
1x Black Strength Display
1x Black Scout Maneuver
1x Black Schematics
3x Mercenary Tao’s Puzzles
2x Stare Down
2x Villainous Energy Sphere
1x Unleashed

Energy Attacks (11):
3x Mercenary Tao’s Super Dodon Wave
3x Optic Blast
2x Villainous Power Ball
2x Blinding Energy Move
1x Villainous Energy Beam

Physical Attacks (14):
2x Black Vehicle Toss
2x Black Enraged Assault
2x Black Defensive Burst
3x Sinister Choke
2x Devastating Blow
2x Playful Punch
1x Wall Breaker

What Were We Planning For?

So I think the big thing you can see from the list above is that anti-anger was the main agenda for this deck. MPPV has a great place in the meta at the moment, and a lot of the popular Survival decks have the ability to level quickly as well. So I wanted to make sure that I was capable of denying my opponent’s levels as best as I could.

Another big thing about this deck is the amount of ways to end combat. Sitting in A Bracket for the entire game is something you really have to consider when building a deck like this. Bigger decks are going to try and manhandle you, and you need to be able to assess when it’s time to get out of dodge. I was running a total of 8 combat enders in the list for the day, with cards like Black Defensive Burst and Villainous Power Ball to help water down the combats I was unable to end on my own against Physical heavy decks.

Speaking of Physical heavy decks, stagelocking is a big problem with smaller MPs, so I wanted to make sure that the majority of my actions in combat were free, so that we could absorb as many hits as we could before having to assess the situation further. With only 6 attacks in the entire deck that cost stages, I think I was able to handle that threat pretty well.

The final thing about this deck was the amount of disruption it has. The main goal for Tao is to pick away at you slowly, removing your offensive capability until the slow decay of time eventually ends the game. With so many ways to remove cards from our opponent’s deck, hand and discard pile, nothing was safe or off-limits. Once a Dodon Wave is attached, the goal becomes ending combat as often as possible in order to deny the opponent a means to remove the card from themselves.

The Outcome

For those eager to know the story before my actual tournament breakdown article goes up, I ended the day at 3-2 and took home the Best in Black playmat.

I wasn’t able to crack the Top 8 due to tie-breakers, but all-in-all not too shabby for an MP no one plays.

What Was the Deck Weak Against?

So the deck seemed to be weak to a few different strategies:
– Dragon Ball Victory
– Energy Beatdown
– Other Mill Decks

I’m not sure what all could be done to hedge our bets against other small milling effects, as Black really doesn’t have a lot in the way of rejuvenation or recursion effects. However some small steps could be taken to help prevent the issues we faced with Energy and DBV.

My initial thoughts for this were:
– Adding in 2-3 Black Dense Ball
– Adding in 1-2 Black Declaration

With these small changes, the deck gains a few extra attacks capable of threatening critical damage as well as an answer to removing Dragon Balls in play, albeit temporarily.

Final Thoughts & Changes

Now certainly my Tao bias will be showing here, but I think South Kai proved that he can be a real contender if you understand the meta you are going into. Obviously, like all decks in this game, your match ups are really going to determine how well you do, but this deck has proved to me that it can hold its own against a lot of MPs if given the chance.

One big thing for the deck is there is a decent amount of anger cards slotted in the deck. With my Resolute build, Tao’s level 2 is the bread-and-butter to that decks success; and so naturally I felt like it would be the same for this build. However, a number of my matches were spent sitting on Level 1 until I was able to Unleashed up to Level 2 in the late game. With that in mind, I could certainly see cutting the anger cards for other non-anger versions, since Level 2 isn’t as necessary this time around. Black Finger Block over Black Knee Catch and Black Swipe over Black Resistance comes to mind immediately.

That being said though, Tao’s higher levels are also rather impressive late game. So finding a balance to anger up or level quickly to the right number against particular decks might be the better option. It’s all a matter of where the meta is at when you decide to try this deck out. Like most control decks in card games, understanding what you will be sitting across from impacts the control slots of your deck tremendously.

At the end of the day though, I think the numbers were a bit off on some cards, and I think, if given more testing these were the changes I would likely make:

Cut Villainous Visage. While it is a great card, it is highly luck based in this build.
Cut 1x Super Dodon Wave. We only really need one attached to slide into victory.
Cut Black Enraged Assault. We don’t attack enough to sneak the hit effect in.
Assess Unleashed Package. Cutting it frees 3 spots up, so it’s something to consider.
Assess Villainous Energy Beam. I never drew it, so it’s hard to say if it fits here.

With these few potential changes you would be able to fit up to 7 other additional tools in the deck; valuable real estate for hedging towards the weaker match ups listed above.

Shaolin Shadow Boxing

I hope you all enjoyed the journey through Black Devious Tao and where it could go from here.

Look forward to my actual tournament breakdown article coming in the near future, as well as our regularly scheduled articles for the week!

Until next time, FanZ Warriors!

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