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
3x Black Corruption
3x Black Resistance
3x Black Knee Catch
3x Black Delay
1x Time is a Warrior’s Tool
2x Black Searching Technique
2x Black Power Up
1x Black Memories
2x Visiting the Past
1x Villainous Visage
1x Black Smoothness Drill
Dragon Balls (2):
1x Earth Dragon Ball 2
1x Earth Dragon Ball 7
1x Black Strength Display
1x Black Scout Maneuver
1x Black Schematics
3x Mercenary Tao’s Puzzles
2x Stare Down
2x Villainous Energy Sphere
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.
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!