While the week got away from me in the heat of helping friends, teammates, and others prepare for what will be the last chance to qualify for many players, I wanted to take a chance to express some of my expectations for the metagame this weekend. As we approach some slight changes coming up with the advent of the latest Draft Box leaders, I do think the events from this weekend will transpire into Sunday’s regional, the weekends that follow, and the rest of the competitive landscape leading up to Set 5 and our first National’s Event
The Story So Far:
To the surprise of some (but not many), Storm is absolutely a force to still be reckoned with.
Usable by both Hirudegarn as well as Trunks leaders, this deck provides relentless aggression that forces many untap 2 energy leaders to awaken on the opponent’s turn. While soft counters to the deck exists in cards like Flying Nimbus, Full Power Energy, Senzu Bean, and Masked Saiyan, The Mysterious Warrior, it’s hard to say that decks running those cards give them a favorable matchup. If your goal was to earn a Q this weekend, I think Storm was probably the correct look because of it’s great matchup spread. However, I am becoming increasingly concerned the deck will become a liability after this weekend:
The People’s Champ:
In what may become a surprise to anyone that was on the train of “World’s Martial Arts Tournament is the worst set in the game – here’s a newsflash: Bundle of Curiosity Hercule may be the best leader in the game. Providing a defensive core as strong as Heightened Evolution SS3, I would go as far as saying that the traditional Storm vs Hercule matchup may be the most lop-sided matchup in the history of top-tier decks in this game; it wouldn’t surprise me to hear players say Hercule wins 4/5 games against Storm or more, pre and post side.
Hercule’s ability to constantly filter through cards is very, very powerful.
The leader essentially reads as a normal statted leader with the text “once per battle involving this card, discard a card, then draw a card”. That type of aggression, paired with cards like Senzu Bean and Zen-Oh Button, provides incredible defensive pressure, alongside offensive threats like the Goku+Uub combo and the ability to easily Overrealm every turn. For those of you out of the loop,
While this deck does have favorable matchups against Trunks, BY Hirudegarn and Soul Striker, the deck is slightly disadvantaged against decks that can heavily impact hand sized: Cell chain and Chain Attack Zen-Oh matchups like Hirudegarn and Pan can be difficult. However, the impact of the “auto-win” matchup against rush decks is so high that I think this leader will make a HUGE impact this weekend. However, the deck itself does have hard counters as well.
A Challenger Approaches:
As Hercule proceeds to have an impact on Storm and increases the risk of the deck making it
through a large-scale event, Hercule does have a weakness that can be taken advantage of. “Going Tall” decks that focus on cards like Hope of Universe 7 Son Goku, Grand Evil Absorption Majin Buu, and Frieza, Emperor of Universe 7, are able to minimize the ability to generate advantage that Hercule is capable of doing. Frieza, Emperor of Universe 7, in particular is able to minimize both the Leader effect of Hercule, easily swing in for three damage, and turn off the ability to answer it.
Grand Evil Absorption Majin Buu isn’t a deck that has been on our radars for a little bit (Mostly because if you wanted to build an RB SS3 deck, there were better cards to play), but it’s important to recognize the synergy that Explosive Power Vegeta has with the Majin Buu engine.
Being able to untap 2 is very helpful in this deck; being able to start turn 3 with a Surprise Attack Majin Buu, Awaken, pay 2 to Union-Absorb it into Awakening Evil Majin Buu, and then choose between Ability Unleashed, Burst Attack, and Miraculous Comeback Son Gohan to provide powerful, advantage-generating attacks. The leader ability will ensure you don’t have to end turns tapped out, and being able to hide cards in your energy to avoid the impact of Foreseeing Hit and Chain Attack Zen-Oh, and The Ultimate Evil Majin Buu will be able to close games out.
Universe 7 Frieza can use Victory Strike to win the game without attacking, which Hercule
needs to be a threat. Emperor of Universe 7 Frieza will continue to be a game-breaking threat as well while Coldhearted Strike Frieza may be able to give an edge against the aforementioned U7 Buuhan deck. While Explosive Son Goku could also play the same deck with the additional perk of generating absurd advantage with Hope of Universe 7 Son Goku, Green leaders will continue to be a liability without a better answer to Haru Haru spam games 2 and 3. If a U7 Frieza list gets a good gauntlet of Hercules and dodging rush, I could see the deck making a deep run or winning the event.
While I may be spending a lot of time talking about this developing triangle of BY Hiru< Hercule< U7 Frieza/U7 Buuhan < BY Hiru Triangle, that’s not to say that there are other decks that can impact the metagame. Red/Red Blue Pan still seems to have a very reasonable matchup spread given the success of it at Atlanta next weekend. Competing with a slow Red/Blue Hirudegarn variant that tries to use Leader abilities to generate the most advantage post-Chain Attack Zen-Oh, I think the decks can compete if you’re okay with 7+ rounds of close-to-even matchups. I do think Hirudegarn would benefit from slowing down a bit and focusing on cards like Objection and Saiyan Onslaught Kefla over the rushdown strategies, but I have won games against both BY Hiru and Hercule with the aggression.
It seems that Androids will once again fall in the omnipresent loop of people wanting to play
the deck at the beginning of a new format before it underperforms. I think the deck will continue to be fringe competitive, but it is so dependent on strong draws and so weak to sidedecking that I think the deck will need to evolve to compete: - One place to start is by exploring a more red version where players can take advantage of Secret Tready Android 18 being a Red Card to support a progression of Cell Chain on 3, Foreseeing Hit on 4.
The Future Is Bright:
Over the next month, I expect the format to continue to show a LOT of leader diversity, and a mild amount of card choice diversity. We very well may have our first Regional where a Red Leader won, and I’m excited! In addition to Stormfist Krillin and Vegeta Baby having potential to shake things up (as Chain Attack Zen-Oh and another Red leader with a solid Storm matchup respectively) I think Mecha Frieza is long overdue for a resurgence. While I haven’t put the time into the best way to pilot the leader, I think a great starting point is in a defensive list that tries to play the 7 cost Frieza.
While the metagame may not have enough time to develop this far, I think the players that will perform the best will be the ones best able to understand the revolving door that will be BY Hiru Storm / Hercule / U7 Vegeta Buuhan, and make that correct decision for the day. However, if the week-to-week trends continue to show as much diversity in top placing as Atlanta did, you may not be able to approach the format as such. In which case, I think Chain Attack Zen-Oh decks featuring Krillin, Hirudegarn, and Pan will end up being the best way for you to earn an invite if you don't have one after this weekend.
I’ll try to update this article with decklists as they become public and as these Saturday events wind down. What sort of decks do you hope make it to the top in the weekends that come.