The Meta Is A Scary Place
With the eratta of Mecha Frieza and his only full powered event having passed, many locals around the country are moving forward playing under the erattad text. Personally, I think the eratta is a great one. Mecha Frieza can no longer abuse extra cards and turn them into +1’s and the leader is streamlined into a theme of free defensive extra cards. Even with this eratta, the leader is still very strong, and many (including myself) expect it to stay atop the meta. Even though Mecha is still strong, many other decks have risen a tier and become infinitely more playable. That sounds great and all, but many of the decks that are moving up in the world have their own degenerate playlines that I feel need to be addressed.
You had to know that in an article discussing degenerate combos, the cell chain would be the first to be mentioned. After turn three this chain can drop the opponent’s hand to anywhere from three to zero cards.
I know people don’t think this is such a big issue because in the set 2 meta, Cell wasn’t really making big waves. And they’re right in that regard. Soul Striker and Frieza variants could play around the chain rather well, by either drawing out of being chained or just negating cell. However, since set two, android decks have gotten a lot more toys.
Previously, the cell chain had no way to drop the opponent’s hand to zero. They now have this in troves with the android 16 super combo and the three drop mira. To compliment this, the new androids needed to complete the cell chain have critical, which means after dropping the opponent’s hand, the cell chain player can continue denying them cards. I can not think of any current deck that can consistently draw out of their hand being dropped so low as well as their life being sent to the drop area. The only hard counters to this are Frieza decks, Mecha arguable being the best one. So then, I find this dilemma in our meta going forward. It seems as though Cell stomps everything that isn’t Frieza, and Frieza stomps cell.
Androids got some really serious support in Cross Worlds, and it seems a lot of people are forgetting about it.
The android 13 chain is a turn five play that drops a 30k double striker that when put into play destroys a battle card, and then forces the opponent to discard a card when a battle card they control is sent to the drop area by an effect.
This seems like a very strong card, but it becomes degenerate with the rest of the card pool. It gets out of hand in the blink of an eye because android 13 is not once per turn. Because of this, all of those androids I mentioned in the cell chain section (critical androids, 16 super combo, mira) can make your hand go away in an instant. Everytime an effect makes you discard while the 7 drop android 13 is up, you’re actually discarding two cards. Then all of the critical the deck can play will prevent you from having a hand for the remainder of the game. Then, if you can’t KO the first android 13, and they manage to bring out another one, they loop with each other, causing you to immediately lose your whole hand. The only way you won’t lose your whole hand is if you discard two extra cards. But in that situation, you still lose three cards. Once again, the only hard counter to this is cold bloodlust. What this means is that if these two degenerate hand control decks dominate everything else, then Frieza is the only thing that can counter these android decks.
What was a necessary evil during the reign of untargetable giant monkeys is now a degenerate two card game reset. What is essentially the equivalent of fiber jar from Yu-Gi-Oh! (which is banned with good reason), this combo punishes good resource management and patience. Zeno is the first of potentially many 15k power battle cards that Chain Attack Trunks will be able to abuse. Chain Attack, along with a few other cards, are far too generic and limit card design in the future.
I know that this article may come off saying that I think the game is doomed (please refrain from the “git guds”) but that is not my opinion at all. Yes, I am nervous about the future of the game and the direction it is headed in. However, it is definitely not beyond fixing.
Bandai certainly isn’t perfect. Their email system for players with questions is not very reliable, and many question if they even have a playtesting team because of the design of some of the cards that they release. However, I’ve personally seen Bandai in action at a few events, and it gives me hope that they do truly care about that game. They showed up to a Super Release Tournament in Fresno, California that I attended, and they gave all of the players two additional tournament packs along with the three that we got with entry. At that event, they watched the Mecha Frieza gameplay, and became truly exposed to the problem that it was, and they were very open and inviting while talking to players. Due to this, it seems like Bandai does care about the game and the player base.
With that being said, they need to take action in order to preserve the health of this game going forward. Gameplay should be fun and interactive, and rarely should it feel completely one-sided when one players reaches their boss monster or big play. Card design needs to be much more careful and balanced, and far less generic. The development team needs to expand, a playtesting team needs to be established, and they need to do a better job with localization and translating card text and emails. All of this is very attainable, and with the growth of the game happening so rapidly, they should be incentivised enough to do so.
As far as answers to the problems that I listed before, there are a few options if these decks truly do get out of hand. They can ban cards, which seems unlikely based on Bandai’s track record. They can errata cards or change game mechanics. Personally, I’d like to see union-absorb become a once per turn action. Or they can slap a once per turn on the 7 drop android 13. Chain Attack also needs some type of restrictions on what it can play. If they don’t feel that any of these actions are necessary, (which I think would be a mistake), I could only then hope for set rotation to be implemented, and that the next wave of cards are better designed.
Now with all of that being said, set 4 could be released and answer all of these problems, and then I’d have written all of this for nothing. If set four gave other colors more access to “permission” cards, Frieza wouldn’t be the only hard counter to these degenerate combos. My hope with set four is that they don’t do much to increase the speed of the game anymore than they have already, because I’m slightly uncomfortable with how much set three has ramped up the pace of the game from set two to now. I hope that this next set gives decks more counter play options so that degenerate combos that remove one’s whole hand or board aren’t allowed to go mostly unchecked.
I really enjoyed this game in set two and know how good it can potentially be, and I want nothing more than for this game to be the best TCG out there. That is why I bring these issues in the game up to the community. It is not to complain, but it is to inform, because we will not have a healthy game if card interactions like this are allowed to exist.
Thanks for reading - Joey Paladino
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