Transitioning to DBS from YGO: A Tale of Two Games
The Dragon Ball Super Card game is very young; the start of the game is only as recent as the summer of 2017. Despite how new this game is, it is not surprising that the game is incredibly popular on the east coast of the U.S., blowing up on the west coast and in the U.K., and selling out with distributors nationwide. The Dragon Ball name carries a lot of weight.
If you're like me, than your childhood love of amazing fights, energy blasts, and copious amounts of yelling may have initially attracted you to the game. After learning how to play, the relatively simple game mechanics might have kept you around. After sticking with it for a while, your desire for competition probably helped you recognize the skill level required to succeed in this game. Good piloting, deck building, knowledge of the game, and patience all reward players generously. I have come to learn all this from playing and observing the meta for the past few months. However, I’ll admit that I was quite skeptical of the game when it first came out.
I have played Yu-Gi-Oh! for years, and it is a very different game than Dragon Ball Super. Having known about the previous Dragon Ball trading card games that crashed and burned, I was very hesitant to give this new game a shot. Other die hard Dragon Ball fans and card game players are currently distancing themselves from the game for those same reasons. Oh, what a mistake they are making.
Long story short of how I got into the game; my best friend and I were at our local comic shop, and we saw some DBS Galactic Battle and Union Force packs. Enticed by the great art on the packs, we bought a few. We had no good plans for the cards; we just wanted to admire the beautiful art and possibly use them as YGO tokens. However, after we looked over our pulls, something roped us into buying more packs. We then went home, tried to learn how to play the game using the phone app (DISCLAIMER: WATCH YOUTUBE VIDEOS INSTEAD) and immediately pooled our cards together so we could make decks and play. Ever since then, we’ve been stuck to the game like glue.
Many people are coming to DBS from other card games. If you are one of those people and you are reading this, welcome! If you are reading this and are hesitant to get involved, I hope this article helps you make an informed decision. I made the same transition, and while I do still play YGO somewhat casually, my main card game has switched to DBS for the time being. There are several reasons I am favoring DBS over YGO, and I want to outline them to show people why this game is so successful right now, and why it’s a great time to dive in.
Let me preface this by saying all card games I have played, casually (Pokemon TCG and Magic) or competitively (YGO and DBS), require skill and knowledge to succeed. However, this is a direct comparison between DBS and YGO, and this game rewards good pilots and well-built decks more than YGO does. In YGO, the meta consists of decks that can build “god boards,” which intend to be strong enough to essentially win you the game on your first turn. Instead of worrying about recurring resources and trading resources efficiently with your opponent, the YGO meta requires you to set up a first turn field which ideally denies your opponent of any resources and actions. At the time of writing this, the arguable best deck in YGO is one of two variants of pendulum magicians. One variant sets up two to three negates and one to two card destroying effects, while the other variant can burn the opponent for over 8000 damage on the first turn rather consistently. This is a result of the powercreep overdrive YGO has experienced over the past three years or so.
It is easy to say that since it is so new that given time, powercreep could affect DBS in the same way. However, it took about 15 to 20 years for YGO to get to the point it is currently at. That is why it is such a great time to get into this game; its young! We all experienced the reign of terror that was Mecha Frieza, but now that that has been resolved, the meta has the opportunity to be more creative than ever (more on that later).
To get back to the main point, the name of the game is card advantage in DBS. Usually, when push comes to shove and your going in for that last attack to win, your ability to outcombo your opponent will ultimately be the deciding factor. The way to obtain large amounts of resources or deny your opponent essential resources is by playing smart and efficiently throughout the course of the entire game. A well built deck with a clear goal but several different play lines and threats will help get you there. This is unlike YGO, where most decks in the meta set up a typical board, and if you don’t open the correct cards to break it, you will most likely lose.
Another reason this game rewards players more than YGO is because of the lack of variance and “luck sacking.” You are more likely to open a 4-of card in a 6 card hand from a deck of 50 than you are to open a 3-of card in a 5 card hand from a deck of 40. This doesnt account search cards, which YGO has a plethora of. It should be noted, though, that there are also a plethora of cards to negate those searchers in YGO. Then, on top of your better opening hand percentages, you have a chance to selectively mulligan whatever cards you don’t want back to the deck for another chance to draw better opening cards. It is very hard to have an unplayable hand in DBS if your deck is built properly.
Now onto “luck sacking.” Raigeki, Solemn Judgement, Soul Charge. These are some of the strongest cards YGO has ever seen. The former two were banned for most of the games existence, and the latter was put to one shortly after it released. At a playable limit of one, these cards become incredible tempo swingers when you draw them. They can drastically change the game state when drawn, hence the term “luck sack.” We don’t really see this at all in DBS. Some will say that the DBS super combos are the resident “luck sacks” in this game. However, because every leader and player currently has access to four super combos in their deck, they are drawn much more frequently than not. And yes, there will be those matches that come down to one player having three of his super combos on his final attack and his opponent never drawing into any of theirs. In the end, it is a card game, and there is no way to remove randomness and luck from it. Although, Bandai has done a good job of limiting this variance, making way for skillful players to shine.
If you care about any card game, and you see the state of that game slowly but surely declining, you should expect to hear a response from the company that created the game. In DBS, we see this all of the time. A problematic interaction between Mind Controlling Babidi and Chain Attack Trunks was discovered when set 3 was spoiled. The masses were losing their minds, and people thought we were headed straight toward a tier zero format. Soon enough, Bandai came in to correct the issue by giving Babidi an errata. The same thing happened when the infamous meme wars broke out over Thinks He’s the Best Hercule. When it seemed as though he would add two energy to your total energy regardless of who your leader was, Bandai intervened to alter the wording and fix the card so it would work as intended. And currently, we are all experiencing the death of the Mecha Frieza tier zero format. Without beating a dead horse, this is an issue the community was up in arms about. Bandai reached out to us to let us all know that it was watch listed, and tried (sort of) to aid the community in combating the MF threat. Then, they finally decided to eratta the card. This type of communication is so refreshing as a player coming from a card game where the creators of the game are socially nonexistent.
Remember when I mentioned the “god board” phenomenon in YGO? Sure, people have been complaining about it (myself included). However, most attempts to reach Konami yield no results. Instead of releasing banlists to rebalance the meta, they make hits and unban certain cards to obviously sell whatever cards the next set has. Konami doesn’t even give explanations on bans anymore. It is a great business model, especially with the huge following YGO has. But it is saddening as a player to know that I am only worth my money to Konami. The one thing they did to “help” YGO players combat “god boards” was release a card called Evenly Matched. The card forces your opponent to banish cards on their field until they control the same number of cards as you, which in most cases is just one because you can activate the card without anything else on your side of the field. So to answer a problem, Konami released a problem. The game just isn’t healthy, and the DBS meta just got over the flu.
Finally, the prize support for DBS events are far more rewarding than YGO. In Konami sanctioned YGO regionals, players will receive their entry’s worth in packs. And then there really isn’t much else besides that. Regional toppers get an invite to nationals, and sometimes top cut game mats. YCS winners can earn expensive prize cards, but this is usually limited to a very small cut of the top. Topping locals may net you a few OTS packs, in which you’ll most likely find worthless super rare and common reprints.
ARG sanctioned DBS events, which are the majority as of the time this was written, offer players play mats and tournament packs upon entry. Winning regionals rewards players with trophies and copious amounts of tournament packs. Most locals give out promo cards or tournament packs upon entry, and reward winners with more tournament packs (which if you haven’t guessed by now, are packs to be excited about. Good cards and almost immediate returns on investments!) and sometimes special winner stamped cards and winner sleeves. The moral of the story is, most monetary contributions you make into a DBS event can become positive earnings if you know what you’re doing. The same cannot be said for YGO.
While I have put YGO on the backburner for DBS, I don’t have any plans to quit the game just yet. Maybe it’s just naive nostalgia, beautiful card art, or the hope that Konami will get their act together. All of that aside, DBS has my full attention for a number of legitimate reasons. This game offers so much to the players. The skilled players deserve all of the winnings they earn. There is a great community that is eager to help build itself up and teach new players the ropes. I think this game has potential to be great and stick around for a long time, and I am so happy that I jumped in when I did. Hopefully this will help you decide if you are hesitant like I was.