The King Is Dead. Long Live The King
As the title states, the king is dead!
Or is he?
If by some chance you have *not* seen the Frieza errata yet I'll detail it in layman's terms: his front side was changed to opponent's turn only and once used negates the skill for the turn and his back side is also only during your opponent's turn but with the negated skill restriction lifted. Now, let's talk about what this means and what this does to the Leader and the meta as a whole. First let's clear something up - Mecha Frieza is not dead. For those of you dancing in the streets and rejoicing that the King is dead, I assure you that he is alive and well. He has just been slightly gimped and now walks with a limp rather than run like Usain Bolt. He's not going to be doing his best Bran Stark impersonation any time soon. What *did* happen is this: the way that the deck is built and played is dramatically different. To me, the leader now feels more "yellow" than ever before. What I mean by this is that the yellow color by and large is a defensive color with a lot of battle tricks and reactions. It's a very reactive color by nature. What MF did before the change was cheat the "color wheel" if you will and become the most proactive deck in the game while creating unfair, unfun, and uncreative board states at no expense to the pilot. All of the extra cards that should neg the player turned into positive gains and mediocre cards like Encouraging Presence Monaka became free draw two's that rivaled Ancestral Recall from the early MTG days. How do you beat that? Well the answer was you didn't. In the hands of the games best players the deck was nigh unbeatable. The best way to combat it was play a version of your own or try to figure out what version of the deck would be most prevalent and try to counter that. The deck *did* have some chinks in the proverbial armor but they were very small.
Many can (and do) argue that the errata wasn't harsh enough. My own Kitchen Table Meta teammates are pretty split on the topic so it's evident that there's plenty of room for discussion. My person opinion is that I think the change was a good one and am keeping my fingers crossed that it evens the playing field like I believe it will.
Moving forward what can we expect? Well, the deck is still tier 1. No longer can MF play a series of cards on its first turn and instead must rely on the opponent to awaken. The MF Veggie (Cabba, Caulifla, Kale) variants can cheat this a bit by using Caulifla and No Openings Son Goku to cheat this but they can't turn 1 Planet Vegeta *and* turn 2 Cabba anymore. So now that deck is going to turn 1 Planet for No Openings (typically), turn 2/3 combo with the No Openings, and turn 3 play Caulifla or Cabba into it to awaken. This slows the deck down by 1 entire turn and allows decks to keep pace, more or less. The Apes variants for sure get crushed the most as now they can no longer March turn 2, or even 1 in some instances, and start making gigantic blockers that are impenetrable. Now they have to use all of their resources early while trying to defend themselves and create that same board state a turn later than were previously able to do so. This is critical and was a big part of Apes success and a reason why I believe SS3 Apes will be the Apes deck of choice; pre-draft set leaders anyway. The GT variant is dead so you can be happy about that much. Personally I never thought that version was any good anyway as it was the most glass cannon of glass cannons but if completely unprepared it just got you.
What MF still does incredibly well is play a control game. You still get "free" Cold Bloodlust, Crusher Ball, Flying Nimbus, Senzu Bean, Whis's Coercion, etc, etc. All of the best defensive cards in the game are still in play for MF. The difference is *you*, the player, controls when your opponents gets to play those cards. Playing against MF is going to be very skill intensive and a lot of fun in my personal opinion. Yes, CBL is still infuriating to play against, but creating board states where they can't afford to CBL is key. I think it's because of this that the Veggie variants will come out mostly unscathed. They're also the most vulnerable however as their threats don't have Barrier nor are they a very fast deck. What the Veggie variant did and still does very well is generate card advantage by cheating resource costs. Cabba makes a Caulifla appear, Caulifla makes a Kale better, Kale can come into play with Shugesh, Shugesh can make a Goku (or Kale) come down and kill an attacker mid-battle, etc, etc, etc. How do you possibly attack this? For starters, decks where the leader does most of the work are very good against Veggies such as Masked Saiyan. Secondly, Barrier threats like the Apes package, potentially Buuhan (but that's extremely slow and clunky), and the new green Trunks. Thirdly, going wide with multiple 3-drops and/or black cards. Also critical threats that keep them off cards to make their Shugesh's worse. There are many ways to attack the Veggies player but none of the paths to victory are easy. That said, decks will have to adapt and that's fine. The fact that they *can* adapt is what is important here where previously oftentimes the Veggies play on turn 2 would have a board of 2 Cabba, 2 Caulifla, and 2 Kale with 2 Shugesh in hand and an awakened Leader.
The game slows down a bit and MF is still one of the best, if not the best, slow/control/midrange deck. What the errata did was allow the aggro decks to have that one extra turn to do something. It allows the midrange decks that one extra turn to figure out how to deal with Shugesh and control when the opponent could awaken. It allows the control decks to play draw-go for a while and formulate a gameplan for how to deal with Cold Bloodlust. All of this comes with the bonus of keeping the MF players hand to a minimum rather than them having 10+ cards and all the answers in the world. It's a new world and it's an exciting one. Again, and I want to reiterate this as much as possible, do not sleep on Mecha Frieza or you're going to be in for a long day.
Now you might be asking: what are some ways to deal with Mecha Frieza post-errata? I'll share some lists with you but want to preface this by saying that I obviously haven't tested against a post-errata MF yet and this is all theoretical based on what I know already works against the Leader. A lot of the decks that I share are also high skill cap so don't play a match and then come back to me with "this deck sucks" or "you need to git gud." Just practice against good players and in time you'll see the strengths and weaknesses of the decks. Let's start with one of the most anticipated and overhyped deck post errata, the Cell chain decks:
This deck has ways to fight Mecha Veggies incredibly efficiently. You have Cell itself to pick off Cabba and Caulifla, you have searchable Android 14 to pick up larger threats like Kale, you have Critical threats, you have the Cell chain, and you have Masked Saiyans if things get incredibly out of hand and you need to remove several threats. This deck has the worst self-awaken plan out of the two main Cell chain decks (with Androids having the best) but can still get there when it needs to. Your ideal Cell chain turn is around turn 4 or 5 when you can do the following:
- 1. Play 3-drop Cell and chain up to the 5-drop.
- 2. Attack with the 5-drop Cell
- 3. Chain up to the 7-drop
- 4. Play Mira, attack, Super Combo X times.
What this does is essentially empty their hand while giving them a random card from their life instead of anything that they chose to keep. They draw for their turn giving them 2 cards to deal with your Perfect Force Cell while also drawing back up. *You do this after they're awakened.* A huge mistake that people make when playing Cell chain decks is to just Cell chain as soon as they can, the opponent then awakens, and any advantage that you had is immediately vanished. If they're playing one of the new "untap 2 energy" leaders then it doesn't really matter when you awaken them to be completely honest but ideally they will already be awakened to give them as few options as possible. I could write an entire blog post on the Cell chain by itself because I see so many people play it incorrectly. It's not brainless. The only brainless part about it is how easy it is to perform. The timing however is not brainless and can cause you to lose the game instantly. The combo itself is a -2 so you have to generate as much advantage as you can muster.
Nevertheless, this deck is really great and I've had a lot of success playing it pre-nerf even. There's some room for improvement like any deck but it's a great place to start and will give you really good results after practicing with it and learning the timing.
Moving on, the SS3 red decks
This is another deck that I've had success with pre-nerf but I have changed it to move Chain Attack Trunks + Zen-Oh to the sideboard and add the Champa package to the main deck. The SS3 variants have the added strength of being able to essentially play 8 Super Combos. What this deck can do is go very wide very quickly while also being able to produce large threats in the form of Jiren, Gotenks, and Champa backed by aggression and the ability to give something Double Strike out of nowhere with no downside of tapping out because we get to untap 3 energy anyway. FD Champa is best used on either 3-drop Gohan or a Toppo if that wasn't obvious.
Other SS3 variants include Apes, Saiyans, Veggies, Gods, etc, etc. All versions have mostly the same strengths and weaknesses. I also quite like a yellow/red Saiyan version that I've been working on that allows you to play Cabba and No Openings in the same deck and awaken incredibly early while having searchable Saiyans. The Bardock leader can also do this well but suffers from exhausting all of its resources on their turn and being unable to defend very well.
Moving forward I belive SS3 variants will be the best decks as long as they figure out a way to combat the Cell chain. Black leaders also should gain in popularity as pretty much all of the black cards are great and making multiple threats in a turn will never be bad. For those of you thinking that the Cell chain will reign supreme, I don't think that you're right and this is coming from someone who *exclusively* plays the Cell chain. Finally, I also believe that the Broly chain is a lot better than it was and should finally start to see success with the TP3 Broly leading the charge. I think that a Bardock leader with the Broly chain sounds really exciting and want to work on that next. Being able to Shugesh a TP3 Broly and then evole into the six-drop is just nuts in any meta.
I'll stop here for now but am looking forward to writing more about this topic along with many others. If there's something that you'd like me to talk about please don't hesitate to reach out on Facebook or on the main page by clicking "contact" at the top. Also please don't forget to subscribe to the main page as well to get updates when I post. I thank you all for reading and very much look forward to next time!
Check out his 2nd place Androids deck that he made for the regionals at Charlotte!