How to Play the Dragon Ball Z CCG: Part 1

DBZ HTP1

In last week’s article, I wrote at length about the upcoming return of the Dragon Ball Z CCG, a game printed nearly a decade ago that I am, to put it lightly, very fond of. In that article, I mentioned that several modifications to the game have been made, and that I would go through what makes the game in a future article. Well, the future is now, baby!

Whether you’ve never heard of it before or played it so many years ago, this article is for you! While this article is written for the folks who haven’t played before, those of you who are DBZ veterans who are interested in the new game can pick up on a few of the changes as you read through. So let’s get to it!

setup

The DBZ CCG is a straight-up fightin’ game. You take control of a character in the show – your Main Personality, and when you build a deck (called your Life Deck), you choose a Fighting Style for them to use. These fighting styles abstractly represent different forms of martial arts – from the calming Blue Style that emphasizes a defensive approach, to the sneaky Black Style which focuses on underhanded techniques to catch the opponent off guard. The Saiyan and Namekian races, being the primary alien races in Dragon Ball Z, have their own unique styles of fighting quite unlike those of Earth, so those also have their own styles in the game. There are a total of 6 styles, all depicted in the picture below, for you to choose from. Any deck can also have freestyle cards, and your Main Personality may have their own special techniques to include (also pictured below).

styles

Along with your life deck composed of cards from your chosen Style, you will have a Mastery Card that starts the game in play. These Mastery Cards have very strong effects that can significantly alter the rules of the game – for example, the Saiyan Empowered Mastery pictured below causes you to gain power stages and raises your anger every time you use a Saiyan Style attack. Raising your power stages will let you hit harder with physical attacks, and will give you the ability to use more energy attacks to keep the fight going. Raising your anger is what lets you level up your personality – more on that in a minute! The Mastery even gives you improved benefits when you decide to rest from combat rather than jump back in. But all this advantage comes at a cost – using the Saiyan Empowered Mastery makes you unable to win by one of the three victory conditions in the game. Is it worth it? Well, that’s based on how you build your deck!

s25-Saiyan-Empowered-Mastery - Copy

In addition to a Life Deck and a Mastery, you will have a level 1, level 2, level 3, and level 4 card for your Main Personality. You will start the game on your level 1 card, with access to that level’s Power Stages, Power Up Rating, and their special effect, unsurprisingly called their Power. Certain card effects that you play as the game progresses will cause you to gain anger, and whenever you reach 5 anger, your character moves to the next level up, raises to their highest power stage on that level, and resets their anger to zero. In most cases, this will cause the character to have higher power stages, gain power stages faster, and have access to an even better power, making it easier to take control of the game. But the additional benefit of leveling up is…

VC1

That you can win just by leveling! This is called the Most Powerful Personality Victory, or MPPV. The Most Powerful Personality Victory represents one character being angered enough to reach a stage of power where their opponent simply can no longer compete. If one player reaches their fourth level AND gains 5 anger before their opponent, they have “ascended” beyond that level and beyond the grasp of the opponent and that player wins the game immediately. While all styles have ways to gain anger, it is the particular specialty of the Red Style. There are means of stopping this from happening, of course – certain card effects will lower anger (and the Blue Style is particularly adept at this), and players who deal high damage with individual attacks (called Critical Damage) will be able to lower their foe’s anger as well. This is just one of the effects that Critical Damage can cause, making it a viable counter measure that most decks will have access to, as the primary means of victory in the DBZ CCG is…

VC2

The Survival Victory, or discarding your opponent’s Life Deck through damage!

Attacks in the DBZ CCG will deal either Power Stages of damage (most physical attacks) or Life Cards of damage (most energy attacks). For the most part, Physical Attacks can dish out higher damage numbers, but you are dealing them to the opponent’s power stages – each damage lowers them one power stage. However, once they hit zero, any additional Power Stages of damage cause them to discard that many cards from the top of their Life Deck. Energy Attacks, on the other hand, tend to hit the Life Deck directly, but often can’t hit the same raw numbers that Physical Attacks can. Also, they usually require you to spend power stages to use them. If you can use your attacks (or any other means available) to reduce your opponent’s deck to 0 cards, they have run out of life, and you win the game!

Getting damage through is something any style can do effectively, but some fighting styles will go about it differently. Where the Saiyan Style will push damage harder with physical attacks, relying on their raw Power Level advantage to deal more damage, the Orange Style generally uses attacks that are not too special on their own – but by “training” with Drill Cards, which stay in play and modify their effects or give them extra powers, an Orange style deck can build up their attacks to even greater power. Last, the crafty Black Style features plenty of ways to discard cards from the opponent’s hand, hopefully leaving them open to attack. They also have a penchant for Banishing cards from the discard pile, preventing them from going back into the deck or your opponent’s hand.

Banishing cards can be an effective means of making sure damage that’s been done stays that way. Just like the Blue Style counters anger, the Namekian Style has a distinct advantage in its focus on Rejuvenating cards, or returning them from the Discard Pile to the Life Deck. However, there are other ways to help deal with decks that hit hard – every style has access to plenty of Blocks, cards that stop attacks. You’ll want to make sure most decks you play have the right number of those to keep yourself in the game! Also, a mechanism exists called Endurance – when an attack causes you to discard a card with Endurance, you can instead Banish the card to prevent some amount of extra damage. The drawback is that you lose the card entirely! Finally, by simply choosing not to enter combat, you will rest and have the ability to rejuvenate the top card of your discard pile – sometimes you can stay out of combat to get back a key card that you need to win the game!

Not all cards in your deck can be destroyed, though, and that brings me to the final way to win the game…
VC3

The Dragon Ball Victory! Dragon Balls cannot be destroyed, and will float to the bottom of your deck instead of being discarded from anywhere. They are powerful cards with instant effects when you play them that are often great cards to include in any deck. If you choose to play all seven Dragon Balls, and can manage to get all seven of them out (or capture some from your opponent!), you will be granted your wish and win the game! But be careful – should your deck be reduced to nothing but Dragon Balls, you will still lose! Many decks will play a least a couple Dragon Balls, as they have very strong effects that can turn the tide of a fight. Decks focused on Dragon Ball Victory, though, may find it more effective to play a defensive style such as Blue or Namekian to stay alive until they can assemble the set.

Building a deck that functions well in the DBZ CCG is often a matter of figuring out which style you want to play for your attacks and which personality levels (and which personality’s signature attacks) go well with that style – or vice versa! Some players will find a combo between a mastery and some particular attacks and build around that. And others will just build a deck around their favorite character!

Each style can win in different ways as well – you may find a Blue Style deck works well for defending while you go for a Dragon Ball Victory, while another player may decide to use the Blue Style’s slow, set-up focus to build up to a strong late game where they beat their opponent to Survival. And it isn’t wrong to build a deck to try and win all three ways – that way you can always switch gears when your opponent foils your plan.

To make things easy on you, when you pick up a Starter Deck for the DBZ CCG, you will get a full 1-4 set of a random personality (Goku, Krillin, Gohan, Piccolo, Vegeta, or Frieza), plus a Mastery card that works well with that personality set. You’ll also get a full 60 card starter life deck, which actually uses cards of multiple styles so you can try them all out. Once you are ready and have a few more cards, you can build your own constructed deck where you focus on a single style.

The DBZ CCG is really unlike any game on the market, so definitely consider checking it out – you won’t be disappointed! Feel free to join our community on Facebook at ParadoxCNC DBZ and check out our upcoming events. We will be running Demo Days each Saturday leading up to the release of the game on September 3, so stop by and try it out! If you still aren’t convinced, stay tuned – next time we’re going to go deeper, and I’ll show you the turn sequence and how the cards play out. You’ll be a DBZ Pro in no time!

Until then, keep on surviving!

Dan Green