Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Gohan in Set 3 of Panini's DBZ TCG

Disclaimer: This is a speculation article and is not based on any official Panini announcement of Gohan returning as a main personality in Set 3.

Panini's rebooted Dragon Ball Z Trading Card Game currently has its second card set released, named Heroes & Villains. Within this set, there are new characters to play with, including main personalities and allies. Of these new main personalities, all of them are of characters that have never been main personalities before.

There will come a time, however, when a new card set release will contain main personalities of characters we've already seen before as main personalities. This will definitely happen by the time the card sets are focusing on characters and events from the Android and Cell sagas of the DBZ story.

The next set, Set 3, is not going to focus on any androids. However, we will see at least one character return as a main personality: Gohan.

Here are topics we'll cover along the way to see where we make deductions and assumptions leading to this conclusion:
  • Elements of a Dragon Ball Z set
  • Saiyan-style and Namekian-style cards
  • Card art theory
  • The Gohan plan

On Your Mark, Get Set, Gohan

Even though we're only on Set 2 of the Panini reboot of the game, there are already some apparent requirements that make up a DBZ TCG set. Not every set is going to have starters released to coincide with a booster pack product like Set 1 did. Nor is every set going to have a new collection of Dragon Ball cards to choose from, just like what happened with Set 2.

However, there are a few elements that every Dragon Ball Z card set should have:
  • Main personality cards
  • Ally personality cards
  • New cards for each style in the game (Red, Blue, Orange, Black, Saiyan, Namekian)

Why should every set in the game contain main personality cards? One of the reasons is because they're one of the key sellers of the set! Each of the booster pack displays for each of the released sets mention the main personality characters you can find in the packs.

The second reason is because of what Panini is trying to do for someone who decides to buy a booster box of a set - at least, when they were doing masteries in booster packs. Here's what Panini said about including masteries in a Z Warrior Mailbag on their blog:

The initial idea was to give players access to each Style without requiring additional starter deck purchases. At the same time, the inclusion of Mastery cards in the boosters allows players to create a Trunks or Captain Ginyu deck from packs alone.

While they're not going to do masteries any more in booster sets, let's assume someone already has masteries - they could just buy a booster box of the latest set and get a deck going with the main personalities they find within their new cards.

Ally cards exist because of the third reason why main personality cards exist - the characters. A card game based on a story-based IP has to focus on its characters, and not every character can be a main personality - thus ally cards. This is why each set will have ally personalities.

Lastly, there are six styles in the game that bring checks and balances against each other and make up half of a player's deck's identity (the other half being their main personality). When a new set comes out, there must always be new cards for each of the six styles, so that every DBZ TCG player has something to look forward to.

And, of course, among the six styles are Saiyan and Namekian.

Oppa Gohan Style

If there are going to be new main personalities in every set, partly so that players can build decks from the booster boxes they buy, and there are new Saiyan and Namekian cards within the set, then every set MUST have, among its main personalities, characters that can allow you to play Saiyan and Namekian cards.

Let's back up a moment. For the purposes of considering what's part of a set, we're going to consider the starters that coincide with a large set part of the set. This is because large sets may not be constrained to having both a saiyan and a namekian among the few-number of characters within the booster portion of the set. Look at set 1 not containing a Namekian to build a deck around. 

This is amusing to consider when part of the reason for masteries in Set 1 was so that they can allow a player to build a deck, but a Namekian style mastery along with the Namekian style cards would be useless without a Gohan or Piccolo purchased from the starter.

So, for including saiyan characters in sets, luckily, there are a ton of saiyans to focus on from the Dragon Ball Z universe, so each set that releases is definitely not going to find itself in a shortage of saiyans to choose from to fill in the saiyan slot.

Namekians are the weak point of the goal of including at least one Namekian character every set. The bread and butter are Gohan and Piccolo. The first set already used up both Gohan and Piccolo, so featuring either one of them in Set 2 would be too soon for repeat main personality cards of them. Nail saved the day for Set 2. 

But now, what about Set 3? That depends on what story, or saga, we're in when we get to Set 3 - and this is something we know for sure: Garlic Jr. Saga

We know this "for sure," because of a theory I have: the card art theory.

Gohan, Don't Believe Me

The theory I have about the third set being based on Garlic Jr. saga and what characters will be featured as main personalities or allies is based upon the card art of the previous set. So, for Set 2, the card art in Set 1 contains clues as to who was going to be in Set 2. For Set 3, we look at Set 2. The theory also relies upon HOW OFTEN a character appears within the art of the cards for a particular set. So, what I did was gather some data.

The data I gathered is this: how many times does a particular character show up within the art among every single card within a card set EXCEPT for the following cards: main personality cards, ally personality cards, named cards, and promotional cards. 

This is so that the numbers are not thrown off by the obvious: of course Goku is going to appear within the art of the Goku personality cards, Goku ally cards, and Goku named cards. And most promos are just doubling up on whatever was depicted in the card art before (Trunks' Sword Slash shows the "before and after" of the same scene involving Trunks and Frieza, for example).

Here's what I found:

Set 1Set 2
Master Roshi75
Ox King1
Mr. Popo3
King Kai31
Captain Ginyu6
Garlic Jr.16

Keep in mind that these numbers are not perfect due to instances where I couldn't tell which character was featured in the art, like obscure images that could be Goku/Yamcha/Raditz/Vegeta (and I haven't memorized every single scene in the Dragon Ball Z anime). I also may have miscounted slightly when counting characters in card 

Now, take a look at Nail, Raditz, Tien, and Nappa. Each of those characters were main personalities in Set 2. They were found in the art of cards in Set 1, yet, they were not present in Set 1. These four guys then went on to get their own main personality cards and named cards in Set 2. Yet, conveniently, for every single one of them, there is no other card art within the set that feature any of these characters. Pretty odd, considering they're the stars.

That is, unless there's another phenomenon going on: previewing what's going to appear in the next set. In this case, there is now card art of Garlic Jr., Spice, Vinegar, Mustard, and Salt. NONE of these characters are main personalities or allies in the Panini reboot of the game. ...that's because they're coming in Set 3.

Gohan Solo

So, assuming you also believe this card art theory to be true, too; let's run with it and analyze who might be coming in Set 3:

There were a TON of Goku cards in Set 1. Makes sense, since he's the hot stuff to focus on for the premiere set. However, in Set 2, there's SIGNIFICANTLY less Goku. Not zero Goku art, since that's hard to do when there's so much good Goku source material for certain card concepts. But enough less Goku to inform us that there will NOT be Goku in Set 3.

Running with the same reasons, Vegeta and Trunks won't be in Set 3 either. Curiously, though, Gohan has a STRONG number of times he's in the card art of Set 2. Oh, yes - because he's the hero of the story of Garlic Jr. That's great, because Gohan can fill in for either Saiyan or Namekian as a main personality in Set 3.

But let's not forget our friends who, like Garlic Jr. and the Spice Boys did, have suddenly appeared in curious fashion in numerous pieces of art in Heroes & Villains - Kami and Mr. Popo. Some of you may think, "Wait, does that mean Kami is going to be the Namekian main personality for Set 3?" Not necessarily. There's a LOT of Piccolo art in Set 2.

This also makes sense since Piccolo and Gohan were one of the main fighters during Garlic Jr. Krillin also had a hand in aiding the Z Warriors, and he's in a lot of card art.

So, it could make sense that these would be the following main personalities of Set 3:
Garlic Jr.

(For the record, I'm assuming the third set is an expansion set with four main personalities since I don't think Panini is going to have changed their usual pattern for Set 3, including, sadly, too many MP and Ally cards in an expansion set.)

But I can't say for sure whether Krillin and Piccolo are going to be main personalities. I am dead sure of Gohan because Gohan is a saiyan, and if we follow the card art theory: he is the only saiyan who has any decent number of depictions within card art. And if we must have at least one saiyan personality per set, Gohan is our saiyan MP representative.

Now, based on the card art numbers above, I can also believe if this were among the choices:
Garlic Jr.
Piccolo/Kami (Namekian)
Krillin/Chichi/Mr. Popo (Other)

Personally, I'm betting on this: Garlic Jr., Gohan, Krillin, Piccolo

On a side note, a reasonably awesome path (that I don't believe will happen) for Set 3 personalities would be:
Garlic Jr.
Vegeta (Hero)
Mr. Popo

This way, there are no "repeat characters" as Vegeta would be a hero for the first time in this set, which is backed up by the Focused Assault "Heroes only" card. I don't think he'll appear based on the card art theory in terms of numbers, but it's certainly a good direction - just not one Panini decided upon. At best, a hero Vegeta ally will appear in Set 3. Otherwise, no appearance at all. Besides, it's really confusing to also have Saiyan Grab, too; which is "villains only."

Part of my betting on Krillin being in Set 3 is because of my guesses for future sets and how there's only so much room to fit characters - including Krillin. And Krillin is so much more important in Garlic Jr. Saga than he is at other times during the series. And he appears in so much card art in Set 2. And there's Maron - that girlfriend he had.

Maron curiously shows up in a decent number of cards in Set 2. I personally think she'll be an ally personality who gives extra benefit to Krillin like the Piccolo ally did in Heroes & Villains for Gohan.

Gohan, Be My Guest

Let's talk a little bit about allies. First, here's another table:

AlliesSet 1Set 2Set 3
ChaozuGohanMr. Popo
BulmaTrunks Master Roshi
RecoomeCaptain GinyuSalt

There's going to be 10 allies in Set 3, mirroring Set 2 and Set 1. Garlic Jr.'s Spice Boys will definitely be allies.

Based on the card art theory, there's definitely going to be at least these: Kami, Mr. Popo, Maron, and Master Roshi. Bulma, Chichi, and Yamcha have all been allies before - but not villain allies. They get affected by the black water mist. So I wonder if we'll see villain ally versions of these characters. Perhaps not, and we'll see new characters instead like Yajirobe and Hero Vegeta.

Keep Calm and Gohan

Let's get back to Gohan. Gohan is a fantastic tool to use in terms of main personalities included in future sets.

He can be Saiyan or Namekian. And there's a rule I believe in when it comes to filling in the Saiyan and Namekian slots for main personalities for each set - Gohan can't be the only one filling in for both. The set Gohan appears in as a main personality, he must have at least one other Saiyan or Namekian accompanying him, whether it's Piccolo or someone like Trunks.

Gohan also grows up throughout the series and has many memorable moments or attributes to him, whether he's a kid, a Super Saiyan 2 defeating Cell, or The Great Saiyaman. Gohan has many reasons story-wise to come back many times in the game - and he's also go great gameplay set needs reasons for him to return.

I think what this comes down to is that Gohan will be in roughly 1 out of every 2 sets that is released. One possible path is that Gohan will appear in sets 1, 3, 5, 7, etc. For example, I say "roughly," because he might be in Sets 1, 3, 4, then 6, then 8.

Gohan will appear many times and fill in for Namekian as a main personality where Mr. Piccolo cannot in certain sets. And as a saiyan in the rare circumstance that all the other saiyans are not available - like Garlic Jr. Saga.

Time to Gohan

Here are a last few things:
  • This article is purely speculation
  • Only Gohan and Garlic Jr. I'm confident are going to be Main Personalities
  • "Garlic Jr. looks kinda Namekian! Maybe he is the Namekian slot?" The old DBZ TCG didn't treat him as a Namekian, and I don't think Panini will change that.
  • The card art theory is something I made up and may become unreliable as more card sets are released and Panini evolves its process
  • Here are a few references that relate this article:
While we are still a while away from revisiting the existing MPs, you’re likely to see something along the lines of a Hero Vegeta down the road. I wonder which MPs are good candidates for alternate alignments – Vegeta, Piccolo, Android 18, Buu, hmm…

The only current MPs that use Namekian Knowledge Mastery are Piccolo, Gohan, and Nail. There are other eligible candidates that might be released in future sets, and they will be more clearly defined in the rulebook.
Movie characters will indeed show up in future sets, perhaps even sooner than you think…

The potential inclusion of a subset is requested frequently, so it’s definitely something we have to consider. As far as Garlic Jr. specifically…you’ll have to wait and see!

'til next time!