What a year it has been for the Dragon Ball Super CG! Despite all the product delays brought on by Covid, we have seen an evolution within the TCG in terms of both game mechanics and artwork. In this article, we take a look back on the last 12 months and all the fantastic products that continue to keep the Dragon Ball franchise going strong, even after 35 years!
2021 kicked off with the release of the third set in the Unison Warrior series, Vicious Rejuvenation, as well as the Ultimate Towa Deck and Premium Pack Set 03. This set introduced so many cards based on the original Dragon Ball series, as well as some archetypes that were fun for a while, including King Piccolo, Lord Slug, Launch and Golden Frieza. The big chase card of this set was the ‘Supreme Kai of Time, Spacetime Unraveler’ SCR, which is still valued around the $200 mark.
It was during January that Bandai launched the Player’s Choice Campaign, letting fans choose the three reprints for the Campaign Pack. Among these was ‘SS2 Trunks, Heroic Prospect,’ which helped cut the $30 to $60 price tags seen in 2020 because of its popularity in the meta and being limited to the Tournament Pack Vol.1.Things are now going full circle, as this card appears once again in the Mythic Booster, which will be the last major set release of 2021.
February was a pretty quiet month for releases but did see the first sneak peek for the Collector’s Selection Vol. 1 and the first shiny alt arts that would fill the binder. The return of the Championships was also announced, following a long absence caused by the pandemic and the lengthy lockdowns we all had to endure. This was mostly done online but gave players the chance to test their skills again on a larger scale. It was also in February that Bandai decided to let the DBS CG and Digimon TCG join forces for a Sweepstakes, with the prize being the Digimon promo card set and the ‘Soul Striker Reborn’ / ‘SS Rosé Black’ Unison cards. We all wanted to be the lucky person chosen for this competition until we realised that everybody and their granny would receive one just for signing up! We also saw leaks from the Battle Evolution booster around this time, which resulted in Bandai telling off the community and urging fans and stores to not ‘brazenly post unannounced information’. In other words, they weren’t angry with us… just really disappointed.
March is a special month for me personally, as it was when Ludkins Media decided to branch out into the Dragon Ball Super CG and I joined the team. One of the first events I covered was the Battle Hour event that definitely didn’t last an hour! It was around 3 am in the UK, after watching Bryan Samuels from North America win the Exhibition Tournament, that I learned the news of a brand new set coming to the Dragon Ball Super CG, Supreme Rivalry.
The launch of the Battle Evolution set was hit with delays because of distribution and logistic issues in March, which unfortunately would be a theme throughout the year. The set was eventually released on March 26th and introduced the Heroine cards, with one of the main chase cards being the horizontal art ‘Heroines’ Lineage’ SCR.
April & May
April kicked off with a ban list update, which said goodbye to ‘Master Roshi, Kamehameha Origins’ and the Dragon Ball franchise enjoyed its 32nd birthday. May brought us the release of the Supreme Rivalry set with several impressive SCRs as well as some stunning card art, such as ‘SS2 Son Gohan, Astonishing Strike’ alt art and ‘Supreme Kai of Time, Time Labyrinth Unleashed’. This booster also introduced some fun new deck archetypes, such as the yellow android and blue Boujack decks. Once again, small shipping delays were seen with Supreme Rivalry, especially for GTS stores.
The Saiyan and Namekian ‘Boost’ sets followed soon after the release of Supreme Rivalry. These sets came with several useful promo cards, a cool little dice, two packs of Supreme Rivalry and a pack of the Battle Evolution Booster. This introduced a new ‘Keyword’, which bolstered and utilised Unison cards by letting them work with Battle Cards. We also got our first look at the Cross Spirits booster set, as well as the SCRs that were revealed by content creators Johku, EspiraTCG and TheEgman.
Some people buy sports cars or houses, while others are content with buying a slabbed piece of shiny cardboard for $90,000. That is precisely what happened in July, when a Beckett Black Label ‘Son Goku, The Awakened Power‘ sold for this record-breaking amount. Because of the ongoing covid restrictions, the San Diego Comic-Con was held online, which allowed fans of the Dragon Ball Super CG to roam the virtual Dragon Ball booth. Here, TCG products were put on display, including more glimpses of the Cross Spirits set and the Collector’s volume. The launch of DBS Direct, which is a monthly update video on the Official Bandai YouTube channel, was also announced at the Comic-Con.
Cross Spirits was officially released in August, which continued the focus on Unison Boost cards. The show-stealer of this set was ‘SS Son Goku & Frieza, Miraculous Conclusion’, which still holds a healthy market value of $280 on TCG Player. Unfortunately, it was the Canadian fans who felt the brunt of the delays this time, receiving their products about a week after everybody else. After months of mystery, with just a silhouette to give us a hint, the Pride of the Saiyan and Darkness Reborn starter decks were released, offering new players all the latest mechanics. We also got a heftier ban/errata list update, which some players praised for bringing some control to the meta, although there were some Janemba and Mecha Frieza players who had a few choice words.
September & October
In September, the Special Anniversary Box 2021 was released, although Europe had to wait a little longer due to distribution issues. This special set came with four variations of box art, a set of card sleeves with card art printed on them and a number of seriously cool looking reprints. The second Collector’s Edition was announced and opened up for pre-orders in September. As was the case with the first volume, there are 10 cards that were voted for by fans during the poll in June.
October was a quiet month for the TCG, although we did get a lot of reveals for Saiyan Showdown, as well as the Mythic Booster, which is a reprint set made up of previously hard to get cards. Competitive players were happy for large In-person events to return in October, with the North America Final Championships kicking things off. Although this brought back a little more normality, it wasn’t without strict Covid friendly rules, such as a mask policy and proof of vaccination or a negative Covid test.
The Saiyan Showdown booster set dropped last month, which, for the first time, includes four SCRs. Three of these cards are uniform in design, focusing on a group of Saiyans, while the last one is ‘Pan, Time Patrol Maiden’, debuting this version of her for the first time. The Vermillion Bloodlines and Rise of the Unison Warrior reprinted booster sets also hit stores in November, to the rejoice of those hoping to get their hands on the chase cards without paying the inflated prices of the out of print originals. The Final Championship took place near the end of the month, while the return of the World Championship was also announced.
And finally, we find ourselves at the end of 2021. December has been a bit of a waiting game for products, as some fans eagerly await the Mythic Booster and the Gift Collection to come in stock. Sadly, not every region will receive the latest Dragon Ball Super CG products before January 2022, with North America pulling the short straw again. The World Championship finals will be taking place between December 18th and 19th, with the qualifying matches taking place between December 11th and 12th.
I feel like there has been a nice balance to the sets this year in terms of the focus series, characters and art styles. It’s been refreshing to see Bandai dipping into their Dragon Ball Heroes pool for inspiration without going too far down the alternate universe rabbit hole. With that being said, the Android 17 in a wig, seen in the ‘Super 17, Sibling Absorbed’ card, may not be the best example of this. If I was to pick a personal highlight for the year, I think it would be seeing content creators be given the chance to do early openings and be responsible for big announcements. This showed that Bandai does care about the community and understands that keeping in tune with its audience will only keep improving the TCG and keep it going strong.
As we move into 2022, I wonder what the next big shakeup will be. Could we see double Leaders introduced that can tag in and out of battle to change up strategy? Maybe an entirely new type of support card will be added, such as equipable items? These ideas may sound a little outlandish, but who really knows where the Dragon Ball Super CG will take us in the future?
If you would like to get some Dragon Ball Super CG gift ideas, or just want to send a hint to a family member or loved one, you can read our 2021 Christmas Gift Guide here.
Mathew Parkes – Ludkins Media