Yeah, that's right. You're reading it correctly. Playing fair is playing to lose.
No, I'm not encouraging cheating.
By playing fair, I mean playing along with your opponent - doing what's expected of a Naruto deck. You have good ninjas over the entire curve, you have the best missions in your element, you have the best jutsus split over removal and negation...
And you have a deck that does nothing and loses.
This is one of the biggest mistakes I see people make. They take a bunch of good cards, put it into a deck, and everything looks good on paper - but that's not actually a deck - it's just a pile of good cards. They have no plan beyond "I'm going to play a bunch of good cards and then I guess I'll just win after all my opponent's ninjas die."
Stupid stupid stupid.
Not to bash the Florida players, but they're the best example of this flawed "good stuff" thinking. It used to be Monowater, and now it's Monofire - but at every legitimate large event a bunch of Florida players will show up with the exact same combination of solid ninjas, solid card draw, solid removal... and then fail to win the event.
They're solid players, so they top. Their decks are consistent, so they top.
But they don't win.
(Actually, they do win sometimes. Chris Starr won a large Jonin with Freedori. Lucien Lemelin won a large Jonin with Five-Pronged Seal. This fits in perfectly with my point.)
Look at the Sannin winning decks - Freedori, Dogs, and Greedy.dec. All three decks are capable of making explosive, game-changing plays. They are proactive decks. They make the plays, and force the opponent to respond or lose. Whether it's Chidori and Inherit, or Kakashi ANBU Days or Puppet Overload, these decks can do something special that the fair decks simply can't do. They dictate the terms of the game.
Look at the decks that lose in the elimination rounds - boring Monofire/Monowater, 9K and boring Fire, and more 9K and boring Fire. What's the commonalities with these decks? They're all fair decks. They have no explosiveness short of a removal-heavy draw. They allow the opponent to play the game, and then react to what the opponent does. They play the game on the opponent's terms.
Remember the reign of 9000? When the vast majority of the Naruto world claimed that Gaara was busted beyond belief and a staunch few downplayed it? Gaara was in fact busted beyond belief... if you subscribed to the school of thought that only played fair decks. Because in a battle between fair decks, 9K would always come out on top. It had such a superior card advantage engine (both quantitatively and qualitatively) relative to other fair decks there was no way it could lose.
Naturally, the deck won the Mist Kage in Florida. This was entirely expected given Florida's propensity for fair decks. It took the weaker Sand and Stone Kages... that too, could be expected. In a weak field, consistency and playskill is usually enough to win.
But despite its gaudy early results, the reality was that it was a fair deck, with all the weaknesses of fair decks. In the Cloud Kage, Bruce Jivens decided he was going to force 9K to play the game without Gaara by using free BR missions and Caged Bird. Bruce dictated the field of battle. Gaara couldn't respond.
In the Leaf Kage, I decided I was going to go faster than 9K by demolishing its early game with Hybrid NVS. Let me get BRs? NVS was going to finish it before Gaara could become relevant. Try to defend? I can OV your teams as early as turn 1, and am much better equipped to fight in the early and mid game. Again: I forced 9K to play the game on my terms. 9K could not compete on those terms.
At Sannins, Jerry decided he was going to make more ninjas than Gaara could remove, and hamstring 9K's ability to fight back by abusing that swarm with TN/playing jutsus that Gigantic Fan couldn't hit. Jerry forced 9K to try to answer a threat it couldn't answer - and yet again the fair deck just could not compete.
"There are no wrong threats. There are only wrong answers."
You'll hear me repeat that phrase time and time again - it's because it's the perfect metaphor for the thinking that allows skilled players to take advantage of fair decks.
When you play a fair deck, understand this: you are dramatically limiting your upside. Your deck might have more consistent draws and be better against bad decks... but your best draw will never be able to consistently beat the best draw of an unfair deck. Your mediocre draw is still going to go 50/50 against other mediocre draws, and your bad draws won't beat anything.
When you play an unfair deck, you get that small boost in expected value - and in the long run, that usually means the difference between complete victory and second place.
(Note: I'm going to expand more on this. Too tired right now.)
Today James Takenaka posted up the set information for the 17th expansion of the NarutoCCG, "Will of Fire"! From the set information (and the pictures) we will for sure be getting Hidan, Kakuzu, as well as a number of other cool cards people have been waiting for, like Wind Style: Rasen Shuriken! Link to this information:
It's monday morning and I figured that I would just post up some random feelings/thoughts I have about this new blog/the upcoming format/random previews/whatever.
So, today "The Perfect Curve" is officially a week old. Just to give you guys a bit of insight into the conception of this blog, "The Perfect Curve" was originally intended to be a website similar to Yugioh's Metagame.com (Though we hadn't decided on a name for the site at that point). Pat and I wanted some place where we could post up tournament results, deck building tips, comics, and even videos from events, but it seemed like we were in over our heads as neither of us had the resources to set up, host and maintain our own website.
After some time Pat came to me with the idea of doing a blog instead of my original idea, as it would be easier to set up, maintain, and happened to be more cost effective (Free > costing $). At first I was reluctant to agree, but I was soon on board with the idea because after all, we have to start somewhere. It took lees than a week to set up the blog with our custom layout, and while I helped picking out most of the designs we used, Pat pretty much did all the actual work. Once the site was done all we needed to do was find ourselves some cool signatures and a week later here we are.
As it so happens, this weekend was also the release of "Broken Promises" the 16th set of the Naruto CCG. While I was unable to get any shiny new cards, many players spent saturday cracking packs trying to grab hold of powerful super rare cards like "Kakashi Hatake (Boyhood)" and "Fear by Genjutsu". With the new set landing and tournament season coming up Pat, Josh, and I now need to actually get on the ball and start testing out decks. While I can't give out any lists (Trust me, you don't want them anyway) we are strongly considering Fire/Wind, Fire/Earth, and Wind/Earth. Pretty much all we've done is eliminate both Lightning and Water as elements we would want to play.
Lightning itself pretty much fell apart with the introduction of block format, and even though it received some really strong cards in the new set, nothing looks strong enough to push lightning back to the top of the tier list. Water is somewhat a different story, because for starters I think it's safe to assume "Ten Thousand snake waves" is going to get hit by the list, pretty much leaving us with only Jonin Water to work with. As fun as that deck is, it still plays too "fair" in comparison with the other decks we are looking at, and while "fair" is good, "unfair" decks usually leads to the top 8 of major tournaments. Our testing is only just starting, so for all I know we might find a Lightning/X or Water/X deck that beats out the rest of the other decks of the format, but as of now, everything we want to play is in one of the other 3 elements, so I would suggest you guys also start there.
Because we were pressed for time and had a lot of ruling discussions on the final episode of the podcast I really didn't get to talk as much as I wanted to about the three new tin cards. First up, "Rescue the 5th Kazekage" has to be my favorite of the trio, hands down. While it isn't good right now, post Gencon we suddenly lose Temari WS and Kankuro (well, not exactly kankuro, but you get my point) giving decks the chance to run cards that require leaf ninja, without sacrificing powerful cards in the process. What I like about this card does is that it sits on the table and forces your opponent to play the first Jutsu, as it gives you a boost and protects your Ninjas from any Ninja effects that would sway the decision of the battle ("Itachi- Goal" and "Deidara- Plastic Arts" are two that come to mind), limiting your opponents options for winning the battle to just playing a Jutsu, which you (Hopefully) have prepared for.
"Cursed Eyes" seems to either be ridiculous, or awful and without actual testing I really wont know. The ability to get a Jutsu for virtually no cost late game is very strong, but both the timing and the requirement are what make the card iffy in my book, and will probably be what holds this card back if it never makes it to the big time. The last card, "Fierce Ambition" is by far the worst one. While it's draw and Psuedo-Early settlement effect are cool, there just aren't enough Akatsuki Ninjas worth playing in the same deck to make this card good. It was a nice try on Bandai's part, but it just isn't strong enough in constructed play, though I do plan on throwing it in to my EDH decks with Akatsuki Generals and trying it there.
The last thing I want to talk about is the possibility of "The perfect Curve" hosting an EDH tournament at Gencon. I haven't really looked into it, but I was thinking it would be a good idea to both promote the site, and the format. Obviously this is all up in the air, but I would want to do something along the lines of Chunin level prizing, along with some other stuff if I could. I still need to find out what I would need to do to hold an event (Maybe barn Tables off Bandai on thursday or something?) but it's something to think about. Those of you who plan on going to Gencon this year, and would be interested in playing in this type of event let me know in the comments bellow.
Morning, ladies and gents... time for another edition of "Play to Win," the Naruto CCG column that tells you why you're a loser. And laughs at you for it.
So, for those of you who haven't listened in to the newest episode of the Naruto CCG podcast, we decided that that would be our last show. I want to thank those of you who have supported us since the beginning, those of you who just tuned in on occasion, those of you who participated as guests on the show during these 2 years. All of you helped make the show what it was.
To check out the final episode of the podcast follow this link: http://www.bandaicg.com/naruto/showthread.php?p=1073779#post1073779
So I noticed a comment on my last post about my bad draw misadventures with Circus:
"that's why i don't like rush decks
It depends on what your opening hand is plus top decking twice as much as a regular deck"
That's one of the most common misconceptions about aggro. Let's break down the comment.
"It depends on what your opening hand is"
That is definitely the case for any deck - but in actuality, there is less of a probability of aggro getting a bad hand (since the curve distribution is skewed towards the low drops).
"plus top decking twice as much as a regular deck"
Ah but there's a flaw in assuming that topdecking is bad - assuming that topdecking means you've exhausted your hand, that should mean you're winning!
In Animals, topdecking usually means you've dumped a bunch of ninjas onto the board. In a deck like Hybrid NVS or Earth Tempo, that means you've hit them with some jutsus or Bashfulness in Earth's case. In traditional Tempo, that means you've played some free BR missions.
In all those cases, it means your opponent is under pressure and in a bad spot. In this case, your topdecking might actually be a superior situation to your opponent's full hand. You just have to draw something to blow the game open (I trust you ARE playing those... right? Shion, Baki, NVS, etc.). Your opponent, on the other hand, is forced to draw enough answers to the situation to answer the threat your deck is presenting - and then after that, they still have to actually win the game!
I've actually theorized a bunch of reasons why I prefer aggro decks... here's the whole list, conveniently typed in cliche form.
1. "You play to win the game!" - I would much rather prefer to force my opponent to interact with MY strategy rather than try to interact successfully with my opponent's strategy. The reason for that is...
2. "There are no wrong threats. There are only wrong answers." - When you play a deck predicated on reacting to the opponent's strategy, there are times when you'll be unable to answer your opponent's threats (whether due to not having the right answer or simply being unprepared for something you didn't see coming). I'd rather be on the side with the threats than the answers.
3. "My favorite combo is a ninja and Shadow Clone Jutsu." - There's an elegant simplicity that comes with savagely beating your opponent upside the head while they're trying to develop a board. Either they block and you blow them out, or they don't block and you take enough BRs to set up your kill shot.
4. "Better lucky than good." - If your opponent misses a drop, you will demolish them with an aggressive deck. And if you are more skilled than your opponent, forcing as many decisions on them as possible leaves them open to making more misplays. With an aggro deck, if they make the wrong call... they lose. Simple as that.
5. "Time is money." - Aggro (and swarm in particular) decks are ridiculously favored when going to time. Furthermore, playing a fast deck lets you get more downtime in between rounds to rest up.
6. "A bird in hand..." - Most decks are unprepared to face against a swarm or tempo strategy game 1 - rather, they rely on sideboarded cards to shore up the matchups in games 2 and 3. Here's the kicker though: they won't always draw those sideboarded cards, or you might be able to win through them (I won through Buying Time, Crying in Vain, and 2 Secret Meeting in one game at the Chunin). Furthermore, your opponent is no longer playing the optimal version of their deck. As an aggro player, provided you can win game 1, you only have to win 50% of the next 2 games. And if it goes to game 3, you know what hate they've brought in! You can do that, can't you?
And it just might be that aggro is easier to play and requires less testing. I am rather lazy, after all.
And a quick overview of the weaknesses of aggro, since it's not all rainbows and unicorns in Magical Christmasland.
1. "I'm Spartacus!" - Most decks will play most of the same early game ninjas (aggro just plays more of them). That means if your opponent hits their curve going first, you are going to need something extra to push for those first few BRs.
2. "Always a flaw in every plan." - When you don't get those early BRs, it becomes much, much harder to win with aggro. Your opponent's card quality is simply better than yours, and the longer the game goes on, the more those incremental differences add up.
3. "Circle of Protection: Red" - Every round against a competent player, you will see hate. Everyone good will have a sideboard against aggro. However, this will be true unless you play something completely out there. (Can't hate out Ninjaless Mill!)
4. Shino - yeah, that guy's a douche.
Like many of you out there I build decks on a whim. Whenever I see a new interesting preview or when a friend talks about a card that has worked well for him, you can bet I'll be at my computer typing card names and number on a new word pad ASAP. Unfortunately around 75-80% of these decks never see the light of day for one reason or another, usually because they aren't up to snuff, or because I've found a new interesting card I want to build with more. Now that I have this new shiny blog, I plan to chronicle some of my deck building endeavors for you guys to read.
Today I've been working on a deck for an upcoming EDH game with Tsu and Shino's Dad. For those of you who don't know what EDH is, you can find out by going to Bandai and checking out the Casual Format section of the site. For those of you who know what it is and haven't tried it, you don't know what you're missing. Anyway, I'm going to be building a deck around a platoon I really like, Sasori & 3rd Kazekage. As a General/Village Leader Sasori/Kazekage has a lot of appeal in the form of good stats and characteristics, relevant names and combat attributes, and a powerful effect. Despite the appealing aspects to the platoon, it has one huge drawback: it only has one element symbol. Having only one symbol effectively cut's my card pool in half, but despite this I still plan to go ahead and build this deck (hopefully with a bit of help from you guys). So lets get started!
It's safe to assume that since i'm playing a manipulation combat attribute general I'm going to use the puppet strategy in this deck, so right off the bat we can throw in these cards:
Sasori (Childhood)- Remarkable Talent
Chiyo- Retired Master
Black Ant- Lifeless Warrior
Crow- Lifeless Warrior
Salamander- Lifeless Warrior
Father and Mother- Lifeless warrior
Sasori of the Red Sand
Seeing as these cards are the foundation of the Puppet theme, not including them would probably be a crime. Also, while Sasori (Childhood) does have our General's Name, he is on such an early turn, and has such a powerful effect that including him will help more than it would hurt. Now that we put these cards in we can also add in some of the other commonly played cards in wind decks that aren't puppet devoted, like these cards:
Shino- Insect Warriors
Sakura- A Double Personality
Temari- Wind Scythe
Temari- Violent Temper
Toki- Frozen Time
Gaara- Tragic Name
Baki- Able Brain
Shizune- Medical Kunoichi
The 4th Kazekage- Dignity
The Fifth Hokage- Establishment of Medicine
Windstyle: Great Breakthrough
Village Hidden in the Wind
Luckily the Sand Village theme happens to tie into the Puppets theme, allowing me to make full use out of cards like Village hidden in the wind, Matsuri, and Mikoshi. With that we already have about 30 cards for the deck, and that was only the easy part. The next part is reanalyzing the current card pool. It's a long and tedious task where I re-look at every card from the beginning of the game to find cards that aren't completely terrible. Luckily, with the new card search engine this process is much easier, as I can search for cards only in my colors (Or in this case, color) and I can also search for specific keywords to find cards the support themes in my deck. Another thing I can do is search out cards that specifically refer to the Ninjas on my General/Village leader. This lets us find those random Nome cards that have really strong effects, but are too situational for competitive play.
So after searching Wind + Puppet/Manipulation/Sasori/3rd Kazekage/Iron and re-evaluating the search results, I've come up with these cards to add to the deck:
Kankuro- Skillful Manipulation of Puppets
Chiyo- Rich Experience
Secret White Move: Chikamatsu's Ten Puppets
Continuous Firing Poison Needles
Thousand Arm Manipulation
Secret Red move: Performance of a Hundred Puppets
Sealing Jutsu: Breaking the Lion's Roar
Sasori and 3rd Kazekage had some pretty sick user specific cards like Flame thrower, Continuous poison Needles, and Thousand Arm Manipulation which give my deck the explosive field warping power it needs to overcome its lack of a second element. After grabbing the theme specific stuff, I went more broad and looked for specific entrance costs for Ninjas, specific keywords like "Draw" and "Search" for missions, and words like "Negate", "Return", "Discard", and "Damage" on jutsus. After a few searches I was able to come up with these:
Tonton- Adorable Pet
Mizura- Affected Body
Sakura- I Can Do It
Moegi- Rookie of the Leaf
Temari- Analytical Mind
Yashamaru- Sister's Memento
Ebisu- Repeated Defeat
Kusuna- The Quartet
Gaara (Possessed Mode)- Insanity
Baki- Clean up
5th Kazekage- Reliance
Tsunade- Expert of Medical Ninjutsu
Shukaku- Formidable Monster
Wind Scythe (Coils)
Wind Scythe (ANC)
Control by Fear
Selecting the Strongest
Notice some of the synergy these cards have with my deck's General/Village Leader, like Inauguration, Successive Kazekage, and Selecting the strongest. I'm finally Left with exactly 75 cards. This is where I pretty much just grab five filler ninja to throw in the deck. So I can play with Tsu and Shino's Dad.
I hoped you enjoyed reading about my EDH deck building process. For those of you who aren't interested in EDH, or weren't feeling this blog post because it lacked that competitive feel, I plan to do both Block and Unlimited decks in future posts, so keep your eyes posted. As always, comments on todays content is appreciated, as it lets us know what YOU like so we can give YOU more of it. Until next time.
For our first bit of content I thought I would throw out a comic I made.
Maybe now some of you will complain a bit less about minor details, just saying. Many thanks to Shino's Dad for making the card image!
If you liked, loved, hated, or felt there was something missing from todays blog, let us know in the comments below!
So after some time of thinking about it and talking about it and not actually doing anything about it... Andrew, Josh, and I (Pat) decided we'd make a blog. About Naruto. The CCG.
Our hope is that we'll update this place daily with something that you, the community, can enjoy. Whether it be deck lists, play test results, comics, metagame analysis, round by round updates from high level tournaments, or even our rants and frustrations about the game... it'll all be here. Chronicled for your enjoyment.
We'll keep this going as long as the community wants or until the three of us tear each others throats out. Whichever comes first.
Comments are welcome. Starting flame wars are not. And feel free to oogle the wonderful layout I so painstakingly made for you all.
And with that...
LET'S BEGIN DE GOZAIMASU~! OH HO HO HO!