Sunday, February 28, 2010
Super Draftable Set is Draftable
So yesterday was ATF's release event for "Broken Promise" and the format was draft as opposed to the usual sealed that we normally do for an event. So I get to the place and greet everyone and pay my entry fee. While I'm waiting for our tournament to start, I decided to spectate Yugioh.

I'm just watching as Jude is playing Gadget Oppression against some guy with BlackWings. Jude has 1 trap set, Royal Oppression, 2 monsters in play, and 1 of them is Gale. He has like 4000 life. The guy has 1 trap set and Black Whirlwind. He plays Sirroco, tutors Bora, and special summons it. The guy has like 700 life. Obviously Jude negates it and the guy face palms. So he pumps Sirroco with his effect and attacks Gale. Jude dimensional prisons. I see him flip up his traps to see if he has anything and he has an Icarus Attack set and Jude has like 1 card in hand. The guy looks at the Icarus Attack, looks at Jude, and then says "Nah I got nothing." Passes his turn and proceeds to lose. Afterward, this kid is like "Lettme see your deck. Maybe I can fix it." At this point I piped in from the sidelines with "The deck doesn't need fixing." Everyone looks at me. "He had Icarus Attack set the whole time." The guy stops making deck suggestions and everyone just looks at him like he's an idiot.

I walked away at this point ready to go draft.

5 Packs. That's what we were given to draft. I'll just give you some of my picks that I remember.

Pack 1: I was really surprised opening the pack to see that almost every single card in the pack was a Ninja. I knew I was in for a good tournament if all the packs were as such. Pack 1 didn't have a super rare much to my disappointment and I saw a Rampageous Pig which I almost took until I saw the last card. I remember listening to Shino's Dad about his release event and he said the guy who won, he won single-handedly because of one card: Jiraiya (Childhood) Having a 5/2 4/0 in limited is good. Having a guy who gets bigger every time I chump is even better. I knew as long as I could get some decent Fire support I'd be set. Low and behold, someone passes me Teacher Kakashi on the second pass which was great. And the last card I get stuck with for the round was Trump Card.

Pack 2: So I opened my second pack to see another Jiraiya (Childhood) staring at me. Obviously I'm going to take it. Dave apparently gets upset next to me and I can't see why. He's taking a long time for his picks. Surely he must be passing me something good cause he looks pained. And sure enough I'm right. I get passed Sharingan Kunai... Looks like I'm all on board for Fire now. Get last picked that Anko & Orochimaru Platoon but not before I give my last pick to Rob, the guy who gave me my last card in the last round: Trump Card.

Pack 3: Determination of Men. Yeah. Let's keep that Fire bandwagon going. My only regret from taking Determination of Men was I passed Jin Kisaragi to take it (Turn 4, 5/4, 0/0 for Water). I figured that Jin Kisaragi was a better card to take in limited cause 4 support and a wall would clinch a lot of matches in this format but taking the money was better. Why not take a $10 card? That's half the cost of the draft. I get passed some of the Lightning commons in the set as well as a White Fang's Blade which will prove useful later on. At this point I start going for Chakra Scalpels as everyone keeps passing them. Chakra Scalpel turned out to be a bomb in this set for drafting... see everyone dismissed it as a bad card cause it would never see play in constructed but a 2 generic jutsu for an injure is amazing in this type of format. Last card was some counter mission with Sakura on it smiling. "It's a cute picture" I thought. "... but the card is terrible. I just hope I don't get stuck with more of these."

Pack 4: Taking that Foil Natsuhi for the lightning late game cause at this point I have a lightning ninja for every drop, including 2 Hotorubi and 2 Jiraiya Childhood. I continue to get Chakra Scalpel and even a foil Iron Tager (3 Drop Water, 5/2, 1/1). Last card? Surprise! Another Cute Sakura Mission.

Pack 5: Absolute crap in this pack. Just picked strategic drops that I needed like Kiba to help out my lower curve. I was expecting to get this one card passed around to me at the end based purely on the Oro & Anko situation... and it pays off! Kakashi Hatake & Pakkun! Let's roll!

Match 1 was against Dave (Heldigunner1)
He has a lot of early game but he has no late game to speak of it seems. I beat him quickly with Jiraiya Game 1. Determination of Men game 2 give me growth coins on my Naruto Intensity, Jiraiya, and Turn 2 Anbu guy to give me a win in the following turn or two. Afterwards Dave tells me that he only has 16 Ninja in a 30 card deck. I tell him it kinda sucks but then he shows me a Black and Gold Obito, a Kakashi (Boyhood), and a Release of Fury from his sideboard. Dave's gonna get last and still walk away with more money than all of us. Bastard!

Match 2 against Rob
Rob is probably the best player at the store next to myself. His plays aren't amazingly tight all the time but sometimes they're incredibly tight, like this match where I was struggling to find any openings to press at all in this limited format. In the end of the match though, something didn't add up. I went first on our last game and even though I hit my 0 drop, I missed my 1....but the rest of my hand from there on out is a perfect curve. He curves perfectly, including hitting the free drop Anbu. Then he drops a turn 5 after my turn 4 ends. I ask him "Why'd you drop a turn 5?" He says "It's my turn 5. You missed two drops." I explain I missed only 1. We go back and replay the game by numbers and his math matches up...but so does mine. I have 4 ninja in play at the end of my turn 4. He has 7 if you include the 5 drop he just played. We both sit there looking at the board for a while neither one of us can figure out what I know Rob doesn't cheat and I was willing to just give him the benefit of the doubt and I accepted that perhaps I was the one who forgot to play a Ninja in my haste. It's better to just take a friendly loss then to start accusing my good boy of being a cheater. There's always next time.

Match 3 was against Eddie (Hatake Kakashi)
His deck seems really slow off the bat. I start crushing him in the early game and just pressing for BRs in game 1 and he just has no chance to recoup. Game 2, things start looking up for him as he hits this "Fellow" mission which gives all his guys growth coins. He has a huge 14 or 15 power team at this point with Sasuke as his head ninja (who is like 8 combat thanks in part to his other Student cards and other effects). But that's when I saw an out. White Fang's Blade. And I was only 2 BRs away from winning and I had like 7 ninja in play and he only had 5. I started to swing out with 3 teams of 1 ninja each knowing full well that I was going to take out his two side guys and let one get OV'd causing a split. I wouldn't have a team strong enough to beat Sasuke backed by Sakura but I could keep pushing through until I won out. Well my plan didn't go exactly as planned as he starts to rebound. Then I hit Jiraiya Childhood and start to gain back my momentum. And then a lucky Hotarubi gives me growth coins on my Naruto and Jiraiya and such. I get back a lightning chakra on the deploy of that turn to net me 6 Chakra and things are starting to look grim until I decide to give 2 Brs to put me up to full count I believe. Then I top deck Sharingan Kunai. And I look at my Kakashi & Pakkun platoon and I say "Let's DO THIS!!!!"

Attack out. He blocks. I Sharingan Kunai. He sees my 3 other chakra to play it again. He scoops.

Prize packs were awful. For everyone. No good supers I needed. No Tobi. Not even a foil Sakura!!! I expressed how much I wanted a Tobi and a foil Sakura for my collection just as I go to open my last pack. Got a Tobi staring back at me which was great! And behind him was a foil Sakura Haruno (Student). YESSSSS! Getting all pumped up over worthless cards that I love!

So that's the release, hopefully all of you guys had fun at yours. And if anyone out there has extra Tobi they want to hook me up with let me know!!! I need them. Serious face is on. :|

-Tsu post signature

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Saturday, February 27, 2010
Play to Win: Playing Fair is for Losers

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.

-Josh post signature

(Note: I'm going to expand more on this. Too tired right now.)

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Thursday, February 25, 2010
Set 17 Will of Fire Info and Pics are up!

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:

-Andrew post signature

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Wednesday, February 24, 2010
EDH Format - Basic Rules
So I thought this would be helpful to some of you and probably get more people playing this format... basic rules for EDH!

-Tsu post signature

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Monday, February 22, 2010
Random Zero Blurbs (2/22/10)

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 (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.

-Andrew post signature

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Sunday, February 21, 2010
Things Tsu Thinks (2/21/10)
So it's Sunday morning and I seem to have woken up later than usual (around 10:30 AM). I'm sitting here enjoying my morning listening to the Official Naruto CCG podcast's last episode. For those of you who have not check it out, you can find it here:

Even if you didn't like the podcast, you have to give these guys a hand. They went out of there way to bring something great to the community every week or so. Think of all the great things they've done and brought you. Previews like Fear by Genjutsu, letting you know about great new mechanics like Surge and Mastery, the contests, or just the general craziness and fun that came from listening to the show. I still say you jumped the gun a little bit Andrew and shouldn't have gone off the air but I can't force your decision. But I hope I'm not alone in saying that we want you back on the air! There's no reason you should have to quit and be done!

And that's all I'm going to say about that. So while I continue to listen to the rest of the episode I'm just gonna fire off somethings on my brain.

First off, Tsu is mad. Tsu is very mad. No release tournament yesterday. Why? Our store didn't receive our shipment of cards in yet so that's that. So I spent most of the day hanging out with Ultra Pro Yugimonz Player Arthur Pisko as he completely wrecked everyone with his deck taking first at the YGO local (Which keep in mind our YGO local at ATF is like 60 person turnout every week). Watching him was actually helpful cause I noticed a lot of things that I could incorporate into my own style, specifically that poker face of his. He almost never gives away when he's in a bad position even though he clearly has no outs...and he's just amazing and bluffing and turning it back onto the other guy whether he realizes it or not. Good stuff. (The Release is this upcoming Saturday at All Things Fun for anyone who wishes to come)

Speaking of good game play practices and the like, I thoroughly enjoyed Gary's (VSA) article that was posted up on Shino's Dads forums. You can find the link under Bandai's Naruto CCG General discussion. It's a good read and hopefully many of you guys take a lot of stuff away from it.

My stuff is still missing. Josh still has my stuff I lent him for the most recent event so I can't really start laying out the foundation of what I want to play in a couple of weeks for Set 16. Wahoo! That, plus the other cards that I'm expecting in the mail sometime soon, have prevented me from building an EDH deck for "The Gauntlet" between Andrew and Nick sometime very soon (Be sure to check back because the entire match will be recorded and uploaded!)

A big thank you guys once again for making "Teach Me Professor Tsu Kiyo Me!" go 100% Yes and 0% No votes for the second straight week in a row! I appreciate it a bunch and I'll try my hardest to keep giving you guys good articles every week. After 4 years of college and a ton of English and Psychology courses, all those writing skills finally pay off! To be honest, I wanted to be an English major going into college because I thoroughly enjoy writing and I'm completely enamored with it, mostly cause I enjoy the internal thought process, other peoples opinions, and how they arrive at those thoughts/opinions. I however, did not go to school for English, instead opting for Computer Science because of my second passion, technology. To make up for the lack of brain picking, I minored in Psychology.

Naruto Card Trading is brutal at the moment. I have a slew of stuff I'm trying to trade and everyone is basically asking me to rip myself for anything new, regardless of how good it is. I was offered like 3 or 4 rares from Set 16 and a Leaf Hospital for a Nara mat yesterday. Online trading is probably even worse as people just "CML" from here until infinity without ever having anything from my wants. I'm a competitive player people, I don't need collection wants!!!

And now wrapping this up I have a wonderful announcement for you all in the North East area: ATF CHUNIN! All Things Fun has announced that there Chunin will be held in there store on one of the following dates: 3/13 or 3/20. 3/14 and 3/21 are the alternates in case they can't find room amongst the YGO players that day. I'll have an exact date for you guys later on this week but I thought I'd give you all a heads up. Set 16 "Broken Promise" is legal for this event and as more of an incentive for you guys to show up, the prizing will either be "Broken Promise" or "Foretold Prophecy." As we say in the fighting game community "GET HYPE"

-Tsu post signature

P.S. The Third Hokage N-749 is now referred to as "Hugh Hefner"

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Saturday, February 20, 2010
Play to Win: Being Mike Alpers

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.




It's ok, we can't all be Mike Alpers. But even Mike Alpers needs help with Naruto sometimes!

(Quick note: I expect, Naruto CCG-wise, that many of you are in the same situation as Mike is in. Very talented, good experience with the game, instinctual grasp of what mistakes are being made, will make the right play most of the time - but just needs that small push to get into the "lower-tier pro/will top events more often than not" range. That's what the real purpose of this column is - to help you tighten up your game to make sure you'll be playing on Sunday.)

So let's take a look at that Chunin I posted about earlier this week. We'll try and find the details in our hero's inglorious defeat that will help us improve ourselves. I've separated out 5 mistakes that I think deserve attention, so let's go over those:

Mistake #1: Fixation in Deck Construction

For this event, I had decided that Bashfulness was one of the better cards in the game to fight against the expected Fire and Water-heavy metagame. For initial preparation, we just threw it into every deck imaginable, including updated Greedy.dec (the Sannin-winning deck with A New Squad). Mike had decided he wanted to play that deck, and we played for a few hours testing that deck against various others.

The first thing I noticed was that the deck wasn't performing as smoothly as it had at Sannins for some reason. The reason for this was that the deck had originally been built to minimize dead draws - a lot of the times the deck would be stuck with Bashfulness in hand with no Earth to use it. Of course, the deck could still win even with the dead card due to the raw power of Puppets, but this relied more on the opponent drawing dead than anything else. Whereas if Bashfulness had been a combination of Arbitration and Misunderstanding as originally planned, this would allow Mike to turn those close games into absolute blowouts - even if the opponent did topdeck relevant cards, the game state was so far gone by that point that a comeback was highly improbable.

Furthermore, by not playing Bashfulness, a lot of the underperforming Earth cards could be cut. This would allow the deck to be a lot more consistent in general.

But when it came to tournament time, Alpers decided he was going to roll with the Bashfulnesses anyways. He told me, "I spent good money on those cards and I'm not going to let it go to waste."

Lesson #1: Ignore sunk costs. It doesn't matter how much you spent on your SRs. If they're not the right card for the situation, don't go to battle with them. Always play the best deck for the situation, not the one that optimizes how much money you spent preparing.

Mistake #1.5: I was partly responsible for Mike making this decision. At one point I was actively concerned about "wasting the playtesting we had already done with the deck," and I figure Mike caught onto that. That is essentially the same mistake that Mike made! Time/money/energy are all sunk costs - and sunk costs do not change your probability of winning the game. No matter how much time you put into testing a deck, if it's terrible it will still be terrible.

Mistake #2: Confirmation Bias in Deck Construction

Confirmation bias is one of the most common problems I see in preparing for events. Naturally, players fixate upon certain combos and cards they really like. That's fine - of course there's no problem with liking those things. The problem comes when that feeling starts influencing your deck decision to an inordinate level.

Confirmation bias is when players fixate on playtesting results that agree with their viewpoint and dismiss results that don't agree with their viewpoint. In Mike's case, it was the Naruto/Hinata squad. Greedy.dec could consistently get the squad out - but it usually required LAR or Substitute to do so. The problem was that Greedy.dec was definitely not a particularly fast deck, and rarely could capitalize extensively on the pressure provided by the squad. I told Mike this, but I could already tell that he was thinking back to the few blowouts in testing that the squad had occurred and not the 75% of the time it hadn't really brought him closer to winning the game.

Lesson #2: Take playtesting objectively. Understand when a card isn't getting the job done, no matter how much you like it. Your end goal is to win the game - if a card or combo you like isn't bringing you closer to that goal, put it on the chopping block.

Lesson #2.5: Swallow your pride. As my teammates will readily attest to, I was suffering from mistake #2 (and somewhat #1) early in the process. I had convinced myself through confirmation bias that Bashfulness and Naruto/Hinata was unbeatable - but failed to recognize that it screwed so badly with the consistency of Greedy.dec as to be unplayable in that deck. Eventually I managed to figure out (mainly through watching Mike play) that I was making the loser choice, and last-minute audibled to something that had solid testing backing behind it.

Mistake #3: Misassignment of Role in Game Play

An intro to this subject: "Who's the Beatdown?, by Mike Flores"

Beyond random piddling mistakes, the biggest mistake I saw in Mike's games that day was how he played the deck. Unless the opponent gets a horrible draw, Greedy.dec is never going to be the aggressor. Instead, you just hit your drops, remove a few of your opponent's key ninjas at opportune times, and then slowly turn that bad position into an unwinnable position with huge teams. It is very much a control deck.

However, Mike played the deck like an aggro deck. He'd use up his hand Substituting and LARing for Naruto/Hinata or Shika U, while splitting up teams and trying to steal BRs at the cost of injury or taking BR hits on the backswing. Essentially, he was trying to force an aggressive game plan when nothing was there. His opponent would ward it off, stabilize, and then play out the jutsus they had been holding while Mike would be left with nothing in hand and no plays for the late game.

Lesson #3: Misassignment of role = game loss

If Mike had just been patient in his control role, spent his Subs/LARs on getting Shino/Kiba or fat ninjas, and spent his removal on ninjas that could use jutsus (although this point is sort of moot since Bashfulness got boarded out nearly every game after he realized he didn't have enough Earth to use it)... he definitely would have gotten that last win he needed to top at some point during the day.

Mistake #4: Lack of playtesting

This couldn't really be helped. We are all incredibly lazy. But those piddling mistakes I mentioned that Mike made (and I was making all day)? Those could have been fixed if we had just playtested enough.

Lesson #4: Don't be lazy. If it really matters to you, playtest!

Mistake #5: Lack of sleep

Mike didn't sleep the night before, then had to drive the two hours to get to the Chunin site. That is not a good way to start the day off.

Lesson #5: Get a good night's sleep. If you're nervous - remember, it's just a card game. And no one expects you to do well anyways. ;)


Despite all this, Mike was one win away from making top cut at a Chunin featuring some high-caliber players. I feel as if you, dear readers, are at this level of skill as well. You have all the tools - you just have to put them together through 5-8 rounds to get into that top cut.

In that case, here's one of the most important takeaways from this article for you:

Josh Lu's #1 Rule of Naruto: Don't beat yourself.

You are good enough to beat at least 90% of the Naruto players out there - but not if you screw yourself over before you even start.

Until next time,

-Josh Lu post signature

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All great things must come to an end...

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:

-Andrew post signature

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Thursday, February 18, 2010
Mentally Creating Cards aka Spending Way Too Much Time on Naruto
I dunno about you guys, but a lot of times when I'm bored I like to think about what the Naruto CCG would be like if it was just a game engine like VS was... you know... they just have the same basic rules and just keep licensing lots of properties to make into cards. What would the game be like if say... we had a set based around Marvel's Spider-Man. Or Iron-Man. Maybe video games like The Legend of Zelda or Mario.

I mean, I did it before in PlayTCG where I made up a fictional set of cards for the Saiyan Saga from Dragon Ball and lo' and behold like a year later, Dragon Ball comes out of no where, making me giddy with fanboy glee. But my only disappointment was that I couldn't play Dragon Ball cards with Naruto cards... I couldn't act out epic battles of Blond hair versus Blonder Hair. Super overly powered main character versus even more super overly powered main character. Pointless character versus equally useless character. Then the cross over rules came out and all was fine and well except it wasn't a fair fight. Naruto just mopped the floor with Dragon Ball much to my surprise. And with each iteration of the cross over list, one side was clearly better than the other. But enough of all that, I'm getting side tracked.

I love just creating cards in my spare time. I don't actually post up images on the Create-A-Card thread (When I get a better computer that doesn't crash all the time when using Photoshop, this might change) but that doesn't mean I can't enjoy making them. I guess it is kind of a symbol of fandom. Or love. Or something mushy like that.

Anyways, here's a fun little card that I made put together by that guy that always assists in making the card images, Shino's Dad. As some of you may know, I'm a big fan of fighting games and I've always wanted to have a "GOOD" CCG where my favorite fighting game characters could duke it. But for now, I'll just settle with my favorite anime characters... But anyways, onto the card!

It'd be fun to make a BlazBlue fan set for the Create-A-Card section but due to the lack of characters in the game (all like...14 of them), getting any sort of full set out of them would be next to impossible. Still, it's nice to dream.

As I said though, I just have too much time on my hands.

But as for you, the community, I want to know what kind of cards you've come up with when you were bored. They don't have to be pictures, text is fine. Just post them in the comments below to confirm that I'm not the only maniac who does this. Maybe as a prize for the best card posted, I'll make (or get made) the winning card and post it up right here on this Blog.

Also, be sure to tell your friends about us and don't forget to hit that "Follow Us" button at the top if you haven't done so already. Your support lets us know how we're doing.

Thanks for reading!

-Tsu post signature

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Wednesday, February 17, 2010
TPC Comic #2

Hey guys,

I thought I would post up another comic for you!

If you liked, loved, hated, or felt there was something missing from todays blogs, let us know. Also, don't forget to comment!

-Andrew post signature

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Play to Win: Why I Play Aggro

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.

-Josh post signature

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Tuesday, February 16, 2010
Deck Building Discussions #1

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

Kankuro- Trick

Kankuro- Tactician

Ebizo- Fishing

Chiyo- Retired Master

Black Ant- Lifeless Warrior

Crow- Lifeless Warrior

Salamander- Lifeless Warrior

Father and Mother- Lifeless warrior

Concealed Weapon


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

Matsuri- Follower

Mikoshi- Follower

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

Gigantic Fan

Knockout Blow

Windstyle: Great Breakthrough

Sakura's Decision

Information Gathering

One morning

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

Ebizo- Return

Chiyo- Rich Experience

Chiyo- Showdown

Secret White Move: Chikamatsu's Ten Puppets

Perfect Defense


Chakra Thread

Flame Thrower

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- Toughness

Sakura- I Can Do It

Moegi- Rookie of the Leaf

Temari- Analytical Mind

Shino- Silence

Yashamaru- Sister's Memento

Ebisu- Repeated Defeat

Kusuna- The Quartet

Kurenai- (Vanilla)

Gaara (Possessed Mode)- Insanity

Baki- Clean up

5th Kazekage- Reliance

Tsunade- Expert of Medical Ninjutsu

Tsunade- Handicap

Shukaku- Formidable Monster

Unguarded Moment

Paper Bomb

Wind Scythe (Coils)

Wind Scythe (ANC)

Wind Blade


Control by Fear


Successive Kazekage

Search Party


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.

-Andrew post signature

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Things Tsu Thinks (2/16/10)
So there's a lot on my mind for this week so I figure I'll just use this place to rant and let loose.

First and foremost, how is everyone enjoying the blog so far? I know we only premiered it last night but I put a lot of work into it and was hoping for some astronomical amount of people to come rushing in. Maybe I set the bar too high? I don't really know, but I am grateful for the people who have come to visit so far. Also, please comment! Don't be shy! I think this whole thing comes from the fact that my pride has been crushed a little bit cause of the whole "Tsu never tops anything" thing that people are bringing up again. I don't see myself as a good player but come on... :/

I'm currently wrapping up the finishing touches on this week's "Teach Me Professor Tsu Kiyo Me" for Bandai's Naruto CCG Forums. The subject this week is a history lesson that I'm sure most of you will enjoy, and if ya don't... well I'll be sure to have something for you next time I see you. Honestly, it takes a lot of time to come up with something compelling that people are going to want to read and even longer to put it to paper, proofread it, and then reread it again just to make sure it still sounds interesting. My father always told me the mark of a great writer is in the rewriting, and I always remember that whenever I sit down to write. Compared to him, I don't really think I'm all that great and I guess this is what it feels like to be in that position of "Big Shoes to Fill." I just hope you will all keep supporting me. Please don't forget, you can always drop me comments, criticism, and suggestions at


I write it that way so that webcrawlers and such can't get my email address and start spamming me. For those of you who don't believe they exist, they do. If a small company in Pennsylvania has software that can strip all the text off a website and deposit it into different locations automatically, you best believe the big guys got far worse.

Also, lets not forget that this Friday "Set 16: Broken Promises" drops into local hobby shops for all you good little boys and girls. Even better than that, most places are doing the usual launch event tournaments where everyone gets a ton of packs and gets all giddy at opening the new set together. Really, those are a lot of fun even though from a competitive standpoint they're awful because luck is a huge factor. Who cares! FUN! Good luck to all of you in your pack pulls and boxes this weekend.

I want to start a foil School Girl Sakura fund. Seriously. I want like... 999 of those things. I wonder if the community could actually make this happen. We could call it "The Nine Drive" where people could send me their Sakuras and I could chronicle my progress on this website and post the pictures. And when its all done, maybe I'll put them all in top loaders and topple them all over like Domnioes...and of course video record it and put it up for your enjoyment.

Speaking of video recording, I know my two fellow blogmates are extremely camera shy and they're not going to come out and say it but... how do you guys feel about us starting a Youtube channel to tie in with this blog? The videos will obviously be posted here as well but you can also check them out there. If you think this, or anything else I covered today, is a good idea, email us or leave a comment below.

-Tsu post signature

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Mike Alpers vs. Thomas Veazie

This demands your attention. A vote for Mike Alpers is a vote for justice and the American Way.

I'm just a hater though.


-Josh Lu post signature

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What up
I had the urge to play Naruto again the other week... lo and behold, there was a Chunin a few hours away and my good buddy and local hero Mike Alpers was willing to drive... so...

Perfect Circle Circus

3 Sasuke Uchiha
3 Kiba Inuzaka [+1/+1 to Animals]
3 Naruto Uzumaki [Guard of the Prince]
3 Giant Tiger

3 Shion (Awakened)
3 Rock Lee [Guard of the Prince]
3 Tortoise Ninja [+1/+1 to Taijtusu]
1 Kikki
1 Cham

1 Akamaru (3/2)
1 Shikamaru Nara [Unwillingness]

2 Hinata Hyuga [Reserved Character]
1 Ninja Dog Squad (All Gathered) [Howl]

2 Baki [Able Brain]

3 Hikaru Tsuki (Lightsworn Animal Summoner)

3 The One Who Lives Within
3 Communication
3 Naruto vs. Sasuke
2 Long-Awaited Reinforcements
2 Just Like Drifting Clouds
2 Being a Fool

1 Paper Bomb
1 Fire Style: Fireball Jutsu (2F for 1 damage to any ninja)

3 Fire Style: Fireball Jutsu (kill mission/client)
2 Apology
2 Paper Bomb
2 Sakura Haruno [Nonstop Attacks] (This card is actually awful vs. Puppets... but it lets me swing through with Wonderful Days in play while getting value. It also wrecks Kank/BA randomly.)
1 Temari [Wind Scythe]

Reinforcement Deck:
3 Naruto Uzumaki and Hinata Hyuga
3 Naruto Uzumaki and Shion

The point of the deck is to swarm early with Animals, then break through for the last few BRs with NVS, Shion, Baki, or Being a Fool. Tortoise Ninja + Lee/Sasuke helps you win the 4 BRs you usually need from NVS. Being a Fool is particularly helpful against Water but will also turn games into blowouts occasionally. Hinata is there to help form the Naruto/Hinata squad. Everything else should be fairly self-explanatory.

That is also why I played it... because it's self-explanatory. Thinking or testing optional!

Round 1: Ferdie - Monofire

Game 1 I stall out and slowly pick up a few BRs. Eventually he uses Sasuke STB to start trying to push through - I swarm to get up to 8 BRs while losing most of my ninjas, then play NVS for the win on the next turn.

Game 2 goes to time while I'm up by 4 BRs. Right before time is called, Ferdie plays Wonderful Days. I chump block to victory.

Round 2: Mason - Monowind Puppets (Kank/BA)

Game 1 he plays Sakura ADP as his 0 drop while I ht Sasuke, Lee, and Tortoise swinging at him on 1. I win that game. (Shion on his Kank helped)

Game 2 he plays more than just Sakura ADP but dies again when I Shion his Kank.

You know the great part about playing Circus? Every match is over in 10 minutes... or if it goes to time you have the advantage BR-wise.

Round 3: Laurent - Snake Waves

Game 1 I have no action at all - he Wind Scythes me and sees I have 2 NVS and a LAR, then Kabutos up a Sealing Barrier. I think he's going to SB my NVSs but he just holds on to it. I eventually play 1 NVS for 4 BRs and another for 6 BRs to win.

Game 2 he plays a Sasuke CTS, misses a drop, then gets greedy and plays a Sakura ADP instead of the Shimon he's holding. I go crazy with a bunch of dumb animals and he dies.

Round 4: Donovan - Monowater
I don't remember too much about this match - he was playing Baby Haku so both games Being a Fool wiped out his whole Haku into Kabuto start. And when the opponent has no early game, Animals tends to do its thing quite well.

Round 5: Fidel - Monowater - Intentional Draw

Round 6: George - Snake Waves - Concession
I scoop to George since he is Mike Alpers' tiebreaker... and then Mike proceeds to lose.

We play for fun and I win 2-0.

Top 8: Fidel - Monowater
Game 1 he mulligans to 4, misses his 0, and I swing for 5 BRs on turn 1. Not much else to say.

Game 2 he plays turn 0 Buying Time, turn 1 Crying in Vain, turn 4 Secret Meeting on even, turn 5 Secret Meeting on odd (yes that's right... no one can be sent out to battle)... and I still win. I believe this is what is termed a "bad matchup" for Monowater.

Top 4: Amir - Monofire
Game 1 I keep a risky hand - if Amir plays two ninjas with mental power, I should be able to blow him out with Being a Fool into Baki. He does in fact do that... however, my deck neglects to flip over any animals in three TOWLW activations. At one point in the game he plays Surprise to put me up to 5 BRs - this is with him having 1 ninja in play, me having a Baki, a Lee, a Kiba in play. If I had one animal in my graveyard, chakra, or hand I would have won on the spot... except my deck apparently chose to wrong time to get a horrible draw. He stabilizes with Sasuke STB and plays a bunch of Trigrams (didn't even need mastery!)

Game 2 I keep a decent hand with a 0, 1, and 2 drop, some missions, and a Hikaru. I then proceed to draw Hikaru, Hikaru, another copy of my 1 drop, another copy of my 0 drop, and then I am forced to use the "Being a Fool/chump block all my MP ninjas" strategy just to try and stabilize. Protip: Animals doesn't win when it's trying to stabilize.

Even better protip: when you use Hikaru 0 times total in a match, odds are you didn't win that match. I knew I was due for some bad draws... they just aren't supposed to happen all at once!

I open up a foil Tonton, foil Miroku, foil Giant Tiger, Yamato CBF, Sasuke [Finishing (the) Blow], and 4th Kazekage in my pity packs.

Not the worst, and had loads of fun chilling with everyone from the BA and Fresno.

ChuninChillin' With Mike Alpers Episode 3
Sasuke Finishing the Low (and MLow losing to this card multiple times!)
Stealing the WOBMOB's chicken sandwiches
Finishing up playsets of all the good set 15 SRs/Sasuke STB
Being a Fool

Losing to Amir
Vit/Akatsuki not playing
Nasty Denny's at midnight
Bad draws
Mike Alpers not listening to my deck advice
Not beating Laurent with Being a Fool
Wonderful Days

Thanks for reading. I'll try to have something less cursory next time.

-Josh Lu post signature

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Monday, February 15, 2010
TPC Comic #1

Hey guys,

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!

-Andrew post signature

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The Perfect Curve - About Us

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...


-Tsu post signature

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