So I guess Pat's been wondering where I am... maybe (hopefully?) you guys have as well. It's actually been a long time since I've actually thought about Naruto - the article I posted a week or so back was one that I had been saving for a while and just never got around to putting up somewhere. In any case, I've just been working at both my jobs, playing some Heroes of Newerth, going through the motions at school, preparing for graduation... graduation? Shit, I'm graduating already... how did that happen?
I've been playing Naruto for four years now!
And to think that four years ago, I thought this game would be merely a side game to Magic, just like my dalliances with VS and Yu-Gi-Oh!...
But I mean... really? Four years? A Bandai game lived this long? And is still going strong?
Did you know that four years ago, my only exposure to anime had been the original 4Kids or whatever Americanized-version it was of Pokemon on TV?
Speaking of anime, just for fun I re-watched the whole Chunin exam arc over the past few nights. Four years ago, Naruto actually had a storyline and characters with both strengths and weaknesses...
Four years ago, the Naruto card game was much more interesting.
I think, after all these years playing the game, the deck I'm still the most fond of is the deck I won the '08 AX Kage with: Hybrid NVS. It was a deck with all the theories I've tried to impart on you guys... it maximized its best cards (essentially 6 copies of Gaara [Tragic Name]), it had explosiveness (Idate, SCJ, and NVS), and it used time value to the utmost advantage (built on speed, no useless late game ninjas - after all, what use were 5 and 6 drops against Gaara IP?).
Additionally, it was the deck I was most comfortable with and a deck I really enjoyed playing.
That's all very solid reasoning, for sure... but I think the biggest reason why I played the deck was because I really liked Unexpected Attack.
Going back to that Chunin Exam Arc, right up there with Lee vs. Gaara and anything involving Shikamaru, is Naruto vs. Neji in my list of favorite fights. There's just something inspiring about an underdog winning by finding an opening where no one else sees one.
And even better - it was Lightning, my favorite element and long-derided as the worst element. So when I was scrambling to create a deck, there was one other thing that weighed heavily on my mind - my legacy.
Ari was known as the king of water. Bruce was known as the master of tempo. I didn't really have an identity... at best I was the guy with an unhealthy obsession with Sakura's Decision, or a rogue deckbuilder with a fascination with decks with cute synergies and combos.
But if I could win with this crazy idea I had - if I could become Hokage in a field of Sand Tombs and Trigrams while I used a card that gave +2/+2 for 2 chakra...
When I become Hokage, I'll change the Hyuga for you!
Even if I never did anything else in the game, that would be enough. To win with my strategy, with my pet "bad" cards, against an opponent that many claimed to be unbeatable... well like I said, there's just something inspiring about an underdog winning by finding an opening where no one else sees one.
I talk a lot about playing to win, but there's one thing I cannot stress enough as I reminisce about the past. If you're not having fun playing, step away from the game. When it's more a chore than entertainment, it's not worth it to try and force that spark to reignite.
When you're dealing with games, even if you know it's not the "right" decision... always make sure whatever you're doing is putting a smile on your face.
Until we meet again.