Now that I've actually had a chance to look over all of the previews for the past two weeks, I figured I would post up another review for you guys. I'm only going to go over the Water theme today, as I have a paper due tomorrow, but I should be able to do the Earth themes at some point during the week.
Saturday April 17th: Saturday Preview
Combination Jutsu: I really like this card a lot, simply because it's costed so well. two generic chakra to water prison a ninja is pretty good value, especially in an aggro based deck like NVS which shouldn't have an problem getting this card to always have the better of the two effects. My only complaint about the card is the other effect. Why is it -2/-2? Isn't negatives a fire based effect? Should have given the user a pump, or something that made sense. Still, I wouldn't be surprised if this card saw some play prior to rotation.
Sunday April 18th: Sunday Preview
Princess Koto: Another strong client effect. While she might not seem as amazing as Michiru, or Emina, she is capable of some pretty crazy things when put in a deck that plays predominantly female ninjas. Odds are, this chick will constantly force the opposition to use jutsu's first, which is exactly what you want in a deck using cards like Counter and Wind Scythe Jutsu. I kind of dislike that she doesn't have the wind symbol, but I can also understand why she was given the two symbols she currently has. Princess Koto is a card I would be aware of when getting ready for the SJC this season, because if you don't have a way to deal with her in your board, you might be fighting an uphill battle against Kunoichi or Medical decks during the day.
Monday April 19th: Kisame Theme
Kisame [Water Clone]: I'm actually really disappointed with this card. While the effect is exactly what you would expect the effect to be for water clone Kisame, there are several things missing from the card that just ruin it. First of all, where is the clone status? The card is a picture of Kisame using water clone, has the surname [Water Clone], and the effect of putting an exact copy of Kisame into play... So where is the damn clone status? The other thing that bothers me is his inability to get his effect off of Ambush. I think thats pretty grimy, simply because water's entire play style has developed around Ambush, and I don't really think that by getting his effect off of an Ambush, he would be OP.
As for the card it self, I'm not sure if I actually like it or not. I can see the blow out moments where making two ninjas in one turn wins you the game, but I also see his effect causing the player to make bad plays due to keeping it in hand instead of charging it, and charging another card like a jutsu or mission, just to get Kisame's effect. It probably wont see play until after rotation, but even then, I feel like his draw back is too big to be played over Guren.
Water Style: Water Shark Bomb Jutsu: Right off the back you can probably determine the playability of this card in water decks in the current format by looking at it's name. Competing with one of the most efficient negation cards in the game means that this card is most likely not going to make the cut any time soon. However, the designers opted to not only forgo a requirement on the card, but also make the cost generic allowing any deck to utilize this card. While in the current format, I'm not sure what deck will want to use this out side of a rush based deck, post rotation this card might actually see some play.
The Top Priority: All I can say is that giving your opponent the ability to pick for an effect means that you will seldom gain a lot of advantage off of said effect. Pressing was the same way, while both effects were really good, allowing your opponent to pick between the two effects just meant that you would never really get the effect you want. This card is pretty much the same in that, yes sending a ninja to chakra is good for a mission effect, but sending a turn zero ninja, or a ninja with ambush to chakra isn't particularly good. Even in Limited, I probably wouldn't take this card until very late in the pack.
Tuesday April 20th: The Second Hokage Theme
The Second Hokage [Supremacy]: This card was really well designed for the core set in my opinion. The Second's effect pretty much ties all of water together, and in a way represents water as a whole. For those of you wondering what I mean, the best example I could probably give comes from other card games like Duel masters, where each base set they had Ultras that catered specifically to their color's main themes, which is exactly what The Second does. Helps you generate a lot of chakra? Check. Helps you play a lot of powerful Jutsus? Check. Helps you Ambush Ninjas? Check. Helps you burn Chakra? If you have Threats in your Chakra area when you put him in play, check. The Second just does everything you want him to do in water, so there really isn't a reason to play cards like Kakuzu over this guy, as Kakuzu is more narrow and less game breaking then the Second.
I really like this card a lot, not only from a design standpoint, but from the stand point of someone who likes cards that reward the more skilled player. Second's effect can just as easily be a game winning play for a skilled player who played the game thinking ahead, as it can be a decent play by a less skilled player who didn't think past the current turn. By planning ahead, you can easily manipulate your chakra to insure you get the exact three cards that will win you the game, like two Water dragons, and a Threat of the Tailed beast. All in all I think the Second is just really good, an dI expect him to be one of the chase supers from the set.
Bounty: Bounty isn't a bad card, as it has synergy with all the ambush ninjas water has, but I have never been a fan of conditional draw power that either has a good effect or none at all. it might see some play, but I sincerely doubt it.
Black Strings: Healing jutsus never seem to see play simply because there are better tricks you could be playing instead, and I don't feel as though this card is any different. While Black Strings does happen to be costed well for it's effect, it still doesn't do enough to warrant it seeing play in a competitive environment.
Wednesday April 21st: Haku Theme
Tracking Ninja: I personally think this card is a step in the wrong direction for Bandai. Including a 4/1 turn zero Ninja with two mental power, relevant combat attribute, and ambush, in a set with a bunch of decent turn zero ninja with weaker stats doesn't make sense to me at all. It was stated that they were making good turn zero ninjas on all colors to reduce splashing, but then they make a ninja who is better than those other ninjas, and leagues better than vanilla sasuke ever was in water. So the reality is, they made a bunch of turn zero ninjas that no one will play because they also made tracking ninja who has better stats, and has synergy with certain decks.
Killer Shot: So it's a fire ball for two generic? It's definitely better that any deck can utilize it, but I still feel as though it isn't good enough. Maybe if they allowed you to bounce it back to hand if the user had some kind of characteristic or something, I don't know. I just feel like the card is too narrow and doesn't really help unless the opponents entire strategy is reliant on a client or permanent mission.
The Next Target: This card is so incredibly good. This one mission gives water the ability to deal with things they could never deal with before on an early enough turn to hit almost anything. This card would probably have gotten my vote as best common in the set if tracking ninja wasn't around.
Thursday April 22nd: Kabuto Theme
Kabuto [Recycling]: Not only is this guy good in your deck, he is also good for the environment! Bad puns aside, I think this might be my favorite card in the set. Most of you can probably recall that I was one of the biggest advocators of Sasori TBT, and even ended up playing him in this years past sannin event. Kabuto's effect is incredibly powerful, and completely puts Sasori TBT to shame. Not only do they have similar stats and characteristics to begin with, but Kabuto's effect is more cost efficient and the Ninja actually sticks. I would without a doubt be playing with this guy at Gencon this year, if DB didn't exist. Because DB has solidified him self as a staple three of in every water or water/X deck, there really isn't any good justification to not play him. Hopefully DB gets restricted or something so I can justify playing this guy, because if not, what a waste of such a good effect.
Earth Style Ultimate revival Jutsu: Soil Bodies: This card is waaaaaay to narrow to see play, even with it's alternate cost. I'm not a fan of cards that rely on your opponents cards to do anything, and thats exactly what this card does. Even for limited, this card has no real reason to be a rare.
Tragic Destiny: I'm not a fan of this card for the same reason stated in the above; I don't like cards that rely on the cards your opponent plays to do anything. In water, this card lets you ambush a ninja, which probably already has ambush and give it an effect which may or may not help. So you are pretty much playing a mission that says "Give target ninja the effect of a ninja your opponent controls". I guarantee you that card would never see play. Yes, you could pick up a ninja from discard pile, and Yes I like Kabuto which does just that, but it's completely different. Kabuto allows you to abuse cards like Temari WS, the new Second Hokage, and Shino IW by constantly getting them back, where this card is a one shot deal that cost more for a potential bonus.
The card has more of a use in Fire decks, as they don't have access to similar effects, and have far less cards with Ambush on them. Still, I feel like there are much stronger cards to be playing in the current pool, and even if there weren't I'm just not a fan of this type of an effect. I will say that I probably would play this in EDH though, because recursion in a format of one ofs is obviously much more powerful, not to mention your opponent is guaranteed to have a powerful ninja effect via their general, so more often then not this cards second effect will be relevant.
Friday April 23rd: Three Tails Theme
Three Tails [A Monster who Lives in the Abyss]: This guy is pretty scary. As long as he is on the table with a jonin, you really cant attack or block profitably. Couple that with his huge stats and you have a pretty big threat. ALone this guy probably wouldn't see too much play, but the next card is what really makes him playable in my opinion.
Yukimaru [Guide]: His first effect is almost negligible, as most of us just read him as "You can play your Three Tails really early" and I'm pretty sure thats what is going to make this guy see play. I haven't tested out this concept yet, but believe me I plan to do so once the set lands. I never saw the Three tail fillers, so I'm not sure exactly who this guy is or why he gives the three tails a lower entrance cost though, so if someone would like to fill me in that would be great.
Stolen Bodies: While it probably wont see much play in the current environment, this card is a strong candidate to replace threat post rotation. It may not be as game breaking, but it does work in a similar manner. I'm actually okay with this card replacing threat, as threat happened to be pretty stupid, especially in multiples.
As I said before, I will try to get the Earth themes review up later in the week, but no promises. Please comment bellow to let me know what you agreed/disagreed with, what cards you think will end up seeing play, or if any of these cards is being over rated/over looked. Until next time.