Now that Christmas is officially over, and previews are going up on the main site, I thought I would put up a little piece giving my thoughts on the cards.
Jiraiya (Sage Mode): I really like this guy alot. While his "Sacrifice" is rather costly, I believe that his stats and effects more than make up for it. From a design aspect, his first effect is awesome in that it makes players look back and re-evaluate almost every jutsu card ever in made, just to see how awesome it is with Jiraiya. In my book, that should be chalked up as a huge success for the design team. It makes cards like Paper bomb, seem much better, since instead of only having early game applications it can be used late game to kill 2 Ninja.
I really appreciate the fact that he ISN'T protected from everything. The protection from jutsus is warranted due to his turnmarker, and cost to hit the board, but that still gives players a chance to use either Ninja effects or Mission effects to stay in the game against this giant. All in all I give this guy 9/10, because even though he might never hit the top tables due to how taxing his "Sacrifice" appears to be (Time will tell), I feel like Jiraiya (Sage Mode) completely lives up to the character shown in the series.
Shima & Fukasaku: I'm a little dissapointed in these guys. Shima, while a decent card doesn't really reflect Shima as a character, or contribute to the archetype its trying to fit into. As a card I like her, and will probably fit her into my cube, but I don't think she is a card I would really want to be running main deck in a format where she will more often then not have no actual effect.
Fukasaku's effect I like, because it supports combination very well, however I dislike that it requires shima in his team. Both Shima and Fukusaku in teh same team are already capable of triggering the combination effect on every Toad based Combination Jutsu card to begin with, and as for Non-Toad Combination Jutsus such as Searing Migraine, Piggy Back, and Leaf Whirlwind... Why would you try to hit two specific ninja in a team to use a Jutsu that doesn't even require a specific ninja for its combination. I like the concept behind Fukaksaku, but I feel the execution was just short of delivering us a playable card.
The Jutsus: I don't like any of these. Most people who seem to like these cards are justifying the cards usefullness by how good they are with Jiraiya (Sage Mode). There are two problems with that school of thought. First, Jiraiya (Sage mode) is a turn 7 Ninja, who you can't even assume will be played in most games, due to his harsh (But Fair) requirements. Second, every jutsu is ridiculous with Jiraiya (Sage Mode), so why not play one that's atleast somewhat good on it's own? Aside from that, I really dislike that Bandai brought Expert from Dragon Ball to Naruto, as it clearly undermines Combination in every way.
Sage Art: Bath of Boiling Oil: I really like this card. While I can't really say if it will see play or not, it's a cool card and very well designed. Hopefully we will see more cards like this in the near future.
Super Box Lunch: Errr.. I mean Jiraiya's Hermit dance. I'm glad they printed some new recursion for lightning, though I think turn 5 is a bit high for it's cost. Very cool synergy with all the Toads who have multiple colors as well as the Jiraiya who is considered to have every symbol. It's unfortunate that Lightning has so many strong missions right now, as I think that will probably keep this card from being used, but hopefully post rotation this card might see some play.
Gamaken: This card get's the award for most flavorful card ever printed. Both effects perfectly fit Gamaken, making him a really cool card. However, because of this I don't think he has what's needed to be played in a competative environment where Dogs isn't the best deck. His stats are that of a 4 drop, and neither of his effects are particularly usefull in most situations... It's unfortunate because he is perfect in one aspect, but greatly flawed in another.
The Bad Jutsu with Gamaken: It's a worse Toad Mouth Trap... I really wish Bandai would stop using that effect on Jutsus, because players always seem to get confused with how it works, and they never see play anyway. I would much prefer a "Burning Ash" type of effect in that effects place from now on.
I'll try to put up more reviews later in the week, as more cards are revealed. Until Next time!
Card advantage is king.
Yeah, I know - coming from the guy who used to start each decklist "3 Sakura's Decision," this is hardly a surprising statement. And given that this writer hasn't played Naruto since Sakura's Decision was actually legal, certain elements among us would dismiss that statement as the deluded theories of some crazy old man blind to the metagame where a deck can function with no hand.
But it's the truth!
Look at the current metagame - the format is dominated by a clear best deck (No-Hand Water) and two close contenders (BR Earth and True Allies). There are other fringe decks, such as Dogs and Mental Power - but none of them are really close to being better than the top three decks.
We'll get back to this metagame in a moment.
In card games, there are two different types of card advantage engine design: hard engines and soft engines. Hard engines are those that are strictly created by the designers to fit into one archetype - stuff like the Blackwing continuous search spell in Yu-Gi-Oh, the Ally card-drawer in M:tG, Karin in Naruto. Card game designers should be careful when creating these - as the synergies emphasized by a designed theme can quickly become overpowered relative to the power levels of independent cards.
Soft engines are cards or sets of cards that fit into many different archetypes. Often labeled "staples," these cards are usually generic draw or filtration, or card advantage with an easily met condition. These cards are best at enabling several different types of strategy - most often, ones that aren't hard-designed into the game. Examples of soft engines include cards like Pot of Greed or Graceful Charity in Yu-Gi-Oh, Ancestral Recall or Thirst for Knowledge in Magic, and Sakura's Decision or Shadow Clone Jutsu (Eternal Rivalry).
That last example (SCJ) might be a little bit of a surprise to some of you - how, you might ask, does a pump spell equate to card advantage? The key here, is the enabler role that soft engines often play. SCJ could equate to pure card advantage for decks such as Chain Lightning, which relied on the graveyard as another resource to make up for the otherwise card-inefficent nature of Lightning. SCJ could equate to virtual card advantage for decks such as Hybrid NVS, which relied on the threat of SCJ to force through a swarm of ninjas - and were the opponent to block, could trade SCJ for sometimes as many as 3 of an opponent's ninjas.
To look at another example, Sakura's Decision has been used throughout Naruto CCG history to enable everything from Tide of the Deadly Combat to Gaara IP to Puppets to even Chidori Stream.
However, that Gaara IP example in the last sentence should give you pause - for that is exactly the problem with hard engines. Not only can they take advantage of the natural card advantage engines given to them by the designers, but they can also employ the enablers that all the non-theme decks use. However, Gaara IP was kept in check due to the fact that the entire engine relied on one ninja - a fatal weakness in many instances. Thus, in order to maintain a diverse play environment, the designer-created themes should be limited in power level to keep them in line with what is possible with non-spoonfed decks, right?
Well, the current metagame lends credence to that thought. What we have right now is an example of hard engines run amok. Look at all the top decks - all three of them are Bandai-designed monstrosities. Sakura's Decision? That card was your father's card - an elegant weapon for a more... civilized time. As for now, it's just a brawl between different Bandai designers over who can create the most overpowered theme.
The trouble with the current themes is that the card advantage generated by their hard engines is just too easy. For No-Hand Water, the advantage comes in generating chakra while dumping the player's hand away - a task easily accomplished by a number of cards (the largest offender being the incredibly overpowered Suigetsu's Joy). And once the No-Hand Water player dumps his or her hand (again, not very hard of a task at all), he or she gains access to any number of mega-powerful effects at little to no cost. For example, take Tayuya - if another ninja had the exact same effect but without the hand requirement, what would the turn cost be? Judging by the existence of Cautiousness Yamato, it'd have to be a turn 5+ with a hand cost at least. Yet Water gets access to Tayuya on turn 2 (with ambush!). It's the same with Karin - what would the cost be of a ninja that both instantly draws you a card, but also lets you draw a card whenever you play a card? I'm thinking at least 7 would be the turn cost, as it's definitely a game-ending effect. Yet Water gets access to this effect on turn 1 - for simply turning on its card advantage engine!
For BR Earth, the advantage comes in simply allowing the opponent to attack. Each BR taken back (again, an incredibly easy task due to the opponent being forced to attack to win, as well as the cards provided by Bandai) is not only card draw, but also life gain (rendering the resources spent by the opponent in achieving those BRs useless). Thus, the theory behind the deck Thomas and I played at GenCon (when the very similar Dreams deck ruled the format) - there is no reason whatsoever to allow Dreams to get its massive card advantage off taking back BRs. So how do we win without taking BRs? Don't attack at all until the game is locked up with Chidori Stream (and the opponent on turn 0)! Not attacking until after an inordinate amount of turns - does that even sound like a healthy metagame? While BR Earth is not quite as powerful as Dreams, it too has the same degenerate effect upon the metagame. And it has the same reason for being overpowered: card advantage comes too easy, in a form available only to that particular archetype.
And finally, for True Allies, the advantage comes in simply drawing or tutoring for a Sakura [True Allies]. Once you get that first piece, the rest of them come - and then it's endless card advantage for as long as you can keep the True Allies alive. True Allies is the closest thing to a soft engine amongst the top three decks, as you can fit many different types of decks into a True Allies shell. In fact, without No-Hand Water or BR Earth, we could be seeing a metagame entirely based off of True Allies variants (sort of like the Destiny Hero days of Yu-Gi-Oh). While that may be relatively preferable compared to the current metagame, it's still unwise to have a subset of cards creating a soft engine powerful enough to force inclusion in virtually every deck.
It's alright to design themes - in fact, Bandai has been doing them correctly in the past. Decks like Animals, Puppets, Taijutsu - these were all decks with their own hard engines that have historically done well, but not been overpowered whatsoever. But right now, with the system of design being one person responsible for an element... it's only natural to attempt to create an overarching theme within that element. However, as we are seeing at the moment, this is not necessarily a good thing. Sure, the element may have a cleaner, more linear feel overall... but at what cost? With an entire element positioned around mostly one theme, there becomes no reason to play anything but that theme - after all, that's how the game is designed. Deck design becomes less of searching for various puzzle pieces strewn throughout various sets, and more of taking the latest Bandai-designed deck out of the box and playing with it.
You know, I wish I could say something positive - like I've found the soft engine answer to a broken format (sort of like NVS in the 9K metagame and Chidori Stream in the Dreams metagame)... but I just don't see it happening. There needs to be a whole slew of cards put on the rogue list, as well as wholesale changes in the mindset of Bandai's designers, before the spoonfed theme decks stop dominating the metagame.
Bonus Section: Turning Water into Whine
Sasuke State 2
These are the cards that give Water its ridiculous power - without these, I feel it becomes a much more fair deck. Of course, then Earth and TA might need to be hit... but that's the problem when the metagame is dominated by overpowered hard engines.
As of late there has been a lot of discussion on exactly how Water should be effected by the next rogue list. Gary (VSA) even went as far to make an "Official" thread about it in Gendis, in order to stop the plethora of threads being made every 10 minutes, located here. Since our Holiday party here at TPC has come to an end, I figured I would be the first to get back to work and let you all know what I feel should be done, and why.
Sasuke Uchiha (State 2): This one is pretty much unanimous at this point. Protection from everything is stupid. Giving all of your ninja's said protection from everything is stupid. The fact that it can be reinforced off of any turn 4 Sasuke is stupid. Being a turn 6 8/4 with mastery on top of everything is stupid. Nothing about this card is balanced, and if anything, he might aswell be one of the dumbest cards ever printed, as he has no down side, while having a bigger upside than pretty much any card in the game.
I firmly believe that Sasuke (State 2) is the biggest problem in the metagame, because he allows Water to make unrealistically large teams, and keeps combat for your opponent strictly physical. We tried him at one, and it was a little better, but at some point you need to put your foot down and say "This card is not healthy for the game in it's current state, and will only undermine future development, as such it should be banned". Banning it now also gives Bandai the oppurtunity to print another Sasuke (State 2), with a much more balanced effect, that can be used in it's place for the remainder of the year. State 2 appears in both the Sasuke Deidara fight, as well as the Sasuke Itachi fight, so we do in fact have some wiggle room for design here.
Chidori Stream: This is a card that should just be banned on principle. Board wipes, specifically tutorable board wipes, shouldn't exist in a curve based game. While it isn't nearly as busted as Ten Thousand Snake Waves was, it still has a nasty habit of completely wrecking a player who either missed their 4 drop, or simply down dropped a Zetsu or Kigiri to try and deal with your opponents card effects before they get out of hand. With the introduction of the new Sasuke from TP2, I feel the Chidori stream might end up seeing a bit less play, but I still feel it's deserving of a ban.
Limited to 1:
Kabuto [Database]: Strictly on Principle. You can't have Naruto [Reliance] at one, while Wind is at the bottom of the barrel and Lightning is smack dab in the middle, but Kabuto at 2 while Water is the most powerful deck in the format. Right now, Water has the best missions in the game, in that they have 5 or 6 strong options, that also have great synergy with the goals of the deck. Giving them the ability to consistently search out those missions is just unfair in my eyes.
Makeout Tactics: Searching Kabuto, to search for another copy to then search for your next drop is obnoxious. I really feel that Makeout Tactics is a "fair" card, but with the way Water plays in the current format, Tactics suddenly reads "Search your deck for one ninja or client" which is just too powerful for a turn 1 mission.
Suigetsu's Joy: This card is still incredibly overated. It's a good card, infact it's a very solid card... but it isn't the source of the problem. People seem to think that this card wins games by itself, when in reality not only is every deck more than able to recooperate from it easily, they also are capable of benefitting from it. Lets not forget that the card is terrible in the mirror, a match up you will most likely face multiple times at any major event this season, seeing as Water happens to be the most played element. Another factor that needs to be taken into consideration is the restriction of Kabuto [Database] to 1, making playing this card multiple times in a match much less likely.
Striking Shadow Snake: This card is unlisted because I'm actually not 100% sure what should be done with this card. It's clear in testing, and in results that the card is just too strong to be untouched, but not strong enough to be banned. Normally that would imply thast limiting the card would do the trick, but realistically restricting a replayable jutsu that gets tutored by the new sasuke just doesnt seem like it will be effective. Because of this I would probably prefer to see some kind of errata like "If used from your chakra area, Discard this card after use", but thats just a thought.
Chidori: I don't think this card is that over the top, without all of your ninjas being immune to jutsus. Injure effects seldom saw play before, so a reusable one isn't exactly game breaking, especially since barring the use of Sasuke [Eyes of the Serpent] in conjunction with it, Chidori isn't capable of winning the chain. Lets not forget it's also capable of being played around by being conservative with your combat tricks. 3 is fine for this card.
Well, those are my opinions on what should be done, so please feel free to comment bellow and let me know if you agree or dissagree. Until next time!
Alright, so I got to go to the Dolphins v Jets game after the Kage, which was a surprising treat. Seeing the Dolphins win was even better.
Pat showed the Neji and Zetsu that were in the Chibi pack, but he didn't mention the last card, which was Shikaku Nara. I think only a few were pulled, so here is his effect text. Note that the name printed on the card, hilariously, is Shikamaru Nara for some reason. Expect an errata like right away.
Entrance Cost: 4 Hand Cost: 0
Leaf | Jonin | Male | Mental Power: 3
Valid: During the Exchange of Jutsu, you can pay 2 Earth. In that case, all Battling Ninjas use their Injured status Power during the showdown of this turn.
5/3 0/2 Shadow Rare
So, he's not terrible I guess. Just a quick update for everyone.
-Nick Botchis (Shino's Dad)
I just wanted to thank everyone who posted so far for their support. It's somewhat disheartening for us given Bandai's recent revoking of our next set previews, but we're not about to start a crusade over it, and I ask that no one else do so either.
I want to thank everyone who plans on staying active readers of TPC. We do this for both our enjoyment as well as yours. If we have to sugarcoat everything we say, then it isn't very enjoyable for us, and we'd be giving you, the readers, a false presentation.
I also apologize for the lack of followup on the Boston Chunin. My internet has been very finicky as of late at home, and I am currently posting this from my work computer. As you all may or may not have heard, Scott (Genre) was the winner of the event, with Shodaime (don't know your real name, sorry), getting 2nd place, and our own Thayli (Joe O), making Top 4. I had to mirror match Thayli in Top 8 and lost because I am a terrible sideboarder.
I plan to attend the NH Chunin this Sunday, Dec 5th. I will try to get a more accurate reading of the field and take notes, as this will be the first Premiere Event I will attending that Path of Pain will be legal. This will also be the last time we will be seeing Sasuke Uchiha (State 2), and Tayuya [Cursed Flute], at 3, and the last hurrah of Giant Ninja Toad, before he is placed on the Banned List.
The following week will be the NJ Kage at All Things Fun, and as Head Judge, I will be able to do a lot more reporting on the event. I'll try to steal Tsu's camera so I can set up some recordings of select matches. A live stream may be in the works, but news of that will be forthcoming.
Don't eat the Green Ones,
Dear readers, I regret to inform you that our previews here at The Perfect Curve for set 20 "Tales of the Gallant Sage" have been pulled by Bandai. According to Pat, who talked directly with them, it was due to my review on our Tournament Pack 2 preview, Deidara. Apparently, what I had to say about the card was not appreciated, which I guess is understandable. While I realize that no company wants to hear anything negative about their product, I couldn't just hide my true feelings on said product to give them the review they wanted. My credibility is very important to me, and I wasn't willing to compromise it over something so minuscule.
I want to apologize to you, the readers because you are being punished for my stubbornness, and I hope that you will still come to our site to read our other content and participate in our contests. Until next time.