Wednesday, January 19, 2011
The JDragon Core Set

As I mentioned in my previous article, one of the design issues currently plaguing this game is that of overpowered themes. This is largely a flaw of the individual designer process that Bandai uses - while it might lend more unity to the theme, it also drastically limits the influence of the consensus power level on the individual design.

One way to counteract this lack of a unified power scheme is demonstrated by Magic: the Gathering in its core sets. These sets are comprised mostly of reprints and a few new cards. The unifying theme behind these cards are that they are all fairly general, non-theme-specific cards that could fit into many decks of their color. This allows Wizards of the Coast to "set the tone" of design for the sets while that core set is in the format - the general power level of the format has been defined, designers should not delve too far beyond the bounds of it.

A similar solution could possibly be greatly beneficial to Naruto - like Magic, Naruto is based around a color/element pie. However, unlike Magic, Naruto's is all over the place (for example, Water gets everything...). The creation of a core set would force the designers to actually determine what each element excels at and implement that in their card selection. Then, ideally, the boundaries created by this process would restrict the design of the standard sets so one designers could not irresponsibly destroy the game with an overpowered theme.

Additionally, a core set would allow for the continued presence of utility, "soft engine"-type cards that make the game more fun to play. Cards that enable a diversity of decks or encourage diverse methods of play can only benefit the game, and should be kept in Block format for as long as possible.

To attempt to give more concrete detail of what I'm trying to get across, I'll list some of the cards that I feel warrant inclusion in a core set, and my reasoning for those cards.

(Note that I feel that each non-obscure ninja deserves at least one card in a core set - however, some of the best examples of these ninjas have effects that don't really fit their element. Thus, I have taken the liberty to "element-shift" these ninjas into a different element - a creative possibility that I hope Bandai will explore someday.)

Earth: "He wished for power, but not the strength to wield it."

Ninjas:
Asuma Sarutobi [For the Next Generation]
Choji Akimichi [Infuriation]
Choza Akimichi [As a Father]
Deidara [Plastic Arts]
Hinata Hyuga [Ointment]
Hizashi Hyuga [Why He Chose Death]
Ibiki Morino [First Proctor]
Ino Yamanaka [Easy-Going]
Inoichi Yamanaka [As a Father]
Neji Hyuga [Sealing the Anilities] (hopefully spelled right this time)
Shikaku Nara [As a Father]
Shikamaru Nara [Formation] (Eternal Rivalry)
The First Hokage [Supremacy]
Yamato [Creating a Forest From Underground]
Zetsu [Mysterious Existence]

Jutsus:
Cheating
Concentration
Disguise Jutsu (Coils)
Earth Style: Headhunter Jutsu (PTH)
Earth Style: Rending Piercing Fang
Howl
Knockout Blow (element-shifted)
(I'm having a lot of problem with Earth jutsus - they're either broken or completely trash for the most part - probably need to design some new cards to go here)

Missions:
BBQ
Cursed Fate (ER)
Earth Style: Rampart of Flowing Soil
First Chunin Exam
Hinata in Captivity
Intellectual Strategy (mental power battles one)
Kunoichi Battle
Shogi Match
Tears of Determination (element-shifted)

Earth is about controlling the flow of the game - things like coins on the field, battle rewards, ability to be sent out to battle or in battle, effect text - these are all under Earth's realm. Additionally, Earth is adept at mental power battles and has the ability to protect a lot of ninjas at once. Earth's weakness is that its removal is relatively weak, and has no pure card advantage/filtration.

Fire: "He wished for power, but not the patience to wait for it."

Ninjas:
Akamaru [Partner] (PTH)
Danzo [Hard-Liner]
Fugaku Uchiha [Representative of the Clan]
Genma Shiranui [Encounter Battle]
Haimaru Brothers [Triplets]
Hayate Gekko [Detecting a Plan]
Itachi Uchiha [Despair at the Clan]
Kakashi Hatake [Early Settlement]
Kiba Inuzaka [Man Beast Clone]
Nawaki [12th Birthday]
Ninja Dog Squad (All Gathered) [Howl]
Obito Uchiha [Hidden Strength]
Roshi [Lava Style Ninjutsu]
Sasuke Uchiha [Complete Opening of the Eyes]
The Third Hokage [Addressing Past Wrongs]
Tobi [Man of Mystery] (or whichever one the draw one is)

Jutsus:
Chidori (RnR)
Fear by Genjutsu
Fire Style: Dragon Flame Jutsu (LoL)
Fire Style: Fireball Jutsu (1F, deal 1 damage, next Fireball is free one)
Fire Style: Fireball Jutsu (kill a mission or client)
Lightning Blade (+7/+0 or negate a jutsu)
Mangekyo Sharingan (RFG and -2/-2 coin)
Reaper Death Seal (mill jutsu)
Sharingan Eye (PTH)
Suicidal Action
Tunneling Fang

Missions:
Disaster of the Nine Tailed Fox Spirit (element-shifted)
End of the Mortal Combat
Jonins' Intervention
Lone Avenger
Mission of Capturing the Missing Pet Tora (PTH)
Reconfirmation of the Mission
Shadow in the Moonlight
Stay Out of This!
The Symbol of the Proud Clan
Tsunade's Guess

Fire is the element of destruction - it excels at dealing damage, jutsu and mission negation, and burning cards in the opponent's deck. Its weakness is relatively weak early game options, and no way to efficiently draw cards.

Lightning: "He wished for power, but not the discipline to control it."

Ninjas:
Anko Mitarashi [Chase]
Aoba Yamashiro (vanilla)
Arashi Fuma (vanilla)
Idate Morino [Swift Runner]
Iruka Umino [Reward]
Jiraiya (Childhood) [Shown Signs of the Legends] (element shifted - Lightning only)
Messenger Ninja [Delivery]
Might Guy [Passion]
Naruto Uzumaki [Legacy of the Fourth Hokage]
Naruto Uzumaki [Pervy Sage's Training]
Naruto Uzumaki (Tailed Beast Mode) - the 5 drop one
Rock Lee [Eight Inner Gates] (CotS)
Rock Lee [Eight Inner Gates] (new one)
Sai [Singled Out]
Shion (Awakened) [Seal]
Tenten [Summoning Weapons] (element-shifted)
The Fourth Hokage [Lightning Speed]
The Fourth Hokage (Younger Days) [Savior]

Jutsus:
Leaf Hurricane (reanimation one)
Kunai (PTH)
Multi-Shadow Clone Jutsu (PTH)
Naruto 2K Uzumaki Barrage
Nunchaku
Paper Bomb (Coils)
Rasengan (AW 2L - ping a ninja, if it dies: ping another)
Shadow Clone Jutsu (ER - errata'd: for each 2 cards discarded, the user gets +1/+1 - might still be too strong)
Shuriken (AW)
Unexpected Attack

Missions:
Being a Fool
Box Lunch
Broken Seal (Coils)
Dedication Ceremony
Here Comes Second Test Proctor Anko Mitarashi!
Just Like That Hero (element-shifted to Lightning only)
My Rule
Naruto vs Sasuke
Reaper Death Seal (element-shifted to Lightning only)
Retiring Character
Reunion with the Former Teacher
Tide of the Deadly Combat (element-shifted)
The One Who Lives Within

Lightning is the element of recklessness and resourcefulness. It's capable of generating many resources, but at large costs. It also tends to expend lots of resources at once (such as with big X chakra spells). Lightning is the most aggressive of the elements, and features high-risk, high-reward plays. Cards specific to the element include pump spells, card draw that emphasizes on burning through resources, "swarming" ninjas, getting stronger when injured, and recursion. Lightning's weaknesses are its weak late game and backfiring of its cards.

Water: "He wished for power, but not the wisdom to make use of it."

Ninjas:
Dosu Kinuta [Sonic Impact]
Haku [Creed]
Haku [Face Behind the Mask]
Kabuto Yakushi [Loyal Right-Hand Man]
Kabuto Yakushi [Prominent Medical Skill]
Kidomaru [Elite of the Sound]
Jirobo [Elite of the Sound]
Sakon [Elite of the Sound]
Tayuya [Elite of the Sound]
Kisame Hoshigaki [Cold Blooded]
Orochimaru [Forbidden Jutsu]
Orochimaru (Childhood) [Shown Signs of the Legends] (element shifted - Water only)
Princess Dusk [Wandering Ghost]
Raiga Kurosaki [Funeral of the Living]
Ranmaru [Life as Sensory Organs]
Sasuke Uchiha [Finishing Blow]
Three Tails [A Monster That Lives in the Abyss]
Yoroi Akado [Chakra Absorption]
The Second Hokage [The Hokage Level]
Zabuza Momochi [Bottomless Power]

Jutsus:
8 Trigram Divination Seal Spell Formula (element shifted, errata'd cost WW1, only ninja battling against user)
Fast Capture
Four Flames Formation (RnR)
Hidden Mist Jutsu (PTH)
Twin Snake Sacrifice Jutsu
Summoning Jutsu: Reanimation (RnR)
Water Prison Jutsu (PTH)
Water Style: Five Hungry Sharks
Water Style: Giant Vortex Jutsu (PTH - errata'd cost to WWWW)

Missions:
Assassination of the Kazekage
Bashfulness (element shifted)
Bingo Book
Flash Back
Gato Transport
Ghost Panic
Huge Difference in Ability
Ninja Info Card
The End of the Demon
Threat of the Tailed Beast (errata'd - 2 instead of 3)
Tragic Destiny (errata'd - Water only)
(a new card - some tutor for a 5 or 6 drop)

Water is the element of overwhelming power. Water's high drop ninjas are the strongest in the game, and it has the ability to both find them and protect them. It also has unique chakra control capabilities. Additionally, Water specializes in non-permanent removal - its removal bounces to either the hand or the deck, and its negation treats jutsus the same way. Water's weakness is that its card filtration only allows it to find ninjas, and its early game is the weakest in the game.

Wind: "He wished for power, but not enough."

Ninjas:
Baki [Cleaning Up]
Black Ant [Lifeless Warrior]
Chiyo [Retired Master]
Crow [Lifeless Warrior]
Ebisu [Repeated Defeat]
Gaara of the Desert [Conversation]
Gaara of the Desert [Reliance]
Gen Aburame [As a Father]
Kankuro [An Audacious Grin]
Katsuyu [Healer]
Kurenai Yuhi [Wits and Beauty]
Moegi [Rookie of the Leaf]
Sakura Haruno [A Double Personality]
Sakura Haruno [Reliance]
Sasori [Legendary Puppet Creator] (errata'd to have ambush)
Shino Aburame [Insect Warriors]
Shizune [Medical Kunoichi]
Shukaku (the new one)
Temari [Wind Charmer]
Temari [Gale Warning]
The Fifth Hokage [Establishment of Medicine]
Tsunade (Childhood) [Shown Signs of the Legends] (element-shifted - Wind only)

Jutsus:
Cliff-Climbing Training
Carrier Kite
Concealed Weapon
Coordination
Iron-Armed
Sand Cocoon (the new one)
Sealing Jutsu: Breaking the Lion's Roar
Secret Red Move: Performance of a Hundred Puppets
Wind Blade (errata - discard a ninja battling against the user)
Wind Scythe Jutsu (CotS)
Wind Style: Great Breakthrough
Unguarded Moment

Missions:
Arbitration
Barrier Preparation
Entrustment
Loss
Pass Permit
Puppet Fight: 10 vs 100!
Rules for Medical Ninja (element shifted - Wind only)
Sakura's Decision
Substitute

Wind is the element of serenity. Its card advantage/filtration is clean and doesn't come with the messy conditions and drawbacks of other elements. Its jutsus focus on wiping the board clean without any contingencies. As an element, Wind's strong points are its card advantage, ability to heal, and strong teams. Its weaknesses are that it has a lower overall power level (to counteract its drawing power) and while it is good at many things, is not exceptional at any. While this might lend itself to a role as solely a supporting element, its best jutsus are all extremely heavy on the Wind requirements - encouraging a Wind-heavy deck.

Multi-Element (incomplete right now):

Ninjas:
Naruto Uzumaki and Gaara of the Desert
Naruto Uzumaki and Shikamaru Nara [Reasonable Choice]
Sasuke Uchiha and Orochimaru [3 Years Later]

Missions:
Capture
Make-Out Tactics
Narrow Escape
Selecting the Strongest
The 9th Match

Squads:
Sasuke Uchiha and Orochimaru [Ambition and Desire]
Shikamaru Nara and Choji Akimichi [Leaf's Uncowed Elite]
Shino Aburame and Kiba Inuzaka [Reunion]

Clients:
Emina
Futaba
Sandayu Asama

This core set still needs some work (more Earth cards for example, and balance testing) but I think it gets across the general idea of what I'm trying to convey. Elements should define the themes - not the other way around.


-Josh

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7 Comments:
Blogger Ross134 said...
This is a very good idea and something that Bandai should SERIOUSLY look at doing, but we all know that the only person that would, would be Tylar and one person on a design team of idiots spells doom for the entire idea.

Honestly, you shouldn't waste your time. Great effort tho

Anonymous Anonymous said...
I might use this list to build a cube. It seems pretty solid.

Anonymous Anonymous said...
rlly good idea, although there are some cards I don't exactly agree on, like the RDS you suggested (I'm assuming its the ANC one).

Anonymous Anonymous said...
2/10

You should go to the TX Kage so I can beat you in top4 again :D

-Pyrofriend

Anonymous Anonymous said...
excellent article.

had an enjoyable read. very cool.

Anonymous Anonymous said...
I don't like any of your element shifts. You changed dual elements to single elements in almost every element shift you made. Dual element cards make dual element decks more possible. You seem to be against them.

Anonymous Anonymous said...
It follows my design philosphy that each elements should have strengths and weaknesses. Multi-element cards should represent abilities available to all elements on that card.

Josh (too lazy to sign in)

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