Tuesday, January 31, 2012
Suggestion: How to Help the Curve + (Bonus?)
So based on everyone being all riled up over the Topside thing, perhaps I might have to start marketing a new t-shirt.

Just think about it!

"Free Topside!" T-Shirts!

We can sell them @ $15 and make some cash with which the crew can then use to upgrade our streaming equipment (this stuff is not cheap) and travel to various Jumps and cover them. Brilliant idea isn't it?


. . .

. . .

. . .


(Disclaimer: I'm not actually serious here. If you actually think I am... you're just being ridiculous).

The actual point of this post was that I wanted to take the time to use this space to talk about a few things, specifically Tylar's Corner (1/31/12).

Is it about Topside?


Well then what is it about?

Well... who knows? Maybe allanime will put this in his "review" thread at the end of the night?

Anyways, our last 2 previews hopefully don't disappoint! I wonder what they could be...

Tag ya later Bandai!


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Friday, January 27, 2012
TPC Set 24 Preview #3: Morde es #1 en Brasil!

Boa vinda a today' inspeção prévia de s de seu verdadeiramente na curva perfeita!

Agora com todo o hooting e hollering sobre o Topside, eu figurei I' d adapta e faz today' a inspeção prévia de s realiza duas coisas:

1. Topside can' cópia de t meu ahueaehuaeuhuuaha da revisão

2. It' s gosta de um enigma! Que sorte dos ajustes este cartão.

Porque este cartão, como esta inspeção prévia, confiará no oponente (leitor). Conseqüentemente, eu escondi inteligente 43 indícios durante todo este artigo para lig ao localizador de recurso uniforme para a imagem para este cartão. Aprovação, lá aren' t realmente 43 indícios, mas lá é bastante que o mais inteligente de você deve poder o figurar para fora… apenas como este card' efeito de s. Eu significo, eventualmente eu pude começ furado e apenas dar-lhe mais sugestões … mas… deve ser fácil bastante. It' s não como o vencedor está indo começ Canon Powershot g9 ou qualquer coisa.

Agora, Shikamaru [flexibilidade] era sempre um daqueles cartões que fizeram seu oponente ir " " do dammit do awwwwwww (castores); quando o viram. Se você didn' t tem a resposta, seu oponente apenas sentado lá com um ninja gigantesco do PM para começ BRs livre e para murá-lo o dia inteiro. Mas agora a resposta está em suas mãos… literalmente!

O Shikamaru fixo (etiquetado inteligente " Adaptability") é uma volta mais grande mas força agora seu oponente em fazer um Shikamaru' difícil; decisão de s. Se querem manter sua mão para fazer sob medida acima, a adaptação pune-os jogando o papel do cabo flexível. Se começam duramente carregar ou não usar recursos eficientemente, a terra tem todas as ferramentas para forçar descartes e whatnot para punir aquele.

Quando I' m não sure quanto jogo este cartão verá, it' s sempre uma opção a manter-se na mente quando you' re procurando um cartão que possa indiretamente beneficiar sua plataforma de várias maneiras.


Tsu Edit: Always Kill, Never Die huehuehuehue

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Thursday, January 26, 2012
Set 24 Preview #2; I wish it was a Crow so I could make CAW-CAW-CAW Jokes.
Preface: I don't like to be that guy who calls people out, especially not publicly but I feel it needs to be said cause it's irked me and a lot of other people recently. The Hidan thread was the last straw.

If Topside reviews this card or any subsequent cards on our blog in the discussion thread, I'm pulling the article, the preview, and with holding our Set 24 Super Rare preview.

Why? Because he pretty much always says the same thing that has already been said before. On top of that, it's essentially just like him summarizing our entries and just putting it in the same thread. Let people actually read our work and form an opinion for themselves. Please don't just repost what we already posted...it just detracts from our posts.

Yes, I'm being mean.

Yes, I'm serious about this.

End Preface

Okay there now that that is out of the way I can actually proceed on with the talking.

So what is today's preview about you ask?

Well it mostly has to do with this guy. Surely you remember this guy, right? Our Set 21 preview turned a lot of heads because of his powerful effect....but he had no real support.

And until this day we still have a variety of Ink creatures.

There's Ink Summon, Ink Lion, Ink Leech, and Ink Snake for those playing at home. Of course Set 24 yields another Ink Ninja, the Ink Fish which has a stellar "Draw 1" effect and good turn 1 stats...but that wasn't "officially" previewed yet (just spoilered thanks to a poster on the message boards, posting up the newest Meijin kit)

But what does the deck actually DO?

Supposedly you put in play a bunch of dorks (that's small stat ninjas for the uninformed) and then you drop Sai [Virtuoso] on turn 4 and draw a ton of cards and then...

And then...

Psst, Tylar... I just drew 12 cards off Sai...what the HELL am I supposed to do with all of these cards?

The Ink deck doesn't actually do anything. Yes it draws cards. Yes it has lots of cheap spammable 1/1s and 2/2s, and while that may help you get a lot of BRs early with your multiple teams, everyone knows spamming out small Ninja doesn't exactly win the game without something like Scouting Party or Naruto Vs. Sasuke.

So what are you implying Tsu? An NVS for Ink Ninjas!?

I wish Timmy! Wouldn't that be awesome? No instead I offer something that is rather interesting and unexpected win condition for the Ink Deck.

A Burn Ninja

Ink Eagle is interesting in that he has the highest stats out of all the Ink Ninjas thus far and isn't terribly difficult to come into play. On top of that, his multi use effect allows you to detonate your entire field for a slew of Battle Rewards all in one go.

Speaking of "Detonate", I think you can already guess that this guy has a lot of Synergy with other free Battle Reward Ninjas such as Hidan (Curse Mode) & Deidara [Fiery Wrath]. Consider Andrew's strategy from our previous preview that nets 7 Battle Rewards in 1 turn. Now imagine if you actually had the Ink Ninja rush early game...it's realistically possible to net 10 Battle Rewards in one turn with this setup.

Problem? It doesn't seem entirely practical.

When I first saw Ink Eagle a week ago, along with Hidan, I originally thought that there might be some synergy with them but the problem was would I be able to cheaply spam out the Ink Ninjas in the early game? I get the idea of the deck is now to use Sai to generate a ton of chakra and spam out more ninjas to burn with Eagle but the chakra cost makes it incredibly difficult.

The card that makes it all easier? Monkey King Enma

Well at least it was Monkey King Enma until I realized the errata. Argh... if he hadn't gotten changed I think there might actually have been something really strong on our hands here. You could theoretically have a whole deck where you could drop Enma on 3 and then Sai on 4, draw a ton of cards and possibly spam out not only 4 or 5 Ink Ninjas but say a Kiba to tutor an Akamaru to get a free Double Headed Wolf, Shima to get Fukasaku or vice versa. In essence, I guess Enma got changed not only because of some pre-existing infinites and combos but some other decks in the future like perhaps the Ink Deck. Am I saying it's strong? Who knows...it seems weak on the surface but I think Eagle gives it a little something else that might make it be "sleeper OP" down the road.

I'm really hoping someone breaks this card because I still can't make heads or tails of the deck. It just has all these random weapons that are supposedly part of a bigger picture...or at least that's why Tylar keeps hinting at ever since he first gave me Sai [Virtuoso] to preview back in Set 21.

Honestly, I feel like he might be trolling me by slipping me Eagle but... you never know. There might just be more here than meets the eye...

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Tuesday, January 24, 2012
Play to Win: The Right Weapon for a Rogue

So those of you who are regular readers of the Bandai forums may have noticed my latest exploration into fiction, the "Oregon SJC Live Coverage" thread (which was basically me posting fake updates every few hours). Eventually, the thread somehow got derailed into an argument about whether AX or GenCon is a harder (real talk: I feel like AX is harder, but only because there is a higher chance of running into the million DBagz at AX vs randoms at GenCon I don't know. There really isn't an appreciable difference either way.).

My initial nonsensical statement got jumped on by a variety of people, so I threw out a vaguely more logical one involving the following "facts:"

1. The population of bads is higher at GenCon than at AX due to the presence of players only interested in promos.
2. The population of bads at GenCon often results in a competent player starting 3-0 with no real difficulty.
3. AX has 7-8 rounds, GenCon has 8 rounds and a T16. Thus the number of wins to top should be 5-6 in AX's case or 6 in GenCon's case.
4. Therefore, AX requires 5-1-1+ whereas GenCon only requires 3-2+, making AX harder.

Now there were some differing opinions from the peanut gallery on how to best attack this argument. Veazie had the brightest idea of going after my credibility, since I remembered 8 rounds at AX when there was only 7. It's an effective strategy in a public forum for sure, but in the end my "argument" allowed for the possibility of 7 rounds - making that line of attack irrelevant in the end. Some less articulate people (names withheld to protect the ignorant) made arguments involving (paraphrasing) "even though you start 3-0," "same number of quality rounds," and something nonsensical involving football. There is a reason Veazie has had more success in children's card games than the unnamed posters. Although he did not attack from the right angle, the path he took was strictly better than trying to meet my argument head on.

You cannot win against my argument on the surface. Let's assume X% of Naruto players are trashcans. Therefore, X% of Naruto players at AX or GenCon will be trashcans. However, GenCon also has people who show up purely for promos (this is the only fact in this argument). Let's label them as Y%. No matter what, GenCon's percentage of trashcans will be higher because it is X+Y% rather than just X%. Therefore, with a similar amount of rounds, GenCon will always be easier than AX since the percentage of bad players is higher.

If you make any argument involving rounds or starting 3-0 or anything of that sort, you have already lost. The math makes it impossible for you to win because of one key fact.

You are fighting on my terms.

The most appropriate argument that topples the house of cards is an attack on basic assumptions. Yes, X% of Naruto players are trashcans. Does that mean they are evenly distributed among locations? Of course not. The assumption that both GenCon and AX will have X% trashcans is inherently flawed. Additionally, the "3-0" assumption isn't even getting close to being backed up by the math I use in the rest of the argument. There would need to be an inordinately high percentage of terrible players to guarantee anything close to a 3-0 or even 2-0 start (although if you are in the top 5% of players at an event, that guaranteed 2-0 start is not a pipe dream assuming you are immensely better than the next 95% - realistically speaking though, there is too much variance in the game for skill to play such a large role). Again, that is an angle of attack that renders an entire key assumption moot.

So what, exactly, does this lengthy anecdote have to do with the card game?

If you are building a rogue deck to attack the defined "best decks" of the format - everything.

It's amazing how many people build their rogue decks to attack the best deck head on and try to fight it at what it does best. I'll give you a hint: that deck is considered the best deck because it is the best at what it does. Fighting against it on its terms is a low percentage strategy that cannot be relied upon to carry you through a multi-round event.

Come ride with me through Naruto CCG history, and I'll show you where deckbuilders fell asleep on the job (and how the smarter people succeeded).

I'm going to gloss over the Fire/Water and Freedori eras, simply because Fire/Water never was oppressively strong and Freedori simply had no equal (Monowater splash Brokages was the best alternative, but it still tried to beat Freedori on its own terms. Tempo sought to attack it from a different angle but was just too inconsistent. Rule #1 of a good rogue deck: make sure your deck is actually a good deck!).

The first real metagame where a clear "best deck" was successfully attacked by a best deck was the Over 9000 metagame. Over 9000 did its thing extremely well: it found Gaara, it protected Gaara, and it buried you in jutsus with a card advantage engine that could not be matched. Many common attempts at rogue decks tried to execute the simplest answer to Over 9K: kill Gaara. It seems simple enough, doesn't it? Deal with Gaara, and the deck has no card advantage engine and no jutsus.

Wrong. The strength of Over 9K was in its draw power - it could easily find multiple Gaaras, especially through the use of ADP + shuffle effects. Additionally, Over 9K players were not stupid - of course they would play cards to protect their key card! By attacking the problem head on, rogue deckbuilders were making decks that failed because they tried to fight on Over 9K's terms. You can not win a jutsu war consistently against O9K.

So what was the right way to win against Gaara? Ignore him. Or rather, make his strengths irrelevant. The same ADP draw engine that so consistently allowed players to find Gaara IP? It also made for a pretty weak early game. Gaara owning you with jutsus? Attack him with Gaara TN outside of the EOJ (thanks to the awesome ninja effect timing rules at the time). Or use an untouchable ninja with a jutsu that can 3 for 1 (Lee HSM + Shadow Clone Jutsu). Or use a ninja that makes 2 other ninjas to soak up 3 jutsus with 1 card (Kakashi AD).

The two decks that most effectively attacked O9K (Hybrid NVS and Dogs) did so by making it so the deck built upon the assumption that draw Gaara = win, didn't actually win when it played Gaara. The second lesson of building rogue decks: if you can find a strategy that bypasses theirs, you are in a hugely advantageous position before the match has even started.

Over 9K later experienced a resurgence as part of the next metagame we are going to examine (the 3rd Sannins), but rather as merely a part of a wide open metagame. This metagame was unique in that it didn't really feature a clear best deck, but rather a bunch of decks that did the same thing. This is because most Naruto players, when faced with a wide open metagame, will return to the familiar formula of 30 decent ninjas, 10 missions, and 10 jutsus. The most basic assumption in the game is: if you can win the key jutsu war, you will win the game. The better players understood this assumption and built their decks for the long term by focusing on components that could help them win that critical jutsu war.

As longtime readers might know, we have an affectionate name for those types of decks around here: "fair" decks.

Fair decks are garbage when we are playing to win.

What's the best thing a fair deck can do? Most likely, make a drop every turn and then unload a hand full of jutsus to wipe the opponent's board. The assumption is, if that happens, they'll be too far behind to recover.

I've explained the thought process behind Greedy.dec many times. Play the most unfair cards possible, play them as early as possible, and draw lots and lots of cards to keep the unfairness coming. The advantage of playing 45 missions and ninjas? You're most likely going to play a mission every turn (besides 0) and a ninja+ every turn. Those missions let you find the ninjas that cheat out more ninjas. Low jutsu count? What does it matter when you have 4 more ninjas in play than your opponent? What if they best-case-scenario you and dump their hand full of jutsus onto the board? Great, they have no hand and we're at par on the board. That means that 1 Concealed Weapon we've been holding is going to hold far more value due to it breaking the stalemate than all the jutsus they've used to reach that point. Again, attack the assumption their deck is built around, not the means they use to accomplish it. The third lesson of going rogue: if what you are doing is inherently more unfair than what your opponent is trying to do, they will have to fight on your terms. And that puts you at a huge advantage.

The next Sannins featured a return to the oppressive "best deck" metagame - Respective Dreams. Dreams seemed like a perfect deck - it could negate its opponents attacks while simultaneously destroying their hand, and could win the game in two quick battle phases with Four Pillars Prison. Additionally, Yamato could blank every single ninja below 5 in the opponent's deck. The most common rogue deck trying to attack this was many different forms of Lightning aggro, and the most egregious example of fighting a battle on the opponent's terms. Ostensibly, the goal of the aggro deck was to take BRs faster than Dreams could take them back.

Hello? You play to win the game! Why are you trying to fight Dreams' strength? Winning BRs against Dreams directly fed its draw engine. Of course there was the occasional game where Lightning just overloaded all the Dreams and Asu/Shikas and First Hokages and whatnot but that was a best case scenario, and that didn't even win all the time. If your best case scenario can't even beat the best deck's middling scenario, what is the point of playing your deck?

The assumption behind Dreams was that as long as it could reach the late game, it would win due to Yamato CBF shutting down everything and its powerful jutsus, as well as the opponent running out of gas from trying to take BRs.

But what if... you never attacked? When I first told Pat and Andrew that our strategy to beat Dreams was to just sit there and do nothing, they laughed (in their credit, they came to understand the reasoning behind it quickly though). But why not? What if Dreams made it to the late game, then came to the realization that the other deck had a more powerful late game? Building up board presence doesn't matter when the other deck can reset you to turn 0 while wiping your board in one turn. You can't win a jutsu war when your opponent's Orochimaru drains your chakra and your draw engine is dependent on an action they absolutely refuse to take (while theirs is independent of anything you do - and can consistently net +'s to make up for your discard). The Dreams deck then gets forced into doing something it is not suited to do: aggro out before the Chidori Stream deck can set up - a difficult role reversal against a deck designed to do exactly what Dreams does, only better! The fourth rule of going rogue: if your deck forces your opponent to change their strategy... blah blah huge advantage etc. Don't be afraid to break the most common assumptions in the game if they give you a better chance at winning.

The last metagame I will analyze in this article is the one from the last Sannins - a return to a more open metagame, as long as you played 3 copies of ANBU in your deck. Of course, there were many different variants of ANBU - True Allies, Attunement/9PD, Rush, etc. All of them, however, harkened back to the assumption of the wide open metagame: the player who can win the key jutsu war will win the game. Or in this case, open up ninja advantage to slowly grind down the opponent through multiple combat phases (due to the presence of so many free drops). And to do this, lots and lots of cards needed to be drawn in order to keep up with the opponent.

And of course, you all know which deck I'm going to point to as the proper solution for the format. The World of Fire God Only Knows played exactly 1 jutsu in a notoriously jutsu heavy format. It played exactly 1 element in a metagame known for crazy multi-element decks due to wide variety of multi-element cards available. And with that, it completely shattered the assumption behind the format because of one key fact - it needed exactly one ninja to win (Furido).

Every single ANBU deck revolved around the combat phase, drawing lots of cards, and removal. TWoFGOK denied the combat phase, turned the opponent drawing cards into a win condition, and didn't care about removal. In fact, by avoiding combat and playing cards like Kiba WF, the deck literally blanked 20% of most decks by making their jutsus useless. Imagine your opponent automatically starting every game with a mulligan, and every 5 turns drawing a dead card. Strategic superiority. Higher percentage.

It turns out even the football argument was somewhat relevant. The current subject of discussion in that surprisingly still unlocked thread is Rob Gronkowski, the tight end for the New England Patriots. As in football, as in card games - the reason for the success of Gronkowski is the same reason for the success of well designed decks: they represent tremendous strategic mismatches. Teams are forced to devote tremendous resources to defending Gronkowski instead of defending their usual comfort zone - they are forced to play on the Patriots' terms.

But it's funny - Gronkowski is tremendously fortunate to be the topic of discussion. For if Lee Evans had been able to hold onto the ball, or if Billy Cundiff hadn't missed such a high percentage kick, we might be talking about how the Ravens defense is such a mismatch for any offensive line. And back in Thomas Cao's first Sannins, if Jeremy had flipped tails on his Double Sand Blade, if Brandon Sherlock hadn't completely punted game 3 away, if Lance hadn't somehow miraculously upset Jerry, and if Joe made the right decision - one of the most well positioned decks of all time might have been remembered as nothing more than a T16 afterthought.

The final lesson: deck construction can only give you a higher percentage. It can never win the game for you. Variance will always play a factor.

But good deck construction? Fortune favors the bold.


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Saturday, January 21, 2012
Bold prediction: The most awesome card in set 24

After not posting in forever I am here today to bring you what I believe to be the most awesome card in set 24. Now, I know this might seem to be a rather bold prediction, with Sage mode being shown but I honestly love this card, infact I would go as far as to say that from the art to the design this card is perfect. But what is this card you might be asking? Well I will tell you: Hidan (Curse mode). For those of you who just want to see the card, feel free to scroll down, because before I show the card I want to do a quick trip down memory lane.

Back in late march we revealed the first ever Hidan and Hidan (Cursed mode). I was involve with these cards because of how flavorful they were, but looking back these cards weren't very good. While Hidan (Curse Mode) had some cool combos, Hidan didn't actually do anything by himself. Not only did he need other cards to make him good, he needed cards that you normally wouldn't play, meaning he lacked synergy with previously existing competative cards in his colors. Couple all of that that with his tedious put in play requirements, and you just had a card that took too much effort to actually utilize reliably.

So, for those of you at home keeping track, the 3 main flaws with Hidan (Curse Mode) were:

1) Needed other cards to be good

2) Lacked synergy with previlent cards in his colors

3) Was difficult to actually play

So bandai needed to somehow overcome these 3 main factors in order to make the next Hidan (Curse Mode) playable...


... And I think they did EXACTLY that.

Looking at the very first problem with the original, you can imediately tell that the problem has been solved with the newest iteration. Not only does Hidan have a built in win condition, he also has a second effect that helps him trigger his first effect. So, if for some reason you only had a Hidan in play, you would actually be capable of winning the game.

The second problem with the original was his lack of synergy with other cards, something this guy can't relate to. This guy is all about the synergy. Seriously, he actually plays perfectly into fire decks utilizing some of the cards from the new "Win Battle Rewards" theme. Also, his draw back of giving up battle rewards is easily rendered irrelivant by another heavily played Fire card.

The third and final problem was the difficulty to actually get him into play, but as you can see this guy can reinforce off of any Hidan, without the use of a ritual circle. The ability to use ANY hidan is very helpful, because while some of you are probably going to be playing this guy for his synergy, others will be running this guy because of his ability to shut down cards that would otherwise throw a wrench in your plans.

Last thing I would like to share is a bit of math with you guys:

Turn 6 Reinforce Hidan, activate effect- 1 BR

Use Hanzo- 2 BR

Sac Hanzo with Deidara- 4 BR

swing with a big team including Hidan, your opponent chumps, you Dragon flame- 5 BR

You are now unopposed during showdown- 7BR

Total- 7BR in a single turn with almost now effort, all before sage mode can even come into play. Seems pretty good to me.

-Andrew Photobucket

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Thursday, January 19, 2012
Set 24 Previews & SJC MA Live Stream Confirmed!
It's been a while right? :)

Sorry the site hasn't been updated but the last few months have been busy for all of us...and with a stale game state there hasn't been much to talk about.

That said, Invasion was a swimming success for Bandai in my opinion, and TP4 is just as awesome. I personally haven't been able to get any TP4 or Target Promos yet but oh well. I'm sure I'll get some shortly after I get paid.

That said, we've received FIVE brand new previews for the newest set, Sage's Legacy, including a Super Rare to make up for our lack of one in Set 23. We'll be trying to do something "old" with these previews by doing a more in-depth write up than usual if we can. There's some interesting things to talk about with a few of our previews and I'm really happy that they're not just "*insert trash card here that you can barely talk about*" like we (and many other sites) sometimes get. I think this is kind of a reflection on Bandai's card design as of late. Invasion had very few bad cards and TP4 as well. Normally I've been accustomed to Naruto sets being 50 to 80% unplayable cards. And while a lot of cards in those two newest sets may not see play, I don't necessarily feel a vast majority of them are useless as per usual.

As for SJC MA in March, I'll be traveling with GenCon Winner 2010 Squee up to the Motel Casa de Pena to have some fun and cover the event for you all. Tentatively, I'll for-go playing in the event to make sure we do this coverage and we do it right. The best coverage I've ever done has been on days where I haven't been playing, and ones where I have...well they've pretty much been a wash. Additionally, this time the live stream will be done with my desktop, which is a much stronger device than the typical laptop you see me stream on. (An i7 Quad Core is much more powerful then this wimpy dual core). I got the idea from a video game streamer who travels around the country to cover events. He uses a comparable desktop and has since forgone his laptop because it's simply better. Sure travel accommodations suck that way, but it will get the job done faster.

In fact, he uses the same software as me and even the same camera (for those complaining the camera I use sucks). Because of the stronger PC, we can get away with setting the camera to max 720p HD settings. Now all that's left it so to acquire the stand he told me to get for the camera (surprisingly only $10!) and for the venue to deliver with the Wi-Fi I asked and we'll be in business. Please don't let me down on the Wi-Fi part Saul! I can't take another event where I'll promise something and have to settle with my tethered cell phone. Ha ha.

But seriously this time we're going to do this shit.

And we're going to do it RIGHT dammit!


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