Battle Decks- Tatsurion vs Razorkinder: Tatsurion’s Deck Review (Part 1 of 2)
“I believe one of Richard Garfield’s most innovative creations when he made the game of Magic,” once wrote Magic head designer Mark Rosewater, “was the color wheel. The color wheel is the one thing that ties together all the flavor and mechanical aspects of the game. To me, it is the heart of Magic.” Indeed for all that the game of Magic: the Gathering has changed over time, one of the few absolute constants has been the colours of Magic. After all, why mess with a winning formula?
That isn’t to say that every now and again, the notion of adding a new colour hasn’t been considered. But after nearly two decades of existence, what Rosewater called one of the “three genius ideas” of the “Golden Trifecta” remains more or less as it was originally concepted. For the designers of Duel Masters (Kaijudo’s predecessor), a game essentially built as a form of “Magic Lite,” this meant that the path was clear. Of course, they’d want to put their own spin on the skein of flavour wrapped around the fundamental framework, and so the concept of the Five Civilizations was born.
Each of the five occupy a different part of the “Realm of Creatures,” a parallel dimension that intersects with our own. The kaiju are creatures from this world that have found their way into our own. For many ages this was a peaceful coexistence, but now the Veil that seperates the two worlds has torn, and all manner of visitors are appearing…and not all of them friendly. The ‘tamers’ are those humans who have the ability to harness the power of the kaiju and use them to do battle to push back the onslaught.
Although the succession of years have really fleshed out the colour pie for Magic, in the beginning it was fairly simple stuff. You had good (White) and evil (Black). The classical “four elements” were divided up between Blue (air and water) and Red (fire and earth), while Green encompassed the broad concept of nature as a whole. Kaijudo doesn’t stray too far from this design. Here you have Light and Darkness Civilizations, Fire and Water Civilizations, and- yes- the Nature Civilization.
Of course, the set structure of Magic means that the colours are free to be applied in different ways from year to year. White “civilizations” might range from the Leonin of the metallic plane of Mirrodin to the communal Kithkin of Lorwyn to the minions of Elesh Norn on New Phyrexia. Magic’s colours represent concepts, affinities, and philosophies. Kaijudo’s tie is much more distinct and concrete. White cards are from the Light Civilization, full stop. Of course, this being only the dawn of the newest incarnation of the game, who can say where they go from here? We won’t even have a “core set” until this Autumn.
What we do have, however, is a “Duel Deck” styled release pitting two 40-card decks against one another. Tatsurion the Unchained is one of the main characters of the Kaijudo cartoon, a hybrid Armored Dragon/Beast Kin. This means he is a blend of both Fire and Nature civilizations, and the deck is designed to play up both of these elements.
Trained for Warfare
The deck begins with a trio of Blaze Belchers, simple 1000′s with a curious drawback in the hungry! ability. To the Magic-trained mind, this is something of an anomaly, for it’s not often you’ll find one-mana 1/1′s with a drawback. As is Kaijudo’s custom, virtually anything out of the ordinary on a creature is given a keyword label, and many of these appear unique to a creature or shared by only a few. Hungry! means that the Belcher must attack each turn if able, though the conditional defense of Kaijudo means that the creature may survive a bit longer than the equivalent Magic creature might.
Moving up the mana cost ladder, we come across a trio of Ambush Scorpions. Don’t let the name fool you, these are simple Green vanilla 2000′s for 2. The first beneficial ability comes attached to the other creature found here, the Essence Elf. Nature’s gift gives an anthem effect to your side, giving +1000 power to all of your other creatures. This means you’ll almost always be happy to draw one, even later in the game when that crucial bump could give you the edge to close out the game.
Unsurprisingly, we find another healthy serving of vanilla in the three-drops. The Gatling Skyterror is a simple 3000 creature, a bread-and-butter beater. Again we see the plain partnered with the utility as you also find a pair of Little Hissys. Don’t let the name or appearance fool you, this 2000-power Dune Gecko can be a nasty little removal package since its special ability (little wrecking ball) lets it attack untapped creatures. Remember that in Kaijudo you can attack either your opponent’s shields or their tapped creatures directly. We see the same thing in Magic- annoying utility creatures that don’t get their hands dirty with combat and are hard to kill as a consequence. Little Hissy is Kaijudo’s answer to that problem.
As you’d expect from a Red/Green deck, the deck really begins to blossom higher up in the mana cost chain. The four-drops are virtually bloated with options. There’s the obligatory vanilla inclusion, the Simian Trooper Grash. It’s intriguing to note that like the other vanilla creatures, this one is Red- a colour in Magic which usually lags behind the value curve a bit in its creatures. Next up are a pair of Draglide the Swiftests. Although smaller than the Simian Troopers (2000), they also have fast attack (aka haste). Just as in Magic, freshly-summoned creatures are generally prohibited from attacking the turn they enter play, so the Draglides bring all of the traditional benefits associated with the ability to the battlefield.
For a more robust option, you might consider the pair of Pyro Troopers also found here. Although in their natural state they clock in as a 3000, their powerful attack +2000 ability means they’ll be swinging in on the attack as a 5000. It’s important to remember that Kaijudo has no life totals, and that a player will lose a shield to an unblocked creature no matter how strong or weak that creature’s power. Abilities like powerful attack then are mainly geared at letting the creature do more in creature combat- and a 5000 hits pretty hard.
The last four-drop to be had here is a pair of Bronze-Arm Tribes. These are comparable to cards like the Borderland Ranger, giving you resource development and a body all in one card. On first blush, this doesn’t look like that great a deal, since the body it leaves behind is fairly feeble. Still, the “land” offered by the Tribe’s harvest ability comes into play untapped, and nabbing a free land means that’s one less useful card you have to part with from your hand. Waste not, want not!
Moving now into the top-of-curve territory, we see that it’s Green this time providing the on-curve vanilla fat with a five-mana 5000, by way of a pair of Rumbling Terrasaurs. Green also contributes a Raging Goliant, a 4000 that acts as a tribal “lord,” giving +2000 to each of your other Beast Kin. Alas, the creature types of Kaijudo are as varied and diverse as are the game’s keywords, so cards like the Blaze Belcher (a “Burn Belly”) and Ambush Scorpion (“Megabug”) don’t stand to benefit. Indeed, of the deck’s thirty-nine creatures, only five of them are Beast Kin- and that includes the Goliant.
Thus far, every card we’ve looked at has been a common or uncommon. Our next card, the mighty Flametropus, is the deck’s first rare. A five-mana 4000, its lava stomp ability makes it something of a one-card combo. Provided that the Flametropus is the only creature you have on the battlefield, it becomes a brutal 8000 with double breaker, an ability that lets it smash two shields upon successful attack.
Weighing in as the deck’s lone six-drop is the master of disaster, Tatsurion himself. A fully-foiled super rare, Tatsurion also carries the double breaker ability. In addition, he has a form of modified haste in fury charge. This lets him attack on the same turn as when he’s summoned, but he’s only allowed to vent his rage on tapped creatures- your opponent’s shields are off-limits…at least until the next turn.
The deck’s final two beaters come with the expected heavy pricetags- Green fat? Who knew! The uncommon Brave Giant is the biggest beatstick in the deck, clocking in at an impressive 7000 with double breaker. The very rare Roaming Bloodmane is slightly smaller- a mere 6000- but not only comes with double breaker but is somewhat evasive to boot! Thanks to tactical camouflage, the Bloodmane can’t be blocked. Intriguingly, very rare cards in Kaijudo are foiled, though not nearly so as are the super rares.
As you’d probably gather, the noncreature support for Tatsurion’s deck is mainly limited to removal and ramping, with a combat trick thrown in for good measure. The ramping suite consists of a pair of Sprouts, which flip the top card of your library into your mana zone (“land”). Like most (but not all) spells, the Sprouts have shield blast. This means that if a Sprout is one of your shields, if it gets broken you get to cast the spell immediately for free- not unlike the miracle mechanic of Avacyn Restored.
Both Green and Red contribute options to your removal suite, which is fairly ample. Remember, there’s no “damage” in Kaijudo, so the burn spells tend to act much like conditional kill spells (you can’t ‘finish off’ a creature ‘injured in battle’ as you can in Magic). For instance, look at Rock Bite. For four mana, you can outright banish (kill) any one creature on the board with a power of 3000 or less. The deck gives you a pair of them, but if that’s not enough to cure what ails you, there’s also a rare Tornado Flame. The Flame costs one more mana, but its range kills up to 5000 or less. There’s also a pair of Comet Missiles here. They can kill any sized creature- but only if that creature has the blocker ability. Since those are just the sorts of creatures your opponent will be putting between you and your objective, these come in handy. It’s worth nothing that there is not a single blocker creature found in Tatsurion’s deck, making it deeply aggressive. As we’ll see in our next review, Razorkinder has very different ideas.
If Red’s conditional kill spells are too limiting, Green has a few tricks of its own with a very different drawback. A pair of Return to the Soils will kill any one creature level 4 or less (level in Kaijudo is equal to the converted mana cost in Magic). Much like Path to Exile, however, the removal of a creature threat puts your opponent up one mana as a consolation by sending its victim into its controller’s mana zone. The rare Root Trap costs a massive seven mana, but does the same thing as Return to Soil- without the level limit. Simply put, it can plow under any creature your opponent can summon. Given its prohibitive cost, this is one card you’ll be happy to find as a shield.
The final card in the deck is Overcharge, a straightforward ‘combat trick’ type of card. Given Kaijudo’s turn sequence, there isn’t much opportunity for “instant speed” combat tricks as we understand them, so it may be more apt to regard Overcharge as a sorcery. In any event, it gives one of your creatures a small power boost (+1000), and like Little Hissy they can attack untapped creatures this turn.
Overall, Tatsurion’s deck is much like Tatsurion himself- blustering and aggressively-minded. It is completely devoid of defensive play- at best, you’ll be reacting to what your opponent deploys on the battlefield- and usually just by clearing it out of the way so you can continue to drop the hammer. With fewer special abilities, you should find you consistently have the size advantage, and as such this will play out like a traditional Red/Green burn-n-beats deck.
We’re eager to take the deck into battle and see how it matches up, but before we do we’ll be taking a look at the sinister opposition.