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August 11, 2012

2

Battle Decks- Tatsurion vs Razorkinder: Tatsurion’s Deck Review (Part 2 of 2)

by Dredd77

Having now reviewed both of the Battle Decks on their own, it’s time to pit them up against one another and see if Tatsurion’s deck can deliver! Serving as opposition is Sam, who’s shuffling up Razorkinder’s collection of 40. Here are the notes from our clash.

Game One

Sam’s on the play, and opens by placing a Brain Squirmer into her mana zone, giving her an early source of  (darkness mana). Over to me, I do the same with a Blaze Belcher, giving me access to  (fire mana). One of the most tactical aspects of the game we’ve seen thus far is knowing what to keep and what to cash in as resource. Although the Blaze Belcher is a one-drop, the fact that it must attack every turn seems to me to be a liability I’m not willing to risk. Back to Sam, she drops a Skeeter Swarmer into the mana zone, then taps out to deploy another one onto the battlefield. It’s a high-power blocker that can be used once, but it’s a potential speedbump on my way to smashing her shields. For my part, I diversify my mana pool by adding a Brave Giant to it, which gives me nature mana (). With one of each, I’m now free to cast anything in my deck, since Kaijudo only asks you to have one of a colour to cast a card of the same colour. I then use it to help summon an Essence Elf and pass.

Now turn 3, Sam does the same when she options out a Hydrobot Crab to open up a source of  (water mana). This lets her deploy a Skull Cutter, and she ends her turn. Over to me, I place an Overcharge in the mana zone and pass. Next turn, Sam crushes my Essence Elf with a Bone Blades, then attacks with her Skull Cutter. I lose a shield, but I’m in luck- it’s a Return to the Soil, which has a shield blast effect. This lets me cast it immediately and for free, so I use it to kill off Sam’s Skeeter Swarmer by moving it into her mana zone. That helps her ramp, but it’s one less threat to face- and a nuisance one at that. Now down a shield, I add another  to the mana zone, then play a Bronze-Arm Tribe. The Tribe has an enters-the-battlefield trigger of putting the top card of my library into my mana zone, and it’s another  source.

Now turn 5, Sam skips charging her mana, and simply plays a Brain Squirmer. She then attacks with her Cutter, popping another shield into my hand (a Gatling Skyterror). Back to me, I opt to cash in the Skyterror for mana, so place it into my mana zone. This enables me to bring my Draglide the Swiftest on-line, and since it has fast attack it can fire when ready. I turn my Tribe sideways to attack Sam’s tapped Skull Cutter, trading them out and solving Sam’s threat. I then attack with the Draglide, blasting another of Sam’s shields. Over to Sam, she next deploys a Hydrobot Crab, then sends in the Brain Squirmer on counterattack. Having no creatures with blocker in the entire deck, I can do little to stop it and I lose another shield- though I’m happy to see a Draglide the Swiftest appear in my hand. Once Sam’s through, I then kill off her Crab with a Tornado Flame, then attack her Brain Squirmer with my in-play Draglide for the trade.

Sam looks to repair the breach in her board with a Frogzooka, but has no other play. I play a Rumbling Terrasaur and pass. Back to her, Sam then taps out for a King Nautilus, but I solve it right away with a Root Trap. I then break another of her shields with my Terrasaur. She has three left, while I’m down to only two.

Now turn 9, Sam plays another Hydrobot Crab and passes. After adding more mana to my pool, I play Return to the Soil on Sam’s Frogzooka, clearing it out of the way. Next I summon the Draglide the Swiftest from my hand, then attack with it immediately. It breaks Sam’s third shield, but there’s a shield blast letting her draw two cards (Spy Mission)- an unexpected bonus! I then attack with the Terrasaur to break another shield, and Sam’s looking to be in trouble. Still, she’s got plenty of fight left, as the Terror Pit banishing my Terrasaur clearly shows. She then adds a Skeeter Swarmer, and kills my tapped Draglide with an attack from her Crab. Undaunted, I bounce right back with a replacement Terrasaur and a Gatling Skyterror. I might be steadily losing them through attrition, but my Red/Green creature deck has beaters for miles.

The problem is, Sam’s deck seems built to obstruct. Turn 11 sees her with a double-drop as well, first summoning a Dream Pirate and then an Aqua Seneschal. Back to me, I then keep the numbers coming with an Ambush Scorpion and Simian Trooper Grash. I then attack with my Terrasaur, forcing Sam to chump with her Dream Pirate. Next I send in the Gatling Skyterror, and Sam trades out for her Skeeter Swarmer. With no ground gained, I pass turn. Sam next adds a Hydro Spy, the follows with a Reef-Eye to give her another blocker. Still, she doesn’t have enough defense to survive my next attack, and scoops with one shield up.

By way of a postscript- when Sam goes to see what that last shield is, to her dismay she finds a Bone Blades. If she’d seen the game through, that would have destroyed my second attacker and bought her a turn. It might not have changed the outcome, but lesson learned: never scoop with a shield up no matter how grim things look.

Game Two

Sam and I trade mana drops for the first couple of turns, while she does manage to find some early defense in the form of a turn-2 Reef-Eye. She follows with a next-turn Aqua Seneschal. I’m not far behind, however, when I play an answering Little Hissy, and the game’s afoot!

Now turn 4, Sam attacks with the Seneschal, putting her up a card and me down a shield (a Blaze Belcher). Back to me, I throw the Belcher into the mana zone, then play an Overcharge. This lets me attack Sam’s Seneschal with Little Hissy, knowing that even if she blocks with the Reef-Eye (which she does), I still get the trade. While I’ve two-for-one’d myself, there is some method to the madness- a Flametropus lies waiting in hand. Next turn, Sam plays a Skeeter Swarmer, then attacks with her Seneschal. Again she’s up a card, and I lose a second shield (a Rumbling Terrasaur). Back to me, I drop another redundant card into the mana zone and tap out for the Flametropus.

Root Trap

It’s not long for this world, however- Sam Death Smokes it straightaway on turn 6. She then attacks me with her Seneschal. That gets her another free card, though when my shield breaks it’s a Comet Missile, letting me snipe her Skeeter for free. Next, I play my sixth mana, then tap out for Tatsurion. He immediately springs on the attack, crushing Sam’s hapless Seneschal. Over to Sam, she plays a mana then brings out a brute of her own- Zagaan, the Bone Knight. I then summon a Draglide the Swiftest. With Sam’s defenses wide open, I then attack with it and then Tetsurion, putting her down three shields in a stroke.

Now turn 8, Sam Teleports Tetsurion back to my hand. She then adds a Brain Squirmer, then attacks with Zagaan. His double breaker crushes two of my shields, but I ‘topdeck’ an answer- one of the shields is a Root Trap, and I use it to neutralise Zegaan with a timely blast! I then follow up by killing off her Brain Squirmer with a Rock Bite, peeling away Sam’s fourth shield with my Draglide on the attack. Flush with mana, Sam replaces one piece of fat with another when she next deploys Gigargon. Still, it’s not enough as I play a second Draglide the Swiftest. I now have two attackers, and Sam’s down to her last shield. She needs a lucky shield blast to survive, and when I attack with the first Draglide she gets it! Matching topdeck with topdeck, her last shield is a Bone Blades, killing off my second Draglide. With the game all but over, I concede.

Game Three

It’s our final matchup for this opening session of Kaijudo, and we’re even at a game apiece. I’m on the play for our opener, and make a strategic decision. Thus far I’ve found that Sam’s defenses come on-line around the same time as my moderate threats, and have considered Tatsurion’s deck to be better suited towards a marathon than a sprint. Cheaper creatures, therefore, have been used as mana fodder rather than deployed to the battlefield.

That said, if Sam stumbles from the gate and can’t find her blockers, I might be able to make some hay. I decide this time around to give it a try, and lead with an opening-turn Blaze Belcher. After Sam adds a mana and passes, my Belcher claims its first shield with an attack. The bad news is, it’s a Spy Mission, and the shield blast puts Sam up two cards. Back to her, Sam then adds a Skeeter Swarmer. This is a tough defender, but its size almost works against it. Would Sam really want to trade it for my Belcher?

On turn 3, I resolve to find out. This is one of those times where having only one “main phase” gives a lot of information to your opponent. I’d much rather attack and then summon, but rules are rules and this is a different game. So I summon a Little Hissy, letting Sam know I’ve got options, then attack with the Belcher. As expected, she lets it pass and gives up another shield. Back to her, Sam adds a Dream Pirate and passes. Since unlike the Swarmer she doesn’t lose the Pirate when it blocks, this is a problem. I solve it with a turn-4 Return to the Soil, though that does give her some extra mana. With the Pirate out of the way, though, I can open up my attack. I first attack with the Belcher, and Sam lets it pass to drop a third shield. I then send in Little Hissy, and this time Sam accepts the trade for the Swarmer. The Blaze Belcher doesn’t have much time to be relieved- Sam then Ice Blades it back to my hand to buy herself some time.

Now turn 5, I decide now is a good time to use the Belcher for mana and into the zone it goes. Its noble sacrifice is not in vain as I then tap out for the Flametropus. Back to Sam, she plays a Spy Mission to fish for cards, then plays a Brain Squirmer with the last of her mana. This means that the Flametropus- alone on the battlefield- goes into super mode. I turn it sideways to attack, and it blows away Sam’s last two shields. One of them is a Bone Blades, but with no legal targets on the battlefield Sam opts to put it into her hand instead. She’s now shieldless- one more hit and the game is mine. Of course, to do so I’ll need a creature, and when it’s next Sam’s turn she kills off my creature with a Terror Pit. She then attacks with the Squirmers, and I lose my first shield of the game.

I use turn 7 to add to the board, playing a Pyro Trooper before passing. Sam answers it with the Bone Blades she got from her shield, then plays a Skull Cutter. Next she turns her Squirmer sideways to take down another of my shields before ending turn. For my part, I go big with a Roaming Bloodmane, keeping the pressure on. Sam one-ups me with her Razorkinder, killing my Bloodmane on the spot. She then attacks with both of her creatures to put me down to one shield. On the upside, I get a Gatling Skyterror and Draglide the Swiftest into hand. It’s the latter that matters, however, as I play it and swing for the win thanks to its fast attack.

Thoughts & Analysis

When we first started Ertai’s Lament with a review of the Duels of the Planeswalkers-themed decks two years ago, it was a vast and unexplored territory. While it wasn’t clear how to assess the decks without established frames of reference, we did our best and assigned them scores that approximated their value. We find ourselves in the same position here, since we’ve never played Kaijudo before. Still, given the similarities, it’s a little easier for us to render a verdict, even if the first game seemed to raise more questions than answers.

Flametropus

Furthermore, when we started reviewing decks we’d already had some Magic experience. We knew what seperated a good deck from a bad one, and it is here we are most at disadvantage. We had a lot of fun playing the game, though not quite the same level of enjoyment and engagement we get from Magic due to some of the complexity loss. But one thing’s fast becoming clear- Kaijudo is not as simple as you think it is.

Sure you only have one main phase, there aren’t any instants, no ‘stack’ or any of the other things that bring a welcome level of intricacy to Magic. But on the other hand, we were left with a lot of uncertainties that will only be resolved with time and, most importantly, experience.

For instance, take the mana charge system. This is actually more complicated than Magic, for here a land is a land and a spell is a spell and (rarely) the twain shall meet. You don’t have to make the same kinds of hard decisions when playing land in Magic- it’s land, it’s supposed to be played that way. Here, we often found ourselves second-guessing ourselves… do I play this as a resource, or will I need it for later? Is this the right play? In the write-up above I tried to convey some of this by initially listing what we chose to play as lands, though it seemed to bog down the narrative and I soon reverted to the customary style used in our Magic writeups (mention land early, then later only as relevant).

Other things noted in the course of the match include:

  • The one-at-a-time combat system opens up levels of intricacy with feints and counter-feints. It also makes weenies a little more relevant, since you can send in blocker bait early and let them squeak past at the end when there’s nothing left to stop them.
  • Removal on first blush seems a bit less critical than it does in Magic. It’s always going to be important, but being able to kill off your opponent’s creatures by attacking them when they’re tapped adds a new layer of options. It also can stay your hand when you don’t want to risk losing a weaker creature, even if your opponent can’t block it.
  • The shield system has some subtle brilliance to it because it incorporates a “feelgood factor.” There’s nothing fun about losing life in Magic, but each shield lost represents an opportunity not just for a free card, but for the random excitement of a shield blast. This seems like really good design work, particularly with regards to the experiences of younger or newer players. Nobody likes losing, but this one comes with quite a bit of sugar on top.
  • Furthermore, getting more free cards the closer you are to losing approximates the “enraged” mode some video game bosses go into when you’re close to beating them for some added fun and excitement.

Overall, Tatsurion’s deck promised aggression, and it handily delivered. The lack of blocking creatures didn’t stop it from doing what it set out to do on the battlefield, and it certainly made for an interesting contrast of style with Razorkinder’s deck.

Hits: Packed full of aggressive options, the deck can bring a ton of pressure to bear almost right out of the gate

Misses: Lack of blockers means you’re only way of winning is to outaggro your opponent, meaning if they have enough removal you can seriously fall behind; Green removal ramps your opponent, which is perhaps too much of an advantage for too little payoff versus Red removal

OVERALL SCORE: 4.25/5.00

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2 Comments Post a comment
  1. Aug 12 2012

    I had the same feeling when playing Duel Masters’ videogame on DS… I thought “Oh, god. Only 5 lives, and creatures with no power/toughness diversification? This will be boring.”
    Then it took me 5 minutes only to choose which card to keep in hand and which to deploy as mana. I lately discovered that turning card into resources is kinda “mainstream” out of MtG, for example the same method is used in the (now LCG) Call of Cthulhu CCG from Fantasy Flight.
    By the way, looking forward to hear your Razorkinder impressions! 🙂

    Reply
    • lightside
      Aug 14 2012

      I agree with your observation about turning cards into mana getting more ‘mainstream.’ The WoW TCG and the digital/real-life Shadow Era TCG also do this.

      Reply

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