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August 19, 2012

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

by Dredd77

It’s the rubber match for the new Kaijudo Battle Deck, and this time I’m piloting Razorkinder’s 40 cards. With options to lock down and control the battlefield, I’m much more at home. Of course, so is Sam, since Tatsurion’s deck is smash-and-grab aggro that abandons defense in favour of furious aggression!

Game One

Sam’s on the play for our opener, and begins with a Blaze Belcher while I simply play a  mana source and pass. Next turn Sam adds an Essence Elf, then attacks in to hit one of my shields with the Belcher. I take it to hand, finding a Skull Cutter rather to my liking. I then tap out to play a Skeeter Swarmer, to begin shoring up my defenses.

Now turn 3, Sam has to content with the possibility of losing an attacker thanks to the Swarmer, which can act as blocker. Of course, since it dies in the attempt I have to be particular about when I push it into harms way. Sam attacks first with the Belcher, and I let it pass to lose another shield (this one a Hydro Spy). With the Swarmer still menacing, Sam ends her turn with no follow-on from the Elf. For my part, I play a Reef-Eye to bolster my defenses.

Sam solves the Reef-Eye on turn 4 with a Return to the Soil, giving me the small consolation prize of a  source in my mana zone. She then attacks in with the Blaze Belcher, popping a third shield. She’s done me a small favour, since this shield reveals a Dream Pirate! I play it next turn, giving her more defense to contend with.

Sadly for me, Sam’s well prepared, smoking the Pirate with a well-placed Comet Missile. She attacks again with the Belcher, popping a fourth shield (a Teleport, praise the maker). Back to me, I then kill off the Elf with Bone Blades. Next turn, Sam attacks relentlessly with the Belcher, and finally I go ahead and intercept the attack with my Skeeter Swarmer, seeing both off to the discard pile. Back to me, I deploy a pair of Aqua Seneschals, looking forward to pivoting the game on its axis.

Now turn 7, Sam plays Tatsurion and passes, unable to attack since I have no tapped creatures in play. I then Teleport Tatsurion back to Sam’s hand, then pop two shields with the Seneschal twins to go up two more cards in hand. Sam opts for a different approach on turn 8 when she instead plays a Roaming Bloodmane. Back to me, I play Fumes, forcing her to discard a Rock Bite. After summoning a Skull Cutter, I pop two more shields with the Seneschals, seeing Sam hit a shield blast on the first one (a harmless Sprout).

Tatsurion returns on turn 9 to kill a Seneschal, then Sam follows up with an attack from the Bloodmane to burst my final shield. It’s an Ice Blade, but with no good targets on the board I simply forego the shield blast and return it to my hand. I steady my defenses by playing a pair of Frogzookas, then attack Sam’s last shield with my Seneschal. There’s no last-moment shield blast salvation for Sam, and she scoops.

Game Two

Sam and I trade opening mana drops, then I break the seal with a second-turn Brain Squirmer. Sam’s third turn is a blank aside from mana development, so I go ahead and crack her first shield with the Squirmer. This time, the revealed Sprout is far more relevant, and once her turn rolls back around she deploys a Pyro Trooper and Blaze Belcher. Back to me, I summon Fumes, forcing Sam to discard a card from her hand (Root Trap). I then attack a second shield, but it’s a shield blast- a Return to the Soil gets directed against my Fumes, sending it to my mana zone to serve out its days as a resource.

Ice Blade

Now turn 5, Sam adds a Rumbling Terrasaur. She attacks with the Pyro Trooper, picking off my hapless Brain Squirmer. That leaves the Belcher, which cracks my first shield (giving me a Death Smoke, the fool!). Back to me, I simply Teleport the Terrasaur back to hand. Next turn Sam replays the Terrasaur, then attacks with the Pyro Trooper to crack a second shield, and the Blecher for a third. Although down two shields, it does give me a couple fresh cards- a Dream Pirate and an Aqua Seneschal. This time, though, I kill her Terrasaur for good as Razorkinder makes his welcome appearance.

Sam summons a Simian Trooper Grash on turn 7, then attacks with the Trooper (giving me a Hydro Spy from the spent shield). The Belcher hammers in to pop my last one, offering me a Grave Worm Hatchling by way of compensation. I have my work cut out for me. With her turn over, I set about to work. First, I summon the Dream Pirate to give me a blocker. Next, I solve the Simian with a Bone Blades, then kill the Pyro Trooper with a well-placed attack from Razorkinder.

Back to Sam, she leads turn 8 with a Gatling Skyterror, then follows with Little Hissy. Alas, thanks to hungry! the Belcher must attack even though to do so is suicide, and of course my Pirate eases itself between me and the Burn Belly and kills it. Still, the Pirate is all that stands between Sam and victory, and if she can get past it she’s got the game. Back to me, I Death Smoke the Skyterror, then play an Aqua Seneschal. Razorkinder then gets sent in to burst one of Sam’s shields, and it’s another Sprout shield burst to give her more mana.

Now turn 9, Sam plays an Ambush Scorpion and passes. I then Terror Pit Little Hissy, and attack in on her last shield with my Aqua Seneschal. As can happen in Kaijudo, a win can come from the very edge of the precipice as Sam’s last shield reveals… a Tornado Flame! She roasts my Dream Pirate with it, and that leaves me utterly defenseless. Sam claims a well-earned victory to put us even at one apiece.

Game Three

Again Sam and I go right at it from the start, with the only turn boasting any inactivity being my opener as I play a . Sam opens with a Blaze Belcher. Back to me, I match with a Brain Squirmer, which Sam then raises with an Ambush Scorpion. She then attacks in with the Belcher to pop my first shield, an Aqua Seneschal.

Now turn 3, I play the Seneschal, then kill off her Belcher with my Squirmer. That leaves the Squirmer open, but after summoning a Little Hissy Sam instead decides to keep the offensive pressure on and pops another shield, this time a Hydro Spy. Next turn I play the Spy, then force the trade between the Squirmer and Scorpion with an attack. Then I send in the Aqua Seneschal, putting Sam down a shield and me up a card. Alas, her shield is a Sprout, and the shield blast effect lets her play it immediately. Back to Sam, she summons a Draglide the Swiftest, then attacks my Seneschal with her Hissy for another trade.

I play a second Hydro Spy on turn 5, then attack with my first Spy to pop another sheild. Thanks to the ramping power of the earlier Sprout, Sam’s able to tap out and slap down Tatsurion, who immediately kills off my tapped Hydro Spy. Next turn I bolster my defenses with a Reef-Eye and Skeeter Swarmer, then attack again with my surviving Hydro Spy to blast Sam’s third shield. Sam doesn’t take this lying down, first killing off the Reef-Eye with a Root Trap before having Tatsurion kill the other Spy.

I solve Tatsurion on turn 7 with a Teleport, albeit temporarily. Right on schedule, Sam replays him the moment she can, but this time I haven’t left him any juicy, tapped targets to pick off. Instead, I’ve baited a trap, and when my turn rolls back around I get to live the dream: Razorkinder killing Tatsurion! Sam tries to recover with a Raging Goliant and Simian Trooper Grash, but is only partially successful as I Death Smoke the Goliant on the following turn before peeling back a fourth shield with Razorkinder. This one blasts another Sprout, though it’s largely redundant now. Sam battles back, using a Comet Missile to crush my Skeeter Swarmer, and Simian Trooper Grash to trade out with Razorkinder.

Still, when Zagaan, the Bone Knight lands on turn 10, Sam’s in trouble. She plays a Pyro Trooper, but has no other answer. I deploy a Frogzooka and Aqua Seneschal, then attack with Zagaan. The last shield is a Tornado Flame, which kills off my Seneschal, but down to no shields and no answers, Sam scoops after the draw.

Thoughts & Analysis

When I first looked at the game of Kaijudo, it seemed to me to be lacking the level of variation available to Magic. In our endless review of the preconstructed game, we’ve found all manner of decks, builds, and archetypes which continually reinforce just how diverse a game Magic is. Kaijudo, by comparison, seemed a lot simpler, almost homogeneous.

Zagaan, the Bone Knight

Some of that can be laid at the door of its gameplay. The biggest culprit here is the resource management mechanic. Being able to plop down a single Darkness card into our mana zone, then cast as many Darkness spells as we wanted to stood in very start contrast to the system of needing a certain amount of mana of particular colours to play a card. In Magic, if you only have one Plains in play, you need to be careful as to how you use it if you’ve got mroe than one White card in hand. Summoning a creature now means you can’t play that combat trick when your opponent next attacks. In Kaijudo, the act of putting that Darkness card into the mana zone is comparable to adding the Swamp land type to all of your lands- in addition to what they normally are.

But a funny thing happened when we started to play the game, as we started to get a sense of what we didn’t know. We started finding ways that the game did manage to weave in complexity and differentiation, and began to understand the crucial decision points a player of the game must master to excel at it. Note, however, that we didn’t master them ourselves- that would take many, many more games- but we played just enough to begin to identify some of them. Many of these we noted in our playtest of Tatsurion’s deck, and we saw a bit more in our runthrough of Razorkinder.

It was here that I started to get a sense of the momentum involved in the game, with the ebb and flow of creatures that can actually attack one another. It also highlighted another interesting dynamic of the game, which is the employment of blocker creatures. As designed, the Razorkinder deck was very good at what it did, which was stalling the enemy out on the board while establishing control and card advantage. Unlike with Tatsurion’s deck, I was better able to offer up shields as sacrifices, knowing that as time went on I could begin to lock down the board state and stop the attacks altogether. With Tatsurion’s deck, getting down to your last couple of shields was almost a “hurry up and kill your opponent” klaxon to action, here I felt it greater control of my own fate. This is largely a matter of personal preference rather than of deck quality, for there will be many players who enjoy the hell-bent-for-leather approach of Tatsurion.

Hits: Abundance of blockers gives you plenty of ways to stall out your opponent’s attacks as you develop your strategy; control-style strategy of the deck well-supported by card selection

Misses: Deck is fairly reactive with a number of its cards, meaning that unless the right circumstances are in place the card does nothing to advance your game state

OVERALL SCORE: 4.30/5.00

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