December 20, 2012

We continue our review of Set 27, Hero's Ascension today by taking a look at the Wind element cards in the set. When we originally had doled out who was going to review which element, I actually ended up having to take Wind as my last choice, forgetting that Void was a selectable element and having taken Fire as my first pick, and Earth afterwards for some random reason.

Now, I'm not going to say that Wind was terrible this set, but I'm not going to say that Wind received a whole load of new cards that are going to see play either. In fact, it did receive what I thought is probably one of the better cards overall in the entire set, and a mission that I really like. Other than that though, it seems that Wind took a break after everything new that it got from the last set.

Just like the other five main elements, Wind's main keyword was shifted away to a new element this set, while it borrowed an ally element's keyword. In this case, Flashpoint was sent over to Lightning, where it found a home on a few Ninjas such as The 4th Hokage [True Leader], or a wealth of Naruto Uzumaki. I had figured that Might Guy could make use of the Flashpoint Mechanic rather well, but that didn't happen. I'm sure MJM will get into that more in his Lightning review on Friday. As for what Wind got, they received Revitalize. Now, in Earth, Revitalize is probably one of the strongest keywords at the moment, simply because it allows one of the most popular decks at this time to operate. Revitalize for Earth had multiple cards supporting it, with effects that milled cards in order to cause cards to go to the bottom of the Deck, and effects that triggered from cards going to the bottom of the Deck in turn. It was a cohesive group of effects that culminate in “Draw a bunch, mill your Deck to less than 10 cards, Spontaneous Tree Summoning your opponent unlimited times until you win.”

So, what did Wind get to do with this effect? Something just as amazing maybe, right? Maybe something like a Ninja that heals another Ninja every time a card is moved to the bottom of your Deck. What about, seeing as Wind is an element that enjoys cards in hand, something as simple as drawing a card, similar to Asuma Sarutobi [Mentor for the Future].

Unfortunately, the only Ninja that actually even interacts with the Revitalize keyword this set is Gaara of the Desert [Reactionary Defense], who is an optional triggered effect that allows you to draw a card if one of your 'Revitalize' Ninjas become the target of a Jutsu. Last time I checked, I don't ever want my Ninjas to be the target of my opponent's Jutsu, and any cards that Actually target my own Ninjas are few and far between, as “Target: User” is a thing of the past, and most other Jutsu that target my own board are Healing Jutsu. As for the other four Wind Ninja that received Revitalize, they don't really interact with the keyword in any way, save for the fact that Chiyo [Advisor's Protection] will bottom deck herself if she elects to be discarded in place of one of your other Ninja.

As for my Top Five list, it's more of a Top Three, as the two cards on the bottom of the list are in the realm where they're better than everything else, playability wise, but just barely. If anything, they are more tech cards for sideboard or overall just well suited cards for Limited. Just as before, I will be starting with number five, and working my way up to the best.

Honorable Mention / Number Five: Shino Aburame [Calculated Decision]
Son, I am proud

So, the effect name for Shino is actually rather fitting, because up until about five minutes ago while I was actually writing this article, this spot was held by Temari [Bold Attitude]. But the more I thought about it, the more I felt that while Temari is cool in Limited, Shino could actually see some use in Constructed play as well. Shino's effect is the sort of effect that can be used to either try and hinder your opponent, or rather just outright benefit you. He either filters a bad card from your hand for what could end up being a better card, or he can knock a key card out of your opponent's hand. Being able to get a peek at your opponent's hand is always going to be a helpful effect. Add to that the fact that you can very well cripple their next move, and the choice between filtering a card or taking a shot at knocking that Turn 3 Ninja or Warhawk out of their hand becomes a real calculating decision. I can see myself more often electing to try and attack my opponent's hand with this card. Even in the late game, if you are out any other drop, Shino comes in to either knock away a pesky Jutsu that might be waiting, or keep your opponent off of their own high turn Ninja.

Honorable Mention / Number Four: Gigantic Fan
[Insert JDragon style Temari blowing joke here]

When I first saw this card, I rushed over in reading it and assumed it only pushed the opposing Team. For one Chakra that anyone could use, I knew instantly I was wrong, so going back, I realized that I still liked this card a lot. Something important to remember is that when a Ninja becomes a Stand-by Ninja, that Ninja is removed from its Team. Playing this on your opponent's turn while you are Blocking will cause whatever Teams it effects to all become separate Ninjas. For you, this isn't a problem, because it's your turn next, which means you'll be organizing Teams again. For your opponent, they're stuck with a fractured group of Ninja who are most likely not going to want to go out to Battle alone when you Attack this turn.

Some other aspects also worth mentioning is that this card can act as a pseudo negation Jutsu as well, since a Jutsu being used by a Ninja that is no longer on the Battlefield simply fails to resolve. In this sense, Gigantic Fan acts as an emergency eject button, forcing both Teams back and invalidating all Jutsu that were being played by those Ninja prior to it resolving. Another interesting interaction is using this Jutsu after Attacking with Baki [Cleaning Up] in order to ensure that he gets away and his effect successfully resolves, since he still was Sent out to Attack. This should not be a main strategy, and one again, more of an emergency switch that you can pull if Baki looks like he might be discarded somehow.

Overall, this card is good for an anti-aggressive into an aggressive play, as you stave off an Attack on your opponent's turn, and get in for a hard counter attack on your turn. In Limited, this can spell the end of the game, as choices are limited and every Ninja counts, seeing as your reliability of Missions and Jutsu are both extremely low. A well placed Gigantic Fan will spread out opponent's board out and they end up in a lose-lose situation of blocking and taking a lot of damage to their Ninja, or giving up Battle Rewards and thus losing the game very quickly.

Number Three: Idle Comrades
Kakashi's one true love

Now I can get into the three cards that I really like, and want to talk about the most. The first of which is Idle Comrades. This card has a multitude of uses, which range from effecting your own Ninja for a few neat tricks, but mostly for effecting your opponent's Ninja in various ways.

Using this card on your own Ninja is an option, but not recommended, as it puts you down a Ninja during your opponent's turn. If that Ninja was by itself and you're doing this to heal it and get it back to a useful state, that's understandable. More often, you're going to want to bounce one of your Ninja with a good put in play effect, so that you get an extra use out of it. Such examples could be Temari [Wind Scythe], Asuma Sarutobi [Knockout Punch], Naruto Uzumaki (Sage Mode) [Hero of the Leaf]. You could also use it to get around the need to trigger effects that normally would have required Flashpoint such as En no Gyoja or Naruto Uzumaki [A New Technique]. A less likely instance, but an applicable use of the effect regardless, is dodging some kind of targeting effect during your opponent's Mission phase, such as Utakata [Snapwave].

This card really shines though when you use it on your opponent's Ninja. This ranges from keeping your opponent from utilizing one of their strongest Ninja for the turn, to depriving them of a put in play effect (until the end of the turn), or outright stopping that effect for good if it was an 'when deployed' effect. Reinforcements and Squads are permanently removed, as they cannot come back into play at the end of the turn due to game rules. Even better, you can make it so that any of their Ninja don't come back if you happen to have Shimon Hijiri [Keeping an Eye] in play. In fact, a very solid control strategy can be formed around the two cards, considering if you add in Obito Uchiha [Stalwart], or perhaps even Shameful Actions. The card I'll be discussing next can be extra helpful for various reasons as well. In fact, I will be writing about my thoughts on a possible new Fire/Wind control style deck using these cards on Sunday, in the same vein that MJM did a report on the Permanent Earth deck a couple weeks ago. Be sure to check it out.

Number 2: Sakura's Tears
There are now enough Missions to play a Sakura's [Blank] Deck

Once upon a time, I had an interesting idea for a Ninja who, when put in play, would let you pay some amount of Chakra or maybe discard cards from hand, in order for you to use the effect of a Mission card in either your Chakra area or Discard Pile. It probably would have been a Shikamaru or Kabuto, as that seems to fit those Ninja. This would be in addition to getting to play your normal mission for the turn though, and I realized it was probably too strong in that way. Soon after, we got Kabuto Yakushi (Possessed Mode), who was close to what I had been hoping for, but his restriction on having no hand made it somewhat tough to ever use, more so also the fact that he was a Ninja that required Sacrifice but was not a Reinforcement himself, taking up precious extra space in the Deck. I consigned to the fact that a similar effect may or may not come around some day.

I was surprised to see Sakura's Tears bringing back this sort of effect, allowing you to utilize a Mission that you've already used over again, effectively becoming an extra copy of any Mission in your Deck. It allows you the flexibility of having to use another Mission as a hand cost for your earlier Missions if the need arises, as you'll be able to get that Mission's effect anyways come Turn 4. You can even 'cheat' into the effects of higher Turn cost Missions early such as Gedo: Art of Rinne Rebirth, Organization of Peace, or Eyes of the Betrayer.  This opens you up for a few fun combos, or just surprising your opponent, who wasn't expecting something like Organization of Peace on Turn 4.

Another aspect that I was initially unsure on, but after a quick confirmation by Tylar, is that you can choose a Counter Mission in your Discard Pile, and apply it's target and effect, since you aren't technically playing that Counter Mission, so it's Counter pretext doesn't bar you from using it.  This opens up a few small possibilities. The best and only really useful targets that are Counter Missions are Sneak Attack, Path of the Avenger, and Idle Comrades. All three share in the fact that they remove Ninjas from your opponent's field, either permanently or temporarily (Or permanently with Shimon in play). This opens you up to the possibility of a one two punch that can cripple your opponent's board. The cost on Sneak Attack and Path of the Avenger may seem steep, but if you are targeting key low Turn Cost Ninjas, rather than expending all of your resources on a single high Turn Cost Ninja, you can get double the effect by being able to get that Mission into your Discard Pile on your turn and then using Sakura's Tear to get it's effect again. This can be accomplished by pretty much any effect that allows you to pay Chakra during your Mission Phase. An excellent example would be the line of Turn 2 Ninjas from Set 25 Kage Summit, that allow you to pay 1 of any Chakra for up to two effects based on the Symbol of other Ninjas you control. The best option in this case is Sakura Haruno [Medical Student], as her effect for controlling another Wind Ninja is that you get to heal a Ninja. The Water effect is useful as well, and may be applicable, if you decide to go the control route with Shimon.  Obito Uchiha [Stalwart] is also a good use of that Mission in your Chakra area, as he will bounce a Ninja himself as well.

Number One: Shizune [Medical Expert]
The apprentice has surpassed the master

Now, there is a good reason this card is in my top spot, but before I get into that, I want to rant a moment. Kage Summit was a huge multi-element set, and pushed the borders for the number of elements you could viably include in a deck without coming up short on Chakra costs or Hand costs. As soon as Avenger's Wrath started to get previewed, we noticed that multi-element cards are almost no where to be found anymore. Now, Avenger's Wrath is technically the first set of the next Block (Which consists of Avenger's Wrath, Hero's Ascension, Set 28, and Set 29), so it is understandable for it to start going in a different direction. But if the focus is being drawn more towards single element cards that have the option to interact well with other elements, don't waste few rare double element cards on something like adding a pointless Earth symbol to Shizune. Her effect exclusively costs Wind Chakra, meaning that she isn't going to be played in a strict Earth deck ever. If the point was to draw attention to the fact that Earth and Wind are allied elements, this could have been accomplished somewhere else. I can't complain completely because it's not like the extra symbol makes her worse in any way. Rather, I'd just have rather seen it on that Turn 4 Sasuke with a Water symbol.

Now that that's out of my system, I can get down to why this card is amazing. First of all, don't even worry about the heal part of the effect, that has nothing to do with why this is a good card. Instead, understand that the second part of the effect occurs regardless of if that target Ninja is actually Healed or not. That's right, target one of your opponent's Healthy Ninjas; obviously it isn't Healed, but it still isn't going to be going out to Battle this turn. This is in stark contrast to Tsunade [Breaking the Seal], who's effect hinges entirely on the fact that the Ninja you target gets healed or not. Both of these cards were previewed very close together, and a lot of people assumed that they worked the same way. Unfortunately, the one that's harder to get and is a higher turn and has a hand cost is the one that isn't as useful.

Shizune is a solid control card. Every turn, your opponent is going to be down their best Ninja to Battle with, which can not only slow down their assault for Battle Rewards, but also keep them from accessing powerful effects that only occur in Battle. Your opponent's The 3rd Hokage [Fire Shadow] isn't going to be very useful if he is never opposing anyone, and while your opponent can still pay 2 Chakra to draw a card with The 4th Raikage [Lighting Shadow], you paying valuable resources for a third of an effect. She even has the potential to stop move than just one Ninja a turn, since your opponent now has to make the choice of Teaming that Ninja up still, in order to use the large Team to Block next turn, or leaving that Ninja off to the side in order to try and still use his available Ninja to Battle with. So you're either stemming the flow of Attacks, or causing your opponent to spread their Ninja out, leaving them possibly weak for an Attack on your turn. Overall, she is an excellent fit into the Turn 4 slot for any control style deck that I hope to see popping up this format.

Be sure to check back in tomorrow for MJM's review of Lightning, and then again on Saturday for my personal favorite from this set, Fire.

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{ 1 comments... read them below or add one }

  1. Been waiting on a better "shameful actions" to play with Shimon/Obito. I'm looking forward to your take on an Idle Comrades.dec.


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