December 12, 2012

With Set 27, Hero's Ascension releasing this Friday, MJM and I decided that before taking a full look at the entire set as a whole, we could touch upon the Super Rares that are in the set.  This week we'll address those, and all next week we will discuss each element separately and in detail.  Each of us chose seven Super Rares, including one of each of the Starter Deck Exclusive Super Rares to discuss this week.  My picks were: The 3rd Tsuchikage, Killer Bee (Version 2), The 4th Hokage, Tsunade, Pain (Deva Path), Double Lariat, and Summoning Jutsu: Reanimation.  I will be discussing them in no particular order, merely how they were numbered on the card list.  Also, I'll be posting insightful comments from you, the players, that I have collected from the Facebook preview pages.

The 3rd Tsuchikage [Gravity Well]
There were actually no Facebook comments worth posting about this card, I'm a bit disappointed.

I can honestly say I was not at all expecting to get another of the Four non-Hokages in this set. Like his previous version from Set 25 Kage Summit, The 3rd Tsuchikage [Earth Shadow], he sports the triple elements of Earth, Fire, and Wind; the three elements necessary in order to perform the Kekkei Tota: Particle Style (aka Dust Release).  He also retains the same stat layout of 4/5 Healthy and 2/4 Injured, making him one of the strongest Support Ninja in the game, numbers wise.

His effect is quite interesting for a number of reasons, which I will break down here as it touches on a few intricacies of game rules.

Tsuchikage's effect is a triggered effect, with the condition of its trigger being “When any of your opponent's Ninjas receives damage”, in which case you “may remove that Ninja from its Team. In that case, that Ninja cannot be sent out to Battle during the next turn.”  There are a few important things to point out with this effect.  The first is that it uses the word 'may' in place of 'can', which allows his effect to placed on the chain any number of times during the turn, rather than only once per turn like most optional effects that use 'can'.  On top of that, because it is still considered an optional effect, and because the effect uses “In that case,”, the Cost for placing the Tsuchikage's effect on the chain is actually removing the Ninja that received Damage from its Team.  When his effect resolves off the chain, that is when you are placing the restriction of “That Ninja cannot be sent out to Battle during the next turn.”  An important thing to remember as well is that Tsuchikage's effect will trigger for each Ninja that receives Damage even if multiple Ninjas are receiving damage at the same time, making him extremely versatile due to being able to apply his effect any number of times, as well as any time.

The one loophole that exists is that because it specifically states “During the next turn”, you actually cannot use the Mission Phase to somehow give Damage to a Ninja and lock it out from Battle, as it will still be able to be sent out to Attack or Block on That Turn, just not The Next Turn.

Currently, Earth, Wind, and Fire all possess a few cards that deal at least 1 damage during the exchange of Jutsu; such as Flamethrower and Gale Style: Laser Circus for Wind, Lightning Beast Running Jutsu, Simulstrike, The 3rd Hokage [Supremacy], and The 6th Hokage [Ruling With A Fist] for Fire, and finally Paper Bomb for Earth. Not all of these cards are very playable, but cards such as Flamethrower, Laser Circus, and Simulstrike become negation/removal in a way with this effect, as well as allowing you to lock out key Ninjas from Battle next turn, especially if doing do while you are the Blocker.

His playability is currently contested by Ninjas such as The 3rd Hokage [Fire Shadow] in Fire, The 5th Hokage [Supremacy] in Wind, and The 1st Hokage [Supremacy] or The 1st Hokage [Leader of the Senju] (For Revitalize decks) in Earth. Although, depending on what we receive in the following few sets of this Block, he may see some play, and there is always next Block as well, which he will be legal for.

Killer Bee (Version 2) [Strength of the Beasts]

Surprisingly, most all reception was very positive, and there wasn't much derp getting herped. Yet...

I would have figured that MJM would have wanted to discuss this card, but at the time that we were choosing which cards we were going to discuss, he chose to take the mystery box at the time and select the yet to be revealed twelfth Super Rare card. I can't say that I mind though, as I was one of the first to comment on how pleased I was with this card when it was initially previewed.

Recently, due to the size of the text box for the Super Rare template, effects have had to be a bit more simple than what you might find on a card with a normal template.  The effect has to be straightforward, but still be worthy of being attached to a Super Rare card.  I think I can easily say that Killer Bee (Version 2)'s effect is just that.  For no cost (more specifically, for 0 chakra to add it to the chain) during the Exchange of Jutsu, I get to perform and Eight Trigrams Divination Seal Spell Formula on the opposing Head Ninja.  Most of the time, if Bee has any Support Ninjas with him, this spells an Outstanding Victory, and 1 damage for each of the remaining Back Ninjas on that opposing Team.  The beauty of this effect is not just its offensive applications, but also its defensive applications as well.  You have a free response every turn, so long as your opponent is using its Head Ninja to play Jutsu.  Of course, your opponent is perfectly capable of playing around this effect by always having their Back Ninjas being the users of Jutsu cards, but that means that you are forcing them to do something in a way they may not optimally want to do so.  On the flip side of this, Bee is practically unable to be chump blocked (when your opponent simply uses an expendable Ninja in a Team by itself to Block), as you can simply flip that Ninja to the top of your opponent's Deck and take 2 Battle Rewards, one of which being the Ninja you just removed.  Don't forget that Squads and Reinforcements are just outright gone when they are knocked out of play by Killer Bee.  In the case of Tailed Beast Decks, which rely on rushing in with their Beasts in Teams by themselves, Bee is a wall that requires two Jutsu just to get around his initial free effect, not including your own Jutsu in hand.  Most important is the fact that his effect Does Not Target, and thus gets around possible swaps of the Head Ninja, or protection effects such as The 5th Kazekage [Wind Shadow] (More about this in a prior article, Musings of the Hermit: An Abrasive Attitude)

Balancing this all out is the fact that the only legal Killer Bees in format once this set is legal are: [Da Eighth], [Rondo of Destruction], and [Symbiotic Relationship], all of which have their own Handcost of 1. This means that you're going to have to pay a total Handcost of 2 over a couple of turns in order to get (Version 2) into play. Also, he doesn't actually gain any extra power in his stats, and actually loses his support value of 2. His effect is also not Valid, which is most likely for the best, as otherwise, only full removal of some sort would be able to stop his effect. Regardless, he is a powerful, simple, straightforward card that is relatively easy to put in play, as he does not require any specific Killer Bee to meet its Sacrifice (Unlike the recent Susano'o (Sasuke) and Jugo (State 2) cards). Expect this card to be one of the chase Super Rares of the set, sharing that spot in my opinion with Kisame Hoshigaki [Merging], and perhaps Masked Man [Tailed Beast Control] (discussed next article) simply due to fan boy factor.

The 4th Hokage [True Leader]
Professor Oak's Advice: Logan is Correct.

This card got A Lot of mixed reviews when it was initially previewed, as well as plenty of people misunderstanding the way that his effect was applied.  With the recent outright banning of The 4th Hokage [Supremacy] in Block Format Competitive Play, we were left with only the 3rd grade drawing version of The 4th Hokage [Space Manipulation] from Tournament Pack 4 as a usable 4th Hokage.  Does this version of the 4th Hokage merit play though?  When he is put in play in any way, he pumps all of your Ninjas (including himself) by +2/+2, as well as adding the benefit of whenever one of your Teams scores an Outstanding Victory during the Showdown of that Turn, you get a Battle Reward.  The real power of his effect comes from the fact that he has Flashpoint, which allows you to remove him from play for the rest of your turn and your opponent's turn, only for him to come back into play at the start of your next turn and trigger his effect again.  While it seems a bit contradictory to play a strong Ninja on your Turn 6, only to just as soon remove him from play again, there can be situations where doing so can give the rest of your field that persistent boost each of your turns in order to break through for more Battle Rewards.  And of course there is a very unlikely to work well, but none the less humorous combo with this card:

Picture this. It is your Turn 6. You've been keeping your hand full with The Warhawk or aggressive use of The Sage's effect. You play The Future Hokage and if it sticks, you prepare for full blown shenanigans. Playing The 4th Hokage, you boost your field (Possibly after Squading Might Guy and Kakashi Hatake together into a formidable monster of a card that gives you two Combat Phases), and then Flashpoint away your Hokage. At this point, The Future Hokage's effect will trigger, allowing you to search your Deck for any Satoosa Ninja and put it in play, If you happen to have another 4th Hokage in your Deck still, you can grab him and you reap another spreading of +2/+2 and an additional Battle Reward for winning an Outstanding Victory. At this point, you have the superior numbers on the board, and all you need do it swing and either take a lot of Battle Rewards, or cripple your opponent's Ninjas and take a few Battle Rewards. Maximum points for Flashpointing your second 4th Hokage away to fetch either a 4th Raikage (Who on his own will always get an Outstanding Victory unless your opponent responds), or a 3rd Hokage, whom just helps seal your opponent's fate with having a lower Team Power, as well as giving you the ability to score three Battles Rewards from his Team winning an Outstanding Victory, which is more than they would have gotten had the Team gone unopposed.

The bottom line of course is that this 4th Hokage has a chance to see play from those who enjoy the character or want to try and make huge Team Powers, or want to try and exploit the Future Hokage combo. Otherwise, Ninjas like The 4th Raikage and The 3rd Hokage just offer so much while they're on the table compared to The Yellow Flash. While he is usually a fan boy card, a lot more people I feel are going to be looking for his nemesis, The Masked Man, when it comes to fan favorite cards.

Tsunade [Breaking the Seal]
 I'm pretty sure David is right, too...

Before I get into this card, I want to make it clear that I would love to be able to like every card we get, but there are times when certain cards just do not cut it. This Tsunade sort of falls into that realm. I want to like this card, I want to be able to say that it will see play and be a useful piece for some upcoming Medical style deck that relies on injuring and healing all over the place. The problem is that she isn't the engine that a deck of that style needs, especially because she is Turn 6, and a deck should have its engine going much sooner than that.

Her effect has two primary uses. The first is healing your own guys at the expense of injuring someone else, though this does set up a healing engine that can be abused with Futaba. The second is that you can heal one of your opponent's Ninjas in order to knock them out of their current Team.

The problem with her second use is her wording. “Heal target Ninja. In that case...” Unlike Shizune from this same set, who does something similar in that she heals a Ninja and then applies an effect to that Ninja, the second part of Shizune's effect does not rely on that Ninja actually healing or not. I can target your Healthy Ninja you just played and pay a Wind Chakra, and despite that Ninja not being healed since it's already in Healthy Status, that Ninja still cannot be sent out to Battle, as the second half of that effect doesn't rely (It doesn't use 'In that case') on the target Ninja being healed.

Backtracking to her first application for a moment; yes, she can injure one of your Ninjas for free and heal that same Ninja, which means she is practically a free draw with Futaba, though The 5th Hokage [Supremacy] would actually draw us 2 cards in the same case and for only 1 Chakra.

Had Tsunade's secondary effect of being able to make Standby one of your opponent's Ninja if they are the target, regardless of them being healed or not, Tsunade would have been much more useful. She still requires you to injure 1 Ninja you control for the cost (No, you cannot injure an already injured Ninja either, you aren't fulfilling the card in that case), so it would not have disrupted any balance or made her effect too easily used. Considering cards like The 5th Kazekage who has a powerful activated effect on top of a shielding continuous effect, and can be payed for with three different Symbols, Tsunade's effect is just too restrictive to see play over other Wind Symbol Turn 6's in the format at this time. Come next rotation, if the power level of the cards continue to stay toned down, she might find a place.

Pain (Deva Path) [Pursuit of Power]

Although he is not a tried and true Super Rare in the sense that he is going to be much easier to acquire (He'll cost you ten bucks and you get all the reprinted Void stuff), he deserves mention, as he does sit on the power level that a Super Rare should at least try to possess (I'm looking at you, Tsunade).

With the return of almost all of Void's lineup that we originally received over Pain of Pain and Tales of the Gallant Sage, many players are ready to jump back into the 'World of Pein' and see if they can't make a Pain deck worth mentioning this time around. The most important returning members of the crew are Pain (Naraka Path), who helped secure Kevin Perron his win during this year's Gencon Nationals Event by making his opponent unable to use mission negation against his Clash Mission. The other, in my opinion, would be Pain (Human Path), who's hand disruption effect allows you to keep your opponent off of key resources either temporarily, or permanently if you happen to have a way to negate Human Path's own effect (Yes, removing the 2 cards from your opponent hand is the Cost, so negating him will cause his effect of “return those cards at the end of the turn” from occurring).

What this new version of Deva Path offers is twofold. Once he's in play your turn marker isn't too important anymore, so his effect allows you to bat away opposing Ninjas that get in his way. If your opponent happens to chump block, you might not even have to move your turn marker down at all (You can pick 0 for X, which means he'll push a Turn 0 Ninja).

His other effect is a continuous effect that would make Math Professors like Genre cry out in protest. Despite the fact that it is a mathematical impossibility, your Turn Marker is considered to be both Even as well as Odd, despite what the actual number may be. This is important for effects such as all of the other Paths of Pain, whom all rely on whether your Turn Marker is even or odd in order for them to be able to use their effects. Once Deva Path is in play, all of your other Paths of Pain see this abomination known as Even and Odd at the same time, and get to use their effects every turn now, or in the case of Naraka Path or Asura Path, are just considered to be 'on' all the time. Having both Naraka Path and Preta Path in play while you have Deva Path as well will make it extremely difficult for your opponent to do much of anything, as their Missions and Ninja effects becomes limited, and you have a reliable free Jutsu negation in Preta Path each turn as well. Please note that Pain (Animal Path) (Male or Female) is bad and your should not play it.

Currently, of the other two Deva Path that we have in format, [Yin and Yang] and [Sage's Student], only [Sage's Student] offers any competition for a place in Void Decks. The draw of [Sage's Student] is that he is usable outside of strict “Path of Pain” decks, while this Pain is more centered around helping to abusing the effects of the other Paths. The style and focus of your Deck will determine which Deva Path you end up playing.

Double Lariat
(aka the Chicago Special)

 Can you guess which of the above people are good players and which aren't?

The following is a run on sentence, but I'm only doing this so that I am speaking on the same grammar level of most people who are treating this card like it is the nuts all amazing:

Hey kids!  Who enjoys sticking two Combat focused Ninjas into a single Team for no reason other than to get the secondary effect of a Jutsu that your opponent absolutely Knows you have, and even if you're bluffing, you get blown out because you're not abusing the fact that the Only Legal Raikage Always gets an Outstanding Victory so long as he is Battling in a Team by himself? ... I thought so!

Seriously though, Double Lariat isn't an absolutely terrible card, but that doesn't mean it's amazing either. It has a secondary effect that's downside is the fact that you have to team up two Ninja who should never really be in a Team together because of the power advantage you have of either keeping one of them separate (Raikage), or the other being used as an above the curve Head Ninja (Killer Bee). You are literally proclaiming to your opponent straight out if you Team the two Ninjas together that you intend to use the Jutsu, and a smart opponent is going to easily play around this fact.  If the secondary effect had been “If you control a Killer Bee and A on the Battlefield, discard each other Ninja in the target's Team.”, this card would have been leaps and bounds more useful, and certainly would have seen near mandatory play in any Deck that had both Killer Bee and A in it. Otherwise, it's a Sand Coffin / Deadly Combination Attack / Wind Style: Rasen Shuriken with two viable users rather than the respective one that each of the aforementioned Jutsu had (Technically two for Deadly Combination Attack, but the only really used variation of the user was both of them on the same card).

This all just makes the card average. Lariat is still usable, which doesn't give you a Battle Reward, but injures an opposing Ninja, discards an opposing Ninja through 2 damage, and draws you 2 cards for the same price off of the same users.

Before I move onto the next card, and as much as I hate dissecting little things about cards, I should at least address one more thing about this card that pertains to the above comments.Double Lariat possesses the text “While this Jutsu is on the chain, it cannot be the target of your opponent's Jutsu cards.”  A lot of people don't actually understand what that means, so I guess I will explain it.  Wait a second, this means...

Research Tour: The Art of Targeting Jutsu cards (Or Not Targeting Jutsu cards, for that matter)

First of all, its a good thing that Jutsu are not Jutsu cards on the chain anymore, so the effect is actually completely useless. (That Sentence Is False)

Rather, a lot of people read that as “Oh, this Jutsu can't be negated, sweet deal!” Not quite. This effect is shared by Gale Style: Laser Circus (If X is three or more), in that it cannot be the target of your opponent's Jutsu cards, but by no means does that give it the vaunted “Cannot be negated” that Reverse Tetragram Sealing Jutsu, or Flamethrower have. A card only targets another card if it specifically uses the word “target”. There are no implications, there are no “obvious targeting”, a card that does something without targeting will get around any targeting restrictions.

These would be useless:

... to negate Double Lariat, since you cannot actually even target the Jutsu (Playing a Jutsu that targets a card that already possesses 'cannot be targeted by Jutsu cards' doesn't cause an “Oh well, you messed up” situation, rather the game sees an impossible action and rewinds, the same goes for any similar situation with untargetable cards).

These would work:

... since they do not actually target the Jutsu in any way, and instead allow you to apply an effect to whatever might by there to legally select. This applies to all variations as well, so a Ninja that can't be the target of another Ninja effect for example, isn't saved from any effect that doesn't specifically state that it is targeting that Ninja.

And now back to our regularly scheduled Super Rare review...

Summoning Jutsu: Reanimation

So seriously, where is the 2nd Hokage on the list of Requirements? I asked Tylar Allinder about it, and he had this to say:

Shino'sDad: Tylar, why didn't Summoning Jutsu: Reanimation have Requirements: 2nd Hokage? By that point in the story, we were aware that he was the one to originally develop the technique.

Tylar: We know that he was the technique's original creator, but it was said that he very quickly labeled it as a Forbidden Jutsu and abandoned it, never actually having mastered the Jutsu himself.

Shino'sDad: So the Reanimation Jutsu that we know is probably nothing like The 2nd Hokage's original Jutsu, and is more like the specially modified and perfected version that Orochimaru first used?

Tylar: Even if it was, I don't think The 2nd Hokage would use the Jutsu anyways. He abandoned it for a reason, after all.

Shino'sDad: Thanks for taking the time to answer those questions.

So there you have it, “This is a bad guy Jutsu” pretty much is a workable way of explaining it when you get down to it.

Similar to every other Super Rare Jutsu in this set, the user pool is somewhat limited. Currently, we have Kabuto Yakushi [Right Hand of the Snake], and Orochimaru in his [White Snake], [Snakebind], [Hidden Assault], and [Master of Every Jutsu] incarnations. Not to mention, we have the wonderfully powerful Kabuto Yakushi [Intellectual Pursuit], from this set (Find out what he does in our previous article, Information Extraction: Super Card List Tracker), who is amazing on his own, but now nets your an extra Ninja with this Jutsu during the EoJ as well.

The pool of users isn't really that much a problem. This card was designed more towards the late game anyways, or at least that would be the ideal time to play this card. Even though you have the option to return the same Ninja you ended up discarding, you could just as well pick anything in either Discard Pile. Did your opponent end up using a Kage early game as a Handcost? Well, they're most likely in the Discard Pile by now, and soon to be on your side of the field. The aforementioned scenario is just as applicable to your own side of the game, as that early Handcosted Kage is still useful later in the game.

Unfortunately, more often than not, removal Jutsu will always be compared to Fire Style: Dragon Flame Jutsu, just as most Missions will be compared to The Warhawk. Fire was very fortunate with those two cards, and no other element has really received something to match that power level. That doesn't mean that these Jutsu like Double Lariat or Summoning Jutsu: Reanimation are throw aways, considering that they're not even the same element. Still, that push more towards later in the game that started with making the line of powerful Jutsu in Set 26 all require Turn 3 or higher continues with user specific Jutsu in this set. As much as I hate saying “We'll see what happened after the next rotation”, unless some of those remaining cards are pushed onto the Rogue List, the remnants of those power effects from last Block are going to dictate the playability of newer cards that, while strong, are just outclassed for the time being.

MJM will be reviewing the last seven Super Rares this Friday, so be sure to check back then as well.

Any comments, questions, and concerns should be left in the comment section below, or on our Facebook Page, where you can find links to all articles as well as receive notification when a new one is posted!

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