Analyzing the Kaijudo Meta: Pre-Evo Fury!

Welcome back, everyone!  I hope you all enjoyed the exclusive Evo Fury preview I wrote about in last week's article!  If you haven't seen it yet, be sure to check it out.  Since Evo Fury comes out in about a week and a half, on November 13, I decided to use this article as a way to look back on how the game has evolved with the Base Set since it released in September, and look at cards that have stood out and maybe surprised people with their potency.  We may be getting over 60 brand new cards in under two weeks, but I feel that a lot of things we discovered in this first Kaijudo metagame will hold true for a long time.

Aqua Seneschal

In a way, one could say that Aqua Seneschal is the pre-Evo Fury meta.  Since we don't have Evolutions and draw abilities for other civilizations yet, like Reap and Sow, Water has been run in almost everything.  In those decks, 2-3 Aqua Seneschal has become a staple.  I'd like to admit right now that I didn't give this card its due credit for a time.  Before RIS hit shelves, I was ignoring this card in favor of Hydro Spy, because I valued the immediate and guaranteed +1 over Seneschal's effect, which forces you to attack to gain any sort of advantage.  However, after further testing, I was proven completely wrong.

The reason Aqua Seneschal has been so amazing (and Hydro Spy has been so mediocre) is its power.  One might think 1000 power doesn't make that much of a difference, but early to mid-game, it can be extreme.  I bumped this card up to 3 copies in my control decks when I realized how useful it was in the rush and aggro matchup.  If you go first, you can have Seneschal on the field before your opponent's, say, Drakon Weaponsmith is able to attack.  This forces them to reconsider entirely, as attacking and breaking a shield would just allow you to run over the Weaponsmith with Seneschal and draw a card, netting you a +2 in the process.  Holding off opposing Seneschals, Razorhides, and the like can also be very nice.

The "Seneschal beat-down" game can also be fun to play against a control deck.  Even if I'm using a control deck and wouldn't necessarily want to give my opponent more cards in hand, if I have a Seneschal and maybe something else on the field and some removal in my hand, I'll just start going at shields with the Seneschal, letting the advantage even out because of the draw Seneschal gets me.  This forces my opponent to make banishing my Seneschal priority number one, and by the time they can get around it, I'll either be much closer to winning the game or have answers to anything they could try to drop in retaliation - hopefully both.  This is one of the reasons playing against aggro decks is so scary when they drop a turn three Seneschal; they can come at two or three of your shields until you get a way to remove Seneschal from the field, and at that point they could still have four or more cards in hand thanks to it and could still drop threat after threat.  This all isn't to say that Hydro Spy is a bad card - it just lacks utility at the moment, something the next set looks like it might change.

The Great Arena

I did say that civilizations besides Water really didn't have draw before Evo Fury, but what I meant was that there wasn't enough draw in other civilizations to justify not running Water for a lot of people.  The Great Arena is definitely draw, and good draw power at that.  In the right aggro deck it can compliment Water nicely, turning each of your Dragons into +1s when they hit the battle zone.  This card is vulnerable to Bone Blades, but the benefits can outweigh its vulnerability in many situations.  Something I've found is that it also makes Sprout a passable choice in Armored Dragon aggro decks.  If you can get the turn two Sprout off followed by a turn three Great Arena, you could start dropping Hyperspeed Dragons and other Dragons by the fourth and fifth turns without running out of a hand.  In a Dragon-heavy deck, this can allow you to put down threat after threat, a lot of the time before your opponent has a way to deal with them.  I expect this card to continue to see play post-Evo Fury, and alongside other new draw options, it might persuade some players to drop Water from their decks.

Bounce - Rusalka and Milporo

I chose to group these cards together because they both have the purpose of getting creatures off the battle zone, yet don't deal with them permanently.  I didn't really give either of these cards enough credit before testing, yet they both turned out to be defining cards of the pre-Evo metagame.  Rusalka, Aqua Chaser gives rush and aggro decks alike a huge push in momentum, clearing the path for Drakons, Aqua Seneschals, and anything else that can continue to put pressure on your opponent, while being an attacker itself.  Summoning two of them consecutively with the right setup can often prove to be too much for the opponent to handle, unless they have a crazy amount of shield blasts.  I've also grown to love Rusalka in control, as it works against aggro just as well as it works in aggro.  It can be the perfect answer to Seneschals or Hyperspeed Dragons until you are able to play more permanent removal against them.  It can also help in those game pushes when you just need a cheap way to get one more blocker off the field.  More often than not though, it's used defensively in control while offensively in rush or aggro.

Milporo, Council of Logos is a little more narrow, yet for the increase in level, a lot more effective in what it does.  Since it's level seven, it's basically only played in control decks that can get to that mana with no problem.  In Duel Masters, which Kaijudo is based on, there was a card exactly like Milporo except it only cost five mana, which was a little ridiculous.  At level seven, it's definitely balanced, yet still proves why its effect is so devastating in the very late game.  Not only does it remove an opposing threat from the battle zone, it forces your opponent to draw that same creature again!  Milporo reaches peak effectiveness when your opponent has a very small hand, or no hand at all, so all they can do is replay the creature you just forced them to draw again.  Anything without a come-into-play effect is a prime target for Milporo, and it can be used to stall until you draw a permanent answer like Terror Pit just as easily as it can be used the turn before you decide to Terror Pit to simply make your opponent lose a draw.  This it truly an awesome card which can really punish those large creatures before they can cause any damage.

Dark Scaradorable and Finishers

The first thing I want to say about finishers, or in my opinion, Double Breakers that help you to end the game, is that it's perfectly ok to play a fair amount of them.  When RIS came out, I was thinking that having three in a control deck was pushing it, since the deck was already packed with other high-level cards like Terror Pit, Skull Shatter and Stormspark Blast.  As I got more testing in, I moved that number to four, and I could even see five being a viable option for a lot of decks.  A lot of times the control mirror match can come down to who can put more pressure on the board late game.  This doesn't mean you have to be aggressive first, but when you feel the games state is sufficiently simplified and your opponent doesn't have many answers left in their hand, dropping multiple huge creatures like Tatsurion the Unchained and Bolt-Tail Dragon can all but assure you the victory.  This "constant threat" strategy is commonly utilized by aggro decks, and it's been proven to work very well for control as well.

More specifically, I want to talk about Dark Scaradorable, a card that completely surprised me.  At most, I thought it was going to be decent, and I only finally ran it when I decided to build Water/Darkness/Light, a deck that lacked the finishers of the Fire civilization.  This card can definitely hold its own as a finisher.  I'm not saying it's better than the Dragons of the Fire civilization, but it has a lot of things going for it that make it a contender.  Being able to come out on turn six gives it a huge advantage over a lot of finishers, giving you another turn to attack with it before worrying about something like Terror PIt if you went first.  The shield breaking effect, though mandatory, is almost always a great ability.  Sure, there are times when you break a Terror Pit or something of that like and it doesn't work out for you, but those shields would be broken anyway, and you should really be dropping Dark Scaradorable only when you want that huge shift in momentum that it can give you.  It's truly a great card that I can see being played in many decks for quite a while.

And those are the main big surprises I've found in the pre-Evo Fury metagame!  For only being one set deep into Kaijudo, we already have a very diverse field of decks and I've seen a ton of different ideas compete.  Evo Fury will only serve to enhance these options and create even more, and I plan to talk about all of the previews we have for it so far in my article next week.  Hopefully we'll have knowledge of enough cards to the point where I can do something like my article for RIS, where I'll analyze some of the cards and talk about how I think they'll affect the game, giving you all some potential strategies to look out for.  Make sure you leave a comment with your thoughts down below, and I'll catch you all next week to discuss more about Evo Fury!