Welcome back, everyone! Hope you all had a nice week and a great Thanksgiving for those of you in the United States! I also hope you had a good first weekend with Evo Fury last week! If your local store is like mine, you may have held a Limited tournament to welcome the set. If you didn't, I strongly recommend you to ask your store to hold one, as it's a great way to get cards in the hands of new players and get acquainted with the different cards and possible combos inside the set itself. Both types of Limited play, Booster Drafts and Sealed Deck, are great for this, though my store opted to go the Booster Draft route, as our entrants were already familiar with the gameplay and were better equipped to handle this style.
For clarification, in a Sealed Deck tournament, all players would receive a number of packs, open them, and then build most likely 30-card minimum decks. A Booster Draft, such as the one we held, consists of everyone opening one pack, taking a card to keep, and passing the rest, and going on in that manner until everyone moves to the next pack. We did this with 5 packs per person, so at the end of the drafting, we all had 45 cards and constructed 30 card decks out of those cards. Though I'll be referencing my experience in the draft itself a lot, many of these tips can also be applied to sealed deck, though not all. The only other rule that makes both of these styles different from Constructed play is that there is no limit to the amount of copies of a card you can run; for example, if you acquire 4 Hydra Medusa, you can run all of them.
The Power Creatures
I spent some time reading the spoiler on the Kaijudo wiki page, so I was more or less familiar with the cards in the set. I also discussed with my team what we thought the best cards in the set were, or at least which of them would prove to be power cards in the draft. We came up with a couple conclusions.
As Evo Fury introduces Evolutions to the game, they obviously play a major role in the set. Each civilization has two different Evolutions except for Fire, which has four (the two Drakons, Evo Fury Tatsurion, and Big Hissy). All of these Evolutions, no matter what the civilization or race, are exponentially better in Sealed play than they are in Constructed if they hit board. It's important to stress the "if" because a card like Evo Fury Tatsurion, which only has two other Armored Dragons in the set to use as bait, is going to be a lot harder to play than it would be in a deck dedicated to it.
Most of these Evolutions definitely have ample bait. We expected Bronze-Arm Sabertooth to be one of the main threats, and we were correct, as its low cost and giant power can put serious pressure on anyone, especially in a format without Bone Blades. It also has bait like Prickleback and Moonhowler Tribe in the set that can stand on their own as solid cards. Even though it easily outclasses a card like Emperor Axon in raw strength, that doesn't mean Axon isn't also playable. Like I mentioned, any double breaker with decent enough power is great as long as you're able to actually get it out.
What the Set Lacks
It's always a good idea to make sure you're running a fair amount of Shield Blasts in a Constructed deck, but you're not going to be able to do any such thing when using Evo Fury for Limited. There's a grand total of five Shield Blasts in the whole 60-card set, and Search the Depths can't even really be used defensively. This means it's that much more valuable to take a card like Helios Rings or Tendril Grasp when you can get it. It also means that a player can afford to be a little more reckless in his attacks, as Shield Blasts will be triggered very rarely.
Now is probably a good time to also mention that in addition to the lack of Shield Blasts, there's a general lack of spells and good removal as well. This all serves to make cards like Bronze-Arm Sabertooth and Halon, Paragon of Light even better, as there's no fear of Bone Blades or Terror Pit. Picking up removal like Heat Seekers or Aquatic Expulsion is usually a good idea, as it's about the only removal you're likely to get. That being said, Hydra Medusa serves as both an Evolution with a good amount of power and versatile removal. It's a card that can hold its own in Constructed play, so it's obviously a great pick in Limited if you can acquire some Chimeras.
What I Ran
I wound up running a Water/Darkness/Nature deck. I was sold on Nature as soon as I pulled my first Bronze-Arm Sabertooth, and I knew I wanted to run Darkness for Hydra Medusa. The versatility of the card really spoke to my inner control player, though I knew I had to build something with a good amount of aggression to keep up in the Limited metagame. Water is something I was iffy on, but I was passed an Emperor Axon rather early on and was then able to acquire a couple Cyber Sprites, which looked to be a great answer to cards like Prickleback and any early Evo-bait in general.
Overall I was happy with the deck I built when I built it. I had two copies each of Hydra Medusa, Emperor Axon and Bronze-Arm Sabertooth. My bait for Medusa included some Gigabolvers to counter other early creatures as well as Gigazandas and Scavenging Chimeras just for their cheap cost. I was lucky enough to get 3 copies each of Moonhowler Tribe and Prickleback for my Beast Kin lineup, something I was very happy about. In addition to the Cyber Lords, I also included a Rapids Lurker Wwhhshrll (Can I buy a vowel?) and a Reef Gladiator purely because I thought the extra blockers would come in handy, and they definitely paid off. I went 2-1 in swiss with the deck, unfortunately lost in top four, but was able to win the third place playoff. My loss in top four was due to not being as prepared for a Fire/Nature/Water rush strategy as I would have liked, but my loss in swiss was far more interesting...
What I Didn't Expect
When looking at a pack and deciding what to pick in a booster draft, one assumes that they will be running multiple Civilizations in their deck. It's rare to see someone construct a two-Civilization deck and even rarer that it performs very well. Something I didn't even consider was the possibility of a mono-civ deck. Someone considered it, though, and that brave person was my friend Matt. He went undefeated all day.
This is what I lost to in round three, and before anyone discounts it, bear in mind the fact I mentioned earlier: there are no limits to the number of copies of a card you can play. When I and everyone else in that tournament were picking our cards, we almost immediately skipped over anything with an effect that began "While all the cards in your mana zone are..." as we were sure we'd have too many different civilizations to use them. I only used Reef Gladiator because it was a blocker, not because I thought it would ever get its effect off. The Light version of this effect is Prism-Blade Enforcer, and in addition to being bait for Halon, in a mono-Light deck, it has 3500 power and Blocker, all at level two. With everyone passing them up, Matt drafted seven of them. SEVEN. Along with four or five Cloudwalker Drones. And I thought I had a good early game with Prickleback and Moonhowler Tribe.
Almost half of his deck was playable by turn two, with the Chasm Entanglers, Cloudwalkers, and Prism-Blades. He also had four Halon, Paragon of Light. The one thing he lacked was Helios Rings, but it never mattered, as he had by far the best offense and defense of any deck in the tournament with his seven Prism-Blade Enforcers. He lost two games total all tournament, one to me when I had Hydra Medusas at the right time, but he won all his matches. Every game against him felt like a constant struggle, as I almost always needed an Evolution on board to even crack his field. It just proves how deadly the element of surprise can be, and though I saw Big Hissys, Flamespike Tatsurions, and Evo Fury Tatsurions hitting the battle zone in matches, none of them could compete with a strategy everyone ruled out. For those who would like to see this deck and others in action from the draft, some of the matches have been posted on EarthP0w3R's YouTube channel.
Drafting this set was a real eye-opener. A lot of things went down exactly as I had planned, such as the dominance of cards like Sabertooth and Hydra Medusa, and a lot of things were completely unexpected, such as staring down a field of Prism-Blade Enforcers and Cloudwalker Drones. Either way, the basic necessities of a Limited deck still prove to be the same: a strong early game, creatures with actual power, and just about any removal you can get your hands on. Leave a comment down below to let me know what your thoughts on the article were, or even to share your own Limited experiences with the set, I'd love to hear them! I know I had a blast. Thanks for reading everybody, and I'll see you next week!