Hello again, everybody! Christian Van Hoose here with another Kaijudo article! I hope you all had a good week and have already gotten your hands on some of the new Rise of the Duel Masters set which I discussed in my last article. This past weekend was also the first weekend of Kaijudo Leagues around the country. In this article, I'll briefly go over how the first League went at my local (Comic Kings in Virginia Beach) and give you an in-depth look at the first deck I ran post-Rise.
The Kaijudo League is designed to get the target audience, children, more involved in the game through a fun environment. It's basically the precursor to the competitive play we'll surely be seeing in a matter of months. Seeing as the first set released only a few days ago, it's unrealistic to think we'll have a regional, say, next weekend, but I still encourage everyone who will be interested in competitive play to check out their locals and get involved in the Leagues. It's a chance to meet up with your local players, get some good testing, trading, and practicing in, and even earn some promo cards while you're at it!
While the League isn't necessarily a tournament in and of itself, Wizards of the Coast has gone on record saying they definitely encourage casual tournaments to be held at Leagues. They aren't sanctioned or anything yet, but they're just as fun as ever, and since EarthP0w3R is running the League at Comic Kings, we plan to hold one every weekend we can. It's even possible to get some money together and generate some prize support if all your players are on board. Anyway, back to how the League went for me. We had 7 people who were able to enter a tournament so we decided to run it double-elimination style. The deck I chose? A control deck based around Keeper of Dawn that I'll get into right now, starting with the decklist!
2 Aqua Seneschal
3 Reef Prince Glu-urrgle
3 Logos Scan
2 Crystal Memory
2 Razorkinder Puppet
3 Terror Pit
2 Bone Blades
2 Dark Return
2 Specter Claw
1 Skull Shatter
2 Bolt-Tail Dragon
1 Moorna, Gatling Dragon
1 Gilaflame the Assaulter
3 Tornado Flame
3 Keeper of Dawn
3 Sun-Stalk Seed
2 Keeper of Clouds
3 Stormspark Blast
Total: 46 Cards
The centerpiece: Keeper of Dawn
Ah, the reason to run Light in a control deck! The versatility of Keeper of Dawn makes it one of my absolute favorite cards. Being able to re-use Stormspark Blasts, Skull Shatters, and Terror Pits late game, as well as even the little spells such as Crystal Memory, Dark Return, or an early game Bone Blades allows this deck to adapt to just about any situation. It basically turns the rest of the deck into a toolbox, so now I'll show you what I ran to get the most out of the card.
The Water Lineup
For draw power, I ran 2 Seneschal, 3 Reef Prince, 3 Logos Scan, and 2 Crystal Memory. I chose Seneschal over Hydro Spy because the 2000 power makes a huge difference, as well as Seneschal's ability to come out a turn earlier. That allows me to crash with opposing Seneschals and make the aggressive player think twice about going in for shields so early, helping me a lot during the early game, which is admittedly the deck's weakest point. The 2 copies of Reef-Eye, which might seem redundant next to the set of Sun-Stalk Seeds, also serve this purpose, and can be easily re-used with Dark Return.
Logos Scan should need no explanation, I believe every control deck should currently be running 3. 3 Reef Prince has gone up from 2 from my older, pre-Rise control decks, partly because of the lack of Hydro Spy and partly because this is a 4-civ control deck that needs all the consistency it can get. Crystal Memory also helps with this, and it was definitely one of my favorite cards all day just for its versatility. It can search field clearers like Barrage and Stormspark Blast depending on the situation, generic removal like Terror Pit or Razorkinder, finishers, or anything else you might need. Definitely one of the main reasons a deck like this can work.
The Discard Lineup: Specter Claw/Razorkinder Puppet/Skull Shatter
I wanted to keep this deck more or less streamlined for control, and sitting at 46 cards with 4 civilizations meant something had to give a little. If there's anything in this deck that's weaker than in a 2/3 civilization control deck, it's the discard section, as I wanted to make sure this deck could establish more dominance over the field. However, I believe I made the best use of the 5 slots I allotted to discard as I could have with this lineup.
The Specter Claws were chosen over Fumes because this deck, like I said, can struggle early game against a good aggro deck, and while Specter Claw is no Sun-Stalk Seed, it does a lot to help slow the momentum of rush and aggro when played in the early turns. It doesn't generate a +1 like Fumes, but it has a lot more utility in this deck because of its low cost, allowing me to recycle it with Keeper of Dawn if they're down to 1 card, or even letting me play multiples at once. The Razorkinder Puppets and Skull Shatter are more cards that shouldn't need much of an explanation in this type of deck, but I mentioned why they're so good in my previous article. I only ran 1 Skull Shatter because I didn't anticipate many control decks, and an extra one might have contributed to some abysmal opening hands. Generally the 2 Crystal Memories can search it when the situation calls for it, unless it's in shields. I think that's an appropriate risk to take.
The Finishers: Bolt-Tail/Moorna
I had been going back and forth in my head for a while prior to actually building the deck on what finishers I was going to include. Only being able to acquire 1 copy of Moorna, Gatling Dragon before the tournament made my decision substantially easier. Looking back, I actually think this was the right way to go even if I had been able to run it any way I would have liked, as Bolt-Tail still puts in just as much work as it did pre-Rise. The Fast Attacker can give me all the momentum I need to set up for game in one turn, without giving them a chance to respond with a Terror Pit or other removal. Don't get me wrong, Moorna was good; she's definitely a powerhouse with some great utility, but with the draw and the Crystal Memories, I don't think more than 1 is necessary.
The Removal Spells: Terror Pit/Barrage/Bone Blades/Tornado Flame/Stormspark Blast
These are all prime spells to recycle with Keeper of Dawn. The Terror Pits are clearly the most versatile 1-for-1 removal spell in the game, so they're maxed out. Barrage and Bone Blades are both at 2 as I believe Barrage can do a lot of the same jobs as Bone Blades. However, Bone Blades is one of my answers to Gilaflame in the shields, can get rid of early Seneschals and help this deck cope early game, and can get rid of small blockers in the way, so it's also included. I felt the need to run 3 Tornado Flame because of how many targets it can have now that Bone Blades can't touch, such as Hyperspeed Dragon and Skycrusher's Elite. It's also better when facing down an army of Razorkinders and Keeper of Dawns in the mirror match, if they need to be dealt with.
Stormspark Blast isn't really a removal spell, but since a lot of the creatures in this deck are rather large, it can be used to clear the field a lot of the time. It can be completely devastating with the right setup, and can be used to go for game against a blocker-heavy field. Definitely one of the go-to picks with Crystal Memory and Keeper of Dawn.
Now that you all have an idea of how the deck works, let's see how it did!
Round 1: Keeper of Dawn vs. Nature/Darkness Aggro
The problem with running an aggro deck without water is that it's not quite fast enough to defeat control in the first 5-6 turns and a lot of the time, it has a hard time keeping up with the resources a control deck can provide after that time, coupled with the removal and discard I ran. That proved to be the case here, and though Dark Scaradorable was mildly annoying, I took the match 2-0.
Round 2: Keeper of Dawn vs. Water/Fire/Nature Armored Dragons
I was paired up against Carl (EarthP0w3R) and wasn't overly excited about playing against a deck with 3 Comet Missiles, 2 Bolgash Dragons and tons of potential fast attackers. Game 1 I had a hand without a play until around turn 5, and his deck was able to keep constant pressure on me. Game 2, I had plays, but his version of the deck can drop early threats like Essence Elf and Aqua Seneschal on the field and then follow up with draw power and a string of huge dragons, and I wasn't able to keep up. I wasn't too happy about taking a loss so early but it was definitely a well-earned win for Carl.
Round 3: Keeper of Dawn vs. Fire/Nature Rush
Theo was running a rush deck which abused Blastforge Slaver and Essence Elf with Drakon Powerful Attackers and Gilaflame to generate fast, hard to deal with aggression. I helped him build the deck, but knowing what to expect doesn't change the fact that my deck can get off the ground slowly sometimes. I was able to steal game 1 with some incredibly lucky shield blasts, as the deck runs a fair amount, and game 2 I had a good enough hand to counter his rush. I was now 2-1 and had to make it through 2 more matches to get to the finals.
Round 4: Keeper of Dawn vs. Nature/Darkness Aggro
This was actually a re-match against my round 1 opponent, Phillip, because of how the brackets worked out. It turned out pretty similarly, and I won, though I can't remember specifics besides the deck doing what it's meant to do late game.
Round 5: Keeper of Dawn vs. ...Keeper of Dawn?
Sean (Pogiforce) had built an incredibly similar version of the deck with help from Carl before the event. There were some minor differences, such as his only running 2 Keeper of Dawns, but the decks operated essentially the same. I played very conservatively since getting the most out of every play is important in the control matchup (something I may write an article about in the future), and I took this match 2-0 to move into the finals.
Finals: Keeper of Dawn vs. Water/Fire/Nature Armored Dragons
Yet another grueling match with Carl! Unfortunately for me, the first game seemed like it was straight out of Round 2, with me not being able to answer all of his threats in time to save myself. Game 2 started out poorly for him, and without the early pressure of Seneschals and other creatures, I was able to focus enough on his later threats to take the win. Game 3 was incredibly close, but in the end, I took it after a series of intense back-and-forth plays. It was definitely one of the most intense Kaijudo matches I've had so far, and I was happy to pull out the win against what is arguably this deck's worst matchup.
Well, that's about all I wanted to cover. A little longer than I had anticipated but with League just starting I wanted to write something about it while maintaining the focus on a fun, interesting, and very strong deck that I encourage you all to try and possibly alter to your playstyle. Check out EarhP0w3R's YouTube channel to see this deck, and tons more, in action in the coming weeks, and again thanks to ARG for supporting my articles and this game. See you all next week!