What's up, everybody? I'm back again with another Kaijudo article! Before I get into the main article, however, I'd like to talk about a little news in the Kaijudo world with you guys. For those of you who may not frequent Kaijudo.com, I'll sum it up: WotC has confirmed that multi-civilization cards will make an appearance in this game, some time in the next block of sets! This is exciting news, especially for those who played Duel Masters back in the day and were wondering when (or if) this mechanic would be introduced. The only thing that really separates these cards from normal cards is that you have to have all the civilizations of the card you're playing in your mana zone in order to play it. For example, to play a creature that's both Water and Darkness, you must have both of those civilizations in your mana zone. Also, when you use a multi-civilization card itself as mana, it goes into your mana zone tapped, which means you're not able to use it to pay a card's cost that turn. These requirements serve to further balance out these cards, since I'm sure they're going to have some really awesome effects and shake the game up! Be sure to check Kaijudo.com for all the details.
Anyway, on to the subject at hand! Though I haven't actually been able to play in a constructed tournament post-Evo Fury yet, I have gotten in a lot of testing with various strategies, and there is a noticeable change in the metagame. Before Evo Fury, the top decks were mostly variants of control such as Water/Darkness/Fire. Some Water/Nature/Fire aggro decks were also quite effective, as were Hyperspeed Dragon decks, but on the whole, control was generally "the thing to beat". In all of my testing with the new Evo Fury cards, a lot of that has changed; games are being decided more than ever on a strong early game, or at least the ability to stop an opponent's strong early game. There are a number of reasons for this.
The Aggressive Mindset
Now, when I say "aggression", I'm not really talking about breaking shields at every opportunity - that's usually bad playing, unless you're piloting a rush deck which will be at a disadvantage if you let up for even a turn. I'm talking about the need to establish a powerful field presence. Cards like Aqua Seneschal make your opponent have to deal with them, or they can inch you closer to victory at no cost to card advantage. Many of these low/medium-level creatures aren't about blind aggression, but more about putting your cards on the table in a way that your opponent won't be able to deal with them. This doesn't mean overextending with a bunch of 2000-or-less creatures and getting hit with Barrage, but rather summoning threatening creatures when they're hard to deal with and using them to keep your opponent on the ropes without losing much card advantage, if you lose any at all.
Cheap, Powerful Evolutions
It's ok to go crazy over the announcement of a super-cool card like Evo Fury Tatsurion, but the real strength in Evolutions for the time being has definitely proven to be the cheaper ones with cheaper bait, such as Bronze-Arm Sabertooth and Emperor Neuron. Sabertooth is a complete powerhouse in itself at 7000 power with Double Breaker, and if you don't have a way to deal with it when it comes out, it could easily put you in a very rough position. Sabertooth is already one of the cards that has given Water/Nature aggro cause to exist, and it's also found a home in Water/Fire/Nature. A Beast Kin lineup in there with cards like Prickleback and Bronze-Arm Tribe fits perfectly into the strategy, and even in the worst-case scenario where it hits a Bone Blades in shields, it gets you that much closer to dropping Bolt-Tail Dragon. That's potentially a lot of broken shields with cards that are hard to deal with pretty early on, and it's a main reason that type of aggro will probably continue to be one of the best decks.
The Drakon evolutions have given rush a new hope, as Laser-Arm Drakon basically falls under the same umbrella as Sabertooth; it's relatively big, a Double Breaker, and comes out incredibly early. There are more ways to deal with it, but it's something rush really needed to be a contender, which it definitely is now. Fire/Nature has been tested to some success, and I personally think Fire/Darkness has huge potential with the abundance of Level 1 creatures in the deck, as well as Screeching Scaradorable. Blastforge Captain, though it's a card for more slow-paced Aggro decks, has also put in a lot of work so far, as it can completely change the battle zone with one attack in the right situation.
Standard Aggro such as WFN isn't the only thing that's gotten faster. Even the more heavy-duty control decks I mentioned such as WDF have taken a turn toward aggression. Emperor Neuron is another of those cheap Evolutions making a statement for aggression, and it's definitely the Super Rare that has had the most impact so far. I discussed previously how Aqua Seneschal defined the format before Evo Fury's release, and the same is basically true now. Emperor Neuron functions as a bigger Seneschal, able to evolve off of Cyber Sprite and Cyber Trader, which are two more creatures that even WDF players have started including. Of course, a well-timed Bone Blades from the opponent does hurt more than usual, and getting hit by Tendril Grasp after you've used resources to summon it is never the greatest, but the power really makes it a game-changer, allowing it to attack over things like Laser-Arm Drakon even, and netting you an extra card in the process.
Another main reason control has gotten more aggressive is Hydra Medusa. Besides being a Terror Pit with a good-sized body, it evolves off the common race of Chimeras. A lot of Chimeras that we have are aggressive themselves, such as Bat-Breath Scaradorable and Gigastand. In my Water/Darkness "Blurple" deck, which can be found on YouTube, I run a hefty lineup of Chimeras which can easily put pressure on the opponent early on as well as evolve into Medusa. Medusa can potentially banish two creatures in one turn, one with the effect and one by attacking over something. These kinds of tempo changes really define the deck at the moment. Even though it can be aggressive a lot of the time, I still classify it as Control, or at least Aggro-Control, as many cards such as Hydra Medusa need to be played conservatively to get the full value out of them. Putting early pressure on with things like Aqua Seneschal and Screeching Scaradorable, then dropping a Medusa when they try to build field presence of their own can be devastating.
Fighting the Aggression
The onset of this aggressive mindset has generated the need to have ways to combat in decks that don't necessarily want to be breaking shields early on. Bone Blades and Scaradorable of Gloom Hollow have become the go-to ways to stop Sabertooth early on, though Gloom Hollow is ineffective against Aqua Seneschal and Emperor Neuron. Tendril Grasp is also exceeding my expectations so far, hitting Rush and Aggro incredibly hard when it's played as a Shield Blast. In general though, decks can't rely on their late game quite as much.
Cards like Razorkinder from the Battle Decks have been seeing a dramatic drop in play since just a few weeks ago since they don't hit many of the threatening cards of the new meta. Bolt-Tail Dragon and Evolutions almost always dodge Razorkinder, and the card is virtually useless against stopping a Rush deck from taking the game early on, so it's seeing a lot less play than in the previously Control-dominated format with many slow finishers. Aggro decks themselves have also had to adapt, focusing more on the early game and early threats instead of building up to continuous late-game finishers, like Hyperspeed Dragon decks tend to do. So far in testing, decks focusing on Hyperspeed Dragon have been outclassed for the moment, since they require more time and setup. This could change when different variants are tried out, though.
Bear in mind that these are all just early-format observations and there is a lot of time for this game to develop until the next set releases in March. I'm sure we'll see different play styles and decks emerge in the coming weeks as players come up with new ideas and expand upon some existing ones. I'm definitely looking forward to writing about all of that. I personally am excited to try my hand at making the kind of "heavy-duty" control I piloted pre-Evo Fury adaptable to the new strategies, and if all goes well, I should have an overview of my choices as well as a tournament report coming at you all next week! Until then, leave a comment with your thoughts and play a some good matches of Kaijudo over the week!