Welcome to Week Five of the Stormy Battle article series, which takes a look at the previews revealed so far for Set 28 Ultimate Ninja Storm 3, and gives a brief review of the cards and possible uses in the upcoming Format once Set 28 becomes legal. This week, we look over an array of different cards, ranging from Byakugan, Cloud Ninjas, The Avenger himself, and the flagship card of the set, Naruto Uzumaki (9 Tails Chakra).
Hinata Hyuga and Strength of Conviction
When Burst was first introduced, it was a Lightning keyword, found on Ninjas who had a tendency to display a sudden burst of power when they battled. In Set 27, Burst was shifted towards Water Ninjas, paired onto cards that could give you the top card of your Deck if it was a revealed and of a certain card type. In Set 28, we see that Burst has shifted again over to Earth. This makes sense in a way, as Burst always felt like a very Taijutsu related keyword, and the majority of Taijustu Ninjas are either Lightning or Earth.
Hinata herself has rather poor stats for a Turn 2 Ninja, but this is easily covered by the dual combination of not only Burst, but also her own effect text. The effect itself is very reminiscent of one of my favorite cards from Set 15, 100% Hot Blooded. While you don't get the protection that 100% Hot Blooded offered, you still have a Valid source that places coins on any Taijutsu Ninja that you put in play, including herself. That means that even if you happen to Burst for 0, she still comes in as a solid 3/2 4/1, which Are good stats for a Turn 2 Ninja. If your curve contains a good lineup of Taijutsu Ninjas, Hinata as a perfect pair with The Sage, who can put those coins to good use by turning them into card draw. Although, there is a good reason to keep those coins around, which I will discuss in the next set of previews below.
Strength of Conviction somewhat reminds me of the card Seeing Through Distance, from Set 16. When I first started reading the card, I initially thought it was going to be some sort of throwback to it. I was mostly incorrect, as the only thing they really share is Hinata as the artwork, and looking at a set number of cards on the top of your Deck. Unlike Seeing Through Distance, this card will always draw you a card, at the cost of removing a coin from the Mission. Seeing as it is only Permanent 3, this seemed rather terrible, since you must remove a coin at the start of your turn as well. What redeemed this card was it's timing, which is either Mission Phase, meaning that you can activate it both on your turn and your opponent's. This means that at it's worst, it is a draw 2 over two turns, the first of which allowing you to rearrange your top 3, and the next rearranging the top 2 again. Luckily, Earth has a way to abuse this card more than that, in the form of Hinata Hyuga [Will to Protect], and Zetsu [Infectious Spores], both Ninjas from Set 25. With those, you are able to provide a steady stream of coins on the mission, allowing you to draw more cards over the course of the next however many turns you can keep the card active. Paired with a card like Messengers, you can move a coin from Messengers to Strength of Conviction, allowing you to draw a card for the removal of a coin on Messengers, and then use the coin on Strength of Conviction to draw again, and you can do this every Mission Phase, your's or your opponent's. The Permanent Earth Stall Deck has always been a pet favorite of Mull to Four's crew, so we love seeing more support for it. If only there was a good way to protect your Missions from removal and Negation, the deck could wind up becoming very competitive, and annoying.
Neji Hyuga and 8 Trigrams 64 Palms
Continuing with the theme of Earth receiving Burst, as well as doing things with +1/+1 coins, Neji Hyuga turns all of those +1/+1 coins into +2/+1 coins. I would make a joke about about his effect name, but we here at Mull to Four find jokes that dwell on racism and derogatory terms to be not nearly funny enough to bother using. As for the effect, it makes quite a huge difference in the long run. A single additional power can be the difference between a draw or a Victory, of having to commit to playing a Jutsu to win a Battle over being able to react to what your opponent plays instead. A single coin on Neji makes him an 8/2, not to mention whatever his initial Burst bonus will be. If you opponent was focused on forming a large Team to be able to Attack every turn, you can now swarm with single Ninjas, pressing the advantage. Not to mention that Neji makes Tsukado [Carrier of Vengeance] absolutely ridiculous as a Head Ninja.
8 Trigrams 64 Palms received a lot of positive reception on Facebook as well as the forums. In the wake of such narrow user specific Jutsu that just weren't up to par, we received a Jutsu that, while it had a requirement, it was one that was mostly easy to fulfill, and had a powerful effect that merited it. Flipping coins can always backfire pretty easily, especially when it comes to “Flip until you get tails” effects. There is just as much chance that you get a Tails on the first flip and are suddenly doing nothing as there is that you continue flipping. Luckily, this card covers itself in that you are always guaranteed at least 1 Damage in additional to whatever you flip. That means this card is a 100% chance for 1 Damage, and a 50% for 2 Damage, which you get to divide among any of the Ninjas opposing its user. A 50% chance for removal is always good, and if you are playing this card and aren't responded to, you can spread the Damage in hopes of scoring an Outstanding Victory. I can see this card getting played quite a bit in Earth decks that aren't completely committed to the Self Mill Revitalize plan.
Rock Lee and Eight Inner Gates
The combination of Burst and Flashpoint is an interesting one, because the latter allows you to retrigger the former. Paired with a put in play trigger that pumps another of your Ninjas as well, it's likely you can see a dramatic surge of power on your side of the board when he comes into play. And if you happen to hit a low Entrance cost card on Burst, you can always Flashpoint him out of play in order to try again next turn, but you still get to keep the extra bonus on the other Ninja. A repeatable pump on a Ninja who has the ability to pump his own power is nice, and there is a lot of design space that can be explored with this combination of keywords. Hopefully we'll see more interesting combinations in the future, though none of the others really pair as well as these two keywords do.
Eight Inner Gates is one of those cards that I really just can't get behind. The flavor of the card is interesting at least, you mill your deck to break through the different gates, getting a bonus at 3, 6, or 8. The problem with this card is how easily it can just hit a Jutsu on even the second card. The bonus for burning away your deck is just too great to merit using it effectively. There is no possible way you would be able to set up the 6 or 8 effects beforehand, meaning that you leave it to luck to hit. And then being a Rare on top of all of this, especially compared to other cards that were common and leaps and bounds better in every way (such as the next card), this card just doesn't get my approval for anything. Flavorful, yes, playable, no.
Cee and Hirudora
Cee is similar to Rock Lee in that he is a Burst and Flashpoint Ninja with a useful put in play trigger. Turn three with solid Support in both Healthy and Injured, as well as an assortment of relevant keywords and combat attributes, he does a whole lot. His effect is similar to Shima [Toad Cook], in that he heals a Ninja and is the same slot as Ma Toad. Burst means that he can be a large and sudden boost to any Team's Power, and Flashpoint allows you to repeat his heal effect if you find need for it. While nothing too amazing, he still is a nice card that can fill multiple roles and themes.
Hirudora is a prime example of a card that does way too much for its rarity. In any other set, this card would have absolutely been a Super Rare without another question asked. Requiring no specific Symbols in the cost, being unable to be negated, and while having a specific user, there is a Turn 0 version of said Ninja who sees play in threes in a lot of Lightning Decks. The effect itself is disastrously potent, draining all Jutsu from both players, and allowing a full on free reign snipe of any of your opponent's Ninjas without having to actually target. No Ninja is safe from this card's effect, and even if no Jutsu are discarded, you get 1 Damage to put wherever you want. The blowout potential of this card is off the charts, and I fully expect to see this abused with The Sage as soon as the set becomes legal. This set may have a lot of poor cards overall, but the good cards may be too good.
Darui and Gale Style: Black Hunting
Darui is similar to his previous version from Set 25 Kage Summit, in that he taxes your opponent for what they do. Rather than adding a Chakra cost to all of their activated effects though, he makes the first Jutsu they play every turn cost an extra X, where X is the number of Symbols on the Jutsu. The Symbols it refers to is the element symbols in the upper right corner of the card, so on average, he makes the first Jutsu cost an extra 1 Chakra. Sometimes, you get the rare occasion that he will make a Jutsu cost 2 extra, and the very rare occasion of 3. Overall, for a 5 Drop, he isn't going to impact your opponent too much. Being dual element himself is nice at least, and he actually has Weapon now instead of Ninjutsu like before. Compared to most other 5 drops though, he doesn't do enough to see play over them in either element.
Gale Style: Black Hunting is like a Darui specific super Paper Bomb, which means that it is much too narrow to see play. Had this card been usable by anyone and injured for Lighting (1), and then had Expert [Darui] for the extra Damage after showdown, it still would be unlikely to see play. I can't even say “Well, it's just a common anyways, so it doesn't have to be good”, because Hirudora is a common too, and is also a single user, and is just overall better in every way than this card. What a weird set.
The 4th Raikage and Lightning Speed
This week has really been a hit or miss sort of week. We have The 4th Raikage, who, despite being Rare, and being a 6 Drop, has a really mediocre feeling effect. He could have easily had the Burst and Flashpoint combo in order to at least help abuse his effect, and the more I look at this card, the more I feel like it seriously is just actually missing both of those effects by some error. At least with those two effects, he would be playable in a sense. As he is now, he is a very poor comparison to the other 6 drops we've seen so far.
The card that was paired with the Raikage was Lightning Speed, which only made me feel like the Raikage card was missing keywords even more. As for the card itself, it can be particularly devastating. A pure mixture of Electronic Scoreboard's power to force a Block, The Eight Inner Gates tripling of the target's Combat value, and Complete Victory's discarding all opposing Ninjas if you win an Outstanding Victory by 8 or more, the card does a whole lot by itself, under the only requirement being that you use it on a Flashpoint or Burst Ninja. The fact that the target can bring Back Ninja with it to battle means that you are nearly guaranteed when all is said and done to completely take out a single Team your opponent controls, provided that you aren't assaulted by a horde of Jutsu. But then again, that's what The Sage and Hirudora is there to cover. I'd actually want to try this card out, even as a 1 of, just for the potential to devastate a Team of annoying Ninjas.
Sasuke Uchiha and Flame Control Sword
Now -this- is Pod Racing! Sasuke is likely one of the best cards in the set, despite only being a Rare, and likely one of the best Sasuke in format that isn't [Solo Attitude]. Gone are the days of Water Sasuke, he has fully embraced his Fire side, as well as receiving Lightning as well. His stats are solid for his turn marker, and his effects are even better. A Valid ability that reduces all Jutsu costs of Jutsu he uses by 1 Fire Chakra is insane, especially considering all of the good Fire Jutsu we currently have to use. Keep in mind, that if he uses a Fire Jutsu with a cost of only 1 Fire, that Jutsu is Free. Subdue and Backstab can be played even if you have no Chakra, which can be a nice little surprise for your opponent if they're playing Water or Lightning and try to go for an Alliance of Evil or Exhaustion to clear your Chakra. The amount of weight that he takes off on your resources can add up very quickly, and where 3 Chakra would only be enough for 1 Jutsu usually, you now are able to likely have a backup response ready as well. His second effect, while not Valid, is still extremely powerful as well, especially when coupled with his first effect. Half of a Jiraiya (Sage Mode) effect, all the numbers found in the effect text of Jutsu he plays are increased by 1. a 1 Damage Jutsu becomes 2 Damage. A Jutsu that states to do something to 1 Ninja becomes 2 Ninja, and so on. Taking a quick look at the Block Legal Fire Jutsu, I have assembled a small list of the best overall Jutsu to abuse with this Sasuke (This list is not in any particular order):
Mangekyou Sharingan (Set 22: Weapons of War): For 1 Fire Chakra, you can snipe a Ninja for 3 Damage, or your opponent can give you 2 Battle Rewards. Likely, this means that you're going to be winning 2 Battle Rewards for 1 Chakra. Not bad at all, but unless that means you're going to win off of it, you can likely do better, since you're going to want to effect their board as much as possible.
Lightning Beast Running Jutsu (Set 23: Invasion): 1 Fire Chakra gives us a 4/4 Ninja into the Team, which is pretty good, but the best part comes when that Jutsu Ninja moves to Chakra at the end of the turn. Give 1 Damage to 1 Ninja becomes 2 Damage to 2 Ninjas, allowing you snipe away their best two Ninja that you currently have in play. And that's all for 1 Chakra.
Mangekyou Sharingan (Set 24: Sage's Legacy): If you're noticing the pattern here, 1 Fire Chakra is the cost, and the effect is particularly potent. 2 Damage to an opposing Ninja, and then due to that Ninja being discarded from the Damage, you get to do 2 more Damage to 2 more Ninjas your opponent controls. That's a total of 3 Ninjas for 1 Fire Chakra. This is likely the go to option if you're on the Sasuke (Semi-Sage Mode), plan.
Simulstrike (Set 26: Avenger's Wrath): 1 of any Chakra, and you are going to end up killing both the target and your Sasuke. This may seem like a bad play, but you're going to draw 2 cards for each Ninja that got discarded, meaning that you are getting to draw +4 cards. If you happen to have another Sasuke in your hand to deploy on the next turn, this might not be a bad play, seeing as your cashing in 1 card in hand and a Ninja to get rid of their Ninja and then go +3 in hand.
Flame Control Sword plays particularly well with the new Sasuke from this set, reducing it's cost to 1 Fire and 1 Lightning Chakra, and making it a full Team Wipe. In practice, it sounds great, but when you consider that for 1 Fire alone, you can Set 24 Mangekyou Sharingan and do the same thing if you choose, or spread those extra 2 Ninja kills across other Teams or onto a pesky Stand-By Ninja your opponent happens to control. I would have added it to the list above, but I wanted to just talk about it by itself here. When rotation hits, this will likely be the partner card for this set's Sasuke, but for now, it will have to sit aside for the superior choices from previous sets.
Heroic Spirit and Naruto Uzumaki (9 Tails Cloak)
Heroic Spirit was said to be part of a cycle of Missions according to Facebook, which means that we're likely going to see a Mission for each of the new keywords that were introduced this Block. This one in particular gives all of your Ninjas Burst, which is pretty cool, especially if you're trying to abuse effects that deal with the top card of your Deck, which Burst wants to do. In addition, every time you apply a Burst of 2 or higher, you get to draw a card. An important note here is that it says 'may' draw 1 card, meaning that if you find some way of getting multiple burst triggers, or applying the effect of Burst multiple times somehow, you get to draw a card for each one. If there was a way to apply Burst to multiple Ninjas, you could potentially be drawing a lot of cards over the three turns you'll have access to this Mission. With rotation, the game will hopefully allow for missions like that that don't give you an immediate result to your hand in some way, which is what most Missions currently are aimed to do. If it isn't drawing cards or searching, it has to make a fast and immediate impact, or else it is just too slow for the current format.
This is it folks, the card everyone has been waiting for. After the overall disappointment with Madara Uchiha, people's eyes turned to the eventual reveal of this Naruto with bated breath. Did he stand up to people's expectations, or did he fall short like our ancient Uchiha friend did? The results were rather mixed, actually. A Turn 7 non-Reinforcement Ninja with stats that confused a lot of people' especially considering how amped up Sage Mode Naruto's stats usually are (All three current versions of Sage Mode Naruto are 7/3 8/2, one of which gets a handful of coins on him when he comes into play if you're been planning carefully), we are instead treated to a 6/1 9/0. Those injured stats sure are nice though, but his Healthy stats are worse than most Turn 5 Ninjas. I personally feel his effect more than makes up for it. Many people were upset that it was a deploy effect, and would have rather seen a put in play trigger, but you have to keep in mind that Tailed Beast Transformation is coming out this set as well, and would allow for a Turn 3 Naruto (9 Tails Chakra) to hit the board and still get his trigger. The beauty of his effect though actually comes from the late game. When he hits the field, every Ninja other than himself is going to take 1 Damage. For every Ninja your opponent controls that gets discarded by that effect, you are going to win 1 Battle Reward. Played right, and doing your work prior to Turn 7 to get a lot of your opponent's Ninjas injured, this can win you the game by just deploying him. Pair him with Exaggeration (A personal favorite card of Saul Pena, aka KlowdStr1fe), and you just completely win the game on that turn, as you'll be dealing 2 Damage to every Ninja and winning 2 Battle Rewards for each of your opponent's Ninjas that get Discarded. Even if you didn't win a single Battle Reward all game, they only need to have four Ninjas, because you'll win 8 Battle Rewards from Naruto's effect, and then be able to Attack with Naruto with no way for them to Block him for 2 more Battle Rewards. Lightning Stall Exaggerated 9 Tails Cloak deck? Sounds fun to me. Had he been a Reinforcement, I feel that he would have been even more abusable, since you could Reinforce into him on Turn 7, apply his effect, and then still be able to deploy a fresh Ninja that won't have taken that 1 Damage from Naruto.
That's it for this week's review of the previews. My apologizes for posting this late, but I've been pretty busy lately and was pressed for time, especially at night. Be sure to check back later on today when we reveal our final exclusive preview for Set 28, Ultimate Ninja Storm 3, which happens to be a Super Rare Ninja who is Six Ninjas in one. As always, be sure to like our Facebook Page, which will allow you to keep track of when new articles are posted as well as get random exclusive information from the crew on new and interesting things we might run across, but isn't enough to post a whole article on.