Tuesday, May 1, 2012

The Sideboard - #15

The Naruto CCG has undergone many changes since its inception in 2006. We have seen the deck limit rise to 50, the introduction of squads and reinforcements, dual element cards and now tri-element cards. There have been periods where one deck reigned supreme, and now we have many. What hasn't changed since the beginning? The sideboard.

The current format has evolved to the point where a 15 card sideboard is necessary to keep skill an aspect of the game. There are many extremely playable deck types this format and it is simply impossible to have a sideboard equipped to deal with each one of them. With the power level of cards slowly creeping and the amount of tier 1 decks increasing, 10 cards can only get you so far. As I discussed with Joe Colon (Sannin 2007, GMChaos12) during my week in Massachusetts, there are two ways to construct a sideboard in the current meta.


The first approach is the consistent approach. Using roughly 4-5 cards as 2 of's or 3 of's in your sideboard to prepare yourself against the most anticipated or worst match up. This approach to the sideboard has its merits in a format where the meta is already defined with only 1-2 top tier decks. During a meta where there are many decks that are playable (such as the format we have now) this approach leaves you wide open to get blind sided by an unexpected match up.  At the moment I would not recommend building a sideboard like this. However, this approach is also extremely viable when the power level of your deck greatly exceeds that of the general field. If you have strong enough match ups vs. the expected field, its perfectly fine to use the consistent route to make up for the minor problems your deck has interacting with only a small portion of the decks expected at an event.


The second approach is extremely inconsistent but also very versatile.This approach uses many 1 of's so that it can cover a wide range of match ups. I used this approach of the sideboard to win the MA SJC because Suspicious Characters allowed for me to pick up any of the many 1 of ninjas in my deck for any situation I needed them for (Gamaken, y u so clutch?). If your deck has enough tutors or an excessive amount of draw power I personally prefer to be able to side a lot of 1 of's. Unfortunately not many decks can support a lot of 1 of's at the moment. Taking a look at the results of the past several SJC's, we've seen Void, Mono Earth, Wind Earth, Fire Lightning, Wind Lightning, and even Mill topping. All of these decks are powerful enough to compete, but there is almost no way for a player to have adequate room to address each and every unique aspect of these strong decks in an average 10 card sideboard.

Because the lack of extremely one sided draw and search missions in the format, in order to keep a healthy format where each player has an equal chance at competing before the match starts, I believe that it is extremely important for the sideboard to be increased. I understand the criticism of increasing the sideboard. Some say that it makes it interesting to have decks that get blind sided by one another or say that with so little room it takes a good amount of skill to decide those few spots in your sideboard. While I understand the merits that those two points hold, they are 2 sides of an argument. My opinion of it is if you are promoting skill, the format is so diverse that increasing the sideboard will not dumb down the necessity of a sideboard but in fact make it more important. 15 card sideboards allow for an additional element of skill to be a part of the game. It will allow for the possibility of having to adapt to an additional or alternative strategy. With all the additional elements being added to the game, I think that the community at large would welcome a 15 card sideboard. Nevertheless, there are ways to mix and mold these different approaches to reflect the ability of your deck. What's great about Naruto is the diversity that is allowed when deck building. It is something that we have seen done throughout the game, and if Bandai doesn't end up changing anything about it, everyone will adapt accordingly.

However, because I am no longer going to be able to go to the Georgia Shonen Jump Championship (May 19th @ Quest Comics, Carrolton, GA), I will have a video deck profile along with a brief description and sideboard/strategy article posted Wednesday and Thursday, respectively, showing the deck that I would have play and that I believe has the most versatility and adaptability to win the SJC.


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