This deck leapt through creases in material timespace to transcend 3-0 in our local round-robin Abomination Series Round Up.
With the "Spirit Fortress" archetype gutted, as well as the introduction of new starter dudes - assuming you didn't want yet another version of "Warden Blockade" - I find myself finally happy to explore what First Peoples have to offer in a competitive environment. In a word, this Faction is finally fun to play!
And so, with great reluctance, I pulled Raven out of the beta version of this deck to make space for Butch Deuces (a card I've always wanted to play for thematic reasons alone), as well as swapping into the new Spiritual Society home, and am pleased with the result. Having a dude that can play the role of either third shaman or second expendable casualty in a deck that prefers to spread horizontally was invaluable. So too was the home's card advantage and ability to boot out stray or incautious shooters with minimal risk (by using Noon Spirit's to escape).
Like it's progenitor, this deck's favorite trick is to "leap frog" Smiling Frog via Spirit Trail or Raven's Ruin to trigger Hupirika Sue's ability (the deck's "inception dude") in an attempt to claim or reclaim a key deed. Hence, it's namesake. And, unlike in previous iterations, without a Legend, the deck no longer needs to think first before doing so, because it's aggression comes without stipulation on pain of penalty (a popular drawback for early Legends; penalizing Leader bullets unless conditions are met). In a sense, unhinging from Raven freed the deck to play to it's primary strengths!
The basic strategy is thus. Decide early where to place your Totems (upon your own deeds or upon theirs) and commit defensively to those locations. You should have enough Shootout / Resolution actions flowing to stage significant battles while you build up your economy bolstered by shamanism. As the board ripens, use your Spirit Ambush combo (described above) to isolate key targets and pull their defenders out of position. Use your own movement shamanism to (re)position your own dudes advantageously. Try to beat them at chess outright, but if you need to force hand, drop The Chief if you feel you can win a townsquare-off.
My first game was against Stefan's Morgan Cavalry Shooter. A few early shootouts saw me lose both of my expendable dudes to Calling The Cavalry while he established and maintained a strong compliment of horses and sidekicks. Jon Longstride was especially annoying as he became a stud using Morgan Regulators and rode a Pinto effectively countering my attempts at isolation plays. So, I developed my board sideways to spread him out, and leaned into the chess-power of my spirits to navigate horizontally. A key moment occurred when he overcommitted three of his dudes into a shootout against a lone Steven Wiles, only to see the drifter beat him by one rank illegally (but unpunished!), retreat, and immediately trigger a proper Spirit Ambush against Buckin' Billy Ballard to take him out. With his dudes spread out and unable to collaborate effectively, I was able to pick off the rest of his fleet enough to tilt the scales my way.
My second game against Tom's Super Mario Stone Sloaner (Sloane Stoner?), a deck I have fought against perhaps 100 times now, was fast and furious. Tom now experiences into Mario Crane (Exp.1) slowly (from Mario Crane"Jr.") instead of starting him outright, and since I wasn't worried about being aggressive (no Legend), was able to effectively initiate call-outs in such a way as to prevent him from playing Point Blank. In a moment, Tom pressed hard, but my last two ghost rock and It's Not What You Know... were able to cut Mario from the board permanently. I hesitated to close aggressively however, as he had 5 control points on dudes and even if I had a clear poker advantage (he had no studs), a single bad hand could have cost me the game (...and Tom is unfortunately notoriously lucky with draw dudes and top-decking!). So instead, I drew and played Enapay and was able to stall a turn or two while I tried to rebuild what I had lost from the early skirmishes. Tom perhaps became impatient, and stormed across the board is a veritable blaze of glory with the likes of Travis Moone, Allie Hensman and Ike Clanton, but to no avail. It is notable that before his last dude fell, he managed to trick me into over-playing a cheatin' five-of-a-kind (thinking his Resolutions were spent) which he promptly Bottom Dealt only for us to tie at one-pair apiece.
My third and final game was against Alex - and old Classic player who stepped unexpectedly into our Round Up! - playing a fierce Drunkin' Rabbit Holster deck. Lucky for me, the Legendary Holster spewed into his first Lowball hand like a foul knell of doom, whereby I resolved to do everything I could to clog his draw. We both built up our left-side and right-side board - all four deeds being Saloons at one moment - until he played a Baijiu Jar on Mr. Outang and sauntered to my neck of the woods looking for trouble. I attempted my cute tricks to sidestep the monkey and target Forster Cooke only to be unpleasantly surprised with his shootout-movement shenanegans (The Stakes Just Rose and/or Rabbit's Lunar Leap) whereby Alex proceeded to play about 7 shootout actions to turn the poker into his favor, and we ended up trading dudes as Smiling Frog left the table. Realizing my mistake, I re-commited to non-engagement and developed my street further, moving the Saloon keyword further right (or left) in an attempt to disturb his attachment- and keyword-dependant Influence. At about day seven, we had roughly equal stacks of Control / Influence, and I had money and cards, so I started sending in my 0-Influence for solo fights. This once again allowed him to use shootouts as a means of movement, and after trading or losing a dude here or there (including Huprika; a first for the day!), I played my ace in the hole: Laughing Crow pulled me out of a deep check. As time drew near, and Alex unable to move without booting, I played a couple more deeds and purchased a win.
Overall, I am happy with the spiritual development of this deck, finding it really fun to pilot into the unknown. So, whether you might like to project astrally through your local Weekly Casual, or part the reality-fabric holding together your Organized Round Up, I can recommend this deck with a full heart and an actualized third eye. Cheers!
|Jan 08, 2019 Harlath|