Seeing Red

Hello and welcome back for more Evangelion Chrono Clash discussion. For those who don’t know, the cards in the game are separated into four different colors – Blue, Green, Purple, and Red. This appears to be solely for the purposes of deck building, since each deck is limited to two colors.

One of the first things I do in a game with factions is to understand the mechanical and thematic core of each faction, or in this case color. What does each color do that nobody else does? What is it unable to do? For some, this comes as a general sense developed as you play the game. For me, it comes by looking at numbers and spreadsheets.

The first thing I noticed about the game is that while images of all the cards were available online, there was no list of cards. So I made one, which will be the foundation of my analysis for each color. The card list (and my analysis) can be found here.

As a quick aside before we get started, in my analyses, I’ve grouped all battlers into one of 4 categories: EVAs, Pilots, Angels, and Other. Two of these categories are huge monsters – biomechanical EVAs or the mystical and unknowable Angels (its a bit jarring to see them teaming up, but whatever), while the other two are humans – Pilots and Other. Pilots, for those new to the game, can come into play in two ways – as an independent battler, or as an “attachment” for an EVA. While piloting an EVA, the pilot adds its strength and special abilities to the EVA.

Ok, with that categorization note out of the way, my next four articles will be going through the colors one at a time, looking at the cards to understand the strengths and weaknesses of each. The articles will proceed in no particular order, and I’ll start with Red.

Red

Color Identity:

The first thing you notice about Red is that it has an extra card, which it appears to have stolen from Green. Blue and Purple both have 18 normal cards. Red has 19 normal cards, while Green has 17. The reasoning for this seems clear enough – Red has the lowest cost cards, and seems to be the “swarm” color. It is the only color with 1 cost battlers (it has 2 of them), and the average cost of its cards (3.68) is by far the lowest (followed by Blue at 4.22, Purple at  4.33, and Green at 4.71). Red also transcends the swarm idea by having the most EVAs (6 + 5 Extra) and the most pilots (8). This combination allows Red to switch from swarm to large EVA if necessary.

 

Primary Mechanics:

Fast Shinji
Fast and Pilot are very versatile together!

Fast (2 cards + 1 Extra): So this is cheating a little bit, since every Extra Card in the game also has Fast, but Red has the only normal cards with Fast, so I’m counting it.  When you play a battler, it has this game’s equivalent of Magic’s summoning sickness. But with Fast, you can attack the turn you are played. The cards that feature this mechanic are interesting, too. One is a relatively typical mid-strength EVA, but the other is Shinji Ikari (note that there are 5 cards in the game with this name), who is a Pilot with a pilot cost of 1. This means that if Red has enough time, they can summon whatever giant EVA they want, slap Shinji on it, and then immediately attack. Of course, this can be played around by simply not giving the red player that much time to work with. Finally, Red has an Extra card that grants all your battlers Fast, which is pretty scary.

Dummy SystemLegion (1 card + 1 Extra): Given how many cards this mechanic in on, it almost didn’t make it into the set! I suppose the idea was to give Red a limited source of card draw. Whenever a battler with Legion is destroyed, you discard the top card of your deck, if its a battler, draw it. The Extra card has 2 of these symbols, so you get to do this twice. Interestingly, both battlers that have this also have a restriction where they can’t attack other battlers (but can still attack Guardians). So… I guess thematically these are compassionate battlers who won’t attack each other? Of course, the Extra card represents the Dummy system they switch on when Shinji refuses to kill a rogue EVA (piloted by a friend), so I’m guessing not.

Recovery Event
You get Recovery, and you get Recovery! Everybody gets Recovery!

Recovery (4 cards): Here we come to the first ability that I don’t quite know how to size up due to ambiguity in the rules. So the ability says “Whenever this battler loses a battle while attacking, it is not destroyed.” Which is all well and good except that “battle” is never mentioned or defined in the rules. Based on context, I assume that this includes two scenarios: if a battler is attacking another battler, and if a battler is attacking your opponent’s Guardians, which is revealed to be a battler. If this is the case, then the ability is pretty darn good – one of the major ways that Guardians can hurt you is by defeating you in battle (although the Guardian is also destroyed in the process). Avoiding that is pretty awesome. Red has 2 EVAs with Recovery, a Pilot (who can give it to any other EVA), and a cheap event that gives it to all your battlers for a round. Not too shabby.

Untap EVA
Untaps a battler with EVERY attack. Nice!

Untap (2 cards): Yes you read that right, this game features “tap” and “untap” with abandon despite the lack of affiliation with Wizards of the Coast, or the Deckmaster brand. Anyway, untapping is incredibly strong because it means that your battlers get to do a second thing on your turn (attack, tap ability, or quest). Red has a medium-cost event that untaps all of your battlers, and a battler who untaps another battler whenever they attack at the cost of some time, which is potentially pretty awesome.

 

Offensive Capabilities:

Evangelion 13
Let’s see – highest STR in the game, Guardian Attack +2, and destroys a unit when summoned. Ok, I’m impressed.

Guardian Attack +X (3 cards + 4 Extra): This is the most basic form of offense that the game has to offer. Battlers with this ability have the ability to go through multiple Guardians when they attack. In some ways, it’s the opposite of swarming – making the most of the small number of attacks that you have. Correspondingly, Red has the very fewest cards with this ability. But don’t be fooled, while Red might not have many of these battlers, it makes up for them with quality. Red has the highest strength normal battler (Evangelion 13, STR 10, Guardian Attack +2), and the highest strength Extra battler (also Evangelion 13, STR 11, Guardiant Attack +3). Given that swarms require ample card draw, which Red lacks, it’s nice to have a few big finishers around for when you start to run out of steam.

Destroy Sentinels
Paging all Sentinels – please destroy yourselves. Thank you.

Destroy Sentinels (2 cards): Another form of offense, and one unique to Red, is removing defenders. While every color has some way to get rid of troublesome defenders, only red has point-and-click destruction that specifically targets battlers with Sentinel. When your opponent has a tapped battler with Sentinel, you can’t atta11ck their Guardians. Red has a nice event that simply destroys them all, and a battler who destroys one each time it attacks (and whose Guardian Ability also destroys a Sentinel). These are a really nice way for a swarm faction to deal with giant defenders.

It seems appropriate to end this section with a picture of Red’s crowning glory – the Evangelion 13 Extra card. The most potent offensive card in the game at present. Highest STR for an Extra card, a gut wrenching Guardian Attack +3, and the ability to return an enemy battler to hand with every attack. Truly terrifying:

Evangelion 13

Defensive Capabilities:

Taunt (3 cards): When battlers with Taunt are tapped, they prevent your other battlers from being attacked, which can be quite handy if you have weaker support-style battlers, or if you have battlers who are questing. Red has the fewest battlers with Taunt (tied for last with Green),  but those that it has are quite beefy with STR 6, 7, or 10. But… that’s all that Red really has going for it in the defensive departments.

 

Support Capabilities:

Lilith Destruction
Each turn it dishes out -3 STR, which will wipe out small battlers.

Conditional Destruction (6 cards + 1 Extra): Red actually has a lot of destruction effects in general (the numbers above aren’t even counting the Sentinel-specific cards!). However, these effects are all conditional destruction. Some of them (3 + 1 Extra) cause battlers to lose strength. Since you are automatically destroyed if you ever hit 0 strength, I think of this as conditional destruction. 1 card bounces enemy battlers with low STR back to the opponent’s hand, and the last 2 destroy battlers with low STR or cost. All of this adds up to a pretty strong removal package. The factor holding Red back in this department is that 2 of the strongest effects only trigger when you complete a quest.

Red Questing EVA
Ummm… what would you say you do around here?

Questing (3 + 1 Extra): Obviously any battler can quest, so I’m only counting cards in this category that grant a bonus when you complete a quest. I initially assumed that Red would be great at questing because of the number of cheap battlers they have. Remember that – barring untap shenanigans – each battler can embark on 1 quest per turn. So 3 small battlers could complete 3x more quests than a large battler of identical cost. However, Red’s Quest Clear abilities mostly appear on expensive battlers (cost 5+). The benefit you get from these expensive battlers is great (destroy a small battler or return then to hand), but I’m not convinced that this is going to be your best strategy if you want to win by questing. I think Red’s real strength for questing is it’s untapping abilities, which may allow your battlers to quest twice in a single round! Finally, we need to talk about the elephant in the room – yes, I’m talking about you, Evangelion Mark.06. This is the only Extra card in the game with a quest clear effect. On the surface, it seems pretty cool – one of your battlers can attack, and then be sacrificed to bring a free quester into play who immediately goes on a quest! The problem is that Fast only allows a battler to attack the turn it comes out. Tap abilities specify that they can be used “whenever this battler could attack” so they can be used too. But questing? Questing has no such language. So, as far as I can tell, Fast doesn’t give you the ability to quest the turn you come out. If so, this Extra card becomes (in my opinion) useless. If anybody has a rules update on this, please let me know! (Editor’s Note: this has been confirmed in the Naruto FAQ. Fast battlers may NOT quest the turn them come out. So yes, that card is useless.)

Eva draws Ex
Everybody gets an Extra card!

Drawing Extra cards (4): Something that every color must have is an ability to draw these cards. It doesn’t matter how powerful your Extra cards are if you never get to draw them. Interestingly, Red has the hardest time (in my estimation) drawing these Extra cards. They have 4 total cards that can draw Extra cards. 3 of these are battlers – 1 draws when summoned (but also lets your opponent draw an Extra card), another draws when its destroyed, and the final has a Guardian Ability that lets you draw when it is used as a Guardian. Finally, they have a cheap event (2 cost) that draws an Extra card on top of giving all your battlers Recovery, which is potentially useful. So its certainly not impossible for Red to get Extra cards, but you only have 3 sources that you can control.

Guardian Abilities: 15 of Red’s 19 cards have Guardian Abilities, which is a higher percentage than any other color. This is expected given that these tend to appear on low STR battlers, which Red has plenty of. Most of these (8) either return the card to your hand or let you draw a card, which (along with Legion discussed above) is Red’s only card draw.  Other standouts include 2 cards that return enemy battlers to hand, and 1 that destroys an enemy Sentinel.

 

Weaknesses:

Defense is Red’s Achilles’s heel. 3 Taunters isn’t much if you want to protect your battlers. And notably, there are no Sentinels. The one ability that will prevent your Guardians from being attacked, and Red just doesn’t have it. The fact that Red also doesn’t have many defensive Guardian Abilities means that it is really follow the old adage that the best defense is a good offense. Speed is the name of the game for Red.

 

Good Colors to Pair with Red:

Finding the right color to pair with Red is all about what you want your deck to do. Blue would be able to cover your defense weakness while giving access to some much needed card draw, resulting in a much more balanced deck. Green could provide additional finishers, and it is the only other color with abilities that trigger upon quest completion, so a questing deck is a possibility. Pairing with Purple lets you to double down on your strengths, eschewing defense for a hyper aggressive mid-cost build.

 

How to Fight Red:

Here I have to indulge in a bit of speculation. The fact is that I simply don’t have enough experience with the game to be able to suggest battle-tested strategies. But from my analysis, the thing that sticks out to me the most is the Red might be able to get in one more attack than you anticipate – either by untapping a battler, or by playing a battler with Fast. This can be compensated for either by having the capability to absorb one extra attack using Sentinel defenders, or by not giving the Red player much time to play with. Both of these extra attack mechanisms require that you to attack, play a card, and then have time to attack again. And those cards cost at least 3. So if you only leave your Red opponent with 2 or fewer time to start their turn, they shouldn’t be able to get an extra attack on you (unless they gain time, an ability that Red doesn’t possess).

Red has a number of destruction effects that may unexpected remove one of your defenders. Most of these hit small or cheap battlers, so it’s best not to rely on small Sentinel defenders. But you always have to be aware that they have the capability of destroying all Sentinels, so be carefully putting too many into play.

Combined with Extra cards (which all have Fast), Red could easily get 2+ more attacks than you were intending to deal with. They have plentiful tools to batter down defenses and to swarm around them. Against Red, defense is only a delaying tactic – ultimately, you’ll need a good way of fighting back.

 


Hopefully this gives you some food for thought when looking at Red. Do you agree with my analysis? Have I missed some core capability or weakness? Let me know in the comments below. And feel free to post about your Red decks that have been successful and the key to their success!

Until next time, make sure Shinji gets in the robot.

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