For those of you who are unaware, the name Nubatama means Blackberry Lily’s seeds (re-classified as Iris Domestica from Chinese-known Belamcanda chinensis) and was used in traditional Chinese medicine to treat heat illnesses (heat is interpretive, it is meant as a soul-weather, and relates to ulcers, fevers, etc). In common use, it can mean the blackness in the night (environment) which is probably the use being given here, and it happily fits the environment theme of Dragon Empire.[fun side note: it can also mean Unexpected, and Black together, kind of like a pun on their stealth ambush tactics]. Originally, it should’ve been part of clan Murakumo but they were separated out into just four total cards; later being completed as a legal mono-clan by BT-13. Some of the cards have an effect that allows you to counterblast 1 and make your opponent discard something in their hand if you have less cards in hand than they do upon hit.
Obviously, the idea behind this deck is to deplete your opponent’s card advantage, by way of primarily removing their guard. Then, go for damage when they’re unable to guard appropriately. The requirement to discard from most of them is that you have less cards in hand (not equal or more) than your opponent. While this prevents you from gaining true advantage from the skill, it’s still advantage in the sense that you can use your innate draws and drive checks to then overtake the opponent (which means Nubatama tends to do well with rear-guards attacking first) which means Nubatama generally doesn’t fall behind in advantage very easy. Hagakure is an MVP star of this mechanic by being high guard and low cost to both stop a normal attack and take your opponent down with you.
Dreadmaster is one of the on-hit versions of this effect. Meaning it does wonders in pairs with pressure. If they guard, they lose a card, if they take the hit…they lose a card. Now generally you have to plow through all their grade 3s which might seem like a downside but since they have to discard things for perfect guards anyway, depriving them of grade 3s will still bite the opponent in the ass and all equal out (potentially) by the later stages when you actually go for the low-handsize attacks to clinch game (think of it as setting up a trap for later).
While the skill my appear to be overpowered, a quick relative analysis with Midnight Bunny or any other 7k booster with CB:1 to get +1 (on hit) generally shows that it’s all the same stuff in a different format. What makes Nubatama good is the repetition of this skill consistently among its units and future units. The good thing is that you can at least guarantee your opponent loses -2 each turn of their +3, and either takes a damage (ideal) or does -3 total, which sets them back to +0 while you continue to gain. Of course, this is the same as most decks but when most decks do get a rear-guard hit in, they tend not to keep the opponent’s hand options lowered.
Stealth Beast Kuroko is a viable starting vanguard boasting an interesting (if straightforward) skill. When it boost-hits you can Soul Blast 1 and retire up to 2 of the opponent’s bind cards. Bind isn’t necessarily a main component of the Nubatama clan, but it is used en-supplement to discarding. As a mechanic, the binds serve as temporary removals from hand (and field) in order to create short openings for attack. The problem with that strategy is that it only works late game when you can assure that your efforts to…em, liberate the opponent’s guard are not undone by retaining the shield at end phase.
Kuroko is the way around its mid-game limitation. By making those binds permanent (retiring them), you can repurpose your intended damage seeking units for mid-game advantage, leading to lower overall shield in the game, having the same net ouput in late game. Since abilities may be on-call for binding (or time sensitive), you could lose that opportunity without a starter that makes it permanent during the turn it occurs. (Also you can like…counter Dungaree and stuff) Plus…you know…it’s +2.
Stealth Beast Tamahagane allows you to bind an opponent’s rear-guard for the turn when he’s ridden or called. As it stands, this ability only really makes sense to use in one of two ways:
- Temporary – Remove interceptors for one turn (similar to Desert Gunner Shiden) to help push for game. Usually this nets you a certainty of the opponent having 5k less shield
- Permanent – Bind anything and combine with a bind-killer. Generally, a turn 2 ride of Tamahagane with a boosting Kuroko ensures at least +1, if not also +2 with a second called Tamahagane.
If you get the opportunity for a permanent removal, you can go for the -5k shielding from a grade 2 or you can cripple their boosting lines which usually ends up being more devastating (including starting vanguards i.e. Conroe) due to the natural booster-to-attacker ratio of 14:19 making boosters slightly rarer.
Tempest Stealth Rogue Fuuki presents an interesting opportunity during the main phase. As an ACT, you can pay Counterblast 1 and move him to the soul so long as your opponent’s hand is more or equal to 3. When you do this, your opponent binds a random card from their hand. This is different from the usual hand removal which often has the opponent selecting what they can part with. In this case, they are losing any given card if they’re above 2.
Since this bind is face-down, the intent is to keep you from knowing what it is. As a general rule, binding from an open zone (field, soul, damage) would go face up and binding from a closed zone (deck, hand) would go face down to keep the known information among both players the same before and after the skill. Fuuki is useful when you’ve got an extra (or don’t need anymore) booster. You can swap him into your soul (technically fuelling Kuroko if you do this early) and the opponent takes away that card temporarily. This is ideally suited for late game sure-kills where you get the opponent’s guard down so far they can’t recover and your attack will go for the kill. Keep in mind this is a wash, but since the skill is offensive, its use should primarily be to deal more damage.
Shura Stealth Dragon, Kujikiricongo is a Nubatama break ride, and of course grants the standard +2 stages to the vanguard. What it also does is immediately force the opponent to discard 1 card of choice, then bind a card of choice till the end phase. Naturally, unless you are behind, that bind probably won’t be turned permanent by Kuroko by that point but it is a strict -2 to their hand for that turn. This is a significant reduction in guard which easily opens you for a final turn. Consider that 4 cards can easily survive a full turn onslaught, but break-riding this unit takes them to 2, making it nearly impossible depending on their damage situation.
When combined with interception removers (like Tamahagane), you can reduce their shielding options to the point of you winning. If you also guarded last turn with Hagakure, they could be at 1 card or such. There are enough combinations that Kujikiricongo, Fuuki, and Hagakure can drop an opponent from 7 to 2, or 6 to 1 easily and make survival that turn impossible depending on how much damage must be dealt. An easy kill gambit for Nubatama with 12 criticals is to attack interceptors with your rear-guards (if no removers) assuring your vanguard hits, probably with 2 critical. You may think the goal of Nubatama is to win through advantage, but while advantage and reduction of options is nice, Nubatama really shine by blowing all their stuff for one big turn of unblockable mess.
Stealth Dragon Kabukicongo roars in with a Counterblast 1 for a Lawkeeperlike ability. You can bind all your opponent’s rear-guards (get +2 stages if you bind 3+) when he attacks. Of course this massively kills any chance to intercept (or you know, for mercy) and makes guarding the vanguard even harder when their hand is getting depleted (power actually means something here). This bind is temporary, so they will all go back to the hand at the end phase.
Not only giving the opponent the chance to re-arrange their field but also get any on-call effects and also gives them options with which to choose to guard and subvert your ability to win the next turn. As a high risk card though, you can see the reward is pretty decent as it allows an opportunity to win on the turn he’s used (also you can spam unused CB on him for +2000 per 1 used if you didn’t eat it all up that game). This ability naturally combines with Stealth Dragon Kokujou, which each will get +2000 power every time a unit is bound. That means a full-field activation of Kabukicongo is +10k or 2 stages on each Kokujou, making them usually hit 4 stages on late game turns. Generally you want any of these out and waiting that you can.
Now for deck lists!
Closing Notes: Nubatama turned out to be a slightly bizarre clan and not much like we all speculated from their original BT-01 release. They focus on removing guard mostly to do one-turn-knockouts for sure kills. As a damage-seeking clan, Nubatama pack a lot of nasty tricks that make two common words “no guard”. However, you may find the first incarnations of this complete clan a bit lacking and more on par with the kinds of final gambits Dudley Emperor makes. In fact, as a whole Bad End Dragger does the same thing by plowing straight through all the guard and with more ease. With Nubatama lacking the necessary 12 critical triggers to make that similar-to-BED gambit even work, Spike Brothers easily comes out on top with the similar goal. Not only that but any late game standing vanguards do the same thing as Kujikiricongo, generally meaning Nubatama’s lack of support put them below these decks that they must be similarly compared to (less consistent). Overall, definitely a fun clan and personally some of my favorite art in the game.