Going Wide. An archetype analysis featuring MoZi


And just like that, Hida Kisada vanished into the smoke. The untold hordes that remained however, were just as dangerous.

Aytan: Ever since Kyuden Hida was teased in the first Crab Clanpack article, I have been proxying it in my games along with Gallant Quartermaster in some sort of Yasuki Broker focused build. It wasn't until the release of the clanpack fully however, and the ability to use it with both Those Who Serve and Unyielding Sensei that its potential to be used in a new type of Crab deck has been realised. Thus, the wide deck was born and over the last few weeks both Jared (MoZi) and I have been working separately to try and refine the concept. He has kindly agreed to work on this small collaborative piece so that we can share our slightly different takes on the decktype.

MoZi: Howdy folks! MoZi here! Your friendly neighborhood jankster. I’ve been graciously allowed a space here to go over a very popular deck as of late. Crabbits. The true epitome of ‘you mess with the crabbo (labbo) you get the stabbo’. This is a deck that I and a lot of other people have been working really hard on since the release of the Crab pack at worlds. Over the last two months this deck has seen a lot of evolution, but the core concept remains the same.

Back to square 1; Mulligan for the Win



MoZi: Crabbits is a dynasty engine for taking advantage of TWS (Those Who Serve) first and foremost. This is a major departure from Crab playstyles in the past. So it’s really really important for YOU to think about this deck before you go out and play it. Crab has always been sort of an econ clan through abusing saves while spending large amounts of resources on conflict cards. Now we’re going to flip that around but the concept is still the same. We’re applying an economic choke-hold on our opponents (as opposed to the honor choke we’re used to).

Regardless of which variant of Crabbits you’re playing let’s get into some non-MU specific mulligan rules. Mulligans are effectively a chance to double the odds of you seeing a specific card on turn 1. This is very important to consider. First and foremost, you’re looking to abuse TWS early and often. Your mulligan needs to reflect that. Kyuden Hida gives you a free dynasty mulligan (and draw) every turn. But it’s still important to make the most use of your mulligan. Any 4 cost characters absolutely should be mulligan’d first turn. If you have Unyielding Sensei and a holding you might want to keep them both. If you have no Sensei and a holding you may want to consider getting rid of the holding. If you have Sensei and multiple holdings, you need to ditch some of the holdings. This wall is made of bodies!

Aytan: I have already written at great length about how important dynasty deck consistency is as a part of my look into Kyuden Hida HERE so I won’t bore you with the maths again. I will however, re-post my conclusion;


In short, with Kyuden Hida’s additional mulligan every turn and draw probability, you have a very high likelihood of drawing into any card in your deck that you are running 3 copies of. As MoZi has already talked about, you are looking for any cards that can be used to extend Those Who Serve’s effect (anything that can get additional characters on the field). Because we are using Kyuden Hida to find the characters we want, the first couple of turns are generally quite forgiving but in the first mulligans we are looking to find Unyielding Sensei, any holding and Those Who Serve or Rebuild in the event of there being no holding in your first dynasty draw.

The most ideal Turn 1 for me would probably be something like Unyielding Sensei with 2 1-cost characters and a holding with Those Who Serve in hand. At a maximum the potential is there to buy up to 8 characters (3x Sensei plus the 3x characters from them, your fourth character and one from KH) probably breaking two provinces in the first turn and generating additional resource for your second turn.

MoZi: Conflict mulligans are even more important because, while Kyuden Hida essentially provides us with a free dynasty mulligan (or draw) every turn, it doesn’t allow us to draw more conflict cards. There are really only 2 cards you’re looking for and in this order 1. TWS 2. WotC (Way of the Crab). Depending on your dynasty mulligan this may need to be adjusted slightly. The only card I would consider keeping that’s not TWS is WotC and that is purely situational based on opponents and dynasty mulligan. Against tower clans (like certain Crab, Crane, and Dragon decks) while you have a 1 cost dynasty character ready, WotC is a premium especially against competent opponents who will reliably play around your WotC. The point being, that resources spent playing around WotC deter, slow down, and weaken tower builds by sapping resources. So when you draw your conflict hand you need to ask yourself… Is this TWS? Is this WotC? If not. GET IT OUT. Honorable mentions go out to Rebuild when you have a Sensei faceup without holdings. Especially when you already have TWS. You may pitch a holding with Kyuden Hida and be able to Rebuild it during dynasty. And if it’s Funeral Pyre you may be able to sacrifice and Gallant or Envoy so that you can place extra fate on other more important characters.

I spent space on mulligans because they are so important. This deck is about speed and pressure. If you’re not putting the gas to your opponent (with few exceptions) you’re losing. This is true of basically every Crabbits style deck using a low-cost curve in the dynasty to exploit playing 3x TWS.

Decklists



MoZi: Now I’d like to get into the specifics of 2 versions of Crabbits that I’ve developed along with many other people in the community (most notably Aneil Seetharam aka MindsDesire working like he attached an elegant tessen to himself).


The two versions of Crabbits that stand out most to me are Unicorn splash (with a few variants) and Dragon splash. For Unicorn splash I am going to focus on the version I have settled on most recently HERE. Here the splash is very simple. 3x Spoils of War and 3x Shinjo Ambusher. The ambushers are relatively self explanatory. They stop some important provinces from triggering (like UA and Effective Deception and any other on break provinces). They are also just a very strong body for 1 fate with Kuni Labs. Spoils is a harder card to use effectively. Essentially it’s just some basic card draw as this deck has completely dropped Yasuki Broker in favor of a lower cost curve. It’s hard to say whether ultimately I will keep it that way but as of now she’s been replaced with 2x Third Tower Guard and 1x Yasuki Oguri the sad boi. A very important card in this deck that wasn’t in some previous iterations is the Elegant Tessen. This is a very strong card that gives you a lot of extra offensive and defensive capabilities with cards like Shrewd Yasuki, Hida Guardian, Yasuki Oguri, Student of Anatomies, and ofc Kuni Laboratories. These are cards you will regularly put 1-2 fate on and have abilities that can be exploited in multiple conflicts in the case of Oguri and Guardian. Getting multiple covert triggers off Oguri is very powerful. Hida Guardian is also a very strong target in that when you aggressively assign Guardian while you have multiple holdings out your opponent will often just avoid combat knowing that you’re going to give a character +4/+4 or +6/+6 (or more which is sometimes the case when you use Unyielding Sensei/Rebuild to stack multiple holdings on a single province). So then you don’t always trigger Guardian. You win the conflict easily. And now you can easily unbow Guardian for another go.

The second splash HERE is very similar. Just for the sake of some variance and because this splash lends itself a little more to Broker I have left her here. But really it’s up to you whether or not you want to run Broker. The main reason you may be more comfortable running broker in this version is that Let Go effectively protects her from being clouded. It’s also useful against a lot of other annoying and powerful attachments. But it unfortunately is a pretty weak card against a lot of Scorpion decks which have nearly always been a struggle for Crab. The second difference is the Tattooed Wanderers. They have a little more stats than Ambusher (+1 pol and 0 glory) and they also have the additional benefit of being able to grant some of your fated characters covert. Generally this is only used vs tower decks where you want to avoid a troublesome unit. You put a Wanderer on a Broker, Witch hunter, Sensei, or O-Ushi and you can walk around much larger units or force them to waste cards like Hawk Tattoo, Finger of Jade, Favorable Ground, etc. This deck has dropped the only copy of Assassination that was in the previous deck because it doesn’t have spoils to supplement card draw and remove unplayable cards from your hand. Assassination just became a 3rd Tessen.

Aytan: Ultimately, the core of the deck is so versatile that there are several different directions we can go in. Below is my basic deck (incidentally also running Unicorn Splash) and I’ll go over a couple of additional options that I feel have merit.


In short, the deck is designed as an early to mid-game offensive toolbox, taking advantage of its high number of cheap dynasty characters combined with the ability to generate large amounts of additional resource going into turns 3/4; Kyuden Hida can mill portions of the dynasty deck into discard whilst also providing cheap resource generators such as Gallant Quartermaster, and using Rebuild to bring back more card draw and sacrifice effects in the form of Funeral Pyre with Yasuki Broker for additional fate and hand advantage.

One major departure from the regular ‘tower’ style of Crab play is the choice to use no attachments and maximise on the amount of conflict characters. One of the main reasons for this is the increased number of Way of the Crab which lends itself well to more 1 cost conflict characters to be able to kill problem characters at the end of each turn. Additionally due to the cheap dynasty deck (made even cheaper by using Those Who Serve), we can afford more conflict characters to take further advantage of Kuni Labs - In a deck where everything is expendable and generally doesn’t stay around for that long I find more bodies on the field to be more useful then static attachments. Stoic Gunso can further synergise with Yasuki Broker with its sacrifice effect (Stoic Gunso being especially useful due to his effect being used during any conflict regardless if it is participating or not). I find that compared to the standard ‘tower’ style Crab deck we are able to enjoy, consistent level of power from turn 1 and when we do get out Yasuki Broker on the field, we can build overwhelming advantage whilst having some of the best economy in the game.

As you can see, I have chosen to double down on card generation by running both Broker and Spoils of War to further increase the chances of drawing into multiple Those Who Serve for the second and third turns. Additionally, the three copies of Ujik Tactics also act as a military force multiplier very much like Kuni Labs as if it were on the field.

I tend to go aggressive from the first turn, favouring province breaks over pokes, and spending most of the starting fate in the Dynasty phase. Due to the unique combination of Gallant Quartermaster, Kaiu Envoy and Yasuki Broker to replenish the hand and fate pool during a turn, I find it acceptable to commit to each offensive conflict to ensure the break. On defence, we are looking to put in minimal characters with the preference of defending against towers over other wide boards.

Pretty much the only card in the deck we need to stick around for multiple turns.

Going into mid-game we can look at using Slovenly Scavenger to replenish the dynasty deck (which again synergises well with Yasuki Broker), and very much continue to play in the same way as early game; buying as many dynasty characters as possible, attacking and then sacrificing them for more resource to fuel later turns. The best way I can describe is that the deck largely has the same plan throughout the whole game (as there is generally no build up to large characters) and is able to continue almost indefinitely (Scavengers permitting) whilst your opponent will invariably be forced into using the majority of their resources to defend against your large military attacks.

From my testing so far, our favoured matchups are Crane, Dragon and Classic Crab as they all rely on singular large characters to do most of their damage. HMT unicorn testing has so far been positive as generally our boards are wider and as long as they don’t win a military with more characters they can’t activate their 3rd conflict. Lion seems to be 50/50 at the moment as they can both bring out more characters and boost higher, but I expect that over time there will be a way to resolve this weakness.

Another Option



Aytan: Prior to switching over to Ujik Tactics and Spoils of war I had been playing another splash which, although extremely powerful, doesn’t quite work out with the amount of scorpion players in the current meta. However, this may change with the new ban and restricted lists so I feel that it still warrants talking about;


The above is intended to support a wide boardstate whilst also offering some interesting tech against large tower characters such as those found in duelling crane, Dragon and more classic crab builds. Because we are generally going to have more characters in conflicts then our opponents, Unleash the Djinn can be used offensively to force through breaks against any conflict where you outnumber, and defensively to pull down towers to manageable levels. Most of the cheap characters we are buying are only 1 mil or pol strength so a flat 3/3 for them with an effect that’s basically ‘if you have 2 more guys then your opponent then break any province’ is strong IMO. Additionally, because it’s a set effect, Unleash works really well against opponent towers both defensively and offensively – I’ve used it several times to stop opponent tower breaks and to bait out other buffs. It is worth noting also that Djinn allows for strong political conflicts in our otherwise military focussed deck.

Breakthrough is a recent tech that i have been enjoying, basically saved until the conflict before the enemy stronghold to allow either a quick break on the same turn or use of Yasuki Broker without having to worry about needing to defend and loose the opportunity to gain the extra resource.

Closing



MoZi: These decks are a lot of fun. This is style of Crab that is very competitive without playing all the old staples like Watch Commander, Reprieve, Mountain Does Not Fall, and Fight On. Which makes them very exciting and fun. But they are still being developed! So, once you dip your feet in and get a little experience don’t be afraid to experiment and see what else it’s capable of. Personally, I am very excited to work on some hybrid builds with some of my friends like Konstantinos Paltoglou aka Enegon that make use of a Crabbits engine while transitioning to a more tower themed mid/late game that applies honor pressure. Only time and the meta will tell where this deck ends up so don’t forget your ABC’s. Always Be Crabbin’

Aytan: Having played Broker for the majority of last season, I have been waiting for the extra tech to be able to push the deck into true competitiveness. I think we are still in early days with the engine but in my opinion it is versatile enough to support a wide range of decktypes and more importantly, is a lot of fun to play. I'll continue to play wide over tall because it suits my playstyle but I would urge everyone to at least take a look and play around with the new concepts. Until next time!


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