[EN/EB1] senzubeaned: HOW TO WIN with EB01 WHITEBEARD

Hello everyone, senzubeaned (name in X), published a Whitebeard article in his X/Twitter account recently. We had his permission to publish the article in the site. Senzubeaned placed 7th at Montreal Regionals in May 2024 with a WB deck, so here's his "all experiences" with the deck.

INTRODUCTION

Yeah, yeah, man does well at one tournament and thinks he’s Mister Professor Card Games, Ph.D, writing a guide for a format that ends in a few weeks, yeah, yeah lol.

Our good ol’ pal, Eddy Newgate, is designed to quickly apply intense pressure on the board, life, and hand-size of your opponent, while representing our own strong defense with 2Ks and Event counters. Using this pressure, we can make hard-and-fast inferences on the resources available to our opponent, and exploit any gaps in resources as efficiently as possible. This deck lives and dies off of our ability to exert pressure. This guide will cover my preferred strategies to pressure, along with deck-list optimizations, and optimal strategies based on matchup, in that order. Thanks again for the 800 followers, and I hope that this guide can be both helpful, and at least borderline coherent. If you asked me a simple question in DMs and received this link–sorry, I’m lazy, and enjoy!

PRESSURE STRATEGIES

Running the 2K Test

Our primary method of pressuring is tied to swinging 6000 power swings into 5000 power targets. This puts a specific demand on one particularly important and scarce resource in their hand: the 2K counter. They will have some amount in hand, and we will spend much of the early-to-mid-game trying to infer how many they have in hand.

It’s important to pay attention to your opponent’s behavior and emotional displays when you’re swinging 6Ks, there’re plenty of small (and sometimes huge) ‘tells’ that a player will exhibit. If they’re shaka-shaka’ing between two cards in hand in response to your attack–they’re likely choosing which of their two 2K counters they would rather spend. If they’re wincing, humming and haww’ing, it may be the case that they’re running low, and may even be debating on countering with two 1K counters (we take those straight to the bank lmao). If they’re countering very quickly, we can usually expect them to have more 2Ks going forward.

Keeping a tight track of what they search, and what they play on curve, can supplement the inferences we can make from conducting several 2K tests. We can sometimes egg our opponents on for more information by asking stupid questions, or suggesting dumb ideas, while they’re thinking hard about a play. “Ooh, easy, just 2K, 2K, 1K and you’re good!” often gets the reply, “Yeah, maybe if I had two 2Ks…” To the bank, baby!

When done right, you’ll enter the endgame only having to navigate the ambiguity of maybe not knowing what two cards in their 6+ card hand may be. From there, you can use deck knowledge (how many blockers, 2Ks, etc. do they run?) and their discard pile to compare which possibilities are more probable.

The Art of the Bluff

Pressure is a wild thing. It won’t just come from your gameplay–the strongest, most unbearable pressures are often internal. Even the best players play differently in Round 1 compared to Grand Finals, or in locals, compared to Regionals. Across skill-levels, players want prizing, players want glory, and above all, players hate losing right before the finish line. It can make a player all-in too soon, or decide against an all-in, both behaviors coming from a place of sheepishness and risk-aversion. While all of this affects us, too, we can still manipulate and capitalize on this, in others.

The Art of the Bluff, continued.

Players who have competed since OP02 understandably still have the residual trauma from playing against Prime Whitebeard. We still benefit from this, to this day. Players have experienced the endgame scenarios where four cards in hand, and four active don, truly actually means the Whitebeard has four Radical Beams in hand. Players have experienced the games where Whitebeard has the Rush Luffy, or the Ace, or the back-to-back 9 Cost Eddies, exactly when they need it. It feels bad, and so they’ll readily assume that the worst-case scenarios are possible–all you need to do is give them the information to believe that the worst-case scenario is possible and incoming.

Sometimes, we will actually have the cards we need–because the deck is built to be as variance-resistant as possible. Bluffing is useful in these instances, too. Using all the tells we’ve learned to identify when conducting 2K Tests, we can mislead our opponent into thinking we have insufficient counter power in hand, and bait them into going all-in.

In endgame, which is when bluffing is most relevant, you will often decide your turn based on your ability to survive their incoming attack pattern. Putting yourself in your opponent’s shoes to get a better sense of how they’ll attack–be it four 6k swings or two 8k swings, or a 15k swing–is important for mapping out what cards you can play, and how many don you leave active. Often, when trying to anticipate your opponent’s offensive strategy, you will identify some offensive strategies that you can defend, and some offensive strategies that you cannot defend. For example, you’re at 0 life, you have 5 cards in hand, one is non-counter, and the remaining are 1k counters. If they go wide, meaning they swing into your leader for 6k repeatedly, you’d be able to counter four 6k attacks. If they swing 10k, you’d die. In situations like this, leaving two active don may suggest to your opponent that you have events that could make swinging 10k, or even 15k, unsuccessful, and encourage them to reconsider. Defend what you can, and bluff that you can cover what you really can’t.

Pressure Strategies TL;DR:

  • Swing 6Ks and pay attention to how your opponent reacts before countering.
  • Bluffing is important in endgame, and you can recover lost games by encouraging opponents to all-in early, or decide against going all-in, by representing the defensive options that would counter their ideal offensive options.

DECKLIST

Above is a standard Whitebeard list that can take you very far, regardless of matchup. In this section, I’ll discuss my rationale with some of the decisions behind this decklist, and give a quick run-down on tech options for various matchup interactions. Ultimately, the best decklist is the one that suits your preferred style of play, so please don’t be too upset with me if I bag on Bad Manners Kick Course too hard.

Core Cards

As with all lists, the core cards of Monkey D. Luffy from ST01, Edward Newgate and Portgas D. Ace from OP02 are just inarguable inclusions. The threat of Luffy alone will always force your opponent to play suboptimally, in endgame. Same goes for Ace, which can swing the board state in a single turn. I generally run 3x ratios for cards I would like to regularly see one of, but no more than two.

Radical Beam, 1 Cost Searchers (ideally at a ratio of 6-8), Makino and the two Marcos are both staples, as well. 4 Cost Marco, the Blocker, can have relatively limited use lately, but it can force your opponent to attack inefficiently if they’re required to bypass it, usually. Usually. Running it at 3x is definitely justifiable, but it’s a counter and a searchable blocker that can be annoying to remove. At least as long as Rebecca is around, I can safely say Nico Robin is a staple, as well. 3x or more.

Tech Cards

Whitebeard’s core cards (Luffy, Ace, Eddy) will generally drive the core gameplan of your mid-to-late game, but slight tweaks to the decklist can improve your winrate into certain matchups, usually at the cost of having limited use cases in other matchups. There’re quite a few cards that fall into this category for Whitebeard, so I’ll try my best to touch on everything.

Thatch (OP02) 4 / 5 – I think Thatch is a good meta call, given the prevalence of RP Law. While it can feel a little outdated to run vanillas in current meta, it’s a reliable board threat with 1K counter, that requires RP Law to spend two of their expensive reduction cards (Gordon, Raise Max, Fire Fist) to bottom-deck with their leader effect, which can be devastating if we can follow it up with Ace / Whitebeard the following turn. Gonna just go ahead and say–it’s more versatile than Little Oars Jr (EB01), and slightly more meta-appropriate than Rush Sanji (ST10).

Bad Manners Kick Course 1 / 5 – The only reason we run this bastard-ass card is because our amazing core cards are all non-counter. It’s brick insurance. We don’t want to need insurance. It requires you to trash an additional card for 3k, so in a way, it is effectively the same as using a 1k and 2k, with the added bonus of communicating a startling amount of information to your opponent about what you have in hand, especially in late game, especially against strong opponents. If you feel like you need to run more than 2x, you’re subsidizing deck-building decisions that are too risky for a deck this fragile, in my honest opinion. This’ll come up later.

Atmos / Speed Jil 2 / 5 – It’s solid for when you’re going second, on curve, or alongside a 5 cost character at 9-10 don (depending on the board state), and the worst-case is that its a Whitebeard Pirate searchable, Marco-effect eligible 1k counter in hand. Sure, maybe vanillas get a bad rap, but there are inclusions to the deck that provide more reliable value. As with Thatch, it can sometimes feel a little too slow to play if you aren’t seeing it by mid-game, but at the very least, it will still have counter value in the go-wide matchups.

Otama (OP01) 4 / 5 – This card is still really strong, and in a different meta, where there are more board threats at 5k power to be popped with 5 Cost Marco, or 3k power for Nico Robin. As it currently stands, Kuzan and Kid & Killer are the only decent targets. That being said, there’re a lot of combos that can be opened up with Ace + Otama + Nico Robin, or Whitebeard’s When Attacking effect, it will expend a decent amount of counter from your hand, so be mindful not to overcommit. All in all, I think I still currently prefer the searchable Straw Hat 2Ks instead, but if you choose Buggy + Izou searcher package, Otama is definitely justifiable. I can also see 2x Otama added on top of 4x Sanji / Makino / Jozu, for a more robust 2K ratio variant list.

Shuraiya 2 / 5 – This card is amazing into Black / Yellow Luffy, which is one of our toughest matchups. However, it has extremely limited usage against Sakazuki, Moria and RP Law–which already prefer to attack by swinging several 6k swings to leader, rather than going tall. I’m too apprehensive to increase the ratio of unsearchable cards in a list that now usually runs two different-type searchers, just for one or two relatively uncommon matchups. If Uta and B/Y Luffy become really popular in EB01.5, I might change my mind on Shovel Boy.

Kid & Killer / Buggy (OP03)3 / 5 – Look, I told you this’d come up again–if you just love Bad Manners Kick Course, feel free to put more non-counters in your deck. Just don’t blame me when you draw the bricks, but not the brick insurance, okay? That’s on you. Not me. You.

Kid & Killer ups the non-counter ratio and the unsearchable ratio, but increases the rush ratio of the deck. It can be a valuable surprise against opponents who are tunnel-visioning on Luffy and Ace when sequencing their defense. I can get behind the idea of running it at a 2x, at most.

 

My understanding is that Buggy and Nami compete for the same slot. Buggy is slightly more resilient with it’s Slash immunity, and slightly more annoying with it’s 3k power compared to Nami’s 2k–but it comes at the cost of upping the non-counter ratio, cannot search for Rush Luffy nor 2Ks, and searches for events that are all Straw Hat type, anyway. I like the idea of it, but it feels too hopeful, surely Makino won’t bail us out of that many endgames.

 

Izou (EB01) 3 / 5 – Initially, I was pretty close-minded towards this card as an option, but was pleasantly surprised by its reliable utility. There’s also some nonsense we can get into with combo’ing Izou ability with Gum Gum Red Hawk to surprise-KO any 6k characters. That being said, it’s a non-counter, easier for Moria, Sakazuki and RP Law to remove (due to it being 5c, 7000), and cannot be searched by Izou (OP03). Is it worth running Whitebeard Pirates event searcher? Debatable, but it seems as though running Izou (EB01) requires more sweeping changes to the decklist to maximize its value.

Tech Cards TL;DR:

Stay away from the non-counter trap, brothers! You’ll just lose more to the go-wide decks!


THE IDEAL CURVE

So, before we get into matchup advice, it’s important to recognize the core gameplan of our deck. Matchup advice can often be reactive, but knowing how to play proactively is helpful for navigating unfamiliar situations, leaders or deck variants. Our deck is relatively linear and predictable, but as I mentioned earlier, we can use that to our advantage. Understanding our ideal curve, going first or going second, will help when making slight adjustments later for specific matchups.

Going First

In most matchups, we’ll prefer to go first. Most of our cards are strongest when played as soon as possible, and most of our cards are odd-numbered in cost. Attacking first is just a cozy bonus.

Turn 1: Play a 1c searcher.

Turn 2: Attach 3 don to your searcher, swing 5k, then 6k with leader.

Turn 3: Play Rush Luffy, swing 6k twice.

Turn 4: Play Ace, swing 6k with leader, again if Luffy survived last turn, and Ace for 7k, clearing board threats if needed.

Turn 5: Play Big Eddy, swing swing swing.

Turn 6: Play another Luffy, Ace or Whitebeard, depending on board state, or all-in with Nico Robin to bypass blockers, or Makino to surprise-buff a searcher if one has survived to late-game. By now, the end-game should be simple.

Going Second

There are situations where going second is ideal, usually in scenarios where we are especially concerned about an endgame threat being played on curve, or where hand / don resources are crucial to minimize for our opponent. There are also situations where we’ll lose our dice rolls–so thankfully, our deck is bad-luck-resistant and we’re relatively well-suited to go second. One more card in hand!

Turn 1: Play as many searchers as you can. If they search for different types, play what finds you the more matchup-crucial card, first. If you have it in hand already, then go based off of what’s least likely to whiff, given what cards you have in hand.

Turn 2: Attach 4 don to your searcher, swing 6k, then 6k with leader.

Turn 3: Play a Luffy, and decide based on the matchup, cards in hand and previous 2K Tests, as to whether you leave a don up to protect the Luffy (with a Guard Point, or with the power of bluffing), or swing 6k and 7k. Alternatively, play Thatch on curve!

Turn 4: Play an Ace, and decide based on availability of events in hand as to whether you’ll keep a don active, or swing 7k and 7k with leader and Ace.

Turn 5: Play Big Eddy, and for sure, always, leave one don up.

Turn 6: Play a second Big Eddy, Ace to combo with Eddy’s When Attacking effect, or a Rush Luffy to bypass blockers.

Ideal Curve TL;DR:

Play a searcher, then Luffy, then Ace, then Eddy! Swing, swing, swing! Easy game, easy life!

MATCH-UPS

Overall Matchup Spread

One of the reasons I’ve felt comfortable competing with Whitebeard is because of its very even matchup spread. We beat a few decks very hard, but no matchup is especially polarizing to the point where it’s unwinnable. No auto-losses, what a privilege!

A factor that can’t properly be quantified by a tier-list graphic is how the variation in your opponents’ skill affects the expected difficulty of a matchup. The biggest example–in my experience–is Sakazuki. A top Sakazuki might not even be in the toss-up tier, I may even consider that matchup unfavored (or ‘Tough’) for Whitebeard. Thankfully, most Sakazukis you face will not meet that threshold of skill, respectfully, so our end result win-rate may be higher than what may be implied by optimal theorycrafting.

The matchup spread image is ordered, as well. For example, the mirror, naturally, is a true 50/50 matchup, and I generally understand Sakazuki to be slightly tougher than 50/50, depending on the player we’re up against. Though, when their high-roll beats our high-roll, it’s difficult to say we’re hard-favored, even if performance statistics suggest that we’re relatively comfortable in that matchup. Oh well, it’s on its way out, soon.

With that being said, let’s get into specific matchups, mulligan heuristics, and the adjustments we can make to maximize our win-rate!

Katakuri

Turn Preference: Go first, we’re more concerned about 7c Big Mom than 10c Big Mom.

Mulligan: Luffy, Ace.

We’re gonna start light with our by-far easiest matchup, with little to no significant departure from our usual gameplan. Main difference–we will take almost every single swing to life, and go straight to zero. Unlike with Black, Blue or Purple–yellow has no means to disrupt their opponent’s hand if it gets unreasonably big, so we can take it easy. This also means that while they can potentially get value out of a 7c Big Mom on the earliest turn they play it, they assuredly will not get value out of 10c Big Mom. The tricky part is to be cautious about how much don you commit to defending your characters–it is possible to lose because of an overcommitment to keep a Rush Luffy alive, or something, so keep calculating whether you can defend an all-in, during each late game turn.

We conduct the 2k test as often as possible, we play around Onami trigger by swinging with characters first, Blocker triggers by keeping Luffy or 9c Eddy active to possibly bypass, and Bege / Amaru triggers by being a good person and doing good deeds. Surely bad things only happen to bad people, right?

Post-Ban Prediction: It’s always been a toss-up as to whether Katakuri will re-emerge post-ban, and whether Katakuri will do well–but one thing’s for sure, people love playing Katakuri anyway. I anticipate we’ll see plenty, and that’s okay.

Enel

Turn Preference: Go first.

Mulligan: Luffy, Ace, Thatch

The hurdle for beating an Enel deck is to make three successful attacks to life when they’re at one life. Given their removal options, healing, and triggers–this can be relatively tough. Thankfully, due in part to the overall low counter ratio in Enel, winning is still very possible. They will assuredly take the first few hits to life, if not all of them, until they’re at 1HP. By then, we pump the brakes until our board is big and tall enough to get through. This is where Thatch shines—they can use Kingdom Come to remove it, but it’s essentially a don-neutral, tempo-negative interaction for them (6c removal for a 6c body), and we know they would much rather use it on a 9c Eddy, or Ace. KO-resistant targets like 5c Marco, or dare I say, Little Oars Jr. (EB01) are also especially useful here. It’s a simple matchup, just hang in there and don’t swing at their 1HP unless you intend on swinging at the next one. Otherwise, we’d be giving them a free opportunity to trigger and filter their hand of non-counters each turn.

Post-Ban Prediction: We will assuredly be seeing more Enel around in OP07, due in part to the new 10c Ace secret rare they get. As for EB01.5, I anticipate we’ll be seeing a solid increase in representation, so don’t neglect your matchup preparation!

Red / Purple Law

Turn Preference: Go second, we get Thatch on curve, and one less card + don for Law to ramp with.

Mulligan: Nico Robin, 5c Marco, Luffy, Ace.

I actually really enjoy this matchup–and it’s not just because it’s common and relatively easy. There’s a lot to keep an eye out for, and a lot of lines that can result in us losing. We have answers for most of their big threats—Nico Robin or 5c Marco for Bon Clay, or Nico + Ace for Shuraiya, the 9c Eddy into Ace combo for clearing their 5c Kid blockers, and a 6k leader for all the 5k swings they wanna make! Otherwise, there aren’t major departures from our usual gameplan as described by the Ideal Curve section, earlier. The 2K testing is especially effective here, given the relatively high ratio of non-counters and the relatively low ratio of 2K counters—we will usually be given clear information on how capable they are of countering, especially if they’ve been forced to play an Otama alongside a Gordon or Fire Fist, to reduce a Thatch to a removable threshold.

We’ll have the hand-size to be able to tank one Law blocker (ST10)’s On Play effect, and still be okay. Thankfully, they aren’t running the Law blocker at the ratios where we need to worry about two being played, but I can see the ratio can increase from the 2x norm, if it suits the larger metagame. All that to say—I don’t think we need to play around Law blocker, I don’t even know if we can, so just tank it!

Beyond the ‘threat-answer’ back-and-forth of early-to-midgame, much of the matchup boils down to how well we can deal with an opponent going wide. Non-counters will make or break this matchup, and often our 2K counters will have the same value as 1K counters, because they’re usually only swinging with 6k power, with Kid & Killer and Mr. 2 as the usual exceptions. Their most problematic lines begin with playing Kid blocker on curve, I know a top Whitebeard player who includes Gum-Gum Jet Pistol specifically as a means to shut Kid down fast, so take that as a sign to take Kid out of the picture as soon as you comfortably can, even if we decide against Jet Pistol. 

Post-Ban Prediction: Uncontroversial prediction–RP Law will be the most-played deck of this mini-format. It’s hard to see this as a bad thing for us, given our advantage in the matchup.

Mirror

Turn Preference: Go first.

Mulligan: Ace, Whitebeard.

This one is relatively simple. If we have Eddy, and they don’t, and we play ours–we likely win. If they have Eddy, and we don’t, we need to focus on draining their hand. If we both have Eddy, it’s a matter of who has more back-to-back Eddies, or more counter to support theirs. It is generally understood that for Whitebeard, 1k counters and 2k counters are functionally the same. Rarely will you see someone swinging 7k into 6k, outside of instances where the base power of the attacker is 7k–like Ace. As such, we won’t be doing 2k tests. We’ll instead just pepper them with 6k attacks, and when they begin to stop using 1k counters and start using 2k counters, we can inference that they’re (1) running low on counter cards, (2) have a 1k card that they would rather play–which isn’t super common in this matchup–and / or (3) they are likely holding onto a 9c Eddy to use on curve. Making the inference on if they have a 9c or not, quickly, is key.

Defensively, we’ll be doing the same—we only really protect our life if we drew a 9c Eddy in the first three turns, with enough counter in hand to foreseeably protect us, or if it’s clearly our only out in the matchup. Sometimes, our only out will be to bluff. Lastly, and most importantly, you’re aware of how effective Ace is at clearing a board. Do not play into their Ace.

Post-Ban Prediction: Since OP05, I’ve gone into every format thinking ‘this one is finally the end for us, no more Whitebeard’ and every format has proven me wrong. I may still feel this way about OP07–it’ll depend on how we do against the new Rob Lucci leader–but EB01.5 seems like a prime opportunity for us to squeeze a few more dubs in. A spike in usage for Enel, Uta and B/Y Luffy might be enough for Whitebeard to have a tough bracket.

Gecko Moria

Turn Preference: Go first.

Mulligan: Luffy, Whitebeard, Nico Robin

To some extent, we just gotta hope they don’t see too many Peronas, early. Beyond that, their usual removal options and defensive options are all scarier in Sakazuki decks, with all due respect. They mostly field 5k bodies, which is convenient as it necessitates they decide between playing on-curve, or attacking with their bodies. We can draw inferences from when they decide to curve, and when they prefer to attack instead. For example, if they’re at 8 don, and don’t play Moria, it may suggest that they’re hurrying to finish the game after recognizing they’re short on defensive options, that they don’t have an 8c Gecko Moria in hand, or they have Sabos that they would rather play back-to-back.

As with all black decks, it’s helpful to keep regularly checking the resources in your opponent’s discard pile. While conducting our 2K tests—which are effective in this matchup when they’re already trying to play every Perona they comfortably can—we should keep an eye out for when the first Perona enters their discard pile, and when a second Perona enters their discard pile. The importance of tracking the entry of the first Perona is relevant for anticipating how they’ll distribute their don the following turn (or current turn, if discarded via leader effect). The importance of tracking the second Perona is for whether it’s okay to KO a rested Perona when it is reduced to 2K power from Ace effect, and we have a searcher or Nico Robin free to attack it. After all, it makes no difference for their Moria ability to bring out a Perona whether they have one or more than one in the discard pile. Long story short—they’ll trash from our hand, and go wide to continue straining our hand, hoping to outlast us with blockers and tall endgame swings from their 8c Gecko Moria.

Post-Ban Prediction: OP07 Rob Lucci waiting room, but we’ll still see lots and it’s still a threat.

Sakazuki

Turn Preference: Go first, though I’ve heard strong arguments to go second now that 7c Borsalino is unlikely to be seen on curve when it’s included at 1-2x at most.

Mulligan: Luffy, Ace, Whitebeard, Nico Robin (hey wait, that’s just the ideal curve + nico!)

It’s, by far, the best deck in format. It’s getting banned because of it—and only the coolest leaders get banned, we all know that. Part of a strong mentality is tied to expectation. One of my professors once told me—all frustration lies in the violation of an expectation. For example, imagine someone stuck in traffic—they aren’t pissed off that traffic exists as a concept, they’re pissed off that they had expected to be at their destination sooner. So, it’s important to set good and accurate expectations. My expectations are: Sakazuki is the best deck in format. We have a decent (read: middling, relatively speaking) matchup into the best deck in format—because they either need to high-roll on seeing all the resources they need, and / or play perfectly in order to beat us. Most Sakazuki players are unfortunately not able to play the deck perfectly so, experientially, we will beat most Sakazuki players, even though we “shouldn’t”. That being said, we also need to play perfectly to ensure we eek out wins against some of the top players, too. 

When playing against Sakazuki, we can keep an eye on the 2Ks they’re countering with to make soft-inferences on how many they may have in hand. Specifically, Sakazuki players will almost always counter with a T-Bone or Vergo or Gion (if anyone still worries about Nami that much) before they use Tsuru—so when they use Tsuru, know that this means we’re getting close. This is like when we counter with Makinos when we have a 1c on board—we definitely wouldn’t be doing this if we didn’t have to. Keep an eye on their discard piles to anticipate when they’ll try using the Rebecca – Hina – Lucci combo. Try to keep a Nico Robin in hand to play around Rebecca—but expect them to play it alongside a Sabo to keep it KO-immune and make our lives harder. No violated expectations!

Post-Ban Prediction: Sakazuki players will transition from being outspokenly anti-ban, to outspokenly pro-RP Law ban. How am I able to see the future so clearly? Brother, I read twitter.

Black / Yellow Luffy

Turn Preference: Go second, we need to limit their access to combo resources at all costs.

Mulligan: Luffy, Ace, Thatch

Man, this matchup is demanding. Sure, they’ll need to see all their combo components to work their magic, and we can sometimes get an early read on what they’re missing, but the combos will happen. This means we need to play perfectly, and get a teensy bit lucky with the resources we draw into, to reliably win in the matchup. This matchup requires the largest departure from our usual gameplan, out of all our common matchups. Generally speaking, if we swing at them in early and mid-game, they will not counter, they want to go to 0 life as soon as possible, using the least amount of their own cards to do it. We want to make that process annoying for them.

We won’t be attaching don to whatever searcher we hope to play on turn one, to attack turn two. We will instead only attack with leader until they’re at two life, while we build up board threats. At two life, they would need to activate two of their own cards’ effects to activate their leader combo, which is usually too inefficient for them to go ahead with.

 

Just for reference, they will usually use the following cards to self-damage: (For Fusion World players, firstly: I’m so sorry about your meta, secondly: I’ve been resisting the urge to call these self-awakeners.)

  • Charlotte Flampe (EB01) 
  • 5c Sabo (ST13)
  • Kozuki Hiyori (OP06) 
  • 5c Monkey D. Luffy (ST13)

You’ll notice that from these cards–every option to self-damage will require the use of either a 5 cost character, or a 2K counter. So, it’ll almost always require a commitment of don or defensive resources in hand. Hiyori doesn’t technically self-damage on its own, but it’s only ever going to be played alongside one of the baby characters, so we can treat it like a self-damager. So, it’s important to starve them. Now what?

As mentioned before, we spend our early and mid-game building up our board with active characters–big and tall characters like Thatch and Eddy are great to ensure we can comfortably swing above their 9K life leader. If they end their turn at one HP, and/or we otherwise cannot prolong the game to improve the board state, we can all-in. In this matchup, an all-in will usually require you to bypass a Sabo blocker, which is possible (depending on whether it was played last turn) with your Rush Luffy, or Ace the turn after you played 9c Eddy (using its KO effect).

Keep an eye out for the turns where they can Gecko Moria into an already full board. Also, don’t hesitate to use your Ace to pop their 5c Luffy if they give you the opportunity. If you have multiple copies of Rush Luffy in hand, or if you’re confident they don’t have 5c Sabo available, it can be helpful in endgame to play a Luffy, keep it active, and swing into a 9k leader with blockers up, with a 16k unblockable swing on a later turn. Play it by ear, a sharp inference will cut through any matchup disadvantages.

Post-Ban Prediction: We’re gonna be seeing a lot more of this guy, but based on Asia’s results in OP07, we were bound to, anyway.

Uta

Turn Preference: Go first! We want them to play their 8c Kid with no Don up, or delay it to their 10 don turn. We also want to avoid letting them play 7c Luffy on curve.

Mulligan: Ace is CRUCIAL. Nico Robin, Luffy and 5c Marco are also really helpful to see.

It was recently brought to my attention that Uta beats our ass. To a certain extent, it’s true! To a lesser extent, there’s a lot we can do to make sure this matchup is still winnable for us. Not only do they generally draw a card each turn, while swinging 6k, they have plenty of small blockers, bodies that play bodies, Backlight to KO our Luffy and Marcos, 8c Kids—and if they want to surprise us, a 10c Doffy (OP04) or Hody Jones to rest our active don—and finishing off endgame with two 12k leader swings from I’m Invincible.

We just need to approach the matchup honestly—conduct our 2K tests dilligently, be present and ready for any opportunities to arise. It won’t always be clear how bricked their hand is when they draw twice a turn, take most hits to life, and have a bajillion searchable 2Ks with ‘yeah of course I’ll search here, why not?’ lookin’ ass New Genesis card. Ace is the hardest counter to 8c Kid in the game besides like Red Roc… and Gordon… and 8c Katakuri… and Kingdom Come… and Ice Age… okay, nevermind, it’s just a really good counter. Regardless, mulligan hard for it, pop the lil’ blockers when they try to set up sooner than they should. Be mentally present for any chances to win, and be emotionally ready to eat shit and lose. Mentality, baby!

Post-Ban Prediction: We will be seeing more Uta. If this turns out to be true, I anticipate returning to Izou (EB01) for more testing, as the -2000 effect lasts for the entire turn, and can reduce an I’m Invincible all-in to two 10k swings, rather than two 12k swings.

Conclusion

Playing Whitebeard is a lot like tending to a Farm (yeah, we’re doing another self-indulgent metaphor, strap in). Envision a man digging a trench between his unwatered fields, and a nearby river. He can dig a trench 50 feet long, but if his field is 51 feet away, the irrigation still won’t happen. Every single one of those 50 feet are meaningful, and crucial, to irrigating the farm—but the result will not be felt until the 51st foot is dug. We can keep swinging 6k, and they can keep countering out, but the results of our hard work sometimes do not reveal themselves until the end. I’ve won into my first in-person Top 64 by swinging a 6k and 7k into a player with six cards in hand, and one life remaining. Was I nervous as shit? Definitely—but I knew that the final foot needs to be dug somehow, if I want these damn crops watered.

Keep digging, everyone.

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