All readers should know: I give the card number and originating Booster Pack of every card that I mention in parentheses (with the exception of having already given them earlier in the review and it's obvious that I'm still talking about the same card). But on a few occasions, the last card number is 8, which causes the "Cool" Emoticon to appear because of the parentheses. To stop this from happening and making this review look odd, I will just provide another way to identify which card I'm talking about, which is why sometimes I only list the Booster Pack the card is from or even its effect name.
Jiraiya (Sage Mode) is easily the most heaviest-hitting Ninja in the game. Between its monstrous stats (10/5 Healthy Status, 8/4 Injured Status), the huge boost it gives to any Jutsu it uses, and its Jutsu immunity, it is extremely fun to play... even if it is a lot of work doing so. Sage Mode requires not just one, not even two, but three Sacrifices as a requirement to be put in play: Jiraiya, Fukasaku and Shima. There are strategies that can make this trip easier, but there will probably never be a game when getting Sage Mode in play was a piece of cake.
Getting Him In Play:
Below are several strategies you can follow to make the long ride towards Sage Mode easier.
The following is a turn-by-turn set-up that has proven to me to be successful, assuming you start with (or soon draw into) at least 1 Fukasaku or Shima:
0) Deploy Ink Leech (IN-1294) to gain 3 Chakra. If your opponent attacks with a team of 0-5 or less power during their turn, block with Leech (Leech keeps the same stats in Injured Status, so this way you don't have to give your opponent any Battle Rewards). If your opponent manages to form a team with 6+ power, don't block. An alternative to Leech is Kushina Uzumaki (TP3N-1181), who has more Support-focused stats and gives you 2 Chakra instead.
1) Deploy one of the Naruto Uzumaki (Clone)s (whichever you prefer) to search for Naruto Uzumaki (WOFN-861). If you deployed Leech last turn, put in play Ink Fish (SLN-1386) with its first effect and then draw a card with its second effect. But if you deployed Kushina last turn, you'll have to charge a card and then continue with Fish as usual. Since Clone searched for Naruto, you'll have 7 cards in your hand and have to reduce it at the end of the turn anyway. Now, when you form a team with all of your Ninjas you have put in play so far with Clone as Head Ninja, your team will have either 5, 6 or 7 power (depending on which Clone you used, and if you used Leech or Kushina). The important part is that you'll always have enough stats to earn you 2 Battle Rewards if not blocked (some players wouldn't normally block your team because then Clone would go up in power), therefore your opponent will probably block your team. That way, Clone is injured and your team power shoots up to 7, 8 or 9.
2) Deploy Konohamaru Ninja Squad (TP1N-871) to draw another card. Run 3 Monster Research (TGSM-740) and/or Bonds of Friendship (TP1M-669) so you'll probably have a copy of one of them. After using it, hopefully you would have acquired a Jiraiya by now (between your 2 or 3 normal draws, Fish, KNS, and the Mission). Add KNS into your main team after removing Leech or Kushina (whichever one you used) to give your team a stat boost and Ninja effect immunity.
3) Deploy Shima (IN-1301) to search for Fukasaku (IN-1302) and heal 1 of your Lightning Ninjas (if any have been injured). Add Shima to your main team after removing Fish, and now Shima is immune to your opponent's Ninja effects, thanks to KNS. Whether or not you would attack or block the next few turns depends on how much Chakra your opponent has, obviously.
4) Finally, deploy Naruto to search for The Sage Returns (IM-830). Play it right away to search for Fukasaku and even have him put in play, thanks to The Sage Returns' bonus effect. Use Fukasaku's effect to search for another Shima as a back-up. Then, if you made a team with Fukasaku, Shima and Naruto as Head Ninja, your team power would be 12 after calculating in Naruto's second effect, and 15 if he ever gets injured. If you want to be extremely cautious, place Fukasaku and Shima in a team with KNS as Head Ninja to give them Ninja effect immunity. Then, it would be best to place Naruto as Head Ninja in a team with Kushina and Fish for a power of 8 (and 11 if Naruto ever gets injured).
5) Deploy Kakashi Hatake (PR-056) to give you some Jutsu and Mission protection. Keep Kakashi back with Fukasaku and Shima while Naruto's team holds of your opponent's Ninjas. This way, Fukasaku and Shima could be virtually untouchable, because KNS grants them Ninja effect immunity and Kakashi can negate any Jutsu or Mission that could actually reach them. The best part is, Kakashi doesn't have to be battling to use his effect. Also, Kakashi comes into play just in time because turn 5 is when Hydro-Pump (TGSJ-797) comes into the game, and most decks run at least 1.
6) Deploy Jiraiya (STN-1119) to search for another Fukasaku as back-up. Now, you should have an extra Fukasaku and Shima in your hand. Adjust your teams accordingly.
7) Finally, put Sage Mode in play.
If you luck into the cards you need enough, and you don't need Naruto or The Sage Returns, you could deploy Sai (WWN-1236) instead of Kakashi on turn 5 to move your Turn Marker up by 1 and put Sage Mode in play a turn earlier than normal. However, this is much riskier, because then Kakashi wouldn't come into play until much later.
The following is a fun strategy where you can abuse Senjutsu and practically secure your victory on turn 3.
0 - 2) The same as above.
3) Deploy Shima as usual to search for Fukasaku and heal 1 of your Lightning Ninjas if any have been injured. Attack with Shima in your strongest team possible. During the Exchange of Jutsu, play Five Prong Seal (CUSJ-092). If Shima is the user, you can pay its 1 Lightning, 1 Fire, 1 Water, 1 Wind, and 1 Earth cost with any 5 Chakra, thanks to Senjutsu. If you played Leech or Kushina and Bonds of Friendship or Monster Research, you will have plenty of Chakra, and might even be able to use a Frog Kumite (SLJ-905) or Toad Mouth Trap (POPJ-759) to back-up Five Prong Seal. Not only will it take down your opponent's most valuable Ninja, but Five Prong Seal will also take your opponent's entire hand down with it. If you targeted a Ninja opposing Shima, there's a good chance you'll get an Outstanding Victory as well. How could your opponent be prepared for this so early, and how could they ever come back from it?
4 - 7) If your opponent hasn't already given up, continue trying to put Sage Mode in play (just in case).
The following is another fun stategy where you use an alternative Jiraiya to put in play 3 important Ninjas in just 1 turn.
0 - 5) Deploy either Fukasaku or Shima sometime during this 6-turn duration.
6) Deploy Jiraiya (PR-059) to search for and put in play Naruto Uzumaki (WOFN-861), which you can then use to search for The Sage Returns (IM-830). Play The Sage Returns right away to search for either Fukasaku or Shima (whichever you don't have in play yet), which will then also be put in play, thanks to The Sage Returns' bonus effect.
7) Put in play Sage Mode as usual.
The main reason why you would use this strategy is so that 2 of the 3 Ninjas that Sage Mode requires would only be in play for a turn, so your opponent would not be able to take them out very easily. Also, this strategy works so much better if you run Naruto (Sage Mode) (SLN-1395), because then you can already put him in play as well.
The following is yet another fun strategy to put Sage Mode in play on turn 5.
0 - 2) Play the best with what you have, but what happens now doesn't really have much of an impact on the game later on.
3) Deploy Shima to search for Fukasaku.
4) Deploy Fukasaku to search for another Shima as a back-up.
5) Play either 4 Times Faster (FRM-447) or Eight Inner Gates (AWM-361) to deploy any Jiraiya and put Sage Mode in play right away.
Other strategies include using Archrival (ANCM-406) or Surprise Training (EAM) to get an extra deployment in. These help a lot if you want to keep Fukasaku and Shima safe in your village at all times, so then Archrival or Surprise Training will help you increase your numbers.
There are many cards that combo or simply go well with Sage Mode. A Ninja that is a one-man army doesn't seem like the type of card to have many combos, but there are some very good ones. As you read, remember that Sage Mode will be the user of any Jutsus list below, therefore they all will have the boost he gives them.
1. A Thousand Years of Death (FRJ-451) isn't necessarily a Jutsu that is capable of devastating an entire team, but it can still be extremely useful. Since your opponent will only be using their Ninja effects to damage Sage Mode (since he is immune to Jutsu), A Thousand Years of Death can negate to 2 of those Ninjas' effects and even injure those Ninja, which might even score an Outstanding Victory.
2. Approaching Showdown (FPM-547) will prevent your opponent from sending out their Ninjas with Hand Costs to battle, which will probably be their few strongest Ninja. Approaching Showdown targets both players, but you can still send out Sage Made to battle because he actually doesn't have a Hand Cost. In most cases, this card won't get you ahead in power (since your opponent can rarely compete with Sage Mode anyway), so I think it would be more useful using it when you think your opponent will try and rush you. Putting Sage Mode in play will make you fall behind in numbers, so Approaching Showdown gives you a few turns to catch up.
3. Eight Tails (TP3N-1186) in a combo with Sage Mode will change Eight Tails' effect from horrible to amazing. Not only will these two Ninjas alone can create a team of 14 power, but chump blocking becomes virtually useless. For example, there is a pretty good chance that you will have another Ninja with at least 2 Support, bringing the team to 16 power. So, in this case, unless if your opponent can keep chump blocking your team with Ninjas that have 7 or higher power, Eight Tails' effect will give you 2 Battle Rewards every time.
4. Chakra Cannon (WWJ-853), Collaboration Ninjutsu! Wind Style: Toad Flame Bombs (FotSJ-723), Demonic Illusion: Toad Confrontation Singing (TGSJ-785), Feral Rage (STJ-812), Five Prong Seal Release (CUSJ-126), Five Prong Seal (CUSJ-092), Hydro-Pump (TGSJ-797), Rasengan (AWJ-377), Rasengan (FRJ-495), Sage Art: Frog Call (SLJ-903), Sage Art: Kebari Senbon (TGSJ-784), and Toad Subjugation: Art of the Manipulated Shadow (TGSJ-783) are all Jutsus that are unarguably amazing when used by Sage Mode. Below is a list of the Jutsus that I personally find to be the best, with their cost and effect modified to what it would be when Sage Mode uses it.
4.1. Name: Five Prong Seal Release Card Number: CUSJ-126 Cost: 5 Generic Target: 6 of your opponent's Battle Rewards. Effect: Return the target to its original owner's hand. Then, discard until you have 7 or less cards in your hand.
4.2. Name: Five Prong Seal Card Number: CUSJ-092 Cost: 5 Generic Target: 2 of your opponent's Ninjas Effect: Return the target and all the cards in your opponent's hand to their original owner's Deck(s) and shuffle.
4.3. Name: Hydro-Pump Card Number: TGSJ-797 Cost: 3 Generic or 4 Generic Target: 3 Ninja Effect: Move the target to its owner's hand. Expert ["Puppet Master">: Discard the target instead.
4.4. Name: Rasengan Card Number: AWJ-377 Cost: 3 Generic Target: 2 Ninja Battling against the user Effect: Give 2 Damage to the target. If the target is discarded due to Damage from this Jutsu card, give 2 Damage to 2 of your opponent's Ninjas.
4.5. Name: Rasengan Card Number: FRJ-495 Cost: 3 Generic Target: Every Ninja Battling against the user Effect: Give 2 Damage to the target. If 2 or more of the targets are discarded due to the Damage from this Jutsu card, you win 2 Battle Reward.
4.6. Name: Sage Art: Frog Call Card Number: SLJ-903 Cost: 2 Generic Target: 2 Ninja Effect: The target becomes 1/1 during this turn. Expert [Senjutsu]: Give 2 Damage to the target.
4.7. Name: Toad Subjugation: Art of the Manipulated Shadow Card Number: TGSJ-783 Cost: 3 Generic Target: 2 Ninja Battling against the user Effect: Move the target into the user's team in any position. In that case, the user becomes 1/1 during the turn. At the end of the turn, return the target to your opponent's Village.
5. Cursed Existence (STM-762) will almost always give you a Battle Reward if you send Sage Mode out to battle (only the turn you play Cursed Existence). That's because there are some counters to Sage Mode, but between those that can't be activated during the Exchange of Jutsu, those that can only injure Sage Mode, and those that you can counter easily enough, the time will surely come that Cursed Existence gives you 1 Battle Reward.
6. Jiraiya's Hermit Dance (TGSM-734) will allow you to retrieve a total of 3 of your discarded cards (if you target Sage Mode). You would usually only be able to retrieve 1 or 2, but Sage Mode ups that number to 3.
7. Konohamaru Ninja Squad (TP1N-871) would grant Sage Mode immunity from Ninjas, which are Sage Mode's weakness, along with Missions.
8. Multi Shadow Clone Jutsu (PTHJ-005), Multi Shadow Clone Jutsu (FotSJ-724), Power of the Clones (BPJ-621), Shadow Clone Jutsu (AWJ-363) and Shadow Clone Jutsu (ANCJ-436) are all Jutsus that give stat boosts. Just like with the [Overflowing Chakra] trio and a few other Ninjas, Sage Mode using stat boosting cards are very useful because he is unaffected by Jutsus and any Ninja or Mission effects that can hurt Sage Mode either would've been used earlier or you are expecting them.
9. Strength of Jutsu (QFPM) attached to Sage Mode makes it so any Jutsu he uses cannot be negated or reacted.
10. The Strongest One (SLM-865) played the very first turn Sage Mode is put in play will allow you to dominate. Sage Mode is 3 Ninjas combined into 1, so you are technically able to keep 3 Ninjas in play when your opponent can only keep 1.
Ways To Counteract It:
The only way to counteract Sage Mode is to get around its effect, meaning you need a Ninja, Mission or Client to deal with Sage Mode. There are dozens of Ninjas and Missions that give damage or are capable of removing Ninjas in other ways, but there is one main reason why I'm not going to discuss any of those cards: most of them are used during the Exchange of Jutsu, so Sage Mode can still overcome them. For example, let's say you use an effect that would give 1 or 2 damage to Sage Mode if it resolved, but then Sage Mode whips out a Jutsu and wipes out your entire team. Hint: You need cards that can deal with Sage Mode during any other phase of the game than the Exchange of Jutsu.
So, one of the only ways you can stand a chance against Sage Mode is to have a card that can do one of the following (but not during the Exchange of Jutsu, of course):
Create a Mental Power battle. This will not stop Sage Mode's effect, but it will make his stats completely useless.
Negate Ninja effects. Negating Sage Mode's effect gives you the opposite result of creating a Mental Power battle. His effect will be gone, but his stats will still be a problem.
React your opponent's Jutsus. Reactive Jutsu can effect Sage Mode because
technically they aren't the card that is effecting him.
Also, you could counter Sage Mode by stopping him from ever being put in play. Below are a few cards that can do that.
1. Shino Aburame (FPN-657) would really hurt your opponent if you put him in play right away on turn 2. Shino would prevent your opponent from searching for the cards they need with Jiraiya (STN-1119), Fukasaku (IM-1302), Shima (IM-1301), Naruto Uzumaki (WOFN-861), and The Sage Returns (IM-830). The odds of drawing into Jiraiya, Fukasaku and Shima by turn 7 are very slim.
2. Final Goodbye (SLM-875), Reaper Death Seal (ANCJ-435), and Sealing Barrier (EAM-486) are capable of discarding all of the copies of at least 1 of the Ninjas needed to put Sage Mode in play.
3. Miroku (FPC-051) is one of the best counters to Sage Mode, in my opinion. Unless your opponent can find a way to discard Miroku, she will prevent Sage Mode from ever being put in play.
Lastly, Burden of Hatred (SLM-869) is a clever way to damage Sage Mode. Since Sage Mode has 3 names in his characteristics ("Name: Jiraiya," "Name: Fukasaku" and "Name: Shima"), Burden of Hatred will give 1 damage to Sage Mode for each of those 3 Ninjas that has been charged or discarded (although Burden of Hatred doesn't count the 3 copies that were Sacrificed for Sage Mode, because they are removed from game).
- Three Elements.
- No Hand Cost.
- High Rank.
- Three Names (even though Burden of Hatred turns this into a weakness, it's usually a strength).
- Insanely powerful effects, which are even Valid.
- Monstrous stats.
- Very high Entrance Cost.
- Sacrifice that requires 3 Ninjas.
*This card was first released in Japanese, and then was released in English later on. I am not aware of this card being printed in any other language.
*This card's first variation was a Super Rare in Tales of the Gallant Sage, and was even considered to be the main card in the set (because it was the card whose art was shown on the Booster Pack's cover).
*This card has a special alternate artwork reprint known as a "Parallel" card. Only 20 copies have been printed.
The artwork makes him appear somewhat tough and the effect is very aggressive, so they don't exactly match directly, but their natures are similar.
I would give this card a 7.5 out of 10 rating. It's a very good card, but there are several drawbacks that could cost you the game against certain decks.