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The Better Than You Card of the Week #1: First of All

posted 11/2 by John of Team BTY

Welcome to the return of the Better Than You Card of the Week! To commemorate the return of the TBTY website, we felt it only appropriate to kick the column off with a card featuring the most well-known (if least-liked) member of Team Better Than You, First-ever Raw Deal World Champion Mike Canu:

First of All
Pre-match Feud
You cannot play Pre-match cards unless they are Title Belt cards.
No player can play Mid-match Reversal cards or the cards titled Can U Believe the Witte Retort?, The Road to Victory, Frankie Takes Ho-llywood, or For the Love of the Game.
F: 0 D: 0

The card is, at first glance, a fun "theme" card designed to "take the game back" to the Fully Loaded era where there were no prematch cards other than belts, and no Backlash reversals to ruin the fun. As it turns out, First of All doesn't just have a themed application, it's actually quite powerful with the right decks to build around. When played correctly First of All can bring your deck back to those glory days of one-turn smash-mouth Raw Deal that ends with a flurry of maneuvers right out of the gate.

Of course, the fact that it shuts you out from playing non-title-belt prematch cards (except possibly a Venue), and midmatch reversals of your own, means it has a significant drawback. Fortunatley there are a large number of title belts with useful abilities and we will examine them in just a minute. As for the midmatch reversal situation, this is a blessing in disguise becuase it means you will plan ahead and have a full selection of midmatch Actions and Maneuvers you can play, while your opponent will likely have a bunch of dead midmatch slots.

The first thing you need to do with First of All is find a good superstar for it. Two Superstars immediately present obvious FoA builds, Big Freak'n Machine and Lashley. Their abilities already restrict the reversability of your maneuvers and First of All compounds the problem for your opponent. For BFM it means your first two cards of the game are going to resolve successfully no matter what, which plugs up a significant hole for BFM players (Superstars with 0F midmatch reversals, opponents who get to 3F and pack This Is Going Nowhere Fast). For Lashley, it means that through the whole game their opponents can only reverse from hand, backstage area, ring area, and ringside pile. Since the last 3 categories are fairly rare or specialized this is a potentially very powerful strategy for Lashley.

Other superstars can be built around First of All, too. For superstars who don't have an ability that particualrly support the card, you should make sure you have a good starting hand size because you will have only limited means of improving your hand in the prematch. Superstars with lots of logo'd prematch cards are not good choices, obviously, like Rock/People's Champ or Undertaker/Deadman/Phenom. Evolution is a good example of a superstar well-suited to First of All, with a large hand and superstar value, a flexible superstar ability, and not enough prematch cards they would care about losing. Decks built around It's All About the Game in All-Axxess might find First of All an acceptable substitute for Afterburn format games.

Now I'll cover the "sauce" of any First of All deck, and that is its title belts. There are many title belts that can improve your starting hand, including:

Raw Deal Championship, Tag Team Titles, Raw and Smackdown Tag Team Titles which all give you a +1 handsize.

WWE Championship, Cruiserweight Title Belt, and World Heavyweight Title which all give you the ability to search for 1 card of a particular type from your arsenal.

United States Title Belt and Raw Intercontinental Title which give you the ability to play an extra belt (not so good) or reduce your opponent's prematch by one (much better).

Hardcore Title and ECW Title give your maneuvers (or everybody's, for the HC title) a damage boost.

WCW Title, which gives you +1 midmatch.

And the newest title, Spinner Belt, which gives you the ability to randomize your opponent's hand after all prematch phases. Spinner Belt may actually be the most essential belt for a First of All deck, since your opponents are generally free to set up their hand any way they like in the prematch.

The Smackdown belts (US Title, WWE Championship, Cruiserweight Title) have the best overall selection of abilities, but that's not to say that you are forced to play First of All decks on Smackdown. Raw gets a free belt, the ability to search for a Raw logo card, and both types can play the non-branded Raw Deal Championship and Spinner Belts, plus Superstar Value boosting belts like Undisputed Title and WWF World Championship. Considering that Cruiserweight Title can fetch a powerful 0F maneuver (Face Stretch, 8F 8D but -8F and -8D when you are at 7F or less) and a powerful Chain/Volley trait card (Maneuver of Doom), SD puts you in the best early-game position.

One more aspect of First of All to consider is its nullification of the so-called "World Champion" cards. Road to Victory is somewhat redudant, since it is primarily a midmatch reversal, but stopping your opponents from playing For the Love of the Game is very useful as you are almost always going to have multiple title belts in your prematch. The loss of Frankie Takes Ho-Llywood, along with Fortitude Surge and Grab the Ref, means there's a very strong fortitude plunging theme you could build around First of All. It's Not Always the Charisma is a 0F action that requires you to either have lower superstar value or higher fortitude rating than your opponent to play and plunges your next maneuver by your superstar value +6. The first condition is unlikely to be met but an Elbow or a Revolution of the Mind can clear the way for a INAtC on the second turn. Somewhat friendlier is the Heel plunging card, Grab the Mic TB, which for 1F lets you plunge your opponent by your Superstar Value +5, with an added bonus of card drawing. Either of these cards on the low end plus possibly Gut Wrench or Throw Into the Corner Turnbuckle for further plunging form the core of a good old-fashioned plunge deck, which could be especially strong without any threat of You're As Graceful as a Cow on Ice.

First of All is a card with lots of potential for abuse if you plan your strategy around it properly. Though it has drawbacks, the majority of decks you'll encounter these days have a large number of reversals in the midmatch, which means you'll be nullifying many important cards in your opponent's deck with one stroke. The card really brings back some of that "Fully Loaded" era flair to the game, just as long as you're not attached to all those fancy prematch cards that have been printed since then. The right superstar with the right build centered around First of All can make this card a powerhouse.

First of All is....Better Than You.

-John of Team BTY