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Making it Work (4): Umezawa's Jitte
By Arjan van Houwelingen
For this new episode Limited charged me to make a deck with a Betrayers of Kamigawa limited bomb (coincidence? I think not). Banshee's Blade will probably hide in shame when seeing this superior and versatile piece of equipment:

Umezawa's Jitte (2)
Legendary Artifact - Equipment

Whenever equipped creature deals combat damage, put two charge counters on Umezawa's Jitte.
Remove a charge counter from Umezawa's Jitte: Choose one - Equipped creature gets +2/+2 until end of turn; or target creature gets -1/-1 until end of turn; or you gain 2 life.
Equip (2)


I wondered what a Jitte actually is and some searching on the internet gave me enough information:

The katana, is of course, the best known of the Japanese weapons, but
was only allowed to the Samurai and higher in medieval Japan. The Jitte, which is commonly called a "fencer's baton," was formerly used by law enforcement officers in Edo period Japan. They were not allowed the sword, being of a lower caste, so they carried the Jitte to parry a sword cut. It not only could "lock-up" a sword blade, but even badly damage one. There are many stories of Jittejutsu "masters" snapping katana blades or disarming their owners. The Jitte, or jutte (Japanese:  ģ ÷; the power of ten hands weapon) is about 45 cm (18 inches) long and was also used as a very effective club. The design itself is said to be derived from the Okinawan sai.


Charging your opponent, uhm, Jitte
I guess I'll be doing some law enforcing during multiplayer with this sword-breaker. Fine by me, my playgroup has a few rogue deck builders, so lets beat some sense of order into those guys. The Jitte has 3 abilities, all fueled by charge counters. You can pump an equipped creature to win its combats, gain life when needed and it even functions as removal. However, to do all this, it needs to be charged first.

In the magic color wheel, white stands for law and order. So judging by flavor Umezawa's Jitte would fit white best. And not only flavor-wise: the Jitte gives white weenie a way to deal with small criminal utility creatures and there are a lot of creatures who become much more capable with a weapon in their hands. It seems to me that Umezawa's Jitte would fit perfectly in a white weenie equipment deck.

Let's try a budget deck with the Jitte to give it a bit more punch and see how it goes.


Charge!

24 plains

4 Auriok Glaivemaster
4 Leonin Den-Guard
4 Leonin Skyhunter
4 Skyhunter Cub
4 Skyhunter Patrol
2 Razor Golem

2 Blinding Light
4 Bonesplitter
4 Mask of Memory
4 Umezawa's Jitte


Playing the deck
Now before you charge me with making a too straightforward deck, I'll say it myself: A deck list more basic than this is probably impossible. But I'm certain you can customize the decklist yourself to meet your preferences and metagame. You can easily run fewer copies of Umezawa's Jitte by adding Taj-Nar Swordsmith or Steelshaper's Gift , which might be a good idea anyway since it's legendary. The deck has enough evasion to make mask of memory effective and the Jitte can really charge up the leonin crowd. An "active" Jitte lets you stay ahead in the damage race and, as said before, functions as creature removal.

Adding artifact and enchantment removal is probably a wise thing to do, as is adding some extra ways to control creatures (e.g. Parallax Wave , Swords to Plowshares ). Plenty of options, I just chose to go for 100% beatdown and maybe eating some donuts while doing so.

After some multiplayer games
100% beatdown gets you far, but sometimes not far enough. The deck needs some extra removal to deal with troublesome enchantments and creatures (e.g. turn 4, 8/8 Kilnmouth Dragon ). You probably saw it coming of course. So sue me.

The reason behind this senseless beatdown approach was to really test how helpful the Jitte is (I didn't go to the prereleases). Now I know: it is priceless. Having a bunch of counters on the equipment sends out a strong signal: send that Sengir Vampire my way and it won't live to tell the tale. Small utility creatures can be taken out easily. Even the lifegain mattered sometimes, giving me a strong advantage in the damage race. This was useful when my equipped creature got chump blocked but my opponent and I were racing each other.

Double trouble
White weenie gets the job done, but I have an idea to use the Jitte more efficiently. If I do combat damage more often, the Jitte charges more often. Double strike does just that. Red and white give me the double strikers I want (and Greater Morphling in blue, but let's not go there, ok?). And it just happens that I built a G/W double strike deck a few days ago and the card would fit great in the deck (the original deck used Rancor instead of Umezawa's Jitte ):


Witness Protection Program

11 Plains
13 Forest

4 Sakura-Tribe Elder
4 Devout Witness
4 Bushi Tenderfoot
4 Skyhunter Skirmisher
4 Eternal Witness
4 Spike Soldier

4 Umezawa's Jitte
4 Gerrard's Command
4 Might of Oaks


Playing the deck
The deck has enough creatures to use the Jitte and Skyhunter Skirmisher has the mentioned double strike. It is only a 1/1 creature, but the flying should make sure it can enter the red zone several times without being blocked and killed. If it gets through twice, that's 2 + 20 damage right there (during the second attack use the 4 counters from the first attack to make it 9/9, after first strike damage remove the 2 counters the Jitte gained to make it 11/11). The deck relies on combat tricks and those it has plenty. It lacks a more direct way of creature removal, which is where the Jitte fits in very nicely.

I also included Bushi Tenderfoot , because it's one of the more challenging flip cards. Bushi itself is just a 1/1, but Kenzo the Hardhearted is one fearsome guy: 3/4, bushido 2 and double strike. Opponents will rarely block Bushi. Why risk some combat trick for just 1 damage? That's ok if he has a Jitte on him, it will charge itself nonetheless. A Might of Oaks can make an opponent more hesitant: if an 8/8 Bushi deals damage once, how lightly will that same opponent refrain from blocking the next time? Boosting a Skirmisher with the Oaks will let you deal 16 damage with one attack. That is one nasty surprise. I try to keep a card in my hand at all times to bluff a Might of Oaks so my opponents will be in doubt all the time. A good budget replacement for the Might of Oaks is Kamigawa's Strength of Cedars . It cost one mana more and you need 7 land to have it be as powerful, but after that each land drop increases its effectiveness. Devout Witness will have to be replaced if you go for the Cedars, because you don't want to miss your later land drops.

After some multiplayer games°≠
The double strike really helped in charging the Jitte. Unfortunately, my opponents realized how nasty the -1/-1 effect was before I even began charging the Jitte, so equipped creatures got destroyed and tapped a lot, preventing any combat damage. The deck has no other form of removal, except combat tricks, but can put up a nice defense. So I managed to stay alive until other players were drawing more attention to themselves. Eventually one of my creatures was equipped and did some combat damage and I was able to charge the Jitte. After I managed to have a Skirmisher go crazy with the weapon it really got nasty. Most of the time I used the counters to remove troublesome utility creatures ( Aphetto Grifter , Puppeteer , regeneraters). I had enough charge counters to take out bigger creatures too.


And justice for all
Seeing all your equipped creatures getting destroyed is really frustrating, so I want to take on a different approach: Coretapper . The little Myr charges the Jitte a bit more slowly than a double striker, but the charging is guaranteed.

Angry Myr

9 Swamp
6 Mountain
4 Vault of Whispers
4 Great Furnace

4 Myr Servitor
4 Myr Retriever
4 Coretapper
4 Myr Enforcer
4 Disciple of the Vault

3 Genesis Chamber
3 Spawning Pit
3 Umezawa's Jitte
4 Skeleton Shard
4 Goblin Bombardment

Playing the deck
Myr Retriever and Myr Servitor return themselves, so sacrifice them freely to kill some creatures or start working on your opponents' life total. Coretapper can charge the Jitte for additional creature control and the Spawning Pit to generate some more creatures. With Skeleton Shard out, you can sacrifice the Coretappers each turn and retrieve them so you can charge at even more speed. Don't forget you can equip a Myr and attack with it. It doesn't matter if an opponent has superior defenses, if you can let a Myr do combat damage, the Jitte will gain its charge counters. All the artifacts can be returned by Myr Retriever and Skeleton Shard , which makes the deck pretty resistant to removal. Genesis Chamber will provide every player with Myr tokens and that will stall all big non-evasive non-trampling monsters. Just hope no opponents have Goblin Bombardment or other sacrifice outlets in their deck.

After some multiplayer games≠
The deck only has 4 creatures bigger than 1/1, but demands respect nonetheless. Several Servitors and a Myr, uhm, Goblin Bombardment is just nasty. With 2 Retrievers and a Bombardment, you can do 1 damage for each 2 mana you have (suck on it, Goblin Cannon !). Disciple of the Vault really puts it over the top as it can cause massive life loss. Expect the Disciples to have a short life span, so drop them when you have a bunch of Myr ready to sacrifice Even with the Bombardment and the Jitte, big creatures pose a problem, especially if they have some kind of evasion. Attrition might be a good card to include. The sacrificing should not be a problem, the Myr offer themselves willingly for the cause. A couple of Terminates would to the trick too, of course. I did not include Bottle Gnomes (not a Myr), but the card is great in the deck. It provides an excellent blocker and additional lifegain.


Wrapping it up
I don't know if Umezawa's Jitte fits current extended white weenie decks. I do know that it is an excellent card for casual beats. White weenie can use this card to great extent and double strikers can really abuse it. Coretapper even works with the card. Umezawa's Jitte can function effectively as creature removal, killing small utility and aggro creatures. Don't rely on the sword-breaker alone to be enough, though. The first two decks did, but their theme was combat trickery, not "well-balanced-multiplayer-deck-for-teh-win". I'm certainly collecting 3-4 of these beauties to replace the proxies in the deck tested. The Myr demand it.


See you next time, Arjan van Houwelingen (Jorael).

Feedback is appreciated!

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