The first thing you should do is check out what I have to think about the individual cards that make up the Seven Masters faction.
After that, you must remember the TWO COMMANDMENTS OF PLAYING THE SEVEN MASTERS:
First off, I can't emphasize how important Fortune of the Turtle is to the Seven Masters. It is going to be the key card in keeping you heavy hitter in play. All of the Masters (and their foundations) provide , so finding the resources is never going to be a problem. Sky Dragon just loves Fortune. Li Mao is the only master with a little bit of event protection, so if you are playing a deck with multiples and he is your primary hitter, you can probably cut down a few on the Fortunes, but Li Mao is only protected against one faction, and that's not enough in multiplayer unless you get real lucky. The only faction that can skimp on Fortune of the Turtle is when playing them in combination with the Guiding Hand, whose Confucian Stability is top-notch. Secrets of Shaolin is okay, but you don't want to be holding that in hand when a Nerve Gas heads towards Red Bat. Festival Circle also makes a nice, reusable, backup to any other even protection. Remember, the Seven Masters are only cool if they live long enough.
And, we all know what a pain in the butt-kicking Shadowy Mentor can be. Your first line of defense is going to be the best defense that the faction you are comboing with can provide, backed up by Waterfall Sanctuary and Stone Dolmens. It's not just coincidence that Wing of the Crane has been reprinted in 7MvU -- this amazingly versatile card is going to be one of your weapons against Shadowy Mentor. Although I hate to suggest it, Return to the Center might turn out to be a key card for the Seven Masters -- it's going to get you some after-the-fact Shadowy Mentor protection, which is going to be crucial, even if it does nuke your Fortune of the Turtle (Fortune is not a schtick, so the character retains immunity to your opponents' events, not yours). The nice thing about Wing is that it can be used after the Mentor has resolved, for a little extra surprise. If you absolutely can't mange , Return to the Center makes a poor man's alternative.
Building a Good Foundation
Well, you don't have a lot of options when it comes to getting those first few Seven Masters resources in your pool. You have a very basic Golden-Candle-Society-esque foundation in the Wah-Shan Clan, who are at odds with the Kunlun Clan Assault for space in your deck. If you're running a "tower of power" style deck, you're going to need all 10 foundations, but most of the time you are only going to want 7-8 foundations for the average 60-70 card deck. Do you omit the Wah-Shan or the Kunlun clan? Well, it can be an easy answer -- if you are playing with another faction with easy access to , you don't need load up on the Kunlun Clan as a foundation (although you may still want it for the damage). Most of the time, you'll want a mixture of both -- Wah Shan for speed, and Kunlun for versatility.
Another thing to consider is that nothing in the Seven Masters costs more than two resources, so you don't need to be playing a lot of foundations to ramp up. Beneficent Tao can also give you a second to play your hitters. While the Seven Masters don't have a foundation site, they do have the reasonably powerful Wudang Mountain, which is also going to get you plenty of resources, and can be played second turn after dropping a Wah-Shan (not a great play though, as it costs you an extra power over a face down FSS)..
One last thing to consider is the prevalence of Inauspicious Reburial in your local play environment. The Seven Masters do have the ability to make themselves immune via Kunlun Clan Assault, backed up with Beneficent Tao.
So, What do the Seven Masters Do, Anyway?
Each faction has it's defining cards, which are usually (but not always) non-character cards. With very few cards, almost every card in the Seven Masters needs to be one of these defining cards, but, some of them seem to fall short.
Unexpected Rescue stands out among the events as what you are expecting from the Seven Masters. There is going to be some big thugs getting in the way when you attack them. Beneficent Tao is okay-ish, but I'd rather not see my sites damaged over healing them (I'm ignoring this as denial against a damaged site for now). Monkey Fools the Tiger looks good -- it's a Nerve Gas that doesn't target, and the controller of the subject gains 1 power -- sure, this doesn't compete with the old-school Standard Edition power events, but it's still very playable.
I do like the copy cards Occult Kung Fu and Wudang Monk. With the lack of non-Unique characters in the Seven Masters faction, you are going to have to look outside, but that's okay.
While not designed for it, you can play the Seven Masters solo. You are going to be pretty limited -- while you only need two resources, you are going to have to draw them pretty early, so that's going to limit you to about 50-55 cards, tops. At this point, you pretty much play all the good 7Masters cards, all the good Chi cards, and a spattering of Magic -- I think all of these decks are going to be very similar, and somewhat bland to the taste -- I expect they will power up with Violet Meditation and Pocket Demon, and drop a Master asap.
The Dragons look to be strong partners with the Seven Masters. The card that jumps right to mind is Golden Comeback -- once you paid for your Master, you are just going to keep getting him back. Also, the Dragons have a lot of useful 1-3 cost non-uniques for Occult Kung Fu. If you want to stick to low resources, the Dragons have several excellent hitters that require only two Dragon resources, so this is going to be one of the most powerful combinations for the Seven Masters. Adding Final Brawl to Kunlun Clan Assault (if you have the power) is a fair amount of character suppression. Red Bat and Is That All You Got?!? also make a super-powerful combo late game.
This is the other obvious combination for building a multi-faction Seven Masters deck. This gives you up to 15 1-cost providing resource characters, a major shift is Shadowfist resource dynamics. Shi Ho Kuai can grow to monstrous proportions. I can see a couple of different ways to go with this combo -- the first is very control oriented, much like the traditional Guiding Hand deck. Bide your time, get out an evasive hitter, and protect it until victory. A couple of the 7 Masters should be petty good at this. The other deck that cries out to be build using new cards is a Swords deck. Most of the Seven Masters are way better than a lot of the Hand hitters that seen light over the last couple years (especially the ones in Shaoling Showdown).
Thematically, you get Kong Jun She, who does provide a , which you might be able to work into something. I've seen a really cool Bloody Horde deck, getting extra juice out of Occult Kung Fu and Wudang Monk -- it's like having 15 Bloody Hordes in your deck!
The (pre-Z-Man) Monarchs were known for their low resource requirements, which makes them more resilient in multi-factioning.
I haven't put a lot of thought into combining these two factions (I feel that the Purists really lack a cohesive and compelling reason to be interesting), but both factions to provide Magic which gives some possibilities.
This combo is very doable, but mostly boring. You are playing the Ascended for their trash cards and the usual dirty tricks, and the Seven Masters for their hitters and Fortune of the Turtle. Actually, I expect this to be an okay combo, since none of the Seven Masters cards cost more than two resources, and the Ascended usually don't have trouble cranking out their own resources -- maybe some version of the Paper Trail / Curtain of Fullness deck is in the making.
A lot like combining with the Ascended, you are looking to Nerve Gas, Imprisoned and maybe Neutron Bomb. Again, the Seven Masters bring you Fortune of the Turtle, and some evasive hitters.
This combo I'm not really seeing. All your and has to come from the Seven Masters, and all your has to come from the Jammers. Sure, the Jammers do have a couple of good characters to copy (such as Dallas Rocket), but unfortunately, you can't copy the interesting and new Shaolin Monkey, since it's a come into play ability. One of the Jammer's strong points is Who's the Monkey Now? which isn't needed with Fortune, and the Jammers don't give you much in the way of Shadowy Mentor protection. Of course, if you're into Monkey madness, you can draw a card from Monkey Fools the Tiger...
The last deck I have to mention is what is known as a Peacock deck (the name comes from the Feng Shui Site, Peacock Summit). I think I still like the Wah-Shan clan as my foundation -- it's going to give me 1 more cheap provider, which means I will have more access to Blade Palm later in the game. I'm not sure if you play any other card -- the Seven Masters don't really do anything that isn't duplicated by the other factions.
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