Katsu

This guide is split into three parts.

The first are cards played across all forms of Katsu builds that you'll want to pick up no matter what. They're split across different price categories with importance scores to help guide where to spend a limited budget.

The second/third are cards specific to the two most popular Katsu builds currently. If you're looking to just pick up all the cards you might need, these will both be good to pick up. But if you know what version of the deck you think you'll enjoy, this guide should hopefully point you in the right direction.

So what are these two builds? Currently, your competitive Katsu options are as follows:

Bonds-Lynx Combo - This deck functions as a relativley all-in combo deck. It starts by filling the graveyard with attacking and blocking, specifically hoping to include Whelming Gustwave, Descendent Gustwave, Bonds of Ancestry, and Dishonor. Once the gtaveyard has been filled, it plays a Surging Strike for free using a Heartened Cross-strap. When it hits, Mask of the Pouncing Lynx and Katsu's hero ability are used to grab copies of Bonds (or gustwave) if needed. Breeze Rider Boots give everything go again, and from there you can chain 3 Bonds back to back with gustwaves in between, ending on a must-block Dishonor. Couple this with Art of War, and you can set up some incredible turns. From there, Kodachi's are very good at shutting your opponent out of the game.

Mask of Momentum Midrange (Boomer Katsu) - Before Bonds of Ancestry, we had boomer Katsu. This deck revolves around the legendary headpiece, Mask of Momentum, and tries to kodachi twice into breakpoint attacks. At this point, it also runs the entire Bonds line because it's just that powerful, but it isn't trying to construct a 10-link chain. It runs more defensive cards, and it's happy to play the long game. This deck has fallen out of favor over the MotPL version, but it's my personal favorite.

Cards for both Decks

Inexpensive Cards to Buy

Katsu is built (like many FaB decks) on a foundation of cheap commons and rares. The following are must-have cards for the way Katsu is currently built (in Q2 2024), but has been relativley stable for years. Picking up these cards will put you in a good place moving forwards.

Card Description
Two Harmonized Kodachis are played in every deck. As one of the best weapons in the game, this wins you end games after your big combo turns, or forces Mask of Momentum blocks.
Heartened Crossstrap is a cheap chest that has become standard in the Katsu CC deck due to its ability to enable a huge turn. Free Surging Strike, it turns out, is really good.
Surging Strike in both Red and Yellow are critical to the Katsu combo-lines seen in pretty much every classic constructed deck. It's the starter for both the Lord of Wind and Bonds of Ancestry lines, and is pretty much required. It's also a very inexpensive card, so it's not difficult to pick up a playset!
Be Like Water is another 3 copies of almost Surging Strike and demands blocks, so it's essentially required. It's also a 0 cost for Katsu. It's also, like, 5 cents.
Descendent Gustwave is a staple in the deck as well, also in red and yellow. The use of harmonized kodachi's prevent the usefulness of including blues. Many decks only run 1 or 2 yellows, but as a common, I'd recommend just picking up 3 copies.
Whelming Gustwave is a great follow-up to Surging Strike, across all colors. A lot of decks only run Red and Blue. The 4 power breakpoint is very powerful, and the 0-cost blue works great with Harmonized Kodachi.
Bonds of Ancestry has become central to the way the modern Katsu deck operates. Using the Katsu search, Mask of the Pouncing Lynx, and Breeze Rider Boots, you can stack several Bonds of Ancestry with gustwaves inbetween to deal massive amounts of damage, and potentially end with a must-block Dishonor. Decks generally only run 1 blue Bonds, as it's not a 0-cost to activate kodachi, and the number of yellows you play varies. I'd get 3, just in case.
Breaking Scales is not only cheap, it's also best in slot for Katsu. It forces the opponent to overblock the entire game, until they don't, and then you kill them.
Flik Flac is an excellent defense reaction, that works well with all the blue combo cards we're already running. It's a sideboard card for certain matchups, that is especially good in more controlling decklists.
Fluster Fist red does good damage with the 4 power breakpoint, and the blue 3-block 0-cost is good on it's own. Coupled with the Bonds of Ancestry synergy, and 3x of red and blue become staples.
Most decks just run the red Hundred Winds, which is a powerful, potentially scaling, go again attack. It's held back by only having 2 block, but is great at buffing itself and Winds of Eternity. I think the others might be played more in the future, so it might be worth getting the whole set if you're getting into Ninja.
Spinning Wheel Kick is good (and bad) for the same reasons hundred winds is, but with a bit of every power in the attack column. 3 red copies is included in a large percentage of lists.
Tide Flippers are a solid pair of arcane barrier boots: they aren't great, but they have at least some up-side if you do want to bring AB!

You can buy all the cards above using this link!

Mid-Priced Class Majestics

Katsu is unique in that a lot of his cards are good because they combo directly with other cards. These Majestics are the REASON you want to be playing Katsu as they are the payoff for the lower lines. There are no cards in any deck that are a "must buy," but some of these ninja cards are highly impactful to the way the deck operates. This guide is being written in May of 2024, and since prices change I won't be calling out specific values for these cards. But, if history is any indication, I'd expect these to vary in price between a couple bucks, to ~10 at the high-end. Before each card I've rated how important a purchase is on a scale of 1-10.

Card Description
[10 (4 for midrange)/10] The ninja class has become centered around this card. The deck revolves around stocking the graveyard with gustwaves and bonds. Then, when the hand is right, you attack with Surging Strike. On hit, you search your deck for a gustwave or a bonds with Katsu's ability, crack this mask for the blue bonds of ancestry, then when you attack with bonds, you grab another gustwave that has go-again due to Breeze Rider Boots to activate the second Bonds. From there, you can attack with a Dishonor to force more blocks or a red Fluster Fist in a pinch. The deck presents lots of damage over the course of one, very high powered turn.
[9/10] This card does pretty much exactly what Katsu wants to be doing. It's a 0-cost so it turns on Katsu's hero ability, it has combo so you can tutor it, it's blue and blocks for 3 so it is always useful, and just the threat of activating that on-hit forces the opponent to play very very carefully. You'll want a full playset.
[9/10] In Katsu, you need your attacks to hit. Ancestral Empowerment is critical to that gameplan, on top of blocking for 3, drawing cards, and costing 0. A playset is played in most modern Katsu decks to threaten on-hits.
[9/10] You know the drill. 0-cost, blue, 3-block. And it combos with Hundred Winds. What's not to like? These are great, but if the price keeps you from buying Art of Wars in Bonds-Lynx Combo, it may be worth holding off.
[6/10] Lord of Wind used to be an auto-include in all Katsu decks. These days, some decks are a little more Bonds-combo focused, trying at all costs to get off one CRAZY turn. If you're going to be skimping on some of the really expensive cards in the deck, the line is still very strong and requires 1-2 copies of Mugenshi: Release. It's worth picking up some copies.
[6/10] You can't Lord of Wind without, well, Lord of Wind. I love this card, I'd be putting it in my ninja deck almost every time. Your perference might lie elsewhere. It's a suprisingly good budget option though, and if you're not going to run Art of War, you're going to want 3 of these. If you do run AoW, you probably still want 3.
[3/10] Blazen Yoroi is a pretty good sideboard card in the mirror and into go-wide matchups. It's not the best meta for it, but if the card is cheap grabbing a copy isn't the worst idea.
[2/10] Find Center is a card that combos with Flick Flak and is generally used in more midrangey Katsu decks. It's not played in most standard list at this point in time though. That said, if you're not going to be purchasing Warmonger's Diplomacy, it's a great blue that fills out the deck if you need more cards.

You can buy all the cards above using this link!

Expensive Legendaries + Generics

There are only a couple very expensive cards played in a number of current Katsu decks. Katsu has moved away from some of the very expensive cards that used to be required. However, midrange katsu decks still exist, and if you're interested in Mask of Momentum they continue to be required.

Card Description
[8 (10 in midrange)/10] Command and Conquer is a really good, but really expensive. It's more important in the midrange build, but both decks will play it. I highly reccomend to (if you can reasonably afford them), buy CnCs over time. They're a really good in a HUGE number of decks, and each additional one you buy will noticably improve your deck.
[10/10] Enlightened Strike is a very good FaB card. It's expensive, in a large number of decks, and in Katsu serves as a 0-cost. This is another one to buy up over time if you can't buy them all at once, but Katsu is certainly a deck that wants it. Right now it's around a playset for the cost of a single Command and Conquer, and if that's the case and you only have the money for 1, I'd probably get the EStrikes.
[10 (5 in midrange)/10] Art of War is a card that if you are playing full-combo Katsu, you almost certainly want to purchase. It can push through an unexpected on-hit, draw you out of awkward hands, and generates TONS of value over the massive number of chain links the deck generates. It isn't always played in midrange, but it's usually still quite good.
[7/10] Tenacity has become a popular card as the game has shifted to more defensive decks, and the increasing strength of equipment. I'd reccomend picking up a couple copies, as many decks run 1 or 2.
[5/10] (Cheap) Sink Below is a solid card across a lot of decks, and Katsu is no exception. If you've made some budgetary cuts, they are good to fill out your sideboard. Reinforce the Line is another good potential option.

Cards for Bonds-Lynx Combo

Card Description
[10/10] (Mid-priced) Breeze Rider Boots enable this combo by giving your free Whelming Gustwaves go again during the combo turn, in addition to having battleworn 1 for extra value.
[6/10] (Mid-priced) Ancestral Harmony checks a lot of the boxes: blue, 3-block, 0-cost. The actual effect is okay, it's a mini Art of War, sometimes (more on AoW later). Modern Katsu decks only run a couple of these, because of the aforementioned Generic, but if that card is outside of your budget, running a full playset of this is an okay replacement. Picking up 3 isn't a horrible idea, but if budget is a consideration you don't lose much, if anything, only picking up a couple copies.

Cards for Midrange Boomer Katsu

Card Description
[10/10] (Expensive) I personally love Mask of Momentum. This card was also useful in the combo list for the Dromai matchup, which is no longer required. This card is much cheaper than previously as of May 2024, so if you have interest in the deck I would suggest picking one up!
[10/10] (Very Expensive) If you are playing this slower, more defensive style, you'll want to run Fyendal's Spring Tunic instead of Cross Strap. Tunic is an incredible card, and a great generic to pick up. With that said, if you plan to play the full combo version and aren't just looking to pick up staples, this is an equipment you can skip.
[10/10] (Cheap) The slower deck runs Snapdragon Scalers in order to give cards like Snatch go again.
[8/10] (Cheap) This is a great card in combination with Snaps and Razor Reflex. With the large amount of equipment in the format, it has become less strong, but it's still a must-block.
[8/10] (Cheap) Respect the Razor. This used to be a Katsu mainstay, but it doesn't fit in the combo shell. It's still good in this list though.