Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Defining the Metagame: Gold Paladins

Hello there, Homura is back with another post (yes, I tend to write when I'm bored, seriously). And today, I'll be talking about another new clan that was introduced when BT-06 was released - Gold Paladins. Included in this article, I'll have an introduction of the clan, it's playstyle, and it's impact in the current metagame.

('Choose Your Avatar' might be replaced by this from now on... unless somebody requested for an overview of their clan...)

Back to the topic, Gold Paladins has replaced Royal Paladins as Sendou Aichi's main clan of the second arc of the anime. And being RP's successor, please do expect it do be strong and consistent. No joke, they ARE already strong despite it's only their debut set, and getting new reinforcements in the next Extra Booster, giving them the other side of Gold Paladins that Suzugamori Ren uses.

One of the new specialties of GP is the first appearance of a Grade 3 Superior Ride chain. This is very unique because Paladins were not known for it's speed of riding, but their tutoring and swarming abilities. Look at these cards:

Their ideal starter will be Crimson Little Lion, Kyrph. Kyrph has a Superior Call ability when ridden, and with 5k boosting power, he's quite a good starter. But what makes it from good to excellent is his other skill. When you have Kyrph and Gareth (8k Vanilla) on the field, and Beaumains (10k Vanilla) is your Vanguard, you may send the former 2 into the soul, search for a Incandescent Lion, Blond Ezel from your deck and ride it. Compared to the other Superior Ride chains from other clans, what I can say is this one is BROKEN. Why? Because the materials that you'll be using are staples in your deck (4x of each), and it's COST FREE! No Counterblast, no retiring, no discarding, just send to soul!

Besides having this new gimmick on them, they also retain the swarming ability of RP, albeit with less precision. The cost of their swarming skills are cheap (CB1, CB2), but in return for these cheap costs, they cannot pinpoint their search targets. Unlike RP which can tutor, they can only Superior Call from the top of the deck bearing the risk that a Trigger unit will be accidentally called out. Also, their conditions to do it are slightly harder, whereby you need to have a lesser than 4 Rear Guards, and you need an empty circle to call out the unit (the only exception is Great Silver Wolf, Garmore, which you can 'step over' a unit for the new one).

Comboing with their Superior Call skills, Ezel benefits the most from it with its Limit Break. Ezel's LB not only can Superior Call for CB2, but if the unit is successfully called out, Ezel gets a power boost equal to that unit's power. Together with Ezel's 'Alfred'-style passive boost (+1k for each RG), don't be surprised when you see a 40k-power Ezel come slamming at your Vanguard. In this set, GPs are all about high power counts (which applies to their RG as well).

If you don't really like the RP-ish style of GP, EB-03 gives you Ren's GP. Similar to its predecessor, the Shadow Paladins, Ren's GP focuses more on gaining powerful abilities through sacrifice.

In this set, instead of a Superior Ride chain, Ren's GP provides you with the 'Riviere' ride chain first introduced in the Bermuda Triangle EB. Black Dragon Whelp, Vortimer is the starter. When you ride it's designated G1, 'Jet Black Vanguard, Vortimer', you may check the top seven cards of your deck and add a 'Knight of the Black Dragon, Vortimer' or 'Spectral Duke Dragon' into your hand. Otherwise, it's a free ride by pulling it back.

Also, whenever you ride these cards back-to-back, the abilities of the previous Grade activates, where you can sacrifice a unit, pay the required cost, and Superior Call either 1 or 2 units from the top of your deck. This instantly helps you to develop board advantage to start pressurizing your opponent.

Spectral Duke Dragon's Limit Break is kind of special because it actually allows you to 'bypass' null guards. At the beginning of the Close Step of SDD's Attack Phase, you may pay the cost of CB2, retire 3 of your units to enable SDD to stand again, but at the cost of losing Twin Drive. Imagine a situation that your opponent null guards your SDD's attack, and you hit double Critical. Normally you will pass it to your RG, but with SDD's Limit Break skill, you can throw everything to it, activates the skill, and attack again with a 21k, 3 damage SDD. Unless your opponent throws a null guard or 'two-to-pass' worth of shield, usually that's the end of the game. And if you have Sacred Bow Player, Vivian and some CB left, you can instantly respawn your field with new RGs to maintain advantage.

Well, I won't be posting any sample decks here, but i'll be doing both the decks of GP in another installment of Deck Dissection.

Overall, based on the perspective of the current metagame, GP can be considered a tier 1 deck, with several tournament wins in Japan. However in my local environment, GP haven't get enough Top 4 achievements to be considered as tier 1 (not sure about other regions though), mostly because of either the player's mentality and skill, or because of 13k Vanguards and Persona Blasts still dominate the scene.

I think that GP, in the hands of a bold (Ezel build) or a cunning (Spectral Duke Dragon build) player, GP will definitely shine and given all the cards that they have under their arsenal, there's no reason to say that they won't surpass Royal Paladins to replace them as the top clan of United Sanctuary in the future.

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