Friday, July 27, 2012

Calm Before the Storm: More Aqua Force! (and an annoucement)

Hello guys, Homura here with more Aqua Force goodies to share with you all. Just a small announcement, from next week onward I'll be shifting to another location for my work, hence you might not see me that often anymore when it comes to posting articles (apparently no internet connection there, hence I can only write at night). But don't worry, you'll still hear from me, so make sure to let me know anything that you desire to gain more information in, and I'll try my best to present them to you all.

Well, without further ado, let's begin the article by showing you some more cards from the new Aqua Force Trial Deck, Descendants of the Marine Emperor; as well as some cards from the next booster set for JP, BT-08 Blue Storm Armada.

Hydro Hurricane Dragon

The second Limit Breaker for Aqua Force which will be out in BT-08. Lets have a look at its skills:

ACT [V] Limit Break 4: [CB2] Until the end of this turn, this unit gets +3000 power, and gains "AUTO [V]: When this unit's attack hits a Vanguard, if the number of battles this turn is four or more, retire all of your opponent's Rear Guards."
AUTO [V]: When this unit attacks a Vanguard, this unit gets +3000 power until the end of that battle.
Looks familiar? It is actually a combination of Demon Slaying Knight, Lohengrin and Soul Saviour Dragon. The only down side of its skills is that you need to activate it first, giving your opponent prior information of what are you going to do. However, this can also be an advantage to you by baiting out null guards. Take advantage of Aqua Force's Wave Pattern strategy and you are able to launch very devastating effects towards your opponent. At normal times, Hydro Hurricane Dragon is still a 21k beater when boosted by Tear Knight, Theo (8k vanilla) or 23k when boosted by Battle Siren, Dorothea (after you unlocked the requirements).

Storm Rider Diamantes & Storm Rider Bashir

These two guys are the best initiator for you wave pattern attacks. The G2 is Bashir, and the G3 is Diamantes, and both of them share the same skill:

AUTO [R]: When this unit attacks, and this is the first battle of the turn, during that battle, this unit gets +2000 power. During the close step of this unit's battle, choose one other <Aqua Force> Rear Guard at the same column, and exchange their positions (This doesn't change the cards's orientation).
These cards' functions are to net you more attacks to unlock your wave patterns. A simple trick to use them is to put them in the same row with an attacker, and attack with the Storm Riders first. Then you can attack again with the unit behind, and that will net you 2 battles for the turn, with your Vanguard and the other Rear Guard (if any) still able to attack. Most likely a staple in any Aqua Force decks.

Jadeite Shield, Paschalis

Of course, you can't complete a deck without the null guard right? ^_^

Marine General of the Roaring Seas, Argos

Argos is a 9k Grade 2 from the new TD-07 with a similar ability like Kirara clones, which is to draw a card. The only thing you need to take note is his attack must be the fourth or more attack, and you must hit the Vanguard in order to activate his skill. Not really relevant in the TD build unless you hit a Stand Trigger, but he will be played widely when BT-08 is out.

Marine General of the High Tides, Xenophon

Another card given in the Trial Deck, Xenophon is basically a clone of Oracle Think Tank's Sky Witch, Nana, albeit with a different requirement for the power boost. Similar to most Aqua Force units, you need to conduct a certain number of battles to unlock Xenophon's power up. As long as Xenophon's battle is the third battle or onward, Xenophon gets +3k when he's the Vanguard, or +1k when he's a Rear Guard. He might see some usage when the Trial Deck is released, but I think that when BT-08 is out, together with the Storm Riders, he'll have lesser screen time as his power up is not that impressive as a Rear Guard (if he gets +2k then its a different story).

Here you go, a little bit more spoilers for you all. The cover unit for BT-08 is not spoiled yet, but I think it'll be something on par with Naval Geyser Dragon and Hydro Hurricane Dragon (fingers crossed). Yes, and this concludes my article for today, and might be my last article until god knows when. Anyway, do keep following my blog, as I won't be totally MIA from it.

Till then, have fun, and wish me luck at my new office (which will be at a construction site LOL!)

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Deck Dissection: A Really Rogue Deck

Hello there and this is Homura bringing you a slightly more 'fun' deck for you guys to try it out. The announcement of the contents for PR pack Vol.2 for the EN side reminded me about this long forgotten deck of mine. During last year's Malaysian Qualifiers, I was actually having a mind struggle on which deck to bring for the tournament. Under usual situations, I would've brought my Goku-Blade because it's my most stable deck at the moment.

Because I don't want to reveal to others which deck I'm playing in the tourney, hence I was practicing with my other deck, which was full of proxies during the free time. Surprisingly, the playtest results were so good that my friend kept on convincing me to bring this deck instead of Goku-Blade. I was very afraid of bringing an unproven deck which I just built the day before to such a big tourney, hence I was very reluctant at first.

But after several rounds of persuading, I finally gave in. I hurried to find my friend, and asked him for the cards that I proxied. I was still scared at first, but after several rounds I played, the deck actually performed very well, and it became a rogue deck that put me in the top 4, thus earning a place to play at Singapore's WGP Qualifier later at November (apparently I'm the only one that played the deck).

In case you wanted to know what clan I was playing, it Royal Paladins, and this is the card that made me to came up with such an impulse decision. Guys, meet Holy Disaster Dragon.

Here's the list:

Grade 0
Dorangal x1 (FV)
Bringer of Good Luck, Epona x3 (Critical)
Alabaster Owl x3 (Critical)
Margal x4 (Draw)
Weapons Dealer, Govannon x2 (Draw)
Yggdrasil Maiden, Elaine x4 (Heal)

Grade 1
Knight of Exploration, Galahad x4
Flash Shield, Isolde x3
Little Sage, Marron x4
Pongal x3

Grade 2
Knight of Trials, Galahad x4
Knight of Silence, Gallatin x3
High-Dog Breeder, Akane x2
Knight of Truth, Gordon x2
Blaster Blade x2

Grade 3
Holy Disaster Dragon x3
Soul Saviour Dragon x3

You might be thinking, why was the deck composition so weird? Yes, I admit that it is weird. However, the deck really performs quite well, and I never stuck grade even once in the entire tournament (apparently my luck in Superior Riding Galahad was quite good). Anyway, let's dig down deeper.

Grade 0
With Barcgal banned, and BT-04 not legal for that tourney (the set was just released, thus rendering me unable to use Bluegal and Snowgal), I have no choice but to use Dorangal as my starter. With the advantage of a free ride, Dorangal was actually not bad.

In this deck I opted for a 6-6-4 tigger lineup (which made me fell in love with this lineup, as using it for almost all my future decks, whenever possible). In this deck you need a decent amount of Draw Triggers as you need to feed hand cards to Holy Disaster Dragon in order to power it up. Margal can also help in setting up for SDD's Soulblast for the finishing blow.

Grade 1<

The G1 Galahad took up 4 slots in the G1 lineup because of Dorangal's skill, and you would love to see him to save a hand card when riding. Marron is also at maximum for being a decent booster. 3x Isolde is also quite self-explanatory.

One of the key G1s here is actually Pongal. Because this deck just have 6 G3s, ensuring a smooth ride to G3 is very important. Pongal can search out SDD while fueling up your Soul, and the most important thing is Pongal can be tutored out itself via the skill of High-Dog Breeder, Akane.

Grade 2

Again, the 4x of the G2 Galahad is to ensure that you can see him during the Ride Phase. Even though you didn't play the G3 to complete the chain, but even by itself, a 9k attacker / interceptor is good enough in most situations, plus the free Ride is also worth it.

High-Dog Breeder, Akane is the tutor from Pongal. Akane is only there to make sure that you can ride to G3 and to search out booster units. Blaster Blade provides a little bit of retiring power, especially against high-power Rear Guards. Gordon works as an extra wall of defense, as well as a lightning rod to bait attacks because of his Especial Intercept skill. Finally, Gallatin provides a bit more punch for the deck.

Grade 3

The main G3 here is actually SSD. With either a 7k or Marron behind, SSD can whack for 20k and 21k, which is a decent number already. Besides, SSD also can give you a chance for the finishing blow via her Soulblast.

On the other hand, Holy Disaster Dragon is our RG beater. Although it is just 10k, but you can discard a card when it attacks to give it a 5k power boost for that battle. But in order to aggressively use HDD's skill, you also need to feed a lot of hand cards to it, hence the 6 Draws in the trigger lineup. All and all, HDD is a very aggressive beater.

Here you go, a fun, and quite budget Royal Paladin deck for you guys to try out. If you can see, the only expensive cards here are Blaster Blade, Isolde and Soul Saviour Dragon (which I doubt that she'll be that expensive still after the release of her PR alternate art version). Of course, compared to other decks, the absence of Baromedes and Toypoogal really hurt the deck's offensive power in a big margin, but hey, I just said it's a fun deck right? Just give it a shot and see how it fares for you.

Alright then, I'll leave you all now. Apparently all the new cards that're out requires me to do a lot of research. And yes, I'm still wondering how the hell I got Top 4 with such a rogue deck (LOL!).

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

The Parallel Vision: Moon and Sun for VGE

Hey there, it's me again for another edition of 'The Parallel Vision'. In today's edition, I'll be talking about one of the format's defining deck, and the deck that most players of the English environment is anticipating for - Moon and Sun.

What is 'Moon and Sun'? This deck is actually an Oracle Think Tank deck that has become the most dominant deck for the Japanese format before the advent of Persona Blasters. And thanks to the release of BT-03 for the EN community, you guys can finally experience one of the most interesting and skill-based decks of all times. Guys, meet the star of the deck:

Before I put up a decklist, let me describe how this deck is played. Basically, this deck is your CEO Amaterasu deck of BT-01, but with a lot of upgrades. With the Tsukuyomi series accessible for us, not only OTT's drawing power is improved, but their overall offensive and defensive capabilities as well thanks to Full Moon's 11k power. Now, let's have a look at the list:

Grade 0
Godhawk, Ichibyoshi x1 (FV)
Psychic Bird x4 (Critical)
Oracle Guardian Nike x2 (Critical)
Miracle Kid x3 (Draw)
Dream Eater x3 (Draw)
Lozenge Magus x4 (Heal)

Grade 1
Goddess of the Crescent Moon, Tsukuyomi x4
Oracle Guardian Gemini x4
Battle Sister, Chocolat x4
Battle Sister, Vanilla x2

Grade 2
Goddess of the Half Moon, Tsukuyomi x4
Oracle Guardian Red-Eye x3
Silent Tom x2
Oracle Guardian Wiseman x3

Grade 3
Goddess of the Full Moon, Tsukuyomi x4
CEO Amaterasu x3

You see, there's actually not much changes from the older builds, just that now, you've got better options. Your deck starts performing when you hit the 6th Soul, which will unlock several skills of your units. Now let's take a tour of how this deck works.

Grade 0

Without a doubt, Ichibyoshi is the starter for this deck. Ichibyoshi does not have the Superior Call skill like most other starters, but it allows you to check the top five cards of your deck, and if you found a Crescent Moon among the five, you can Superior Ride it, and skip your Normal Ride Phase. This skill not only allows you to gain a free Ride, but also can potentially remove up to five non-triggers from your deck, thus increasing the odds of your triggers to hit during checks.

Although Tsukuyomi increases the draw power of your deck, you still need sufficient draw to maintain your hand sizes, hence the 6 Critical, 6 Draw trigger lineup. Psychic Bird is a good card to help you bump your Soul to 6, plus it nets you a card.

Grade 1

At G1 we have Crescent Moon Tsukuyomi. She's a 7k unit, and shares the same skill as Ichibyoshi (to search for Half Moon of course). 4x of Gemini is standard, and 4x of null guard is viable for OTT because you'll most likely have extra cards to spare for the null's cost.

Battle Sister, Vanilla is an interesting choice. At normal times, she's a 6k unit. But when your Soul hits 6, she becomes a 10k Shield thanks to her skill. Very good for that time when you're 5k-10k shield short to guard.

Grade 2
Another successful ride will bring your Crescent Moon into her G2 form, Goddess of the Half Moon, Tsukuyomi. Half Moon is a 9k unit, which is a decent number (able to hit any VG with a boost, and sometimes soloing RGs). She also shares the same skill as her G1 form, where upon success, you can complete the chain by riding into Full Moon Tsukuyomi.

Her second skill is the key skill. Upon appearing in the VG circle, if your Soul has both Ichibyoshi and Crescent Moon, you may Soulcharge 2. By doing so, it instantly bumps your Soul count to 5, just one short from unlocking your units' skills. But bear in mind, if the chain ride fails at any point, the Soulcharge doesn't happen.

Another new unit that we'll add in the deck is Oracle Guardian Red-Eye. Red-Eye is a clone of Blue Dust from the Dark Irregulars clan. Upon a successful attack, you may SC1 if your VG is an OTT unit (duh!). It is also good to bump in the 6th Soul and its stats also makes it a good Rear Guard.

Silent Toms and Wisemans are there to fill up the aggro role with their power and skills. If you intend to play more defensively, you can include in Security Guardian (Special Interceptor) for the extra defense.

Grade 3
At the pinnacle of the Ride Chain is the Goddess of the Full Moon, Tsukuyomi. Full Moon is the first OTT unit with a printed 11k power. However, the downside is, if you don't have Ichibyoshi, Crescent Moon, and Half Moon in your soul, she's only a 9k.

Barring her penalty aside, she has a very good skill to back her up. Upon having 6 Soul, you may activate her skill by paying CB2. If you paid the cost, you can draw 2 cards from your deck, and then Soulcharge one card from your hand. This is good filtering tactic for you to dish out useless cards like Draw Triggers or redundant G3s.

To play around with Full Moon's power deduction penalty, we have Amaterasu to back her up. As a VG, Amaterasu can SC every turn and allows you to check the top card of your deck. If you're lucky, you may be able to charge in the missing Tsukuyomi components, and reride into Full Moon for her maximum benefit. Otherwise, you can still dictate triggers with Amaterasu's skill. Her +4k power boost when you have 4 or more cards in your hand is also good enough to punch through any VG in the game with a boost.

So what do you think? In the JP format, this is OTTs best deck ever before new cards for Coco are introduced. As for the EN environment, I think this deck will definitely make an impact in the metagame. There's actually a trick to play this deck, but that trick is for me to know, and for you to find out ^_^

Have fun with this deck guys, and this is Homura signing off!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Randomization: Cheating Caught in 2012 Fighters' Road

This post is somewhat related to my previous post about people cheat in the game. Apparently, a real case just happened in the 2012 Fighters' Road Japanese Nationals.

According to Bushiroad's official report, one player was caught cheating by attempting to 'pinpoint' his triggers by marking his sleeves/double sleeves. In any official events, cheating is strictly prohibited, and of course, he paid the consequences of doing so.

He was instantly disqualified from the tournament, and he also suffered a 18-month ban from playing in any Bushiroad sanctioned tournaments (which include shop tourneys, special tourneys, Regionals and Nationals). In short, no more competitive Vanguard for him starting from 23/7/2012 to 22/1/2014.

Serves him right.

Kudos for the Bushiroad officials for being such effective and alert in catching these people. These retarded idiots thought they can cheat away and be happy with it, but they should remember: You can run, but you can't hide. Eventually you'll get caught.

I just hope that when sanctioned tourneys are held in my country, the officials should be more vigilant, and don't try to 'side' with those people (as I know certain officials are quite good friends with those people). The best is Bushiroad send in their own judges to our tournaments.

By allowing these people to remain in the community, it'll just destroy the game. Existing players will quit the game, and new players will be discouraged from starting the game, just because of these few retarded idiots. Not to say I'm specifically aiming these people, but come on, if you wanna win, win with your own skills.

As I said earlier, if you win because you cheat, its because you cheat, not because you're skilled. Strip off your ability to cheat, you're just nothing. Don't try to destroy your reputation just for some temporary fame. And don't let me caught you doing so, because I WILL destroy your reputation (these people deserve a lesson, a harsh lesson).

That's all for now, Homura signing out.

Deck Dissection: Takeoff, Blaukruger!

Hello guys, Homura here to bring you a blast from the past. Since the arrival of BT-06, it seems like besides the few main clans such as Royal Paladins and Kagero, most older builds of other clans have been neglected in favor of the newer cards. The same goes to Nova Grapplers, where the availability of Beast God, Azure Dragon made some older builds of NG irrelevant to the metagame anymore. What I'm trying to say here is even though the new cards are great, but we still can't forget the older builds, although not as good, but still decent.

Today, I'll be talking about an older build of Nova Grapplers, which is one of my friend's favorite build of all times - the Blau Series. No joke, even though the environment is roaming with Limit Breakers and Persona Blasters, he still manages to get a few Top 4 finishes in our local tourney with this build. Although I can't really recall how his build looks like, but this is my take of the deck:

Grade 0
Blaujunger x1 (FV)
Red Lightning x4 (Critical)
Fighting Battleship, Prometheus x3 (Critical)
The Gong x4 (Draw)
Three Minutes x1 (Draw)
Wall Boy x4 (Heal)

Grade 1
Blaupanzer x4
Twin Blader x3
Tough Boy x4
Dancing Wolf x2

Grade 2
Blaukruger x3
King of Swords x4
Eisenkugel x3
Magician Girl Kirara x2

Grade 3
Stern Blaukruger x4
Death Metal Droid x3

The Blau Series deck is slight different from Nova Grappler's traditional strategy, relentlessness. Instead, this deck focuses more in absolute beatdown, with units able to break the 20k and 21k magic line. Although you can't stand and attack again with your units, but now you can hit harder, which also justifies the purpose of reducing your opponent's hand cards to guard your attacks (sometimes your opponent might need to guard more compared to a Stand-oriented NG deck). Let's have a look on how this deck works:

Grade 0

Blaujunger is our designated starter of the deck. It can't be superior called, which means we can't gain a free unit on the field. However, it's skill mitigates this drawback. When you ride a Blaupanzer on top of Blaukruger, you get to search your deck for a Blaukruger and add it into your hand. In short, you spend a card to ride (-1), and you add one back to your hand (+1), so it's actually a -0, hence you don't lose anything, but you gain a ensured Ride to Grade 2.

The trigger lineup is geared towards a beatdown deck, with my personal favorite of 7 Criticals, 5 Draws, and 4 Heals. Red Lightning is at maximum because of his skill that allows you to regain 1 Counterblast, which can be crucial in times, especially when you want to use some of your units' skills.

Grade 1

The next evolution of the Blau series is Blaupanzer. Blaupanzer is a 6k unit, but can become 8k in Vanguard when you have Blaujunger in your Soul. Its second skill is the one that is crucial for your deck. When Blaupanzer comes into play as a Rear Guard, you may discard a G3 Nova Grappler from your hand. If you paid the cost, search your deck for a Stern Blaukruger and add it into your hand. This skill gives you triple advantage: deck thinning, ensured Ride to the perfection of the chain, and eliminating non-shield and non-trigger units from your deck.

3x Twin Blader and 4x Tough Boy is standard, while Dancing Wolf is the 'tech' card of the deck. Dancing Wolf is a 7k unit that is able to gain a +3k power boost when it Stands during the Battle Phase. Yes, you heard it right, THE BATTLE PHASE. How can we possible to do that? Well, the easiest is actually by hitting a Stand Trigger. But in this deck, we have no Stand Triggers, so how? No fear, I'll explain it later.

Grade 2
Blaukruger is the Grade 2 of the ride chain. When Blaukruger is in the Vanguard circle, and your Soul has Blaupanzer in it, Blaukruger becomes a 10k unit. Also, it has a skill that allows your to unflip one damage upon a successful hit to the Vanguard, which is useful when you have Kirara on the field (making Kirara's cost into only a cheap cost of CB1).

We can see the unusual exclusion of the Death Army duo in the deck (which are staple in most builds). This is because we need units that can hit harder, or can solo other units without the help of a booster. The 4x King of Swords is a good example. Another notable exclusion is Genocide Jack, because this deck won't have enough CB to constantly pay to unlock his restraint.

Next up we have the main G2 beater of the deck, Eisenkugel. Design wise, it's one of my favorite (I always liked mechas). Ability wise, it's not bad either. Eisenkugel is a 10k power Grade 2 with two skills, whereby one is a drawback and the other one an advantage. If your Vanguard is not Blaukruger or Stern Blaukruger, Eisenkugel gets a penalty of 5k power, rendering it into a weak 5k unit. This drawback makes us think properly when to deploy Eisenkugel onto the field. It's other skill gives Eisenkugel a +2k power when attacking, transforming it into a 12k monstrosity, and hitting 20k lines when boosted by Tough Boy.

Grade 3
Stern Blaukruger is the pinnacle of the ride chain. Stern becomes a 11k unit when you have Blaukruger in your Soul, which is good for both offense and defense. Stern also has an 'ultimate skill', which allows him to whack for twice in a row. When Stern's attack hits the Vanguard, you may pay the cost of CB2, and then discard 2 Nova Grappler cards from your hand. If you do, you may stand Stern and the unit behind it.

Remember Dancing Wolf? Yes, he's the best partner for Stern. Together with Stern, they form a 18k line, which is good enough to handle 13k Vanguards. If Stern's ultimate kicks in, you can stand the whole line, and hit even harder for 21k power, which screams death for anything other than Majesty Lord Blaster and the 13k Vanguards. The only downside is you lose Twin Drive. Well, I would say Stern's skill is good in forcing guards and to eliminate redundant cards from your hand, especially extra G3 which are useless in your hand.

The secondary beater  for G3 of this deck is Death Metal Droid. When this unit is available to NG players, this is really what they need to bring their power to the next level. Basically, DMD is a clone of Battlefield Storm, Sagramore, Plasma Bite Dragon and Knight of Conviction, Bors. By paying a CB of 1 when it attacks, it gets a +3k boost for that battle. This allows you to break 20k lines even for Rear Guards, which was not accessible previously.

In short, the Blau series is the ultimate embodiment of straightforward, no-brainer beatdown build of Nova Grapplers. Although Asura Kaiser and Azure Dragon has the advantage of creating multiple attacks, but those attacks are usually weaker than the initial ones. This deck provides explosive barrages of pounding and battering to your opponent's Vanguard, and aims to end the game as early as possible.

Well, what do you think of this deck? Still viable after the environment is dominated by Limit Breakers? For me, I personally think that every deck has a chance of winning regardless of how outdated it is. For an example, a Royal Paladin deck featuring only King of Knights, Alfred and Swordsman of Exploding Flames, Baromedes took the national championship earlier. Hence it shows that older decks are still competitive enough.

That's all for now, I'll see you again soon... Takeoff, Blaukruger!

Monday, July 23, 2012

Deck Dissection: Murakumo Ninja Corps, Sanjou!

Good day everybody, and this is Homura here to bring you another edition of Deck Dissection degozaru! Today we'll cover the clan that not much people are willing to attempt these days - Murakumo degozaru! Hopefully after this article, more people will try and give this deck a shot degozaru! Without further ado (and further 'degozarus'), let begin our dissecting of the Murakumo Ninja Corps deck degozaru!

Murakumo units first appear in the Vanguard manga, being a clan that is used by Yahagi Kyou (instead or Spike Brothers). Different from their Nubatama brethren, which prefer to discard your opponent's hand cards, Murakumo looks more like a traditional ninja, with skills that allow them to summon 'illusions' and vanishing at an instant.

Since their release in Comic Style vol. 1, as well as BT-05, Murakumo received quite a big initial hype, but it slowly faded because Murakumo is not an easy clan to pilot, and not forgetting to mention that they have low power to begin with, causing them to suffer a lot of problems when facing units with 11k power or higher. Before we go further in depth, let's have a look at a sample list:

Grade 0
Stealth Beast, Evil Ferret x1 (FV)
Stealth Beast, Moon Edge x4 (Critical)
Stealth Fae, Yukihime x4 (Heal)
Stealth Fae, Dart Spider x4 (Stand)
Stealth Beast, Cat Rogue x4 (Draw)

Grade 1
Silent Stealth Rogue, Shijimamaru x4
Stealth Beast, Leaves Mirage x3
Stealth Beast, Million Rat x4
Stealth Beast, Turbulence Edge x1
Stealth Beast, Leaf Racoon x2

Grade 2
Stealth Beast, Bloody Mist x4
Stealth Beast, White Mane x3
Stealth Dragon, Cursed Breath x2
Quick Archer, FUSHIMI x2

Grade 3
Dueling Dragon, ZANBAKU x2
Covert Demonic Dragon, Mandalalord x4
Twin Swordsman, MUSASHI x2

This build is the build that I used to play when I still have my own Murakumo deck. The deck is seriously lacking in terms of raw power, but the inclusion of a few cards made the deck into quite a viable deck that can still hold its ground against the majority. Now, let's go into a detailed explanation of the deck.

Grade 0

Evil Ferret is our starter Vanguard. He has a Superior Call skill, giving you a free unit upon riding to G1. His second skill is the more interesting one, allowing you to send him to the bottom of your deck to Superior Call a Murakumo unit into play, then returning it back to your hand at the end of the turn. This is good when you need an attacker or a booster, but you also want to conserve hand cards at the same time. Evil Ferret can initiate a few combos which I'll explain later. Other than that, nothing much interesting about the triggers, since you're only given a set of balanced 4-4-4-4 line up.

Grade 1

4 x Shijimamaru (8k vanilla) and 3x Leaves Mirage (null guard) is quite standard for most decks. Turbulence Edge is your tutor for Mandalalord, where upon hitting a Vanguard with him, you get to check up to 5 cards from your deck, and add a Mandalalord to your hand if you found one, and return the remainder back to the bottom of your deck.

Leaf Racoon is your 10k booster for your Vanguard. The condition to fulfill is quite easy, you just need to have more hand cards than your opponent, which you'll often be if you played the deck correctly. The key card here is Million Rat. This is the most versatile unit in your whole deck, being able to serve as an attacker, booster, and deck thinner. Upon appearing on the field, you can CB1 to search your deck for another Million Rat and Superior Call it, but the called unit has to be returned to the bottom of your deck at the end of your turn. This gives you a temporary attacker/booster when you need to push damage through.

Bear in mind, the 'shadow' that is called out will also have its skill triggered, so it is possible to have 4 Million Rats on the field as long as you can pay the cost.

Grade 2
Bloody Mist is your 10k vanilla, so 4x is quite self-explanatory. White Mane is the clone of Bellycosity Dragon and friends. He's quite precious in the deck as your deck consumes quite a lot of Counterblasts, and a unit to help you recover some of them are always welcomed.

Cursed Breath is the G2 version of Turbulence Edge. Although he's good as a tutor for Mandalalord, but his awful 8k power makes me drop him into 2x. The 'tech' card here is FUSHIMI. FUSHIMI is a 9k G2 with a one-shot ability that triggers when you ride him as the Vanguard. Upon riding, he becomes a Tejas equivalent, gaining the ability to snipe a backrow unit. But the good thing about FUSHIMI compared to Tejas is he is 9k, and he can snipe ANY backrow unit, not only the one same row as him.

Grade 3
The Grade 3s are the main units of your deck. First up we have Mandalalord himself.

Mandalalord is a 11k G3 that gets a power penalty if you're playing a mixed clan deck. The key ability of him is his Persona Blast. By paying a cost of CB1, you can turn a Mandalalord in your hand into a 10k shield, thus negating the liability of G3 of having no shield value. Pretty handy when you needed the extra 10 and you have a CB to spare.

Next up is Dueling Dragon ZANBAKU. In the manga, ZANBAKU has the effect of preventing your opponent to reride his Vanguard, thus making him stuck with his current Vanguard for the rest of the game. Of course for balancing issues, the actual ZANBAKU doesn't have this kind of overpowered skills. Instead, ZANBAKU forces your opponent to discard a card if he wants to ride a new Vanguard on top of his G3. This is good against Cross Riders, where he has to discard a card if he want to hit 13k. Also, being a 11k unit, ZANBAKU is good for defense as well.

The third G3 that I use for my deck is Twin Swordsman MUSASHI. I choose to include him in my build because like I said, Murakumo is terribly lacking in power, hence MUSASHI can help a bit in the offense. MUSASHI is a 9k unit, but can attack for 12k if you have more Rear Guards than your opponent. By having Stand Triggers in your deck, most of the time you'll be aiming for their Rear Guards first. If you feel that you don't really like him, just replace him with more ZANBAKUs.

And now, time for a few mini-combos for the deck:

Evil Ferret + Any Bunshin unit (Million Rat, Stealth Rogue Midnight Crow, Stealth Dragon Void Gelga)

By utilizing Evil Ferret's skill you can instantly spawn a whole field of units (as long as you can pay the CBs). The drawback of them returning to the bottom of your deck is negating because you get to bounce the original copy back to your hand, thus allowing you to 'bunshin' again when you need them. Besides, swapping in a 10k, plus another opportunity to use Evil Ferret's skill again is also a good thing.

Any Bunshin unit

This is a deck thinning trick available by using any of the Bunshin units. First, call out a bunshin unit, activate its skill, call out a copy. By right the copy should go back to the bottom of the deck, but you can activate the skill of the copy you just called to call another one again, and replace the older one with the newer one. Repeat as necessary.

In the end, you'll only have 1 card that's going to go back to the bottom of your deck, and you have successfully removed 3 non-triggers away from your deck. Sometimes this might be considered as wasting your CB, but sometimes you need to do that to thin down your deck.

Unexpectedly this article is quite long, and I think I shouldn't prolong it any longer. In short, Murakumo is a very skill-based clan to pilot as they can't go full-aggro. Instead, they have to play in a reactive manner, deploying your units based on the situation of the battlefield. For first-timers, Murakumo will cause quite some headaches for them. Even a skilled player will have some problems in piloting this deck, but if you like challenges, go ahead and give this a shot!

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Calm Before the Storm: Descendants of the Marine Emperor

Hi guys, Homura is back after a few days of absence (office work is taxing a lot on my body, was really tired  almost everyday after work). Finally I decided on bringing back 'Calm Before the Storm', which from now onwards, will be discussing more about rumors and upcoming news (of course those with proper proofs).

As we all know, Bushiroad will release their 7th Trial Deck for the Japanese version of Vanguard, which is named 'Descendants of the Marine Emperor'. This TD will be focusing on a new clan called Aqua Force, which according to Bushiroad, will be a clan used by a major rival character during the middle arc of this season's anime.

They have revealed the settings for the anime character not long ago. His name is called Souryu Leon, and he's a last descendant of very famous family from the past. His deck, Aqua Force, is set to be a 'legendary clan' that has been unsealed. Aqua Force bears a lot of references to modern day navies as from what we can see from their design, most of their units wears military uniforms resembling naval officers.

According to Bushiroad's setting, Aqua Force is an ancient, legendary clan from the nation of Magallanica that ruled the seas of Cray. They are Cray's strongest naval army, and fights bearing the name of 'Justice'. Most of the units comprises of Aquaroids, Mermaids, marine-based High Beasts, as well as Tear Dragons (refer to Dragonic Waterfall of Kagero). After they have been unsealed, they're ready to rule the seas again.

Alright, enough for the fluff, and let's look at the actual cards and how they are played in the game. From the several cards that has been previewed, almost all of them (barring the 8k vanilla Tear Knight, Theo and the Stand Trigger) shares a same ability:

When this unit attacks/boosts, if this is the 3rd battle or onward for this turn {insert ability here}

From what we can understand from the ability, it looks like the final attack will have the biggest impact, as the units will gain extra bonuses when they're the 3rd member to attack. It's like the waves we can see at the beach, the smaller ones comes first, then proceeds with bigger and bigger waves, then a tsunami strikes at the end after it collected enough momentum. Now, let's look at the cards that has been previewed so far:

Coral Assault

This is one example of the 'wave' pattern units that I've described earlier. Before the 3rd battle, he's just a normal 8k power Grade 2 with Intercept. However, if he's the 3rd unit onward to attack, he gains a +3k boost to power, making him a 11k attacker.

Battle Siren Dorothea

Dorothea is a 6k power Grade 1. And usually 6k units will have some decent abilities to back up their lack in power. To be exact, Dorothea is Aqua Force's personal booster for their Vanguards, being able to pump their power to boost a higher amount to break magic number lines.

Sharing the 'wave' pattern characteristic with Coral Assault, Dorothea's skill allows her to boost a whopping 10k power for the Vanguard if the attack is the 3rd or onward. So if you want to hit for a ridiculous amount of power, your Vanguard must be the last to attack.

Naval Geyser Dragon

Hopefully I get the translation of its name correct. Anyway, Naval Geyser Dragon is the cover card for the Aqua Force TD. He's a 10k Grade 3, and being the cover card, expect it to have some decent skills to back it up. Naval Geyser Dragon has 2 skills, which we'll take a look at each of them.

One of its skills gives it +3k during battle, if Naval Geyser Dragon's battle is the 3rd battle onward. So if you boost it with Dorothea, Naval Geyser Dragon can hit for 23k power if you fulfill its requirement for the power boost, making it to be able to force at least 15k guard when attacking 13k Vanguards.

Naval Geyser's second skill comes in the form of a Limit Break. It's an activated ability that costs a CB of 2, and gives Naval Geyser 2 additional bonuses. Firstly, Naval Geyser gets a +3k to power, making it a 13k before boosting. Then, Naval Geyser also gains an extra ability:

AUTO [V]: When this unit's attack hits a Vanguard, and this is the 3rd battle or onward for this turn, choose up to 2 of your <Aqua Force> Rear Guards, and stand them. 

At a glance, Naval Geyser's Limit Break doesn't differ much from the Persona Blast of Azure Dragon from the Nova Grapplers. Also, it has a downside, where the ability is a activated ability, giving your opponent information in advance of what you're going to do.

But barring these disadvantages aside, the LB skill is actually very devastating. Imagine a situation where you have Naval Geyser Dragon as your VG, and 2 other RGs that have a 'wave' pattern skill. You attack with both RGs, force some guards out (or not), and then attack with Naval Geyser. If your opponent guards, well you've at least wasted a few cards from their hand. If they don't, you just stand back those units, and attack again with their 'wave' bonus on. Either way, you're actually in a profitable situation.

In short, Aqua Force plays slightly similar as Nova Grapplers. However, they have a key difference which I personally think that what makes them stand out more that Nova Grapplers - their 'wave' pattern. You see, Nova Grapplers allow you to stand multiple times, the same goes to Aqua Force. But, Aqua Force has the advantage of being able to unlock bonuses while attacking multiple times.

Still we have yet to see the full list of the Trial Deck yet, so I can't say much for now. But seriously, I'm really anticipating the arrival of Aqua Force (going to start this clan by the way, lol) as it brings an alternative for us in comparison with Nova Grapplers. Have patience, and wait for the deck's release on 11th August (which is like 3 weeks from now?).

Alright, this is Homura signing out for now, and expect another article quite soon!

Monday, July 16, 2012

The Parallel Vision: Pale Moon Circus

Hey guys. Today I'll be bringing with me a post that most EN players are longing for - Pale Moon. One thing that I need to say before I progress, frankly speaking I'm never a Pale Moon player, so if you think you have a better idea that mine, go ahead and try it. For this post, I'll try my best to provide what I can understand from my experience in trying Pale Moon and playing against them.

BT-03 for EN is coming soon within a month's time, and as expected, the hype generated is so high that everybody is anticipating to play the new clans featured inside, especially Pale Moon. Pale Moon is a clan that focuses on the Soul, just like its fellow Dark Zone clan, Dark Irregulars. However, unlike DI, Pale Moon focuses more on the 'Quality' of your Soul, instead of the 'Quantity'.

The specialty of Pale Moon is their 'tagging' ability from Soul. With a few units available for them that possess this ability, Pale Moon can generate a flurry of attacks just like Spike Brothers, but the advantage of Pale Moon's tagging is they won't lose presence. Let's have a look at a Pale Moon sample decklist upon the release of BT-03:

Grade 0
Underworld Manager x1 (FV)
Dynamite Juggler x4 (Critical)
Candy Pierrot x4 (Heal)
Rainbow Magician x4 (Draw)
Spiral Master x4 (Draw)

Grade 1
Turquoise Beast Tamer x3
Underworld Hypnotist x4
Midnight Bunny x4
Skull Juggler x3

Grade 2
Crimson Beast Tamer x4
Barking Cerberus x4
Mirror Demon x3

Grade 3
Nightmare Doll Alice x3
Dusk Illusionist, Robert x3
Barking Manticore x2

With only the basic cards available for Pale Moon, the deck focuses more on either Robert's Megablast, or Manticore's beatdown strategy with only enough tagging units to not clog the deck space further.

Grade 0

The only starter viable for PM, Underworld Manager is a unit that doesn't Superior Call itself after you ride a G1 Pale Moon. Instead, he gives you one Soul upon riding. The trigger lineup focuses more on Draws, with a total of eight Draw Triggers available. Nothing else interesting for the G0 lineup.

Grade 1
The interesting side here for the G1 lineup is the exclusion of the 8k vanilla, Dark Metal Bicorn. Because Pale Moon is full of utility units that is quite important for the deck, there's really no slot to put in the Bicorn. Since we have abundance of drawing power, the null guard is at maximum. Skull Juggler is to provide Soul upon coming into play so that you can fill up more units (hopefully the ones that can tag).

Midnight Bunny is the core G1 of the deck because of her tagging skill. Being a 7k power booster, she's still good on the field even if you don't get to tag her in or out.

The secondary G1 unit is none other than Turquoise Beast Tamer. As long as you have Crimson Beast Tamer in your Soul, she's a formidable 9k booster, being able to bring your units to more than 16k total power when attacking.

Grade 2

The unit that plays the most important part in the deck at Grade 2 is Turquoise's sister, Crimson Beast Tamer. As long as she's in your Soul, all your other Crimson Beast Tamers will also get a +3k during your turn. And when you pair her together with her sister, it's a 20k line during your turn.

Mirror Demon is the G2 version of Midnight Bunny. His advantage besides his tagging ability is he can attack, as well as Intercept. Personally I would not play more than 3 of him, since there are too many 8k units in the deck and I don't want to provide too many easy targets for my opponent.

Grade 3

The Grade 3 lineup for Pale Moon allows us to have a few varieties in our decks. Barking Manticore is our beatdown option. Upon appearing as a Vanguard, you may draw a card, and Soulcharge a card from your hand. This is a good skill, where you can SC your Crimson Beast Tamer if you can't do it previously. Manticore also gets a +3k attacking bonus while Crimson is in your Soul.

Dusk Illusionist, Robert is the control side of the deck. With the same Soulcharging skill as CEO Amaterasu, you can literally manipulate your triggers. He also comes with a devastating Megablast, which can instantly break your opponent's back row by putting all their G1 or below units into their Soul. Though the Megablast is quite hard to achieve, the Soulcharging skill is enough to win you games.

The G3 tagger, Nightmare Doll, Alice is our utility G3. Personally I wouldn't mind riding Alice first, because you can just reride after that and Alice will be in your Soul. Alice is the main threat here. By having multiple Alices on field, especially when boosted by Midnight Bunnies, your opponent will definitely waste their hand to guard because once the attack goes through, 2 units will instantly come out, creating a new attacking line.

So here you go, Pale Moon in BT-03 for the EN environment. For now, I would say Pale Moon is like a rookie circus, whereby only the basics are included. But this provides a good platform to learn the specialties of Pale Moon without taxing your brain too much. Once BT-07 for EN hits in, that's when the real show starts. So until then, have fun being the Troupe Master for Pale Moon!