Japan’s Strange Top-cut system

Ever notice odd decks taking top spots in Japanese events? Maybe you’ve noticed that some great decks aren’t converting as well as expected. There’s a strange reason for this.


It came to my attention recently that what I thought was common knowledge is actually somewhat obscure.
Basically during the WGP 2017 (the Japanese equivalent of BCS) a strange rule was put in place. In this article I’m going to give a quick explanation and then my thoughts on the top-cut system that has been in place for WGP 2017.

The System

Top 16 consists of 2 types of player

  • Winners
  • Clan representatives

Winners are defined as players who have gone undefeated.

Clan representatives are defined as players who have gone X-1 using a clan different from the winners.

That means that more of the top 16 can be compiled of clan representatives than winners (for example 5 winners = 11 clan reps). No tie breakers no scores just deck choices.

My Thoughts

Anyway if you were only here for the facts you can click away now.

Now what kind of implications does this system have? Most importantly is that this severely effects the reliability of WGP results when looking at the meta-game. It also creates false diversity and spreads misinformation.

So when you’re looking at WGP results please keep this in mind. It is always recommended that you take any top with a grain of salt and healthy cynicism is always a good thing.

Well that’s it for today, nothing fancy just a quick PSA type post since I never see this system mentioned. I hope this helps and as always…


~ Thanks for reading 




Quick Thoughts on – Rarity and Zeroths

With GBT-13 rapidly approaching and packing all sorts of new toys the set has one more surprise for us that being ZRs.
Initial speculation suggested this might be a rarity comparable to early GRs and unfortunately those fears were confirmed with the Japanese release of the set.
On top of that as of GBT-12 SP packs have also been noticeably absent.
So I thought I would share my thoughts on the situation and take a look at the potential implications of this move.


Loss of SP packs

Let’s start off with SP pack, or lack thereof.
SP packs have been a staple of each new set since GBT07 replacing secret rares which had themselves replaced secret packs. Right off the bat, this was a well-received idea, increasing not only the number of SPs in a case but also creating a more reasonable way of obtaining SPs to max their decks out.
I don’t really need to go into all the reasons why people liked SP packs but its also important to note the effect they can have on card prices. Having easier access to SPs means that more people are likely to buy SPs this, in turn, increases the supply of the base rarity counterparts and reduces price. In a game with as volatile a market as VG having some way to keep supply up is very important. Sets have a short print life and buyouts are incredibly frequent so reducing launch prices goes a long way. Just recently we have seen excellent prices on G-set 11 thanks to the changes in box structure with very few cards breaking the £10 mark at release and those that did for the most part dropped.
So it’s no surprise that G-set 12s lack of SP packs has turned some heads, and raised prices. This becomes more of an issue when you consider that power creep has stepped up its game and new cards are often 4 ofs. On top of all this, the loss of SP packs reduces the expected value of a case which can lead to less being opened and throttle supply even further.
Obviously, it’s not the end of the world and the supply of higher rarity cards has been increased by the new box structure anyway but comparing the launch prices of GBT-11 to 12 you can see a very clear difference.

ZR and the loss of SGR

Which brings us nicely to ZR a brand new rarity debuting in GBT13. And based on Japanese case openings and prices these are looking to be on a whole other level of pricing. On top of this Bushiroad has rolled GR and SGR rates together by altogether removing SGR entirely.

So breaking it down we once again see the loss of alternate versions of cards and instead an increased supply of basic GRs. Obviously there isn’t a larger supply of GR card types, in fact there’s exactly the same but without a “chase” version for collectors to get. Unlike SP packs I don’t think this too negatively effects the market as based on Japanese pricing the pricing seems to have met in the middle and although there is no longer a higher value version that means the whole supply is now the same price rather than half being more costly.
Now onto the real meat, ZRs.
I think a lot of us were expecting this but that’s not to say we aren’t disappointed. ZRs are 2 per case with 1 of each card type, that means there is only 1 Drachma and 1 Meggido per case.
As you can imagine pricing on these cards is almost unprecedented the only thing that really comes close is the pricing of early GRs and the Japanese version of ЯЯЯ (being 1 per case, however also obtainable via the trigger campaign) and the prices are sky high. Meggido is sitting at roughly £80 and Drachma a whopping £105 (based on Yuyutei pricing).
So there’s 2 sides to the argument here, on one hand we’re looking at high value chase cards which can potentially increase the supply of everything else, on the other we now have cards that easily break £100. As of right now the power level of these cards mostly mitigates the cost Drachma is more flashy than functional and Meggido is only semi-wanted in Aqua force as far as competitive builds are concerned. However that’s not to say future Zeroths will remain at this power level and a nationwide staple could be devastating to the game.
Currently without getting into slippery slopes ZRs are probably a good thing, as they encourage more boxes to opened and help increase supply, but looking ahead they could be dangerous.
On top of this the argument in favour of them was already solves by previous SP packs so the help these things do is minimal even if you give them the benefit of the doubt.

Destructive pricing

Well I guess we now know the true goal of Gyze, but for the time being I think we’re alright.
Chase cards are safe for the market and even benefit it, so long as future Zeroths continue with the trend set by Meggido and Drachma these will in all likely hood have a positive effect on the market.
But I’ve learned from playing this game for so long that Bushi often makes the worst possible decisions so I’m pessimistic about the whole situation.
All that said


Thanks for reading 



GBT-13 Overlord Set Review

Well at long last Overlord once again steps into the spotlight, making an explosive return with not only a brand new RRR but yet again another GR. The power level of these cards are excellent and that’s not even saying anything of the stellar rearguard support received in ultimate stride.

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So let’s start at the beginning with a brand new Overlord specific forerunner.


Lizard Attacker, Conroe


[ACT](RC):[Counter Blast (1) & Put this unit into your soul & Choose a card with “Overlord” in its card name from your hand, and reveal it] Look at seven from the top of your deck, reveal up to one card with “Overlord” in its card name from among them, put it into your hand, and shuffle your deck. If you could not put a card, Soul Charge (1).

This card is solid, but it’s not Conr- oh wait…
Jokes aside this card is certainly interesting offering a somewhat decent search skill and an on fail SC. However, the CB cost for the potential to hit nothing is not great and the SC refund doesn’t exactly make up for it.
And obviously the elephant in the room being that its previous form (Being the legendary Lizard Soldier, Conroe) is close enough to perfect unfortunately leaves this card rather pointless.
Sure it’s nice but it’s not quite Conroe.


Doom Bringer Highflame


[AUTO]:When this unit is placed on (RC), choose up to two cards with “Overlord” in their card names from your drop zone, return them to your deck, and if you returned one or more cards, shuffle your deck. If you returned two cards, draw a card.
[AUTO](RC):[Retire this unit] At the beginning of your ride phase, you may pay the cost. If you do, until end of turn, if you Stride a G unit with “Overlord” in its card name, you may Stride without paying the cost the next time you Stride.

A new addition to Kagero’s aviary collection this time we have a stride fodder.
While not quite as versatile as some of the other new age stride fodder released recently Highflame offers an interesting draw skill to make up for it.
I really like the draw skill, it refunds the call and effectively creates a free stride for later. This is really nice especially in a deck where G3s are often used to fuel VG skills. The main drawback to this card is that it only pays for Overlord strides which while somewhat inconvenient as there are currently only 2. This however becomes less of an issue when you consider what the 2nd Overlord stride is (I’ll get onto that in a minute).
And hey, deck refresh is always nice.


Burning Horn Evolute


[AUTO]:[Soul Blast (1) & Choose a card with “Overlord” in its card name from your hand, and reveal it] When this unit is placed on (RC), you may pay the cost. If you do, choose one of your opponent’s rear-guards in the same column as this unit, and retire it.
[CONT](RC):If you have a grade 4 vanguard with “Overlord” in its original card name, this unit gets [Power]+2000 for each card in your opponent’s damage zone.

Better Nouvelleroman for Overlord yes please.
Early game this card is brilliant, offering the same utility as Burnout with a far easier setup. Into the later game this card is almost always going to hit 16k for free with the potential to push up to 19k. That said the main drawback here is the requirement for a vanguard with Overlord in its original card name. Unfortunately that means that using Ziegenburg or Blazing burst leaves this card vanilla on board.
That said its hard to argue against this cards inclusion, even as a vanilla 9k it still offers the excellent retire skill on call and free bonuses are always great even if they aren’t common.


Glow Heater Dragon


[AUTO]:When this unit is placed on (VC) or (RC), choose up to one card from your hand, reveal it, and if that card or your vanguard is not a card with “Overlord” in its card name, this unit gets [Power]-5000 until end of turn.
[CONT](RC):If you have a grade 4 vanguard with “Overlord” in its original card name, this unit gets [Power]+2000 for each card in your opponent’s damage zone.


Well what do we have here, a conditional 10k vanilla with an upside.
The condition is easy to meet and even if you fail you’re still a 10k body for the opponents turn.
The upside is exactly the same as Evolute’s so essentially the same deal. There isn’t all that many reason not to run this anyway, it’s just solid.

And now without further ado, let’s get to the really good bit.


Dragonic Overlord “The Destiny”



[AUTO](VC):[Soul Blast (1)] When this unit is placed on (VC) from hand, or at the beginning of your ride phase, you may pay the cost. If you do, choose one of any fighter’s circles other than (VC), and put all cards on that circle into the drop zone.
[AUTO](VC):[Counter Blast (1)] When your G unit Stride, you may pay the cost. If you do, choose one of your opponent’s rear-guards, retire it, look at seven cards from the top of your deck, reveal up to one card with “Overlord” in its card name from among them, put it into your hand, and shuffle your deck

Wow, just wow. This card is the closest to perfect I’ve ever seen.

Where to even begin…

SB1 for what I can only describe as “perfect retire” I’ve been wanting for a skill with this exact wording for a while, and you don’t even have to stride for it. Just in case you don’t know because of the wording on this skill it can kill literally anything. Locked cards, resist units, immortal pandas, even the un-killable Stamp Sea Otter isn’t safe. Like I said this skill is perfect retire.

Next up the stride bonus.
CB1 for another retire (the regular kind) and then a completely free bonus search for either skill fuel or stride for next turn. This is just so solid, the obvious comparison is Kouen, exchanging 3k for a search. I think both are fairly even in a vacuum but once you factor in how you can use the searched card and the other skill. Well this is basically just better…

Again this card is actually insane, literally my only issue is that it does nothing to an empty field, while this is relevant in the context of Kagero as a clan this isn’t anything new or even too much of an issue but it’s definitely still worth noting.

However I would caution you to take my opinion on this card with a grain of salt as this card is close enough to everything I ever wanted.

  Supreme Heavenly Emperor Dragon, Dragonic Overlord “The Purge”


[ACT](VC)[1/Turn][Choose a face down card from your G zone, and turn it face up & Choose a card with “Overlord” in its card name from your hand, and put it into your soul] If the number of cards in your opponent’s damage zone is four or less, choose one of your opponent’s vanguards, and deal one damage. All trigger effects are nullified for that damage check.
[CONT](VC) Generation Break 3:This unit’s drive is equal to the number of cards in your opponent’s damage zone.

Yet again another amazing card, maybe not as brilliant as Destiny but to say this card isn’t incredible would be dishonest.

Once again lets break down the skills we have here.

First off we have a damage skill, and a good one at that. For the cost of an Overlord from hand and a generic flip you get to deal one damage with trigger effects denied.
Well can’t complain about that, there’s the obvious synergy with the new G2s but on top of that as a grindy deck being able to deal free damage is huge. If your opponent is at 5 damage all your attacks gain a lot more pressure forcing more cards from hand and making it all that easier to win. The only real downside thanks to Destiny’s search skill is that you can’t kill your opponent with the free damage. For me though the biggest kicker to this skill is that it can even be used first stride. Hitting your opponent to 3 before stride then burning them for one means you can threaten lethal right there and then once again upping your pressure.

Next up we have a drive check skill, this one is certainly more interesting than others as it is directly tied to the damage your opponent is at. Obviously you never use this card if the opponent is at less than 3 damage but seeing as you can push them up one with this cards other skill I don’t feel like this will too often be an issue. Drive checks alone aren’t particularly insane, but the fact that not only can this push in free damage there is no cost to the potential quin-drive so this skill honestly feels like an extra bonus on an already solid card.

While I don’t know if you always want to be striding this card I doubt your ever going to feel bad about doing so, drive checks are one of the best safety nets in the game and this card even has amazing comeback potential. This card alone can potentially take you from 0 cards in hand to 5.

And just as an aside, a lot of people are complaining that because this unit only attacks once its doesn’t feel much like an Overlord. To some extent yes I agree but on another it still attacks twice, but this time your opponent doesn’t even have the chance to respond.


Coming Out of Retirement

So with these cards in the pipeline I can definitely see Overlord making a return to the metagame, the deck retains the advantages Blademaster previously had while avoiding important weaknesses. On top of that the sheer versatility on offer here is incredible and I would go as far as to say the deck will once again return to T1. But as always

Thanks for reading

Why do I Keep Losing?

At some point almost every player has asked this question, whether it was your first locals or after months of being your shops number 1 punching bag at some point you decide you need to get good.

The only question is how?

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Today I’m going to explain my own self review process and hopefully it helps some people. I use this same process for any card game I play and so far I feel like it’s done me pretty well.

The Golden Rules

You can never play perfectly.

No matter how amazing your track record always think critically about your plays, that doesn’t mean you can’t be confident or proud of your play but never get lazy.

Think through your lines.

Just in case anyone isn’t aware lines are your lines of play. Basically what can you do, what will it lead to and how can your opponent respond to it. If you take a moment to think about what you’re doing before you do it, you can avoid those embarrassing misplays that lose you the game.

Even good cards can be bad.

This is a pretty recent lesson for me but in my opinion the most dangerous cards are cards that are never bad. What does this mean? Well some cards will never do something bad, in fact they might be game winners. However that doesn’t mean there isn’t a better option, maybe a new tech or bumping up the count on another card would actually do more for you. Most recently I had this problem with a card called “Ixalan’s Binding” while playing magic. Now while I could credit a handful of wins to this card and it was performing well for me I started to realise that playing the card had a significant opportunity cost and but cutting it I could make room for more versatile cards and improve my deck that way. Convincing myself this was the right decision was hard, after all this card had won me games and seemed to be working well in my local meta-game but in the end cutting it added so much more. So always remember, just because a card is always good doesn’t mean something else won’t be better.

So with those established lets look at my personal process.

The Steps


I break it down into 3 separate steps (more 3s that a D-robo deck today)

  • Play
  • Matchup
  • Deck-build

Step 1 is probably the hardest thing to do, but it’s so important. One of the best ways to help with this is to find a good testing partner. Your opponent is far more likely to spot your mistakes, after all that their job. Another tip I have is audibly making note of your misplays (obviously check with your opponent is okay with you doing this) not only can it open up discussion about the play to anyone around (if you want that) but it also gives you a more tangible note of what went wrong. Finally don’t get demoralised by your own misplays everyone makes mistakes and they’re the best way to learn.

Step 2 learning match-ups is key to your success in any card game. You have limited resources and using them the most effective way for the game you’re in is important. Once you have a battle plan try it out, if it isn’t working then it needs to be worked on. Maybe you tried to grind when you should be rushing or maybe you were holding onto one card when you should’ve been holding onto another, no matter what take note and make adjustments.

Step 3 Your play is excellent and you know the match-up like the back of your hand but something is still going wrong. Normally that means it’s time to take the deck back to the shop and get tinkering, or sometimes a complete overhaul. Take a critical look at your card choices, do I want to see this card more,maybe one card was clogging in your hand? Once you’ve finished compare your new list to topping lists (just remember not every top is perfect so compare tops to other tops) and look at what they’re doing. Ask your friends about your list, if you’re having trouble explaining a choice re-evaluate it.

And that’s my process for improving. Even with these steps you can still fall into pitfalls, never let yourself get too cocky. Big fish in small ponds are never ready for the ocean.

One Last Important Point


This is a big one and I know a lot of people aren’t going to like it. With regards to larger events, such as BWC and such-

You cannot expect a bad deck to win.

Tier 1 is tier 1 for a reason, they are the most consistent and powerful decks and they are the most likely to win for you. By all means feel free to take your totally original Distress dragon build but you can’t expect it to win for you.

If you want the best chance to do well take the best deck you can.

Just because people know how the best decks work doesn’t mean they are any less powerful, consistent tops are consistent for a reason.


There are Many Paths to Mastery

And with that we are done. Remember this is just my method and many people have many different ways, and as always –


Thanks for reading 



Drachma is Not Worth the Doom-saying

national flag

At last the zeroth for the almighty dragon empire has been revealed and it’s… disappointing.

The previously revealed Megiddo set itself up and offered a high pressure turn and for the most part brings something to the table even if its use is for the most part limited.
Drachma on the other hand… well saying it has limited use is being nice.

For this article I’m mostly going to focus on this from a Kagero perspective and although most points should be transferable some may not.


 [Ultimate Stride] (Released when the number of face up cards in your G zone is three or more! When it would return to your G zone, exclude your G zone!)-Stride Step-[Choose a card with the same card name as your vanguard, and discard it] Stride this card on your (VC) from face down.
[AUTO]:[Counter Blast (2)] When this unit is placed on (VC), you may pay the cost. If you do, retire all of your opponent’s units, bind them face up, your opponent chooses three cards from his or her hand, discards two cards from among them, and rides a card from among them on (VC) as [Stand]. (The vanguard is retired as well, he or she rides a card from the soul if there are no cards in the hand. He or she loses the game if it is not possible to do anything)

The skill is pretty simple, retire (and bind) everything and knock some cards out of hand. So right off the bat we’re doing something new, retiring the VG is an incredible sounding skill. Of course to compensate the opponent gets to pick what replaces the previously invulnerable VG. Now obviously situations where the opponent doesn’t have another G3 in hand are going to be especially hard for them to deal with but for the most part its more than likely the opponent is holding onto a G3 for striding anyway. Also worth noting is that there’s no reason your opponent won’t play around this since they also know it exists.

But before I get too into that one aspect lets break this down into 2 main categories –

  • The skill
  • The drawback

Let’s start with the obvious, the drawback. This mostly comes from the conditions of ultimate stride, that being that you lose all G-units, used and unused. What this means is that if you can’t get the kill there and then you lose access to G-break, strides and a primary source of defense. The other drawback is the actual cost of the skill, CB2 is steep especially when you consider drawback 3, the timing. Essentially this card wants set-up and commitment. Asking for CB2 during the ride phase is annoying since it means a lot of CB replenishers can’t be used unless they’re already on the field. Slightly more relevant is that you’re giving up 2CB right there and then, and in Blademaster for example the timing of this skill could even prevent you from regaining that spent resource back due to Nadel’s need to see a rearguard retired.

Ok so that’s the negatives what about the positives, what does this card achieve.

Well first off there’s the complete board wipe, followed by a bind. Some nice synergy going on there by amping up Narukami rears but again losing the G-zone means this doesn’t transition into the later game. As for Kagero if you have your Nadels on field at the time and the opponent has rears at least they proc and it sets up your Mbudis/Jaugos. From there we have the vanguard retire and discard. Obviously if your opponent doesn’t have a 3 this turn becomes way better but let’s be honest that’s a best case scenario and its likely your opponent will play around this if they expect it.
Hitting 3 cards from the hand is nice at least but what most people seem to forget is that asking for more guard achieves much that same thing so cards like Zieg and Burst are basically doing the same thing anyway.
And I’ll humour the people who are going to mention the auto-win. IF you’re in a scenario where your opponent has 2 card in hand and 0 cards in soul you just win but that’s asking for quite a lot.

So when do we want to use Drachma?

  • When your opponent is low on cards, around 4 to 6 or less.
  • When you know what’s in your opponents hand.
  • When you are going to lose either way so you might as well.
  • The auto-win situation.

Well apart from 3 and 4 those are both situations where you can also just Zieg/Dogma/Voltage/Mujin/GB8/etc to achieve much the same thing with a lot less risk.

So that leaves me with one question… when do I want to run this?

Well the answer is you probably don’t. Unless your deck lacks a decent finisher, you need to kill ASAP or you lose or you have an extra space and adding another G-guard/utility stride adds nothing to the deck (which is almost never true). 

Overall this card can maybe score you some wins you wouldn’t otherwise get in rare situations but otherwise this is an alternate finisher with a massive downside.


But hey maybe there’s a combo with old Shiranui and the Nuba breakride in there otherwise…

Thanks for reading 

Dragonic Blademaster “Kouen” – Deck Profile

With the release of Demonic Advent we can expect to see some interesting meta shifts, one of these is the rise of Blademaster. Once stuck in the shadow of the more consistent and powerful Overlord, Blademaster has burst onto the scene and is ready to sear his name over the metagame.


The newest iteration of Blademaster still focuses on cleaning the board and getting bonus from empty circles but now thanks to Ziegenburg the deck has an effective payoff for all its hard work. So without further ado lets get into the list.


The List

As always I’ll go into more detail regarding triggers and tech slots later for now I’m just going to go into what is set in stone.

Grade 0 – 17

  • Lizard Soldier, Conroe

Grade 1 – 13/15

  • Protect Orb Dragon x 4 (PGG)
  • Lava Flow Dragon x 2/3 (Stride fodder)
  • Dragon Knight, Nadel x 4
  • Tech slots x 2/4

Grade 2 – 12/13

  • Dragon Knight, Mbudi x 4
  • Perdition Dragon, Dragonic Neoflame x 3/4
  • Tech slot x 3/4
  • Tech slot x 0/2

Grade 3 -7

  • Dragonic Blademaster “Kouen” x 4
  • Wyvern Strike, Jargo x 3


  • Divine Dragon Knight, Mustafa x 1/0
  • Supreme Heavenly Emperor Dragon, Vortex Desire x 1/0
  • Air Element, Sebreeze x 1/0
  • Supreme Heavenly Emperor Dragon, Dragonic Emperor “Taiten” x 3/4
  • Flare Arms, Ziegenburg x 4
  • Supreme Heavenly Emperor Dragon, Blazing Burst Dragon x 1/2
  • Flame Wing Steel Beast, Denial Griffin x 2/3
  • Supreme Heavenly Emperor Dragon, Advance Guard Dragon x 1
  • Divine Dragon Knight, Abd Salam x 1



There is no debate here, you run Conroe. Conroe is flat out the best starter in the game, any arguments can be shotdown by the fact that Conroe can search for any other starter if you want it. But even beyond that Conroe is essential to this deck allowing you to search out heals to take advantage of Kagero’s powerful G-guards or maybe a stride fodder to fix your ride, Nadel for counter charge, Bellog for Melem or even just a simple PG to stop a big attack Conroe can fetch any of it. The retire offered by Sadegh doesn’t accomplish enough, the draw and countercharge of Deida pales in comparison to being able to open up your entire deck and look for anything you might need.

There is no debate.

Run Conroe.


Normally I would say triggers are player preference based but this time I think it’s a little different.

We have a few set triggers, those being –

  • Dragon Knight, Jannat x 4 (Heart thump clone, crit)
  • Positive Dracokid x 4 (FC2017 Heal)

Jannat has a few uses and all of them are good, early you can throw him down to make a 9k column if you decide to move your starter to a side column. From there he has the obvious use of cycling himself but he is also exceptional at enabling blaze and as a booster for Ziegenburg. Let me explain, blaze requires more rearguards than your opponent in matchups where your opponent can mass retire you can often end up in a position where you need to enable blaze but don’t have an effective rearguard, in this situation you can call Jannat, attack with vanguard, trigger blaze, then trigger Jannats own skill to prevent yourself from losing cards in hand. As for Zieg, if you apply Kouen’s power bonus to Zieg he will become 29k boosting the first attack with Jannat will put you to 33k (pushing your attack up a guard stage) and then on the second attack you can activate his skill and move him to soul. To add to all this soul is a precious resource in the deck so having an easy way to fill it up is very handy.


Positive doesn’t need much explantation, we run advance guard and gain no benefits from other triggers so running Possitive is a given. The counter charge is relevant to the deck and vanilla advance guarding is still an acceptable play.

So following up from them I also believe you should be running 3/5 draw triggers the deck can generate plenty of advantage but the lack of any superior call means that removal can cause a lot of issues especially en-masse, draws can help to alleviate this. It also helps that Kagero has access to some choice draw triggers.


Gatling claw is arguably the best draw in the game and Artpique’s Margal skill is relevant in a deck as resource intensive as this. Shooting down starters can be very handy in some matchups notably Gears where you can limit their immediate time leap capability. I reccomend –

  • 3 Gatling 2 Artpique
  • 3 Gatling

But feel free to mess around with that.

From there I’ve had the most success with more crits but stands can work as Mbudi is not a once per turn skill, however I would like to note that the abilities of Kagero’s stands are not anything special and using Mbudi more than once a turn can be resource intensive. Relying on stands for multiattacks is also risky and having a restander makes crits even better than they already are. So although I do think stands are workable I highly recommend crits over them.

Grade 1

Blademaster likes its grade 1s, Nadel makes up the decks main countercharge engine and helps create high power columns, Protect orb is your obvious PG with much needed resource regeneration and your fodder helps to ride fix and stride. However thanks to Kouen’s GB2 skill Lava flow can be cut with relative safety from the usual 3 copies to 2 although this hurts ride fixing and can occasionally cause first stride issues more often than not the extra space is more beneficial and Conroe can completely bypass this issue if needed.
As far as perfect guard choices go Protect orb is 100% the right call as I’ve mentioned the deck is resource intensive so the utility offered by other options is nowhere near the value of the extra counter charge.

As for the tech slots one card is an obvious choice but as I believe that other units can be handy I will bring attention to them.



Bellog is excellent in this deck, offering disruption and retire. Bellog can help to set up Zieg as well as disrupt decks that rely on stand triggers or more specifically shooting down Grenaches and soft countering Melem. As a meta call this card is amazing for Ziegenburg this card is great, as far as I’m concerned Bellog is the best choice. Due to the consumable nature of his skill I recommend him at 3 or 4 but 2 can work, personally I’ve been using 3 and it has been working just fine.

So although I firmly believe that Bellog is the best use of these slots, especially in this meta, I do want to bring attention to some other possible options quickly.

Other Options


Marcel – Marcel can help to make columns but more notably can search for units, however low blaze unit density and lack of overly useful targets lose her a few marks. That said it can still help to regenerate field so it has some limited use.

Aethonic Aethonic is countercharge and soul both things this deck wants, that said having to go down a unit is iffy for the deck. Once again though since the deck is very greedy Aethonic can go a long way even at just 1 copy so it could be worth squeezing in if you find yourself in a lot of long games.

With all that said you can also move slots towards G2 or 3 is you want them more there but my more successful test builds were at 14 G1s.

Grade 2

Grade 2 is 50/50 some units are set in stone (those being the 4 Mbudi and at least 3 Neoflame) some are not. Mbudi is one of the decks most important pieces adding card draw and making massive columns with ease and Neoflame helps to deal with the early game. So how do we use the tech slots?

Essentially there are 3 main options-


10k Vanilla – Pretty self explanatory, helps to block early rush and looks good while doing it.

Nadim – An 11k beatstick who will occasionally get you some extra countercharge, handy for evasive decks and useful in the early game too.

Radiant – Extra retire and a solo column. However very resource intensive with a restricted retire. Mbudi has mostly replaced Radiant and while the card is still decent the deck often can’t afford to spend the resources on his skill.

I broke this into 2 slots but it would also be fair to break the entire lineup down into 2 basic builds-

  • 4/4/4
  • 4/3/3/2

In 4/4/4 you’re maxing out Mbudi, Neoflame and your preferred tech, in the current meta this will most likely be 10k vanillas as along with Neoflame this will allow you to fend off early aggro.

In 4/3/3/2 you’re sacrificing a little bit of consistency for an extra slot with 4 Mbudi, 3 Neoflame, 3 of your more important tech (likely 10ks) and 2 of another tech.

Currently I’ve been liking –

  • Dragon Knight Mbudi x 4
  • Perdition Dragon, Dragonic Neoflame x 3
  • Dragon Knight, Nehalem x 3
  • Dragon Knight, Nadim x 2

10ks can often be dead cards in the late game and although they can make numbers with Nadel I do think having Nadim as a solo beater helps the deck, Nadim also doesn’t hurt your early game too much as he can still swing for 11k.

Grade 3

Grade 3 is much more simple than the others, you want 4 Kouen and 3 Blaze grade 3s.


Kouen is your obvious boss, he carries the Blademaster name, offers retire and a small power bonus and has a surprisingly useful G3 salvage skill. The stride bonus is fairly straightforward, retire a unit and give the power to whatever unit you can push up a guard stage with it. The G3 salvage will most often be used to secure your stride but it can be used to pay for PGs, regenerate the field or as discard fodder for Ziegenburg.


As far as blaze G3s go Jargo is the obvious choice, it offers retire power and makes a solo column. A lot of the time you will just use this card as if it’s a grade 2 dropping it as a retire for Zieg and a beater to deal some damage. Thanks to Kouen if your opponent retires it you can get it back with ease, and even get some extra retires out of it.

There isn’t really any other G3s worth all that much for the deck Jargo is easily the best option.


Similar to Overlord we have 2 first stride options in the form of Vortex and Mustafa.


Vortex offers on hit pressure but can very often do nothing at all. Mustafa is an extra retire if you really need it but is fairly low impact and somewhat pricey. You can fairly easily cut either for an extra G-zone space without all that many negative effects.

In case it wasn’t obvious first stride is a very sore spot for the deck, offering very little of anything. So how do we get around this?
Well if you stride first overall you suck it up and roll with the punches but if you are the second to stride we can do things with a little more flare.

By using Conroe to search out a heal we can G-guard an opponents attack and respond with the incredibly powerful Ziegenburg.



As far as first strides go this one is pretty good especially with backup from Mbudi or Jargo, chances are your opponent doesn’t have too much field so setting up for the free restand is much easier and you can actually apply good pressure.

Zieg itself is the key to the deck, the sole focus of the deck is to setup Zieg and use its cheap restand to gain advantage and apply pressure. 2 VG swings for basically free is crazy. In my previous article on Zieg I don’t think I got across just how powerful this card is. A guilt free restand that can even net you advantage is insane value and even if you can’t setup the completely free restand throwing grade 3s into the bin for this guy isn’t too bad thanks to Kouen. However I would advise against going for the restand if its going to cost 3 or more cards (Although chances are you won’t blaze if thats the case) unless you really need to score the kill.

So what do we do if we can’t setup Zieg? Well we punish them for calling a field with an oldie but a goodie.


If they have a lot of rearguards Taiten can wipe the field and ideally cost them more cards from hand while applying pressure with its crit.

If you were paying attention you noticed that despite it being an amazing card I put it down that you can run it at 3. This is for a specific reason and has been used for quite a few Japanese lists. And that is of course the bane of Kagero’s existence – resist. Resist is a big issue for the deck since it asks for more cards from hand with Zieg and reduces the power of some of your beaters. So how do we handle this?


Not exactly rocket science, an indiscriminate board wipe to clear off those pesky resist units while offering a field buff to push your columns even higher with the chance of gaining a buff and crit himself. Burst accomplishes much the same as Taiten but in a far more bombastic way, the obvious caveat being that it is locked behind GB8. Japan has obviously seen a rise in Blaster decks which boast resist units in the form of Laura which really throws a spanner in the works if dropped in the back row. Blasters also gives incentive to use advance guard in the form of Flogal so getting to GB8 isn’t too hard against them. That said Taiten and burst offer slightly different utility so weigh up what kind of decks you expect to see before choosing 3 and 2 over 4 and 2.

From there we have Kagero’s ever powerful G-guard suite, boasting disruption in the form of Griffin and Advance and now thanks to a new addition in Abd Salem massive defense.


From there Sebreeze is a decent option since it lets you push the game forward, and although the deck can’t do whole lot on the Sebreeze turn it’s still nice to have. That said you can hold your own in the early game fairly well thanks to Jargo, Neoflame and 10ks so it isn’t 100% necessary.

Ashes to Ashes

And with that we are done.

In Japan the deck seemed to be a response to the resurgence in Wiseman decks, this was a result of the limiting of Heteroround something we didn’t see in English. However after some time the deck has earned it’s spot among the top decks, offering good offense, advantage and a powerful disruption based defense. Despite it’s relative weakness to boardwipes and bad matchup to Nightrose the deck still puts up good results and I’m sure it will make some waves in the English metagame even without a Wiseman resurgence.

And as always –


Thanks for reading


Domination’s Hazy Execution

To kick off my string of Demonic Advent articles I want to talk about arguably the most hyped set of cards of the year. I am of course talking about domination.

Nubatama has for a long time been a troubled clan the inherent power of their initial mechanic (discard) meant that Bushi dropped them almost immediately and the clan was left to fade away. That is until Bushi tried again changing the discard from a permanent one to a temporary disadvantage, this was still at base incredibly powerful but the cards given to support it were somewhat lacking. Finally Bushi tried discard one more time in the reckless rampage, opting to combine discard and bind and trying to push the build forward with afterimage offering a hit and run option that tied into the previously established binding mechanic.
Well it didn’t work out afterimage was tied to a hand size limit which meant the hit and run style didn’t work all that well and the few powerful cards the deck had couldn’t carry such a low advantage and low pressure shell.


And so Nubatama once again switches gears and gains a new mechanic – Domination.
The basis of domination is pretty simple, attack your opponent with their own stuff, sounds easy right? Well unfortunately this needs to be made to work within the ruleset of the game which means it gets a little tricky. Especially in a game as restrictive as vanguard.

I’ll say it straight out domination is messy.
It has all kinds of rules specifically for it, its resolution is different than almost anything else in the game and there’s all kinds of strange terms that only really matter for it.
As someone who likes to be well versed in the rules and help resolve issues domination being throw into the mix is a bit of a hassle.

The best rule of thumb for resolving almost any ruling dispute in vanguard is to resolve all effects completely before moving onto the next skill in the queue.
Domination however is a little different Bushiroad breaks domination into 5 parts –

  1. Dominating fighter chooses a unit
  2. Opposing fighter stands the chosen unit
  3. The unit attacks the target chosen by the dominating fighter with the ability, and a battle occurs.
  4. Abilities that activate during battle can be used by the dominating fighter as though it were his or her own unit.
  5. If there are no more dominated units that can attack, the unit is no longer dominated, and the game returns to the phase in which the unit was dominated. If there are dominated units that can attack, or if there are dominated units in stand, it remains dominated, and return to 3.

The thing that really bugs me about this is step 4.
Activating a skill within a skill can create massive headaches especially if we look at something like Mujinlord which dominates multiple units. For example if you dominate 5 units and we assume they all have on attack skills, you half resolve each dominate, pause, use a skill from the unit, resolve that and then resolve the rest of the dominate. Repeat 5 times. The more complicated the skill the more tangled this will get. New players will learn harmful precedents from this such as pausing skills and its abundantly clear Bushi made it this way simply to push the new mechanic with no regard for how it would really fit in the game rules.
And then there’s the issue of who the unit belongs to…

When you dominate a unit you don’t control it you simply make the owner use it to attack the chosen unit but if you want to make a unit attack another dominated unit it is your unit and can’t be chosen as your opponents unit. So you don’t control the unit but it is your unit which means you can’t select it as an opposing unit but you can select it as your unit but not as a unit you control.

So intentionally writing aside this is obviously a bad idea. Creating a situation where you can have a unit but not control a unit is a bad idea, not just for ruling but also for complexities sake imagine trying to explain this to a new or even casual player. And this is in a trial deck, a product that lots of new players will gravitate towards.

However Bushiroad has us covered, now a unit can have –

  • A Master
  • An Owner
  • A Controller
  • Not really sure what to call it but whoever “has” the unit

That’s 4 terms that really only matter in regards to domination or else are intuitively solved by common sense.

We’ve gone from essentially 2 types of units, yours and mine, to 4 that all happen simultaneously.

It feels bad to rag on a mechanic so harshly especially when I believe game developers should be braver with the kinds of mechanics they are willing to put into a game but even then sometimes you need to accept that it’s too much. Domination is a badly designed and poorly implemented mechanic given to an already troubled clan.

I appreciate the attempt Bushiroad but this shouldn’t have left the drawing table.


Thanks for reading