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.

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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

G-zone

  • 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

Starter

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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.

Triggers

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
    OR
  • 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

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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.

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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.

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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.

G-Zone

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.

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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.

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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?

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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

 

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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.

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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.

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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.
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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.
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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