Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Starting Vanguards: Kagerou

Options: Lizard Runner Undeux, Lizard Soldier Conroe, Amber Dragon “Dawn”
Review: For all the reasons covered in the Royal Paladin article, Undeux is out as a starter.

Let's draw our attention instead to Conroe, the default starter for many Kagerou fighters. Like Barcgal and Battleraizer before it, the value in Conroe is intrinsic. As your starter, it is the only unit to come "from nowhere" when ridden, taking nothing away from either your deck or your hand. In fact, using Conroe's skill—counterblast 1 and self-retire to take any grade 0-1 Kagerou from the deck—increases your hand size once you reach your first twin drive. A player running Undeux who rides every turn will have a maximum of 8 cards at the end of their third turn, where a player running Conroe would have 9.

Unlike comparative clans, Kagerou cannot get rid of its starter as readily, and doesn't want to. Conroe cannot utilize its skill until it has some damage to counterblast, which requires the opponent to harm the vanguard. Thus, the fighter using Conroe will not have it off the field until they are at least at grade 2. In the meantime, this starter works as a boosting unit, forcing the opponent to either place down another card to guard or otherwise ensuring that the vanguard's initial attack goes through. This is the type of offensive security that Kagerou favors.

However, there is an alternative form of security afforded to the heat haze clan.

Amber Dragon “Dawn” is like Blaujunger, a Fullbau-style evolving ride. Like these predecessors, the grade 0 “Dawn” searches out the grade 2 “Dusk” when ridden using the grade 1 “Daylight;” “Daylight” in turn searches out the grade 3 “Eclipse” when called as a rearguard. This carries the additional cost of dropping a grade 3 Kagerou to complete the search. “Daylight” is where the evolution collapses, because unlike in the case of “Dawn” to “Dusk” it takes away one card from the hand.

Like other Fullbau-style evolutions, “Dusk” carries a power-raising skill with it. In this case, the normally-9000 power grade 2 gains +2000 power when attacking a vanguard, on top of the +1000 having “Daylight” in the soul gives it. Since these skills only activate as a vanguard unit, it is best to run “Dusk” as a single copy. Unlike the other evolutions, “Dusk” is not the sole star of its show here, as the grade 3 form of “Dawn” is actually quite good. “Eclipse” at a cost of counterblasting 2, retires up to 2 rearguards when its attack hits, pressuring the opponent to guard more heavily, thereby rapidly reducing their hand. This counterblast is easily paid for by Bellicosity Dragon, which unflips damage upon making a successful attack.

In terms of reliability, I would pick “Dawn” over Conroe, though the scales are not as heavily tipped as I make them out to be. While Conroe can enhance the hand, this gain can be negated too easily. Conroe is vulnerable to being retired by way of skill if the opponent takes the first turn, eliminating an important boost in hand for Kageoru. Meanwhile, the “Dawn” series pays for each ride made; so long as “Daylight”'s second skill is not used, the hand will be maintained as it would be with Conroe. The small amount of space the “Dawn” line consumes makes it easy to work with other important grade 3s like Dragonic Overlord or The End, while “Eclipse” proves to actually be a very nice and consistent card.