Saturday, July 8, 2017

Let's Translate Cardfight!! Vanguard: Lock on Victory!! Part 9: Freetime Events 3 (Ren)

We have three freetime events to go through before our next main mission.

Asaka: Touya! What your doing loitering around here? Club activities have already begun!

Tetsu: Don't be so angry, Asaka. Touya was assisting me. To tell the truth...it's hard to say, but lately there's been talk of ghost sightings within the school. In particular, it seems to appear at dusk....that's why he was investigating.
Asaka: Th-this is the first I've heard of this!
Tetsu: Speak of the devil, and he shall appear...or something like that.

???: Cuuuurrsseees!
Asaka: KYAAAAAAA! I-it's really here!

Asaka: Iyaaaaaaaa!

Suiko: Crying and running away...Asaka-san.

Ren: Operation Spooky Specter was a tremendous success.
Suiko: Fufu, that was fun. What now?
Ren: I'm wondering if I should give all of you a little spook, too.
Tetsu: Oh, for the love of...I'm embarrassed for the both of us. Asaka really was scared. She'll be pissed when she finds out.
Ren: It's fine once in a while, isn't it? Touya wasn't scared. Hmm, but I'm a little bit unsatisfied...That's it! Touya, let's fight!

Ren: After all, the best way to make fighters jump is with a fight, right?
>>Fight
>Don't fight

VS Suzugamori Ren
Shadow Paladin 1

We start the game on Little Storm, and top 7 into Determinator.

Ren rides Transient Revenger Masquerade, moving Frontline Revenger Claudas behind his vanguard. Claudas is one of those first vanguards that can be placed anywhere; since his skill causes him to leave the field and be replaced by another unit, he can boost anywhere, or even be an early game attacker.

Ren drive checks Dark Revenger, Mac Lir. I would be totally on board with guarding this attack, if I had a 10k in hand.

We ride into Determinator, using his skill to superior call a copy of Little Storm. Revengers don't have access to "Abyss" in this format, and hence can only retire frontrow units, so Storm is perfectly safe in this game. Our primary concern right now is our lack of a grade 3, but we can take enough of an early lead to worry less about it.

Ren: No guard.

We drive check a draw trigger, drawing a critical trigger, and passing power over to our rearguard Determinator.

Ren: No guard.

Ren: Heal trigger!
This saves Ren from being in a really bad position vs our full field.

Ren calls Dark Cloak Revenger Tartu, using her counterblast 2 to superior call Barrier Troop Revenger Dorint to the same column. This not only keeps us closer in card advantage, but also sets up for later, as Dorint countercharges whenever Blaster Dark Revenger is placed on the same column as himself.

Ren drive checks a Mordred Phantom, and we use that crit we drew to block Tartu, keeping the damage tied.

And here we are, gradelocked. For now, there's not much we need to do; we have a full field with each unit swinging for a minimum 10k guard. But next turn we'll be staring down Mordred's 11k base, and missing out on a twin drive turn effectively negates our draw trigger from before, putting both us and Ren at +1 to +1.

To prepare for that next turn, I activate Margal's skill, sending him into the soul to increase Constance's power by +3k. This forms a 19k column, which versus Masquerade's 9k base is 15k guard. There's an associated risk with this; if Constance is too big for him to afford to block, then this becomes a better version of our original turn, with Determinator gaining a 7k booster to replace Margal that will make a number versus Mordred. But if Ren has 15k to drop on Constance (or is willing to use that Mac Lir from before) then Determinator becomes a measly 10k guard, which would let him easily reverse the pace of damage-dealing in his favor. Essentially the more triggers Ren has right now, the better for him.

Ren: No guard.

Our gambit succeeded.

Our drive checks bring us no closer to grade 3, and Ren goes to 5 damage this turn. Despite not having a solid finisher set up, at this rate we could overwhelm him with the sheer aggression of our opening.

Ren: Despair; then fall to your knees, and drink of this bitter water! Ride!

Ren: Illusionary Revenger, Mordred Phantom!

Ren calls a Dorint, then activates Claudas' skill, paying counterblast 1 and sending him into the soul to superior call...

Blaster Dark Revenger. First he resolves Dorint's skill to countercharge 1 (or in the terminology of the time, "unflip") and then resolves Dark's skill, retiring Constance.

I have mixed feelings about that play--from our perspective losing either of our rearguards hurts, and it is the stronger of the two columns, but Determinator is the much more important overall threat since if I get Planetal either via topdecking or draw triggers it instantly becomes a 21k column where Constance would only be a 19k.

Attacking with an unboosted Mordred is also risky, but since we don't have a 10k we can't take advantage of that. With three perfect guards in hand, we have the option to stop the attack completely, but that would be a complete waste of a perfect guard. And with 4 draws remaining in our 32 card deck, every instance of damage right now represents another chance to get out of our gradelock and finish the game.

Touya: No guard.
Ren: Drive check.

Ren: Critical trigger.

Our second damage check gives us a draw...into another Margal.

Now at 5 damage, we have little choice but to guard Tartu with two draw triggers, bringing us down to -1 to +1. After our next turn, our only lead in this game is going to disappear.

Our topdeck is Ashlei; not the crazy finisher that Planetal would have been, but something with Twin Drive!! nonetheless.

Right now we our hand size is very important. Since our defensive options are exclusively made up of perfect guards, we can only guard by discarding right now, which means we need to have 6 cards in hand to guard 3 attacks. If we call Little Storm, Twin Drive!! will only put us to 5 cards in hand--meaning there's a drive check combination that can guarantee we'll take a sixth damage next turn. If we get two grade 3s, that will happen. If we drive check at least one 5k, then we can block one of Ren's rearguards normally (via intercept) and survive. Of course, we haven't seen what his other grade 3 is yet...

I choose to call the Storm. Ren is at 5 damage, and him having to guard while at 5 first is going to be our mechanism for winning this game.

Ren guards with the Mac Lir we saw before, discarding the previous turn's critical trigger for the cost.

First check. And...

Second check. No triggers means both of our remaining attacks can be easily intercepted. However, if we can get to that Planetal turn, Ren will be in trouble going into it with a probable 5-6 cards in hand. That's a big "if"--depending on how things go, we may have to discard that Planetal.

Ren guards Little Storm with a Tartu from hand, and Determinator with the one on his field.

Ren: Blaze up, flames of fury! With thoughts of raging wrath, reduce to ash everything reflected in your eyes! Break ride!

Ren: Revenger, Raging Form Dragon!

This is what I was concerned about. Unlike with its successors, we don't necessarily know that this turn will end the game.

Ren: Limit Break!

Mordred Phantom's break ride skill superior calls Blaster Dark Revenger and gives him +5000 power; then he resolves Dorint, countercharging again.

Ren goes direct to battle phase, which changes a lot. In order to use Raging Form Dragon's limit break, he needs to retire 3 rearguards and have a second copy of Raging Form in hand--meaning he'll have to attack with all of his rearguards first to optimize this turn. But in doing so, he also makes it much easier for us to guard than if he had called a booster behind RFD and started with the powered up Dark column.

We begin by intercepting with Determinator and dropping the Toypugal.

As predicted, Ren goes with his remaining rearguard column before the vanguard. We guard with Iseult, discarding Iseult for her cost.

And now, the vanguard attack. Since our only remaining cards are Iseult and Planetal, our only option is to defend with them. The outcome of this game now hinges on a couple factors; if Ren has a Raging Form in hand, if it's in his drive checks, and what the top card of our deck is.

Ren: Drive check.


And at the end of the battle that Raging Form attacked...

Ren: Turn end.
We're safe. For one turn.

We have no cards in hand, and our next draw can make or break this game--there are really six cards left in the deck that can significantly alter the course of this turn, and three which can win the game right here and now. So, a 12% chance to win outright, and a 24% chance to do something important.

Nope. Let's reassess; Ren essentially has us in a corner right now. The card advantage is now -3 (Ren) to -7 (Us) and 5 to 5 damage. He has a grade 3 and two 5ks in hand that we know of, with three unknown cards remaining, none of which are Raging Form. Given that he didn't place a unit behind his vanguard, these are probably frontrow units with 5k shield, but could just as easily be more grade 3s, or perfect guards. In the unlikely event that he has 3 Mordreds in hand, he can still one-pass our vanguard and block everything if we don't check triggers; and if they're any of the other possibilities, this turn shouldn't matter.

The most probable scenario where we win is that he two-passes us and we drive check two of our 10 remaining triggers. (40% chance for the first trigger.) Another is if we drive check a heal and draw, which would let us take one attack and (potentially) guard two others, surviving another turn. But no matter how you look at it, we're hanging by a thread.

Keeping the Constance in hand is an option if we somehow get our fourth perfect guard, but we still have the intercept when playing, and that's the optimal way to remove cards from Ren's hand to drag him as closely with us as possible.

Ren doesn't chance us on the two-pass, calling Mac Lir for perfect defense. This game should be his.

Touya: Drive check.

Touya: Critical trigger!
This goes on Constance.

And this tells us we're a breath away from death. It's time for a different angle; our rearguards are only 5 and 10k blocks on the vanguard, but in this game we haven't actually seen Ren check any replacement frontrow units beyond the Mordred he just discarded. Given the extreme circumstances, our best option is to capitalize on the fact that our rearguards make a magic number on his rearguards.

Ren doesn't block either attack, letting both Blaster Darks go.

On his own turn, he calls Dorint behind Raging Form. With RFD's counterblast, he can make a 21k center that we can only 1-pass. No matter what Ren has left in hand, he should call it to win the game here.

But that's the thing.

He doesn't. We drop our crit and intercept with Constance on RFD; Ren has 11 triggers that we haven't seen (up to 4 of which may be in his hand) and 3 copies of RFD left--somewhere between 11 and 15 cards that can end the game if drive checked, or a 46~63% chance to win on the first check, and 48~65% on the second check. If he doesn't check any of those cards, and he didn't draw an RFD this turn, we should win next turn. It's a coin flip, weighted in one direction or another.

Ren: Drive check.

First check.

We're going to six.

Ren: Activate skill!

Ren: Break through the boundaries; Limit Break! Endless wrath...! Even when your body changes, your soul carries on. Be reborn! Ride!

Ren: Revenger, Raging Form Dragon!
Ren retires his three Dorints, and rides a copy of Raging Form from his hand, giving it +10000 power.

We have nothing we can guard with. All four of our heal triggers remain in our deck, which means we have a 17% chance to survive if Ren doesn't check a crit.

Ren: Drive check.

Ren: Heal trigger!

Fortunately, in this format it's not possible to stand Raging Form twice in one turn. You can technically do it with Judgebau on a rearguard Mordred, but it's incredibly unlikely to happen. Sequential RFD persona rides within one turn is really only possible once Dark Bless Angel arrives in G-BT06.

So now, our victory or defeat rests on a single check. If we make it through this turn, we'll be able to superior call another Determinator or Planetal with Planetal's on-ride, and attack 20-34-22/24, either reducing Ren to 1~2 cards in hand, or ending this outright.

Touya: Damage check.

Ren: That was a fun fight.

You only receive 100 VP for a loss, and the character you lost to isn't added to the freefight space.

Ren: It was fun today, scaring you and Asaka both.

This just kicks us back to the map screen, with the freetime event still unfinished, only we now have a loss against Ren on our permanent record.

Let's reflect on what went wrong with that fight for a sec;
  • We missed our initial grade 3 ride, and when we did get to grade 3 it was on Ashlei, who can't do anything by herself. This isn't something we can change in terms of playing differently, but it is something that can be modified through deckbuilding--we should consider the consequences of being stuck on a break ride carefully, as well as alternative grade ratios. 9 G3 is an option, and 13-11-9 is actually the optimal ratio for riding consistently. We would just need to figure out what that third grade 3 would be, if we were going to do it.
  • Calling Little Storm to the front row on our fourth turn had far-reaching consequences for the rest of the game. Once placed, that represented a permanently lost 5k shield, as well as a rearguard column that was limited in how much shield it could take away. Moreover, since Little Storm was occupying the slot on the field with a 7k booster, the Constance we topdecked later could only be a 15k instead of a 16. Despite knowing the risks, we still called that Storm--holding back would have let us discard it on Ren's next turn for a perfect guard, letting us keep our break ride and retaliate on the turn after. (Which means that retiring our Constance the turn before ended up playing out very well for Ren.)
  • On that note, Toypugal was dead weight this game, dragging down one column constantly where Marron would have drawn out another 5k. Her presence softened the impact of Ren being at 5.
I would contend that despite the awkward hand and gradelock, this game was winnable for us. We needed to hold onto that Little Storm so that we could break ride Planetal, contending with having only two full columns for a turn. That would have drained Ren's hand and kept up our momentum better, though anything after riding Planetal would be speculative since that would shuffle the deck and modify trigger checks. Sometimes holding back for a moment is the answer.

We'll revisit this after clearing the other freetime events. I admit, facing Ren makes me want to pursue Shadow Paladin in this game--but I already know what I'll find there.