Sunday, May 20, 2018

Today's Card Analysis: King of Knights Alfred and Lion Mane Stallion

The Japanese Cards of the Day for May 21st, 2018, are Royal Paladin's Vanguard Rare from V-Booster Set 01: UNITE! TEAM Q4 and a Common from the same set, the King of Knights Alfred and his trusted steed Lion Mane Stallion.
King of Knights, Alfred
ACT [Vanguard Circle] Once per turn: [Cost: Counterblast 1] Search your deck for up to 1 "Blaster Blade," call it to a Rearguard Circle, and until end of turn, that unit gets Power +5000. Shuffle your deck.
CONT [Vanguard Circle]: During your turn, if you have a "Blaster Blade" on your Rearguard Circle, this unit gets Power +10000.
While many were expecting the cover card of V-BT01 to be a direct remake of the original King of Knights, gaining power for every rearguard in play and searching any unit, the new Alfred's skillset is instead inspired by his less-mentioned successor unit--Monarch Sanctuary Alfred.

Like Monarch this incarnation of the King of Knights gains 10k for having a rearguard Blaster Blade, but this time around it's a non-stackable Continuous ability. Rather than a finisher, Alfred is a midgame card intended to push the opponent to higher damage with his (boosted) 33 center so that they can be finished by Soul Saver Dragon on subsequent turns. His once-per-turn skill superior calls Blaster Blade from the deck at a net +1 in card advantage and gives Blade 5k for the turn, opening up the possibility of SD01 Jauron levels of power with Wingal's boost.

Alfred's Super Vanguard Rare print.
While these skills are in line with Alfred's overall theme throughout the years--drawing power from his rearguards, calling rearguards from the deck, and giving them power in turn--it's hardly the platonic ideal of the King of Knights. Being entirely dependent on Blaster Blade to resolve his skills leaves this Alfred estranged from the overall objectives of the deck. The new Blaster Blade contributes little to the Soul Saver-centric incarnation of Royal Paladin, taking away a valuable soulblast that slows down the vital SSD turn. Conjurer of Mithril is a much better use of the same cost, as he can superior call Funnergal or Akane into Pongal to restore the spent soul while gaining a net +1 or +2 for each counterblast spent on the play. Running the King of Knights means being forced to run Blaster Blade, and the ideal use of Blade in the current deck is as a vanilla--a Gallatin with 5k less shield.

As it stands, this is the only Vanguard Rare that's of questionable use. There's a case to make for running the Start Deck Stardrive Dragon instead, just to avoid using Blaster Blade. Seeing as Alfred will ideally only be in play for a single turn before switching to Soul Saver, it's certainly possible to make a list that dedicates only the minimum space necessary for a single Blade call for the +1 and power turn:
Grade 1
x4 Pongal
x4 Little Sage, Marron
x4 Lion Mane Stallion
x1 Knight Squire, Allen
Grade 2
x2 Blaster Blade
x4 Conjurer of Mithril
x4 High Dog Breeder, Akane
x2 Funnergal 
Grade 3
x4 Knight of Knights, Alfred
x4 Soul Saver Dragon
The gameplan with the above decklist is to ride King of Knights turn 3, using Funnergal or Pongal (whichever is drawn first) to get the last soulcharge necessary for Soul Saver. Conjurer of Mithril is used to gain +1s, targeting Akane or Funnergal depending on whether or not that extra one soul has already been acquired. If it has, then Akane will refund Mithril's cost, and if it has not, then Funnergal will refund Mithril's cost this turn and acquire the final soul next turn. (Granted, this only works if the next turn isn't the SSD turn.) King of Knights vanilla calls Blaster Blade on turn 3 for another +1 and columns that will ideally read 23-33-23, and the game ideally ends on turn 4 when you ride Soul Saver and give 30k to all three columns. If you're forced to first ride Soul Saver that's fine, as she still gives Force to accelerate your gamestate and soulcharges on-attack to make up for missing a grade 3 ride. The only downside is being short 10k due to missing out on one more Force Marker.

The disadvantage to this gameplan is how counterblast-intensive the clan as a whole is. Conjurer, Akane, Funnergal, and Alfred are all CB1. Unless you heal away a CB, the plan calls for being at 2 damage turn 2, and 4-5 damage turn 3. Royal Paladin is very vulnerable to counterblast control, and is also easily pushed into being the first to guard while at 5--the clan's winning image involves being deliberately put in the defensive position.

The primary alternative deck runs Start Deck Stardrive Dragon, for its Force Gift and costless 3k. You don't get the +1 from Alfred and your midgame center caps at 23 rather than 33, but it also necessitates 1 less counterblast and can change out the Blaster Blades for Funnergal. Of course, it's also possible to cut Mithril for either version of Jauron, giving up a +1 option for higher base power and a reliable offensive. It's a matter of how you want to approach the deck.

The second Card of the Day is Lion Mane Stallion, who was previously revealed at the Mexico Team League event.
Lion Mane Stallion
CONT [Rearguard Circle]: If you have four or more rearguards, this unit gets Power +3000.
Lion Mane may only be a 7k base, but having a costless skill that counts itself for power gain and effectively raises the column it boosts by a trigger's worth of power makes it very versatile. In most cases the card will function as an 8k booster would, but unlike the other options Lion Mane can form an 18k+ lane with Conjurer of Mithril, and a 23 lane with Akane due to Akane's own +3 from being boosted by a High Beast. In a pinch the card will also work to form an 18 with any of the grade 1s, and of course forms a 23 behind any of the grade 3s.

Finally, Alfred's lore from the classic game:
The king who leads the Royal Paladins, and their strongest knight.
He is also the leader of the great knightly order, worthy of being called the very embodiment of justice.
Always putting those who live in the United Sanctuary first, he continually wishes for battles to end without bloodshed.
He is a good, understanding man, seen as a hero, to whom Blaster Blade has pledged his loyalty.
Lion Mane Stallion's lore:
The King of Knights’s beloved steed, with a fiery mane like that of a lion’s.
A dappled gray horse whose mane is rarer than that of the glowing blue mane amongst horses, it is a beast worthy of being a horse of legend.
Any time it hears the voice of the King of Knights, it charges recklessly across a thousand miles, breaking through even a horde of a thousand units strong, until it can rally around the flag of its master.
The previous Japanese Cards of the Day were Dragonic Waterfall and Dragonic Gaias.

V-Booster Set 01: UNITE! TEAM Q4 will launch in Japan May 25th, 2018, and in English June 22nd. It will be accompanied by sleeves based on Dragonic Overlord and Blaster Blade. V-Trial Deck 01: Sendou Aichi and V-TD02: Kai Toshiki will launch in English June 8th.

The first Extra Booster set of Standard, V-EB01: The Destructive Roar will launch in Japan June 29th, 2018, and August 2nd for the English-speaking world. The accompanying new anime series, codenamed "Origin," began airing May 5th, with an English-subtitled simulcast on both YouTube and Crunchyroll.

Saturday, May 19, 2018

Wall Boy shown in third episode of Origin anime

As in the previous two weeks, episode 3 of the Cardfight!! Vanguard "Origin" anime series was light on card reveals, but nonetheless teased one card we haven't seen leaked: Wall Boy, a remake of the clan's Heal Trigger from the manga and Extra Booster 1: Comic Style Vol. 1. The card was not shown clearly, but Kamui guarded a Stardrive Dragon-Margal column (23000) with it while on Hi-powered Raizer Custom (9000) and it later appeared as a grade 0 in his discard pile.

The specific marking is obscured by his deck, but the yellow border at the bottom is a dead giveaway that this is a new trigger unit. If the resolution were higher it would be possible to confirm the type by its shield value, but for now we'll have to run with the assumption it's a Heal.

Wall Boy's Comic Style print from the original game.

Friday, May 18, 2018

Psychic Bird and Miracle Kid shown in Monthly Bushiroad

The June issue of Monthly Bushiroad magazine contained a detail that flew beneath the notice of most readers: Oracle Think Tank's first trigger units of the Standard Format were shown in the magazine's demonstration of the new Amaterasu support. Although they're scaled down to be very small for the demonstration, close-ups reveal the returning Psychic Bird and Miracle Kid will be reprising their roles as Critical and Draw Triggers for the clan.

While Psychic was an effect trigger in the previous game, in Standard the only trigger units with effects are Draw Trigger perfect guards. Keeping with this, the new Psychic Bird is a vanilla with 5k power.

Miracle Kid is likewise a vanilla Draw, with just 5000 shield. While it may be tempting to say these are only mock-ups and the final versions could have effects, it should be kept in mind that neither Royal Paladin nor Kagerо̄ have triggers in the set outside of Iseult and Barri, leaving the Trial Deck triggers as the only ones available. It seems the standard for Standard is vanilla grade 0s, and for every clan to have at least two types of Draw, and likely two types of Crit as well. This would rather neatly explain Nova Grappler's nine grade 0s in V-BT01, where Oracle Think Tank will at most have six. Nova needs the space to fit in another Draw Trigger, two Criticals, another Front, a Heal, and Cat Butler, alongside the previously confirmed Battleraizer, Tap the Hyper, and Turboraizer.

105 more locations added to English Demo Caravan

The total number of participating locations in the 2018 Cardfight!! Vanguard Demo Caravan for the English format has been raised to 282, bringing the number of locations closer to the promised 300. Just two days ago that number was down at 127. The expanded lineup of shops includes many of the major locations on the American west coast and midwest that make up vital stretches of Vanguard's US market. Singapore, Bushiroad's international headquarters, remains curiously unattended.

Although the Caravan nominally begins May 29th, many locations are not holding their events until July and August or later--long after the launch of the first Trial Decks, Booster Set, and even after Extra Booster 1's launch on August 2nd. Other shops report not having been put on the list despite having their times already confirmed with Bushiroad; once again, readers are encouraged to contact their local store to ask about Caravan dates and times.

Thursday, May 17, 2018

New sleeves feature V-BT01 Vanguard Rares

Web retailer AmiAmi leaked four upcoming Cardfight!! Vanguard sleeves today featuring the four Vanguard Rare units from V-Booster Set 01: UNITE! TEAM Q4. Respectively these are King of Knights Alfred, Dragonic Waterfall, Imperial Daughter, and Perfect Raizer. The sleeves will launch in the latter half of June at 800 yen per pack, and one pack will contain 70 sleeves.

King of Knights, Alfred
Dragonic Waterfall
Imperial Daughter
Perfect Raizer

Today's Card Analysis: Dragonic Waterfall and Dragonic Gaias

The Japanese Cards of the Day for May 18th, 2018, are Kagerо̄'s Vanguard Rare and a Double Rare from V-Booster Set 01: UNITE! TEAM Q4, Dragonic Waterfall and Dragonic Gaias. Kai's trump card from the climax of the manga's fourth volume was originally designed to give the most raw power in the game, a mark it's long fallen short of. The rebooted card restores Waterfall to its former glory by giving it the ability to override one of the game's fundamental balancing mechanics.
Dragonic Waterfall
AUTO [Vanguard Circle]: When placed, choose 1 of your opponent's grade 2 or greater rearguards, and retire it.
AUTO [Vanguard Circle]: When it attacks, [Cost: Soulblast 1 grade 3 card] this unit gets power +10000/Critical +1 until the end of that battle, and your opponent cannot call cards with "Sentinel" to Guardian Circle from hand.
The new Waterfall is designed to be used as a second or third ride after beginning the match on Dragonic Overlord, putting it in the same class as Soul Saver Dragon and Victorious Deer as an endgame finisher. Like Victorious, Waterfall requires soulblasting grade 3s as part of its cost, restricting it to the endgame unless you can randomly soulcharge a grade 3 off of Cruel Dragon's on-hit skill. The on-ride skill ensures the opponent is dragged down with you as you invest another card onto your vanguard circle, and allows for easy removal of key attackers like Maximum Raizer and Gigantech Charger.

Waterfall's Super Vanguard Rare print.
Waterfall's on-attack autoskill is the primary reason to run the card, and should not go underestimated. Like Overlord, Waterfall possesses the Force ability and Kagerо̄ favors putting its Force Markers on the vanguard circle to develop aggressive centers. The opponent will likely be exhausted from defending Dragonic Overlord up to this point in the match, and with two to three Force Gifts on Waterfall and a boost from Gojo, Aermo, or Raopia they'll be staring down a functional 53~63k 2 Critical center; Waterfall preventing the opponent from calling Sentinels means they haven o option to simply negate the attack. Even Protect Markers have the Sentinel keyword on them and so are not exempt from this, so the only means of guarding Waterfall is to guard manually. That's putting down 55~65k shield for two-triggers-to-pass, equivalent to two Heals and a Critical Trigger if 53k, or three Heals and an intercept if 63k.

As stated back in April, 53k is one of the most important numbers in the game because it is completely impossible to guard with less than three guardians except using a perfect guard. This means that Waterfall is at minimum a -3 for the opponent under optimal conditions, and more commonly a -4--guarding with three Criticals and one 10k, or a -5 for four Crits and a 5k guardian to make an 78k no-pass. Effectively doubling the strain on the opponent's card advantage engine when compared with being able to perfect guard means two Waterfall turns at 4+ damage will win the game, if the first turn doesn't do the other fighter in outright. It's simply not feasible to repeatedly endure Waterfall while still needing to guard the rearguard lanes.

The other Card of the Day is a fellow Tear Dragon to Waterfall and another of Kai's cards, Gaias.
Dragonic Gaias
AUTO [Rearguard Circle]: When it boosts a grade 3 or greater, [Cost: Counterblast 1, put this unit into your soul] the boosted unit gets Critical +1 until the end of that battle. (If you put it into the soul, the boosted unit does not receive Power.)
Gaias is a generally-faithful preservation of the original card from the manga. The original effect rested Gaias to give the boosted unit no power but increase its Critical by 1. Do note that because the additional Critical only lasts until end of battle, Gaias cannot be abused to give Dragonic Overlord 2 Critical on both attacks as Striken can. What Gaias can do is make Waterfall into a 3 Crit unit for a near-guaranteed on-hit win, as well as fuel the soul for Overlord's cost will increasing the impact of him hitting in the early game. You can also make plays like swing with a Forced Overlord unboosted for 33k on a rearguard, restand, then use Gaias during the second swing to guarantee a crit.

With this, the final Kagerо̄ lineup is at last taking shape.
Grade 1
x4 Flame of Hope, Aermo
x4 Dragonic Gaias
x4 Lizard Soldier, Raopia
x1 Dragon Knight, Burj
Grade 2
x4 Berserk Dragon
x4 Prowling Dragon, Striken or Spillover Dragon
x4 Dragon Knight, Nehalem
Grade 3
x4 Dragonic Overlord
x4 Dragonic Waterfall
Accounting for Oracle Think Tank likely getting a grade 1 perfect guard as a Single Rare and 4 trigger units along with Lozenge Magus for their grade 0 Commons, Kagerо̄ has just 2~4 cards left to reveal in the set, all at C rarity.

"Ride the Vanguard! Water Spirit Dragon, show yourself from within the fountain!"
The previous Japanese Card of the Day was Conjurer of Mithril.

V-Booster Set 01: UNITE! TEAM Q4 will launch in Japan May 25th, 2018, and in English June 22nd. It will be accompanied by sleeves based on Dragonic Overlord and Blaster Blade. V-Trial Deck 01: Sendou Aichi and V-TD02: Kai Toshiki will launch in English June 8th.

The first Extra Booster set of Standard, V-EB01: The Destructive Roar will launch in Japan June 29th, 2018, and August 2nd for the English-speaking world. The accompanying new anime series, codenamed "Origin," began airing May 5th, with an English-subtitled simulcast on both YouTube and Crunchyroll.

Burstraizer revealed on Vanguard YouTube Channel

The official Japanese Cardfight!! Vanguard YouTube channel revealed a new card as part of its weekly roundup, a Nova Grappler Single Rare from V-Booster Set 01: UNITE! TEAM Q4.
AUTO [Rearguard Circle]: When your vanguard attacks, [Cost: Counterblast 1, Soulblast 1] Stand this unit, and if the number of cards in your opponent's damage zone is 4 or greater, this unit gets Power +3000 until end of turn.
As Bushiroad points out in the episode, Burstraizer is perfect to use in conjunction with Perfect Raizer to stand 3 units, and with Raizer Custom as the ideal booster to make a self-standing column. On an Accel circle the card will become 22k on its second swing, making a magic number versus 12k bases like Imperial Daughter.

While up to now the Raizer deck was shaping up to use some combination of Hi-powered Raizer Custom, Boomerang Thrower, and Iron Killer, Burstraizer is likely to take Killer's spot. The extra 5k shield Killer takes away on-attack is outweighed Burstraizer doing an entire second attack. However, with how counterblast- and soulblast-intensive the Raizer deck is proving between Perfect, Burst, and Transraizer, Boomerang Thrower isn't likely to leave unless Nova Grappler's final Single Rare or Commons contain a more compelling means of doing both countercharging and soulcharging.

Last week's YouTube exclusive was the Goddess of Insight, Sotoorihime.

V-Booster Set 01: UNITE! TEAM Q4 will launch in Japan May 25th, 2018, and in English June 22nd. It will be accompanied by sleeves based on Dragonic Overlord and Blaster Blade. V-Trial Deck 01: Sendou Aichi and V-TD02: Kai Toshiki will launch in English June 8th.

The first Extra Booster set of Standard, V-EB01: The Destructive Roar will launch in Japan June 29th, 2018, and August 2nd for the English-speaking world. The accompanying new anime series, codenamed "Origin," began airing May 5th, with an English-subtitled simulcast on both YouTube and Crunchyroll.