Sunday, December 11, 2011

Episode Guide; Rides 1 & 2

Game Set Rides 1 & 2: Vanguard of Destiny & Ride to Victory

Story Summary
Aichi and Kai's first fight. Two years ago, Aichi was facing heavy bullying from his peers; at that time Kai appeared to give him confidence, gifting Aichi with the rare Blaster Blade card. While Kai moved shortly after, his lesson stayed with Aichi, and Sendou went on to seek him out over the next two years to finally have a cardfight with Kai. But when Aichi finally finds his missing friend, Kai has been changed by what he saw in his new town...

Story Analysis
We know that Vanguard is at least eight years old from later episodes, and the flashback with Aichi and Kai is from two years ago. Since Blaster Blade is now considered a rare, out of print card and Kai was just a kid when he had it, it's probably two years old rather than the highly-exaggerated eight that Oracle Think Tank gets. Note that Aichi's deck is not a starter deck; he explicitly says that he made it himself to help shut out all the bad things in his life. Aichi probably knew the basics of play before this episode, but like any new player, had to take time to get familiar with the rules once forced into practice.

These two episodes follow a parallel structure. Two years ago, Aichi is feeling suffocated by the world around him, and faces physical pressure from bullies. And now in the present, Aichi is being put down by the world around him, getting home as soon as possible to avoid the kind of humiliation he deals with in Mr. Mark's class. Aichi continues to face pressure from bullies, in the form of Morikawa. And just as his joy in life was taken away from him by bullies two years past, Blaster Blade, which gave him back that joy, is taken by Morikawa; in both cases it is Kai who gives Blaster Blade to Aichi.

This is the only time Kai explicitly tries to push Aichi away or dissuade him from his hero worship. After this episode, Kai never once tries to convince Aichi that he's a bad person. Kai attempting to push Aichi away also coincides with our first hints at PSY Qualia, an enigmatic ability that isn't well defined, but that Kai is definitely able to pick up on. I had originally suggested that Kai was able to force his initial Dragonic Overlord draw through Qualia, but since ride 44 disproved this, that's out now. However, Kai may have seen Aichi tapping into Qualia when he perceived Aichi as Blaster Blade.

Fight Analysis

Each turn analysis will show which character's turn it is, the current field, the number of cards in each character's hand, and if possible which cards are in their hand. Hand size includes that turn's draw. Shield power is written as Sn while power is simply n. Triggers will be abbreviated using the following standard.
CT = Critical Triger
ST = Stand Trigger
DT = Draw Trigger
HT = Heal Trigger
The battlefield will be represented as three rows, with each side separated by “vs.” [R] indicates a rearguard row, [V] indicates a vanguard row.
[V] Stardust Trumpeter(6000) vs Lizard Runner Undeux(6000)
Kai's hand: Six cards. Contains at least Bahr, Aermo and Nehalem.
Kai's damage: 0/6
Triggers: 16
Aichi's hand: Five. Flogal(ST), Flogal(ST), Epona(CT), Wingal, Marron.
Aichi's damage: 0/6
Triggers: 13
Kai rides Bahr (8000). Kai calls Aermo (6000) and ends his turn. Being the first episode, Kai and Aichi are both making the clear mistake of not starting off with Conroe and Barcgal, but we won't get the luxury of seeing those units for some time now. It would have been better for Aichi to redraw those Flogal and Epona cards so he'd have the chance of drawing them during a drive or damage check.

Kai made the logical choice in calling Aermo behind Bahr instead of as a frontline rearguard. Not only can Bahr get a boost here, but Aichi has literally no way of attacking the back row.


[V] Stardust Trumpeter(6000) vs Embodiment of Armor, Bahr(8000) boosted by Flame of Hope, Aermo(6000)
Kai's hand: Four. Contains Nehalem.
Kai's damage: 0/6
Triggers: 16
Aichi's hand: Six. Flogal(ST), Flogal(ST), Epona(CT), Wingal, Marron and Gallatin.
Aichi's damage: 0/6
Triggers: 13
Aichi draws Gallatin and rides Marron(8000), then calls Wingal(6000) behind her. Aichi attacks(14000) and drive checks another Marron. Kai does not guard and damage checks Dragon Monk, Goku(10000). Aichi probably could have called those two Flogal together and supported them for another damage with no ill effects.
[V] Wingal(6000) boosting Little Sage, Marron(8000) vs Embodiment of Armor, Bahr(8000) boosted by Flame of Hope, Aermo(6000)
Kai's hand: Five. Contains Nehalem and Bahr.
Kai's damage: 1/6
Triggers: 16
Aichi's hand: Five. Flogal(ST), Flogal(ST), Epona(CT), Marron and Gallatin.
Aichi's damage: 0/6
Triggers: 13
Kai draws one card and rides Nehalem(10000). Going by where he pulled it from, Nehalem is the second card he drew on the first turn. Kai calls Bahr(8000) and attacks Marron with it. Since their attack power is equal, Bahr will win; Aichi defends with Epona for a shield of 18000, blocking the attack. Kai attacks with Nehalem boosted by Aermo(16000) and Aichi does not guard. Kai drive checks a Wyvern Strike, Tejas(8000) into his hand and Aichi damage checks a Flash Shield, Iseult(8000).
There's a goof at this part. When Nehalem attacks Marron, her defending power is displayed as 18000 when it should be just 8000. Seems the animators didn't quite understand the rules yet.
[V] Wingal(6000) boosting Little Sage, Marron(8000) vs Dragon Knight Nehalem(10000) boosted by Flame of Hope, Aermo(6000).
[R] No rearguardvs Embodiment of Armor, Bahr
Kai's hand; Aermo, Jarran, Monica and Monica.
Kai's damage; 1/6
Triggers; 14
Aichi's hand; Six. Flogal(ST), Flogal(ST), Marron, Gallatin, and one other.
Aichi's damage; 2/6
Triggers; 13
Aichi draws, and then rides the Knight of Silence, Gallatin(10000). Aichi then calls to his left rearguard circle Marron(8000) and Flogal(5000) to support her. Boosted by Wingal, Gallatin attacks Kai's vanguard(16000) and goes unguarded. Aichi drive checks another Gallatin and Kai damage checks Dragon Knight Aleph(9000). Aichi then attacks with Marron, boosted by Flogal(13000) but Kai guards with Hope of Flame, Aermo(S15000).
When Aichi draws this turn, he puts the card to his far right in his hand. Gallatin is taken out as the third card in his hand, so Gallatin is his draw from his first turn that until now we've only seen the back of.


[R] Flogal(5000) boosting Little Sage, Marron(8000)
[V] Wingal(6000) boosting Knight of Silence, Gallatin(10000) vs Dragon Knight Nehalem(10000) boosted by Flame of Hope, Aermo(6000).
[R] No rearguardvs Embodiment of Armor, Bahr(8000)
Kai's hand: Jarran, Tejas, Monica and Monica.
Kai's damage: 2/6
Triggers: 14
Aichi's hand: Three. Flogal(ST), Gallatin, and one other.
Aichi's damage: 2/6
Triggers: 13
Kai calls to his right rearguard circles Wyvern Strike, Jarran(8000) and Wyvern Strike, Tejas(6000) to boost him. Kai attacks Gallatin with Bahr, making a critical error that Aichi nonetheless guards against with Flogal; Bahr's power is 8000. Gallatin's is 10000. Bahr cannot actually deal damage here. Nonetheless, Aichi guards using Flogal(S20000).
Having wasted Aichi's hand, Kai follows up with a Jarran-Tejas combo on Gallatin. When Jarran supports Tejas, Tejas gets an additional +4000 power, bringing the attack up to 18000. Aichi has nothing to guard with and damage checks a Marron.
Kai finishes his turn by attacking with Nehalem boosted by Aermo, and drive checks Embodiment of Spear, Tahr for +5000 and +1 Critical(21000+1). Aichi damage checks a Wingal and Iseult.




[R] Flogal(5000) boosting Little Sage, Marron(8000) vs Wyvern Strike, Jarran(8000) boosted by Wyvern Strike, Tejas(6000)
[V] Wingal(6000) boosting Knight of Silence, Gallatin(10000) vs Dragon Knight Nehalem(10000) boosted by Flame of Hope, Aermo(6000).
[R] No rearguardvs Embodiment of Armor, Bahr(8000)
Kai's hand: Tahr, Monica and Monica.
Kai's damage: 2/6
Triggers: 13
Aichi's hand: Three. Gallatin, Blaster Blade and one other.
Aichi's damage: 4/6
Triggers: 13
Aichi draws and rides Blaster Blade(9000).



Next Episode

Aichi counterblasts 2 and retires Kai's Jarran using Blaster Blade's ability. Aichi calls Gallatin to his left rearguard circle(10000) and attacks Kai's vanguard using a Wingal-supported Blaster Blade. Through Wingal's effect, Blaster Blade gains an extra +6000 power(19000). Aichi drive checks his third Gallatin, while Kai damage checks another Dragon Monk Goku.
Aichi supports Marron with Flogal and attacks again(13000), and Kai damage checks another Nehalem. Finally, Aichi attacks with Gallatin, causing Kai to damage check a Bahr. Things are not going nearly as well as Aichi thinks here.

[R] Flogal(5000) boosting Little Sage, Marron(8000) vs No rearguard boosted by Wyvern Strike, Tejas(6000)
[V] Wingal(6000) boosting Blaster Blade(9000) vs Dragon Knight Nehalem(10000) boosted by Flame of Hope, Aermo(6000).
[R] Knight of Silence Gallatin(10000)vs Embodiment of Armor, Bahr(8000)
Kai's hand: Four. Tahr, Monica, Monica and Dragonic Overlord.
Kai's damage: 5/6
Triggers: 13
Aichi's hand: Two. Stardust Trumpeter and Gallatin.
Aichi's damage: 4/6
Triggers: 13
Kai draws and rides Dragonic Overlord(11000). Kai calls two Dragon Dancer Monicas(5000), one to replace Jarran and one to support Bahr. Continuing with his plan from Aichi's turn, Kai counterblasts 3 to activate Dragonic Overlord's ability, increasing his power to 16000. Kai supports Bahr with Monica(13000) and attacks Aichi, forcing Aichi to defend with Stardust Trumpeter(S19000). Kai supports Moncia with Jarran(11000) and attacks Blaster Blade, causing him to use the last of his hand, Gallatin(S14000).
Aichi's hand spent, Kai boosts Dragonic Overlord with Aermo(21000) and attacks Gallatin, drive checking another Dragonic Overlord. Because a rearguard was destroyed, Dragonic Overlord stands, this time targeting Marron; its power reverts to 16000 and Kai drive checks another Dragonic Overlord. Dragonic Overlord stands, finally targeting Blaster Blade, and drive checks into a critical trigger(21000+1). With Aichi being 6/6 he has technically lost at this point, but Aichi damage checks Gallatin and then Yggdrasil Maiden, Elaine(HT) allowing him to heal 1 point of damage. Aichi goofs a little and heals an unflipped damage card instead of a flipped one.




[R] Flogal(5000) boosting no rearguard vs Dragon Dancer Monica(5000) boosted by Wyvern Strike, Tejas(6000)
[V] Wingal(6000) boosting Blaster Blade(9000) vs Dragonic Overlord(11000) boosted by Flame of Hope, Aermo(6000).
[R] No rearguardvs Embodiment of Armor, Bahr(8000) boosted by Dragon Dancer Monica(5000)
Kai's hand: Two. Tahr and Tahr.
Kai's damage: 5/6
Triggers: 12
Aichi's hand: One. Elaine.
Aichi's damage: 5/6
Triggers: 12
Aichi draws and calls Elaine(6000) to his left rearguard circle. Aichi supports Elaine with Flogal(11000) and attacks Dragonic Overlord, but Kai guards with Tahr(S21000). Aichi then attacks with Blaster Blade boosted by Wingal(19000) and Kai guards with his last Tahr(S21000) but Aichi drive checks an Epona for +5000 and +1 Critical. 24000+1>21000, causing Aichi to actually deal a total of seven damage to Kai across the whole game, a feat that requires two heal triggers to survive. Kai damage checks Nehalem.
Aichi's victory.



Kai is the first person in the series to get a drive trigger, and the first person to get a critical trigger. He also draws three consecutive Dragonic Overlords.

In a later episode, it's made a big deal of that Aichi has 'mastered' Blaster Blade by superior calling him and using his ability to retire a rearguard. But here, Aichi uses that same ability in episode 1.

Based on Aichi's draw patterns(Consecutive Flogals, Gallatins, Elaines and Marrons) I don't think his deck could have been shuffled very well. How do you do that anime shuffle, anyways?

Decks used in Rides 1 & 2
Aichi's Deck: Shining Swordsman of the Holy Land(20/50 cards)

Grade 0
x2 Stardust Trumpeter
x2 Flogal ST
x2 Bringer of Good Luck, Epona CT
x2 Yggdrasil Maiden Elaine HT
Grade 1
x2 Wingal (PR/0007)
x3 Little Sage, Marron
x2 Flash Shield, Iseult
Grade 2
x4 Knight of Silence, Gallatin
x1 Blaster Blade

Kai's Deck: Raging Dragon of the Empire(20/50 cards)

Grade 0
x1 Lizard Runner Undeux
x2 Dragon Dancer Monica DT
x2 Embodiment of Spear, Tahr CT
Grade 1
x3 Embodiment of Armor, Bahr
x2 Flame of Hope, Aermo
x1 Wyvern Strike, Jarran
Grade 2
x3 Dragon Knight Nehalem
x1 Wyvern Strike, Tejas
x1 Dragon Knight Aleph
Grade 3
x2 Dragon Monk Goku
x3 Dragonic Overlord (TD02/001)

Play Analysis
Breaking these decks down by grade, there were three options for Royal Paladin starting vanguards at the time of this episode's release; Stardust Trumpeter, Graeme and Barcgal. Trumpeter and Graeme are statistically identical, whereas Barcgal moves to the rearguard when you ride over it, giving you another unit, conserving your hand when doing so, and giving you access to its skill to call yet another unit. This makes Barcgal superior in every way to the other two options--even from an argument of conserving your soul, Barcgal can be used to do a massive soulcharge later on.

Meanwhile Kagerou has two such vanguards to choose from; Lizard Runner Undeux and Lizard Soldier Conroe. While Undeux is a Trumpeter copy, Conroe moves to the rearguard as Barcgal does, and can self-retire to call another unit, giving it far more utility than Undeux.

My apologies to Wingal fans, but as he only has one card he can target, and the boost he gives only rises up to 19000(just 1000 points short of where it needs to be) Wingal's boost is of questionable competitive use when not in combination with Starlight Unicorn's skill. Marron is stuck in much the same department, but is excused by how limited the grade 1 options were in the first booster set. The thing is, there are a series of important numbers; 10K, 15K and 20K. Each one corresponds to an additional card being laid down to guard the attack, so hitting 20K is a serious deal because it absolutely wrecks the opponent's hand. This means that anything between these numbers can be rounded down to the lowest possible 'waypoint' number, i.e. 19K becomes 15K and 22K becomes 20K.

In effect, Wingal and Blaster Blade achieves the same thing as Marron and Blaster Blade; 19K versus 17K. Both of these are for practical purposes 15K, and Marron can target anyone while Wingal can only target Blade.

On the Kagerou side of things, Jarran is much the same deal as Wingal. Its one target has less power than Blade, but ultimately receives the same benefits from having Bahr or Gojo behind it. Meanwhile Joka is the back row card Kagerou has, because not only can she reach 9000 power easily, but her ability stacks so she can also get to 12000 and work in concert with Nehalem to break the 20K barrier.

Aichi is not running a Grade 3, and with only one Blaster Blade in his deck, it's highly unlikely that he would ever draw it in regular games. Kai does not suffer the same Gallatin difficulties that Aichi does, chiefly because Kagerou does not gain an 11000-power grade 2 until the second booster set, and instead uses Joka to make 20K happen. Kai should take out those Gokus as soon as possible--traditional grade ratios contain only 7 grade 3 cards, so he'll only draw another grade 3 17.39% of the time.