Friday, November 9, 2012

Study Guide: Bermuda Triangle

Photo by rawritzrichii, not to be reposted elsewhere without the original photographer's express permission.
With Extra Booster 2: Banquet of Divas releasing internationally today, many fighters are eager to get their hands on the new cards. Bermuda Triangle however, does not run in a straight line like the core clans. It requires thinking outside the normal boundaries that Cardfight has instilled in us--rather than a game of charging back and forth at the opponent like with the Paladins or Dark Irregulars, the Triangle idols create loops and connect skills together in the fashion of Pale Moon or the more recent Great Nature. Let's take a look at how we can work with the mergirls.

There are three first vanguards available to the clan. Bermuda Triangle Cadet, Shizuku is a basic 4000-power FVG that counterblasts 1 and moves to the soul to search out the top 5 cards of the deck for a grade 3 of the same clan. This is actually the original debut of this type of FVG, but unfortunately her art is a lot better than her actual skill. The skill has a lot of room to misfire by, decreasing your advantage if no grade 3 is found while using up your counterblast, and 4000 power is just low enough that it can't touch the 16000 line with an 11000-power vanguard to combat similar 11000-power opponents.

So the remaining two are Bermuda Triangle Cadet, Weddell and Bermuda Triangle Cadet, Riviere. Weddell is an immediate improvement over Shizuku, with 5000 base power for meeting minimum requirements vs both 10000 and 11000-power opponents, and her main phase skill costs no counterblast. Instead she simply moves to the soul to send a Bermuda Triangle unit back to the hand; while that may seem like a decrease in advantage, by combining this skill with the rearguard grade 3 Rainbow Light, Carine, you can counterblast 1 to soulcharge 1 and draw 1 card. Granted that's only trading Weddell for the card that you draw, but it helps change up your formation to call new units to the field while giving you access to more of your deck.

Riviere meanwhile, is the first in a series of evolving cards. Intended to combo with the grade 1 Mermaid Idol, Rriviere, how their skills play in together is that when you ride Mermaid Idol over the Cadet, the Cadet's skill will let you look at the top 7 cards of your deck and add either Super Idol, Riviere or Top Idol, Riviere to your hand from among them, while Mermaid Idol Riviere's skill gives her +1000 power in the vanguard circle as long as Triangle Cadet Riviere is in the soul. So you can establish the same defensive power as the base 8000 Sedna, while getting a one-card increase in advantage. The search skill is not as good as a Fullbau-type evolution, which would automatically put Super Idol into the hand, but it does have six to eight targets in a typical Riviere deck and it's somewhat more flexible by allowing for the grade 3 to go to the hand. Even if you miss your Mermaid Idol ride, Cadet Rivere will still move to the rearguard and work as a 4000-power boost or an early attacker with the aid of an 8000 base behind her. This particular type of evolving ride is more manageable in Triangle than it is for other clans, because it was designed specifically with Bermuda Triangle in mind; unlike other FVGs of her type, Riviere can be bounced into the hand with card skills to act as an extra 10000 shield versus your opponent's attacks. I would say that because of her nature as a 4000-power FVG, this is actually necessary to get the most from Riviere when her main skill doesn't go off, so keep in mind that if you intend to build the Riviere deck then you should always have a way to get the Bermuda Triangle Cadet into your hand.

Weddell is named after the Weddell Sea in the Southern Ocean. Shizuku is literally "drip" in Japanese, and Rivière is French for "River."

The recommended trigger setup for the Triangle clan is to use the Drive Quartet sisters. The reason for this is that each member of the Quartet gains +3000 power from having another member on the field, so in an emergency you can have at least one or two 7000-power boosters, with a 4000-power one lined up with either an 11000-power vanguard if you're facing down 10000-power opponents, or with a unit that gains power when attacking. My recommendation to those just getting into the clan is to start with four of each Drive Quartet card except for Ressac the stand trigger, whom you run just three of and in her place Comical Rainie, a fifth critical. Having four of each trigger is difficult to work with, especially for beginners, and four stands are not really necessary when you generally want to get one stand out of an entire game to pull a surprise on the opponent. Since so many Bermuda skills enhance the strength of the hand, the extra draw power from five or more draw triggers is not strictly necessary unless your specific play style leans that way. Many fighters later choose to convert to running four Rainie and no Ressac for maximum potential critical, but Cardfight is something that you should approach like painting; there isn't a wrong way to do it, but there are techniques to help the kind of play you want to conduct.

Rainie comes from the term "Rainy," Bubblin from "Bubbling," Flows from a water flow, Caspian from the Caspian Sea and Ressac is French for "backwash." (Not that kind of backwash!)

Getting into the grade 1s, Prism of the Water's Surface, Myrtoa is the clan's equivalent to Dark Cat, allowing all players to draw a card when she's called. That's not going to create a game-winning advantage by itself, but Myrtoa helps ensure consistency by giving you easy access to more cards from your deck, bringing out combos more reliably while providing a free 7000-power booster to form 16000+ lines with, and because the Bermuda clan is already so talented at sending cards back to the hand, you can replace her freely at many points in the game.

Speaking of, Turquoise Blue, Tyrrhenia is one of those bounce cards. She only sports 5000 power, which can be problematic for a grade 1, since she can only form a 16000+ line with three cards in the whole clan, but consider her skill. When the attack that she boosts hits a vanguard, Tyrrhenia allows you to soulblast 2 and return a Bermuda Triangle unit to the hand; already we know that this works with Carine and Riviere from earlier, but that soulblast 2 is restrictive enough that it will only go off from turn 3 onward, unless you've already used Weddell's skill or was able to ride Mermaid Idol, Riviere over her grade 0 counterpart. Since getting a Riviere that misfired into the hand is one of the early priorities of a Riviere deck, Tyrrhenia is an obvious choice for a two-of there, but is there a way to get this off from turn 1 or 2 instead of waiting to ride a grade 3?

We only have one soul at the time, so the answer is Mermaid Idol, Felucca. Felucca is a card that's been imported from the Dark Irregulars' Alluring Succubus, and like Succubus, she soulcharges 1 when called or ridden. That sets Tyrrhenia up right away, letting you get Riviere in hand for use as 5000 more shield than would be typical, effectively trading Tyrhennia's 5000 in for Riviere's 10000. Since Tyrhennia can also be used to bounce Carine into the hand, Felucca likewise can be tied into Carine, making up for the cost of using Tyrrhenia by combining Felucca and Carine's soulcharges.

Like Tyrryhenia, Pearl Sisters, Perle is a rearguard-only skill. This one ties into the grade 2 Pearl Sisters, Perla; when Perle is called, a Perla that is on the field can receive an autoskill that lets her soulcharge 1 and draw 1 card when her attack hits a vanguard. This skill only lasts until the end of turn, but since the Pearl Sisters together form a 16000-power line, they can be quite dangerous already. And this skill also comes in addition to Perla's basic skill, soulblasting 1 when her attack hits to return a Bermuda Triangle rearguard to the hand. The sisters together form a relatively isolated combo, with Perle giving Perla the skill, then Perla's attack hits and she soulcharges 1 to draw, then soulblasts the card she just soulcharged to return Perle to the hand and set up for next turn. Since you can pick and choose which card gets blasted, you can also use this to keep Riviere pieces added from the deck to the soul in the soul, which helps maintain the continuous +1000 that each piece gets from the previous one, as well as getting off their respective skills. Perla can also be used to do fancier things like get Tyrrhenia off the field, if she isn't going to survive long-term; the Bermuda field is highly modular and can be swapped about freely because of these types of cards.

Finally, Mermaid Idol, Riviere came up previously, but she has one more skill to examine. When she's ridden over with Super Idol, Riviere and Bermuda Triangle Cadet, Riviere is in the soul, you can draw one card. This is very basic compared to the evolving rides that were designed after her, but it's to be expected as Riviere is the most stripped-down model of that evolution. The increase in advantage is well appreciated, and it helps make up for the Cadet misfiring, but it only works if she's in the soul in the first place, so ideally you're moving up from +1 extra card to +2. As with the Cadet and Mermaid, the Super Idol has her own extension of the combo, gaining +1000 continuous power in the vanguard circle so long as the Mermaid Idol is in the soul. These cards restrict how much you can use Tyrrhenia and other soulblast-based cards considerably if the evolution is working properly, ironically giving you more freedom when it doesn't go off. Nonetheless, Perle and Perla are still both very usable even when you're riding each Riviere in succession, since Perle lets Perla soulcharge to fuel her blast.

Myrtoa is a reference to the Myrtoan Sea. Tyrrhenia is the Greek and Latin name for Erturia, a region of Central Italy which gives its name to the Tyrrhenian Sea. Perle is French for "pearl," Perla is the same for "beaded." I didn't discuss Mermaid Idol, Elly in the article, but her name is almost certainly a mistranslation of "Erie" as in Lake Erie or the Erie Canal.

Going into grade 2s, Girls' Rock, Rio is another combo card for Weddell, Tyrrhenia and the Pearl Sisters. When she's returned to your hand from the rearguard, Rio can counterblast 1 to soulcharge 1 and draw a card. This is the first counterblast card we've seen since Shizuku, and it's pretty great all around. Rio increases your card advantage by +1, adds soul to fuel Tyrrhenia and Perla's skills, and like Perla she can help get in missing pieces of Riviere, so Rio is one card that can go into any Bermuda build, whether it's using Weddell or Riviere. Probably Rio's biggest flaw overall is her 8000 power, since that can be sniped by a basic 10000-8000 line, but since you're sending her to the hand anyway, in many fights you won't even need to worry about Rio getting taken out.

Inteli Idol, Mervill is the clan's take on RoPala's Tristan. Like him, her skill only works in the vanguard circle; when she drive checks a grade 3 Bermuda Triangle unit, Mervill can return a Bermuda Triangle unit to your hand, then call another one. This skill is a little tricky; at the time that you pay the cost, the grade 3 you checked is in the trigger zone, not your hand. So you can't call that unit, though you could call another grade 3. Mainly this is useful because it lets you send Rio or Perle to the hand, but it's weakened severely by the fact that it has to be Mervill's drive check that reveals the card. This means that Mervill will effectively get only one chance to go off in a game, and only if you ride her--it will never go off twice because you will have drive checked a grade 3 that you will be riding next turn. This harms her playability severely, though it is a better skill than Tristan's.

Mermaid Idol, Flute is probably the best rearguard attacker of the cards that you have available. While she's 8000 like Rio, and therefore very vulnerable to rearguard attacks, Flute gains +3000 power when you have four or more Bermuda Triangle rearguards. This turns her into a temporary 11000-power unit, capable of taking on similar units independently, or even better with basic boosts from Weddell or Tyrrhenia, she can jump up to the 16000 line for maximum offensive versus those units. Even in the crossride era, Flute is the easiest rearguard to get up to speed, since Perle, Felucca and Myrtoa all meet the minimum for forcing 10000 shield out of a 13000-power crossride. Flute is also one reason why Ressac is usable in a Bermuda deck, since she can again go for 16000 independently on a second attack, as long as you haven't bounced more than one card out of your field.

Coming back to Super Idol, Riviere one last time, like the Mermaid Idol before her, she has a skill that activates when you ride her with the next-graded Riviere. In this case, when you ride Top Idol, Riviere over the Super Idol, if you have Mermaid Idol, Riviere in the soul then you get to draw a card. That's another direct increase to advantage, ideally putting you at +3 on the scale if the previous' cards skills have gone off. Top Idol also gets a continuous +1000 power in the vanguard circle so long as Super Idol is in the soul, spotlighting her as the clan's only 11000-power unit. This would be a little better if the clan also had a Hare of Inaba copy to call and slot pieces of the Riviere line into the soul with, but at the least the Pearl Sisters and Rio can try to get the Top Idol set up even if the initial skills haven't gone off.

Girls' Rock is a general classification of rock music geared toward young women. Rio is Latin for a brook or stream, and can also refer to the urban canals of Venice. Mervil seems to be a mistranslation no matter how you take her; Herman Melville was an American novelist who authored Moby-Dick, a now-famous novel concerning the whaling industry and a fictional captain's pursuit of a specific whale against which he holds a grudge. On the other hand, Merville Beach is a fishing and diving spot in the Republic of Mauritius. Meanwhile, the nearest I can come up with for Flute is a 16th century Dutch ship; the actual pronunciation of it is closer to "flight" though and that doesn't match up with Flute's phonetic name from the Japanese TCG. It doesn't seem like a reference to flute instruments, since on closer examination, our Flute is carrying a baton.

We've already discussed Carine as the grade 3 version of Rio, so looking at the other grade 3s, Top Idol, Flores is the first one ever printed for Bermuda Triangle, all the way back in BT02. Her skill is to soulblast 2 to return a Bermuda Triangle card to the hand when her attack hits; like many grade 3 units of older sets, her skill works in both the vanguard and rearguard circles, forcing the opponent to defend the attack. It's not an overly spectacular skill compared to some of the others, but it's an offensive version of Tyrrhenia and if you line her up with Tyrrhenia vs 10000 and below units, so long as you have the soul for it you can send two units back to the hand--for example, activating Tyrrhenia's skill first to send Rio to the hand, then activating Rio's counterblast to soulcharge and draw, then activating Flores' skill to send Tyrrhenia back to the hand so you can rearrange the field next turn. Flores is definitely overlooked compared to the other grade 3s, as she's an excellent rearguard and her types of cards surprisingly make Bermuda's best matchup to be versus the highly competitive Kagerou clan. After all, Kagerou can only retire cards that are on the field, not cards that have been sent to the hand, and rearguard Flores can even send herself back.

The first new grade 3 introduced by EB02 is Top Idol, Pacifica. Some fighters have mistakenly glossed her over just as a Bermuda Triangle version of Amaterasu, with modified conditions and her power gain slightly toned down to +3000 when you have four or more Bermuda Triangle rearguards, instead of +4000 for having four cards in hand. This makes her more difficult to boost than Amaterasu, since 6000-power boosters can't bring up to 20000 for facing down popular 10000-power vanguards like Ezel or Alfred, and Sedna becomes the minimum to hit 21000. Her next skill however is all her own, soulcharging 1 at the start of the main phase to draw one card and send another to the bottom of your deck. This enhances the consistency of a deck, by building up a soul to fuel the Pearl Sisters, Tyrrhenia and Flores, while also letting you get rid of unneeded cards in exchange for more useful ones. Even if the card you checked isn't that great, you can still just cycle it into the bottom and no longer have to deal with said card.

Assisting the rearguards isn't the only reason for her soulcharge, though. Pacifica is a megablast unit; and that means that when her attack hits, regardless of whether she's in the vanguard or rearguard circles, she can counterblast 5 and soulblast 8 to search for up to three Bermuda Triangle units and call them. You don't need empty circles to use that skill--you can freely retire any of your rearguards to call those. This skill is devastating, since it creates two more attacks for the opponent to have to deal with, for five in all that turn and with at least one of them being at full power. Since Bermuda Triangle only has three units that counterblast in the first place, it's much more useable than in other clans, though it does mean excluding Rio and Carine and having to work around those two not being in the deck. Building up the soul isn't difficult, since the Pearl Sisters, Felucca and Pacifica herself all set it into motion, but getting the attack to hit is much more troublesome; since the opponent absolutely cannot let the attack hit, once you're at five damage and meet the necessary soul requirements, they will be blocking any vanguard or rearguard Pacifica's attack and accounting for double triggers along the way. This can work to your advantage though, since vanguard Pacifica can be set up with Senda for a 21000-power line and your opponent will inevitably wear down as time goes on.

If Pacifica is Bermuda's Amaterasu analogue, then the Bermuda Princess, Lena is their Sakuya; similar to Pacifica, she gets +3000 power when you have four or more Bermuda Triangle rearguards, during your own turn. When you ride her though, Lena can send all of your Bermuda Triangle rearguards back to your hand. This is important since, in her own deck Lena can simultaneously activate the skills of Carine and Rio, as well as recycle the Pearl Sisters and get Tyrrhenia off the board once she's no longer needed. Lena can be included in most any Bermuda deck as a two-of card, providing an alternative strategy and helping you regain headway that you may have lost if your normal strategies (say, Riviere) haven't been going well. She's not something that you normally try to finish the game with, but she is a good build up to your final turn, and can help restock your defenses to get past your opponent's next move. Lena also allows you to call cards that you would normally consider "lost forever" if they were used early in the game, like the perfect defense card Erie or trigger units used to support an early game rush.

I've discussed the Riviere support cards in length up to now, and now it's time to get to the main event. As mentioned before, Top Idol, Riviere is the clan's only 11000-power unit, and a fairly consistent one with the plethora of soulcharging that the clan has in addition to their main line of evolution. She's already very appealing due to that defensive power, but in addition to it, the Top Idol comes with a persona blast skill; with a counterblast 2 and by discarding a second copy of herself from the hand when her attack hits a vanguard, Riviere can give +5000 power to up to three Bermuda Triangle units. As with all on-hit skills, this persona blast can be hard to trigger, even moreso because the Bermuda clan lacks a custom 10000-power booster to support their vanguard, but like with Pacifica it's a threatening skill that makes the opponent want to account for triggers when they guard. As a trade-off to her defensive power, Riviere can't get the same offense out as Pacifica and Lena, but she's longer-lived for it and can prolong games significantly. This sometimes works to her disadvantage, since with all the drawing and soulcharging from the Pearl Sisters, Felucca, Rio and Carine, this can eventually run the deck dry, but perseverance is among the most desirable traits in a vanguard and many fighters won't touch a grade 3 that doesn't come with 11000 power. Since her previous iterations all lend themselves to gaining card advantage geared toward defending, and Riviere already comes with so much soul support, running her isn't a bad move at all.

Last of the clan's winning images is Velvet Voice, Raindear. Operating like a grade 3 of Mervill, she shares that card's skill. When Raindear drive checks a grade 3 Bermuda Triangle, she can then send a Bermuda back to the hand--again, this is Carine and Rio's time to shine--and call a Bermuda Triangle unit to an empty rearguard circle. Naturally, the loophole to this is that you can call the unit that you just sent back, but beyond that you can also call these units to make fourth and fifth attacks. So for example, say that you have a Flores in hand, Carine and Rio on the field and drive check a grade 3, you can then send a Carine back to the hand, use Carine's skill for the draw and soulcharge, then call Flores in her place and use Flores' soulblast 2 after her attack hits to send Rio back for another counterblast 1, soulcharge 1, draw 1, together fully paying for Flores' skill. Also note that unlike with Mervill, there is a way to use cards drive checked for her skill--if you twin drive check a grade 3 after another card, then the first card you checked has already left your trigger zone and is in your hand at the time that Raindear drive checks a grade 3, so that card can be called by her skill while the second card cannot. (This is because of how the drive check is described in the Comprehensive Rules, sections Each drive check in a twin drive is a separate check; the cards are not checked together.)

Flores takes her name from the Flores Sea in Indonesia. Pacifica may come from the 1938 Pacifica statue dedicated to explorers of Pacific Ocean territories, or more generally may come from the term "Pacific" as it's used in reference to Earth's largest ocean. Raindear looks like a play on "rain" and "dear" as in "dearly" or "dearest," but it can also be a reference to Reindeer Lake.

From these it's clear that the three central builds are Pacifica-Lena, Riviere and Raindear, with some overlap between them based on how you want to gear your deck. Bermuda Triangle is definitely a clan where personal preference wins over what has or has not done well in tournaments, and that's part of the appeal. Pacifica, Lena, Riviere and Raindear are all competitive cards, but each of them has key weaknesses that prevent there from being an obvious choice among them. This is the difficult part of the running the clan, since you really need to know what you want to do before anything else, and how you think you should run your early game plays will define what you bring to the table for the late.

One good characteristic of the Bermuda Triangle clan is that, because it's self-contained in Extra Booster 2: Banquet of Divas, and has a plethora of useful low-rarity cards available, the Bermuda clan is very cheap to assemble a basic deck for, making it ideal for beginning and experienced cardfighters alike. The best budget grade 3s for the clan are Lena (RR), Carine (C), Flores (R) and Raindear (C) and since each of these cards can combo well with one another, it makes for a good introductory set to vanguard while providing plenty of material to people who want to go deeper into the game's rabbit hole. Raindear is definitely the cheapest deck to build, but is still competitive at the pro level, much like Pale Moon's Sarah or Kagerou's Goku.

The minimum that I would put down for building this deck buying extra booster boxes instead of packs is $70 (not factoring in taxes or local price variations); two boxes should be enough to get all of the commons, rares and double-rares that you'll need for a cheap beginner's deck, but as with every clan, you'll have to get lucky to get multiple copies of the clans' perfect defense card. Mermaid Idol, Ellie is both a blessing in an actual fight and a curse outside of it, since in today's format you need three or four copies to do well in a competitive environment, which many cardfighters have resorted to buying as singles or otherwise searching out trades for, rather than trying to pull from randomized booster packs. Bermuda Triangle is one of those rare clans that you can build just buying packs instead of boxes, and that's why I advise Banquet of Divas with its small set size as a beginning set to entering Cardfight. Play around with the cards and see which build you like best; there is no wrong way to make a Bermuda Triangle deck.

Three pros use this clan.