Saturday, February 16, 2013

Study Guide: Genesis

Scan provided by bunnykaikai, collage by Touya. Do not repost without the original scanner's permission.
The Genesis clan has a heavy legacy to live up to; not just as the first new clan of Link Joker, but also as the successors to Oracle Think Tank. Thematically, the cards from Genesis are based out of both Tsukuyomi's draw-based deck and Pale Moon's soul-based deck. This is a difficult bow to shoot; while that brings the defensive power of the Goddess to a fragile build, it also combines and exaggerates the weaknesses of soulcharging trigger units with rapid decking out, making for a deck that likes to pour cards both into its soul and hand all at once. Running Genesis is something that will demand utmost care and planning on part of the cardfighter.

Out of the box there are three options for your first vanguard; Cluster Hamster, Aiming for the Stars, Artemis and Battle Priestess, Tamayorihime. Hamster is one of the best generic FVGs thus far introduced, moving to the soul when an attack that he boosts hits in order to draw a card. This is important because Genesis' primary mechanic is using its built up soul to soulblast as a cost for drawing cards, and Hamster lets you basically exclude your FVG from the deck except for the purposes of becoming a soulblast by giving you access to the next card in automatically. This maintains higher hand size while fueling later additions to the hand. As their first unique FVG, Artemis is more of a mixed deal, because she's the basis for a evolving ride variant that's been developed out of Fullbau and Riviere. Initially, the mechanics are the same kind that were popularized from EB02-BT08; when you ride the grade 1 Bowstring of Heaven and Earth, Artemis, over Aiming for the Stars you can look at up to seven cards from the top of the deck for either Artemis' grade 2 or grade 3 form and add it to your hand. This maintains higher hand size just as Cluster Hamster does, but is dependent on riding a specific grade 1 within a limited window of time and can fail even if the activation requirements are met. If you miss your Bowstring ride and ride a different Genesis instead, Artemis does outride from the soul regardless to give you one more unit to boost or attack with and thus a one-card lead, but this is where she becomes a mixed bag. Genesis wants more cards in the soul, not less, so Cluster can be the better unit in this situation because he guarantees you a one-card advantage no matter what and added soul to use later on. Still, Artemis does make improvements to the evolution system.

For one, while Bowstring does gain +1000 power continuously for having her grade 0 form in the soul like previous evolving grade 1s, her skill is that when you ride a grade 2 over her other than the next stage in the Artemis line, you can look up at up to seven cards from the top of the deck to superior ride the grade 2 form. This is a spectacular improvement because it gives you added ride security over previous evolving units--security on par with Tsukuyomi herself--and for Genesis especially the skill is useful because it grants one extra card in the soul than Cluster Hamster could.

With regards to that extra soul, the grade 2 Twilight Hunter, Artemis improves upon it further. Her vanguard-exclusive skill is that when her attack hits the vanguard, she can soulcharge 2, then soulcharge 2 more if Bowstring is in the soul. Counting Bowstring's soulcharge, that comes out to 8 soul on the turn that you ride a grade 3, enough that you could have a megablast ready if you really wanted it out. This is far from the only soul support that the clan has. The grade 1 Battle Maiden, Tatsutahime counterblasts 2 when an attack that she boosts hits the vanguard to soulcharge 3, and she comes with a grade 2 equivalent, Saohime. This second Battle Maiden activates the same skill when her attack hits, allowing for up to a soulcharge 6 for counterblast 2. In an Artemis deck, Saohime makes for an excellent grade 2 ride, since you'll still have her as insurance if Bowstring's superior ride fails you. Ironically for an OraThin equivalent, between Artemis and Saohime, there's actually very little room for their Maiden of Libra equivalent, Caraway. In terms of other grade 1s though, Witch of the Cat, Cumin is the clan's Skull Juggler, and so plays king of the hill for direct, unstoppable soulcharging.

Taking a step back, Tamayorihime is the last FVG that we've yet to discuss. She's the lone base 5000 unit of the lot, being a more traditional outrider, and comes with Tatsutahime's soulcharge 3 attached, counterblast 2 and all. This is good in terms of soulcharging, since it guarantees you a unit that can bring in that powerful 3 soul and guarantees access to her from the earliest stages of the game, but also comes at a high price for a clan that's currently straining its counterblast from lack of a Cursed Lancer-type unit, or space for said Lancer, due to Artemis' grade 3 form making Twilight Hunter a four-of even if the previous entries in the evolution are omitted. Bowstring's ability to search out an additional 7 cards makes the evolving ride much more compelling for Genesis than it is for contemporary units, but since Aiming isn't any more or less consistent than contemporary FVGs of her type, the option does always remain open to run Tamayorihime with ether the rest of the evolving line intact to bring out that soulcharge 4, or just Twilight Hunter with her grade 3 form for their long-term benefits. Objectively speaking, Tamayorihime makes a stronger case for consistency because her skills will activate with more regularity than the Artemis line, but Bowstring upsets this considerably; it's a judgment call that's up to the individual cardfighter.

The main feature of the deck is Battle Deity of the Night, Artemis. Like previous evolving units, within the vanguard circle she gains +1000 power continuously when her grade 2 form is in the soul, setting Genesis apart as defense-heavy. And when she attacks, at limit break 4 Artemis can soulblast 3 to draw 2 cards and send 1 from the hand to the soul, then gain +5000 power; if this were OraThin and we had Milk this would make it very easy to have a 26000 line even in the late stages of a match due to the boost taking place after the attack, but instead we'll have to settle for capping out at 24-25000 with a base 8000 boost from Mikarihime or 9000 from one of their special boosters.

To assist her we have Witch of the Wolf, Saffron, an improved take on Gigantech Charger; in addition to gaining +2000 power in the rearguard when she attacks to assail base 11-12000 units, at limit break 4 Saffron gets +5000 power from the vanguard circle, making her a good alternative to Artemis and ensuring that a deck that runs 4/3 or 4/4 Artemis/Saffron will have no poor grade 3 ride. Special mention goes to Snipe Snake, a base 6000 grade 1 that can counterblast 1 when it boosts a unit with limit break 4 to give it +3000 additional power. This is still applicable even to rearguard units that have vanguard-exclusive limit breaks, meaning a consistent 21000 line with reaguard Saffron or 24000 with either of these vanguards.

To digress a bit, there are a pair of grade 1 and 2 units that don't particularly fit to any Genesis build, the Mice Guard series. A variation on the Beast Tamer cards, the grade 1 Sirius and grade 2 Orion are base 6000 and 8000 respectively, and gain +3000 power during your turn for having their counterpart in the soul. Together they form a 20000-power line, but Sirius is particularly relevant because that 9000 boost lets any base 9000 or higher unit go for the elusive 18000 line, and it makes Snipe Snake--and his counterblast cost--irrelevant. The problem with this is that outside of Battle Deity, specific soulcharging is not part of Genesis' game, and until they get a Dancing Princess of the Night Sky copy, the Mice Guard cards will consume too much deckspace for what they give considering that it would be better to run just one or two Orion and four Sirius.

One core point to playing Genesis is to recognize how much soul your deck really needs. This will be determined by what you consider your deck's win condition, that generally being how many times Artemis' limit break needs to go off. Most fighters would probably say that three times is all that it takes--because of Artemis' soulcharge 1 every time that her break activates, it does not take nine soul to fire off her limit break that many times. Seven soul becomes the goal of your deck, adding two for every additional break after that. This does come with one caveat; your last soulblast will remove Twilight Hunter from the soul, so either that last break must be for game or you'll need to push that goal up one soul.

Other than Artemis, Genesis also has the Eternal Goddess, Iwanagahime and the Oracle Queen, Himiko for alternative builds. Both of these units are Lord-type grade 3s, bringing the 11000 base of Artemis with virtually no restraining condition for a pure Genesis deck. Iwanagahime can soulblast 3 from the vanguard circle to gain +5000 power, automatically going for the 16000 baseline and hitting crossrides for 23000 efficiently with almost any boosting unit. Her limit break 4 is less long-term, at soulblast 6 to retire the opponent's front-row rearguards. This is a very powerful -2 at the opponent since it automatically removes units like Palamedes, Charger and Masquerade, but the problem with it is that a soul above 9 is not consistently sustainable for Iwanagahime.

Himiko is interesting because, as the clan's break ride, she can support either Artemis or Iwanagahime and be easily splashed into either build. Like Iwanagahime, Himiko is a base 11000 Lord unit; her initial autoskill is to soulcharge 1 when she attacks a vanguard to give her +1000 power until the end of the battle, becoming something of a variation on Vortex Dragon-type vanguards by forming a 12000-power vanguard line that can reach 20000 with Mikarihime or 21 with Snake/Sirius. At limit break 4, when you ride a Genesis unit over her, that unit gets +10000 power and an autoskill that lets it soulblast 3 on-attack to draw 1 card. Furthermore, two of your Genesis units get +5000 power when you activate the break ride, forming consistently powerful vanguard and rearguard lines to retaliate against defensive units. Since Himiko and her soulcharge 1 together provide 2 of that 3 soul already, her skills are very consistent when paired with Artemis, but they also add one soul onto the seven soul goal, making the final goal before factoring in Himiko's soulcharge a soul of 9. For the turn that you break ride, Artemis can then cap for 35000 power prior to triggers on that turn, and a +2 overall between her and Himiko. Himiko's +1 is really to counteract the -1 incurred from break riding in the first place, but it is helpful because unlike with other clans, Genesis has the longevity to survive for many turns after having initiated their break ride.

The direct base 11000 on these units is not a massive upgrade in consistency over Artemis because of Twilight Hunter already being such an amazing unit for the deck, and because of Battle Deity being able to selectively soulcharge a Twilight Hunter in her hand through her own limit break. Ultimately Iwanagahime is a deck of her own, one that benefits more from Tamayorihime with Bowstring and Twilight Hunter run together for their soulcharging, while Himiko is a general support unit for any Genesis deck. Genesis prides itself on defense, consistency and playing the long move. Played well, an Artemis cardfighter should never be concerned about how many turns they can survive; the answer is indefinitely, and the best played Genesis games of any build will lose exclusively to deck out.