Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Nova Grappler Extra Study Material: Gold Rutile

Photo by rawritzrichii, not to be reposted elsewhere without the original photographer's express permission.
While the Nova Grapplers have had damage unflipping as a submechanic of their clan from the beginning, there have always been problems of finding skills worth unflipping for; you only need to counterblast once in a turn for Genocide Jack, and Kirara's counterblast activates infrequently enough that you rarely ever need the entire Claydoll-Dumpty unflipping engine. TD03: Golden Mechanical Soldier expands on both the basic engine and on finding useful costs to combo with it, creating a more cohesive strategy that fits in with Nova Grappler's classical image.

The most visible addition is Super Electromagnetic Lifeform Storm, a base 9000 grade 2 and the original Cursed Lancer. When Storm's attack hits the vanguard, his skill lets you unflip 1 damage, immediately giving him an edge versus Hungry Dumpty for being able to repeat the skill over multiple turns for better longevity and draw defense out of the opponent when they would otherwise let the attack go through. With the Nova Grappler's various stand techniques like that of Asura Kaiser, Storm can even unflip 2 damage in a single turn, improving the synergy of his on-hit skill when compared to how it behaves for other clans.

The trial deck also builds on units that Storm can unflip for. Battering Minotaur is a base 6000 grade 1 that can counterblast 1 to gain +3000 power when it attacks. While this skill isn't as amazing as having a direct Kay, this does let Minotaur hit every possible vanguard at grade 1 and form an alternative attacker that can play into alternative base 16000 lines in the style of Gururubau. The chief issues with him are that Minotaur's low base power makes him easy to pick off in the front row, 17-18000 power lines are difficult to form with him, and his power boost only lasts until the end of the battle instead of the turn, so Grappler stand techniques won't play into his skill at all.

The real stars here are Oasis Girl and Death Metal Droid, both of whom bring a much-needed boost to existing Nova Grappler decks. Oasis is a base 7000 grade 1 that can counterblast 1 in the main phase to gain +1000 power. More than forming good 18000 lines, this skill is also an activate and so Oasis can become a readily-accessible 10000-power booster for one turn, and with the Grapplers' unflipping engine that flipped damage is easy to get back. Death Metal on the other hand is a base 10000 grade 3 with Battering Minotaur's skill--he handles it a lot better since that lets him attack crossrides without a boosting unit, break 21000 with Tough Boy against other decks, and in general support a more flexible field for hitting the correct numbers.

Bringing all this together is Gold Rutile, TD03's cover card and a deck in his own right. Uncharacteristically for the Grapplers, Rutile is a base 10000 grade 3 intended for the vanguard circle exclusively. So while he lacks Asura Kaiser's strong defense and rearguard utility, Rutile's skills are well worth it; when the rearguard's attack hits a vanguard, Rutile can unflip one damage. With Rutile as your vanguard, suddenly every rearguard has Storm's skill and the opponent cannot let any of their attacks connect. That skill also stacks with Storm's, so Storm becomes an on-hit unflip 2 and you can see very nearly the entire damage zone unflipped in a single turn, letting the most be made of Kirara and Oasis Girl while Death Metal almost loses his cost in the process. Rutile's second skill is to counterblast 2 when his own attack hits and stand a Nova Grappler rearguard. This has some unorthodox applications; the skill is essentially Lion Heat with no rearguard use and a continuous ability that lets it pay for itself with the correct plays, but after the opponent hits grade 3 the skill is more geared toward harassing the opponent's rearguards than hitting their vanguard. Genocide Joker from the previous module is one effective unit since despite the expense involved in using both of them in the same turn, he retains his counterblast 2's +4000 power boost upon standing, and so can go toe to toe with crossrides on a regular basis.

The weakness of the Rutile deck is that its power is primarily derived from having a larger amount of damage than the opponent, and it plays very strongly to a base 11000 game. Oasis can counterblast 4 to make Rutile a 21000-power vanguard line and still leave room for Death Metal's counterblast after Rutile's skills kick in, but Rutile himself cannot reliably break 23000 power for the crossride format. So despite its strong matchup versus anything and every of 11000 and below, the build has not aged very well, and the remedy to this problem will not manifest until well into BT09.

Next time that I come back to the Nova Grapplers, it will be to cover the Raizer series' soul-based play style introduced by EB01: Comic Style Vol. 1.