Sunday, March 31, 2013

Nova Grappler Extra Study Material: Raizer Series

Photo by rawritzrichii, not to be reposted elsewhere without the original photographer's express permission.
As one of the first subgroups to be introduced, the Raizer series has been long established as one of the top Nova Grappler builds, and an enduring presence across multiple formats. The series has not only taken center stage at the forefront of Japanese Grappler play throughout 2011 and 2012, but has been the most stable Grappler deck when not playing a "best of" build up through BT09. Under his public persona as Doctor O, pro Cardfight commentator Nakamoto Nobuhisa recognized the Raizer series as one of his twelve "strongest decks" at their debut. So their introduction to English-language Cardfight in EB01: Comic Style Vol. 1 is set to leave a lasting impact on the pro scene, and with the set's final release on the 29th there's no better time to take a look at the emerging strategy.

The first vanguard for this subgroup is the Grapplers' original Battleraizer, bringing back both the advantages and disadvantages of a cycling trigger; you won't be able to maintain the +1 from him outriding, but you will be able to maintain a high trigger count all the way to the endgame. And since BT06: Breaker of Limits, Turboraizer has also been brought in to allow for up to eight cycling triggers in the deck, although because of how valuable criticals are to professional play as a whole, you may only want to run five at the most. EB01's Raizer cards give us a way to get more out of our FVG--the grade 1 Raizer Custom is a base 6000 unit normally, but when Battleraizer is on the same row as him, he gets +6000 power during your own turn for a base 12000 grade 1. In the early game you can use this unit by himself for an independent offense, and in the late you can use Battleraizer's boost for a crossride-busting 18000-power line, opening the field at the expense of card advantage. Something to note about this is that for a very long time now, Raizer Custom's skill has been mistranslated, and the official English print contains a clause that Battleraizer must be on the back row, so you cannot put out a temporary 15000-line formation by having Raizer Custom in back. Also keep in mind that Turboraizer cannot completely sub in for Battleraizer, since Raizer Custom doesn't get the same boost from having a Turboraizer in his column but it will become useful to have another Raizer unit further down the line.

BT09: Clash of the Knights and Dragons will bring us a third Raizer unit for grade 0 and a second for grade 1, Minimum Raizer and Burst Raizer. Minimum is a critical trigger with no skill that's run generally for consistency purposes. You'll rarely call him, but as the Raizer series as a whole builds its skills around having any Raizers at all on the field, and Nova Grappler is naturally a clan that lends itself toward base 11000 attackers, when you do need to call a trigger to make that 16000 power line or meet certain skill requirements, Minimum is important over other critical triggers for his synergy with Raizer-specific skills. Burst Raizer on the other hand is Oasis Girl right down to her skill and power, but again I need to stress the importance of the "Raizer" name. Having four more grade 1 Raizers is going to be very useful once we hit grade 3.

At grade 2 EB01 gives us Hi-Powered Raizer Custom, a base 8000 unit that gains 8000 power if Battleraizer is on the same column. Hi-Powered forms stable base 16000 lines so long as you do not boost him, and when you do he breaks 22000, generally requiring two or more cards to be defended against while only causing you to lose one in the process. Since the standard Battleraizer doesn't return to the deck until the end phase of the turn, if you drive check a stand trigger after Hi-Powered's attack, he'll be at a full 16000 power prior to the stand and will break 21000 after, taking full advantage of the Grapplers' native stands. BT09 expands on grade 2 by bringing Transraizer to the table. A base 7000 grade 2, when called or ridden Transraizer can open up the top card of the deck and if it's a grade 1 or 2 Nova Grappler, call it. In a standard Raizer deck you're looking at between 26 and 27 search targets, a little over half of the available deck for a possible +1, which helps to compensate for the inevitable losses that the Raizer deck takes from cycling its triggers.

Grade 3 is where the strategy comes together. Perfect Raizer is the centerpiece of the Raizer series, a base 11000 unit whose continuous skills give him +3000 power for each Raizer unit in the soul, and if there are four or more Raizers in the soul he gets +1 critical. This is further fueled by his autoskill, soulcharging all Raizer units on your side of the field when he is ridden, but it's offset by him losing -2000 power if there are no other Raizers on the field. To deal with this best, you should keep an additional Raizer unit in hand to call after riding him, ideally Transraizer to cope with the loss of rearguards or another Perfect. Like with the Dark Irregulars and other soul-based decks, a Raizer build needs to measure its soul intake carefully and set goals for soul size. It's not enough to wantonly ride Perfect Raizer after Perfect Raizer. Four is the most obvious goal, since it will set Perfect Raizer up for 23000 power / critical 2 with another Raizer on the field. This is an extremely powerful independent attack, hitting base 10000, 11000 and 13000 power units for the perfect numbers all at once, and while Perfect Raizer can go for 30-31000 power with the right boosters, that static critical and strong independent power means that with four to five soul no booster will be needed.

With that four-soul goal, you can partially circumvent the normal loss of advantage that your Battleraizer FVG would normally incur by dedicating it to setting up the soul. This gives you one of those four Raizers for free, reducing your total needed cost to -3. Since the opponent will likely be dropping a perfect defense the moment that your static critical comes out, that comes down to a single card difference between your opponent and yourself in an ideal game on that turn, and with Perfect Raizer demanding two to three cards for defense every turn after, you should be able to close that difference quickly. To help deal with the threat of retire-based decks, you can further build that soul through rides, which will also decrease the amount of cards that you'll need to intentionally lose to Perfect's autoskill. It can be a little hard to learn at first, but as with any subgroup, practice will bring out the best understanding of the strategy.

In addition to its gameplay strengths, this deck is definitely gearing up to be one of the cheaper ones of the EN format. EB01 has just 35 cards in the set, and with only Perfect Raizer and ZANBAKU competing for the 1 RRR per box spot, that makes assembling most of the cards for the deck very easy. Trial Deck 03: Golden Mechanical Soldier already comes with all of the basic Grappler cards like Shout and additional triggers, so one TD03 and a couple of EB01 boxes will go a long way to giving you a Raizer deck that's just short of complete. The key units that would be missing in that case are four copies of Twin Blader from BT02: Onslaught of Dragon Souls, additional copies of the boss card Perfect Raizer, and possibly some Hi-Powered Raizer Customs. "Cheap" and "competitive" aren't usually words that go together, but much like Giraffa, the Raizers are a background deck that when played properly, can hold their own in the world of pros.

Next, I'll be visiting the Beast Deity series and its evolution from BT06 through BT09.