Thursday, November 6, 2014

News: Ragnaclock Dragon Debuts in Monthly Bushiroad Magazine, Battle Sister and Raizer Subclans Boosted by G-BT01

This morning issue 15 of Monthly Bushiroad magazine was leaked by vendors in Japan, two days ahead of its street date. The issue was packaged with the promotional card Amon's Mastermind Astaroth, and revealed cards from the upcoming set G-BT01: Stride Generation, which will debut in Japan on December 5th. The new Oracle Think Tank units focus on adding one card from the top two of the deck to hand and sending the other to the bottom, while the Gear Chronicle units focus on sending the opponent's rearguards to the bottom of their deck and alternatively blocking either grade 1 or grade 0 guardians.

The marquee card of the issue is the Interdimensional Dragon, Ragnaclock Dragon. Designed by veteran artist Amemiya Keita, Ragnaclock is a G-unit like Harmonics Messiah before it, that cannot be placed in the deck and instead has to be stridden from the generation zone. Amemiya had previously illustrated Werwolf Sieger, Dark Lord of Abyss, and Knight of Purgatory Skull Face.

Ragnaclock's counterblast 1 activates when it attacks a vanguard; by turning a copy of itself in the generation zone face-up, it prevents the opponent from calling grade 0 cards to the guardian circle from their hand, and if his cardfighter has two or more units face-up in their generation zone Ragnaclock gains an additional critical.

Accounting for the power gain from the grade 3 it strides over, Ragnaclock's final in-battle stats will be approximately ~31000+ with 2 critical, lifting inspiration from both Dragonic Nouvelle Vague in limiting the opponent's guard options to units with 5000 shield, and from the mixed critical and guard control legions of the previous format.

Similar to a persona blast in design, Ragnaclock's generation skill is fundamentally limited to activate only twice per game, but G-BT01's introduction of the Gear Chronicle stand trigger Waku Waku Worker will change this.
Waku Waku's generation break 1 lets it turn a unit in the generation zone face-down after it boosts in exchange for sending it back to the deck at the end of that battle. GB1 skills will activate even if the G-unit on the vanguard circle is the only face-up generation unit, which allows Waku Waku to begin doing its job immediately, ensuring that Ragnaclock's persona generation is limited only by the number of times Waku Waku can be brought out. Since the onset of legion format in BT16, skilled stand triggers have been a favorable alternative to draws, and Gear Chronicle's Luck Bird clone Steam Scalar Gigi will make this more viable.

As a whole Gear Chronicle is more clearly coming into its identity as a Dark Zone clan in the set, with multiple soulblast options in the vein of Spike Brothers. While G-BT01's set contents are not fully known, there is by comparison a dearth of soulcharging options, currently limited to riding over the clan's legion pair Ruin Disposal Dragon and his mate Steam Knight Puzzle Iri. Following up on Gear Chronicle's other primary mechanic, Ruin Disposal is able to send an opponent's grade 2 or lesser rearguard to the bottom of their deck when it legions. Meanwhile Iri operates under similar conditions as Ragnaclock. In the rearguard Iri can soulblast 2 when it attacks to prevent the opponent from guarding it with grade 0 cards, acting as a Silent Tom with higher base power.

While Iri is likely here to stay as a primary grade 2 option for the clan, Gear Chronicle fighters will find themselves hard pressed to fit Ruin Disposal in. The clan's existing grade 3 from G-TD01, Chrono Jet Dragon, automatically blocks both perfect defense cards and quintet walls when it attacks a vanguard while at generation break 2, and with Ragnaclock's self-flipping cost accelerating Chrono Jet is going to be very easy. Furthermore, G-BT01 is introducing a complementary grade 3, Fate Wheel Dragon. Fate Wheel's on-ride counterblast 1 soulblast 1 dismisses any of the opponent's rearguards forward in time to the bottom of their deck, while his generation break CB1 blocks grade 0 cards in the same style as Ragnaclock. Paired with Chrono Jet's combination of on-stride rearguard removal and guard control, Gear Chronicle's grade 3 and 4 lineup has multiple ways to aggressively control the two most important defensive resources in the game while utilizing their soul as a primary resource where other clans would have to pay higher counterblast costs instead.

G-BT01 is also capitalizing on Chronicle's field control options, with the grade 1 Gear Wolf's generation break 1 giving it +3000 power every time a unit is sent to the bottom of the deck by a Gear Chronicle's skill. This allows for Nebula Lord-style rearguard columns, attached to cards like Iri that block grade 0s, forcing the opponent to stare down a potential ~22000 power rearguard lane that requires either a perfect defense card to block while the vanguard is demanding the same.

Key to Chronicle's striding strategy is the grade 1 Steam Breath Dragon, who when discarded to pay the cost for stride increases his own grade by +2. This effectively turns Steam Breath into additional grade 3s, allowing him to be easily cycled out for Ragnaclock or Mystery Flare, the clan's trial deck stride.

Finally, Gear Chronicle's grade 2 lineup is rounded out by its own twist on the Berserk Dragon formula, Relic Master Dragon. For counterblast 2, Relic Master dismisses an opponent's grade 2 or lesser rearguard to the bottom of their deck, which by following up from Fate Wheel or Chrono Jet can pump Gear Wolf into a 13000-power booster. While costly relative to the other Chronicle cards and making for a tight damage zone in a clan with no unflipping options, Relic Master belongs to the same family of grade 2 control units as Gwynn the Ripper, that have defined and sometimes broken other clans in the line of professional competition.

This issue also confirmed additional support for Oracle Think Tank's emergent Susanoo and Battle Sister subclans. For Susanoo, the Steam Breath Dragon clone Battle Deity Ame no Murakumo's on-call skill searches for grade 3 Susanoo units. The grade 3 clause prevents it from searching Susanoo's grade 2 incarnation, preventing it from aiding Ohirume legion decks.

Meanwhile Battle Sister Mille-Feuille's on-ride skill is a modern implementation of Monaka, Parfait and Cookie's basic +1s, drawing a card for counterblast 1 soulblast 1. Her generation break 1 is to counterblast 2 and add one card to hand from the top 2 cards of the deck, then send the remaining card to the bottom, a generation break variant on Heaven Conquering Battle Deity Susanoo's on-stride skill.

Oracle Think Tank will also be getting its first stride unit, Auspicious Beast That Soars Through Heaven, Kirin. Kirin's on-hit skill has the same effect as Mille-Feuille and Susanoo, but is costless in exchange for being an on-hit. With the strong power boost of a stride unit that can be activated early game and triple drive backing it, the on-hit is much easier to get through compared to limit break or innate grade 3 skills.

Accompanying the Nova Grapplers' upcoming Mecha Battlers in Stride Generation is mixed support for the Raizer and Beast Deity subclans. While the Beast Deities have already been announced to receive a limit break enabler in Frog Master, the Raizers are now benefiting from a new advantage-focused grade 1. Katana Raizer's continuous rearguard skill gives an on-hit CB2 draw skill to both itself and all Raizers in the same column as itself, giving the mostly counterblast-free subclan better draw consistency and pressure attacks.

Nova's clanwide boss card Muscle Shriek has an on-ride with the same cost as Mille-Feuille above, to retire an opponent's rearguard with same level of power as one of Shriek's grade 1 or lesser units. This makes Shriek the first Nova Grappler with true field control, able to take out the opponent's boosting units; its generation break 1 stands two rearguards for counterblast 1 and gives them +2000 power each, ensuring one to two more attacks that always strike for more than the preceding blows.

Royal Paladin's stride unit, Sacred Dragon Saint Blow Dragon, is a revitalization of the old King of Knights strategy. By turning a copy of itself in the generation zone face-up during the main phase, Saint Blow receives 3000 power for every rearguard in play, and if there are two or greater rearguards along with two or more face-up cards in the generation zone, Saint Blow gains an additional critical. Saint Blow is intended to be complemented by the trial deck card Knight of Blue Heavens Altomile, who follows the traditional Soul Saver/Sanctuary of Light formula.

On-stride Altomile's counterblast 1 allows two cards to be called from hand, and then for two units to gain +5000 power. While not required for the rest of the skill to complete, the hand calling is done to cope with the specific timing of the stride step, which takes place after the ride step but before the main phase.
In the current format it's feasible not to have two rearguards to give power to after striding, so by accounting for this factor Altomile overcomes Soul Saver Dragon's old weakness. Furthermore, Altomile's generation break 2 strengthens the rearguard lines by +5000 power, providing an endgame after copies of Saint Blow are exhausted. Combining the two creates a high-power center lane in the style of classic Alfred, alongside strong rearguards. Typical numbers post-stride would look like ~21000 power for both rearguards, and 41~48000 2 critical for the vanguard.

The issue was closed with the debut of a new original unit, the winner of 2014's contest submission. Like Avectro Zeus before it, "Regalia of Yin and Yang Nega Keiopojishisu" (陰陽の神器 ネガ・ケイオポジシス) is designed by one of Monthly Bushiroad's child readers as part of a submission contest, and will be made into a promo card for an upcoming issue.