Friday, December 12, 2014

Today's Card Analysis: Blue Storm Marine General Michael & Blue Storm Marine General Milos

Today's Japanese cards of the day are the legion pair Blue Storm Marine Generals Michael and Milos, a new Aqua Force boss from G-BT02: Flying Flowers. A successor in gameplay to Genovious of BT11, Michael is designed with the position-swapping mechanics of the Storm Rider and Marine General series in mind, appropriating their skills as the main strategy of his deckbuild rather than as a pure supporting element.

Michael's standard skill gives him +5000 power when he attacks during the fourth battle of the turn, and his legion skill allows him to persona blast a copy of either unit in the vanguard circle after having attacked a vanguard while in legion. If Michael's attack was the fourth attack or greater of that turn, you can then rearrange your entire field as you please and stand two of your Aqua Force rearguards. As with Tempest Boarder and Spyros before him, Michael's field rearrangement skill itself does not change the stand or rest positions of the rearguards, hence why he stands two afterwards. You can combine this with Marine General Starless of BT17, and their grade 2 subclan attacker Gregorios. If the vanguard is in legion then during the first battle of the turn Starless becomes a 12000-power attacker and then switches positions with the unit behind him, allowing you to move Gregorios up front for a second 12000 power attack, followed by a remaining 16000-power column. After Michael initiates the fourth battle and attacks for 25~32000 power, his persona blast will allow you to switch the 16000-power column's booster with Starless, then stand both Gregorios and his newly acquired booster for a fifth attack.

On the turn afterwards you can then mix up strategies, attacking with Starless in the other column, then the grade 2 or 3 unit that is now in the same column as him, then Gregorios, and with Michael's persona blast switch the field's position around again to set up the 16000-power column again and stand it. If the grade 2 component of that column is Marine General Ianis, whose on-hit allows you to draw a card in the third or greater battle of the turn, then you have effectively two chances to draw on the first turn of this strategy, and one on the second, followed by two more on the third. This puts an incentive on the opponent to not guard Starless and Gregorios but instead focus on blocking Ianis, who when boosted will have a higher base power. However, this requires running each card in fewer copies in order to fit in so many different grade 2s, as Michael inherently calls for four copies of his legion mate to be run in the deck.

Since Michael can choose either himself or Milos for his persona blast target, he has an expanded pool of cards valid for his skill, up to six copies. Milos' Benedict-like skill supports the fourth attack condition, as once per turn if the vanguard is in legion then a rearguard Milos can stand itself after attacking in exchange for losing 5000 power for that turn. Having a rearguard Milos out changes the Michael pattern; instead of two 16000-power rearguard attacks and two 12000-power rearguard attacks, what you get out of this setup is three 16000-power rearguard attacks whose total shield value is still equal to the previous formation.

By attacking with a boosted Milos first, then standing Milos and attacking with him a second time at just 4000 power, then attacking with a Gregorios and booster column followed by the vanguard, Michael's fourth battle persona blast will be able to activate and stand both Gregorios and his booster, with the tradeoff behind that Milos' 4000 power second swing cannot hit. What you can do with this instead is preemptively protect Milos from any future attacks by switching his position with that of his booster, and if that unit is the grade 1 subclan attacker Hermes, then he can still attack an interceptor if there are any left over.

While this strategy is not as violently aggressive as getting out four attacks per turn that can draw shield from the opponent, it is much more fullproof versus crossride defense than the alternatives. In the previously described strategy, only three of the five attacks actually have the potential to hit a 13000-power vanguard, while in this Milos-centric one since none of the attacks that can already hit are lost versus crossridden vanguards, four of the five total attacks will always be able to connect versus every possible deck type. Since Milos' skill is once per turn and not specific to the first battle of that turn, you still have the option to use Milos with Starless and Gregorios. By attacking with Starless, followed by Gregorios from behind him, then Milos and his booster, then standing Milos with -5000 power and not attacking with him, instead attacking with the vanguard, you can use Michael's persona blast to stand both Gregorios and Milos' booster to get in two additional 11~12000 power attacks, making for a total of six attacks in the turn, four of them requiring 5000 shield to block, one of them requiring 10000 shield to block, and one of them being the in-legion vanguard. This is a net 30000 shield from just the rearguards; one of the beautiful simplicities of Aqua Force is that every one of these formations demands 30000 shield with its rearguard setups, but how that shield is distributed varies between each formation. Versus a base 11000 power vanguard Milos with Starless is the preferable one because it requires five instances of defense on the rearguards compared to three, and if the opponent only has 10000-power shield units available in hand then they are forced to misuse half of it every time they guard, putting down more shield than is necessary to stop the attack and wasting their resources in the process. However, when faced with a 13000 power vanguard it's better to set up three 16000 power attacks because of the aforementioned property of coming up short on the offensive with units that can't hit the vanguard but are required to attack it anyway in order to activate their skills.

Milos' other skill is what truly distinguishes him as something other than just Michael's legion mate. He is the first unit with Resist, a keyword which prevents him from being chosen for card effects while he's on the vanguard, rearguard or guardian circles. Resist answers Aqua Force's problem with retire and lock skills shutting down their entire strategy, as it means that Milos cannot be locked or retired except by skills that do not specifically target him and instead retire or lock the entire field. Since it is by the opponent's card effect, you can still choose him to receive things like the power bump from Mallika, but if you're on the receiving end of a Narukami retire skill that forces you to choose your own rearguards to be retired, because the card skill still belongs to the opponent Milos cannot be chosen as a target. Resist does prevent Milos from being retired by Blaster Joker's Absolute Break skill while the vanguard is in legion, but if he's in the rearguard he will still be subject to Absolute Lock's effect of blanket locking all rearguards.