Monday, January 26, 2015

Today's Card Analysis: Popular Professor, Big Belly

The Japanese card of the day is Great Nature's first generation break unit from G-BT02: Flying Flowers. Popular Professor Big Belly is a Chatnoir for the generation break era, designed to rotate through the field in the late game by powering up the rearguards and then trading them out to refresh the hand. This in turn lets you access Great Nature's unique defensive properties, akin to a Roman tortoise formation.

AUTO (Vanguard circle): Generation break 2: (If you have 2 or more face-up G Units in your vanguard circle or generation zone) When this unit attacks a vanguard, choose one of your rearguards, during this turn it gets Power +4000, and during the end phase of that turn, draw one card and retire that unit.
AUTO (Vanguard circle): [Counterblast 1] During your turn, when you stride with a G Unit, you may pay the cost. If you do, choose up to two of your rearguards, during this turn they get Power +4000 and "AUTO (Rearguard circle): When an attack by a unit in the same column as this unit hits a vanguard, if the attacking unit's Power is 20000 or greater, draw a card."

Big Belly's on-stride counterblast is how he'll be used for most of the game. Because this skill does not retire your rearguards, it both creates the possibility for a flat increase in card advantage and makes it more likely to happen by strengthening your rearguard lanes. Furthermore, Belly can always target his own booster for the skill assuming that you set it in play on the turn beforehand, which means that you can get a +1 off of your stride regardless of its other abilities since the vanguard's power will automatically exceed 20000. Belly's unique property is thus that the more successful your aggression, the better a defensive position you are put in. Each attack that connects grants you another card in hand, prepping you for the opponent's counterattack.

This is offset by the properties of Great Nature's stride units. Eternity Professor Phoenicialux, revealed in the previous issue of Monthly Bushiroad magazine, gives +4000 power to two rearguards when she attacks, then retires them in the end phase. Unless your targets are units like Stamp Sea Otter that cannot be retired by card skills, this means that Big Belly is only trading out one card for another rather than building true card advantage. A solution to this is to only target units with Phoenicialux that replace themselves in some fashion, like Coiling Duckbill or the Hammsuke series. In this way, you can convert the targeted cards to additional cards in hand, which causes you to build up a net increase in card advantage while converting your field into handsize to defend through the opponent's turn and protect your increases in advantage from both retire and lock effects. By destroying your own rearguards before the opponent can and getting a neutral or positive exchange out of destroying them, you prevent the opponent from punishing your plays, making your own offensive safe.

Big Belly's generation break 2 comes into play in turns where Phoenicialux is undesirable or no longer available. This is more in line with Chatnoir proper, giving +4000 power to a rearguard when he attacks, drawing a card in the end phase and then retiring the powered-up unit. Like in the Phoenicialux combo example, using rearguards that replace themselves or ones that cannot be retired by card effects causes Big Belly's draw skill to become a +1 in advantage rather than a neutral exchange. Compared to Chrono Jet Dragon blocking the opponent's perfect defense cards or Flower Maiden of Ranunculus field power bonus, Big Belly is not as dramatic a skill as one may anticipate from past generation breaks. His strengths lie in being able to consistently weather long games and enjoy considerable freedom versus field control decks.