Monday, August 3, 2015

Today's Card Analysis: Raging Spear Mutant Deity, Stun Beetle

"Crawl. Such an unsightly form is perfect for you."

The Japanese card of the day is a triple rare stride for the Megacolony clan from VG-G-BT04: Soul Strike Against the Supreme. Featured in the most recent episode of Cardfight!! Vanguard G, Stun Beetle is a finishing move with a deceptively designed skill that will almost always ensure victory if resolved; however, there is one specific barrier that prevents Stun Beetle from fully eclipsing its existing Machining counterpart.

AUTO (Vanguard circle): Generation break 2: [Counterblast 2, choose a face down card named “Raging Spear Mutant Deity, Stun Beetle” in your generation zone, turn it face up] When this unit's attack hits a vanguard, you may pay the cost. If you do, during your opponent's next stand phase, all of your opponent's vanguard cannot stand, and during your opponent's next ride phase, your opponent cannot normal ride. (They may still ride by card effects.)

Stun Beetle is among the first strides to use generation break wording rather than specifying a number of cards in the G zone to be face-up. This has not changed the actual mechanics of his skill compared to those strides, it's only simplified the wording; the generation break requirement still counts Stun Beetle himself as part of it. Stun Beetle's skill is impressive on paper, as it both denies the opponent their twin drive for the turn, and prevents them from using the one out that the game has had versus Megacolony since the clan began paralyzing vanguards in VG-BT15: Infinite Rebirth. Because strides inherit the position of the heart, and also pass that position onto the heart in the end phase, Stun Beetle truly leaves no way out of being hit by his skill. This -2 and dramatic loss in offense can be game ending, as outside of activated abilities like that of Takemikazuchi, there are very few ways to recover from Stun Beetle going off to actually catch up in the difference in card advantage it creates. Effectively the card creates a delayed victory condition, where the game is already won on the turn that Stun Beetle resolves, but additional turns have to pass before the opponent is truly unable to keep up any longer.

What should be kept in mind is that the stage at which Stun Beetle comes into play is the same as Root Flare and Saint Blow Dragon. At this stage in the fight, the opponent should already have one or more perfect defense cards available, which makes it exceedingly difficult for Stun Beetle to actually connect within his given timing. The card falls into the same trap as Chronoscommand, having a game-ending skill that is unlikely to ever go off because it is attached to vanguard-hit conditions. Moreover, Stun Beetle is appearing on the field at a point when any stride hitting should win the game. The card primarily caters to drawn-out games in which both fighters are staying at low damage over prolonged periods due to a mutual lack of rearguard aggression. This actually plays against Stun Beetle's strengths, as in a prolonged game the opponent is more likely to be able to take a hit from Stun Beetle and still come out victorious, as they're potentially taking that hit while starting at one to two damage. Because of his persona generation condition, running Stun Beetle at a playset can be detrimental to stride efficiency. If during one of these protracted games, the first Stun Beetle is blocked but the second one goes off, there will be three face-up Stun Beetles and the fourth becomes a dud stride. The same is true for if three Stun Beetles are blocked. Compared to Machining Destroyer from Fighter's Collection 2015, Stun Beetle is a lackluster means of paralyzing the opponent's vanguard that's unlikely to ever go off, gives the opponent better aggressive options, and they need to survive through one less turn than when staring down a playset of Destroyers before the vanguard-paralyze options become locked off.

The optimal means of using Stun Beetle is at 2~3 copies, but in the presently dominant Machining decks, Beetle cannot compete with Destroyer and that puts him in conflict with Paraspear's draw ability. It's difficult to argue for sacrificing Paraspear's draw in a deck that's starved for defensive options. Hence, while Stun Beetle provides a powerful killing blow, the difficulty associated with pulling it off and the sacrifices necessary to take multiple shots at it mean that unless the vanguard and rearguard support of G-BT04 is more compelling, the Machining subclan is likely to remain the dominant form of Megacolony for the foreseeable future.

As this subclan is on the verge of receiving new support cards from Soul Strike in the form of the Machining Scorpio mkII and Mosquito mkII legion pair, and the enigmatic Machining Yellow Jacket, tomorrow is bright for the subclan and dim for genericized Megacolony.

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