Thursday, April 19, 2018

Today's Card Analysis: Flash Shield Iseult and Wyvern Guard Barri

This is game changing.

The Japanese cards of the day for April 20th, 2018, are a pair of Double Rares from V-Booster Set 01: UNITE! TEAM Q4. Flash Shield Iseult and Wyvern Guard Barri will ring familiar to the old guard of Vanguard, and while like their 2011 incarnations they are Perfect Guards, this new generation of Sentinel units stands to completely overhaul how we build our decks.
CONT: Sentinel (You may only have up to 4 cards in your deck with "Sentinel")
AUTO [Guardian Circle]: When placed, by paying [Discard 1 card from your hand], one of your units cannot be hit until the end of that battle.
Every deck should run 4 Sentinels as a given, but now these units have been incorporated into the mandatory 16 Trigger Units every deck is forced to run. That opens up grade 1 space, and fixes the problems surrounding Draw Triggers by decreasing their shield value. In the classic game Draws ran into the problem of on average returning less shield than if you had just run Critical or Stand Triggers, and reduced the total shield value of the grade 0s in your deck, but making Draws into Perfect Guards fixes the problem since Draws now represent infinite shield and give you the card you need to discard for them when you check them. Manually drawing a Draw Trigger is no longer the great loss it once was, as it means you have a perfect guard you can conceal from the opponent until the time is right.

It also carries deep implications for guard restrict mechanics. Cards that prevent you from calling grade 0 guardians become much more power than those that block grade 1 and greater, and should these units make a return in Standard it may pay to divvy up your grade 1 and grade 0 Sentinels to compensate.

Beyond Silent Tom/Nouvelle threatlists, there's not really a question of whether or not grade 0 Sentinels are inherently better than grade 1s. Bushiroad Research & Development knows they are, as otherwise they wouldn't be Double Rares in BT01 while grade 1 perfect guards are handed out for free in Trial Decks. Trigger lineups now lean towards including 4 Draw as an optimal build, scaling back the aggression we saw from the 4/6 Stand 8/6 Crit and 12 Crit decks of old. Decks with access to Front Triggers, like Tachikaze and Aqua Force, have a powerful incentive to run a "rainbow" lineup of 4-4-4-4 rather than sticking to Fronts and Crits. Protect clans like Angel Feather and Megacolony no longer need to make a choice over whether they will or won't include regular perfect guards in their deck.

For an example of how this all works in practice, up to now we've been operating under the assumption Runoria or another grade 1 Sentinel would be necessary in Royals. The Iseult reveal means the grade 1 lineup can now be;
Grade 1
x4 Little Sage, Marron
x4 Knight Squire, Allen
x3 Wingal
x3 Pongal
This is unambiguously good for the game. There are now more viable grade 1s per deck that can hit the board as soon as you draw them, make more hand combinations playable compared to classic Vanguard, and result in a lower chance of your deck bricking overall. Barri and Iseult are just a small glimpse of what the Vanguard's future will look like; and it's shaping up to be a world where the triggers are for the first time fully balanced and equally desirable. A world where double crits occur less often, guard decisions are made based on a greater scope of outcomes, and variety is the name of the game.

Flash Shield Iseult's lore from the classic game:
A female knight wielding a massive but cursed shield.
Among the Royal Paladins that specialize first in attack and support, she is one of the few charged with "Defense."
With the "Flash Shield" up, she never flinches even when struck by an incredible weapon.
The previous Japanese cards of the day were Funnergal and Radical Knight Anil.

V-Trial Deck 01: Sendou Aichi and V-TD02: Kai Toshiki will launch in Japanese May 11th, 2018, and in English June 8th, 2018. They will be accompanied by a new sleeve based on the "Imaginary Gift" design. The first Booster Set of the Standard format, V-BT 01: UNITE! TEAM Q4 will launch in Japan May 25th, 2018, and in English June 22nd, 2018. It will be accompanied by sleeves based on Dragonic Overlord and Blaster Blade.

The first Extra Booster set of Standard, V-EB01: The Destructive Roar will launch in Japan June 29th, 2018, and August 3rd for the English-speaking world. The accompanying new anime series, codenamed "Origin," will begin airing May 5th, 2018, on TV Tokyo and affiliated stations. It will be simulcast with English subtitles on YouTube and Crunchyroll.