Monday, June 11, 2018

Novas take down OTT in Inaba VGCS finals video, tournament made up of 35% Oracle Think Tank cardfighters

Early yesterday morning the 2nd Inaba VGCS crowned Nova Grappler cardfighter Hyoga its champion, marking the first big win for the clan in the V-BT01 format. Previously the highest Nova Grappler had placed was second at the TraCaider VGCS, the day after the first booster set launched. The finals were livestreamed over TwitCast, and recordings can be viewed below, along with decklists for the top cut.
Deck breakdown (68 participants)
24 Oracle Think Tank
20 Kagerо̄
15 Royal Paladin
9 Nova Grappler
Grand finals saw Hyoga face off with Suga, playing Oracle Think Tank; the fight for third-place was also a Nova versus Oracle match, Bonba against Rizu. Suga previously made fourth at last week's Sukacat VGCS team tournament. These matches saw the most-played clan of the tournament and of the format going up against the least-played, which makes Hyoga's triumph all the more surprising.

Illustration used for the Inaba VGCS playmat.
Although originally set to have five 30-minute preliminary rounds of Swiss pairings, in the days leading up to the tournament fighters voted to reduce match time by five minutes and gain a sixth round of Swiss. After the final Swiss round, the top 16  cardfighters progressed to a best-of-three top cut with hour-long matches. In addition to paper pairings, pairings were posted online using the same TCGMeister software used in Bushiroad's official tournaments since 2015. Rather than player numbers, the pairings were done using player names.

Hyoga won a 500 Gigabyte PlayStation 4 and Inaba VGCS playmat, Suga won five booster boxes of V-Booster Set 01: Unite! Team Q4 and an Inaba VGCS playmat, Rizu won four boxes and the playmat, Bonba won three boxes and the playmat, and the rest of top 8 received the playmat alone.

In game 1 of Grand Finals Suga (right) failed to G Assist from grade 1 to grade 2 twice, doing his best to mitigate the issue by riding Circle Magus over Circle Magus to proc her on-ride skill and filter for his grade 2 ride, using Luck Bird to utilize the extra soul. Unfortunately Suga never made it to grade 3 for game 1, having already been pushed to a high damage threshold early.

In game 2 Suga once again had to G Assist, this time from 0 to 1, but was able to push Hyoga to 4 damage before he got to Perfect Raizer, derailing his gameplan. (See below.) That translated to Suga's second Imperial Daughter turn eventually becoming fatal, as Hyoga could one-pass the 27k 2 crit vanguard but couldn't guard a 29k Promise Daughter-Luck Bird column.

Game 3 saw Suga opening strong, riding Circle Magus, getting out Luck Bird and two Promise Daughters for 15k attackers, but Hyoga was able to tip the balance of the game back in his favor after the two were tied up 2-2 in damage. Having a full front row of +5k attackers, he was able to poke Suga to 5 damage before even riding to Amaterasu. In general Hyoga drew incredibly well this game, seeing almost his entire Battledore Fighter playset.

Going into his CEO turn Suga attempted to play counterblast control to outlast his opponent, swinging at Hyoga's rearguards to leave him at 3 damage with only 1 open counterblast. Hyoga responded by calling Transraizer next turn to countercharge, allowing him to use Perfect Raizer's skill again to get in fifth and sixth attacks that put Suga into an unrecoverable position wherein he had to use his entire 10-card hand and only intercept to defend that turn. Even at this point, the game was only decided once Suga began damage checking on the turn after--with only a single 5k shield left in hand, Suga would not have been able to survive were it not for the Front Trigger he damage checked. That trigger put his Perfect Raizer up to 22, while Promise Daughter was only 24 boosted, just barely enough for Hyoga to pull through the turn. (Promise Daughter's skill was not active, as Suga only had 3 cards in hand after Twin Drive.)

(Note that while it may look like Suga won game 3 at first, this is only because the camera dropped below Hyoga's damage earlier--Hyoga was at 3 when Suga drive checked that crit, and Suga scooped. It was clear his last attack couldn't connect that turn, nor could he guard six to seven attacks the turn after, nor damage check enough heals to survive.)

Ultimately what Suga needed to do was call a booster for Circle Magus on his very first turn, so that Hyoga couldn't no-pass him with a single Front and would be forced into being at 3 damage on the turn of his Perfect Raizer ride. In the long term the only thing it would change for Hyoga's gameplan would be not needing to use Transraizer, opening up Rocket Hammer Man for use, but on Suga's end it would have disrupted his opponent's low-damage strategy and put them into a defensive position.

1st Place: Hyoga (Match record 8-1)
Hyoga went 11-2 against Kagerо̄, Oracle Think Tank, Royal Paladin, OTT, Nova Grappler, and Kagerо̄ (loss) in Swiss, then Kagerо̄ (2-0) OTT (2-0) and OTT (2-1) in the top cut. His list is unusual for running only one copy of Raizer Custom, while virtually every other Nova Grappler deck runs the card as a 4-of staple. His trigger lineup--5 Draw 7 Front--is in line with the week 2 average for the clan. The use of Hero support follows a general trend favoring Rocket Hammer Man and Cup Bowler over running Burst Raizer, as RHM enables Cup Bowler, who doubles as a second set of Iron Killers.

Hyoga published a blog post earlier today explaining his general strategy, which is summarized here;
  • His goal with the deck is to use the power boosts to consistently demand 15k shield with his Accel attackers while demanding just 5k with the regular rearguards.
  • Since it's generally impossible to win without taking a Waterfall, Victorious Deer, or Soul Saver turn, controlling both yours and the opponent's damage as much as possible is essential, preferably never going past 3 on your side.
  • Battledore Fighter, Cup Bowler, Iron Killer, and Jetraizer are the deck's Accel attackers; they each swing for the equivalent of 23k power on an Accel circle, with Battledore demanding 5k more shield if the opponent is an Accel or Protect deck.
  • Rocket Hammer Man is run purely for being an 8k grade 1 with the "Hero" race name, to get Cup Bowler live. Very rarely he boosts Cup Bowler with it, but the deck does not have the soul to spare.
  • Transraizer is run solely to be a vanguard booster, to countercharge 1 before using Perfect Raizer a second time. This is how the deck executes its endgame strategy without taking more than 3 damage.
  • The tech Raizer Custom is useful in the OTT matchup and not so much anywhere else. Originally it was at 4, but there's no opportunity to use it against Kagerо̄ opponents.
Hyoga also addressed specific matchups in his post:
  • The Royal Paladin matchup is neutral, the overall plan is to be at 2 or less damage when you ride to grade 3. When going first, attack twice on your grade 2 turn, 3 times if your vanguard can demand 15k shield to stop. As long as you can get past the Soul Saver turn, you can win. When going second, just attack unboosted each turn until you ride Perfect Raizer. [To deny them counterblast.] If you draw Transraizer on your grade 2 turn you can call it, otherwise just go it solo. Once you've deployed your Accel circles, graze them to death with 6 attacks.
  • The Oracle Think Tank matchup is very positive, the plan is to be at 3 or less the second time they ride Imperial Daughter. When going first, if you can get fill out your front row and Accel attackers it's a clear win, but they'll attempt to use Amaterasu and Sotoorihime to hang on. When going second, start swinging twice at your first opportunity, bearing in mind that every damage you give them is another card in their hand.
  • The Kagerо̄ matchup is "the end of the world" (世界の終わり sekai no owari) and the goal is to be at 2-3 damage on the turn they hit you with Overlord. When going first, in order to stop Berserk Dragon from going off stick to 1 attack per turn until you ride to grade 3, don't even call boosters. After riding Perfect Raizer, only call front row units to make their Nehalems dead. If the opponent has a bad formation due to Spillover or somesuch, it's okay to drop an 8k behind the vanguard, but even a solo attack will knock off 10k from them. With regard to Overlord and Waterfall, you stop Waterfall through Overlord. Overlord is a valuable means of cutting down Kagerо̄'s resources because it discards 2 to drive check 1--you can let Overlord hit to reduce their hand, then kill them before they can get to their Waterfall turn. When going second, it's ideal to ride Jetraizer to avoid giving them counterblast for Berserk Dragon. Swing at their rearguards to deny them counterblast, keeping them at 0.
Grade 0: 17
x1 Battleraizer (First Vanguard)
x4 Wall Boy (Heal Trigger)
x4 Twin Blader (Draw Trigger)
x1 Three Minutes (Draw Trigger)
x4 Turbo Raizer (Front Trigger)
x3 Cannon Ball (Front Trigger)
Grade 1: 13
x1 Raizer Custom
x4 Jet Raizer
x4 Rocket Hammer Man
x4 Trans Raizer
Grade 2: 12
x4 Hi-powered Raizer Custom
x4 Iron Killer
x4 Cup Bowler
Grade 3: 8
x4 Perfect Raizer
x4 Battledore Fighter

2nd Place: Suga (Match record 6-3)
Suga went 9-6 overall, against OTT, Royal Paladin, Royal Paladin, Kagerо̄, Kagerо̄ (Loss) and Kagerо̄ (loss) in the Swiss rounds, and Kagerо̄ (2-1) Nova Grappler (2-1) and Nova Grappler (1-2) in the top cut.

Compare with Suga's previous list from last week's Sukacat VGCS; they chose to cut 2 Sotoorihime for an extra MeMe and an Onmyoji tech, and switched out a Luck Bird for an additional Mizunohame. They seem to have gotten the idea from Ryo, who went undefeated at Sukacat with an identical list. Onodera also topped with this list this past week at BatoLoco Oyama's weekly shop tournament.

Grade 0: 17
x1 Lozenge Magus (First Vanguard)
x4 Sphere Magus (Heal Trigger)
x4 Weather Forecaster, Miss Mist (Draw Trigger) (Sentinel)
x4 Oracle Guardian, Nike (Critical Trigger)
x4 Psychic Bird (Critical Trigger)
Grade 1: 13
x4 Circle Magus
x4 Farfalle Magus
x3 Goddess of Time's Passing, Mizunohame
x2 Luck Bird
Grade 2: 10
x4 Promise Daughter
x3 Yellow Witch, MeMe
x2 Goddess of Insight, Sotoorihime
x1 Onmyoji of the Moonlit Night
Grade 3: 10
x4 Imperial Daughter
x4 CEO Amaterasu
x2 Victorious Deer

3rd Place: Rizu (Match record 7-2)
Rizu went 9-6 overall, against Royal Paladin (loss) Royals, Royals, Royals, Oracle Think Tank, and OTT in the Swiss rounds, and Kagerо̄ (2-1) Nova Grappler (0-2) and Nova Grappler (2-1) in the top cut.

Note that Rizu also topped Fullcomp Ikebukuro's weekly shop tournament this week, and won one of the Sukacat VGCS's playmat sub-tournaments last Sunday, using the same list in both tournaments.

Grade 0: 17
x1 Lozenge Magus (First Vanguard)
x4 Sphere Magus (Heal Trigger)
x4 Weather Forecaster, Miss Mist (Draw Trigger) (Sentinel)
x4 Oracle Guardian, Nike (Critical Trigger)
x4 Psychic Bird (Critical Trigger)
Grade 1: 13
x4 Circle Magus
x4 Farfalle Magus
x3 Luck Bird
x2 Oracle Guardian, Gemini
Grade 2: 10
x4 Promise Daughter
x4 Goddess of Insight, Sotoorihime
x2 Silent Tom
Grade 3: 10
x4 Imperial Daughter
x4 CEO Amaterasu
x2 Victorious Deer
4th Place: Bonba (Overall record 6-3)
Bonba went 9-6 overall, facing Nova Grappler, Royal Paladin, Oracle Think Tank, OTT, Novas (loss) and OTT in the Swiss rounds, then going up against Royals (2-1) OTT (1-2) and OTT (1-2) in the top cut.

Top 8: Hanpen (Overall record 5-2)
Hanpen went up against Oracle Think Tank, Royal Paladin (loss) Royals, Royals, OTT, and OTT in Swiss, then was eliminated 0-2 in round 1 of the top cut versus Nova Grappler.

Grade 0: 17
x1 Lizard Runner, Undeux (First Vanguard)
x4 Dragon Monk, Genjo (Heal Trigger)
x4 Wyvern Guard, Barri (Draw Trigger)
x2 Red Gem Carbuncle (Draw Trigger)
x4 Embodiment of Spear, Tahr (Critical Trigger)
x2 Demonic Dragon Berserker, Yakshasa (Critical Trigger)
Grade 1: 12
x4 Flame of Hope, Aermo
x4 Embodiment of Armor, Bahr
x4 Lizard Soldier, Raopia
Grade 2: 13
x4 Berserk Dragon
x4 Spillover Dragon
x3 Embodiment of Shield, Lahm
x2 Flames of Destruction, Verti
 Grade 3: 8
x4 Dragonic Waterfall
x4 Dragonic Overlord

The VGCS tournaments are a series of unofficial tournaments organized by fans and cardshops in Japan. Unlike Bushiroad's official tournaments, most VGCS events are done using a best-of-three, Swiss tournament model. Turnout is typically 70-80 persons, but some events see 100 or more participants, all of whom compete using pseudonyms and net handles rather than their real names as in official events.