Friday, June 15, 2018

Today's Card Analysis: Death Warden Antlion

The Japanese Card of the Day for June 15th, 2018, is Megacolony's final Double Rare from V-Extra Booster 01: The Destructive Roar, Death Warden Antlion.
AUTO [Vanguard/Rearguard Circle]: When it attacks, [Soulblast 1 grade 3 card, discard 2 cards form your hand] this unit gets Power +10000/Critical +1, and your opponent cannot call Sentinels from hand to Guardian Circle until the end of that battle.
Already there have been accusations of power creep and predictions of the format's doom; but Antlion is not a card we should overestimate anymore than it is a card we should underestimate. Much hype has been made in the past twenty-four hours over combining Antlion with Phantom Black, a combo that prevents the opponent from guarding with both normal units and perfect defense cards. However, consider what you're realistically locking the opponent out of by adding on that additional discard--grade 1s with 10k shield and grade 2s with 5k shield. Antlion already pushes the opponent to guard with trigger unit guardians just on the virtue of those being the cards with the highest shield. Note that unlike in the case of Dragonic Waterfall you don't have Force Markers to layer power onto Antlion with, so with Phantom Black the card is functionally equivalent to 33k, which only requires 25k shield to guard--a Critical or Heal Trigger and virtually any other guardian.

The situations in which Black's normal unit restriction come into play are when the opponent would guard with a Heal and non-Sentinel Draw Trigger, Heal and grade 1, Heal and grade 2 from hand (as opposed to an intercept, which Phantom can't do anything about) a crit and grade 1, or a crit and vanilla Force interceptor. These are very specific scenarios--non-Sentinel draws are run sparingly by Nova Grappler and Kagerо̄, and intercepts are generally favored over guarding with grade 2s from hand.

If you're going to give up a card at all, a better use over Phantom is to stack Butterfly Officers onto Antlion to bump the card past the 38 and 48k thresholds. Of course they're not mutually exclusive, but contrary to popular belief all these discard, soul-in, and self-retire effects Megacolony is getting carry a significant impact on the clan. Megacolony can rapidly gain card advantage thanks to Machining Hornet, Machining Mantis, and Machining Stag Beetle stacked on top of the Protect Gift, but these skills involve deliberately giving up that advantage and crippling one's own defenses rather than maintaining it in the style of Oracle Think Tank. Just because he can use his skill on rearguard does not mean Antlion is a free win; the card has to be carefully built up to and used like any other finisher to close the game out, and botching the play by trying to go for it too early will only lead to making a fool of yourself.

Death Warden Antlion in episode 46 of the original series.
That said, a rearguard Antlion makes for a brutal win condition when combined with Spark Hercules in the late game. Hercules reducing the opponent's power by 5 while buffing both Antlion and your booster of choice by 5 functionally raises Antlion's final power by 15, and stands any Butterfly Officers you used for maximum synergy. Hercules himself can also put a grade 3 to soul with his second skill to set up Antlion, and being a 38k unboosted center isn't exactly something to sneeze at. The Megacolony endgame is shaping up as incredibly powerful precisely because every card the opponent doesn't take away from you in the preceding turns can be used to punish them with a harder push; if you have a hand full of Butterfly Officers and discard fodder, it's entirely on them for not beating those cards out of you.

Finally, Antlion's lore from the classic game:
An exceptionally brutal and cruel mutant that dwells in the deserts and sorts of faraway lands.
Despite being restricted, it has immense power, terrifying the people in the same area as it to the very depths of their souls.
No matter where it is, as long as there’s a few grains of sand, it can form an enormous quicksand trap called “Desert Prison”, which allows it to slowly torture and wear down its prey.
The previous Japanese Card of the Day was Unite Attacker.

V-Extra Booster 01: The Destructive Roar will launch in Japan June 29th, 2018, and August 2nd for the English-speaking world. The accompanying new anime series, codenamed "Origin," began airing May 5th, with an English-subtitled simulcast on both YouTube and Crunchyroll.