Wednesday, May 29, 2013

News: Fighter's Road 2013 Kyoto Results, Stand Up Cup Finals to be Held Sunday

Today the results for Japan's ongoing national championship went public, following up Doctor O's report from Saturday. In the Open division Dragonic Descendant has continued to consistently place first in spite of now being restricted to two copies per deck, while Liberator Alfred has continued to be only second best. Interestingly, the best 16 is seeing some greater experimentation among pros as Doctor O's pick from the open class tournament is a fusion of Dauntless Drive Dragon and Flare Whip Dragon. While Flare Whip has been well liked among some professionals--his skill gives him +3000 power when a Kagerou with the race of Flame Dragon is drive checked, for a consistent 16000 vanguard prior to calculating boost--before it was difficult to compose a deck purely of Flame Dragons that was also competitive, as Dragonic Overlord The End was typically the better option. Tanimoto Naoya's variant uses Seal Dragon units in concert with existing Flame Dragon race cards and Dauntless Drive to have a vanguard line that on its key turn goes for 26000 power on both of its twin drive checks.

In the Junior Class tournament a Beast Deity deck using Ethics Buster and a Stern Blaukluger tech placed first, drawing much attention for running only a single critical trigger in the deck while using seven stands instead in concert with Dancing Wolf's skill to force its way to the top. An Angel Feather build with an astonishing amount of variation placed second; while the deck's primary vanguard is Shamsiel, it also employs single copies of Metatron, Calamity Flame, Remiel and Kiriel that are easily fetched through the damage zone manipulation skills of Shamsiel, Nociel and Turiel. While erratic, the innovative build does bring out one of Angel Feather's best qualities in always having the card it wants in hand.

Doctor O's pick from the Junior class' best 16 is surprising. After its long reign, the legendary Dragonic Overlord The End has fallen far enough to not even place second. The deck is a mostly traditional, crossride-oriented The End deck using Seal Dragon cards to make use of Corduroy's skill, but the fact that this deck needed to be spotlighted to be known of at all speaks volumes for how far it has fallen. By contrast, in the VF High School Tournaments' Open division, The End's classic rival Majesty Lord Blaster is making a comeback. While unlike The End, Majesty is currently restricted to just two copies, emerging pro Masami Daishi is taking the restriction in stride by only using Majesty at one copy, playing his deck as a traditional Alfred-Palamedes build up until Wingal Brave's attack hits to grab Lord Blaster, then using Starcall to bring out Blaster Dark for Majesty's skills. His teammates have employed more modern tactics, using proven Descendant and Liberator builds. The Student-only division's top team was more off the wall, with Kitaoka Tomooki using a break-ride oriented Gauntlet Buster deck while Kitaoka's teammates brought successful Dauntless Drive-Blockade Inferno and Chromejailer-Liberator fusion builds. Overall Kyoto has seen much more diversity of play than at Sendai, in spite of the top Open class decks remaining the same.

On the English side of pro play, the Stand Up Challenge Cup will be coming to a close this Sunday as the next US national champion is decided. Reigning champion Brandon Smith is no longer running for the Cup title, but instead will be hosting a gunslinger event to play against cardfighters that want to test their skills against the current champion. Because of this, there is no direct favorite for the national title as there was in 2012, and the public eye is turned now toward the question of who will step up to fill the interregnum period between Smith and the WCS2013 national champion. Saturday will see the last regional event prior to the Cup finals take place at the Champion's Gate, Florida. Unlike previous regionals, the Last Minute Qualifier is open to any who are in line in time to join. Including this qualifier, there are 27 regionals spread out between the United States, Mexico and Canada, with two fighters from each participating in the finals for a 54-person final stage that will dwarf the previous national's 16-person finale.

Open Class Regional Tournament
Regional Champion: Aoyama Takuya/青山拓也
Grade 0
x1 Spark Kid Dragoon (FVG)
x4 Eradicator, Dragon Mage DT
x4 Eradicator, Yellow Gem Carbuncle CT
x4 Demonic Dragon Eradicator, Seiobo HT
x4 Eradicator of the Divine Spear, Castor CT
Grade 1
x2 Rising Phoenix
x4 Eradicator, Wyvern Guard Guld
x4 Eradicator, Demolition Dragon
x3 Iron Blood Eradicator, Shuki
x2 Eradicator of the Ceremonial Bonfire, Castor
Grade 2
x4 Eradicator, Spark Rain Dragon
x2 Dragonic Deathscythe
x4 Fiendish Sword Eradicator, Chou-Ou
Grade 3
x2 Eradicator, Dragonic Descendant
x4 Eradicator, Gauntlet Buster Dragon
x2 Eradicator, Vowing Sword Dragon

Runner-up: Gisuji Junpei/宜壽次隼兵
Grade 0
x1 Little Battler, Cron (FVG)
x4 Liberator of Hope, Epona CT
x4 Strike Liberator CT
x4 Weapons Liberator, Gwydion DT
x4 Elixir Liberator HT
Grade 1
x2 Pomergal Liberator
x2 Liberator, Flare Mane Stallion
x2 Liberator of the Future, Llew
x4 Little Liberator, Marron
x4 Halo Liberator, Mark
Grade 2
x2 Blaster Blade Liberator
x3 Liberator of Silence, Gallatin
x4 Liberator of Royalty, Phallon
x3 Liberator of the Flute, Escrad
Grade 3
x4 Liberator of the Round Table, Alfred
x3 Solitary Liberator, Gancelot

Doctor O's Pick: Tanimoto Naoya/谷本直也
Grade 0
x1 Lizard Soldier, Conroe (FVG)
x4 Seal Dragon, Biera CT
x4 Blue Ray Dracokid CT
x4 Seal Dragon, Artpitch DT
x4 Seal Dragon, Shading HT
Grade 1
x4 Seal Dragon, Flannel
x4 Seal Dragon, Kersey
x2 Iron Tail Dragon
x4 Seal Dragon, Rinocross
Grade 2
x4 Seal Dragon, Hunger Hell Dragon
x4 Seal Dragon, Corduroy
x3 Berserk Dragon
Grade 3
x4 Flare Whip Dragon
x4 Dauntless Drive Dragon

Junior Class Regional Tournament
Regional Champion: Nishida Sachi/西田祥
Grade 1
x2 Beast Deity, Riot Horn (FVG)
x4 The Gong DT
x1 Red Lightning CT
x3 Turboraizer ST
x4 Battleraizer ST
x4 Wall Boy HT
Grade 1
x4 Twin Blader
x4 Beast Deity, Blank Marsh
x3 Dancing Wolf
x2 Tough Boy
Grade 2
x3 King of Sword
x4 Beast Deity, Hatred Chaos
x4 Beast Deity, Golden Anglet
Grade 3
x4 Beast Deity, Ethics Buster
x3 Ultra Beast Deity, Illuminal Dragon
x1 Stern Blaukluger

Runner-up: Shoutsubo Mizuki/庄坪瑞生
Grade 0
x1 Hope Child, Turiel (FVG)
x4 Fever Therapy Nurse DT
x4 Critical Hit Angel CT
x4 Happy Bell, Nociel ST
x4 Sunny Smile Angel HT
Grade 1
x3 Battle Cupid, Nociel
x3 Crimson Mind, Baruch
x2 Clutch Rifle Angel
x4 Thousand Ray Pegasus
x2 Pure Keeper, Requiel
x1 Adamantine Celestial, Aniel
Grade 2
x1 Candle Celestial, Sariel
x1 Love Machine Gun, Nociel
x1 Core Memory, Armaros
x4 Crimson Drive, Aphrodite
x3 Million Ray Pegasus
Grade 3
x4 Chief Nurse, Shamsiel
x1 Crimson Impact, Metatron
x1 The Phoenix, Calamity Flame
x1 Prophecy Celestial, Remiel
x1 Circular Saw, Kiriel

Doctor O's Pick: Gotou Yuusuke/後藤優介
Grade 0
x1 Lizard Soldier, Conroe (FVG)
x4 Gattling Claw Dragon DT
x2 Embodiment of Armor, Tahr CT
x2 Seal Dragon, Artpitch DT
x2 Dragon Mmonk, Genjo HT
x2 Seal Dragon, Biera CT
x2 Seal Dragon, Shading HT
x2 Blue Ray Dracokid CT
Grade 1
x4 Embodiment of Armor, Bahr
x2 Seal Dragon, Kersey
x3 Wyvern Guard, Barri
x3 Dragon Monk, Gojo
x1 Flame of Hope, Aermo
x1 Flame of Promise, Aermo
Grade 2
x1 Seal Dragon, Hunger Hell Dragon
x2 Seal Draogn, Corduroy
x4 Burning Horn Dragon
x4 Bellicosity Dragon
Grade 3
x4 Dragonic Overlord The End
x4 Dragonic Overlord

Vanguard Fight High School 2013 Summer, Open Class Kyoto Regional Tournament Championship Team
Masami Daishi/正躰大士
Grade 0
x1 Wingal Brave (FVG)
x3 Bringer of Good Luck, Epona CT
x3 Alabaster Owl CT
x3 Future Knight, Llew CT
x3 Margal DT
x4 Yggdrasil Maiden, Elaine HT
Grade 1
x4 Little Sage, Marron
x4 Lake Maiden, Lien
x4 Flash Shield, Iseult
x2 Toypugal
Grade 2
x3 Blaster Blade Spirit
x4 Blaster Blade
x2 Blaster Dark
x3 Star Call Trumpeter
Grade 3
x4 King of Knights, Alfred
x1 Majesty Lord Blaster
x2 Swordsman of the Explosive Flames, Palamedes

Koukuchi Satoya/髙口賢哉
Grade 0
x1 Spark Kid Dragoon (FVG)
x4 Eradicator, Dragon Mage DT
x4 Eradicator, Yellow Gem Carbuncle CT
x4 Demonic Dragon Eradicator, Seiobo HT
x4 Eradicator of the Divine Spear, Castor CT
Grade 1
x3 Rising Phoenix
x4 Eradicator, Wyvern Guard Guld
x4 Eradicator, Demolition Dragon
x3 Iron Blood Eradicator, Shuki
Grade 2
x4 Eradicator, Spark Rain Dragon
x3 Dragonic Deathscythe
x4 Fiendish Sword Eradicator, Chou-Ou
Grade 3
x2 Eradicator, Dragonic Descendant
x4 Eradicator, Gauntlet Buster Dragon
x2 Eradicator, Vowing Sword Dragon


Yamaguchi Atsu/山口篤
Grade 0
x1 Little Battler, Cron (FVG)
x4 Liberator of Hope, Epona CT
x4 Strike Liberator CT
x3 Weapons Liberator, Gwydion DT
x4 Elixir Liberator HT
x1 Flame of Victory CT
Grade 1
x4 Curved Blade Liberator, Josephus
x2 Silver Fang Witch
x4 Little Liberator, Marron
x4 Halo Liberator, Mark
Grade 2
x4 Blaster Blade Liberator
x4 Liberator of Royalty, Phallon
x4 Liberator of the Flute, Escrad
Grade 3
x4 Liberator of the Round Table, Alfred
x3 Solitary Liberator, Gancelot

Vanguard Fight High School 2013 Summer, Student-only Class Kyoto Regional Tournament Championship Team
Kitaoka Tomooki/北岡誠起
Grade 0
x1 Ambush Dragon Eradicator, Linchu (FVG)
x4 Eradicator, Dragon Mage DT
x4 Eradicator, Yellow Gem Carbuncle CT
x4 Demonic Dragon Eradicator, Seiobo HT
x4 Eradicator of the Divine Spear, Castor CT
Grade 1
x3 Eradicator of the True Flames, Kougaiji
x4 Wyvern Guard, Guld
x4 Eradicator, Demolition Dragon
x1 Iron Blood Eradicator, Shuki
x3 Red River Dragoon
Grade 2
x3 Eradicator, Spark Rain Dragon
x3 Dragonic Deathscythe
x2 Fiendish Sword Eradicator, Chou-Ou
x1 Eradicator, Thunder Boom Dragon
x1 Eradicator, Saucer Cannon Wyvern
Grade 3
x3 Eradicator, Vowing Sword Dragon
x4 Eradicator, Gauntlet Buster Dragon
x1 Eradicator, Sweep Command Dragon

Takimoto Yuuki/瀧本祐希
Grade 0
x1 Seal Dragon, Terrycloth (FVG)
x4 Seal Dragon, Shading HT
x4 Seal Dragon, Artpitch DT
x2 Dragon Dancer, Monica DT
x4 Seal Dragon, Biera CT
x2 Demonic Dragon Mage, Raksha CT
Grade 1
x4 Seal Dragon, Rinocross
x3 Demonic Dragon Mage, Kimnara
x4 Seal Dragon, Kersey
x4 Seal Dragon, Flannel
Grade 2
x3 Seal Dragon, Jakado
x3 Seal Dragon, Corduroy
x4 Seal Dragon, Hunger Hell Dragon
Grade 3
x4 Dauntless Drive Dragon
x4 Burning Hell Seal Dragon, Blockade Inferno

Irino Yuuichiro/入野裕一郎
Grade 0
x1 Spring Breeze Messenger (FVG)
x3 Flame of Victory CT
x3 Dantengal CT
x4 Elixir Liberator HT
x4 Falcon Knight of the Azure DT
x2 Weapons Dealer, Gwydion DT
Grade 1
x2 Blackmane Witch
x4 Halo Shield, Mark
x4 Listener of Truth, Dindrane
x4 Knight of Elegant Skills, Gareth
Grade 2
x1 Knight of Superior Skills, Beaumains
x1 Blaster Dark Spirit
x2 Blaster Blade Spirit
x3 Mage of Calamity, Tripp
x4 Lop Ear Shooter
Grade 3
x4 Conviction Dragon, Chromejailer Dragon
x4 Solitary Liberator, Gancelot

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Ride to Victory Translation Part 8: Gouki


Card Capital


Is the guy who won against my little sister in a cardfight at this shop?


Gouki-san? Whatever is wrong?


I've come to play my sister's rival!



Rival!?



My name is Daimonji Gouki. And my sister's name is Nagisa. Bring out the one who interfered with my little sister and Kamui's journey of love!


Ha. So it's you? That's a good expression you've got there. But as Team Handsome's leader, I won't be silent! This is a challenge! Face me in a fair fight! If you have the courage, come to Card Shop Handsome. You can run if you're scared.


Gouki-san. He's full of spirit. What do you plan to do?



...I see. You'll go. Yeah. Do your best!

Card Shop Handsome


Gouki-san, he came!



He's got a lot of guts, ka-boom.


You came. I've been waiting. Because you've against my little sister, Team Handsome's all troubled by you. Take a good look, at the power of the Granblue pirate deck!



Grade 0
x1 Skeleton Assault Troops Captain (FVG)
x2 Rick the Ghostie HT
x3 Hook-wielding Zombie DT
x3 Knight Spirit CT
x1 Rough Seas Banshee CT
Grade 1
x1 Gust Jinn
x1 Dandy Romario
x3 Evil Shade
x1 Ripple Banshee
Grade 2
x3 Ruin Shade
x2 Captain Nightmist
x2 Three Star Chef, Pietro
Grade 3
x3 King of Demonic Seas, Basskirk
x4 Master Swordsman, Nightstorm
(Above are the confirmed cards that we've seen; there are around 20 cards missing from this list, but until complete data can be assembled it should give you an idea of what to expect from Gouki.)

Gouki's Granblue deck is geared toward making the best out of any game, no matter how bad it's going. That said, there are a lot of ways for this to go wrong. The key units to watch out in a typical build of this kind are Samurai Spirit, Captain Nightmist, and the Deadly series as well as Cocytus, but only Captain Nightmist has been sighted Gouki's initial decklist so far. The way these units operate is that when they're in the drop zone, Gouki can counterblast 1 and retire a Granblue rearguard to call them from the drop; Nightmist specifically requires a grade 1 or greater rearguard. Furthermore, Nightmist has just an 8000 base but gets +3000 power when another Nightmist is in the drop zone, so Gouki can have a consistent 16-18000 line and every time he intercepts with Nightmist or you retire it, he can just call it back again next turn, though not without a loss in card advantage.

The way that Gouki gets these cards into the drop zone outside of using them to defend is through the Shade series. Evil Shade gives a 10000 total boost to the vanguard line by sending 2 cards from the top of the deck to the drop zone when he boosts, while Ruin Shade goes from 9000 to 11000 when she attacks through the same cost. Evil Shade also forms a consistent 22000 line with any of Gouki's grade 3s, so even if you had a consistent Majesty Lord Blaster deck at this point Gouki would be able to manage pressure on the vanguard line.

The main issue with Gouki's deck is that it's not fully invested in the idea. This deck avoids using anything but minor counterblasts, because its focal grade 3 is Basskirk, a megablast. Basskirk soulcharges 1 at the start of Gouki's main phase and gets +2000 power, so he can have a consistent 20000 line with Romario, and this also starts off a countdown to the fight. Five to six turns after he rides Basskirk, Gouki will have 8 soul and can get off Basskirk's megablast, but only if he also has five open damage to counterblast with. This is why Pietro's in the deck--Gouki's plan is to use the cheaper counterblast 1 skills from Nightmist and Assault Troops to set up, then unflip them with Pietro and/or by healing damage so that he can have his megablast ready. Six turns is a long time to wait for the win condition, but Gouki speeds it up by using Rough Seas Banshee's skill to move her to the soul and draw 1, improving his consistency by getting access to more cards from the deck while also cutting down on how long he has to wait for the effective timer on Basskirk's skill to finish.

However, trying to devote so much to both the field management and the megablast means that Gouki is effectively stuck trying to strike a middleground between two different strategies, being exceptionally good at neither of them. The megablast itself lets him call up to five Granblue from the drop zone, which will usually increase his card advantage and can be a game-ending maneuver if done well. Usually what you end up with is Gouki not being able to get off the megablast because you aren't letting Pietro's attacks hit while he has two counterblast flipped and/or Gouki becomes unwilling to use skills that could turn the fight around because he's trying to save up for a long-term strategy.



Muu. It's my loss. It seems I misjudged your power.



You beat Gouki-san, that's amazing!



I'm surprised ka-boom!


Nagisa will shed a lot of tears. She has a formidable enemy now. Well, feel free to come and play anytime. Team Handsome welcomes you.


Monday, May 27, 2013

Study Guide: Narukami

Photo by rawritzrichii, not to be reposted elsewhere without the original photographer's express permission.
There's a very clear divide in Cardfight's development between what came before BT05 and everything that followed. No card can really be designed the way they were in 2011 when there are cards like Majesty Lord Blaster in the format. Sets that followed explored a rebalancing of the game by basing the early buildup of a match around a preparation and setup period, with most offensive play pushed into the last fourth of any given game by the limit break mechanic. Narukami, as one of the first clans to be created specifically around the idea of a limit break boss card, is effectively a reimagining of Kagerou with a more concentrated and consequently less freeform play style. This clan is characterized by its front row control and blocking of the opponent's intercepts, generally contrasted with Kagerou's back row control and self-standing skills, although their card pools do overlap.

Out of BT06: Breaker of Limits Narukami has two first vanguards available, Lizard Soldier Saishin and Spark Kid Dragoon. Saishin is the clan's unique FVG, a base 5000 grade 0 with the Forerunner skill that allows it to move into the rearguard when ridden over with a grade 1 of the same clan, and his unique skill is to counterblast 1 and move to the soul when an attack that he boosts hits the vanguard to retire an opponent's grade 0 rearguard. Saishin's skill decreases the card advantage that you gained from having him outride, but it also decreases the opponent's in the same move while locking them out of their FVG's skills. The idea behind this is that in addition to countering the opponent's skills, Saishin also decreases the total number of cards in play after you have already gained an advantage through other means like draw triggers or forcing defense from the opponent, stressing the importance of your existing lead. This is virtually the same skill as Gattling Claw Dragon but it comes built into your play from the opening of the game. The main disadvantage is that it puts the power to decide whether the attack will go through or not in the opponent's hands. In general it is a bad idea to give control over to the opponent at any point in the game, and this is why Saishin is generally placed behind the vanguard line, as your drive check can still break through their defense. Note that it is not necessarily bad for the attack to not go through. If the opponent spends cards defending Saishin's boost, then they're losing advantage and weakening their own ability to stop your attacks later in the game, when Narukami is at its strongest.

Spark Kid Dragoon is less impressive. He shares the Forerunner skill, but this is over a 4000 base, so automatically he has more trouble than Conroe in forming a basic 15-16000 line. His skill is a replica of Bermuda Triangle Cadet Shizuku's, to counterblast 1 in the main phase, move to the soul and look through the top five cards of the deck for a grade 3 of the same clan. This skill is usually not favored by professional cardfighters because of its unreliability, as it usually leads to losing Spark Kid and a counterblast with no grade 3 found, and Saishin himself counters Spark Kid. However, it is worth recognizing that within this specific clan Spark Kid is generally favored both within Japan and on a global scale; of the 34 pro cardfighters that use Narukami worldwide as of May 2013, 23 use Spark Kid Dragoon as their FVG. Japanese cardfighters that have used the standard Narukami build that we will be discussing in this module tended toward Saishin, while other builds used Spark Kid. Meanwhile English-speaking pros using the same standard build all ran Spark Kid during the 2012 World Championships. Experiment, and find a first vanguard that plays to your own strengths.

The key grade 1s for the original Narukami are Desert Gunner Raien, Photon Bomber Wyvern and Rising Phoenix. Raien is a base 7000 grade 1 that when ridden or called, chooses an opponent's rearguard and prevents it from intercepting. The 7000 base is welcome in the crossride format that Narukami was originally designed for, and this effectively locks the opponent out of 5-10000 shield at no cost. Interestingly, the Desert Gunner series also has provisions for the future. Even if a future card had a skill that allowed it to intercept from the back row, Raien could still block that from activating.

Bomber Wyvern is the clan's 10000-power booster. Coming in with a 6000 base, Photon Bomber Wyvern can give +4000 additional power when he boosts a Narukami vanguard if the opponent has three or more cards in their damage zone. Narukami has a variety of 11000-power units available, so this means that the vanguard line will generally be going for 21000 power to run over the opponent with a line that consistently needs a minimum of 20000 shield to defend safely. Because of his value to Narukami's offense and being one of the chief cards that differentiates from Kagerou's play, Photon Bomber is typically run at two to four copies, with most pros leaning towards four. This ensures not just being able to get him out consistently but also that if the opponent drops Kimnara, Gwynn the Ripper or another retire skill on him, Bomber can be easily replaced.

Rising Phoenix has just 5000 power, but when called can soulblast 1 to draw a card. As stated before, Narukami has multiple 11000 power units to pair that with, and as Narukami generally leans toward critical triggers and doesn't have a lot of heavy draw power from skills, Phoenix helps to make up the difference.

The clan's important grade 2s are Demonic Dragon Berserker Garuda, Desert Gunner Shiden, Dragonic Deathscythe and Hex Cannon Wyvern. Garuda is Narukami's Storm, a base 9000 grade 2 that can unflip one damage when his attack hits. This makes him an excellent midgame unit and filling the front row with him early on can guarantee a combo attack with Saishin. When the attack hits, first you resolve Saishin's skill with his counterblast and move him to the soul to retire the opponent's first vanguard, then you unflip that damage with Garuda's skill to save your damage zone for the things to come.

The focus on unflipping its damage is another factor that differentiates them from Kagerou in terms of play style if not card pool, as where Kagerou would prefer the stability of Nehalem's 10000 power base or Burning Horn Dragon's on-attack +3000, Narukami likes to have access to rapid unflipping in order to manage their damage zone and reuse costly skills. Deathscythe is another reason to run Garuda, being the Narukami equivalent to Berserk Dragon. On-ride or on-call you can counterblast 2 with Deathscythe to retire an opponent's grade 2 or lesser rearguard, improving both front row and backrow control, and you can even reverse the Garuda combo to use him in the same turn as Saishin. First you ride Garuda, then you call Deathscythe and counterblast 2 for his skill, then attack with Garuda, and when the attack hits you unflip one damage with the Dragon Berserker's skill, then pay Saishin's cost with your newly-unflipped damage.

Shiden is the grade 2 equivalent to Raien, clocking in at 9000 power and sharing Raien's ability to block the opponent's intercepts. Hex Cannon Wyvern has the lowest power of its grade at just 8000, but when it attacks and the opponent has three or more cards in their damage zone it gains +3000 power, so you can easily form anticrossride 18000 power lines or have a 21000 offensive vanguard by comboing this with Photon Bomber even if you're forced to set through one turn of grade lock.

There are two main grade 3s designed to be at the forefront of the clan's original play. Thunder Break Dragon has just 10000 power, and when placed on the vanguard circle can counterblast 2 to retire one of the opponent's grade 2 or lesser rearguards. This is effectively a watered down Deathscythe without a rearguard skill, and many fighters today would consider it underwhelming, but Thunder Break was originally a surprise at release because he was among the first units to make use of limit break. At limit break 4, Thunder Break gets +5000 power when he attacks, allowing for a consistent 21-23000 power line from four damage onward, 25000 with Photon Bomber Wyvern. Thunder Break also has his own custom booster, the grade 1 Dragon Dancer RaiRai. She has just 6000 power and like Charjgal can soulblast 1 when boosting Thunder Break to give him +5000 power, creating a consistent 26000-power vanguard line or a 21000-power Break rearguard, but this has its problems. Most limit breakers that get +5000 power on-attack have a unique call skill---Garmore superior calls from the deck, Cocytus calls from the drop zone, Kiriel from the damage zone, and so on. Thunder Break has a powerful booster, but no way to search her out as Garmore or Kiriel do, and he has no support cards that can search her out like those cards do. Furthermore, it's typically better to reserve that counterblast for real Deathscythes or for a different limit break. A better use of the slots that Thunder Break would be taking up would be using Djinn of the Lightning Flash, who like Break is a 10000 power grade 3, but Break gets +4000 power when he attacks all the time, so that he will always go for a crossride-busting 24000 power with Bomber Wyvern, and even in the rearguard Lightning Flash gets +2000 power on-attack to form a 20000 line with the base 8000 Red River Dragoon or otherwise making a simple 18000 line. Lightning Flash's continuous skill prevents him from attacking rearguards, but giving you Amaterasu-level power even when you miss your intended grade 3 ride makes him a better alternative to Thunder Break.

Narukami's boss card is Dragonic Kaiser Vermillion. Vermillion is the first of many 11000 power grade 3s to come, and his limit break is one of the better early uses of the mechanic in the game. At LB4 Kaiser Vermillion can counterblast 3 to activate his Vermillion Thunderbolt; he gets +2000 power until the end of the turn and battles all of the opponent's front row units when he attacks. (Keep in mind that like Dragonic Overlord, this skill has to be activated in the main phase, before you attack.) Having 13000 power lets him go for 21000 with Red River and 23000 with Photon Bomber, both key numbers in the various competitive formats. The mechanics of this limit break prevent the opponent from intercepting when Kaiser Vermillion attacks, and each unit must be guarded individually. Even a perfect defense card can only defend one unit. Because you want Vermillion to attack first when he uses this, stand triggers are not recommended in the deck, as attacking with a rearguard first is a misplay that the opponent will almost certainly intercept against to mitigate the impact of Vermillion's limit break while getting some use out of their remaining shield. As long as they have a full front row when Dragonic Kaiser Vermillion attacks, the opponent will start out taking a -2 and the decrease in advantage will only progress further from there. Because it is an expensive CB3, Garuda is essential for maintaining open damage, and getting the timing right is key to playing Vermillion skillfully.

Just because you're at four damage doesn't necessarily mean that this is the right time to use the skill, however. If for example, you're facing an Aqua Force cardfighter and their front row aside from their vanguard is a Penguin Soldier and Tri-holl Dracokid, it would generally be better to wait out the next turn and then use the limit break to take out more important units.

Narukami's play style is to strike like lightning and disappear like thunder. Your front row should be relatively uniform, without any weaknesses. The deck is straightforward to build because it does not rely on a lot of techs like Shadow Paladin nor does it even have the ability to manage them like Oracle Think Tank. However, because of this uniform and inflexible style, the clan is easy to learn and hard to master. You can't go in throwing out every skill at the first opportunity. A Narukami cardfighter has to know exactly when and where to pull out each card's skill, because there will be fights where you never want to use certain skills. Contrast this to Kagerou, which generally does not have mistiming issues and has very little reason to not use its skills; there is never a bad time to activate The End's persona blast when you are able to do so, nor is there a bad time to use Goku's retire skill.

The main problem faced by Narukami is that their strength stops with Dragonic Kaiser Vermillion. Until very late in development, this and Photon Bomber had been their lone concrete advantage over Kagerou, as Saishin's skill was already available through Gattling Claw Dragon with less conditions attached and a more flexible first vanguard available for the slot. It's certainly difficult to compare them favorably at their original release, but as we branch out into later sets and Narukami further differentiates itself as a clan, their individuals strengths should become more apparent.

Thirty-four pros use this clan.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

News: BCF2013 Kyoto Results Tweeted by Doctor O, Ethics Buster and Eradicators Sieze First

Early this morning Doctor O tweeted the results of the Bushiroad Cardfight 2013 Vanguard Stage in Kyoto, the second in a nationwide tour of tournaments that will last through July and will act as the Fighter's Road 2013 summer national tournament for Japan. While the previous tournament in Sendai saw unquestioned dominance of the Eradicators in the Open division and the celebrated return of Kagerou among Junior cardfighters, Kyoto's best 8's is significantly more diverse.

The top spot of the Junior class tournament, open only to elementary students and younger, was taken by a Nova Grappler cardfighter making use of the new Ethics Buster break ride and Beast Deity support cards. Second place went to an Angel Feather cardfighter who focused on Chief Nurse, Shamsiel and her Pegasus series. Meanwhile, the Open division tournament was topped by a Narukami deck based out of Eradicator, Gauntlet Buster Dragon, with second place going to a Gold Paladin Liberator deck. Among the tournament's best 8 were Majesty Lord Blaster, Ezel, and a vanguard-stand deck built off of Dauntless Drive Dragon and Dragonic Overlord The End. Like the previous tournament, this branch of FR2013 took place under the May 11th restricted list, but unlike in Sendai this event has had a much larger time gap between the announcement of the new list and the event itself, giving more time for cardfighters to prepare and promoting a more diverse environment overall compared to the fairly static pool of Eradicator decks that were previously at the height of professional play.

Bushiroad is expected to put out the tournament decklists within the next week. The remaining six tournaments will take place in Kanazawa, Hiroshima, Fukuoka, Tokyo, Sapporo and Nagoya. This will be the first time that the Fukuoka prefecture has been included in the national tournament, and also the first time that Okayama, Hakata and Osaka will not be participating.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

News: June KeroKero Ace Leaked, Raging Folm Dragon & Mordred Phantom

Pages from this month's issue of KeroKero Ace magazine have been leaked  two days early, revealing key cards from TD10: Purgatory Revenger and BT12: Binding Force of the Black Rings. Although additional news is still forthcoming, for now the below images have begun circulating through Twitter and the Japanese blogosphere.

Among the highlights of the issue are the skills of Revenger, Raging Folm Dragon, which merge the abilities of Spectral Duke Dragon, Phantom Blaster Overlord and Chromejailer to create a unique winning image for the Revenger series. The Dark Irregulars have received a new "Amon" subgroup, to support their upcoming Reverse card.

The below translations were done by NeoArkadia. Flavor text was translated by Touya.
Demon Dragon Who Rules The Heavens, Dungaree "Unlimited"
Grade 3/Narukami - Thunder Dragon/11000 Power
[AUTO] (V) LB4: [Counterblast 2, Bind the Top Card of your Deck] When this Unit attacks, pay the cost. If you do, target an opponent's front row Rearguard, retire it, and during this turn, for each of your bound <<Narukami>>, this Unit gains 2000 power.
[CONT] (V) If you have "Sealed Demon Dragon, Dungaree" in your Soul, this Unit gains 2000 Power.
[CONT] V/R: Lord
Revenger, Raging Folm Dragon
“We living in shadow, as one army and one soul will destroy you!

Grade 3/Shadow Paladin - Abyss Dragon/11000 Power
[AUTO] (V) LB4: Target 3 of your “Revenger” Rearguards, retire them. At the end of a Battle in which this Unit attacked, you can pay the cost, if you do, target up to 1 “Revenger, Raging Folm Dragon” in your hand, Ride it, target your Vanguard, and during this turn that unit gains [Power]+10000.
[AUTO] (V): [Counterblast 1]: When this unit attacks, you can pay the cost. If you do, this unit gains [Power]+3000 during this battle.
[CONT] (V/R): Lord

(Note; a "folm" is an Old English word for a hand or palm. Hence, "Raging Hand Dragon.")



Revenger of Infernal Illusions, Mordred Phantom
Grade 3/Shadow Paladin - Elf/11000 Power
[AUTO] LB4: [CB1] When a "Shadow Paladin" Rides this Unit, you can pay the cost. If you do, target 1 of your Vanguards, it gains [Power]+10000 during this turn. Search your Deck for up to 1 Grade 2 or lower "Shadow Paladin", call it as a Rearguard, then shuffle your Deck, and that Unit has [Power]+5000 during this turn.
[AUTO] (V): When this Unit attacks the Vanguard, during that batle, this Unit has [Power]+2000.
Cont (V/R): Lord






Black-Clothed Revenger, Tartu
Grade 2/Shadow Paladin/9000 Power/5000 Shield
[AUTO]: [Counterblast 2] When this Unit appears in the Vanguard or Rearguard Circle, if you have a <<Shadow Paladin>> Vanguard, you may pay the cost. If you do, look through your Deck for up to 1 Grade 1 or lower "Revenger" Card in your Deck, call that Unit to a Rearguard Circle on the same column as this unit, then shuffle your Deck.
Revenger, Darkbond Trumpter
Grade 1/Shadow Paladin/6000 Power/5000 Shield
[AUTO]: [Counterblast 1] When this Unit appears in the Vanguard or Rearguard Circle, if you have a <<Shadow Paladin>> Vanguard, you may pay the cost. If you do, look through your Deck for up to 1 Grade 0 or lesser "Revenger," call that Unit to a Rearguard Circle at Rest, then shuffle your Deck.









Harbinger Revenger, Claudus
Grade 0/Shadow Paladin/5000 Power/10000 Shield
[AUTO]: Forerunner
[ACT] (R): [Counterblast 1, Place this Unit in your Soul] If you have a Grade 3 or higher "Shadow Paladin" Vanguard, search your Deck for up to 1 "Blaster Dark, Revenger", call it to a Rearguard Circle, then shuffle your Deck.










Morale Revenger, Dorin
Grade 1/Shadow Paladin/7000 Power/5000 Shield
[AUTO] (R): When your "Blaster Dark Revenger" appears in a vanguard or rearguard circle on the same column as this unit, and your vanguard has "Revenger" in its card name, choose 1 card from your damage zone, and turn it face up.
Buranbau, Revenger
Grade 1/Shadow Paladin/6000 Power/5000 Shield
[AUTO] (R): When this Unit boosts a <<Shadow Paladin>> Vanguard, if you have more Rearguards than your opponent, during this battle, the boosted Unit gains [Power]+4000.












Revenger of Nullity, Masquerade
Grade 2/Shadow Paladin/9000 Power/5000 Shield
[AUTO] (RC):When this unit attacks, if you have a vanguard with "Revenger" in its card name, this unit gets [Power]+3000 until end of that battle.












Transient Revenger, Masqurade
Grade 1/Shadow Paladin/7000 Power /5000 Shield
[AUTO] (R): When this Unit attacks, if you have a "Revenger" Vanguard, this Unit gains 3000 Power.
Spinbau Revenger
Grade 0/Shadow Paladin/4000 Power/10000 Shield
[AUTO]: Forerunner
[AUTO]: [Place this Unit in your Soul] When this Unit boosts a Shadow Paladin with LB4, during this battle, if its Attack hits the Vanguard, you can pay the cost. if you do, draw 1 card.
Revenger of Malice, Talin
Grade 1/Shadow Paladin/6000 Power/5000 Shield
[AUTO (R): [Soulblast 1] When this Unit boosts "Revenger, Raging Folm Dragon", you can pay the cost. If you do, the boosted Unit gains an additional 5000 Power.
Revenger, Zerschlagen
Grade 3/Shadow Paladin - Golem/10000 Power
[AUTO] (R): When a Grade 3 <<Shadow Paladin>> appears in the Vanguard Circle, this Unit gains 10000 Power this turn.

(Zerschlagen is German "smash to pieces")
Dark Revenger, Mac Lir
Grade 1/Shadow Paladin - Human/6000 Power/0 Shield
[CONT]: Sentinel (You may only have up to four cards with "[CONT]: Sentinel" in a deck.)
[AUTO]: [Choose a «Shadow Paladin» from your hand, and discard it] When this unit is placed on (GC), you may pay the cost. If you do, choose one of your «Shadow Paladin», and that unit cannot be hit until end of that battle.









Masked King, Dantalian
Grade 3/Dark Irregulars - Human/11000 Power
[AUTO] (LB4): When a <<Dark Irregulars>> Rides this card, choose 1 of your Vanguards, it gains [Power]+10000 during this turn and choose up to 3 of your <<Dark Irregulars>> Rearguards, during this turn, they gain "Cont (R): This Unit gains 1000 Power for each <<Dark Irregulars>> in your Soul".
[AUTO] (V): When this Unit attacks the Vanguard, Soul Charge 1, this Unit gains [Power]+1000 during this Battle.
Cont (V/R): Lord







House of Amon, Fate Collector
Grade 0/Dark Irregular/5000 Power/10000 Shield
[AUTO]: Forerunner
[CONT] (R): If your Soul has 6 or more <<Dark Irregulars>> in it, this Unit gains <<Auto (R): [Place this Unit in your Soul] At the end of a Battle in which this Unit boosts a <<Dark Irregulars>>, you can pay the cost. If you do, draw 1 card.










House of Amon, Hell's Deal
Grade 1/Dark Irregulars/7000 Power/5000 Shield
[AUTO]: When this Unit appears in the Rearguard, if you have an "Amon" Vanguard, you can Soul Charge 2 cards.

House of Amon, Hell's Draw
Grade 2/Dark Irregulars/9000 Power/5000 Shield
[AUTO]: When this Unit appears in a Rearguard Circle, if you have an "Amon" Vanguard, you can Soul Charge 2 cards.












Nightmare Doll, Chelsea
Grade 3/Pale Moon/10000 Power/No Shield
[AUTO] (V) LB4: [Counterblast 2, Choose 1 "Nightmare Doll, Chelsea" in your hand, discard it] At the end of a Battle in which this Unit attacks a Vanguard, you can pay the cost. If you do, choose up to 2 "Pale Moon" in your Soul, call them to seperate Rearguard Circles.
[AUTO] (V): When this unit is boosted by a <<Pale Moon>>, during that battle, this unit gets [POWER]+3000.
Tightrope Tumbler
Grade 1/Pale Moon/7000 Power/5000 Shield
[AUTO]: When this Unit appears in a Rearguard Circle from the Soul, if you have a <<Pale Moon>> Vanguard, you can Soul Charge 2.
Miracle Pop, Ava
Grade 3/Pale Moon - Elf/11000 Power
[AUTO] (V): When this Unit is ridden by a <<Pale Moon>>, Choose 1 of your Vanguards, it gains [Power]+10000 this turn and gains "Auto (V): [Choose 2 of your <<Palemoon>> Rearguards, place them in the soul, when this Unit attacks, pay the cost. If you do, Choose up 2 <<Pale Moon>> in your Soul, and call them to separate Rearguard Circles."
[AUTO] (V): When this Unit attacks the Vanguard, Soul Charge 1, this Unit gains [Power]+1000 during this Battle.
[CONT] (V/R): Lord

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

News: Trial Deck 12, BT13 & Extra Booster 07 Announced, Koutei to Return to Prominence, Oracle Think Tank to Receive Break Ride

These promo images are sweeping the net up in a fervor, originating on one of the official Cardfight!! Vanguard twitter accounts. The advertisements have revealed the twelfth Japanese trial deck, VG-TD12: Dimensional Brave Kaiser, which will be the first trial deck for the Dimension Police clan. The deck's cover character is Mitsusada Kenji, otherwise known by his nickname Koutei or "Emperor." Koutei has not been seen in the anime since going overseas to study at the Singapore Institute of Technology, and his return likely means that his Team Caesar will also enter the spotlight once more.

The TD-12 tagline is 「 新たなる超次元勇者......参!!」 "A new Super Dimensional Hero...appears!!" possibly referencing the previous Dimension Police boss card Super Dimensional Robo, Daiyusha and his transformation into Ultimate Dimensional Robo, Great Daiyusha. Note that while 超次元勇者 would normally be translated to "Super Dimensional Hero/Brave," this is also the name of the set "Dimensional Brave Kaiser." Rather than introduce a new subgroup, the twelfth trial deck will reinforce the existing Dimensional Robo series, including a new break ride unit. Four new cards from TD12 will be exclusive to the trial deck, while four others will be reprinted in BT13.

Along with this announcement comes the reveal of VG-EB07: Mystical Magus, the seventh extra booster overall and the second to exclusively support Oracle Think Tank. Extra Booster 7 will introduce break ride support for OraThin, but notably both the Lozenge Magus on the set's cover and the illustration of Tokura Misaki are rendered by manga artist Itou Akira. While Itou is Cardfight's chief creative influence and the father of the franchise, the third season Link Joker in particular has been noted to draw many ideas from him directly, hence how closely it matches the manga's storyline compared to previous seasons. The extra booster is currently stated to focus on Misaki's manga playstyle, the Magus and Battle Sister series, as well as cards that will combo with an upcoming promo card from the sixth volume of the manga. It is currently unknown how closely EB07 is tied to Link Joker, but the current speculation is that Misaki will be returning to her original clan at some point in the third season rather than continuing to study Genesis, in order to better match up with her manga counterpart.

VG-TD12: Dimensional Brave Kaiser will be released on August 9, 2013 while VG-EB07: Mystical Magus will be released on August 30. EB07 will contain 35 cards in all, 14 new and 21 reprints, with 2 RRR, 5 RR, 8 R, 20 C and 4 SP prints.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Opinion: Where is Link Joker Headed?

(Note: Today's article was written before the official reveal of the BT12 sleeves. Doctor O tweeted the names six hours ago at about 6AM EST. The translated name of the new Luquier is Silver Thorn Dragon Empress, Luquier “Я” and the reading for “Я” says to pronounce it as either Reverse or Rebirth; these are homophones in katakana and the pun is probably intentional. Luquier “Я” is confirmed to be a Pale Moon unit. The other new units revealed are Revenger, Raging (or Rising) Form Dragon and Star-vader, Nebula Lord Dragon. Nebula Lord is the set's cover card. I have edited the names into the captioned images below, but the article is otherwise unchanged.)

The recently-released poster for VG-BT12: Binding Force of the Black Rings has drawn a lot of attention for an apparent new direction headed by one of the cards showcased for the set. While not immediately apparent to most fighters, the implications of the card's design for not just this coming booster set but also for sets to follow are far-reaching.

This Luquier at the left, all but confirmed at her original debut alongside the set's cover card to be one of the new Link Joker units introduced by BT12, is at the root of the discussion. While Link Joker so far has exclusively had United Sanctuary as its nation, the color of Joker Luquier's nation in the new poster is purple--Dark Zone, the same as her original incarnation. Several possibilities have arisen from this, not all of them mutually exclusive ideas.

1. Link Joker as a multinational clan.
This is not so much a possibility as it is what the new Luquier has concretely established. Link Joker is now a clan that draws from multiple nations. As virtually every Joker unit introduced by TD11 and BT12 has had an existing counterpart, this is only somewhat surprising, but what needs to be understood is that when we talk about Link Joker from the perspective of being a "multinational clan" we're also implying that the other possibilities are not reality. Essentially, if we take perspective 1, none of the below ideas apply. I consider this idea is less likely because there's no real precedent within the game mechanics for multiple nations to have an impact. Currently, no skills rely on nation, so this would be an entirely decorative thing. BT12 is allegedly introducing a system that will "defy common sense," and while many have assumed that the new Lock mechanic will be that same common-sense defying factor, the promotional materials have not explicitly identified Lock as being so. As for what does defy common sense, that brings us to point 2.

2. Link Joker as a double clan deck.
The idea of double clan units has held public fascination on and off for several years now, but it hasn't yet been implemented in a major way. BT09 used it to make the Spirit cards more playable and to tie back to the card lore, one of the Etranger promotional cards did it to provide Aqua Force with a Knight Squire Allen clone, and for a long time BT10 was suspected to introduce Gold-Royal double clan units, but this last idea did not turn out. Joker Luquier--possibly, "Star-vader Luquier"--has a little more precedent when we consider that having a unit that is a Pale Moon with "[CONT]: This card is also a «Link Joker»." would be able to simultaneously update two clans at once. By making the card playable between two different clans, it expedites the ease with which Bushiroad can update different clans, and it would also affect sales. Although concrete numbers are not currently available, the general trend agreed upon by retailers is that the set in which Luquier originally debuted, VG- and VGE-BT07: Rampage of the Beast King did not sell as well compared to its contemporaries. Rampage was a set that primarily updated non-core clans, focusing on Dark Irregulars, Pale Moon, Angel Feather and Great Nature. The core clans that it did update were Gold Paladin and Oracle Think Tank; but the GoPala support consisted of Pellinore assist units, and the OraThin support was for the new soulless deck, chiefly in the form a new FVG, when many OraThin cardfighters were already very content with their Tsukuyomi builds.

The result was that the majority of Gold Paladin cardfighters went in to get copies of Listener of Truth Dindrane for their Garmore decks, then jumped ship to wait for BT09 while Oracle Think Tank cardfighters either just bought their Little Witch LuLu and Glace rares or didn't buy Rampage at all. With BT08 bringing Aqua Force to the table, it was very easy for the set to be overlooked. Worth considering is that in the 2012 world championships, Gold Paladin always had a presence of at least 18.2% or greater in every tournament, averaging at 26.32% throughout the season while Pale Moon, Dark Irregulars, Great Nature and Angel Feather combined averaged a presence of 10.47%. Excepting the unclear "20% Rest of Clan" results from Indonesia, there were no qualifiers in which Royal Paladin and Kagerou were not played, but there were qualifiers where Pale Moon did not show up at all, despite Pale Moon coming in second for the Great Britain qualifier and third for the European finals overall while Royal Paladin only appeared as second at the Philippines' regional. What is being illustrated here is that the global popularity of these clans impacts the sales of sets that focus on them, and it's actually quite apt that the third season of Cardfight!! Vanguard chose to open with a discussion on globalization and common sense, because in a period where the franchise is undergoing globalization the once-impossible thought of double clan mechanics may be just the common sense-defying idea that can save the more obscure clans.

By creating Link Joker as a core clan and packaging their key units with the return of the Shadow Paladins in BT12, Bushiroad may be able to replicate the global success of BT04: Eclipse of Illusionary Shadows, one of the bestselling sets of all time that was in the past practically carried by the Shadow Paladins that it introduced. BT04 is also known for reinforcing many minor clans, giving Megacolony and Dimension Police enough cards to be playable while also refining the concept of ride evolution that would go on to proliferate to every clan in the game in subsequent sets like EB02 and BT06. As with BT04, BT12 can become the launchpad for the mass support of smaller clans, by piggybacking that support onto Joker cards. Link Joker being a double clan deck would allow Bushiroad to give support to clans like Pale Moon and Megacolony while using a consumer base of Link Joker cardfighters to make it economically viable. In the example that we've been discussing, "Star-vader Luquier" is a Pale Moon with "[CONT]: This card is also a «Link Joker»." I don't intend to speculate on what her actual skill will be when printed, but for the purposes of our example let's say that it's a V/R activate skill that requires a Pale Moon vanguard and can call any grade 2 or lower unit from the soul for some amount of counterblast. Pale Moon cardfighters that use Luquier could use her example skill in either the vanguard or the rearguard, but Link Joker cardfighters would be only able to use her if she was in the vanguard circle.

In another example, let's say that Star-vader Luquier actually has two skills; one of them lets her call any grade 2 or lesser Pale Moon from the soul, and another can let her call any grade 1 or grade 2 Link Joker from the soul. In this example, you would have two skills but only one would see play depending on whether her cardfighter is using a Pale Moon or Link Joker deck. Assuming that Luquier is the only Link Joker-Pale Moon hybrid, Link Joker cardfighters would only be able to use her second skill because there would be no other Pale Moons in a Link Joker deck normally, while Pale Moon cardfighters would only use her first skill because there would not be any Link Jokers in their decks below grade 3. Keep in mind that these example skills are just thought experiments--I'm only showing how double clan cards could work, I don't think that these are her actual skills.

Both economically and mechanically, double clan Link Joker makes sense as an interesting mechanic and new play style that fits the bill for "defying common sense," but the implications of a double clan Joker are far-reaching. The cover card for BT12 is a Joker Spectral Duke Dragon; but SDD is generally agreed upon based out of his lore and holding the Armor of the Black Horse to be a reincarnation of Phantom Blaster Dragon. There have been a lot of questions as to where the Shadow Paladins in BT12 are because of a lack of obvious units out of those revealed--so is this Joker SDD a Shadow Paladin or a Gold Paladin? Ren's return to the anime and his current deck would suggest the former, and in that case, the cover card for BT12 is both a Shadow Paladin and a Link Joker unit at the same time. Considering the anime though, if Luquier is both a Pale Moon and a Link Joker simultaneously, then the release of the new batch of posters is timed perfectly because the upcoming match between Asaka and Kourin is being resolved this week. With Leon having previously pointed out that Fukuhara's Foo Fighters were holding something secret, Luquier may be the trump card that decides the fight. In other words, the first Link Joker unit that we see the actual skills of could appear as early as this coming Saturday.

Left to Right; Great Daiyusha - Mitsusada Kenji, Battle Sister Tiramasu (debated) - Tokura Misaki, Knight Squire Allen (debated) - Sendou Aichi
With regards to TD11: Star-vader Invasion, I feel the need to point out that there is no anime character on the cover of the trial deck. This is a first for the franchise. Even when Aqua Force debuted as the new antagonist clan of the Asia Circuit, Leon was still shown as being on the front cover of the deck in promotional materials. We knew of Leon before we even knew his name. The fact that TD11 has no anime characters on its cover suggests to me one of two things. Either this is being done because the character to use Link Joker this season is someone from the existing cast and it would be a spoiler at this point to know who, or it's because Link Joker is going to be used by multiple characters. If it is a double clan deck, then there's a lot of existing correlations drawn by fans that can point to which characters and clans are seeing representation within Link Joker.

Left to Right; Blaster Blade - Sendou Aichi or Kai Toshiki, Star-vader Infinite Zero Dragon (Eradicator Armor Break Dragon (debated) - Ishida Naoki)
The timing of some other parts of the franchise should also be considered. Starter Set 0 included a manga containing the prologue chapter "#0 The Beginning of Everything," authored by franchise creator Itou Akira, which focused on Kai's time as a Royal Paladin cardfighter, his connection to Blaster Blade and Blaster Blade Burst, and on Kai's childhood friend Ibuki Kouji. I should point out that, although such sources are not always reliable, Japanese twitter reports from the "Get! Deck Holder Caravan 2013" Bushiroad event mentioned that CEO Takaaki Kidani said in a Q&A panel that most of the ideas for the third season came from Itou, and that there is a planned "mood shift" in the anime related to the term Link Joker (this was prior to the announcement that LJ would be a clan.) As one of the cover cards for TD11 appears to be a corrupted Blaster Blade, and that between Kai, Ren, Aichi and Ibuki there are four characters with some kind of connection to the card in the franchise, the probability of an existing character using Link Joker is sky high.

Given that Link Joker has an extraterrestrial theme and is described in the lore as a group of invaders, it seems as though these units are being abducted and corrupted by BT12's titular "Black Rings," allowing Link Joker to gradually invade each of the clans in turn and take over Cray from the inside.

Left to Right; Star-vader, Nebula Lord Dragon (Spectral Duke Dragon - Suzugamori Ren), Silver Thorn Dragon Empress Luquier “Я” (Silver Thorn Dragon Tamer Luquier - Narumi Asaka)
The idea has already been put forth that Link Joker represents Void's clan within the anime, and if so then this also explains why Ren's former persona has resurfaced. If the Link Joker print of Duke Dragon is a double clan with Shadow Paladin, then Void may already have begun corrupting him from the inside. Although the Shadow Paladins themselves were once portrayed within the series as a semi-mystical, inherently corrupting force and the possibility remains that their deck still has these properties in the anime, this possibility seems relatively slim in face of the more concretely realized idea that Link Joker is "infecting" the decks of the cast.

3. Link Joker as a mixed clan deck.
This possibility is what I consider the least likely but still within the realm of plausibility. In this scenario, the above Luquier is not a Link Joker at all, but only a Pale Moon. Link Joker would then only have pure Link Joker units within its clan, but would encourage the use of other clans in the deck, possibly to activate the Lock skill. Without guessing what Lock actually entails, let's assume that it needs units of another clan as part of its cost. The Joker Luquier would then be a supporting, rearguard grade 3, not intended to be in the vanguard circle but instead used for skills that work independent of clan and help support Lock. The reason that I consider this unlikely is because of how cumbersome it would be to potentially ride those non-Link Joker units and be unable to use your Jokers' skills at all. Riding Blaster Dark in a Majesty Lord Blaster deck is already hard, more so if you don't have any Royal Paladins in hand to call, because once Wingal Brave is off the field your triggers no longer activate and you already can't use the skills of units like Pongal or Iseult; how problematic would it be to have more than four cards in the deck that could trap you out of your perfect defense, skills and triggers?

That said, it may be intended as a more tech heavy build that has more options for specific searching. Only a couple clans handle direct searching at the moment, but if Link Joker has skills that are limited to searching for units from other clans, then it could be balanced out. For example, you could have a skill that in some way has you lose two Link Joker units as a cost, then add two units of different clans to your hand; requiring the search targets to be of different clans from one another as well would restrict you from double dipping on skills that specify a particular type of rearguard.

4. Luquier is not a Link Joker.
This is probably the most likely possibility next to point 2. As interesting a mechanic as a double clan unit could be, the Dark Zone nation box all but confirms her as a Pale Moon unit and only the illustration suggests that double clan could be a reality. And while there isn't enough information for any further speculation on what Lock entails, it's much simpler for the one announced but unrevealed mechanic to be the mechanic that the promotional materials are talking about than it is for an unannounced idea with little precedence to be so. Lore-wise, the new Luquier could be empowered by Link Joker without actually being a part of it, and so far all previous predictions of double clan mechanics have been overturned. Considering that the card illustration being irrelevant to the game mechanics is in page 3 of the rulebook, this could be the promotional materials taking us for a spin. The wrench in this point is that one of the first promo images put out for the set shows the new Luquier's illustration side by side with the new SDD's, and it would be strange for a connection to be implied by the company and then immediately cast away.

If it seems that the editor is biased toward point 2, he is; there's less to write about the others.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

News: Fighter's Road 2013 & Vanguard Fight High School 2013 Summer Regional Tournament Results

This morning the results for Japan's ongoing national championship went public, following up Doctor O's reports from earlier in the week. These were the first official tournaments to take place following the introduction of the May 11th restricted list, and as a result Dragonic Overlord The End was projected to be a major contender in the tournament environment. However, with exception made for the recently-released Blockade Inferno, Japanese cardfighters seem to have eradicated crossrides as a useful mechanic in their singles format, as in spite of the restricted list Descendant has once again taken both first and second place in the Open division. The previously-mentioned exception comes from Blockade Inferno's introduction to professional play, as Haryuu Jin'ichi's Inferno deck took the Juniors by storm, surpassing Sato Yuushin's Liberator build to become a standout among the decks featured today.

In VFHS news, the Sendai regional team is getting attention for its forward cardfighter using a Spike Brothers variant relying on Jelly Beans. The deck runs an excessive number of grade 3s, but because of the search skill of its key card, it can pick out any unit with "Dudley" in its name and add it directly to the hand, bypassing gradelock entirely. Although not currently possible in the English format, on the Japanese side of the Pacific the Spike Brothers' access to the grade 2 Dudley Mason for his field setup gives it powerful consistency. With regard to VFHS decklists, note that there are two teams from each event but neither of them are the runner-up; VFHS is divided into Open and Student-only divisions this year.

For the duration of FR2013, the Senior Class division of tournaments has been retired in favor of a new division, Open Class. Under the new model, only elementary students and younger may participate in the Juniors' division, while anyone can participate in the Open division. Previously, Junior cardfighters could not take part in adult competitions, but with many past prodigies now able to tackle the higher brackets, existing professionals and rising stars alike have reason to be nervous from the heavier competition.

As with the Asia Circuit Memorial Tournament, Doctor O is selecting decks from the finalists that did not make it to first or second place to be featured.

Open Class Regional Tournament
Regional Champion: Nanakado Yuusuke/七角悠介
Grade 0

x1 Ambush Dragon Eradicator, Linchu (FVG)
x4 Eradicator, Dragon Mage DT
x4 Eradicator, Yellow Gem Carbuncle CT
x4 Demonic Dragon Eradicator, Seiobo HT
x4 Eradicator of the Divine Spear, Castor CT
Grade 1
x2 Rising Phoenix
x2 Eradicator of the Ceremonial Bonfire, Castor
x4 Eradicator, Wyvern Guard Guld
x4 Eradicator, Demolition Dragon
x3 Iron Blood Eradicator, Shuki
Grade 2
x3 Storm Bring Dragon
x4 Eradicator, Spark Rain Dragon
x1 Dragonic Deathscythe
x3 Fiendish Sword Eradicator, Chou-Ou
Grade 3
x2 Eradicator, Dragonic Descendant
x4 Eradicator, Gauntlet Buster Dragon
x1 Eradicator, Vowing Sword Dragon

Runner-up: Ishida Akihiro/石田晃浩
Grade 0

x1 Spark Kid Dragoon (FVG)
x2 Yellow Gem Carbuncle CT
x2 Eradicator, Dragon Mage DT
x4 Eradicator, Yellow Gem Carbuncle CT
x4 Demonic Dragon Eradicator, Seiobo HT
x4 Eradicator of the Divine Spear, Castor CT
Grade 1
x3 Rising Phoenix
x4 Eradicator, Wyvern Guard Guld
x4 Eradicator, Demolition Dragon
x4 Iron Blood Eradicator, Shuki
Grade 2
x4 Eradicator, Spark Rain Dragon
x2 Dragonic Deathscythe
x4 Fiendish Sword Eradicator, Chou-Ou
Grade 3
x2 Eradicator, Dragonic Descendant
x3 Eradicator, Gauntlet Buster Dragon
x3 Eradicator, Sweep Command Dragon

Doctor O's Pick: Haryuu Shino/針生凌
Grade 0
x1 Black Dragon Whelp, Vortimer (FVG)
x4 Elixir Liberator HT
x4 Flame of Victory CT
x1 Strike Liberator CT
x3 Liberator of Hope, Epona CT
x4 Falcon Knight of the Azure DT
Grade 1
x3 Knight of Elegant Skills, Gareth
x3 Blessing Owl
x4 Halo Shield, Mark
x4 Scout of Darkness, Vortimer
Grade 2
x2 Blaster Dark Spirit
x1 Knight of Superior Skills, Beaumains
x1 Liberator of Silence, Gallatin
x4 Player of the Holy Bow, Viviane
x4 Black Dragon Knight, Vortimer
Grade 3
x4 Spectral Duke Dragon
x3 Solitary Liberator, Gancelot

Junior Class Regional Tournament
Regional Champion: Haryuu Jin'ichi/針生仁壱
Grade 0
x1 Red Pulse Dracokid (FVG)
x4 Seal Dragon, Biera CT
x4 Seal Dragon, Dobi ST
x4 Seal Dragon, Shading HT
x4 Seal Dragon, Artpitch DT
Grade 1
x3 Seal Dragon, Chambray
x3 Seal Dragon, Rinocross
x4 Seal Dragon, Kersey
x4 Seal Dragon, Flannel
Grade 2

x3 Seal Dragon, Corduroy
x4 Seal Dragon, Jakado
x4 Seal Dragon, Hungerhell Dragon
Grade 3
x1 Dauntless Drive Dragon
x4 Seal Dragon, Blockade
x3 Hellfire Seal Dragon, Blockade Inferno

Runner-up: Sato Yuushin/佐藤湧真
Grade 0
x1 Wingal Liberator (FVG)
x4 Liberator of Hope, Epona CT
x4 Strike Liberator CT
x4 Weapons Liberator, Gwydion DT
x4 Elixir Liberator HT
Grade 1
x1 Curved Blade Liberator, Josephus
x1 Liberator, Flare Mane Stallion
x2 Liberator of the Future, Llew
x4 Little Liberator, Marron
x4 Halo Liberator, Mark
x4 Bomergal the Liberator
Grade 2
x3 Blaster Blade Liberator
x3 Liberator of Silence, Gallatin
x3 Liberator of Royalty, Phallon
x2 Liberator of the Flute, Escrad
Grade 3
x4 Liberator of the Round Table, Alfred
x2 Solitary Liberator, Gancelot
x2 Wild Dancing Liberator, Mailshion
x1 Goshawk Liberator, Cadeau

Doctor O's Pick: Motoki Takashi/元木崇
Grade 0
x1 Aiming for the Stars, Artemis (FVG)
x4 Bandit Danny DT
x4 Battle Maiden, Kukurihime CT
x4 Cyber Tiger CT
x4 Large Pot Witch, Laurie
Grade 1
x4 Bowstring of Heaven and Earth, Artemis
x3 Battle Maiden, Tatsutahime
x2 Mice Guard, Sirius
x2 Goddess of Self-sacrifice, Kushinada
x1 Snipe Snake
x1 Witch of Cats, Cumin
Grade 2
x4 Twilight Hunter, Artemis
x4 Battle Maiden, Saohime
x2 Mice Guard, Orion
x2 Witch of Owls, Paprika
x1 Clever Jake
Grade 3
x2 Eternal Goddess, Iwanagahime
x2 Battle Deity of the Night, Artemis
x1 Oracle Queen, Himiko
x2 Witch of Wolves, Saffron

Vanguard Fight High School 2013 Summer, Open Class Sendai Regional Tournament Championship Team
Katou Hirohisa/加藤寛久
Grade 0
x1 Mecha Trainer (FVG)
x4 Sonic Breaker CT
x4 Silence Joker CT
x4 Cheerful Lynx DT
x4 Cheer Girl, Tiara HT
Grade 1
x4 Wonder Boy
x3 Cheer Girl, Marylin
x3 Dudley Daisy
x2 Reckless Express
x1 UFO
Grade 2

x4 Highspeed Brakki
x4 Dudley Mason
x1 Devil Summoner
Grade 3
x3 Demonic Lord, Dudley Emperor
x4 Bad End Dragger
x2 Juggernaut Maximum
x2 Jelly Beans

Masaki Takashi/正木隆志
Grade 0
x1 Spring Breeze Messenger (FVG)
x4 Liberator of Hope, Epona CT
x4 Strike Liberator CT
x4 Weapons Liberator, Gwydion DT
x4 Elixir Liberator HT
Grade 1
x4 Curved Blade Liberator, Josephus
x1 Liberator, Flare Mane Stallion
x1 Liberator of the Future, Llew
x4 Little Liberator, Marron
x4 Halo Liberator, Mark
Grade 2
x4 Blaster Blade Liberator
x4 Liberator of Royalty, Phallon
x4 Liberator of the Flute, Escrad
Grade 3
x4 Liberator of the Round Table, Alfred
x3 Solitary Liberator, Gancelot

Kikuji Toshiyuki/菊地俊志
Grade 0
x1 Spark Kid Dragoon (FVG)
x4 Eradicator, Dragon Mage DT
x4 Eradicator, Yellow Gem Carbuncle CT
x4 Demonic Dragon Eradicator, Seiobo HT
x4 Eradicator of the Divine Spear, Castor CT
Grade 1
x4 Eradicator, Wyvern Guard Guld
x4 Eradicator, Demolition Dragon
x2 Iron Blood Eradicator, Shuki
x4 Eradicator of the Ceremonial Bonfire, Castor
Grade 2
x4 Eradicator, Spark Rain Dragon
x2 Dragonic Deathscythe
x4 Fiendish Sword Eradicator, Chou-Ou
x2 Eradicator, Thunder Boom Dragon
Grade 3
x2 Eradicator, Dragonic Descendant
x2 Eradicator, Gauntlet Buster Dragon
x3 Eradicator, Sweep Command Dragon

Vanguard Fight High School 2013 Summer, Student-only Class Sendai Regional Tournament Championship Team
Hajime Shun'ya/原駿矢
Grade 0
x1 Little Witch, LuLu (FVG)
x4 Oracle Guardian, Nike CT
x4 Psychic Bird CT
x4 Battle Sister, Ginger CT
x4 Lozenge Magus HT
Grade 1
x4 Oracle Guardian, Gemini
x4 Battle Sister, Chocolat
x3 Dark Cat
x2 Battle Sister, Omelet
x1 Circle Magus
Grade 2
x4 Battle Sister, Mocha
x2 Oracle Guardian, Wiseman
x1 Battle Sister, Tart
x3 Silent Tom
x1 Battle Sister, Macaron
Grade 3
x4 Battle Sister, Cookie
x4 Scarlet Witch, CoCo

Ishiyama Masaki/石山正起
Grade 0
x1 Lizard Soldier, Conroe (FVG)
x2 Gatling Claw Dragon DT
x2 Embodiment of Spear, Tahr CT
x3 Seal Dragon, Artpitch DT
x4 Dragon Monk, Genjo HT
x1 Seal Dragon, Biera CT
x4 Demonic Dragon Mage, Raksha
Grade 1
x4 Embodiment of Armor, Bahr
x3 Seal Dragon, Kersey
x4 Wyvern Guard, Barri
x3 Dragon Monk, Gojo
Grade 2

x2 Dragon Knight, Nehalem
x3 Cross Shot, Garp
x4 Burning Horn Dragon
x2 Berserk Dragon
Grade 3

x4 Dragonic Overlord The End
x4 Dragonic Overlord

Ishiyama Shunto/石山舜登
Grade 0
x1 Crimson Lion Cub, Kyrph
x4 Silent Punisher CT
x4 Flame of Victory CT
x4 Dantengal CT
x4 Elixir Liberator HT
Grade 1
x4 Halo Shield, Mark
x4 Knight of Elegant Skills, Gareth
x2 Warhorse, Raging Storm
x2 Disciple of Pain
x2 Silver Fang Witch
Grade 2
x4 Knight of Superior Skills, Beaumains
x4 Knight of Passion, Bagdemagus
x3 Player of the Holy Bow, Viviane
Grade 3
x4 Blazing Lion, Platina Ezel
x4 Incandescent Lion, Blond Ezel