Being able to jump up by +3 in a single turn sans limit break or legion is an enormous benefit, and as long as Judgebau is behind a Phantom unit that threat is constantly live. In contemporary times that Phantom unit will typically be a stride that has inherited the name of a Phantom heart card. Swordbreaker herself cannot be targeted for Revenger-specific retire skills and so should only be run at a maximum of two copies, and you may often find yourself using her exclusively as an intermediary booster before calling a Revenger over her later in the game. Swordbreaker also incentivizes the use of 10000-power grade 1 attackers like Masquerade and Lifechur, who form a 16000-power column with her. In the all-too-common event that a Swordbreaker is drawn, drive or damage checked and only one remains in the deck, superior calling a Swordbreaker with a Masquerade behind her that you can move up front next turn is an ideal play.
(Note that there is a misprint on the first English runs of Judgebau Revenger, which incorrectly states the attack he boosts has to hit a vanguard. This has been subject to an errata.)
What Japanese cardfighters realized soon after the set hit is that Dorint and Dark Revenger are oftentimes potent as a pure unflipping engine, abandoning the retire entirely to compensate for other counterblast skills. To this day, this is the primary use of the Revengers' first Blaster Dark, keeping damage open while his second incarnation does the primary work with retiring. This use of the card is encouraged by a specific ruling (Card No. BT12/021EN) that states if a Blaster Dark Revenger is called over a Dorint, Dorint's unflipping skill will still trigger. This works because Dorint meets its check timing of "When your "Blaster Dark Revenger" is placed on vanguard circle or rearguard circle in the same column as this unit" causing its skill to queue prior to it being retired by game mechanic. This also means that if you only have one Blaster Dark Revenger in hand but two Dorints, you can call two Dorints to the field, a Blaster Dark Revenger over them, and unflip two damage after the Dorint you called over is retired. Thus while Revengers do not have access to a true Battle Sister Lemonade clone, they do have a massive supply of counterblast available through Dorint. While the Dark Revenger-double Dorint combo does cost you a net -1 in card advantage, the reason this ruling is so critical is because simplifies the number of working parts; it only requires three cards to unflip two damage instead of four.
If the opponent tries to spend the match denying Judgebau from going off by playing early defense, Mordred can superior call one of the Swordbreakers that Judgebau was unable to fetch and activate her draw skill while turning her into an 11000-power booster, forcing the card advantage out and partially negating their efforts. However, Mordred's primary use is with Raging Form and Blaster “Abyss,” making their initial attacks swing for exponentially higher numbers while ensuring that they also have a strong rearguard lane that turn which will draw out ~15000 shield before triggers are applied.
Since July 2013 Raging Form has reigned as the undisputed god of limit break Shadow Paladin, for good reason. While the other Revenger bosses are variations of Phantom Blaster Dragon, mechanically and visually Raging Form is a successor to Spectral Duke Dragon. His skill has no counterblast requirement; by retiring three Revenger rearguards at the end of the battle that Raging Form attacked, you can ride a copy of himself from your hand and give it +10000 power, allowing for a second attack at a 21000 power base. His secondary skill gives him +3000 power when he attacks for counterblast 1, allowing him to stand up to crossrides on a power level that pushes past the 23000 mark. Accounting for the sum -4 you take from retiring three rearguards and playing a copy of Raging from your hand, and the additional twin drive you gain from this second attack, his limit break works out to a net -2 overall in exchange for additional drive checks that can dramatically power up the last standing rearguard lane. Because riding over Form wipes the power gain he received from the break ride and any potential triggers, there is a particular incentive to keep a standing rearguard lane around to receive those triggers, which with Mordred's +5000 power boost can snowball into an unguardable rearguard lane once Raging Form's two attacks take out the opponent's perfect defense cards.
The only thing remotely difficult about Raging Form is getting the opponent to high damage before your break ride turn. During the BT12 period the general gameplan was to use Tartu to build up the field and serial call Dark Revenger with Dorint to repeatedly push the opponent down, then break ride Raging Form and continue on with an endgame plan to rapidly chew through the opponent's hand. If the opponent was already at 4~5 damage then each Raging Form attack would take at least two cards from their hand, and following the drive checks the last rearguard lane would average out to 26~31000 power. Today the fight is slightly more uphill for Raging. The retire cost and additional drive checks tend to consolidate all of your resources into your hand, which leads to large hand sizes in spite of the decreased card advantage, and also tend towards acquiring the remaining Raging Forms more easily as the game progresses. The primary opposition that Raging Form faces in present times is the format shift to legion instead of limit break, which took place in November 2014 for the English-language game. Starting in July 2014 Japanese cardfighters began pairing Raging Form with Phantom Blaster “Abyss,” eschewing the break ride entirely to focus on using two restanding vanguards in tandem.
Arguments against this deckbuild include that Raging Form is too slow for the format by needing to be at four damage while most legion decks will gladly stay at 2~3 damage for a much longer period of time, that Raging Form has always lacked synergy with Judgebau and the option for a restanding Phantom unit means that Judgebau ought to be paired with two Phantom grade 3s to ensure that double Swordbreakers can go off consistently, and that Raging Form's persona blastesque condition is too demanding when it may be better to reride “Abyss” than sit on Form until copies of it are exhausted. Raging Form apologists contend that even in “Abyss” the necessary damage required to make use of skills is so high that it may as well be a limit break, and that Raging Form is primarily intended as a finishing sequence after “Abyss” has gone off once or twice. The counterargument to this is that if “Abyss'” damage requirements are truly so high, then it benefits more from being paired with Mordred's limit break than it does Raging Form's, that because Raging Form cannot be searched by rearguard skills in the way that Mordred can trying to set up a clean transition from “Abyss” to RFD consistently is too demanding to be practical, and that Raging Form has better synergy when paired with its original base of support rather than by trying to go halfway in and halfway out of legion.
The caveat to “Abyss” is that his skill only works on the turn that he performs legion, and you can only legion once with each copy of “Abyss,” which provides a very limited window to restand with. Unlike RFD, “Abyss” does not have the benefit of being able to restand after attacking a rearguard. This may seem trivial, but one of the last support cards keeping the Link Joker clan's “Ω” Glendios deck relevant in the format is Rubidium, a grade 1 that when placed on the guardian circle can retire itself to redirect an attack to a rearguard with “Яeverse” in its card name. Because it changes the target of the attack to a rearguard, this deck can actually prevent “Abyss” from restanding, something which Raging Form need not fear. However, Glendios' status in the progressing legion format is in serious question, as it is not only competing with units that do not depend on limit break, but also with legion cards like Blaster Joker from within its own clan.
Perhaps the strongest and most overlooked argument in favor of Raging Form-“Abyss” lies in the data it provides you. A skilled fighter will always know exactly what kind of position they are in relative to their opponent because of the feedback the deck provides. If at any point prior to your third ride phase you draw “Abyss,” that is then your grade 3 ride. If you open with Raging Form in hand, this changes things; your second turn play is (if possible) Creeping Dark Goat to try to switch over to “Abyss,” but from the moment you ride Raging Form the role of the two grade 3s reverses. In order to avoid wasting copies of it, each Raging Form Dragon has to hit the vanguard circle before you can even consider “Abyss,” who has now become your endgame play to restore the deck after three restands with Form. Furthermore, riding Raging Form immediately makes Tartu live, as you now only need to maintain two counterblast for the endgame, and can generally anticipate healing at least once and set up an unflip with Blaster Dark Revenger to open up that counterblast. Raging Form-“Abyss” can also go to much higher damage numbers earlier as a safe play, maintain a strong hand size throughout the fight, and with two retire-based vanguards can play a defensive game of preventing the opponent from retiring or locking their own cards by racing to be the first to retire them.
This has been incorrectly characterized as burn damage by some fighters, but because it cannot actually kill the opponent it should be understood as a more dedicated form of extra critical attack. In a pre-legion format Dragruler effectively controls when the opponent is allowed to use their limit break, allowing you to starve them of their resources until you're certain that they're incapable of winning, and then send them to 4~5 damage. As a supporting unit to Form he works as one more step between Mordred and RFD, forcing the opponent to stare down a ~38000 power center lane and rearguards attacking for ~21000 power before they are adequately prepared to defend. Dragruler's crossride defense helps to survive the opponent's next turn so that you can transition into Raging Form for the coup de grace.
In legion format Dragruler serves a similar purpose, but for Phantom Blaster “Abyss” instead. This is a contested pairing because it eliminates the benefit of break riding with “Abyss” over Mordred, but the rationale behind it is that because damage and defense are much more important in legion format, the opponent will be both more devastated by and less prepared to guard Dragruler's limit break. The opponent will still benefit from their damage triggers, and in legion format because you are sending them to more damage than in limit break format there is a greater risk of this occurring, but at the very least Dragruler's power boosts will outweigh the opponent's defensive checks. Dragruler is a bizarre boss card because with every limit break after the first, the less you have to use him the better off you are. Retiring two rearguards to deal a damage is not so bad, but having to give up four or even six is a ridiculous cost to pay within a single turn and can cripple you beyond recovery if used poorly. Dragruler Phantom is thus the least self-writing of the Revenger bosses and also the most difficult to use, because he does not inherently dictate when or how to use his skill within his own card text. You have no option but to use Mordred, Raging Form and Blaster “Abyss” whenever you are able to; Dragruler gives you the option to use him as little or as much as you like, and to play him correctly you have to be keep an awareness about the opponent's drive checks and hand, the state of the game, and whether limit breaking is really necessary or not. If you choose to play him, there will both be games where Dragruler is absolutely pivotal, and games where he is completely useless. You do not always need to deal an extra damage, and if you choose to do so it may cost you the game because of the resources this demands.
As his own deck, Dragruler is one of the few vanguards to benefit from not running Blaster Dark variants. In place of them you use the Overcoming and Self-control Revengers, Rukea and Rakia. Rukea is a grade 2 that gains +3000 power whenever a grade 1 or lesser rearguard is called, while Rakia is his grade 1 counterpart that gets +3000 power whenever a grade 0 rearguard is called. Grade 0s like Freezing Revenger make ideal retire targets for Dragruler, and Swordbreakers cannot be retired for his limit break and so serve only as intermediary boosters in that deck. So after crossbreakriding Dragruler over Mordred and superior calling a rearguard (like the Revenger Masquerade variant) with Rukea and Rakia in your other column, you call two grade 0s (potentially over your Swordbreakers) from your hand and then retire them for Dragruler's limit break to send the opponent from 3 damage to 4.
By repeating this skill a second time with two more grade 0s, you not only get the opponent to 5 damage, but Dragruler is now a 43000 power column unboosted and Rukea and Rakia each have +12000 power on them; the column's total power is 40000. Your last rearguard lane, having the power from Mordred's break ride, will be at around 21000 power when boosted. Some Shadow Paladin fighters have been tempted to run stand triggers in the deck to capitalize on these high power lanes, but the problem with stands is that they force you to dedicate to a strictly chance-based element of the game that you have no control over, and in doing so you are required to play and attack with any available rearguards you have on preceding turns just in case you drive check a stand trigger, which conflicts with waiting for Judgebau to go off before making serious field dedication. This also unduly exposes yourself to opposing attacks on rearguards and/or retire skills. Rukea and Rakia have an incredible amount of synergy with Mana and Masquerade, as Mana can target grade 1 or less Revengers for her skill, and so pull out a Freezing Revenger that pumps up their column by +6000 power before she sends the trigger back to the deck at the end of the turn. Even if you don't draw Rukea, Rakia can still act as a 10000+ power booster for Masquerade, making a 22000-power column.
Rukea also has strong synergy with Judgebau, as he does not require the grade 1s called to be Revengers, only that the vanguard be a Revenger. Hence if you use Judgebau to go into double Swordbreakers while Rukea is on the field, Rukea will get +6000 power and spring a surprise attack on the opponent with more power than they were expecting.
The Dragruler deck is generally more difficult to master than either Raging Form or “Abyss,” but whether it's more rewarding or not is questionable. There's no doubt that he's effective as a supporting unit. Transforming the additional critical into an extra damage that makes every rearguard lethal is a brilliant reimagining of Phantom Blaster Dragon, and unlike his predecessor there is a genuine element of risk and reward to the card. One of the primary reasons that Dragruler is so effective as a supporting unit is because of the risk associated with him; in the games where you are better off not using his skill, having the option to transition into Raging Form or “Abyss” gives you an effective finishing move in what would otherwise be a vanilla deck. With Shadow Paladin having not yet received one of the proper BT17-on limit break enablers, playing dedicated Dragruler has become more and more difficult each day, so if you are to play him then you are better off weighing the options of Raging Form and “Abyss” as your primary grade 3s.
Macart also allows for normally impossible plays. If you breakride Blaster “Abyss” while having only two available counterblast, you can superior call a Macart with Mordred's counterblast 1, then when you perform legion use Macart's skill to superior call Dorint to your opposite rearguard column. Dorint does not have to be standing to use his skill, so you're free to then call a Blaster Dark Revenger to his column to unflip a damage, leaving you again with two open damage for “Abyss'” retire skill.
Unfortunately, Macart also introduces the great flaw of Mordred-“Abyss.” Because of the high damage requirements of the deck to pull off its winning play, its ability to easily recoup lost card advantage, and the way in which this aspect both encourages open aggression and minimal defending, at every turn in the fight Mordred-“Abyss” incentivizes advancing the tempo of the game as much as possible. Every rearguard you have available sans Macart and Blaster Dark Revenger should be played the moment they are in your hand, to force the opponent to the lethal point at which your restanding 32000 power vanguard becomes a game-winning condition. You must convince the opponent to put you at limit break by pushing them to that same limit, and Macart dangerously enables this. If you refuse to do so, it gives over control of the game to the opponent and threatens to let them control your own damage. Ideally, they should be panicking, not choosing between putting you at limit break or otherwise, but giving you the fourth damage because they have no choice. Because of this rapid tempo, Mordred-“Abyss” games are often decided by initial hands rather than agency or smart play. Once you have the key combos down, it becomes a game of outrunning the opponent.
Hence, a saving grace of Raging Form-“Abyss” is that it shifts the timing of the limit break. Instead of needing limit break to begin your endgame gambit, in this deck you can pursue legion at the first opportunity and begin mowing into the opponent with Phantom Blaster “Abyss” early on, taking advantage of how it consolidates your rearguards into your hand to maintain a strong offensive and defensive midgame while protecting your field from retire skills, devouring them yourself to prevent them from being devoured by the opponent. Once at limit break and after your counterblast is exhausted, you can transition into Raging Form Dragon as your finisher. This option would eschew Macart entirely due to the removal of Mordred and subsequent lack of ability to search for him, instead taking advantage of Tartu or Mana with Rukea, alongside the two Blasters. The Mana option is a strong one, but comes with baggage attached. Running Mana generally means running Rakia, and if one goes then so does the other; Rukea and Rakia's power bonuses synergize with Mana superior calling the units that trigger their skills, and Rakia is one of the few units that can make Mana attack for more than 15000 power. Having a counterblast-free call option is excellent for Ragming Form-“Abyss” because it avoids dedicating counterblast entirely and provides the one superior call option that exists at a point of equilibrium between the others, being equally beneficial to both Raging Form and Blaster-“Abyss.” However, turning to Raging Form is not the only means by which to break the aggressive impetus of Mordred-“Abyss.”
If you run Cormack with Mordred, then he can either use the Swordbreakers as retire targets to make a double critical line with upwards of 33000 power, or after several turns of the opponent attempting to deny Judgebau from going off with high shield and perfect defense cards, you can then breakride Cormack and render all their efforts at midgame defense for naught. Having already exhausted most defensive options against Mordred while at 3 damage leaves the opponent in a precarious position against a double critical vanguard. The trick with Cormack is how many you're willing to dedicate to; three copies of each grade 3 including both Mordred and “Abyss?” Two Cormack, two Mordred and four “Abyss”? Balancing the grade 3 ratios in this deck is a matter of personal experience.
Revenant's skill is subtle in its importance. In a Phantom deck you can use it to make a solid midgame push, calling Rukea and Rakia to give Rukea +3000 power followed by Mana to bring out a Freezing Revenger, whose call will give both knights an additional +3000. Then by retiring Freezing Revenger for Revenant's skill and pulling out a Rakia or Masquerade, you can give another +3000 power to Rukea while solidifying Mana's +1 by exchanging the unit she called for a different one. This will result in Mana attacking for 18000 power, Dragruler Revenant for 36000 boosted, and Rukea for 28000 power, all prior to trigger checks. In an “Abyss” deck you can use Revenant to pull out a Dorint for Blaster Dark Revenger, or a Masquerade to make an unboosted 13000 power attack. While not an endgame card--nor even something remotely approaching Dragruler's "true" form--Dragruler Revenant is a consistent means to glue together your midgame and push the opponent into a difficult situation that will lead you to the end path. The card primarily benefits “Abyss” rather than a Phantom deck, and will likely be a staple one-of in Revenger decks for months to come.
In summary, the Revenger subclan has addressed every issue faced by the original run of the Shadow Paladins, and has carved a niche for itself in retiring multiple units per turn while also making high power vanguard and rearguard lanes. What the subclan lacks in a diversity of explosive card advantage options it makes up for in the high quality of what it has to work with. At this point in time the Revengers are Shadow Paladin itself, and face virtually no competition for that title. Hardcore Revenger fans will want to look into a Revenger-specific playmat from Ultra Pro; but those looking for a group truer to the spirit of the original Shadow Paladins will want to pass this one over, as for all their mechanical improvements the antiheroic tone of the Revengers is discordant with what once was.
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