Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Today's Card Analysis: Pitch Black Sage, Charon

The English card of the day is a Blaster support unit from G-Legend Deck 01: The Dark “Ren Suzugamori,” the Pitch Black Sage Charon. Designed to better support the Blaster subclan's retire skills while avoiding the pitfalls of generation break, this incarnation of Charon splits the benefits of a stride supporter with those of a card advantage unit. The result is a unit with benefits at every stage in the game, from initial setup to the pivotal endgame plays that will bring the opponent to their knees. Like all cards from this legend deck, Pitch Black Charon will have two prints; the first as a common, and the second as a triple rare. One triple rare Charon will be in every LD01, with three common editions of it rounding out the deck's playset.

Charon's initial skill is lifted from Steam Breath Dragon of Generation Stride. By revealing a grade 3 from your hand when Charon is called, you can search your deck for a grade 3 unit with "Blaster Dark" in its card name. You're then required to discard a card from hand to make the exchange neutral, but this doesn't have to be either of the grade 3s the skill involved. Several aspects of Charon have been prepatched to avoid exploitation. The first aspect is that Charon's on-call skill only works when called from the hand, so superior calling him with Dark Night Maiden Macha or Claret Sword Dragon won't work. The second is that because Charon only searches for grade 3 Blaster Darks, you can't search out Blaster Dark, Dark Revenger or Dark Revenger “Abyss.” Hence it's not possible to bypass grade 2 gradelock with Charon. His continuous skill allows Charon to be used as two rearguards to support the cost of a retire skill; this skill is almost identical to that of Cutting-Edge Knight David, but instead of being a generation break, Charon requires a Blaster vanguard to function.

Appropriately for the grandmaster's chief adviser, Charon's intended role is in supporting Blaster Dark “Diablo,” searching out copies of him and ensuring that there will be multiple grade 3s to stride with on one's initial stride turn. However, Blaster Dark has no retire skills that Charon can provide support to. In the legend deck one instead has to turn to Phantom Blaster “Diablo,” whose retire 3 cost Charon helps mitigate down to a retire 2. Charon also interacts with heart-stride name mechanics in an interesting way, as even if you've stridden a unit like Aurageyser Dragon that does not have Blaster in its name, as long as the heart card of the stride is a Blaster unit, Charon may be used for the cost of those skills. Likewise, if your heart is not a Blaster unit but your stride is Phantom Blaster “Diablo,” Charon's skill will still be live.

In addition to stride support, the Pitch Black Sage can also be used to hold up a variety of Blaster grade 3s. Shadow Paladin's founder and original grandmaster from Eclipse of Illusionary Shadows is one such unit; Phantom Blaster Dragon normally requires three sacrifices to gain +10000 power and an additional critical, but Charon can reduce this to two, and with the skills of Knights Dorint and Claudas from the legend deck you can also mitigate the counterblast cost of Phantom Blaster Dragon. In total that modifies the skill to counterblast 1 retire 2, which is much more reasonable overall than the text printed on the actual card. The same principles can be applied to Phantom Blaster's upgrade introduced as a promotional card in the manga, Gust Blaster Dragon. Moreover, Phantom Blaster's breakride remake from the upcoming G-BT03: Sovereign Star Dragon also requires a retire 3 cost for its breakride skill, and Charon is a practical necessity in the deck to mitigate the heavy cost of putting down four or more cards during the break ride turn.

Be mindful of Charon's role compared to other support options. It's certainly true that one could run a unit like Black-winged Swordbreaker or Darkbond Trumpeter to draw or superior call for card advantage, and then retire those units for an exchange that is functionally identical to retiring Charon. However, Charon does not have a cost attached to him, and compared to using Swordbreaker consolidates cards on the field rather than in the hand. Depending on the situation, standard draw and call support may be more desirable, as having occupied rearguard circles can be a disadvantage versus “The X,” Gear Chronicle and Link Joker decks; but having unoccupied rearguard circles can be even more dangerous versus the popular “Diablo” matchups, Heroic Saga Dragon and Narukami. It's best to use the Pitch Black Sage judiciously, adjusting your play based on the opposition. Charon can support a variety of divergently-envisioned Blaster decks, and will likely remain a staple for Shadow Paladin cardfighters for several formats to come. G-Legend Deck 01: The Dark “Ren Suzugamori,” will hit international shelves on June 19th, 2015.

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