Monday, 21 November 2011

Kagero Deck 1: 12 Crit Amber

Kagero Deck 1: 12 Crit Amber

Basic Decklist:
17 Grade 0
1 Amber Dragon Dawn (Starter Vanguard)
4 Dragon Monk, Genjo (Heal Trigger)
4 Demonic Dragon Monk, Raksha (Critical Trigger)
4 Blue-Ray Dracokid (Critical Trigger)
4 Embodiment of Spear, Tahr (Critical Trigger)

14 Grade 1

12 Grade 2
4 Amber Dragon Dusk
4 Berserk Dragon or 4 Dragon Knight, Nehalem or 4 Lava Arm Dragon or 2 Nehalem + 2 Lava Arm
4 Belicosity Dragon (To be released in Comic Booster 1 on 3rd December 2011)

7 Grade 3

Basic Deck Playstyle:
Aggro control. Very aggressive form of control carried out with rapid attacks. Use Amber cards to fetch and ride to ascend the grades. Heatnail Salamanders to retire opponent’s backrow support or threaten to do so and thereby wasting the opponent’s guards. Recur for counterblasting by unflipping damage zone using Belicosity Dragon. Wincon is the rapid bombardment of Eclipse’s counterblast ability turn after turn, coupled with a 12 crit trigger suite, and continuous dual axe bombardment.

In Depth Deck Analysis:
The Amber Cards:
The typical cards of BT04, similar to the shadow paladin and the new “gundam” nova. The ability of using Daylight to fetch out Dusk and/or Eclipse, makes this a rather reliable mechanic to ascend the grades. The key card is Daylight, you really want at least one, preferably 2 in your starting hand.
Amber Dragon Eclipse: The boss card this deck, the wincon. This is what this deck is all about, riding him as the grade 3 vanguard on your third turn and using his counterblast ability turn after turn to aim to attack the opponent’s vanguard and destroy 2 of the opponent’s rearguards.
Eclipse’s ability is powerful but not without a downside. Eclipse’s ability, as we all know is a nice reasonably cheap 2 cblast cost for the chance to retire any 2 rearguards. It is obvious that its weakness is the upfront information you give away, by cblasting for 2 outright is telling your opponent that you will be using Eclipse’s ability, it is obvious to the opponent that he/she must logically guard, unlike overlord without power bonus, it is not difficult to guard out eclipse and waste his activated ability, even with power boost, all it takes is a negator and a discard. All in all, you can expect to at least use this twice in one game, the release of Belicosity Dragon will change this, making Eclipse a really powerful beast. Why is Eclipse a 3 of and not a 4 of, simply because you only want him as your vanguard, besides he is fetchable by daylight, that being said even if he is in your starting hand if you have 2 daylights, it is good to ride one and play the other to discard Eclipse to fetch another Eclipse, this thins out your deck (you wouldn’t wanna be drawing too many grade 3’s later in the game when what you really need are triggers and guards). As a rearguard, he is no different from Nehalem, why pay so much for a frontal rearguard while you could just use a common card.

Amber’s true pillars of power: Heatnail Salamander and Belicosity Dragon

IMO, in short, the Amber series cannot be fully optimized (still playable but not optimized) without Heat Nail Salamanders and the upcoming Bellicosity Dragon. From my experience, two things that matter a lot in TCG are recursion and card advantage. Heat Nails provide card advantage by creating card disadvantage for the opponent, Belli provides recursion.  Heat Nails act as a constant threat to remove the opponent’s grade 1 (especially back row support), thereby indirectly forcing the opponent to guard against it every turn until it resolves or it is retired, this also means that Heat Nails serve to deplete the opponent’s handsize to peel away the defense and open the way for eclipse to land his ability. Bellicosity gives good recursion, 2 cost cblast from Eclipse is not that much, if they can be unflipped and recycled, it is undeniably threatening. Combining the two well with Amber would possibly even mean that your opponent may have to guard every single attack if you are lucky to get your formation perfectly right (Support both left and right frontal rearguards with Heat Nail, and using any available grade 1 to support Eclipse), or risk losing almost all their support, and it is all recurring, Heat Nails return to deck, Beli unflips for more cards to feed Eclipse. Therefore, my view is that the amber series pillars of power IMO truly rests on Heat Nail and Beli, and they are necessary to optimize Eclipse’s effectiveness.

Dual Axe Archdragon:

IMO the Palomides of Kagero, this dragon’s requirement is stricter than Palomide’s though, but still good for such a retirement focused deck. When your opponent has 2 or less rearguards, Dual Axe hits for 13k, boosted 8k with Bahr , is a 21k column, meaning the opponent needs at least a 10k+5k guard to stop the attack (or boost with daylight for 20k), very sweet in wasting the opponent’s hand. In addition, as opponents feel threatened by your heatnails, they may choose not to play grade 1 supports but only play grade 3 or any heavy hitter frontal rearguards, while keeping his grade 1 as shields or to swarm at the right time, in the opponent’s attempt to fully cover both left and right fronts, that exactly makes 2 rearguards, this means that the opponent is now voluntarily giving you the bonus of Dual Axe, so just smack him/her with this badass dragon.

Garnet Flash Dragons:
These dudes are weaker, but they give power bonus to Eclipse, making Eclipse’s ability harder to guard against. When using Garnet change the attack sequence to attacking with them first to boost Eclipse, then swing with Eclipse for the “all in” attack.


Kinnala is undoubtedly one of Kagero's most terrorizing grade 1 units, it acts like a removal spell which you can place out on the field and use it as a 6k boost, and thereafter use its blasting ability on any of your main phases. Although it lowers your deck overall power, but its ability justifies it. You can play it instead of Bahr to gain more board control. Note that it is only possible for this deck because of Belicosity Dragon, so that you can unflip the damage zone for Eclipse, without Beli, Kinnala doesn't fit well into this deck.

Lava Arm Dragon vs Nehalem vs Berserk Dragon:
Lava Arm, a 12k beater for your frontal rearguard if you have the required vanguard, but heavily penalized if not so. Thus I play Nehalems just in case I don’t get to ride the required vanguard. If you wanna play safe then use all 4 Nehalems, if you wanna bet it, go 4 Lava Arms, if you want to keep your options open then play 2 of each.
Berserk Dragon, some say the best grade 2 Kagero unit ever, when it comes into play you may counterblast 2 to retire one grade 2 or lower opponent's rearguard. Like Kinnala, a very terrorizing unit which you would prefer to use to gain more board control. And also like Kinnala in this deck, Berserk is only optimally possible because of Belicosity Dragon. However, its 2 counterblast cost is rather high, but still it is a 9k grade 2 beater which is not bad and it gives you more options. Nonetheless since its cost is so high, you should not use its ability as loosely as kinnala's, use Berserk's ability only when you really need to or if you have enough Beli and are confident you can unflip to recover the cost.

The best defense for this deck is to mount a powerful offense
You hardly have much defensive options for this deck, without draw triggers and card drawing units you often lack the handsize to defend. But you obtain your defensive objectives by the following offensive means:
1. Blasting away opponent rearguards or threatening to do so. Combining heat nails and kinnalas creates so much threats to grade 1 back row support that puts significant psychological fear on your opponent, making them think twice if they want to play out their grade 1s. If they don't, you have indirectly controlled the board because your opponent cannot maximize his/her attack power without boosting and as a result you will need lesser shields to guard against his/her attacks. In addition to that, you can punish them with Dual Axe backed by preferably a 7k boost to waste the opponent's 15k shields. If they choose to play their grade 1s, kinnala and berserk helps you to forcefully blast them away while Eclipse's ability and heatnail eats away the opponent's handsize, you therefore indirectly gain control over the opponent's handsize.
2. Diverting Aggro. Belicosity and Dual Axe as frontal rearguards gives you very good bonuses, your opponents will know that and turn to target them. As their attention is diverted to attacking these rearguards, they forego attacking your vanguard.

Why only 2 Barri’s
As this is a 12 crit deck, you don’t have any draw triggers or card drawing units, so you don’t have many cards to pitch to Barri. So use it only at times of really perceived emergency only.

Why 12 Crits
At the time of writing, only RP and Kagero has a 12 crit trigger package, this already hints of how the game developers are inclined on building these clans. What's more we all know how critical triggers are game winners, it gives such a exuberating upside surprise, and since Kagero has a 12 crit suite, why not exploit on it and be exposed to all that upside surprise as much as possible.

Attack Sequence:
For a crit focus deck, you like to attack with your vanguard column first, if the opponent does not guard, and you get crit triggers you give the crit to the vanguard while the 5k power bonus to the frontal rearguards. If the opponent guards, and you get crit triggers, you may give the bonuses to the frontal rearguards if opponent's handsize is small and you have not taken too much damage, or if the opponent has taken 4 or more damage and has a huge handsize and you too have taken 5 damage you have to take the gamble "all in" the trigger(s) bonus to the vanguard. If you support your left and right fronts with heatnails, out of the fear of them going through and retiring backrow grade 1 rearguards, and since the vanguard’s attacks have a good chance of striking a crit, your opponent becomes threatened into guard against almost every attack you make.

Pros of the Deck:
1. Not the highest power kagero deck, but 12 crits makes it one of the most damaging.
2. With 12 crits and heatnails, you really seek to minimize your opponent’s handsize, else the opponent gives you board control by either losing grade 1’s or not playing them out at all which is in turn punishable by Dual Axe.

Cons of Deck:
1. Without daylight, you fall into a situation of probable “grade screw” (not having the right cards and right grades in hand to ideally ascend the grades), this downside is amplified if you are using Lava Arm.
2. Without draw triggers and card drawing units you often lack the handsize to defend. 

Overall Play Experience:
Competitive, I believe so. Fun, not the most fun, especially for your opponents, especially in mirror matches (I kinda like it though, it is a good learning experience) but it is often less cheery playing against kagero as versus other clans. It is said that kagero unlike some other clans does not merely play its own game, it messes with its opponents’ game, but hey all TCG’s have control decks, this is good variety and appeals to control style players, afterall not everyone likes to combo stuff or aggro rush. This also makes kagero relatively much more interactive in its play (thus making vanguard games more interactive) as opposed to clans that players merely thoughtlessly rush out their own game.

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