As the antagonist clan for the first portion of the new V-series anime, Link Joker was originally made up of beings that wanted to invade Cray. But over time, and with a character redemption arc Link Joker now exists as a positive force for Planet Cray.
Link Joker is a very special clan in the landscape of the game as it has access to a myriad of special mechanics exclusive to themselves, which can be used as forms of board control, combos and as their win conditions.
In the newest expansion, however, we are introduced to Messiah, a savior deity contradictory to the sinister aesthetics normally found in the clan's other sub-clans. It is primarily used by Ibuki Kouji in the Cardfight Vanguard Anime.
Link Joker has a few different sub-clans, each with different playstyles. Each sub-clan does have a unifying theme however, your Vanguard will be your win condition.
This makes it rather piece reliant despite being a Force Clan. So do take note of this while playing the clan. To break it down Link Joker features the following archetypes of playstyles which you can choose to focus on, with every deck aiming to fulfill their own missions.
Whether it plays a longer grind game with Messiah’s or to end the game as soon as possible with an aggressive Delete turn. The clan in general wins by maintaining their formation and executing a power play.
Link Joker is a Force deck that has many different win conditions depending on your card selection. Delete, Reversing Triggers and Lock are some of of the tools that the clan has access too.
Link Joker also features the ability to bind card face downs. This hurts many clans that may require the bind zone face up (such as Gear Chronicle) or clans that want to interact with the drop zone (such as Granblue). Link Joker is also a powerful pick against Bermuda Triangle due to your amazing board control, no Caro is safe against this clan!
Can bind and eliminate troublesome units easily
Has access to many different abilities
Has powerful push turns when pieces are found
Most impactful skills have a ramp up time
Reliant on key pieces and setups to win the game
Uses a lot of resources
In order for Harmonics Messiah to come online, your deck must survive the opening salvos of clans like Bermuda Triangle, Gold Paladin and Nova Grappler. It's difficult, but building a deck around units that can stymie your opponents aggression can help you weather the storm.
In the early game, you want to establish what your game plan is. Against Bermuda Triangle, do you want to pressure them early? Or would you rather turtle and go for a large punch in the late game? Against Nova Grappler, do you want to hide Jetshaft in your hand to bait your opponent into over-extending? You'll want to identify what your opponent's key units are, what their game plan might be and what cards you will need to be able to handle that. For instance, against Kagero you'll need to bind their Dragonic Neoflame if you can rather than retire and against Royal Paladin caring about Blaster Blade takes the priority.
Outside of establishing a game plan for the match up, your primary objective is to draw into Harmonics Messiah. The biggest weakness of this deck is if you fail to find it by your second Grade 3 ride. While the deck doesn't roll over and die, the game will become progressively more difficult as you play.
Your ideal first ride is Destiny Dealer, as it generates a free card on the field. Even if it is just a trigger unit, you now have a 15,000 column once you get to your G2 turn. Don't blow through soul at this point, and but don't be afraid to expend counterblast freely if it's to search for Messiah.
Cards like White Outer Vect are phenomenal at punishing opponents even if they hit a defensive trigger. Forcing your opponent to grapple with the decision to over-guard a simple 10,000 power attack is a fantastic ability. You'll never get tired of the look that people have when they realize they may have to over-guard! Keep in mind that Vect's skill is active even when he doesn't hit and that you don't need to bind a unit to draw a card!
Once you've rode to Grade 3, the deck begins to show signs of coming online. But, you're not there just yet. Most of Link Joker's boss units do not come fully alive until the 2nd Grade 3 ride, and this deck is no different. You'll still be needing to think ahead, and the most important decision once you ride up to Grade 3 is gift choice.
Force 1 offers a form of consistency in the numbers that you can hit for, and the most ideal setup for Force 1 is going to be spread through each circle. Depending on your match up, and if you've gone first putting your first marker under the Vanguard is a perfectly fine play. Preventing easy "two to pass" guarding is the first step in utilizing the decks immense pressure correctly.
Force 2 is a different ball game entirely though. Decks that have a harder time setting up can fall prey to the pressure that a 21,000 power two critical Vanguard can have. But Force 2 generally is only good in this deck if you've gone first, and you have a Messiah in hand for the re-ride. Without the power from Force 1 Messiah's ability is required in order to exhibit any amount of reasonable threat.
The decision between Force 1 and Force 2 is difficult, and changes from game to game. Messiah is a deck that rewards players for game knowledge and match up knowledge. The more you practice the deck the more you'll be able to see the nuances within it.
Keep in mind that your primary goal in the mid-game is still to draw as many cards as possible in order to hit Harmonics Messiah. This could mean burning through counterblast or soul in an effort to draw into it with Gravity Well, or Ghastly Nail. If you happen to ride Harmonics Messiah first, tutoring Remarkable Burst Monk just to CB1 draw a card is optimal. Though you may need to find Thunderfoot to bind some Mermaids. Against decks like Bermuda Triangle, not finding Harmonics Messiah is a death sentence.
You'll enter the "late-game" when you ride into Harmonics Messiah with a G3 unit in the soul. At this point a number of issues begin to arise:
You've utilized a large amount of counterblast to draw into Messiah.
You may have utilized some amount of soul to fend off your opponent's attacks.
Your deck will begin to look very thin, very quickly. Deck out is a real issue.
Playing out your hand offensively leaves you weak to Bermuda Triangle columns.
This is where Calderon Wing comes into play. This unit is a counter-charger for the low cost of SB1. Not only does it counter-charge, it locks itself to do so meaning that when you use Harmonics Messiah's skill you'll net a card! Now we've solved problem 1, and a bit of problem 4.
Next we need to fix our soul issue. To multi-attack, Messiah needs to be able to soul blast for Ghastly Nail and Gravity Well (not to mention you may still need to purge the front row with Jetshaft at some point). The G2 Thunderfoot Monk solves this problem. By utilizing his skill you get to bind a problematic unit (such as Caro or Sonata) and soul charge. This enables your multi-attacking. A cool timing trick that utilizes both Thunderfoot and Jetshaft is that you can use Thunderfoot's ability to soul charge, then after pay for Jetshaft's ability! No need to get rid of that precious G3 in your soul! Problem 2 will never be fully solved, but this definitely helps!
Problem 3 is the real wall. With no way to shuffle cards back into the deck, and such powerful card draw abilities (that are mandatory by the way), Messiah begins to face the problem of deck out after about 2-3 full G3 turns. Balancing pressure and removal is going to be a difficult tight rope to walk. Do you go into Remarkable Monk for card draw and a possible re-stand? What about another Ghastly Nail for a big number? Or maybe your opponent still has a Caro on the field and you'd like to snipe it with Thunderfoot. These are all decisions you will have to grapple with at this point in the game. And I'll be the first to tell you there is no definitive answer. Everything will change based on the game you are in.