Budget Builds Only – Soul Saver Dragon
Updated: Oct 11, 2019
Written by Deo Halili
How's it going Cardfighters? Hope you've been enjoying Standard, and if you haven't, hope you enjoy it more after the fish nerf and new sets dropping. Not interested in paying $100+ for a split and buying old VRs/PGs? Trying to get a friend into the game but they don't want to commit too much financially? Well you've come to the right place. Deo from Vision here, and I'll be trying to deliver the best and most meta viable (within reason), budget lists that are fun to pilot! So where do we start?
WALLET SAVER DRAGON
I've been thinking about the Vanguard anime a lot recently, primarily the original series. And I remember when the game first dropped, a starter got straight up banned, because it made a deck too overpowered. Do you remember? That starter was Barcgal, who just returned in Aerial Steed Liberation, but more importantly, that deck was Soul Saver Dragon. And now, you can get the Standard version of the whole deck for around $20.
Wait, a $20 deck, that can't be good right? I don't know, would you say swinging for (on average) at least 51k VG, 47k RG and 47k RG on your first and second G3 turns is pretty good? I would.
And a couple of things have made this strategy much more viable:
First, the introduction of Force 2 makes your rearguard(s) a lot scarier, so some players hold PGs for the guaranteed Crit. This seems like an out, but the deck runs 12 Critical triggers, so Crit to VG and power to RG without F2 almost guarantees 3+ damage through 1 PG and a significant amount of guard value. Keep in mind that in this decklist (provided later), you almost always attack in the order of VG, RG, RG after you use Soul Saver Dragon's effect.
Second, the coming of best boy: Loading Angel. This card is absolutely amazing, it does it all: it swings, it soul charges, it draws two! "Yeah, but you need to have 5 units to draw two, what if you have to call triggers?" Well, assuming you called Loading Angel on your G2 turn and were required to call 1 trigger to get his skill off, when you Soul Saver the next turn, assuming a 9K in front that column is still: 44K, against a G2 VG when going first that’s 35K shield and against a G3 VG going second, that's still 35K shield! Pretty nuts right?
Okay so big numbers, sounds pretty great, we've all dealt with big numbers and Force 2s thanks to Bermuda Triangle, but how consistent is it? Honestly, it's not bad. The list provided will be a TURBO Soul Saver build with no other goal in mind, so it is extremely linear – but honestly, until you play it, you have no idea how satisfying it is to:
Final turn someone on your first Soul Saver turn
Final turn someone on your second soul saver turn/have no one believe you can do it back to back
Final turn them on your first soul saver turn because you activated soul saver twice for 60k base columns before adding RG power
So what's the list?
Grade 0s (17):
Barcgal (x1): This is Standard, so all starters are the same, and we play budget, so no foil starters here!
Criticals (x12): Since Soul Saver will make our boards hit for high numbers that are difficult to guard, we want the greatest chance for the highest damage output, and 12 Crit allows us to achieve that. Draw PGs are a thing of the past with how aggro we go!
Heals (x4): Who knew that reversing damage could be useful? Helps you live to have more Soul Saver turns, since we don't run Draw PGs.
Grade 1s (13):
Pongal (x4): The goodest of boys, he boosts, gets buffed, and most importantly, soul charges. Can be searched with Akane, creating added consistency.
Knight of Exemplary Sword, Lucius (x4): A deceptively good card, adding itself to soul and replacing itself on the field right after.
Purebright Unicorn (x4): A great unit on Soul Saver turns, and turns when you want to get Loading Angel off, although it's probably the most inconsistent SC in the deck.
Knight Squire, Allen (x1): The only tech card I run, as +1 for a CB has always been good.
Grade 2s (12):
High Dog Breeder, Akane (x4): Best girl, and she calls Pongal and gets a buff by herself. An easy plus.
Loading Angel (x4): Soul charges himself, plusses two for a CB... noticing a pattern yet?
Funelgal (x4): Added in order to make the deck more consistent (linear), as he is another way to soul charge.
Grade 3s (8):
Soul Saver Dragon (x4): The deck's name sake and win condition. Insane in the meta of Q4, and mildly makes you feel like you're playing BT now.
Swordsman of the Explosive Flames, Palamedes (x4): Even without a booster, on a Soul Saver turn he becomes 53K. Since it's not a once per turn, if you use Soul Saver' skill twice, he can become 93K! Busted.
OTHER CARD CHOICES
If you don't like Funegal/Lucius/Unicorn/Palamedes/etc, what else can be run? Well, while I am going to describe how to play the deck below with the list above, here are some other cards you can consider running and why:
What if your opponent wiped your board and you need an alternate win condition to Soul Saver? Here comes: Filled Feather Dragon! He fills your entire board for CB 1 SB 3.
HOW TO PLAY
This deck is extremely linear, and you have one primary goal: get Soul Saver off, but ideally you can activate the skill twice. In order to fulfill this goal, let's break down our soul count. To be able to Soul Saver once, you need to soul charge twice by your first G3 ride, as you have the starter, G1, and G2 in soul already. Afterwards, you need 5 rear guards to get the full 30K from SS's skill. To get the ideal second skill, you need to ride a second Soul Saver Dragon, and then to SC three more times.
In summation, you want to soul charge a total of five times and ride twice. Sounds difficult, but you run 28 cards that soul charge, 5 that get you to a soul charger, and 16 triggers. Five soul charges doesn't seem as difficult now, right?
Only four cards in your deck use counterblast, and their priority of use would be: Loading Angel > Akane > Funelgal > Allen. Personally, I'm a bit biased in using Loading Angel over Akane, as drawing into Pongal is great and finding Soul Saver itself can prove to be a challenge sometimes.
Let's play out some turns:
Assuming you go first, whatever you ride is pretty bad in my opinion, but I don’t mind riding Unicorn since it's the most conditional. If I have a Pongal in hand, I try to save the soul charge until after I guarantee Soul Saver in my hand.
Ride, draw, pass turn. Simple enough.
Take 1-2 damage depending on cards in hand, ideally 2, so you can resolve Akane + Loading Angel or Funelgal.
Akane is your ideal grade 2 ride, as she nets you a Pongal. She is also an amazing rear guard. - Funelgal is lackluster, but guarantees a SC when boosted + cb - Getting Loading Angel off on G2 helps insanely, especially when you don't have Soul Saver in hand - This is a huge priority -- if Soul Saver isn't in your hand, you always resolve Loading Angel!
Next turn you can guard as necessary, assuming you've met your SC requirements. If you drive checked or drew cards that need CB to SC then take damage accordingly.
Ride Soul Saver. Duh!
Unless it is known that your opponent does not have a PG, you put your Force 2 on RG when riding SS. Players hold PGs for RGs with a guaranteed crit, especially when they're swinging big.
Call Palamedes if you have him, because he's a beefy swinger, and don't ever forget to SC.
Make sure to activate Soul Saver's skill before swinging, since it's an ACT!
If you had lucky early crits, your opponent is at 3 damage, and you can soul blast 10, you can decide whether or not to SS a second time. Assess known PGs, and how many heals are out of their deck and crits out of yours.
First you swing VG, which ideally they no guard, you get 1-2 crits, and put on VG. Assign power on the rear guard without Force 2.
Next swing the rear guard with Force 2, which they'll most likely PG if they have one, and then swing with the other rear.
If you didn't kill, and they're at 4/5 damage or healed, what do you do now? Try and resolve Loading Angel again, guard accordingly, and live their next turn. Reride Soul Saver, put Force 2 on the other RG, and do it all again.
Swing with the same pattern, except put power on the RG that makes magic numbers if applicable.
But what happens if you go second?
Actually, the deck does really well going second too. It has the ability to push on turns 1-2, causing them to either take early damage or guard early, allowing an easier kill on your first G3 ride. Shield value also doesn't change going second into Force numbers.
CONCLUSION AND HONESTY
In theory, the deck sounds really good, but if it was amazing it would be pricier. So what's wrong with it? The biggest issue is getting Soul Saver itself, since your only real draw engine is Loading Angel. Also, sometimes you can soul charge Soul Saver on accident, or there are times where you can't get your two soul charges and you have a dead turn.
If you don't have enough rear guards to call to make a full board, you have to take damage in order to conserve cards to call for next turn, but this awareness comes with playing the deck multiple times.
Overall, the deck is really fun, albeit linear. But, it has some nuances in how you play that you get a knack for after playing and practicing with it. In the end, I'd highly recommend the deck for either new players needing something cheap, or even veterans who want something fun to toy around with.
Next time I'll be discussing Nova Grappler's Heroes build, so look forward to that!
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