Updated: Jul 13, 2019
Written and Edited By China Ross
China here, and this article marks the first in a series titled "Setting the Meta", where I go over upcoming sets, notable cards within them, and how they stood up to the meta according to Japanese results. With the release of V-EB07: The Heroic Evolution, we see support once again for Kagero, Link Joker, and Nova Grappler. With Kagero, we see the return of Dragonic Overlord the End, Messiah lovers rejoice as it returns in Standard for Link Joker, and Nova Grappler gets.... seemingly lackluster Heroes support. But hey, Beast Deities last set was pretty good, so we can give it a pass. We'll start by going over some of the cards of the set that see the most play, or create their own archetypes altogether.
Kagero to be King Again?
[AUTO](VC):At the end of the battle it attacked, activate one of the effects below. But, you cannot activate the same effect for the same turn.
• If your hand has four or less cards, COST [Counter Blast (1) & Soul Blast (1)], [Stand] this unit, and it gets drive -1 until end of turn.
• If your soul has a card with "Overlord" in its card name, COST [discard three cards from your hand], [Stand] this unit, and it gets [Power]+10000/drive -1 until end of turn.
In this set, Bushiroad made the decision to bring back another iconic unit -- Dragonic Overlord the End. Who wouldn't be excited for another giant dragon, except this time wielding guns? Yet another restander for Kagero, DOTE allows you to play an even more aggressive version of Kagero, giving a first ride that can restand without needing to hit. It's not an awful first ride, as you can go into it after Dragonic Overlord the Great, fulfilling its requirement of having a Grade 3 in soul. A possible double restander is scary in and of itself, but what are the possibilities of actually restanding twice? And is it worth it?
In the case of double restanding, it isn't very feasible or worthwhile, unless: your build is dedicated to DOTE, if you're at low damage, or if you're going for a kill turn and you're losing soon anyways. Due to the costs and requirements of the restand skills, you're typically not going to have many cards in hand both before and after the double restand. So while in theory it's possible, it probably won't happen very often.
Most lists in Japan also only run it at one or two copies, opting to still run original Dragonic Overlord, and utilize it as a finisher. Below is an example list!
[CONT](VC):If your opponent has no rear-guards, this unit gets [Power]+5000/[Critical]+1.
[ACT](VC)1/Turn:If "Wyvern Strike, Doha" and "Wyvern Strike, Garan" are on your (RC), COST [Soul Blast (1) grade 3 & discard two cards from your hand], retire all of your opponent's rear-guards, call a Vision token to (RC), and at the end of that turn, retire it. (Vision is grade 3/[Power]13000/[Critical]1 and it can twin drive)
This RRR introduces a new engine to Kagero, and the ability to create Vision tokens (I promise we thought of the name first!), with the tokens being a 13K rear guard that has twin drive. Blademaster sadly requires a Grade 3 to soul blast, and discarding two sounds like a steep price -- but those cards get regained by the twindrive of the Vision token. With Force II on the horizons, assuming you gave one to the vanguard and one to the circle the Vision token is on, it creates a daunting board to face.
Blademaster's board wipe creates an immediate threat to anyone with board presence, especially Accel clans. The only issues with Blademaster would be its need of specific units (Wyvern Strike, Doha and Wyvern Strike, Garan), and the need for a Grade 3 in soul. As a first ride, Blademaster isn't very ideal.
[AUTO](RC):When placed from hand, COST [Counter Blast (1)], search your deck for up to one "Wyvern Strike, Garan", call it to (RC), and shuffle your deck. [CONT](RC):During the battle it attacked, if your opponent has no rear-guards, your opponent cannot call normal units from his or her hand to (GC).
Wyvern Strike, Doha, along with Wyvern Strike, Garan constitute the pieces needed for Blademaster and its Vision token. Doha and Garan are like the Kagero version of Kay and Bedivere, with Doha calling the Garan from deck -- something Kagero doesn't do very often. The guard restrict on Doha pairs nicely with Blademaster itself, as it board wipes.
[CONT](RC):During your turn, if your opponent has no rear-guards, this unit gets [Power]+5000.
[AUTO](RC):When the attack it boosted "Wyvern Strike, Doha" hits, COST [Counter Blast (1)], draw a card, and Soul Charge (1).
Garan, the other half of the Blademaster pieces, also pairs nicely with the board wipe, giving itself 5K power. Although it is an on hit, its secondary skill is a nice plus one, and gives the possibility of soul charging a Grade 3, allowing for another Vision token next turn without reriding (granted, you have to get lucky). Interestingly enough, some builds have seen these pieces run on their own, due to the plus one and being generally alright units. The only issue with this is that space is tight with Kagero, especially in the Grade 2 area. With units such as Neoflame, Berserk, and Burnout being such quality cards, it's hard to squeeze in Doha and Garan.
The Return of the Messiah
[AUTO](VC):When it attacks, search your deck for up to one card, put it on (RC) as a locked card, and shuffle your deck. (The locked card cannot do anything. It is unlocked and turns face up as [Stand] at the end of the owner's turn)
[AUTO](VC)1/Turn:At the end of the battle it attacked, if your soul has a grade 3 or greater card, COST [Counter Blast (1) & discard a card from your hand], choose any number of any fighters' locked cards, unlock them, draw the same number of cards, and two rear-guards in your front row get [Power]+15000 until end of turn.
Messiah has finally returned, bringing yet another archetype into the Link Joker world. First it was Deletors, then Starhulk/Brandt, a faint sprinkle of Cyber Dragons, and now Messiahs. Messiah has become a bit of a dark horse in the metagame, making it known that it can stand up to the force that is Bermuda Triangle. But more on that later.
Harmonics Messiah, along with its support, brings lock back into Standard Vanguard, but not quite in the way we remember it. Messiahs now focus mainly on locking their own units, and gaining cards in hand from them. Harmonics' skill allows it to draw a card for each locked unit on the field, as well as unlocking them. Not only can this gain you 3-4 cards if you have the right pieces, but it also creates the possibility of five attacks in a single turn, something relatively uncommon for Force decks. As we've seen with Dragonic Overlord the Great, a Force clan that can multiattack is usually one to be reckoned with -- and this one is only for CB 1 and pitching a card. The added 15K to the two rear guards in the front row is an added bonus, allowing for even more pressure. Slap some Force II on the rear guard circles, and now you've got multiple attacks with two crit. Sounds scary to me!
[AUTO](RC):When it attacks, COST [Soul Blast (1) & discard a card from your hand], look at the top card of your deck, put it on (RC) as a locked card, and draw a card. (The locked card cannot do anything. It is unlocked and turns face up as [Stand] at the end of the owner's turn)
Lady Battler is just one of the lock pieces in the set, aiming to help plus as much as possible from Harmonics Messiah. While discarding a card may seem like a heavy cost along with a soul blast, you're still effectively plussing, as the locked unit will unlock, and you draw a card. In a way, Lady Battler helps you filter more for your pieces, much like Ourora does for Bermuda Triangle. It also helps in the goal of getting five attacks on a Messiah turn!
[AUTO](RC):When the attack it boosted hits a vanguard, COST [Counter Blast (1)], choose one of your opponent's rear-guards, and bind it face down. If your vanguard is grade 3 or greater, draw a card.
Damn, that's Star Gate's butt right there. The other RRR for Link Joker of the set, Duskblade itself is a good pressure card, creating a reason for your opponent to not let it hit (if they value their rear guards, that is). Not only does it bind their unit face down, but it also draws a card, so it's a plus one! The only issue with this is that it's both an on hit, and not really worth the CB before you're on Grade 3, since you won't get the draw effect. It's also typically not run as a 4-of, if at all. Some lists run it at 1-2 at most.
Grappling with Mixed Support
[CONT](VC):All units can only attack the vanguard.
[AUTO](VC):When it attacks, if your front row has four or more units, until end of turn, this unit gets [Power]+10000, then, COST [Counter Blast (4)], and when your opponent would call from his or her hand to (GC), he or she must call three or more at the same time.
EB07, for Nova Grappler, was seemingly split between Heroes support and more Beast Deities, with Heroes getting the short end of the stick. While Novas had their initial Heroes cards from Unite Team Q4, it was lackluster then and it still seems to be now. Spinning Valiant forces both players to only attack the Vanguard, as it is a CONT skill that is active on both players' turns. This protects your rear guards, but can also be a double edged sword.
As for its secondary skill, CB 4 may seem like a hefty cost, but it's important to note that not many (if any at all) Heroes cards counterblast. Therefore, you save your CB for Valiant, which is a pretty crazy finisher, all things considered. We've seen our share of Battledore effects, guarding with two or more cards from hand, in multiple clans, but it's not every day that we see three or more! If other archetypes didn't have so much counterblast, this could be thrown in as a finisher -- but as of right now, it's just not feasible, and Heroes doesn't quite have the early offensive pressure to utilize this VR.
[AUTO](VC)1/Turn:At the end of the battle your rear-guard's attack did not hit, COST [Counter Blast (1)], [Stand] that unit, and it gets [Power]+10000 until end of turn. That unit attacks your opponent's vanguard.
[AUTO](VC/RC)1/Turn:When your other unit's attack hits, this unit gets [Power]+15000 until end of turn.
Illuminal Dragon is the main hype card for Novas in this set, along with Kick Kick Typhoon. It creates another opportunity to either restand a rear guard, or make your opponent take a damage, since it gives the unit 10K power. It gets even more disgusting sounding when you consider pairing it with Brutal Jack, which already powers itself up, and if it was on either kind of Accel Circle. It creates a situation where either guarding or taking the hit has its consequences, as either the unit restands, or Illuminal gains 15K.
Even if the two skills don't get paired together, being an Accel clan, there's almost no way that your opponent will guard every single attack -- this means your Illuminal is bound to get its 15K boost. And added to the fact that the first skill is only a CB 1? Having multiple on the board at once sounds terrifying. Most lists cut Incise Raizer completely, opting to run Illuminal Dragon at four, in order to see them as much as possible.
[AUTO](VC/RC):When placed, if this unit is on (VC) or an additional (RC), one of your units gets [Power]+5000 until end of turn.
[AUTO](RC)1/Turn:When it attacks, if all of your front row (RC) have a rear-guard, COST [Counter Blast (1)], and [Stand] one of your other rear-guards.
Kick Kick Typhoon is another Nova card that has become a staple. Most restand abilities come from the Vanguard, such as Illuminal, Incise Raizer, Azure Dragon, etc. But not Kick Kick Typhoon! Not many rear guards have the ability to stand a rear guard other than themselves, and that's where Kick Kick shines. Its secondary skill condition also isn't hard to fulfill, as Novas can easily produce a whole board, especially with Accel II coming out. Another stand for merely CB 1 is also insanely valuable.
Gifted with Gift II
With The Heroic Evolution, we also get Gift II markers! In general, Accel and Force are the ones to watch, as Protect II isn't used very often and is often seen as the worst of the three gifts. Force II is great for clans that pump themselves up already, such as Bermuda Triangle, allowing them to create even more offensive pressure. Gone are the days where you can take a rear guard attack in the hopes of a trigger to mitigate the power of another. Soon you'll be staring down a board where maybe even their whole front row has two criticals. Protect will probably suffer the most from this, even decks like Angel Feather that can generate Gifts fairly quickly.
Accel II's draw solves the problem that Accel clans usually have: needing to somehow dump their hand in order to fill up their extra circles. It will also inevitably aid in obtaining pieces, such as bind pieces for Narukami. A clan that may rise in the rankings, or at least benefit immensely, would be Great Nature. The Hammsuke ride chain already got you an additional Accel circle and the Grade 1/2 Hammsukes, but now it's also a plus two! Almost every Accel deck will choose Accel II over I, preferring the draw to the 5K power.
What Has Japan Been Up To?
While the Japanese and Western metagames tend to vary (the latter tends to think Accel is king, at least before fishing season), it is still a good representative of what decks are strongest. Let's take a look at what was topping during Japan's EB07 meta.
The above graph describes the distribution of tops from the first two weeks after The Heroic Evolution dropped in Japan. When looking at these results, however, it's important to note that clans from the newer sets tend to get played far more right after they release. This therefore impacts what tops, as things that are played by more people have a greater chance to top, merely based on probability. Thus, we have to look at results over time, in order to lessen the effects of this on our analysis.
In the first two weeks, Kagero was extremely prevalent, equaling that of Bermuda in tops. Interestingly enough, one of these was a Blademaster top! Nova Grappler was also present, as it had been before, with some more rogue Murakumos and Tachikazes thrown into the mix. The other thing to take note of is that these two weeks were extremely sparse in terms of tournaments, with this graph consisting of five tournaments.
The second graph, covering a larger amount of time, is more representative of where the meta settled in Japan. While Link Joker, Kagero, and Nova Grappler saw tops, it is evident that Bermuda Triangle still has a firm hold on the current metagame. Kagero actually fell off quite a bit, which is a large change from when The Great was new. Protect is nowhere to be seen -- even with their inherent advantage over Force, most Protect decks are too slow and cannot keep up with the fast paced decks at the top of the format.
In the small 4% slivers we can see Tachikaze, Gold Paladin, and Narukami, all decks that can pop off if they see their pieces. Narukami does surprisingly well against BT, being able to bind their Melody units and make them play slightly more conservatively. Link Joker has shown itself to be the next best Force deck -- so if you find yourself bored of fishy wives, Messiahs may be your next best bet.
The Heroic Evolution provides some promising cards, whether in the Messiah archetype, or just general support for Kagero and Nova Grappler. Bermuda Triangle is still king thin the meta, but Link Joker and Nova Grappler are slowly becoming more prominent -- so who knows what's to come in the future?
Next time I'll be going over My Glorious Justice, so stay tuned!
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