Greetings cardfighters! It has been a long time since I last was able to write, school has been tough for a good while. I'm back though and I'm kicking things off with my own personal tournament report at ARG Anaheim. This was the first California event ARG has had (excluding the summer Vanguard state championship series) and I was thoroughly impressed on how well it was ran. Bushiroad could certainly learn a thing or two. The Vanguard event had 55 players show up! I went 5 wins-0 losses-1 tie in Swiss, and won my Top 8 match. The Top 4 decided to split the prize rather than play it out, which I was okay with. My rounds went as follows:
Round 1 - Neo Nectar/Maiden - win
Round 2 - Narukami/Brawler - win
Round 3 - Royal Paladin/Sanctuary Guard - win
Round 4 - Shadow Paladin/Revenger - tie
Round 5 - Royal Paladin/Sanctuary Guard - win
Round 6 - Bermuda Triangle/Duos - win
Top 8- Gear Chronicle - win
Top 4- All decided to split
The top 8 line-up went as follows
Royal Paladin/Altmile (myself, top 4)
Royal Paladin/Jewel Knights (top 4)
Link Joker/Omega Glendios (top 4)
Gear Chronicle (top 4)
Gear Chronicle (top 8)
2x Shadow Paladin (top 8)
Bermuda Triangle/Duo (top 8)
As for the deck I used, I decided to play my Blue Sky Knight, Altmile deck. I playtested with this deck since Soul Strike Against the Supreme launched and scored an 8 win-1 loss performance at Bushiroad's California Regional a couple weeks back with a similar build (I changed a few cards thanks to Sage of Salvation, Benon from Comic Booster: Vanguard and Deletor). I felt I was very comfortable with this deck and it offered a powerful early, mid, and late game. Contrary to popular belief and lots of playtesting, I ultimately decided this build was the strongest build available to Royal Paladin in comparison to the popular Sanctuary Guard Dragon-Jewel Knight builds.
My reasoning came to a few reasons. For one, Knight of Reform, Pir is a ridiculously powerful unit and creates gargantuan columns as soon as the stride game begins. For two, the deck has a similarly powerful early game in comparison to Sanctuary Guard builds, thanks to Starlight Violinist and Sage of Salvation, Benon. Benon in particular outclasses Jewel Knight, Swordmy as a unit in my opinion, due to gaining a +2 in card advantage by calling Sword of Hope, Richard instead of a usually vanilla Jewel Knight unit. The extra +1 draw gained as early as turn 2 is immensely powerful for going aggressive or for having a defensive hand capable of guarding or countering the opponent's early aggression. Benon also allows me to have more flexibility in my Grade 1 line-up because I'm not forced to fit in Jewel Knight Grade 1s, when I can instead fit my Knight of Reform, Pirs. I'm also not reliant on damage checking Jewel Knights in the early game so it is more consistent. The 14k column was perfectly fine for turn 2, or turn 3 going first, and the 6k booster could be patched up later with having Knight of Fragment in front of it and/or utilizing Altmile's stride skill.
Thirdly, the late game columns that Aerial Divine Knight, Altmile creates in conjunction with Blue Sky Knight, Altmile's stride skill far exceeds what Sanctuary Guard Regalie can do, and the deck is easily able to exceed 36k or even 41k rear columns with Knight of Reform, Pir also added to the mix. All this said, I decided Sanctuary Guard Dragon was a powerful alternative ride unit for still synergizing with what the deck wants to do, so I forgo'd Saint Blow Dragon in my G Zone to fit in two Sanctuary Guard Regalies. Without further adieu, here is my decklist.
Royal Paladin - Altmile/Sanctuary
Grade 0: 17
Starting Vanguard: Shining Knight, Millius
8x Critical Trigger (vanilla)
4x Bringer of Dreams, Belenus (Altmile Critical Trigger)
4x Heal Trigger (vanilla)
Grade 1: 13
4x Holy Knight Guardian (G-Perfect Guard)
4x Knight of Reform, Pir
3x Laurel Knight, Sicilus (stride enabler)
2x Sword of Hope, Richard
Grade 2: 12
3x Knight of Fragment
3x Knight of Twin Sword
3x Starlight Violinist
2x Sage of Salvation, Benon
Grade 3: 8
4x Blue Sky Knight, Altmile
4x Sanctuary Guard Dragon
Grade 4: 8
4x Aerial Divine Knight, Altmile
2x Holy Dragon, Sanctuary Guard Regalie
1x Divine Knight of Flashing Flame, Samuel
1x Shrouded Divine Knight, Gablade
Finishing the tournament, I'm not sure I would really consider changing anything, since the deck felt very fluid to me the whole day. In round 4, there was a couple instances where I could not stride, so I could consider swapping the ratio of Pir and Sicilus, but I feel Pir is far too important to the deck to run less than four of. Techgal is a useful unit and I wish I could fit in a 2nd copy, but the Grade 2 line-up is too impacted to really switch anything out of. Twelve criticals felt very important for what this deck wants to do, draws feel unnecessary and stand triggers are inherently inconsistent.
*Disclaimer* this tournament report is to the best of my ability in how I remember my matches. My memory is far from perfect so I will recollect it to the best I can, I apologize for any inaccuracies if you were an opponent of mine reading this and recollect something a little different.
Round 1- vs Neo Nectar/Maiden
When I saw him flip over Spring-Heralding Maiden, Ozu, I quickly realized he was playing a Gen Break deck that had no access to field control, so therefore I could go very aggressive without reprecussions. On my turn 2, I rode Fragment, called Benon into Richard, and called a Laurel Knight, Sicilus to search Blue Sky Knight Altmile, quickly knocking him to four damage with a critical trigger. He did not open incredibly aggressive in return, just having his vanguard column and a Salianna+Pia column. On my 3rd turn, I rode Altmile, and knocked him to 5 damage. He proceeded to ride Ahsha, strode into Sacred Tree Dragon, Multivitamin Dragon and used a combination of the Saliannas and Pia's he cloned to gain a large amount of power. However, I was only at two damage so it was of little threat to me, as I simply took most of his rear guard attacks and went to 4 or 5. I proceeded to stride straight into Aerial Divine Knight, Altmile to just gain the 3000 power in the front row and to make specific columns with the Knight of Reform, Pir I called from my hand in conjunction with Blue Sky Knight, Altmile's skill and swiftly ended the game. Going into Gablade or Samuel would not have contributed anything in that situation since he was already at 5 damage.
This game was not nearly as eventful. I went first, but he was gradelocked and was unable to ride or G-Assist into a Grade 2. In turn I rode straight into Altmile and called a Benon, and having access to twin drive and early card advantage proved too much for him to come back from.
Round 2- vs Brawler
This match was quite entertaining, Brawler is not one of my best match-ups as I'm forced to play more conservatively with my Pirs to not lose them early to being retired. However I opened up well with my hand having a Benon, and just rode+called into that. I remember I also got a crit that turn I believe. If I remember correctly, he used Brawler, Skyhowl Dragon to get rid of it. From here my memory is a little fuzzy, but I do remember us having a significant damage gap, him striding into Knuckle Turbo to attack my Benon, Richard, and my vanguard (which I was more than okay with since I got enough value from them). I then had an empty field and just strode into Gablade and called Belenus with Altmile's skill to hit 9k and snipe a rear. This was deliberate because I wanted to conserve my Pirs in my hand for my Aerial Altmile turn to overwhelm with power, and not lose my units to one of the Big Bang Knuckle units. He proceeded to then stride into Conquest Dragon as I expected since my field was empty, but we were at a large damage gap so his columns were not lethal. I remember going off next turn, dropping 2 Pir's with Aerial Altmile and calling a multitude of Grade 2s to end the game.
This game was very similar to game 1. The specifics are very fuzzy to me but I remember doing similar plays, such as having an early field with Starlight Violinist, getting punched by Knuckle Turbo and intentionally keeping an empty field on my first stride turn with the damage gap in my favor. I do remember dropping a Pir with Altmile and not being able to win that turn, but he decided to go into Conquest and keeping his Chaturas rather than going into Knuckle Turbo, calling the Slash Dragon he drove into last turn, and eliminating my Pir. I had multiple Perfect Guards to survive and won the following turn with another Aerial turn.
Round 3 - vs Sanctuary Guard Dragon
From what I can remember, he was unfortunate in not being able to damage Jewel Knights and I had an aggressive start with Starlight Violinist. If I remember correctly I ate a Regalie turn to go to high damage, strode into Samuel to push him to 5, survived the next turn, and then finished the game with Aerial Altmile.
This game was unfortunate with him because he was unable to stride. He rode Sanctuary Guard Dragon first but was unable to draw into a stride enabler or another Grade 3. I attacked his rear guards and he was not able to do very much.
Round 4 - vs Revenger Abyss (feature match)
I played against my friend Atik and we were recorded on ARG's livestream. I definitely felt nervous, as playing in a large tournament setting is one thing, but playing on camera with people are watching online is something else! The pressure was on and I knew it would be tougher when I was playing against the strongest deck of the format. Alas game 1 did not go very well for me. I did get to go second but my hand was not very defensive nor aggressive. I had a Benon, but I unfortunately drew into one Richard as my first ride, and I damage checked my second one. I also lost Millius to a turn 2 Blaster Dark Revenger Abyss and the next turn I was unable to guard to prevent Judgebau from going off. He guarded my Gablade and proceeded to accumulate advantage with Aurageyser Dragon. If I remember correctly, I damaged him a bit with Aerial, and then I proceeded to lose to Phantom Blaster Abyss the next turn. This round also took a long time as we were both taking our time with our turns, so there was only 15 or so minutes on the clock for Game 2. This ended up helping me later.
This game went pretty awkward for me, but it wasn't great for him either. We spent our early game trading with our rear guards to control each other. There was an awkward point where I damage checked my only Techgal in the deck and was unable to create a proper field to use with Aerial Altmile so that stung as well. A while later I was unable to stride and was swinging with Altmile's Gen Break 2, which he was able to defend. He proceeded to legion with Phantom Blaster Abyss and called out most of his hand to try and finish the turn. I was able to guard and he unfortunately drove checked four Grade 3s in a row. It was then that time was called. I proceeded to go onto my turn, being turn #1 and I was able to win on that turn, with his hand being so clogged. Since time was called on our Game 2 and we were both 1-1, it was considered a tie. For such a long round, I'm a little disappointed in myself that I'm not able to recollect many of the specifics but it was a great game and we shook hands.
Round 5 - vs Sanctuary Guard Dragon
I played conservatively early game, not wanting to give him fuel for his Jewel Knight, Swordmy I saw him drive check. I dealt him one damage and it was not a Jewel Knight, so he was not able to go aggressive against me either. I rode into Sanctuary Guard Dragon since my hand was clogged with Grade 3s, and I needed to filter to better position myself. We then proceeded to both exchange Regalie turns, with his being slightly better of course since his deck was more tailored for its use. I believe I strode into Aerial on my next turn, and got to utilize the Pir on my board since the G Unit has Altmile in its name, and I won the game.
I used Sage of Salvation, Benon to accumulate early hand advantage and trade off against his powerful early game. I believe I went into Samuel after his Regalie turn and we both were sitting at 5. I used a couple PGs to survive his next turn, and finished the game with Aerial Altmile and Pir.
Round 6 - vs Bermuda Triangle Duos
At this point, I was playing against the only undefeated player in swiss. I got rushed, he called two 12k attackers and quickly hit me to four. I attacked into them and got a heal trigger. He did not have much of a follow up, only striding into Legendary Prism Duo, Nectaria which I proceeded to use a perfect guard. I proceeded to swiftly win the following turn with Aerial Altmile.
Once again, he opened very aggressively and knocked me to 4 damage. This time, I used Samuel and quickly dealt a lot of damage to him. He legioned with Duo Falling Heart, Victoria and only had one other column which I guarded against. I proceeded to win that game with Aerial Altmile and Pir columns. Both games he commented saying that he missed his break ride combo.
Top 8 - vs Gear Chronicle
He and I both opened up aggressively. He used Upstream Dragon and Steam Fighter, Kalibum to attack and return my Shining Knight, Millius to my deck. I used Benon to rebuild my board and keep board presence. He and I both go through our first stride turns with Faterider Dragon and Gablade, and I finish the game with Aerial Altmile.
I had a solid start with Benon and attacked all of his rear guards. The biggest blunder was when he rode Chronojet Dragon and attacked for only 11k. I used a 10k trigger to 2-to-pass and he got two criticals, breaking my guard and putting me to five damage. Knowing I couldn't survive another turn, I tried to dunk with Samuel but he survived. He went into Ragnaclock Dragon on first stride just to assure I couldn't guard with triggers. I did not have a Holy Knight Guardian in my hand so I quickly lost.
Early game he rides his 10k Smoke Gear Dragon and calls a second one, so I was not able to deal a lot of early damage. Luckily I had a Benon with my vanguard+starter so I was able to at least hit. I forget how most of the game went but I remember he went into Chronodragon Nextag. I used a perfect guard, and proceeded to no guard Chronojet at three damage. He crits and I go to five damage, and I guard a beefy column consisting of Steam Fighter, Balih and a booster. I proceed to win with Aerial Altmile, and a beefed up Knight of Fragment + Pir column.
We all decided to split the prize!
All in all, it was a great experience and a fun day. I'm certainly looking forward to my next chance to play at an ARGCS event, hopefully the one in Las Vegas if time permits me to go. Until next time, Play Hard or Go Home!