Greetings cardfighters! Fighter's Collection 2015 Winter just launched a few days ago, and I wanted to discuss the cards I believe to have the most potential to impact the game. Despite the odd naming of the set, since it is now 2016 yet has last year in its title, I believe it is a very worthwhile set to pick up. Some people disagree and state that this set is overall weaker than the previous Fighter's Collection that was released last summer. While that is true to a certain extent, I believe the set to be one of the most beautifully designed sets the game has seen for a good while. My reasoning is this: the cards were carefully crafted to be balanced, its aimed elevate many forgotten decks into playability, and that they released a supporting main deck unit for each of the set's strides that was meant to synergize with them. In my opinion, that is a stronger method of design in comparison to the previous Fighter's Collection. My other argument is that this set also reinforces many older decks that also have potent early games. Probably the most important defining trait we've seen from last year is the importance of the pre-Gen Break early game, which matters now more than ever in the Ripple metagame. Many of the decks that 2015 Winter supports were decks that have the potential for strong early games such as Beast Deities for example, but have not received corresponding stride support. Will these decks become tier 1 capable? Ultimately doubtful. However the pool of tier 1.5-2 decks is ever massive, and in a game that has proven to have diverse fields regardless of the tier 1 trends, this is significant.
Bluish Flame True Liberator, Holy Flame / Sword Principle Liberator, Magnus
Liberators are probably one of the most resilient sub-clans in the game next to Revengers, they have had a presence in the metagame for a very long time. Throughout 2015, Liberators started off as a very strong deck when it was only legions, but as strides became more fleshed out, they began to fall off more and more. However, they never completely fell off and still scored a few tops here and there, including a first place finish this year at Bushiroad Spring Fest Nationals. Gold Paladins continue to be one of the more popular clans to be seen in tournament numbers so people definitely still pilot the deck. The problem with the deck so far is that the strides released for Liberators have been very subpar. Golden Dragon, Spearcross Dragon is an over-costed unit, is too slow, and is too restrictive. Scourge Point Dragon does not really synergize with the Liberator strategy, and Cambell is just another on-hit clone. These cards were not really worth going into for Liberators in most situations, especially when the deck really wants to conserve its precious G3 cards in hand for Prominence Glare's skill.
Holy Flame finally gives Liberators a worthwhile G Unit for the first stride play and beyond, which also synergizes with what the deck wants to do. On the first stride turn, it guarantees one superior call off for one counterblast, which is usual for Liberator standards, but what's significant here is how the other two cards are placed in the drop zone. This gives the deck more flexibility with legion, since Holy Flame filters through the deck quickly and allows more choices on what cards to place back into the deck. The Liberator player also isn't as forced to make unoptimal guards to rush into a legion play as much as it was previously, which is very helpful. The card shines after the first stride play as well, as you are able to make multiple calls, either two or three depending if you wish to flip a copy of itself or another card for the same one counterblast, which is favorable. The +2000 power is a bonus, that synergizes with specific columns made with May Rain Liberator, Bruno. Another small but beneficial bonus is that this card is not restricted to only calling Liberator units, so builds have the option of running generic stride enablers in order to help conserve G3 cards in the hand, if so desired. Having access to a vanguard unit that is able to call units out of the deck for a plus in card advantage is a great asset to liberators as previously outside of Percival, their G3 legions were one-for-one trades, and Spearcross Dragon was too restrictive and slow to accomplish that.
Magnus is an interesting unit that has similarities to Oath Liberator, Aglovale as well as Regulation Liberator, Aglovale in one card, but is certainly more restrictive. Unfortunately the unit is only able to work when you're either in legion or on stride as well as being an on-call from the deck, which admittedly sounds very situational for a deck that is used to open ended cards, especially on the much important G2 turn. However, there are a lot of pros to make it worth a contender for that 3rd G2 slot that is usually contested in Liberator decks, so let's break those down. For one, the card is costless. Unlike its Aglovale brethren, Magnus costs neither a counterblast nor a soulblast. For two, this card gives you a lot of utility for what to choose, you can either fill your board or gather G3s in hand for usage of Prominence Glare. Thanks to a Bushiroad ruling, your board can be full and you can call the Bluish Flame g3 over a rear guard, add it to your hand, gain power on your Brunos, AND keep the original unit in that circle, since the game does not check for two units in a rear guard circle until skills resolve, similar enough to Blaster Dark Revenger + Dorint. While Magnus is an on-call from the deck skill, thanks to Holy Flame, Aglovale, and Bluish Flame G3s, there are plenty of enablers to get this unit's skill to work. All in all a solid unit, I would personally argue that because it is a hybrid of both Aglovales and synergizes in multiple ways with what Bluish Flame decks want to do, it is definitely worth playing in Liberator decks.
Ultimate Beast Deity, Ethics Buster Catastrophe / Beast Deity, Dragotwist
I always really liked Beast Deities, in my opinion the sub-clan embodies what Nova Grapplers want to do the most: stand and stand quickly. Raizers felt more like a Cat Butler deck and less of a Nova Grappler deck, and Extreme Battlers are a bit too Gen Breaky for my tastes. Besides having one of the best artistic renditions in the entire game, Ethics Buster Catastrophe takes my favorite Beast Deity Unit, Ethics Buster Extreme, and revives its skill in the stride era. On second stride and beyond, each card stood gains +3000 from its own skill. I just love the idea of making any card that is drove checked into something useful. Of course, now that strides are mostly all triple drive cards, that's another card for Catastrophe to re-stand. While this isn't anything new for Beast Deities, it's important to look at the context of the Beast Deity deck and see its strengths. Cards such as Beast Deity, Brainy Papio and Beast Deity, Max Beat allow the deck to have early re-standing pressure. Brainy Papio in particular is a pressure unit that has to be guarded against multiple times once reaching the stride game, due to re-standing off of Catastrophe. Lastly it's important to remember that this deck still has access to Nova Grappler's ace in the whole: Meteokaiser Victoplasma. While not necessarily synergistic with what Beast Deity cards want to do, it doesn't necessarily have to. The utility is still there since the G Zone has room, and it can end games on its own.
Beast Deity, Dragotwist is an interesting unit that feels more of something that we're seeing added onto generic G-Nova Grappler cards these days, but is still a welcome addition to the Beast Deity line-up. As its name suggests, Dragotwist is literally a Kagero/Narukami-esque unit slapped on to the Beast Deity deck. In my opinion, a combination of field control plus re-stand pressure sounds like a pretty sweet deal to me. What is especially important is that Dragotwist can very early on retire problematic G1 units such as Flash Ripple, Odysseus and Commander Laurel in the G2 game, thanks to Brainy Papio if it is allowed to hit, or perhaps a combination of Ethics Buster Extreme and the LB enabler on turn 3. This card feels more like something whose usage would depend on the format trends and the importance of needing field control or not. The upcoming release of Beast Deity, Jackal Lord in G Set 6 would certainly help this card's place more in the deck, since Dragotwist is not restricted to once per turn and can gain multiple re-stands off a combination of Jackal Lord and Catastrophe, but I suppose Cool Hank can also work for now if you're willing to deal with the chance of dead drive checks off Catastrophe as well as not being as fast as Jackal Lord. I almost wish they just switched Jackal Lord's and Dragotwists release dates and put the desert dog in this set, but we can't all have nice things can we? Nonetheless, I think Dragotwist has a place in current Beast Deity decks to help against the Ripple match-up and others.
Interdimensional Dragon, Chronoscommand Revolution
Gear Chronicle just seems to be that deck that does not top all the time but is very popular nonetheless at the local level, and always sees a lot of play at regional and ARG tournaments (in a similar boat to Gold Paladin). Therefore, I'd argue its always important to keep yourself up to date on their new cards for the clan. Chronoscommand Revolution is essentially a re-work of where things went wrong for the original Chronoscommand Dragon, since this upgraded form does not require an on hit. On GB2, essentially reset the whole board, and if you have a face up Chronoscomand Dragon, you can keep two of your cards. On first glance this sounds like the nail in the coffin. Not only is it GB2, it means you'd have to play the original Chronoscommand Dragon first if you want to save two cards, which sounds like a bad investment. However, this card was truly meant to synergize with the new stride from the latest trial deck: Interdimensional Beast, Metallica Phoenix. Phoenix allows you to flip any card in the G Deck over, so you can simply flip the original Chronoscommand Dragon over in that turn, and then be able to keep two rears if using Revolution on the following turn, while your opponent loses all of theirs. Wrap that up with a lot of power on Summit Crest Gear Wolf and that looks pretty good! Another bonus regarding the Phoenix is combined with Chrono Dran, you're saving one unit that could have been spinned the next turn with Revolution in your hand, so they are clearly meant to play together.
One of the arguments players have is if this card is worth it in the Gear Chronicle stride deck, since it is becoming very impacted due to the clan having so many different strides. Players notably compare it to Chronodragon Nextage for being a GB2 stride, and the engine consisting of Phoenix and the original Chronoscommand Dragon would take up 4 cards in total. I would argue that it is on the basis that it is a powerful reset option if need be against decks that create very large fields consistently, such as Sanctuary Guard and the previously discussed Liberators. Phoenix is powerful and versatile enough to be the first stride option for most situations, so the G Zone options should be between cards from second stride and onwards. Utility with maximum output are the traits to look here, and Revolution has that mass field clear skill if need be. If you want to try and end the game on GB2 stride, go for Nextage. If you really need to wipe out the board, Revolution is there for you, and it is a consistent out unlike its original predecessor.
Reform-calling Gear Eagle I'm not going to go too much into detail on simply because I don't believe this card is that good. I do like the idea behind it that they were trying to finally branch off from just Chronojet Dragon decks, but akin to other specific stride G3s like Blaster Dark "Diablo", the card feels too restrictive to really make building a deck around it worth it when you could just use Chronojet Dragon for better results.
That concludes this week's article. Are there any other cards you'd like me to comment on? Let me know in the comments. As always, Play Hard or Go Home!