Pale Moon: Past, Present, and Future

 

What is Pale Moon? Pale Moon is a circus themed clan from the Dark Zone nation. The deck has always focused on manipulating the cards in your soul, and finding ways of making use of them by superior calling, soul charging, and in some cases, soul blasting. Common themes include “soul swapping,” the act of replacing a rear-guard with a unit from the soul, which is useful in gaining multiple attacks, as well as keeping the field very open, allowing early game plays that would otherwise be ill-advised in more closed game styled clans.

 

Pale Moon has always been a dark horse clan, since the day it was announced in BT03. When the clan was first released, it boasted an important capability, which was to have the vanguard be able to regularly attack for 21000, which at the time was very important for taking down the top meta threats, such as Dragonic Overlord, Asura Kaiser, and the newly introduced Tsukuyomi, as it made sure the opponent had to use at least two cards to guard it. This brings us to our first spotlight in Pale Moon's history: Barking Manticore.

Barking Manticore is a grade three that has the ability to gain 3000 power during your turn if you have Crimson Beast Tamer in your soul. At the time, the ability to hit 21000 was very powerful, and this made using Barking Manticore as well as Dark Metal Bicorn or Turquoise Beast Tamer (who also gets +3000 if you have Crimson in your soul) perfectly on par with the average offensive clans of the time. Also important additions to the the deck included Nightmare Doll, Alice, a grade three that can go to the soul and superior call another Pale Moon if it's attack hit, which gave the deck needed rear-guard pressure, to support Barking Manticore's ability to hit “magic numbers” on any grade three in the game. Unfortunately, amongst all that was good in the deck, there were some problems as well. Their only viable first vanguard didn't have the ability to call itself to a rear-guard circle when ridden over (which has since been keyworded as Forerunner), which diminished a little bit of their early game strength, as well as hurt their card advantage. In order to make up for this loss of card advantage however, the clan was released with a second draw trigger, meaning all purely Pale Moon decks were running four heal triggers, four critical triggers, and eight draw triggers. The deck at the time had plenty going for it, what with all of it's on-hit rear-guard pressure and the vanguard's ability to hit numbers. Sadly, the clan didn't receive much support until months later in Extra Booster 1, and by the time it got some of the needed support, people had moved away from the dark circus in a competitive sense.

 

A sample Barking Manticore list looked something like this (as of BT03):

 

Grade 0: 17

• x1 Hades Ringmaster (First Vanguard)

• x4 Candy Clown (Heal)

• x4 Dynamite Juggler (Critical)

• x4 Spiral Master (Draw)

• x4 Rainbow Magician (Draw)

 

Grade 1

x4 Dark Metal Bicorn

x4 Turquoise Beast Tamer

x4 Hades Hypnotist

x2 Midnight Bunny

 

Grade 2

x4Crimson Beast Tamer

x4 Barking Cerberus

x3 Mirror Demon

 

Grade 3

4x Barking Manticore

4x Nightmare Doll, Alice

 

 

For a long time, very little was sent Pale Moon's way. Then, BT07, Rampage of the Beast King happened, and the deck was drastically changed, and given a ton of needed support. While BT05 and EB01 brought a few useful cards such as Nitro Juggler, Jumping Jill, Big League Bear and Sky High Walker, nothing quite changed Pale Moon the way BT07 did. With the introduction of a new stand, critical, and draw trigger, two new grade three bosses, a forerunning First Vanguard, and perhaps the most important: Purple Trapezist, a grade one that allowed easier interaction with the cards in the soul, as well as opened up in-combat tricks, allowing the clan to now focus it's attention more on multiple attacks.

The two big bosses introduced in BT07 were Sword Magician, Sarah, as well as Silver Thorn Dragon Tamer, Luquier. The former having not only the skill to hit 21000 with a boost from Dark Metal Bicorn, it also has the ability to gain an extra attack whenever she drive checks a grade three Pale Moon, simply by choosing a grade 3 Pale Moon in one of your rear-guard circles putting it into the soul, and superior calling a Pale Moon from the soul. With the new addition of Midnight Invader to the clan, adding the ability to make 21000 columns on the rear-guard, as well as Nightmare Doll, Alice still providing on-hit pressure from the rear-guard, Sarah was the go-to for most Pale Moon players.

For those not interested in that sort of playstyle however were given Luquier. Pale Moon's first Limit Break unit, Luquier has the ability to gain power +3000 every time a Pale Moon is superior called from the soul, giving her strong compatibility with cards like Magician of Quantum Mechanics, Purple Trapezist, and Peek-a-boo. With only two superior calls per turn, any booster will make Luquier attack for 21000 or more. More importantly, as time had passes, 21000 at the time was no longer special. The new standard for a competitive scene was to hit 26000. One of Luquier's key strengths over Sarah at the time was that with the use of Quantum Mechanics to grab a Purple Trapezist from the soul that then superior calls a Jumping Glenn from the soul was a Counterblast 1 per turn investment to easily hit 26000 every turn, without limit break, which was unprecedented, and nearly unmatched at the time. After all of that, we get to her Limit Break. For a counterblast cost of three, you can superior call up to four Pale Moon units with different grades from 0-4 from your soul to rear-guard circles. If four cards are called this way, it rockets Luquier's power up to 22000, making her hit an easy 26000-32000, depending on which booster you have.

 

Even with these two new bosses, the added support actually improved Barking Manticore decks as well. While they couldn't hit that 26000 threshold, their consistency was boosted greatly. Perhaps most importantly, the additions of Innocent Magician and Girl who Crossed the Gap as new forerunning first vanguards, as well as Dancing Princess of the Night Sky, a grade 2 that can be used to search the deck for any grade two or lower Pale Moon unit and put it into the soul at the small cost of one counterblast, which dramatically increased the consistency of getting Crimson Beast Tamer into the soul, as well as possibly securing a Purple Trapezist into the soul for added strength from it's on-hit rear-guards like Alice or Midnight Bunny.

 

 

Sample decklist for BT07 Sword Magician, Sarah:

Grade 0

x1 Innocent Magician (First Vanguard)

x4 Candy Clown (Heal)

x4 Skyhigh Walker (Stand)

x4 Hoop Magician (Stand)

x4 Rainbow Magician (Critical)

 

Grade 1

x4 Hades Hypnotist

x4 Purple Trapezist

x3 Dark Metal Bicorn

x2 Midnight Bunny

 

Grade 2

x4 Barking Cerberus

x2 Jumping Jill

x2 Nitro Juggler/Big League Bear

x2 Fire Breeze, Carrie

 

Grade 3

x4 Sword Magician, Sarah

x4 Midnight Invader

x2 Nightmare Doll, Alice

 

 

A Sample Decklist for BT07 Silver Thorn Dragon Tamer, Luquier:

 

Grade 0

x1 Girl Who Crossed the Gap (First Vanguard)

x4 Candy Clown (Heal)

x4 Poison Juggler (Critical)

x3 Dynamite Juggler (Critical)

x4 Rainbow Magician (Draw)

x1 Flyer Flyer (Draw)

 

Grade 1

x4 Hades Hypnotist

x4 Purple Trapezist

x3 Magician of Quantum Mechanics

x2 Midnight Bunny

x1 Jumping Glenn

 

Grade 2

x4 Barking Cerberus

x2 Nitro Juggler

x2 Jumping Jill

x1 Dancing Princess of the Night Sky

x1 Peek-a-boo

 

Grade 3

4x Silver Thorn Dragon Tamer, Luquier

4x Nightmare Doll, Alice

 

With the advent of BT09, it brings us to present day Pale Moon in the English format. While BT09 wasn't nearly as reforming as BT07, there were a few nice support cards added in the set, and there are two new Limit Break units. While perhaps not as impressive as Luquier's +4 Limit Break, the new Limit Breaker from BT09 is Starlight Melody Tamer, Farah. She's not as good at maintaining card advantage as Luquier, as well as being generally worse in the early game (lack of pre-LB effect), she boasts something entirely unique at the time, which is that she's the only 11000 base grade 3 in Pale Moon. Additionally, we also see the introduction of Nightmare Summoner, Raqiel, a unit that's a part of the archetype of grade three limit breakers like Great Silver Wolf, Garmore and Circular Saw, Kiriel. Raqiel is sadly not nearly as powerful as Garmore or as synergistic as Kiriel, and isn't very viable, despite it almost completely outclassing Mistress Hurricane from sets past. What it can be used for however is as a backup vanguard to Dusk Illusionist, Robert, who can't generate card advantage or hit numbers on his own, and with it's Personal Booster, Magical Partner, it creates easy 21000 rear-guard columns that get soul fodder each turn from Robert on the vanguard circle.

 

Perhaps the most important introductions from BT09 are Fire Juggler and Barking Wyvern. Both cards that Sword Magician, Sarah decks eat up. At the current time, Sarah's main difficulties in games is that vanguards now have almost guaranteed 11000 base. As a result, units like Nightmare Doll, Alice have lost their shine when it comes to threatening the vanguard repeatedly. While still useful for hitting rear-guards, some find it preferable to instead use Barking Wyvern to make use of excess grade threes in hand, while making very easy 21000 columns on the rear-guard, and even possible 26000 columns on the vanguard circle if you can't find Sarah. With the deck's inclination to run extra grade threes for Sarah, Fire Juggler can replace Midnight Bunny for your utility on-boosted hit grade one 7000 base. This also frees up counterblast space, so you can get more usage out of Fire Breeze, Carrie, or make repeated use of Innocent Magician (as Pale Moon is the only clan capable of making use of it's grade three searching first vanguard).

In the present, there are many ways you can make a Pale Moon deck. I've tested and built decks for every grade three boss (including Nightmare Doll, Amy), and even for interesting lower grade units (such as my current Peek-a-boo deck). Even some of the scrutinized bosses such as Golden Beast Tamer have found their odd places with whats currently available. However, as of Booster Set 12: Binding Force of Black Rings, we will see the largest reform of Pale Moon since BT07. With the introduction of the shockingly consistent and powerful sub-clan for Pale Moon, known as Silver Thorn, as well as a very powerful breakride, Miracle Pop, Eva. Perhaps the most daunting of all cards to be released in BT12 is Silver Thorn Dragon Queen, Luquier “Reverse.” A crossride unit for the old fashioned Luquier, that makes long games of attrition possible, even in an environment that had previously been dominated entirely by fast rush decks that attempt to end the game as soon after limit break as possible.

 

While many decks are made possible with the additions made in set 12, the one everybody is awaiting is Silver Thorn. A deck with a nearly perfect track record, despite low usage. The sub-clan is designed entirely to put a fresh new spin on targeted, consistent soul charging Silver Thorns, amazing early game pressure in the form of the new Silver Thorn Beast Tamers, Maricica and Ana, and of course, Luquier “Reverse,” who adds a very strong grinding endgame that capitalizes on the strong, pressuring nature of the early game. With the addition of the standard 12000 attacker, Silver Thorn Rising Dragon (who is also usable in non-Silver Thorn Luquier crossride decks), and Maricica, the sub-clan now answer's one of Pale Moon's oldest weak points, which was a low powered or low pressure grade two turn. Because of this, every turn in consistently effect driven, and pressure can begin to be applied from turn one until the end of the game consistently. The core of the deck can fully formed with the above cards, as well as the new Silver Thorn Assistants, Ionela and Irina. The former being the dynamic new starting vanguard that offers either constant on-hit pressure or consistent soul charging of specific units. The latter is an on-call soul charger that helps dig through the deck in an attempt to set up columns and pressure with Ana and Maricica or even superior crossride Luquier “Reverse.”

 

With all that's going for Silver Thorn, older decks are stronger than ever now as well, with the addition of Miracle Pop, Eva. For a long time, I've made the assertion that Eva is honestly one of, if not the best break ride in the game (with admittedly stiff competition from Infinite Zero, Nightmist, Dauntless, and of course, Mordred Phantom). With very easily obtained set up (which she helps build pre-limit break, which is highly unique, when concerning breakrides), she can easily launch 5-6 fully boosted attacks at the opponent on the break ride turn, and she can be used to call out units before drive checks, so her triggers will never be wasted. With added synergy with Silver Thorn Dragon Tamer, Luquier, she can make the vanguard circle hit as hard as 32000 unboosted, or she can be used with Dusk Illusionist, Robert and Peek-a-boo to create an old school early game advantage engine that previously only suffered from a lack of a defined end-game play, which is solved by the break-ride effect. Eva also finds ways of supporting almost every grade three boss Pale Moon has, with the exception of Sarah. As a single card, no card has ever supported their clan more than Eva has in Pale Moon. Being one of the clans only 11000 base options as well truly helps it shine as well.

 

Other smaller support is seen in BT12 as well, such as the new grade three boss, Nightmare Doll, Chelsea, the grade 2 11000 attacker, Flying Hippogriff, and the powerful replacement for Midnight Invader, Fire Ring Gryphon, and even stronger soulcharge support in the form of Tightrope Tumbler. A little something can be found for literally every Pale Moon deck in BT12, so the future for the clan is very bright, indeed.

 

As with every other clan, it's always been all about knowing your matchups, and Pale Moon is very technical, and as a result can have a good matchup to almost any deck as long as you know how to deal with what you're playing against, and it's always been that way. Back in the day, Barking Manticore's strong vanguard column and on-hit pressure rear-guard columns had the deck set-up to be a premier aggro deck. Seeing as how the highly defensive clans at the time were Oracle Think Tank, Megacolony, and Kagero, knowing how to deal with those matchups was a key to victory.

 

As BT07 rolled around and Sarah and Luquier decks began to pop up, the metagame had already shifted. Defensive decks had already become a bit more normal, Oracles hadn't really seen their current rise in popularity yet, but their presence was definitely felt much more often, and as such, the decks changed from simple aggro to a card advantage generating, open field deck that has access to the soul as a toolbox. As a result, answers to their matchups were very available, if you knew what you were doing. The rise of Majesty Lord Blaster and Spectral Duke Dragon were probably the two biggest threats presented to the clan at the time.

 

BT09 is generally where things become tough. With all current support available, Pale Moon has to wait until ultimate salvation in BT12. The small amount of support in BT09 just isn't enough to keep the clan in whole on the same page in the metagame as strong incoming support for Liberators and Eradicators (which to be fair was a universal problem in Japan anyways, not just for Pale Moon). The switches in BT11 and BT10's release date helps curve the problem a bit in the English format, to be fair, and Luquier decks can still have a good matchup to Eradicator, Dragonic Descendant decks if you know what to do, and you can get by on even matchups with Liberators to get you through until BT12.

 

Once we see the Binding Force of Black Rings, the ball game changes however. Pale Moon will always be an underdog clan based on usage ratios, however with the emergence of Silver Thorn as one of Japan's most threatening decks in the metagame, the playing field is slanted much more favorably for dedicated Pale Moon players. Sporting good matchups against Revengers, and Eradicators, two of the three most popular decks in Japan, as well as a neutral matchup to Link Joker and Liberators. Regular Pale Moon is also given a needed boost, as Eva now supports most Pale Moon builds, the clan now has answers to both card advantage problems produced by retire based clans, and the ability to push for game harder against opponents that are also trying to win games of attrition. With this advantage, it's a lot easier to prepare a game plan against the most highly used metagame threats.

 

I really hope my article helps, it's all come as a result of constant testing and devotion to the clan. Looking back on what the clan once had to use, as well as looking forward to the support that still lingers on the horizon is one of the best ways to get to truly know the clan you play.

 

I'm Jeremy, and I play card games. From Magic to Vanguard, Yu-Gi-Oh to Pokemon, card games have always been my main hobby. The main game I play is Cardfight Vanguard, and I'm the leader of the team High Voltage. Since I began, I've been constantly working with checking news on cards coming out in Japan, as well as working with cards in both formats.

Gustavo Araujo-Swanson
I'm Jeremy Araujo, a Pale Moon player, and a small time Vanguard blogger. I play a lot of clans in the game (nearly all of them), and I'd like to think in the time I've been playing that I've gotten pretty decent at the game. I'm also a heavy player of EDH / Commander Magic, and I play some Yu-Gi-Oh. I've been playing card games since the age of five, and hopefully some of that experience can be given to some of the newer players who read my articles.
Gustavo Araujo-Swanson

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