Hello fellow ARG players, to the world of the planet Cray and the game of Cardfight!! Vanguard. I’m Patrick Steenson, an avid Vanguard player for nearly the past two years. I’ve played mainly at a local level since I missed my chance to go to the Edison regional for the World Championship last year because of school. But that never stopped me from playing and testing various decks and clans.
I’m here today, as an entry for the Vanguard contest, to discuss one of the many but overlooked clans that are available to play in Vanguard: Angel Feather. Although they are currently an under-supported clan, Angel Feather offers an effective defense that can prolong the game and turn the tide of battle in your favor. This article will look at some of the key cards in the clan and how each one works with the other cards to make the clan work as a whole. I’m hoping this article, and maybe more in the future, will help fellow players see what this clan and others can do.
Now, let us imagine it.
The History of the Medical Hospital
When Set 6: Breaker of Limits was released internationally in May 19, 2012 , the set introduced the new Angel Feather clan, along with additional support to Gold Paladins, Narukami, Nova Grapplers, and Granblue. While Royal Paladins, Kagero, and Oracle Think Tank were the main decks running at the time, Gold Paladins and Narukami managed to gain a place with them as a frequently played deck. Unfortunately, Angel Feathers fell to the wayside and became under-supported, even with the release of Set 7: Rampage of the Beast King only offering four cards to the clan compared to the support that Gold Paladin, Pale Moon, Great Nature, and Dark Irregulars gained.
While the current decks are aimed at being aggressive through flooding the field or generating powerful damage by multiple attacks or simply create overwhelming power in general, Angel Feather instead focuses on playing defensively; working on forcing your opponent to waste their resources while keeping your resources ready for your Final Turn.
Angel Feather also offers an interesting mechanic: manipulating the damage zone.
The clan turns the damage zone into an alternative resource area, an ‘additional hand’ so-to-speak. It opens up more card choices to change dead cards in your hand for better ones. This is done through exchanging cards in your hand for cards in the damage zone. There are even units that obtain bonuses from cards entering the damage zone along with swapping cards, thus utilizing the damage zone more than any other clan.
Take Four of These and Call Me in the Morning
As of now, Angel Feather currently have a total of 6 triggers available for use. They have 2 types of criticals: Rocket Dash Unicorn and Critical Hit Angel, 2 types of stands: Aurora Ribbon Pigeon and Happy Bell, Nociel, the draw trigger Bouquet Toss Messenger, and the heal trigger Sunny Smile Angel. Because of having two different sets of criticals and stands, it offers a lot of different ways to build the trigger lineup to your liking.
Along with the standard triggers, there are 3 triggers with special skills. The first is Critical Hit Angel. Her skill lets her move from rearguard to soul to add +3k power to one of your Angel Feather units until the end of the turn. While the +3k can be a nice boost and adds a card to your soul for soulblasting, the lose of a 10k shield is not worth the power you would gain from the skill unless pushing for late-game damage.
Next is Sunny Smile Angel. While only having a power of 3k, her skills make up for it. The first skill, if she is your Starting Vanguard, allows you to call her to rearguard if you ride an Angel Feather over her. When she boosts a unit, her second skill gives that boosted unit an additional 3k for that attack at the cost of having to be shuffled back to the deck at the end of the turn. Now what does this sound like? Why, it’s just like Lozenge Magus and Battleraizer, the re-shuffling triggers from Set 1! Since she’s a recycling heal trigger like Lozenge Magus, you can use her for quick bursts of power and return a heal trigger to the deck; definitely one of the better triggers currently available for the clan.
Finally, there is Happy Bell, Nociel. While sharing power with Critical Hit Angel, she has something that is very unique to her as a member of the Angel Feather clan. This trigger is part of the Nociel series of the Angel Feather clan: units from Grade 0 to Grade 2 that allow you to switch an Angel Feather card in your hand with a card in your damage zone, be it face-up or face-down. To use this Nociel’s swapping skill, you need to have an Angel Feather vanguard while she's in a rearguard circle. She’ll then gain the skill to move her to soul to exchange an Angel Feather card in your hand with a card in your damage zone. While this does seem useful in filling the soul for soulblasting, it’s actually a -2: -1 for calling it to rearguard from hand, -1 for moving it into soul, and the end result of a net 0 for exchanging a card in hand for a card in damage. It’s better to keep this trigger in hand as a 10k shield instead of attempting to change another card in hand for something else.
It’s entirely up to you on which triggers to use, but because Angel Feather loses a lot of cards in hand from swapping, it’s best to always run 4 draw triggers in the lineup to keep a good hand size. From there, you can decide to run either criticals or stands in your lineup.
The New Interns
The first step in playing Vanguard is the Starting Grade 0 Vanguard. Currently, Angel Feather has 4 different starters: the heal trigger Sunny Smile Angel, the grade 3 searcher Thermometer Angel, the ride chain starter Miracle Feather Nurse, and the Nociel-esque starter Hope Child, Turiel. Since Sunny Smile Angel was already discussed in the previous section, let’s focused on the other 3 starters.
Thermometer Angel is a clone of similar starters for many clans; 5k power, the skill to be called to rearguard when a unit of its clan rides over it, and counterblast1 to move it to soul to search the top 5 cards of your deck for a grade 3, and add it your hand. When Angel Feathers first started, it was a good alternative to the only other starter, Miracle Feather Nurse. Unfortunately, Thermometer Angel has fallen out of play since Set 7 and is not quite as useful anymore.
Miracle Feather Nurse is the first part of the Ergodiel chain from Set 6. If you ride the appropriate Grade 1 over her, you get to look at the top 7 cards of your deck for the necessary Grade 2 or Grade 3 of the chain and add it to your hand. If you don’t, you can call her to rearguard. The bonus from this starter comes from the ride chain: you basically recover from the -1 of riding your Grade 1 for either the Grade 2 or 3 and hopefully have the chain ready. The downside, however, is that you are now locked into filling a majority of the deck with the ride chain. And, if you miss the chain, she’s only a measly 4k booster which you’ll end up replacing for a better one.
Hope Child, Turiel was the new starter released in Set 7. She has the standard 5k power and has the skill to be called to rearguard if you ride an Angel Feather unit over her. Her second skill is what makes her quite interesting. While you have an Angel Feather vanguard, she gains this additional skill: you can counterblast1 to move her into your soul, place an Angel Feather card in your hand into your damage zone and swap it with a card from your damage zone. It’s very similar to the Nociel series’ effect and since this skill occurs during the main phase as an Action skill, Turiel can provide bonuses to certain Angel Feather units for more offensive purposes.
As of now, Turiel is the probably the best starter for Angel Feather because of how she matches the Angel Feather playstyle. Thermometer Angel, while I said gets less play, is a suitable alternative backup for a budget build. Miracle Feather Nurse gets the least amount of play because of the inconsistency of the ride chain but does provide a means to possibly having the next or last grade of the chain and provide bonuses for each successful ride in the chain.
Young Medical Officers At the Ready
Since Angel Feather was the newest clan introduced in Set 6, they have the standard Grade 1s along with some new types that were introduced in the set. There’s the 8k vanilla booster, the perfect guard for the clan, and a few others as well as newer units with subpar skills. Since these are some of the typical units in other clans, we can move on and look at the more unique Grade 1 units. The ones I want to talk about are the Crutch Rifle Angel, Heavenly Injector, Thousand Ray Pegasus, and Battle Cupid, Nociel.
Starting with Crutch Rifle Angel, he is a typical Grade 1 6k booster that gains an additional 4k when boosting a vanguard of their clan if specific requirements are met. For Crutch Rifle, you need to have equal or more damage than your opponent to obtain the +4k boost. While it seems simple and would be to your advantage during the late game, the problem is that you need to take unnecessary damage just to have a 10k booster to be live most of the time outside of the mid-late game. In many cases, Crutch Rifle Angel can be easily replaced for better, more suitable Grade 1s.
Battle Cupid, Nociel, while only having 6k power, has a bigger use than just being a booster. As a part of the Nociel series, she has the skill of placing an Angel Feather card from your hand into the damage zone to swap it for a card in the damage zone, much like Happy Bell, Nociel. The only thing that differs between this Nociel from the other is that Battle Cupid needs to be placed in the Guardian Zone to activate the skill. This allows you to trade cards while guarding for either getting specific cards to block another attack or getting that key card you need for the next turn.
Next is Heavenly Injector, the Grade 1 of the Ergodiel chain. By riding her over Miracle Feather Nurse, she not only gets an additional +1k to her power but also activates Nurse’s skill to look for the Grade 2 or Grade 3 Ergodiel. This improves her 7k power to 8k which prevents possibly early pushes for damage. She also has an additional skill where if you ride Fate Healer, Erogdiel, the Grade 2 of the chain, over her while Miracle Feather Nurse is in your soul, you can place an Angel Feather card in your hand into your damage zone and swap it for another card. In a way, she acts as a pseudo Nociel upon riding and prepares your hand for either defense, getting that necessary Grade 3 (most likely the Grade 3 Erogdiel) in hand, or getting the right units for attacking or boosting. Unfortunately, if you miss her on your ride phase, the chain fizzles and you now have a vanilla 7k booster that has no useful effects whatsoever.
Finally, Thousand Ray Pegasus is a 7k unit that comes with an interesting skill. The Pegasus gains an additional 2k each time a card is placed in your damage zone. It doesn’t matter if it was because of damage or by effect; if a card hits the damage zone, Thousand Ray Pegasus becomes a 9k booster or attacker. This makes it an effective booster on attack and defender on defense. There is also the Grade 2 and Grade 3 variants of this unit, creating the Pegasus series of Angel Feather to compliment the card swapping and becoming stronger from damage to defend against attacks easier.
A typical Grade 1 lineup normally contains 4 Burst Shot, Bethnael (8k booster), 4 Pure Keeper, Requiel (the perfect guard), and sometimes 3-4 Pegasus with either 1-2 Battle Cupid, Nociels. If you are using the Ergodiel ride chain, then the Pegasus would be replaced with Heavenly Injectors to be sure that you can get the ride chain off.
Fresh New Interns
The first unit I want to look at is Doctoroid Megalos. This unit, along with its Grade 1 counterpart Doctoroid Micros, came out in Set 7 where they were introduced as a unit series for the clans of that set. The series gained the nickname the “Suicide” or the “Pain” series since they all share the same skill: when placed in the vanguard or rearguard, while having the unit’s clan as your vanguard, you can counterblast1 to place the top card of your deck into your damage zone. Then at the end phase, shuffle one card from your damage zone into your deck.
I bring up Doctoroid Megalos rather than Micros is because Megalos is more versatile than Micros, who is a weak 6k booster while Megalos is an average 8k unit. Megalos also can intercept attacks, something Micros doesn’t offer because of it being a Grade 1. Doctoroid Megalos provides a quicker way to reaching Limit Break for your vanguard, getting you to four damage to have it active and at the end of the turn, you get to shuffle at least a trigger back to the deck. The card that gets shuffled back from the skill also doesn’t specify that the card needs to be face-up, so you can shuffle back face-down cards; a different take on the Nociel effects. When used in tandem with the Pegasus line, you can create easy 9k boosters from Thousand Rays or 11/12k attackers from a card hitting the damage zone for the Grade 2 and Grade 3 Pegasi.
Unfortunately, there are downsides to Megalos. It’s skill is best used only when you are around 3-4 damage so it becomes very situational when playing it. There can be times where you get lucky after using the skill and drive check a heal trigger, putting you down a damage and returning a card to the deck. But the same time, you may end up returning a normal unit instead of a trigger which is not as good. Be forewarned: if you use Megalos’ skill, that damage stays until the end phase. This means that if you use it while at five damage, you will lose because of giving yourself your sixth damage.
Now Love Machine Gun, Nociel works just like Doctoroid Megalos and her fellow Nociels. Her skill however activates only when she is placed in rearguard. From there, you can change an Angel Feather card in your hand for a card in damage. Now while she’s like a faster version of Megalos with similar power, her effect resolves differently. Bushiroad released a ruling on all the Nociel effects, the same going to for the Nociel-esque skills on some units as well: When you use any of those skills to change cards in damage, the skill is still resolving since the last thing that will occur will be taking a card from damage before the next check; unlike Megalos’ which the last thing would be placing the card in damage. This means that if you used Love Machine Gun’s skill or the other Nociel-esque skills while at five damage, you would not lose from putting your sixth card in damage as you are still resolving the skill, compared to Megalos' skill which will resolve after the card is placed in damage and puts you immediately at six damage.
Lastly there’s Fate Healer, Ergodiel. When she rides over Heavenly Injector, you can use Heavenly Injector’s skill and Fate Healer is now a 10k vanguard compared to its original 9k power. She has an additional skill when the Grade 3 Ergodiel rides over her while Heavenly Injector is in your soul, you can change two Angel Feather cards in hand for two cards in the damage zone. This is almost like using two Nociels cards at once for just successfully staying within the ride chain. Unfortunately, if you miss the ride chain, you’ll be left with a vanilla 9k unit just like how Heavenly Injector becomes a vanilla 7k when you miss your chance to ride it over Miracle Feather Nurse.
The other Grade 2s worth mentioning include the 10k vanilla unit, the Grade 2 Pegasus unit Million Ray Pegasus, and Core Memory, Armamos with her skill to counterblast2 to draw a card when her attack hits. In combination with the other Grade 2s, a standard Grade 2 lineup will possibly include 4 Gatling Shot, Barbiels, 3-4 Million Rays, 2-3 Love Machine Guns, and 2-3 Armamos. When building the Ergodiel deck, Fate Healer will be run in 4 and may take the place of the Million Rays.
Certified Doctorate with an M.D.
The last Grade level and where the Angel Feather’s mechanics come full circle. There are only a few mentionable Grade 3s that Angel Feather offer compared to others available in the clan. The ones in particular are Circular Saw, Kiriel, Cosmo Healer, Ergodiel, Chief Nurse, Shamsiel, and The Phoenix, Calamity Flame.
Circular Saw, Kiriel was the cover card for Angel Feather when they were first released in Set 6 and now gained a spot in nearly every Angel Feather deck since then. Her Limit Break is the standard +5k power when attacking a vanguard when you have at least four damage, easily pushing her power to at least 21K-23k power when boosted. Her second skill is what made her a near staple in many Angel Feather decks. When she is called to vanguard, you can counterblast1 to choose one face-up Angel Feather unit in your damage zone and put it in an open rearguard circle, finally placing the top card of your deck face-down into the damage zone. Essentially, it’s a pseudo 'counterblast2' to superior call any Angel Feather unit from the damage zone. This creates combos with Love Machine Gun to reclaim a card in damage, create a free column without wasting your hand, and grant a boost for any of the Pegasus units.
Cosmo Healer, Ergodiel is the Grade 3 and last piece of the ride chain. Riding this over Fate Healer allows you to use that unit’s skill and also gives Ergodiel +1k power, putting her up to 11k. The pay off of this chain is that Cosmo Healer has a Persona Blast skill: when her attack hits the vanguard, you can pay counterblast2 and discard a copy of Cosmo Healer, Ergodiel to heal one damage. This skill offers pressure as you now turn your other Cosmo Healers into heal triggers and have an easier time guarding attacks because of her 11k power. But, if the grade 2 Erogdiel is not in soul, Cosmo Healer will only be 10k and not as threatening. Most of the time, you'll probably only be able to heal with Cosmo Healer’s Persona Blast once the whole game which since your opponent won't let you do it again.
Chief Nurse, Shamsiel is the last Grade 3 I will discuss. Her release in Set 7 allowed Angel Feathers to show off their true capabilities with damage swapping and how it could create power lines simply by changing a card in the damage zone. Just like the Pegasus series, she gains +2k power whenever a card is put in your damage zone while she is the vanguard. Her Limit Break shares the same effect as the Nociel series: while you are at least four damage whenever she attacks a vanguard, you can change one Angel Feather card in your hand for a card in your damage. This basically makes Shamsiel a fusion of the Nociel and Pegasus series: she can change cards in the damage zone and gains +2k every time you put a card in damage. Shamsiel can easily reach 21k when boosted by a Thousand Ray and gets +2k stronger while defending for each damage you take. Unfortunately, for her to be effective, you may end up swapping cards frequently to keep obtaining the power boost.
The most used rearguard Grade 3 and an back-up to the main and alternative vanguards is The Phoenix, Calamity Flame. She is the Grade 3 unit of the Pegasus series, gaining +2k power when a card is put in your damage zone. Not only does this make it easier to defend, but when boosted with a Thousand Ray, she can hit for 21k or more if you can keep swapping cards. Calamity Flame's ability to create strong columns both offensively and defensively makes her a threat simply from swapping cards, or taking damage.
While Kiriel is used as an alternative vanguard in some Angel Feather decks, Ergodiel and Shamsiel have decks dedicated to them being the main vanguard. If you chose Ergodiel, it is best to have a set of her along with at least 2-3 Kiriels. For Shamsiel, you can run 2 of her along with 3-4 Calamity Flames and 2-3 Kiriels. If Kiriel is your main vanguard, then run her at 3-4 along with 3-4 Calamity Flames.
The Medical Bill
Angel Feather is definitely one of the many underplayed decks of the current format. There was only an average of 5% of players using an Angel Feather deck during the entire World Championship of last year, even including the Japan, Signapore, and Nagoya regionals along the United States and European regionals. Based on the charts released from Bushiroad, Angel Feather decks ranked from the 6th to 10th slots of decks played at the regionals compared to the top 5 decks of Gold Paladin, Narukami, Royal Paladin, Kagero, and Oracle Think Tank. While seeing more play than the other decks during that time, it still lacks solid support like the top 5 clans. Despite this, Angel Feather shouldn’t be overlooked simply because of this. It’s an excellent budget clan to pick up with many of the RRRs currently costing around $5-6 each and the RRs (outside of the perfect guard at $9) being $4-5.
Angel Feather’s unique damage zone manipulation and the player’s skill of knowing how to swap cards correctly is what makes Angel Feather more of a skill deck than a simple build and play deck. That doesn’t mean it is too hard to learn for newcomers to learn how to play them. There's also the announcement of Set 9: Clash of the Knights and Dragons to be released sometime in June, containing more Angel Feather support, along with a new build and a new mechanic for the clan. So if you enjoy manipulating the damage zone and your counterblasts, or just like playing with sexy nurses, then Angel Feather is worth looking into. Now stand up and continue the Cardfight.