As you all probably know already, May 30th is bringing a lot of changes to the Kaijudo world. Quest for the Gauntlet, the 170-card core set in the "Gauntlet" block, is releasing, and with it are coming set rotations. Anything released before Clash of the Duel Masters will be illegal for use in Standard - unless, of course, a card saw a reprint after that time. Couple that with the introduction of competitive Sealed and Booster Drafts with 14-card packs, and it's clear that we're in for quite a ride. Since all of that is roughly a month and a half away, we have a limited amount of time to enjoy the format we're currently in.
With that being said, I'd like to take a look at a popular topic of discussion for this article: civ balance. I've seen many debates on facebook and other sites regarding an apparently imbalance in the civilizations, and people have expressed worry about how that might affect the game. I've always taken the stance that the civilizations don't need to be 100% equal at any given time, and it's ok if they're all on different power levels. A lot of what makes certain cards good is meta-dependent, so just like the meta, the power and popularity of different civilizations is sure to fluctuate week by week. Also, as long as the meta itself is vibrant with a lot of decks having the potential to do well, I don't place too much importance on whether or not a certain civilization is included in all or most of them.
Since we're talking about things that might change on May 30th, though, civ balance is an issue. I'm not sure where all the civilizations stack up currently, but I'm pretty sure of one thing: ever since Dragonstrike Infernus released a little over a year ago, Light has been the best civilization.
Though the meta has changed and evolved constantly since then, I don't even think it was close between Light and the next-best civilization (which has probably been Water). It's pretty obvious if you look at the top decks from various times in the last year.
- Dragonstrike Infernus meta: LWD Control, Greed Dragons (LWDFN)
- Clash of the Duel Masters meta: LWDN Control, LWN Megabugs, LWD Leviathans, Mono-L Rush, LWDF Dragons
- Shattered Alliances meta: LWN Megabugs, LWD Tempo, LWDN Haven, LW(D)F Dragons, Mono-L Rush
- Invasion Earth meta: " + 5-civ "Pile"
- The 5 Mystics Meta: "
Since these sets have encompassed the whole amount of time since KMCs were first started, the decks I mentioned are a pretty accurate depiction of the history of the competitive meta. Obviously, the last couple sets have changed very little about the overall shape of the meta besides adding a couple cards here and there to the mix that need to be considered. My point though is that there are an almost uncomfortable amount of "L"s in that list. A lot of "W"s, too, but that's another story. Personally, I've attended thirteen KMCs and two Championships, and Light has been a part of every single deck I used in those tournaments. Water was indeed a close second, and would have tied if I hadn't used mono-Light Rush. Those seem like pretty shocking numbers, but if we take a look at the core of Light's dominance during the past year, I think it all comes down to four cards.
[ccProd]Andromeda of the Citadel[/ccProd]: When this card released in Dragonstrike Infernus, it completely changed the way Kaijudo was played. Dragonstrike Infernus is seen as one of the most stale metagames in Kaijudo history because it was in that awkward stage of post-Andromeda but pre-[ccProd]General Finbarr[/ccProd]. Without tempo tools like Finbarr and [ccProd]The Hive Queen[/ccProd] that came in the next set, control and Dragon strategies were nearly completely dominating, and to be honest, there was no reason to not run one of those decks. Andromeda has been the symbol of stabilization since that time, being flat-out better than anything else when it comes to staying in the game against aggression. I think this card's existence alone still forces control decks to use Light. Sure, every now and then you see the guy wanting to make waves by NOT including two or three copies of Andromeda, but let's be honest; the card is just insane enough to warrant Light in every control deck.
[ccProd]Lyra, the Blazing Sun[/ccProd]: There's not much to really say about Lyra. One of the most solid creatures ever released, it has seen play in everything from control to dragons to tempo. It's hard to imagine a better overall level six creature than Lyra, with even [ccProd]General Finbarr[/ccProd] not being as ubiquitous since it only really fits into aggressive decks.
It will be unquestionably weird to play in a competitive meta without these two cards come this Summer. Andromeda has had such a big impact on the way the game is played and has been such a strong tool for control decks that there will definitely be a big space left to be filled. While the next two cards on the list won't be leaving us in a month and a half, I think they've played just as big a part in ensuring Light has been the best civilization.
[ccProd]Keeper of Laws[/ccProd]: [ccProd]Keeper of Laws[/ccProd] is to aggression what Andromeda is to control. Between the two, Light was cemented as the best civilization for just about every type of deck when Clash released. If you were running control, you needed to be playing Andromeda, probably Lyra, and Laws for the mirror match. If you were playing Dragons, you needed to be playing Andromeda and Lyra (and Laws has been in and out depending on the meta). If you were playing an aggressive deck, you needed to be playing Laws. So, the question is, did you really need to be playing Light and one of these cards during this time to be using a truly tier-1 deck?
[ccProd]Blinder Beetle Prime[/ccProd]: Objectively speaking, I'm pretty sure [ccProd]Blinder Beetle Prime[/ccProd] is the best evolution ever released. [ccProd]The Hive Queen[/ccProd] is pretty epic in the right decks, but Prime, like Laws, has been seen in rush, tempo, dragons, and control, and has shone in all of those strategies. I've talked before about why this card is so good, but it's included on this list because it, to me, put the nail in the coffin for mono-Fire. We've seen mono-Fire do some things recently, but even before Prime, mono-Light was arguably just the better deck. After Prime released, the card could be seen in all sorts of decks, but the deck that wanted it most was definitely mono-Light.
Now, we get to look forward to an interesting time in Kaijudo's future when Quest for the Gauntlet releases and half of these cards are no longer with us in Standard. [ccProd]Keeper of Laws[/ccProd] and [ccProd]Blinder Beetle Prime[/ccProd] are undoubtedly going to still play major roles in the meta, but they're both aggressive cards at heart; are control decks going to need to find new ways to compete? If Dragons get any new support cards to replace the Fire Birds, are Dragon players going to be able to find comparable Dragons? Light may always be among the best civilizations, but I think we're going to at least see more of a balance and fluctuation without the two powerhouses of Lyra and Andromeda. Be sure to stay tuned to ARG for more articles leading up to May 30th!
Also, if you're looking for more opportunities to play competitive Kaijudo before rotations hit, ARG has two epic tournaments coming up in the next few weeks. The Medina, OH location is hosting another Kaijudo Master Challenge on April 19th, and on the 27th (which is a Sunday), there will be a 1k in Richmond, VA as part of the ARG Circuit Series! I'll be at both events, and I'm hoping a lot of you out there make the trip as well. Hope to see you there, and remember, Play Hard or Go Home!