Hey guys, this is Michael Boire coming at you with a new article. I'd like to take the time to congratulate Johnny and Tyler on winning the Deck Doctor contest. It was an honour competing with you both. I'm proud to have made it where I did and I'm glad that the crown of victory was placed in capable hands.
But I'm not here to talk about Yu-Gi-Oh! today. Today I'm here to give you insight into a different kind of dueling. Card fighting if you will. That's right, welcome to my inaugural Cardfight!! Vanguard article!
If you read my articles in the YGO Article Contest last year you will know that I have a strong affinity for Dragons. So it's no surprise that you will catch me riding up the Grades of the Kagero Clan.
With the release of Eclipse of Illusionary Shadows, we were introduced to a new Kagero Archetype known as the Amber Dragons. The Amber Dragons are a Ride Chain archetype that begins with Amber Dragon, Dawn as your starting Vanguard and ends with Amber Dragon, Eclipse as your ultimate Grade 3. They work similar to the World-Winning Gold Paladin strategy that involved the Vortimer chain as they search their higher Grades as you ride them. They also gain additional Power if the appropriate lower Grade is in your Soul.
The Ride Chain is as follows, cleverly named after the positions of the sun during the day:
-Amber Dragon, Dawn is your Grade 0 and subsequently your starting Vanguard. When Amber Dragon - Daylight (Grade 1) rides him you can search your deck for a copy of Amber Dragon - Dusk (Grade 2).
-Amber Dragon, Daylight is your Grade 1 who clocks in at a solid 6000PWR but gains a 2000 boost if Dawn is underneath him. He has a secondary ability that allows you to discard a Grade 3 Kagero when you place him on a Rear Guard circle to search your deck for Amber Dragon - Eclipse (Grade 3).
-Amber Dragon, Dusk is your Grade 2 who sports 9000 body who goes up to 10000 when Daylight is in your Soul. When he attacks a Vanguard he gains an extra 2000, meaning he can go up to 12000 without Boosting.
-Finally, Amber Dragon, Eclipse is your Grade 3. He comes in play at 10000 and gains 1000 when Dusk is in your Soul. His effect, at the cost of 2 Counterblast, allows you to retire up to two of your opponents Rear Guards if his attack hits a Vanguard.
The Amber Dragons are all about using their high power Dragon Breath to burn through your opponents resources. They accomplish this through two ways. The first is their sheer attack power and the second is through devastating abilities that strip your opponent of their set up.
If you're playing an Amber Dragon deck (or subsequently any other Kagero deck) you know they the Clan has a heavy focus on setting up strong columns that forces the opponent to commit multiple cards towards Guarding. Furthermore, a large suite of Kagero monsters have effects that allow you to snipe off Rear Guards. Amber Dragon, Eclipse is a nasty card because it encompasses both of these Kagero mission statements and packs a Skill that is detrimental to your opponent in multiple forms.
When Amber Dragon, Eclipse's Skill is used in combination with something like Berserk Dragon for example or an onslaught of Heatnail Salamanders (or just even on its own!) your opponent will be forced to either commit multiple Guards in order to dodge a Trigger in your Twin Drive or take the hit and lose two cards regardless. Even if Eclipse's attack is unsuccessful, you can take pride in knowing that you've stripped your opponents hand of at least two cards - More depending on the order of attacks. When I play my Amber Dragon deck I always make it a point to attack with my Vanguard - usually Eclipse - last. Attacking with another suite of large columns to your opponents Vanguard forces them to drop Guards already or risk building up a larger Damage Zone. The order of attacks forces the opponent to make difficult decisions regarding how they choose to Guard and how much Damage they are willing to stack up.
Here is my current Amber Dragon decklist:
Grade 0: 17
Amber Dragon, Dawn x1
Dragon Monk, Genjo x4
Embodiment of Spear, Tahr x4
Blue Ray Dracokid x4
Dragon Dancer, Monica x4
Grade 1: 15
Amber Dragon, Daylight x4
Heatnail Salamander x4
Embodiment of Armor, Bahr x4
Wyvern Guard, Barri x3
Grade 2: 12
Dragon Knight, Nehalem x4
Berserk Dragon x3
Amber Dragon, Dusk x3
Lava Arm Dragon x2
Grade 3: 7
Amber Dragon, Eclipse x4
Dragonic Overlord x3
I elected to play Draw Triggers in my deck mostly because there are a lot of cards I want to see - and not a lot of space for multiples. Getting to Berserk Dragon or Wyvern Guardm, Barri for example as quickly as possible, as well as fulfilling the Ride Chain helps me keep a steady stream of strong attackers and guarantees that my Eclipse will be at full power when I decide to ride him. Keeping Amber Dragons in play as Vanguards is also really important for Lava Arm Dragon. I am not against playing a whole suite of Critical Triggers in Kagero however, as it makes strong columns even stronger and doesn't care about how much the Opponent uses to Guard (and also helps push Eclipse over the edge). This is what I've been using lately to great success but depending on how my local meta changes after the full blown release of Twin Blades I will have to make some necessary changes (like perhaps adding a fourth Barri to deal with Phantom Blaster Dragon or switch to a whole Critical Trigger Suite to give me more Shield and subsequently more offense against the plethora of DO: The End decks that will likely see play as well). Playing 12 Critical's is clearly how the deck is "meant" to be played but it also runs the risk of you drawing multiple Crit's and that is something that we just cannot have.
In my Grade 1 lineup I included a full suite of Bahr because of his strong offense to boost and to give me another strong option to Ride to Grade 1 if I did not open with Daylight. The Barri's are nearly a staple for Kagero and helps against finishing blow Skills and outplays your opponent if you know they are bound to hit a Trigger in their Drive Check. If you can make the right read and drop a Null Guard, then one or two potential game-changing Triggers become powerless. Salamander allows me to (if it hits) retire an opponents Grade 1 Rear Guard. If the Skill is successful then he returns to my deck. This is also pertinent early game as I can strip my opponents of their Boosters. With four copies in a constant flux of cycling within my deck the Heatnails are a great if not staple of the Amber Dragon strategy. It allows me to put pressure on the opponent because not only would they have to guard to stop from taking a damage but also to not risk losing a Unit. When combined with Eclipse, if the attack hits the opponent will lose three Units total. Devastating.
The Amber Dragon's are further supported by the Grade 2 Units Lava Arm Dragon and Berserk Dragon. Berserk acts as a mini Eclipse and helps to snipe off pesky Interceptor's as well as front column beaters. Lava Arm Dragon comes into play at 10000PWR but if you control an Amber Dragon Vanguard he shoots up to 12000 when attacking. When boosted, he becomes a big body that the opponent must make the decision between guarding and taking the damage as you line up your final attack of the turn with Eclipse. When backed with Salamander it is a 18000 attacker that has the potential to snipe a Unit if the attack is not absorbed. With Bahr he is still a 20000 attacker. Finally, Nehalem is a staple 10000 beater that is supported by strong Boosters.
I decided that the only other Grade 3 that I would play is Dragonic Overlord. Overlord is arguably one of the powerful Kaegro Unit in the Game and with the release of his Crossride, The End, he only gets stronger. I can use Overlord's Skill even if he is a Rear Guard Circle, this allows me to play a lot more aggressively if I have Counter Blasts to spare and have not elected to use Eclipse's Skill yet in the game. He fits the theme of burning your opponents resources because when Boosted with his Skill in play he will swing for 24000 or 22000 and will be able to attack once again, hitting a Rear Guard first and them going right for your Vanguard. It forces the opponent to Guard the first attack on the Rear Guard so that Overlord may not be able to Stand, otherwise they will be down a Unit and will be forced to Guard against the Vanguard instead - and this is all before I've declared an attack with my own Vanguard! If I cannot get my Ride Chain in full swing, Overlord is also another excellent choice to ride as a Grade 3 as he allows me to Drive Check three times if his Skill is successful.
The deck plays in a very linear way. In the early stages of the game you will want to hold your hand and focus on resolving your Ride Chain. I like to keep a large hand size in Kagero because the turn player always wins when attacking even if it is a Tie. It forces the opponent to drop 5000 or 10000 Shields to avoid taking Damage early game - Shields that will not be available as the Grades climb. As the mid-game approaches I elect to put pressure on the opponent with strong Grade 2's using Heatnail Salamander as a boost. And when I finally reach my Grade 3's, I use back breaking abilities that will either lower the amount of cards in your opponents hand or on their field. The result is an onslaught of powerful Dragons that devour everything in their path and leave ample amount of destruction in their wake.
The deck only gets better in the future with the release of Bellicosity Dragon from Extra Booster Comic Style Vol. 1 as he allows you to unflip a Damage if his attack is successful. There are also many different ways to build this deck.Throw in a couple Demonic Dragon Mage, Kinmara or Flame Seed Salamander's for more retiring Unit madness. Look into playing a copy or two of Wyvern Strike Tejas to snipe off your opponents boosters and leave your more devastating retiring Skills to hit other Units. If you've retired enough Units, maybe try out a copy of Dual Axe Archdragon and make columns up to 21000 with him alone! The possibilities are endless! Everything for this deck is also fairly inexpensive so its great to pick up for competitive play without breaking your wallet.
I hope you've all enjoyed this peek into the Amber Dragon Ride Chain and Archetype and I encourage you to give the deck a try. You won't be disappointed.
Until next time Fighters this is Dragon Tamer Michael Boire signing off.
Play hard or go home!