Hello players to another Vanguard article. Once again, ARG is hosting a Vanguard article contest with some great prizes and the chance for 3 lucky contestants to become weekly article writers for the website. I want to wish all the other participants in the contest good luck and I hope to see some fantastic articles in this contest.
With the release of Set 11: Seal Dragons Unleashed, there's a lot of buzz around this set: new Aqua Force support including the break ride [ccProd]Blue Flight Dragon, Trans-core Dragon[/ccProd] and its new ace [ccProd]Last Card, Revonn[/ccProd]; Kagero receiving a strong break ride unit with [ccProd]Dauntless Drive Dragon[/ccProd] and the Seal Dragon archetype with [ccProd]Seal Dragon, Blockade[/ccProd] receiving a crossride in the form of [ccProd]Hellfire Seal Dragon, Blockade Inferno[/ccProd]; Tachikaze getting new support with the Ancient Dragon archetype and the break ride [ccProd]Ancient Dragon, Spinodriver[/ccProd]; Narukami's first batch of new cards for its Eradicator archetype with [ccProd]Eradicator, Sweep Command Dragon[/ccProd] and [ccProd]Fiendish Sword Eradicator, Cho-ou[/ccProd]; and even the first cards for the new clan Genesis but with [ccProd]Goddess of Good Luck, Fortuna[/ccProd]'s Lord restriction, the clan will not be playable until the following set in December. Also featured in this set was additional support for the Angel Feather clan and provided the new Celestial archetype with new ways of manipulating the damage zone.
Prior to the Celestials' introduction into the clan, Angel Feather was known for swapping cards in the damage zone with cards in your hand, basically changing dead cards in your hand for better ones and also canceling out counterblast costs when possible. The two viable tournament builds for the clan were [ccProd]Chief Nurse, Shamsiel[/ccProd] and [ccProd]Crimson Impact, Metatron[/ccProd]. Shamsiel offered a good mix of offense and defense by gaining power from swapping cards, while Metatron was more offensive by creating powerful numbers from damage swapping and having a superior ride option available for the deck.
What makes Celestials different from those two decks is that it turns away from the damage toolboxing to creating easier power columns, thanks to having 10k/12k attackers available, and can swaps cards from the top of the deck instead of the hand. While this alternative helps with Angel Feather's particular issue with hand advantage, there's less control over the swapped card going into damage. In addition to this, Celestials also have a minor focus on having a specific card in damage for different effects. Currently only three cards have such effects: [ccProd]Solidify Celestial, Zerachiel[/ccProd]; [ccProd]Underlay Celestial, Hesediel[/ccProd]; and [ccProd]Order Celestial, Yeqon[/ccProd]. Each require a face-up copy of Zerachiel in the damage zone to gain their effects: Hesediel gains an additional +3k power during your turn, Yeqon lets you discard and draw a card when called to rear-guard, and Zerachiel's limit break gives all Celestial units you control an additional +3k power during your turn while at 4 damage.
Now what is the best way of getting a Zerachiel into your damage? Typically, it would either be hoping that you get one into damage from taking hits or simply swap it with a [ccProd]Battle Cupid, Nociel[/ccProd]/[ccProd]Love Machine Gun, Nociel[/ccProd] effect when you have one in hand. Celestials offer an alternative by using the unit [ccProd]Candle Celestial, Sariel[/ccProd]. Sariel's effect lets you take any Angel Feather card from your deck, and replace a face-up card in your damage with it for one counterblast when called to rear-guard. This not only places a face-up Zerachiel in your damage for Zerachiel's, Yeqon's, and Hesediel's effects, but it also takes a non-trigger card out of your deck and slightly improves chances of hitting triggers. Sariel provides several other uses in other Angel Feather decks which I will cover a bit later.
Finally, there's the Angel Feather break ride unit [ccProd]Prophecy Celestial, Ramiel[/ccProd]. While being part of the Celestial archetype, its break ride effect makes it a splashable grade 3 in most Angel Feather decks. When you ride another Angel Feather over Ramiel, you take a card from your damage and add it to your hand, put the top card of your deck into damage, and give your vanguard +10k power for the turn. Compared to the other break rides in this set like Trans-core Dragon and Dauntless Drive, or even [ccProd]Solidarity Liberator, Gancelot[/ccProd] and [ccProd]Eradicator, Vowing Sword Dragon[/ccProd] from the trial decks, Ramiel seems lackluster with her break ride effect. To make up for it, Ramiel instead provides interesting uses for different Angel Feather decks along with Sariel.
Both Ramiel and Sariel, while titled as Celestials, provide new strategies to the Angel Feather playstyle. They particularly provide new methods for the older Angel Feather decks and complement them. Below are some uses that Ramiel and Sariel provide for the Celestial, Shamsiel, and Metatron decks.
Typically, Sariel is used to place a Zerachiel into damage so that you will have one ready for certain effects. Sariel also works with the new starter [ccProd]First Aid Celestial, Peneil[/ccProd]. Sariel can search out a specific Celestial unit, place it in damage, and then you can use Peniel's effect to call it to rear-guard and replace it with the top card of your deck face-down. The combo does come out as a counterblast 2 for both Sariel and Peneil's effect so it should be used cautiously. Ramiel's break ride doesn't provide much except being able to replace any counterblast costs used for Sariel or Peneil if they were not healed before break riding. Both gain the +3k power bonus from Zerachiel's limit break, turning Sariel and Ramiel into strong attackers as an 11k and 14k respectively. Because Celestials have problems with swapping cards and revolve on getting a Zerachiel in damage as quickly as possible, it's best to use either or both the grade 1 or grade 2 Nociels to help with these issues.
Sariel and Ramiel provide great support for Shamsiel decks. Ramiel creates a strong push the turn you break ride into Shamsiel, providing Shamsiel and any [ccProd]Thousand Ray Pegasus[/ccProd] and [ccProd]Million Ray Pegasus[/ccProd] units a +2k boost from Ramiel's break ride effect to create at least 3 strong attacks. Sariel creates an even stronger toolbox for Shamsiel as well. You can switch a dead card in your damage for a better one with Sariel and proceed to replace it with a card in your hand with Shamsiel's limit break, or use either Nociels' effects. The turn you break ride does act as a 'do-or-die' moment because of the large push it can create and the inclusion of Sariel can lead to a less than strong grade 2 lineup in the deck, but Ramiel and Sariel are great units to be considered when building a Shamsiel deck.
Ramiel and Sariel vary when implementing it into a Metatron build. Sariel works much like she does in Shamsiel for Metatron: providing a strong toolbox that allows you to put specific cards you want in damage. Metatron can then put Sariel into damage with its limit break and replace it for a stronger card, letting you keep it in damage until you need to find a specific card again. Unfortunately, Metatron requires an open counterblast each time you use its limit break so it's best to balance one's counterblasts for both Metatron's and Sariel's effects. As for Ramiel, while it does give Metatron a strong attack for the turn and give the Pegasus units incredible boosts when combined with Metatron's limit break and Ramiel's break ride, it can sometimes not be used at all if one uses [ccProd]Crimson Heart, Nehas[/ccProd]' effect to superior ride into Metatron. But, it still makes for a good backup vanguard when the superior ride fails and makes for a good 11k rear-guard.
The Celestial deck provides the Angel Feather clan a simpler playstyle than the other Angel Feather decks with a greater power output, but the support it offers creates more strategies, combos, and synergy for the other decks. It allows for a greater variety of deck builds and new plays for the clan as the game shifts into a new meta. Having played Angel Feather while working on Oracle Think Tank since I started playing Vanguard, I have a lot of practicing with these new cards. Until next time players, play hard or go home.