Friday, July 20, 2012

Leading the Pack: Kagero

Another totally new topic, simply because I don't want to do a deck run through or clan review.

Kagero is a well known and well supported deck with many paths to take in order to complete your deck. However, it's this diversity which can cloud how people run the deck. If I were to ask almost any vanguard player what unit to use as a major boss of a Kagero deck, the first and most common reply I'll get is to use Goku. While this isn't wrong, one must always view the choices in the right light. This article will be discussing the many different pros and cons of each major boss within the Kagero clan.

Warning: This article is very long. I mean very f*cking long, due to how much support Kagero has. I'd recommend just using Ctrl F, or Command F for Mac users, to find any specific card you're interested in.

Amber Dragon "Eclipse"

The top of a Ride Chain, Amber Dragon Eclipse is another Kagero unit with access to 11K defense on top of having a heavily defense orientated deck. Sadly though, his Ride Chain is the less optimal choice for the rest of the deck to ride on...oh woah, no pun intended. Either way though, base 11K power is always something to look up to especially for Kageros.

Then there's it's ACT skill. CB2 activates the skill:If this Vanguard attacks the opponent's Vanguard, retire 2 rearguards on the opponent's field. Timed well, you can force the opponent into dropping 15K or sometimes even 20K shield or outright lose their Rear-Guards. In the words of Jigsaw, let's play a game.

Sadly though, pressure is pressure and despite the benefits of it, comes with its own consequences. For a rather obvious start, no Counter-Blasting, like at all. If your main focus is Eclipse then almost all of your Counter-Blasts will be dropped on it, so to put it simply, no Berserks, and don't expect any Kimnaras. Alongside this, pressure is amazing when you can enforce it which with most standard builds isn't possible. That said though, an extremely interesting build consisting of Heatnail Salamanders and Bellicosity Dragons has lead to amazing playtesting and general performance, being able to carry through and build even more upon Eclipse's pressure.

Blazing Flare Dragon

Blazing Flare Dragon is an amazingly nice to look at monstrosity of the Kagero clan. It has the advantage over many of the other Kagero units of having a way to Superior Ride it from the deck, setting up it's second effect.

10K is a basic norm between G3, so I guess I shouldn't be commenting there. However, on the offense, it becomes much stronger. Whenever an opponent's rearguard is sent to the opponent's drop zone during your turn, it will gain 3K power as either a vanguard or a rearguard. This tops off punishment caused by cards like Berserk Dragon, and Demonic Dragon Mage, Kimnara. Paired up with a Bahr or Gojo, Blazing Flare can reach some pretty good numbers and could force out plenty of guard.

Blazing Flare Dragon's second skill allows it to Soul Blast 5 units to retire any of the opponent's rearguards. With no limit on this effect, one can take advantage of being able to hit whatever they'd like. E-Special Intercept while you only have Kimnara? Dealt with. Battlefield Storm, Sagremore coming down on you? Gone. This effect also compliments it's first skill, allowing both the loss of a card on the opponent's side and a power bump. Hit the next magic number and this effect is a net +2.

Well this all sounds great and all, but why do more experienced Vanguard players look down on this card? Because this card's oh so powerful skills have huge handicaps. Let's look at the second effect. Soul Blast 5. If one were to Superior Ride, and were to use Conroe, a Superior Ride would come up short at 4 Soul. So what? All somebody has to do is use Kimnara to get the soul to 5, allowing access to the secondary skill and giving Blazing Flare's power bump. The thing is though, that's not the issue. The issue is seen in what I said earlier, if one were to Superior Ride. I really hope I don't need to tell you how unreliable it is to base a play style on drawing 3 different cards by turn 2, even if 2 of them are searchable by Conroe. And not Superior Riding makes it just pitifully hard to make up for.

And then there's another problem with the Superior Ride itself. It causes you to run a pretty sh*tty card. Introducing, Blazing Core Dragon:

Counterblast 1, Soul Charge Gatling Claw Dragon and Iron Tail Dragon to Superior Ride into Blazing Flare Dragon. What's so bad about that? Superior Ride our boss from the deck sounds pretty decent, right? Well, let me ask then. Any time after turn 2, what does this card do for you? Any copy of this card you draw after riding grade 3 is a vanilla. A 9K vanilla. This takes up space over many more prime cards in your deck. Maybe a Berger that could have saved me somewhere. Possibly even a Brakki that I teched who better pushes for game. This card just sits there.

A final problem with Blazing Flare Dragon, albeit a minor one, is the reliability of it's first skill. Sure it's near inevitable to draw into a Kimnara or Berserk Dragon somewhere in the match, but it doesn't leave solid ground for always getting the power bump. I'd expect maybe 3-4 main phase retirements through a match, simply due to having to deal with CounterBlasts being spent. Only 3-4 somewhat blind and random turns of being able to beat big. It's actually not a big problem, but it does exist and moments you think you need the power to push through, you may not have another card to help you at it.

Dauntless Drive Dragon

To be released in Booster Set 11, Dauntless Drive Dragon is Kagero's Break Ride unit and a scary one at that. Sporting an 11K base defense and no resource cost other than other cards, he allows the deck as a whole to act at its most optimal level at both defending and being unrestricted in cost management. 

His Ride Break isn't the most powerful of all of them, but still is a threatening one at that. With an output of upwards 65K cards in the form of at least 7 cards, barring Perfect Guards, this card creates an extremely powerful final turn gambit, which thanks to Kagero's retiring antics makes it extremely hard for the opponent to outpace. With this output being near double of standard b.a.s.s. power could do in one turn, wiping out opponent's takes close to almost no effort for Dauntless Drive, making it one of the most powerful attackers in all of Kagero, up with Dragonic Overlord the End.

Demonic Dragon Berser, Yaksha

I won't lie, you more experienced players. People consider this a boss unit.

Alright, this card is relatively simple. When an opponent's rearguard is retired while you control a grade 2 Vanguard, you may Superior Ride this card from your hand. Let's bring up the ol' advantage chart.

Regular (from the second turn)
Draw 8, Ride 7, Drive Check 8
Draw 9, Ride 8, Twin Drive 10

Yaksha (from the second turn)
Draw 8, Ride 7, Berserk Dragon (+1) or Kimnara (+0), Superior Ride 6, Twin Drive 8
Draw 9, Twin Drive 11

Surprisingly, this superior ride actually gains advantage. Also, having access to Twin Drive first leads to easier access to the beneficial effects of your triggers. Possibility of more cards, less damage to you, more damage to the opponent, or an extra attack is increased.

Now, flaw time. First and foremost, reliability issues. This isn't nearly as bad as Blazing Flare in some sense, but still there. Yaksha requires you to be able to retire something on turn 2. Having the damage to pay for it may not be a problem, worst case scenario, you don't get to use Conroe. Having the card to do the deed isn't. Blazing Flare can boost whenever it wants through the match, this card relies on having 1 of up to 8 cards in your deck, AND having this card in your hand at the time. A bit funky.

Then there's the 9K base power. I shouldn't have to explain how easily magic numbers can dictate the game, but d*mn this card is asking for it. Facing 11K vanguards, you don't even get to use Aermo to boost the Vanguard. Meanwhile, the opponent only needs 19K to screw with you, and 14K to meet the norm, which is absolutely pitiful. So, the 1 card you saved from Superior Riding this card? Gone and so many others to guard you for Superior Riding this card.

Dragon Monk, Goku

This card is nice and looked up to, for not having too many drawbacks.

If this card drive checks a Grade 3 Kagero unit, you can retire any grade 1 or lower unit the opponent has. Yay for almost free plusses! This card can effectively increase the amount of triggers in your deck by 6-7. It also increases the likely 3-4 retires in a match to 5-6, yes it's subtle, but when the opponent won't be hitting you as hard, it will be quite useful. Goku also has the advantage of being able to work especially well with Aermo during the Mid-game. Drive check into a grade 3, retire a booster, pitch the grade 3 and possibly get something with a shield value, making the most of your cards.

There are just a few minor limits to his skill (not direct drawbacks like Blazing Flare needing a Superior Ride and Yaksha's power). Goku needs to drive check into grade 3s in order to get his effect, meanwhile, Grade 3's can be drawn or damage checked just as easily, and unlike triggers, you don't get an effect from them as damage, or 10K shield if you draw them. Thus, making his effect a lot less potent then people believe it is. Another thing to note is that once you play this card, you are geared into thinking you want to drive grade 3's. So maybe the opponent isn't able to call something to replace their booster. Now you get to guard less than when you have less to guard with, bar Perfect Guards. This isn't actually too bad, if you drive check a grade 3 many other decks, you still face having less to guard with, and they don't have Goku's skill for that. However, Goku players are tempted into increasing the amount of grade 3's in their deck thinking they'll get more out of Goku, and possibly compromising their deck, effectively creating a double-edged sword like effect on the player's deck.

Of course, despite these limits, Goku still succeeds as a Vanguard in general. Goku sits in a deck that clearly likes nice and lengthy games and its decktype and its own skill acts to facilitate this, directly controlling and putting limits on the opponent's power output to stop them from pushing the Goku player around. On top of these power limits, Goku's skill throws random retires to gain raw advantage and push the opponent's power output even further down. And on top of this is that Goku has absolutely no cost management, meaning your Counter-Blasts are free to go off as you please, letting the rest of the deck as many options as it could possibly have.

Dragonic Lawkeeper

LB4, CB1, and bind every rearguard on the opponent's field. Meanwhile, only 4 come back. Lawkeeper's first effect is very great at simply forcing so much more out of the opponent's hand. One method of poking the hand is it's more pronounced version of Seal Dragon, Blockade's skill. No intercepting. E-Special Intercepts the opponent was planning to use to get their beaters in and still have the ability to guard, useless. Final turns of the match and the opponent could only possibly guard it all if he intercepted, gone. A second advantage is that only 4 rearguards come back. Only 4 rearguards coming back when the opponent had 5 beforehand means immediate loss. To put it simply, CB1, retire a unit. This alone can drain the opponent as they constantly have to reassemble their forces. The opponent could always not call another card each turn, but this still is in your favor, as now you don't have to use as many cards to guard. This essentially puts the opponent in a lose-lose situation with its skill.

And then there's its secondary skill. When the opponent has 2 or less rearguards while this card attacks, it gains 3K power. Wait, that sounds familiar...oh right!

Lizard Soldier, Raopia, and Dual-Axe Archdragon have essentially the same skill! These cards pair up AMAZINGLY by the way, as play testing has shown me. In conjunction with Lawkeeper's first skill, this can lead to heavy offensive capabilities and very nice numbers being topped off.

There's just a few problems in Lawkeeper. The first of which, is that it's a Limit Breaker. Powerful Limit Break abilities are locked by only being able to be used at 4 damage for a reason, and a pretty impressive skill like Lawkeeper's has this restraint. Experienced players won't be getting any amazingly large plays throughout the earlier stages of a match due to knowing that guarding for low amounts is good, and thus won't have access to Lawkeeper in a while. The less experienced however, are tricked by Limit Break. They will quickly allow damage through, and force themselves up a wall. Limit Breaks are universally tricky in their own ways, and this is no different.

Another problem with Lawkeeper is that it may deter certain elements in the deck. With Heatnail Salamander, a dedicated Lawkeeper deck would be able keep low on the Counter Blasting, but is still restricted from using the much more than optimal Berserk Dragon as much. Because of this, unlike other Kagero builds, Lawkeeper needs to be much more careful through the midgame than other forms. The easiest way to solve this is through a partner Vanguard that can sub in through the midgame to create more distance for the opponent to have to close in, like for example Goku.

Dragonic Overlord

Dragonic Overlord isn't really meant to be a Vanguard by the way, unlike Kai and his anime powers suggest. He does however, merit an 11K base power. This combo this with Kagero's ability to retire troublesome boosters as voila, barely putting up an effort to guard. Leaving to easy access to conservative plays.

The skill though, is actually sorta decent as a Vanguard. Use it early enough or pay attention to the opponent's Perfect Guards, and you can draw out upwards 20-25K guard out of the opponent in their attempt to save a Rear-Guard, usually meaning Counter-Blast 3 for a +2 in the form of burning out a huge amount of the opponent's hand. Or even worse for the opponent, actually land the hit, restand, maybe hit again, and strike their Vanguard after drive checking through 3 times, leading to essentially a +3 in raw advantage and having totally liquidated the opponent's current offensive capabilities. Sadly though, because Perfect Guards exist, you can end up having spend your 3 Counter-Blasts for the grand total of a +1 in card advantage. Don't underestimate Dragonic Overlord or trust me, you will get screwed over, but be weary of just letting it off right off the bat with the trend of X4 Perfect Guards in most builds.

Dragonic Overlord The End

Look at dat concept art.

Dragonic Overlord the End is known as a Crossride unit, meaning if you were to ride it over it's 'previous' form, you'll get a power bump in the form of a static +2K, to Overlord's already 11K body. This can lead to a constant 13K defense, nothing to laugh at and often harder for other decks to break by completely destroying the 16K basis the game is almost totally built on. Meanwhile, there's also considering that The End decks only tend to run X4 The End and X4 Overlord, meaning all high base power for more magic number resistance. Not only that, but it equates into an improved offense. Any 8K booster equals 21K Vanguard column, which forces out tons of guard if the opponent chooses to, which very much helps its next effect.

The Persona Blast. Persona Blast is a term for any skill that requires at least partially to discard a copy of a card to use its effect. Dragonic Overlord The End gets his upon hitting any target. By CounterBlasting 2 and discarding another DOTE, you can restand this unit. Basically put, discard a grade 3 for 2 more Drive Checks. This puts up a huge sense of fear on people just by having 2 face up damage. In extension, it drives people into guarding for sometimes ridiculous amounts just to hold this card out.

Dragonic Waterfall

A card that attracted me to Kagero while I was first starting out. Dragonic Waterfowl is a powerful Vanguard in a poorly placed meta.

His first skill allows him to gain 3K power as it attacks the Vanguard. That offensive capability of Lawkeeper and Vortex Dragon? This card has it. It has the potential to be forcing 20K out in 2 trigger passes each turn practically for free.

This card also has a potent secondary skill. When this card attacks, you can discard one Grade 3 Kagero unit to gain +10000 power. Timed right and watch as your opponent struggles to totally guard you out, or burn out a Perfect Guard. Because of how easy it is to get Grade 3's to the hand without even having to put effort on it, this effect is incredibly potent.

This card has one drawback, in its secondary skill. This card puts up a similar illusion as Goku, the thought that one has to increase the amount of Grade 3s in their deck to get the most of these cards, which is stupid. This card also is a near 1 for 1 card. Sure, it's a loss of a Grade 3 for forcing 10K more shield, but this means less optimal Perfect Guard fodder. And it's a bit harder to time this effect due to you not wanting to keep Grade 3's in your hand that long either trading them for offense or fodder. While this may not actually affect the performance of the card, it's simply another thing the player needs to keep track of in order to get the most optimal results.

Embodiment of Victory, Aleph

Another Superior Ride boss. Aleph's first effect consists of Counter Blasting 4 in order to up its power by 3K, and tack on an extra critical on it. This effect can help break though a magic number for pushes, and early use can throw someone into the 4/5 damage wall.

Its second effect is to SoulBlast the 3 cards used to Superior Ride this card. Hmm, I wonder how they got in here. Paying the cost will unflip all of your damage. Allowing for more CounterBlast shenanigans for cards like Berserk Dragon and Overlord, or dare I say, this card's own CounterBlast.

Alright, I'll be honest this card isn't too good. For a start, you almost never want to actually use it's first skill. Too big of a cost for too pitiful of an effect to the max. The sad thing is, past the Critical, even Blazing Flare outperforms in power bumps. Its second effect basically demands a Superior Ride, something that's not exactly going to happen every single match. It's almost pitiful looking at the output to drawback ratio, almost as bad as Yaksha.

Vortex Dragon

The last boss within the English meta. Vortex Dragon is a Mega Blast unit, who soul charges to add +2000 power to itself each turn. The Mega Blast itself will retire 3 units on the opponent's field.

Being a constant 12K attacker is good for breaking through magic numbers. Place an 8K behind it, and it forms a constant 20K Vanguard column and may outperform the other bosses of this deck. Meanwhile, this card has easier access to hit 13K Vanguards, as almost any G1 booster gets it to 18K, meaning no skipping out on Aermo. To put it simply, this card has superior offense.

Meanwhile, there's the Mega Blast. An ACT ability, Vortex can retire 3 units on the field at once. This card is an immediate +3 and is near superior to using Kimnara's and Berserks 3 times, the prior because it's a +0 and the latter for CounterBlast management reasons. It also has no restriction on what Rearguards to retire, so one can go ahead and totally decimate power columns however they'd like with this card.

This card's power bump however, falls flat to 11K Vanguards. Where it once has advantage over other bosses becomes a totally mute point to 11Ks due to the fact all of them have access to 16K, and even 21K. The latter this card can't reach.

And then the Mega Blast itself. Sure, it becomes live when power becomes the most important. And decimating a field while at 5 damage allows you to destroy power columns so the opponent couldn't come up with the power to finish you, but having 5 unflipped damage means 2 things. First of all, you wouldn't have been able to do anything particularly spectacular in order to keep the CounterBlasts in check. Second of all, you are backed into a wall. A wall caused by not destroying rearguards over the course of the entire match who would've been a problem. This is the spectacular and universal drawback of all MegaBlasters.

So, I hope with this, you can see much deeper into who you want to lead your Kagero armies. Sure, Goku is still awesome, but maybe Lawkeeper has been brought into the light to you. Maybe you'd even consider Vortex Dragon if you don't see many 11K units day by day. So, make sure Vanguard fighters, that you get to fight exactly the way you want to fight.


  1. hmm, i assume this isnt finished yet? since you suggest CTRL + F to 12 card reviews, still good analysis though

    1. I don't think I missed any major leaders of the Kagero clan. Care to point out if I did?

    2. oh, i thought you were gonna go over all the cards in the kagero clan, mah bad :P

  2. Excellent article Nacho :) Definitely a great read and insight on Kagero.

  3. hey, are you going to do one of these on DP?

  4. Seeing the new DP stuff, sure.

    But, I'm currently writing down a Clan Review on OTT, and planning to make a deck run through on the Gold Paladin's Rabbit Brigade. There also may be more to be seen in DP, so I'm trying to avoid any clan BT08 related from not wanting to have to re-write a lot of things.

  5. yea, also, considering that its completely new, and there could be mistranslations here and there, i can see why it takes the backseat