Sunday, January 27, 2013

Clan Review: Nova Grappler

The largest power in Star Gate, the Nova Grappler clan is one almost completely devoted to advantage through battle, and can be seen within the many builds and leading Vanguards of the clan. Including mass field standing, Vanguards attacking twice or even more, or just overwhelming numbers, the clan is well fit for any player who favors aggressive plays, and more than complements players who can make best use of the forward momentum the clan can give.

Nova Grapplers are a clan based on attrition. While most builds lack any methods of netting Card Advantage as easily, they are all well suited for offensively orientated assaults, which can often and sometimes quickly lead to the opponent at a loss trying to guard. To supplement this, the Counter-Blast Nova Grapplers are also supported by quite a bit of unflipping support, allowing for any Counter-Blast spamming or low damage set ups to flow far easier than that of most other decks.

Before I delve into this article any further, I need to clear up 2 relatively common misconceptions. Often, from watching the anime, people often attribute Stand Triggers to Nova Grapplers. This isn't wrong, but I can make close to the same comparison to Kagero, Royal Paladins, and later builds of Oracle Think Tank. The fact is that while the clan has many mechanics that allow for combo orientated mass Standing plays, Stand Triggers aren't nearly the necessary trigger to complement this movement as quite a few players are led to believe. The second is that, also despite popular belief, Stand Triggers aren't bad, people just generally have the wrong mindset about them. Honestly, I don't think I need to continue but wow do CFV sites show me otherwise. Stand Triggers are the most attrition based trigger you have, but they aren't predominantly offensive triggers. Where Heals work for defensive buffs, Draws for gaining raw card advantage, and Crits for forward advantage/advantage through battle, Stands work best as triggers of attrition, designed to force out resources any more than to build your own or force damage. This is why people fail with Stands:They're trying to hard to use Stands for what Criticals are designed to do. Best suited in decks who lack card advantage engines but don't necessarily need positive advantage (or, raw +'s) and have the beaters to use and even abuse Stands which yes, basically means Nova Grapplers.

On to the cards~

BT06-042EN RTo kick things off, we've got our first starter, Beast Deity White Tiger. Often the starter Vanguard choice for most Nova Grappler decks, even non Beast Deities, it's often look to as on of the more reliable units in the deck.

White Tiger is almost always a useful unit to you. Unlike most decks that near immediately lose use of their starter's dismal power for facing 11K Vanguards, Nova Grappler decks almost always have the beaters to more than make use of White Tiger's basic power, so while a number of decks end up calling over their starting Vanguard or immediately thowing them off with their skills, White Tiger is always of use to you.

And finally, for the Beast Deity players, when an attack this unit boosted hits, you can send this unit to the soul and Counterblast 1 to restand a Beast Diety Rearguard. In simple terms and assuming we're restanding Azure Dragon, this can end up a basic cost of 5K shield on your end (calling a Grade 1 to replace White Tiger) for one of three things. Worst case scenario, you run into another 5K shield. Simply put, you just invested into something of exactly the same value, except, you didn't. Normally, this would be true. 5K for 5K? Sure I'll take it, and for many decks it wouldn't mean much. But this doesn't apply to any Stand or pressure Variant of Nova Grappler almost at all. The one recognized fault of only a little bit of Standing or a little bit of pressure is that it's mostly bark, little bite. When you Stand units only occasionally (and not at climax moments, for this example) or have say 1 pressure orientated unit on the field. The one thing that people often get turned off by is that that they barely actually land their hits. Why? Because the opponent has cards to guard with. This is where White Tiger's break even comes in. Stand and Pressure Grappler plays are always heavy hits once they break through the opponent's guard. So every play, including White Tiger's, that can drain atleast some resources almost always is a play in your favor. Another outcome of White Tiger's skill is that you kill a beater. Another play that's always favorable, probably weakening some of the bigger columns out there and even relieving pressure off of you. But the biggest payout is if the restood Azure Dragon hits the opponents Vanguard and deals damage. This is the absolute closest you will ever get to a unit that says '[CB1 put this unit into your soul] If you have (a Grade 3 Rearguard), deal 1 damage to the opponent.'

Where White Tiger is off helping you advance your plays somewhere in the midgame, the Death Army duo come to sweep up what's left of the opponent's resources midgame and lategame. Both of them basically read the same skill, when a Grade 3 Nova Grappler is Drive Checked, they stand. Add in that their 7K boost and 9K beater power creates a solid 16K column that restands on a whim, and one can very quickly identify one of the strongpoints of almost all Nova Grappler decks. But first, flaws. As a start, people aren't stupid (usually) and thus very quickly paints giant targets over both DA's backs. While not necessarily a downfall, this can quickly lead to a lot and trust me when I say this, a lot of resources more or less accidentally put into keeping a DA Lady on the field if you're not careful. In tandem with this, the DA duo are heavily reliant on my favorite topic: chance. While realistically speaking, success of pulling their skill off ramps up very quickly, this can quickly get players to overestimate them, even if they are that awesome. Let's think back to the Leading the Pack: Kagero post. What I said about Goku and apparently accidentally insulted a bunch of Goku players. Grade 3 checking is essentially icing on a cupcake, and there is a very realistic thing as too much. What I'm getting at is that people very quickly think the Death Army duo is much more than they realistically are, get excited when their plans go off, and then lose interest very quickly every moment thereafter because it's just not playing like they expect them to. What happened is that they expected too much out of them. They overestimated the DAs. A player should always be set up to reap the benefits of any Grade 3 drive checker, but not to the point where their main priority becomes to make moves based on the possibility you play a Grade 3, and even risk your neck for that chance orientated combo to go off and maybe push your opponent around.

That said however, these 2 are not to be underestimated either. As said before, they make a very solid column together and together can end up wrecking games. A simple Grade 3 check can equal to another damage dealt by the 16K attack, and in the late game, be a quick way to immediately force 10K more shield out of the opponent's quickly depleting hand in order to help you push for game. As I said before, the probability for these two's skills to go off very quickly ramps up, and it very often shows. Quickly turning into huge, explosive plays almost out of nowhere and often bombarding the opponent's resources down often before their hand can take it. Easily one of the strongest assets in any Nova Grappler build, they should reserve almost V.I.P. treatment in deck building and should almost always be your first choice to supplement your offense.

Now I'm quite sure everyone is familiar with Grade 3 Drive Checkers, right? Well here's one that I'm tempted to call the best out of all of them. Asura Kaiser sits at the ever lovely 11K base that just dodges the billion and 2 threats 10Ks are getting everywhere, while also facilitating a near direct advantage engine. Okay, maybe not so word for word, but we can more than easily find and see the numbers that line up for this unit.

Up first, what its skill basically means. I'm assuming you're not a schmuck at deckbuilding and your opponent isn't sitting on 2 Vanilla Grade 3 rearguards for a moment, so that I can say that when Asura Kaiser drive checks a Grade 3 unit, it's an immediate form of advantage in that new attack. That aside though, deckbuilders and theorycrafters can note that often people attribute checking triggers to a 1/3ish scale, due to triggers making almost 1/3 of your deck. So when we count Grade 3s to this, nearly half of the deck is a gain in advantage when drive checked. To make explaining this easier, 4/9 or somewhere around ~44% of the time would most other Vanguards not be able to pull any trigger and 1/9 or ~11% to pull double trigs. Meanwhile, about only ~25% of the time would Asura Kaiser hit diddly squat, and 25% of the time would it hit 2 triggers and/or Grade 3s. While we can argue subjectives about how much advantage those percentages or worth, it's more than clear that Asura Kaiser more than cruises in its own little pool of auxiliary card advantage with almost no effort on your part. An interesting little tidbit about Asura Kaiser is that alongside a Death Army column, at about a 30.6% success rate to do so, pulling a Grade 3 can essentially translate into the restanding of 3 units and about 15K shield of auxiliary advantage placed over the 2 sudden attacks.

Appearing on the scenes as of BT06, Beast Deity, Azure Dragon soon became coupled with Asura Kaiser as a noteworthy back up Vanguard and a solid Grade 3 for the deck. Often, we can attribute one problem of a restanding mechanic to the lack of power that comes out of it, meanwhile Azure Dragon works as base 11K attacker and clearing this problem easily. Along with this, this also allows for Asura Kaiser to better use a starter that doesn't jettison the field upon use and in fact helps with those midgame pushes. But where it really shines though, is as a Vanguard. With base 11K, it too sits on a dominant defensive value. And with that defense comes a rather powerful rush ability. When Azure Dragon hits, you may Persona Blast to restand 2 Rearguards on the field. Whether you restand 2 beaters to make 2 more quick jabs or restand a whole column for another ensured attack, you just pitched a shieldless Grade 3 to wear down your opponent even further. Combined with White Tiger and even the Death Army, this can quickly lead to extremely aggressive plays akin to Asura Kaiser's mass standing shenanigans.

Upon Booster Set 4, however, Nova Grappler receives much more support an almost an entirely new playstyle to resort to, the Blau- series. Standing on a second generation ride chain style, the series has the consistency to offer to the deck. But the prize jewel of the deck, Stern Blaukruger, sets up one of the fastest and most aggressive approaches to the game. While not as automatic to be as the previous Vanguards, Stern also has access to 11K defense when Blaukruger is in the soul. But aside from it's rather useful defense, its skill is one to almost fear. If Stern Blaukruger's attack hits, you may restand its column by Counterblasting 2, discarding 2 cards, and giving up Twin Drive for the next attack. Essentially, this can mean for the opponent "Guard the Vanguard every attack and fall far behind in card advantage, or fall far behind from being rushed for damage". This deck also favors a high Critical count over say, Stands compared to other Nova Grappler decks, as it can quickly lead to absolute chaos over at the opponent's end should they ever let a critboosted Stern hit. Facing down a restanding 2 crit 20+ Vanguard is never a good day for anyone.

I think I covered this before on B.a.s.s. values, but Stern will essentially force most rational players to drop 15K or so shield every turn chucking shielding at Stern's attack. Which essentially means the +3 they get every turn, turns into a +1 at best. And as I explained with the Perfect Memory 2.0 article, the average shielding in a person's deck is 5Kish per unit, which essentially means that the +~15K or so shielding the opponent gets every turn has to be given up to stopping Stern from absolutely bumrushing the crap out of them. Even worse for the opponent is that if Stern pulls a Critical or a Grade 3, or worse a combination of pulling 2 of either of them, this means that if the opponent really doesn't want to fall behind in damage they have to chuck even more of their dwindling resources out of the window. Long story short, if anyone knows why the late game is otherwise called a battle of attrition, you should know that Stern, along with Death Army support, is almost always the absolute champion at this.

Also one crazy scary thing that no one ever notices, or atleast what I can observe through Youtube and Byond matches, is that Stern can actually use its skill twice per turn. And the craziest part about it is that it literally requires absolutely no set up at all. Start the turn with 1 card in hand, twin drive into 3, use Stern's skill and have 1 again. Drive Check into 2 cards in hand, and use Stern's skill to restand again. 4 Drive Checks in one turn and probably atleast 2 damage if not much, much more at that point.

But probably the scariest part about Stern is that it will almost always hit harder than before. No, I'm not talking about triggers, I'm talking about a unit known as Dancing Wolf. Dancing Wolf essentially pushes Stern through another stage of shielding regardless if you pulled a trigger or not, meaning that second attack will almost always be bigger and more powerful than the one before. This allows Stern players just that much more forward push for the skill's cost which quickly leads to immediate forward advantage. So those who actually bothered to read the short little article immediately before this one, yeah you never want Stern to hit, ever.

But onto Nova Grapplers not named Stern Blaukruger, we've got Gold Rutile. Rutile is the cover card for TD03: Golden Mechanical Soldier and it's an absolutely wonderful card out of it. This unit covers two of Nova Grapplers stronger points which are attrition and powerful plays with little set up with its pretty unique skill. While it is the Vanguard, if a Rearguard hits the opponent's Vanguard, you may unflip 1 damage. When it as a Vanguard hits the opponent's Vanguard, you may Counterblast 2 to restand a unit. While this may not sound like much at first, let me direct you to Magician Girl Kirara, Brutal Jack, and Death Metal Droid. Each of these 3 play some decent roles for the deck but often can't be used in too high amounts at Counterblast restrictions. Not a problem with Rutile, though. Unless you unrealistically expect the opponent to be completely able to block your all your rearguard attacks, this essentially translates into making Kirara a cheap, CB1 to draw on hit unit, and make Jack and DMD nearly free units. This skill also adds on a level on pressure on the opponent, as anyone who has played Neo Nectars or something of the like can explain, enough pressure will make near every deck crack.

And, so, Nova Grapplers. And yes this is slightly different from the other clan reviews but that is because of just how many different builds that already exist in Nova Grappler that I really didn't want to label as the standard.


  1. WHat Would Be The Better Build To make Stern Or Asura?

    1. Depends.

      A dedicated Asura Kaiser deck can force out more during the late game than Stern can possibly hope to achieve, however it falls short to really doing much at all vs Cross-Rides or the sort.

      A dedicated Stern deck can force out huge chunks of shielding through the midgame thanks to the pressure it generates and is an exceedingly good match up vs 10K Vanguards, however has a poor lategame.

      Basically, 1 deck is better at some things than the other, so asking outright which is the better build is a little hard to answer. Maybe you could rephrase the question into something more tangible?

  2. i was thinking should i make a gold rutile deck or a beast deity deck? i personally love both of them but cant decide which to make? thanks in advance.

  3. k umm could u tell me the price budget of beast deity vs quality? plz i really plan on buying soon

    1. vs quality?

      At the current moment, Beast Deity is rather on-par with pre-BT10 decks, so take that as you will as it's good, but will be one of the MANY decks that will be completely shot down with BT10. Within the near future however, Beast Deities get support again about around BT13. A whiles off, sure, but investing now on the bare essentials wouldn't hurt.

      I don't particularly have a deckbuild to base prices off of, but if you can post up a decklist or any cards in particular that you're aiming for, I can go fetch the prices for you. On the other hand, here's the URL to CoolStuffInc., which I find has generally had reasonably priced things, so that you can search for it yourself.