Friday, October 11, 2013

Card Review:Destruction Dragon, Dark Rex

[AUTO](Bind zoneLimit Break 4 (This ability is active if you have four or more damage):[Choose three of your «Tachikaze» rear-guards, and retire them] At the beginning of the close step of the battle that your grade 3 or greater «Tachikaze» vanguard attacked, if the attack did not hit during that battle, you may pay the cost. If you do, ride this card.
[ACT](Hand):[Bind this card] Choose up to one of your «Tachikaze», and that unit gets [Power]+3000 until end of turn.

As a support Vanguard, Dark Rex's success and usage is largely dependent on the primary Vanguard and the general build of the deck. More standard decks like Deathrex, Battlerex, or Spinodriver builds should focus on Dark Rex's secondary skill in tandem with 18K columns to dominate the opponent; pushing them down with damage and more easily lining them up for the late game. Meanwhile, Tyrannolegend or Raptor Colonel builds, while also utilizing the secondary skill when possible, should be putting far more emphasis on the dynamic of how their finisher based skills react with Dark Rex's Limit Break.

What makes Deathrex so good at its job is probably how well rounded it is. With its secondary skill allowing for a far more powerful midgame or late game, especially among Rear-Guard lines, it feeds into its own Limit Break's strength. With 16K columns all across, Dark Rex achieves a 5 damage danger zone of a stagnating 50K and 6 cards, and from there, only increases in either utility or raw strength depending on the Vanguard being used with it.

How to Use This Card

Of course, using Darkrex depends highly on which two classes of Tachikaze Vanguards it is paired up with.

What's relatively constant among most of the builds however, is the usage of the 3K boost. Although limited in some Tachikaze, simply the inclusion of being able to make 18K columns is enough to enable Dark Rex's second skill's strength. What makes Death Rex absolutely brilliant is that you don't need to dedicate some +8 cards of deckspace specifically to create 21K columns only when a very specific combination units line up together. Instead of focusing so heavily on getting those 2 specific units to line up onto the field, an 18K column can easily be created by a wide range of combinations among 10K beaters and the 8K Vanilla boosters, and even more still with units like Cannon Gear. Despite this however, the more specific set ups between, say, Death Metal Droid and Tough Boy do have one clear advantage over Dark Rex; reusability. Because Dark Rex must drop itself into the Bind Zone, it's restrained to only one use, at least per copy. This means that it's much less of a matter of beating away at the opponent, but picking the smartest times in a fight to suddenly drop power columns down onto the opponent. This is actually where Deathrex, Battlerex, and to a lesser extent, Spinodriver do amazingly well with Dark Rex's secondary skill. Because the trio are often striking at +21K power, which after considering a 2 to pass is a stage 4 attack, they can abuse the system of stages by completely avoiding damage triggers. For example:



With Dark Rex's power boost, Cannon Gear will be attacking at 21K power, a stage 3 attack. In the midgame, most rational players wouldn't drop more than 1 card to guard an attack, essentially meaning that Cannon Gear gets a free ticket to hitting the opponent. Next, Deathrex can attack with its own boost. At 22K power, even if the opponent pulls a damage trigger, Deathrex will be attacking at at least 3 stages. Once more, a free shot at the opponent. With the third column reaching out to threaten priority Rear-Guards, and mediate the amount of 10K shields in the opponent's hand, ultimately the turn that Dark Rex can combo with a powerful Vanguard is often the turn of a sudden damage rush with 2 otherwise confirmed hits, along with whatever Criticals can offer. Alternatively, you can wait for the late game in order to use this, which can often annihilate the opponent's hand, which is also the safer option for the Vanguards that don't regularly break 4 stages on their own. For Dark Rex, it's almost never a matter of whether you can or can't establish power columns, since Tachikaze is a clan where 18K columns isn't much of a challenge. Instead, it all comes down to timing; how effective the player can take Dark Rex's one shot at its skill, and dominating the opponent with it. From there, the focus is all on the Limit Break.

Deathrex takes a rather simple approach to the combo, and is not unlike just a normal vanilla attack pattern. What makes Deathrex special is that it can attack for 15K unboosted, which post 2 to pass is a stage 3 attack against any 10K Vanguards. This essentially makes the best option at 5 damage to attack with both Rear-Guards columns first, then attack with Deathrex unboosted in order to preserve a booster for Dark Rex to overpower the opponent far easier. Triggers are also otherwise saved because they can be passed onto the booster. Using this method makes the overall b.a.s.s. value of the assault around 6 cards strong, so the danger zone with a R-R-Unboosted V-Boosted V attack pattern is anywhere under 6 cards. At even with a Perfect Guard or 2, an opponent with less than 6 cards at 5 damage has a good chance of losing right then and there. Against 11K or greater Vanguards, it's better to fight R-Boosted V-Unboosted V-R, and the danger zone drops down to 5 cards. 

Ancient Dragon, Spinodriver's Break Ride ability essentially necessitates a R-R-bV-uV attack pattern, so to put it simply, with a vanilla field between them, the combo between them similarly has a 6 card danger zone. Unlike Deathrex, who is dependent on the opponent having a 10K Vanguard to reach this 6 card danger zone, Spinodriver should be able to consistently reach this so long as you have the proper booster. Despite being far more stable to reach this danger zone, there is one big problem. While yes, it can be argued that trading away your 5 Rear-Guards for 4 cards of hand advantage and blasting away at the opponent is a pretty good trade, the fact remains that it is a very temporary measure. With a lone Dark Rex on the field being all that's left, even after considering the gigantic 6 card punch that the combo gave, the player is going to need to build into something in order to continue applying the pressure needed to continually push the opponent if the assault did not work the first time. This should not undermine the strength behind the 6 card danger zone that the duo establishes, and it is still a really good safety net if something goes awry, but in that regard, that should be all it is; a safety net. Within the final turns of the fight, focus more on the offensive capabilities of this combination, not the defensive, at least not until absolutely necessary.

Battlerex is a rather odd card to write for, mostly because from my limited research time, the vast majority simply does not know what they want to do with dealing with it. So, since I can't really get a good consensus, I'll be basing Battlerex's attack on a sort of '3 to pass' system, since it's the most reliable way to defend yourself over 80% of the time.

This in mind, and considering that Battlerex can end up eating your attack forces otherwise, this is yet another scenario where the R-R-V-V attack pattern should be the priority. With the '3 to pass' in place, Battlerex otherwise acts just like Deathrex in that it should attack 10K Vanguards unboosted, as it would be enough to force out 3 stages, and also has a 6 card danger zone with such an assault. Otherwise, 5 cards against 11K and bigger Vanguards.

Military Dragon, Raptor Colonel takes a much different approach to utilizing Dark Rex than the others. While the player should stay constantly aware if the opponent really is in danger of losing if they do use Dark Rex's Limit Break, Dark Rex should instead act as a sort of assurance behind Raptor Colonel's own late game 'pressure'. With Raptor Colonel, the opponent has almost no good answer to what it can throw at them. Should the opponent choose to Perfect Guard Colonel, this opens up the opportunity in the following turns to crush them with Colonel's raw power, or Dark Rex can take this opportunity to swoop in and pick away at the opponent's now limited hand. Should the opponent choose to guard regularly, not only are they burning through excess shielding that they normally wouldn't have had to spend, but Dark Rex now allows for following through on the assault if necessary, meaning that the late game strength of the Vanguard isn't trapped behind how much shielding the opponent is willing to burn through. This sort of assurance on top of Raptor Colonel's already powerful late game dominance can easily turn the Late Game into what's essentially a deathtrap for the opponent. 

This same principle extends to Tyrannolegend, albeit with minor differences. Tyrannolegend absolutely must have, say, Iguanogorg or Baby Rex, in order to utilize the same strategy if you decide to completely follow through. Despite this reliance on other cards, the combo is potentially stronger in the hands of the Ancient Dragons when done correctly. Baby Rex in particular allows for an accelerated midgame on top of what Dark Rex's +3K boost can offer by helping with proper field set up. Rather than Colonel's more chance reliant Ride Chain, this means that Tyrannolegend's trade for requiring more to work with is that it actually has more to work with in the first place; much more speed to set up offense. This also stretches out to Tyrannolegend becoming a pseudo-Deathrex, thanks to its secondary skill making it a 16K beater all on its own. However, this is far more temporary than what Deathrex can offer, so it should simply be treated as icing on the cake.

How to Fight Against This Card

Unfortunately, it's a bit of a problem trying to express how to counter Dark Rex because of how malleable it is.

The problem with trying to shut down power columns is how easy 18K columns are to build for a dedicated Tachikaze deck.

The problem with trying to counter its Limit Break is that Dark Rex is designed so that it always wins in some way for just using it.

The problem with trying to counter its synergy with Colonel and Tyrannolegend is that the situation is never actually in your control.

Ultimately, there's not too much one could legitimately do to fight against the card.

In terms of card design, there's a lot of things that Dark Rex intrinsically does right.

Despite being a Limit Break unit, it does not centralize the deck at all to the Late Game. While it has many strengths if it were to be forced to be a late game only card, it still works equally as well if not even better when properly timed for Midgame usage. It's Limit Break is also designed like a safety net, transitioning field advantage into hand advantage for more defensive purposes, though not to such extremes like when comboed with Spinodriver, and is far more easy to recover from. Finally, it is a support Vanguard by nature, meaning that the emphasis on the deck is still on yet another primary Vanguard, focusing more synergistic plays rather than shoehorning a deck that is simply there for the Vanguard to reside in.

As for actual costs rather than just philosophy on card design, Dark Rex's secondary ability is right on the mark for what it should be. At a break even that requires outside setup to be utilized properly, sitting at 0 CB makes immediate sense for the skill, so let's focus instead on Dark Rex's Limit Break.

With 3 Retires, a Twin Drive, and for what it will most likely force out or retire from the opponent, Dark Rex's Limit Break is once again one big break even. It should be well noted that you must retire 3 units from your field, 3 often battle ready units that more or less wouldn't be bad in nature without compromising your offensive ability. This in mind, I'd like to say whether it deserves the qualitative Counter-Blast is really rather up to debate, however the extra Soul that Dark Rex is granted for being a 10K unit does alleviate some of this.

All in all, this means that Dark Rex is almost the very pinnacle of what a good support Vanguard should be. It doesn't take away focus from the rest of the deck, but rather gives more options for the deck as a whole to act under through the power up skill. Despite being a Limit Break, its effects on the fight aren't limited to just the Late Game, and when it is the Late Game, it can only serve to bolster offensive power or do a very good job at complementing the Vanguards that dominate the Late Game already. With this, Dark Rex, from a design standpoint, is easily one of the most noteworthy cards one can come across in the game.

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