Monday, October 14, 2013

Opinions on Megacolony - Lock vs Retire

Oh boy here we go. I got annoyed seeing the naysayers screaming about how Megacolony is dead and all that crap so you know what? Here's my thoughts on the issue.

I hope some of you remember the Lock vs Retire article I made a while back, where I detailed that essentially, under the exact same vacuum conditions, Retiring is always equal to or greater than Lock in pure, calculable card advantage.

And I also found someone's blogpost trying to refute mines, mentioning something about how Locking may be better if it was cheaper. But, you know, that kinda destroys the entire point of comparing Lock and Retire in identical conditions in the first place so, yeah. It was a kinda pointless post.

Anyway, onto actually relevant things, if we've already established what Retiring has over Locking, where does 'Trapping', Megacolony's ability to trap down Rear-Guards, stand in this comparison? Well, a better question would be like, how is it different?

Seriously, think of Locking, Retiring, and Trapping for a moment, and notice all the traits specific to their methods of applying their skills.

- Retire based decks are the most outright sworn to their abilities, because retiring is best used as a defensive measure to crush power lines that show up. Because the opponent is can potentially be very spontaneous as to when they set up their power lines, a dedicated retire deck would have some combination of being filled to the brim with utility units that are ready to activate when you need them, or bigger, more dominating forces that even if are only able to be used once, have a large window of effectiveness that can often cover you for the course of many turns. This way, Retiring always has the chance to respond almost immediately (if we consider the turn right after as 'immediate') and actively play a role at controlling the opponent's power lines; the job they do best.

- The Lock mechanic is far more temporary a skill to enforce upon the opponent. With the effects of a given Lock skill literally giving way in the matter of a single turn's worth of difference, unlike how Retiring skills gain a lot of defensive benefits if they can shut down power lines immediately, there is just no need to so wholeheartedly dedicate an entire deck with utility units or omnipresent Vanguards like Retiring requires there to be. To put it in short, there is very little difference between a Lock in the Midgame vs a Lock in the Late Game under similar general conditions. Because of how temporary Lock is, many cards from Link Joker dedicate themselves to making the absolute best out of a given Lock. Surprisingly, this was taken a step further, as the Vanguards of Link Joker are all the main enablers for the rest of the deck. Some 6 to 8 cards, which is rather small in scale to how far a Kagero deck can go, are all that Link Joker has to get out that first Lock that starts everything, and this is because the Lock mechanic is just so well designed to follow this role. Once again, Lock is a very static and temporary skill, it's simply designed in a way that does not require high maintenance or variation, and because of this, a Lock deck can turn the few Locks that they do get and use the vast amount of support they are allowed to fit in with all the extra space to do some real damage with it.

- Trapping is almost identical to Locking in that it's an extremely temporary and immediate form of card advantage, meaning that unlike Kagero, it doesn't need to constantly watch over the opponent and react as fast as possible to fight them off. What makes Trapping far different from Locking is that it actively offers something that Lock nor Retire ever actually give; a choice. Instead of permanently shutting down columns like Locking, the opponent still has the option to retire their own booster to replace it right away, effectively turning the Lock into a sort of 'pseudo retire' in that exact moment. Now, many people believe this to be an innate weakness of Megacolony, but on the contrary, this may actually be their defining strength. Retiring needs to stay on the ball, constantly keeping track of whatever moves the opponent makes and shutting down their power columns the moment they see something. Otherwise, the effectiveness of their retires effectively fizzles if the opponent simply replaces the retired unit immediately, instead of guaranteeing some large amount of overall shielding saved if they shot down an actual priority target. On the other hand, Locking is guaranteed to at least get something meaningful out of a well placed Lock, power column or not. Despite this, their skills are temporary. At best, and ignoring Chaos Breaker Dragon, all they're doing is postponing the problem; not solving it. Trapping has means around these weaknesses, however. They're similar to Lock in that they most certainly will get at least something noteworthy — say saving a 10K shield — from any single given Trap. At the same time however, the opponent knows that they can't fall too far behind offensively, and eventually, they will call over their units. By specifically targeting priority Rear-Guards, this method can effectively act as a Retire with no short term shortcomings like a real Retire. It also can persuade people to do absolutely stupid things, like making the opponent Intercept away a Trapped unit alongside another 5K/10K shield during the midgame, which I hope many of you are aware of why this is not actually a good move.

And with this, we've located exactly where Megacolony can still shine. Seriously, listing these out gives a really good perspective:

Retiring's strengths lie in its ability to shut down power columns. In order to actively combat the opponent's columns, they should be designed to be able to actively engage against the opponent through the use of utility Rear-Guards, or be omnipresent enough to simply take over multiple turns.

Locking's strengths are very individualized and in the moment. In order to make up for how temporary any individual Lock is, they should be designed to be able to actively and aggressively combo off of Locking, and make even a single Lock meaningful and influential on a fight for the short time it's in effect.

Trapping's strengths lie in its flexibility. In order to actively abuse both how independently useful a successful Trapping is and to force upon the opponent so many more events that the opponent can screw up for themselves, they should be designed with multiple different niche abilities to provide the most coverage among the most areas.

So What Does This Mean for Megacolony?

Honestly, I really hope the people up at Bushiroad aren't the twats I jokingly name them to be, because so far, they've done Kagero/Narukami and Link Joker pretty well (well from an overall design perspective. Their balance sucks) so really, it's all a matter if they really could pick up on what makes Trapping a legitimately powerful tool.

Seriously, if Bushiroad's designers are smart, then I forecast these 2 events happening:
1. There's going to be a drastic movement away from these and
2. there's going to be a drastic movement torwards these.

What really should be emphasized here is just forcing as many Traps onto the opponent as possible for maximum effectiveness. Yes, a Master Beetle type card may do the job in very specific situations, but Megacolony's strengths lie in the ability to force the opponent to mess themselves up. It's the opponent's decision to start excessively killing off their priority Rear-Guards to keep up in the fight. It's the opponent's decision to allow trapped columns to sit where they are so that they don't need to constantly be replacing fielded units. It's the opponent's decision whether or not they want to (stupidly) be using multiple cards to guard attacks with Intercepts. If Bushiroad can recognize this, if the Cardfight Vanguard design team can capitalize on enforcing as many Traps onto the opponent as possible to force them to mess up, then I can see a bright future for Megacolony. One unique from Link Joker in the vast difference in how Locking handles compared to Trapping, and filled with many niche Trappers who constantly put the opponent's forces on edge.

If you think there's more that can be added to this discussion, please post a comment below on how you think Megacolony's strengths can be individualized from Retiring and Locking skills, and what Bushiroad should do with Megacolony in future sets.


  1. I think one thing that could distinguish Locking and Trapping even more could be that Megacolony gets more benefits from Trapping opponent rearguards, which as possible skills like ' during your opponent's Stand phase, for each rearguard that is trapped, your opponent's vanguard loses 1k for that turn', which further cements Megacolony as a deck which is strong especially during your opponent's turn, such that Megacolony's effect revolve around the Stand phase when their effects are resolved. This potentially makes opponents think twice before having a full field, and on the off chance like you said they 'screw themselves up' the Megacolony player stands to gain huge amounts of advantage.

    On thing which I noticed about Trapping is that it is more selective then Locking, and people tend to look down on Trapping and exalt the wonders of 'Lock' (not that it isn't a powerful mechanic), thus Megacolony can take this underestimation of its' power as an advantage. Although all these are just my personal opinions and should not be taken seriously :)

  2. "Seriously, if Bushiroad's designers are smart, then I forecast these 2 events happening:
    1. There's going to be a drastic movement away from these (Karma Queen) and
    2. there's going to be a drastic movement torwards these (Megacolony Battler B)."

    And as stated they did in the form of the new Machining support. They produced a restrictive version of Megacolony Battler B that only works for Machinings in the form of a costless trapping booster and a grade 2 on-hit version of Battler B.

    1. Pfft.

      Insight on game design -> accurate predictions of the future, haha.