Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Dangerous Winds Out At Sea - Aqua Force (Maelstrom)

After a long hiatus from working with the blog, I have finally returned!

With October coming to an end, so do the Cardfight!! Vanguard World Championship 2013 Qualifiers in North America. The following is a recollection of my experience at the Los Angeles Qualifier hosted at the Pasadena Convention Center in Pasadena, CA.

The venue was definitely quite different from the previous venue in Anaheim used for the qualifier back in 2012. There was also a lower reported number of participants compared to last year's tournament (590 in 2013 vs. ~700 in 2012). Nonetheless, Cardfighters eagerly awaited to take each other on for the invite to the North American Continental Championship that day! This particular event was unique from the previous qualifiers in that cards from the recently released BT11: Sealed Dragons Unleashed were legal for play for the event, and sure enough, numerous Cardfighters showed up with decks utilizing these cards.

For this event, I decided to go with a build I have been using for the past few months and have won a couple of tournaments with:

Grade 0 (17):
1x Officer Cadet, Erikk (First Vanguard)
4x Medical Officer of the Rainbow Elixir (Heal)
4x Pyroxene Sea Otter Soldier of Communications (Draw)
4x Enemy Seeking Seagull Soldier (Stand)
4x Dolphin Soldier of High Speed Raids (Stand)

Grade 1 (14):
4x Tear Knight, Theo
4x Emerald Shield, Pascal
3x Tear Knight, Cyprus -> [One was removed in the post-WCQ build]
2x Light Signals Penguin Soldier
1x Torpedo Rush Dragon

Grade 2 (10):
4x Tear Knight, Lazarus
2x Storm Rider, Basil <- [Another one was added to the post-WCQ build]
3x Coral Assault
1x Twin Strike Brave Shooter

Grade 3 (9):
4x Blue Storm Dragon, Maelstrom
3x Storm Rider, Diamantes
2x Water General of Wave-like Spirals, Benedict

Yes, I chose Maelstrom over the likes of the new Tear Dragon duo of Blue Flight Dragon, Trans-core Dragon and Last Card, Revonn. I personally prefer the wave-like attacks of the Maelstrom build over the new tactics for the Aqua Force clan introduced in the newest set. I like how this build is able to push easily for quick damage and force the opponent into a situation between a rock and a hard place via the boss card of the deck, Blue Storm Dragon, Maelstrom, which I consider to be one of the most devastating cards in the game with its advantage-gaining Limit Break ability if its attack hits a Vanguard.

The ship is preparing to set sail on the path to victory!

Gotta assemble those Grade 3s!
As for the deck itself, I decided to go with a Grade 3 searcher unit, Officer Cadet, Erikk, as I find the Grade 3 units in this build to be very necessary and valuable. Of course, its skill has resulted in nothing a few times, but I have found that I would typically be able to find something at least 75% of the time, and I definitely prefer it over the other Forerunner choices available so far. I decided not to run any Criticals as the usage of units that enable extra attacks on top of Maelstrom's threat ability would be able to force valuable resources from my opponents or deal damage quickly.

Combo-based decks need
some draw power! Just note
that cards like this guy can
be a poor Grade 1 ride!
Something that I would definitely get bashed for is the lack of Battle Siren, Dorothea. I know it is a good Vanguard booster in Aqua Force, but I have a personal thing against running Vanguard-exclusive boosters like her because of their base POWER of 6000, which makes for mediocre Grade 1 rides and are not too useful behind rear-guards. Instead, I went for the versatile Tear Knight, Cyprus as he allows for better field set-up overall, and the lack of Counter-Blast consumers in this build allows me to boost him up to hit harder if need be. Because of how combo-based this deck is, I felt I really needed the draw power that Light Signals Penguin Soldier provides.

Have faith in the Storm
Riders! They mark the
beginning of the end!
Looking back on it, having a meager 10 Grade 2 units does not seem like a good idea as I will explain below, and before I take this deck back out for action again, I will either reduce my Grade 3s to 8 or my Grade 1s to 13 (more likely as boosters are not as important). I chose to run less Storm Rider, Basil than most people due to my suspicion of a prevalence of Grade 3 Vanguards with POWER 11000, which Basil cannot hit. Of course, in hindsight, this was a poor choice of judgment on my part as I would sometimes run into situations where I cannot create a field that can make 4 or more attacks without the usage of Stand Triggers. The rest of the Grade 2 line-up is dedicated to decent standalone attacking units which are typically placed behind a Storm Rider unit.

Grade 3s are pretty self-explanatory: Maelstrom as the intended main Vanguard and some 4th attack-enablers. Of course, this does not always work out, but at least I never had to ride Storm Rider, Diamantes during my short time at the tournament.

Moving onto the tournament itself:
Format: Double-elimination, best of 1 Cardfight

Round 1 - vs. Oracle Think Tank (CoCo) - This was a person I played once before at my locals while being Grade-locked at 1 to boot and managed to somehow pull out the win due to her lack of momentum. Anyway, this particular game turned out to be pretty even for the most part with both of us getting the skills of CoCo and Maelstrom at least a couple of times throughout the game. Of course, I manage to take the win in the end. 1-0
Round 2 - vs. Bermuda Triangle (PRISM) - This was a bit of an odd fight if you ask me. Like some people who seem to be unfamiliar with Aqua Force, this fighter chooses to guard my 3 rear-guard attacks and decides to take Maelstrom with Limit Break enabled to the face. Needless to say, it was quite difficult for him to recover from that point on. 2-0
Round 3 - vs. Oracle Think Tank (Tsukuyomi) - After we did some trash-talking on the Vermilion variant of the Narukami clan, I ended up getting Grade-locked at 1 while he was stuck at the more comfortable Grade of 2. With a Silent Tom or two facing me, I had little chance of recovering. 2-1
Round 4 - vs. Royal Paladin (Majesty Lord Blaster) - This game resulted in the unfortunate event of me having to ride Benedict instead of Maelstrom and remaining stuck on him with little rear-guards to boot. We ended up playing to the point where I ran out of Heal Triggers in my deck, forcing me to concede and withdraw from the tournament when he ended up going on the offensive. 2-2

With my journey in the 2013 World Championship coming to a close, I did manage to accept my losses quite well as I have chosen to accept that things do not always go your way in this card game. Of course, it did open my eyes as to the flaws of the deck itself, and I did fix it to shift the Grade 1 count down by 1 and the Grade 2 count up by 1. With my experience after those slight changes, I definitely get Grade-locked less often than before and have been able to enable 4+ attacks before taking triggers into account more easily.

Pictures of the event can be found in this album.

Remember: If you believe, the wind will guide you!

Rin Dunois

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