Friday, August 16, 2013

Examining the Spectral Duke Dragon Ride Chain

Recently, I've reconsidered returning to my Vanguard roots- the Gold Paladin clan. Having played initially with the Gold Paladin trial deck, I was turned off from dedicating to the clan mainly by the prospect of having to buy 4 Halo Shield Marks, something I was not ready to do at the time. However, at this point I consider myself fairly dedicated to the game, and would like to at least consider maining Gold Paladins before Liberators arrive (and let's face it besides the Gancelot I'm not too interested in playing those) to see just how far they can take me.

The two builds I'm interested in are: Garmore/Pellinore and Chromejailer. Garmore is probably one of my favorite cards in the game, so it'd take some convincing for me to choose Jailer over it. Introducing the Spectral Duke Ride Chain.

There's no ruling saying Duke must be run in a Chromejailer deck, I might even consider Garmore as a backup, so let's see just how good Duke & Co. is at it's best...

Starting with Black Dragon Whelp, Vortimer

When you ride Scout of Darkness, Vortimer over Black Dragon Whelp, Black Dragon Whelp stays in the soul, fortifying Scout of Darkness with POWER +1000 and potentially adding a copy of Black Dragon Knight or Spectral Duke Dragon to the hand. Any ride chain is good for adding a more consistent ride to the deck, but the cost is that the starter may not move to (RC), resulting in a -1 vs other decks or a +0 at best. Luckily, Black Dragon Whelp has good utility whether he is ridden over by Scout of Darkness or not (and I don't mean his 4000 power boost, though hey, it's somethin). We'll get to that later.

Next up is Scout of Darkness, Vortimer.

*Gasp, running this ride chain means more non-holos for your deck. Anyways, Scout of Darkness has a nice 7000 power which is great for a grade 1, so isn't too much of a liability on its own. It's also a potential 8000 power ride, meaning if you successful chain-ride and go first you won't be getting rushed too easily. His other skill is where the ride chain really gets to work. When Black Dragon Knight rides over Scout of Darkness, you may retire 1 Gold Paladin to call up to two more from the top of your deck. Note that this Gold Paladin "sacrifice" must be present on the field before you ride, meaning it must be a grade 0 or grade 1. If you field a grade 0, you essentially can't get anything worse when you flip the top two. If it's a grade 1, you may be out a precious booster (trust me they aren't always easy to come by). So, vs other decks this mechanic results in a +1, seeing as you have to -1 in order to +2 afterwards. However, rather than basic card numbers, this can result in more advantage as a result of attacking with an amount of cards you may not have fielded otherwise.
So we might give it another +.5 for that (so scientific).

Second to last we have Black Dragon Knight, Vortimer.

I actually own a copy of this card, mainly cuz it's so badass (and I had good luck with my single Cavalry of Black Steel pack). Of course, he's a potential 10000 ride which is excellent and the 9000 power is nothing to sneeze at. Coupled with Scout of Darkness he hits 16000 on RG which is very good in most cases. So, he basically does Vortimer's skill again when Spectral Duke Dragon rides over it, resulting in another +1 as far as basic card numbers go. Also, at this point, more cards are on the field as retiring choices so your field will likely appear better than before. Also, if you fail to ride Scout of Darkness you can retire Black Dragon Whelp (and I'm sure you'll get something better)

So, as far as fielded cards, you should have 2 cards on the field for free after you ride Spectral Duke Dragon.

Vs. other decks, the chain works as follows at best.
Ride Scout, -1.
Get grade 2 or 3 with Whelp's skill, +0.
Retire RG for Scout's skill, -1.
Get RGs from Scout's skill, +1.
Retire RG for Black Dragon Knight's skill, +0.
Get RGs from Black Dragon Knight's skill, +2.

We could say the deck earns another +1 with the ability to be more aggro then an ordinary deck would be under such conditions. And we might also say the minus for riding scout is insignificant so long as Scout is boosted when it attacks (if it attacks) by the same card to be used as a retire target next turn. Also, many starters will be lost at some point anyway.

So by executing the ride chain, you plus somewhere from 2-4 over your opponent. Just about the right amount to execute your finale without a cost over other decks...

Speaking of which, there he is- Spectral Duke Dragon. So what does our investment in the ride chain buy us? One use of this rather scary skill- the ability to restand at the cost of three rearguards. If you end up having one really bad column with the ride chain, you might as well use his effect immediately to facilitate a nice field change-up. His skill is essentially a -2, seeing as you get one more drive check. Then you get more advantage from the threat of the attack itself, say +1-2.

In the end, you can basically have a net plus of 1-3 over your opponent even after using the skill as a result of the attacks the ride chain enables. If you consider only the amount of cards gained and lost strictly from skills and the extra drive check, the ride chain is a +0.

It actually appears far preferable to riding Chromejailer first and failing to get another plus off of Black Dragon Knight. After Spectral Duke Dragon's skill is used, one could wait till they have two Chromejailers (assuming they have another grade 2 or 3 to field in place of the attacker Spectral kills off) before riding Chromejailer for more cheap field creation. Otherwise I'd probably just play the Chromejailer in the RG and wait to use Spectral Duke Dragon again if need be.

Spectral Duke could really reach the next level when Gancelot takes the stage (20000 base with the potential to restand lolz), but as for now, I'm still leaning towards Garmore. However, I do think it'd be interesting to try Chrome and Spectral to really test how well I can recognize when I should use their costly abilities. Maybe I'll post some potential decklists soon. Anyways, hope you enjoyed the analysis.

Eli_Knight out.

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