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Saikyo Cardfighter R on Cardfight!! Vanguard
September 4, 2017

Dumb-Inate: How's the New Keyword?

 Is Nubatama's new mechanic actually that unbalanced?

With the release of G-BT11 came of course the new direction Nubatama seem to want to take, relying on new soft advantage rather than mirage-play their way out of trouble, a move that's growing increasingly less viable in the wake of Griffin-esque cards and eventually in October, Vanquisher shenanigans that will leave them shitting the floor. I for one look forward to it. Just to clarify, I am totally not against Afterimage, I think that it's still a viable strategy as long as you don't forget the original plays that made Nubatama such as the loveable Dreadmaster (who also got reprinted for being just THAT baller).

Anyway, I wanted to talk about how good Dominate actually is, as far as its debut seems to be. Dominate, in case anyone's been living under a rock since June and have probably been declared legally dead by the cops, is a new mechanic where your opponent's units attack each other, all while being treated as YOUR cards. Sounds nutty, and it is. However, I wouldn't go so far as to call it broken. Not for the reasons you think though: a card is only broken if it shits on established core mechanics, otherwise using broken synonymously with 'unbalanced' brings to mind kids in the playground using the phrase 'infinity plus one' at each other.

So, is Dominate UNBALANCED? On paper, certainly. Looking at Shiranui Oboro, for example, the Stride skill automatically puts a 7k unit within Vanguard-attacking numbers, and the reward is a -1 to the hand, or one damage, all for no Counterblast cost. The best case scenario is one damage, given that's worth more than a single card. The G-Units aren't a whole lot better: Maguntenbu is either a straight -1 and 1 damage to the opponent, or a -2, for one Counterblast cost, when you'd have to Stride second most of the time to get such efficient plusses. It sort of comes to a head with Mujinlord, who can force a -5 best-case scenario as long as the opponent's not in a position to let anything hit. So of course, yes, the deck is better off using 12 Critical to force early damage to make Dominate a bit more threatening.

Dominate is, to me, by far and away the better supported strategy compared to Afterimage. That is not to say that the two cannot happily marry: much like Link Joker's Lock, Dominate can only be initiated by the Vanguard, as there are currently no rear-guards that can actually Dominate on their own, and the G-Units that Dominate are generic enough that they can be splashed in just about any Nubatama deck. If you're running Afterimage you're probably going to need to do that, given your distinct lack of good finishers otherwise. I mean, for fuck's sake, Atagolord is your only G-flipper in the deck without them, that GB8 ain't going to happen.

In terms of actual overall costs involved however, Dominate is basically an elaborate way of getting more attacks in without your own units. So it's clearly a soft advantage deck, mostly, that just so happens to come with some nice hand-refresh options like Genkai and Madoi. For such low Counterblast management, it's going to need to be compared to other soft advantage decks. Aqua Force is the first to spring to mind: the multi-attacks hit roughly the same numbers and so share common weaknesses, namely, that a well-timed damage trigger will throw off an attack pattern.

Between Aqua Force and Dominate Nubatama though, they actually have complete opposite weaknesses in one regard: an Aqua Force player needs to commit a good board for Wave to rack up, whereas a Dominate player suffers if the opponent has too little a board commited, so in a sense, it's basically like Kagero, as imagined by someone who blotted re-standing Vanguards out of their memory. Fuurai and Shiranui Oboro can aid in this but between them they can only revive two things to Dominate, so it's not perfect, and Fuurai costs 1 Soulblast every time.

Dominate however isn't just to generate more attacks, it's also a means to abuse on-attack or on-hit skills the Dominated unit may have: something like History-maker Dragon, for example, can be stolen and used to Time Leap one of your units, or you can get rid of a Melem they have and get the benefit of a Grade 0 from YOUR deck. Dominate was also ruled as a unit only leaving a Dominated state if it can't attack anymore, so you could abuse an enemy Tidal Assault this way, for example. Worst comesto the worst, you can also, with certain cards, snipe some weak attack target, as most Dominate cards don't specify you can only attack FRONT-ROW units. This is also a handy way to try and get rid of anything with Resist, since they can't be Dominated. In that regard, yes, certain matchups are going to end badly for the one playing against Dominate, but even then, that's hardly assured.

So the basic breakdown is that it's basically Aqua Force, except unlike Aqua Force mirage decks will crap on it, so Hollow-centric Granblue still seems to be the most popular mirage deck/meta deck kicking about right now. Dominate's biggest problem is probably going to be the soul issues, given Fuurai and Genkai cost soul, and come G-BT12 it's main ace also cost soul that Noroi and Madoi can only generate more of. It is on paper unbalanced, but Aqua Force is still manageable and costs roughly the same, so I wouldn't cry over it. There's plenty of other reasons to cry, such as how shit you are at Vanguard and how you're so poor you have to hang your money notes out to dry.

I’m taking requests for articles if there’s something about Vanguard you need to gripe about. Email ideas at saikyocardfighter@outlook.com. Or drop a message on my Twitter account!





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