Here we are again.
With the launch of the new standard format Kagero is one of first clans to emerge and it looks to be making a splash.
I’ve decided to take a different approach to this deck profile, instead of immediately diving into card choice I want to talk a bit more about the direction I took while building the deck. My hope in doing this is that by explaining my process is that readers can learn from my build style and hopefully develop their own analysis skills.
However if you just want to see the list as usual I’ll start by posting the unexplained list.
Grade 0 – 17
1 x Lizard Runner,Undeax (Starter)
4 x Dragon Monk, Genjo (Heal)
4 x Wyvern Guard, Barri (Draw/PG)
4 x Critical Triggers
2/4 x Critical Triggers
0/2 x Draw Triggers
Grade 1 – 13
4 x Flame of Hope, Aermo
3/4 x Embodiment of Armour, Bahr (V-TD02 Ver)
3/4 x Lizard Soldier, Raopia
2/3 x Tech slots
Grade 2 – 11/12
4 x Berserk Dragon
4 x Dragon Knight, Nehalem (V-TD02 Ver)
2/4 x Tech slot
0/2 x Tech slot
Grade 3 – 8/9
4 x Dragonic Overlord
4 x Dragonic Waterfall
1 x Force Gift Grade 3
Kagero as a clan is fundamentally about generating pressure, there are various ways that the clan has done so in the past, everything from powerful on hits to pure damage. My philosophy when beginning the deck building process was to find the best possible way to achieve this goal.
Power to Pressure
After taking a look at the card pool my initial focus was on how to effectively build high power columns to push for early damage in order to finish with Waterfall as soon as possible.
The key issue I found with this approach was that it directly played against damage denial based plans leading to a diluted gameplan that often went against the best available play.
This list had a lot more focus on raw power putting cards such as Bellicosity and Raopia at the forefront of the gameplan, supplementing it with some retire more for triggering growth than gaining ground.
I had some success with this build and it may definitely ask for a revisit at some point should damage denial and removal begin to fall out of favour.
With the issues that sprung up from earlier testing I decided to look at what other potential options the current card pool gave me. And so the next build to come to be was what I initially named “hard retire”.
For this I took an extreme deck building approach and put in every single card I could that had some form of retire attached to it that fit well with the game plan that also made sense in the format.
This build saw some initial success and some more fringe cards such as Burj got to play a part in the deck. The difference was immediate and the goals that I set out to achieve were much better fulfilled in this way.
With that said there were some snags and so based on testing I came to a few conclusions taking from each different approach and correcting for situations that were often coming up.
- You only need so much power : After a certain threshold blocking attacks reach similar levels of strain before simply being no guarded. Combined with limited deck space and the ease that high power ceiling card like Bellicosity can be played around its much more worthwhile to focus on more consistent skills.
- Damage denial goes a long way : Pulling punches is often the best strategy as 1CB can do a lot for some clans in the format, both Royal Paladin and Nova Grappler can gain a lot of advantage from going up a single counterblast. Kagero benefits a lot from its cardpool supporting this type of gameplan and so focusing on the cards that best enable this seems like an appropriate path.
With both these conclusions in mind I approached the build with a better understanding of how current standard games play out and then proceeded to accommodate for specific matchups and the basic gameplan of the deck. That being a more resource based grind deck that closes out via Waterfall.
Anyway onto card choice.
Pretty straightforward, heals and sentinel draws are auto includes, running sentinel draws opens up more G1 space and help to enable Overlord and heals are well… heals.
From here we want a minimum of six critical triggers. Crits win games, you definitely need them in this deck as they add a huge amount of bite to both of your main grade 3 rides and we want to hit them as consistently as possible.
While eight critical is the ideal there are strong arguments for adding in two more draws, both to enable Overlord and help you draw into Waterfalls later in the game.
Any of 4h/6d/6c or 4h/4d/8c or 4h/5d/7c lineups are valid but I personally lean on the more critical heavy lineups as it helps to close out games.
So starting off we have the four of Aermo and Bahr, both cards are key to the gameplan and Aermo specifically is my pick for best card in the set.
Aermo is the piece of the puzzle that ties everything together, allowing you to more freely use counterblasts and draw into the cards you want to see. All this is coupled with a perfectly reasonable power boost makes Aermo a very appealing package.
Bahr meanwhile operates on the other end of the spectrum, despite the somewhat heavy resource cost Bahr’s retire is undoubtedly useful. Bahr not only offers an effective out to early game pushes but allows you to keep grinding resources in the later game. Bahr can also serve as an impromptu attacker should the need arise which helps to keep up an offence in the mirror.
From there we have Raopia who I believe you should run at least three copies of. Raopia serves to build your columns for you while you focus on retiring the opponents units as well as pushing Waterfall to the point of a near guaranteed hit.
Capping off the grade 1 suite we have a couple of open slots, currently I would largely recommend Dragonic Gaias in this slot as it allows you to more effectively deny damage without hindering your ability to close out the game too much. Other choices to consider in this slot are Dragon Knight, Burj and Dragon Monk, Gojo. Burj suffers from a 6k base and limited usefulness often stranding him as a weak vanilla unit. Gojo offers another 11k booster to push higher numbers with relative ease in scenarios where you don’t see Raopia or have to use Aermo more aggressively.
Again in the current metagame I strongly lean towards Gaias for this slot as it is especially useful against OTT where pushing in earlier damage can be relatively difficult so having the potential to three to six the opponent is definitely useful to have.
Staples here are Nehalem and Berserk, these cards are your go to board cleaners and double as more than satisfactory beaters after their initial skill usage.
Berserk also has a lot of notability for being an excellent grade 2 ride not only retaining the ability to snipe a rearguard but also cantriping (replacing itself on use). Drawing a card on use not only helps to keep up hand size but also allows you to dig for other cards you might need.
These two will do the bulk of the heavy lifting in regards to removal which is key to the decks gameplan, as a result I think these cards both justify four slots. However if more field scarce decks or strategies (especially in regards to the back row) you can definitely shave off some number of Nehalem to tech in more appropriate units.
The rest of the grade 2 lineup is a little more open and something that you will likely need to adapt to the metagame your find yourself in. That said I’m going to go through the cards that currently make the best use of the available slots.
Spillover adds even more retire to the deck and helps to build soul and also has nifty combo potential with Aermo, Spillover is excellent in Kagero or Nova heavy metagames as it can avoid removal or make fielding an offence even more difficult. Spillover struggles when there are more Oracle decks running around as they tend to keep a clean backrow and Promise Daughter leaves spillover as a awkward effective vanilla.
Dragon Armoured Knight
Dragon Armoured Knight is an effective beatstick, almost always being online early and demanding two guard stages to block while helping to climb numbers in the later game. Thanks to the abundance of retire in the deck turning on DAK is not hard at all and is an effective response to backrow light tactics. DAK likely doesn’t make the cut in metagames where removing units is much higher value and there is more benefit to be gained from playing a longer and grindier match.
With these pros and cons in mind its also perfectly acceptable to split the two in some ratio (I personally prefer 2/2) to try and cast a wider net.
Embodiment of Shield, Lahm
Lahm is pretty simply just some extra shield and can help enable you to put higher value G1s on the board or avoid overguarding. That the fact that the card is very low impact and has very narrow use leads me to think that at least right now this isn’t the most effective use of your grade 2 spaces.
On paper Bellicosity seems like one of the most effective pay offs to the decks abundance of retire skills and truth be told it likely is. Bellicosity adds a lot of pressure to swings aimed at RGs and in conjunction with Raopia can climb pretty high. The issue arises from how often this doesn’t happen and how often it doesn’t matter. Bellicosity will climb highest against Royal Paladin and Nova Grappler, both decks where damage denial is far more important. In the Oracle matchup this card is dead weight provided the other player plays around your deck correctly. So while I do think there is a world where Bellicosity enters the deck I don’t think that now is its time.
Your grade 3 lineup is straightforward and efficient. Starting off is the obvious inclusion of four copies of Dragonic Overlord.
I previously touched on this cards potential applications and while I innitially predicted a DOTE style grind out shell, the reveal of Dragonic Waterfall Overlord takes on a more transitional role. Overlord is an effective first ride, immediately applying pressure on the opponent and likely forcing out guard. However the most important factor to note with this card is not to restand simply because you can, going down a card from hand is more significant than it seems on paper. Learning when to go for the restand and how to effectively discard for it are important and likely to be areas where players will slip up.
Where Overlord really shines is on the rearguard however, immediately reaching 23k before boosts is well worth the soul cost and can help to close out the game even more effectively on later turns as well as synergise greatly with Dragonic Gaias.
The next no brainer inclusion is Dragonic Waterfall, serving as the decks main finisher and allowing you to close out the game with relative ease.
Waterfall doesn’t need much explanation, its inclusion isn’t even up for debate. Waterfall adds some real inevitability to the deck allowing you to pull ahead in longer games. That said staying conscious of the individual game state and when you actually want to actually fire off your Waterfall is important. Don’t tunnel vision on any one tactic and change up your gameplan from deck to deck and game to game.
This card gets four copies as drawing into it is essential for a smooth win, things won’t always go to plan either and you may have to first ride Waterfall. While this still generates some value it has the obvious downside of not doing much else. With this in mind having four copies helps to prevent dead turns and add late game consistency.
You can also opt to run one more force gift grade 3 in order to decrease the chance of riding Waterfall first as well as increase gift stack consistency. This isn’t essential and the two options available aren’t amazing Cruel Dragon can add a highroll aspect to the deck, while Crested is another steady beater. If I was to personally take this route I would opt for Crested’s beats over Cruel but it also seems relatively similar overall.
Using Your Force Gifts
Gift distribution is fairly easy with the current build you want to stack up gifts on the vanguard circle, the sweet spot is probably two VG gifts before you can start spreading them out although games will rarely go that long and you often want to call excess G3s to rear at that point.
Kagero feels like it has something of a lead on the Q4 clans, high card quality and a good level of versatility puts the deck in a great position for standards initial metagame. The deck benefits greatly from its ability to effectively deny damage as well as remove key units from the board.
Whether or not the deck can keep up as more clans diversify the field remains to be seen but Q4 has definitely given Kagero some useful tools to keep up.
And with that we are done, I would love to hear your feedback on this new format of deck profile specifically how you feel about the approach to deckbulding section. I worry that it might be a bit too much information but if you enjoyed it please let me know. As always thank you for reading especially so now since this was a long one.
~ See you next time