Saturday, 23 August 2014

Impact: Link Joker (2014 Release - August)


So the first thing to note is in yesterday's article, while I mentioned Chaos Breaker, I only glanced him over and failed to mention the impact of either him or the Link Joker clan on the meta. This was a deliberate omission as, with the numbers of big impacts that filled Season 3 it got to the point where I decided to choose one of the most controversal cards from thes season. In which case Vague was the obvious choice, although I may have exagerated the destructive capabilities of that card, there is no denying how controversal it's design is.

Had I mentioned Chaos Breaker, there is no way I could have avoided mentioning the rest of his clan and for one simple reason. Link Joker is a clan that debuted during Season 3 and with their play style of "Locking" the opponent's Rearguards they may in part have contributed to the rise in popularity of the restanding Vanguard, although that seems unlikley, more Vnaguard attacks was always going to be popular with or without Link Joker, but even ignoring this, Link Joker undoubtedly had an impact on the meta all of their own. This is one of the decks that set the benchmark for the 2014 meta.

In this article I'll be focusing on the "Star-Vader" sub-clan upto BT-13 as this was the deck more commonly used by professional Link Joker players during the 2014 world team league.



The Star-Vaders, with their debut, introduced 2 bosses.Nebula Lord Dragon, which focused on Beatdown, and Chaos Breaker Dragon, who with his Field Control was more favoured by the professional player base.

Choose...
Focused Destruction-

Or All-out Annihilation?

Even though each deck variants "Final Turn" gambits are different, their support is generally the same. For this reason some players also opt to use both Chaos Breaker and Nebula Lord, running the ratio 4-2-2 or 3-3-3.


No, I'm not writing out the skill, it's there in the picture. (Untill my picasa stops working)


The deck ForerunnerStar-vader, Dust Tail Unicorn isn't just the go-to starter for Nebula and "The Clown" but is generally as being the beat starter for the clan as a whole, unless you're using the ride chain. Working typically used to create tri-lock in combination with the Deck's Break Ride, Star-vader, Infinite Zero Dragon.

Whether or not you get this Break Off or not will make or break your combos.

The strategy behind Link Joker's play is to keep your opponent tied down as long as possible while feeding off to gain all forms of advantage. To achieve this the deck makes use of 4 key cards.

The Claws

These two units should be maxed out in any deck, and can, if you wish be used in place of the Star-vader 12k beater, Radon. The reason you want these maxed, if you go with them, is simply because of the threat (not to be confused with pressure) they provide from being the field. Every unit that is locked by a skill will give these guys power so long as they are on a Rearguard circle at the time of the skill being used. The more units locked, the more power they gain. Locking a full field while you have a column of these will make a 36k column. Against an 11k Vanguard that's 6 stages needed to guard.

My single favourite Link Joker Unit.

Palladium is used to ensure that once you have an opponent locked, you're keeping them locked. Also he can be used to set up Star-vader, Chaos Breaker Dragon for maximum devastation, a total wipeout of the opposing field. From which your opponent will almost always be unable to recover. And the forth card of this staple group helps to support this gambit.

Another Key Combo Card

Used to search out Palladium, to then use his skill and prepare or recharge Chaos Breaker for Limit Break. Essentially you want to treat these as being another Palladium.

It should be noted that while The Claws work better for Nebula, and Palladium & Colony Maker work better with Chaos Breaker, both pair may also be used with each other and each boss.

Along with the theme of gaining advantages from placing "Lock" on your foes, from the Trial Deck come another key card for the deck.

Doesn't need locks, just more Rearguard, well that's easy enough.

Being a 10k booster for any Link Joker Vanguard, with a stupidly easy, and free, activation condition to meet, Star-Vader, Aurora Eagle invalidates both bosses personal 11k boosters, each of which require a Soul Blast as the cost.

And while  early game "Lock" doesn't really achieve much, it's nice to have the option for pressure.

And that is what this is for.
Ideal Grade 2 Ride.

One potential advantage you can get from early locking is the ability to prevent your opponent from using their Forerunner's skill(s) and in the early game both players will still be preparing their fields which means getting off that 10k boost and forcing more guard shouldn't really be all that difficult. And if you have the Prison Star-vader, Palladium on the field when this units attacks you have both threat and pressure. Especially if there's the chance you could compromise one of your opponent's core units.

Typical Deck Ratio in Break Ride Meta is 17>14>11>8, counting from Grade 0 to Grade 3.

Now let's build a deck aiming for Maximum Pressure.

Obviously 4 of your Grade 1's will be Sentinels.
So that's 4x this guy.

Along side the Perfect Guard I've mentioned 3 other Grade 1s. To max all four out would be 16 Cards, so one unit must be dropped to 2 copies. That would be Aurora Eagle.

I'll admit, I don't own a meta Link Joker deck, it's out of my budget but I've built the deck several times for others who have already invested in the recourses. And by those people I've been able to refine the design. But the truth is, like with Revengers, there's really only ONE way to build the deck.

Grade 0:
1x (Forerunner) Star-vader, Dust Tail Unicorn
8x Critical Triggers
4x Stand Triggers
4x Heal Triggers

Grade 1:
4x Barrier Star-vader, Promethium (Staple Perfect Guard)
4x Prison Star-Vader, Palladium
4x Demon Claw Star-Vader, Lanthanum
2x Star-vader, Aurora Eagle


Grade 2:
3x Furious Claw Star-Vader, Niobium OR Unrivaled Star-Vader, Radon (power gainer)
4x Star-vader, Mobius Breath Dragon (Ride Target)
4x Star-vader, Colony Maker

Grade 3:
4x Star-vader, Infinite Zero Dragon (Break Ride)
4x Star-vader, Chaos Breaker Dragon

Your Grade 2 powerhouse is down to your preference and what ever gambit going for. But do note the sub-clan beaters can offer constant power, and Link Joker's Lock Combinations don't go live until end game. This is also the clan's biggest weakness, if you can deny Link Joker the chance of Limit Break you'll be in for an easy win.

Summery

Pros:
Field Control
Field Destruction
Solid Advantage Engine
High Defence
Beatdown Potential

Cons:
Early and Mid game vanilla 
Limit Break dependant
Combos require setup and field

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It goes without saying that Link Joker will have a bad match-up against competitive Kagero and Narukami decks, most decks will. But it also has a bad match-up against itself and Dimension Police. A well built Spike Brothers deck may also take The Clown to Town. And Bermuda Triangle, being able to bounce units back to the hand, may also be unphased by the threat of lock. You can't lock what isn't there.

As for what Link Joker counters, it's super effective against Aqua Force, Royal Paladins, Neo Nectar, "Reverse" Decks and itself. Played well and maintaining Tri-Lock can also lock-out Revenger's Boss gambit. 

EDIT: An afterthought, but Nubatama can screw over any deck once it goes live as well. That Includes Link Joker. I'll look into Nubatama as a "non-inpact" Clan Analysis as they deserve the mention.