CotF: EX: Azure Dragon - East / Vordore Results
Written by CSquared   
Tuesday, 27 October 2009 01:42

(For the period of 7/30/09 - 8/12/09)

Just a quick note for those who may have realized that a week has gone by without the new Challenge of the Fortnight. Since we're a bit backlogged on judgment, we've decided to take a week or two to get caught up. But don't despair. The next fortnight will likely come sooner than one would expect, especially me. But enough about me trying to judge. Here's the actual judgment of a challenge that took place too many fortnights ago.

EX: Azure Dragon - East / Vordore was a tricky card to take advantage of, hands down. But many of our intrepid Iczers managed for find a way of using his ability to their benefit and their opponent's detriment. And reminiscent of the early days of the Challenge of the Folrart, we have yet again received another back-to-back winner, an event that hasn't happened for nearly a year.

 

WINNER

Iczer: Skewer
File Name: Slow and Steady

 

Soul Cards

  1. Mage Paladin / Distrier
  2. Lost Magic Doll / Esria
  3. Inquisition Nun / Cynthia
  4. Song Sorceress
  5. Skeleton Warrior

Unit Cards

  • 1 Witch Queen / Catherina
  • 2 Aqua Sorcerer / Mystere
  • 1 Undine
  • 3 Proxy of Sea / Oseon
  • 3 EX: Azure Dragon - East / Vordore
  • 3 Coatl
  • 3 Pegasus
  • 3 Salamander
  • 1 EX: The Red Mantle / DeFau

Grimoire Cards

  • 1 Cyclone
  • 1 Meaning of Failure
  • 1 Absolute Wall
  • 2 Petrification

RUNNERS-UP

  1. neviscus
  2. Saavedra
  3. Velosius
  4. harvest4god
  5. vane1

 

GAME PLAN

The opening game begins with two levels in Falkow and summoning one of the old standbys, Catherina, whose ability will automatically boost your sphere level to 3. This is followed by another fairly typical Grimoire Card, Meaning of Failure, in order to get the SP necessary to play Proxy of Sea / Oseon and a Coatl. The math might not work out till you realize that there is only one copy of Catherina in this File, so her likely rapid demise will give you the extra 2 SP needed to pull off the opening gambit. The Mage Paladin / Distrier Soul Skill, with its 40 damage to an enemy unit and SP +1 will help offset any pesky SP-draining Shades. Cyclone will help relieve any pressure from low-level swarm or rush Files.

Once your two beefy Units are on the field, the next move will be to summon a Salamander and target its Open Skill at your own Coatl for a nice little pre-emptive strike on a random enemy Unit. The fiery great spirit is then placed in the front row as a sacrifice to activate your second Soul Skill, and the star of the file, EX: Vordore is summoned to feel the full effects of that Esria Soul Skill, which will give all friendly Units LV +1, AT +30, and AGI -1. More on this later. The Pegasus is your next summon, and its Open Skill will help boost your EX: Vordore's and Oseon's AT, and it'll also help your Coatl last a bit longer. Oseon may be moved behind your Pegasus as well, if you so choose, since the Proxy has a range of 3 and can still attack from the rear.

Things have just gotten interesting and complicated at the same time with the lineup currently on the field. It's not a weak lineup by any means, and it can likely stand its own for a round or two. But when things get hairy, an Absolute Wall will ensure that your Units survive the opposing onslaught. But it also means that they'll be protected as well, since the Absolute wall gives all units +50 DF for one round. But the key factor here is that EX: Vordore's ability will strip the DF off all Units when his turn comes up. In an environment where AGI is king, it's not so surprising to find Files filled with Units no slower than 3 AGI. But since those Units will all go first, they can't get past the Absolute Wall in all likelyhood. This File on the other hand, with all its units of AGI 3 or under at this point, will get its chance in the sun once EX: Vordore comes up to bat and erases defense from the equation. The same can be done with Petrification, albeit on a much smaller scale. But if there's absolutely one Unit that you need to keep engaged for one turn, Petrification will allow you to do that and give you a chance to take that Unit down as well.

Inquisition Nun / Cynthia's presence in the Soul Card lineup, giving all friendly units 60 AT, 60 DF, and -5 AGI, will also ensure that EX: Vordore will continue to remain useful since it means all your Units will go last, benefitting from the additional DF till it's their turn to give the opponent a taste of the fruits of Vordore's complex strategy.

The endgame will quickly approach from here, and Mystere is there as a contingency to return units with too much DF from the Coatl's Counter Skill, whom also presumably have 0 AGI by that point as well for her Action Skill to be useful. However, Undine's Open Skill or Petrification will also ensure that any pesky units may be sent back to the card file on command. The fourth Soul Card, Song Sorceress, may also be useful to that end in case you are overrun, but it's pretty tricky to engineer the circumstances to take advantage of her Soul Skill. EX: DeFau is your trump card should DF still prove to be an issue on the opposing side.

 

STRATEGY

This is certainly an off-beat file that does many unorthodox things. While many Iczers often prefer to use level 1 Units as sacrifices in order to activate a sphere-raising Soul Skill, followed by an SP-generating Grimoire, this File does things a bit differently. Rather than sacrificing a Soul Skill slot that saves 3 SP, it banks the SP right away in Catherina, taking advantage of her unique ability to conditionally raise your Falkow sphere level from 2 to 3. This essentially gives you the 3 SP that you would get with a sphere-raising Soul Card such as Dryad Soldier, at least once she dies and the SP is returned to you. Keep in mind that it's a bit more complicated than that, as the SP from Catherina won't technically be available for use to summon a card until round 4, assuming she dies in round 2. This is because the card doesn't leave the field till the beginning of Round 3, after you've chosen a card to set, and you'll technically have access to the SP then. Regardless, I've long been an advocate of this style of Unit progression as it can actually keep you protected while ramping up quickly and letting your opponent waste resources taking down your opening game.

Secondly and most importantly, this File disabuses the standard philosophy that AGI is king when it comes to Alteil. The faster your opponent's card are, the better this file works as it ensures that those quick cards futilely scratch against the high DF shield of Absolute Wall and the Cynthia Soul Skill, at least for two key rounds. Even if the cards of this file are taken out and lose their bonuses, or in this case, that all-important AGI penalty from the Esria Soul Skill, the AGI distribution still works out quite well for the File. Ironically enough, those playing slow Files will likely have the best chance against this File as they will basically erase the primary tactic Slow and Steady uses.

 

CRITIIQUE

There are a few holes in this File, as with any File. Many can probably see what those holes are, especially in the sense that the File doesn't employ many key Units, nor are they particularly tough, aside from the Coatl. Penetrating effects aren't too damaging to this file since they can't usually target every Unit, and this File has two rounds in which all Units have huge DF bonuses. Another key weakness is actually the second-turn Meaning of Failure, since it means that your field is open on turn 3 if Catherina is dealt with right away, and you're open to an Iczer Attack, which will actually neutralize the benefit of that very key Esria Soul Skill.

In fact, the File is actually a bit weak on the LP side of things, as it only has 8 in all. One of my personal rules of thumb has always been to count out how many LP are necessary in any File and to make sure the Soul Card lineup is equal to that number. In this case, assuming that you'll revive every card whenever it's possible, the maximum LP you will lose from your cards being removed from the field is 11. How does this work out? Let's do the math:

 

Witch Queen / Catherina

Aqua Sorcerer / Mystere

1 Undine

Proxy of Sea / Oseon

EX: Azure Dragon - East / Vordore

Coatl

Pegasus

Salamander

Salamander

Salamander

1 EX: The Red Mantle / DeFau

 

Since one would in practically all scenarios choose to revive any great spirit, each one is actually a potential lost Life Point. Granted, the last Soul Card, Skeleton Warrior, will save you a life point if multiple Units are lost in a round, but that's still 10 potentially lost LP in a file with only 8 LP. Granted, this is only a rule of thumb, and for the most Iczers have their own philosophies regarding LP, but for any less experienced Iczers, this is something to keep in mind when building Files.

Following that train of thought, it might be a better idea to replace one of those Salamanders with another copy of Absolute Wall. Not only will this remove one more Life Point liability from the file, but it will also give you another chance at employing the unique trick of this File. It might very well give you a chance to pull the trick off at all as some of your opponent's files might have Grimoire Bane effects, so having an extra copy of Absolute Wall would be some nice insurance as well.

Lastly, there is one particular weakness to this File that will most likely never be taken advantage of, but it would be very definitely interesting to do. The fact is that that AGI distribution is incredibly important to this Slow and Steady, especially in regards to EX: Azure Dragon - East / Vordore. Many Iczers would probably see that and use and Undine Open Skill on him, ensuring that their Units not lose any DF bonuses. However, a more interesting move would be to instead use a Sylph Open Skill on him. This will ensure that all units will have 0 DF, regardless of Absolute Wall or the Cynthia Soul Skill. And since most Files will be quicker than this one, cleaning up during that round may be possible, as opposed to allowing all Units to keep their DF bonuses till the Undined EX: Vordore gets his turn.

 
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