The Breakdown – Cardfight Vanguard – Pale Moon

This article is rated Experience Levels 3-6.  This article series is intended to cover a wide range of topics about particular sets, and will help players of all kinds when it comes to knowing their set or the set of an opponent.

Welcome to the Breakdown.  thenightsshadow here, and as we do each time on the Breakdown, we look at several questions about a series, deck, archetype, or card, then get on down to breaking down what makes it tick and how one should approach playing it.

This time, we’re going to cover the clan of Pale Moon, and the theme for this article is going to be “Combo Starters and Enders”, so even for those that don’t play Pale Moon they can still get something out of this article.

As a reminder, here are the general questions we ask ourselves for each set.

1) Competitively, why should I play this clan over other clans?
2) What is the ideal set up from opening hand to final turn?
3) How does our play look like versus an opponent?
4) Where are our good and bad matchups?

Once we answer these questions,  there will be questions about those questions, but we’ll cover those afterwards.

With that out of the way, let’s answer question 1.

1) Competitively, why should I play this clan over other clans?

Pale Moon is mostly unchanged from their original incarnation.  The ability to soulcharge gives them a lot of options since they are able to call Units from soul and rotate performers and Units as they cycle and continually grow more powerful.

This allows tech cards and niche abilities to show up in the moments they’re needed the most, and with the power of the combos they can enable they can attack a lot with just a little setup.  Pale Moon is a dangerous offensive clan with plenty of ways to make sure an opponent can’t protect against everything they can do.

2) What is the ideal set up from opening hand to final turn?

At the start, you want to Soulcharge enough cards to get the party started.  Starting Presenter lets you get more cards into soul, and Amaranth Beast Tamer lets the circus show commence.  Once you ride into Golden Beast Tamer, the attacks can commence.  Using Comicality Chimera, Jumping Jill, Midnight Bunny, Nightmare Doll, Alice, and Purple Trapezist, it becomes a breeze to switch out one Unit for another in a cycle, allowing this Accel Clan to attack with multiple Units on a single Accel Circle, which is a real showcase of power.  This spectacle will continue until the opponent is overwhelmed and succumbs to the performance.

3) How does our play look like versus an opponent?

I’ve listed what would happen in an ideal game, but not every game will go like that. Pale Moon’s changes thankfully do not require much in the way of Soulblast or Counterblast, but running out of Counterblast is painful.  What’s more, there isn’t any additional Critical effects in the clan but they still suffer from Damage Triggers and the lack of a real plussing engine outside of Golden Beast Tamer, and that still decreases the cards in hand.  If you need all four Triggers at different times, is there a way for it to work?

Well, yes.  Prioritize what you need.  Critical effects aren’t as necessary if you can hit with every single card, so Front Triggers and become very important, and you can rely on that to avoid Damage Triggers.  Attack with your Vanguard when you need to or when the opponent gets their first damage trigger.  The Hand Size issue can be partially fixed with Draw Triggers, but it comes down to playing and guarding smartly, as with maximum Heal Triggers you can afford to guard things a bit less and with the repeatable use of an Accel Circle you don’t really need more than one.

4) Where are our good and bad matchups?

Pale Moon has a bad matchup against decks that easily gain power on the opponent’s turn, whether it be through Triggers or another way.  Pale Moon’s main obstacle is reaching enough power with all of their cards and stunting the attacks it’s capable of can be devastating.

Pale Moon has a good matchup against decks that cannot use a lot of Counterblast at the same time.  It doesn’t matter if you give the opponent a lot of damage if they can’t use it during their turn, and because you are always able to field the same Units every single turn due to returning to the Soul you’re always able to guarantee yourselves a lot of attacks, so an opponent will fall quickly without a way to catch up every single turn.

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Let’s now get into the next wave of questions.  These are questions we ask that involve card and style choices.

1) You mentioned in your article post that Pale Moon is similar to a fighting game.  Can you elaborate how?

Sure.  In a Fighting Game, there are three states of the game, and knowing what to do in each one is important.

When neither player has the advantage, this is called “neutral”.  For Pale Moon, it is very important that you keep things close and match your opponent’s tempo.  Test the waters but don’t commit when your opponent isn’t open.

When you land a hit, you can begin attacking with combos.  Cards like Nightmare Doll, Alice and Amaranth Beast Tamer are Combo Starters, cards that begin a chain of attacks, and when you end a Combo, if you’re able to follow that up with another Combo Starter you can chain combos together (okizeme, wake up game, the attacks you use when an opponent is recovering to continue hitting).  When your opponent looks like they’re ready to defend, you need to end your combo before you end up on the defensive, so finish off with a card designated a Combo Ender, like Jumping Jill or Artilleryman and then get back into the “neutral” game.

When your opponent lands a hit, you’re now on the defensive.  Your opponent will likely get a few hits in but it’s your goal to end the onslaught in whatever way you can.  Reserve these moments for defensive play and shutting down offensive combos, and if you can’t play for the Damage Trigger.  Reminder: Guarding (Parrying) only stops the attack, not the combo.  Head back to the “neutral” game as soon as you can.

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Bonus Feature!

Here’s the decklist I would play if I were take Pale Moon to a BCS Shop Challenge or a BCS Regionals.

Warning: All decks I post fit the way I play and where I play, and may not be the same for your playstyle and locale.

Clan: Pale Moon

Grade 0 (17):
4x Candy Clown (Heal)
1x Entertain Messenger (SV)
4x Hades Hypnotist (Draw) [Sentinel]
4x Hoop Magician (Front)
4x Skyhigh Walker (Front)

Grade 1 (12):
4x Midnight Bunny
4x Purple Trapezist
4x Starting Presenter

Grade 2 (11):
3x Amaranth Beast Tamer
3x Jumping Jill
2x Magical Boxtreamer
3x Nitro Juggler

Grade 3 (10):
1x Artilleryman
1x Comicality Chimera
4x Golden Beast Tamer [Accel Gift]
4x Nightmare Doll, Alice [Accel Gift]

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Let’s explain how this deck works, and what you can do to tailor it to your specific playstyle.

Grade 0

Starting Vanguard
You really only have one choice: Entertain Messenger.  It gives you a free card immediately, as opposed to Lark Pigeon giving you a card later.

Front Triggers
A standard offensive Trigger, helpful for reaching the Power that the clan needs, especially to get over Damage Triggers.

Draw Triggers
Sentinels are a good way to minimize hand loss when guarding devastating attacks.  The extra card is helpful too.

Heal Triggers
No real explanation needed here.  Pretty basic.

Other Alternatives
A way more aggressive build would be to ditch the Heal Triggers altogether and go 4 Critical and 8 Front, but I believe this to not only be overkill but not as helpful as there are other decks out there who can match Pale Moon’s offensive output and you want the chance of defense however small that it might be.

Grade 1

Midnight Bunny
While this Unit is the only Unit in the chain to require a Counterblast on hit, Soulcharging on boost is a necessary skill for the clan as long as you don’t overdo it.  Midnight Bunny’s skill really helps as it is a post-combat change and being able to call out an attacker instead of a booster helps very much.

Purple Trapezist
A limited-use changer, by Soulcharging her you can pay her out to call out a new Unit.  A very solid card that doesn’t cost much and continues combos.

Starting Presenter
As the name implies, this is the Unit you want to Ride first as the ability to Soulcharge immediately makes it a valuable tool in getting ready.  Starting Presenter also provides immediate help in that Soulcharging from hand a Unit you don’t need when rode upon lets you call out a new Unit from the top of the deck if you want it.  If you’re lucky, it can even be a Grade 3, but in general trading a card that you can’t use at the moment for one you can is very helpful.

Other Alternatives
I wouldn’t really recommend any of the other Grade 1s.  A combo deck needs its pieces and while Dark Metal Bicorn does provide some damage relief if rode first going first, having 8 combo pieces in Grade 1 is better than having 4.

Grade 2

Amaranth Beast Tamer
Amaranth Beast Tamer can only really combo with Purple Trapezist, but it is a Combo Starter, which is very important to have.  Let’s say that you have Golden Beast Tamer as your Vanguard, Purple Trapezist is on the Accel Circle, and you attack with it first for 20k.  Then, attack with Amaranth Beast Tamer backed by Midnight Bunny and put Purple Trapezist into your soul.  Trapezist’s ability activates, soulblasting herself and calling Nightmare Doll, Alice from the Soul to the Accel Circle.  This attack now attacks for 23k.  This starts up a whole new chain of abilities and attacks as you continue to pile on the pressure.  It’s important to never forget that as long as you can combo next turn, you can also save Units you want for the next turn with her ability.

Jumping Jill
Jill is basically a combo finisher because while she is able to put Midnight Bunny or Purple Trapezist from your soul to the back row, depending on the need, it does not provide you with another attacker.  If you don’t have another Unit to start another chain Jill’s main goal will be to end the attack.  This can be important when an opponent hits a damage trigger or two and you don’t have the necessary power to force more guard at the moment.

Magical Boxtreamer
I honestly run Magical Boxtreamer for the power and the possibility of the plus four if Soulcharging enough.  I consider this a necessary evil if going second, allowing you to fill your field if you Soulcharge enough and somewhat mitigate the disadvantage of going second.  If you’re going second and want to pull this ability off, you’ll need to Soulcharge three times at minimum, which is simple if you ride Starting Presenter and have a Midnight Bunny to boost the Vanguard for both Grade 1 and Grade 2.

Nitro Juggler
The ability to Soulcharge what you want is very powerful to a combo deck, and while he doesn’t provide any other benefits so he’s not as useful late, the power of having an early Soulcharge can’t be underestimated.

Other Alternatives
Dancing Knifedancer is a limited Counter Charger if you combo off but find yourself needing another turn to win, or to guarantee you two Units off of Golden Beast Tamer if you need it.  Sort of a last-ditch kind of card, you really don’t want to have to play a style of game that needs this card to be good due to how you can’t take advantage of it until your next turn.

Grade 3

Artilleryman
Artilleryman is another Combo Ender, but unlike Jumping Jill has a bevy of power available to it.  Its main role is to fire a lot of power at the opponent, and the longer you wait for it the stronger it is.  Of course, unless you’re absolutely going for game make sure you have a Counterblast ready to pay for the cost or you’re going to lose all of your Soul.

Comicality Chimera
One of the best roles a card can have is to further the game plan you have set up while also Counter Charging at the same time.  Like Amaranth Beast Tamer, it only combos with Purple Trapezist, so it’s a limited Combo Starter, but the ability to Counter Charge allows both Midnight Bunny/Nightmare Doll, Alice and Golden Beast Tamer to continue or start combos respectively one more time.  The fact that its Counter Charge needed to be limited to once per turn says a lot about how strong of a role player it is.

Golden Beast Tamer
This is the main Grade 3 you want to ride into.  Not only does the 3000 power to the Front Row help your offense but the ability to call 2 Units for one card in hand and one Counterblast each turn means you’re never really going to run out of attackers.  This is the main source of advantage that Pale Moon will take advantage of, and despite not having any Critical increasing abilities available to them, the fact that they can always have a lot of attacks thanks to Comicality Chimera and not needing a lot of hand to invest into the field makes it one of the few main Vanguards that don’t really care about damage starving.  Don’t attack with your Vanguard until you need to or your opponent hits a damage trigger as Front Triggers only work on the Units currently on the board.

Nightmare Doll, Alice
Alice’s ability when rode sort of makes up for misriding, as every single Workeroid in the deck are Combo Starters and can continue combos as need be.  Alice’s main role, however, is as a Rearguard as a Combo Starter.  Watch your Counterblast use but keep up the pressure.

Other Alternatives
There are no other Grade 3s in Pale Moon.

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Thank you for reading.

If you have any questions, hit up the comments and I’ll be glad to respond.

~thenightsshadow, thinking back to the only time I watched Cirque du Soleil

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