New World, Old Strategies

Tomorrow heralds a new era as love it or hate it, Reflect / Refrain is banned from New Frontiers. At the same time, the Grimm Cluster is rotating out in few a days, so that leaves us somewhat stuck in an Alice Cluster format with the ban in effect at the moment (unless of course, your local gaming store insists that they milk every last ounce of Grimm goodness, in which case, be prepared for the worst deck ever), which is exactly what’s happening at our local shores.

This leaves the big question: where do we go from here? Here are some decks for the Alice cluster that either thrived even during the dominance of R/R, or are made relevant once again in its absence, and are great starting points heading into the next cluster as they have proven themselves competitively.

Yggdrasil Threefull Threat

2016 AGP Philippines 2nd Place
2016 AGP Philippines Top 8

The breakout deck during the Philippine AGP can be summed up into two words: win conditions. Riza / Melder, Celestial Winged Seraph / Lucifer, and Huanglong are all housed within the tree, along with Excalibur X and Avatar of the Seven Lands, Alice.

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Weaknesses include tentacle monsters and the Archduke of Gallia.

Its game plan is as blunt as you might think – throw win conditions at your opponent until they raise the white flag, but behind the scenes its a tightrope act of proper mulligans (always mulligan for a Blessing of Yggdrasil), correct play order, and risk-reward assessment more than your usual deck.

It doesn’t have a draw engine, and playing against control decks is an uphill battle, which are acceptable prices to pay for a deck that is built out of haymakers that can end games by themselves. Also, the deck has been updated to deal with the popular Stealth strategies since.


Ruler: Yggdrasil, the World Tree

2 Blade of the Seven Lands, Excalibur X
1 Horn of Sacred Beasts
2 Marybell, the Steel Doll

4 Blessing of Yggdrasil
4 Prison in the Lunar Lake

4 Riza, First of the Dead
4 Melder, Last of the Dead
3 Huanglong, Leader of the Four Sacred Beasts
2 Bai Hu, the Sacred Beast
2 Xuan Wu, the Sacred Beast
2 Zhu Que, the Sacred Beast
2 Quin Long, the Sacred Beast
2 Avatar of the Seven Lands, Alice
2 Celestial Wing Seraph
2 Fallen Angelic Destroyer, Lucifer
2 Arthur Pendragon, King of the Round Table

3 Magic Stone of Black Silence
1 Magic Stone of Gusting Skies
1 Magic Stone of Deep Wood
1 Magic Stone of Blasting Waves
1 Magic Stone of Light Vapors
1 Magic Stone of Scorched Bales
1 Magic Stone of Dark Depth
1 Magic Stone of Heat Ray

Sideboard:
4 Seal of Wind and Light
4 Flame Trap
2 Black Moonbeam
2 Marybell, the Steel Doll
2 Adombrali, the Unfathomable
1 Horn of Sacred Beasts


Valentina Stealth / Sacred Beasts

2016 NGP Philippines Champion
2016 AGP Philippines 3rd Place

The other deck that has less power punches but has more utility packed in is the Valentina build that JDJ designed for the AGP. It’s the spiritual successor of the shell that he won the Philippine Nationals with, and is vastly improved by the legality of dual stones, which allowed him to put in Riza and Melder.

This gave the deck a plan C that flows well with the deck’s alternate win condition of playing Blessing of Yggdrasil and ramping into Huanglong. Valentina herself is a powerhouse that can win games by herself, and she should have an easier time now that Black Moonbeam isn’t as readily accessible as before. With the Astral Ruler ruling gone, she’ll also still be able to use her ability to search for useful Regalia such as Marybell, Apollo, and Artemis even if she’s destroyed as a J-Ruler.

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I hope Zero doesn’t become popular.

Ruler: Valentina, Plotting Lord of the Seas // Overlord of the Seven Lands, Valentina

4 Artemis, the God’s Bow
4 Laevateinn, the Demon Sword
2 Marybell, the Steel Doll
1 Deathcythe, the Life Reaper
1 Horn of Sacred Beasts

4 Blessing of Yggdrasil
4 Prison in the Lunar Lake

4 Riza, First of the Dead
4 Melder, Last of the Dead
3 Huanglong, Leader of the Four Sacred Beasts
2 Quin Long, the Sacred Beast
2 Bai Hu, the Sacred Beast
2 Xuan Wu, the Sacred Beast
2 Zhu Que, the Sacred Beast
2 Fairy of Sacred Vision

4 Ruler’s Memoria
2 Magic Stone of Dark Depth
2 Magic Stone of Black Silence
2 Magic Stone of Deep Wood

Sideboard:
1 Faria, the Sacred Queen // Faria, the Ruler of God’s Sword
1 Melgis, the Flame King // Melgis, the One Charmed by the Demon Sword
1 Arla, the Winged Lord // Arla, the Hegemon of the Sky
1 Pricia, the Beast Lady // Pricia, the Commander of the Sacred Beasts
1 Rezzard, the Undead Lord // Rezzard, the Desecrating Vampire
1 Machina, the Machine Lord // Machina, the Mechanical Emperor
1 Valentina, the Princess of Love // Valentina, the Ruler of Paradise
1 Yggdrasil, the World Tree
2 Blade of the Seven Lands, Excalibur X
2 Avatar of the Seven Lands, Alice
2 Black Moonbeam
1 Fairy of Sacred Vision


Melgis / Arla / Blazer Knights

2016 AGP Providence Champion (w/ Melgis as sideboard)
2016 AGP Philippines Top 8

Probably the most persistent deck in the format, Lancelot and friends continue to thrive no matter how prepared players are against aggressive strategies in the metagame. The deck that Alex Blandin piloted to great success in AGP Providence probably represents the deck’s ultimate form – a balanced mix of Necrolance, Pricia, and Knights, and is a great starting point despite losing its default Ruler if you love to go the aggressive route.

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2000 Life? As good as dead.

Alex already left a great hint in his sideboard regarding which Ruler can take up the mantle in R/R’s absence – Melgis, but historically, Arla and Blazer are equally as good in this shell as well. Maybe put them all together?


Ruler: Melgis, the Flame King // Melgis, the One Charmed by the Demon Sword

4 Laevateinn, the Demon Sword
4 Artemis, the God’s Bow
2 Marybell, the Steel Doll

4 Necromancy of the Undead Lord
4 Blood Boil
2 Black Moonbeam

4 Guinevere, the Jealous Queen
4 Perceval, the Seeker of Holy Grail
4 Lancelot, the Knight of Mad Demon
4 Gawain, the Knight of the Sun
4 Pricia, Pursuant of Exploding Flame

Sideboard:
1 Arla, the Winged Lord // Arla, the Hegemon of the Sky
1 Marybell, the Steel Doll
2 Fairy of Sacred Vision
2 Protection of the Seraph
2 Arthur Pendragon, the King of the Round Table
2 Barrier of Shadows
3 Slayer of the Overlord, Pricia // Possessor Princess of Love, Valentina
2 Baldren Gassenarl

062
For all your tree problems, call Baldren! 😉

Gill Lapis Control

2016 Philippine AGP Champion
2016 Philippine Masters Cup Qualifier 6 Champion

With R/R leaving, the format is still defined by one other card: Ruler’s Memoria, which requires decks to pack somewhere between 8 or more 0-cost Regalia for it to consistently work (hint: the magic number is 11). Gill Lapis punishes players who use this setup by making their Regalia useless early on unless they allocate enough resources to activate them (thus slowing them down).

Kenneth takes this idea further by adding main deck Barrier of Shadows to his unique take on what seems to be the premier control deck of the format. His list features hand disruption, removal, card draw, and a Twelve-Apostle toolbox along with Attoractia to render opponents completely helpless. If that isn’t enough, Gill Lapis himself is a 1200/1200 powerhouse that can Cancel activated abilities and steal your opponent’s best cards. The amount of options that the deck has is staggering, and navigating the decision points each game can be a chore, but once you’re in control of the match it’s very hard for the opponent to mount a comeback.

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Let’s see, we’ve removed the Four Sacred Beasts, a Melder, and an Excalibur X…

BEST GIRL Dark Alice makes her appearance in the sideboard too, which is another good reason to give this deck a spin.


Ruler: Conqueror of the Black Moon, Gill Lapis

3 Artemis, the God’s Bow
1 Deathscythe, the Life Reaper
3 Illusory Demonic Globe, the Earth
3 Laevateinn, the Demon Sword
2 Attoractia, Dimension of the Seven Kings // Illusory Demonic Globe, Attoractia

2 Barrier of Shadows
1 Dance of Shadows
2 Laying the Foundation
1 Prison in the Lunar Lake
2 Soulhunt
3 Space-Time Anomaly
2 Space-Time Collapse
3 The Scorn of Dark Alice
2 Wind-Secluded Refuge

1 Adombrali, the Unfathomable
1 Alisaris, Avatar of Destruction
1 Behemoth, the Earth Eater
4 Interdimensional Monarch Gill Lapis // Space-time Pursuer Gill Lapis
2 Izanami, the Sealed Terror
2 Valentina, Puppet Monarch

4 Ruler’s Memoria
3 Black Moon’s Memoria
2 Magic Stone of Dark Depth
1 Magic Stone of Heaven’s Rift

Sideboard:
1 Girl in Twilight Garb / Dark Alice, Maiden of Slaughter
2 Schrodinger, the Fallen Black Cat
1 Artemis, the God’s Bow
1 Barrier of Shadows
1 Black Moonbeam
3 Down the Drain
2 Prison in the Lunar Lake
1 Interdimensional Escape
1 Space-Time Anomaly
1 Space Time Collapse
1 Wind-Secluded Refuge


And that’s it for now! These four decks have proven their mettle and are great candidates for the new world without Reflect/Refrain. There are of course, a lot more viable strategies for the other Rulers yet to be discovered out there, and in a few more days the Lapis Cluster will arrive and provide its own set of mechanics and strategies for the New Frontiers format. All I could say is that it’s exciting to see what it could mean for existing strategies such as these – will the new cards overthrow them or make them more powerful? We shall see.

Until then!

Card images are from http://db.fowtcg.us

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