A Post Laevateinn World
With the new set Echoes of the New World dropping soon, we’re also witnessing one of the biggest ban shake ups in recent memory, the banning of Laevateinn and Horn of Sacred Beasts. While Horn of Sacred Beasts has had a much lower key shaping of the various decks that have seen competitive play, Laevateinn has constantly been at the forefront of a variety of powerful decks. During its original unveiling, it was used with Bahamut, the Dragon King, allowing an already efficient and powerful J-Ruler to close out games on turn 2 or 3, leaving no other deck able to keep up.
While Bahamut eventually was shut down by the introduction of Deathscythe, it continued to persist as a powerful tool for Overlord of the Seven Lands, Valentina, who demanded that opponents play some combination of Deathscythe and Barrier of Shadows to avoid being overrun by her plethora of abilities and off the charts attack and defense. From there, Laevateinn took a backseat for a little while as Reflect and Refrain took over the scene but still found its way into deck lists by being a free way to banish resonators at will, allowing players to avert the downsides of mind control and remove from game effects.
Upon Reflect and Refrain’s ban, Laevateinn came back into view as a useful tool for aggro rulers and a general source of utility up until the introduction of Reincarnated Maiden of Flame, Pricia. Already quite powerful on her front side by letting you give any resonator swiftness and flying, her backside enabled a turn two win condition that, while not perfectly consistent, was fast and easy enough to play to get every deck to run both Deathscythe and Black Moonbeam in order to keep her in check. The worst part was that regardless of skill, if you failed to pull either of those in your opening hand, you were often times simply dead.
In short, Laevateinn was ridiculous whenever it showed up with a sufficiently powerful and aggressive ruler, which limited all sorts of other creative and interesting aggressive plans due to over emphasizing the J-Ruler. Now that we no longer need to worry about that, Pricia’s much slower and lets us play with all sorts of other toys and we’re here today to see what sort of rulers have fallen to the side due to not being quite fast enough.
Good Before and After Ban
There were a handful of rulers already seeing
play, largely due to their ability to keep up with Pricia’s speed or stop her
entirely. Unsurprisingly, due to their
versatility of tools, they’re still pretty good.
Fiethsing, Six Sage of Wind has been doing work on the competitive scene since her arrival thanks to her ability to put out resonator tokens for cheap and thus power out Gwiber for early aggression. The deck has since evolved into a toolbox powered by draw with cards like Guinevere banishing those excess tokens and pulling together combinations like Triton and Adombrali to efficiently remove threats and build boards. The deck could, for the first time, be facing a legitimate threat to its core draw engine with the new Zero, the King’s Blade, which limits the deck’s usual absurd draw rate. Notably though, the deck has already been including tools like the regalia Gleipnir, which can turn its various large fliers into tools for removing smaller threats.
Lilias Petal, Agent of Salvation, also known as The Nine-Tailed Fox, remains an efficient ruler with naturally large threats in the form of his chimeras. The deck has seen a lot of innovation over time as well since each new attribute has new tools to offer it. The latest in those is the new Fayli, Genius Rip-Off Artist, who can produce copies of resonators on the field to duplicate the already powerful effects of Lilias’s chimeras and give him additional fodder for banishing to create more chimeras. She’s also part of a new combo with Shadow of Lapis and Lilias Petal’s Assistant, which involves her making a token of the Assistant and then using Shadow of Lapis to banish itself, make an additional Assistant, get the same Shadow of Lapis back. Then rinse and repeat for infinite Assistants, all of which naturally slot into Lilias’ deck as he stands.
Gill Alhama’at also remains a highly versatile ruler due to his ability to incrementally build mana counters to play any ancient magic chants over the game. He still has access Black Moonbeam, helping him completely shut down J-Ruler oriented strategies along with a cluster’s worth of unique and powerful ancient magic chants. The most notable card to pop up in recent memory though is The Cheshire Cat’s Assistance, which lets you play the top card of your deck and every single card revealed thereafter during that turn. In addition to being able to play regalia for free off the top, he’s also able to convert cards like Viola’s Machinations, Ancient Heartfelt Fire, and Sympathy of Fire and Water into free will and cards. With Horn of Sacred Beasts out though, he can’t necessarily combo that all into a win condition on its own since he can’t generate enough will in a single run through a deck to make a Steam Explosion that does 4000 damage. Perhaps this would be a good place for Prokaryotic Being to show up instead? Especially alongside cards like Rewriting Laws.
More humble than the rest of these is still Zero, Six Sage of Light. Her main draw against Pricia was her ability to remove flying, swiftness, and imperishable, essentially neutering Pricia’s lethality. However, she’s since developed a strong fair play deck with cards like Tsukuyomi Noble, Abdul Alhazred, Poet of Madness, and Kaguya’s Moonbeam Butterfly to essentially build up a steady board of capable resonators that shut out any outrageous moves by the opponent. With cards like the new Zero resonator and Dark Alice, Manifestation of Rage, her portfolio for specific resonators that knock out specific strategies is continuing to grow and it’ll just be a matter of figuring out what exactly she needs for the latest build.
Lapis Cluster Goodies
Now for the fun part, all of the rulers that have been slightly too slow to properly shine with Pricia running around. Charlotte, Determined Girl is a prime example of this as she often falls into Water and Dark strategies that focus on discarding the opponent’s hand, individually taking care of each resonator he or she plays, and then reaping card advantage on by judgmenting. Her biggest issue before was that she couldn’t easily access Black Moonbeam like Alhama’at but now that an early Moonbeam isn’t as required, she’s allowed to build up towards it while still having plenty of time to handle Pricia. Additionally, rulers like Alhama’at often make discard a part of their method to control the opponent, which Charlotte naturally counters with her low cost judgment and hand refill, making her a fantastic option for a long game ruler.
A couple of other control rulers similarly fall into Charlotte’s place with different strengths and weaknesses, such as Mikage and Valentina, both of which work well with putting down Fiethsing’s many Gwiber enabling tokens, with Mikage doing slightly better with big targets thanks to his 100 damage ability synergizing with Demonflame and Urashima Taro and Valentina doing better against medium sized resonators with her boosted Space-Time Anomalies. And you know Fiethsing with Gwiber will always be around.
Speaking of control decks, if you think control is going to come back strong, you might be interested in Kaguya, Tears of the Moon and Gill Lapis, Conqueror of Attoractia, both of whom have ridiculous ways to out draw even decks dedicated to draw, making them naturally able to combat other control decks. Kaguya is relatively straight forward, slam down treasury items while holding up control spells of your choice and then slamming in with your 1500/1500, seemingly nigh unkillable J-Ruler. Her biggest threat is honestly addition removal, primarily Heavenly Gust, which may in fact be on the decline in main decks due to Laevateinn going right out the door. Gill Lapis, on the other hand, is not all that strong or unkillable, but alongside Barrier Seal, is basically able to pull infinite cards out of his sleeves, or at least your opponent’s removed area anyway. Discard does a decent job at filling out his judgment requirements alongside Barrier Seal but he’s still very vulnerable but luckily we still have Ryula to pull him back. The main issue Lapis has, outside of vulnerabilities (both physical and daddy related), is that he’s slow requiring a lot of set up and consideration for what your opponent is playing. You’re naturally going to have a far harder time using certain tools your opponent has, such as ancient magic. Despite that, most decks have plenty of great and efficient tools that you can pull out regardless.
Lumia, Lumia, Lumia
Of course, of all the Lapis cluster rulers, Lumia, the Fated Rebirth is probably the single most versatile ruler in Lapis Cluster with the most amount of decks that have naturally formed around her and without Pricia forcing her early wins, Lumia’s free to play them all.
The most obvious one is Lumia Hook, involving using Captain Hook, the Pirate by repeatedly removing and returning (henceforth referred to as blinking) him to the field to get rid of all of the opponent’s resonators and special stones, depriving them of resources in a steady and continuous fashion. It proved to be a versatile control deck by including Sacred Elf and Melfee, both of which could be used for extra will during Lumia’s turn, blinking them, and squeezing an extra will out of them during the opponent’s turn. This naturally made the deck fantastic for holding up cancel spells while rushing out Hook with the catch that pretty much everyone plays special stones that you can mess with.
Well, except for mono light Lumia, a deck that plays nothing but non-special light stones and light cards. The main two draws to the deck is that Lumia can repeatedly blink Sol, Envoy of Light for lots of stones fast and Lumia, Saint of Creation for a continual supply of cards that cannot be discarded in the normal way, both of which easily deal with two of light’s biggest weaknesses. And now with Echoes of the New World, Lumia has a lot more ways to use her many light stones, such as Arla, Demonic Flying Ace to clear blockers for her board that she’s able to quickly build or play out near invincible resonators like Millium, Successor of the Future. Of course she’s also able to use Zero, the King’s Blade and with how many stones she can produce, she can use unsealed Strange Miracle to make her invincible resonators fight better for board. She even has Zero’s Circle of Protection to help combat control decks, making this version of Lumia surprisingly versatile.
In addition to Laevateinn’s banning slowing the game down a lot, Horn of Sacred Beasts was also stepping on another possible deck for Lumia, a reanimator deck. Between cards like Dance of the Shadows and End of Days, it’s possible to pull back powerful resonators from the graveyard but impossible to keep them around, unless you’re Lumia. By blinking a resonator, the game forgets that it needs to be removed from the game at end of turn, letting you keep it permanently and without Horn being a cheap and efficient way to mess up graveyards anymore, Lumia’s free to focus on building up her graveyard and grabbing powerful resonators such as Skyscraper Giant, Azathoth, Gill Lapis, and new comer Yamata-no-Orochi. Not to mention she has additional support in the form of Valentina, the Crumbling Illusion, who can pull more resonators out of your graveyard on her own. And all of this can be easily added to the graveyard with Planting Beans and discard outlets such as Guinevere and Soulhunt, not to mention whatever else your opponent makes you accidentally discard, resulting in a powerful strategy.
Old Alice Favorites
Despite the lack of energize on old rulers from Alice Cluster, a number of them still fill a lot of niches that the new Lapis Cluster rulers don’t. The biggest example is probably Arla, Guardian of the Skies, who still has access to an easy and powerful infinite combo with Grusbalesta’s Secret Technique, enabling him to attack forever with a 1000/1000 stone that recovers itself.
Less specifically, Dark Alice, Maiden of Slaughter is still a powerful control ruler that dismantles graveyards, destroys entire boards of resonators, and weakens everything the opponent has. She wasn’t able to keep up with Pricia for the same reason as the darkness control rulers mentioned above but now she has plenty of room to hold Black Moonbeam while doing more of what she’s usually up to, making her a fantastic sideboard choice for control decks.
Alisaris, the Demon of Calamity, the ascended version of Alisaris is also still a powerful candidate for competitive play. Using a primarily fire oriented deck, he’s able to quickly fill his removed area with cards to reduce his judgment cost to a small one fire will. As a result, he’s often able to slam out on turn five and then use his God’s Art on the same turn, destroying whatever board the opponent had while clearing the way for Skuld, Urthr, and Verdandi. If you want to get a little extra spicy, you can include Bahamut, Phantasmal Dragon as a one of to grab off of Rukh Egg since he gets swiftness from Alisaris, making him a free 1700 damage on judgment turn.
If you’re feeling a bit sillier, Kaguya, the Moonlit Savior has the unique ability to cancel automatic abilities, which is represented by an arrow in Lapis Cluster. Door of Time, by chance, has an arrow for its lose game clause, letting Kaguya get around the drawback for her extra turns. Since more turns means more time, she’s give a large amount of freedom in handling her resources once you start taking those extra turns, making her potentially quite a powerful option for mid to late game burst, especially against greedy decks that like to use all of their stones each turn.
Also in the silly realm is Sylvia, who has new options open to her thanks to Spinning Myths. By using it on turn three, she can push out an Odin the Omniscient, which turn sets up her next turn for judgment. Since Sylvia can recover three stones upon destroying a J/resonator, that gives her just enough will to set up four attacks with Pricia’s Leap, a lethal amount of damage from her.
The New Crowd
Of course, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the new rulers coming in with the new set. First off is the Book of Light and Book of Dark, both of which enable you to play with unique toolboxes of resonators without worry about their attributes. Book of Dark’s despair resonators tend to be all over the place though with several very powerful aggressive ones like Lars, Sylvia, and Melgis mixed in with far later game oriented ones, such as Umr-at-Tawil and Bahamut. Considering that you can easily leave a single Melgis in your sideboard for the book to pull for sudden lethal, the aggressive strategy is straight forward enough to implement and even lets you easily grab certain colors that you wouldn’t otherwise have, such as light for Zero’s Magic Light to clear blockers out of the way.
The Book of Light has less of a focus on aggressive strategies due to its lack of swiftness resonators, though notably Red Riding Hood is in there for late game aggression alongside Ryula’s Volition, likely making for an easy one cost judgment for a sudden 1200 damage or more to close out the game. Despite that, it’s looking to be more of a midrange strategy with Ultimate Swordmaster, Faria and Shining Demon, Mephistopheles gumming up aggressive from the opponent and Millium, Successor of the Future protecting them all from control spells. I’d likely pair it up with wind for access to cancel chants to help avoid its one major weakness of total board wipes like Eternal Recurrence.
Flute, Time Altering Priestess is probably one of the most compelling new cards yet with her ability to constantly draw and use The Blue Planet to turn average cards like Strange Miracle into efficient control spells. However, Flute’s also very fragile with her 800 defense and is constantly required to kept out in the opening to function properly. A more practical method of using her would likely start with Flute’s Water Dragon to call a stone each turn and keeping it alive using efficient tools like Artemis and Charlotte’s Water Transformation Magic. That way you can get to the late game with a full hand of tools from her front side’s draw ability to make the most of The Blue Planet. Also notable is that Flute is a dragonoid on both sides of her card, making Fury of the Obsidian Dragon always useful.
Yggdrasil, Malefic Verdant Tree is a bit harder to use since it requires that you take damage to make full use of its abilities so you can start pulling cards out of your removed area. That said, there’s a few interesting applications to Yggdrasil, the most obvious being that you can freely use life as a resource without much worry, though you’re still vulnerable to effects like loss of life (such as from Adombrali) since that doesn’t count as damage. If you’re feeling particularly cheeky and want to be immortal, the arguably easiest way to do that is get ten stones and play Kaguya, Love of the Moon. Her ability dodges you drawing on your draw step, which is the only way for Yggdrasil to lose the game, decking out, thus requiring your opponent to get rid of her to win the game. All you have to do is hold up cancel spells since Kaguya herself cannot be attacked, making it an easy case for a game of attrition.
Dimension Brigade’s Leader, Adlbert is a strange case. Not only does he sound like he’s the head of an anime club, he’s also got a very limited set of Wanderers to work with. While they’re all uniquely powerful, nothing has enough particular muscle to make the deck itself. Instead, I think he might be one of the best candidates for Star Fragment since his J-Ruler side rewards multiple colors, making him something of a midrange bruiser type strategy. For example, the water and dark resonators from Legacy Lost and their token strategy give you a fast way to grind your opponent’s resources down while drawing more cards yourself as each token is its own resonator entering the field. Illusion Wizard is an automatic discard two cards for your opponent and draw two for yourself. Fairy of Recurrence also continually supplies you with ways to destroy resonators while growing Adelbert larger. Of course, you’ll want to run at least a few Wanderers to take advantage of his ability to put one onto the field for free, which I suspect would work best with either the new Gill Lapis or Valentina as the former just gets you any number of versatile spells while the latter will continually pull back the power house multi-attribute resonators. Also Dark Alice, Manifestation of Rage is a Wanderer, for the record, meaning resonator heavy decks will immediately forfeit their hands upon her death thanks to her token production ability.
Overall I’m quite happy with the Laevateinn ban as moving the focus away from highly aggressive J-Rulers helps highlight how very diverse the different rulers are in this game. No ruler really offers quite the same tools as any other ruler, especially now in Lapis Cluster. I’m feeling quite excited over what the future of this game I looking like.
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