The Invincible Zero
So as you’ve heard from me time and time again, Black Moonbeam is gone. That means that all J-Ruler removal can now be responded to, meaning that you can actually play around an opponent’s threats in a meaningful fashion beyond just using Wind-Secluded Refuge. Cards like Beast of Holy Light and Magic Sweets now serve a greater purpose and can their moment in the spotlight.
And with that, we can now let Zero finally take her place as the single hardest to kill J-Ruler. Early on in Curse of the Frozen Casket, she saw a reasonable amount of play using cards like Laevateinn and Apollo while covering herself with Zero’s Familiar to get past Black Moonbeam in order to push through damage but it was a very single minded strategy that easily fell apart to a variety of control decks. Now that things are eased off a bit with removal, it’s easier to appreciate her various abilities, including shrugging off all battle damage. That means if she’s attacking, blocking, or being attacked, she ignores damage, essentially rendering her unkillable via J/resonator combat. Combine that with her 1100 attack and 1100 defense, that makes her just big enough to beat the majority of other J-Rulers in a one on one fight without the worry of randomly losing out to a chant like Rapid Growth.
To add to that, opposing J/resonators can’t even get around her. Her J-Ruler side eliminates swiftness, flying, first strike, precision, and imperishable, meaning there’s no surprises while Zero is around and typical fast hitting, fast moving threats like Reincarnated Maiden of Flame, Pricia have to slow it way down. Combined with Zero’s own precision ability, she’s able to freely decide if she’s going to take her time to control board via raw strength or just end the game quickly by attacking the opponent directly. Now add on the fact that Zero only needs a low two light will to flip over to J-Ruler side and you have one of the most aggressive J-Rulers in New Frontier right now.
The Deck List
Main Deck x 40
Zero's Familiar x 4
Dreams of Flight x 4
Magic Sweets x 4
Severing Winds x 4
Light Wizard x 2
Stone Deck x 20
Light Magic Stone x 20
Sideboard x 15
Crippling Light x 3
This deck list is looking to lean on Zero’s combat prowess to win out in the long term against aggressive and resonator oriented decks by keeping a firm grip on the field while winning fast games using her raw stats and speed against control decks. In either case, we want to keep Zero alive and if that fails, have a fall back to winning regardless. That’s largely going to take the form of our various smaller resonators and Zero’s ability to pump up their stats on her front side. In rare glacial matches, there’s also Ryula in the sideboard to get Zero back online and able to flip back into J-Ruler mode.
The Early Game
I might as well relabel this section “Play Sol” because that’s what you want to do. Are you going second? Play Sol with energize. Play a second one next turn if you can. Are you going first? Play Sol turn two. Regardless, Sol grabs you a stone and that’s another stone closer to flipping Zero. You typically want to reach three stones before you flip. This is key since, as we’ll see in the upcoming section, you always want at least one will open to use your various tools that help Zero stay on the field.
Light Wizard serves a similar purpose since he can rest each turn for a single light will. And if you take a note, most of our chants cost a single light will, making him perfect for the deck. Using all of those things, we can boost our way into the mid game to take full advantage of Zero’s abilities. Any further Sols and Light Wizards we draw will be additional sources of will as Zero is going to be committed to duking it out and likely too busy to call further stones.
Keeping Zero Alive
Zero’s got a lot of built in protection aside from her immunity to damage during battle. Zero’s Familiar is the most obvious example as it’s just an all around solid resonator that has above average stats while she’s on the field, evasion, and even protects her as well. It essentially serves as a wall that your opponent has to deal with before he or she can take care of Zero. Another good wall is also a Zero signature card, Zero’s Circle of Protection. Simply name common attribute that your opponent’s using and you’re good to go.
Aside from that, most removal for Zero targets her. That means anything that we can use to grant barrier in response is perfect for her. Our two preferred tools for that are Magic Sweets and Beast of Holy Light, both of which we can play in response to the majority off removal spells that will be coming for Zero.
So What Can Kill Zero?
A good number of things. As of this article though, there’s nothing purely in water that brings Zero down. It relies purely on battle damage to bring down J/resonators, so if you’re up against a deck that’s just those things, breathe a sigh of relief, they have nothing on Zero. If you’re against wind, you have exactly one card to worry about, Great Tornado, which will be incredibly telegraphed if your opponent is playing elves. Just keep that in mind for what they’re doing.
There are a few cards in the remaining attributes that can kill Zero outright though if you’re not properly prepared. Among those are Erasure, World Flame Summoning, Lumia’s Purification, Azathoth, Hunter of Reality, Blazer Gill Rabus, the Pursuer, Hell Flame, and Glorius, the Silver Knight. Both of the purely light removal chants have specific and easy to play around requirements since for Glorius, we just need to hold up Magic Sweets or have some sort of barrier up for Zero after she deals damage and Lumia’s Purification can be stopped by all of that and Fairy Tale Kingdom, Light Palace thanks to Zero standing herself back up at the end of your turn. In either case, Zero’s Familiar is already doing a lovely job stopping them from doing their work.
Azathoth, Blazer, World Flame Summoning and Erasure have less requirements but all cost more will. None of them have quickcast though, meaning that we only need to be worried about them during the opponent’s turn. Among these, Azathoth is the only repeat threat since he’s able to keep attacking and attempting to destroy Zero, though luckily he’s also easy fodder cards like Zero’s Magic Light. He’s also generally only in reanimator decks and so very easily telegraphed. Ancient Magic is a tad more difficult to deal with as rulers like Gill Alhama’at can whip out out those spells early and often using his counters. Just keep in mind the number of counters he has and always at least bluff holding one of your cards that save Zero. Hell Flame is a weird case since it requires one more counter than Kirik will typically have available but also is brutally efficient. Luckily, just a single barrier spell usually takes care of the matter since he has to spend nearly all of them to attempt to kill Zero.
Rule of Two Removal Chants
For the remaining targeted removal spells, you typically have to worry about things like Sword of the Half Moon, Burn to Cinders, Bahamut, the Dragonoid, and Dark Purge. The catch is that none of it does more than 1000 damage or negative stats in a single go. This means that unless your opponent is using inheritance with Invisible Flame, you’re going to be able to not just be able to interrupt it with the various barrier providing tools mentioned earlier, you’ve also got access to Severing Winds. Severing Winds, I assume, was an accidental gift for this deck. It essentially serves to slow down the game’s most typical tools: cards you play. J-Rulers, however, aren’t cards being played and due to Zero’s limited amount of will she will have available during the game, will typically worry about playing one card per turn outside of rare cases. As a result, Severing Winds is working over time for you and against your opponent.
So What Can Kill Zero 2: The Board Clears
So at this point we’ve talked about all the of the cards that say target on them that have their sights on Zero. That leaves exactly three cards left that we care about: The Final Battle, Skyscraper Giant, and Dragon Breath. All three of these cards unfortunately get around just about everything we can do as Zero. Her owls do nothing, Severing Winds isn’t likely to be helpful here, and it seems like one way or another, Zero’s going to go down.
Except not quite. The Final Battle is a weird case in that it’s up to your opponent how deep that person digs his or her own grave. Zero, at her base, has 1100 defense. That means your opponent has to pay at least 2200 life to kill her permanently. However, like any good mono-light Zero player, you’ve got other cards to keep her alive. If your opponent fails to play around Magic Sweets or Holy Beast of Light, Zero’s going to stick around on the field, meaning that the safe amount to pay is actually 2800 if you have a single light will open. But wait, let’s say you have Dreams of Flight available as well. Due to the unique Force mechanic, that result in rolls as high as 6, or 600 defense for Zero. In that case, if your opponent wants to absolutely sure Zero dies while you have a single will open, he or she needs to pay 3400 life. At that point, he or she has a lousy 600 life, which isn’t hard to burn down your various resonators and Zero’s ability to up their stats on her front side. In this case, we can actually push Force’s inherent randomness in our favor as our opponent has the most to lose if his or her gambit is not successful. Just keep the mind games in view and be sure to always have a light will open walking into an opponent’s turn.
Skyscraper Giant is a whole different can of worms. It’s got the unique ability to completely ignore targeted chants, which, sadly is our primary way to deal with over sized brutes like him. Additionally, he can line up two 800 damage field clears for non-flyers, which is more than enough to knock Zero out. Fortunately, there is some ability to play around it as Dreams of Flight and Amaterasu’s Foresight lets her ignore the damage. However, keep in mind that using Dreams of Flight is also burning through precious evasion tools which Zero needs to close out the game. The better way to play around the giant generally come in a different way: Don’t let the game go that long. Skyscraper Giant can only land early if your opponent plays Jack, Climbing the Beanstalk and the only ruler ready to take advantage of that is Pricia, True Beastmaster and her ability to grant swiftness and flying. The solution to that is the same as usual, flip Zero as soon as possible and stop that outright. From there, blocking and getting rid of Jack permanently is typically a trivial matter. From there, Skyscraper Giant is a seven cost resonator, Zero will usually flip over on turn 3. Assuming you have Dreams of Flight, you’ll typically finish the game before or when he lands.
Dragon Breath is, luckily, weaker than both of these and easy to see coming since you’ll only ever be bothered by it if your opponent runs Kirik Rerik. Fortunately, all it takes is a single Dreams of Flight to utterly ruin it and even then, a single pump can also put you out of range since Kirik has a limited set of counters to work from.
So There Are Other Cards In This Deck…
That was more or less a crash course on dealing with your opponent’s various forms of removal. Now, Zero’s not the only proactive agent in the deck, Faria fills that role as well. Much like Zero, she exists as a card that can’t lose in combat and is a tremendous pain to get rid of if you have the stones open. So she’s there to help maintain our combat superiority.
And perhaps the most single key part to this deck is evasion. Evasion means getting around your opponent’s various blockers to connect for lots of damage. Out first tool for this Dreams of Flight, which grants Zero flying. Due to her removing flying on the opponent’s J/resonators, there’s rarely ever anything that can block her, meaning she gets in for free damage. Alternatively, getting rid of your opponent’s blocker is another fantastic way to push damage. In this case, Zero’s Magic Light will eliminate most blockers. Arla, Demonic Flying Ace also serves the same function and due to Zero’s ability to completely ignore swiftness, you typically cannot be rushed down by an aggressive deck, making him all that more potent. Plus, due to Zero’s abilities, he’s freely able to attack in as well with the added bonus of being able to use his own ability to protect himself.
Amaterasu’s Foresight is largely used to shut down what little offense your opponent can put on. Whether that be attacking your resonators or attacking you directly, it’s important that Zero be able to deal out more damage at a faster pace than your opponent can. Amaterasu’s Foresight serves that role perfectly. Fairy Tale Kingdom, Light Palace serves a similar purpose as it lets Zero use her ability to ignore battle damage on the defense as well, making even attacking a losing proposition for most opposing decks.
Beast of Holy Light is there in case you’re up against a particularly removal heavy fire or dark deck. After all, if your run enough to intercept them, they’re eventually just going to run totally dry. Zero, the King’s Blade is largely there for the various decks that draw a lot. You’ll know exactly when to bring her in because you’ll also be staring down a 1400/1400 Charlotte, Wielder of the Sacred Spirit, who, coincidentally, gets around just about everything we can do to kill her outright.
Lumia’s Purification is more there purely for the over sized J-Rulers that are simply too big for Zero to remove easily. Even if they aren’t, it’s still a way to deal with other J-Rulers in a relative clean fashion. Grimm, the Rightful King is our choice of addition removal for whatever may come up. He’s also able to grab a fairy tale when he does destroy an addition, so that’s why there’s a single Hansel. Normally he’s not efficient enough for the deck but this is a free upside with Grimm and he can grab us another Magic Sweets to shield Zero with.
Crippling Light is our single best board wipe we can get in light. Golems aren’t a particular threat to Zero since none can kill her outright and even the largest one is susceptible to Zero’s Magic Light, so we more want that for issues that spiral way out of control like when you’re staring down two Skyscraper Giants.
It’s an oddly common occurrence now.
Ryula’s just a concession to the fact that sometimes things go horribly awry. Hopefully Zero doesn’t die but sometimes she will and sometimes we’ll just need to take our beats and play Ryula to get her back up and running.
This is a surprisingly easy deck to learn. You push out Zero fast and rush down your opponent, occasionally use a removal spell to clear the way. However, it’s got a surprisingly high skill ceiling for a variety of reasons. Due to the low amount of draw the deck has, you have to be sure about what you’re mulliganing into and if it’s right for the match up. Additionally, much of the deck’s game plan involves predicting and playing around what your opponent is doing as well as deciding when to shift gears and use Zero aggressively to take down your opponent’s life total or defensively to pick out certain individual resonators to get rid of. In either case, she’s surprisingly enjoyable and I highly recommend giving her a shot.
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