There was a recent posting on the Vanguardians facebook group about the Palemoon clan and its place in the current meta. Judging by the consensus of those commenting on the posting, Palemoon is situated somewhere in the low tier 2 category of the current meta game. Before I go any further, I would like to give a shout out to both Mason Clark, who seems to realize the potential of the deck as we approach release of the new support, and Tobie Harris, who plays the clan competitively. These brave souls helped me defend my clan again the tirade of insults and a certain someone’s assertion that Palemoon is “not a competitive deck.” That stated, I have been motivated to start a blog which covers the competitive points of the Palemoon clan, with particular emphasis on the Harri subclan. Unfortunately, I lack the necessary knowledge or experience playing with the other subclan decks (i.e. Silverthorns, Nightmare Dolls, & Luquiere/Beast Tamer Legion) to comment on their current status and potential impact on the vanguard metagame. But I am certain Harri will more than suffice.
Just to share a little about myself, I started Vanguard a little over three years ago after leaving the largely unoriginal Yu-gi-oh! tournament scene. My first clan was Genesis, and I started playing right around the time Minerva came into power. I found Vanguard to be exciting because of its unique game mechanics and its large platform for innovation, given we did not have clan restriction at the time. I had so much fun with Genesis, largely because soul charging was my favorite mechanic. But in my quest to become a more competitive player, I picked up several other decks, including Dimension Police (Metalborgs), Neo Nectar(Musketeers), Great Nature (Big Billy 1.0), Nubatama (Shiranui), Angel Feather (Nociel then Gavrail) and more recently Neo Nectar (Ahsha) & Palemoon (Harri). Out of all these clans I have kept Genesis, Dimension Police, Neo Nectar (Ahsha), Nubatama, and Palemoon (Harri).
Playing Palemoon, reminded me a lot of my early Genesis days, but it was so much better than that. The plays I was able to make were so much more sophisticated, and everytime I soul charged I felt a little more joy inside. (Yes, I know this is cheesy. But now to the good part.)
Overtime, however, I realized that my success with the deck (no pun intended) was mediocre at best. In the past I would give up on a deck if I felt it was lacking, but I made the decision to continue playing the deck in an effort to improve my play style. In doing this, I noticed the following:
- Blind soul charging was so much worse in this deck than any other. I had made a habit of soul charging my triggers. With no way of recycling, this was especially devastating when I soul charged the majority of my heals. That meant no last chance for survival and no g guardians.
- Counterblast Issues – Using Harri’s on stride skill was killing me. Even in matches where I was able to apply consistent pressure to my opponent, using Harri’s on stride skill was using up the counterblast I needed to use Dragon Masquerade and contributing to me decking out. There were numerous games were I would lose solely because I had no more cards to draw.
- Deck Out – Harri has no synergy with Legion. I thought it would be a great idea to run the Beast Tamer legion as a backup Vanguard to mitigate deck out issues, but this combination did not allow me to apply adequate pressure to my opponent while maintaining my soul. The grade 2 line up in particular was awkward, as the beast tamer mate is vanilla on stride turns.
- The deck was unbalanced. The major focus of the deck was applying pressure via multiattacks, but the resourced committed to make those battles happen, left little room for defense. There was no interaction with the field during the opponents turn.
- The trigger line up contributed to inconsistent win rates. It took me a while to figure out that outside of the Harri crit, Stands are MVP. Just to give you an idea. Checking a stand was as devastating as checking a stand in Angel Feather, because Palemoon can generate rearguards with Vanguard level power columns.
- If you are rushed early game, you are as good as dead. Despite the instant pressure Palemoon can apply first stride, that does little to counter the effects of good early game rush decks (i.e. Granblue, Aqua Force, and Nova Grappler). Additionally, the first stride turn of Gear Chronicle is so explosive, it was an almost instant death sentence.
For the sake of expediency I will address the evolution my deck has undergone over the past year, and how I have been able to address the issues highlighted above in my next post.