With cards like Shared Ride and Waking the Dragon seeing big demand overthe last week and a half, the Sky Striker theme was clearly drumming up alot of hype. There's some debate about the theme's relevance in the currentformat, with many players expecting it to settle into a rogue competitiverole.
But regardless of that mixed perception the hype was real this weekend, andeven as the price of must-run cards like Sky Striker Mobilize – Engage! andSky Striker Mecha – Widow Anchor drive dedicated Sky Striker decks beyondthe reach of many players, three of the four bestselling cards this weekendwere Sky Striker staples. That raises the question of just how Sky Strikercards will be played here: in the OCG, mashup builds combining Sky Strikercards with ABC's, Trickstars, Goukis, Subterrors, and lots of otherstrategies are hugely common, and they usually run far fewer Sky Strikercards than pure builds.
Meanwhile the rest of the Top 10 was pure Vampires. While the competitivedialogue in the run-up to Dark Saviors was entirely focused on SkyStrikers, Vampires were largely ignored. But the demand for Vampire cardswas tremendous this past weekend, leaving at least some question as towhether the interest was driven entirely by casual play, or if someonemight actually try to make Vampires work in tournaments.
A number of big reprints saw MASSIVE sales as well, albeit from numbers ofplayers that suggested collectors and speculators moreso than tournamentplayers. The back twenty cards in Dark Saviors is chock full oftournament-level reprints, some more needed than others, and buyersresponded accordingly.
More on that after the complete Top 10 countdown. For now, let's kick itoff at Number 10.
#10: Vampire's Desire
Vampires are in an awkward place in both the TCG and OCG: they're bestplayed to power out big fields of Knightmares and Tri-Gate Wizard to makecontrolling set-ups, but at the same time they're outclassed by otherstrategies that do the same thing. The deck has powerful tricks and cankick out impressive boards, but a lot of its effects are simply too "fair"in comparison to other themes, and everything feels a bit too slow to beviable.
Vampire's Desire is the epitome of those problems: the first effect doesn'twork unless you've already got a Vampire on the field, and while sendingVampires to the graveyard can start combos with some of the new Vampirerevival abilities, it's a very niche effect that you won't often want tospend a card accomplishing. Desire's second effect has the same problem,requiring field presence to activate and effectively playing as an awkwardcombo extender moreso than anything else.
At a glance, to an old timer, these cards look pretty good. But they'rejust not on the level of modern Yu-Gi-Oh, lacking the utility and speed ofother modern strategies. Vampire's Desire ends up being a one-of in mostVampire decks, and I'm not sure the sales numbers reflect an understandingof that. But as an affordable, flexible looking card with sweet art, itsold a ton of copies this weekend.
#9: Vampire Retainer
Vampire Retainer's a heckuva lot better, being one of two new cards thatmost Vampire players would run at three per deck. Packing the all-important0 DEF Vampire Retainer'sa pretty good search card that can feed bigger plays both by getting you acard you want, and by sitting on the field so you can send it away forother cards. The fact that you can bring it back in a 1-for-1 exchange thatquickly becomes a free search, and that often rakes in even more cardadvantage on top of that, makes it very solid.
That said, Retainer can only search a limited number of cards, all of whichhave limited use. All that aside it's still one of the best cards in thevampire arsenal, and a fair pick at Number 9 right after the set's launch.
#8: Vampire's Domain
As an independent Continuous Spell, Vampire's Domain isn't great. AdditionalNormal Summons are nice, and gaining Life Points is fine, but we live in anera where Field Spells generally protect themselves or grant immediate cardeconomy to balance out their potential loss. Many of the best Field Spellsof today do both, while being eminently searchable thanks to Terraforming. Vampire's Domain isn't self-replacing, has no protection, and doesn't come with the conveniences of Field Spells since it isn't one.
Outside of that vacuum, Vampire's Domain becomes a more complicated card.On one hand, the deck leans toward Knightmare Goblin already, whichoverlaps unhelpfully with this card's extra Normal Summon. On the otherhand, Vampire's Domain is frequently seen as a key card for this strategysimply because it keeps you gassed up for Vampire Fraulein's ability, whichlets you beat out big damage and sometimes steal monsters in return foryour own Life Points. We'll talk about her a bit later.
But for now, if you want to play Vampires you probably have to runVampire's Domain to afford Fraulein, and that fact sort of goes to show theinherent problems with the deck in the first place.
#7: Vampire Scarlet Scourge
Scarlet Scourge also draws winces because it's not out and out terrible,but it suffers from issues of speed and awkwardness. Paying 1000 LP torevive a Vampire is great, especially if it enables an Xyz Summon or getsyou a free search in the process. But getting to the point where you Normalor Special Summon Scarlet Scourge isn't always easy, so it winds up being ahit-or-miss card that can do some great stuff, but doesn't feel consistent.
#6: Vampire Domination
Vampire Domination's one of the better cards in the Vampire Arsenal,rewarding you for keeping at least one Vampire on the field with a freeCounter Trap that stops basically anything but summons. The chance to gainsome Life Points to funnel into your other effects is great too, and theresult's a relatively strong card. Factor in searchability with VampireRetainer and you start to see compelling reasons to give this strategy alook.
#5: Vampire Familiar
Like Retainer, you can pitch a cardto revive Vampire Familiar from the graveyard and get another search in theprocess, or you can set it up by sending it directly to the yard to beginwith.
It's another three-of in the eyes of most Vampire players, and it's a verysolid card supporting a bunch of stuff that sadly just aren't as easy toplay. While both Retainer and Familiar are both roughly the same price,Vampire Familiar outsold Vampire Retainer by a significant margin, againsuggesting that a lot of these sales were to a more casual crowd thantournament-minded competitors.
#4: Sky Striker Ace - Shizuku
And now we're gettin' to the good stuff. Sky Striker Ace – Shizukueffectively becomes stronger over the course of the game as your graveyardgrows, and she ensures that happens with her easy search effect. With anability that combines well with Sky Striker Mecha Modules – Multirole, and,well… just about everything else in the theme, Shizuku's an absolute pillarof the Sky Striker strategy.
#3: Vampire Fraulein
One part hand trap, two parts battle buff, and all vicious all the time,Vampire Fraulein's another one of those cards that stands out amongst theotherwise mixed bag of modern Vampire cards. Leveraging all those LifePoints you'll (hopefully) be gaining from Vampire Domination and Vampire'sDomain (fingers crossed), Vampire Fraulein can swipe opposing monsters andend games outright. Even her Level's useful, and best of all she's easy tosummon: something that can't be said for most of her high-Levelcompatriots.
It's a compelling card that unfortunately requires worse cards to support.But it's fun, and it's really cool, and that drove Vampire Fraulein all theway to Number 3 over the weekend.
#2: Sky Striker Ace - Raye
The monster lineup for a dedicated Sky Striker deck is usually three copiesof Sky Striker Ace – Raye and a bunch of hand traps, so it's not really asurprise that Raye was one of the bestselling cards of the weekend. Youcould play pure Sky Strikers without three copies of Raye, but you'dprobably need some special special brand of self-loathing to do so.
That said, note that mashup Sky Striker builds tend to skip Raye altogetherthanks to Sky Striker Mecha – Hornet Drones. The Hornet Drones allow you toreserve your Normal Summon for other cards, while still getting you amonster to turn into a Sky Striker Link. And while that issue's morecomplicated than I'm making it sound that's about the gist of it.
#1: Sky Striker Ace - Kagari
Finally, Sky Striker Ace – Kagari's the poster girl for the strategy,offering more raw power and a simpler card economy driven effect thanShizuku. Both are important, Kagari's a little more direct, but you'regenerally running three copies of each in a pure build or one and one in amashup. Right now, Kagari's selling so many more copies that it's a full 50cents more than Shizuku, which is a bit baffling given the circumstances.
Whenever a new set drops we always see speculators go after affordablecards with growth potential, and that trend's gotten bigger over the pastyear, especially for reprints. This time around the biggest winner wasScapegoat, a highly competitive card that some players want to see on theF&L List. We also saw heavy speculation on Toon Table of Contents, aperennial casual favorite; Sky Striker Mecha – Hornet Drones, the key toSky Striker mashups; Allure of Darkness; and Armageddon Knight.
Armageddon Knight really stood out for its absence in theLair of Darkness Structure Deck, and while it was reprinted lastyear in Pendulum Domination it's really convenient to pick up afew copies when you're already buying packs of a new set. Currently playedin surviving Destrudo engines and making waves in Dark Gouki variants, it'snice to see it back.
That's it for today's extra-long edition of Market Watch, but we'll be backon Friday to see how everything shakes out for Dark Saviors thisweek!
We'll see you then.