Hi amigos! After testing with Thavas Lambros, brainstorming with other players, and seeing the results from some tournaments, it’s time to go in depth some key aspects on building a Thavas Lambros deck for Standard (V Premium). This may be long overdue but better late than never ha!
I will cover a little in more depth on the cards and ratios as a whole. What’s also unique with Aqua Force, as a clan, since it has a lot of key things to keep in mind as well. So I’ll do my best to mention the highlights of the deck as a whole. Metagame considerations and deck lists will also be mentioned.
Table of Contents
Thavas Lambros’ Play Style
Let’s talk about big picture, what is the end goal or winning image that we want our Thavas Lambros deck to accomplish?
Thavas Lambros’ Key Strengths
- Multi attack. (4 to 5 attacks typically and scales)
- Restand 2 RGs in a column. (regardless of the opponent’s VG grade)
- Gives +5k to both RGs that are restood by Lambros. (makes it easy to pass thresholds so we push more shield value)
- Can retire thanks to Thavas’ skill.
- We have access to RGs that become big beaters, lets us draw cards, or set up our hand/field.
- A great win con on Turn 3 and can scale to be more deadly.
- Can generate 1-2 Accel circles once we ride to G3.
Oddly enough, the deck reminds me a lot of Nightrose Standard. There’s 3 things to keep in mind with the big picture.
Multi Attack, Advantage Gaining, And Pressure
There are three things that successful Thavas Lambros players should always keep in mind when doing their turns. So the real question is, what should I focus on?
It’s generally good to have a mixture of all three if possible. Think about it. While you’re doing 4-5 attacks a turn, you’re able to draw 1-3 cards and apply real pressure with beaters. There are plays that will be more focused on drawing more cards such as using Nerissa, Coral Assault, Pursuit Assault. Those units also serve on applying real pressure since they gain power. We can get to 4 attacks thanks to the Accel gift. So thankfully, the 5th attack on your 1st G3 turn comes from Lambros’ skill. After that, it scales to more attacks.
Your battle formations will mostly be the same, however, the matchups will dictate that as well. Some decks require you to build up a lot of advantage to just survive until they run out of gas. Some decks need to be dealt with immediately so more pressure and multi attack will be your focus.
To sum it up, the big picture is to be able to do our multi attack turns with as much pressure and advantage gaining. As a result, we can survive our opponent’s turns and be able to close out the game as soon as possible.
The Pseudo Stride Dilemma
As explained with our winning image, there are conditions that needs to be met each turn in order to do it. We need our Thavas VG to use its skill to pseudo Stride into Lambros!
The three conditions required are:
- 3 of our RGs rested
- 1 card to discard
- 1 copy of Lambros in the main deck
What happens if we don’t meet the conditions to pseudo Stride into Lambros? Glad you asked! Thavas’ other skill only helps with fulfilling the pseudo Stride conditions. So if you think about it, our VG doesn’t do much. Our turn is now limited to what our current formation looks like and cannot extend more attacks (outside of restanders and Accel circles). So this scenario is a subpar turn.
Aqua Force has always been a clan where we need to be deliberate with our cards in our hand and field. The clan is unforgiving for doing resource mistakes. Once the deck is behind our loss is almost guaranteed to happen.
Our deck building will involve having units that can Rest our RGs, generating RGs, and recycling cards like Lambros back into the main deck. Let’s start diving into it!
Cards Played & Ratios
The G3s and G4s
First off, both Thavas and Lambros are combo pieces that go together for the winning image!
Thavas really serves two purposes:
- Perform the pseudo Stride into a G4 from main deck (Lambros currently)
- The other skill is geared to help fulfill one of the pseudo Stride conditions
So overall, we want to play the 4 copies in our main deck. It’s an essential piece on both VC and RC.
Lambros is currently the only G4 we have access to in the main deck. Lambros restands our rested RGs to be able to use them for the battle phase. Furthermore, our Lambros VG will gain a drive check and +10k. Lastly, it makes a column restand and give it a total of +10k.
One of the key plays is to restand a RG column of both Coral Assault and Nerissa. Coral Assault with a powered up Nerissa can swing 42k and then restand to swing 52k. It’s a power column to capitalize the restand skill from Lambros.
Other G3s and G4s?
Currently, there are no other G4s, so that’s automatically ruled out. In the future, those new G4s could be options to pseudo Stride into with Thavas’ skill. What about other G3s?
Other main VG ride targets that sort of synergize, would be something like Last Card, Revonn. However, we still want to ride Thavas over Revonn in all cases.
A G3 RG like Riptide isn’t as great as we hope for. It’s phenomenal unit that becomes 32k on its own, however, it cannot attack until it’s the 4th battle or more. On our 1st G3 turn, Lambros will swing on the 4th battle and restand a column, so we’d miss the opportunity to restand a Riptide.
Furthermore, some builds don’t play or play little amount of restanding RGs. So getting to the 4th battle consistently ASAP, would be more challenging than its worth. We already have to worry about the pseudo Stride conditions, so why add more issues?
Let’s start with both Kelpie Rider, Denis and Coral Assault!
Denis is one of the cards that go along with the pseudo Stride strategy! It rests another RG as the cost and the benefit is superior calling the top card of our deck! This is BIG in Aqua Force, most cards in Aqua Force don’t generate advantage until they have some advantage to work with. This card is a 2 card play that gives another unit to work with.
Now, this card does have a love/hate relationship with players. Some players don’t like playing this card because it doesn’t do as much or the HARD 1/Turn makes extra copies useless. Which I totally understand and in Aqua Force you want each card to count. I’ve seen this card played at 0 to 4 copies in different builds.
The way I look at it, it plays a consistency piece for the deck as a whole. This card can be added by Nikki’s VC skill and help meet requirements for the pseudo Stride in terms of resting and having enough cards to rest overall. In my view, I just assume the card I superior call is just an extra “body” to work with, if it’s a great combo piece, then I see that as a bonus. Each turn you use its skill it is a +1 onto field and you can see it have a snowball effect as each turn passes.
Furthermore, this card can help in certain matchups where you want to deny damage early on. You don’t have to attack with your VG on your Turn 2 and this card can get a card from the top of your deck onto the field. That essentially replaces the drive check and that unit called can be used for your Turn 3 for the pseudo Stride play.
Coral Assault has been a phenomenal card for many sets. He serves two purposes:
- A reliable 24k beater (can hit through a trigger threshold)
- Go into Soul and draw us a new card (it mirages away and returns advantage back since we committed)
This card is the go to beater that we want to restand with Lambros’ skill! It can also be placed on an Accel circle to be a 29k/34k beater too. The requirements of seeing rested units synergizes well with the deck’s patterns and cards. Definitely a 3-4 copies in any build!
Are there cards that can rest more than 1 card at once? Glad you asked! Absolutely! That’s where both Agias and Pursuit come into the big picture! Both units can rest 2 RGs as part of their cost and gain a certain benefit.
Let’s start with Agias since it’s available both in Japan and English cards. Agias’ cost requires 1CB, so be mindful of using its skill when you’re limited on CB. The self benefit is that it gains 10k, which makes it a 19k beater. On an Accel cirlce, he can be 24k/29k, which passes trigger thresholds.
Pursuit is currently only available in Japan, so English builds can’t use it. However, this card is phenomenal in terms of its self benefit. It becomes a bigger beater as the number of Accel circles scale up! The major pro for this card is that the cost is a SB1 and allows you to draw a new card! You’re able to do a full strong pseudo Stride turn with only needing 1CB. Furthermore, this card helps drawing into key pieces that you may need or keep up your hand advantage healthy.
One thing to worth note with these cards, it’s best to always have a copy in hand for the following turn if possible. Remember, with one of these cards and your VG being Thavas, you’re guaranteed on resting 3 RGs!
What about our restanders that we’ve used for many of our Aqua Force builds? They’re still good to use!
Tidal Assault, Algos, and Terrific Coil are great for extending more attacks. Tidal Assault has the most flexibility and uses a SB1 for its skill.
Algos has the restriction of restanding on the first battle but uses a CB instead. Algos also provides a good VG skill on restanding another RG. This makes it a solid ride target on your G2 turn for early game pressure too.
Terrific can only restand on the 1st battle but the cost is a SB1. It has the neat skill of getting +5k when restood by an ability (includes its own skill too). This can make some nice numbers on Accel cirlces 19k/24k or in a column that gets boosted 22k.
What’s worth discussing is that these restanders make the deck more aggressive. What’s nice is that there’s no need to reach a certain amount of battles to enable skills. So if you decide to play any of the restanders, I’d suggest playing 4 copies. These cards add aggression for the early game too, so having more copies gives you more of a chance of seeing at least 1 copy to use.
Other G2 Options
Some of you may be thinking, who are these units? These are both Shotgun Assault and Halpalos! These aren’t used often and sometimes are forgotten.
Shotgun Assault serves as another beater. The battle sequence works out with Shotgun Assault using its skill twice in a turn. However, due keep in mind you’ll be needing more Soul or can limit your plays if you have other cards that require SB.
Halpalos adds a different dynamic of pressure. This card can be one of your first attackers and then further beef up our Lambros VG attack. Lambros will become 35k on his own with triple drive. Your opponent has to decide to drop more cards or quality shield cards like sentinels in order to prevent you on getting the draw! This matters because typically the column that Lambros restands are the biggest attacks, thus the opponent may want to save their bigger shield value cards or sentinel cards for that last attack to survive.
So are there units that get benefits if they are rested by another unit’s skill? Yes!
Let’s start with the MVP G1 of the deck, Nerissa! She serves the deck in SO many scenarios and battle formations.
- Her restand skill is NOT 1/Turn, so it can be used multiple times
- Each restand is +10k and it’s until end of turn
- She serves as a powerful booster for the Lambros restand
- She serves as a powerful beater (can be restood by Lambros and Algos)
- Removes itself from the field and you draw a new card
Nerissa is important in also maintaining/gaining advantage. If its superior called by Denis, she can give you a +1 in hand advantage at the end of the turn. Nerissa’s SB is useful for Nikki to recycle cards that may have been ridden or Soul Charged. I highly recommend at 4 copies. I’ve seen builds that play 3 copies but still great to maximize on this card.
Toddarius is an interesting card, it actually gives another RG +10k. To get the maximum benefit of the +10k, it’s best to power up a restander or a RG that will get restood by Lambros or Algos. However, it doesn’t see as much play due to the cost being 1CB.
I’ve mentioned Nikki numerous times ha! I really like this card for its simple yet effective skills in adding great consistency for the deck. The VC skill lets you have a potential +1 in hand advantage if you find a Thavas or Denis in the top 7 of your deck. This skill alone helps in consistency in the following:
- Riding up to G2/G3 (reduce the chance of G Assisting)
- Both Denis and Thavas rest other cards
- Grabbing Denis will give you another +1 in advantage due to his skill
It can help aid in denying damage to the opponent early on for certain matchups. The +1 can be viewed as also replacing your drive check. So you don’t have to attack with your VG.
The 2nd skill lets us recycle ANY key pieces we would like! Most of time, it will be recycling Lambros back into deck in order to pseudo Stride the same turn or for next turn. Furthermore, the SC1 helps in fueling for Lambros’ cost and other cards like Nerissa, Terrific Coil Dragon, etc. Definitely a 3-4 copies in any build. I recommend 4 copies of all cards (Denis and Thavas) to maximize your chances of getting the +1 into hand.
To aid in more G3 consistency, Beragios is great for that. If you really think about, this deck only has 4 G3s. So this card can help in making sure you get to ride to G3. Later on, it can help fetch Thavas for RG purposes. This can sometimes make your turn live or better. The +5k is nice since it can serve as a 13k attacker/booster. Synergizes well as being a booster for the Lambros column that will get restood. Typically, this card can be seen at 0-3 copies in builds.
Penguin Soldier has seen play in most builds for 3 reasons:
- Its a unit that can also rest itself to help fulfill for the pseudo Stride conditions
- It can CC1 for enabling our Lambros restand skill
- The +5k can be really helpful in making better numbers
It’s worth noting that the sequence of battles make it so that Lambros is usually attacking on the 4th battle. If you have no faceup CB, you can use Penguin Soldier’s CC1 skill first and then Lambros’ restand skill.
Lastly, the rest skill gives +5k to another RG in the same column. Since Lambros can restand all of your RGs once you peudo Stride, the Penguin Soldier restands and can boost too. The +5k can be great for units that restand or get restood by Lambros’ skill. This unit can be seen at 1-4 copies in builds.
Wheel Assault can be seen as a high-roll type of card. I had the pleasure to interview Darell Joyner (Kisaragi Zan) who topped with Thavas Lambros in a Vision Standard tournament. He opened my eyes to reconsider Wheel Assault for 2 reasons:
- Enabling 4 battles on G2 Turn without the need of restanders
- Taking advantage of the Accel circles with multiple units
Keep in mind his swap skill isn’t 1/Turn. So you can swap twice in a single turn thanks to Lambros restanding the whole column. On G2 turn, you can get 4 battles with cards like Coral Assault and Nerissa, then they mirage away. I will discuss this play more in the Go To Plays section later on. Lastly, it’s a great ride target to use its skill on getting a +1 in card advantage and dig deeper into your deck. This card can be played at 0-4 copies depending on the build.
Nikoloz can be a great addition when playing Algos in the deck. This can aid consistency and also serve as an 11k booster/attacker. If you find an Algos, it’s a +1 in hand advantage too.
The extra +3k can help pass through some Force VG thresholds:
- 12k G3 + 11k Nikoloz = 23k
- 24k Coral Assault + 11k Nikoloz = 35k
Calm Assault isn’t seen as often anymore either but can serve some added aggression. For example, on your G2 turn, your 3rd and 4th battles can hit if the opponent damage checked a trigger. During your G3 Turn and later, it can help past thresholds and force more shield value, so then your 5th battle and above are likely to break through the 6th damage. However, do keep in mind its a SB1-2 a turn for his skill, so it may be challenging to use alongside with Nerissa and Lambros.
So what’s the trigger lineup for Thavas? Great question!
A great trigger ratio that has been good to rely on is the ratio:
- 8 Critical
- 4 PG Draw
- 4 Heal
Why this ratio? Aqua Force needs to have a balance of aggression and some draw advantage too. We’re piece reliant, so the 4 Draws are very helpful when they are resolved. Furthermore, we want to have have room in our G1s for key cards to help with our Winning Image, so we prefer the PG Draws instead of G1 PGs.
Front triggers aren’t as threatening in this type of deck, mainly because our VG isn’t going to be the 1st, 2nd, or 3rd battle of the turn. Our smaller attacks on those initial battles can help push the opponent to 3-4 damage. When our Lambros will attack with Triple Drive!!, our VG attack becomes more lethal with Critical triggers. The opponent will have to guard the attack, thus putting the Criticals onto our remaining RGs to attack with.
What about the Critical Sentinels? Our starter?
Again, we rely on Draw triggers so having them being a Draw PG increases their worth if drawn into by a skill like Coral Assault, Nerissa, Pursuit, etc. You could go 12 Critical but it may be a more riskier aggressive type of build. Which will hurt consistency and hand/field attrition in the long run. Our starter is our retrain of Mitros from G Era! Oddly, enough, we speculated that Andrey (from the Thavas G Era trial deck) would have been the retrain starter. Mitros is still welcomed though!
Go To Plays
Turn 2 Play: (Wheel Assault with Coral and Nerissa)
If you have Wheel Assault with both Coral Assault and Nerissa, you can have the following setup:
Then perform the following attack sequence:
- X unit (Agias 9k)
- VG (9k)
- Nerissa boosted by Wheel Assault (16k)
- Swap Coral Assault with X unit
- Coral Assault (24k)
Then at end of turn, both Nerissa and Coral Assault go into Soul and you draw 2 new cards. As a result, your VG is the only front row unit left, so you don’t get easily damage denied. 4 attacks applies pressure and you can did deeper into your deck too.
G2 Turn Play: (A restander and Coral Assault)
Another G2 turn play, is a restander and Coral Assault. You can easily do 4 attacks this way and can add boosters to make the attacks more threatening too.
- Terrific Coil (14k)
- SB1 -> Restand and +5k itself
- Terrific Coil (14k)
- VG boosted by Nerissa (17k/27k)
- Coral Assault boosted by Penguin (32k)
At the end of turn, Coral Assault goes into Soul and you draw a card. If you have a Nerissa like here, she will also go into Soul and draw you a card. You can accomplish 4 attacks with pressure. However, keep in mind that your restander can get attacked and you may get damage denied. So properly assess the situation before doing a play like this.
A Play To Further Increase Your Power
Another key play to have in mind is when you have Agias with 2 Nerissas:
- Agias’ skill
- CB1 to rest both Nerissas and gain +10k
- Nerissa #1
- SB1 to restand itself and gain +10k
- Nerissa #2
- SB1 to restand itself and gain +10k
With a total cost of 1CB and 2SB, you have these units gain +10k for more pressure on your turns. This is already on top of us having 3 rested RGs for the pseudo Stride condition.
You can also have a variation similar with Pursuit Assault. Just be mindful of Soul.
G3 Turn Play: (An Example of pseudo Stride Turn with Wheel Assault)
Here’s an example of how your first G3 Turn can look like:
This setup will take advantage of 2 things:
- We have enough cards to rest, so Nerissa can SB1 to restand itself and gain +10k
- Wheel Assault will give us a 6th attack
Once you’re on Lambros, restand all of your RGs and do the attack sequence:
- Denis (14k)
- Agias boosted by Nikki (27k)
- Coral Assault boosted by Nerissa (42k)
- Lambros boosted by Wheel Assault (33k)
- CB1 + SB1 -> Restand both Coral Assault and Nerissa
- End of battle, use Wheel Assault’s skill -> Swap Nerissa with the rested Denis
- Nerissa (23k/28k)
- Coral Assault (24k/29k)
As you can see, this G3 Turn can have more power and attacks thanks to cards like Nerissa and Wheel Assault.
G3 Turn Play: (An Example of a 2nd pseudo Stride Turn with 3 Accel Circles)
Your next turn, you can reride with Thavas to gain a 3rd Accel cirlce. Furthermore, we’ll use the double Nerissa with Agias play to give those units +10k. Here’s an example of a formation to go into:
- Nikki (13k)
- Nerissa Top Right (23k)
- Agias (24k)
- Thavas RG boosted by Penguin (25k)
- Coral Assault boosted by Nerissa Bottom Right (42k)
- Lambros boosted by Wheel Assault (33k)
- CB1 + SB1 -> Restand both Coral Assault and Nerissa Bottom Right
- End of battle, use Wheel Assault’s skill -> Swap Nerissa Bottom Right with the rested Nikki
- Nerissa Top Left (28k)
- Coral Assault (29k)
As you can see, the 2nd attack and afterward hits 23k and over. So any damage checked trigger won’t stop the next attacks.
Other Key Tips
Playing From Behind
In Aqua Force, it’s really hard to play from behind. However, there are some cards that can help with getting back some tempo.
Pursuit Assault can be a lifesaver sometimes on drawing you a key piece. Furthermore, a 2nd Pursuit Assault can further draw you another card.
Denis is another card that can help you get some momentum. However, the superior call may sometimes be better if kept in hand such as a Heal trigger.
Also, if you’re able to pseudo Stride, I recommend going for it. Why?
- You’ll deck thin a non-trigger card (Lambros)
- Triple Drive!! (More chances for triggers to resolve such as Draw PGs)
- You may drive check enough triggers to steal the game back in your favor or even win
Again, there’s only so much we can do when we’re playing from behind. These are just some small tips that could help you get back into some tempo at least.
Less Than Ideal Rest Targets
Sometimes your setup may not have ideal units to rest. What do you mean? Glad you asked!
Typically, we want to rest units like Nerissa and other G1s/G2s that will restand and be used for our turn. However, there are times where you may have to call triggers, Lambros copies from hand, or excess cards cards like more than one Denis.
There’s only so much we can do to optimize our battle formations. Just be mindful when intercepting or having key cards in hand for next turn. When you’re mindful of your hand and field cards, your battle formations should continue to be threatening.
Resources To Keep In Mind
Resources such as CB and SB are something to always keep in mind. Multiple key units like Lambros, Agias, and Nerissa use these resources. It’s best to use in moderation such as 1-2 CB a turn and 1-2 SB a turn.
Cards like Penguin can help CC1 per turn. Cards like Coral Assault and Nerissa go into Soul for next turn usage. You can also reride Thavas per turn to get an additional card available for Soul.
Other types of resources to keep in mind are key pieces like Agias, Pursuit, and Lambros. Both Agias and Pursuit help with resting units to easily fulfill your rest condition. Having a copy saved in your hand for next turn can help guaranteeing your next turn pseudo Stride. Also, Lambros has to be ridden from deck when using Thavas’ skill. So you have to keep in mind having at least 1 copy of Lambros in your deck when doing your turn. Cards like Nikki help you recycle them back to deck.
Scaling Accel Circles
Over time, your Accel circles will start to increase at a rate of 1-2 per turn. The more Accel circles you have available, the more attacks you’re able to do. Take advantage of being able to reride Thavas each turn during your Ride Phase to get a total of 2 Accel circles per turn. Your opponent will have a harder time guarding every attack, especially when they’re already at 5 damage.
Retiring Key Cards In Certain Matchups
What’s great is thanks to Thavas’ skill, we’re able to retire an opponent’s RG of our choosing. Usually it’s best to retire key units that aid the opponent’s Winning Image, such as Hamiel for Gavrail, a Yggdrasil/Norn for Himiko, a Takehime for Yasuie, etc.
Also, your first attacks that are weaker, which are great to attack the opponent’s front row RGs. Most of the time, the opponent lets them die off, so you can focus on retiring the back row units. As a result, you’re dwindling your opponent’s field and they are put in a position where they have to decide to commit more cards from hand.
What To Prioritize When We Have A Surplus Of Resters
There are times where we have plenty of units that can rest a total of more than 3 RGs. So how do we prioritize on which skills?
A card to take advantage of is Nerissa. Let’s say we can rest 4 RGs in total. One of those rest skills can have Nerissa use her skill to restand and gain +10k. You’ll still have the 3 rested RGs and have Nerissa be a 18k booster/attacker. Anything additional, you can further use Nerissa’s skill multiple times. I’ve had turns where I’ve restood her 3-4 times and still have the 3 RGs rested.
If you don’t have Nerissa then it becomes more crucial on what benefits are more beneficial. For example, Thavas can retire troublesome units, Denis gives you an extra body to work with, Agias gets +10k, Pursuit gives you an extra draw, etc. Assess the situation and use the skills that can help be the most beneficial.
Which Unit To Ride As G1: Nikki vs Beragios
Cards like Nikki and Beragios have skills that help with retrieving cards like Thavas and Denis (in Nikki’s case). However, there are some pros/cons to still think about when doing so.
I feel Nikki has the biggest pro because you can potentially +1 in hand. If that +1 is Denis, then you can further +1 next turn.
However, Nikki has an important 2nd purpose. It can help recycle Lambros copies back into deck. I know that in most English builds sometimes struggle on having at least 1 copy of Lambros in deck due to drawing or damaging the copies. So having a Nikki on RG can help with that. However, if you ride a Nikki, you may not see 2nd copy in time to help with that scenario.
Beragios also serves as a 13k booster. This can help with pushing through thresholds.
- Lambros 25k + Beragiois 13k = 38k (makes a 30k sentinel a 1 to pass, for 12k/13k base VGs)
- Makes the Coral Assault column become 37k then 47k with Lambros’ power up
- Makes boosting a G2 a 22k column
So be mindful of who to ride with. If you do have a choice, assess the Lambros copies you’ve already drawn into and if you opened with a 2nd Nikki.
An example, is riding Beragios as G1 VG, use its skill to grab a Thavas and discard a Lambros from hand. Then call Nikki to RG to recycle Lambros back to deck.
Wheel Assault Vs Beragios
Some builds play one or the other. What are the pros/cons between the two? Glad you asked!
Wheel Assault helps with achieving more battles both early on and on your Lambros turns. It can really take advantage of swapping units on Accel circles to push for more attacks.
Beragios helps with G3 consistency though. Remember, our deck is basically 4 G3 deck. So cards that help retrieving our Thavas are highly appreciated!
So the cons really come down to how you play the game. With Wheel Assault you have lost consistency and may want to do certain plays to help with having a Thavas in hand before riding to G3. For example, if you’re able to do the 4 attack turn with Coral Assault and Nerissa, you are likely to do it to apply pressure BUT also helps with drawing more from your deck. Which increases the chances of getting a Thavas into hand. Or even riding over Wheel Assault to use the CB to draw a card.
What If We Get Damage Denied?
We can also somewhat deal with damage denial. If you get to your G3 turn and have no available CB, you can still perform the pseudo Stride. This allows for a decent turn still. You will have Triple Drive!!, deck thin a Lambros copy, and your VG will be base 25k.
Since you’ll get an Accel circle, you can still accomplish 4 attacks. Take advantage of cards like Coral Assault and Nerissa. You can have those units be in the front row and mirage away at the end of turn. This allows you to still apply pressure and prevent from getting damage denied again. Furthermore, you’ll reride Thavas and gain a 2nd Accel circle. They can’t damage deny you forever.
I’ll cover some winning deck list and mention some of the key points of each one. Since Pursuit Assault is Japan only, we’ll start there. Then go to English builds that have to use more of other units to make up for the lack of Pursuit Assault.
Japan Only Builds
LaboVan 1st Place Team 3rd Seat:
Notice that even though with 4 Pursuit Assault they still play 1 Agias. There may be scenarios where you need the 5th card that can rest 2 units at once. Furthermore, thanks to Pursuit Assault, we can do a full Lambros turn with only 1CB needed.
Card Shop Ryusei no Pao, Japan Local Top:
English Only Builds (lack of Pursuit Assault)
Vision’s Online Standard Tournament 3rd place overall:
Right off the back, you can see 4 Agias is a must! Not only that, Penguin Soldier is needed at some quantity to help CC1 per turn. Remember, to do a full Lambros turn with Agias, we need 2CB. This build uses Wheel Assault to still have that high-roll aspect.
I cover Kisaragi Zan’s deck profile more in-depth on my channel, feel free to check it out:
As you can see with both builds, they utilize 3 to 7 G2 restanders. These builds are more aggressive and can easily have a better early game with less resources compared to using Wheel Assault. Remember, cards like Algos, can restand ANY RG when it’s on VC.
You can also check out StandUpTheSoryu’s build more in-depth:
CardFightKing’s Build Post-Gurguit set:
CardFightKing’s build was more towards the consistency side. Especially, since Gurguit was at full power with Percival and Aglovale. It was essential to damage deny that deck before they ride to G3. Our restanders wouldn’t make enough impact to make it worth it. Giving Gurguit 1CB during this time, was really a death sentence.
Metagame Considerations & Pointers
I will preface this section with 2 important aspects of the deck that are key and then mention some key things in a few matchups.
- Exploding on our G3 Turn
Aqua Force needs to keep its tempo as the turns pass. As soon as it loses its tempo or worse, falls behind, then it can be challenging to win the game.
That tempo can look like in the following:
- Early game pressure
- +1 to hand with cards like Nikki/+1 to field with cards like Denis
- Dealing 1-3 damage before riding to G3
- Making sure we can ride up to G3 without the need of G Assist
- Retiring the opponent’s key units with Thavas
Then finally we can explode in our G3 Turn. As mentioned in the Go To Plays section, we can do so much with 5 attacks and pressure that it can easily put the opponent to 5 damage or win.
That’s generally the overall strategy with the deck, however, I’ll list some matchups that will cover some things to keep in mind:
- Damage denial up to a certain Turn
- Removal skills
- Really hard decks to beat because they have a stronger G3 Turn that can’t be matched/stopped
In this part, I like to quote Kisaragi Zan in parts of it. He has shared valuable insight.
“Matchup knowledge is important because it can dictate the flow on how you want to approach the opponent. If you can afford to slow down the opponent by damaging denying them, it is better to do so, especially against [insert decks]. Otherwise, you’re free to be aggressive to get as much damage in. This is true regardless if you went first or second.
Decks that you can afford to damage deny are:
These come to mind and there are others but not sure how prevalent they are in today’s meta. (e.g. Harri)“
Let’s start diving into some general pointers that can aid you in your matchups.
Angel Feather (Gavrail)
There is a high possibility that Angel Feather will OTK you on the spot as soon as they ride to G3. They will OTK with power that won’t be guardable unless you drew the correct cards at the right time (and even if, just barely). The best approach to Angel Feather is to kill them before they kill you. Accel 1 is considerable depending on how much pressure you want to put on. It is important to note that the Angel Feather player may try to RG hate you (attack only your RGs) while only attacking you with their most lethal attack or even passing if they’re unable to kill, which is done to limit your skills in the following turns.
Damage Denial Doesn’t Necessarily Work:
This deck has access to Holy Seraph, Nociel which can give them 1CB to work with, even if they have no damage at all or if all damage is facedown. So even damage denial is NOT always guaranteed to work. This also forces us to try to 0 to 6 damage the opponent, which the deck doesn’t specialize in. So they can survive still and then just finish us next turn unfortunately. So just be mindful.
Gold Paladin (Gurguit Post Ban)
Fortunately, we no longer have to damage deny to prevent Percival since the Post Ban restricted them out of Gurguit. So playing the normal temp aggression strategy works well now. Keep in mind that some may play the Ezel engine, but cards like Wonder Ezel can superior ride up with just a SB1. So you can’t really stop that. You going first also plays in your favor more.
Shadow Paladin (Luard)
Since Luard relies heavily on having grade 1s in the drop, the best way to secure it as of right now, is their G2 Liafall which demands a CB. Otherwise they’d have to guard with 3 G1s from hand and anything less will result in them having to pay for a CB to go into Dragdriver. If successful, you can completely cripple Luard, putting them one turn behind.
Another exploit that Thavas has is his ability to retire units, since Luard always wants G1s in the front row, they have to set up their board with Hardship Sage, Decron; which gives their front row grade ones the ability to intercept. Sniping it off denies them 20k shield meaning the rest of their guard must come from their hand. However, they can get around this by calling two Decron’s but they’re opting out of calling a G1 that can give them resources or even additional power.
Bermuda Triangle (Melody)
Since Melody is a piece reliant deck that works with having other Melody units on the board, popping their most important rear-guards is helpful. While they do have units that can recur them from the drop, they’re sent to the deck. Also attacking into their is also beneficial as well to disrupt their formation.
In the early stages, this is pretty effective since having Sonata either on VC or in soul w/ Plon as their Vanguard means they’ll be able to get any Melody unit from their deck. Plon herself needs to CB to put a Melody unit into Soul to draw one and even get an Imaginary Gift. In conjunction to retiring rear-guards or even rear-guard hating, you can force the Melody player to use their CB to rebuild their field as opposed to getting extra gift markers and another name in the Soul.
You’re almost on a timer with this deck. Your Lambros copies aren’t safe in Drop Zone due to Oboro’s skill binding them from RC or Drop Zone. Once per turn, you’ll lose a copy of Lambros. So it’s best to finish the game as fast as possible. Your 2nd Lambros turn should do the job, after that, it can be challenging to close out the game.
Annoyingly, they have the G2, Magatsu Gale, that can bounce their units back to hand. So sometimes you only have so many choices to retire. However, you can still dwindle their RC resources. Key units are Sakurafubuki, the units that give power when Tokens are present, etc.
Aqua Force (Thavas Lambros Mirror)
If you’re going first, you have the advantage of having the first G3 Turn to explode with Lambros. Keep in mind that you need 1-2CB going into that turn. Keep the tempo going and you’ll win.
Funny enough, damage denial can hurt us when done at the right time. If you’re going second, they will have the opportunity to have the first G3 Turn. So to prevent them from having a full power Lambros turn, don’t give them ANY damage. They can still do the pseudo Stride skill but can’t restand a column to get 5 attacks. You can attack RGs early on. And if you have to ride and NOT attack with Vanguard, then you can rely on Nikki/Denis to give you a +1. Assess the situation as you ride up.
Some Extra Matchups From Clan Selection Plus
Spike Brothers (Dudley):
It’s best to damage deny until after they ride to G2. The new G2, Dudley Davie, can CB1 to superior call the G3, Demonic Lord, Dudley Lucifer, and start having multi-attacks. Once they ride to G2, then you can start being aggressive. They also have access to the G2 Rona, which can also superior call Lucifer.
Genesis (Himiko Regalia):
This deck wants to OTK you with a 4-5 Crit restanding Regalia RG. Before, damage denying could be helpful early on, but the new G2, Demon Exorcism Regalia, Thrud, can gain and transfer a Divine Gauge to Norn (for free then on attack). Norn, just needs a Divine Gauge to restand any Regalia unit. If they leave a Norn on RC, immediately retire it with Thavas.
Link Joker (Chaos):
Early on, you can avoid calling RGs and not give them damage until after they ride G2. Zirconium needs a CB to resolve and if they ride with no CB available, it actually hurts them a lot in the long term.
Take advantage of cards that can remove themselves from field such as Coral Assault and Nerissa. Also, retire key units like Zirconium so it makes their turns subpar. Zirconium will give their VG +Critical which can be deadly.
Chaos wants to go 2nd because we’ll have at least 1 Gift for them to take advantage of. Once you ride to G3 and do your Lambros turn, you’ll end up with 2 Accel circles. Chaos can use its skill to Lock one of your units and give you a Force Gift. Choose Force 2 and put it on a RG column. Lambros can restand that column to take advantage of the Critical pressure. Also, worth noting, that you can still outpace them with/without Accel circles and the Force 2 Gift can aid you along the way too.
Some of you may be thinking, this would have been really good to have months ago. I completely agree with you, but better late than never ha!
To be honest, a lot of us were involved with Cardfight Con around the time Thavas Lambros came out both in Japan and English. So our efforts were mainly focused on that endeavor to make it happen!
I do see this as a great deck study for the end of V Era and its transition to V Premium.
Credit To Amigos
I definitely want to give credit to a lot of amigos that have helped with brainstorming, thoughts, ideas, sharing experiences, etc.
Force of the Ocean is a big one! When the reveals happened, we were all very excited to figure out the deck! It was different than what we expected but the “puzzle” was solved.
Axis Vanguard as well with their thoughts and perspective. Shout out to one of our graphic artist, Zeow, for creating the thumbnail as well!