Dragonic Overlord – The Crimson Reaper

An overview about Dragonic Overlord in the V Premium Format with Cipher and Dravoth.

“I just seek strength…… and so, I cross the path once again”

The bearer of the eternal flame, the crimson reaper, the raging dragon of the apocalypse – it goes by many names. The dragon that stands above all dragons. The Overlord.

Dragonic Overlord is a unit that needs no introduction to anyone with even the vaguest knowledge of Vanguard. The unit dates back to the very start of Vanguard as it was first seen as the ace of the Kagero Trial deck at the beginning of the game, acting as the rival to Blaster Blade – something that we would see again with the launch V series in 2018.

Dragonic Overlord is a prominent figure in lore as the main commander of Kagero, the aerial assault squad of the Dragon Empire, and suitably has taken many different forms over the years in response to different situations. Much like how Blaster Blade is the name of the holy sword, Overlord is a mantle given to showcase its power even amongst dragons.

Since the start, Overlord’s signature ability has been its ability to restand itself after an attack in a continuous assault, burning down all to ashes with its eternal flame. Most iterations of Dragonic Overlord do keep this theme and build upon it in slightly different ways. Starting with its crossride, Dragonic Overlord The End, it would grow and include any popular units such as The Great and The X amongst them.

Playstyle

In its modern-day iteration in V series, Overlord is still leading as Kagero’s primary focus though its playstyle has evolved somewhat. Where Overlord had initially started with a pressure-based unit that wins the game through its ability to pressure and overwhelm the opponent, using its re-stand ability to push ahead. The V series iterations of the various Overlords have put almost all of the emphasis on the Vanguard, focusing directly on the strengths of the restand mechanic to bring games to a close as quickly as possible with the extra attacks and drive checks. As trigger effects last throughout the turn many effects and triggers effects given to the Vanguard can be used multiple times during subsequent attacks which can easily overwhelm the opponent’s defense.

Overlord now excels as an aggro deck that has strong OTK potential with its swift and powerful attacks, stacking triggers on itself to swing higher and higher with multiple crits. As most Overlord decks are Vanguard-centric at their core this also means it is rather self-sufficient with its rearguards generally being used to directly support and set up plays for the Vanguard rather than for their attacking potential.

This combination of traits gives Overlord arguably the strongest comeback potential in the game as no matter how crippled it may appear to be, with minimal resources and no field, it can still put out multiple attacks with drive checks.

The Overlords and its many forms

The first iteration of the Overlord. As the main card of a trial deck, it has a relatively simple skill that recaptures the “Eternal Flame” ability,  where it will be able to restand itself if its attack hits, albeit this time only on the Vanguard circle and also its secondary ability which can give itself +10000 power during the turn, making it a relatively strong attacker as a rearguard by the low standards of Kagero. 

Having its origins in the original Cardfight Vanguard manga, The Great was initially released as the final boss unit for the perdition deck back during the rather short Legion era. This iteration of it tries to recapture the Legion mechanic, supporting itself and a partner. When ridden, it can call a Dragonic Neoflame, originally the partner of The Great. When a grade 3 is in the soul, it can re-stand itself and Dragonic Neoflame to create 4 attacks without needing to hit. 

Also returning for V series, Dragonic Overlord The End now acts as the primary finisher for the Overlord deck with its ability to attack up to 3 times as long as you can meet its requirements. The first costs 1CB and 1SB and requires your hand to contain less than 4 cards at the end of a battle and the second requires an Overlord in the soul (Which also grants it 10k power for the rest of the turn) and a significant discard cost of 3 so you generally want to use this one first (despite it being listed second). From just a card design perspective it is easy to see the strengths and flaws of the cards. The End forces the player to bet it all during the turn you use its skill with its 4 or fewer cards in hand requirement as well as its hefty discard cost. In exchange Dragonic Overlord The End can attack 3 times with 3 drives checks across the first two attacks (As it loses 1 drive per restand). A truly do or die strategy. Still, as it requires a G3 in the soul to meet its full requirement it is normally a turn 4 card only and this unfortunately held it back somewhat at its time of release. 

Dragonic Overlord the X is the main Vanguard for the current iteration of the Overlord deck for good reason and, once again, we have a previous Legion unit that has synergy with its past partner.

For a soul blast, it can search your deck for any Overlord other than itself and place it into the soul. Then The X will gain the names and all skills of the card you chose until the end of the turn. This effectively gives consistent access to any Overlord’s skills you may want for just 1SB, making the deck very reliable at setting up for its powerful turns. It is important to note that as the g3 enters the soul, this fulfils the conditions of the Overlord units you might copy. It also has 2 other skills – one that treats your hand as if it were at zero, regardless of how many cards might be in it (Remember the requirement of The End that required less than 4 cards in hand…?) as well as preventing its drive from going below 1 when your opponent has a grade 3 or higher vanguard.

In Combination with The End, The X is easily one of the most explosive units to have ever appeared in the game as it requires very little to do a lot. In combination with a couple of support units, it has the potential to end games as early as your first G3 ride or even when your opponent is still on G2 so as long as you can meet its requirements. 

Currently, this is the cornerstone of competitive Kagero decks. 

The newest Overlord to be released and the newest trump card used by Toshiki Kai in the manga series, Cardfight!! Vanguard: Turnabout. At the end of the battle it attacked, it can re-stand all Overlord units in the front row for a single counterblast and discard 2, allowing for a potential 6 consecutive attacks.  It gives itself -1 drive and, if the opponent is G3, gives the front row Overlord’s an additional 10000 power.  

Unlike the End and The X, The Turnabout, while technically self-sufficient (it does restand itself still) works best when working with its rearguards, similarly to The Great but much easier due to the number of possible targets and not requiring a G3 in soul. It provides Overlord decks an alternate build, the like of which has not been seen in V series Kagero before now.

Supporting the Vanguard

To compliment a Vanguard Centric strategy it is very common to see Overlord decks run units that can support the Vanguard by increasing its attack power for the rest of the turn, gaining additional value with each restand. The most commonly seen are listed here.

Heatshot Dragon

A Grade 1 unit released alongside The X and acts as a continuous booster for it as it restand for free alongside The X. Its main strength is that it has no cost attached to it, allowing you to focus your resources on Vanguard.

On top of that, it has another skill when placed on V that allows it to cycle a card to get deeper into your deck if you happen to ride it, which is a nice bonus.

Calamity Tower Wyvern 

History repeats itself for this unit. The original calamity tower wyvern was an essential staple for The X back in the G era – the current unit has that same fate for G era. For 1SB, it retires itself to give your Vanguard a flat +15k for the rest of the turn.This puts The X at a base power of 28k during the turn before factoring in any other skill. This skill can single-handedly steal games as this effectively demands your opponent to have 3 more 15k shields in hand as the power will stay throughout the turn. It also has no once per turn restriction so multiple Wyverns can stack the skill on The X for some huge value, just be careful not to SB an Overlord and have enough left for The X’s restand cost.

Wyvern Strike Dekat 

Not as common as the initial two but is a card that you will see run, especially when Protect clans are doing well. Dekat was initially released as a support unit for The End and makes your Vanguards attacks require at least 2 cards to guard provided it is named Dragonic Overlord The End. Against perfect guards, this means they will have to use a total of 3 cards to defend against an attack which can very quickly decimate their hand. It costs 1CB to use but it goes to the soul after which means you have more soul to spend on Calamity Tower Wyvern.

Burnrise Dragon

While it doesn’t boost the Vanguard directly it can increase its own power and critical for 1CB and 1 discard which can be hard to deal with after defending against 3 consecutive Vanguard attacks. As the game moves more aggressively towards killing an opponent on your first G3 ride, this card is gaining popularity as resources and hand size are much less important in faster games.

Igniroad Dragon

Igniroad Dragon can search for the top 7 cards of the deck for a Dragonic Overlord the X, adding a free search to the deck, while also becoming a powerful attacker by gaining 5k each time your Vanguard attacks, reaching a minimum of 25k over a turn where The X was able to copy The End. This helps Overlord to hit high numbers on their rearguards, something they would have a weakness with otherwise.

Torridcannon Dragon

Torridcannon Dragon helps to recycle your normal units back into the deck, helping you to cycle back Overlords to help The X with consistency across multiple turns, all while retiring a g2 or less on your opponent’s field and drawing 1 if your hand is 4 or less (Remember that The X always considers your hand to be 0 for the purposes of all card skills, not just its own). Extremely useful if you end up drawing The End or taking it as damage but perhaps has lower value in shorter games.

Consistency Tools and generic support

As a Kagero deck, Overlord has access to strong generic utility tools that round off the deck nicely. Lava Flow Dragon is very commonly played, bringing for more search power and can act as a reasonable attacker or booster. The other is Flame of Hope, Aermo which retires itself when an opponent’s rearguard is retired during your turn to counter charge 1 and draw 1. This allows you to both dig deeper into your deck and allows you to spend your CB on things other than The X without having to worry about running out. A common play is to spend a CB on Torridcannon Dragon to retire an enemy card and draw, then to retire Aermo to restore that spent CB and draw again.

Deck Builds

The first list here won the WGP event over in Japan when Luard was widely considered to be the best deck of the format. The list plays many of the cards mentioned before and is a very stable version of the deck. It plays consistency tools such as Lava Flow and Igniroad to secure riding into The X consistently and several ways to increase The X’s power with 4 Heatshot Dragon and 3 Calamity Tower Wyvern. The list also plays 4 Wyvern Guard, Barri instead of Dragon Knight, Jannat another commonly played card in other lists. Having draws gives the deck a little bit more stability and further reduces the chance of not being able to find The X (which is generally an instant loss) whilst also allowing the deck to guard some attacks that it might not otherwise be able to. This comes at the expense of the offensive power running more crits grants and the 30k shield that can sometimes be preferable against an accel clan.

WGP2020 Japan 1st Place 

Overall, a very stable and consistent build for The X – a safe place to start whilst becoming comfortable with the deck. Other decks often sacrifice some of the consistency and defensive options for more offensive potential but sometimes, slow and steady wins the race.

The next list here belongs to the 4th place player at the same event. This time we see different card ratios compared to the previous one.  Reducing the number of Torridcannon and Lava Flow Dragon in favor of making way for tech cards such as Wyvern Strike, Dekat, and Burnrise Dragon, which can be very good for catching players off guard. Dekat is very effective against Perfect Guards and Burnrise brings a small amount of extra offensive push if your Overlord’s attacks weren’t quite enough. The list also runs 5 draws and 7 criticals with all Sentinels being Perfect Guards.

WGP2020 Japan 4th Place

A rather unique list running 12 critical with Dragon Knight Jannat, and no Calamity Tower Wyverns, a very commonly run card for the DOTX deck. In its place, it runs more Grade 2s which gives it more rearguards for early game pushing. The deck also adopts 3 Wyvern Strike Dekat to force your opponent to play additional cards, which somewhat compensates for the loss of Calamity Tower Wyvern. With the remaining G1s being solid boosters, you have the ability to attack with slightly more powerful columns than is common for The X decks.

This build focuses on emphasizing the speed and strength of the DOTX Strategy, it runs Sable Dragonewt for additional draw as well as 4 Berserk Dragons to give the deck a lot of early advantage and momentum when riding up. With 16 criticals, this deck can end games very quickly and has even stronger highroll potential at the cost of consistency, though, the additions mentioned previously do somewhat compensate for this. 

Other Possibilties?

Before the release of The X, The Great was used as the primary Vanguard in most Kagero builds, While it has gained a similar improvement in speed like The End,  the card has is certainly not as effective when compared with The End version of Overlords. Still, the card is generic enough on its own so perhaps in the future, we will see it combined into other deck builds.

The Turnabout on the other hand is looking to be a relatively strong alternative or addition to the DOTX / The End strategy and has different strengths and weaknesses due to its reliance on having rearguards and lower cost.  The card is still rather new though, so we have yet to see how the deck develops over time and how it compares in comparison to the current builds.

Turnabout Focused List with more Grade 3 targets to use its skill 

Possible Integration into the Current List 

STRATEGY

Regardless of build, Overlord is amongst the most linear playstyles in the game – you have your game plan and you’ll be sticking to it without needing to show much concern for what your opponent is doing. Its strategy is to simply push your opponent to high damage as fast as possible and continue to pressure and threaten lethal damage with 3 consecutive VG attacks to end it as soon as possible.There are, however, some things which should be discussed before we end the article.

You lose if you don’t ride The X

You’ll notice that the deck has lots of search potential and runs cards with seemingly quite costly skills to draw. This is because if you don’t ride The X, you will lose the game. It’s the worst way to lose and it does happen. The deck’s win condition is always The X and so you can and should do everything you possibly can to get it into hand before you reach turn 3 – don’t be scared of spending resources and sacrificing advantage to secure it because if you don’t, you’re going to lose. You have other pieces – Calamity Tower Wyvern and Heatshot Dragon and so on – that are also important to draw into so you want to keep going with drawing and cycling even when you have The X in hand but those pieces are all useless without The X.

Accounting for the copies of your Overlords

Always keep track of the number of the Overlords in your deck, in particular the one which you want to copy with The X’s skill. While it is easy to overlook this sort of thing, soul Blasting the Overlord you put in the soul for the last attack of The X and hanging on to the Torridcannon Dragon in hand for the following turn so that you can recycle it can be clutch. There’s nothing worse than losing because you ran out of The End in your deck and, again, it does happen. You’ll take them to damage, you’ll draw into them and you’ll obviously end up with them in soul. Games don’t always go on long enough for it to be a problem often but when they do, make sure you’ve got a plan ready for how to get The End back into the deck.

Soul and Counterblast Management 

Kagero does not have many effective ways to build up soul during the game outside of riding and The X’s skill. With this is mind, manage your soul properly during the game as Calamity Tower Wyvern and The X both use soul. In the case of Calamity Tower, you may want to reserve its use only during turns where you are confident your opponent will be forced to defend against or when you’re going for the kill to conserve soul for the next turn to ensure you can use The End’s copied skill as often as possible

As the deck’s overall playstyle is very aggressive, you may find yourself in situations where your opponent will not give you a counterblast to prevent you from playing aggressively. Note that The X can still trigger the second part of The End’s skill to always be attacking 2 times at the very least, which is still reasonably strong and you’re always going to break even on the discard with your drive checks. Ideally you will want to have one counterblast to work with at the very least, though, so if your opponent is swinging at you early, don’t be scared to no guard (arguably, this is encouraged!).

The End’s skill

Ideally, you will want to always use The End’s second clause to give your Vanguard the extra 10k power for the next 2 attacks. If you are low in hand and only have a card like Calamity in hand, it may be wiser to use its Calamity and use The End’s first clause first and then use its second when you have additional, less important cards to discard. Always think about the overall number of cards that they will need to guard against all the attacks, rather than rigidly sticking to the preferred skill order.

Force 

For Vanguard centric strategies such as The X, force 2 is preferred due to its ability to pressure your opponent from 2 damage and potentially kill from 2 if your opponent is unprepared. Force 1 is typically only reserved if your opponent is somehow at high damage or for rearguard based strategies such as The Great and the Turnabout. Still, this isn’t set in stone and you may find yourself in a situation where the other will be better. You generally run a lot of cards that can be used to increase The X’s power enough to be threatening, even more so when it has 2 base critical, but there will be games where you see that your opponent has a big enough hand to guard those attacks and the power may be preferential – this can be a niche but situationally strong option if you’re running 16 critical triggers, for example. Force 2 should always be your go to marker but you should always be flexible and judge the game as it comes, even for a linear deck like Overlord.
If you are interested to see how the deck functions in practice, I recommend checking out the swiss round match between a DOTX and Luard , at the WCC VGCS at Sydney. Kai from WCC commentates and gives good insight on the cardfight!

Final Thoughts

Though it’s been a while since it was released, Dragonic Overlord the X is still proving to be a strong contender in the current state of the game. Its explosive playstyle and relative ease of use makes it a tenacious deck that refuses to rest even in the face of an evolving metagame. Facing forward with pride in its own strength, the Eternal Flame burns on.

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