Interview with Evan Alberto (CrieTEXe)

Today we have a Cardfighter Spotlight! I’ll be having the opportunity to interview the Granblue player that recently accomplished 2nd overall in Vision’s Online Premium Tournament! His name is Evan Alberto (CrieTEXe#2475) and is from Canada! Not only that, but he’s one of the writers for the blog too! Let’s get right into the interview!

Interview

Jaime: First off, congratulations to CrieTEXe (Evan) for getting 2nd place in Vision’s online Premium team tournament! When I saw the results and you were playing our beloved Granblue, I was happy to see Granblue being represented. Today I wanted to do an interview with you about your overall experience and even get to know you a little bit for the readers. Sounds good amigo?

Evan: Sounds great and thank you for giving me this opportunity!

Jaime: Of course! Tell us a little about yourself. Where are you from? Are you from any specific Vanguard teams/communities? Any other events that you and/or team have done well? Etc.

Evan: Hello, my name is Evan and I am from Calgary in Alberta Canada. I am not affiliated with any teams, though my community here is amazing for Vanguard. Although it’s not as active due to the recent global events. Unfortunately, due to being in the healthcare industry my opportunities for participating in events like regionals dwindled. I hope to be able to participate more once they are available again! I have only played in 1 regionals to date and I placed 16th with a Scaredick variant.

Jaime: Yes, this pandemic has changed so much. Wow, I’m impressed you placed 16th at a different regional with a Scaredick variant. How did you start playing Cardfight Vanguard?

Evan: I started playing in high school when the first Aqua Force trial deck came out. Technically we were interested when the first set of Trial Decks came out but just decided to wait so there is more variance. Once Granblue got a proper trial deck in the G-Era, I was sold for years to come.

Jaime: Wow you started with Aqua Force?! I knew you were a good guy ha! During your preparation, what are some things that you mainly focused on? Certain matchups, deck builds, strategies, etc.

Evan: The things I mainly focused on were previously popular deck lists and decks that may appear due to the CFA update and the set drop of Clan Selection. I keep up to date on relevant decks through the Vision tops and through Reddit threads. In the current meta, decks that are very consistent in aggression and/or have a strong loop seem to be the way to go.

After analyzing all the decks, I figured that damage denial is the best strategy and almost all decks can’t really deal with Granblue’s 2nd stride kill turn from 3 damage. Thanks to the addition of the Beatrice-Cannoneer combo, the aspect of guarding and deck builds running sentinels basically got flipped on its head.

A meta where sentinel restrict is creeping, multi-attacks are long standing, and RNG (or luck) being more so a win or lose factor. It is so fun to realize that preconceived deck builds and some principles don’t apply as often anymore.

In deck building, I focused on polishing and making the Zarzan engine leaner while also taking less vanillas in the deck to accommodate for more techs in the deck. I do wish I can forgo the Zarzan engine but the amount of compression and long-term advantage you gain is insane. For example, during your Bad Bounty turn, you still have a way too loop attacks and win from 3 damage, regardless on choosing Nightrose or Beatrice for your re-ride target and that is amazing.

Jaime: Those a great methods of preparing for an event. You studying the prior lists, the metagame, and the introduction of Clan Selection is a must! Yes damage denial is still an effective strategy against most decks. I actually saw your games and noticed in certain matchups you would literally ride your Vanguard and pass turn immediately (when no opposing RGs were present). What made you decide on Granblue to play with? Why Nightrose Zarzan w/ Beatrice?

Evan: At this point I play Granblue out of pure principle and belief that this clan is so resilient that it will stay relevant in the hands of a good pilot. I set out to prove that and will hopefully keep doing so!

The choice of mixing Nightrose Zarzan with Beatrice came by pure accident. I just wondered what do I get if I did a 3/3 split on the main Grade 3 ride target. The result was I was able to change my strategy in terms of setup, offense on my Grade 3 turn, and have more control when the game starts. Some games you want Beatrice for the soul reason of defense and Soul manipulation on Grade 3 ride. If in your opening hand you see Nightrose but don’t need her you can mulligan and hopefully get Beatrice in a 1/3 chance in terms of Grade 3s.

Having that kind of subtle factor on top makes the depth that much more interesting. Unfortunately, the Zarzan engine has to still be ran because it just generates a lot of advantage and long-term benefits as I stated in the previous question.

Jaime: Wow, I truly believe as well that Granblue has a lot of resilience and can still be a great choice in the hands of a good pilot. Let’s dive into your deck list. I see that you’re playing the Zarzan engine, how did you like the ratios and how were they able to help out in the tournament? Were you able to resolve Zarzan every game?

Evan: Ratios for vanillas I would say are fantastic. I was able to get the Zarzan engine off when I had the ability to barring maybe 2 times where I chose not to use it due to game state. You don’t always have to trigger the Zarzan on the Grade 2 ride. Some decks just thrive on damage and retaining the 15k shields in your hand of the early game is more important than getting the Generation Break.

Good news though is if you target Beatrice as your Grade 3 ride you can Soul Blast the Colombard you rode with and call it from Drop. Then fetch, revive, and resolve Zarzan so you’re still able to call 4 units for your stride turn! Being able to move the vanillas to just my Grade 1s and 0s meant my Grade 2 lineups had so much more freedom and versatility.

Jaime: Wow, that tip on Soul Blasting and reviving Colombard to resolve Zarzan is very smart! I’ll take note of that myself ha! I also see that you’ve reduced Nightrose to 3 and Skull Dragon to 2 copies. I imagine It was to make room for Beatrice. How useful was Beatrice for you? What about the 1 of copy of Jessie and 0 copies of Damien?

Evan: The ratios are meant to be more inclusive to Beatrice. Skull Dragon being at 2 is a risk but surprisingly you have a lot of attack choices now thanks to Beatrice. Beatrice is such a useful unit. Being able to basically make any Ghostie card gain intercept and 5k shield saved me a couple games. As well as being able to ride her and immediately be able to call something means I had manipulation of my board state even before striding.

In some games, that’s important since it’s a chance to fill up Soul or CC before striding. Which will save your hand because in most cases, you call units from hand, use Negrobone to trigger abilities, or setup board for the stride unit’s main skill. Jessie was there to basically fix board state. Being able to call a board like Nightstorm, 2 Cannoneers, and a Tear with the guarantee of your board being efficient is amazing. A problem that Granblue has in some cases, is that your board has to be linear to a certain degree to maximize hand and call efficiency. You generally want 2 columns with boosters for aggression.

Jessie makes every board state on your Big Obadiah calls cleaner. Since you can retire 2 units and call him. This does make him a weak attacker BUT this also means you get a CC in the battle phase while also retiring units to be used as potential call targets later in the turn. Damian is more of a choice card since his use is basically to just be part of the Beatrice attack loop and his on call skill is okay but not that crucial. He definitely needs more testing to be fleshed out in the value department. Keep in mind Beatrice’s skill only says a grade less than the retired unit can be called. Technically you can go from Skull Dragon to Rick the Ghostie if you wanted to. These small wording choices is what defined my choice.

Jaime: Impressive, very well thought out and explained! I see you’re playing 2 Cody the Ghostie. How was that ratio for you? I saw in your games that you used Cody as another attack extender with being boosted by a vanilla unit, that was smart and innovative, what made you consider Cody in the first place? Any other card choices you’d like to point out?

Evan: Cody the Ghostie being an attack extender was actually a by-product of his main goal in the deck! Cody has two main uses. The first is being an additional defense card during the opponents turn. Cody’s skill is not turn restricted. Therefore, if a non-Ghostie unit is retired then he can be a 15k intercept for a CB1. This is useful with Negrolily since for an additional CB you can get another 15k shield to add to the defense. The second being to counter the Blademaster loop and mirror match-ups. There is one main flaw in the Negrolily-Cannoneer combo and that is you have to have a rearguard. Blademaster has a board retire and a smart Granblue player will play the board game. Cody is there to cover for that.

Blademaster, generally, only has 1 retire each turn and that’s from the Vanguard skill. Other spot removal choices are just tech cards. For basically an additional CB, you can always guarantee your Pseudo Denial Griffin play to help win that matchup. You just need to get to Stride and you are in that position. In the mirror match this is the same case. I built this deck in preparation to a massive surge of Chaos and Granblue being in the tournament.

That’s also why I run the 2 Cannoneers. The difference between two Granblue decks will be Cody. If needed, I can retire 3 units with ease during my main phase on a Bad Bounty turn. If they don’t have Cody, I will lock them out of their Pseudo Denial Griffin play. As a result, they will have less options than me in terms of gameplay.

Jaime: Awesome, thanks for explaining Cody’s two main uses. It’s a great way to deal with this issue of having the RG still on the field to resolve Negrolily’s skill. With this build, what was your winning image for most of your games? Like did you have a setup, game state, or strategy that you focused on?

Evan: The winning image is always a Bad Bounty turn with:

  • 3-4 Skull Dragon attacks
  • 2-3 Cody attacks
  • 2 Vanguard attacks.

Of course this may vary from situation to situation, but that is the most consistent end game for this deck. The setup is always get the Zarzan engine off at least twice. On first stride with Big Obadiah, assess the situation and draw while dealing the right amount of damage while getting at least 1 Skull Dragon, 1 Tear, 2 Negrobones, and 1 Cody into the Drop zone.

The main strategy and the corner stone to my deck is the power variation. Being able to switch from a high number Skull Dragon swing and a decent sized Cody/Nightstorm/other swing really affects some player judgement that can bait out some high shields for a mediocre attack. Your opponent using a 15k shield to block a 16k Nightstorm is always a good feeling.

Jaime: I definitely agree with your winning image! Very well thought out too on having your setup work towards that. During your games, which decks/clans did you face?

Evan: The clans I faced in order was:

In the first 5 rounds:

  • Valkerion 16 Stand
  • Songster Loop
  • Gavrail One Punch
  • Harri Loop
  • OTT One Punch
  • Aqua Force Revonn

In Top 8:

  • Harri Loop
  • Aqua Force Thavas
  • Nue-Daio

Jaime: Wow your top 8 matches were against very strong solid decks! Was there a game you would like to highlight? Like your toughest matchup, best game, break or deal moments, etc.

Evan: I just want to highlight my end game with Kuro on the Harri Loop. I just needed to deal 2 damage to win since he was at 3 cards in deck and 3 damage. I miscounted my Negrobones, so I found out that I can do a Bad Bounty turn but not attack with Vanguard twice. After Bad Bounty attacked and my Skull Dragon retired after its battle, Kuro used the Magia PG that allowed him to superior call a Tricky Assistant to RC. That put my Nightstorm into Soul thus stopping my attack combos. But thanks to Cody and Beatrice’s wording, I was able to get 3 more attacks and win the game. Beatrice doesn’t state you have to call the Ghostie unit to an open RC, it can be any RC!

Jaime: Wow, those deck out moments can be intense! Negrobones do help in that situation but you do have to keep track how many you can bottom deck. During your games, what is something that you appreciated about your deck from the preparation you’ve done? The strategy of it, consistency, power, plays, etc.

Evan: During my games I appreciated the consistency in both the Zarzan engine and the different options I get with the choice of the Grade 3 VG ride target. After rewatching the the vision stream, I loved hearing that they were guessing what kind of combo or card choices I will make because it was different half the time.

Jaime: It’s amazing how consistent the Zarzan engine is with Granblue! Yes, I was doing the same thing when I watched your games ha! How many rounds were in the tournament? How was your record throughout? Was there a Top 8?

Evan: There was 5 rounds (best of 1 game) and then Top 8 (best of 3 games). I was undefeated until the Finals where I went 0-2 against Nue-Daio.

Jaime: Wow undefeated until the Finals! That’s very impressive! How were your final’s games?

Evan: Finals was unfortunately against Nue-Diao and even though I went first both times I still lost. In Game 1 I over extended my Soul and damage, so I couldn’t do anything defensively even though I had 2 heals in hand. I should’ve taken my Soul into account more to build it up. The opponent had Bobos in hand, so being aggressive was my misplay there. Game 2 was unfortunate because he got Howam which forced me to attack with my VG. I then drove check a critical trigger on my Grade 2 turn and didn’t see the Zarzan engine. Overall that was just unfortunate in terms of luck.

Jaime: Ouch! Howam is crucially annoying in those situations! After the tournament, did you take some time to reflect? Anything that you learned from your experience?

Evan: After the tournament I analyzed my deck and began testing more cards like Damian and rewatched my replays. Overall, I just need to be more cognizant of resources and what my opponent drive checks since some of my decisions in some games seemed right but there were not fully fleshed out. It could’ve been better and more efficient if
I payed attention to the previous drive checks. In terms of deck editing I want to play with the ratios a bit more. It’s great now but it’s still not at that sweet spot that I want it to be. Fundamentally, there will be matchups that come to just straight luck on how the opponent draws. Being able to confirm that with his tournament and the viability of my deck is something I am thankful for because now I can polish it further.

Jaime: Awesome, glad you recognized there is more to improve and tweak. I really like how you can go back immediately and watch the Vision stream for your games. Would you like to do any shout outs to people that you know and/or have helped you along your journey?

Evan: I just want to give a shoutout to the Calgary Community for essentially unlocking the Granblue one-trick that is me! Overall this tournament I did by myself but I couldn’t have gotten this far without the encouragement and similar craziness that is my community!

Jaime: That’s great stuff! I’m sure your friends are happy and excited for your accomplishment! Just one more question and we’ll be done amigo. While preparing with Granblue, did you use/see any social media to help you solidify your build? Such as blogs, YouTube videos/channels, Facebook, Reddit, etc.

Evan: To solidify my builds I usually watch other big Granblue youtubers like Solemn Vanguard, you Commander Jaime, and Vanguard Insider to get perspectives from deck builds and card choices to essentially battle concepts with! I use Reddit off handedly just to look for some Japanese tops in the meta to also get data from that format. It’s just nice having all the information you need then comparing the point of views and see how they stack up to yours. It’s important to not make an aspect fit your deck and playstyle but to find aspects that further refine them!

Jaime: Awesome! Thank you for sharing that as well, very much appreciated. You remind me of Uncle Iroh from Avatar: The Last Airbender!

Thanks again for joining me in this interview!

Evan: Thank you for the interview invitation. It was a pleasure to chat with you as well.

Jaime: I wish you the best and hope to see more from you in the metagame! Till next time amigos!

Takeaways

I hope you’ve enjoyed reading this interview! I just wanted to highlight some takeaways that can help Granblue players out!

Drawing Wisdom From Different Places

Evan mentioned, “It’s just nice having all the information you need then comparing the point of views and see how they stack up to yours. It’s important to not make an aspect fit your deck and playstyle but to find aspects that further refine them!

This is very key in developing your skill level as a player. Drawing experiences that have good wisdom will help aid you in deck building and preparing for events. Both player styles and format styles can have a lot good insight!

For me, I’ve always sought out players with results in tournaments with the decks I plan to play with. Why? Glad you asked! Everyone has an opinion on every deck, every metagame, etc. Which can vary greatly sometimes and make things more confusing for you. There are a lot of similarities and patterns that players with tournament results have. So it makes things a lot quicker to make decisions on, so then you have great confidence in going into an event.

Other social media such as YouTube, Reddit, Twitter, FB, etc. are many great resources to get information. I’ve just learned what to consume and trust into. I encourage you to do the same!

Recognizing Patterns And Trends In A Metagame

Evan also mentioned, “The things I mainly focused on were previously popular deck lists and decks that may appear due to the CFA update and the set drop of Clan Selection. I keep up to date on relevant decks through the Vision tops and through Reddit threads. In the current meta, decks that are very consistent in aggression and/or have a strong loop seem to be the way to go.

I’m glad Evan mentioned that he recognized some key things going into the tournament. The type of decks can heavily dictate the success that you can accomplish. Once he recognized that consistent aggression was a great avenue for him to take, he built his deck around that!

Also, once you recognize the same trends in multiple sources of social media, it’s a great indicator on what to expect in the event you plan to participate in! I encourage you to start paying attention more to those trends.

Final Thoughts

Thanks again for reading this Cardfighter Spotlight article! It’s great to see Granblue take 2nd in an event! Thanks again to Evan for joining us today as well! Till next time amigos!

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