Vairina Deck Profile (Dragon Empire)


Introduction

Let’s address the elephant in the room. The deck should be called Nirvana as that’s your core ride line G3 and the naming convention that has emerged in this format has named every deck after that unit… aside from this one.

We at Axis all call this deck Vairina because that’s what the deck is all about. Vairina and Trickstar are very much the stars of the show here and Nirvana, the ride line and the rest of the deck are just along for the ride. Nirvana feels far more incidental to the identity of the deck than Vairina and that’s pretty unique for the format so far.

The deck has a (currently) unique mechanic in the form of the “overDress” special rule in which you call a unit over another specific unit to unlock more powerful skills. It’s fair to describe overDress as being somewhat similar to equip gauge in terms of how it works – the “original dress” unit stays underneath the overDress one but they are considered one unit for most interactions. When the overDress unit is removed, the originalDress unit follows it – if it is imprisoned, so is the original dress unit but they are separated once they leave the field which means losing an overDress unit hurts you more than losing a normal unit hurts other decks. Unlike equip gauge, you don’t generate the original dress unit via a card skill – you have ways of searching for and recovering them but, ultimately, it is currently one card that you can only have four of in your deck that you play like any other.

Interesting to note is how much like Chronojet, various Gear Chronicle strides and Chrono Dran the various Vairinas and Trickstar look and there’s something comparable to striding going on here too. I’m not a lore guy and I don’t watch the anime or anything but I’m certain there’s some kind of connection there!

Vairina is somewhat typical of a first wave protagonist deck and it has a lot of the tropes you might expect – it’s simple, consistent and creates big columns with relative ease but there’s not a lot of nuance to your units. All you need to do is protect your various Vairinas, keep yourself alive and you’re going to be very quickly whittling through your opponent’s hand with brutal, high power attacks even in the early stages of the game.

Playstyle

Vairina (the deck) has the same goal in mind in every game – get your Trickstars into play, overDress them with whatever overDress units you have access to that best fit the situation and then swing face – the core gameplay is very simple. The complexities of the deck come down to knowing specific matchups and playing around and predicting the things that are designed to stop you executing your strategy (and, oh boy, there are a lot of those right now).

The deck is simple, consistent and able to pressure your opponent very early on – there’s not a lot to get wrong about that core gameplay in isolation. The downside to that simplicity is that your opponent is going to know what you want to do and if you don’t know what their tricks are and how to play around them, you don’t have a lot of options or tricks of your own to fall back on.

The deck’s primary weakness is really that it doesn’t do very much without its Overdress units – losing a Vairina or Trickstar that you can’t afford to lose can and will cost you games. Learning when to and not to commit a Vairina or Trickstar to the field and how to protect it once it’s there is the real gameplay of this deck.

Despite its drawbacks, the raw power and aggression the deck can put out has it sitting in the middle of the pack right now. It’s not an exceptional deck by any stretch of the imagination and the simplicity hurts its appeal for a lot of players but it’s a solid foundation with room to grow with future updates.


Core Cards

This section will detail the cards that I believe will always be run in every Vairina deck. I’m not going to bother talking about Perfect Guards – run 4 of them and if you can’t afford Twin Buckler Dragon, just use the one from the Start Deck (it’s better than nothing). There’s also not a lot to say about the regular starter but I will talk in detail about Trickstar being used as the starter throughout this guide (even if I don’t necessarily think it’s necessarily the best option).

Ride Line

Blaze Maiden, Rino

Blaze Maiden, Rino is a simple but solid card. On turn 2, she’s going to generate you a Trickstar on the field – it’s a simple effect but it’s extremely powerful. She searches out and calls the most important card in the deck for free. This is great and you always want Trickstars out of your deck and in play – don’t forget that Trickstar has what basically amounts to resist so as long as he’s on the back row, he’s usually safe. It’s also a tiny bit of filtering and that’s always good – every card out of your deck increases your chance of checking a trigger or drawing into a piece you want.

Aside from the fact that she’s searching out a Trickstar for your overDress units, she’s also grabbing you a 5k booster with resist. It might not sound like much but a 5k booster behind an 8k G1 unit attacking a G1 Vanguard is the difference between 5k and 10k shield value and that’s actually quite significant in this format as it means your opponent is either guarding with two cards, guarding with a trigger or taking the hit – 10k shield is a much less efficient value than it was in V. Trickstar is safe against almost all current removal so there’s no rush to immediately overDress him if you don’t need to and you can still get some kind of value out of him as booster so long as you have access to a G1 (you definitely don’t want him on the front row because he will likely be attacked).

It should be noted that she only calls Trickstar when she is rode upon specifically by Blaze Maiden, Reiyu which means there’s no flexibility there – you need to use her with Reiyu to get the free Trickstar search and call. That isn’t a big deal now but if we get more options for a ride line later, it means you need to use both to gain any bonus from Rino and that’s worth taking note of.

Her on-attack power increase may not sound like much but when boosted, it’s going to put her at 18k rather than 16k and that’s the difference between a 10k and a 15k shield value requirement to be guarded when attacking a G1 and the difference between 5k and a 10k shield value against a G3. An 18k attack is a magic number on turns 1 and 3 and that’s significant for this format. It’s active on R too and having an 18k rearguard column as early as turn 1 definitely isn’t to be overlooked in an aggressive deck like this one. She can also be used to hit a G2 unit unboosted too so she’s an excellent piece for rushing and that’s absolutely something this deck can do – she is definitely a solid G1 option in the main deck. She also forms a 15k column with Trickstar which is a magic number into a G2 Vanguard (forcing your opponent to guard with 10k of shield which, as I mentioned earlier, is a big deal versus guarding with 5k) and she can then transition into boosting when you overDress that Trickstar on T3 which is a very efficient play.

Blaze Maiden, Reiyu

She is somewhat similar to Rino in that she’s a searcher with a small power boost on attack – she searches for a Vairina for the low cost of 1SB and adds it to your hand. Vairina is pretty much always a good card to have in your hand, it’s one less card in your deck (which means you’re one card more likely to check a trigger or draw something else that you want) and it’s the deck’s only way of soul blasting before the battle phase (more on why that might matter later) – the skill is always great.

The things to keep in mind are that it happens only on turn 3 when she’s rode upon, not when she’s played, and she has to be rode over by Nirvana which, again, makes her less flexible if future options become available. Neither of these things are a huge drawback but you need to keep them in mind, the latter especially if the future brings new ride line options. It’s also worth noting that she specifically and only searches for Vairina – she does not search for Arcs and she does not search for Valiente. That might seem obvious but it’s one of the questions I see asked most often about this deck so, if you weren’t sure, there’s your answer.

Her second skill, at first glance, appears to be the same as Rino’s second skill and so you might think it’s as good. You have to remember, though, that Rino is an 8k G1 and Reiyu is a 10k G2 – that 2k is going to be a lot less significant on Reiyu than it is on Rino and it’s completely worthless without an 8k booster whereas Rino can hit G2s as a G1. Where Rino can make an 18k column instead of a 16k column with a booster, Reiyu makes a 20k column with a booster rather than an 18k column. That 2k power difference is relevant against a smaller number of targets, basically just against G2 units – a 20k column attacking a 13k or 8k Vanguard is not forcing any additional shield value over an 18k attack. Given that her power gain is really only making a difference on turn 2 going second, turn 3 going first and against G2 rearguards but only ever when being boosted, I don’t think this is enough to make her a viable choice in the main deck. You generally want a Vairina on the front row once you have them available (even without a Trickstar) so you’re not going to have a lot of opportunity to use her compared to Rino because she’s G1 and has boost. She does have intercept over Rino so you could perhaps throw her in front of an attack to free up a front row slot for a Vairina next turn but that’s not enough to justify taking her in the main deck.

Chakrabarthi Divine Dragon, Nirvana

Are you noticing the theme here? This ride line is all about consistency and Nirvana is no exception. Rather than searching your deck for a piece, Nirvana allows you to recover a Trickstar from your drop zone and call it to R and there’s a lot more application to that than you might think. The cost is less steep than it appears – think of it as converting any card in your hand into a Trickstar and it seems a lot better.

The most obvious use for the skill is to recover a Trickstar that was retired (usually when it was in overDress state), either via an ability or because it was attacked. This is good for obvious reasons and it means you need to worry about running out of Vairinas, not Trickstars. Just remember that it is 1/turn so you’re still going to need to protect one of your Trickstars if you have two in play.

The less obvious use is that you can recover a Trickstar that you yourself discarded to the drop zone which makes the deck a little bit more flexible in its lines of play. Firstly, if you have a good early hand and Trickstar is something you don’t need to play on that specific turn, you can drop a Trickstar for to pay your ride deck cost (or perhaps even to Guard) and then when you draw something later that you don’t need, you can discard that to get that Trickstar back when you need it. Something that’s also commonly done is to use Trickstar as the starter and then to soul blast it when you ride up to G3 to pay Reiyu’s cost and then use Nirvana to recover it – you lose the draw going second but in exchange, you guarantee yourself a second Trickstar (in addition to the one you search out with Rino) in play.

It can also be used in a pinch to call any G0 unit, for example, a trigger (Or your starter if you’re not running Trickstar in the ride deck and have soul blasted it) from the drop zone as a booster if you’re in a really tight spot and just need that tiny bit of additional power and only have cards that you can’t use right now in hand (orders, for example). You’re unlikely to do this but it’s worth remembering just in case it ever comes up – you don’t have to just call Trickstar with this. On that note, you can still call a Trickstar to R with this just as a booster if you already have two in play on the front row in overDress state – in certain matchups being able to commit a unit to the board that isn’t going to be removed can be pretty useful. This way of using the skill might become more relevant in the future if other G0 cards are added to the deck or perhaps if the deck gains a way of bouncing units from the field to the hand.

The second skill is a lot less utility focused but don’t underestimate the potential value of 30k power spread across 3 attacks, especially as some of those units might already going to have some amount of bonus power, in a format that has seen guard value drop. If you have access to two Vairinas, worst case scenario (no Trickstars), you’ve got a 20k/23k/20k front row lineup and that’s better than what some decks in this format can do at their absolute best (Looking at you, Eugene). It doesn’t require your units to be in overDress state, just that they have the overDress keyword – you don’t need to have a Trickstar on the field just to unlock that 10k power. This skill builds some absolutely massive columns on turn 3 when combined with the power your Vairinas already gain and if you’ve played aggressively in the early game, you can potentially close a game when your opponent is still on G2 or at the very least, leave them with very little to defend themselves and counter you on your next turn. The best part is that there are no conditions or restrictions to the skill beyond it only affecting units with the overDress rule (again, they don’t need to be in the overDress state) so as long as you can pay the 1CB cost, you can be doing this every turn, including on your Persona ride turns – that’s 20k to your whole front row so long as you can find two overDress units (and as there’s generally going to be 12 in your deck, this is rarely an issue). It’s also not 1/turn so if you check Dragveda, you can use it twice.

The only real downside to Nirvana is a pretty common one amongst all G3 ride targets right now in that it is vanilla when placed on R. That’s not a huge deal and you only have 3 in the main deck that you’re always wanting to Persona Ride but, as Seraph Snow and Orfist both do something when they’re on R, I just wanted to highlight it – you don’t need or want to hold onto a hand of Nirvanas.


overDress Units

Trickstar

In a lot of ways, I think it would be more fitting to name the deck Trickstar rather than Vairina because it’s really about overDressing your Trickstars into various forms more than it is about any of those forms – I’ll talk about the Vairina forms individually later and I’ve already talked about the ride line units that support him so I’m going to try and look at Trickstar in isolation now.

Trickstar doesn’t look very impressive on his own if we take overDress out of the equation but having a unit with resist actually does more than you might think in this format. Eugene in particular loses quite some value if you can lock down the number of open rear guard circles you have but Prison also loses a bit of steam by not being able to imprison as quickly as it might want to – sometimes, it’s better to use him as a booster of a unit with the overDress skill to avoid giving your opponent two units for one the cost of one imprison.

Whilst Trickstar is only 5k and not 8k compared to most boosters, there are still some magic numbers that it can make whilst boosting. With a G1 he makes 13k, with a G3 he makes 18k – these are both respectable power values attacking a G1 or G3 unit. He can also boost a G2 (or Rino) for 15k and 25k if it’s a vanilla Vairina with Nirvana’s skill which are solid numbers, especially if you’re going first and are attacking a G2 Vanguard. When you’re trying to avoid filling an opponent’s prison or leaving open rearguard circles, these numbers aren’t such a huge sacrifice for the sake of not playing into your opponent’s hands. It also leaves you with a safe Trickstar on the field to overDress later in the game when you’re ready to try and push to win.

Trickstar is a more important unit to protect than the unit overDressed upon it in most cases but it loses resist when it becomes originalDress and will go wherever the overDress unit goes if it is removed. Mercifully, we don’t (currently) have any forms of offensive bind in this format so you don’t need to worry about that but we do have a lot of removal and it’s all going to be aimed at your overDress units – I’ll talk more about this later in the guide because it deserves a lot of attention.

Vairina

Vairina is a very simple unit but don’t underestimate it. Its retire is expensive for what it does so you’re going to be using it very sparingly and likely won’t be able to use it more than once in most games but it can be clutch, either removing important pieces or interceptors. It’s also quite useful in the mirror matchup to remove two cards for the price of one if they’re overDressed. Although there is not generally a lot of competition for soul as a resource, keep in mind that you aren’t generating any soul outside of riding so don’t waste it, especially not against Seraph Snow where you may have other uses for it.

The meat of this card is that it’s a 20k beater when in overDress state for no additional resource cost and that it has that overDress keyword so that it can gain 10k power from Nirvana too – during a Persona ride turn, Vairina is swinging for 48k when boosted and that’s very intimidating in this format.

This goes for all overDress units but even without being in overDress state, just having the overDress ability is enough to give him the 10k power from Nirvana’s skill – don’t  be afraid to throw him down just on a Persona Ride turn especially. A Vairina as a vanilla beater is going to give you a 30k attack with Nirvana’s skill during a Persona Ride turn and that’s still respectable.

The humble Vairina is frequently underestimated but he is often going to form the backbone of your offense by hitting numbers with little commitment and you can transition him into Valiente just like any other Vairina if you feel that it would be more useful. His skills aren’t as flashy but he gets the job done. He’s also searchable thanks to Reiyu so you’re always going to see at least one in every game so you should always be thinking about how to use him on your first G3 ride. There is also the order Sunburst Evolution that can be used to recover a retired Vairina from the drop zone by adding it to hand – it’s not the most competitive option but it’s not the worst either and is a respectable option in a budget build that does make Vairina a little better.

Vairina Arcs

Arcs draws. When placed into overDress state, it draws two cards for 1CB and then he gives himself 5k for the rest of this turn. This is a bargain in this format when we look at other cards that draw. Yes, it is conditional to overDress state but given that you’re guaranteed one (or potentially two if you run him as your starter) Trickstar(s) per game, this is easy to achieve. If you have counter blast to spend and it isn’t better spent on Nirvana or Valiente, Arcs is your go to guy.

The 5k power is better than it sounds too as 15k is a magic number against a G2 Vanguard (and you want to be using this early) and, with an 8k booster, a 23k column is a magic number into a G3 Vanguard too. As with all Vairinas, it gains 10k from Nirvana’s skill so this is going to be a 25k unboosted, 33k boosted column which, again, are both magic numbers into a G2 and G3 Vanguard.

Unlike Vairina, Arcs provides some much needed draw when placed into overDress state so I wouldn’t recommend playing it as a vanilla for Nirvana’s effect but it is still going to gain 10k from that – a 20k (30k during Persona ride) beater is sometimes something you desperately need so, in a pinch, you can still make that play if you need to and it’ll be as good as Vairina in that situation if it’s what you have available in the moment.

Given that Arcs becomes a vanilla after the turn he is placed, he’s your ideal target to get two original dress units under a Valiente, giving him some additional use after being played – if you want to play really greedily and don’t think the 5k is going to make a big enough difference, you can even do overDress him on the turn he is placed if you’re confident you can win. He’s also quite a good interceptor if you aren’t planning to use him for Valiente next turn because intercepting with him separates him from the original dress Trickstar, letting you call it again with Nirvana the next turn so it can be overDressed by something else.

Vairina Valiente

Just to be clear about his CONT skill, he can either overDress Trickstar or anything that’s already in overDress state including himself. Meaning you can either toss him straight onto a Trickstar to make him 18k or you can stack him on top of a G2 Vairina and another three Valientes to make him 38k – that’s pretty big for a unit that can restand, even if that isn’t a realistic (or advisable) scenario. Generally speaking, though, he’s going to be 18k (which amounts to the same as Vairina’s 20k when unboosted and attacking a G3) or 23k if you’re using him on something that’s already in overDress state (probably Arcs).

Remember that every originalDress unit beneath him is a card that you have played and a minus one for an additional 5k power is not necessarily the best trade all the time, especially in a matchup where your opponent can remove him. He does gain that bonus power in both player’s turns which is nice defensively and might make an opponent think twice about attacking him but removal is going to hurt that much more for every originalDress card beneath him. Arcs is a good target for overDressing with Valiente, especially on the turn after he was played when he’s just a 10k vanilla, but investing much more than that into him can be costly in terms of raw card value.

His restand is good but it’s expensive and it can be prevented. The most unique aspect of Valiente is that it’s currently the only form of multi-attack in the format that isn’t tied to your Vanguard attack which means you can stack triggers on it and then attack twice, potentially doubling the value of your triggers – no other restand or multi-attack can do that right now and that’s something unique and potentially powerful.

On the more negative side of things, it costs a discard as well as a counterblast which is steep considering it’s not a Vanguard with drive checks that’s restanding and that we already minus quite a lot in this deck. But it’s also conditional to the attack actually hitting so it isn’t a guaranteed restand even if you can pay the cost.

Be aware that Valiente is an attack your opponent already wants to guard so stacking triggers on a unit that’s already facing a perfect guard is a waste and, as Valiente’s attack already puts pressure on your opponent to guard it, putting triggers on another rearguard creates a lot more pressure a lot of the time. It is important to not be too greedy and put all of your eggs in one basket with Valiente – if it gets guarded, you aren’t restanding it so don’t overinvest in getting the restand.

On that note, be very careful about your resource spending during a Valiente turn. It’s not always going to be worth it as the deck has a lot of competition for you counter blasts and there’s no CC in the deck right now either which means once you’ve spent it, it’s gone. You may get lucky with heal triggers, of course, but you only have 5CB at most guaranteed in every game. Quite often, you’re going to be making the choice between Nirvana, Arcs and Valiente but I’ll go into more detail about that later in the guide.

Being a 13k base unit and stacking up in multiples of 5k means he’s always making a magic number into a G3 Vanguard. This means he synergises quite nicely with the card Extreme Dragon, Velocihazard (The 10k booster) but your 8k boosters are usually going to make better magic numbers with Vairina or Arcs (as it’s going to put them at a power value ending with 3k or 8k). That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t boost him with an 8k unit necessarily but it isn’t optimal efficiency to do so.

When played as a vanilla, this is your biggest overDress unit. If you have no Trickstars and want to make some magic numbers, he’s 23k with just Nirvana and 33k during Persona Ride – those are relevant numbers so he’s potentially your best target for calling as a vanilla because, as with Vairina and Arcs, the overDress ability, and not necessarily being in overDress sate, is all that is needed for Nirvana’s power increase.

Worth noting is that this is the only (current) overDress unit without intercept, meaning you can’t get it (and your Trickstar) off the field quickly during your opponent’s turn to the safety of the drop zone and that leaves your Trickstars open to getting sucked into your soul by Baromagnes or (and this is less likely) getting put onto the bottom of your deck by Tier Square Sorceress and is something to be very wary of as they’re both avoided if you’re on a G2 overDress unit. Being a G3, it also doesn’t contribute anything until you’re on T3, unlike Vairina and Arcs who can be used aggressively early and it can feel like a brick in the early game as it also has 0 shield value – you may end up discarding them for your ride line.

Valiente is a card that has a lot of vulnerabilities and drawbacks – the conditional nature of its restand means it can be denied, the counter blast he demands is not always best spent on him and, like all overDress units, overDress is a minus but here is in addition to the minus that you need for his restand. The other 2 Vairinas are a lot easier and safer to play – Valiente is something you need to be a bit more considerate about using. Valiente is a powerful card but you can’t just play him without considering the matchup and game state as it can be an expensive misfire if used at the wrong time.

Other Cards

Grade 1s

Extremist Dragon, Velocihazard

Depending on what’s on the front row, a 10k booster isn’t always going to make a huge difference – Vairina and Arcs are both already attacking at 10k, 15k or 20k so an 8k booster is enough to create magic numbers against a G1 and G3 Vanguard. In this instance, the additional 2k of Velocihazard is wasted but it is relevant against a G2 Vanguard or unit, that’s just not something that you’re going to need as often. 10k+10k is 20k – that’s functionally the same as 18k power against anything other than a G2 target.

Where it matters more is with Valiente and Nirvana. As their base power is 13k and they gain power in multiples of 5k, a 10k booster makes a big difference on those attacks versus an 8k booster. 13k+8k is 21k – that’s functionally the same as 18k versus anything other than a G2 target so the extra 2k of Velocihazard pushing you up to 23k means you’re getting 5k more value out of that booster against a G3 unit (which is generally what you’re going to be attacking).

Stealth Dragon, Tensha Stead

This is a really interesting card and has some potential. Basically, 1CB to trade it for a guaranteed Persona Ride (And one card filtered out of the deck). A Persona Ride is 10k power to your front row for the whole turn and a free draw. The potential value of this card is huge.

There are some limitations to it, however, that make it a bit less appealing than it might first appear. The most obvious ones are that it costs a counterblast (and that resource has a lot of competition in this deck) to do something next turn – there are ways to spend your counterblast to do something now in this deck and that’s generally a better way to spend your resources.

It also needs to boost and that the attack it’s boosting needs to hit meaning you can’t ever rely on its skill going off and it’s often not going to. It’s somewhat like Valiente in that it might be better to view it as a way of getting your opponent to guard an attack they might otherwise not be guarding as opposed to a reliable mechanic that you can plan around using.

All in all, Tensha Stead is on my watch list and is worth picking up now while it’s cheap but I don’t think it’s worth using in this deck as things currently are.

Grade 2s

Whilst there are several grade 2 cards in Dragon Empire that you could theoretically put into this deck, you’re going to be using 8 slots just on Vairinas as it is and none of those other options are as good as Vairina or Arcs. As we have the ride deck, we no longer need to worry about ride consistency and so, aside from Vairina and Arcs, the only options worth looking at in any kind of detail right now are both order cards and, honestly, only one of those should be seeing play in a competitive deck but as the other is direct support for this archetype, I’m going to talk about that too.

Burn Bright, Pure Prayers

There’s not a great deal to say about this card. When you’re at three damage, this card is basically a (not draw) trigger that you can guard with (but with only one of them per turn). It’s not amazing but it is one of the better Blitz orders in the format currently. If you draw it and aren’t at 3 damage or would rather go offensive, you can drop it to recover a Trickstar or to pay your ride cost and not feel too guilty about it.

Remember that a Blitz Order is still an Order and you can only use one per turn so holding onto these is not advisable and can make them feel quite brick but you will be grateful for them against multi-attacking decks.

Sunburst Evolution

As with other cards in this deck, you can only add a “Vairina” to hand, not a card with “Vairina” in its card name – no Arcs or Valiente recursion with this.

It’s not terrible but it isn’t needed – I’m only talking about it because it’s direct support for the archetype so don’t take it being mentioned here as some kind of recommendation. 1CB to recover an overDress unit from the drop zone and give a unit 5k is a respectable value proposition in this format and, when combined with Nirvana, gives you some security when overDressing a Vairina.

That being said, you don’t need this – there are better ways to spend the 1CB that this costs in the form of Arcs, Nirvana and Valiente. It’s also useless whilst you have no Vairina in the drop zone and you also may not want or need a Vairina – it is at risk of being a dead card a lot of the time.

Those criticisms aside, if you’re trying to build the deck on a budget, it can be played as an alternative to Valiente and you’ll have a half decent budget deck for casual play in a budget conscious environment but that’s about the best use I can see for it as it currently stands.

Grade 3s

At time of writing, there are no grade 3s worth talking about beyond what has already been discussed (Nirvana and Valiente). I’ll keep this here for the future, though, as perhaps this will change with future support and we’ll keep this guide updated as new support releases.

Triggers

The most common trigger lineup will be 4 heal, 8 crit, 3 draw and 1 Overtrigger. Sometimes people drop a crit for another draw but that’s about as much variation as you’ll see in competitive builds.

Fronts are not terrible in this deck as they allow for some extremely aggressive early play but you don’t really have problems building large 1 damage columns in the late game so they can end up feeling superfluous and, in the early game especially, they may be almost totally wasted if you’re unable to build a board. I have seen people theorising that they should be used instead of draws as they have higher shield value and the deck has enough draw but, as the deck is so piece reliant, I wouldn’t recommend this.

Olbaria is actually pretty good still and if it’s all you’ve got, there’s no shame in using it because it can do some things that Dragveda can’t. Firstly, the generic effects of an Overtrigger will be the same no matter what one you use – you’ll always be drawing a card and getting 100 million power on at least one unit, they all have 50k shield and if you take it as damage, you’ll prevent that damage by removing the trigger from play.

It’s additional effect is really good. 100 million power twice is effectively two perfect guards or two damage but it really starts to shine in this deck as you have a restanding unit that is not tied to your Vanguard attack – if you put 100 million power onto two Valientes. That’s a potential of four 100 million power attacks and that’s something that’s very scary to be staring down the barrel of.

Given that we have Valiente, Olbaria has the potential to be as impactful or more than Dragveda, though, it is going to depend more on your board and the game state much more than Dragveda is. Olbaria is still better than nothing and, in fact, it’s quite a lot better than nothing so, again, if you don’t have Dragveda, you’re still going to be having some very impactful turns with this.

Once again, the generic effects of checking an Overtrigger are the same here as it is anywhere else so I won’t discuss that again. His additional effect is to restand your Vanguard with no penalty – he generates an additional Vanguard attack that retains its twin drive.

Dragveda is good. Drive checks are good. We like Drive checks. I don’t need to explain why this is so powerful (but I’m going to anyway) – two more drive checks is more triggers to stack on your Valientes (as well as the 100 million power you could also place on it), not to mention your opponent having to Guard another Nirvana attack that they don’t want to waste cards on (and Nirvana’s on-attack skill is not 1/turn, as mentioned).

There’s also an additional benefit to checking this offensively in that you’re going to generate two more cards compared to Olbaria with that second drive check (or one more card if you’re unlucky enough to check it early). Even if your board isn’t set up to take advantage of the Overtrigger’s offensive pushing power (and that’ll happen sometimes), you’re going to be drawing at least one more card to either guard with or go on the offensive next turn and that’s always good.


Deck Lists

There are two relevant variations worth talking about with only minor differences. Either of these can have a Trickstar subbed into the Ride Deck as your starter if you feel that that’s the way you want to go – just add your card of preference into the main deck.

This first deck features Velocihazard to make more powerful columns with Valiente but there is a slight trade off in early game power going second compared to running Rino.

As you can see, this version is very similar – the only difference is that you swap Velicohazard for Rino. Because you can only have 3 Rino in the main deck due to running one in the ride deck, you run an extra Blitz Order but you could probably swap that for anything else as you never want too many of them in hand at the same time.

Budget Decks?

I love budget decks – they’re a great way of bringing new people into the game without having to drop a ton of money up front and, as someone living in a region where the game is significantly less popular, they are an important tool in my recruitment arsenal. It wouldn’t be a Dravoth article if I didn’t at least try and build a budget deck.

But Vairina is an expensive deck. There’s no disguising or denying that fact but I’ve done what I can to reduce the cost and looking at prices in the US (I’m in Europe so things are a ton cheaper for us right now), I think this is just about cheap enough to call it a budget deck.

It isn’t dirt cheap, though. Vairina Arcs is still going to cost you a pretty penny if you’re in the US (this could change as more stock makes it to market). At time of writing, this deck is going to cost you around $50 (considerably less here in Europe, though – it’s probably going to cost you 20-30 Euros) which I think is just about low enough for it to be a budget deck.

The bulk of this deck is coming from the start deck so that’s nice and cheap already. We don’t need Velocihazard because we aren’t running Valiente so his bonus power is often wasted – Rino is going to be better. The only additional cards we need are an additional Sunburst Evolution if you can find one (3 is fine if not), 4 Burn Bright, Pure Prayers, 4 Vairina Arcs and 4 crit triggers (But it’s not the end of the world if you keep the fronts from the start deck).

The big difference between this deck and competitive decks is that you’re going to be running Sunburst Evolution over Valiente. Despite competitive Vairina builds being amongst the most expensive decks in the format, most of that cost is in Valiente but Valiente is not essential to the deck functioning – it’s more of a pressure/finisher piece but it can be dropped and the deck still works.

Whilst they don’t fulfil the same job, Sunburst Evolution is a nice alternative to Valiente (given that Valiente is around $20 each at the time of writing) as it allows you to recover a Vairina once per turn. You’re always going to be able to recover Trickstar with Nirvana and then drop this as basically another Vairina that costs 1CB (and gives +5k to a unit). It isn’t the same finisher that Valiente is but being able to keep your beatsticks in play is always good and that 5k bonus contributes to some magic numbers.

I’ve also dropped some other non-essential pieces – we’re using the start deck overtrigger and perfect guards. The start deck perfect guards are objectively worse but only some of the time – if you have 2 or more cards in hand, they’re functionally the same as the improved ones so that’s definitely something we can afford to drop for the sake of keeping things cheap. Dragveda is great but Olbaria is still an overtrigger, it’s going to have two units swinging for 100 million power (or one for 200 million, I guess), it’ll still prevent you from taking it as damage and it’ll still draw you a card. If it’s drawn, it still has 50k shield.

The only thing you really don’t want to drop from competitive builds is Vairina Arcs. Arcs is the only part of this archetype that I think is 100% essential to making the deck function so you will still need it. It’s currently sitting just under $10 and that’s where the bulk of your money is going to be spent if you want to build this deck. If you absolutely do not want to spend the money on Arcs, you could perhaps go for Tensha Stead or Fire Slash Dragon, Inferno Sword (the G3 15k attacker from the start deck) but the deck is going to be significantly worse than it would be with Arcs.


Gameplay

Mulligan

As with all decks, mulligan for the situation you’re in – whether you’re going first or second and what deck your opponent is playing will change your mulligan priorities a lot. If you need to survive early aggression, mulligan for defensive cards (Triggers, a Blitz Order or Perfect Guards) and if you need to play aggressively, mulligan for at least one Trickstar, your choice of overDress unit and perhaps even another Nirvana for a Persona Ride on turn 4.

That being said, you almost always want to see Arcs in your opening hand and it’s worth it to aggressively mulligan for this card over everything else a lot of the time. It’s rare that you won’t have the 1CB on turn 2 and you’ll always have the Trickstar. It’ll help you draw into the other pieces you need and is your only real form of advantage generation in a deck that negs a lot. It also swings for a respectable 15k which is 10k to guard in the early game whether you’re going first or second and it can be converted into a 23k Valiente on turn 3.

Example hand:

Early Beater

First Overdress target

Discard Fodder for Ride Deck

Early Rush

Persona Ride for later

Turn 1

Depending on your opponent’s deck, you usually want to play aggressively – an early Rino can cause problems for your opponent as she’s a unit that can be played on turn 1 but will still be a threat against a G2 Vanguard without another card needing to be played due to her 10k power attacks. Take one damage if you’re going first and the opportunity presents itself unless you have no Arcs.

Turn 2

If you weren’t able to take a damage on turn 1 and have an Arcs in hand, you want to take one here unless you have no use for it but you ideally want to have taken 2 damage by your first G3 ride – don’t take damage you don’t need to take but make sure to give yourself the resources you need.

Ideally, you opened an Arcs and you’ll want to use it to overDress your superior called Trickstar provided you have the CB to spend.

If you don’t have any kind of Vairina on turn 2 (or don’t have the CB to use Arcs), Trickstar can be called to boost a Rino to build a 15k column. If you aren’t running Rino and have Velocihazard, you’re still making 13k which is still a 10k guard into an 8k Vanguard if you’re going first – it’s too risky to boost the Trickstar with Velocihazard for the bonus power because Trickstar is very vulnerable on the front row with only 5k power.

Turn 3 and onwards

If Trickstar was your starter, soul blast it to pay for Reiyu’s skill and then you can call it to R with Nirvana to have 2 Trickstars in play for an immediate aggressive turn as long as you have one of any Vairina in hand to utilise it.

If you have an Arcs sat idle as a 10k Vanilla, it can be a good target for Valiente regardless of whether or not you can afford to pay Valiente’s restand cost – a 23k beatstick is always good and it has that power in both player’s turns so it can be quite hard to get rid of too.

If you don’t have Arcs and have the Rino/Trickstar column I mentioned earlier, you can now overDress that Trickstar with the Vairina you searched and you have a 28k column – if you had that Rino on the field since turn 1, you’ve been able to have her be relevant at all stages of the game.

Again, if you have an Arcs, you want to prioritise overDressing it if you’re missing pieces that you want, especially a second Trickstar. If you have everything you need and a healthy hand size, you’re probably better off using your searched Vairina and saving the CB for Nirvana and a Valiente if you have one.

In terms of using your cards as efficiently as possible, you generally want your columns to be ending with 3k or 8k (at least when attacking a G3 Vanguard). Valiente will always have power ending with one of these numbers naturally but Vairina and Arcs do not – consider that when you’re deciding where to place your boosters. A 10k booster (Velocihazard) is more efficiently used when boosting Valiente and an 8k booster will make a more efficient column with Vairina – that doesn’t mean you can only boost them in that way but you want to avoid wasting power and should always be thinking about optimising your available power to increase the amount of shield that is required to guard them.

Generally, you’re going to want to attack with Nirvana first to use his skill before attacking with anything else. The possible exception is if you only have 1CB to spend in which case, it might be more efficient to attack with a Valiente first – the threat of a fourth attack might be worth more than the additional power depending on how the game is looking (especially if you Persona Rode or the Valiente is already quite big) and if that attack is guarded, you still have the CB to spend on Nirvana’s skill (but on only two targets).

As I mentioned earlier, even though Valiente may be able to restand with triggers on him, he already generates a lot of pressure to be guarded due to his on-hit restand – it will often create more pressure to put any crits onto another unit to create two columns of pressure, especially if the opponent has a perfect guard in hand.

The game will likely be the same every turn once you hit grade 3. Obviously, you want to Persona Ride whenever you can and doing so allows you to be more conservative with your CB for a turn as you won’t be as reliant on Nirvana for power. Always be aware of your CB spending – as I said before, you aren’t getting it back outside of a heal trigger (and even then, not all of the time). It might be tempting to spend all of your CB on Arcs because drawing 2 is great but Arcs only draws you cards – you need to have resources for Valiente and Nirvana to actually win games. Drawing through your whole deck isn’t going to help if you’re swinging for vanilla numbers.

Follow this outline, rinse and repeat.

Strategy

Here I’m going to talk about what I think are the most important aspects of playing this deck in terms of what decisions you need to make and what you need to be thinking about whilst playing and also whilst deck building to some extent.

Trickstarter

You’ve likely seen people using Trickstar as the starter and I’ve talked about it already in this article. Even though I went into some detail about it earlier, it is still debated as to whether or not it’s actually worth it.

On the plus side, you have a second Trickstar out of the deck and into your drop zone on turn 3 that you can immediately call using Nirvana’s skill. This is a big positive, especially when going first as you’re going to be able to have two overDress units on your first ride turn and make some aggressive plays whilst your opponent is still on G2. It also means there’s a free slot open in the deck for something else.

On the negative side, you’re losing a card going second. Having the second Trickstar still matters going second, of course, but that additional card in hand can help a lot when it comes to surviving the advantage your opponent has by going second. The current format favours going first quite heavily and so you need all of the help you can get going second so losing a card is a bigger negative than perhaps it appears, especially in a deck that negs quite often.

It’s difficult to say which is better and it’s something you should really test yourself to find out which you prefer. Starting with Trickstar is always better when you’re going first where your starter is vanilla but is having the second guaranteed Trickstar in play enough to make up for losing a card the 50% of the time you’re going second?

Considerably more decks have topped in Japan using the regular starter than have topped with Trickstar as starter and the community is definitely leaning towards the regular starter being better. That being said, the deck’s best chance of winning competitively is going first and so going all-in on that 50/50 gamble can be worth it whilst the deck is currently not as powerful as some others. Test it and find out what you prefer.

Resource  Management

Let me be blunt about this because this is one of the biggest mistakes I see with this deck – you have no access to any resource generation. The only CB you have to spend is the damage you take and the only soul you have to spend is from riding. You have 5CB to spend outside of checking heal triggers and the only way you’re ever generating additional soul is via Persona Ride.

When you spend a counter blast, it’s gone. You need to be constantly asking yourself “Do I need to spend this? Is this better spent on X?” and that should be influencing everything you do and every card you play. Is drawing two more cards with Arcs rather than attacking with Valiente or giving out Nirvana’s 10k power to 3 units going to get you closer to winning the game? Is Nirvana’s 10k power more important than Valiente’s restand this turn?

Quite often, you’ll be going into your battle phase with 1CB to spend and the choice of Valiente’s restand or Nirvana’s 10k power x3. Nirvana’s 10k power going to 3 units is generally going to force more guard but a 4th lower power attack can sometimes be more impactful than that, however, Valiente’s restand is something your opponent can prevent too – one of the best ways to force your opponent to play inefficiently when you only have 1CB is to attack with Valiente first. If the opponent doesn’t guard, you can spend the 1CB to restand and if the opponent does guard, you still have that 1CB to spend on Nirvana’s skill, albeit on only two units.

Soul blast isn’t quite as important because you only have two abilities that use soul in this deck. One is Reiyu’s Vairina search – you’ll always have at least 1SB for this – and the other is Vairina’s 2SB retire on attack. Quite often, you’re only going to get 1 use out of Vairina’s retire in a game so choose your target very wisely. Generally speaking, it’s best to target a unit that has a skill that your opponent can use multiple times to generate advantage (For example, Protobulb Dragon or Diabolos Boys, Eden) or gains power on attack (Alden, for example) but units in Overdress state also make a good target (including Vairina itself to protect your own units from the skill being used in retaliation next turn). It’s a good skill but at 2SB in a deck with no SC, you have to pick your targets carefully and weigh up how much of an inconvenience using it is actually going to be to your opponent or how much survival it will actually grant you. It can also be used to retire an interceptor before it can be used and that can be clutch during your final push.

Resource management becomes a totally different game against Seraph Snow which becomes  more of a war of attrition. You’re often better off spending your resources to recover core units than you are retiring so I would recommend not using Vairina’s retire skill but you may also want to hold back on your counter blasting skills sometimes so that you can go for a late counteroffensive.

Basically, you need to know how, when and why to spend your resources in this deck because once they’re gone, they’re gone.

Trickstar Tricks

Trickstar is the core of this deck. You want your Trickstars in play and you want to be aware of where they are and what risks they’re facing at all times. Protecting Trickstars is extremely important and losing them with no way to recover them can and will cost you games. Whilst Trickstar has what basically adds up to resist, Vairina does not and when Trickstar is original dress material, it’s very vulnerable to removal and has a giant target painted on its forehead and a giant neon sign with the the words “PLEASE REMOVE ME” flashing above its head.

The primary removal threats facing Trickstar are Seraph Snow and Baromagnes. You can recover a Trickstar with Seraph snow, though, you will lose the overDress state and will need an additional Vairina in hand to get it back into that state as they cannot be recovered from Prison into overDress state. This isn’t the worst thing in the world but you need to be aware of it and have the resources available to recover the Trickstar. As all of Seraph’s removal skills work in the main phase, you can only do so much to avoid them once your units are on the field but keep in mind that Trickstar can’t be targeted by any of them so it can be worth having them as backrow boosters where they are totally safe until you’re ready to commit them to overDress state.

Baromagnes is a much bigger threat because we have such limited access to soul blasting abilities in this deck. If your Trickstar ends up in soul and you don’t have another one and a Vairina to soul blast it back out, it’s gone – even if you can soul blast it back out, you’re doing it in your battle phase so you won’t be getting it back for another turn and you still need to pay Nirvana’s discard cost to do so. You need to play around Baromagnes sucking a Trickstar up into soul. The best way to to do so is to intercept with an overDress state Arcs or Vairina to get Trickstar into the drop zone before Baromagnes attacks (If your opponent is at 15 soul, they’re going to want to attack with Baromagnes after their two columns so as not to waste attacks when those units get sucked into soul and two units are called back out) so they’re safely off the board before they get placed into the soul. This may not sound much better but you can recover your Trickstars from the drop zone far easier than you can from the soul so they’re far, far better off in the drop zone – this is true in any matchups with any removal. Baromagnes also doesn’t target units so Trickstar’s resist does not help – Trickstar is actually safer in overDress state (aside from when overDressed by Valiente) when you’re facing Baromagnes thanks to intercept so keep that in mind.

Whilst Eugene is a weak deck, it does have a lot of cheap retire and you need to respect that. Keeping Trickstars on the back row as boosters, however, means you have rearguard circles that will never be open unless you choose to open them and this can shut down a portion of what little advantage Eugene is usually able to generate.

Another removal threat to Trickstar is one that isn’t really relevant right now but might become relevant later – Keter Sanctuary. Keter currently has two cards that are capable of returning a unit (and in the case of an overDress state unit, that goes for it and any original dress units beneath it) to the bottom of the deck. Losing your only Trickstar this way is potentially game losing so you have to be hyper aware of this. The two cards to look out for currently are Tier Square Sorceress as a rear guard and the normal order Swinging Sword of Judgement. You’ll have warning of Tier Square Sorceress and time to avoid it because it happens in the battle phase, giving you the chance to intercept first and avoid the skill as you would against Baromagnes – people aren’t running her in Bastion or Hexaorb as a rearguard currently but it’s worth being aware of just in case. The order, Swinging Sword of Judgement, is a little harder to avoid and, unlike Tier Square Sorceress, has started to see some limited play as people test out the more “control” focused Bastion build (Check out Cipher’s YouTube video about it – I’ll get him to post a link to it somewhere when he uploads this to the site). The only real indicator that it’s coming is that it requires a G3 unit to be soul blasted so keep an eye on what’s in your opponent’s soul. There’s not much you can really do about it currently other than be aware that it exists and keep a lookout for your opponent revealing it for their ride line skills (it’s G3) or as a drive check and plan around its use.

The final big threat to Trickstar is it being retired from attacks – you’re not likely to be stupid enough to leave a Trickstar on the front row, of course, but overDress units are a different matter. Quite often your opponent is going to prefer to swing at an overDress state unit over giving you another CB if they know you’re not at risk of losing on that turn. Damage triggers are sometimes better used to protect overDress units than they are your Vanguard if you’re not at risk of losing during the turn they are checked. Valiente has power in both players turns, don’t forget, so a Valiente is a bit easier to protect against attacks and that can be worth remembering in scenarios where you expect your rearguards to be attacked rather than removed even if you don’t plan on using Valiente’s skill at that time.  

Closing Thoughts


And there we have it!

Personally, I really enjoy this deck. It’s simple, it has bright colours, there’s some cool art, having a start deck is a nice bonus to make the deck accessible and it does a good job in teaching important skills to newer players.

On the downside, the deck is expensive for what is, ultimately, a mid tier deck and that’s something that’s going to be pretty off-putting to new players. The price of this deck is probably indicative of what’s to come for the nation overall given how expensive Kagero has been in the past – don’t expect Dragon Empire decks that have cool visuals and main character connections to be cheap decks regardless of how good they are.

It isn’t the best deck in the format but it’s a solid and consistent threat that will need to be taken seriously by decks that can’t put up a good defense. You do have a few notable bad matchups, particularly against decks running lots of removal and that’s something you really need to watch out for and understand how to play around – even then, these matchups are an uphill struggle.

There’s a great foundation here and the deck has plenty of room and design space to grow with future releases and I’m excited to see what the future holds for this archetype. Watch this space as I’ll be updating this article as time goes on and new releases are introduced and thanks for reading!



Update History:

Published June 2021

See Also:

Coming Soon

One thought on “Vairina Deck Profile (Dragon Empire)

  1. Just got a chance to read the whole article! Really well done! I learned some key things from this deck too! The idea of having Trickstar as a starter reminds me of Tahro being a starter back in G Era. I actually did that and it helps with that consistency of having guaranteed at least 1. With the overDress format, going first is really the same result since you don’t get the draw. I think it has its valid cases.

    Like

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