The Apex Ruler Deck Study (Keter Sanctuary)
Last Set Update: D Booster Set 01: Genesis of the Five Greats
Today we look over the leader of the Heavenly Knights, also known as the Cloud Knights, the new knightly order of what was once United Sanctuary who are in charge of the security of Keter Sanctuary, now floating in the sky.
Bastion features a familiar aesthetic to any long term fan of the game with its typical Knight-aesthetics which is reminiscent of clans in the United Sanctuary and even features a grade centric strategy much like the Paladins before it.
Bastion is a beatdown deck and is rather simplistic at face value. It has rather limited and linear lines of play and its solid advantage engine makes it relatively consistent.
Its playstyle can be defined by 2 main things.
How many Grade 3s?!
The first is of course the use of high amounts of grade 3s (normally between 22-26) the deck runs to meet its specific conditions but also to have access to the wide range of different Grade 3s with all kinds of utility to keep the deck adaptable to different situations. They have grade 3s that do everything from granting all G3s boost for a turn to guarding.
The second is, of course, the deck’s ability to take advantage of those grade 3 units’ naturally higher base power to form strong numbers to quickly overwhelm the opponent with large columns and multi attacks to overwhelm the opponent. The deck makes relevant magic numbers without having to commit resources to do so.
This does raise some concerns regarding the deck’s defensive power – playing that many Grade 3s means Bastion can struggle to keep up with other decks defensively, especially against multi-attacking decks. The best way to counter this is to win before it matters which Bastion is very capable of doing.
The ride deck is the main source of card advantage for Bastion in the early stages of the game.
- Knight of Heavenly Bows, Base
- Knight of Heavenly Sword, Fort
- Knight of Heavenly Spear, Rooks
- Apex Ruler, Bastion
Riding from Fort to Rooks and revealing 2 g3s in your hand, you get to call the top card of your deck if it is a unit card, which does help the deck early on to get more than 1 attack in the early game or at worse a booster (If Sentinel/Trigger is called). Riding Bastion on Rooks and revealing 3 g3s in your hand, will then just draw you a card. While simply resolving these skills in the early game can definitely make the difference between a win and a loss for Bastion, and generally, the player should always aim to resolve these skills when riding up at all times as the extra cards will allow you to play more freely. You can find a deeper look into the cards below.
Grand Heavenly Sword, Alden ( CORE CARD )
The main rearguard for Bastion in Set 1, Alden is a powerful unit that functions both as the primary source of card advantage giving the user a plus 2 to hand by calling another G3, but also as the deck’s main attacker. It is able to hit magic numbers really easily thanks to its on-attack skill to grant it 5000 power and it will even stack multiple times in a turn if you choose it as your restand target with Bastion’s skill.
While its cost is rather heavy, counterblast 2 and soulblast 1, its ability to create advantage is the best in the nation and is one of the best in the game at the moment. Generally, you will want to use this skill whenever you can as it will help you to draw into more defenses and well more cards to play with in general, just remember that if you have a full board, you’re not necessarily generating advantage by calling down more G3s that can’t boost and may even have to minus from the board to do so.
The Hour of Holy Judgement , Cometh
The Grade 3 order card from the start deck, Cometh. While not as strong as Alden, Cometh plays a supporting role in Bastion decks as a secondary option in case we do not draw into Alden. For CB2, it draws you 2 cards regardless and gives any unit 5000 until the end of the turn and, unlike Alden, it makes your hand bigger which can be useful at times (For example, if you have a full board). While it’s an order, it is still a Grade 3 and will count for the skills of the ride deck.
Solaria is another card that you see some lists playing to maintain card advantage. When discarded from your hand during your turn, you are able to draw a card by paying CB1/SB1. This makes it a useful card that you can pitch during earlier turns through the ride deck, or with Bastion – the cost is actually quite reasonable in Bastion as Bastion does not require CB/SB to execute its primary win condition.
Actual Analyst, Kokabiel (CORE CARD)
Kokabiel is the only Grade 3 that Bastion can use defensively, with its ability to gain shield value based on the number of grade 3s you have in control (specifically, those on your Vanguard, Rearguard and Guardian circles), it alleviates some of the problems Bastion has which is its naturally lower shield value and thus allows the deck to feasibly run more G3s. As it gains 5k shield for every two of your G3 units, it will always have at least 5k if your Vanguard is G3.
The first blitz order for Keter grants 15k power to one of your units for one of your opponent’s attacks while you control 3 or more units. Simple and straight to the point
Knight of War Damage , Fosado (CORE CARD)
Fosado is one of the more powerful Grade 3s Bastion has access to at the moment. It provides constant pressure with its ability to counter charge and soul charge when its attack hits. It is also a very resilient rearguard, and cant be chosen by your opponent’s card effects, making it very strong against retire skills and prison.
In some scenarios restanding this over Alden may get you the resources you need to finish the game comfortably on the next turn.
If you’re running a lot of Grade 3s, Dark Strains Dragon’s value will scale accordingly as it has a very useful effect to give all your g3 units boost for a turn for soul blast 2, which makes effortless 30k columns thanks to Bastion’s CONT.
The soulblast can be heavy but it is managable and is often played at 3-4 to ensure you have strong turns even without persona rides.
A flexible Grade 3 unit that is able to restand itself if you check a trigger (and also gives itself +5000). It’s one of the ways Bastion is able to get more than 4 attacks in a turn, if you check a trigger as well as a Grade 3, while it cost a hefty CB2 the extra attack can be clutch and even catch people off guard but there’s a chance you may end up with a worse attack pattern as you will have to attack with both of your rearguards before attacking with Bastion to achieve that 5 attack Bastion turn.
Downswing of Sword of Judgement
The only consistent removal option Keter has access to at the moment, it requires the soul blast of a grade 3 unit (Not a problem thanks to Rafluke) but you are able to send an entire column to the bottom of your opponent’s deck which can be useful in a rearguard reliant format and especially against the likes of Zorga and Overdress.
Definitely a card to look out for and test with. See Control Bastion for a build that features this card.
How many G3s do we play ?
The first question that comes to mind is of course how many grade 3 units do we play? Excluding the ride deck and triggers we essentially have exactly 30 slots to fill in. Factoring in the mandatory Sentinels, this will leave us with 26 slots, which we could fill in with Grade 3s but first let’s take a moment and really think, do we need too?
Pros for more Grade 3s
- The Ride Deck skills become very consistent
- Consistent Attackers
- More space to put in more utility Grade 3s , have access to more powerful skills
Cons for more Grade 3s
- Overall lower shield value
- Limited ability to guard earlier in the game
- May be piece dependent to form specific formation
With this in mind how many G3s you play will be determined on how much that factor is going to determine how much you value the pros and cons depending on your local metagame.
Non-G3s that can help out fill in slots
Knight of Heavenly Spear , Rooks
The G2 in the ride deck is a rather powerful rearguard too and can act as a 15k booster to support your G3s to form good columns as long as you control 3 G3 units (including your Vanguard) so its more consistent than Dark Strain Dragon.
A very flexible G1 unit that is able to retire itself and soul blast 1 to draw a card. It is a card that is rarely dead into the game and can be used early to cycle for pieces you need or left as a booster to form 23 lines with Bastion.
Divine Sister, Tartine
A generic “scry” tool that can be used to guarantee your attack patterns for a turn. It lets you set up a G3 or Trigger but rests itself so you effectively lose a booster for a turn (you can of course call over it if you want the boost).
Prescription Angel (PR)
A G1 from the promo pack, which is able to call a face up guardian from the damage zone for CB1 and then adds the top card of your deck to the damage zone (not a rescue check, sadly), it can save you in a pinch by letting you call a big shield value piece.
Due to the the sequence in which Bastion usually attacks, critical triggers are preferable and they will always be effective, regardless of whether or not you check a grade 3. Critical triggers make your columns much more threatening and any time your opponent no guards your Vanguard attack, they might risk losing the game. Fronts are less consistent in this regard and lose value as you almost never attack with your Vanguard first in this deck but can still potentially run over draws if you really want more 15000 shields in the deck.
Both Olbaria and Amartinoa are both viable for Bastion, it really depends on what you value more as a player and which is optimal will vary from situation to situation, though, Amartinoa has specific synergy with Bastion that is going to make it more useful more often.
Olbaria can potentially create 2 attacks with 100 Million power and is sure to close games when your opponent does not have multiple sentinels in their hand. More often than not, this is going to be enough even if Amartinoa appears to do a lot more so, if you don’t have Amartinoa, Olbaria is far from useless. Amartinoa gives all of your rearguards drive checks during that turn. This means all of your Grade 3 units will gain twin drive, building a large hand which is a huge momentum gain at any staeg of the game. The drive checks will also proc Bastion’s restand skill which can be useful if Bastion himself does not hit a G3 on his own drive checks.
Overall, Amartinoa is the better pick as it has a consistently strong effect once you have established your field regardless of your opponent’s damage count whereas Olbaria is at its best when your opponent is at high damage already. From a defensive aspect, both are identical, of course, so when checked this way, they are equally effective
Sample Deck Lists
Here a 3 versions of the deck to get you started
- “26 G3” Bastion
- “Balanced” Bastion
- “Control” Bastion
Do check out the links below for videos featuring the builds in more detail. All the builds offer different sides of Bastion and I recommend you try all of them to get a good idea of the potential of this ride line.
26 G3 Bastion Build
Grade 3 (27)
Grade 2 (1)
Grade 1 (5)
Balanced Bastion Build
Grade 3 (22)
Grade 2 (3)
Grade 1 (8)
Control Bastion Build
Grade 3 (23)
- Actual Analyst, Kokabiel x 4
- Apex Ruler, Bastion x 4
- Grand Heavenly Sword, Alden x 4
- Knight of Broadaxe, Rafluke x 4
- Downswing of Sword of Judgement x 4
- The Hour of Holy Judgement Cometh x 3
Grade 1 (9)
Hand Re-Draw / Mulligan
The main aim in this phase of the game is to secure enough Grade 3 units to meet the conditions of Forts and Rooks to gain the + 1 to field and + 1 to hand to compensate for the lacking early game that a Bastion deck will face due to its high G3 count. Ideally we will have 3 G3s in hand with an Alden / Cometh amongst them to help us gain momentum when we ride into Bastion.
If you do choose to play some non-g3s in your deck , keeping them in your hand early on can be useful as it will give you more options to use either offensively or as added shields to use the defend against early attacks which might a difference in keeping you in a healthy damage range.
Alden for Advantage Plays
G3 to Call out with Alden / 3rd G3 to meet rooks skill
Discard Fodder / Shield
Discard Fodder/ Early Game Plays / Shield
Early Game (T1-T2)
In the early game, a Bastion focused deck usually plays a rather passive game compared to aggro decks as the deck generally does not have a way to call anything else consistently outside of Forts skill which is not totally consistent. Ideally we will want to get a Grade 3 unit with Fort but even a trigger or booster behind the vanguard can be useful to ensure no guard from the opponent. Keeping your damage low is also recommended in this phase of the game as you do not need early resources.
While Bastion is a powerhouse when it gets its momentum going, overcoming the early game hurdle is the biggest challenge for Bastion due to the deck’s inherently lower shield value. Keeping your damage low is key to surviving later into the game comfortably especially against multiple attacking decks. Ideally, you will be able to keep your damage at or below 3 in the early game. This is a healthy number where we have counterblast to use our draw skills, but not too high where we risk losing to explosive turns. The easiest time to guard as Bastion is often going to be in the early game and as you don’t need turn 2 CB, don’t be afraid to guard these early attacks.
Mid Game (T3)
Now that you are able to ride into Bastion, this is where we are able to consider forming the magic numbers that we have talked so much about.
Depending on the grade of the opponent’s vanguard your goal here is to push for as many cards from your opponent’s hand without overextending too much if you are unable to kill. A common practice against this deck is to guard early, this is where you want to force them to defend.
Against G2 Vanguards nothing much has to be done as your G3s will generally hit them for rather good numbers as it is with a 15k already demanding a 10k shield from the opponent and these numbers will only scale from here (Refer to the magic number section for more on this).
Against G3 Vanguards, we should be aiming to create attacks that require at least a 10k shield to guard against as this will force the opponent to throw a trigger or multiple key pieces. With Bastion’s ability to give the unit restanding +10000, this is generally safe against damage triggers as well.
Another common situation that comes up is choosing which rearguard you will want to restand, which will usually be Fossad to pressure the opponent into guarding (or give you more resources to play with) or Alden to hit bigger magic numbers. Either is fine most of the time but which one you pressure with can matter depending on your opponent’s current hand size and damage count as it will tell you how likely they are to not guard an attack.
In general attack patterns are rather straightforward in Bastion with the general flow being attacking with the rearguard that you are planning to restand first, the vanguard and then following it with the remaining attacks in ascending power. This attack pattern is generally seen as the optimal one as this attack pattern accounts for checking either G3s, a G3 and a Trigger as well as just triggers.
Attacking with both rearguards, as it can give you more information about what’s in your opponent’s combined with good hand tracking (keeping track of what your opponent checks, and guarding with) can be useful depending on the state of the game, whether or not you have set up the top deck with Tartine or are using Lepisto and want to attempt a 5 attack turn.
Bastion’s end game is rather repetitive and is merely an extension of what we already do every turn. Obviously, persona riding every turn is the ideal gameplan as it allows you to push without any counterblast or soulblast. In this phase of the game it is important to keep track of your resources as they can definitely run out if you use skills carelessly. Depending on your opponent’s damage count as well as possible healing, learn not to overextend as this will leave you burned out quickly and in a vulnerable position where the opponent is able to potentially come back into the game.
A very common mistake to make while playing Bastion is to overextend your resources. While Bastion does boast one of the strongest advantage engines in the game at the moment, you have to be careful not to burn through your resources too quickly and, in particular, when there is no reason to do so. This is due to both the somewhat random nature of Bastion’s restand skill as well as the high amount of grade 3s that you do play. While they are related they do bring up different issues.
The first is Bastion’s main skill. While this can be somewhat overcome by running a high amount of grade 3s for consistency, there will be situations where you might check 2 triggers, your sentinel and a trigger or even 2 sentinels. For this reason, try to play around the inconsistency with your attack patterns and don’t play excessively greedily if the game is still undecided.
The second is of course the weakness of having a lower shield value, if you overextend and fail, you will put yourself into a poor scenario where your opponent has an excess of resources and you have no way to defend yourself during the next turn.
How do we avoid this?
Learn to layer your turns – Plan Ahead.
While it is certainly tempting to have one big explosive turn to end the game, we have to remember that our attacks are still doing one damage each. As long as your opponent is able to guard early, they will give themselves some room to take at least 2-3 of your attacks without even considering heals. Putting all your resources into a single turn is definitely risky.
In particular cards like your Persona Ride, Rafluke, and Dark Strain will only affect things during the turn they are played so timing these skills can be especially important. If you are low on the soul, using Dark Strain and Persona Ride during the same turn, will leave you with only your front row rearguards to hit decent numbers with on their own as there is nothing to boost their numbers up which can make it easy to defend against. As such if your opponent’s damage is low, it may be wise to save dark strains effect for the following turn instead – you don’t have to overlap your offensive skills and can pay for it later if you do so when it isn’t needed.
To understand the value of Bastion’s passive skill we have to take a look at the numbers the deck can form in context with the added 2k to all g3 units. Below is a table of reference for many of the commonly formed numbers you can make with Bastion decks and how to form them.
To break it down further, we’ll take it a step further and take a look at what the shield value actually means by counting the average of cards needed to defend against the attacks. For simplicity we’ll be looking at the minimum number of cards needed to guard against them besides a perfect guard (which is still often going to be 2). Considering the highest value a normal card can have is 15k shied at the moment this starts to paint a pretty accurate overview.
Any attack that you form that breaks the 20k minimum will always demand at least 2 cards from the opponent and this will only scale with the intervals of 15 shield that you are able to demand another card from the opponent, All of this is of course assuming your opponent will have the higher shield values ( triggers )
Planning out your attack numbers?
Is it always best to put all the power onto one unit? With Bastion, a common mistake is to tunnel vision and put all of your effects (Rafluke) and triggers onto a single rearguard. Perfect guards are a factor that we should never overlook unless they have been accounted for. How high does an attack have to go before the opponent will throw out their sentinels? How much damage can the opponent afford to take? Perhaps two powerful attacks will be more useful than one.
Picture this scenario.
Note: For this example, assume that the Vanguard’s attack has already been accounted for.
Let’s say the opponent is at 4 damage with 4 Cards in hand,1 Sentinel in hand, 2 5k shields and one 15k shield to guard against your rearguards.
If you proceed to give Rafluke’s skill to Alden, the opponent will block the large attacks with their perfect guard and guard with only a 15k shield at most on the other side, letting them survive. Balancing out the power to the Fossad, will be more effective in this scenario. This play will also help you to play around damage triggers better as it will ensure more attacks will need to be guarded.
With this in mind remember to track the location of your opponent’s sentinels if they are checked and account for them in the game as plays like this can separate you between a win and a loss when push comes to shove.
Playing Against Removal
As a rearguard reliant deck, Bastion can have some trouble against removal which currently comes in two forms – retire and imprison. The strategies against both are rather similar, that is to control the number of rearguards you deploy at a time and learn to play with smaller fields. If possible limiting yourself to three rearguards will make it possible to refill in the event that your whole board gets affected. Only commit a full field when you believe it is necessary.
Fosado and Rafluke also come in handy against removal. Fosado in particular has a very strong ability in the match up by having immunity to any “choose” effects like the vast majority of removal effects currently are. This makes it valuable as it is a low commitment and safe rearguard to call out in those matchups while also carrying a pressurising rearguard skill to refresh the deck’s soul and counterblast on hit which could be used to create more card advantage with cards like Alden more freely, further reducing the power of removal. Just remember to look out for those effects that do not choose a target (Baromagnes being the primary example right now) as they will affect Fossad the same as any other card.
Rafluke on the other hand can be placed into the soul to trade itself for power to another rearguard without leaving any excess rearguards. In the prison match up in particular, this will be important as you do not want to give the opponent too many cards in the prison and you will have additional soul to bail your units out.
Strengths and Weaknesses
Overall Bastion is a consistent and aggressive deck that can take advantage of the lower shield value in the format very well with its ability to form magic numbers almost effortlessly while also having some of the best card advantage in the current meta.
Its linear playstyle doesn’t leave much to the imagination and instead it focuses on understanding the basics of the game – magic numbers, attack patterns and probability. As a result, Bastion is easy for new players to pick up and will teach them these core fundamentals of the game while also appealing to veterans with its wide deck building options thanks to the requirements of the core mechanic of the deck.
It’s effective at what it does and showcases a new way of building a deck that is now possible thanks to the ride deck. Still, it has a clear weakness in its low shield value and weak early game – a hole in its armor that is possible for experienced players to exploit which can potentially make it challenging to pilot well in a highly competitive environment, despite its simplicity.
If you are up for the challenge, then be sure to give Bastion a try.
Thank you for reading and do remember to check out the linked articles and videos below for a deeper look into some of the topics covered. Till next time ~
Relevant Blog Post
Overdress Overview/ Deck Profiles – by Cipher
1 thought on “The Apex Ruler Deck Study (Keter Sanctuary)”
Just got a chance to read the whole article! Great article, I really like how you covered 3 different variants. I really like the “control” version. It’s different for the most part and has other utility.