Kantai Deck Tech – 2nd at 2014 Santa Clara WGP Regionals

Trick Or Love Arrow Umi

Umi-dah!

Welcome to the 9th CX’s Weiss Schwarz deck techs! For this article, we’ll be looking at the list that went to the finals of the WGP Regionals in Santa Clara: Kantai Collection!

Editor’s Note: Whoops! Got the city incorrect. It’s been corrected to Santa Clara.

This article and tournament report are brought to you by Neal Salud.

Translations can be found on Heart of the Cards. Names will be matched to reflect the translation notes. If translations are unavailable for the card, in-house translations will be used.

Because Kantai Collection has been featured a great number of times, cards will be periodically and incidentally introduced. You can catch the other lists in the Directory for more in-depth looks at the cards that are included in this deck list.

Let’s deploy the list!

Waifu Crashing

Level 0 – 16

3 Hatsukaze, 7th Kagero-class Destroyer (KC/S25-006)
3 Hibiki, 2nd Akatsuki-class Destroyer (KC/S25-056)
4 Inazuma, Blunderer (KC/S25-061)
1 Ikazuchi, Works Hard (KC/S25-057)
4 Satsuki, 5th Mutsuki-class Destroyer (KC/S25-104)
1 Arashio, 4th Asashio-class Destroyer (KC/S25-152)

Level 1 – 16

4 Shimakaze, Shimakaze-class Destroyer (KC/S25-003)
2 I-8, 2nd Junsen-class Type J-3 Submarine (KC/S25-009)
4 Verniy, “Trustworthy” Destroyer (KC/S25-038)
2 Yahagi, 3rd Agano-class Light Cruiser (KC/S25-010)
2 Ashigara, 3rd Myoukou-class Heavy Cruiser (KC/S25-158)
2 Compass (KC/S25-031)

Level 2 – 3

2 I-8 Kai, 2nd Junsen-class Type J-3 Submarine (KC/S25-019)
1 Zuihou, 2nd Shouhou-class Light Aircraft Carrier (KC/S25-134)

Level 3 – 7

4 Akagi Kai, Akagi-class Aircraft Carrier (KC/S25-035)
3 Haruna, 3rd Kongou-class Battleship (KC/S25-084)

CX – 8

4 Swift as the Island Wind (KC/S25-034)
3 Akagi of the First Carrier Division, Deploying! (KC/S25-075)
1 It’s Akatsuki’s Turn, Watch Closely! (KC/S25-079)

Special thanks to Neal who contributed a great deal to the analysis!

Neal’s Comment: In the end I  found myself writing a 3000 word essay (laughable that I spent more time on this then I did on my actual essay [for class]), so I shortened it and formatted it as best I could to the usual interview length. 

How do we use this deck?

Michael: Neal’s take on Kantai uses a very familiar shell of cards that are iconic of the series. Heal tax and anti-Salvage are the centers of the level 0 game that shut down strategies early on. This list of Kantai uses Inazuma from the Choose One list, eschewing the soul-pushing power of Junyou or the Punish Burn ability of Musashi.

There is also a singleton +2 soul in the deck to punish poor draws or play catch up from behind, which can happen to the deck during its level 2. Neal has a much more detailed breakdown of the deck by level.

Neal: The deck’s level 0 revolves around hand building and setup. In these early stages of the game it’s important to set up any necessary anti-tech (Heal, Salvage) components as well as maintaining damage balance between you and your opponent. If accessible it’s never a bad idea to utilize the Hibiki -> Verniy change combo. The Inazuma, Blunderer is neat little package that helps search and push oneself to level 1 setting up for the ever so popular Shimakaze search combo.

kc-s25-038

Level 1 revolves around the Shimakaze search engine. Getting at least 2 searches is ideal. During this phase, it’s crucial to figure out your next move, depending on whether or not you are either behind or ahead in damage. Usually, searching out the level 3 game is the best option.

M: The Kantai decks that use the Akagi endgame, despite losing all their stock at level 3, do need to build a critical mass of stock prior to level 3 to actually be able to close the game with its deadly combination of send-to-clock and Burn effects. This is why searching at level 1 is so important. Managing the level 0 is also especially critical because if the deck pushes its opponent to level 1 first, it may be difficult to find targets for Shimakaze to reverse.

kc-s25-003

N: Level 2 is the most important phase of the deck and is also the most difficult phase for this deck. At level 2 The deck does not have very many options to branch out into, depending on what you searched for during level 1, level 2 is an uphill battle. The whole purpose of the level 2 game is to stick as much damage as possible while building stock for the transition into level 3.

The singleton copy of +2 soul also plays a key role specifically at level 2. Because the deck has little access to level 2 cards, it relies on cards such as Yahagi with her clock encore ability to maintain some form of board presence or I-8kai to get over large problems. Otherwise at level 2 one of the only ways to push out damage is usually to crash cards into your opponent larger characters. Sometimes, side attacking is a viable option to build stock even if the damage will be limited.

kc-s25-079

A timely +2 soul allows you to maintain your field while also giving you the ideal options to swing for 1-2 damage by siding through the opponent #notcrazy. It also helps maintain a full field granting access to the ever important Compass, as well as preventing any extra damage from direct attacks.

Level 3 is more straightforward.  The deck ultimately revolves around transitioning into the ever so powerful end game that is Akagi’s “clock shooting” ability to secure un-cancellable damage to close out the game. In cases where Akagi is unable to use her ability to shoot opponents characters into clock, Haruna is used as a substitute to enable burn damage instead. If you are able to transition into level 3 with 10 or more stock, you can possibly deal an additional 5 sources of damage on top of the normal attack phase.

kc-s25-035

What does the deck not do well? Is it missing anything?

N: This deck loses against the Green “wall” type of decks which revolve around setting up a large powered character at early levels. This prevents search kills with Shimakaze and is a general problem for the early level of the deck. While the deck has access to a lot of search it fails in developing large powered characters without expending several resources. In order to make room for such a large toolbox you’ll notice that the deck lacks any support characters other than the global 500 Hatsukaze. The average character strengths of the deck on the defense are below average at every level besides level 3, making it very easy for your opponent to consistently wipe your field.

The deck also has very few brainstorm effects which has to be supplemented by Compass as well as several searches as a means to thin out the deck.

M: Having powerful “walls” is not necessarily exclusive to green though! Certain Log Horizon builds do make use of having enormous characters at level 1, and many Love Live! decks also have consistent power at level 1. The reason that this deck struggles against characters of very high power at level 1 is not only because it lacks the power to exceed say, 8000 power, but also because it has no access to a ‘hard’ answer in the form of Bounce.

The deck also has very few ways of dealing with a CX flood in-hand. Drawing 3 or more in the early turns, especially during level 0, can be a death sentence.

How does the deck stack up? Is it conservative or greedy? What’s its overall power level? Is it easy or difficult to use? What would you say about its viability in the JP/EN metagames at large?

Greed: 4 – 8

N: As far as the deck’s numbers are concerned it’s very greedy; containing quite a few 1 of’s. While this deck seems very standard to most Kantai builds, I found that I play it very differently despite having only a few differences in card choices. My peers often say I play the deck more aggressively than others, and tend to take more risks. But I believe there is a balance of conservative and greedy play that comes with practice. I do however believe conservative play is the way to go. WS in general is like a layered game of blackjack #dewthemath, and this deck is best suited for playing that style.

M: As Neal said, aggressive in numbers, but conservative in effects. The deck has a lot of answers to a lot of things, but it isn’t a cure-all. (More on this in difficulty)

Difficulty: 8

N: The deck revolves around careful decision-making. The deck has access to 10 cards that are able to search as well as several situational cards, which gives the deck a toolbox-like feel. As with any toolbox, knowing what to search for is key and game play revolves around understanding your opponent’s deck and as well as several game mechanics.

M: Managing the level 0 of this deck as well is one of the most critical aspects of playing this deck to its maximum potential. Though there is a full set of reversers at level 0 to take advantage of this, building stock and setting up for Shimakaze searches is one way to ensure a smooth game.

As it’s been said before though, playing a deck like this one (or rather, especially this one) does favor the player that knows more cards.

Power Range: 3 – 8

N: Most people groan when having to play against this deck. Some go as far as calling it the Anti-Fun build. And that’s just what it is – a deck that prevents key gameplay effects. Very much so it has its weaknesses but considering the Meta popularity of decks that use those mechanics, it’s a top contender.

M: Kantai is still a deck that gets more powerful as the deck it faces becomes more “unfair”, so long as the deck uses Heal and Salvage abilities. If it doesn’t, then the deck looks like an underpowered apology of a soul rush deck; not what you want to play.

EN/JP Meta Viability: 

N: (about Nisekoi)

Kantai is one of the very few decks I believe that has the ability to sit on par with the reigning queen Nisekoi. The ever popular Marika/Onodera build is stunted by several cards in the deck. And just as I thought I found myself matched against Nisekoi 3 times throughout swiss.

Against other series and decks this one in particular is known for putting pressure on your opponent. This usually leaves them prone to mistakes by adding several effects and abilities on your side of the field that they must be careful not to trigger.

Let’s get to the interview!

M: Congratulations on the finish! How was your event overall?

N: The event overall was great and nicely run by Ben and his crew. I’ve played in several other large gaming events at the venue so I felt right at home.

M: What was a really lucky moment you had during the tournament?

N: There were several considerable lucky moments throughout the tournament. However the best was during round 5. After a long day of games and a final match amongst the remaining undefeated to crown the two National Invitation slots. A 2 soul trigger for 5 damage went through, securing the win. Unfortunately for my opponent the last card in his deck was his final climax ending his campaign for top-cut.

M: What was a really unlucky moment you had during the tournament?

N: My most unlucky moment was my only round lost during the event. Due to the tournament condition requiring at least one undefeated player a round 6 was required. With several people talking about how one of the top two would be pushed to third the final match became the most unnerving and unsettling. Unfortunately this was also the game where the deck finally tripped. An opening hand with three climaxes, a very awkward transition into level 1 without getting a Shimakaze Climax Combo or the proper anti-tech, and to top it off playing against one of the strongest decks in the format made it a very tense and very difficult uphill battle.

M: Did you have any incredible comebacks?

N: This time around I had more shutdowns then comebacks. The majority of my games through Swiss were won through several play-errors made by my opponents.

M: How did the final match go for you? What did you play against?

N: The final match was against the top Nisekoi deck of the day. Unfortunately this was the one game where the deck’s weakness came out in the form of inconsistency. While both my opponent and I had several climaxes in our opening hands my deck was unable to properly setup. At level 0 the game was awkward race to re-establish myself. I was unfortunately unable to push out Hatsukaze the anti-salvage which was key for the matchup.

At level 1 I was unable get Shimakaze into my hand despite having the Climax in my hand.  However my opponent had a better level 1 than I did and was able to drop a field of Marika’s with Climax combo at the trigger. Without anti-salvage on board his advantage slowly increased.

And at the end of level 1 I made my first play error by incorrectly searching for a card. In hopes of thinning out my deck I pulled a Level 1, I-8 into my hand via a late Inazuma hoping to chain that search into Yahagi. Unfortunately I forgot to check whether or not I actually had a Yahagi left in my deck only to find that out when playing I-8. In the end I was forced to ditch a climax pay a stock and search for a Verniy instead. With my opponent having just hit level 2 and I nearing level 3 I needed to end the game as soon as possible. Due to my mistakes my hand had been dwindled down and a 1k1 push was my only hope to get back in the game.  A 1k1 drop, +2 soul, and 6 Consecutive cancels later I found myself at level 4 losing my first game and ending my run for the day.

M: How did you prepare for the tournament? Did you do anything special the day of the tournament?

N: I had been messing with this deck recipe for several weeks with my side board being larger than the deck itself. Of course with help from all the homies at SJSU and weekly play at the salt mines I was able to get a large amount of testing done.

I come from a background in Magic as well as L5R so brushing up on tournament etiquette and mentality helped. I’m often known for the “6 climax deck”, the ever popular “uh-oh I only have 49 cards shuffle” and a master at playing “level 3s regardless of level 2 play style” so making sure everything was prepared beforehand and remembering to play slow was key.

The day of the tournament I had one crucial decision to make. At large tournaments I usually don’t play with character sleeves; however the goddess Umi made her debut.

Yes Yes Yes

YES WE DO

M: Congratulations on the finish! Any other shoutouts or things you’d like to say?

N: Special thanks to the T.O. Ben for running the event and helping me get into the game. 9th CX for helping me understand game mechanics and giving me reading material during breaks at work. And the SJSU crew for helping me crash Waifus between classes.

If you have questions or comments, please send us a message via Facebook or an email at theninthcx AT gmail DOT com.  Be sure to sign up for our monthly giveaway where we are giving away TWO boxes every month!