There’s been a disturbing lack of boats on this blog as of late, especially given that it is solidly a top tier set. Enter guest writer #2. Or was it #3? I forget.
This article was written after the release of Kantai Collection Vol.2 and the February 2015 restriction list. Any future restriction lists and new expansions will likely drastically change the deck, so do keep this in mind if you’re reading this in the future.
Yeah, it’s this deck. The deck that never seems to go away, no matter how many restriction lists Bushiroad throws at it. In light of the Little Busters! article that was posted here quite recently, I decided to do a rundown of (what I think is) the next best deck in the game here as well. While it might not boast the literal free damage output that LB can dish out early on, Kantai Collection has an array of impressive tools that many a deck would be envious of, as well as some of the best lategame cards the entire game has to offer.
Kantai Collection is a widely feared deck for a variety of reasons – its series popularity, its infamous “antifun*” cards that can blow out unprepared decks, its myriad of ridiculously low-costed plusses, its (once-unique) array of finishers, the list goes on. However, knowing the deck’s goals and flaws is key to both piloting and defeating it (not that it has that many flaws).
I’m going to be writing this article in a similar format as lychee’s LB article; a decklist (mine) with detailed explanations on why some cards are played and their purpose in the overall deck, as well as some other card choices the series has to offer. I won’t admit to being overly familiar with every single deckbuild and card in the series (because there are just way too many goddamn boats), but if I screw up that’s what the comments are for. All names and card images from HotC.
*Editor’s note: ‘antifun’ is still a horrible term and you should feel bad for using it \o/
Her ability is very reminiscent of Riki’s; however, being able to trigger her ability by throwing her down on turn 1 (after building stock to fuel her own search with her attack) sets her very, very far apart from Riki. LB can sometimes have issues deciding what exactly to swing with first, but in KC if you open this you’re golden. She can search a plethora of cards in the deck as well – if you want to aim for a Level 3 in your hand for some reason, you can even grab Akatsuki to dig for one.
Inazuma’s ability to be an attacker that can replace itself right from the beginning of the game is ridiculous, especially considering your goal at Level 1 is to get to max cardcount as soon as possible and just stop clocking for a few turns while your opponent tries to take your fat board apart. She can completely salvage dead hands on her own by recruiting more Level 0s (including more copies of herself) to swing with, making sure you’re never completely shut out from swinging at your opponent at any time. The only reason I don’t run a full playset is because her CIP tap ability is incredibly annoying past Level 0, making her significantly less useful than cards like Riki after the first few turns. This is more than made up for by how you can just open a copy of her and swing without having to build stock for her first, so it can be excused. I have no idea why this card was removed from the restriction list and expect to see her back on it in due time.
The bane of many ancient 8 gate players. Her global 500 ability is actually quite significant, as it keeps your costless level 1 board at a power level similar to that of Love Live’s, while boasting superior advantage engines, utility cards, and higher powered counters. I shouldn’t need to elaborate on how her antisalvage ability can neuter unprepared decks – chances are you’ve experienced it yourself and cut down your gate counts or added alternative advantage engines as a result. I use a full playset to get to it as soon as possible without needing to burn Inazuma searches on it, though running less is acceptable.
Another thing of note is her colour. Hatsukaze is Yellow, which is surprisingly important. There are few other Yellow cards that I’ll actually want to stick in the Level slot and never see again for the rest of the game. You’ll also obviously need Yellow at Level 1, and having Hatsukaze at 4 greatly ups your chances of randomly getting yellow hit in your Clock or having extra Hatsukazes to Clock should you need the colour.
The best girl in the game, though I understand that there are many differing (and wrong) opinions*. This ability was first seen on a 0/0 Character in the iM@S movie booster, and Bushiroad has been printing them in a frenzy ever since. This ability is considered by many to be goddamn ridiculous for a couple reasons:
–Filtering free of stock cost. While only being able to pull a character from the top 4 cards of your deck may seem incredibly restrictive, keep in mind that Kantai runs a huge number of costless characters that can swing on empty slots your fat board opens up, regardless of how large it is or how useful its ability is. Costing 0 stock also alleviates the otherwise heavy 2 stock cost on Akashi’s ability, which you’ll be aiming to mash for a while after fielding her at Level 1. This is a pattern you’ll be seeing in some other cards in this deck as well.
–Accelerating your deck to its first refresh and a compressed state. In WS, both players start out with 8 Climax cards in a 50 card deck, and this ratio is increased by keeping cards out of the Waiting Room when your deck count reaches 0. You’ll take less damage after your first refresh on average with this higher Climax to non-Climax ratio; however, until then, you’re free to eating loads of damage from global soul Climax slams, barring lucky cancels/deck composition. Akatsuki removing 4 cards from your deck at a time (along with Akashi and Shimakaze removing cards as well) can get you to your first refresh incredibly fast, allowing you to stay ahead in damage and giving you more freedom to convert damage into card advantage should the need arise (assuming compression works out in your favour, of course).
Akatsuki is a card you won’t mind seeing at any point in the game – she’ll give you a chance to grab Characters suited to the game state, grab missing pieces for a good board, and most importantly, speed you to your next refresh and a further compressed state. Her low power isn’t an issue; you will likely be able to create many situations that allow her to swing onto an open slot unmolested. An easy 4-of, and a card many decks could only wish they had.
* Editor’s note: m8 pls
A rather underplayed card in many English-speaking communities. Her ability is highly reminiscent of this Yukiko, but the lack of a stock requirement makes a world of difference since you won’t need to throw down a full board in the front in order to use her on your first turn. Getting her over opposing Characters is much easier than it seems; very few of the top decks deck large level 0s specifically for the purpose of being fat nowadays (Nisekoi can be an exception), and if not, those decks won’t be opening their fatties every game. They will eventually bleed out utility Level 0s into the front to get swings in anyway.
Kasumi’s ability is essentially a +1, giving you a free swing from something that would probably have otherwise died in any other situation (usually a Hatsukaze in this particular deck). Excellent for helping you maintain card advantage while building stock and dealing damage at the same time, which is particularly important here since you’ll want to drop a full board as soon as you hit Level 1 sometimes (think Love Live and how some older decks opted to use a pay 1 runner to make sure 1/0 Eli would be as fat as possible).
This deck’s Level 0s feature some advantage-based attackers (rather than fatties) as well as the best utility card in the game at the moment. Fatties are unfavoured mostly because of lack of space; there are several fatties in KC that may be worth playing. However, I find that none of them are worth playing over “coast through Level 0 with ease and into Level 1 with an almost fully prepared hand barring Clock bombs”.
Ridiculous card that just keeps getting better. I’m not gonna bore you about how she’s free and a +1 (ok maybe I will), but the addition of Shimakaze Kai, a pants trigger with a relevant combo, and Akashi made Shimakaze’s ability so much more potent. I’ll try to explain how in those card’s own blurbs; their interactions with Shimakaze are very relevant to why those cards are played, and are the reasons why JP Shimakaze is just so much better compared to her current EN counterpart.
PSA: Search with Shimakaze on your last attacks, unless you know there is a singleton card in the deck that you absolutely must pull. Shimakaze compresses your deck with each search (increasing your Climax to non-Climax ratio), and deciding to compress before swinging when you could compress later is just silly.
This card will always be pumping 2k, so just read the X as 2000. She makes Shimakaze’s attack quality so much better, as stacking her ability with a 2k1 onto a Shimakaze will make her 9k (usually 10k with backrow), and almost no deck can boast the ability to counter on all rows with those kinds of numbers entering Level 1. Love Live was a huge problem to KC prior to this card, but now its 1/0 Elis just get rolled over due to the lack of an overspec Character counter. Of course, you can split Shimakaze Kai’s power boost and your 2k1 as well; two rows swinging in for 8k is definitely nothing to sneeze at. The fact that this card can basically guarantee Shimakaze searches should you have the combo and your opponent have Characters (barring extenuating circumstances) is incredible, and the way this card’s ability can be used well into the end of the game to ensure that your 2-soul Characters will run over things (and your opponent will need to beat post-counter power values to stop you from whacking them for 2 next turn) just makes it even better.
Big fat whale. Fixes for blue. 7.5k with a full board and backrow (and bigger if you have extra Hatsukazes to play). Costless. Can break 10k offensively, and usually reaches a post-counter value of 10k. Fat whale is fat.
Kantai generally doesn’t need to mess around with power since it can maintain card advantage all the way until the end of the game with some specific advantage engines, so why bother now? Having large powervalues allow KC to (very poorly) mimic LB and deal extra damage by forcing your opponent to open empty slots, either by running into counters, bombing, or otherwise ramming this big fatty. Power leads to open slots, which leads to extra soul damage and possibly virtual +1s from your Characters surviving a turn without the need of a counter (which leads to less of a need to punch yourself for cards). This is a very important theory that leads to large damage gaps (and subsequently wins) in WS; however, inappropriately costed power is not necessarily good. This damage lead is very necessary in KC; you’ll likely be playing 2k1s for a turn or two after hitting Level 1 in order to stabilize your hand and board with Shimakaze, leaving you with a lack of global soul pump. In this case, this power comes at a very cheap stock cost of 0, and should they break apart your whale wall (which hasn’t happened to me so far), you didn’t pay anything for them anyway.
Wow. This card is really fair. We’ve seen this ability before, and it doesn’t exactly push those decks over the top, and those decks either don’t crutch on this ability (in the case of OT), or can have massive stock problems from crutching on it (Reinforce and sometimes 3 Aliens). Why fall back on such a fair card in KC? Is it because of the global 500? Is there nothing better to play?
Scroll up and count the number of cards with either stock costs to hardplay or stock costed abilities. I’ll sit here and wait.
You should’ve counted a grand total of 3, the Inazumas. Wait, what are you going to use this pile of stock for? How are you paying out the Climaxes you’ll inevitably trigger?
Akashi is not only incredibly powerful as a useful stock out, but she also aids the deck by being a command search for any Character. This is more relevant in KC than in other decks, as you have plussy 0-cost Climax combos, one of which really likes a power pump which Akashi can immediately pull. Should you have that on hand already or don’t need the power, Akashi can pull more Shimakazes/Haguros to pull EVEN MORE CARDS. There are many other uses for Akashi as well; pulling Akatsuki and playing said Akatsuki will immediately drop your decksize by 5, Character backups for Taigei can be grabbed as long as they’re in the deck even without the Shimakaze combo on hand, and having not enough finishers upon reaching the endgame can be immediately solved by Akashi. The fact that you can immediately use whatever she searches the turn you search that card, without needing to wait a turn like with your Climax combo searches, is one of Akashi’s major strengths since plussing off her will often immediately lead into even more costless plusses, all from your deck (which greatly improves your compression on the backswing as well). This card is the reason you’ll stop Clocking mid-level 1 in most of your games, so her ability can be treated as a pseudo-heal in a deck that doesn’t use its stock for much else anyway. Add this to the fact that you’re opening lanes with Taigei, and you’ll be creating a sizable difference in damage that your opponent will need to catch up on. A powerful and integral card to YB KC’s current midgame.
Fat counter. Makes your whales way too fat on the backswing, resulting in open lanes and extra damage. I don’t play costless backups in this deck due to a lack of space, but those are fine too if you’re allergic to the thought of unnecessarily blowing a stock (Imuya is usually the one of choice here).
Antidamage counter. That alone should tell you how good this card is, and I don’t think I’ll need to elaborate too much on why stopping an attack (and potential burn damage on finishers) is good. However, Compass is unique in that it costs a single stock, meaning that dropping several in a game is incredibly easy on your stock (as opposed to a regular money counter 3-cost per use), and it has a corner case use as a very good compression aid. By milling out your deck past refresh with Compass and whiffing the Climax, you’ll have kept 4 non-Climaxes (Compass and the 3 cards you brainstormed) out of your deck, milled out 3 potential damage that your opponent could have been swinging in for, and dodge Compass’ whiff penalty as well as prevent yourself from eating a Climax as your refresh penalty as the Compass will stack itself during the Counter Step it’s being used and be sent to the Clock by game mechanics. This doesn’t happen very often, but it’s a very useful thing to know given that you’re decking it as an antidamage counter anyway. Go for it should the chance arise (assuming you don’t need to hold your Compass to curb a ridiculous finisher later), you won’t regret it.
Level 1 is where KC goes off the rails by consistently farming cards and building large boards to ultimately create a difference in damage; every single Level 1 card (except Compass) contributes to this goal. Refreshing and reaching a compressed state at this time will also give you a damage lead, as you will be cancelling more than your opponent for a while (in theory).
Costless Climax combo search with a relevant trigger, on an incredibly annoying body. The fact that she’s a 3k field counter is incredibly annoying; fielding 2 of these after an Akashi search, playing the pants, then letting your opponent deal with 2 potential 12.5ks is a very good use of 4 stock. Even a single copy leads to a free Climax play and 2.5k field counter on a fat whale (her power will dip by 500 when Haguro leaves the board). Great card for KC’s otherwise lackluster Level 2 game.
Gimmicky counter that can manipulate your opponent’s swings. Can be a straight up antidamage counter on 1-soul rams, and if your opponent is hitting you for exact damage you can use this to try to survive. Milling a non-Climax just means you milled potential damage, of course.
Note: I don’t play Zuihou because my local meta rarely sees expensive Level 2->Level 3 changes, and anyone who uses these cards are now well aware of Zuihou’s existence and adamantly refuse to play into her anymore. Use Zuihou if your locals still Climax Phase changes into level 3s and runs into her headfirst; I just don’t use her because she very rarely sees use when I play.
The legendary finisher that pushed WS off into the pits of kill-or-die hell. It’s hard to understate how powerful her burn ability is, but there’s this one particular ability on her that drastically decreases her strength against some decks…
[CONT] This card cannot side attack.
Musashi will run headfirst into any antidamage counter in the game should your opponent keep a full board of Characters, and can even be completely shut down from attacking by a particular LB card. This doesn’t drop Musashi’s usability so much that you’d straight up not play her instead, as she’ll still win games against decks without antidamage counters and through direct swings, but if your playing field has any number of solid decks with antidamage counters (which mine does) you really don’t want to be crutching on this card alone to close games. Musashi’s deadliness is also dropped in this particular deck due to a lack of Bar or Junyou (4 Pants will pull you other Pants much less often than a Bar will pull itself into your hand), resulting in her often swinging for a boring 2-soul count.
A somewhat expensive alternative finisher. Its main boons in comparison to Musashi are being able to side attack, being able to split its ability across two lanes to avoid single antidamage counters, and doing a set value of 1 damage should her ability be triggered, allowing you to customize your soul counts appropriately beforehand. This card is usually really meant for “closing out games” rather than “robbing your opponent from 3-0 to 3-7” – it’s not that easy to do 7 points of damage in a turn with KC anymore even with a board full of Musashi, considering the high number of low-level cards played in this deck. Still a very good card in its own regard, as 4 stock can easily be paid for during the KC endgame and number of cases where Yamato can be a better choice to close out the game than Musashi isn’t exactly small.
Random emergency healer. Swings in real fat, letting it avoid counters and forcing an answer so your opponent doesn’t eat 2 again next turn. Not super necessary, but having a healer in a deck with a command search is never a bad thing.
Full playsets for consistency, obviously. Both these Climaxes will generate mad cards in tandem with Akashi as soon as you draw them, which is incredibly good. Triggering a Pants at any point where you don’t mind removing a Climax from your refresh pool results in the same, which is why I decided to play the Pants over some of the very good combos I’m about to mention. The Pants has salvaged entire games for me by grabbing back copies of the 2k1s I happen to cancel with early, which I think is worth noting.
I’m sure you’re probably yelling at your monitor and wondering why I didn’t include your one true raburabu waifu bote, so I’ll go on and discuss some of the cards that aren’t in the deck immediately.
Amazing and somewhat underplayed card. Immediately forces out your opponent’s 2-soul cards in order to get damage through her, and if they’re finishers, their effectiveness is usually decreased dramatically. Who’s afraid of a Musashi swinging for 1? Who’s afraid of a clockkick running into your 12k base? What’s more, if they greedily refuse to bleed their finishers out of their hand, that’s usually one attack nullified for each Souryuu fielded, which is a really big deal. Considering that they probably had to run their finishers into your giant 12k, they’ll need to find additional 2-soul attackers for future turns while you can just repeatedly whack them in the face while cushioning damage and (hopefully) comfortably sitting out of kill range. I value the Pants trigger much higher than the Book though, which is pretty much the only reason this card didn’t make the cut for me (I’m not too keen on playing less-than-a-playset of the 2k1s, and don’t want to play 2-2 of the Book and Pants). I may go back and test this again.
(Has anyone noticed that Hiryuu and Souryuu’s IDs are the levels at which they hit Kai Ni? I only realized this recently.)
Easily the best finisher/endgame drop in KC and on the restriction list for damn good reason. Not only does she usually deal extra ticks of damage through her clockkick, but her CIP ability keeps you in the game on the backswing by digging the deck for Compasses, and possibly healers now that you can’t play Hibiki with Akagi anyway. Having dropped 2-3 of her, you’ll be likely holding 1-2 Compass while sitting on giant 2-soul walls, which is a relatively safe position to be in while playing WS. Pairs incredibly well with Yamato Kai as well; if you played against the YG meta deck anytime from September 2014 up til the February banlist, you’ve probably experienced this terrifying duo for yourself – two high-maintenance fatasses whacking you for random points of damage before you randomly eat one of the soul swings and die from 3-0.
There’s a couple of reasons why I’m not using Akagi, however. First of all, she combos with a Bar, and I’ve already discussed how much I adore the Pants trigger in YB KC (though Bar is probably at a close second for my KC Climax of choice; KC generally hands you tons of Characters and Bars will hand you soulrushes to go with them). But more importantly, she’s on the restriction list, meaning she can’t be played with Hatsukaze. I’m not afraid to admit that I use Hatsukaze as a tool to try to get myself closer to final rounds in tournaments by beating silly decks that still run gates with it then dealing with dumb decks with good advantage engines later, and I’m not about to let go of this source of store credit. Consider Akagi if you want KC’s classic ridiculous endgame; she’s arguably one of the best and definitive pieces of it.
When the February 2015 restriction list was finally shown to the general public, many players, myself included, thought that the Hibiki/Bep engine would be the obvious inclusion in KC decks under this list. Hibiki is essentially a tweaked version of the tried and true Bond mechanic, which hands you specific (but usually functional if that particular Bond is playable) cards at a very low cost. Using her ability at Level 0 can even grant you a 6k to play with, which is more than what most decks can handle at that point. Hibiki also sports the ability to fly off to the Memory to compress your deck further, and even has a bonus antiheal ability after it does so. The addition of Akatsuki also made it much more feasible to trash a Bep at Level 0 and immediately throw down Hibiki with her ability live – Level 0 milling and filtering abilities were nonexistent before this point. However, Hibiki shows up in one decklist in the BCF 2015 Osaka, Sapporo, and Sendai Neostandard/Trio Survival tops combined, with every other KC deck opting for Akagi or Hatsukaze instead. Decks that have won minor Japanese local tournaments and posted online have also generally followed this trend – Hibiki is nowhere in sight. What is the reason for the neglect of what appears to be an amazing advantage/compressive engine?
Attempting to proc maximum value off Hibiki by leaving her alive on the backswing (and consequently allow you to attack at least once with the Bep that pops out if your opponent Reverses Hibiki) can drastically slow your damage output. Hibiki’s value starts to drop as soon as you and your opponent both enter Level 1 and start fielding Characters of this Level. In order to keep Hibiki on the board for your opponent to kill while doing even the most minute amount of Soul damage, you need to give it a Soul buff with a Climax if you’re siding a Level 1. However, upon entering Level 1, you’re usually locked to playing the Shimakaze 2k1s for a turn or two to get free cards, and you won’t always have the freedom of putting the 2k1s on Hibiki – Shimakaze may need the power pump to get over a counter value, after all. Some informed players may choose to leave Hibiki alive at this point, since Hibiki is usually too small to front attack anything but the smallest of Level 0s, and they get full Soul damage from siding her while Hibiki will have her damage stunted by opposing Level 1s. Junyou, the card that turned Hibiki into a self-replacing 0 cost 2-soul attacker, is now banned as well, further decreasing Hibiki’s viability. The antiheal ability is also much less desired by KC as well, as Akagi being restricted with Hibiki has greatly dropped the ceiling on the deck’s endgame, while other decks with newer expansions (like Madoka, Fate, and Love Live) have all caught up to (if not surpassed) KC’s finishing power.
As a result, many players have turned to Hatsukaze and Akagi instead, but don’t let that dissuade you from considering and testing Hibiki. She’s still a card that many decks would love to have, and completely disregarding how ridiculous she can get does that no justice.
This card was a really great tool in YG KC which I played for a good half a year (post-KC2, right up to the February banlist) since the deck didn’t have to crutch on its backrow for power; in fact, the deck hardly cared about passive power at all, instead relying on Shimakaze and Hibiki to let the deck coast through the game with enough cards at the end no matter what kind of horrifying 20k board your opponent decided to field. However, playing Hatsukaze means you always want Hatsukaze+Akashi in the back, so leaving an Ikazuchi tapped for a turn can cripple you, even just a little. You also have a metric boatton of selective plusses, so what exactly would you need Ikazuchi for other than picking up Compasses? Still worth considering as a plussy brainstorm, but make sure your deck doesn’t mind it hanging around in the back.
Hardly necessary with Akatsuki and Akashi around. I would go so far as to call this card a waste of stock, but playing one to fetch multiple Level 3s in the last few turns isn’t such a bad idea.
Current fat Level 0 beater of choice, as it’s in a colour that oft needs fixing and hardly has a downside (the only times I’ve 3-costed things in this deck are 2-soul attackers at the very end of the game, and sometimes Shimakazes if I’m holding a second 2k1s with no copies remaining in deck). Can cause issues with Goya Kai.
Synergizes incredibly well with Kasumi. Gets outclassed as soon as you hit Level 1 though, as Shimakaze Kai provides a larger power boost on a bigger body, and the +1 Level becomes irrelevant as most players won’t leave their Level 1 bombs out for Shimakaze to farm unless they’re playing Project Diva.
Excellent card, particularly for the mirror as it stops their Inazumas from getting any part of their on-death ability (and Hibikis too, if they use them). Shift is a great ability to have on a card such as this as well.
Great upgradeable support. Usually used in non-Hatsukaze choice decks, and gives you an extra +1500 to assign on your turn, making it easier to get over counter thresholds. The level support is a great accompaniment to Souryuu and Akagi as well. The combo can be cute with the set 2 Ikazuchi, but isn’t really worth considering since you don’t want to add even more random 2 soul triggers and the bottomdecking bomb ability doesn’t achieve much in KC.
I’ll discuss both of these at the same time, seeing how they both encourage punching yourself. Both these cards work against your goal of staying ahead or even in damage while locked to playing 2k1s, and Akashi should be giving you enough cards to work with even if you do whiff the Shimakaze combo. Yahagi in particular is a card I see in way too many decks thrown around in English-speaking communities, which are forced into not playing Akashi because of the obvious tapdown conflict (though some choose to ignore Akashi due to colours as well). I highly recommend against playing these cards; there is no need to deal extra self-damage for card advantage anymore.
Editor’s Note: Yahagi is best bote. Objectively.
Author’s Note: Yahagi is a poor man’s hotel
Cheap 2-soul beater. Her change isn’t often used anymore, but 1-cost sustainable 2-soul attackers are still great.
I talked about this a bit above, but depending on what you anticipate to play against with your deck, this may still be an inclusion. Just read the bolded blurb under Zuikaku Kai.
Tame-ish clockkick. The fact that you have to pay upfront for this ability can be very bad in certain matchups, as more and more decks are getting the ability to whisk away their Characters if you front attack them. Yamato is better in most cases.
The cards I listed are just what I believe to be some of the relatively stronger inclusions – there are many deckbuilds around other cards that will most certainly function. If there was anything major you didn’t agree with, drop a comment – there are way too many ways to build KC, and who knows if this build is anywhere near optimal at all.