Warning: opinionated article incoming. Also Nickelback jokes. A bunch of Nickelback jokes. If you have an aversion to gravelly noughties music, I would suggest you run. Now.
The title to this spiel is a horrible, horrible joke, but if you understood it fully, you are probably a horrible, horrible person, just like me. Why did I do it? Misery loves company. Also because, well, cuz you know, you know, you knooooooooooooow. I’m on my hands and knees, just crawling to get away from this. It’s probably one of many misused mistakes. I’ve been awake too long, it’s too late, but who am I to make you wait? Everyone wants to know that someone cared. I should stop overestimating myself though. If everyone cared, and nobody cried, then this article just wouldn’t exist. And what the hell is on Joey’s head?
Sorry. Prison gates won’t open up fo-
Something broke inside me, I had to take a breather before going on. Nostalgia can be extremely dangerous, and when I saw the decklist I’m going to talk about, the first thing I thought of literally was Nickelback. For those of you not in the know, ‘Haruka Kanata’ translates quite loosely to ‘Far Away’. I’m very aware of what that says about me as a person, thank you. Anyway.
The reason I’m writing this article is because I’m mad. I’m salty about a deck that topped. It’s a deck that’s near and dear to my heart, and because of that, I’m mad. Very mad. To that end, I’ve decided to discuss the other top-tier LB deck: the Twins build. It’s hardly a new face to the WS scene, having won basically every LB title cup in the past year, but to people not paying attention to decks without boats/worst girl Marikas, it’s not exactly a well-explored build.
Having actually run the deck at our nationals (and bubbling after the worst game of WS I’ve ever experienced), I have a lot of experience with this deck, and I honestly like it a lot more than the far more zany YGB build. It has incredible control over its stock and hand, the ability to tech exceptionally well for any number of matchups, and access to the wealth of incredible cards that only an ancient series like LB has. It rewards you extremely well for knowing your local metagame, being able to read your opponent’s approximate deck composition from the beginning of the game, and has excellent fallback fail-safes even if it doesn’t get to snowball hard. It is an absolutely exceptional deck with a relatively high skill cap, and I love it.
That’s why I’m so mad about this.
This is the build that recently came third at Osaka BCF, with an 8-1 record (presumably undefeated until Top 4, then a win to come 3rd). Good on him for repping LB. It is a perfectly serviceable set of cards, with plenty of the solid, powerful cards that define the deck. I’ll be very honest here. I hate this specific build. Hm, perhaps hate is too strong a word. I strongly contend that many card choices here fail to represent LB’s proper potential. Is this statement pretentious as hell? Well, yes. This is a blog talking theory about one of the most high-variance games in the world, and I’m speaking from an authoritative viewpoint about a deck whose owner I’ve never met. Of course it’s pretentious, but I have things to say.
I’m not usually one to straight up say things like that, but don’t worry – I’ll justify it. There are things I do like about this deck, but it is far too conservative. It doesn’t take advantage of LB’s cardpool in a way that actually shows you’re reading the metagame, and seems to just jam 4 of all the best cards in, a blunt approach that is my major grievance with a lot of the ‘meta’ decks right now. I still hate deck techs. I’m not doing a deck tech. All I’m going to do is talk about the deck briefly, and then talk about exactly what makes me mad about the deck.
Firstly, the deck’s core gameplan. There are three major things that make LB Twins an excellent deck.
- Versatile Level 1 that can be modified to match up favourably vs almost anything
- Ridiculous Level 2 advance summon
- Extremely stable endgame, including money counter
Keep these in mind, I’ll be referring to each in turn.
Level 0 is uninteresting, it’s the approximate same thing as your deck, except that LB has Riki to make everything very degenerate. The important thing here is to assess exactly what your opponent is playing. If you know beforehand, good for you, but seeing certain cards from various series should make the experienced player know exactly what you’re aiming for at Level 1 and 2. I’ll go into that in a bit, but I regard this as one of the base skills needed to maximise the power of the Twins deck.
These cards are the core of your Level 1. The first two are beaters, and are 6k and (usually) 7k base respectively. Haruka is an overspec clock encore, but I personally think that the Miko Kanata is a much better card overall. Still, you need to make up numbers somehow. The backrow is actually a common. It’s a great support.
If you have enough twins, your entire Level 1 is costless and will sit around 7-8k on all three rows. Your backrow will usually tap to add 1k or 2k to anything, giving you the option of an extremely large row or two if need be. The PR counter pushes you to a very respectable number on defence. You can easily trade one-for-one against basically any field in WS, and do so whilst having no stock issues whatsoever. This means you often get to brainstorm every single turn (if you so choose – it’s like a build-your-own-Akatsuki). It’s a lot like Love Live in that regard. All in all, it’s a very standard Level 1, and it’s almost boring, really. So, why was I foreshadowing things being difficult?
This Haruka is yet another excellent costless option for the twins deck. It adds nothing to your field in terms of power, and instead gives you extra stock if you manage to kill something. This card is skill-testing, or at least knowledge-testing. LB has enough tutors and salvage capability to make sure you get this if you want it. Why would you want it? Well, in the case that you don’t need the extra power and can leave this sitting in your backrow, you can snowball to a tremendous degree. You’ll get ahead by a margin that other comparable decks (eg. Love Live and SAO) can only dream of. Ever had 12 stock going into level 2 consistently? The dream is very often real.
That being said, this is a pretty awful card if your opponent has any way to wall up. It’s weak as a frontrow beater and you won’t kill enough things to reliably snowball – you’ll usually get one charge before hitting Level 2, which is pretty unexciting. Against those decks, you usually want some number of your 1/0 support up the back to make you reasonably formidable on defence.
So, if there’s such a potential downside, why bother? Well, here’s the thing. While the default winning strategy in WS involves maintaining a good field (see: the underdeveloped EN meta, where Soundless Voice dominates), things have changed. Wall decks haven’t been prevalent in WS since the reign of old, old iM@S, and that’s because the recent trends in WS allow you to generate a lot of advantage without resorting to stabilising a field. Many decks are built to ignore or go around decks that wall at Level 1, and if you come across a deck like that, you need another plan. Without a card like this, decks like YGB LB and GFB Yellow (which don’t actually care if you kill their fields) will be able to run past your walling efforts without a care. This is the inherent problem with Level 1 wall decks – you don’t actually match resources with the raw card advantage decks well enough, and will generally be at a disadvantage because of it. Capitalising by amassing a huge pile of stock is a fantastic way to go into the mid/lategame against decks that don’t care about your power, especially with the ridiculous lategame that Twins.dec has.
Basically, knowing when to go for a backrow with this Haruka and knowing when to play ‘as per normal’ with Kanata supports – that is the crux of Twins.dec’s Level 1. Both choices (and they are choices, you have the tools to make either happen) slant the game pretty heavily in your favour against the appropriate decks, but at the same time, each choice is very mediocre against the inappropriate matchups. A quick list of relevant matchups:
Get Haruka stockcharger:
- All meta builds of Kantai Collection
- Standard Nisekoi (debatable + depends on their Level 0)
- Yellow GFB
- YGB Little Busters
- Any Sword Art Online running 1/0 Sinon
- All meta builds of Da Capo EXCEPT with Time Machine Sakura
- All meta builds of Disgaea
- All non-Junes versions of Persona
- Prisma Ilya (even if they’re running the 1/1 Pants combo Kuro)
- Vividred Operation, but only if they don’t have Vivid Blue
- Log Horizon (unless you see a lot of 1/1 Naotsugu and/or the 3.5k counter)
Don’t get Haruka stockcharger:
- Standard GRB Madoka
- Red GFB
- Terra Formars with Green and/or Red Level 1
- The iDOLM@STER with Haruka or Chihaya Level 1
- Love Live – both the standard and the mono-Umi/Kotori builds
- Standard Rewrite
- Any Fate variant that isn’t explicitly mono-Yellow, and especially re: Rider.dec
- Standard Railgun
- Standard Zero no Tsukaima
- PDf with Red/Green Level 1
- Nanoha (only if they have a Yellow Level 1, otherwise go nuts)
- Standard Angel Beats
- This deck itself
Decks so big that it probably doesn’t matter
- PDf with Soundless Voice
- Milky Holmes (Detective)
Use your noggin for any unlisted deck.
If you’re up against a series with 1/0 bombs, you should think about getting this into hand. Being able to save your 1/1 Kanata and open up a row on the opponent’s turn gets you a lot of value, even though it’s still a one-for-one. Series that play bombs don’t often have ways to deal with Level 1 8ks otherwise, so you can really put the hurt down if they don’t have any other bombs lying around. It’s a good piece of tech that can really help you decide what to clock, whether to brainstorm, and what to prioritise when you search.
In the same vein, bombs in Twins.dec are very defensible deckbuilding decisions. The former contributes to the twins count, but requires a climax play to turn on her bomb ability. She also bonds to a 2/1 9k, though I think we have better things to do with our stock. The latter is just a bomb. These help out with any series that plays bombable Level 1s, though I feel that Kanata and appropriate backrow do that well enough already. Additionally, a lot of series that continue to play 1/1s will either have some form of Encore on them, or have some other immunity to suiciders, so that too is something you should consider from the deck construction stage. Basically, if people at your locals still insist on playing Phantom or Railgun, take the pain to ’em.
That’s the majority of Level 1. The basic idea is that you get to trade fields favourably if they care about walling, or you get to race them for resources if they don’t. It’s a simple degree of versatility not many decks in the game can boast, and it is deceptively powerful.
Now comes the real fun.
I’d like you to take some time to go and read this card. In fact, I’d like for that so much, that I’ve made this whole paragraph a hyperlink. The rest of the paragraph is rambling. My favourite type of pie is apple, but other than that, my top 5 favourite pies are all savoury. It just goes to show how good a well-baked apple pie is. You have to use sour apples too, and preferably serve it with good quality custard – it’s not often that the side dishes make the main dish, but in some cases that really is the case. It’s definitely the case here.
Are we done? Good. This card is ridiculous. If you play Standard MtG, you’ll know that you rarely ever attack every turn. It results in what can be loosely called ‘an unfavourable attack’. You sit back and wait until you draw something to turn the tides. Why is this relevant? Well, you don’t have the luxury of sitting back and waiting in WS. It’s not that sort of game, and you want to attack every single turn. The puzzle of WS is finding the attack patterns that best suit you for both the current turn, as well as for the next four or five turns. To that end, Kanata makes every attack very unfavourable for your opponent. After you drop your one card (which is oftentimes a climax), you’ve put a probably-12k Kanata in front of their biggest thing, while replacing the spot Kanata used to be in with either something irrelevant (if they were somehow bigger than you) or a buffed Level 1 that’s nearly as big as Kanata was anyway. There isn’t a way for them to make attacking favourable, short of fielding a full field of 14ks. If they do something like that, then you hopefully knew beforehand, and wouldn’t have played Kanata down to begin with. It’s a series of choices that you’re never worse off for. Every turn, you basically get to drop one card from hand to a) take no damage from a row, or b) get rid of their biggest thing. If you can somehow cancel a few times while doing all this, the game has basically been won.
Oh wait, we’re playing LB. We can MAKE ourselves cancel.
If you’ve never had the pleasure of meeting this lovely lady, then feel free to get acquainted. Go on, I’ll wait.
Are you back? Good. And yes, you read that correctly. This Kanata literally stops your opponent from front attacking. They’re forced to side attack a Level 2, which few decks ever consider doing normally. Yes, 3 stock is a lot, but what else are we spending Haruka’s hard-earned resources on? Against some matchups, she’s probably still generating stock for you, which is kind of ridiculous. If you think about it as paying an Encore cost for a 2-soul beater in advance (and also stopping at least a few damage), the 3-cost doesn’t seem so bad anymore. Also, if you ever get to swap this in front of a Musashi or an Akatsuki… well, let’s stop before we go too far overboard. Having this, a pile of stock, and the runner Kanata on the field is basically as safe as it gets in WS. Wait, no. It gets safer.
Yes, it’s actually possible to have so much magical stock that you can pay for both in a turn. And boy, is it fun. Oftentimes you’ll completely skip playing the 2/2 antifront down and just rely on money counters, which I think is perfectly fine too.
I don’t need to talk about how good the money counter is. It actually drags the match so far back in your favour that you can get away without a billion finishers.
Speaking of finishers, the only ones we have the luxury to play are Sasamis (and antiheals, if you count stopping heals as finishing). 12k clock kicks not good enough for you? Well, we have these, too.
This Kanata is one of LB’s other other bombs, and she’s one of the only Level 0 bombs that straight up has finisher properties. This means you can get incremental value out of her all throughout the game if need be, just like Fate and MELTY BLOOD’s powerful supports. Still, there’s more to it than that.
Most decks finish the game by going in with multiple burn characters or clock kicks. That’s not how this deck runs. This deck gets ahead at Level 2 (or Level 1) and stays ahead with total field control. Not only do you nullify their damage at times, but you open up gaps in their field by pushing Kanata in front of things. You can then swing with Level 0s like this bomb, knowing full well that anyone attempting to kick them to clock or use them as restand fodder will be swiftly met by a Kanata, switched out in front. It’s pretty good stuff.
That’s the basic gist of the deck. Now I can move onto why I actually wrote this article. Firstly, I’m going to talk about all the things that this guy did right. There were a few of them, including choosing the deck in the first place, and I want to make sure I address the good deckbuilding choices as much as the less-good ones.
1. 4-count of money.
Money counter is insane and playing 4 is a fantastic way to both fix for itself and to say ‘I will be using at least one of these every game’. It’s a great card to max out on if you have the room, because it sends a strong message. I see people playing 2 occasionally, and I instantly wonder if they enjoy not having it every single game. Starduster.dec is the only goodstuffs LB deck in which it is defensible to run fewer than 3 money counter (in the current competitive climate, anyway).
2. 3-count of Kanata brainstorm.
This is a firm statement: I will get my advantage, and you won’t be stopping me, Hatsukaze. That’s actually a big part of this entire deck’s strength – being extremely good against the YB Hatsukaze-centric KC deck that has been seeing a lot of play. Kanata brainstorm is also used as backrow support for this particular build of the deck, which I find to be defensible, but honestly not that ideal. There’s a line between personal preference and actual critique, so I won’t go into that here.
3. More than 1 Kanata bomb.
A lot of lists run 3 Yuiko bomb and just the one Kanata bomb. While I’m personally a fan of that ratio, I can absolutely support the idea of running more costless bodies that aren’t completely dead in the lategame. I’ve never personally considered this exact ratio, but I have played just the 4 Kanata bomb before (and it was fine, I guess). As mentioned above, it’s an awesome card in conjunction with the 3/2 Kanata, and the full four is very justifiable. It’s a great topdeck later one.
4. The climax spread.
It’s just tried-and-true. I like it a lot. I personally played a different spread, but I think this one is probably the quote-unquote ‘best’ for the deck.
5. The presence of both the money counter and the 2/2 Kanata.
I could get hooked on the overwhelming sense of control you get from having a bunch of stock, 2/2 Kanata on field and money counter in hand. I’m pretty sure that this exceptionally greedy reason isn’t actually why he played both. He probably played Kanata as a measure to combat Musashis, which I guess is fine.
Now that we’re through with the good deckbuilding bits, it’s time to rip into what I consider to be some very lacking card choices.
1. 3-count of Kanata brainstorm.
Yes, I know that this was in the bits I liked, but I want to address this here as well. I absolutely hate the fact that people today crutch on brainstorms. Is that a relevant complaint here? Well, why would you play a card as a 3-of if you weren’t intending to see and use it literally every game? If he just really liked brainstorms, he could just play more of the Haruka, which fixes your hand and gives you a discard outlet too. It’s a fine enough support, but the 500 to mid only means you have to keep your 1/1 Kanata in the middle to keep it wall-y, and that’s yet another inflexibility your opponents can play around.
2. Four-count of Kanata 1/1 with only two 1/0 support.
This stems from the fact that this guy obviously wanted the Kanata brainstorm in the back row every game. I kind of like the fact that he played four Kanata 1/1. It’s definitely the best frontrow for the deck’s Level 1, and this opens up the realistic possibility of having three up front. In fact, that’s clearly the reason for doing so. It’s not for colourfixing, he could have played a third 0/0 Haruka if that was the case. It’s not as a bonus stock out, I don’t even have to make this argument. He wanted the option of a triple Kanata frontrow, because god knows LB can search out one or two of these if they need to. However, three up front isn’t even that great. You aren’t trying to wall. You can barely wall even if you try, and that vain attempt basically requires two of the 1/0 in the back. Doing that with only two of the support total is not likely. Honestly, I don’t see the benefits that four 1/1s brings over 3 (and throwing the extra slot to anything else).
I used to only run two 1/0 Kanata support as well. However, I bolstered my card counts with extra counters to make up for it, because one of the main draws this build has over either YGB or normal GRB (or Starduster) is the option of an incredibly fat field. I switched to three 1/0 Kanata support fairly soon after, because the extra 1k from tapping her is honestly fantastic when you come up against a wall deck. It seems like overkill, especially when you don’t need the power, but that’s why you have other gameplans. On that note…
3. No stockcharging Haruka option. No stockcharging option period.
I went in-depth into how good this card is up above, go find it. A lot of people seem to adopt the strange opinion that these stockchargers aren’t good unless you get mileage every single legal turn of every single game. Some LB players think this card only belongs in decks running 1/0 bombs, because that synergy is honestly pretty ridiculous. I, however, disagree. That’s stupid. Cards with such a high ceiling always have risks attached, and a deck like LB can be piloted in a way that minimises those risks while maximising that ceiling. The fact he played no stockcharge engine whatsoever makes me feel like this guy’s never considered the potential of multiple instances of damage denial, which is something this deck can use to completely wrap up games. Even the earliest builds of the Kanata fieldswap decks ran plenty of stockcharge options, and the builds have only gotten more and more refined since.
4. No 2/1 counter at all.
Do you enjoy getting your ass automatically kicked by Marikas? Monodeck aside, she’s limited to one, and 3/2 Kanata means that it will be VERY difficult for them to easily reverse anything. Most NK decks (outside of running out the Chitoge brainstorm) won’t be getting Marika higher than 14k, and this is a perfect field with a climax play included. Meanwhile, having an antiheal behind your Kanata and a global assist elsewhere means that you a 3k counter gets you well out of reach, even if you don’t swap. Your 2/1 counter functions almost like a money counter here, why would you cut it? I understand very well that the Chitoge brainstorm throws a wrench in the proceedings (there is a reason I myself run 2), but why, oh why, would you make it easier for them?
Note: I believe that your matchup vs Nisekoi is otherwise fine, as their 3/2 Deras run right into your Kanatas, and you do fairly well at Level 1 if you so choose.
5. Multiple Rikis at Level 3.
What does Riki even do here? Yes, he gives your Sasamis the oomph to get cleanly over anything. Yes, he lets you occasionally heal under antiheal. Yes, he’s a valid swap target for Kanata. Most importantly, putting his buff onto the Level 3 Kanata completely insulates you from Marika for a turn. He’s fine. I play one myself. However, does any of that warrant playing two of him, and no 2/1 counter? Does it warrant playing one less Level 0 than you’d usually want for insurance? Does it warrant not playing any of the other good tech options? Absolutely not. If you need him, you can easily get him, and he’s never so necessary that you’d want to use more than one slot for him.
Riki does not help you finish the game. He does not come out to play until you yourself are at Level 3, which is the point in time you really, really want to just finish the game. The timeframe in which you get to play this is actually stunted, since you will ideally be ahead at that point in time anyway, and what annoys me is that this guy showed awareness of that. Why else would he run 4 Kanata bomb? Its main use is in conjunction with the holes that the Kanata fieldswapper opens up naturally, so why didn’t he take that logic train to its destination?
While he is a good swap target and the power is very relevant in deterring Marika and the like, there is something that needs to be addressed. You do not want to absolutely dominate the field in the lategame. Your main finisher is a clock kick. You want to leave a space for something relatively weak in order to enable that clock kick, and Riki does nothing to help that cause. He’s yet another wall your opponent can fling themselves at to stop you from doing that extra guaranteed damage. Riki simply doesn’t do enough against the decks of today to warrant running multiples.
6. Literally no tech. At all.
What the hell, man? You’re not playing week 1 Nisekoi, you don’t need to play 4-of everything. You’re not playing CLANNAD, you actually have a cardpool to work with. You’re playing a series with some of the most ridiculously good tech options in the game, and while building a deck that clearly has the room to deck for them, you chose to run none. No discard outlets, no bomb techs, no anti-Brainstorm tech. No cloning event, no bullshit enabler, not even a bond for your best lategame card. Even the 0/0 counter would have shown you were thinking about Nisekoi or LL, but no, it’s just 4 of every perceived best card, giving no thought to the fact you can get whatever you want whenever you want. Nor was any thought given to the fact that Kanata 3/2 keeps your hand so pristine that you can keep whatever the hell you want, to boot.
I’m not saying this for the sake of being a twatty hipster. I honestly believe that LB has reached AB levels of techability, and that you can get a ton of mileage out of whatever one-ofs you choose to run. I get that this guy went 6-0 in swiss, but there is so much more he could have done, and I’m angry that this extremely uninteresting decklist is what eventually got posted. Kudos to him for his accomplishment, but goddamn if it isn’t a complete misrepresentation of LB’s potential.
So, how would someone like me, who clearly hasn’t topped Osaka BCF, run the deck? Like this, probably.Direct all angry and/or spiteful comments below. Direct nice ones there, too.