Highlander is a pretty self-explanatory concept to grasp : Play 1 copy of everything until you have enough cards to make a deck. While that concept is indeed simple, there are little things you can do to make the highlander deck a bit more successful. Choosing the right cards to play as well as choosing which cards you want multiple copies of are decisions that will make the difference between a successful and non-successful Bermuda Highlander build. As always, we have a couple of successful Japanese deck lists that we will use as blueprints to help us build something that makes sense.
- 1st Place at Oli Brigade VGCS 3v3 (30 Teams)
- 2nd Place at Malaysia Gift VGCS 03 (63 Players) [2 Deck Format]
- 3rd Place at Ashikawa VGCS (42 players)
To start it off, if we’re talking about playing the highlander variant, we have to start with the Grade 4 units. Iryna, Anezka and Loura all see play in Japanese builds. While it’s true that playing one of each is safer when it comes to getting their skills off every time they are played, Japanese players often plays multiple copies of them so that drawing into them in time is more consistent. Usually, we see Loura at 1 while both Iryna and Anezka are played at 2 due to the huge amount of value and advantage they provide at any given time.
Iryna being able to attack twice during the turn for free is insanely good. It enables you to perform Twin Drive!! twice in a single turn which, consequently, sets you up for your opponent’s turn by giving you defensive options in hand while still applying very good pressure. The double Twin Drive!! also helps in setting you up offensively for your next turn as it can help you draw more Grade 4 units to ride again the following turn. Iryna can never be a bad card to play and this is why she is seen played at 2 consistently. She can simultaneously be a crazy advantage engine, a draw engine and one of the best finisher in the game.
Similarly to Iryna, Anezka is considered very good because she can do everything anytime. Offensively speaking, she provides you an extra Force and Accel Gift Marker which you can stack on top of each other. Doing this is usually the right play as it gives you an extra rear-guard circle that boosts for 20k. With that, putting any unit on that circle means that the unit will attack with stage 3 magic numbers or above (23k+) without a boost. On the defensive side, Anezka provides you a Protect Gift Marker which is never a bad thing to have in hand. All things considered, she’s a great unit to grab and keep the tempo on your side.
Loura stays at 1 since she’s a bit more situational than the other two. Being able to fill up the field for free is nothing to scoff at but in most situations, the ability will be used to replace units already on the field for potentially better ones. For now, Loura is a good backup unit for power plays. However, with Kagero and mass retiring coming soon in the meta, I can see people adding more Loura to keep up.
Even with a total of 5 grade 4 units, the deck still wants ways to reliably draw into them in time. This is where choosing the right units from the huge card pool they have becomes important. Ideally, you want to have a good amount of units that draws. This is why most topping lists plays 6 draw triggers instead of the usual 8-4-4 lineup. They also all play Brume and Toria who both draws on hit and Enes who draws if you called another rearguard during the turn. Stezza is also really good since she can sacrifice herself to draw 1 or 2 cards while Ourora and Plitt also see play since they can draw one/dump one when their condition are met. Finally, Farlull is used for her potential draw power and to round up the number of Grade 3 units in the deck up to 6 or 7.
Other than drawing, the other way to increase the percentage of drawing what you want in time is to thin the deck by using search abilities. Units like Cier, Sonata and Caro are all able to do that. While Cier and Sonata searches for other Melody units, Caro directly searches for a copy of herself and this is why some Japanese players likes playing 2 copies of her in their build. Even though it goes against the nature of the deck, 2 copies of Caro gives you a quality deck thinning opportunity if you happen to ride her and also increases the Grade 3 unit total in the deck.
As for the other important staples, each one of all the other main idols are staples in the deck for riding consistency and to make Sonata and Cier work. They’re all very valuable rearguards that triggers Melody power plays in the late game. Lieselotte is also a staple as she’s basically a free plus. In a more aggro build, playing her at 2 is also an option. However, if you do that you would probably have to omit on playing 2 copies of Caro for the Grade 4’s abilities to work consistently.
As for the rest of the units, it comes down to personal preference. Personally, since the deck doesn’t get that much advantage, I feel like going the aggro route is a good idea. The mix of using units like Ostina, Sariya, Patelle, Lahti, Voll, Isabella and Piena can help push damage out in the early game due their ability of gaining enough power to reach 23k or 25k on your opponent’s grade 1 or grade 2 Vanguard. This early push makes late game cards like Laveur and Schioltia that much more difficult to guard during your Grade 4 power plays.
Also, a lot of the Japanese players like splashing in defensive things that balances out that offense. Units like Rigole and Rilm, which are 10k vanillas, are good for their shield value on the field, Eno can provide a decent boost without losing shield value if the Vanguard hits that turn and Antim, who’s a vanilla 12k bases is a good beater and your best ride against players or decks that wants to rush and poke at you.
And with all that, we have a fully functional Bermuda Highlander build where every single card has a purpose. Below is a match video that shows the Highlander deck in action.