Interview w/ The Crit Brigade | Spring Fest 2022 Premium Top 8 Team | #BushiroadSpringFest2022

Hi amigos, today I have the opportunity to interview one of the Top 8 teams for the Bushiroad Spring Fest 2022 Premium event at Rosemont, IL! They are Jaime, Andrew, and Cody! Let’s dive into it!


Team Name: The Crit Brigade
Teammate A’s name: Jaime Molina (aka as NexLvLGaming)
Teammate B’s name: Drew Schmidt
Teammate C’s name: Cody Frank

Commander Jaime: First off, congratulations to The Crit Brigade for making it to Top 8 Bushiroad Spring Fest 2022 Premium event at Rosemont, IL! Today I wanted to do an interview with you amigos about your overall experience and even get to know you a little bit for the readers. Sounds good y’all?

All: Yes absolutely, thank you for having us!

Commander Jaime: Tell us a little about yourselves. Where are you from? Are you from any specific Vanguard teams/communities? Any other events that you and/or team have done well? Etc.

Jaime (NexLvLGaming): My name is Jaime, I am the person behind NexLvLGaming and I have been playing Cardfight Vanguard since the first set of G. I have been to every Springfest and BCS since then. I love Granblue and Spike Brothers. I’m from Bradley, IL. My local is called Enchantment Alley in Champaign, IL. As far as a team, my group of friends and I do have a team known as the Sinister Six since each of us represents a different nation/deck. I have never topped and this is my first ever time topping in any format. I have attended other SF and BCS but my best records are 6-2.

Drew: I’m Drew, I’ve been playing Vanguard since when the V era just started. I came from playing magic, and Vanguard seemed like a great game for me when I was introduced to it. I’m from Lockport, IL and I’m part of NexLvLGaming’s community. I’ve gotten 16th and 25th at my previous BCS and SF. This is my first time in a top 8.

Cody: I’m from New Lenox, IL. Started playing at the beginning of the V era and played in the Grapple Games in Bourbonnais and New Lenox, Participated in a few regionals/Springfest at Rosemont but never actually made Top 8 until now. I played Magic for a long time before picking up Vanguard so I had some knowledge of deck construction strategies and the like coming into the game.

Commander Jaime: Always a good thing to be proud of past accomplishments. During your preparation, what are some things that you mainly focused on? Certain matchups, deck builds, strategies, etc.

Jaime (NexLvLGaming): I did research on what is the current meta. What decks are topping and how well my own deck can do against them. My strategy was to build the meta decks online on TTS or CFA and playtest them and learn the ins and outs. A key factor is you know your opponent’s deck better than they do. Simply by putting yourself in their shoes, you learn their strengths and weaknesses.

Drew: My focus was on deciding on clans. Once I decided to play Royal Paladin Jewel
Knights, I brought the deck to locals as much as I could, even though I would let my opponent choose which format they wanted to play. Jewel Knights was a very straightforward deck build, as I made it V-premium + a G zone. There were really only 2 card slots I didn’t know what I wanted to do with until I did some testing. I didn’t really know much about the matchups, and that’s probably what I should have researched more so into beforehand, but I reacted fairly well I would say to what I didn’t know. As far as strategies, as I playtested I prepared plays in my head that would work with my current hands and which G3 to ride into. Through practice I really learned the full potential of some of the cards, so, practice, practice, occasionally tell Jaime I was too tired from work, then more practice, at least once or twice a week.

Cody: For my preparation, I was originally going to try a Mystery Flare extra turns deck but I slowly realized that the deck didn’t have enough time or staying power to be able to survive a lot of the powerful decks that exist in premium. I decided to instead go with an archetype that hasn’t been paid much attention to, Chronofang. Which I figured was something that ran fast and aggressive enough to not give my opponent the
time to adjust their strategy to what I was doing with an obscure archetype.

The deck solely focused on using Interdimensional Dragon Grogrock Dragon as the go-to, always stride option to re-ride into Chronotiger Rebellion and utilize post-combat effects to refill the board and activate Rebellion’s hand size mechanics This deck was built with the idea of also having the ability to deny the opponent’s first stride a turn by re-riding down to grade 2 through rules interactions from Chronofang’s pseudo-stride ability, provided you can soul blast your grade 3.

Deck Lists:

Deck Logs:
Jaime (NexLvLGaming):

Commander Jaime: I see everyone had different situations, but it’s great to see the team come together and do well. Awesome, let’s dive into your deck lists. With these builds, what were your Winning Images for most of your games? Like did you have a setup, game state, or strategy that you focused on?

Jaime (NexLvLGaming): With Beatrice, you have so many wins cons at your disposal. You can use Obadiah to call your full crew to go in for an assault of attacks and selective mill your non- triggers cards to set up and put key cards in your drop. Also, you compress your deck and it increases your chances a lot to hit triggers! You also have access to the Nightmist break ride combo with Nightrose and Bad Bounty to enable 6 Skull Dragon attacks! You also have the Zeroth Dragon, your GB8. Plus, Granblue has tons of defensive options and amazing G guards so you can survive enough to set up one of your win cons.

Drew: So, for deck builds, as I mentioned, Jewel knights are really straightforward. You take all the V jewel knights and put them at 4 each. Then fill in the rest. My winning image was achieving the rest and for Salome while on Crystaluster, while getting as many attacks as possible in the turn. This required holding back cards in some games while rushing some decks in other games.

Cody: The Winning Image of the deck is to focus on having a full board with Steam Sniper Lishma boosting The Grogrock Dragon stride with the Chronofang Tiger as a Heart card with no cards in hand, re-riding as Chronotiger Rebellion and using Lishma’s time leap cost and Chronofang Tiger’s rode upon the cost to reset the hand to 1 card and activate all the effects of Rebellion. Combine this with using the guard restriction provided by Mellow Amusements Colossus (Which you would use to bind a Steam Tamer Nanni from hand with) to punish trying to use a perfect guard against this setup means trying to avoid the Rebellion’s 3 damage swing (if on Force 2) a difficult situation.

In order to get to that Winning Image, I decided to use Chronotooth Tigar and Lost Gear Dog Eight as my primary starting rides in order to fix any issues with my current hand and possibly get what is missing for the big turn. The grade two I wanted to ride into was either Chronobite Tiger or Steam Scara Irkab, both of which allow for more digging for those important pieces as well as pushing my opponent with possibly more damage. Steam Maiden Ribbul was on the list to provide additional soul blast for stride denial as well as being able to ensure a Rebellion stay in the deck.

Commander Jaime: Great, can you elaborate more on why you came to those choices/ratios for your lists? Feel free to beak it down by Grades or groups of cards, which ever makes more sense for your decks.

Jaime (NexLvLGaming): The deck plays a lot of key grade 3 cards. My main ride target Beatrice, Nightstorm for attack extender, Nightrose as a Bad Bounty ride target, and Skull Dragons for big scary beat sticks. I play 4 copies of Colombard which is your grade 2 ride target for your grade 2 game in calling out a big attacker like Ghostship and a draw. Skeleton Cannononeer for the Denial Griffin play. I play two of the Stoichia 10k grade 2s simply for that 10k base against rush decks and pokes. My grade 1 lineup contained a lot of one-ofs for different situations. Rollocks for decks like Overlord, Regalia, and Nightmare Doll that play a strong grade 3 game. Honoly for muti attack clans, Belle for the Narukami matchup. Then I play a lot of crits because crits win games.

Drew: So, basically once I took into account that I had 24 Jewel knights that were all required to function the deck, a starter, then 16 triggers (basically just went with the 10k ability crits, OT, 4 heal guardians, and 4 draw PGs), that was 40 cards and I had 9 more to work with. Being newer to premium and having played since the beginning of V, the grade 3 searcher seemed an obvious way to go, with only 8 G3s in the deck (I’m used to playing DP with a ton of grade 3’s). That left 5 cards. Then I remember Altmile had Livorot, which searched G2s which was extremely good to ride on turn 2 and get a rush. I went with 3 copies of that because I didn’t want only 1 copy of my last card. Jewel Knights need a lot of souls, and while they do a lot of soul charging, I decided my last slot should go to the dragon that soul charges on place.

Cody: The deck is set up to ensure the best chances of getting a few key cards in order to win: Chronofang, Lishma, Nanni, and Mellow Amusements. For the Grade 1s, I chose to run 4 of Gear Dog Eight, Chronotooth, and Lishma to ensure the best chances of drawing into all the pieces needed for the Rebellion turn. Gear Dog Eight can find Chronofang, Mellow Amusements, or if necessary one of grade 3 heals to avoid being rushed down.

Chronotooth just plusses on vanguard circle plus can help keep hand size good for when it’s not time to Rebellion. and the Lishma being at 4 was to ensure the best possible chance of drawing it naturally. The Ribbul being at 2 felt good because it had no uses except for being discarded and keeps what I need in the deck IN the deck.

For the Grade 2s the idea is the same with running 3 Chronobite Tigers and 3 Irkabs and 4 Nannis, both Irkab and Chronotooth Helped but were at 3 due to deck size and utility needs between Mellow Amusements and Ribbul, the grade 2 that mattered the most to draw was the Nanni to be able to call it from the bind zone after using it for Mellow Amusements so it has to be at 4 to maximize that chance of getting it.

As for the Grade 3s, its ride into Chronofang or die. That’s it. Mellow Amusements sits at 2 because it can always be fetched by Gear Dog Eight.

The G Zone was really focused on Grogrock dragon and everything else was an afterthought including the G Guards. I included two copies of Chronotiger Gear Glare to keep in the Spirit of Chronofang though.

As for the trigger lineup, it is Crit City with 12 critical triggers including the critical sentinels and four of grade 3 heals.

Commander Jaime: Thanks for explaining more in detail! Definitely optimized the decks on what they can do best. During your games, which decks/clans did you face? How were your personal records?

Jaime (NexLvLGaming):
Round 1: Link Joker (Chaos) W
Round 2: Genesis (Regelia) L
Round 3: Golds (Ezel) W
Round 4: Nubatama (Daihouzen) W
Round 5: Narukami (Eradicator) W

Top 8
Round 1: Great Nature (BigBelly) W

Personal record: 5-1
Team record: 4-2

First: Shirayuki W
Second: Nightmare Dolls W
Third: Himiko Reverse/Gyze L
Fourth: CHAOS! L (I should have made more Final Fantasy: stranger of paradise jokes)
Fifth: Overlord W so, my overall record was 3W and 2L

Cody: I ended the Swiss portion 3-2 and a first-round loss in the top 8.
Round 1 was a win against a Silverthorns list – Won that match by re-riding to grade 2 and checking an overtrigger defensively on their major turn.
Round 2 was a loss against Granblue, I overextended and gave my opponent too much
counterblast and they punished me for it.
Round 3 was a win against Megacolony Orders. I kept on the strategy of denying strides and damage to slow down my opponent helped a lot in that match.
Round 4 was a win against Narukami. The guard restrictions really helped finish off that match.
Round 5 was a loss against Nightmare Dolls. I had no real way to keep up with the Alice loops.
In the top 8 match, I lost against another Megacolony List. I had a 5 damage Rebellion hit that was healed out of.

Commander Jaime: Wow a lot of diversity! That 5 damage Rebellion being healed out of, must have been an ouch moment! Was there a game you would like to highlight? Like your toughest matchup, best game, break or deal moments, etc.

Jaime (NexLvLGaming): My toughest matchup had to be the Regalia matchup. I pretty much got crit sacked and drew into a lot of grade 3 cards and no defensive cards like Rollocks and Heal Guardians. I had two amazing games. Against Link Joker, I was able to go into Megiddo and win. In the Gold Paladin matchup, I won with the Bad Bounty/ Nightmist break ride combo and do 6 Skull Dragon attacks and 2 Vanguard attacks. Also, I checked two critical on my Nightrose swing after re-riding and putting all effects on each Skull Dragon. My Narukami matchup was a break or deal moment, I knew if I didn’t win this turn, I would lose the next turn. Luckily my opponent didn’t have any more heals for G Guards and I was able to get enough attacks for the win.

Drew: So, if I would like to mention my most memorable game, against the Gyze player, that was my first time playing against Gyze, or even seeing it in action. Seeing Himiko Reverse flip all those Zeroth Dragons was also intimidatingly awesome to watch. Also, for some highlights, I’d like to mention that sometimes the RNG is on your side, and you gotta go with it. On my last turn vs Overlord, I survived 2 overlord turns, so six swings. So I was able to get 3 circles filled for Salome’s ability but emptied my hand. And with the luck, and 4 drive checks, I was able to get 3 Jewel Knights, and for the first time in the vanguard, I was happy to not see triggers.

Cody: The game I had against Narukami I felt highlights the strong points of the deck, which revolves around using the combination of the two vanguard attacks and guard restriction kept my opponent from being able to guard Efficiently and ultimately ended up having to take a full Rebellion hit.

Commander Jaime: Wow! Great moments you guys had! During your games, what is something that you appreciated about your decks from the preparation you’ve done? The strategy of it, consistency, power, plays, etc.

Jaime (NexLvLGaming): I really appreciated how well I drew into all my ride targets every game and not bricking. Also being able to manage my resources like CB and Soul helped a lot. Very consistent because you can simply mill out all your key and combo cards straight from your deck with a lot of the cards.

Drew: I really appreciated the consistency my decks had to fill the soul and keep with my strategy. One thing I look for with a lot of decks I use is consistency, if I don’t get a high enough consistency for my strategy, I usually don’t like the deck.

Cody: I really appreciated how consistent the deck was able to assemble all of the needed pieces and force 3 damage per vanguard attack and not be completely shut down from a held perfect guard in my opponent’s hand.

Commander Jaime: That’s awesome, thanks for sharing. After the tournament, did y’all take some time to reflect? Anything that you learned from your experiences?

Jaime (NexLvLGaming): Honestly, I am just humbled I made top 8. Even if we did lose round 1, that is a great accomplishment on my part and I have improved so much at this game that I can only get even better in the future. Back when I was a new player, I would never believe I would someday make top 8 at least.

Drew: At this time, I’m still absorbing the weekend. If anything, from going to top 8 in
premium and then doing terrible in V-premium day 2, I’d say just appreciating topping once made the entire weekend worth it. Overall reflecting on the experience just made a great boost of confidence that can definitely help me in anything I’m going to do moving forward.

Cody: Even though I couldn’t take Chronofang further into top 8, I felt like I had managed to make a list that was able to surprise a lot of people. I realize that the deck has weaknesses and need to look into how to cover those, mainly Grandblue and Pale Moon.

Commander Jaime: It’s always great to hear players being topping for the first time and being humbled by it! Awesome! Would you like to do any shout-outs to people that you know and/or have helped you along your journeys?

Jaime (NexLvLGaming): My teammates for playing to their best and I could have never done this alone. My friends who cheered us on and the fans of NexLvLGaming who came up to me and said hello.

Drew: My wife, for letting me spend my time and effort with these pieces of colorful cardboard without complaint, and still supporting me as I do so. I definitely want to shout out to my team, we couldn’t have made it this far without each other. Also, my other friends that I’ve made at Grapple Games before they closed down, especially for getting me into Vanguard. And my current Locals in Naperville, they’ve been a good help in learning other matchups and improving at the game.

Cody: Shout out to all the people who wish there was more Chronofang support!

Commander Jaime: I’m sure your other friends are happy and excited for your accomplishments too! Just one more question and we’ll be done amigos.

While preparing for your decks, did you use/see any social media to help you solidify your build? Such as blogs, YouTube videos/channels, Facebook, Reddit, etc.

Jaime (NexLvLGaming): I watched a lot of videos and YouTubers who play Granblue like Commander Jaime, Solemn Vanguard, and OuterOrange. Also following social groups on FB, Twitter, Discord, and Reddit.

Drew: I really only needed to fill 2 slots by the time my own deck building was done, I looked at some blogs with Japanese results, and consulted with other Jewel Knight players at locals as to what they used. Seeing lists, and hearing their strategies definitely helped me make my choices. (I also want to make a shout out to you here, since I decided my next deck will be Bermuda Triangle Prism premium, and I really liked the deck profile you showed which led to the list of cards I ordered. Thanks for that.)

Cody: I made a list that is as off-meta as off-meta can be as well as an archetype that is usually forgotten. I mainly communicated on Discord with my team about tech options for the deck and a few nights of just staring at every Gear Chronicle card ever printed in English and came up with a few lists to experiment with before deciding on what I have for Springfest.

Commander Jaime: Thanks Jaime and Drew for watching my content too! Always appreciate hearing it’s been of value! Cody that’s always good to go back to the entire card pool! Thanks again for joining me in this interview! I wish you the best and hope to see more from y’all in the metagame! Till next time amigos!

Key Takeaway

Appreciate Your First Top

I usually have a takeaway that points out something that contributes to the team’s success in achieving their tops. This time I noticed that these 3 players all mentioned that this was their 1st Top!

As your skills improve and continue to get Tops, always remember the first time you’ve topped. There are times when we as players get so focused on the “next Top” that we forget to enjoy the current or past ones.

Not saying you should boast about your prior tops, but it’s a good feeling to remember them. It gives you a sense of self-assurance in your ability and also something good you’ve done well before.

I remember both my 1st Tops in Cardfight!! Vanguard and Yu-Gi-Oh! For Vanguard, it was Blue Wave in 2016. For Yu-Gi-Oh!, it was full power PePe (Performapal Pendulum) in 2016. Do you remember your first Top?

Final Thoughts

I’m glad that some local amigos did really well. I also was happy to be there to encourage and even take pictures! They have great enthusiasm for the game too.

NexLvLGaming’s Website (Use code “COMMANDERJAIME” for 10% discount):

Commander Jaime’s Social Media:

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