Challenge of the Fortnight: Defensive Maneuvers
(For the period of 02/19/09 - 03/04/09)
Submitted for your disapproval, a level 1 Refess Grimoire that sees little to no use. I am speaking of course about Defensive Maneuvers, for those who just had to rush to the meat of this post and couldn't be bothered with looking at the heading. I had originally planned to showcase this underused basic-set card in an earlier Challenge of the Fortnight, but the consensus was that it was virtually unusable with the cards at the time. After all, when a card gives one friendly unit's defense to another friendly unit for one turn in a set where the maximum basic defense is 10, the card's utility is limited at best. Whew, that was quite a sentence! But it's not as if I didn't have a wild idea or two about it at the time. And such a card would certainly be useful now in an environment where there are a few units with a natural defense of 20, and even two with 30 and 40 respectively.
But that was then. This is now. Defensive Maneuvers was one of the half dozen or so cards to receive errata when the Wrath of the Four Gods expansion came out. Why the change? As I understand it, the goal was to shore up some underpowered cards and to make them generally more useful and more likely to be played. Defensive Maneuvers in its current incarnation gives DF = HP (Not Max HP, mind you. Regular HP.) of a friendly level 3 or lower Unit to another friendly Unit. "How is that even remotely more useful," you may be asking yourself now with a confused stare at my general direction. "Listen, and I will explain it to you, my dear fellow," I may answer in that wise yet nonflirtatious manner.
In concept, Defensive Maneuvers is a truly flavorful card. After all, what could be more symbolic of Refess's worldview than a knight in shining armor to sweep in and defend the weak against a powerful onslaught? It is true that Defensive Maneuvers does not provide a permanent defense boost as many other cards do, like Holy Shield, Raise Shield, and even that old standby, the Dryad. And to some eyes that may be a flaw in the design of the card. To those doubting eyes, I say that there are times where you may not necessarily want a permanent defense boost. For one thing, permanent defense boosts, aside from those provided by Soul Cards such as the once-commonly-abused LeBeau or Alphonse Soul Skills, are usually pretty small in nature. To be sure, that's usually enough to make any unit with over 30 HP last a while longer, but to be able to have massive defense of 50 or higher for one round? How cool would that be?
The point of this card isn't to build one solid, untouchable tank that will be your wall against death. Your opponent, assuming they are wise, will have something in their arsenal to deal with that. Sometimes it's just enough to guess when a massive boost in defense is necessary. For instance, what if you suspect your opponent is about to unleash a Cudgel or Chiruru soul skill on you? That's definitely a more than common occurence in the Folrart arena these days, and one solid unit that can't be touched will pretty much shield the rest of your units, wouldn't it? Defensive Maneuvers can even protect a vulnerable unit from damage via Soul Skill, since the Open Skill phase occurs before Soul Skills trigger. The caveat of course, is to know how much defense is necessary at the time, and summoning a unit with that much HP the previous turn. Since they come in at the end of the turn, they will be a fresh and perfect target for Defensive Maneuvers.
Are there uses outside of Soul Skill protection? But of course! Defensive Maneuvers can provide the temporary protection needed to shut down aggressive opening games like those that utilize Rapier Fencer of Regus, Combat Monk, Cemetery Rats, or even Folrart Guardian. It's cheap enough to splash into any File, and is definitely a surprise that you can spring on your opponent early if you fear they have any Units that can take away your precious Grimoires. And temporary defense boosts can really help your cause when there are Units that utilize that defense offensively, but that is up to you Iczers to uncover.
They say that the best defense is a good offense, but that's only because they never had Defensive Maneuvers around. Take a good, long look at this card, and perhaps you too will realize where its true strengths lie.