Dogs have been a bit lacking in Great Nature as of late, so it’s very nice to see an adorable new one pop up. We saw this card used in the anime, but did not have its ability until now. What a skill it is.
[AUTO]:[Choose a card from your hand, and discard it] When this unit is placed on (GC) from hand, you may pay the cost. If you do, choose one of your units that is being attacked, and it cannot be hit until end of that battle.
[AUTO](Drop Zone) Generation Break 1:[Choose two of your rear-guards that are successful, and retire them] At the end of your turn, you may pay the cost. If you do, search your deck for up to one “Fine Coat Maltese”, reveal it, put it into your hand, and shuffle your deck.
The first bit of this card’s skill is your standard Perfect Guard spiel. One thing to note is that this card, unlike Shell Master, can protect your rear guards if you want. This will not be useful in every matchup, but it can be key against certain variants of clans such as Kagero or Dimension Police. Because we rely on Shell Master far less for Counter Charge nowadays thanks to cards such as Omniscience Dragon, Fernyiges and Immortality Professor, Kundalini and this card does not actively use Counter Blasts like Tri-ruler Cat, this can be seriously considered as an addition to Great Nature decks that revolve around Success.
Speaking of Fernyiges, it is more than worth keeping in mind what cards Fine Coat Maltese does not play well with. Because its targets must be retired as part of the cost, it does not combo well with cards such as Fullmark Gorilla, Alibelly, and Stamp Sea Otter who will not leave the field. It also has awkward interactions with Fernyiges. If a unit leaves the field before you resolve Fernyiges’ ability, you cannot get the draw/CC/SC for that unit, meaning that Fine Coat Maltese will remove the units before Fernyiges can do anything with them. On the other hand, it can be a boon for times where you do not want to target everything with Fernyiges whether due to deck out or just a worry over wasting extra CCs/soul.
Its final skill whose cost has been touched on is where this card shines. After using a copy of this card, you can guarantee that you have a Perfect Guard going into any enemy turn just by activating Fine Coat Maltese’s second ability. By retiring two successful rear guards, you immediately get to search out another one to call to hand. There are no other costs attached to it, whether those be CB or SB, leaving your other resources unscathed for future use.
In the end, I believe that your choice of Perfect Guard going forward will largely depend on your build. The way things look as of now, Honorary Professor will likely not consistently have enough successful rear guards to make use of Maltese and some Bigbelly decks may still worry about CB as well as awkward interactions to feel safe using this new guard. As I like to say, testing within your own builds is definitely needed before deciding whether or not this new card has a solid place in your deck.
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