School Hunter, Leo-pald: Throwback Thursday

Today marks the start of another new series of articles.  This is a series I have been interested in starting for a while now, because it lets me take a look back at the past powerhouses of Great Nature.  By looking at the clan’s past, we can often learn lessons about its present and future.  It is only fitting that for the first Throwback article, we should take a look at Great Nature’s first true boss card: School Hunter, Leo-pald.

[AUTO](VC) Limit Break 4 (This ability is active if you have four or more damage):[Counter Blast (1)] During your end phase, when one of your «Great Nature» rear-guards is put into the drop zone, you may pay the cost. If you do, call that card to an open (RC).
[AUTO](VC):When this unit attacks a vanguard, choose another of your «Great Nature» rear-guards, and you may have that unit get [Power]+4000 until end of turn. If you do, at the beginning of your end phase, retire that unit.

I often point back to this card when discussing what I believe to be the core concept of this clan.  There is nothing particularly flashy or fancy about how the original Leo-pald worked.  It simply worked.  When I speak about Great Nature, the word I often use is “consistency”.  Consistency is the name of the game with our clan, whether that be the consistency of riding, consistency of plays, or consistently having the shield to make it through your opponent’s turn.  Nowadays, we get many of those things from very all-around powerful cards such as Honorary Assistant, Mikesaburo but years ago when all we had was Booster Set 7: Rampage of the Beast King, the deck needed to be as fine-tuned as possible to make sure everything ran smoothly.

The first thing that Leo-pald provided was that all-important buff and retire.  Leo-pald remained the boss of choice for many Great Nature players until we received his “Reverse” form in Booster Set 13.  With only BT07, the retire was not as important as it was largely redundant.  You were often already retiring your own units with Binoculus Tiger, so stacking on an extra retire from Leo-pald did not matter.  Those +4k power buffs in those times were often enough to hit that extra stage or two of power that you needed for the kill during a time in Vanguard’s life where mass draw or huge power pushes were not nearly as common.

With the introduction of Booster Set 8, that retire became important with the arrival of Coiling Duckbill.  Suddenly, you wanted that retire.  By putting a booster (and 7k, no less) on the field, you could recoup your loss from a retire for virtually nothing.  These kinds of resource washes – possibly even soft plusses – were a rare luxury in Vanguard at the time, leading Great Nature’s retire skills to become something of envy instead of something to be mitigated and tolerated.

Beyond the buff and retire was Leo-pald’s Limit Break 4 ability.  At the end of the turn, you could Counter Blast 1 to revive a unit that was retiring.  So now, not only are you able to draw when a unit retires, you don’t even need to lose that unit permanently.  Because of the prevalence of the Grade 1 and Grade 2 Hammsuke cards at the time, Counter Blasts were at something of a premium, but with smart resource management, players rarely ran into situations where they did not have a Counter Blast or two to spare for Leo-pald when they needed to revive key units to maintain board control.

Cards like Leo-pald still have something of a niche place in Great Nature line-ups to this day.  I cannot say that I particularly recommend running him in a current GN build, but he has led the way in interesting Grade 3-Stride interactions.  Because you un-Stride first in the End Phase, you can choose to run cards like Leo-pald that have skills which can be activated during your End Phase to retain card advantage.  Leo-pald is at the head of a group of cards containing others such as Minette and Tester Fox who allow those fun interactions.  Who knows?  Maybe some day we’ll see a resurgence of Leo-pald into the game with some new support cards.  I for one would love nothing more.

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