When the Yggdmillennia, a minor Magi clan residing in Romania, openly declare their secession from the Mage’s Association in order to have the stolen Holy Grail for themselves and summon Servants to defend it, the Clock Tower is left with no choice: Seeking to retrieve the Grail, they assemble a task force of Masters and send them to Trifas, Transylvania, where the renegade clan is hiding. This anomalous situation causes the Grail to summon a Servant of its own, from the Ruler class, to oversee the atypical Holy Grail War that is about to ensue. The opposing forces are officially identified as the Red Faction and the Black Faction. The Red Faction intends to take back the Grail and the Black Faction aims to stop them. The bloodbath looks inevitable.
What can a nameless Homunculus who just awoke to self-consciousness do against these mighty warriors and cruel schemers? Can he defy the secret agendas of those pulling the strings in this conflict and give new meaning to his existence?
Fate/Apocrypha’s signature mechanic, turning cards in the level zone face-down, is an homage to a classic trope of the "Fate/…" franchise, effectively mimicking the usage of Masters’ Command Seals. This new kind of resource is used by several cards to unleash powerful effects: "Final Flash" Saber of Red, the set’s most iconic finisher, is a premier example. The card deals additional damage based on the number of face-down cards in the level zone, making it extremely versatile. Its precise, customized output closes games with ruthless effectiveness. "Duel" Archer of Black also makes use of this mechanic, essentially providing free hand-fixing on a respectable body.
These effects also have a natural synergy with the level-swapping and card advantage engine provided by "Humanity's Salvation" Shirou Kotomine and "Bewitching Smile" Assassin of Red. In conjunction with "Duel" Rider of Red's backup ability, these cards allow for cross-turn deck manipulation and oppressive walling strategies. Not only do you get to swap your face-down level cards with fresh ones from your waiting room, but you’ll also get to protect your characters and mill through your deck at the same time – and all during your opponent’s turn!
In spite of Fate/Apocrypha being a standalone set with "just" 100 cards to build from, it has multiple viable plus engines and finishers, which means many different brews are possible. Of course, since Attack on Titan and Sword Art Online are important parts of the metagame, their resilience to on-reverse combos put "Knight of the Round Table" Saber of Red and "Adjudicator" Ruler a cut above the rest for the early game.
There are still many exciting releases coming, so the race for the best deck will be re-opened and "Outstretched Hand" Rider of Black might just get its chance to shine. Watch out for "Growl" Berserker of Black as well. This card might look underwhelming on its own, but it later enables the transformation of "Inherited Prayer" Sieg into the mighty "Depraved Dragon" Fafnir.
Fate/Apocrypha officially releases on 12 October 2018. It will be available for purchase as Booster Boxes containing 20 packs of eight cards each and preconstructed Trial Decks with exclusive cards not found in the booster packs.