Black Gear—If own level is lower…What’s good about it: Black Gear is a crazy mix-n-match that tries to give you the best possible answer to whatever lower-level situation you find yourself in. Since you gain every effect cumulatively, unlocking the Level U effect also automatically means getting the Level C. Since each level has an “OR”, you could potentially play this card with any 3 of 6 different effects. Each of those effects is easily comparable to other option-potence cards. At the highest level, it even gives the option for “Turbo” which means change the Support to “Any Phase”, so you can stack the remaining effects and still play a support; or else you could just get your Ace and play something devastating. With 2 KOs on the line, turbo OR Ace is a heavy advantage. Even if you’re not lower level, you can still draw 2 in a pinch. What’s bad about it: You get nothing unless you’re behind in evolution. Everything you get is based on your opponent, which you can nudge but never control. If you unlock only the Level C ability, you’re Level R and at that point, a mere Power -400 or HP -300 might be nothing when you’re so weak. Voiding while the opponent is higher and U/M usually leaves you open to a beating from their superior body and the alternative for Trash 6 may do nothing to help you in that particular instance. Turbo and Draw 2 isn’t particularly devastating to a Level M, regardless of your level. Any Ace searched can’t be supported on the same turn. Each effect on its own is hard to justify. Tips: At first, Black Gear looks difficult to control. But it’s important to remember, you don’t get more effects the further behind you are, you get them for being any number of levels behind, but with an opponent’s that’s further up the evolution stages. Therefore, the maximum value of Black Gear isn’t when you’re Level R, it’s when you’re Level U and they’re Level M (or any level just under theirs). Simply use a slow-evolution deck—Marine type usually excels at this. Any Digimon with high HP at each level can go slowly and allow the opponent to eventually reach Level M with very little risk. You won’t need to focus on your damage much, which gives you time to prepare for the biggest effect. Try using this as a guaranteed 2 KO card, either by searching your Ace (while Level U ideally) or turbo for a last-ditch KO. If you chose “trash 6”, the opponent may not be able to effectively recover from losing their Level M, as you now threaten to reach your own Level M unchallenged. If you plan to wait for the best effect or not, it’s still a good idea to include other “low-level” cards such as Whistle, and cards that work better if level is lower, like Data Copy.
Turbo is not a unilaterally worse choice than your Ace, since Turbo allows you to stack every other effect, draw 2, and still support with Silver Ball, which covers the same bases as Black Gear’s turbo condition. The real weakness of Black Gear is comparing it to Silver Ball in the first place, since the ball is a far more straightfoward card that gives high value every time, regardless if your level is lower. All the ball and gear care about is whether your opponent is high enough. With that in mind, black gear can be extended beyond this microcosm of level, which isn’t very common anyway (U and M aren’t the mode of the game) and provides an additional benefit for opposing Level C. It’s not a devastating effect, but -400 Power can sometimes be as good as Whistle, since the highest Level C power is 600, most circles are around 500, most triangles around 300, and the average incoming attack will be somewhere around 400 after all. With that in mind, it’s like a soft Whistle if you’re R (where Whistle works at higher levels too, so long as you’re lower), but with the additional option to soften them up by 300 HP before hitting. Some Level R are quite strong, such as Goblimon, which has the highest base power of any R, and Crash Rookies such as Ghostmon, which has the highest damage potential of all Rs. Goblimon’s circle plus Black Gear is 780 damage! Ghostmon’s crash + gear is 1050 damage on a Rookie!
In fact, Crash with any lower level is going to benefit from the HP -300 effect, so keep that in mind. Just throwing this one out there: you can Data Break on the turn you support with black gear, since you probably don’t want Level M anymore (unless you have a plan), and breaking will pile on even more powerful effects. What’s extra devastating is piling black gear on after using Level Crush to ensure maximum carnage. Crushing for an HP reset, a ton of bonus HP, plus all the gear effects you can handle is a pretty strong turn. Surprisingly, that’s not the only Evolution card this low-level option pairs well with—Mutate can keep your HP reset and fresh, while providing a body swap to another of the same level (which would obviously be lower). Another counter-intuitive pick is D-Link, since you can play an abnormal Level C and evolve to Level U, assuming you waited for an opponent Level M. So it’s not even a matter of keeping your own active alive through this process to maximize the effectiveness. You might think it’s tough to ensure you’re exactly 1 level lower, but since Mutate, Level Crush, and D-Link all assist in fine-tuning this, it’s actually quite easy. Not to mention there’s more than one card in the game that evolves you from R to any C from the deck (or Destiny Zone). You don’t have to be “lowest” level, just a little lower will do.