Board Control: The Whens, Hows, and Whys


paymat pic for field.PNG

Overview of the play mat in the official rule book.*

In Vanguard, the main way to win the fight is to deal six damage to your opponent’s vanguard. This leads to the idea that attacking the vanguard is always the best choice, and, for some clans and deck builds, attacking the vanguard at all times is the best choice. Although the assumption about attacking strategy exists, attacking the vanguard is not always the best option. Many clans are highly reliant on their rearguards in order to activate many of their skills and synergize off one another, which makes them viable targets for attacks in order to slow the tempo of the game. This means that controlling the field of rearguards, whether through attacking or various skills, is a very important factor in a cardfight. In this article, we will examine why board control is important, how to achieve board control, when to achieve board control, and which clans tend to either excel at board control or simply do not care about board control.

Achieving Control of the Board:  Why It Is Important

crayon tiger

Many rearguards, can be so dangerous that dealing with them is a priority.

Rearguards play a large part in setting the identity and play style of a deck and its fighter. As an extension of this logic, rearguards typically lead the fighter to plan his or her next turns based on the combination of the vanguard’s skills and the rearguards’ skills and the synergy between said skills. Without their rearguards, the player may not be able to achieve certain actions, such as obtaining extra attacks, activating more skills, and achieving higher power. This is even true for clans that do not necessarily need rearguards in order to win the game, since having rearguards that further the player’s strategy and board state are beneficial even for these clans. This makes dealing with these rearguards a very potent option as your opponent will have to decide how valuable each rearguard is to their plan.

In addition to this, targeting rearguards can also be useful in denying the opponent resources that he or she needs in order to achieve an optimal board state. When a player attacks a rearguard, the player is guaranteeing that the opponent looses at least one card either through the loss of a rearguard or the loss of the shield used to protect the attacked rearguard. Not only will attacking rearguards prompt the opponent to lose card resources, but attacking rearguards can also deny the opponent damage for counterblasting in the following turn. This will likely slow your opponent down and give yourself time to build up some defense and offense to fight back.

Achieving Control of the Board:  When and How To Accomplish Board Control

Rearguards in Vanguard can be dealt with in two different ways:

1.) Attacking them during the Battle Phase

2.) Using various skills to retire, lock, bind, stun, etc. during any phase of the turn, but usually the Main Phase or the Battle Phase

Attacking Rearguards:

In the Battle Phase, the general idea is to attack your opponent’s vanguard in order to push them closer to six damage so that you win the game. However, if you ignore your opponent’s front row rearguards and give them too much counterblast, they could retaliate much stronger than you could be prepared for. Attacking rearguards allows for you to determine how much counterblast you wish to give your opponent their next turn (keeping in mind that they may have methods to countercharge). By controlling which of your attacks target rearguards and which attack the vanguard, you can create a dire situation for the opponent where they can only obtain counterblast by not guarding attacks that have low power values or attacks that include on-hit skills.


Cards that require any hit may be useful for rearguard attacks to add extra pressure.

The main decision that must be made is how many attacks and how much power you want to commit to attacking rearguards. The trade off to removing a rearguard with an attack is the damage that could have been given to the opponent’s vanguard. If the player is not careful, he or the leaving your opponent at lower damage allows them to not guard more attacks in the future. Using lower power columns can be good if you know that your opponent must use a 10K shield in order to defend it, whereas higher power columns “ensure” that the rearguard will be removed from the field. This leads to the importance of extra rearguards without boosters and power columns which may not be as effective against the vanguard due his power from base power and trigger boosts. Decks with many attacks can target rearguards over and over such that your opponent must use many cards to defend a rearguard that they deem integral to their plan. Overall, attacking rearguards is a major consideration during the Battle Phase in order to control the pace of the fight.

Clans that excel at controlling the opponent’s field through many attacks:  Aqua Force, Nova Grappler, Murakumo

Using Skills:

root flare dragon

Dealing with rearguards in entire columns can prevent entire attacks!

Different clans excel at using their skills to do various things, whether it be superior calling units from different zones, powering up their own cards, or interacting with their opponent’s field. Decks which have the ability to manipulate the opponent’s board tend to be very powerful in terms of board control since they are not limited to attacking the front row. These decks generally have the ability to use most if not all of their attacks on the vanguard since many of the opponent’s powerful rearguards will have been dealt with already. This means that the opponent will not only be pressured to guard more attacks against their vanguard, but they must try to conserve enough resources in order to rebuild their forces for a retaliation. The only drawbacks to these decks is that they are weak against decks with either no board presence out of turn are decks that can easily rebuild their field or protect their own units (deck builds that retire rearguards at end of turn, return rearguards to hand, etc.). These decks will attempt to take advantage of the many attacks against their vanguard to obtain enough damage to retain/rebuild their board, so be careful about how much counterblast you give them!

Clans that excel at controlling the opponent’s board through skills:  Kagero, Nubatama, Megacolony, Link Joker, Gear Chronicle, Narukami

Clans that excel at retaining/rebuilding their board from opponent’s skills:  Pale Moon, Granblue, Royal Paladin, Gold Paladin, Murakumo, Oracle Think Tank


Cardfight Vanguard is a game which can fit any play style and gives the fighter many different paths with which they can take the fight to victory. The hardest part is choosing the “correct” path based on analysis of your opponent’s resources, your own resources, the opponent’s play style, your own play style, and many other factors which can change the outcome of the fight. In addition, the fighter must recognize when to take each path and change between them so that they do not stay on a path too long such that there is no turning back. By using rearguard attacks correctly, you can control the pace of the fight and play at your own speed, whether it be fast and furious or slow and calculated. Seeing the path to victory is key in a Cardfight and will help you triumph.

If there are any questions or comments, feel free to leave them in the comments section and I will do my best to clear any misconceptions.

*This picture came from the official playbook at this website:
Images of cards came from!!_Vanguard_Wiki. These images may have been re-sized.

4 thoughts on “Board Control: The Whens, Hows, and Whys

    • Dark Irregulars can control the board in different ways, usually depending on which build you are playing. With decks where your main Vanguard is Scharhrot Vampir or Psychic of Storm, Rigil, you will have various skills which will retire your opponent’s units through either your opponent’s choice or your choice respectively. This leads the Dark Irregular player to retire just enough rearguards so that they are pressured to keep the rest of their rearguards and defend them, allowing the DI player to attack the front-row rearguards with low-number attacks in order to create extra pressure when they may otherwise be open to taking damage which would enable the opponent to fight back harder, which is hard on these builds due to their lack of card advantage and hand size. This game plan plays to win by the 2-4th stride simply by running your opponent out of cards to defend with or fight with.

      With Amon, retiring happens rarely and only comes about when soul is needed for Astaroth or you soulcharge the Amon’s Follower Critical. Their game plan is to attack the opponent with numbers so high that the opponent must either guard immensely and lose pressure or take a lot of damage, leading Amon to win by the 2nd stride on most occasions if not by Astaroth’s legion hitting them for multiple damage if they don’t have a sentinel to defend with. Amon Follower decks usually assert little board control through skills, but tend to control the board through attacks in the early and mid game before finishing. Amon decks will generally have two large columns which the opponent must decide to defend against, so adding an extra attack onto a valuable rearguard when they need it the most adds a lot more pressure to their defense. The opponent will either be forced to commit to an offensive counterattack to try and finish the DI player before they pull-off their finisher or defend everything in hopes of surviving the finisher. Overall, Amon’s greatest strength is high numbered columns all the time that always apply pressure to the opponent, making cards like Doreen the Thruster very key to the plan (Thank goodness she’s getting reprinted).

      Finally, Blade Wings are where things take an interesting turn. They generally do very little interaction with the opponent’s field outside of a few attacks going on the rearguards when they can’t hit the Vanguard. The only time they commit heavily to attacking rearguards is when the rearguard is so dangerous that it must be removed and counterblast be denied in order to survive longer. As of now with Blade Wing Sullivan, the goal to win is to stretch the game out as long as possible in order to slowly whittle down the opponent so that Abominable One, Gilles de Rais or Wings of Annihilation, Blade Wing Tibold can finish them off. They focus on defending themselves heavily, rearguards and Vanguard alike, in order to keep-up consistent pressure and soul building so that they can easily defend any attack while recycling triggers. Pre-Fighter’s Collection 2016 (Which will expand the G-Zone to 16 cards), Blade Wings have the possibility of making your opponent run out of their most powerful strides and simply finishing them in the long term, but things will change with G-Guardians, G-Zone expansion, and Dark Irregular support in G-BT07. Blade Wings thinking the long term regarding soul management, damaging the Vanguard through mid-power attacks, and keeping their damage relatively low for powerful strides and finishers, yet find themselves not controlling the opponent’s board very much outside of occasional attacks early on in order to relieve early pressure on themselves, as there is no rush to damage the opponent extremely fast.

      Overall, the amount of board control exerted and the winning image of the Dark Irregulars varies greatly with each deck and build. While strong cards like Abominable One, Gilles de Rais and Doreen the Thruster are able to be played in all builds and work well for increasing pressure, each builds goal to win varies based on the Grade 3s’ skills. This is part of why I chose not to put Dark Irregulars under the board control category, as their builds vary too much to categorize as full-on board control. I hope that this answers your question, but feel free to question further for more information!


      • Spike Brothers generally don’t control the board due to how the clan’s image of victory. Spike Brothers want to win the game in a 1-2 turn burst of rush that is so powerful that the opposing fighter will not be able to defend themselves or will be left with nothing to work with should they survive. This leads the Spike Brother player to want to avoid attacking rearguards as much as possible to force out the opponent’s guard so that you can push for the final play. While there may be a few Spike Brother units that have effects that control the board, such as Cobalt Impulse from The Reckless Rampage, these are generally looked at as extra upsides as opposed to the overall threat amounted from the large number of attacks with extremely high power. This leads the player fighting Spike Brothers to make very important decisions about whether or not to use their integral units as a means of defense or as a means of offense and advantage on their following turns. The only time that Spike Brothers may attempt to control the board would be through attacking rearguards in the very early game (mostly when each Vanguard is grade 2 or less) in order to eliminate key rearguards or force out guard from the opponent very early. To sum things up, Spike Brothers don’t usually control the board simply because they don’t have to, as their extreme rushdown causes the opponent to have to sacrifice key cards in order to survive and continue fighting.

        On Fri, Jul 15, 2016 at 12:21 AM, Cardfight Lab Tech wrote:



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