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
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
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
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: http://cf-vanguard.com/en/howto/pdf/vg_playbook_web.pdf.
Images of cards came from http://cardfight.wikia.com/wiki/Cardfight!!_Vanguard_Wiki. These images may have been re-sized.