Starting the Game: Beginning Deck Building

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Rainbow Magician

Cardfight!! Vanguard is a trading card game which requires players to build decks and face each other in cardfights. Naturally, a player who wants to play the game of Vanguard will need to learn the basics of deck-building. To help beginners to that purpose, this guide is meant to serve as a starting point for beginning players who want to start building their own decks in the game of Cardfight!! Vanguard.

What is a Deck?

So… what is a deck? When literally defined, a deck is a stack of cards. In the game of Vanguard, the player has a main deck consisting of 50 cards and a stride deck of up to 16 cards. These two decks consists of the cards that the player will use to play the game. In a larger frame of mind, the player’s main deck and stride deck are the tools that are at the player’s disposal when trying to solve the problem presented in the game of Cardfight!! Vanguard. The problem in this game is the dilemma that is trying to be solved, which, in this instance, is how to deal six damage before the player’s opponent can deal six damage to the player. Since the main deck and the stride deck are the main tools for the player in solving this dilemma, it is up to the player to construct these decks to properly tackle the obstacles that are in game.

Basic Rules of Deck-building in Cardfight!! Vanguard

Before the reader can get in depth in the concepts and strategies of beginning deck building, he or she must know the basic deck-building rules that are present in the game of Cardfight!! Vanguard. Here are the basic rules for building a deck in Vanguard:

  • Each deck must include exactly 16 triggers in the main deck.
  • Each main deck must include exactly 50 cards in the main deck.
  • Each stride deck can include up to 16 cards.
  • Only four or less copies of cards with the same name can be included in the main deck or stride deck.

Beginning Strategy for Deck-building

Now that the player knows the basic rules of deck-building, there is a process that I follow that might help the beginner build his or her first deck (in this section, I am referring to the main deck and stride deck collectively when I say “deck”). The steps of this process are:

  1. Choose a clan(s) to build the deck from. Due to the prevalence of the Clan Fight in most tournament areas, each player must choose a clan to build a deck with for the sake of playing in tournaments. The choice of a clan typically comes down to cards available to the player or the player’s preference. For more information about choosing a clan, one can simply refer to our article about how to choose a clan. For more information about the Clan Fight rules, one can go to Bushiroad’s official Cardfight!! Vanguard landing site.
  2. Choose a boss card(s) to build the deck from. In each player’s deck, there is a main unit(s) that the deck focuses on using in order to win. These units, also known as bosses, are normally the unit that the player wants as the vanguard he or she rides or strides into in order to win the game. The player has the option to choose more than one boss, but it is recommended that the player choose one boss unit when he or she builds the first few decks.
  3. Find out how the clan and boss card(s) can win games. In game mechanics, the specific game state that allows the player to achieve victory is known as a win condition*. In the anime, this is known as a “winning image”. In Vanguard, the main win condition for all players is to damage the opponent six times. Although this is the main win condition, decks and clans have different ways of enabling the player to damage the opponent six times or hinder the opponent from damaging the player six times. These different ways act as separate win conditions, and the clan and the boss card that the player uses will fall into these two secondary win conditions.
  4. Determine main deck’s grade ratio. A grade ratio is the amounts of each grade that is run in a main deck. In Vanguard, a good grade ratio will allow the player to ride from one grade to the next by giving the player a good probability of seeing the right grades in hand at the right point in the game. For beginning players, we recommend either a 8-12-13 ratio (meaning 8 grade 3 units, 12 grade 2 units, and 13 grade 1 units) or a 8-11-14 ratio (meaning 8 grade 3 units, 12 grade 2 units, and 13 grade 1 units) for the main deck. This recommendation is mainly derived from research and play testing over time for the use of the average Cardfight!! Vanguard deck.
  5. Add non-trigger cards to help the deck reach its win conditions. In order to effectively do this, the player needs to add cards that have synergy with how to deck and/or the boss card(s) win games. Synergy in card games is the characteristic of cards to interact with the other cards in the deck**. The player wants to place cards in the deck that have a high amount of synergy with the abilities of the boss card(s) and how the clan is designed to win games. When adding cards at this point, players should try to have cards that abide by the grade ratio that he or she determined beforehand. In addition to this, cards that a standard deck are required or are recommended to contain should be added the the deck first. Such cards include perfect guards, G guards, strides, stride helpers, strides, and starter(s).
  6. Add triggers to the deck. When the main deck has 34 normal units (or non-trigger units) including the grade 0 starting vanguard and the stride deck has up to 16 stride and/or G guard cards, the player can add 16 triggers to the main deck. For a standard main deck, it is recommended to run heal triggers in the deck if the player is running G guards. In addition to this, it helps the standard deck recover from damage during the game. Beyond this, a player should run triggers that have strong synergy with the goals that the deck needs to accomplish in order to win. For more information on triggers and attacking orders, go to our article on triggers.
  7. Play, change, and improve deck overtime. The best way to improve the deck after building it is to see how it competes against other decks that other players have built. Start playing the deck with friends and other people to see what the deck needs in order to improve. When an improvement needs made, the player can change the deck according to what he or she has seen in play and try the deck again. If the player likes the boss card(s) but still needs improvement, repeat 3-6 and try to play the deck again. If the player does not like the deck at all, he or she is free to repeat steps 1-6 and taking a different approach. This process of testing and rebuilding the deck is a form of incremental development***, and it can improve decks the more they are tested, played, and improved.

I hope you enjoyed this strategy guide to beginning deck-building. Please leave any questions or comments in about this deck list in the comments section.


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

*https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Game_mechanics#Victory_condition_mechanics

**http://mtgsalvation.gamepedia.com/Synergy

***https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iterative_and_incremental_development

Starting the Game: Playing at Local Tournaments

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Three Minutes

Playing at local tournaments is the final step in the process of starting to play the game of Cardfight!! Vanguard. As the beginner, all of the preparation that you have been doing has prepared you for this type of event, which allows local players to meet up and play on a weekly basis. In the event that you is comfortable with playing in local tournaments, you typically should be able to find a location in the local area that serves as a venue for official Bushiroad local tournaments. A directory of local tournaments can be found in the Tournaments/Events section on Bushiroad’s Cardfight!! Vanguard website.

Local tournaments are a useful way of getting used to playing the game and learning as you go. With this in mind, there are a few pieces of advice to consider when going to your first local tournament:

  • Mention that you are starting the game. In the event that you are playing slowly due to trying to process decisions, you can kindly mention that you are starting the game. This should only be done the first few tournaments, since the player will typically get used to tournaments as he or she plays.
  • Ask questions about rules needed. Since you are a beginner, there is no harm in asking about basic rules at a local tournament. It is recommended either to ask the opponent’s that you face in the local tournaments or the tournament organizer about the floor rules of the tournament or the basic rules of Cardfight!! Vanguard.
  • Ask to read the opponent’s cards. This tip is for beginners and experts. If you do not know what the opponent’s cards do, ask the opponent if he or she can let you read the card. Games are won or lost on knowing what opponents’ cards do. If the opponent will not let you read his or her cards, ask the opponent what skills the card(s) have.
  • Use the first few tournaments as a way to know people. Getting to know people in the local area is one of the great benefits that local tournaments provide. At worst, you can find people to trade cards with in order to obtain card singles you may need for current or future decks. At best, you could start finding new friends to play the game with outside of local tournaments.
  • Do not get discouraged when you lose. Do not worry too much about winning or losing when starting out. Coming from the author’s experience, you will have the tendency to lose some in your first few tournaments. This is part of the learning process, which will help the player get stronger overtime if the player learns as he or she plays and keeps playing the game. Celebrate your victories, but also learn what you did wrong when you lost.

These tips should help in your pursuit of getting started in the game of Vanguard and a kick start into the community’s involvement in the game. The most important tip: play lots of Vanguard, whether at local tournaments or beyond them.

I hope this article helped. If you have any questions or comments, please leave them in the comments section.


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

Starting the Game: Purchasing Cards

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Gem Monster, Jewelmine

The second stage of starting the game on a budget involves purchasing cards for the sake of building your first deck. Each of the following steps will vary depending on what clan the player chooses to start with. If the player does not know what clan to play with, it is recommended that he or she goes back to the research portion of starting the game until the player has a good idea of what clan to at least start playing with. To clarify, players can always use multiple clans, but it is recommended for the beginning player to choose one to start playing with. If the player is still deciding which clan to start with, here is a guide to choosing a clan and our clan overview.

There are three primary ways to start the game with a certain clan. The first way is through buying preconstructed decks. These items are ready-to-play decks that are sold as a way to start the game. Such decks in Vanguard include trial decks, legend decks, and start decks. Each of these decks focuses on one clan, and contains instructions on how to play the game and a play mat. In addition to this, it is one of the quickest ways to build a deck that can be played in a local tournament. In order to do this, the aspiring player must either purchase two of the same trial deck, two of the same start deck, or one of the same legend deck. With this method, the player is guaranteed to have certain staples (e.g. perfect guards) in order to start playing the game on a local tournament level. Below is the purchasing guide for clans that have a trial deck, legend deck, or start deck that can help you jump start your collection.*

Clan Decks to Purchase Approximate Price
Aqua Force 2x Blue Calvary of the Divine Marine Spirits $30-$40
Gear Chronicle 2x Rallying Call of the Intraspectral Dragon $30-$40
Gear Chronicle 2x Odyssey of the Interspatial Dragon $20
Gold Paladin 2x Knight of the Sun $20
Granblue 2x Nightmare Princess of the Nether Hour $30-$40
Kagero 1x The Overlord Blaze “Toshiki Kai” $30-$40
Link Joker 2x Fateful Star Messiah $30-$40
Neo Nectar 2x Flower Maiden of Purity $30-$40
Pale Moon 2x Illusionist of the Crescent Moon $30-$40
Royal Paladin 2x Divine Swordsman of the Shiny Star $30-$40
Shadow Paladin 1x The Dark “Ren Suzugamori” $30-$40

The second method of purchasing cards in order to start your collection for your first deck is to buy bulk off of eBay. This method is mainly used to either get into a clan that is not on the above list or as a way to build a collection quickly for deck brewing. Although it takes more experimentation in relation to deck building, the player has the option to buy bulk commons and rares of a certain clan from eBay in order to jump start his or her collection. Typically, such bulk will be selling each individual card at approximately 5-10 cents a card (if it is anything like I experienced), saving you immensely when it comes to starting your collection. Such deals will typically sell 50-100 cards per bulk sale. Try to find the best deal you can when it comes to bulk, since there is a lot of room to save money in such a market. If the player decides to take this route, the player will also need to purchase Light Elemental, Sunny and Miracle Element, Atmos. This will provide the player with perfect guards and strides respectively, allowing the player to start with the basic staples of the game. These cards can be purchased on eBay as well, but it is recommended that the player check several sites for the sake of finding the lowest price (e.g. TCGplayer, Amazon).

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The third way to obtain cards for your first deck is to buy single cards individually or buying decks from other people. This is the best method for those who know exactly what deck they want to build or buy. Although this is the case, this is the method that players should be cautious about the predetermined budget that they were recommended to make in the research stage. If using this method, it is recommended that the player researches the price of the cards individually or in the decks to ensure the asking price is fair compared to the rest of the market. For any type of player, buying singles tends to be the cheapest way to get specific cards since purchasing single cards and/or decks guarantees one obtains the cards or decks the player is after (compared to having the possibly of obtaining certain cards in packs or bulk sales, which is not certain).

Each of the above methods are useful for different reasons to the general cardfighter. The first method is meant to start the player’s collection if the player either does not have a preference of what clan they begin with or for the clans in the list above. The second method is mainly for the players who want a cheap way to start collecting cards for the sake of deck building with the clans not present in the list found in the first method. The third method is meant for players who either want to get specific cards for the sake of building their collection or for the sake of gathering cards for a specific deck. Each of these methods are useful in their own way and are meant to be used for their dignified purposes. If the player keeps this in mind, the correct use of such methods could prove very powerful and useful for the player for the purpose of saving money while spending it on Cardfight!! Vanguard cards.

We will be discussing beginning deck building next time. If you have any questions or comments, please put them in the comments.


*If the player just want to try the game and does not know if he or she plans on playing long term, it is recommended that he or she try step one by buying one of the listed decks in the chart. Decks in the list and their prices are subject to change due to availability and new trial deck releases. For an updated list of all trial decks in the game, go to the Cardfight Wiki listing of trial decks in Cardfight!! Vanguard to date: http://cardfight.wikia.com/wiki/List_of_Cardfight!!_Vanguard_Trial_Decks

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

Starting the Game: Research

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Holder Hedgehog

The first step to this process is to inform the aspiring player about all of the purchasing options that is available in terms of starting his or her first deck. Typically, the player’s collection starts with the player’s first deck. With this in mind, it is wise to research the options one can purchase before spending any money. To help with this step, it is good to consider three recommended steps and one optional step in this phase.

  • Figure out where people play near you. In order to play the game of Vanguard, you will need to find a place near you where people play the game on a regular basis. This step should be done before any other step in the research phase, since buying cards is typically a waste of effort and money without a way to play the game with people (unless you are buying cards for another reason beyond play; e.g. collecting). For starting players, it is recommended to find the locations of local tournaments in the player’s area. To do this, one can go to the official Bushiroad Cardfight!! Vanguard Tournaments/Events page. This page contains listings for a majority of tournaments and events sanctioned by Bushiroad Inc. for the sake of Vanguard. Check out the listings available for local tournaments in the player’s area to see if any of the venues are easy enough for the player to travel to. In addition to this, contact the shop you wish to play at to double check the fact that the shop actually holds a Cardfight!! Vanguard tournament on a regular basis.
  • Figure out what clan to play first. For the most part, the game of Vanguard is based on building a deck around a certain clan and playing (especially in the Clan Fight format). A clan can be chosen based on its aesthetic, game mechanic, or availability. For the player who does not care what clan they start out with, choose a clan that is the cheapest to play and easiest to gather cards for during the time that you start getting into the game. For the player that wants to put care into the clan that he or she wants to start out with, choose a clan that fits your tastes in play style and aesthetics and find ways to gather cards for that clan. No matter what your motivation is, it is helpful at this stage to find clan guides online, which will walk through each clan with detailed descriptions for each clan. One such guide can be found here on our site.
  • Figure out spending budget before buying cards. In order to protect your wallet, it is important to find your spending limit when starting to buy cards. This step is meant to protect the player from spending more than what he or she is capable of. In short, figure out how much you are willing to spend on cards. In some cases, this will help the player narrow down what clan or deck the player is able to play at first.
  • Watch the show. This is the optional step. As crazy as it sounds, the show is a great source of information for teaching the game, especially for episodes at the beginning of certain seasons of the show. These specific episodes show the basic concept of how to play Vanguard and show the audience the lore behind the game’s mechanics. Beyond the first few episodes, other episodes tend to show how certain decks and clans are played. In addition to this, watching the show will also allow you to see if you will enjoy the premise of the general game. The show regularly premieres on the Cardfight!! Vanguard YouTube channel during the weekend.

Next time, we will discuss purchasing cards to begin a collection. If you have any questions, please put them in the comments.


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