Stages of Attacking Power and Shielding

One of the basic mechanics in the game of Cardfight!! Vanguard is the concept of using cards in hand to shield the vanguard or rearguards from attacks that the opponent will through your way. Shield in the game of Vanguard, according to the comprehensive rules, is “[t]he numeric value that expresses the combat strength while a card is used as a guardian”. In other words, the shield value on the card is the amount of power that it adds to the base power of the unit being attacked. The use of shield in the game can either protect rearguard units from being removed from the field due to attacks or, more importantly, prevent the vanguard from taking damage. So… how should players use the basics of shielding mechanics in Vanguard to more efficiently play the game?

Basics of Power Stages and Shields

First of all, it is important to consider what happens in combat when the ties happen. Specifically, in the event of a tie between the the defender’s power and the attacker’s power in combat, the attacker will win the battle. This is also true when adding shield to the vanguard while guarding from hand. In other words, if the power of the sum defending unit’s power and shield from hand equals the attacker’s power that is attacking the unit, then the attacker will win that battle.

With this in mind, one will also notice that shield value in this game comes in the form of defensive trigger power and the shield that can be used from hand, which comes in the form of 5k power or shield or 10k power or shield. With this being the case, stages of defensive power come in increments of 5k power. For example, if the attacker is attacking an 11k vanguard for 15k power, the defender only needs to place 5k shield (since 5k shield + 11k defending vanguard power is more than the 15k attacking unit’s power). If the attacker wants to force the defender to drop 10k shield from hand instead of 5k, then the attacking unit must reach at least 16k power, which is equal to the defender’s 11k base power and the 5k shield that the defender would place.

Implications of Power Stages

So… why is this important? Answer: This is important in order to maximize the amount of shield that the defender will need to drop in order to defend against attacks. In order to aim to force the maximum shield out of the opponent’s hand, make attacking columns that equal numbers that equals exceeds the opposing vanguard’s power in increments of 5k power. For example, if the opponent’s grade 3 vanguard will most likely be 11k base power, the player would want to create columns on his or her board that would equal 11k power, 16k power, 21k power, 26k power etc. when attacking/boosting with each column. Keep in mind that the increments might change due to the base power of the vanguard.

This is also important for the defender, since the defender aims to maximize the impact of his or her shields. With all of this in mind, the defender wants to save shield in hand that can defend at larger stages of power by avoiding over-guarding. If an attack can be guarded by a 5k shield, it is recommended to guard with a 5k shield instead of a 10k if it can be helped, since guarding with a 10k shield would waste 5k shield that could have been used later to guard attacks from the opponent.

That is the basics around stages of attacking and shielding power in Vanguard. If you have any questions or concerns, please put them in the comments section.

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Strategic Deck Archetypes

In trading card games, players build decks with a win condition in mind. A win condition is a game state that a player reaches in a game where he or she is deemed a winner by the rules. In this article, win conditions will refer to the typical and modern forms of such conditions, mainly through dealing lethal combat damage of causing the opponent to deck out. Since inception of trading card games, the deck building strategies of players can be divided among three archetypes, which are defined either on the speed at which a win condition is met or how interactions between cards achieve a win condition. These archetypes are:

  • Aggro. This archetypal strategy focuses on winning fast win in early game by methods that are too quick for an opponent to respond or defend against. Examples of decks that fit into this archetype are weenie* decks or burn** decks.
  • Control. While aggro strategies focus on the early game, this archetype focuses on the slow buildup of resources for the sake of winning in the late game. Examples of this strategy are decks with high-cost creatures.
  • Combo. When other strategies focus on the speed at which a win condition is met, this strategy uses strong synergy between cards as a win condition. Decks under this archetype mainly rely on the effect interactions between certain cards in the deck to win the game on their own.

According to many players, aggro, combo, and control are the most common strategical archetypes for deck building in trading card games to date. Other decks may appear at your local card shop, but most of them will fall into one or more these three categories. Some examples of uncommon strategies that are not covered by the main three include:

  • Midrange. Defined by its flexibility, decks that fall into this strategic archetype have the ability to speed up or slow down against opponents when the need arises.
  • Mill. While many strategies focus on dealing the required combat damage to win the game, this strategic archetype solely focuses on forcing the opponent to discard cards off of the top of his or her deck until the player cannot draw any more cards out of deck.

Thanks for your continued support! If you have any questions or comments, please place them in the comments section.


*Weenie decks focus their efforts on generating many small creatures for a low cost and/or early in the game.

**Burn decks mainly focus on dealing a large amount of damage to the opponent through the use of card effects alone.</sup>

Measuring Card Advantage: Pluses and Minuses

Red Card Dealer

Red Card Dealer

NOTE: Although the original intent of this article was meant to help Cardfight!! Vanguard players when it was written, the concepts described in this article can be applied to any card game.

As a term, card advantage describes the state in which a player generally has more cards than his or her opponent. With this in mind, the theory around this concept describes how the player can achieve card advantage and how to measure it.* Although the theory is not perfect, the basis of the theory is that the player with card advantage has access to more cards than the opponent, meaning that the player is closer to drawing his/her deck’s win conditions than the opponent. This is especially important for slower control decks, which focus on gaining card advantage slowly before finishing off their opponents.**

In the game of Cardfight!! Vanguard, the total card advantage that a player has not only refers to cards in hand, but also the cards that are on the rearguard circles. Conserving card advantage in this game could make the difference between having enough cards at the player’s disposal to guarantee a winning game state, or the exact opposite. Although this is concept is being applied to Vanguard in this article, this concept can be applied to almost any trading card game in general terms.

NOTE: This article is mainly used as a guide to measure tangible card advantage in the game of Cardfight!! Vanguard. This method is not easily applied to virtual card advantage, which is described at this link.

Measuring Card Advantage

In Magic, players tend to measure gains or losses in card advantage in a way describes trades in resources. For example, if one card’s effect allows the player to force the opponent to discard two cards and the player to discard the card after the use of an effect, the player traded that card for two of the opponent’s cards. This, in Magic: The Gathering, is known as a “two-for-one”, describing the transaction that took place.

The approach this article will show the player is also taken generically without specific vocabulary, which allows the player to easily gauge the amount of card advantage being gained or lost in the course of the game. Specifically, this approach tracks the net card advantage between the two players in the game of Cardfight!! Vanguard.***

When describing net gains and losses of card advantage on the board or out of hand, there are three ways to describe such trades:

  • Negative cards. Also described as a “-(number of cards lost)”, a net loss happens when a player loses one or more cards of advantage compared to the opponent’s cards. An example of this is when a player loses a rearguard due to an attack. This rearguard is discarded without the opponent losing any cards from field or hand, meaning that the player has lost one card in advantage.
  • Positive cards. Also described as a “+(number of cards lost)”, a net gain happens when a player gains one or more cards of advantage compared to the opponent’s cards. An example of this is when a player draws a card due to a unit’s on-hit ability to draw a card when it hits an opposing vanguard. In this instance, a player that is able to draw a card without having to discard cards from hand or lose rearguards, which equates to +1 net gain (assuming the opponent does not gain cards due to the skill).
  • Zero cards. Also described as a “0”, netting zero happens when a player gains no more cards of advantage compared to the opponent’s cards, even in spite of a trade or transaction. An example of this is when the player activates the ability to drop one card and draw one card. The player loses one card (-1) due to the drop part of the ability, but gains one card (+1) when he or she draws one card. The net of this transaction is 0 (or 1-1 = 0).

Applications of Measuring Card Advantage in Vanguard

This style of measuring card advantage can be tedious during game play, especially for those who do not wish to keep track of facts and figures while keeping trade of card skills. With this in mind, here are a few ways to apply the theory discussed here.

  • Analyzing card abilities. This method of analyzing card advantage can be used in the process of deck building to decrease the amount of inefficient cards due to the cost of abilities. In addition, this method can also be used to compare similar cards by comparing their effects on general card advantage.
  • Making better trades in battle. In the midst of game play, choices like attacking the vanguard versus attacking the rearguards can be crucial in taking advantage away from the opponent or obtaining advantage for the player. For example, if attacking the vanguard will force the opponent to guard with two cards compared to guarding the same attack directed at his/her rearguard with one card, then attacking the vanguard is a better choice in terms of card advantage (aka forcing the opponent to -2 instead of -1).

I hope this article helps. If anyone has questions or comments in relation to this article, please put 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.


*http://magic.wizards.com/en/articles/archive/magic-academy/introduction-card-advantage-2006-12-23

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

***This approach takes its inspiration from Upstart Goblin University’s way to track card advantage, which can be found here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=peo3JrGedPc

Guest Post: Playing a Format Behind

vanguard-central-academy

Hello Cardfighters,

As many people may not know, I was always playing a deck that was a whole format behind the current meta up until the release of the stride mechanic. I first started playing Vanguard around the English release of BT11/BT10 (sets during the limit break format). The deck I decided to play? Dragon Monk, Goku. In the realm of competitive play, this deck had not been relevant for an extremely long time. Later, when the legion mechanic was released, I picked up a Great Nature deck consisting of the break ride combo Chatnoir/Polaris, again a format behind. These days, I tend to play whatever I feel like on the main channel, known as Vanguard Central. As a side effect of this, I have accumulated a lot of decks, but I felt that playing a deck that was so far behind or simply not on the same level as the competition around you can teach you a lot of things. So here it goes.

  1. The importance of player skill. Being behind the power curve in terms of cards meant that a lot of my success was dependent on how well I was playing. I realized this quickly, and I owe a lot of my success as a player to when I was forced to play starting from a disadvantageous position. I thought and read about the game a ton so that I could improve that way rather than completely switching to a top tier deck. I’m still lacking in a couple areas as should be expected, but a few of the things I taught myself/read about were card efficiency, optimizing attack/guard patterns, and memorizing the opponent’s drive checks (the last of which I still need practice with and have to constantly focus on to get right). Even with all the skill building I have done so far, I still have a long ways to go. I learned where I was lacking as a player, and I think that is an important thing to know.
  2. The willingness to try new strategies. So, if I had all this time to improve myself, why do I still suck at memorizing drive checks? Well it’s mostly because of this second point. I spent a lot of time researching similar decks, thinking of new ways to build my deck, and trying out combinations I had not heard of before. I tried out cards that people had long forgotten and trigger line ups that no one would expect. After spending all of this time and effort spent on trying to improve my chances of victory, I found out what strategies worked and and, well, didn’t work. During these times experimenting with the game, I think the best lesson I gained was learning not to count out any strategy and to explore all of your options. My favorite example was when I mixed Seal Dragons into my Goku deck, a deck where I started trying a really aggressive strategy of moving my starter to the side column to make multiple attacks quickly. There are lots of interesting ways to build decks that are outside the norm, so don’t be afraid to try out something new. You might be pleasantly surprised.

My experiences started out with decks that were far from being considered top tier. From these experiences, I was able to improve myself a lot as a player and as a deck builder. If I could go back and redo my experiences in the game of Vanguard, I’d probably focus more on my player skills since I think that I’m lacking a lot in that department. Then again, who knows? Maybe if I had, I’d still be here writing about how I wish I had tried more strategies, still striving to become the best that I can. There are lots of ways to improve at the game, whether it’s through tweaking your deck as a master deck builder or by becoming an expert player.

Keep on learning, keep on having fun, and thanks for reading,
Vanguard Central Academy


Thanks to Vanguard Central Academy for the great advice! To get more great content from Vanguard Central Academy, you can visit the official YouTube page by clicking here.

Deliberate Practice and Cardfight!! Vanguard

Capable Assistant, Guru Wolf

Capable Assistant, Guru Wolf

NOTE: Although the original intent of this article was meant to help Cardfight!! Vanguard players when it was written, the concepts described in this article can be applied to any card game.

Whether the readers of this article is a new player in Cardfight!! Vanguard or a player looking to become the best, many readers typically are looking for ways to improve performance in the game that they love to play. Although some players play nonstop, they tend to see no improvement. Why is this? Psychologist K. Anders Ericsson had a theory in the field of cognitive theory that describes the action of, for example, playing a card game does not necessarily lead to immediate improvement. In order to improve, it is important to go through a process that Ericsson calls deliberate practice. With this in mind, this article will attempt to describe the theory behind deliberate practice and how it may apply to Cardfight!! Vanguard.

NOTE: The following pieces of advice are based on skill mastery theory in psychology, which has not been 100% proven (even though it is backed up by extensive scientific research and study). Although this is the case, it is some of the most effective ways at describing skill mastery during the writing of this article despite competing theories at the time of the writing of this article.

Ericsson’s Theory

Deliberate practice is the collection of “activities that have been found most effective in improving performance”, according to Ericsson (367). In other words, deliberate practice is actions that are intentionally meant to teach and provide the best way for the player to gain mastery of a skill. If the theory holds, this can apply to any subject or activity in particular, including Cardfight!! Vanguard. According to Ericsson, there are three main characteristics of such practice:

  • Motivation. In order to for a person to acquire or improve performance in a skill set, the person must be motivated to do so. Deliberate practice offers no immediate rewards, so the person must be motivated enough to take the time and effort to practice and hone his or her skills. (Ericsson 367) This can also can translate to the satisfaction or passion that one has for skills enough to motivate someone to master them.
  • Knowledge. Knowledge of the skill that the player wants to master is important in learning the skill. Prior knowledge helps the player contextualize the progress the person has obtained in proficiency of the skill, and new knowledge from experts or instructors in the skill that is to be mastered. (Ericsson 367) In the instance of a game such as Vanguard, veteran players and guides are some examples of where this knowledge can be obtained.
  • Feedback. A person mastering a skill should receive information about whether the activity in said skill is correct or incorrect as the skill is repeatedly executed. (Ericsson 367) Although this feedback can come from players, games in general generate favorable or unfavorable feedback (e.g. loss of a rearguard, loss of a game, etc.), which can indicate to the player whether he or she is executing practical uses of the sought after skill correctly or not.

Implications of Theory

As an activity, deliberate practice is meant to improve specific skills during each practice session, meaning that not all aspects of an activity can be improved in one session of practice. It is different than play, according to Ericsson, which has no specific goal and are inherently enjoyable. It is also important to note that tournaments and competitions are not necessarily the best place to practice (Ericsson 368), although learning may happen through such events and casual games (Ericsson 367).

Criticisms of Deliberate Practice

Although the research community refers to Ericsson’s theory of deliberate practice in its research, there are some criticisms of the theory that need to be kept in mind. One such criticism is the amount of time of deliberate practice that it takes to master or acquire a skill. In his book Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell cites that 10,000 hours is enough to become an expert in anything (“Geek Pop Star”). Ericsson claimed that experts would tend to take 10 years to reach the top (Ericsson 366). Others argue that a skill can be acquired but not mastered in less time. An example of such a person is Josh Kaufman, who found in his writing that a person would likely gain a skill (not master a skill) with 20 hours of practice and time (Vermeer).

Another criticism of deliberate practice is that there are other factors that influence skill mastery beyond the use of mere practice methods. One such research article from the Association of Psychological Science concluded that Ericsson’s conclusions that the differences in skill performance were mostly caused by deliberate performance was not backed up by the study’s findings (Macnamara 6). Specifically, the study found that only 12% of general performance variance measured in the study was explained by deliberate practice (Macnamara 5). Although this is the case, the study also found that the effectiveness of deliberate practice varied based on the domain it was used in. For games, the study found that 26% of performance variance was correlated by the use of deliberate practice (Macnamara 8). With this in mind, such research shows that deliberate practice is not as important as once thought but not invalid in relation to skill performance.

On Practical Application

Although deliberate practice may not explain 100% of a player’s performance in the game, evidence from the study criticizing deliberate practice still shows that the increase in performance has some correlation to the deliberate practice that a player undergoes. With this in mind, here are a few ways to implement the concepts of deliberate practice in the game of Cardfight!! Vanguard.

  • Foster a desire for improvement. This ties into the motivation of deliberate practice. In order for a player to improve at Vanguard, that player must want to improve, plain and simple.
  • Use past experiences to identify weaknesses in play. According to Ericsson, knowledge can be used to contextualize progress in skill mastery or proficiency. On the flip side of this, a player who can identify where he or she has failed can identify what skills need improved in the future. These past experiences in Vanguard can include any games that the player has participated in or watched, allowing the player to learn from personal experience and the experiences of others. Weaknesses in a player are potentially skills that can be improved, varying from deck building to in-game decisions.
  • Research and practice sub-skills if necessary. In reviewing Kaufman’s book, Alex Vermeer learned that Kaufman suggests that the player break down skills that a person desires to learn into sub-skills (or smaller components of the skill in question). Some skills, such as keeping track of public game zones, can be broken down into smaller components that can be practice on individually (e.g. memorizing drive checks, memorizing cards in the drop zone, etc.).
  • Play practice games. If possible, a player is advised to work on skills during casual matches outside of a tournament setting that he or she can work on skills that the player has identified for the sake of improvement. If a player has trouble accessing people outside of tournaments, local tournaments can serve as a good alternative due to their tendency to be casual in nature.
  • Focus on one skill at a time. When playing practice games for the sake of improving skills, work on one skill at a time. Rome was not built in a day, and the same fact can be argued when talking about skilled players in Cardfight!! Vanguard. Acquire one skill, then move to the next one.
  • Learn from skilled players. Whether it is the strong local player or the Vanguard Youtuber that the general player respects, find a player more skilled than you and learn from him or her. Learning from such players can include watching games, taking advice, or playing games with that player as some examples. Ideally, stronger players in the community can serve as guides and teachers to beginners and aspiring competitive players that are seeking to improve their skills.

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.


Bibliography

Ericsson, K Anders, and Ralf Th. Krampe and Clemens Tesch-Romer. “The Role of Deliberate Practice in the Acquisition of Expert Performance”. Psychological Review 1993, Vol. 100. No. 3, 363-406. http://graphics8.nytimes.com/images/blogs/freakonomics/pdf/DeliberatePractice%28PsychologicalReview%29.pdf Accessed 27 January 2017.

“Geek Pop Star”. New York. http://nymag.com/arts/books/features/52014/index2.html Accessed 27 January 2017.

Macnamara, Brooke N. and David Z. Hambrick and Frederick L. Oswald. “Deliberate Practice and Performance in Music, Games, Sports, Education, and Professions: A Meta-Analysis”. Psychological Online ScienceFirst 1 July 2014. http://scottbarrykaufman.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/07/Macnamara-et-al.-2014.pdf Accessed 27 January 2017.

Vermeer, Alex. “The First 20 Hours by Josh Kaufman – Review & Summary”. June 2013. https://alexvermeer.com/the-first-20-hours/ Accessed 27 January 2017.

Characteristics of a Competitive Deck

Dumbbell Kangaroo

Dumbbell Kangaroo

Whether you are piloting* the best deck of the new set or piloting the old rogue** deck that has been around since the beginning of the game, it is important to know what makes a deck “good” or competitive in tournaments. Whether favorable or not, it is important to know what makes a deck competitive either for piloting a deck, building a deck, or counteracting a deck you face in tournaments. Good decks or tier*** one decks will always have some or all of the following qualities:

  1. Consistency. A good deck in any card game has to have consistency. Consistency comes up in the ability to get to your win condition on a more regular basis. This might come from just blind drawing a large amount of cards (e.g. Great Nature) or searching your deck for specific cards (e.g. Royals, Gears). All this being said, a consistent deck usually tries to achieve a winning board state+ and/or ensure it has enough cards to adequately defend itself.
  2. Pressure. Every good deck has a form of pressure, which is the instance a player is being threatened with the loss of advantage or the chance of victory. Pressuring the opponent can come in different forms. Be it in the form of controlling the opponents moves (e.g. Link Joker, Kagero) or just ripping into them usually in the form of either a large combo attack(e.g. Great Nature, Royals) or consistently jabbing (or poking) at the opponent (e.g. Gear Chronicle, Aqua Force). If your deck is consistent but lacks pressure, you need to do a revision.
  3. Recovery. Sometimes things fall flat. It happens. Recovery is the ability for a deck to come back from being put in a bind or drawing poorly (yes, even good decks have dead draws). An example would be getting Mikesaburo to grab your grade 3 unit after going 2 turns without seeing one. Another example is the grade 1 seven seas deck, which can constantly create a full attacking board from an empty field despite the opponent attacking or retiring rearguards.
  4. Match ups. A good deck will generally only have one or two horrible match ups if that. It’s very common for high tier 1 decks to only have a bad match up against a random tier 2 or tier 3 deck that nobody typically plays. Some decks do not specialize or excel in any particular strategy or play style, but they can fight every deck in the game adequately with a bit of practice.

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.

* “Piloting a deck” is another way of saying playing a deck on a consistent basis.

** A rogue deck is a deck that is not seen often in tournaments but is deemed as a dark horse (or a deck that can win events without anyone expecting it).

*** Tiers are expected levels of performance that players sort decks into based on their hypothetical performance at tournaments.

+ A winning board state is a game or board state that the player tries to achieve that will have the best chance of achieving victory in a game.

Championing a Deck

td04-014en

Victory Maker

NOTE: Although the original intent of this article was meant to help Cardfight!! Vanguard players when it was written, the concepts described in this article can be applied to any card game.

In the trading card games, the championing a deck is when a player chooses to stick to a certain deck and master it. In the game of Cardfight!! Vanguard, it is sometimes a wise decision to champion a deck to decrease the cost of buying too many decks while increasing the mastery of a certain game mechanic. When considering a deck to pilot, it is wise to consider the following:

  • Read the meta game. Among the general rules of Vanguard, there is something called the meta game at work. A meta game in a game consists of a group of strategies that people largely prefer when playing the main game. These strategies will be what the player has to play against, which matters when choosing a deck to act or counteract the meta game. For more about determining the meta game in Vanguard, read our article on how to read the meta game.
  • Pick a clan.*  Once the meta game is considered, it is time to pick a clan. Even if you don’t really know what clan is your favorite, it is important to Since meta games in Vanguard tend to be made up of several main clans, picking a clan that counteracts other clans in the meta game is wise when picking a clan to play. In addition to this, pick a clan that fits your visual preferences, personally preferred play style, or budget. For an overview of the clans, refer to our clan guide.
  • Obtain a deck. Having a physical copy of the deck is important when you want to become a pro at using it. When you reach this step, use the choices you made when picking a clan and reading the meta game guide you. If you need help with beginning deck building, read our guide to beginning deck building.
  • Play the deck.  This may seem obvious, but sometimes people forget that they cannot master a deck until they play it first. In order to become an expert, practice and play testing are beneficial in learning the mechanics and capabilities of the deck that you are trying to pilot.
  • Keep using the deck for as long as you want. Sometimes, people will advise you to get rid of the deck due to their opinions. If the deck is fulfilling its purpose for you (whether it is playing the deck for fun or for competitive reasons), then keep the deck. On the other hand, it is okay to sell or trade off the deck if it is not performing up to your standards. Either way, to keep a deck is your decision as a player, not anyone else’s.
  • Seek advice if needed. On the flip side of the point above, it is important to seek help on how you play the deck from other people who play the same deck if you need the help. Do not be afraid to ask for help, since most people are happy to help.

Hope this advice helps! If you have any questions or comments, please put them in the comments section.


* This step is specifically for Cardfight!! Vanguard.


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