Starting the Game: Beginning Deck Building

rainbowmagician

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

Strategic Guide to Grade Rush Decks

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Reckless Express

Its brakes are completely broken.

Reckless Express

In the wake of the introduction of the legion mechanic and the generation break mechanic, players worked to find ways to fight decks with such abilities without having to spend large amounts of money and ways to fight other decks in the meta in a unique way. One such way of doing this that players found was through grade rush decks, which were designed to kill the opponent before he or she could even play the game. So… what is a grade rush deck?

Anatomy and Physiology of Grade Rush Decks

A grade rush deck is a deck that is purposefully designed to rush the opponent at a certain grade. These decks typically run less or no grade 3 units compared to standard decks that are in the meta. These decks had the tendency to have low grade units that could attack grade 3 vanguards in a way that would force the opponent to use a large amount of shield in order to guard such attacks. In addition to this, some versions of these decks had the capability to superior call to the field, allowing the player rushing to guarantee an optimal field for rushing the opponent while maintaining a reasonable hand size in the early game.

Strategies of Grade Rush Decks

So what is the premise behind these types of decks? Well, there are several strategic reasons that they still remain relevant as a concept:

  • Grade rush decks deny their opponents generation break. In order to achieve generation break, a player either needs to stride or G guard in order to activate generation break 1 skills. As a rule of the game, a player cannot stride or G guard unless both players in the game have grade 3 vanguards. With both of these facts in mind, grade 1 rush decks do not ride to a grade 3 vanguard (unless the pilot of the deck is ready to finish the game) in order to prevent the other player from ever striding or g guarding. Although this seems very effective, a player can use either Air Elemental, Twitterun or Air Element, Sebreeze in order to activate g break if the opponent’s vanguard is not a grade 3 unit. Twitterun is not run as often, but it allows itself to be put in the g zone if the opponent does not ride a vanguard and the player has a grade 3 vanguard. Sebreeze can be strode from the g zone if the opponent did not ride a vanguard, the opponent has a grade 2 vanguard, and the player has a grade 3 vanguard for the cost of discarding one card from hand and two counterblast. With the fact that Twitterun is seldom run in decks, and Sebreeze requires a grade 2 vanguard on the opponent’s side to activate it’s skill, grade 1 rush decks specifically have the capability of denying the player generation break for the entire game, even with these special elemental units in mind.
  • Grade rush decks deny their opponents legion. Both players must have a grade 3 vanguard in order to perform legion. In addition to this, there is no current cards that allow the player to legion if both players are not grade 3 except for Metalborg, Blackboi, a starter specific to the Dimension Police clan. With the exception of Metalborgs from Dimension Police, the player can be denied legion if the opponent refuses to ride a grade 3 vanguard. This applies to either grade 2 rush decks or grade 1 rush decks, since both can refuse to ride a grade 3 unit or wait to ride a grade 3 unit until it is the moment in the game that the player wielding such a deck can end the game.
  • These types of decks attempt to give as much damage as possible before the opponent can guard from hand. In a standard deck, a player will try to have the grades needed in order to ride each turn, which ends at their grade 3 ride. Grade rush decks will have the ability to call a viable attacking field with 2-3 attacks on the first turn. In addition to this, the grade rush deck builds typically area designed to force 10k shield from the defender’s hand near the end of the game. Against a rush deck, this puts the player at a disadvantage, since the player cannot guard with higher grade than the vanguard. Even if the player can guard many of the attacks in the early game, guarding too much early can rob the player of precious cards needed later in the game.

Historic Examples of Grade Rush Decks

Throughout the history of the game, players have tried to use the concept of grade rush decks to for the purpose of using the listed strategies above to undermine the decks in the meta game at the time of their use.Whether or not these rush decks are relevant now, these decks have set a certain precedent for rush decks now and in the future. Although these are not all of the rush decks that have appeared in Cardfight!! Vanguard, here are some of the notable decks from the game’s history:

  • 8k Grade 1 Rush. Before the start of clan fight format, this deck was considered one of the best rush decks in the game. 8k base grade 1 units from multiple clans with spike bros support cards (mainly Reckless Express and Gyro Slinger) made up the deck with the goal to create early 16k columns. Such columns forced even grade 3 vangaurds to guard with 10k shield or more. A version of the deck list can be found here on an article by TimPowerGamer.
  • Grade 1 Liberator Rush. This grade 1 rush deck contained units that could use the “Liberator” name on the vanguard or on superior calls to guarantee 14k-17k by the end of the game. This deck also had the option to run cards that could enhance the utility of the deck, from running two strong guard options (Starry Skies Liberator, Guinevere and Sword Formation Liberator, Igraine preferably, since they have the Liberator name) or generic cards from the Gold Paladin clan that can help create consistent columns that force 10k out of the defender’s hand each time a column attacks (e.g Knight of Elegant Skills, Gareth). Although other blogs have created this list in the past, our list can be found here.
  • Grade 1 Seeker Rush. Like the Liberator deck, this deck has units use the “Seeker” name to guarantee 14k-17k by the end of the game. This deck is able to do this by having four units that can gain power through the use of their sub-clan Seeker name (specifically, these units are Honest Seeker, Cynric, Righteousness Seeker, GangarenHeaven Arrow Seeker, Lunate, and Seeker, Sebrumy). Due to the large amount of beaters in the deck, it makes it easy on the player using this deck to make consistent attacking columns that force large amounts of shield out of the opponent’s hand. An early list for this deck build can be found on TimPowerGamer’s blog in this article.
  • Seven Seas Rush. Originating in Japan, this build is focused on using the early-game mill mechanics and superior call mechanics of the Seven Seas sub-clan to rush the field, mainly using units like Seven Seas Apprentice, Nightrunner and Witch Doctor of the Seven Seas, Raistutor to do so. In addition to this, the build incorporates other units to fix the field (e.g. Seven Seas Helmsman, Nightcrow) and guarantee multiple attacks (e.g. Seven Seas Master Swordsman, Slash Shade). Although this deck build does not use grade 1 normal units, the grade 2 units are able to be called from the drop zone due to varying methods, which will be set up with Nightrunner. A list of this deck can be found on TimPowerGamer’s blog on this article and a Japanese example of the deck in tournament can be found on syeeki’s channel on this video.

How to Combat Grade Rush Decks

In an format that is full of legion and generation break mechanics, the grade rush decks can be very effective. Although the concept of a deck type that is meant to deny skills and kill quickly is daunting to some players, there are ways to combat such decks. Here are a few tips for those facing these rush decks:

  • Play limit break units in your deck if possible. For those who can fit it into his or her deck, playing powerful limit breaks can act as powerful deterrents to rush decks. Rush decks focus on rushing in damage on a player, which naturally fulfills the conditions of the limit break mechanic. This takes away the denial strategy of rush decks, and you will force the opponent to either ride to a grade 3 vanguard or fall behind.
  • Rush back if plausible. If the player has the chance to rush back against a rush deck in order to win the game, it may be the right play. This is due to the fact that grade rush decks cannot typically keep a hand to defend itself (since the pilot of the rush deck normally uses the hand only to place a field of attackers).

I hope you enjoyed this strategy guide to grade rush decks. 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.

How to Read the Meta

 

The general who wins the battle makes many calculations in his temple before the battle is fought. The general who loses makes but few calculations beforehand.

Sun Tzu, The Art of War

As a player of any card game the most beneficial thing you can gain is knowledge. Learning the meta and how to predict and read it is something that will greatly help any player. When talking about meta in a card game, it typically means what decks have the most success in winning and see the most play.  For example, let’s say there are five upcoming tournaments. After each tournament the results show that out of the top eight decks six of them are all Royal Paladin. Not only are they Royal Paladin, but they are all the same type of deck. This is what card game players define as meta game (or meta for short). A deck or archetype that has constant winnings over a span of time is considered a meta deck. What keeps card games fresh is that the meta is constantly changing majority of the time. Whatever deck may be doing well now may not have the same success a month down the line. What can you do to figure out the characteristics of the meta? In order to determine the meta, the player must consider the type of tournament that he or she will participant in and how to read the meta for each type of tournament. 

Basically, there are really two types of tournaments. These two tournaments are local level tournaments and higher level tournaments (e.g. regional tournaments).  Locals are a type of tournament that are held generally once a week at your local card shop. Reading the meta here is arguably the hardest at first. Due to the nature of the tournament a lot of players will play whatever they want whether said deck is meta or not. To really read the meta here, you will have to learn what your local players like to play. For example, if you have a player there that likes to play great nature odds are when Great Nature gets support again that player will play Great Nature during that time.

Higher level tournaments are a different ball game. These tournaments almost always attract a greater numbers of players than your local tournament. People all over the region or the country travel to compete in these tournaments. To figure out what is meta in these tournaments, there are a number of options you can take. The first and probably best option is to look at recent tournament toppings. Here is a helpful link to do that (http://cf-vanguard.com/en/cardlist/deckrecipe/). In this link, you can see a number of different event records and see the most used clans in each tournament. Looking at web sites and records of larger tournaments that is within your region or country will give you a general idea of what to expect. Another option is to look at the Japanese and Singapore topping records. Now two things to note before doing this. Firstly, some players will advise you not to do this because they firmly believe the English card game has much different toppings than the Japanese or Singapore toppings. The fact is that the English game tends to follow closely to the same meta as the Japanese/Singapore meta. The English players tend to not play the best decks as much as the Japanese/Singapore players would, however English players still do play these decks very much. The second thing to note is that Japanese/Singapore players receive card sets a little bit earlier than English players. This allows players to see how cards in the next set are doing before the English players get them. By considering this, players can prepare early for decks to come later. I good place to look for stuff like this is (http://cf-vanguard.com/deckrecipe/ * +).

If you do these things mentioned above, you can always be ahead of the meta game. As you grow and learn as a player you will be able to see more and more vividly what will become meta just by playing a deck. This can take some time to figure out, so do not worry if you do not understand this right away. For now, look at these helpful links and stay active within your community if you want to stay ahead of the crowd. Consider these things, and you will be on your way to becoming a better player in no time.


* For this website you will more than likely have to open it up twice as it will try to redirect you to the English page.

+ For help with finding deck lists from around the world, one can visit our post on finding such deck lists here: https://cardfightlabtech.wordpress.com/2017/04/07/america-meta-game-vs-japan-meta-game/

How to Choose a Clan

Vanguard is a game that is full of groups that are defined a unifying lore, a similar look, and a centralized mechanic. As almost every player knows since the beginning of their time playing this game, these groups are known as clans. There are a total of 24 clans in this game to choose from, which can supply some complexity when trying to decide which ones to play for either the competitive or casual side of Cardfight!! Vanguard. Even thought the player may want to choose multiple clans in the time that he or she plays this game, it is at least important to decide what clan to choose for the sake of building a deck due to clan fight format rules that are in place.

When deciding a clan to play in this game, there are several considerations that should be taken into account. Specifically, there are certain traits in each clan that can help the aspiring card fighter determine whether or not a clan is the right purchase for him or her. These traits include:

  • Price.  When entering into a trading card game, the price of entry (or the price for the player to start playing the game/deck) can be an important consideration. Before deciding what clan to play, try to have a budget set for how much money you want to invest in one deck. After deciding this, start researching the prices for how much it will take to build decks from the clan that you are considering building a deck for. For more information about how to play Vanguard on a budget, go to this link for more tips and information.
  • Aesthetics and Lore. Since you may be playing with the clan that you choose for a long time, you might as well like the way the cards in the clan look. This mainly consists of the artwork that can be found on the cards, the creature type and/or race of the unit, and the flavor text found on the card. For those who want to research further, each clan will also have a unique lore that influences the aesthetic of the clan’s units. Overall, these aspects could provide a certain mood is trying to attain while playing the clan. Although these aspects do not matter to some, players who are looking for a certain look and feel for their cards should consider this.
  • Clan Mechanic. Each clan has a unique game mechanic that it can use in each fight. Some clans can utilize such skills to gain other advantages, such as increased amount of attacks, card advantage, etc. Such clan mechanics include standing units on attacks, locking rearguard units, retiring rearguard units, and many more. Since there are as many unique mechanics as there are clans, it takes research and game experience to see each clan mechanic in action.

When these traits are identified, the player can use them as tools for whether the player would want to play with a certain clan or not. Most of these traits can be found for each clan with more research into each clan. If you are looking for general information about each clan, the Cardfight!! Vanguard Wiki clan page contains a glossary that this wiki has on each and every clan, including more information about clan mechanics, artwork, and lore. Each clan’s can be accessed by clicking their respective emblems on the page. Coming soon, a clan guide will be provided on this site as well.

I hope you enjoyed this guide. If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to put them in the comments section.

Skills and Abilities Within the Meta

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Dragonic Overlord the End

The current state of Cardfight Vanguard’s meta game is actually rather diverse. While the decks that consistently place higher in tournaments only really seem to change when game breaking combo cards are introduced, the skills among the different decks includes a little bit of everything. Take some of the recent major decks: Sanctuary Guard, Ripples, and Seven Seas. Each of these decks received support that made them very hard to deal with, and each of these decks include a combination of old and new skill types.

When building your main deck, consider the different skills that are available among your units. For grade 1 and 2 units, they are split among support for: Legion, Generation Break, and restriction-less support. Grade 3 units are more diverse, including all of the skill types listed below. Let’s look at the different card abilities the players have at their disposal.

Skills with no restrictions: Skills in this category are not restricted to being at a certain point in the game state for their skills to be utilized. One of the splashable examples of these skills are the grade 1 units who can soul blast to draw a card when placed on rearguard. Within the current meta, the skills in this category usually support the advantage engine of the deck, or allow for faster skills. However, grade 3 units that fall under this category (such as Dragonic Overlord the End, Nightmare Doll Alice, etc.) are either heavily supported by the deck, part of the core strategy, or are able to offer different options depending on how the game has been unfolding. Stride helpers are a good example of this. These units can either be used to lessen the cost of stride, or to search for the main GB unit of the deck.

Some of the best skills in this category are restricted to an archetype or a sub-clan. Most of the best decks in the current meta fall under an archetype or sub-clan. Normally, these skills require a unit with a certain name to be on vanguard or the target of the skill. Special counterblast and/or soul blast refer to paying a cost with a unit having a specific name.

Mega Blast: The term refers to the skills that have a cost of counterblast 5 and soul blast 8. This skill is only available among grade 3 units. While each mega blast has a way to soul charge, they are still rather underwhelming when combined with their massive cost. Most mega blast units do not have a place in the current meta, they are simply too slow and expensive. While this is the case for most mega blast units, there are some decks that are designed to use mega blast units. These decks do not appear often, but can be effective if used correctly.

Cross Ride: A skill type exclusive to grade 3 units. This term defines a grade 3 unit that gains a skill from having another grade 3 unit in soul. Originally this skill was a continuous +2K power, though more recent cross rides have been getting more complex skills. During the break ride era, these units were everywhere and these units are still some of the game’s most defensive. In the current meta, these units are still viable with the addition of generation break. While they may not be used for their defensive nature, some do have skills on par with strides and can be equally devastating during the early stages of a cardfight.

Limit Break: Limit Break (LB) is also an ability exclusively available to grade 3 units. Limit Break units gained a powerful skill after the player had reached 4 damage. The term “Ultimate Break” still refers to a limit break whose requirement is 5 damage. While these units included some of the best skills for grade 3 units so far, they are almost useless if the player isn’t at 4+ damage. Within the meta, these units are still widely used either when paired with generation break support or with LB enabler units (grade 1 units that allow LB4 abilities to be used at 3 or less damage). All three of the decks stated above focus on Limit Break units, being supported by the rest of the deck.

Break Ride: Break Ride describes a unit that activates it is LB4 when another unit rides on top of it. The slowest form of limit break has seen less play in the recent meta games because legion hit almost as hard a turn sooner, and the benefits of stride usually outweigh the benefits of break ride. Though decks that can combine break ride and generation break units can have devastating turns without the need of Stride every turn. An example of this type of combination is Darkface and Cyclomatooth for Megacolony.

Legion: The skill type that had the shortest focus of only 2 sets in English, and saw the fastest game play. Legion is a skill that is included on some Grade 3 units that allows a player to add another unit’s skills and power to the current vanguard by placing it on vanguard as well. Legion has the same requirement for use as stride, but came at the low cost of putting 4 units from the drop zone back into the deck. The end result was having 2 units on vanguard with a base power between 20-22K. While this new vanguard only attacked with the critical of the Legion Leader, the Legion Mate can still use vanguard circle skills it may contain.

Most of the heavily supported legions were archetype and sub-clan oriented. The support for legion mainly focuses on the turn the vanguard becomes Legion or by having a vanguard in legion. Within the current meta legion is still valuable as a way to return key units and triggers back to the deck. Decks focusing on Legion will most likely have either a strong early or late game.

Generation Break: Generation Break (GB) is the slowest skill type in the game as well as being the most powerful. Every skill of this type is dead before the first stride or G guard. As a result, before the addition of Fighter’s Collection 2016, GB could be stopped completely by a player staying at Grade 2*. In exchange for this flaw, GB skills are both cost effective and synergistic. Within the current meta, GB is included in almost every main deck as the main focus, or to reinforce the effectiveness of combos.

Keyword Skills: The newest skill type, which include the following terms: Time Leap, Wave, Blaze, Hollow, Brave, Magia etc. The main reason for this new skill type is to have a general understanding of what the unit can do. Stating that a unit can Time Leap when it attacks sounds better than explaining Time Leap each time it is activated. Units with this skill will define what the keyword means, and then include the keyword in the actual skill. These skills are becoming a focus in recent sets. These skills have a lot of potential to become competitive within the current meta.

I hope you enjoyed this guide. If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to put them in the comments section.


*Although this is the case, there are cards coming out that help decks with GB operate and use skills, even if the opponent stays at grade 2 for the majority of the game. Such cards include Air Elemental, Twitterun and Air Element, Sebreeze.

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

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.

dreadmaster

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

Conclusion

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.

Psychology of the Fight: How To Use and Avoid Mental Manipulation (Part 1)

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.

Over my years of cardfighting, I have noticed that players seem to alter their playstyle by the smallest things their opponent does, and some opponents do these things on purpose. I’m here to point out how to use and counter these ways of manipulating your opponent’s playstyle in your favor in a match of Cardfight!! Vanguard.

Play Speed

Situation:

Let’s say you’re playing a slow, conservative generation break deck, and your opponent is playing a deck like beast deities. As soon as they ride grade 2, they rapidly place their cards down and immediately start attacking your vanguard, ignoring your rearguards. The turn is over in 15 seconds, and it’s your turn. You ride quickly, call out your hand quickly just like they did in the heat of the moment, and attack their vanguard with all of your units. You have just altered your conservative/control playstyle by copying your opponent’s moves. This happens a lot more often than you may think, and some players will do this on purpose to rile you up and make you misplay.

Humans tend to emulate what other humans do and feel, based on actions and appearances. Most generation break decks focus on controlling the  in the early game, and counter aggro* decks by attacking rearguards. But because you’ve been flustered by your opponent’s speed, you copy their movements as to feel like you’re not falling behind.

How to Counter:

Countering this is very easy. Once you know this happens, all you have to do is ignore it and play like you would normally in that situation. On the other side of the spectrum, if you are playing a G break deck and your opponent is playing an aggro* deck, playing slowly may affect their mental momentum, and cause them to misplay as well out of frustration from your slow play.

How to Take Advantage:

If your opponent does not know about this way of influencing people, you can bait them into committing more cards to the field than they would normally by altering your play speed.

How You Hold Your Cards

Situation 1:

You have all your combo pieces ready to go. The opponent is at five damage. You stride your best G Unit you’ve been waiting for all game to use. Your opponent’s hand is collapsed (like a closed fan) and in their hand against the table. You’ve been wanting to do this combo all game, and they seem to not have enough cards to guard all of your attacks. You decide to go all in, but your opponent somehow manages to block it all and kill you with his or her powerful stride. After the match, the opponent says that he or she had 13 cards in hand during that turn.

By holding the hand of cards collapsed, it caused you to misjudge the size at a glance, and your excitement to pull of your combo distracted you from asking how many cards they had in their hand. Also, be careful of double sleeves, as they can make it seem as though they have more cards in their hand than they really have when they are stacked on top of one another.

Situation 2:

You have all your combo pieces ready to go. The opponent is at five damage. However, your opponent is flaunting their easy-to-count thirteen card hand up high in a fan-style way of holding them. Because of this, you decide to hold off on your best G Unit and instead go for a more safe play to tear down their hand size for the next turn. At the end of the turn they have 8 cards left, and they pull an insane combo with most of those cards and you lose. You notice all of them have 5000 shield, and after the match the show you their four grade 3’s they had in hand during your last turn.

By flaunting their hand, it caused you to rethink your strategy, and it made you change your playstyle entirely. What you didn’t realize is that they only had one perfect guard, 4 grade three units, and a bunch of 5000 shields/combo pieces**. If you had gone all in, the opponent would have had to guard with all of those combo pieces, ruining their potential combination plays, and potentially allowing you to win the game.

How to Counter:

Situation 1: Always keep your cool, and ask your opponent how many cards they have in their hand before making big plays.

Situation 2: Try to remember what your opponent has in their hand throughout the game based on drive checks (see article titled Open Hand, Closed Hand for more information), and be suspicious when your opponent all of a sudden flaunts their hand size at the start of your turn.

How to Take Advantage:

Situation 1: If you have a large hand size and you know you can guard whatever attacks your opponent will throw at you, it is good to collapse it so that you can mislead your opponent into thinking how many cards you have in hand. Sometimes players forget to even check their opponent’s hand size because it is not in their face this way.

Situation 2: If you have a large hand size but a low amount of guard, it is good to flaunt the hand as much as possible to the opponent, so that they are deterred from making any power plays that might kill you. This doesn’t work all the time, as some people may take you up on that challenge and go all in anyways.

So that’s all for this week, although there are many more ways you can be affected by these subtle mind games. Stay tuned for more in the future!


*This refers to decks that mainly on focus on aggressive attacking strategies. This is similar to aggro decks in Magic: The Gathering, as defined here: http://mtgsalvation.gamepedia.com/Aggro_deck.
**This refers to units that are used to accomplish attack combinations.
Featured image is that of the card Mindgames from Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft. All rights belong to Blizzard Entertainment. Image is provided at http://hearthstone.gamepedia.com/Mindgames. Image may have been resized.