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Saikyo Cardfighter R
on Cardfight!! Vanguard
Playing Vanguard on Autopilot
AKA why Saikyo Cardfighter would never be asked to commentate at a big tournament.
I’ve thrown myself into Vanguard more than any other card game. Since 2012 to be more specific, which gave me plenty of time to basically get into the habits required to a point where I barely need to think about what should happen next.
Thing is, all of my opponents at locals should have had the exact same amount of time, and yet I’m the only one who 1. Doesn’t need to ask for a fucking time extension at tournaments, even on the VERY few occasions I’m handed my ass for whatever reason and 2. Can at least identify any mistakes I made in a game that wind up being costly.
It’s gotten to a point where I cannot actually watch somebody else play without pointing out at least one thing they could have done to not get wrecked, or at the very least, not get wrecked quite as badly. No-one likes me for it, but it doesn’t change the fact they lost because they didn’t think. Spending 5k shield too much, not guarding easy attacks early, using up one too many Counterblast or Soulblast, whatever. Vanguard is the result of an accumulation of mistakes built up into one moment where you’re out-gambitted and you’re screwed. I don’t intend to make an EXTENSIVE list of habits veterans should REALLY have grown out of by now but suffice to say the most common are weakest column should attack first, and watch the opponent’s cards. I still facepalm when the other guy gets a trigger in damage and now their weakest column can’t even hit an interceptor anymore.
These habits are hardly ever ditched because the Vanguard community as a whole can’t actually point out WHY they won or lost after a game, not unless it’s incredibly obvious like triggers. And because of that, they assume the game just boiled down to luck and they try again, repeating the same fucking stupid mistakes as before. People don’t test. Or at the very least, they don’t test properly because they’re generally not willing to admit they are wrong. So they play a few games, wait for the result they’re wanting to see, and leave it at that despite the fact it’s probably not as consistent as they think.
These people are the ones who basically play in a mode of autopilot that means they don’t ever think ahead about what the field looks like on the next turn or too and get wrecked because they didn’t slow down long enough to actually take a breath and watch. That’s the bad kind of autopilot. Don’t be that guy. Or girl. It would help if you tried to make it a habit of trying to know the opponent as much as you can, even if it’s a complete stranger, since Vanguard’s about card advantage gained vs cards taken away and what you can do to maximise both. And remember, WEAKEST COLUMN ATTACKS FIRST.
Even worse are the people who think too much, or have absolutely no concept of autopilot at all. Now, I’m totally all for a game where it’s all about who can outsmart the other through a combination of bluffing and strategy, but that’s only for games where your opponent and you are intricately linked and every response can be answered with another plan. Complicated games, in other words. But you shouldn’t need to do THAT much of it in Vanguard.
When I fight, I want to play an opponent who actually knows what the hell they’re doing. Especially when it boils down to something big, like Nationals. I’ve watched games where one guy attacks for 21k+ columns on the turn they should win, the opponent can guard and they spend fucking ages inspecting their hand, thinking about whether they should guard. Pro tip: if you cannot over-guard on any of the attacks heading your way that turn, let the attack that requires more effort on your part to guard through because you need a Heal Trigger to live either way. The fact that after all these years this seemingly common sense fact hasn’t been drilled into their heads yet frustrates me. Not just because the opponent is inept, it’s also because it’s rude from my point of view, wasting MY time because it takes them so long to resign themselves to the fact they’re fucked. Vanguard has little interaction and there is no way on Daigo’s green Cray that you’ll discover how to ass-pull a reversal save for a Heal Trigger. Vanguard is not that complicated, I’m afraid.
When any sort of play is made in Vanguard, it’s always going to boil down to a case of if you CAN, followed by a case of if you SHOULD. Whether it’s spamming Stride or a skill or any sort of play for that matter, going overboard with anything can bite you in the ass later.
As for the common sense plays, it’s not as though you’d be penalised for doing the obvious thing. Save for about two thirds of their hand being known to you via Drive Check, that’s basically all you’ll get to do apart from guarding to get the drop on your opponent. Apart from some exceptions such as Intimidating Mutant, Darkface there isn’t a whole lot of stuff that would actively crap on anything the opponent can do during their turn. Every play is nigh un-counterable save for pre-emptive measures such as Resist. I run 12 Critical, which is cheap, I know. But can they compensate with skill, by ‘playing better’? Usually not, not unless they offset my tempo by running 12 Critical themselves. Therefore, it shouldn’t take too much of your time to become familiar with the common sense plays that regularly occur and make them a habit. But people don’t, and that frustrates me. They’re sucking and it should be preventable.
tl;dr: can you guard everything this turn on the turn I can potentially win? If you can’t, please just accept you’re screwed. Don’t think about how you could outsmart your way out. You can’t.
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