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Saikyo Cardfighter R on Cardfight!! Vanguard
 December 29, 2015

Rumours of my Sourness Have Been Greatly Exaggerated 

Contrary to what you might think, I actually DO like Vanguard.

Guys, come on. I know that I’ve spent since February complaining about shit while actively disguising it as a means of free journalism, but I want to put to rest any idea that there’s enough reason for me to leave Vanguard.

Yes, I usually show up every Monday to complain, but if you read most of my articles, they rarely if ever criticise the mechanics of the game itself. Sure, individual packs and cards will not be spared my wrath if they are sufficiently terrible, but for the most part, I don’t think that conceptually there was too much that’s wrong with it. In fact, in light of the whole G-Assist mechanic I reckon it’s actually gotten better since last time.

I still think that certain tactics and cards dominate others, but I’m not here to talk about that. Much. The main point I’m trying to get across this week is that I would still recommend Vanguard to people, as long as you were willing to put some actual fucking WORK into it. That’s pretty much one of the most glaring flaws of Vanguard: it suffers from Portal Syndrome in that fans are ruining it for the other people. From my perspective, I enjoy Vanguard as being a battle of wits, at least when you boil down each and every mechanic into its purest form. People may tell people to stay away from Vanguard because ‘it’s luck-based’ and I would tell them to go eat a dick Pavlova. I’m not going to spend the entire article iterating why Vanguard isn’t luck-based (unless you want me to spend ANOTHER article clarifying why), but suffice to say that it is no more lucky than any other TCG and compared to another game such as Yu-Gi-Oh, the plays are considerably less vulgar and in-your-face, which is something I appreciate.

You see, what eventually turned me off from Yu-Gi-Oh was essentially spending all that time and all that money, only to get my ass handed to me because the opponent just so happened to be slightly faster than I was at setting up whatever broken bullshit they were using. That’s what it doesn’t have: a quiet period where players can gather their things together. And to be frank, compared to Magic the Gathering, the quiet period is still a lot more active than Magic’s and on average tends to not last as long either, so to me the buildup never gets to absurdly boring levels. This is especially true in decks where shit can happen as early as Turn 2, such as Revengers. Rather than get hit with an unsubtle train-wreck off the bat, both players can feel each other out and get a sense of whatever is going on with the opponent. How they act early tells a player a lot on what they can expect in the upcoming turns.

And even if the quiet period supposedly only gives your opponent more time to gather whatever broken combo pieces they need, this is offset by the fact that interactions between both you and your opponent are minimal and the cost-to-effectiveness ration in Vanguard. Rarely will there be any sort of card than can completely boardwipe without some form of outside help and without being properly costed along the way, and in the cases where they aren’t (looking at you, Big Bang Knuckle Turbo) they tend to be quite slow in their use or at least carry some sort of restriction like Limit Break to use optimally, which buys a turn to counter.

That’s another thing. The actual quality of the cards themselves is also emphasised in Vanguard. In a game like Yu-Gi-Oh the average deck is mostly searchers, cards to draw or destroy, and whatever the few key pieces are needed to win, along with whatever staple cock-block cards everyone else is using. In Vanguard this cannot apply because every single card is useful to somewhat equal degrees, even if they do completely different jobs. Yet, it is precisely BECAUSE they do completely different jobs that the idea of spamming random card advantage because it’s supposedly ‘free’ doesn’t hold up. Nowhere is this more evident than first-Gen Gold Paladin: you either keep the crap column and lose advantage every turn, or ditch it and undermine the cost paid for it.

The quality of cards is definitely the leading reason as to why I prefer Vanguard. As if it wasn’t obvious by now, I have a great fondness for any deck that works via indirect advantage. All of the soft plusses that can quickly rack up to deceptively lethal levels, because of the way they are differently costed to obvious ‘hard’ advantage. That’s why for most of my cardfighting career it was either Kagero or Narukami and will most likely remain that way for some time: all the cards I save from the attacks they’re not performing, along with the variation in guarding the opponent’s forced into from my re-standing Vanguard.

Because of that, coupled with the trigger mechanic they have, there is still a way to mind-game someone or at least reduce the impact of misplays because of this element of chance. Remember, if you over-guard and their check turns up no triggers, you lose out because you spent that shield for nothing. What happens when the next check turns out to be trigger city? All this is still something you can keep track off since you know every deck has sixteen of them.

I suppose that’s what I enjoy most about Vanguard. I don’t enjoy being surprised or suddenly being forced into situations I cannot control. I know that it can be argued that Vanguard has no room to bluff in addition to its randomness, but at the same time, for people who pay attention, it’s a good way to keep track of anything the opponent has so you can form a decent plan for what’s coming next, even taking triggers into account.

So I guess what I’m trying to say here is that any and all complaints that I USED to have about Vanguard have been addressed, now that Limit Break’s either dead or slightly faster, and a new mechanic to let chance screw you over less has been implemented. The only thing left to fix is a community that doesn’t take the Magic or Yu-Gi-Oh or Pokemon approach. And on that note, all that’s left is to see you again, on the first Monday of 2016 to drunkenly gaze back at the best and worst of 2015. Hope to see all of you there, if you don’t drink yourself in a stupor.

Remind me I’m inviting to ask why Vanguard isn’t lucky at saikyocardfighter@outlook.com



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