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Saikyo Cardfighter R
on Cardfight!! Vanguard
Math and the Appeal to Ignorance
Just because you don’t understand it, it won’t stop people who do from kicking the shit out of you.
A while back during my early days as a card reviewer the boss actually asked me whether I played Magic the Gathering on the side. He asked because my reviews were actually pretty well thought out and seemed to follow the format. I said no, by the way. I’m not spending years trying to get good with a game that employs a format that eats whatever the fuck I save up. I got over one fucking relationship already; don’t need to be reminded thank you.
Well, as much as I wouldn’t want to play, I can definitely appreciate the appeal behind it and the game of wits it brings. I have never seen a quick game of Magic, largely because of how it’s designed, but it’s at least a good spectacle, assuming one guy doesn’t get screwed for mana. But what I enjoy most are the players. Players who take this shit so seriously they have fucking cash prizes and actively spend all fucking night running tests and numbers and streamlining their deck to be as optimal as possible.
That’s why I’m extremely disappointed that such a community is somewhat lacking in Vanguard. Not non-existent mind you (shout out to anyone at V-Mundi, if it’s still there, and, you know, alive), but for the most part the loud idiots outweigh the quiet smart people. The community is rife with people I would be confident in my ability to take in a Vanguard fight, even if I haven’t met them before, just by the accumulation of their own mistakes. Ones made before we even start playing was how I got so far at my first Worlds, I suspect. That, and Heal sack.
Whenever I see any blog article on Vanguard anywhere that involves having to calculate anything, unless it’s somewhere with a reputation for it already I see the entire affair as pretty pointless. Not the math behind it, for the intention is noble, but because the comments section will inevitably degenerate into babblings from people claiming ‘oh you can’t count on maths for everything’, ‘I never got further than GCSE Statistics but my comment means more than you’, etc.
This is just Appeal to Ignorance to me and I can’t fucking stand it. All these people put all this effort into doing the work so you don’t have to and it tends to be largely ignored because it goes over everyone’s head. This is what frustrates me: even if you don’t take any of the maths away they at least can be summarised into some key points. I mean, what eventually sold me on the whole ‘12 Critical pwns all’ argument was that it looked reasonably legit and it was well argued. I saw the argument, not the person, as having merit and so I started to use it. Also, it’s kind of hard to argue when it changes how often you win by an immediately noticeable factor.
Besides, it’s not like whoever writes this shit is asking you to apply maths to fucking everything (and you shouldn’t, because sad as it is, the world is rarely logical). If the opponent drops guard for 2-to-pass on your Vanguard, they look like they can comfortably guard the rest, and your first check is a trigger, the best thing to do is to go YOLO and put on the Vanguard and hope for another. Is it sacky? Hell yes. Is it un-optimal? Fuck no. If there are no other outs, go with whatever seems like the most sure-fire path, even if the odds aren’t all that high.
This hatred of logical probability seems to be that the only people who bother to drop a comment are people who can’t do the math and/or won’t. Actually, almost no-one falls into just the ‘won’t’ camp because if they can, they’d probably check to see if it was legit for themselves. All those people just hide behind some incredibly weak arguments, usually involving scenarios so specific they cannot be used as general arguments, or just by calling bullshit and continuing to make the same mistakes over and over. If you don’t believe in probability in this game here I’d love to see you in a casino sometime because those fuckers would rob you dry. It would also be extremely poetic.
All the same, I’m pretty sure it wouldn’t kill you to at least humour whoever wrote it and see if it plays right. 50 games or so, because if you quit after like 3 games then you are a putz and deserve to have your ass handed to you, because even if you don’t understand it, if you know if the initial argument was one presented logically and didn’t look like it was pulled out their ass (pro-tip: if they say ‘in my opinion/from personal experience’ I declare it a lost cause and piss off) then there is always the possibility that they may in fact be right. If the number of instances where they may be wrong is outweighed by the times it got you out of trouble, consider that the argument has merit and that it doesn’t deserve to just be dismissed. Worked for me: I hadn’t played a local tournament for months and I still made everyone my bitch upon my triumphant return. By the way, I am sort of aware of the way the last sentence was constructed after previously decrying personal experience, so don’t bother pointing it out.
I primarily just rely on the completely unsubtle approach to Vanguard and throw in some abuse-able probabilities on the side. I don’t try to compensate with any finicky combos like the rest of the community, not unless the support is sort of asking for it, like Aqua Force. You’d be surprised as to how far vanilla play can carry you if you simplify a deck and just maximise the odds of a combo succeeding or having a good backup plan. That’s why save for the very rogue decks the idea behind the math of Vanguard should be something reasonably universal that can apply to any new deck you build, even if you’re just going by gut at this point.
The fact is my sort of Vanguard doesn’t leave a lot of room for just opinion. Maybe I haven’t found the most optimal way to use something but I can be damn well sure it exists, and math and probability is going to play a part, even if it’s only about how my opponent interacts with it. Fuck opinion. Freedom of speech is a cool thing to have, I grant you. But by the same token I also reserve the right to mercilessly mock you for being fucking stupid, a concept that seems to be going over the heads of your latest candidates for US President.
Saikyo passed A Level Maths, ask him how at email@example.com
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