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Saikyo Cardfighter R on Cardfight!! Vanguard
November 7, 2016


Keywords Could Have Been Executed Better


The units with keywords work best in one deck, and this isn’t okay.


I suppose there is nothing wrong with introducing new mechanics to a game (at least to a point and it doesn’t suddenly powercreep everything you love into obscurity until a revival 2 years later) and keywords are no exception. Introducing some sort of new take on a clan via words that do things or just wind up being a glorified restriction is as good a premise as any. But what I don’t really like about the various keywords at our disposal is that the pool of cards that they work with is simply too small.

Let’s take Brave as an example. I have mentioned somewhere on this website that conceptually Brave was something that would never work. Requiring that you be losing to make the most of the various skills isn’t practical-sounding. However, they will work with the right cards, specifically an Altmile deck. The problem that arises is that Brave works nowhere else BUT an Altmile deck. That’s because there’s so much shit in there that makes it so much easier to support it exclusive to Altmile, not to mention the best units with the Brave keyword need to be supported by having Altmile or Striding to success, which would make Altmile the natural choice for the deck anyway.

A particular deck that springs to mind as I type this is Seven Seas. That deck incorporates Hollow in its builds as Seven Seas was already all about reviving stuff for a turn, so you might as well. There is nothing wrong with running some cards with keywords in your deck as long as they actually help, but running cards with the keywords because they synergise is fundamentally different from building the entire deck around the keyword itself. If someone talks about a Brave deck, the latter is usually what they mean. For that reason, as the Stride-bearer is naturally complimentary by virtue of having more support for it specifically as well as the keyword (looking at Negrolazy for Granblue as an example) then there’s really not much reason to run anything else as your Grade 3.

What’s really annoying about most of the cards with keywords is that apart from some outliers like Phoivos for Aqua Force, some of them may be able to use their keyword right away, mostly if it’s a state such as Blaze, but until Generation Break it is pretty much impossible to cash in on any of their rewards. These keywords cards would have much greater synergy with other decks if there were more of them with weaker but less restrictive requirements. Hell, you could restrict them to a certain deck and people still wouldn’t mind that much I’m sure. That’s why you don’t ever see anything like Jewel Knights incorporating any Brave units: if Stride is the end goal anyway, why not run whatever Grade 3 is best going to compliment the build? Even if it just comes down to you cherry-picking the best cards with the keyword, even if you’re still forced to run the staples and leave only a few slots as tech choices for it, you’d still run Altmile Brave. Come on, even pro Gear Chronicle players don’t have that many units with Time Leap in unless they haven’t heard of the Melem/Ur-watar combo and decided to go overboard with it.

Largely, it’s all about incentive. Whether or not it actually fuels a strategy or is just some sort of unnecessary glorified restriction affects how it’s built. I mean, even in a Gurguit deck I don’t see that many people actually run Unite cards outside of the G Units and certain tech choices, because there is no room for all the existing pre-staples. I should like to point out that G Support that relies on these keywords with every intent to make that their thing is fine, as long as that was the plan from the start, such as Bermuda Triangle’s Harmony. What I don’t like is when the new support brings something that is only loosely connected to whatever I actually want out of a deck at the expense of better shit. I can sort of understand the mentality behind it, if only because power creep would force players to use whatever’s the strongest/hottest stuff at the moment, but almost everyone seems to be buying into the idea of backwards compatibility, so really, the entire gimmick has to be worth using or it’ll get dropped like a fucking hot rock, and not even G Regulation will make me say otherwise.

That’s ultimately what my biggest beef with all of the token keywords is: it actively seems to be encouraging unsuspecting people to make very poor decisions. If we were to examine something like Granblue as an example: if you asked me what the best clan was for a beginner to pick up, Granblue would definitely not be high on my list of recommendations. It’s incredibly technical and the smallest errors will be punished against somebody sufficiently smart. This was aggravated only further by Hollow, where the instinct is to just let them die without context just so they could come back to be hollowed again, not to mention the intricacies involved.

Keywords that basically only work as some sort of glorified restriction are especially bad. Something like Thunderstrike or Oracle: fair enough, within their own clan the conditions are easy enough to fulfil I suppose, and it’s nice to cater to stupid people who will actually like them but in all seriousness, if the older support was more relevant and less unwieldy then it is ridiculous to assume that EVERYONE will be collectively that stupid. I find it somewhat insulting that we’re expected to run this shit over the tried and tested plethora of cards we had before. And that’s annoying since the pool of cards they can actually work with is so narrow. To a point, anyway: Aqua Force’s Wave just made them do what they always did, except they save ink and made a category at the same time.

That is why I choose to believe Afterimage, despite the lack of good units WITH Afterimage, is the best keyword. Brings something new to the table for Nubatama, useable whenever a bind is possible, and the best ones can be thrown into any build (admittedly there’s only about two but that’s beside the point here). Now all Nubatama really needs is more cards that give afterimage and a stupid finisher and I reckon they could be god-kings of space and time. I’m still not maining it though.

I’m taking requests for articles if there’s something about Vanguard you need to gripe about. Email ideas at saikyocardfighter@outlook.com. Or drop a message on my Twitter account!






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