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Saikyo Cardfighter R
on Cardfight!! Vanguard
The 12 Critical Trigger Safety Net
You might call it overkill. Saikyo calls it insurance.
Once it was confirmed (to no-one’s great surprise I’m sure) that 12 Critical Spike Brothers is a thing, I found myself suddenly arguing with people over what sort of trigger line-up is best for them. I of course advocated 12 Critical because I’m right (shut up I am), but everyone else seemed to go for the traditional 8 Crit, 4 Draw, 4 Heal. They argued that running 12 Critical was ‘overkill’, the stupid pillocks and that hard advantage in Spikes was way more important. I can only assume that it was down to a fundamental misunderstanding on how Spikes generally works but I’ll do my best to clarify here.
I don’t really take to decks that actively have to depend on rear-guards in order to gain any momentum. Largely because decks that manipulate your resources like Kagero will shit on the deck, but also because of a lack of a contingency plan in case something goes wrong. One of the arguments for Draw Triggers I saw a lot was that it gave you more to the hand and thus more options. Alternatively, how about I choose not to rely on trying to get said options and just focus on more damage, which will put them closer to the end result I want and take the burden away from the rest of my cards? The only options I’m getting are juggling what to do with the Draw Trigger and the new card, which is pretty limited if my board’s already set up.
Going back to the Spike Brothers analogy, a similar argument applies: it’s not as though you actively spam their skills, because of course you don’t do that, you only want one turn of bullshit Crush Rush which should either win you the game or come close to it. Therefore, there really shouldn’t be a need to dig for card advantage in the meantime, not when Spikes chain calls in one Battle Phase and thus eliminate the need to dig. And if you argue that a good one can take a guy from 3 to dead, there’s a difference between ‘can’ and ‘will’. Spikes is not a deck built on card advantage, therefore, it’s absurd to try and gear the deck towards card advantage. 12 Critical is the result of the logical conclusion that more damage before you drop the nuke is a good thing because then it’s harder to weather and thus harder to stop. It’s not overkill, it’s a safety net, and it’s not like there’s anything wrong with having a lot of safety nets.
Trying to amass card advantage for yourself is not a safety net. Not a good one anyway, unless you’re something that does it as a primary strategy like OTT or maybe the new G Nubatama. The more Draw Triggers you would run, the more Criticals you have to cut. I will not argue that Draw triggers in a few select cases have merit (although I will say they don’t happen often enough for me to give a shit) but for the instances where they may help, I can profit from Critical Triggers so much more often and so much more easily. Ultimately, my biggest reason for not running Draws is because of the same reason I max Perfect Guards: why the fuck would you run a less good card at the expense of better cards just for something that may or may not happen as often as you want, which may not even be that amazing anyway?
12 Critical, despite the complainers, is not a case of the player cheesing it. After playing for this long, I find that the concept of ‘cheesing it’ doesn’t really apply. I run that lineup because I want a decent rate of assured damage. If the end result is me having hit double Critical thus taking you from 3 to dead, so be it. It’s not something I actively hope for, but it happens occasionally as a side effect of wanting a decent rate of damage. In the Stride era where I get more Drive Checks, more so. I want to emphasise at this point that I don’t run 12 Crit because I WANT to sack my way to victory, however I do run it to abuse chance and no other reason, and the occasional sack is a by-product which isn’t unwelcome and can therefore stay.
There’s another more petty reason, too. I know that Vanguard isn’t exactly what you call a fast game, but even so, that should not mean you should hold back everything in order to try and poke and prod for advantage. Once somebody hits Grade 3 that ship has fucking sailed. It’s a completely different ball game in that triggers are going to appear more often, the board’s going to fill up faster and the damage is only going to accelerate. You have to use the first few turns to get as strong a foundation for the next stage of the game as possible. That’s why I advocate high Critical levels: even if they don’t end an opponent that reliably (and if the opponent had the good sense to also run 12 Crit that will slow your tempo by a bit) at least the odds of the game actually fucking ending due to double Crit on 3 damage is a possibility. I’d rather kill them, even in the sackiest method possible rather than play the fucking waiting game for them.
To be honest, I didn’t actually discover the merits of running 12 Critical myself until I found a list using Dragonic Overlord the End explaining why. This was back in 2013 when I was going through a Nova Grappler phase, because it was a good soft advantage/hard advantage hybrid deck at the time. At the time, I thought that it existed primarily for the pressure which was what the entire deck was about. But then it was explained to me why 12 Critical is basically the solution to any perceived problem an individual deck has, and I couldn’t really ignore it any longer. Dragonic Descendant hit the point right home. I still remember all those salty players being punished for being able to guard and me checking my Critical which in theory should have been the Draw that wasn’t (Malevolent Djinn).
There’s too much of an emphasis on hard advantage nowadays. I’ve already explained how I’d rather soft advantage the enemy to death, and Critical Triggers are the naturally most prevalent way to go about it. No other trigger would force an opponent to guard a column they don’t want to once 4 damage hits, and getting them to 4 damage as fast as you can is accomplished by the same triggers. As far as I’m concerned it’s pretty much end of story. I mean, Christ, you’d think that the guys running Draws secretly think 12 Critical players are cheaters and thus run bad line-ups to try and ‘bring the skill back’. Fucking losers.
Get confirmation that I’ll tout the 12 Crit argument until my fingers fall off typing at email@example.com
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