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Saikyo Cardfighter R
on Cardfight!! Vanguard
The Offense-Defence Juggling Act
Remember, your important and irreplaceable rear-guards are begging to be crushed.
Recently I got an email from someone asking about the viablility of cards such as Street Bouncer and the use of Draw Triggers in his Nova Grappler deck. Apparently it was suffering a bit from key cards either getting murdered or not showing up in his hand when needed and was looking for advice. Which in turn gave me another article to churn out, so thanks for that if nothing else, Saitou.
When you have a deck that relies on a certain formation for a big number of attacks like Aqua Force and Nova Grappler, it is easy to imagine that the deck will be generating its damage advantage from doing that constantly. I suppose that it isn’t an unreasonable assumption to make, but I would argue that going all out from the beginning is a misplay. Certainly, playing like a total pussy is a no-no in my book, but you have to consider how easily lost units can be replaced, or if not, how you need to time them to ensure the most mileage out of them. I know such balancing of offense and defence is an obvious skill to have, but you’d be surprised who gets it wrong – and that might just include you.
For Aqua Force, in particular Blue Wave and anything similar that has lots of Early Game, it may be tempting to throw out plenty of attackers and boosters turn after turn for the purposes of pressure, but there are downsides to this. For starters, a damaged trigger could ruin your entire attack plan, but that’s a little chance based so we ignore that as the main reason. Where it all falls down is the fact that every unit you commit to the board means sacrificing that unit’s shield for guarding purposes, except in the case of Grade 2s. Therefore, committing a board early means that they’re left vulnerable to be sniped either by skills or by attacks. In the case of matchups against anything that has early retirement options, ill timing means they’ll just die a pointless death too early and crush your mid game options later on.
This is largely down to the way people view the timing and usefulness of cards in the deck. Before the second Legend Deck came out I was experimenting with the use of the old Berserk Dragon in my deck. Yes, compared to Blademaster, Burnout, Twilight Arrow and Zahm, its retire effect isn’t as efficient, but it worked. Why? Because sometimes, an early kill is worth more than two late ones. The longer you leave anything dangerous on the board, the longer it has to drive you into a corner for later. That’s a big problem for decks like Aqua Force and Nova Grappler, where pretty much everything depends on a good formation yet lacks ways to comfortably make one in the event of mass card murder. The problem is I don’t believe trying to compensate via cards that grant hard advantage is the answer. Not only is soft advantage worth more due to how differently they’re costed, neither deck specialises in hard advantage anyway and so shouldn’t really attempt to follow that path.
Actually, that reminds me of something else, another reason people commit to a board prematurely. Stand Triggers. Trying to milk the most out of those cause people to throw down a column, sometimes using an important unit in the process, in the hopes/assumption they’ll hit one. Here’s what I have a problem with: people tend not to run Stands at high copies save for some rogue deck like Nociel, because of the widely accepted truth Criticals tend to be better. But then, if Criticals ARE better, why are you not running those instead of the Stand Triggers? Save for a select few they tend not to have skills actually worth bothering about and each one screws you out of one guaranteed damage early game. Quite often, it is better to proceed under the assumption not everything will be perfect, rather than try to think about what happens once everything’s perfect. Basically every clan somehow gaining access to at least one retirement option certainly should be enough to give pause for thought.
So what is to be done? Well, in my first article linked to this topic, I criticised people who didn’t at least throw down a useful attacker for early damage. I still think that pussy play is dumb play, but that was largely because of how units that have on-call skills tend to have a lack of presence somewhat. For something like Tidal Assault, that particular card and anything like him generates so much advantage to frankly annoying extremities that those cards will admittedly need to be held back for the best moment. You can still put him out if you want to, however. Just make sure he can actually be replaced by something else in the event that he dies, or sometimes in the case where you actively count on it.
But I’m cherry picking. The direct approach is only possible because of how many early game restanding rear-guards Aqua Force has. So what about units lacking such skills? Well, again, it still depends on whether or not your deck can afford to commit anything from the hand that early in the first place. A deck like Jewel Knights running Swordmy can pretty much do it guilt free if they open with one, given they get a new unit at no expense to the hand. For decks that cannot do that until later…or not at all, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t start off decently strong, however. I try to shoot for at least 2 attacks a turn, and rely on a Critical for 2 damage when such a thing isn’t possible. Don’t be afraid to put down Grade 1s and then swing with them alone: as long as they can hit the vanguard for now, then they should do the job of stronger cards later in the game. Only once both sides are on Grade 3 and both players are on Mid Game should you go nuts with resources and cards. So ideally, regarding anything that can re-stand units, one should at least have survived being in your possession and can now safely be dropped to rack up your attacks or battle count.
At the end of the day, it’s all about whether or not once Mid Game begins you can take away more cards than the opponent can gain. If enough of the key units were held back and/or survived a journey to the drop zone, I can pretty much safely say that they’ll burn through a lot of shield and with the right support, preserve your hand without you doing a whole lot else. The approach should be like Spike Brothers, which is pretty much as good a lesson as any: take it reasonably slow (not too slow, there’s a difference between caution and being a pussy) and then spend the turn you Stride simply bollocking the opponent to death with your available good cards. And now that I’ve told you all of this, I am now going to convince my Team League teammate to let me be the one to main Kagero this year.
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