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Saikyo Presents:
Cardfight!! Bad-guard


This Space
For Rent

Saikyo Cardfighter R on Cardfight!! Vanguard
January 30, 2017

There's Bland,
Or There's Grudgingly Okay


Suddenly, Saikyo doesn't think there's really a 'bad' card anymore. But he uses the term VERY loosely.


A part of me misses the old days when I could have happily decried a card as a frankly steaming load that wasn't worth the hype or the money, because ragging on at something that is irredeemably shit is my idea of a good time, once I get it wound up. Nowadays though, I find I can't summon the energy to do even that anymore. Because the modern cards of today that Bushiroad want to advertise tend to either be functional but bland, or a bit less shit than the others.

I had a thought about this, looking over my previous COTD reviews and I discovered I wasn't rating anything that belonged in the lower, as in 1/5, scorings. And after much thought, I think I've identified the reason why, and you can probably blame power creep for most of it.

I think that it's no surprise that with the introduction of G Units, particularly once each clan got absolutely shit-tons of them, that suddenly your Vanguard was no longer relegated to doing one thing constantly. That being the case, if by paying the right cost your Vanguard can be what you want it to be, sugar, then surely any other token skills outside of Stride bonuses have virtually no relevance unless you cannot Stride or feel that Striding is too inefficient, and honestly, even a deck where that isn't the case in theory will run 4 Steam Breath Dragon clones in there somewhere just for consistency purposes. It was easy to decry cards before because doing more of what didn't work is something people want to avoid.

In case you've forgotten how I score cards, 1/5 is reserved for the truly terrible, with any .5s being at least interesting enough to at least break some new ground in terribleness. 2s are for the bland cards, which are functional but don't really push anything forward. 3/5 cards are for the reasonably decent or interesting, 4-scoring cards are the cards that are powerful on their own while falling shy of being absolutely unbalanced, and 5/5 is reserved for anything that can end a game on its own or be part of an easy to execute kill, which, given Vanguard's emphasis on non-single card combos, usually never happens, so it's reserved for staples like Perfect Guards.

It's dificult to score anything with a 1/5 in this day and age. For it to score that low it needs to fulfill some requirements: it has to have virtually no relevance to your main gambit whatsoever, it has to be difficult to use, or have a timing that completely kills its reason to be used, such as a Limit Break that needs to hit the opponent, and you have to be stuck with it until you take a -1 to ride again. With G Units, you are no longer stuck with anything unless your hand is absolute shit-gravy, and so that kills its terrible-ness. Okay, it's still an awful card, but honestly, thanks to the level of escalation after Crossrides, is Bushiroad actually printing any sort of crap Limit Break units unless they're other G Units or some sort of odd retrain? Nowadays it's backup Grade 3s or Grade 3s intended to work with Stride.

It was so easy back then, or at least it became easier once Crossrides hit. I didn't join the crew until 2014, but had I signed up for the largely thankless task of over-analyzing pieces of shiny cardboard sooner, I know I'd have declared Majesty Lord and the End 5/5 cards and called everything else a waste, save for niche cards like Stern Blaukluger AKA the End lite. After everything started to make 18k columns again, it was still easy because if every deck was forced to be largely the same, then it came down to cherry-picking what were clearly the better options and the rest could get fucked. Now though? Theoretically it ought to be easy for me, but I have to be as broad in my audience as possible, and taking everything as equal, assuming we forgot that pauper play was a thing, the game's actually gotten a bit more balanced. Technically. Practically you're fucked.

So in the wake of this type of power creep, G Units, which are big beatsticks carying usually good or relevant skills at your leisure, tend to score at least 3 unless they're basically just shit, like an on-hit skill, for being easy to call upon and execute. Normal units in comparison score low and tend to stay that way unless they carry relevance. Or at least, that's the idea in theory. I already said that I wouldn't score my reviews if I had the choice because I don't think I don't believe summarising my opinion in the form of a number does it justice. Recently though I found another reason: without knowing what context everyone else plays Vanguard under, my reviews can only be as general as possible. If I scored each card based on what was actually optimal then most of my reviews would just be ones out of five all across the board for being too easy to shut down via playing like a sociopathic tramp: cheap and not cheerful. I suppose that can, in part, be the reason for my general lack of bite and/or enthusiasm recently.

I felt that the introduction of G Units may have been a mistake. To be honest, I think the game would have been in an overall healthier position had we gotten a G Assist mechanic and yet kept on forcing each player to cherry pick their best Grade 3s and be stuck with them. With G units, suddenly it's no longer your Vanguard putting work in, it's your Swiss-Army Extra Deck. This means that while older 11k-base Grade 3s can be run, why the hell would you over the Grade 3s specifically designed to work with Stride? And to think it all started with the Crossride era, which killed actually interesting strategies for 18k columns. I hope you like Cardfight!! Van-illa-guard. Oh wait, that's exactly what I'M doing with G1s, isn't it?

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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