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Saikyo Cardfighter R
on Cardfight!! Vanguard
When Is It Acceptable To Let An On-Hit Skill Go Off?
Saikyo examines the trend of on-hit abilities.
I have very little appetite for Bermuda Triangle as a general rule. I have several reasons, not least of which I don't give two shits about any 'waifus' (come at me weaboo scrublords), but also because I can't get invested in any clan that has nobody interesting influencing what happens on Cray. There's no main character maining it and it's basically just there to provide fanservice mixed with some sort of viable game strategy. They are the original Touken Ranbu. And I don't care about Two-Can-Play-At-That-Game Ranbu. So here instead is a new article regarding how something useless can become slightly less useless.
I generally try and assume opponents are not irrational when reviewing a card, as it paints said card in an unwanted light, be it one that brings out its photogenic eyes or the shit-stains on its trousers. But recently, a certain story from somewhere claimed that you can steal games with even generally poor decks in Vanguard by telling the opponent your attacking unit has an on-hit ability, and they'll guard it regardless of context. Pretty sound on paper, but I would not go so far as to say that it is warranted every time, all the time. I guess it wasn't hard to see why though. I myself have thrown Vortex Desire out of my own Kagero deck because he never goes off optimally. Mostly it's guarded, sometimes it's the wrong field, but regardless, it's done little for me. I'm using Mustafa or Zahm again instead.
But what makes people want to guard things (Vanguards in particular) that have skills that proc when they hit? Generally, an on-hit skill will either carry some sort of bothersome effect that will only cause problems later, whether it's more resources for you or bringing you closer to your own win condition. But that alone isn't the issue: timing plays an enormous part in it too. I think people have gradually come around to the idea that skills that need to hit late in the game suck dick because Late Game is guard time, thus they are useless because they'll never proc (my Late Game Critical Sucks Stamp was very popular to roll out in my reviews back in 2014). Just to reiterate if any of you forgot, on-hit skills that need to be late in the game are basically saying 'If I am losing, make mestop losing. When I am no longer losing, I am basically worthless'. Now admittedly it's been getting better lately, with a lot of G-Units for example having some additional benefit as well as on-hit difficulties such as Taiten, but the on-hit is still uber token if the timing sucks. So people roll them out, usually as an Early Game option or as a first Stride, if they haven't got anything better.
Early Game on hits for rear-guards will generally carry a cost to theirs that will net a +1 to you in some way, whether it's restanding something for an attack, a hard +1 to draw or take cards away from the opponent. Vanguards, due to their conditional abilities, will generally be free and pretty tame. But ultimately, on-hit skills ought to have one singular purpose: they have to exert PRESSURE. They are pointless if they are easy to guard, or are generally nothing worth worrying about if they do. Example: on an ideal day, you have something like Dragonic Vanquisher “VOLTAGE” as a first Stride on Vanguard circle, that's a popular one, and Chatura somewhere else. You swing with VOLTAGE. If you hit, you get to take a card away and add 6k more power to the from row next VOLTAGE turn. They don't want that so of course you get blocked (-2 to the opponent minimum, with a Perfect Guard, average scenario). Drive Check reveals a Critical trigger. Pour it onto the rear-guard that isn't Chatura. Now, the opponent is in a dilemma. Eat 2 damage to the face, or let you +1 and add 3k to the attack power next turn, while going -2 to block the Critical column? No matter what, that's good situations for you.
But really, in practice, it's basically going to be a case-by-case thing. Look at the ability and ask yourself what it actually does. If it's nothing more than a straight +1 to them in some way, analyse the type of +1. If it's one that takes things away from you, it's probably worth guarding. If it's straight plusses to them, then it's probably safe to not waste guard on it if it's not easy to guard against, because when you retaliate on your turn, you can exert pressure back to take that card they got away. This is primarily why Goddess of the Sun Amaterasu was so damn worthless: you get sacked and this doesn't even let you sack back to even the score unlike Crit gaining Limit Breaks.
Stupid players can get baited into the on-hit trap because they haven't a fucking clue regarding cost/benefit analysis. If my damage was low enough and/or I knew the opponent wasn't generous enough with Criticals in deck building, I'd happily let them proc something awful like a Kirin/Susanoo. Or if it's just powering up something...let's see, do I want to throw away guard worth 25k+ on the G-Unit Vanguard just to make sure the opponent doesn't get 5k shield saved later? I mean FUCK no, that's a stupid play. And yet people will still guard something like that because they are dumb.
For something like retiring on-hit, that's where we enter territory that's slightly greyer. Generally, when retiring, the ultimate goal, aside from getting rid of a card causing problems, is to either save youself guard by having one less attacker to worry about, or forcing the opponent to spend one card in their hand replacing it, thus killing off guard in their hand, making it easier to close a kill. Those tend to be acceptable to let through only if your deck can readily call in new replacements, like most Royal Paladin or Gold Paladin, without any strings attached. They should be blocked the rest of the time: something like Luard needs to keep something alive to let his most optimal skill mileage out. Those tend to be less popular unless it's going towards a greater good, like how VMAX needs lots of VOLTAGE to win. Run something that will always kill instead, even if it requires a cost, as long as said cost is reasonable.
So in summary, drawing fine, retiring should be blocked. And just in case some of you are wondering how I can ramble so much on a point that can be summarised in one sentence, then you may wish to consider a career in politics or be a lawyer. You probably can't do any worse than the shitheads we have.
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