There are established, if unspoken, rules about fan-designed Vanguard cards.

I’ve touched on poorly designed Vanguard cards before, but just in case you don’t feel like visiting what the boss believes to be the vastly inferior Pojo site, I talked about how cards designed by fans more often than not tend to be overpowered wish-lists made under the pretense of what they believe would make their cardfighting lives easier. It’s basically like designing a Mary Sue that actually doesn’t have any personality to speak of, in a bizarre sense.

I can sort of understand the desire to create such things: an expression of art in the form of an idealised target of money-draining cardboard crack, but there are in fact limits, and those limits tend to make people rather unaccepting of fan-cards, particularly unbalanced ones. There may be some room to get away with it in fanfiction or similar, but that shit would never fly on an official wikia, for example, where the intent is to have more-or-less serious discussion, if you can call the bad ideas floating around the wikia a ‘discussion’.

If you asked me to design a card, purely as an exercise in what I’d want my own deck to have, I’d go with some sort of Forerunner Grade 0. Name pending, but it would have 4000 power and a CONT GB2 ability that prevents the opponent from calling more than 2 units via card effects per turn. I’m probably biased, but this would be balanced: the 4k power means it cannot go anywhere other than behind the Vanguard and even then it wouldn’t hit magic numbers of 31k with a G Unit, and the opponent can still access Brave-related multi-attack calling while still acting as poison to like 2 specific decks, as is often the case, such as Magia and Hollow, and that could be checked with Skeleton Cannoneer even then (so I could restrict it to a certain deck like Overlords to give it Resist if I wanted to be a bastard).

Sadly, this tends not to compute in the minds of most other people, because they forget the unspoken rule of fan-designed Vanguard cards:

A fan-designed Vanguard card has to act within the established parameters of the game, because the anime card effects and the card game’s card effects are supposed to be exactly the same.

A manga artist writing about a card game is not obliged to make balanced cards: in fact, doing such a thing half-cocked may actually work against them, as it places too much restrictions on how stakes can be ramped up and how climatic the story can get. He or she has the first and foremost duty to make an interesting story. If someone wishes to adapt the cards to real life, it’s their job to iron out the flaws instead, by virtue of manga-artistry and game design being two completely different mediums. Fans of the game designing cards without some sort of parameter like fanfiction have no such excuse, as naturally others will judge the card as a card, comparing it to existing stuff to form an opinion.

The primary flaw that I tend to see when designing fan cards, particularly if they are boss cards, is that people tend to use the fact that it is a boss to justify having numerous skills, or if not that, one overly long one that would compare favourably to the length of short novels. This is completely unacceptable to those who know what balance actually is, because that’s basically advocating that Vanguard should have something so unbalanced, and that it’s okay because it has a textbox a mile long. Inelegant at best, or childish at worst.

Chronodragon Gearnext
Chronodragon Gearnext

Exculpate the Blaster is an example of such a card. It takes up ten lines just to fit its English text, it has so many drawbacks, and yet I still wouldn’t call it balanced.On both ends of the spectum it’s too extreme. Simple is always best. People may not really go for a re-standing Vanguard (unless it’s for their own clan) and 12 Critical may make people feel as though there’s no skill left (although if they can’t compensate for the difference with skill then you may as well keep running that shit), but they are simple and are effective at what they do.

If you want my honest advice on how to make something even halfway decent, then I can offer some general advice. The first is to keep in mind the ratio of cost versus reward. Bushi has power-crept this game to the point where either one soulblast or one counterblast means some sort of plus to you, either in the form of a retire or a new card to you, or if not, the same cost powers up one of your units by 5k. You can possibly justify more power if it’s restricted in some way, Generation Break is a popular one nowadays, but don’t throw several effects together for a paltry cost and restriction, otherwise the whole thing is unbalanced.

Speaking of balance, the longer the skill is, the harder it will be to actually to make it fair. Assuming you actually intend to write it in the style of a proper vanguard card and not have your length of text resemble a teenager texting her boyfriend, phrasing it properly is already going to take up space. Keep it short. Ideally, don’t give your unit too many skills unless one’s a keyword, then that’s all you need to type and you’re basically set.

Finally, think about the timing of when something would feasibly work. I saw a fan-skill for the United Sanctuary Zeroth Dragon that Soulcharged, and I was like “REALLY? What the fuck would a Generation Break Restricted Genesis, hell, Generation Break Restricted ANYTHING deck want that soul for? They’d never use it because all their skills would get locked out.” So basically, avoid skills that are incredibly winmore. It’s not okay to have a card replace a currently existing one as fan-cards are restricted to the level of power creep the game currently has.

Sadly though, creators gotta create. But there’s a good reason that even the corporate robots are the ones doing it: because they need to display at least entry-level professionalism before they can unleash their horrible creations onto the world. Although i’m wondering if such a manchild is or was working at Bushiroad. Would explain how Thavas became the ‘Everything has Resist because fuck you’ deck.

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