People often forget that triggers ought to be run for the type of trigger they are.

Okay, I caved. About a month ago I finally decided on a whim to see whether or not I could run Stands with the same pressure as Criticals since Dragonic Overlord the Purge got that extra damage in assuredly. To my pleasant surprise, it wasn’t actually shit gravy as my rogue Stands let column formers like Glow Heater and Evolute tear through hand. I can’t of course say for certain it worked as I don’t rate my locals very highly, but I only need to be better than them and I’m happy as far as I’m concerned.

If you know me, and my writing, I’ve championed the use of 12 Citicals and 4 Heals in basically every deck I run. I am of course willing to make concessions I wouldn’t have made 3 years ago, but only if the deck demonstrates that it needs Stands because their use can offer strictly more advantage than Criticals, Tahro together with Wiseman being the most obvious. Tahro, when blasted from the soul, procs a useful skill. This useful skill can then be abused, readily and easily, to offer more attacks, and more damage. This, to me, is acceptable because there is a very clear and very tangible means to an end demonstrated.

But some people, it seems, are willing to take that a stage further and run triggers that would offer considerably less advantage, all for gains that aren’t particularly amazing either.

I’ll give you what I hope is a fairly relatable example. I played against a Luard deck, and the game got to a point where I got to see almost all of it. It ran 4 Howl Owl, 4 Cursed Eye Raven, 4 Belial Owl, and 4 Abyss Healer. As per usual, the deck sought to sacrifice Belial Owl for more drawing, to the point the deck actively searched and called them. But there’s no other way to decribe it, it was rainbow triggers being run, in its purest form. He dropped Dragstrider Luard on me while I was on 3 damage, but I knew enough by then that he had no other Critcal Triggers left in the deck because all his Belials were removed. So I no guarded, and as expected, I didn’t die. Heck, he went on to drop a second one and I just threw Abd Salam in its face.

This, to me, was paradoxical. Why would you run Belial Owl as the only Critical Trigger in your deck when your playstyle is actively trying to REMOVE them from there, leaving your pressure afterwards wanting? I think the answer was that no trigger in there that wasn’t a Heal was vanilla. The enticing lure of a skill alone, no matter how irrelevant or poor it was, was enough for that guy. And I think that’s a mindset that needs to be abandoned if a player wants to succeed.

Something that escapes people sometimes is that each trigger may have different uses, but you’re dead wrong if you think all of them are equally useful as each other. Critical Triggers are the main man. They are what allow the user to get damage in, even when your field isn’t particularly good. They are meaty enough shields for the most part and their sheer existence is what makes people guard differently in Late Game. Heals work like the exact opposite of Criticals, but you know that they aren’t going anywhere now that G Guardians use them. Stands are basically inferior Criticals, but as I said, You need a VERY specialised deck like Fenrir Wiseman or Overlords to make it worth it. Draws…sod it, honesty time. I can’t think of a decent argument for any Draw Trigger that isn’t Hysteric Shirly. Their shield is too poor, they don’t increase consistency enough for it to be worth the lowering of offense, they tend not to have skills that are paricularly amazing, and they only time they would be worth checking happens too infrequently. You Drive Check one, you just get a card that you then either guard with, or call. It’s basically 10k shield split into 2 cards and that’s about it.

Dragwizard, Babd
Dragwizard, Babd

When you run any sort of trigger, you ought to be primarily using it because of what type of trigger it is. Any skill afterwards ought to be secondary. At the very least, I don’t believe you should run rainbow as the Luard player I beat did. It simply means more cards turning up when you don’t want them. A deck needs to run a good number of Criticals, if not 12 of them, for the threat of pressure to be a threat you can actually follow up on.

I do understand to a point that people would rather Vanguard be a game where you can have complex interactions and that each and every play is towards some large, greater whole. The reality however is that all your plans don’t mean shit if the opponent can just take the least subtle approach and force you to abandon ship, because they know your deck can’t change gears in the event of failure. It can’t. The deck was geared towards one purpose, and using the deck any other way other than that means you’re playing it incorrectly.

Vanguard is a game inherently biased towards damage. You may have noticed that quite a few of the main decks kicking about can be rushed and that they would have difficulty responding any other way other than rushing back if they have the hand for it, so it made more sense to me to gear each deck towards more damage. If they had the capacity to add more cards to their library because of what clan they were, just let them do the work. Relying on triggers, especially Draws, to add them strikes me as winmore, and even then, every card you obtain tends to be for the purposes of filling holes, or just holding on to them to use as shields. And to that end, you need to pick your cards carefully. Picking weird or unneeded components simply because of ‘personal experience’ just strikes me as lazy. That, or casual, but make your intentions clear to avoid unnecessary scorn.

The reason for that is because I don’t think people are reliable witnesses to anything. I would take any sort of deck people put up with a pinch of salt. Unless you can demonstrate exactly HOW something would benefit a deck in some way that makes it strictly better than the optimal and traditional channels, with tangeble results, then I gues I’m game to humour you. I won’t take ‘personal experience’ as evidence because that, to me, shows even YOU don’t know how your shit even works. Nor are you willing to try and find out more about your shit. And don’t let the fact that it’s shit put you off. Just because you pushed it out your ass and it smells doesn’t mean it can’t offer some useful info, as forensic scientists for the NYPD could tell you.

I’m taking requests for articles if there’s something about Vanguard you need to gripe about. Email ideas at Or drop a message on my Twitter account!

Don’t forget to visit the old site for more of my articles! The boss hasn’t migrated it all!