A COMPLETE BEGINNER’S GUIDE TO CARDFIGHT!! VANGUARD
Thank you for viewing my article. This is sort of a beginner’s
guide thing intended to help aspiring players and new players get a
lot of the basic knowledge they need to know about Cardfight!!
Vanguard, but it might yield some helpful tips for veterans and
competitive players as well, so please give it a read. If you
already play the game and don’t care about the fluff and
introductory knowledge, feel free to skip down quite a bit. I
will try to keep the lingo to a minimum, as this guide IS intended to
be for newer players, but it is unavoidable that I will assume you
know the basic rules and zones of the game. They should be
fairly easy to grasp through watching the anime, watching others play
games, and/or reading the rulebook.
II. What is
First of all,
what is Cardfight!! Vanguard? It’s a fairly new card game by
the Japanese company Bushiroad, with releases having started at March
2011. It eventually gained a lot of popularity internationally
and spurred Bushiroad to begin releasing the game in three different
languages (English, Japanese, and Korean) and to officially support
the game worldwide. Although still not as popular as Yu-Gi-Oh!,
Magic: The Gathering, or Pokemon, Cardfight!! Vanguard has caught on
really well compared to other card games and is easily the most
popular TCG outside of the aforementioned three, with many stores all
around America hosting tournaments and products. There is also
an ongoing anime series based on the card game, currently with 2
seasons completed. As of the time of this writing, there are
currently 7 major sets (BT01-BT07), 2 Extra Booster sets (EB02 and
EB03), and a variety of promo cards available for the English edition
of the game. Each normal booster box contains, for the most
part, 30 booster packs and a total of 3 RRRs, 5 RRs, 22 Rs, and 120
Cs. Every one in 4 boxes, an extremely rare SP card with
alternate flavor text, foiling, and possibly artwork of a card with
lesser rarity is put in the place of an RRR. In each Extra
Booster box, you usually get 15 Booster Packs with 1 RRR, 3 RR, 11
Rs, and 60 Cs and unlike in a normal booster box, SP cards in Extra
Boosters take the place of an R. Although the release schedule
is a bit different between languages, Bushiroad is working on getting
everyone else caught up with what the Japanese edition of the game
has and so releases are going to be a bit more rapid for the English
game for a while yet.
Vanguard, the premise of the card game is that you and your opponent
are two weak astral bodies on Planet Cray, where all the units you
see in the form of cards reside. You are the Vanguards of
opposing armies, and can enhance your powers through taking the forms
of units (riding) and summoning rearguards to support you in the
fight (call). The objective in the game is to deal 6 damage to
the opponent before they do the same to you, and as a result banish
their spirit from Cray. It’s also worth noting that every
single card in the game is a unit with statistics that you can call
and attack with, which is unusual for a trading card game.
III. Why play it?
So, why should
you play this game? Well, it has several things going for it,
the largest of which has to be the artwork in the game.
Bushiroad hires big-name artists to design their cards and they make
sure the artwork on the card covers the entire thing, as opposed to
containing it in a rectangle. You can see many distinctive art
styles and be able to more easily appreciate them.
reason is that the foiling of Cardfight!! Vanguard cards is far more
varied and detailed, and even the normal rares are foiled out.
In every set, you can count on at least the Rs, RRRs, and SPs to have
distinctive foiling patterns different from that of any other set and
even from a different language edition of the same set. It’s
quite fun to collect them all and to compare them with each other.
Also, if you’ve
played another trading card game in the past, you might have found
the vast majority of cards or decktypes to be plain bad. In
Cardfight!! Vanguard, almost every card in playable thanks to its
separation of cards into a multitude of clans. And the nature
of the game makes it so that, despite all clans not quite receiving
the same quality of support, ANY clan or decktype can win if
well-built and well-played, so the gap between the competitive
“tiers” is far smaller than that of a normal cardgame and
encourages you to play simply with what interests you most.
The cost of
keeping up with the game is also quite small; generally, cards are
relevant after their initial release for a long time, if not forever,
so if you dedicate your decks to only one or two clans, you’ll
often find that you’ll rarely have to spend much after your initial
investment of building the decks in the first place. If you
want to get started and learn the game, but you’re not sure if you
want to commit to it, try picking up a Trial Deck or two at a local
shop or online for $12-15 and play with a friend. Your average
“complete” competitive deck could cost somewhere between $50 and
$250 depending on the clan.
With that said, I
think this is a good time to start moving on to briefly describing
the nations and clans in the game available in English and hopefully
help people decide what they really want to play. Do note,
however, that as of right now nations are ENTIRELY irrelevant to
gameplay and only a select few cards in a few clans care about race
at all, so you can treat those as fluff.
Royal Paladin: A
clan of knights with a mostly white-and-blue color motif that takes
inspiration from Arthurian myth. Focuses on selective searching
and calling units from the deck to swarm the field. They are
also capable of achieving relatively high levels of power on a more
consistent basis than many clans. It is usually pretty
heavy on Counterblasts (flipping damage as costs for skills) but
yields good rewards for them. Blaster Blade also gives the deck
a method of retiring. Popular cards to build a deck around
include: Knight of Godly Speed, Galahad; Majesty Lord Blaster; King
of Knights, Alfred; Soul Saver Dragon; Fang of Light, Garmore.
Royal Paladins are of the United Sanctuary nation and have a Trial
Also a clan of knights, the Shadow Paladins are composed mostly of
defects from the Royal Paladins and has a purple-and-black color
motif to match their portrayal as darker counterparts. Rather
than Arthurian mythology though, the Shadow Paladins more resemble
figures from Irish folklore. Shadow Paladins focus on both
gaining card advantage (both selectively and randomly) and
sacrificing unneeded allies. Although they have a hard time
achieving the consistent raw power of Royal Paladins, they can often
boast superior defensive capabilities to make up for that.
Popular cards to build a deck around include: Phantom Blaster
Overlord/Phantom Blaster Dragon, Origin Mage Ildona, and The Dark
Dictator. Shadow Paladins are from the United Sanctuary and do
not currently have a Trial Deck.
Gold Paladin: The
last and newest of the Paladin clans, they are in a sense the
replacement of Royal Paladins and Shadow Paladins, although they are
unique in their own way. Also takes from Arthurian mythology.
Most members of the clan have a gold color motif and it’s made up
largely of former members of the Royal Paladins and Shadow Paladins
(with one obvious former Kagero member as well). They focus on
gaining advantage through calls from the deck, with their methods
tending towards being easier, cheaper, and random rather than
expensive and reliable as Royal Paladins were. Many of their
rank also have abilities that come from being called from the deck.
Though not exceptionally powerful or finessed, their swarming and
advantage-gaining capabilities are second to none. Popular
cards to build a deck around include: Great Silver Wolf, Garmore;
Incandescent Lion, Blond Ezel; Spectral Duke Dragon; White Hare in
the Moon’s Shadow, Pellinore. Gold Paladins are from the
United Sanctuary and have a Trial Deck.
Tank: A large and powerful corporation of fortune-tellers and others
skilled in magic and divination. Some of their major cards are
based on Japanese and Greek mythology, but there are a number of
nuns, witches, black ops, and mechanical guardians in there as well.
They focus primarily on drawing a lot of cards so as to expand your
options and defensive power, though they are not without utility
either depending on what you wish to play. Interestingly
enough, they have cards within the clan that seem to directly
conflict with one another’s playstyle, with either one being a
viable option. Popular cards to build a deck around include:
Goddess of the Full Moon, Tsukuyomi; Scarlet Witch, CoCo; CEO
Amaterasu. Oracle Think Tank is from the United Sanctuary and
has a Trial Deck.
Angel Feather: A
group of combat medics that take to the battlefield to heal the
wounded and offer them protection. As the name implies, most of
them are female angels, and their motif is basically anything to do
with healing and modern medicine. They have the unique ability
to utilize cards in the damage zone by swapping cards between the
hand and damage for quality control, and they also have units that
gain power from doing just that. They can mount a very strong
offense with a good field setup and their quality control helps them
to adjust to any situation. They are also considered one of the
strongest decks defensively despite not gaining direct advantage.
Popular cards to build a deck around include: Chief Nurse, Shamsiel,
Circular Saw, Kiriel, and Cosmo Healer, Ergodiel. Angel Feather
is from the United Sanctuary and does not have a Trial Deck.
Kagero: They are
the aerial assault unit of the Dragon Empire and are comprised mostly
of fire-based dragons and dragon knights. Kagero is the game’s
greatest clan at disrupting the enemy, having ways to retire both
frontrow and backrow rearguards and ruin field setups by hitting the
weakest links. Knowledge of the opponent’s strategies and
hand composition helps to make full use of this ability.
Popular cards to build a deck around include: Dragonic Overlord the
End/Dragonic Overlord, Dragon Monk, Goku, Dragonic Lawkeeper, and
Blazing Flare Dragon/Incarnation of Victory, Aleph. Kagero is
from the Dragon Empire and has a Trial Deck.
are also an aerial assault unit, put on the frontline after Kagero
has lost its leader and become crippled. Unlike their peers,
the Narukami is composed largely of thunder dragons and other
entities with thunder-related abilities. They are also a bit
more accepting of humanoid members. Narukami, like their
predecessor, also has retiring capabilities, but they sacrifice much
of the ability to hit the backrow with additional ability to bully
frontrow rearguards. Popular cards to build a deck around
include Dragonic Kaiser Vermillion, Thunder Break Dragon, Riot
General, Gyras, and Vajra Emperor, Indra. They are from the
Dragon Empire and have a Trial Deck.
are the ground assault unit of the Dragon Empire and are comprised of
mechanical and cyborg dinosaurs (or Dinodragons, as the game calls
them). They focus on retiring their own allies as costs, but
they can use Counterblasts to mitigate the loss in advantage by
returning retired units to the hand or otherwise get another card as
compensation for the loss. To be honest though, they’re a bit
undersupported for the time being, but the upcoming Set 8 opens up
many new possibilities for them. Popular cards to build a deck
around include: Tyrant, Deathrex; Military Dragon, Raptor Colonel;
Destruction Dragon, Dark Rex. They are from the Dragon Empire
and do not have a Trial Deck.
are the black ops, or ninja squad, of the Dragon Empire. Rather
than having mostly dragons though, they accept members of all species
resembling Japanese youkai or ninjas. They have no advantage
engine nor are they able to achieve breakthroughs in power, but the
one thing they can do
better than any other clan is create a massive quantity of attacks
earlier on in the game when decks are unable to defend themselves
well through low-cost shadow cloning and ride that momentum to an
early victory before their shortcomings become apparent. Their
Grade 3 Vanguards (namely Dueling Dragon, ZANBAKU and Covert Demonic
Dragon, Mandala Lord), unlike most clans, don’t actually reflect
the theme of their clan too well, but they are unique and helpful all
the same. They are from the Dragon Empire and do not have a
The Dark Irregulars more refers to the collective demons and other
dark, cursed beings of the lawless Dark Zone rather than a unified
group, despite their unified theme in-game. They tend towards
the power-hungry and insane, and there are multiple factions fighting
one another for dominance. The Dark Irregulars focus on
Soulcharging randomly and gaining power from that Soul. They
don’t care (with very few exceptions) about what is in the Soul,
nor do they use Soul to pay costs, but the mere presence of a large
quantity of Soul or the act of Soulcharging gives them power.
They essentially run on large raw statistics bolstered by
Soulcharging, though the method of Soulcharging and emphasis that
needs to be placed on it does vary depending on your strategy.
Popular cards to build a deck around include: Demon World Marquis,
Amon; Blade Wing, Reijy; Dark Lord of the Abyss; Stil Vampir; King of
Diptera, Beelzebub; Edel Rose. They are from the Dark Zone and
do not have a Trial Deck.
They are a highly successful and incredibly brutal sports team in the
Dark Zone. Most of their ranks are buff or sleazy-looking
demons, goblins, ogres, and androids, with some cheerleaders and
management staff. Their theme is basically to be able to mount
ridiculously powerful pushes. Virtually all of their high-power
plays come at heavy costs, nor are they able to gain advantage
outside of battle, but it’s incredibly difficult for any other clan
to make an offensive push like they can later in the game.
Popular cards to build a deck around include: Demonic Lord, Dudley
Emperor; General Seifried. They are from the Dark Zone and do
not have a Trial Deck.
Pale Moon: They
are a circus troupe that secretly functions as a group of assassins.
They are rather colorful and distinctive-looking, having members of
many races, which is only natural given that they are a circus-themed
clan. They are also a clan that makes extensive use of the
Soul, but unlike others, the Pale Moon cares a lot more about what is
in the Soul rather than how large it is. They can swap units to
and from the Soul, sometimes in the Main Phase, and sometimes in the
Battle Phase for flexible and acrobatics-like attacks. With the
Tamers, they can also have rather powerful attacks. Popular
cards to build a deck around include: Crimson Beast Tamer; Nightmare
Doll, Alice; Sword Magician, Sarah; Silver Thorn Dragon Tamer,
Luquier; Magician of Quantum Mechanics/Purple Trapezist/Peek-a-boo.
They are from the Dark Zone and do not have a Trial Deck.
are essentially a group of undead pirates and sea monsters that roam
the seas and make their base at Magallanica. They are the only
clan that can so flexibly manipulate the Drop Zone. With this
ability, they can optimize their field well, so it gives them more
flexibility in calling units to be replaced later on and can
effectively utilize almost any kind of hand provided they have the
right units in the drop zone and the resources to use them.
They lack in any kind of advantage engine or raw power, however.
Popular cards to build a deck around include: King of Demonic Seas,
Basskirk; Deadly Swordmaster; Ice Prison Necromancer, Cocytus.
They are from Magallanica and do not have a Trial Deck.
They are a group of cute mermaid idol singers who can nevertheless
hold their own in a fight. They are somewhat similar to Oracle
Think Tank in that both clans want to draw a lot of cards, but while
Oracle Think Tank is more direct about it, Bermuda Triangle methods
often involve returning their own units to hand or connecting with an
attack. Amongst the clans they have the largest emphasis on
return-to-hand effects and that also helps optimize their field, as
it may not be a bad thing to call a weaker unit you may need to
replace later so long as it will be useful now. Popular cards
to build a deck around include: Velvet Voice, Raindear; Bermuda
Princess, Lena; Top Idol, Pacifica; Top Idol, Riviere. They are
from Magallanica and do not have a Trial Deck. However, all
Bermuda Triangle cards that currently exist are contained within a
single Extra Booster (Extra Booster 2: Banquet of Divas).
Aqua Force: They
are a militaristic clan of sea-dwelling dragons and androids that
style themselves like a sort of navy. They once ruled all of
Cray, but were sealed away by a mysterious force. Yes, all of
them, don’t ask how. Aqua Force is not actually released in
the English Edition of the game, but since they will be in a matter
of months come Trial Deck 7 and Set 8, it’s worth mentioning.
They focus on getting four or more attacks each turn at the cost of
making certain individual attacks weaker and launching devastatingly
powerful Vanguard attacks after taking 4 damage. Their
effectiveness, more so than that of any clan, tends to depend on the
defensive prowess of the opponent’s Vanguard. Popular cards
to build a deck around include: Blue Storm Dragon, Maelstrom;
Navalgazer Dragon; Hydro Hurricane Dragon. They are from
Magallanica and will have a Trial Deck.
are a clan of large insects that are based on a mafia in terms of
aesthetics. Their theme is preventing opponents’ units from
standing temporarily, forcing them to either compromise their offense
the following turn or to retire those units for fresh new ones.
Popular cards to build a deck around include: Martial Arts Mutant,
Master Beetle; Evil Armor General, Giraffa; Death Warden, Antlion.
They are from Zoo and do not have a Trial Deck.
They are a clan of super-intelligent animals that attend the most
advanced educational institute on Cray, the eponymous Great Nature
University. Members of Great Nature are themed after school
supplies, students, and staff members while also resembling
real-world animals. Their theme is to temporarily power up
their allies at the cost of retiring them at the end of the turn, and
many of their units have ways to counteract the loss in advantage
that comes from being retired. Counterblasts can be used for
both powering up units or canceling out the loss in card advantage
that results. Naturally, they can achieve high levels of power
consistently in at least one column each turn once they get going.
Popular cards to build a deck around include: School Hunter,
Leo-Pald; Armed Instructor, Bison; School Dominator, Apt; Guardian of
Truth, Lox. They are from Zoo and do not have a Trial Deck.
are a clan of plant-themed androids, dryads, forest dragons, and
other mystical creatures of the forest. They are the largest
producer of food throughout all of Cray and pretty much have great
authority over those living in lands that are not so
self-sufficient. Neo-Nectar is somewhat like the Paladin clans
in that it focuses on superior calling units and hitting hard, but it
adds twists to the methods that neither clan has. Neo-Nectar
also possesses a large quantity of on-hit skills, which can be
combined to put offensive pressure on the opponent should you choose
to do so. Though a bit lacking in support now, they, like
Tachikaze, will also be getting a large batch of new cards in Set 8.
Popular cards to build a deck around include: Arboros Dragon,
Sephirot; White Lily Musketeer, Cecilia; Maiden of Trailing Rose.
They are from Zoo and do not have a Trial Deck.
They are a theme of wrestling-themed units, most of them mechanical
in nature. Nova Grapplers focus mostly on standing and
restanding their units outside of the Stand Phase through various
skills for a multitude of attacks. Most of these methods rely
on chance or connecting with an attack, but can be devastating when
things go well. Popular cards to build a deck around include:
Asura Kaiser; Stern Blaukluger; Beast Deity, Azure Dragon; Gold
Rutile; Perfect Raizer. They are from Star Gate and have a
They are a theme of superhero aliens and robots from a different
dimension that organize to fight evil and protect the innocent.
Well, except for the world-destroying monsters they fight against
which…somehow qualify to be in the same clan. Go figure.
Above all clans, they (or at least the superhero part of the clan)
truly emphasize the power of the Vanguard and many of the rearguards
work to give the Vanguard extra power and effects. Thus, it’s
no surprise that the rearguards tend to be rather weak and basic
outside of that. But a solid hit from a buffed-up Dimension
Police Grade 3 can be utterly devastating. They, like Tachikaze
and Neo-Nectar, are receiving a very significant boost in Set 8 too.
In addition to adding more Vanguard-oriented superhero cards, it’s
adding many galactic horrors into the clan that have sort of their
own theme of reducing the power of the opponents’ Vanguard.
Popular cards to build a deck around include Enigman Storm; Super
Dimensional Robo, Daiyusha; Galactic Beast, Zeal. They are from
Star Gate and do not have a Trial Deck.
V. Building a
So, now that you
have (hopefully) chosen a clan or clan(s) you’re interested in,
what should you do to get started on them? If you’ve chosen a
clan with a Trial Deck, you’re in luck, because they’re the most
easily accessible. For anything else, it’s recommended that
you either buy a box or two of a set saturated with cards for the
deck in question (since it also helps build a collection).
However, if you’re already dead-set on something and want to
immerse yourself into the game quickly rather than start off slow or
build a collection right off the bat, you could buy an entire deck as
single cards and have your dream deck built at a much lower cost than
if you were to buy Trial Decks or boxes.
complete listings of every card in every set, as well as their
rarities, and also lets you know which cards exist in which clans, so
it’s a very good resource for any player.
There are also
some general guidelines one should follow when making most any deck,
though there are exceptions to almost any rule. First of all,
the typical lineup is that of 17 Grade 0s (a starter and the 16
mandatory trigger units), 14-15 Grade 1s, 10-11 Grade 2s, and 7-8
Grade 3s. This ratio is in place to help your chances of
securing a ride up every turn until Grade 3 and also because cards of
lower grades can be used earlier. However, if there is a ride
consistency-boosting mechanic in place within your deck (such as that
of a ride chain, a superior ride, or a card like Solitary Knight,
Gancelot) you may be able to safely break the convention if you feel
it will strengthen your deck as a whole. Without any of those
though, it’s usually best to stay relatively close to the above
ratio. Notably, almost any deck with a Grade 3 that gains
skills by Drive Checking another Grade 3 (such as Dragon Monk, Goku
or Velvet Voice, Raindear) is encouraged to run 9-10 Grade 3s, taking
away slightly from Grade 1 and Grade 2 numbers.
is usually best
to start planning a deck from the top; that is, starting at deciding
your Grade 3 lineup. It is usually a Grade 3 unit that you can
build more of your deck to support, or to be supported by, although
having the deck interact well as a whole is definitely important.
It’s also usually the Grade 3 choices that are more unique to the
deck you are building. From there, you can work your way down
to Grade 2, Grade 1, and finally to Grade 0, as lower grades tend to
have more unchanging “staple” cards that you will virtually
always wish to run as well as cards with skills and statistics that
are shared between clans.
is a game that has few true must-run cards, as well as few outright
unplayable cards, almost everybody that can afford them chooses to
run 3 or 4 Perfect Guards for their clan. These are usually
amongst the most high-valued, if not the most
high-valued, card of their respective clans. They always come
in RR rarity, every clan you can possibly make a pure deck with has
one, and their text is written as “[AUTO]:[Choose a <<Clan>>
from your hand, and discard it] When this unit is placed on (GC), you
may pay the cost. If you do, choose one of your «Clan» that is
being attacked, and that unit cannot be hit until end of that
battle”. They also have a shield value of 0 written on the
side of the card to signify their special defensive role.
Although it may be a bit awkward to explain a specific type of card,
I often see new players vastly underestimate what these Perfect
Guards can do and thinking of them as bad cards for forcing you to
use 2 cards as shield and being a weak booster if called.
Therefore, I think this is worth explaining. In gameplay, it is
not at all uncommon for the opponent to be able to create attacks
that will force at least 2 cards from your hand if you do not wish to
take damage. In fact, almost every attack by the Vanguard does
this. A Perfect Guard allows you to discard itself along with
whatever card is least useful to you at the time, thus possibly
saving you a more useful card to call or guard with later and serving
as an efficient form of quality control. It allows you to guard
opponent Vanguard attacks safely without taking a chance as to how
many triggers they Drive Check and can be called as a decent booster
unit in a pinch. There are a fair amount of Vanguards in the
game that can launch monstrously powerful attacks that can take more
than 3 or even 4 cards to guard properly through normal means, in
which case a Perfect Guard is an absolute lifesaver.
After you have
decided on your core strategy or card, every time you wish to add
something in, you should ask yourself “How will this card help me
win”? Because disruption is so minimal in Vanguard, and the
cards so flexible in use, it is viable and often encouraged to plan
your deck’s strategy with a single goal or method in mind.
There is both utility and power to consider in choosing cards.
First of all, realize that almost all Grade 3s in the game are,
defensively, either at 10,000 Power or 11,000 Power at base and do
not rise during your turn except in multiples of 5,000 via Damage
Checked trigger units. However, a few very popular crossrides
can be counted on to sit at 13,000 Power, so this should be planned
for as well. Although Grade 1 and Grade 2 units are not quite
so strong, do not worry too much about reaching good numbers against
them beyond simply being able to hit them. Also realize that
all normal guards are either 5,000 shield or 10,000 shield. For
attacks with power that is not an interval of 5,000 from the
defending unit’s power, the excess does not matter whatsoever.
An attack of 11,000 power or 15,000 power is the same thing against a
defending unit with 11,000 power. You can also expect
rearguard frontrow units to be anywhere between 8,000 and 11,000; it
is not unreasonable to say a lot of units with 9,000 Power and under
will be called to the front. You want to build a deck in such a
manner that it should consistently be able to hit for 16,000 or more
power in all three columns before triggers once you reach the later
stages of the game. The more combinations you can achieve this
with, the better your field
scalability is. Mass return-to-hand
skills, selective superior calling skills, drawing skills, and
unit-swapping skills also contribute to field scalability, by the
way, since field scalability is basically just a measure of how
consistently you can achieve a field with a good distribution of
power. The power dynamics between Grade 1 and Grade 2 units,
with almost all Grade 1s having 6K-8K power and almost all Grade 2s
have 8K-10K power, also appears to be based around a median of 16,000
also helps to have a fair number of units that you can expect to be
able to hit an opponent’s unit on their own as well, and you want
combinations that can help you hit for 18,000 or higher as well in
case you run into crossrides. However, useful skills for Grade
2 and lower units often come proportionally to a loss in base power,
if the skill isn’t one that gives power in the first place.
How to balance a deck’s raw statistics and utility is a very
individual case and something that you will have to get a feel for
yourself, since every deck has different aims and some are even
dedicated towards making breakthroughs in field scalability and/or
reaching higher levels of power (20,000 and up) in multiple columns.
VI. Tips for
So now that you
have some form of deck and know the basic rules, how do you play
smart and make the most of your deck? What should you be
thinking about? At the start of the game, both players select
and set a Grade 0 Vanguard from their deck and draw 5 cards, with the
option to return any number of those cards into the deck and draw the
same amount again after shuffling. You want to try and get at
least one card of each Grade, 1-3, in your opening hand. If you
are forced to skip a ride before you get to Grade 3 and your opponent
does not, the loss in card advantage from not having Twin Drive!! and
the (likely) lower offensive and defensive power can be absolutely
crippling. As a general rule, you should return all Grade 0s in
your hand to the deck and, if you are missing a Grade, cards with the
same Grade as another card you are holding. If you have your
ride up to Grade 3 guaranteed, it’s usually best to only return
trigger units or no units at all, unless you are crowded with a
specific unit you do not want so much of (often Grade 3s or Perfect
Guards). If, despite your best efforts, you still miss rides,
do not fear and play the best you can. It’s not uncommon for
people to win even with missed rides, although it is an uphill
When riding up,
if you happen to have options on what to ride, it can be a difficult
choice to decide which to ride. Riding the units with greater
base power can rescue you from an attack or two the following turn,
but you’re also sacrificing those units when you ride over them.
A classic dilemma is the choice between riding a skill-less 8,000
Power Grade 1 and a 6,000 Power Perfect Guard. Riding the 8,000
ensures that you are a lot less likely to take more than a single
point of damage the following turn, but what if you are sorely
lacking in offensive power? Though riding the Perfect Guard may
leave you more vulnerable, Perfect Guards are not that useful earlier
in the game anyways and ensures that you have another good unit you
can field, which can end up going a long way.
Calling units can
be a tricky thing as well, though it is far easier for Grade 2
units. Typically, any non-Grade 2 unit you call is forever
unavailable as a shield or discard cost and cannot be replaced unless
the opponent voluntarily attacks it, unless there is a skill to move
it out of the way, or unless you replace it later and suffer a direct
minus to card advantage. You usually don’t want to call any
non-Grade 2 units you are not willing to keep throughout the game
unless you have cards that can retire those units as costs, bring
them back to the hand, or otherwise replace those units. And
even then, it’s best not to go overboard. As a general rule,
units that you clearly know you will not be able to make a decent
column (one that forces at least 10K shield from the opponent’s
Vanguard before triggers or other conditional boosts) with should not
be called. Grade 0 units with 10,000 shield should also
generally avoid being called, since you’re sacrificing twice the
shield value of that of a normal Grade 1 or a Draw Trigger. A
Grade 2 that has as much offensive value as another Grade 3 you have
also should near-always take precedence in being called, simply
because of the intercept ability. Lastly, be aware that any
units you call and attack with in the frontrow are vulnerable to
being targeted by opponent attacks. If you’re short on
call-worthy units or if you wish to achieve a certain amount of
damage more quickly, it may be worth playing more conservatively.
The final game
mechanic I’m going to go over will be guarding. This is
arguably the most difficult to master of the basic mechanics that all
decks in the game use, as well as the hardest to look at objectively
and judge whether the action was optimal or not. Here are some
basic unstated rules about guarding you’ve probably picked up on
already. All Grade 0s have 10,000 Shield, except Draw Triggers
which have 5,000. All Grade 1s (except Perfect Guards) and
Grade 2s have 5,000 Shield, though certain Grade 2s with 8,000 Power
gain an extra 5,000 Shield when used as an intercept and certain
Grade 1s with 6,000 Power have a written cost or condition to turn
them into 10,000 Shields. Grade 3s do not have a Shield value
and cannot be used to guard.
I often see
players refusing to guard most, if not all, attacks earlier on in the
game, perhaps because they play a Grade 3 with a Limit Break skill or
because they want to enable more Counterblasts. I will say
right now that this is a mistake and should not be a tactic to try
unless you truly have no good cards to guard with, especially since
most Limit Breaks are intended to pressure a weakened opponent
anyways. In an average game with average decks, it is
borderline impossible for either player to mount attacks with a full
field, each forcing 10K Shield on their own, on their opponent.
For that matter, the stream of trigger units or other cards you would
be willing to guard with come more slowly as well. But in
comparison, attacks earlier in the game (which are often weak and/or
innumerous) are far easier to guard than later on in the game, even
considering the larger supply of cards you have to guard with.
One 5K shield or one 10K shield can eliminate your chances of taking
a full point of damage. Fast-forward to a post-Grade 3
environment and suddenly full fields and seeing a trigger on most
Drive Checks become far more common. Your opponent can be
coming at you with the standard, say, 16K-all-around columns.
If at this point you’re at 4 damage, you’re probably heavily
inclined to guard the Vanguard because a Critical Trigger could end
you right there, and that’ll take at least 2 cards to do so each
turn. Let’s say that the Vanguard did get a Critical Trigger
and gave the power to a rearguard, bumping it up to 21K Power.
Another 2 cards minimum are needed to guard against that.
To put this in perspective…you’re using 4 cards to guard 2
attacks now whereas you could have used 2 cards to guard 2 attacks
earlier on. This can get even worse if the opponent can enable
a 21K Rearguard and/or Vanguard column before triggers.
Overall, you’re just spending a lot more on guarding later in the
game and have less opportunities to get helpful damage checked
triggers, whereas they might have been useless for their power when
the opponent only did one or two attacks a turn. Sounds good,
definitely a balancing aspect that puts a silver lining on the
concept of early guarding and makes decisions not so clear-cut
though. Because you have less cards earlier on in the game, you
may simply not have cards that you can guard with that you would not
want to call. Or you may only have Perfect Guards, which,
draining two cards, is plain inefficient in that stage. Or you
may exhaust your guarding options and be forced to take a full 2-4
damage in a single turn later on in the game when you don’t want
to, which can be worse than simply having took the damage at a more
steady rate earlier in the game. As mentioned earlier, taking
early damage also allows the use of earlier Counterblasts and Limit
Break. There are also Heal Triggers to consider; if you have
more damage, opponents cannot heal while you can, but if you decided
to be guard-happy, that situation may be reversed. All I can
say is to pace yourself. Good luck with the cardfighting!