Greetings cardfighters! I wanted to take a break from talking about individual clans this week and instead focus on generic principles. Similar to my Combating the Tunnel Vision article, I want to discuss core game mechanics and tailor this article to newer or struggling players with concepts that apply to most decks.
Counterblasting is Vanguard's game mechanic to not only allow cards to perform various functions with an inherent cost, but it also meant as a tool to advance your game-state when you are taking damage. Taking damage and the subsequent usage of counterblasts are inherent resources in the game, which you have to tailor your deck to using them to the fullest. By taking a damage point, you are saving a card (or more) in your hand. By counterblasting, you are generating some form of advantage for yourself, depending on your clan obviously. An example in mathematical terms is if you guard an opponent's attack with one card, you go -1 overall. However if you take an attack and then use that damage for Perdition Dragon, Menace Laser Dragon's skill the following turn, you are now +1. Seems simple enough right?
However, it is important to note the true worth of the damage-to-card ratio, and to understand how that statistic can change because of what clan you are using as well as the state of the game you are in. There are decks that are very counterblast reliant (Royal Paladins) and decks that are not (Genesis), and your ability to take and use damage earlier on in the game depends on that. While this figure does vary, the generally accepted ballpark figure is that a damage point is worth 1 & 1/2 cards on average BUT it is also varies depending what stage of the game you are in.
In the early stages of the game, a damage point is worth 1 card. Due to how limited your hand is and that you only obtain one drive check each turn, guarding with more than 1 card is usually a bad idea. So for the example above in terms of raw numbers, it would appear that the Perdition player was breaking even in advantage after. However, this isn't taking into consideration the VALUE you are getting when making a play because of taking damage. For the above example, say your opponent was unable to replace the rear-guard lost to Menace Laser Dragon on the following turn. You are saving either a card (or more) in your hand or you are not taking a damage point that you otherwise would have taken. You are gaining raw card advantage in that way, and that in turn is getting value.
Once larger vanguards come into play, the damage curve goes up from the early stages. It is usually best to take hits from them since they require more cards to guard, which would be a loss in card advantage if guarded (disclaimer: on-hit vanguard skills are a different story, know your match-up)! This point of the game is where the 1 & 1/2 average ratio comes into play, as usually large vanguards are taken at this point in the game, yet a rear-guard may need to be blocked for 15k because you don't want to fall too behind on damage and be forced to guard large vanguards the following turn, especially without a sentinel.
If this were last year, the 1 & 1/2 statistic would usually apply throughout the entire portion of the mid-late game in most cases. However as of now, once the game approaches Stride/Legion numbers and the damage number is higher, this damage-to-card ratio goes upwards. This is because of the volatility of triggers due to triple drive and re-standing legions. I would argue that the damage-to-card ratio curves upwards to being 2 cards from 1 & 1/2 during the later stages of the game, as it's more common to guard columns with multiple cards. Let's say for example you're sitting at four damage and your opponent has a full field with Harmonics Messiah to leave it as generic as possible. He swings with a 16k rear-guard first because his deck uses stand triggers. From what we know about numerical card advantage, this one is the easiest to guard with only one card so ideally that would be the case. Lets say we guard it and use a sentinel unit on Harmonics Messiah, but the opponent scored a critical trigger and now our hand is too depleted to guard the last attack as well. It would have been better play here to take the damage on the first attack to assure that we can play around critical triggers and make it to the next turn. While it is numerically better to guard with one card instead of two, it is more acceptable to use two cards to guard an attack at this point of the game because it is the more secure play. Even if you were able to guard the last attack, say your damage was all flipped and you needed to counterblast one card the following turn to make a play and re-gain value. The same scenario would still apply.
For a new player, this can admittedly be tricky to grasp, especially if coming from another card game like Yugioh. We're taught in Yugioh that lifepoints are largely irrelevant, and this isn't the case in Vanguard. The game is mostly about damage control and managing your resources, while maximizing output. Hopefully you learned a thing or two from this article. As always, I'm happy to hear your opinions about my articles, and of course Play Hard or Go Home!