"How's it going, Youtube..." Peshkatz here, and today I'm taking a break from my Youtube videos to try to help people become better players at Cardfight!! Vanguard here on ARG. First, a short intro on who I am and what I do: My name is Randall Muramoto; I'm also known on Youtube as Peshkatz. On my youtube channel, I aim to educate players on mechanics, deck construction, innovation, and overall just try to help each viewer to become a better player. I am also a co-founder and admin of the "North America Cardfight Vanguard" Facebook Group. I've been playing Cardfight!! Vanguard since the release in English, starting with a Kagero TD, then moving to Gold Paladin, then back to Kagero for the release of BT05, and on to Neo Nectar from BT05 to BT08. Currently, I still play all three of those decks, and I feel that they are my strongest choices, but I can play just about anything if I practice with it a little bit. Within my time playing the game, I have volunteered as a judge at two events: the Anaheim Regional Qualifer 2012 and the North American National Qualifier 2012, the following day. I'd like to say that I'm an "authority" on Vanguard; a lot of my subscribers and viewers think highly of me, and I appreciate the praise. However, I'm just a regular player like everyone else and I still have a lot to learn before I can be one of the best players in the game.
Now, on to what I'm here for: How can I, or you readers, for that matter, become better at the game? Vanguard fighters have varying views about this game: Some see it as a luckfest where a bad player can win because of how the game works. Others are satisfied with the game's mix of luck and skill elements. If you've ever met a player who has complained about losing and not questioning why they lost, beyond "he triggersacked me", then please let them read this article, and hopefully we can change their view on the game. My goal with this article is to teach you guys my methodology behind improving at Vanguard. These methods are things that I think about whenever I play. I'm always looking for ways to improve, and so should you. Without further ado, let's begin.
Step 0: Accepting the Luck Factor Yup, step zero. Before we get anywhere, some of you people have to get past the fact that this is a card game, and card games inherently hold an element of luck. You can't always get what you want. There are cards in this game that lessen the need for luck through searching abilities (ex. Great Silver Wolf, Garmore), and there are cards that rely on getting lucky in order to succeed, such as ride chains (ex. Goddess of the Moon, Tsukuyomi). Learning how to make the best of any situation is what will make you a better cardfighter. If you want a game that's purely skill, then maybe Vanguard isn't for you. Invest in a chess set!
Step 1: Master the Basics There is so much I can say about this step... There are many, many key principles in Vanguard that you will use throughout your time as a Cardfighter. These principles are used regardless of what deck you play, whether it is a top tier deck like the recent NA champion Kagero, or a lesser seen deck like Granblue or Megacolony. I'll just list a few that I use below, so you guys know what I'm talking about:
** Guard the weaker attacks. If your opponent attacks you with a 10k column and a 16k column, then you would prefer toprotect yourself against the attack that costs less guard. Really, this seems like common sense but I actually see a lot of players that disregard this tactic and end up using more guard than needed.
** When guarding, treat the enemy Vanguard as 5k above what the listed value is. If the enemy Vanguard is attacking me for 16k, then I treat it as if it were 21k. This is to leave breathing room in case they get a trigger. More experienced players refer to this as "Two-to-pass." As an extension of this mechanic, let's create a quick scenario: My opponent's Vanguard is a Majesty Lord Blaster with 10,000 power. Their rearguard column is a Palamedes+Marron with 21,000 power. If I treat Majesty Lord Blaster as 15k, then I can apply the first principle: Guard the weaker attack. In this case, the weaker attack is the Vanguard, so if I guard one of their attacks, it should be the Majesty Lord Blaster.
** Prioritize certain grades when guarding. When I guard from my hand, I prioritize certain Grades of units to guard with first. I guard with Grade 0s if possible, then 1s (assuming my backfield is full), then 2s. I use Sentinels when needed.
** Learn to memorize your opponent's cards. It will really help to know what cards your opponent has in their hand. If you see that they Drive Check two Grade 1s for the first couple turns, then maybe it's best to put pressure on their rearguards, since they haven't shown any Grade 2s or 3s. If they keep checking Grade 1s or 2s or 3s, then you should assume that they have triggers coming soon. Use any knowledge of your opponent's cards to your advantage.
Step 2: Learn the Matchup
This step is important in any card game. You must know your opponent, and the way their cards work. This way you can anticipate any deadly combo coming your way in an important game. A great tip is to borrow your opponents' deck (ex. your friends at your local tournament) and practice with their deck. This will give you a better understanding of how their deck works, and what its weaknesses are. The more decks you understand, the better you will perform. Ren did this a lot in the show, borrowing Morikawa's, Emi's, and Tetsu's decks (if my memory serves me correct), as did Misaki with Asaka's deck. What's stopping us from doing it as well?
Step 3: Get Criticism. From Everybody. ALMOST Everybody. When you play against somebody, ask if they would've done anything different from what you did. If you lose against someone who is better than you, ask them what you did wrong, and learn from your mistakes. You are not going to improve much at Vanguard if you aren't getting information that will help you to make better plays. If you have friends who also play Vanguard, have them watch over a friendly game, and after a game make comments about what you could've done differently, and what results it would have created. I constantly ask my teammates for opinions on playstyles and card choices, and they've helped me become a better player. If you have reliable players around you, then make use of them. Over time you will be able to tell whether a player is giving you good advice, or bad advice. Make sure to watch out for people that aren't 100% sure of the rules, and try to correct them if possible. This is a learning experience for all of us.
Step 4: Practice Makes Perfect Have you chosen your deck? *check* Ask other players around if it can be improved. Do you feel your deck is improved? *check* Practice. Practicing against the other players around you will get you ready for playing in a bigger environment, such as Regional Qualifiers. Play against different players. Play against different decks. And as always, get criticism. You can never get too much constructive criticism.
Step 5: Don't Get Mad. It's Just A Game. The key word here is "game". You're supposed to play a game to have fun! At the end of the day, you are probably here at your local card shop or at this big event to meet people, make friends, and play the game that you all love to play. So you got gradestuck once or twice. Or four times. In the end, it's just a game, and ultimately you tried to do as much as you could. The luck factor simply wasn't on your side today. Once you accept this, you can move on.
I think that about covers it. This 5-step process (6 if you count Step 0) is what keeps me in this game to this day. Cardfight!! Vanguard is a game that I enjoy playing, and I hope that we can get everybody to remember that we're supposed to have fun playing the game. There are always new cards being released, new strategies to be found, and more ways that each and every one of us can improve.
I hope you guys enjoyed this read! Thanks to all the readers who have made it this far; this article is a bit lengthy! Good luck to all of you and as always, have fun! STAND UP, THE VANGUARD!!
- Randall Muramoto,
Quick special thanks: Team ACE for helping me be a better play one week at a time, iosmk (Felix) for looking over this article, and the CFVG Community for teaching me every day how to be better.