Hi I’m Kazuki Jacobson, from Las Vegas, and I have played this game from the beginning since this game has started. I took a break from this game due to the fact I started taking AP classes at my high school, and I have just recently started playing again, however I was saddened for the fact that many of the players at my locals didn’t even get slightly better, since my 6 month gap. They were still playing as though they have just started playing, sticking to their old strategies that were clearly the wrong way to approach how to play the game; creating a barrier limiting their ability to get better. After getting first place at my first tournament since my break, my fellow competitors asked how I beat them so consistently, so I felt this would be a great opportunity to voice my opinions and give advice to the community, through this article, to those people who are either new to the game, or to players who want to win games more consistently as well.

In this article, I will be discussing important aspects in vanguard that are important in winning a simple game of vanguard. Without knowing about these aspects one may have a difficult time beating an opponent consistently. These ideas aren’t in your face type of ideas; however they are indirect and are the pillars of a good player. Today I will discuss aspects in damage, counterblasts, attacking, guarding, holding cards, as well as the luck factor in vanguard. I could go on discussing many more aspects, however I believe these are the some of the most important aspects that need to be addressed and discussed. This is a lengthy read for anyone reading this and will apologize ahead for the length of this article. Feel free to skip to various sections that you feel the need to read about.

The Secret to Vanguard: 

Cardfight! Vanguard is simply a much different game than those of others. One may believe the main goal is to deal your opponent six damage before they deal that many to you. Those who think this you are only half right. There is a common misconception that you NEED to deal six as fast as possible. True, it is a goal of vanguard to deal six damage however it is NOT the primarily goal one should be focusing on. In conclusion, vanguard is attrition based and is a very grindy game, in which you first need to whittle down your opponents resources so they cannot mount a comeback.

What dealing damage does for your opponent:

I think you guys all heard of the card called Dragonic Overload the End? How many times have you lost to that dumb card? Well what if I told you that you weren’t playing your game plan correctly in the first place? Damage in essence is resources that allow you to gain massive advantage over your opponent, from destroying rear guards, drawing cards, or even dealing massive amounts of damage. In Dragonic Overload the End’s case, it allows itself to restand by using counterblast and well as another copy of itself. How do we prevent my opponent from using these damage resources or counterblasts? It’s simple; simply attack the opposing player’s rearguards, it whittles down their resources, while preventing them from activating powerful effects of their vanguard.

What actually happens when you deal damage to an opponent:

When you deal damage to an opponent, your opponent doesn’t lose card advantage, instead, they gain counterblasts, in order to gain advantage, or advance their board state on you. If we attack the rear guards however, we not only lock up an opponent’s ability to activate effects, but we are able to gain +1 on card advantage as well as do something productive with our rearguards. I am not saying not to attack the vanguard when there is no rearguards however, it is beneficial to target and opponents rearguards first. So why would you not attack the rearguards and target the vanguard instead? It results in them gaining more counterblasts as well as keeping the rearguards they would have lost, which in turn can also block if they are grade 2, and can also deal damage to you as well. It doesn’t seem to good, does it? By targeting rearguards you gain many benefits you would not normally gain, if you just attacking straight into the vanguard.

How do we lose?

Think about it. What causes us to lose? It’s obviously because we got our sixth damage, however it was because we didn’t have enough cards to block that last attack. Think about from the other perspective, we won because our opponent didn’t have enough cards to prevent your attack from going through. So in a sense if we get rid of the cards my opponent is able to block with, we should win a higher percentage of the time.

What counterblast allows you to do and how to properly use them:

I think we know this concept, but refresh your memory, counterblasts allow you to activate important effects that can be detrimental to your opponent. They can easily end games, gain massive advantage, or even just change the momentum of the game. They are essentially another type of resource. You’ll need to use them wisely since you will on average have about only 4-5 counterblasts to work with. Use effects that provide the most advantage over the opponent during a given situation, as well as save them for more powerful effects of your grade 3s. Think about the long game and how you would use these counterblasts. If you quickly expend counterblasts for mediocre effects, you won’t have any to use them in the late game where you have the busted abilities of your grade 3s, which can easily steal you a game. Remember if used efficiently, the proper use of counterblasts will win you the game.

Preventing counterblast abilities:

Counterblasts obviously allow powerful effects to be activated, however it’s not just you who can activate these effects, but your opponent can also activate them as well. Be wary of what counter blast abilities the opponent may be able to use. These abilities can easily put you in the hole if you aren’t prepared to deal with them. Try to prevent these abilities from coming online, for they can be troublesome for you to deal with. The easiest way to play around this is to divert your attacks for dealing damage to your opponent to their rearguards instead, until you find a way to permanently prevent it, or until the ability become less effective or dangerous against you. All or most of the abilities are counterblast based so you need to find a way to deal with it.

How you should be attacking:

Your goal should be to gain as much advantage over your opponent to overpower them, so they cannot guard your pushes for game. Attack the rearguards to gain +1 in card advantage and prevent your opponent from being able to use counterblasts, thus slowly making your opponent have fewer cards they are able to block with in the later stages of the game. It doesn’t matter if you deal 5 damage to your opponent by turn 3, if your opponent has a significant amount of cards over you, you will have a rough time getting that 6th damage in, without you getting your 6th damage. However you should always attack with anything with a 1+ critical, since it’s essentially a free attack if it goes through. All of this can be translated vice versa. If you let yourself take damage first, you gain more counter blast and resources, as well as keep the cards you would have blocked with if you didn’t. The more cards you have the less likely it is that you will lose.

What should occur in the battle step:

Scenario: Full field

Attack with one rearguard first to the most dangerous rearguard your opponent has. If they block the attack to protect their rearguard, pressure them with your vanguard by attacking it. This causes for 2 results. One they lose their rearguard. Two they block 5k over they actually need in order to play around the average 1 trigger. Whichever scenario occurs, you’ll put any triggers on you other rearguard and attack your opponents last rearguard. If you hit a critical, you’ll instead just attack the vanguard since you essentially get a free attack in to the vanguard if it hits. Remember your goal is to eliminate your opponent’s threats that can be dangerous in the later stages of the game which can cause you to block with multiple cards, and two to dwindle your opponent’s resources so they have less cards to block with during the later games.


By doing this method, you will gain more card advantage over your opponent and your opponent will have fewer cards they can use to block or attack with. In the scenario above, an opponent would lose a crucial rearguard or have to give-up many cards to keep it from hitting the grave. Either way, it’s a win-win for you. In the late game you’ll be able to guard your opponents attacks and your opponent will struggle to guard yours, which should result in the opponent no guarding and hoping for their heal trigger to save them from being dealt the last damage.

When to Block:

Blocking is another important aspect in vanguard that people tend to overlook. In any state of the game whether in the early, mid, or late game the way you block can easily make or break the game.

-Holding your cards to block:

Remember what I stated earlier? By holding your cards to block allows you to use extra counter blast. However, there is more merit to hold your cards than just extra counter blast. By holding your cards you have more options on the cards in which you want call, which in turn allows you to become versatile and adaptive to the board state an opponent may put up.

-Blocking cheap attacks:

If you can block any attack at any point of the game for 5k you should always slam the 5k guard to guard. It’s rare that you can prevent damage for a cheap price. I have said previously that you generally take any damage until 4-5 with ease; however this is only exception to my statement. While it is true the more damage we take allows having many benefits, however we are trying to beat your opponent before you get to 6 damage. If you don’t guard for 5k for a damage, you will have to guard with at least a 10k shield for that same damage, since the rearguards will average 16k+ in the later stages. Essentially you lost a card to guard, making it that much easier for your opponent to push through your defenses. The only time you should let an attack you could have guarded for 5k go through would be when you are able to activate an ability with that damage that guarantees that you will win in the next turn.

Never retire rearguards:

You should never put yourself in a position that you have to retire a rearguard intentionally. Why should you throw away cards, when you are trying to gain an advantage over an opponent? It seems counterproductive in my opinion. If you are planning on retiring a rearguard always try to intercept with it beforehand, so you don’t lose advantage for nothing. If it’s a grade 3, then you’re out of luck. You should always plan ahead; and think whether playing a certain card would become a hindrance to your plans or not. It’s better for subpar cards to be in your hand so they can be used for blocking or perfect guard food if its grade 3. In my opinion though, if a card is subpar, you generally shouldn’t be playing it, since it won’t be very helpful in the game.

Holding your Perfect Guards:

Holding your most powerful and potent cards can be very beneficial for the person doing this. Holding perfect guards are important since they are the only way to actually prevent an attack completely at the cost of only 2 cards. You should only use these when you are about to lose, or a powerful effect of a vanguard will activate if it hits. This is important since wasting these cards will prevent you from blocking attacks in the late game where vanguards and rearguards can hit for 20k+.

Holding your important rearguards/getting rid of opponent’s important rearguards:

Generally you want to hold your stronger rearguards that can hit for large numbers or is outright dangerous for your opponent, such as Swordsman of the Explosive Flames, Palamedes. This idea is important if your opponent has the same game plan as you, of whittling down your resources until you cannot block their important attacks, or as many call it their “final turn.” By holding these powerful cards you can bait out your opponents important rearguards and force them to block your attack against them using your high powered attackers like Palamedes, which is exactly what you want them to do. Wasting a large amount of resources to block your attack, or lose an important rearguard. However, if you run out your important rearguard, you run the risk of your opponent playing their own and forcing you the guard with large amounts or lose the rearguard altogether. This is essentially a battle of attrition. The first lose their important rearguards will be outpaced by their opponents field. Another important note, if you need to get rid of an opponent’s rearguard, attack with the vanguard. This will almost guarantee that they will lose their rearguard or punish them, by making lose 3+ cards to block, fearing the triggers you may get. This method is fine, since any triggers we check can be easily put on the rearguards to kill the last rearguard or pressure the vanguard. Your mission was accomplished for turn, and anything extra cards your get out of the opponent makes it that much easier to win.

The Luck Factor:

Sadly this method isn’t a sure way to beat your opponent, since luck does exist in this game through the use of the medium of triggers. Bushiroad doesn’t want this game to be entirely skill-based, thus the better player will not always win. Let’s face it, if your opponent out triggers you, or double triggers when you don’t guard sufficiently or it’s during the late game where you a dwindling on resources, they will gain massive advantage over you, enough to even overcome the advantage you carefully gained over them over the course of the game. Don’t be discouraged, you cannot control every aspect of the game, which can be fun or saddening, however if you continue to play to play without misplays, that will equate to more wins in the long run.

The wrap-up:

In vanguard, everything is based on how you set yourself up for the late game. The more cards you have on your opponent when both you and your opponent are at 4-5, will allow you to be better positioned to out guard your opponent’s attacks and beat them before you exhaust your resources. Through guarding and attacking we can achieve and beat whoever we are facing. I hope this article helped many of you become better players, new or old. I would like to thank alterealitygames for allowing me to write for their wonderful site. Please comment on your opinions on my article, I would like your input on what I wrote.

Thank you, and Play Hard or Go Home.

Kazuki Jacobson
Hi, I'm Kazuki. I live in Las Vegas and I am a high student, who loves card games, and sports. I plan to become an architect. I play mtg, yugioh, and cardfight vanguard.
Kazuki Jacobson

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