Card advantage is an important but often misunderstood subject in any card game. Cardfight!! Vanguard is no exception. The basic concept of card advantage is the more cards a player has, the better off that player is during that game. However there are a multitude of other aspects to card advantage that are often overlooked for the aforementioned basic concept.
An undoubtedly important aspect is card quality advantage. Card Quality doesn't look at the amount of cards you have but instead takes a look at the level of usefulness those cards have. It's great and wonderful to have a large hand in a game such as Vanguard but it's pretty horrible if all those cards in your hand are Grade 3 Units that can't be used to guard and can't be played to the your field without taking an unnecessary minus because your field already contains an established formation.
A common but understandable mistake of players new to Vanguard (who come from a competitive background in other card games) is the belief that draw triggers are the best triggers because they create advantage. However lets consider the usefulness of the draw trigger against a different trigger in the following example.
A player attacks the defending Vanguard with their own, the defending player chooses not to guard. The attacking player drive checks any unit and a draw trigger (which draws any Unit with 5000 shield). The attacking player grants the +5000 power boost from the draw trigger to a standing rearguard. During the next turn of the previously defending player, the draw trigger along with what it drew into is used to guard an individual attack.
A player attacks the defending Vanguard with their own, the defending player chooses not to guard. The attacking player drive checks any unit and a critical trigger (which inflicts an additional point of damage to the defending player). The attacking player grants the +5000 power boost from the draw trigger to a standing rearguard. During the next turn of the previously defending player, the critical trigger is used to guard an individual attack.
In the first example, the player was granted a 5000 power boost and a 10000 Shield from the draw trigger. In the second, the player was granted a 5000 power boost, 10000 shield and an additional point of damage was dealt to their opponent effectively doing more than the draw trigger. The result here proving that one card can do more than two and thus has an overall higher quality than either of those cards.
While some cards are noticeably weaker individually, together they can improve the quality of each other. For example, the draw trigger in scenario 1 was combined with a card that acted as an additional +5000 shield but what if it instead drew into a different card such as a perfect guard? Which would then be subsequently used to guard the opponent's Vanguard completely next turn for practically one card, this would be a preferable situation instead of the perfect guard having to discard a trigger with a shield value of 10000 (Note: This is just an example, perfect guards don't actually have to discard cards with a shield value of 10000 all that often in reality).
Gold Paladins were an incredibly popular choice for the Vanguard World Championship Circuit 2012 namely due to their nature for creating advantage quickly. However, many players using the Gold Paladin clan fail to realize that despite being able to create advantage quickly, it also has the ability to lose it just as fast.
Let us consider for a moment one of the star units of Gold Paladins, “Great Silver Wolf, Garmore”. Garmore has the ability to superior call any grade 2 or lower Gold Paladin unit from the deck for the cost of two counterblast when the Player rides it. It should be worth nothing that inherently Garmore doesn't create advantage because it's a -1 for the riding and a +1 for the Unit called resulting in a net gain of 0 (ignoring the skills of the superior called units).
If Garmore superior calls “Sliver Fang Witch” or “Listener of Truth, Dindrane” and uses their effects, the player gets to draw an additional card resulting in a true +1 in card advantage. However Garmore has a base power of 10000 so despite creating that advantage, he won't be keeping it for long because he is open to abuse by columns hitting for 20000 power, which became common around Garmore's release, forcing him to choose between no guarding or guarding with 15000 shield (that is 2-3 cards) minimum per attack.
This example alone isn't enough, so we should contract it with a card that doesn't create advantage at all and one of my personal favorites “Chief Nurse, Shamsiel” of the Angel Feather clan.
Unlike Garmore, Shamsiel doesn't create any advantage at all. Her limit break is always one card in, one card out resulting in a quantifiable net of 0 additional cards. Her second ability doesn't create advantage either, what it does do however is let her conserve what the Angel Feather player already has. 20000 and 21000 power columns are easy to come by in Cardfight!! Vanguard since Booster Set 6 and so on however 22000, which is the number you need to hit to force at least 15000 guard guard off a once-buffed Chief Nurse Shamsiel, require very specific conditions to hit consistently. Between early guarding to help tanking mid-game (that is to say, take the Vanguard hit, which is usually the first, to gain the buff to dilute the power of the other rearguard Columns) and the existence of “Battle Cupid, Nociel”, Shamsiel forces players to adapt to this situation throughout the game to the point where due to her mere existence and possiblie capabilities, locks the opponent into creating mediocre columns of 17-19-21 that at best force 10000 shield (that is 1-2 cards) minimum per attack.
With Garmore, the player is losing anywhere between 2 to 9 cards a turn whereas with Shamsiel the player is losing anywhere between 1 to 6 cards a turn. Assuming in both examples, that the opponent has assembled the best columns to adapt to the situation at hand, the Gold Paladin player is losing up to an additional three cards each turn compared to the Angel Feather player.
Card advantage is a good and useful concept as long as the cards themselves are also good and useful. Don't go decking sixteen draw triggers because they technically give you card advantage, instead deck things like Perfect Guards because despite them taking an additional card from your hand, they can protect you from losing and can more often than not guard you from Vanguard attacks using less cards than you would need if you didn't have them. Card advantage means nothing if all of the bajillion cards you have in your hand don't actually help you win, they may nearly as well be blank pieces of card at that rate.