For those that have play more than a few games of Cardfight Vanguard, being “trigger-sacked” is the second most popular reason why people say that they lose their game, next to being unable to ride from G0 to G3 smoothly. The most common frustration is being “double-triggered”, or when your opponents manages to give their vanguard +10k power as well as additional effects when you have the overwhelming advantage. But is that truly just luck that allows a moment like that?
In a deck for Cardfight Vanguard, there can only be 50 cards, and 16 of them are triggers, the crucial cards that can make or break the game. Including the fact that you set a vanguard facedown before drawing, both players have 49 cards in the deck, and 16 triggers as well (unless the starter is either Lozenge Magus, Battleraizer or Turboraizer). This means that almost 99% of the time both players have the same change of drawing their triggers. As the game progress and cards are being used, both players can get a sense of how many triggers remain in the deck. Let us say that Player A is attacking Player B. After checking the cards on his opponent’s field, drop zone and damage zone he estimates that in the remaining deck of 25 cards there are 8 triggers left. That means there is a 32% chance that he hits a trigger in the first drive check. If he does not hit a trigger in the first drive check, then the chances of the second check being a trigger increases slightly to 33%. But the chances of him hitting two triggers in the same drive check is a very low 9%. That means that if Player B guards the attack to the point where the vanguard needs 10k more power to hit, it would be a smart move. Majority of the players think that way. Person A reveals a trigger on the first check. In 95% of this situation, Person A would give one of his standing rearguards the trigger effect to ensure that small advantage he gains for attacking.
However, there are many situational moments when the person will fall into the 5% category and give himself a chance for a big hit. If Player B has a large hand, it is most likely that even if Player A gives the trigger effect to a rearguard, Player B will be able to defend the attack. In this scenario, it makes more sense to take that chance of revealing two triggers since the yield of doing so provides more of an opportunity to win rather than ensuring the bonus 5000 power isn’t wasted. However, let us say that Player B is at 4 damage and Player A’s trigger check reveals a critical trigger. There are two options for this situation. One is to take a gamble and give all effects to the vanguard, that way when a second trigger is revealed the opponent’s damage will hit 6. The second option is to give all effects to the rearguard and forcing your opponent to consume his shields to defend that attack. Which situation is the right call? There is no answer to that question. If you feel like the second trigger will show up, take the chance. If not, playing safe will set you up for future turns. The more shields you force out of your opponent that turn, the less shields he or she will have at later turns when you go for victory.
For a visual concept of the above scenario, episode 55 clearly shows how a choice like that can determine the result of the game. For those that have not seen the episode yet, it is the moment where Misaki Tokura continues her match against Yuri Usui in the National Semi-final match. On her last turn, she reflect on the probability of her revealing a draw trigger after the critical showed on her first drive check. She chose to play it safe and placed the effects onto her rearguard Goddess of the Full Moon, Tsukuyomi. Unfortunately for her the second check did reveal a draw trigger, and the match ended in her loss. In this episode Yuri mentions about how sometimes it is good to take that risk, and had Misaki taken that chance she would have confirmed the second victory for Team Q4 to go on to the Finals against AL4. What’s important to note about this particular episode is when Shin mentions that while Misaki’s and Yuri’s fighting styles are essentially opposites (trigger attacks vs. probability) that there is no wrong style to play the game. If you can accurately guess when the trigger shows up, why not use that to your advantage?
This rivalry of trigger-pulling vs. calculated chances continues in episode 98, where the two fighters duke it out during the VF Circuit final tournament. In that moment where Misaki drive checks a critical, she reflected on her play-style and thought about the probably and outcome of the choices. She chose to power up her vanguard and a heal trigger lead the path to her victory. So there are moments where putting that power onto the vanguard is a smart move depending on the situation. Probability plays a big role in the game; you just need to recognize the moments where it can be helpful. Of course, Misaki’s deck reduces chance by allowing her to see 15 cards from her deck and stack at least 12 of them so she can figure out how many triggers she might draw and what cards are most likely to show up, but most of the time you just need to keep track about information like that.
While I just argued that probability and statistics play a larger role into the game than initially thought, at the end of the day it does all boil down to luck. Two cards left in a deck, one is a trigger. A 50-50 chance seems pretty fair, right? It's either you get it or you don't. Let's say you had a 75% of getting a trigger. Chances are in your favor right? But that still leaves a 25% chance of not being able to get that trigger. And there are people who simply do not get that trigger they needed. In a game that allows soo much draw power and abilities to thin out the deck, all the math that says you have a 99.99% chance of drawing a trigger doesn't matter unless you are in that .01% of not getting that trigger. The math work just shows the increase of chances that you have of getting a trigger, or any card you want really. If you didn't get it, too bad; the math work isn't wrong, you just happen to be unlucky.
How do you know what situation should you take that chance of double trigger? To be honest it isn't an answer that has a clear answer except when the opponent has a large hand. I personall have been playing the game before it came out in English, and I have moments where I just go all in and gamble it all on that second trigger. It's a gut feeling that you get in almost any situation, when you feel like pressuring your opponent or when you want to go for game right then and there. It is your call whether to take that chance or not. No one else can force you to make a different decision; after all, YOU are the one playing the game, not the person who's yelling at you from his seat.
For those that are like Player B and have to think about Player A's attack, what can you do? You can use your own probability by counting the number of trigger that is deemed public knowledge. If you see 14 triggers, chances are he will not hit the two triggers. But there's that nagging question of, 'What if he gets lucky enough and the top cards of his deck are triggers?' Well in the scenerio earlier, Player B has a large hand. Isn't the point of having a large hand is to be able to defend yourself, or is it to show off your dominance at that moment? You can simply drop enough shields so that it the vanguard needs an additional 15000 power to break the defense; that way it can't hit no matter what. Just be sure to leave enough defense for the rearguards under the assmption he hits those triggers as well, or else you might just conserve hand and hope he doesn't show two triggers.