Monday, November 26, 2012

The Fundamentals of Vanguard Vol. 1 - Know your Matchup

So, let me give you guys some insight into how I got into Vanguard before I start this off, you know, for shits and giggles. I come from a heavy Yu-Gi-Oh! background. I started playing when I was maybe 12-13 or so. I was pretty terrible, but I did eventually learn the concept of staples, deck structure, etc. etc. I quit for maybe 3 or so years before I decided to jump back in when Synchros were in high gear. I played Psychics, Crystal Beasts, and a bit of Evols before I finally decided to abandon ship around Summer of 2012.

That's when I noticed my friends at my Card Shop were playing a new game. I had heard of Vanguard before, but had never seen it actually in front of me being played. After a few more weeks, I was sold, and I finally decided to buy a Narukami Trial Deck and start my Vanguard career. That's also right about the time we decided to switch our usual Card Shop, switching from Collector's Cache in Lenexa, KS (which ironically is where you will find 2012 WCQ Champion Tyler Tabman. Who is a dick.) to Spanky's Card Shop in KC, MO. Don't ever buy or go to Collector's Cache, their prices and policies all suck. So, with a new shop and a new game to start on, I began delving into the world of Vanguard, and now it's my turn to share.

Know your Matchup (I'm totally copying off Chan b/c I learned first from him)

Not many people consider this to be a very essential part of the game, since most clans are "generally" the same except for a few key cards. However, not knowing the difference between Oracle Think Tank and Spike Brothers can lead to a very swift death.

Let me give you a simple scenario. This is your field.

And this is your hand.

Alright, so in our hand, we have a 12k attacker, 9k attacker, an 8k booster, and a 6k booster. Now, let's say you're playing against Alfred Royal Paladins. With your 4 empty rear-guard spaces, where should you call each unit?

After giving you some time to think, this is what your field should look like.

So, why like this, you ask?

Well, in Alfred Royal Paladins, and Royal Paladins in general, almost all of their grade 3 Vanguards are 10k. So, with us knowing their Vanguard will be 10k, we can set up our columns to force the most shield out of the opponent. The Tripp column on the right hits for 15k, forcing a 10k shield, and the Destroyer column on the left hits for 20k, forcing 15k shield (You'll learn about Magic Numbers and Guarding soon). With this arrangement, (let's assume they don't guard Sagramore) you force out 25k guard, without even accounting for triggers. Now, what if Gareth and Dindrane swap places with each other? Well, it looks solid enough, the left column hitting 18k and the right hitting 17k, but against a 10k vanguard, that forces out 20k shield, whereas our previous set-up forced out 25k. The name of the game is to force out the most shield, and apply as much pressure as you can to your opponent. The more shield you can force out, the closer your opponent will hit that 6th damage.

So, how is this all supposed to work? How do you know to set up your field like this? You have to know the matchup. If you know your opponent is playing Royal Paladin, and 99% of the time, the highest their Vanguard gets is 10k, then you set up your columns to hit 15k and 20k. If you know your opponent is playing Nova Grappler, and 99% of the time of the time, their Vanguard is going to be Asura Kaiser, Azure Dragon, Stern Blaukruger, something with 11k, then you set up your columns to hit 16k and 21k. Know is the key word here. You know what you're playing against the second they flip over their starting Vanguard, and as soon as you know that, you start building up your field to hit as hard as it can.

Part of what makes this fundamental is that it applies in every situation. No matter what clan you're playing with, the idea of knowing what you're up against and setting yourself up accordingly is universal. It's something that can be applied everywhere, and once you learn and master the concept, you get that much better at the game.

This next example is a bit more difficult, but should hopefully teach a little bit more.

Again, this is your field.

And this is your hand.

Now let's say you're up against Spike Brothers. It's your turn to ride to grade 3. Which do you choose, Thunder Break Dragon or Dragonic Kaiser Vermillion?

The answer may surprise you, but Thunder Break Dragon is your go-to guy in this situation. Okay, so why Thunder Break? We'll let's look at it this way. Vermillion killing the entire front row is great against most other decks, but in the case of Spike Brothers, they actually want their front row empty. Most of the time, if Dudley Emperor has performed his Limit Break, and the two Juggernaut Maximums have soulblasted their way back into the deck, there's nothing to Vermillion Thunderbolt in the first place. Thunder Break instead goes after boosters with his skill, which is absolutely crippling for Spike Brothers. Also note that Dudley Emperor is 10k, and Thunder Break looooooooooooves to harass the fuck out of 10k Vanguards. With Photon Bomber behind him, your late game is going to be 25k attack after 25k attack after 25k get the picture. Also Vermillion's 11k defense really has no effect here, considering that a soulblasted Juggernaut/Brakki hits for the same numbers against Mr. 10k Thunder Break over here.

This requires much more experience and understanding of the gamestate to understand, but it just shows how far this fundamental aspect of the game can be taken.

Thanks for reading!

Next week - Fundamentals of Vanguard Vol. 2

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