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 Newbie Guide for Making a Vanguard Deck

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PostSubject: Newbie Guide for Making a Vanguard Deck   Mon Mar 09, 2015 4:19 pm

To build a deck, or to remodel a preconstructed deck, is both a necessary process in the road to becoming a professional cardfighter, and half the fun of a fight. Before even considering the cardfighters' skill levels, half or more of all fights are won before they begin; the challenge in Vanguard is derived from removing the luck through careful deckbuilding and selection of skills. We're going to start this chapter off by doing a rundown of the process.

Most players will be starting their decks from scratch, while others may choose to start with a trial deck and build from there. Neither of these ideas are wrong, but playing with a trial deck can teach you some key concepts about the game. I'll be covering these concepts regardless, so even cardfighters who start with booster packs won't be at a disadvantage.

Later sections covering clan strategies also contain helpful tips for how to build your deck, but it's a little advanced in terms of content. To get the most out of them, figure out what kind of clan suits you best first, then use those articles as a study guide.

First, we start from basic rules for making a deck:
- A deck must consist of exactly 50 cards. (This number includes your first vanguard.)
- A deck may not contain more than 4 of any individual card. The card with alternate images but with the same name will account as the same individual card.
- A deck must contain exactly 16 Trigger Units.
- A deck may only contain maximum 4 cards with the Heal trigger.
- A deck may only contain maximum 4 cards with the Sentinel skill.

Next is Card Choice:
While you're free to choose which cards you use among your 50 card deck, simply putting in units with lots of power won't be an effective strategy. To start, you need to think about grade. On the first three turns of the game, your goal is to ride the next highest unit in grade. You start with a grade 0 of your choice on the field, then ride your grade 1, ride a grade 2 next turn, and a grade 3 on the turn after. The best way to maximize your chances of successfully riding is to minimize the amount of grade 0s in the deck (you are required to have at least 16 because all trigger units are grade 0s) while creating a pyramid of grades 1-3. Because you don't need to worry about grade 2s or 3s until the turn you ride one, having less of each grade than the next is helpful as you'll have drawn more cards by the time you need to ride those units, and so have a better chance of riding them while maximizing your odds of reaching grade 1.

You also need to consider the deck's synergy. This is a measure of how well your cards work together. For example, the grade 3 unit [You must be registered and logged in to see this link.] has a skill that lets you ride him when you're at grade 2 and he's in the drop zone. That's a good skill, since it doesn't consume a card from your hand to reach grade 3, but you'll also need plenty of cards that send units to the drop zone so that you can ride him.

Next is Balancing Grade:
I mentioned that you should have a pyramid of units grades 0-3, to better your chances of riding successfully. Since riding controls which units you can call to make attacks and guard with to stop the opponent's attacks, it's naturally an important part of the game. Cardfighters who practice with trial decks will already have some experience with this concept, because the decks are balanced so that beginners will have a very good chance of making each ride. Taking into account their composition;
[You must be registered and logged in to see this link.] & [You must be registered and logged in to see this link.]: These decks have a balance of 17 grade 0 units, 16 of them being triggers and one being the first vanguard (FVG), 15 grade 1s, 10 grade 2s and 8 grade 3s. (17/15/10/8 )
[You must be registered and logged in to see this link.] & [You must be registered and logged in to see this link.]: The fourth and fifth trial decks do not need to include an FVG, as one of their triggers does the same job. In this case, the decks use 16 grade 0s, 17 grade 1s, 10 grade 2s and 7 grade 3s. (16/17/10/7)
[You must be registered and logged in to see this link.], [You must be registered and logged in to see this link.] & [You must be registered and logged in to see this link.]: Like 01 and 02, these decks introduce a new clan, so they return to the 17 grade 0 formula, with 16 triggers, one FVG, 15 grade 1s, 11 grade 2s and 7 grade 3s. (17/15/11/7)
These are the specific odds for drawing a card of a particular grade by the time you need to ride that grade, for each trial deck;
Grade 1 - 90.38%
Grade 2 -  86.35%
Grade 3 - 86.35%
Grade 1 - 93.51%
Grade 2 - 86.35%
Grade 3 - 82.09%
TD05, 06&07
Grade 1 - 90.38%
Grade 2 - 89.15%
Grade 3 - 82.09%
As you can see, decks that follow 03 and 04's line of thinking can include an extra grade 1 or 2 because they have a trigger unit as their FVG. While this gives them more flexibility and their FVG has the benefit of moving to the rearguard, then cycling back into the deck, there's an important lesson that 01 and 02/04 and 05 are trying to impart by including a seventeenth grade 0. Not just trigger units, but also normal grade 0s frequently have skills that move them to the rearguard--alongside other skills that let them achieve additional effects like adding a card to your hand, calling another unit, or retiring one of your opponent's cards. Unlike trigger units, these normal unit FVGs do not cycle back into the deck or leave the field after boosting, so even after using their skills the cardfighter using them will retain control of one more card than you. That's one more card on the field that they can boost with, attack with or sacrifice for a skill, meaning they don't need to call one unit for these purposes. Most importantly of all, they control one more card than you. This is called card advantage.

Next is Card Advantage:
The basic principle behind card advantage in professional Cardfight is that if you control extra cards, you can pay more costs, use more units, and defend more easily. Since almost all defenses are made from the hand, being able to do something as simple as calling another boosting unit to the field helps conserve their hand for defense. Considering cards that will give you advantage is another crucial part of deckbuilding. For example, let's consider these two cards;
[You must be registered and logged in to see this link.]
Grade 1/Ability: Boost
Power 7000/Shield 5000/Clan: Oracle Think Tank
Auto: When this unit is placed on V or R, if you
have a 《Oracle Think Tank》 vanguard, all players
may draw a card.

[You must be registered and logged in to see this link.]
Grade 2/Ability: Intercept
Power 3000/Shield 5000/Clan: Shadow Paladin
Auto: [Counterblast (1), Choose a
«Shadow Paladin» from your hand, and
discard it] When this unit is placed on R, if
you have a «Shadow Paladin» vanguard,
you may pay the cost. If you do, draw two
Now, which of these cards is better? Dark Cat only lets you draw one card while Nemain lets you draw two, but Nemain also requires you to discard a card, so functionally they both let you draw one.

Careful readers will note however, Dark Cat also lets the opponent draw a card. While Dark Cat's continued presence on the field is valuable, the total advantage of both fighters is 1 because you both drew. Nemain likewise remains on the field, so even with her you get one extra card, meaning that in terms of direct advantage, neither card is better. Both of them have the same shield (for guarding) but Dark Cat has more power, so wouldn't he be the better card?

If we examine their abilities though, Dark Cat has boost, meaning in the back row he can add his power to the unit in front of him when that unit attacks. Nemain has intercept, so she can be called to the guardian circle even if she's been put on the field, as long as she's in the front row. This intercept makes Nemain the better unit even though they both give the same advantage, because you gained an extra card and 5000 extra shield by playing her--arguably, as long as you discard a card with no shield for her skill and then draw a card with a shield score, you've just gained that much in defense. Nemain also does not put any cards in the opponent's hand, furthering her leg up over Cat.

Your next question may very well be "Well, why not use them both?" and that brings me to our next subject, an element of synergy.

Next is Clan:
Clan defines the army that your unit belongs to. Each army belongs to a nation, but these are only important to the storyline, not to the gameplay. For example, the original four clans were Royal Paladin, Kagerou, Nova Grappler and Oracle Think Tank. Generally speaking, each clan will be good in at least two subjects and have minor skills that let them do other things on the side. Royal Paladins are good at calling specific units from the deck and moving power around by either gaining power from units or giving it to others. Kagerou are good at retiring the opponent's units and then getting power from those retires. Nova Grapplers are good at standing their units after they have attacked to make a second attack, as well as unflipping damage. (In Cardfight, you can take up to five damage from the opponent's attacks--when you take six, you lose. Your damage is also used to pay for skills by "counterblasting," flipping over damage, so Nova Grappler can use all five of their damage for counterblasts and then completely unflip the zone.) Oracle Think Tank is good at drawing cards and "predicting the future," by looking at the top card of the deck to see what they're going to draw next, if it's a trigger, and if they want to put it on the bottom of the deck with a skill.

These are just a few examples. There are many, many more clans than this, and new ones are made each year to create diverse play styles to suit anyone. One pressing question new players have is how many different clans they should integrate into their deck. I recommend using one; professional Cardfight is not about combining the best cards from different clans, but instead about finding a clan that suits you and perfecting its play style. All clans are equal, each come with their own strengths and weaknesses, and while a clan can be overwhelmingly good in two areas, none of them can be perfect in all. Kagerou can form a strong defense and control the field, but cannot touch your hand and has trouble with key units from the other clans like Oracle's Silent Tom and RoPala's Alfred.

In the Dark Cat and Nemain example, both cards require that the cardfighter playing them have a vanguard of the same clan. Because you can normally only ride once each turn, it's difficult to change vanguards to make use of multiple skills, so it's best to drop the idea of using multiple clans and instead stick with just one.

Clan is further restricted by trigger units and perfect defense cards. Trigger units can only be activated when you have a unit of the same clan as the trigger on the field. So you could apply it to any unit once activated, but to activate the trigger you still need to have a unit of that clan. Perfect defense cards are grade 1s with 0 shield that, when called to the guardian circle, allow you to drop one card to completely nullify any one attack. They can only defend units of the same clan as them, so an Oracle Think Tank cardfighter could not call Wyvern Guard, Barri to the guardian circle. You'll have no trouble with either of these if you use a signle clan, however.

Next is Winning Image:
Now that many of the fundamentals are out of the way, let's decide the axis of our deck. By determining one card to be the central focus of your deck, you can then choose units based on how well they support that axis. Most of these axis cards will be grade 3s because those are the cards that the game is typically ended with, but in some cases there are cards like Blaster Blade (grade 2) or Battleraizer (grade 0) that can determine a deck's entire composition. In our example, let's say that I've been watching the anime and that I decided that the Nova Grapplers resonate with me. After some research, I find this card;
[You must be registered and logged in to see this link.]
Grade 3/Ability: Twin Drive
Power 10000/No Shield/Clan: Nova Grappler
Continuous【V】 : If you have a「Blaukluger」
in your soul, this unit gets +1000 power.
Auto【V】: [Counterblast (2), choose two
«Nova Grappler» from your hand, and
discard them] When this unit's attack hits a
vanguard, you may pay the cost. If you do, all
units on the same column as this unit, stand,
and this unit loses "Twin Drive!!".
I decide to make Stern Blaukluger the axis of my Nova Grappler deck. First, let's figure out all that we can just from observing Stern Blaukluger's card.
Stern has the "twin drive" ability. This is an ability that most grade 3s have by default, and unlike with boost and intercept, it is only active in the vanguard circle. With twin drive, you can drive check two cards instead of one, letting you try for a trigger twice. This is naturally good for ending the game, as you can get a lot of power in one go if you get lucky, and it forces the opponent to guard for more power than you actually have, for fear of you getting two triggers.
Normally, Stern has 10000 power. If Blaukluger is in its soul (the area under the vanguard card; this contains the cards that you've ridden on previous turns or "soulcharged," moved into your soul) then Stern has 11000 power, and because it's a continuous skill, this is active on both players' turns. So if Blaukluger is in the soul and the opponent attacks Stern with a unit that has 15000 power, it only takes 5000 shield to stop the attack instead of the 10000 shield it would take without Blaukluger.
When Stern's attack hits a vanguard, he can counterblast 2 and discard 2 Nova Grapplers to stand his entire column. Unlike with a stand trigger (which could only stand the rearguard), this lets the vanguard attack and drive check again, and it lets him attack at full power with his rearguard's boost. However, because Stern loses twin drive, he can only drive check once on his second attack, so taking into account that he has to discard 2 to stand, the player using the skill will lose one card total.
That 1000 is a big difference, so we'll want to include Blaukluger in the deck. Having looked up Blaukluger, I find that I can search him from the deck using two cards; Blaujunger (Grade 0, an FVG) and Blaupanzer (Grade 1.) When you ride Blaupanzer over Blaujunger, you can add Blaukluger to your hand to prepare for Stern; on top of that, calling a rearguard Blaupanzer lets you discard a grade 3 Nova Grappler to add Stern to the hand, and each card in the Blau series gains power from having its predecessor in the soul.
Since I want to get Blaukluger no matter what, but Blaupanzer adds him to my hand automatically, I'll need to run as many Blaupanzer as possible. (That's four Blaupanzer, according to the second rule of deckbuilding.) Blaukluger has no use in the rearguard though, so I'll only include two of him--the reason I use two instead of one is that I gain a one card advantage by riding Panzer and adding Kluger to my hand, so I want to ensure that I don't get stuck with my only Kluger in my opening hand.

I also find [You must be registered and logged in to see this link.], a Nova Grappler grade 1 with 7000 power that gains +3000 power when he stands during the battle phase. Since Stern stands the entire column, by combining Blaujunger, Blaupanzer, Blaukluger, Stern Blaukluger and Dancing Wolf in a five-card combo spread out across the entire game, I can have Stern attack once for 18000 power and then a second time for 21000. Already we can see our deck taking shape;
Grade 0
x1 Blaujunger (FVG)
Grade 1
x4 Blaupanzer
x4 Dancing Wolf
Grade 2
x2 Blaukluger
Grade 3
x4 Stern Blaukluger
Already, we have fifteen cards of our fifty card deck decided. We also know that we need exactly sixteen triggers--four of them will be heal triggers. Heal triggers are essential to playing the game, because they heal your damage when you check them while having more than or equal to damage to your opponent. If you heal a counterblasted damage, that's the same as unflipping, and no matter what you heal you can take one more damage from the opponent's attacks before losing.

Draw triggers meanwhile, let you draw a card when you drive or damage check them. That's a one-card advantage that came out of nowhere, and it's perfect during a damage check since you get to add +5000 power to your vanguard from the trigger, while also reinforcing your hand. Critical triggers deal one extra damage on the unit that you give a critical to, so they're vital for the battle phase. Stand triggers let you stand one rested unit, so they're also important to the battle phase, as most opponents prepare for three attacks in a turn, not four (or five, as Stern would have it!)

Both heal and draw triggers are essential for survival, while critical triggers give you an edge against the opponent and end the game more quickly, and stand triggers hurt your opponent's hand by forcing them to guard against your attacks a second time. Taking all this into account, we can add sixteen new cards to our deck;
Grade 0
x1 Blaujunger (FVG)
x4 Wall Boy (Heal Trigger/HT)
x4 Three Minutes (Draw Trigger/DT)
x3 Red Lightning (Critical Trigger/CT)
x4 Battleraizer (Stand Trigger/ST)
x1 Lucky Girl (Stand Trigger/ST)
Grade 1
x4 Blaupanzer
x4 Dancing Wolf
Grade 2
x2 Blaukluger
Grade 3
x4 Stern Blaukluger
Now, we have 31 cards in our deck filled and just 19 left to go. I mentioned perfect defense cards before--no matter what, no attack launched against a perfect defense can break it. As such, this could stop Stern Blaukluger in his tracks, and any other high-power attack or attached skills. We'll want these to defend ourselves. We'll also need another grade 3 obviously, but we'll want one that can work in the rearguard; Nova Grappler has a couple cards good for this, but the ideal card to pick is Asura Kaiser. The reason for this is that while Asura Kaiser only has vanguard skills, he also has 11000 power, just like Stern, and his power is always active. That means that he can get by with as little as a 5000 power booster to reach 16000, enough to oppose other 11000 power units, and he makes a good alternative vanguard to Stern.
To combo with both Asura and Stern, I pick the Death Army series, Death Army Lady and Death Army Guy. These two units are designed to work together, and while they have lower power than normal, they will stand whenever you drive check a grade 3. This means that we can have one Stern row, one Death Army row, and one normal row; the normal row receives stand trigger, the Death Army row stands on its own when we get a grade 3, and the Stern (vanguard) row stands itself when its attack connects. At max we could have six attacks in one turn, by drive checking one stand trigger and one grade 3. For this normal row I use Nova Grappler's unskilled cards, sometime called vanilla units. These cards are shared (in terms of stats) between all complete clans--grade 2s of this type have 10000 power and grade 1s have 8000 power, and none of them have skills. So now our deck looks like;
Grade 0
x1 Blaujunger (FVG)
x4 Wall Boy (Heal Trigger/HT)
x4 Three Minutes (Draw Trigger/DT)
x3 Red Lightning (Critical Trigger/CT)
x4 Battleraizer (Stand Trigger/ST)
x1 Lucky Girl (Stand Trigger/ST)
Grade 1
x4 Blaupanzer
x4 Dancing Wolf
x3 Twin Blader (Perfect Defense)
x4 Death Army Guy
Grade 2
x2 Blaukluger
x4 Death Army Lady
x4 King of Sword
Grade 3
x4 Stern Blaukluger
x4 Asura Kaiser
And there we have it, all fifty cards! Picking an axis for your deck greatly expedites the process of deckbuilding, and will generally give you more consistent results than just picking whatever looks strong. Like with Stern and his support cards, many grade 3s make the most of their skills when supported by rearguards designed for them--Soul Saver Dragon and Pongal, Tyrant Deathrex and Dragon Egg--these units should be, along with your FVG of choice, among the first cards placed in a deck.
As I showed, this winning image brings your strategy together, as most cards do not stand on their own but instead stand together. While there are certainly exceptions like Oracle Guardian Apollon, who can be brought into any deck and doesn't rely on specific clan skills, this is the ultimate core of Vanguard's strategy. Cardfight is not a game of which cards are the strongest; it's a game of making the best of a particular strategy. While it is possible to combine Blazing Flare Dragon and Dragonic Overlord The End, a deck which focuses on one of them in particular and plays those cards to the best of its ability will always do better than a deck which clumsily attempts to unite these.

Now you know the basic how to make a vanguard deck, the last thing to do is Test the Deck that you made. Win or Lose is not really a matter for a beginner, the most important thing is how far you able understand the deck you use, the more fight you do, the more experience you get. If you able to understand your deck, i'm sure that you can improve your deck on your own.

Heres the recommendations from one of our Pros:
Normally, I recommend that new players start by watching the anime and reading the manga, then figuring out for themselves which clan suits them the best. There really is no greater satisfaction than building your own deck using packs, rather than just modifying a trial deck.

However, for those that just can't wait to start the game, I would recommend the third, fourth or seventh trial decks, as they have the best grade ratios for beginners and a plethora of units with skills that combo well to teach new cardfighters how to make the most of their units. These decks are also more fun than the first, second, fifth and sixth decks. While they do not have a word on their English release dates, the Nova Grappler and Oracle Think Tank extra boosters 4 and 5 "Infinite Phantom Legion" and "Celestial Valkyries" are thought to eventually receive an EN release, and their corresponding trial decks are already on teh shelves. In the meantime, get a feel for the clans through the anime and manga, and try playing online to practice.

I will state right now that your clan is not Royal Paladin, Gold Paladin, Kagerou or Narukami. Too many new players make the mistake of thinking that this is in some way their "destined" clan based on a trial deck they bought at Wal-mart; the novelty of being Aichi or Kai wears off. These clans are very easy to autopilot and their maneuvers are telegraphed a mile away. As trial decks they make good entry-level ways to learn the game, but it can take up to a year or more to figure out which clan you truly have the most affinity with and skill playing at, and all four of these clans are extremely expensive trust fund clans that take a lot of monetary investment to play. You do not want to wind up having spent $400 (a low number by these clans' reckoning) only to discover that Oracle Think Tank, Great Nature or Aqua Force is your real calling. Whether or not you are actively enjoying the cards that you are using is an enormous factor in your ability to hang with the game and persevere into the professional scene.
As I stated before, Cardfight is balanced on a competitive level, and despite the rampant talk of tiers and claims that one clan or another is garbage that is pervading forums today, any deck can take a national or international title. One of the more enduring examples of this is Rikino Sakura, the current junior National Champion for Japan, who has maintained her title for two consecutive years; while in 2011 she used a highly popular Goku-based Kagerou deck, after using the equally-championed The End deck to break past the 2012 qualifiers, she actually took the title by switching to a completely unproven CoCo-based Oracle Think Tank build that made her the first cardfighter in history to maintain a title over multiple years. In fact, Rikino holds more titles than any other cardfighter in history as a direct result of this change, and she was able to deeply upset the existing concept of what made a "good" deck as a result. Consider the clans available carefully, test your affinity for them online, and make your choice only after careful forethought and planning for the future.

Hope this thread is not too long for you, thanks for reading and hope this is helpful.
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Newbie Guide for Making a Vanguard Deck

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