Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Deckbuilding: Staple Cards

Deckbuilding Step 2: Staple Cards
As discussed previously, a balanced deck will have 9 free spaces to place any cards its fighter likes. Those nine free spaces however, will be in part be taken up by staple cards. These are cards which you can't have a deck without, because they're too good. I'm not talking about Dragonic Overlord, Soul Saver Dragon, Majesty Lord Blaster or whatever the latest, most powerful grade 3 is--I'm talking about truly timeless cards that will be reprinted ten and twenty years from now. These cards are for the most part shared between clans, and you can't get around them no matter what your playstyle is.

The first and most immediate, is the heal trigger. You can only have up to four of these in a deck, and they will save your life where it counts. If you're looking to enter into serious competition, then four of your sixteen triggers will be heal triggers no matter what. For Royal Paladin this is Yggdrasil Maiden, Elaine; for Kagerou it's Dragon Monk, Genjo; for Nova Grappler it's Round Girl, Clara. Find your clan's heal trigger, and add four of it to your deck.

The second is what the Japanese call 完全防禦 "kanzen bougyo" or perfect defense. This is a grade 1 with a shield score of 0 which, when called to the guard circle, allows you to drop a card of the same clan as it and your vanguard to completely nullify one attack. The critical importance of the perfect defense is that it will stop skills from activating, and make any triggers your opponent drive checks useless to their vanguard. For example, Phantom Blaster Dragon's skill requires it to counterblast 2 and sacrifice 3 of its Shadow Paladin rearguards to activate. Since killing rearguards is the same as destroying your hand, because you have to call other units to replace them, this is quite the expensive skill. Dropping a perfect defense in front of PBD will mean that your opponent has just paid four cards(the cost of riding, and the cost of PBD's skill) for nothing where you paid two to stop it.

Likewise, there are a number of "megablast"-type cards which soulblast 8 and counterblast 5 to activate their skills. Dropping a perfect defense on them means that they just expended all of their soul and damage for no effect.

There should be at least 2 perfect defense cards in your deck, and 1 more for every draw trigger you add in, maxing out at 4. Unlike the heal triggers, this comes out of your 9-card allowance, because you don't want to ride a perfect defense card.

Outside of these two definitive groups, what does and does not constitute a staple is a matter open for debate. However, though their skill conditions vary greatly from clan to clan, grade 2 and 1 units which together form a 20000-power column tend to crop up as staples, and following the fourth booster set so do grade 3 and 1 units. 20000 is a very important number for individual attackers in Vanguard, because when the target of the attack is a grade 3, it takes about 2-3 cards to guard. Coming from two or more units, this is automatically more cards than the opponent will gain through twin drive and their draw phase, ruining their hand.