Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Running Vanguard on a Budget

With Vanguard's primary two audiences being college-age fujoshi and elementary-to-highschool kids, a large disposable income tends to be one thing many Vanguard fighters are lacking. The most popular and long-running clans are invariably also the most expensive. To prevent burning a hole in one's wallet trying to qualify for the US nationals, here's a guide for cheap deckbuilding.

What needs to be first understood is why Vanguard will cost a Royal Paladin player more than it will a Spike Brothers player. At the center of all this are two factors, card rarity and clan longevity. These are Cardfight!! Vanguard's rarities;

C -- Common. The lowest rarity. An example of this is the Little Sage, Marron.
R -- Rare. The third highest rarity. An example of this is Fullbau.
RR -- Double Rare. Second highest rarity. Iseult is an RR.
RRR -- Triple Rare, technically the highest rarity. This is tied with SP rare, because most RRR cards have an SP variant; however, there are some RR SPs. The odds of pulling an SP are 1 in 16 boxes(approximately 1/2400 cards or 0.2%) An example of RRR is the King of Knights, Alfred, an example of SP is Phantom Blaster Dragon's anime art. The RRR-SP tie has its source in there being no SP cards that do not have a print of another rarity available.

The way the rarities are organized is that one card in every pack is guaranteed to be R or above. Here's an example of why it's so expensive to be a Royal Paladin fighter--the key cards around BT02 for Royals were Blaster Blade, the King of Knights Alfred, Soul Saver Dragon, Akane, Pongal and Barcgal. Four of those cards are RRR/SP and the rest are R. Are you going to get four of three very specific RRR and two R cards from two booster boxes from different sets? The odds are against you.

The other factor in expense is longevity. In the Royal Paladin example described beforehand, RP's competitive cards were split between two different sets, requiring the player composing a Royal deck to buy at least two $60 booster boxes. While this is still cheaper than investing in the shady underworld of buying individual cards, that's over $100 there. And Royal Paladin is technically spread out across no less than five different booster sets--which is why Bushiroad chose to reset Aichi's clan starting with BT06.

To run Vanguard on a budget, one needs to pick a clan that fulfills the following criteria;
  • Has very few to no RRR cards worth using, thus omitting them from the deckbuilding process.
  • Is spread out across a very small number of booster sets, making them easy to acquire.
The first real example of this type of clan we get is the Spike Brothers clan. With the exception of one C and one RR card, every card that the Spike Brothers really need comes from Wild Dragon Soul Dance. The Spike Brothers have only one RRR card, Sky Diver, which is not their key vanguard; that's General Seifried.

Neo Nectar is the very definition of a budget clan. They don't have SPs; Neo Nectar stops at RR. There's only one booster pack dedicated to them. It is not difficult nor expensive to assemble Neo Nectar, and their skills are very meta, making them friendly to competitive players. In an ideal NN deck, there are 11 RR cards, 11 R cards, and 28 C cards. Multiple booster boxes are completely unnecessary for NN.

Bermuda Triangle is just as easy to run as Neo Nectar for an entirely different reason—they have an entire booster set dedicated to them, and there are only 35 cards in the set, which is less than half of the normal(80) count. This makes Neo Nectar and Bermuda Triangle the best of the budget clans, and it helps that they're both associated with making superior calls that swarm the field.

The very antithesis of a budget clan is Shadow Paladin. The clan has four RRRs to its name, all of which are absurdly essential to the clan's overall strategy, and an ideal Shadow Paladin deck will contain no less than 13 RRR cards. These expensive cards are spread out across two booster sets, and worse yet, nothing the Shadow Paladins use is ever phased out or replaced--their strategy is contiguous between sets. The Shadow Paladin clan has been rather firmly established as the trust-fund babies of Vanguard.

The key weakness in these budget clans is their total lack of support. While Spike Brothers found brief aid later on in the first extra booster, this was more by force of luck than genuine planning on Bushiroad's part. A budget clan is not likely to last through multiple seasons, unlike the higher-end, more expensive clans. This in mind, a skilled player can still bring out the potential in a budgeted deck better than an unskilled player with the most expensive Majesty-Phantom-SSD build imaginable. Throwing money at a game isn't enough to improve one's play.