Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Let's Translate Cardfight!! Vanguard: Lock on Victory!! Part 2: Freetime Events

It's at this point that the game really turns us loose. We have two different "free" events to choose from, as well as a main mission with Kai, and two sets of mission fights we can do. Asaka has also been added to the Free Fight menu, using the same Pale Moon test deck. She'll be my prime punching bag while I'm building up VP to buy packs in this chapter.

I'm starting off with the game's first mission fight. These are puzzles that test the player's ability; there's a small VP bonus for clearing one, but the main draw are the online user titles you earn and the promo cards you get. What makes the titles especially interesting is that a lot of the terms in the TCG and anime originate from these mission fights--for example, "Clan Leader" was originally a title in Ride to Victory, as were "The Dark," "The Legend," and "Diablo." I won't be showing off all of these, but I figure I may as well cover one once in a while.

The first mission is standard fair for the Victory games. No triggers will appear, and you need to get the opponent to six damage using only card skills.

Our opponent is a grade 2 Eradicator with a 10k base with no field, they're at 3 damage with no cards in hand, and we're on Future Liberator Llew. Both players' triggers are all in the drop zone, and this is our entire hand. Do you see the solution?


Ride Blaster Blade Liberator, call Runebau behind him, place Gallatin in one column and Llew + Elixir Liberator in the other. That gives you three attacks that exceed a 10k base.

We gain 50 VP for clearing this mission, two copies of the promotional card Lion Mane Stallion, and the title "Ride Master."

Now is as good a time as any to go over how online profiles work. In addition to your title, you also have a message that shows up every time someone looks at your profile. These are all canned lines either created for one of the original characters, or picked from the anime. Each Victory game has a few recurring lines that are in all of them, with some being unique to its particular setting; for example, Lock on Victory has a series of quotes meant to represent the player's allegiance to either Fukuhara High, Hitsue High, or Miyaji Academy, and it also has a bunch of lines picked from the Link Joker season. (Kourin's super-dramatic "Illusion, gensou yo!" from when she fought Naoki, Naoki's "Break time!" Rekka's "Kyun-kyun ride!" and so on.) There are 86 messages to choose from in Lock on Victory, 30 in Ride to Victory, and 95 in Stride to Victory.

In all three games I go with 力あるものに栄光を chikara mono ni eikou, "All glory to the one with power." It's pulled from (several) of Ren's speeches in the first season, and it's one of the only recurring season 1 quotes to appear in every game.

You can also modify your fight avatar for online play, but you have to unlock them first. The protagonists are all unlocked by default in the uniform that corresponds to the story mode we're on, while we have to either defeat the anime characters in their strongest forms, or complete their "social links" to get them. Starting with Stride to Victory this function is tied to the deck rather than to the player, so you can have an avatar specific to each deck and change between them quickly. In total, there are 76 avatars in Lock on Victory, 6 in Ride to Victory, and 56 in Stride to Victory; the reason the original game's are so few is because only the protagonists could be used for multiplayer.

A 2012 selection of Card Kingdom decks.
As Tetsu was alluding to, the shop has a number of "test decks" available in addition to regular trial decks. These are effectively trial decks made for clans that don't have them. They seem to be inspired by similar "original decks" made by Card Kingdom, a major retail chain in Japan that makes its own unofficial trial decks by assembling commons and rares. They made a big impression by making mock-up boxes of each--resulting in official-looking Bermuda Triangle, Tachikaze, and Great Nature decks. The whole thing only worked because the CEO of Card Kingdom is old friends with Takaaki Kidani himself.

Seeing as we're only missing an Ashlei and an Iseult for the main deck, I choose to go in on a half-box of BT10 next.

I only have to reset once before I get what I'm after.

x1 Pure Heart Jewel Knight, Ashlei (RRR)
x1 Liberator of the Round Table, Alfred (RRR)
x1 Battle Deity of the Moonlit Night, Artemis (RR)
x1 Beast Deity, Ethics Buster (SP)
x1 Liberator of the Flute, Escrad (RR)
x1 Flash Shield, Iseult (RR)
x1 Eradicator Wyvern Guard, Guld (RR)
x1 Cheer Girl, Marilyn (RR)

Next I go in on a full box of BT03: Demonic Lord Invasion. Not for any triples or doubles, but instead for...

x4 Toypugal (R)

This is one of those single rares that can go in virtually any Royal deck. Toypugal is a 9k booster if you have two or more grade 3s in play, which allows it to effectively sub for the 10k booster in Sanctuary of Light, provided that you're pairing it with a 12k attacker.

x1 Swordsman of the Explosive Flames Palamedes (RRR)
x1 Super Dimensional Robo Daiyusha (RR)
x1 Stil Vampir (RRR)
x1 Demon World Marquis, Amon (SP)
x1 Dusk Illusionist, Robert (RR)
x1 Gwynn the Ripper (RR)
x1 Archbird (RR)
x2 March Rabbit of Nightmareland (RR)
x1 Doreen the Thruster (RR)
x1 Hades Hypnotist (RR)

With this out of the way, we're now going to be living out of two different boosters for the rest of the main game. BT14: Brilliant Strike, and the Collection Pack, a special booster exclusive to the game that features only promotional cards.

In two boxes we pull;
x4 Sanctuary of Light, Planetal Dragon (RR)
x5 Sanctuary of Light, Determinator (R)
x4 Sanctuary of Light, Little Storm (C)

Which is totally awesome, but still leaves us short one critical card...the first vanguard. Eight reset packs later (meaning I fought Asaka for the sixteenth time today) I have my FV.

Sad thing is, we're technically still a couple cards short after all that work. I need a set of Margals from BT02, and one more grade 2 Palamedes to round out the deck. This is virtually the only Royal Paladin deck that has ever used Swordsman of the Blaze, and the reason why should become apparent as we play more.

One of the returning--but sadly reduced--features from Ride to Victory is the "My House" (自宅 jitaku) option. In the first game My House was part of a cute achievement system. As you progressed, passing different VP benchmarks, winning in-game tournaments, and racking up wins online, you would be rewarded with customizations to your room like a set of posters, trophies, and desk objects. In this game, My House is just used to customize your character and modify communication settings.

Let's see what's up with this freetime event at Card Capital.

Kishida Osamu's happy that he pulled a good card for his Megacolony deck, and he's going to rebuild his whole deck with it. As we walk in, he asks if we'll fight him--of course, that would keep up his 100% win ratio.

My new title is "Royal Master." You earn the clan master titles from completing the corresponding puzzle mission. (In Ride to Victory these were battle missions, which made them way easier or way harder depending on your familiarity with the deck--maybe that was more appropriate for a mastery evaluation.)

We open this game going second again.

Kishida Osamu plays a Megacolony deck, but it's not the Machining build known for putting the deck on the map. Usually he's depicted with Hellspider, but some media handle him differently. Ride to Victory gave him a mixed Giraffa-Master Beetle deck, and that was probably the best overall Megacolony build that existed at the time.

Our hand is pretty magical. In order to accommodate the then-new break rides, ride chains were retooled in 2013 to functionally end at grade 2. As compensation, the grade 0 can now search for either the grade 2 or 3 from the top 7, the grade 1 provides additional ride security by searching the correct grade 2 if you ride the wrong one, and the grade 2 on-ride effect is much more powerful.

We top 7 into Planetal Dragon, the summation of this particular ride chain. With both Ashlei and Planetal in hand, our endgame is already set.

Osamu is still running the Giraffa grade 2 for its on-hit, but I also spy a Master Fraude in the damage zone. Our first turn draw trigger gives us the leniency to drop a 15k guard on it, which is important in light of the gameplan I have going.

We ride into Swordsman of the Blaze, Palamedes, which activates Little Storm's skill--when you ride any grade 2 other than Determinator, he top 7 checks for Determinator and superior rides it. The first English print of this ride chain, using Ripples, didn't specify "grade 2" and had to be errata'd. I knew one Aqua Force player who abused it all the time to superior ride into Rising Ripple Pavroth by riding the grade 1 of the ride chain over itself.

The only unfortunate thing about this is that Determinator's on-ride effect can't resolve in this circumstance, because he's riding over Palamedes, not over Little Storm.

Osamu goes into Violent Vesper, a Megacolony clone of Gigantech Charger. It's only a 9k grade 3, but when placed it automatically calls the top card of the deck.

Initially I take his first rearguard attack, intending to drop a 10k for a two-pass on his vanguard; but a damage trigger lets me do that with a 5k and save the 10k for his other rearguard column, so even after he checks draw-crit I'm still able to stop it.

That one damage trigger severely deescalates the situation, as it gives me room to go into the break ride.

On the one hand, Osamu has a much bigger hand size stockpiled than would be typical of Megacolony in this era. On the other, he has an extremely weak center lane that gives us effective control of the match from here on out, and I'm ready to explode on turn 4.

Touya: That's right...This is something only I can do!
"Break Ride!"
With Planetal's on-ride skill we superior call Little Storm, then call Palamedes from hand. Ashlei starts up our battle phase, unfortunately giving Osamu a damage trigger to work with.

Touya: Break past the boundaries...Limit Break!

On-attack, Planetal Dragon's limit break resolves. Every Sanctuary of Light card in play gains 3000 power, including itself. Moreover, since we have two grade 3s in play, Toypugal gains another 3000, putting the center lane up to 33k 2 crit. And since Palamedes is the on-attack variant of Toypugal, and now Little Storm is a 10k base, that column will also swing for 21k. It's less concerning on Osamu's end since he's sitting on a 14k right now.

...And because he has our first perfect guard of the game! Lock on Victory does not screw around.

Osamu's consistently checked a trigger per turn since the game began, leaving us going into our next one with only a Palamedes in hand and our interceptor down. We topdeck a Claudine--not the best, but by playing it we can leave one rearguard standing to disable his 11k attacker. Then I drop my 2DS and a misclick ends our main phase early, before I can swap the Claudine with Ashlei up front, denying us an interceptor. It happens!

Osamu perfect guards our now-23k Planetal, then drops a 5 and two 10s on our rearguards.

Without that interceptor, I'm forced to one-pass his vanguard and drop a perfect defense on Hercules. Fortunately, this is right when Osamu's store of good fortune runs out--his drive checks are dead.

Our topdeck is an Ashlei; the perfect attacker to pair with Little Storm down on the right.

This is also where Osamu's perfect guards run out, as he drops 25k shield split among a 10 and three 5s to guard Planetal. I check a heal trigger that goes to Ashlei, Palamedes takes another 5k from his hand, and Ashlei swings for 26k--enough to force him to empty his hand and intercept one, but not enough to kill.

Osamu makes a critical misplay here, intercepting with Hercules and not Tail Joe. With my backrow Ashlei still standing, Tail Joe is a base 8k instead of 11.

On his next turn Osamu topdecks a Violent Vesper, which pulls out a critical trigger off the top of his deck. Instead of calling it behind Joe or his vanguard, where it won't matter, he puts it behind the rearguard Vesper and ruins his formation further.

However, he does make one smart play. Joe goes after Palamedes next instead of Planetal, forcing us to let the attack go through. With only a 10k and a grade 3 in hand, we can only guard a single time, and thus have to let the next attack through no matter what.

...Then he ruins it by attacking with his rearguard Vesper, meaning we can now just take that hit and drop our 10k on the vanguard for a two-pass.

Seeing as he just shaved his own crit off the top of the deck, and only has 8 triggers left in a 19-card deck, I'm fine with taking those odds.

Osamu gets a Stealth Millipede and heal trigger. Now we need him to take two damage, with 20k shield among his hand and interceptors.

Our draw for the turn is a damage inducer, which is only going to help us if we're feeling really, really spiteful. Osamu can block two of our attacks handily, but has to do what we did two turns ago and hope we don't crit him into oblivion.

We attack with Planetal first to get Little Storm online, and Osamu chooses to one-pass us with the cards he has in hand. Not the best idea, as at four damage he could achieve functionally the same effect by no-guarding and using the shield on our rearguards, without dedicating it up front.

Heal! Osamu's guard breaks, and...

Osamu: My calculations...
He's forced to take our rearguard attack.

We score 750 VP for a win, 150 for healing twice, 50 for using a limit break, 100 for using a break ride, 100 for making an attack over 30k power, and 150 for racking up 5 bonus conditions.

Now, reflecting on that fight...in the first place, it would never have been as much of an uphill battle if we were working with the other Sanctuary of Light grade 3. Violent Vesper is a 9k base, and that left column would have been a permanent 14k every turn with Planetal's limit break, so an additional 5k would be coming out every time. So the Ashlei build isn't exactly perfect. But more than that, there was defining difference in our respective boards, and I'm not talking about triggers (or misplays, because I definitely wasn't defending adequately)--Osamu opened with three grade 2s and adequate boosters to play with, while I was holding onto 3 grade 3s on my second turn. Playing aggressively in Vanguard is usually playing better; the long-term effects of a "rush" scale throughout th ecourse of a fight, which is why putting down a similar early game even in stride format can be just as devastating.

Osamu can't believe that his calculations were subverted, and demands to buy another booster pack. Shin's just glad for the business.

Speaking of...

Dipping into Demonic Lord Invasion for another second nets us that final Palamedes.

This is what my deck will look like for the foreseeable future, albeit with Margals slowly sneaking in to replace Tabitha. The overall premise of it is to take advantage of the ride chain "stopping" at grade 2 by sitting on a break ride until we're ready to go into the endgame, working to position ourselves early in the fight until we're ready to fix the match where it is by having every row swing 21k for the rest of the game.

Let's see what senpai is up to.

Ren: ...Oh, it's just you? Everyone else is late today. Let's talk a bit. That's right...how about club activities? Or maybe something's troubling you?
...Nothing in particular, huh. That's good. Then, how about something you're interested in. If I understand it, let me answer you.
...Eh? Why do I say something different when I "stand up" my vanguard? But don't you think it's cool? To say, "Stand up, THE vanguard!" In the old days, it was something Kai would say, and I thought it sounded cool.
Will you imitate it too, Touya? Ehh, you won't? Even though it's so cool...

Asaka: I have no excuses, Master! I'm so late!!

Tetsu: I'm sorry, we had a visitor. It seems Touya got here first.
Asaka: What were you talking to Touya about? Master.
Ren: That's a secret. Asaka.
Asaka: Ehh!? Please tell me, Master!!
Ren: Well, let's begin our extracurriculars. Please make the preparations, Asaka.
Asaka: Y-yes...

Ren: Hm, that was fun, Touya.

We get a Creeping Dark Goat promo card for hanging out with Ren. This was originally one of the single most sought after Shadow Paladin promos--in the Japanese game it was exclusive to a curry promotional pack-in deal, until it got reprinted as part of a Starter Set with the Revenger trial deck, and later in the Requiem at Dusk extra booster. In the English game? Until EB11 it was a world championships 2013 promo. And it cost sixty dollars on the secondary market. I went to worlds playing PBO without one, ended up vanilla-riding over Fullbau every round til I was eliminated in round four by Illuminal, and then made top 8 at ARG Chicago the next week playing the exact same deck but with the CDG I got for attending worlds.

The moral of the story is that sometimes Vanguard can be incredibly dumb.

Ren: And, thank you for going along with my small talk.
Asaka: Master Ren, let's hurry and begin!!
Ren: Yes yes, I understand Asaka. Let's go, Touya.

Part 3: THE Kai Toshiki