Saturday, March 31, 2018

End of an era: Vanguard leaves Sunday mornings for late-night

On April 8th, 2012, the first episode of Cardfight!! Vanguard Asia Circuit aired on TV Tokyo. It was 10:00 AM on a Sunday morning in Japan, twenty-six hours later than the first season's timeslot. Since that episode aired, Cardfight!! Vanguard has retained its timeslot across seven seasons of animation and nearly six years of continuous broadcast.

Until today.

The final episode of Cardfight!! Vanguard GZ has aired, and with it comes an end to Vanguard's stranglehold on the slot. After the 24th episode closed, the first thing to follow was a TV spot for Kiratto Pri☆chan, which will be taking its place in seven days' time. The next season, which begins May 5th, will be broadcast at ten different times. All but two of them are after 9:00 PM. Its primary slot is 10:00 PM JST Saturdays on Tokyo MX, and its latest slot is 3:00 AM Monday morning on Sun TV. In Japan streaming services have struggled to gain ground, with only around 16% of residents using a subscription streaming service compared to more than 50% overseas. Traditional television broadcasts and video rentals are still thriving, and so the change represents a potentially harmful shake-up for the franchise domestically.

Who is this new slot targeted at? Vanguard has cross-demographic appeal, but while Future Card Buddyfight is Bushiroad's elementary school show, Vanguard is primarily targeted at late middle through high school students. (The biggest clue to this--both Aichi and Chrono began as middle school students that eventually went through the all-important transition to high school.) Perhaps there's a fourteen-year-old working a graveyard shift desk job somewhere there that thinks this new slot is a dream come true. But for the majority of Vanguard's target audience, these are inaccessible air times their parents would never let them tune in to, and it's hard to say if any but hardcore fans will be following this series. The new season's most accessible broadcast time for its traditional audience is Wednesdays at 7:00 PM, taking over from...THE Karaoke★Battle 2018?

North American viewers will probably prefer the change. For those of us in the midwestern United States Asia Circuit was airing in the dead of night at 10:00 PM through the grainy low-quality video playback and lossy audio of Keyhole TV. (This was a dark time, when Bushiroad had chosen to not renew their contract with Crunchyroll as a direct result of how heavily pirated Vanguard was--they sincerely thought no one was watching, and thus it took a good thirteen weeks for fan outcry to change their minds. Remember kids, KissAnime and HorribleSubs almost killed Vanguard.) With the show now moved thirty-six hours forward, we'll be getting "Origin" at a cozy 9:00 AM, as if it were a real Saturday-morning cartoon. Those on the west coast will instead be up at 6:00 AM sharp to catch the new series, or otherwise spend their mornings hiding from their Twitter feed.

All joking aside, the move to 10 at night is concerning. Some have interpreted it as an opportunity to inject the show with "darker" themes, but those hoping for Bushiroad to hand Aichi a gun anytime soon are in for a rude awakening. The more likely explanation is that the series' history of falling ratings and poorly-performing merchandise has hurt its future with TV networks. Of note is that while seasons five, six, and seven of Vanguard were all greenlit long before they went into production, no similar deal has been announced since early 2014. It seems the anime has been renewed season-by-season up to now, and the confidence once placed in the brand is long gone.

Bushiroad has taken the appropriate measures to fight for the franchise's survival, aggressively marketing the upcoming anime through a total takeover of the Yamanote Line, and pushing the rebooted game at major events like Anime Japan 2018, all while promising to focus on their international presence in this year's strategy conference. The new series is set to debut May 5th, with a subbed simulcast appearing on Crunchyroll. For the English-speaking world, the game itself will follow on June 8th.

Come this time next year, where will this new Vanguard be? Will it recapture everyone we lost in Asia Circuit, Link Joker, and G? Will it be found worthy of being called back to its old home--or perhaps become something else entirely?

Time won't tell. We will.


Friday, March 30, 2018

Bushiroad Minisleeve #93 "Imaginary Gift" launching May 11th


Duel Portal reports that to commemorate the start of the Cardfight!! Vanguard reboot in May, Bushiroad is debuting a new minisleeve featuring the emblem for the "Imaginary Gift" mechanic. Although the TCG and anime are beginning again from zero, the Bushiroad sleeve collection series will be continuing from #93 with the Gift design. It will launch simultaneous to V-TD01: Sendou Aichi and V-TD02: Kai Toshiki, on May 11th, 2018.

Trial Deck 01: Sendou Aichi and Trial Deck 02: Kai Toshiki will launch in Japanese May 11th, 2018, and in English June 8th, 2018. The first Booster Set of the Standard format, BT01: UNITE! TEAM Q4! will launch in Japan May 25th, 2018, and in English June 22nd, 2018. The accompanying new anime series, codenamed "Origin," will begin airing May 5th, 2018, on TV Tokyo and affiliated stations. It will be simulcast with English subtitles on YouTube and Crunchyroll.

New character Kawanami Minami appearing in Cardfight!! Vanguard anime

March 30th, 2018. Leaked images from what appear to be the next issue of Monthly Bushiroad magazine reveal several of the upcoming characters from the rebooted Cardfight!! Vanguard anime series, among them Foo Fighter Kawanami Minami. Voiced by Katsu Anri, Minami's clan is unstated but he is based on the Foo Fighter of the same name fought by Kai Toshiki in chapter 5 of the manga. That version of Minami was the manga's first Megacolony user, and the first character to using the Machining subclan across the whole series; his deck was built around Machining Stag Beetle.

Kawanami Minami
Voice: Katsu Anri
"A member of Foo Fighter who enjoys brutally fighting his opponents."
Also among the returning cast are Morikawa Katsumi, Izaki Yuuta, Yahagi Kyou, Nitta Shin, Miwa Taishi, Katsuragi Kamui, Tokura Misaki, in addition to Aichi, Kai, and Ren. This season is to once more portray the conflict between Team Q4 and Team Foo Fighter.

Of note is that Minami's name was never stated in the original manga, but author and illustrator Itou Akira tweeted it after the series ended, admitting that he forgot to mention the name during the series' run.


Suzugamori Ren is described in the magazine as a first-year high school student at Fukuhara High and the leader of Foo Fighter's AL4. (Apex Limited 4) He possesses the ability PSY Qualia, which allows him to hear the voices of units on planet Cray, and refers to Tetsu as "Tecchan" and Asaka as "A-chan."

Meanwhile Tokura Misaki is a first-year high school student at Miyaji Academy, while Miwa Taishi is a first-year at Hitsue High.

The new anime series, codenamed "Origin," will begin airing May 5th, 2018, on TV Tokyo and affiliated stations. It will be simulcast with English subtitles on YouTube and Crunchyroll, and unlike past seasons will be in a late night to early morning timeslot. Trial Deck 01: Sendou Aichi and Trial Deck 02: Kai Toshiki will launch in Japanese May 11th, 2018, and in English June 8th, 2018. BT01: UNITE! TEAM Q4! will launch in Japan May 25th, 2018, and in English June 22nd, 2018.

Images provided by 2critical.

Thursday, March 29, 2018

A biography of classic Great Nature

The first Great Nature deck only contained 12~16 Great Nature cards, because that's all the clan had. Your main grade 3 was Mr. Invincible, and your goal was to get Scientist Monkey Rue on your rearguard circles, using his counterblast to buff up and then kill the Silver Wolves and/or Intelli-Mouses behind him each turn. Normally that would cost a total 4 counterblast, but with Mr. Invincible and Dogu Mechanic letting you countercharge each turn, it was reduced to effectively CB1 for +4000 to a unit. In the Onslaught of Dragon Souls format, when anything over 16k was remarkable and most vanguards were 10k bases (and some were 9k) having consistent 20~22k rearguard lanes was something special. You could substitute one of the Scientist Monkeys for a Geograph Giant, get backup countercharging from Hungry Dumpty and Super Electromagnetic Lifeform Storm, and if the game dragged on long enough you might even use Invincible's megablast late-game to stand the whole field.

It was weird, it was clunky, it was slow, it lacked draw power, and we'll never really know if it was good, but it was fun. Good fun. In those days Alfred/Soul Saver Dragon and Goku/Dragonic Overlord were the two dominant decks, and if you could beat them then you could beat anything. The Rue/Invincible deck was a preview of what was to come for Great Nature. Patient cardfighters that took note of it saved up their Geograph Giants and Silver Wolves for the day when they would finally have a full clan to play them in. (A few of us even held onto Rue and Intelli.)
Sample Rue decklist (BT02)
Grade 0: 16
x4 Battleraiser (ST) (FV)
x4 Round Girl, Clara (HT)
x4 Red Lightning (CT)
x4 The Gong (DT)
Grade 1: 14
x4 Twin Blader (Sentinel)
x4 Silver Wolf
x3 Screamin' and Dancin' Announcer, Shout
x3 Dogu Mechanic
Grade 2: 12
x4 Geograph Giant
x4 Hungry Dumpty
x4 Super Electromagnetic Lifeform, Storm
Grade 3: 8
x4 Scientist Monkey, Rue
x4 Mr. Invincible
That day came thirteen months later for the Japanese format, when BT07: Rampage of the Beast King arrived on July 12th, 2012. Or for those of us playing with KeroKero Ace leaks on Cardfight Capital, May 25th.

From KKA we learned about...
  • Guardian of Truth, Lox (and his entire ride chain)
  • School Dominator, Apt
  • All three Hammsuke support cards
  • A lot of miscellaneous clones like Resanori, Hula Hoop Capybara, and the perfect guard
  • The vanilla crit, stand, and heal
Without further information the deck wasn't fully playable on these alone, as it was missing a fourth trigger type. Some fighters either proxied a draw (presuming a rainbow trigger set would be the only one possible) or mixed clans to fill out the deck.

Initial observations of the deck showed a pretty clear divide between Lox and Apt usage. Apt should have been the clan's go-to boss card, like the other Garmore clones of his day; prior to Spectral Duke hitting, Great Silver Wolf singlehandedly made Gold Paladin the beast it was in the English format. In a pre-Shamsiel world Kiriel was the core of the best Angel Feather decks, while Cocytus gave Granblue its first moment in the spotlight since the clan's inception. Tamamo, Battle Sister Cookie, and Raqiel would all go on to be fleeting darlings for their respective clans. So why did Apt specifically fall flat?

While this wasn't immediately obvious, Great Nature's own core abilities made the Garmore method obsolete. Like all Garmore clones Apt had a Charjgal equivalent that could boost him for a sum 11000 power, Feather Penguin. The problem being, there was no reason to run a base 6000 11k soulblast booster when you could achieve the same effect by throwing 4k on any of the clan's cornucopia of 7ks.

It was cheaper to do it, and it kept a cycle of on-retire draw effects going. So even if you were playing Apt in your deck, there wasn't much incentive to build specifically around his one named support card.
AUTO [Vanguard Circle]: [Choose one of your <<Great Natur>>" rear-guards, and retire it] When this unit 's attack hits a vanguard, you may pay the cost. If you do, choose up to one <<Great Nature>> from your hand, and call it to Rear-guard Circle.
Second, rather than a superior call for advantage like other Garmoes, his normal skill was instead supposed to be for Great Nature what Sword Magician Sarah was for Pale Moon. But Sarah had Purple Trapezist to work with to let her get an entire column to stand while Apt had to rely on stand triggers for the same effect. And because his retires took place in the battle phase rather than the end phase, none of the clan's on-retire skills would resolve. Where the card shined was in retiring units that were already consigned to die from receiving previous power buffs, replacing them Skydiver-style with new attackers.

Apt would turn out to be a passable backup grade 3 when BT07 launched, but was quickly outmoded by the time BT08 rolled around.
Sample Apt decklist (BT09)
Grade 0: 17
x1 Blackboard Parrot (FV)
x4 Dictionary Goat (HT)
x4 Ruler Chameleon (CT)
x2 Triangle Cobra (CT)
x3 Eraser Alpaca (ST)
x3 Alarm Chicken (ST)
Grade 1: 14
x4 Cable Sheep (Sentinel)
x4 Coiling Duckbill
x4 Hula Hoop Capybara
x2 Silver Wolf
Grade 2: 11
x4 Binoculus Tiger
x4 Compass Lion
x4 Barcode Zebra
Grade 3: 8
x4 School Dominator, Apt
x4 Dumbbell Kangaroo
On the other end, you had Guardian of Truth Lox. This was a card many cardfighters mistook for an advantage engine, then became frustrated with when it turned out they weren't drawing all that many cards compared to Oracle Think Tank or even Gold Paladin. The Lox ride chain was part of the same second-generation wave of chains kicked off by EB02's Riviere then succeeded by BT06's Ergodiel, but it had more in common with the latter than the former.

To recap, the difference between Ergodiel and Riviere was that each individual step of riding a piece of the Ergodiel chain (Heavenly Injector --> Fate Healer Ergodiel --> Cosmo Healer Ergodiel) resulted in a net wash in terms of card advantage, putting two cards into the damage zone to bring two cards out. What this was supposed to do was play off of having Million Ray and Thousand Ray Pegasus columns in play beforehand, creating aggressive 24k-power rearguard lanes early in the game.

The problem was that it flopped if you didn't have the existing setup in your opening hand, whereas decks not built around these strategies could devote space to things like Gojo and Aermo clones for the purposes of fixing bad early hands. Meanwhile Riviere instead drew a card with every ride (Top Idol Riviere --> Super Idol Riviere --> Eternal Idol Riviere) resulting in a net +1 each turn instead of a neutral +0. In theory the rides from Ergodiel when executed well could take away far more cards from the opponent than you would gain from another ride chain, but in practice it was so dependent on getting specific cards in play early in the game that it rarely worked out to be better than Riviere or Vortimer's take.

On paper, Lox looked like he could give card advantage. With every ride (Bringer of Knowledge Lox --> Law Official Lox --> Guardian of Truth Lox) he would endow two rearguards with the ability to draw 1 when they were retired during the end phase of the turn. The problem with this is that by default, Great Nature's retire skills did not already draw to replace the units they retired; the units gained a 4k buff then died in the end phase with no immediate recouping of the lost cards. So these skills simply made those power gains a neutral exchange that could potentially cycle out bad cards, but were ultimately a wash. The only way to actually plus off of these retires in BT07 was with the Hammsuke series, and to maximize your chance of getting one in hand during the grade 1 and 2 turns you needed to run each of them at 4, when the ride chain was already taking up 4 slots per grade.

If you tried Hammsuke, your deck ended up looking like this:
Grade 1
x4 Cable Sheep (Sentinel)
x4 Lox
x4 Hammsuke
x2 Monoculus Tiger
Grade 2
x4 Lox
x4 Hammsuke
x4 Binoculus Tiger
It was only with the release of Coiling Duckbill (a grade 1 that applies a Lox effect to any other rearguard) in BT08 that Lox could finally plus off of his retires without committing all of his slots, and by then there were other Great Nature decks doing it better and more consistently. Lox had a lot of issues preventing his spread--he needed a very specific setup to work well, he needed it early, and it had to come in the form of both units that could be targeted for advantage (Hammsuke) and units that could retire them to trigger the skills. (Binoculus and Monoculus) Moreover, by being a ride chain the deck necessitated losing a huge amount of space that could have gone to other utility cards like Hula Hoop Capybara or Flamingo.

What Lox did have going for him was his persona blast. This was not a limit break like the other Great Nature boss cards, but a BT05-style persona blast where you paid counterblast 2 in the main phase and discarded a copy of Guardian of Truth to give one unit +4000 power and +1 Critical. A Magnet Crocodile  (generic 12k grade 3 attacker) given his persona blast and buffed by Binoculus Tiger could be terrifying provided you checked a stand trigger. 20k 2 crit rearguard attacking twice was far more intimidating than a 21k 2 crit center lane, because you had to account for both vanguard and rearguard attacks being capable of ending you in the same turn.

Stands in particular were recognized as better in Great Nature than in other clans from the moment we first saw Binoculus Tiger in mid-June. The deck lived and died by Binoculus' ability to give a Monkey Rue effect to a rearguard every time it attacked a vanguard. What this did was essentially make stand triggers into an early version of front triggers, giving 9k power instead of 5k. You would attack with Binoculus first and give 4k to your other attacker, then if you drive checked a stand with the vanguard you would stand Binoculus but give the power to the attacker. Binoculus would swing at the vanguard and not be able to hit, but could still give another 4k to pump that attacker up further. Stands also opened up plays like giving power to the vanguard on a two-to-pass battle and still getting 4k on a rearguard through Binoculus as a safeguard in the event a second trigger didn't come out, which was more often then not enough to bump up the final guard value. 6-8 stand quickly became common to the deck.

That said, the nature of Lox's persona blast also conflicted with the existing support. You wanted to target the Hammsuke series for these retire skills because they could make a wash of the loss, but the most readily usable Hammsuke was a grade 1 that shouldn't be up in the front row attacking. The grade 2 Hammsuke could work, but you were then losing space that you needed for Multimeter Giraffe. (13k base defense was a primary concern in the format of this era.)

All this brings us to an issue in game design. Gold Paladin, for CB2 SB1 off of Garmore --> Dindrane in the same set would get a net +2 on-ride. Great Nature, for CB2 persona blast and CB1 Hammsuke search would get a net +0. Lox involved way too many unstable moving parts to justify his use, which was disappointing considering he was the cover card of the set. It was like BT02 and 04 all over again.
Sample Lox decklist (BT09)
Grade 0: 17
x1 Schoolyard Prodigy, Lox (FV)
x4 Dictionary Goat (HT)
x4 Ruler Chameleon (CT)
x4 Eraser Alpaca (ST)
x4 Alarm Chicken (ST)
Grade 1: 14
x4 Cable Sheep (Sentinel)
x4 Bringer of Knowledge, Lox
x4 Coiling Duckbill
x2 Tick Tock Flamingo
Grade 2: 12
x4 Law Officer, Lox
x4 Binoculus Tiger
x4 Compass Lion
Grade 3: 7
x4 Guardian of Truth, Lox
x3 Magnet Crocodile
Lox was complicated and lacked a real payout to all of that searching, drawing, and persona blasting. He had a good finishing move, but none of the technical payoff his ride chain seemingly foreshadowed. Meanwhile Apt was very simple yet lacked synergy with the deck's rearguard support. There was a serious argument to be made for playing School Backpack Sealion instead. (Crimson Butterfly Brigitte clone, for you youngsters.) Where could Great Nature possibly go from here?

Fortunately, lots of places.

We knew of one last boss card from the moment the set's sleeves were revealed: School Hunter Leo-pald. The contemporary wave of Card of the Day profiles spent a lot of time reiterating the things we had already learned about in KeroKero Ace, mainly Apt, Lox, and the Hammsuke line. The real turning point was when the ongoing Asia Circuit anime finally revealed Leo-pald's limit break in late June.

On vanguard circle, it was a grade 3 continuation of Monoculus and Binoculus Tiger, buffing a rearguard by 4k on-attack and retiring it in the end phase. As for the limit break, when a unit was retired in the end phase, he could pay counterblast 1 to bring it back to the field.

This was nutty. One turn you could retire a Hammsuke, fetch a copy of it, bring the first one back, then the next turn get Binoculus and Leo-pald's skills going on both Hamms to grab the rest of the playset. Net +1 for CB2, and with Tick Tock Flamingo thrown on the Hammsuke it'd be as low as CB1.

Once BT08 hit--and we had access to Duckbill well before that, mind, as this was on CFC--you could draw 2 off of the Hammsuke on top of that, a net +3 for CB1. Leo-pald put the Great in Great Nature, and the only issue with the deck was the lack of a good alternate grade 3. Most cardfighters were running Magnet Crocodile, as it was a 16k by itself when buffed and could help out versus crossride decks, but there weren't great options for the vanguard circle itself. Lox cost too much counterblast and his persona blast was overly restrictive in a deck that needed the skill to get the retire and draw effects going, while Apt was just a vanilla 21~26k column. Whether that was really a step up from the Brigitte-and-Alfred days was uncertain, and a few cardfighters seriously ran Sealion with Leo-pald because of that.
Sample Leo-pald decklist (BT09)
Grade 0: 17
x1 Blackboard Parrot (FV)
x4 Dictionary Goat (HT)
x4 Ruler Chameleon (CT)
x2 Triangle Cobra (CT)
x3 Eraser Alpaca (ST)
x3 Alarm Chicken (ST)
Grade 1: 15
x4 Cable Sheep (Sentinel)
x4 Coiling Duckbill
x4 Recorder Dog
x3 Pencil Squire, Hammsuke
Grade 2: 11
x4 Binoculus Tiger
x3 Compass Lion
x4 Melodica Cat
Grade 3: 7
x4 School Hunter, Leo-pald
x3 Vocal Chicken
Leo-pald did found a potential partner and competitor in BT08, in the form of Armed Instructor Bison. Bison had a similarly-timed end phase LB4 that countercharged 2 every time a rearguard was put into the drop zone. Essentially Bison was the Flamingo to Leo-pald's Duckbill, enabling the entire Hammsuke line. BT08 was also where we gained Compass Lion, the clan's 11k grade 2. While most 11k grade 2s in this era possessed Restraint, Lion instead required a rearguard to be retired in the end phase (compare and contrast Cannon Gear from Tachikaze.) Compass Lion was an invaluale asset, as he could be an effective backup for Binoculus.

This limit break was an incredible temptation, and a predecessor to Tri-stinger Dragon in BT09. You could use it in a more straightforward form, going CB4 to power up two rearguards for an aggressive offensive, then countercharging all of that damage in the end phase and ideally using replacement skills with Duckbill to gain card advantage. Or you could use it as a fuel for bigger costs, like the Bison decks that ran original Dragonic Overlord for his CB3 restand ability, making up for his loss of -2000 power by putting buffs onto his boosters.

(Do note that in the video, both fighters forget at points that DO is down to 9k at all.)

Being a functional CB1 for a 14k rearguard that could clear out the opponent's front row units made Overlord a powerful niche choice over running Bison with Leo-pald early in the deck's life. With the coming of BT09: Clash of the Nights and Dragons Bison fully branched out into a separate deck build, using Vocal Chicken, Melodica Cat, and Recorder Dog in combination with Duckbills to simultaneously gain card advantage, maintain strong columns, and thin the deck of non-trigger units. To summarize it succintly, each card in the series searched for the next; so when the grade 3 Chicken was retired it would superior call the grade 2 Cat from the deck, and when the Cat was retired it would search the grade 1 Dog, after which it reset so that the Dog searched for the Chicken. Leo-pald could use these cards too and gain instant advantage off of them with no Duckbills required, retiring the units to superior call the next in line and then revive them. A single Melodica Cat over the course of two turns could be transformed into a Melodica Cat, two Recorder Dogs, and a Vocal Chicken, provided you had a Tiger or Lion to help get the party started.
Sample Bison decklist (BT09)
Grade 0: 17
x1 Blackboard Parrot (FV)
x4 Dictionary Goat (HT)
x3 Castanet Donkey (DT)
x4 Ruler Chameleon (CT)
x4 Eraser Alpaca (ST)
x1 Alarm Chicken (ST)
Grade 1: 14
x4 Cable Sheep (Sentinel)
x4 Coiling Duckbill
x4 Recorder Dog
x2 Tick Tock Flamingo
Grade 2: 11
x4 Binoculus Tiger
x3 Compass Lion
x4 Melodica Cat
Grade 3: 8
x4 Armed Instructor, Bison
x4 Vocal Chicken
The final grade 3 Great Nature got before the end of the second block and the beginning of the break ride era was also its best-received card since Leo-pald. Battler of the Twin Brush Polaris was revealed essentially simultaneously between the 100th episode of the anime and his corresponding COTD profile, and the hype for the card revolved around a single icon;
AUTO [Vanguard Circle]: [Limit Break 4]: [Counterblast 2] When this unit attacks a vanguard, you may pay the cost. If you do, choose one of your other <<Great Nature>> rear-guards, Stand it, during this turn, it gets Power +4000, and during the end phase of hte turn, retire that unit.
Immediately you saw a surge in Polaris usage as fighters rushed to build around being able to intiate their fourth attack of the turn at-will. Polaris worked beautifully not just with the usual suspects of Magnet Crocodile and Hammsuke, but with Binoculus Tiger. Going with an attack order of Tiger  > Polaris > Tiger > 2nd rearguard allowed you to use your Tiger to pump up the rearguard by 8k rather than 4, and the corresponding attack power was in the ballpark of 16 > 21 > 13 > 28. These numbers probably don't sound like much if you're coming from post-Chatnoir Great Nature, but at the time they were competitive with Metatron, the other big power deck of the day. (Her attacker orders looked like 16 > 27 > 28, essentially equivalent in terms of guard numbers.)

In some respects Polaris was like an inversion of Lox. Rather than giving a unit crit and driving for a stand trigger to close the game, Polaris was giving the unit stand and driving for a crit. This conformed more to what we expected of conventional Vanguard play and trigger lineups, and Polaris as a whole was a lot easier to "get" as opposed to Bison's convoluted Vocal Chicken setups or Leo-pald's revival shenanigans.
Sample Polaris decklist (BT09)
Grade 0: 17
x1 Blackboard Parrot (FV)
x4 Dictionary Goat (HT)
x4 Castanet Donkey (DT)
x4 Ruler Chameleon (CT)
x4 Triangle Cobra (CT)
Grade 1: 14
x4 Cable Sheep (Sentinel)
x4 Coiling Duckbill
x3 Silver Wolf
x3 Tick Tock Flamingo
Grade 2: 12
x4 Binoculus Tiger
x4 Compass Lion
x4 Geograph Giant
Grade 3: 7
x4 Battler of the Twin Brush, Polaris
x3 Magnet Crocodile
So Great Nature had a plethora of play styles available in its first real year, a huge amount of support across three consecutive booster sets, and could break the boundary into competitive play if worked on seriously enough. Why didn't more people play it, then?

There was once a joke in the Vanguard fandom that we were interested in Rampage of the Beast King when we saw Lox, but we came to the set for Luquier, and then we stayed for Sarah. BT07 as a whole has a bad rep with the fanbase; part of that is marketing, part of it is design flaws, and part of it is the audience. Great Nature was far more cerebral and far less straightforward than something like Gold Paladin or even Neo Nectar, it was pushed as the next big thing without clearly explaining what made it good, and several of the deck types were just too difficult to pull off compared to the crossrides that were still dominating the game at the time. Bushiroad wasn't helping by providing very little direction with the decks and feature episodes.

Seriously, the decklists they provided were terrible.

Two Binoculus Tiger and one Compass Lion? Tank Mouse tech with four Monoculus? Two perfect guards?

(Incidentally, early in Great Nature's life there was a flood of attempted keywords the fanbase cooked up in an attempt to name their buff mechanic. Most of these were on the edgelord middleschooler side of things--"doping," "brainjacking," etc.--and none ever caught on.)

Maybe the biggest issue with Great Nature early on was which cards were allocated where. If we had Duckbill in BT07 rather than Flamingo, Leo-pald would have had a much easier time topping against the meta monsters. If Compass Lion had been in there from the start, that would have alleviated the issues felt by Lox cardfighters that were running into situations where they could get their ride chain going but rarely had anything they could use to retire units with. Hammsuke/Ruler Chameleon as your primary advantage engine was a hard sell, and so was getting fighters to track down three copies of Binoculus Tiger at RRR rarity. Bison and Polaris diverisifed the clan signficantly, but prior to that Leo-pald was the only practical build due to the opening Lox ride having a rough 46% chance to go off.

The early days of Great Nature were a time when the clan was underused and underappreciated. It boasted some very unique design concepts and possible directions to build a deck in: if you wanted to rack up hand size you went with Leo-pald, if you wanted a flashy finisher you played Lox or Polaris, and if you wanted total resource manipulation you played Bison. In 2018 Great Nature will get a new lease on life, and it's hard to say who the "face" of the clan will be, because they had so many in their first go-around. Just remember--before there was Chatnoir, before there was Bigbelly and Arusha and Afanc, there were three weird little cards named Rue, Apt, and Lox. And they were neat as h*ck.

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Anime Japan 2018 recap: Vanguard Origin TV schedule

At the Anime Japan 2018 convention this past weekend, Bushiroad conducted demo workshops with the Stardrive and Crested Dragon Star Decks, helping newcomers learn the rules and preview what the Standard format will be like when it launches in May. In addition to the free decks and Blaster Blade promotional card, participants were given a copy of the 2018 Vanguard beginner's guide with accompanying manga chapter illustrated by author Itou Akira. This was the first time the Crested deck was made publicly available; it will next be distributed in the May issue of Monthly Bushiroad magazine, before being sent out to shops April 7th.

At the Tokyo MX booth, Kitta Izumi and Itou Ayasa appeared as part of a special panel to promote the TV segment "Monthly Bushiroad with Vanguard," which will be used to introduce each new episode of the next season of Cardfight!! Vanguard on its primary channels, Tokyo MX and Sun TV. These segments will air at 10:00 PM Saturdays and 3:00 AM Sundays Japanese time, beginning April 7th for MX and April 8th for Sun TV. Kitta has voiced Tokura Misaki on Cardfight!! Vanguard since the first episode debuted in 2011, and spent some time discussing how the character evolved. Itou Ayasa is the voice of Yatomi Saya in Cardfight!! Vanguard G, and the two of them will be cohosting "Monthly Bushiroad with Vanguard."

The air schedule for the new season's first episode is as follows;
Bushiroad TV with Vanguard
Tokyo MX
Saturday April 7th, 10:00 PM
Sun TV
Monday April 9th, 3:00 AM

Cardfight!! Vanguard
AbemaTV
Saturday May 5th, 9:00 PM
YouTube
Monday May 6th, 12:00 AM

Cardfight!! Vanguard
Tokyo MX
Saturday May 5th, 10:30 PM
Sunday May 6th, 11:00 AM
Wednesday May 9th, 7:00 PM
Sun TV
Saturday May 5th, 10:30 PM
Sunday May 6th, 11:00 AM
Wednesday May 9th, 7:00 PM
While Vanguard's target demographic is in the range middle through high school students, and it has enjoyed a strong viewership among elementary-aged children, the new programming schedule puts the anime almost exclusively in late night timeslots with low exposure. The first season originally aired Saturday mornings at 8:00 AM, while its sequel Asia Circuit moved to 10:00 AM on Sunday. This is the timeslot Vanguard has retained throughout its entire run up until the final episode of GZ this coming Sunday, and some suspect Tokyo MX to be setting the series up for failure.

Poor ratings would make a handy justification to end their contract with Bushiroad; while four years ago CEO Kidani Takaaki could boast of three more seasons of Vanguard being greenlit at once, that kind of confidence is now a thing of the past. Bushiroad's sudden blitz of advertising, taking over the Yamanote Line and pushing demos out to more than three hundred stores nationwide, could be seen as the company taking appropriate responses to ensure the franchise's survival. Of note is that the new season's 9:00 PM slot on AbemaTV is the one most frequently advertised online, despite Bushiroad creating the Monthly Bushiroad block for Tokyo MX.

The new anime series, codenamed "Origin," will begin airing May 5th, 2018, on TV Tokyo and affiliated stations. It will be simulcast with English subtitles on YouTube and Crunchyroll. Trial Deck 01: Sendou Aichi and Trial Deck 02: Kai Toshiki will launch in Japanese May 11th, 2018, and in English June 8th, 2018. BT01: UNITE! TEAM Q4! will launch in Japan May 25th, 2018, and in English June 22nd, 2018.

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

New Bushiroad mobile game "Triple Monsters" to feature Cardfight!! Vanguard units

Gacha? Gotcha.
The 24th episode of Weekly Bites Z opened today with an announcement regarding a new card game from Bushiroad, Triple Monsters. Doctor O's special guest cohosts Sasaki Mikoi (voice of Okazaki Kumi in Vanguard G) and Katherine represented the "TriMon" franchise, which will be collaborating with Cardfight!! Vanguard; three associated music CDs releasing March 28th will come packaged with a set of promotional Vanguard cards featuring TriMon characters.

TriMon is a card game played on smartphones, which facilitates "digital cardfights." Its key art and character designs are done by Suzuhito Yasuda. (Devil Survivor, Digimon Story Cyber Sleuth, Durarara!!) Vanguard characters like Blaster Blade and Silver Thorn Dragon Tamer Luquier will be appearing in the game as playable cards, which begins its Japanese closed beta test on the 28th. The final game is planned to launch in April.

TriMon isn't the only smartphone game Bushiroad is pushing in 2018, as the company is also working on its Vanguard app Cardfight!! Vanguard Zero, due out this winter. This isn't the first time Vanguard's crossed over with a game like this either--previously Blaster Blade and Blaster Dark appeared in Bound Monster.

The TriMon cards are each grade 3 units with a base power of 333, and are hotstamped in gold foil with the autographs of the characters' respective voice actors. They each bear an accompanying quote from that character in place of flavor text, and pull directly from Suzuhito Yasuda's illustrations of the cast.

Doctor O also announced that new Supply Set for Vanguard will be available for purchase at this year's Great Vanguard Festival, consisting of 4000 yen (approx. $38) bundles of card sleeve sets and playmats. The sets are themed after teams from the anime. The Team Jaime Flowers set contains a Ranunculus of Phantasmic Blue Ahsha playmat with Battle Sister Florentine and One Who Proceeds Toward Daybreak Scharhrot sleeves; the Team Striders set contains a Dragabyss Luard playmat with Chronojet Dragon Z and Golden Holy Sword Gurguit sleeves; and the Fukuhara High Vanguard Club set consists of a Black Shock Gavrail Prim playmat accompanied by Higher Deity Knight Altmile and Dragonic Vanquisher “SPARKING” sleeves.

Fans in Japan will be able to preorder the items from 3:00 PM JST March 30th through 1:00 AM April 9th. These will be delivered in the latter half of June. Those outside Japan will have to work through an intermediary.

The next episode of Weekly Bites Z, #25 will air April 3rd at 9:00 PM JST. It will be the first episode of Weekly Bites to air after the end of the G era. The previous episode unveiled a color rerun of the first Cardfight!! Vanguard manga.


Monday, March 26, 2018

Watch Kitta Izumi and Morishima Shuuta fight it out in new Vanguard tutorial video

"I'll do it, Morishima. I'll show you me when I'm playing seriously." (ʘ‿ʘ✿)

Kitta Izumi and Morishima Shuuta, the respective voices of Tokura Misaki and Nitta Shin in the Cardfight!! Vanguard anime series, appeared in a special tutorial video for the new Standard-format Vanguard trading card game. Morishima plays the Royal Paladin Star Drive deck while Kitta plays the Kagerо̄ Crested Dragon deck.

In the video, they demonstrate:
  • The basics of setting a First Vanguard, drive checking triggers, and conducting battle.
  • The new redraw/mulligan procedure. (You stack the cards you're putting back on the bottom of your deck, then draw the replacements, then shuffle.)
  • How to apply the Imaginary Gift ability, "Force."
Although much of the video is in Japanese, the terminology used is mostly romanized English that will ring familiar to any avid viewers of the officially-subbed anime series.

Sunday, March 25, 2018

Bushiroad bringing back Vanguard beginner's guide and manga

When Bushiroad first set out to franchise Cardfight!! Vanguard seven years ago, they began by setting up workshops and demo locations across Japan where prospective players could try the game, and walk away both with a demo deck and a chapter of the manga.

This practice carried over when they brought the game westward, and many veteran players will recall seeing the beginner's guide (and its very rough translation compared to Vertical Inc.'s final release) at regional qualifiers, and other events. International versions of the manga used key art of Sendou Aichi under the influence of PSY Qualia for the front cover, and the back cover featured an ad for the then-new Extra Booster 03: Cavalry of Black Steel.

Like many of the game's older traditions, Bushiroad is bringing the beginner's guide back for the series' 2018 reboot. The new book carries the familiar "Not for sale" stamp, and is titled Let's Start Vanguard 2018. It features the unmodified first chapter of the manga, along with an updated players guide that explains the new Gift mechanics. Thanks to the manga's loose-approximation approach to cardfights, the story translates easily to the Standard ruleset new players are learning at the workshops, as author Itou Akira didn't dwell heavily on numbers for the introductory chapter. The beginner's guide will come with the same Blaster Blade promotional card currently being handed out with Stardrive Start Decks in Japan, and is being distributed for the first time at the Anime Japan 2018 convention.

The new anime series, codenamed "Origin," will begin airing May 5th, 2018, on TV Tokyo and affiliated stations. It will be simulcast with English subtitles on YouTube and Crunchyroll. Trial Deck 01: Sendou Aichi and Trial Deck 02: Kai Toshiki will launch in Japanese May 11th, 2018, and in English June 8th, 2018. BT01: UNITE! TEAM Q4! will launch in Japan May 25th, 2018, and in English June 22nd, 2018.

Saturday, March 24, 2018

Spring Demo Caravan draws over 5000 participants

Since the beginning of the Cardfight!! Vanguard Spring Caravan one week ago, more than 5,000 people have taken part in the official demos of Standard format, held at 65 shops across Japan. Participants were able to take a beginner's class in the game's rules, and receive a free Stardrive Dragon Start Deck. This weekend Bushiroad will begin distributing its Kagerou counterpart, the Crested Dragon Start Deck, at the Anime Japan 2018 trade show. The deck will then become available in Monthly Bushiroad magazine, and go out to shops for distribution April 7th.

Bushiroad will be giving out one hundred thousand such decks at over 300 locations in the coming months, in Japan as well as in Asia. Similar demo events will be held overseas, in the United States and other English-speaking countries.

The new anime series, codenamed "Origin," will begin airing May 5th, 2018, on TV Tokyo and affiliated stations. It will be simulcast with English subtitles on YouTube and Crunchyroll. Trial Deck 01: Sendou Aichi and Trial Deck 02: Kai Toshiki will launch in Japanese May 11th, 2018, and in English June 8th, 2018. BT01: UNITE! TEAM Q4! will launch in Japan May 25th, 2018, and in English June 22nd, 2018.

Friday, March 23, 2018

Vanguard takes over Tokyo trains in aggressive new advertising campaign

Bushiroad promotes new series by celebrating seven years of animation.
Original image uploaded by Comic Natalie.
For two weeks from March 22nd to the 29th, trains operating on the JR Yamanote Line will be sporting Cardfight!! Vanguard advertisements on their exteriors. More than 129 designs will be featured, highlighting every existing season of the Vanguard anime series and concluding with key visuals from the 2011 manga and 2018 rebooted anime series. A full schedule can be seen below.
  • 03/22 - Cardfight!! Vanguard and Asia Circuit
  • 03/23 - Cardfight!! Vanguard: Link Joker
  • 03/24 - Cardfight!! Vanguard: Legion Mate
  • 03/25 - Cardfight!! Vanguard G, GIRS Crisis, and Stride Gate
  • 03/26 - Cardfight!! Vanguard G: NEXT 
  • 03/27 - Cardfight!! Vanguard G: Z
  • 03/28 - Original comics and new anime series key visual
The Yamanote Line is Japan's busiest and most commercially important railway system, running around the economic epicenter of the nation to connect with every major station in Tokyo. Operating for approximately twenty hours around the clock, at peak hours one train departs every two minutes from one of its 29 stations. More than one million people use the line daily, and all but two of its stations connect to other railways. Bushiroad's move to canvas the line in Vanguard advertising is part of a hard push to get the franchise in the public eye in advance of its next season.

Vanguard banner at Toshimaen waterpark, July 2011.
Despite being comparatively smaller than its contemporaries Yu-Gi-Oh!, Pokémon, and Magic: The Gathering, since 2011 Cardfight!! Vanguard has developed stronger visibility with the general public through similarly grand-scale advertising campaigns. While Konami, TPCi, and Wizards of the Coast, have generally downplayed the importance of explicit commercials to promote their trading card games--favoring TV anime series and/or a greater brand name to push their product--Bushiroad has always emphasized traditional television commercials, posters, and other forms of public advertising to reach out to new audiences that aren't already engaged with TCGs. Nearly every individual booster set and trial deck receives its own preview video to promote it, while for the past seven years most of the company's competitors have limited their PV output to one to two major videos per year.

2011 billboard advertisements for BT02: Onslaught of Dragon Souls, set up along a railway.
The result is that many casual consumers of Vanguard in Japan mistakenly believe it to be bigger than its contemporaries, as they live in a landscape shaped by the brand. When the game first launched seven years ago, Bushiroad partnered with three of the nation's biggest waterparks to turn their pools into giant Vanguard advertisements for one summer. Parkgoers could dry off and walk right into a teaching workshop for the game, then leave with the first chapter of the manga for free. Throughout the Asia Circuit arc Bushiroad made a point of advertising around university campuses, on billboards and at train stops. And at one point, the company even owned the variety TV program Vanga-Road, created specifically to promote Cardfight!! Vanguard using the crossover celebrity appeal of its cohosts, actress Kitta Izumi and musician Naitou Daigo.

January 2013 wall advertisement for Cardfight!! Vanguard: Link Joker.
The new anime series, codenamed "Origin," will begin airing May 5th, 2018, on TV Tokyo and affiliated stations. It will be simulcast with English subtitles on YouTube and Crunchyroll. Trial Deck 01: Sendou Aichi and Trial Deck 02: Kai Toshiki will launch in Japanese May 11th, 2018, and in English June 8th, 2018. BT01: UNITE! TEAM Q4! will launch in Japan May 25th, 2018, and in English June 22nd, 2018.

Thursday, March 22, 2018

V-BT01: UNITE! TEAM Q4 card listing

Let's ride! To a new Vanguard!
To be updated as new cards are revealed.

Release dates: 05/11/18 (JPN) 06/08/18 (ENG)
MSRP: 300 yen per pack, 4800 yen per box (JPN)
The set's tagline is "Let's ride! To a new Vanguard!" 

Contains cards for Royal Paladin, Kagerou, Oracle Think Tank, and Nova Grappler. You can build a complete deck for each clan in the set. None of the cards in the set are shared with TD01 or TD02.

Contains 84 types of cards; 4 Vanguard Rare, 8 Triple Rare, 12 Double Rare, 17 Single Rare, and 43 Commons. Further features 4 Special Vanguard Rare, 4 Origin Rare, 1 Image Ride Rare, and 4 Secret Rares. Each pack contains 7 cards, 2 cards in every pack are Single Rare or higher. 1 display box contains 16 packs. 1 carton contains 20 display boxes.

This set introduces Vanguard Rare and Special Vanguard Rare (main units only, one per box, SVR is hotstamped) Image Ride Rare (features Sendou Aichi as Blaster Blade, illustrated by Itou Akira) Secret Rare (hotstamped Gift Markers containing the autographs of the show's Japanese seiyuu) and Origin Rare. (Units from the original Cardfight!! Vanguard TCG with new artwork and their modern abilities.)

As part of a promotional campaign, for every 4 packs purchased customers will receive a Special Pack. These consist of a promotional card for Royal Paladin, Kagerou, Oracle Think Tank, or Nova Grappler, paired with a corresponding Gift Marker of one of the Team Q4 members. (Sendou Aichi, Kai Toshiki, Tokura Misaki, or Katsuragi Kamui.)

King of Knights, Alfred (V-BT01/001 VR)
  • Grade 3/Twin Drive!!/13000 Power/No Shield/Royal Paladin - Human
  • Imaginary Gift: Force
  • Designed by Itou Akira, illustrated by Tajima Takehiro
Gigantech Charger (V-BT01/042 C)
  • AUTO [Vanguard/Rearguard Circle]: When this unit or your other vanguard is placed, this unit gets Power +10000 until end of turn.
  • Does not possess Imaginary Gift. 
Soul Saver Dragon (V-BT01/005 RRR)
  • ACT [Vanguard Circle]: [Cost: Soulblast 5] 6 of your units get Power +15000 until end of turn. 
  • AUTO [Vanguard Circle]: When it attacks, you may Soulcharge 1.
  • Imaginary Gift: Force.
Blaster Blade
  • Will be featured as the set's IMR (Image Ride Rare), an illustration of Sendou Aichi as Blaster Blade illustrate by Itou Akira. 
High Dog Breeder, Akane (V-BT01/006 RRR)
  • Automatic [Vanguard/Rearguard Circle]: When placed, by paying [Counterblast 1], search your deck for up to 1 "Pongal," call it to Rearguard Circle, and shuffle the deck.
  • Continuous [Vanguard/Rearguard Circle]: During the battle it is boosted by a <<High Beast>>, this unit gets Power +3000.
Funnergal (V-BT01/025 R)
  •  AUTO [Rearguard Circle]: When it attacks a vanguard while boosted, by paying [Counterblast 1], soulcharge 1 and this unit gets Power +5000 until the end of that battle. 
  • CONT [Rearguard Circle]: If you have five rearguards, this unit cannot be attacked.
Conjurer of Mithril (V-BT01/013 RR)
  • AUTO [Rearguard Circle]: When placed from hand, [Cost: Counterblast 1, Soulblast 1] search your deck for up to 1 grade 2, call it to a Rearguard Circle, and shuffle your deck.
Little Sage, Marron (V-BT01/014 RR)
  • Automatic [Rearguard Circle] Once per turn: When your other rearguard is placed in the same column as this unit, by paying [Counterblast 1], draw 1 card, and during that turn this unit gets Power +3000.
Knight of Rose, Morgana (V-BT01/026 R)
Pongal (V-BT01/027 R)
  • AUTO [Rearguard Circle]: When placed, if you have another unit on the same column as this unit, [Soulcharge 1]. If you soulcharged a Trigger Unit, until end of turn, this unit gets Power +5000.
  • A promo version of this card with Origin Rare-style artwork is being given out to the winners of the Standard and Premium Standard shop tournaments in Japan from 05/01/18~05/31/18.
 Radical Knight, Anil (V-BT01 045 C)
  • CONT [Rearguard Circle]: During the battle it attacks a vanguard, this unit gets Power +3000.
Miru Biru (V-BT01/046 C)
  • CONT [Rearguard Circle]: If it is in the same column as the vanguard, this unit gets Power +5000.
Lion Mane Stallion (V-BT01/047 C)
  • CONT [Rearguard]: If you have four or more rearguards, this unit gets Power +3000.
Flash Shield, Iseult (V-BT01/015 RR)
  • CONT: Sentinel (You may only have up to 4 cards in your deck with "Sentinel")
    AUTO [Guardian Circle]: When placed, by paying [Discard 1 card from your hand], one of your units cannot be hit until the end of that battle. 
 Giro (V-BT01/048 C)
  • CONT [Rearguard/Guardian Circles] This unit cannot be chosen by your opponent's card effects, and cannot be attacked.
Imperial Daughter (V-BT01/002 VR and V-BT01/??? SVR)
  • AUTO [Vanguard Circle]: When placed, [Cost: Counterblast 1], look at 2 cards from the top of your deck, put 1 of them into your hand, and 1 of them into your soul or on the top of your deck, and if you rode from a grade 3, this unit gets Power +15000/Critical +1 until end of turn. 
  • ACT [Vanguard Circle] [Once per turn]: [Cost: Soulblast 1] Until end of turn, 1 of your units gets Power +6000.
  • Imaginary Gift: Protect
  • Designed by Itou Akira, illustrated by HMK84
CEO Amaterasu (V-BT01/007 RRR)
  • ACT [Vanguard Circle]: Once per turn: [Cost: Counterblast 1] Draw 1 card, look at 1 card from the top of your deck, and put it on the top or bottom of your deck. 
  • AUTO [Vanguard/Rearguard Circle]: During your turn, when you look at your deck by one of your effects, this unit gets Power +5000 until end of turn. ("Look at," "Reveal," and "Search" effects will all activate this effect. No matter how many cards you look at with 1 effect, it's still +5000.) 
  • Imaginary Gift: Protect
Battle Maiden, Sarasa (V-BT01/029 C)
  •  AUTO [Vanguard/Rearguard Circles]: When it attacks a vanguard, look at 1 card from the top of your deck, place it on the top or bottom of your deck, and until the end of that battle this unit gets Power +6000.
  • No Imaginary Gift.
Victorious Deer (V-BT01/016 RR)
  • ACT [Vanguard/Rearguard Circles] Once per turn: [Soulblast 2 grade 3 cards, discard 1 card from your hand] Look at 7 cards from the top of your deck, reveal up to 2 Critical Triggers from among them, put the revealed cards on top of your deck in any order, shuffle the remaining cards and put them on the bottom of your deck, and until end of turn 6 of your units get Power +10000.
Yellow Witch, MeMe (V-BT01/028 C)
  • AUTO [Rearguard Circle]: When placed, look at the top card of your deck, and place it on the top or bottom of your deck.
Weather Girl, Saft (V-BT01/0?? C)
  • AUTO [Rearguard Circle]: Once per turn: When you draw a card, by paying [Cost: Soulblast 1], this unit gets Power +6000 until end of turn.
Solid Turtle (V-BT01/052 C)
  • AUTO [Rearguard Circle]: When placed, by paying [Cost: Soulblast 1] draw 1 card, and discard 1 card from your hand.
Silent Tom (V-BT01/???)
  • Unknown.
  • Strongest candidate for V-BT01/008 RRR.
  • AUTO [Rearguard Circle]: When it attacks a vanguard, by paying [Cost: Counterblast 1], draw 1 card, discard 1 card from your hand, this unit gets Power +6000 until end of turn, and if your vanguard is grade 3 or greater, look at 1 card from the top of your deck, and place it on the top or bottom of your deck.
Promise Daughter (V-BT01/017 R)
  • CONT [Vanguard/Rearguard Circle]: During the battle it attacks a vanguard, if the number of cards in your hand is 4 or greater, this unit gets Power +6000. 
  • CONT [Vanguard/Rearguard Circle]: This unit is not retired by your opponent's card effects. (It can still be chosen)
  • AUTO [Rearguard Circle]: When it boosts a vanguard, if the number of cards in your damage zone is 3 or more, this unit gets Power +6000 until the end of that battle.
Farfalle Magus (V-BT01/031 R)
  • AUTO [Rearguard Circle]: When placed, look at the top card of your deck, and place it on the top or bottom of your deck.
Shooting Bobby (V-BT01/055 C)
No skills.

Circle Magus (V-BT01/009 RRR)
  • AUTO [Vanguard/Rearguard Circles]: When your vanguard's drive check reveals a grade 2 or greater, you may put that card on the bottom of your deck, and draw 1 card. 
  • AUTO: When rode upon, [Cost: Counterblast 1] draw 1 card.
Luck Bird (V-BT01/056 C)
  • AUTO [Rearguard Circle]: When placed, [Cost: Soulblast 2] draw 1 card, and this unit gets Power +6000 until end of turn.
Oracle Guardian, Gemini (V-BT01/030 R)
  • ACT [Rearguard Circle]: If the number of cards in your damage zone is 3 or greater, [Cost: Put this unit into your soul] Countercharge 1.
Petal Fairy (V-BT01/054 C)
  • ACT [Rearguard Circle]: [Cost: Put this unit into your soul] Look at 1 card from the top of your deck, and put it on the top or bottom of your deck. If you put it on the bottom, 1 of your units gets Power +5000 until end of turn.

Lozenge Magus (V-BT01/??? C and VPR/????)
  • AUTO: When rode upon, draw a card.
  • CONT: Sentinel (You may only have up to 4 cards in your deck with "Sentinel")
    AUTO [Guardian Circle]: When placed, by paying [Cost: Discard 1 card from your hand], one of your units cannot be hit until the end of that battle.
Dragonic Waterfall (V-BT01/003 VR and V-BT01/SV03 SVR)
  • AUTO [Vanguard Circle]: When placed, choose 1 of your opponent's grade 2 or greater rearguards, and retire it. 
  • AUTO [Vanguard Circle]: When it attacks, [Cost: Soulblast 1 grade 3 card] this unit gets power +10000/Critical +1 until the end of that battle, and your opponent cannot call cards with "Sentinel" to Guardian Circle from hand.
  • Imaginary Gift: Force
  • Designed by Itou Akira, illustrated by TOMEE
Cruel Dragon (V-BT01/019 RR)
  • CONT [Hand]: During the turn your opponent's rearguard was retired, you may normal call this unit to Rearguard Circle even if your vanguard is grade 2 or lower. 
  • AUTO [Rearguard Circle]: When its attack hits a vanguard, by paying [Return this unit to your hand], you may Soulcharge 1.
Vortex Dragon (V-BT01/033 R) 
  • Does not possess the Imaginary Gift ability.
  • Activate [Vanguard Circle] [Once per turn]: [Counterblast 2] Choose 1 of your opponent's rearguards, retire it, and if you have 5 damage, discard your entire hand and retire all of your opponent's rearguards.
  • Automatic [Vanguard/Rearguard Circle]: When your opponent's rearguard is retired during your turn, this unit gets Power +5000 during this turn.
Prowling Dragon, Striken (V-BT01/034 R)
  • Continuous [Vanguard Circle]: This unit cannot attack.
  • Automatic: When ridden by a grade 3, by paying [Counterblast 1], draw 1 card, during that turn, your vanguard gets Power +5000/Critical +1.
Spillover Dragon (V-BT01/063 C)
  • Automatic [Rearguard Circle]: At the end of the battle it attacked a vanguard while boosted, by paying [Counterblast 1, put this unit into your soul], choose 1 of your opponent's grade 2 or less rearguards, and retire it. 
Berserk Dragon (V-BT01/010 RRR)
  • AUTO [Vanguard/Rearguard Circles] When placed, by paying [Counterblast 1, soulblast 1] choose one of your opponent's rearguards, retire it, and if this unit is on the Vanguard Circle, draw 1 card. 
  • AUTO [Rearguard Circle]: When it attacks a vanguard, if the number of your rearguards is greater than your opponent's during that battle, this unit gets Power +3000.
Bellicosity Dragon (V-BT01/035 R)
  • AUTO [Vanguard/Rearguard Circles]: When your opponent's rearguard is retired during your turn, this unit gets Power +5000 until end of turn.

  • AUTO [Vanguard/Rearguard Circle]: When your opponent's rearguard is retired during your turn, this unit gets Power +5000 until end of turn.
  • A promo version of this card with Origin Rare-style artwork is being given out to the winners of the Standard and Premium Standard shop tournaments in Japan from 06/01/18~06/31/18.
Damanance Dragon (V-BT01/065 C)
  •  AUTO [Vanguard/Rearguard Circles]: When it attacks a vanguard, if the number of your rearguards is greater than your opponent's, this unit gets Power +5000 until end of battle.
Savage Hellfire, Gabiya (V-BT01/067 C)
  • AUTO [Vanguard/Rearguard Circles]: When it attacks a vanguard, if an opponent's rearguard was retired this turn, this unit gets Power +10000 during that battle.
Flame of Hope, Aermo (V-BT01/011 RRR)
  • CONT [Rearguard Circle]: During the battle it boosts, this unit gets Power +3000.
  • AUTO [Rearguard Circle[: When your opponent's rearguard is retired during your turn, by paying [Cost: Retire this unit], draw 1 card, and Countercharge 1.
Dragonic Gaias (V-BT01/020 RR)
  • AUTO [Rearguard Circle]: When it boosts a grade 3 or greater, [Cost: Counterblast 1, put this unit into your soul] the boosted unit gets Critical +1 until the end of that battle. (If you put it into the soul, the boosted unit does not receive Power.)
Wyvern Guard, Barri (V-BT01/022 RR)
  • CONT: Sentinel (You may only have up to 4 cards in your deck with "Sentinel") 
  • AUTO [Guardian Circle]: When placed, by paying [Discard 1 card from your hand], one of your units cannot be hit until the end of that battle.

Perfect Raizer (V-BT01/004 VR and V-BT01/??? SVR)
  • AUTO [Vanguard Circle]: When it attacks, by paying [Cost: Counterblast 2], choose 2 of your front-row rearguards and Stand them. 
  • AUTO [Vanguard Circle]: When its attack hits, if you have a "Raizer" card in your soul, Countercharge 1, and 1 of your units gets Power +5000 until end of turn.
  • Imaginary Gift: Accel
  • Designed by Itou Akira, illustrated by ToMo. (ToMo also illustrated both of the previous Perfect Raizers.)
Asura Kaiser (V-BT01/012 RRR)
  • AUTO [Vanguard Circle]: When your drive check reveals a grade 2 or greater card, Stand 1 of your rearguards, and if the revealed card is grade 3 or greater, by paying [Counterblast 1], that rearguards gets Power +10000 until end of turn.
  • Imaginary Gift: Accel
Miss Splendor (V-BT01/038 R)
  • AUTO [Vanguard/Rearguard Circles]: During the battle in which your Hero attacks, your opponent cannot intercept, and if the number of your rearguards is greater than your opponent's, the attacking unit gets Power +3000.
  • No Imaginary Gift. 
  • Race is Alien/Hero.
Battledore Fighter (V-BT01/??? R)
  • ACT [Vanguard Circle]: Once per turn: [Cost: Counterblast 1, soulblast 1] Choose 1 of your units, until end of turn during the battle when that unit attacks, when your opponent would call guardians from their hand, if they do not call 2 or more guardians, they cannot call. 
  • AUTO [Vanguard/Rearguard Circles]: When it attacks a vanguard, if the number of your rearguards is 3 or greater, this unit gets Power +5000 until the end of that battle.
  • Imaginary Gift: Accel.
  • Race is Human/Hero.
Maximum Raizer (V-BT01/069 C)
  •  AUTO [Vanguard/Rearguard Circles]: When it attacks a vanguard and is not boosted, this unit gets Power +10000 until the end of that battle.
Cup Bowler (V-BT01/071 C)
  • CONT [Vanguard/Rearguard Circle]: During your turn, if you have another <<Hero>> unit, this unit gets Power +5000.
  • Race is Human/Hero. 
Boomerang Thrower (V-BT01/040 R)
  • AUTO [Rearguard Circle]: When placed, if there are 1 or less face-up cards in your damage zone, Countercharge 1. 
  • AUTO [Rearguard Circle]: When placed, if you have 1 or less cards in your soul, Soulcharge 1.
  • Race is Human/Hero. 
Hi-powered Raizer Custom (V-BT01/022 RR)
  • AUTO [Vanguard/Rearguard Circles]: When placed, call 1 "Battleraizer" from your soul to Rearguard Circle in the back row of the same column as this unit. 
  • AUTO [Vanguard/Rearguard Circles]: When its attack hits a vanguard, by paying [Cost: Counterblast 1, choose 1 "Battleraizer" on your Rearguard Circle, and put it into your soul] choose 1 of your other rearguards and Stand it.
Iron Killer (V-BT01/070 C)
  • AUTO: [Vanguard/Rearguard Circles]: When it attacks a vanguard, if the number of your rearguards is 3 or greater, this unit gets Power +5000 until the end of that battle.
Burstraizer (V-BT01/039 R)
  • AUTO [Rearguard Circle]: When your vanguard attacks, [Cost: Counterblast 1, Soulblast 1] Stand this unit, and if the number of cards in your opponent's damage zone is 4 or greater, this unit gets Power +3000 until end of turn.
Death Army Guy (V-BT01/
No skills.

Rocket Hammer Man (V-BT01/0?? C)
  • AUTO [Rearguard Circle]: When this unit boosts a Hero, by paying [Cost: Soulblast 1], this unit gets Power +5000 until end of turn.
  • Race is Human/Hero.
Jetraizer (V-BT01/075 C)
  • AUTO [Vanguard/Rearguard Circles]: When your other rearguard is placed, this unit gets Power +3000 until end of turn.
Raizer Custom (V-BT01/023 RR)
  • ACT [Vanguard Circle] Once per turn: [Cost: Put 1 card from your hand to your soul] Until end of turn, this unit may attack even if you go first, and gets Drive Check -1. 
  • AUTO [Rearguard Circle] Once per turn: When your other rearguard on the same column as this unit Stands, you may Stand this unit.
Transraizer (V-BT01/073 C)
  • AUTO [Rearguard Circle]: When it boosts. [Cost: Soulblast 2], Countercharge 1, and if that attack targeted a vanguard, this unit gets Power +3000 until the end of that battle.
Turboraizer
Front Trigger
Tap the Hyper (V-BT01/076 C)
  • AUTO: When rode upon, draw a card.
Battleraizer (V-BT01/077 C)
  • AUTO: When rode upon, draw a card.
Twin Blader (V-BT01/024 RR)
  • CONT: Sentinel (You may only have up to 4 cards in your deck with "Sentinel")
    AUTO [Guardian Circle]: When placed, [Cost: Discard 1 card from your hand], and one of your units cannot be hit until the end of that battle.