Hi everyone! My name is Rodney Chan and some of you may remember my YouTube channel Based Crit. During the middle of last year I decided to step away from the game of Cardfight!! Vanguard as I just was not enjoying the game as much anymore. Fast forward a year later and here I find myself grinding the ranked ladder of Bushiroad’s newest game: Cardfight!! Vanguard Zero. I have climbed to Legendary within three days of the global launch and in under 100 wins. Starting the game was very nostalgic as it looked and felt very similar to the very beginning of the TCG. There aren’t any gifts so the rock, paper, scissor aspect of the game diminished and it felt like old school backyard Vanguard again. With new game mechanics and updated card effects, Cardfight!! Vanguard offers a very unique take on the TCG. Here are the top 3 things I learned climbing the ladder to Legendary:
1) Learn the Card Pool
With the release of the game, there is a very small card pool made available to players. Take the time to read each card in every clan and understand the ins and outs of each clan's strategy. A lot of these decks do everything we remember them doing: Nova Grappler focuses on getting multi attacks and re-stands, OTT manipulates their trigger checks in hopes of Silent Tom ending the game, Kagero has ways to superior ride to Grade 3 and focuses on controlling the field with their retiring ability, and Royal Paladin’s game plan all revolves around Blaster Blade and superior calling units to the field.
It’s important to understand the card pool as you then learn the win conditions of each clan. Knowing and anticipating what your opponent can do and respond to your plays is important. This also ensures you do not get caught off guard by any surprises you did not see coming. Kagero, for example, has a card called “Sealed Dragon, Blockade” and knowing what he does is important so you’re not caught off guard with his effect when intercepting is the only form of guarding currently. Another example is OTT and knowing what “Silent Tom” does and how he is the deck’s win condition late game.
2) Understand Tempo
We’ve all seen this triangle before: aggro beats control, control beats mid range, mid range beats aggro. Understanding what playstyle your deck falls under is important in the way your matchup proceeds.
Let’s take the aggro vs control matchup for example. Rule of thumb says aggro beats control. This, however, is not an absolute but more often the a majority rule. Aggro beats control in the early phases of the game but if control can stand the initial onslaught of aggro and take the game to the later phases, the chances of winning go up for the control player. This can be seen in the Nova Grappler (aggro) vs OTT (control) matchup. “Asura Kaiser” and “Gold Rutile” call for very aggressive game plans as they both allow re-standing effects and ending the game after their first or second grade 3 turn. The OTT player can use “CEO Amaterasu” and “Battle Sister, Cocoa” to help manipulate triggers and combat the aggression in hopes of getting to the later stages of the game where “Silent Tom” can win the game if the opponent goes to 5 damage.
It’s important to play to your deck’s strengths and minimize its weaknesses. Trying to build a control Nova Grappler deck simply does not work and vice versa; building an aggressive OTT deck is asking for lackluster results. Know your deck’s win condition and play to it. With the limited card pool, it’s not a time to try and be cute and build something off meta and hope to climb the ranked ladder. Know what phases of the game your deck is strongest in and mulligan/play accordingly. If you’re playing Nova Grappler and going against Kagero, it’s probably a good idea to keep multiple copies of a key card to help play around their retire effects or use “bait” cards for your opponent to target first.
Another key thing to remember is the importance of Grade 2s. With the new game mechanics to Zero, Grade 2s are a finite resource in the game as you are allowed 13 Grade 2s. This means only 12 forms of guarding. Keep track of how many Grade 2s your opponent has left in their deck by checking their drop zone and damage zone and adding up how many they have left in their deck. Also, take note of your opponent’s trigger checks. With the game’s new mechanic, non-Grade 3 trigger checks go to the bottom of the deck. Use this to keep track of any Perfect Guards or key pieces are in the opponent’s deck.
3) Triggers Matter!
At the end of the day, even if you play perfectly, you can lose to a trigger not going your way. With the limited effects and small card pool, that’s how the game of Cardfight!! Vanguard works at the moment. It’s also what causes a lot of thrill and anxiety. Climbing the ladder is not for the faint of heart. It also doesn’t help one's anxiety that the mobile game slow mo’s the sixth damage trigger to build up anticipation. I’ve lost a handful of games due to my opponent's sixth damage healing but I’ve also won in the same manner more than I’m proud to admit. It’s the early stages of the release and it’s what makes it feel the most genuine. The amount of times I’ve yelled and or hid behind my pillow waiting for the card flip is ridiculous and outright fun. Every game is different and unique and that’s what the triggers bring to the table. They’re unpredictable and do not follow any law or logic. It’s what separates this game versus the rest. Triggers are the great equalizer in the game.
WIth all that said and how Zero forces deck builds to include 13 Grade 3s, meaning 13 triggers, and which triggers you use is incredibly important. In the early stages of the ladder (Rookie through C) critical triggers are the recommended trigger lineup. This is because you will mostly run into the more casual fan base in the lower levels that are just trying their decks out, as the game is missing a Quick Match feature and you are forced to play ranked. The amount of incomplete decks and decks missing Perfect Guards means critical triggers are your fastest way of climbing. Once you hit stage B and onward, it becomes a little more difficult as the competitive nature changes and you start facing more complete decks and people better equipped to handle critical triggers. I suggest switching to draw triggers during this stage until you get to S tier. Draw triggers will help extend the game and help you see your key pieces. A and B tier is a giant chess match until the game goes long enough for triggers to decide the winner. At this stage you just want to see enough cards to make plays and not get blown out as the longer the game goes the better.
There’s a growing consensus in the Zero community that draw triggers are the key to getting to Legendary and especially when you are in “S” tier, but I beg to differ. Draw triggers are important and should not discredited, but I believe critical triggers raise your deck's ceiling. This is important in the way the S tier is structured and how it quires you to go on a win streak to hit your Legendary promos as your win/lose EV is about the same in both directions. Draw triggers offer your deck a much higher floor compared to Critical triggers but in the case of S tier, having a high floor pretty much keeps you hovering around 50%. Critical triggers raise your deck's ceiling and increases its odds of winning in a given situation as well as stealing the game out of your opponent’s hands if they do not have a perfect guard. You need a little bit of luck and enough positive things going your way to pull off the necessary win streak in S tier and I solely believe critical triggers are the key in this stage of the game.
In Zero there is a cool feature that displays the triggers and perfect guards that have been in play by both players as public knowledge. Use this to your advantage as you can make adjustments or decisions based on what has been revealed so far. If you noticed your opponent has used up 3 or all of their perfect guards, you can go for a more aggressive push. The same logic applies to heal triggers. Keep track of what’s going on and make adjustments accordingly. I can't stress this line enough. Understand that every card attributes to your percentage of winning or losing. Make decisions that will increase your odds and chances of winning every single turn (Positive EV).
Well that’s all I have today folks! If any of you are interested in watching a livestream of me climbing the ladder in Legendary with a particular deck or want a detailed clan guide, reach out to us! We would love to hear your input and what type of content you would enjoy seeing!
- Rodney “Based Crit” Chan
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