• AlphonZeus

Fundamentals - Defense

Hello and good day everyone, the AlphonZeus of Team Gradelock and Team Vision back at it again with a more simplified breakdown of defending. Instead of focusing on defending on different clans by their gifts, this serves to help break down the basics of defending. I'll be focusing on the shield value of cards as well as defense tips when your opponent starts attacking.

Learning how to defend all starts with your deck building. This will first ask you about your type of playstyle. No matter what strategy you lean towards, defending should always be considered when building your deck. Normally, you would want to build a deck that either compliments your playstyle or enhances your competitive edge. Defending is an all-important tactic that gives you an additional turn to win. As a core starting point, every single card outside of the Grade 3s would have a shield value of at least 5k, located on the left side of the card embraced in black. Grade 0s have a range of 5k to 20k shield (normal draw triggers are 5k, starters and critical/front triggers are 15k, and heal triggers are 20k). Then when you go to the normal units, they range from no shield to 15k shield (those that have no shield have another benefit like a natural critical of 2 instead of 1 while those with 15k shields would have no other skills at all), or a higher base power.

You can alter the shield values with card skills, which can enhance your defensive strategy to survive a harder hitting turn from your opponent. However, the pitfall to avoid is that adding in too many defensive cards hinders your offensive strategy. Remember, the goal is to push your opponent to six damage. It can change on the situation, mostly relating to deck out situations. Defending should be a means to an end.

Once you have your deck together, you should look at possible hands just from a defensive perspective. Whenever you play online or in person, try to look at it from more a survival perspective while also saving resources to prepare for your turn to swing back. Practicing defending is one of the most arduous but rewarding parts of Cardfight!! Vanguard. Here, let’s get started with some basic tips.

First, when your opponent begins combat, keep a mental note of all skills that could be activated on both sides of the field. Whether their Vanguard or rear-guards could restand or have guard restrictions should be one of the bigger considerations. Additionally, you should check if any unit on your board is affected by any skills, whether they could be retired, bounced, etc. This would require you to read the cards enough times that you can possibly anticipate your opponent’s attack patterns. You should also check if you can increase defending power through your cards’ skills to help reduce the number of cards you need for each attack. The more you playtest, the more chances you will read cards, and the more that you will be better at anticipating attacks.

Second, you should evaluate your hand’s guarding power. Start re-organizing your cards as if you will assign each part to a different attack. Always know that you just need to be 5k shield/power above any attacking power in order to successfully guard an attack to not lose a rear-guard or be dealt damage. You should also check your damage count between you and your opponent. Sometimes, you do want to be at a higher damage than your opponent because when their Vanguard swings and checks heal triggers, they will not be able to heal. However, there are other times where you cannot be pushed too far on damage where you will have to rely on damage checking or drive checking a heal to have an effective turn. There is only so much damage with only a maximum of four heal triggers to go through. Establish a hard line where you will be more willing to drop cards than take damage and vice versa. This is all to ensure you have a more decent turn to swing back in harder because again, defense is a means to an end.

Third, start counting triggers. Statistics come into the play where, ideally, you want to hit defensive triggers early to shut down your opponent’s offense. This situation does not happen all the time, so it’s a more of “prepare for the worst but hope for the best.” Some thoughts to evaluate include:

“If I do not hit a defensive trigger here, can I guard every other attack with what I have here to not lose?”

“Is there a key rear-guard my opponent will swing at to prevent me from gaining resources through damage?”

“What offense and resources do I have for my next turn?”

Looking at each of these thoughts in order, let’s break it down. For the first statement regarding defensive triggers, you would likely check this if you are at 2-4 damage. Initially, think of the stage of the game you are at (early game, midgame, and late game). Next, check what damage count your opponent is at. Finally, check your cards to see if you have enough shield for the remaining attacks disregarding triggers. You have to determine what attacks to take and what to not take. It is important to pick your battles to win and lose because you will fall behind substantially if you mis-guard or try to protect one unit too much.

The second question is regarding key rear-guards, this concerns more of your placement. There are at least two thoughts the opponent would be thinking. The first is “Does this person plan on using that card next turn?” The second is “OH THAT CARD NEEDS TO GO.” What people probably do not think of often is “Wait, if that rear guard is out there, does this one have anything to guard with?” Sometimes like how I go into Art of Defense, the attractive nuisance of a useful rear guard can detract attacks away from the Vanguard and towards a rear-guard. This could show a sign of split attention. Depending on your opponent, they may be less willing to attack the Vanguard to deal damage just because the rear-guard can add on to your advantage for use on an additional turn. However, you also need resources as well, and damage control is important to effectively execute your turns. When defending, take note if you want to detract attention away from your Vanguard, but prepare to defend that rear guard if you still need it.

The final question about what you can do for next turn will have to be evaluated before and after you are done defending. Depending on what you were willing to lose and what has actually been lost, you should spend the end phase reflecting over what you can do for next turn. There are few things better than your opponent having to pass turn when they complete their attacks, or cannot perform any more attacks because you hit defensive triggers. From there, you would take more note of what your opponent is doing vs what you should do. Take note of their hand, their board state, and resources. If you see that they heavily pushed their turn and do not have many cards left in hand, you can push back a lot more. If you see their board state does not have any rear guards worth attacking, then keep punching in their Vanguard. You have already weathered the storm by asking yourself these mental questions and assessing the situations. And now it’s your turn to strike back.

That is all from me for the fundamentals of defense, so I hope that you enjoyed this article series. Cheers, and take care!

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