Sunday, April 13, 2014

Stand Up! My New Obsession: Cardfight!! Vanguard

In March, I finally relented and agreed to learn Cardfight!! Vanguard. A student of mine who is also a member of the Red Dragon Gaming Society (our school's tabletop game club I began for the students) finally convinced me to give this game a try. My sincerest gratitude, King of Games: Dave. 

The kids had been playing the game at Society quite heavily and always asked me to join in. I refused for a couple of reasons:

1) I don't like Japanese games. A prejudice stemming from my experience with lame video games.

2) The mermaid deck one student played looked ridiculous.  

3) It wasn't Magic or Warhammer Invasion.

However, I agreed to play the game because I do love games, and in addition, I felt I owed the student to play a few games as he is a really nice guy. (He calls himself King of Games, though. But he really isn't as pretentious as his name would imply.)

He taught me the basics in the first game. By the third game, I was playing at a level I didn't need to ask anymore questions about the basic rules. 

In a word, the game is fantastic! The game grabbed me in a way I have not been grabbed from my early days of playing Magic the Gathering. Sure, I love Warhammer Invasion and still consider it to be in my top 5 favorite games. I have not bought new Magic cards in quite some time, so I felt getting involved in a true CCG for the first time in years was warranted. 

In a word: This game is extreme fun!

I will not go over the rules here as they are readily available after a fast Google search. I will, however, outline why I believe this game is worthy of playing, collecting, and spending money on:

1). Win or Lose... A mediocre deck has a decent chance of defeating a tournament-level deck. Like most games of this type, money wins games. The deck-building rules keep it possible for a lower level deck to have a chance to win or at least provide a competitive and fun experience. That being said, a tournament-level competitive deck will definitely win most of the time. For casual gamers, though, this game even in lopsided matches is still incredible fun.

2). No such thing as mana screw: As with Warhammer Invasion, resource screw is almost non-existent. Sure, a person can become Grade screwed, but that happens with less frequency than Magic. Not only that, even if a Fighter is Grade screwed, she can still expect to be able to play. As with Magic, there is no hope of playing as you sit there, not a land in sight. 

3). The artwork is gorgeous! With the exception of some very childish illustrations, this game is beautiful. 

4). There is a clan for everyone: There are clans that appeal more to kids, to women, and to men. Whatever your Geek flavor is, this game has it. Do you like fluffy animals? Great Nature is for you. Do you like cute anime-looking girls? Bermuda Triangle is there. Aliens? Link Joker to the invasion. Love Gundam-style robots? Dimension Police and Nova Grapplers take care of that. Love knights and paladins? Royal and Gold Paladins have your back. Like to explore the darker nature of man? Dark Irregulars, Narukami, and Kagero await. Do you like dinosaurs and dragons? Tachikaze clan roars out of nowhere. There are still more, but I am running out of space. My favorite clans, btw, are Link Joker, Aqua Force, and Dimension Police.

5). Trigger Happy: 16 cards in a deck are triggers which have various game effects. The anticipation of a trigger appearing when you most need it is one of the rushes this game provides. It makes for an excellent and exciting game experience. 

6). Rarity Spread: The rarity spread of boxes of booster packs keeps the prices for the secondary market manageable. The ultra rares are just alternate art versions of triple rares. Rarity doesn't necessarily translate to power. However, acquiring enough cards to run a competitive deck is cheaper than in Magic. (You are going to spend money, though. Be prepared).

7). Anime Support: There is an official anime that promotes the game and is on HuluPlus and YouTube. I am halfway through the second season. The show provides strategy tips and basic tutorials through a sci fi / fantasical narrative. I mostly watch it for the Cardfights brought to life, but the story line at least keeps me wanting to know what is going to happen next, though it isn't the height of story telling or anything. 

8). IT IS FUN!

I have taught my two boys to play, and they have enjoyed it. Dino Man the Skylander even legitimately beat me in a Shadow Paladins vs. Gold Paladins showdown. He pulled 2 critical triggers during a drive check to finish me off. Good times! 

Here are some pictures of games in action to give you an idea of how it looks on the table:

Here are some promos, flash packs, and a trial deck. Oh, yeah, and Dino Man the Skylander, too.

Acquiring cards, building decks, and playing against my family and students has consumed me this past month in a good way. Falling under the spell of a CCG has rekindled the gamer in me and has provided me with a renewed passion for games. This game has provided me with hours of thoughtful, strategic ruminations and riddles to solve. How long this ride will last remains to be seen. One thing is certain, though, I have most definitely added another game to my top 5 favorites. I have a feeling it will hold that position for many years to come. 

Now, if you will excuse me, I have to bring a deck to a cardfight. 

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