A new collectible cardgame from Japan, Created by the guys behind Yu-Gi-Oh and Duel Masters and headed by Bushiroad.
Before you freak out and dismiss it, Vanguard actually manages to avoid the pitfalls of those games (so far). The game is built around a mixture of luck and skills that while it's not random, there is still a chance of a standard deck beating a pro deck if things go well. Vanguard also has an anime series, which is notable for being about a normal player learning the game with a reasonable win/loss record and nobody tarding out over children's card games.
Vanguard is hugely popular in Singapore and other Asian countries and is gaining popularity in card-gaming circles worldwide. One draw factor is the incredibly varied card art and menagerie of characters, though not all of them are translated to English as of yet.
The basic premise of the trading card game, is that the two players represent astral spirits leading a small army and dueling on the planet Cray. The cards in players' decks, called "units", represent characters from Cray that players can summon. Each unit has a name, clan, power level, shield value, one or more skills, and "grade", which ranges from 0 to 3. Overall strength of units increases with grade, but a unit can only be summoned if the player's vanguard is of that grade or higher. A deck must contain exactly 50 cards and 16 Trigger units. There is otherwise no restriction on how many cards of a certain clan or grade must be used.
Vanguard is a very fast-paced game with the players only having six hitpoints, and the speed accelerates with the usage of Triggers. A Trigger card is marked with an icon in the top right corner, and when drawn when either attacking or taking damage, it'll let you power up a card for that turn as well as either healing a damage point, adding to a card's critical rating, letting you reactivate a card you already used, or drawing an extra card. This means you can pretty much turn a game around with a bit of luck and timing. However, the game also requires intelligent, balanced deck building, as even though Grade 3 cards are strongest, Grade 1 and 2 are needed for their unique abilities, attack boosting and intercepting respectively.
Nations and Clans
Units in Vanguard are organized in Nations and Clans. Nations are the different countries that Planet Cray is divided in, with a total of six nations. Each nation is subsequently subdivided in clans, which are groups of units that band together to form an alliance. Each clan usually has its own unique aesthetic, and bases its play style around a certain skill.
- United Sanctuary: A small, holy nation that combines old traditions with scientific technology. Represented by the color yellow.
- Royal Paladin: A chivalrous army of knights who act as the United Sanctuary's main military force, and are ruled by their powerful but righteous monarch Alfred. Their play style is based around strength in numbers, searching and calling allies from the deck and gaining power by controlling many rear-guards. Introduced in Blaster Blade.
- Shadow Paladin: A group of dissenters and outcasts from the United Sanctuary, they are the dark counterpart to the Royal Paladins. To reflect this dichotomy, their play style uses the same mechanic of calling and searching allies from the deck, but instead sacrificing their rear-guards to fuel the powerful abilities of their boss units. Introduced in Eclipse of Illusionary Shadows.
- Gold Paladin: A new clan created by the remaining members of the Royal and Shadow Paladin during the War of Liberation, after the leaders of both clans were sealed away. They incorporate the same theme as their Paladin predecessors but focus on speed over consistency: whereas the Royal Paladins use expensive skills that search out for specific units, the Gold Paladins use cheaper skills that instead call random units from the top of the deck. Upon the arrival of Link Joker, they obtained the special skill of "Unlocking" cards before the End Phase, then getting benefits from it such as extra power and criticals, and for the instance of one such card, "Liberator, Monarch Sanctuary Alfred," calling more units from the deck in the process. Introduced in Slash of Silver Wolf.
- Oracle Think Tank: A corporation of magically-gifted individuals that use their powers to predict the future and support their Paladin allies with information, mainly composed of female units themed around Japanese mythology. Their play style involves drawing additional cards from the deck and checking and rearranging cards from the top of the deck, allowing them to "predict" the future. Introduced in Descent of the King of Knights.
- Genesis: After foreseeing a doomed future for the Planet Cray, the CEO of Oracle Think Tank created this second conglomerate of magically-talented individuals to fight and protect the future. They are themed around Greek, Nordic and Japanese mythology. They focus on increasing their Soul with effects that "Soulcharge" from the Deck, and then removing these cards to activate powerful abilities. Some of their units also activate their effects when removed from the Soul. Introduced in Triumphant Return of the King of Knights.
- Angel Feather: A clan of angelic beings themed around medicine and healing, with many of their units being doctors or nurses, who protect and take care of the wounded in battlefields all over Planet Cray, while at the same time fighting as trained field medics. Their main ability is manipulation of the damage zone by swapping cards between it and the hand, field or deck. Introduced in Breaker of Limits.
- Dragon Empire: The largest nation of all, the Dragon Empire is a militaristic monarchy that is bent on conquering the other nations. Represented by the color red.
- Kagerō: A group of fire dragons and their human servants who rule the Dragon Empire and act as their Aerial Assault Unit. Their play style focuses around retiring the opponent's rear-guards, Standing up the Vanguard and preventing intercepts, often gaining additional benefits from doing so. Introduced in Dragonic Overlord.
- Narukami: A clan of lightning dragons who replaced the Kagero when they were sealed away during the War of Liberation and managed to keep the Empire together in those times of strife, being rewarded after the return of the Kagerō by becoming the Empire's elite army force. Like Gold Paladins, their playstyle is a twist of their original counterpart's: they also retire the opponent's rear guards like Kagero, but focus on raw power over control, usually only being able to retire front-row units, but gaining power boosts and criticals to make up for it. Introduced in Resonance of Thunder Dragon.
- Nubatama: A group of ninja animals, dragons and spirits who act as the Empire's Covert Operations Unit. They deplete the opponent's defenses by forcing the opponent to discard cards from their hand, as well as "Binding" (removing for a single turn) cards from the opponent's field and hand. Introduced in Descent of the King of Knights, they were not able to make a single clan deck until Catastrophic Outbreak.
- Murakumo: Another group of ninja animals, dragons and spirits, sister clan to the Nubatama, who act as the Empire's Black Ops Agency. Their play style focuses on hit-and-run tactics, with abilities that can call copies of units from the deck that return to it at the end of the turn. Some of their boss units have defensive skills that enhance the user's ability to guard. Introduced in Comic Style vol.1.
- Tachikaze: An army of mechanically-enhanced dinosaurs and primitive humans who act as the Empire's Ground Assault Unit and main infantry force. They overpower the opponent with extremely high-powered attacks, but at the expense of sacrificing their own units, many of which have some way of returning from the drop zone to the hand or field. Introduced in Descent of the King of Knights.
- Dark Zone: A dark and mysterious nation whose leadership is constantly disputed between the various demonic and magical creatures that inhabit it. Represented by the color purple.
- Dark Irregulars: A clan of demons, vampires, ghosts and mutant humans who use mysterious powers fueled by sorcery. Their play style focuses on Soul-charging cards, gaining enormous power if the number of cards in the Soul is high enough. Introduced in Descent of the King of Knights.
- Spike Brothers: A demonic team of the extremely violent Cray version of American football, Blood Ball, which they are current reigning champions of. An extremely aggressive clan, they feature units that gain power boosts when they attack but must return to the deck after doing so, and boss units that sacrifice cards on the hand to call even more attackers to the field. Introduced in Descent of the King of Knights.
- Pale Moon: A highly popular traveling circus secretly housing a guild of elite assassins who will serve whoever pays for their services. Like Dark Irregulars, they focus around adding cards to the soul, but instead use it to swap units between the soul and the field to attack multiple times. Introduced in Demonic Lord Invasion.
- Gear Chronicle: A mysterious clan of gear dragons that transcends time and space and appeared in Dark Zone's ancient ruins with which they set up their base of operations. Their play style involves manipulating time via putting units back into the deck and even gaining another turn completely. Introduced in Generation Stride
- Magallanica: An archipelago nation of islands which is inhabited by all sorts of creatures, from undying immortals to charming inhabitants of the sea. Represented by the color blue.
- Granblue: An association of undead pirates, ghosts and zombies that sail around the seas of Cray. Their play style focuses around sending cards directly from the deck to the drop zone, then reviving fallen units from the drop zone back to the field. Introduced in Descent of the King of Knights.
- Bermuda Triangle: A clan of mermaid pop idols and singers who are the biggest stars in Cray, and whose highly expensive concerts are attended by members of every clan. They focus around skills that return their units from the field to the hand, triggering effects like drawing cards or power boosts. Introduced in Onslaught of Dragon Souls, this clan is unique in that additional cards for it have never been released outside of Extra Boosters and promotional cards beginning with their first unique Extra Booster, Banquet of Divas.
- Aqua Force: A naval military clan who once ruled all of Cray thanks to their dominance over the sea and their belief in absolute justice before falling to oblivion, they have recently returned to the planet. Their skills focus around increasing the number of their attacks, with units that activate certain skills when they are the 3rd or 4th attack in a turn. Introduced in Descendants of the Marine Emperor.
- Zoo: An extremely fertile and nature-attuned nation situated in the east of Cray, that houses the most intelligent creatures in the world, sentient plants & bioroids, as well as the most heinous criminals. Represented by the color green.
- Megacolony: An insect mafia and the main criminal force of Cray. Their play style focuses around gaining power from the opponent's units being at rest, and disallowing the opponent's resting rear-guards from standing at the beginning of the turn, which in turns prevents those units from attacking or boosting. Introduced in Descent of the King of Knights.
- Great Nature: A clan of sentient and peaceful animals that study in the Great Nature University, the highest educational institution on Cray. They focus around giving power boosts to their rear-guards at the cost of being forced to retire them at the end of the turn, offset by skills that draw cards or search additional copies of units when they are retired. Introduced in Onslaught of Dragon Souls.
- Neo Nectar: A clan of sentient plants, bioroids and forest dragons who produce the largest amount of grain and food in Cray, which in turn grants them great influence in nations with low self-sufficiency of food. They focus around filling the rear-guard by calling units from the deck through various methods and giving them power from calling the same units. Introduced in Awakening of Twin Blades.
- Star Gate: A nation situated in Cray's southern pole, in which a spaceport operated by the Commercial Wrestling Federation attracts all kind of visitors from outer space and alternate realities. Represented by the color gray.
- Nova Grappler: A no-holds-barred fighting league that attracts the toughest fighters in the galaxy, their fighting matches retransmitted as a competitive sport in all of Cray. Their aggressive play style focuses on re-standing units during the Battle Phase, which allows them to attack more than the usual three times per turn. Introduced in Descent of the King of Knights.
- Dimension Police: An intergalactic vigilante corp whose heroes, non-native from Cray, travel the galaxy fighting powerful supervillains who are also considered part of the same clan. Their play style grants them benefits for having a certain amount of higher power than the opponent's vanguard, with heroes focusing around increasing the power of their own vanguard, and villains focusing around decreasing the power of the opponent's vanguard. Introduced in Demonic Lord Invasion.
- Link Joker: A group of highly advanced extraterrestrials who launch a full-scale invasion of Cray, starting with the territory of Star Gate. Their arrival forces the various nations of Cray to band together and defend the planet. At the end of season 4, however, they become allies of Cray through the efforts of "Blaster Blade." They have the unique ability of "Locking" (turning face-down) the opponent's rear-guards, disallowing the opponent from doing anything with them until the end of their next turn, then gaining benefits such as power and even winning the game automatically. Some can "Delete" the vanguard, making it lose all fighting ability except for its name, grade, clan and ability to attack until the end of the turn. Introduced in Star-Vader Invasion.
- Etranger: Cards which feature real people or cameos from other franchises are assigned to this clan, which means "foreigner" in French. Examples of characters that have been featured include Spider-Man, Keroro from Sgt. Frog, and "Baron Kidani", an alter-ego of Takaaki Kidani. Etranger has only appeared on Japanese promotional cards.
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