Stand and draw! In an alternate dimension my Singaporean self waits with baited breath for the newest Vanguard cards to get translated from Japanese.
The Inverseman here tonight with a hands-on look at Cardfight Vanguard with a certain Silverwolf assisting with the testing. If you all remember my post on card games in comparison, I finally got a chance to snag CFV starter decks to test out thanks to Bushiroad and their localization team all the way in Singapore, where the English dub of the kids’ anime is currently airing. So let’s dive in.
Okay, so we got two trial decks based off the heroes’ second season decks, the Gold Paladin deck Aichi Sendou uses and the Narukami deck that Toshiki Kai wields. Thanks to my connections with the card shop, I also got two free booster packs as an extra. Prying open the starter decks gave us a manual, a quick start guide, a mat, and the decks. The first time playing a card game always gives you questions. The rules translation of the cards themselves is clean but the English in the manuals is not as concise so it’ll take a decent run-through, but fortunately the manual covers plenty of questions you may have and once you have a few “fights” under your belt you’ll be playing like a pro.
The art in the cards is preserved completely, as well as the card names, (Konami can learn a thing or two) but with that faithful translation comes a very literal translation of the flavor text… As for the decks, they’re actually pretty well-built. Whereas intro decks in other card games will give you very inconsistent decks with only one copy of a card in a deck, these intro decks are rather well outfitted with enough copies of most cards and a few special holo versions of the grade 3 units, the strongest cards. At that we shuffled up.
Now let’s get to the card battling. Sadly I didn’t find the starter deck I wanted and suited up with Kai’s “Resonance of Thunder Dragon” deck while Silverwolf armed himself with his “Slash of Silver Wolf” deck. For him, this deck was destiny falling right into his hands. Our first game had moves going slowly but towards the end of the game, we were riding, calling, and attacking like pros. After consulting the rules manual over the quick-start enough times, our first fight accelerated to breakneck speed coming to a close finish with Silverwolf finishing my Thunder Break Dragon with his Great Silver Wolf Garmore. Of course, that was only practice, now things got real.
“Break the dark clouds! Barbaric Thunder Break!”
“Roar! Silver wolf of the gods! Glorious Break!”
One dragon-slaying later…
I was honorably defeated 3-0 by Silverwolf’s epic bond with his Gold Paladins. As our games went by, our rules questions cleared up and not once did we get into stack or chain issues from other games. The neat thing is that unlike Pokemon, you don’t feel like you’re sitting around during your opponent’s turn. There’s guardians and interceptors to call, effects to activate, and triggers that can turn the tide of battle. Turns are also very quick, phases shifting and turns ending as blows trade. It was agreed by both of us, that fights were long enough to fun but not too short to be decided at the drop of a hat. The rate the game accelerates feels as if every fight you get your strongest unit, unlike other games where it seems you are always looking for that last giant spell or mighty monster. This is due to all the Drive Checks and Damage Checks getting cards in your hand at a rapid rate, a smart move for fights to the finish.
I got two volume 2 “Onslaught of Dragon Souls” booster packs. And here we get to a problem. Our trial decks came from a more recent set, the sixth set, “Breaker of Limits”, and the boosters were from the second set, so there were no Narukami or Gold Paladin units as they weren’t printed yet. Sadly, from how the game feels, playing more than one clan in a deck seems difficult; you’re done-for if you cannot perform your Drive Triggers and special effects which rely on having units of the same clan together. Therefore, our pulls from the set 2 packs were more or less useless. Unless making decks with multiple clans becomes easier, or is much easier than I think, this is going to be a hurdle to overcome for new players, especially kids who don’t always invest in the secondary market for cards. If the game expands the variety within clans, and sticks to them, it will greatly diversify the deck types.
Ultimately, when your cards work together, the experience is magical, but deck-building seems limited to the clans and types. Therefore, this is the kind of game I would be satisfied having perhaps 1-3 solid decks with units I like, such as the Oracle Think Tank clan or the Bermuda Triangle clan. I’d say, if you know a local card shark in town and can get a pretty deck with awesome art you like, you can easily enjoy this game without getting into the crazy serious fests of other card games. So if you’re up for a change of pace, on a very quick and summon-based game give Cardfight Vanguard a shot.
Join me next time when I exact my vengeance and upstage Silverwolf’s knights with Velvet Voice Raindear.