Notice: this article will talk about tempo in Vanguard in a general sense. There are some concepts that play a large role in one format but not in another format. If you want tempo in a particular format: let us know below!
In order to talk about tempo: we need to define what Tempo is.
Tempo is roughly defined as: gaining advantage by either gaining resources -card advantage either on board or in hand
– or by denying resources for your opponent
-removing a card on your opponent’s board or hand.*1
Do note that the examples I will bring up will be across all formats and all time periods in Cardfight!! Vanguard; but the fundamental principle will be the same.
We can break the tempo of the game into 3 stages (Early, Middle – Mid, Late Stages).
The early stages of the game are usually the turns before you ride to grade 3 or by turn 3-4 depending on the format.
The middle stages of the game is when you ride to grade 3 for the first time and when you go into your first stride.
The late stages are what occurs after everything proceeds.
Certain decks capitalize on a particular stage of the game.
Aggro decks will capitalize on the Early stages of the game as well as finishing the game in the Middle stages.
Control decks use the early and middle stages to set-up and will close the game in the late stages in the game.
Combo decks follow the same tempo set-up as a control deck but will either close the game in the middle stages of the game or when the game enters the late stage of the game.
Midrange decks capitalize the middle stages of the game as their set-up for the late game.
An example of each kind of deck throughout the history of vanguard (in my personal experience):
Aggro – Neo Nectar Plants V-Premium
Midrange – Bruce Standard
Combo – Regalia Premium
Control – Megacolony Premium/Nubatama Dominate G-era
Tempo for the sake of this video can be divided into two categories: reactive and proactive.
Proactive tempo is what we commonly see in Cardfight!! vanguard. It is usually trying to affect your opponent by either limiting their resources or limiting their way to win the game. Most players will see this kind of tempo in aggressive decks. Tempo in aggressive decks try to diminish their resources/chances to win by applying pressure onto their opponent’s damage. Does that mean going all-out on each turn? No. Remember, you want to gain advantage while applying the pressure. If you are just smacking in while not keeping in mind your resources; it is easy for your opponent to interrupt your tempo.
For example: say you play a full board every turn—your opponent can disrupt you by either attacking your rearguards (with everything) or playing effects that impact your board state. Attacking rearguards sounds intuitively backwards, since the objective of the game is to deal 6 damage to your opponent. However, if each turn you are dedicating way more resources than your opponent, you are losing in tempo rather than your opponent.
Does that mean that having a large hand size is better than having a large board? This statement changes depending on which format you are playing. In premium – having a large hand is more preferred in the Middle and Late stages of the game since most units will attack for larger numbers. Also keep in mind that even if your opponent has a larger hand; it does not mean they have a high number to guard with.
In Standard let’s look at a standard list for one of the topping decks in the format; Bruce. A standard play for Bruce during the middle stages of the game will accumulate a hand of about 7-8 cards. This could mean that at least half of that hand can contain high shield value but you can assume that less than half of the hand can contain high shield power. To determine which is true will fall under player performance and is a factor you do not necessarily understand.
So what is proactive tempo? Let’s take a look at a deck that excels at this kind of tempo in my experience/opinion: Neo Nectar Plants in V premium.
Neo Nectar Plants in V premium is an aggressive tempo deck that looks to win by applying fast damage at the early stages of the game and closes the game in the middle stages of the game. The tempo for the deck is not just simply making free rearguards: it is attacking with very relevant numbers. For example with the deck: ideally you want to attack with at least 2 attacks that require at least a 15k guard to stop the attack.
Therefore if you are the Neo Nectar and you are going first: you want to make sure your push goes off when you ride to grade 2. If you are going second you want to make sure to start your tempo when you ride to grade 1. By threatening at least 2 damage in the early game; it makes the middle stages of the game more lethal for your opponent since your opponent can not freely take more damage.
However there are decks that can take advantage of this style of tempo such as Nightmare Dolls in Premium. Nightmare dolls are a deck that can abuse counterblast and can make a large comeback if left unchecked. Therefore as the aggressive proactive deck; you must not push as hard because if not careful – you will lose tempo and eventually lose the game – but with a trade-off of hurting your early tempo plays.
Proactive tempo can also be depleting resources from your opponent. The most obvious resource would be cards in the hand. A deck that deplete cards from your opponent’s hand is the G-era deck; Nubatama Domination. Even though at the time the deck presents as a control deck – the core mechanic; Dominate is essentially a form or proactive tempo since it creates advantage for you by not using your own resources and either depletes your opponents’ resources or makes your opponent lose the game.
Reactive tempo is a little bit difficult to pin down since there are no clear ways to define pure card advantage since the state of the board state always changes dramatically per player (due to the inherent nature of drive checks). However I think the simplest way to think about reactive tempo is: the cost to deal with a threat. Take for instance a retire effect; it takes a cost to affect your opponent’s board state; this is in a form card advantage since you are slowing down their tempo while gaining tempo.
Another form of reactive tempo is guarding; remember that guarding is basically using a cost – your hand – to deal with a threat. The less amount of guard that you need to dedicate is most ideal since it allows you to guard against more attacks in later stages of the game. However, if you are either over guarding for smaller attacks or not guarding at all; this is a form of tempo as well. Once again, guarding for each attack will deplete resources from your hand and if you cannot end the game with the cards in your hand after guarding; you are losing on tempo.
There are certain cards that capitalize on reactive tempo. One of the most powerful cards that uses reactive tempo are G-Guardians; for example let’s look at one of the strongest G-Guardians – Denial Gryphon. Denial Gryphon is a G-Guardian that says when this unit is placed onto the guardian circle; retire the attacking unit. This creates a major tempo advantage since it is a low cost to deal with a threat.
It is harder to see a deck that capitalizes on reactive tempo since there are no surefire ways to affect your opponent’s tempo. Decks that used this type of tempo but to a narrow success; Megacolony in Premium.
Megacolony in Premium uses reactive tempo in the form of their Strides and/or G-guardians. Their strides are used to prevent their opponent’s from advancing their endgame: such as Lawless Mutant Deity, Obtirandus – your opponent cannot play rearguards for the turn – and Guilty Empress, Darkface Gredora – prevents your opponent’s units to restand and cannot call other units other than from the hand. The strongest card I think no one knows is very powerful is their G- Guardian: Seven Stars Mutant Deity, Relish Lady – When this unit is placed on (GC) during the battle that your opponent’s vanguard attacked, you may pay the cost. If you do, your opponent chooses two of his or her rear-guards, and he or she may [Rest] them. If her or she did not [Rest] two cards, you draw a card, and Counter Charge (1)/Soul Charge (1).
This basically says to your opponent is you can stop 1-2 attacks in exchange for giving your opponent free resources. By presenting a “choice” you are forced to choose the best choice for you. Many people will often choose to deny the Megacolony player the free resources and will gladly rest a whole column. However there will be times to give them the free resources if you are going to close the game.
Now let us talk about certain tempo plays that do not necessarily fall into just one category or even a good test of tempo.
A form of tempo that is relevant for all formats is Damage Denial. Damage Denial primary came into existence during the early stages of G-era as well as mattered in the later stages of V-Premium. The concept of Damage Denial is to essentially not give your opponent any damage in the early stages of the game. If there is a deck that must use counterblast to advance their tempo; by not giving them damage to use counterblast; this will slow down the opponent’s tempo. This can also hurt you due to not adding extra cards through drive checks and if you cannot get the needed cards to end the game; this strategy will hurt you as well. This became a major factor in Premium and V-Premium since there were powerful effects that needed a counterblast and when a deck has more counterblast to use; the more likely you will lose in tempo/the game.
A deck that you must use Damage Denial is the Gavriel Deck in V-Premium. The main win-con for Gavriel in V-Premium, Black Observe, Hamiel; needed 3 counterblast to close the game. In theory; you wanted to keep the opponent’s damage at most 2 damage since you would lose if they had 3 counterblast.
However there were cards that added more damage; such as the grade 3 Nociel or even the celestial package introduced in clan collection 3+4. Even Gavriel added damage through her own skill. So in reality you had to Damage Deny your opponent at 0 damage so you could not lose in the middle stages of the game.
Another deck that needed to control damage was Nubatama Domination in G format. The deck at the time capitalized on proactive tempo and would close games very effectively.
However, one of the biggest ways to stop the deck was denying your opponent a major amount of counterblast. Therefore, there were turns when if you were playing against the deck you did not attack on your first turn or your second turn. There were counter plays to this strategy for the Nubatama player; playing aggressive – but that strategy was only used if they had the spare resources to apply that strategy. Most of the key pieces were locked to the middle stages of the game so playing them in the early stages was more of a detriment rather than an advantage.
Damage Denial can fit under both proactive and reactive tempo. In the case of proactive – the Nubatama Dominate in G-format is a perfect example. In the case of reactive – Gavriel in V-Premium is a perfect example. The concept of Damage Denial has not gotten to that extreme in Overdress standard but it is important to keep in mind when you are controlling the amount of counterblast to give to your opponent.
- If you give your opponent more damage – can you protect yourself or swing back?
- Can you afford to not give them more counterblast? Remember your opponent can do the same thing to you.
Attacking into a Rearguard with any unit can be both a proactive tempo play as well as a reactive tempo play. It is a proactive tempo play because it is another way to secure resources while denying your opponent resources – also can be a damage deny play. It can be a reactive tempo play since the cost to deal with the threat is dealing damage to win the game. It is important to evaluate threats when you are attacking a rearguard since if an opponent does not care about the rearguard that is being attacked; you are hurting yourself in tempo. However, if the opponent is willing to guard for the rearguard; it is a big indicator that it is more important than the current cards in their hand and it is probably more advantageous to attack the rearguard.
Tempo in vanguard is different from other games such as magic the gathering since tempo changes dramatically due to the nature of the game (i.e. drive checks, counterblast/soulblast, etc.) However, Vanguard is not just a simple game that has no thought behind their actions.
I primarily made this guide because it is hard to explain how tempo works in vanguard and if you wanted to become a better Cardfighter; a guide like this would have helped me a lot back in the day. I hope people enjoy this guide on tempo for Cardfight Vanguard. I might make more guides on tempo for other games as well, so keep an eye out for any future updates.
*1:(Based on tolarian community college tempo video).
By Hdrive (Robert Muas)