Thursday, July 23, 2015

TehNACHO's Random Deck Building Challenge

1. Pick a clan of preference
2. Randomly select 3 cards (I use RANDOM.ORG's list randomizer, using the first 3 items the list generates)
3. You MUST include those 3 cards in as many copies as possible in the deck
Make a viable deck out of it

So I thought this would be a relatively fun challenge to get me motivated about deck building in Vanguard. I'll mostly be using this as a way to talk about how to build decks, not necessarily on analyzing the individual strengths of cards but more about finding patterns to make cards work together well. It dodges the problem I had with my previous deck articles (I have to update them constantly) while at the same time giving (what I'll hope to be) valuable deck building knowledge, and a much more generalized view on creating patterns in this game.

Have fun with this, and try out these extra little challenges:
1. Don't restrict your deck to just one clan, depending on how you arrange things.
2. Add more cards that you MUST add to the deck.

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Why Stride is Probably the Best Thing to Happen to Vanguard

At least from the perspective of overall game balance, especially the Cray Elementals. Before I can really get into why Stride is so good for the game, let's talk about why standard power creep is simply bad for the game. Let's assume all Block 1 cards operated on a certain standard of power. For example, if you want to obtain 2 cards of low quality card advantage, it would take 2 Counter-Blasts to pay for it. Now, transitioning between Block 1 and Block 2, let's say power creep kicks in, and now if you want to obtain 2 cards of low quality card advantage, it would only have to take 1 Counter-Blasts and a relatively light restriction to pay for it. Block 2 to 3, we end up with there being no Counter-Blast cost but only a still light restriction to obtain 2 cards worth of card advantage. Generally speaking, there would be no way for Block 1 cards to properly fight back against Block 3 cards in this theoretical scenario. This is the problem with power creep; old cards become obsolete if they don't keep up with the new Block's standard of power.

Vanguard however dodged a rather large bullet, as most of its power creep pertained largely to its Grade 3s. Seriously, take a close look at the majority of the Grade 0-2 lineup from Block 1 to Block 3. While arguably it's still there, any power creep you can find tends to be far more subtle, and due to the fact that Grade 0-2 cards tend to be cloned or reworked into other clans, almost all clans and deck types had access to any creep that did occur there. This means that if you want to fix Vanguard's power creep problem, you mostly only have to normalize the Grade 3s of the game.

Seriously, why doesn't he have a Legion?!
Legion, in retrospect, seems to be Bushiroad's first crack at that, and at least to a small extent, it worked. Cards all the way from Block 1, with the help of Legion abilities, have suddenly received a breath of vitality as (even if only by technicality) they are able to compete with other Legioned Vanguards. In this regard, Legion had the potential to completely reset the entire game's power creep and rebalance the game to an all new standard, one based on Legion. There just seems to be two major weaknesses to Legion however if the goal was to rebalance the game in its entirety:
1) In order for Legion to completely and totally reset Grade 3 Power Creep, there needs to be a Legion for every Grade 3 in the game
2) If the standard of power for Legion is strictly superior to every other card of the game, this means that if you miss Legion in any way, you can quickly lose out as your non-Legion Vanguard falls behind. While this is tangentially related to point 1 (if your Vanguard doesn't have a Legion to begin with, have fun), this is more targeted towards how it makes Vanguard's consistency problems more unstable, as your problems not only end at making sure you don't misride, but also being sure you ride your Legion.

The lack of a Stern Blaukluger Legion (D:<), and the fact that the G-Assist system was implemented after Legion more than had its effect on the game, suggests to me that neither of these things were properly achieved. Legion tried, and I must say it was a good idea, but it seems we're going to have to return to the drawing board. Where Legion fails however is exactly where Stride succeeds. This is why I called out the Cray Elementals earlier, because no matter where Bushiroad takes stride after this, Cray Elementals will give every clan and virtually every decktype access to the power of Stride. This automatically fixes problems 1 and 2 for Legion, since there now doesn't need to exist a Stride unit for every decktype in the game and it doesn't (at least in regards to riding) do anything to destabilize the game's consistency. This is...surprisingly good design.

Stride isn't perfect, not from a long shot. It doesn't do anything to alleviate power creep created by on-ride effects (granted, I'm so out of the loop that I'm not sure if there are that many cards that fit that description), and because it's very finite, the moment either player or even both run out of Stride Units, the game simply returns to the state it was before Stride: Imbalanced. Still though, especially seeing that it's an almost direct improvement to Legion in terms of rebalancing this game, I'm actually quite excited as to what Stride can offer for the game, and how Bushiroad could top themselves ever again.

My cynical side is telling me to doubt that Bushiroad won't pull a fast one on us and start implementing direct power creep within stride in the near future though...ahh well.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

A Rant About Vanguard's Mechanics

What is wrong with his hair?
And for my first entry back into writing for this game, a rant. These are a list of grievances of the mechanics built right into the rules of Vanguard that, in my eyes, will hold Vanguard back from ever being a competitively or mechanically balanced game.

Imbalanced Card Advantage

One of the biggest balancing acts any turn based game has to work around is balancing around turn based advantage. From the ability to make the proactive move in chess to the ability to set facedown traps ahead of your opponent in Yugioh, going first tends to come with a straight up advantage over the opponent in some form. As a card game, one of the biggest factors that dominate the game is the amount of cards each player has at a given time. What's actually pretty interesting is that if you ignore Twin Drive, Vanguard's card advantage is already balanced.

Ignoring ability effects, player 1 will start the turn with the same amount of cards as player 2, and end his first turn with one card over player 2 thanks to drawing. Player 2 then draws and drive checks, and at the end of player 2's turn, she'll end with one card over player 1. This cycle will continue repeating at this rate, which each player ending the turn with one card over the opponent. In other words, in terms of raw card advantage, no player is ever at a strict advantage over the opponent over the course of the game. Yes, player 2 gets the advantage of attacking first, but player 1 checks this advantage by having higher grades, and thus more power over his opponent. Ultimately, if you don't screw with the formula created by Vanguard's single drive check mechanic too much, we have a theoretically balanced game.

And then you throw triggers and Twin Drive into the mix.

Imbalanced Triggers

Let's get this out of the way first; if there's still a debate over which trigger is better than another, I don't particularly care right now. The point is that the triggers are straight up not balanced to each other. Can we all agree with this?

See, the problem here is that's it's near impossible to balance around. To give an example, Draw Triggers are near definitionally a +1 when you trigger them, no questions asked, whereas Crits and Heals apply on damage, which in turn can easily snowball into many more cards worth of advantage than just a +1, or they may fail to apply at all or generate any proper card advantage. My point here is that when you have an element in the game that's so imbalanced, it's virtually impossible to standardize around them. In other words, remember how I mentioned earlier that we can balance around first turn advantage and easily achieve balance in terms of card advantage? This balance I mentioned earlier does not account for triggers well. To go back an explain, the previous example said that player 1 and player 2 will always end with one card over the opponent, right? With triggers included in this system, player 1 will always end with one draw over player 2, and player 2 will always end with one drive check over the opponent. Because of how game changing triggers have the capability of being, especially relative to a standard draw, I really hope I don't have to explain the titanic balancing problem here.

The biggest problem I see is that, because each trigger isn't balanced to each other and it's impossible to standardize them, the problem I just mentioned is almost literally impossible to fix. See, simple probability juggling could have easily messed with the numbers of the game so that, if a drive check was on average worth 1.5 draws, you can balance between draws and drive checks, ultimately recreating the card advantage balance originally created. Instead however, these triggers just throw a titanic monkey wrench into trying to make sure that each player doesn't have a strict advantage over the other.

Twin Drive and Card Advantage

Alright, let's just ignore Triggers for a second. What does Twin Drive do to the card advantage of the game?

Turn 1: Player 1 ends with 6 cards, player 2 ends with 7
Turn 2: Player 1 ends with 8 cards, player 2 ends with 9
Turn 3: Player 1 ends with 11 cards, player 2 ends with 12
Turn 4: Player 1 ends with 14 cards, player 2 ends with 15

Now can anyone notice the difference between turns 1 and 2 compared to turns 3 and 4?

Turns 1 and 2, when there is no Twin Drive, each player will end their turn with one card more than their opponent.

Turn 3 and 4, when there is Twin Drive, player 1 will end the turn with two more cards than player 2, whereas player 2 will only end the turn with one more card than the opponent.

Any point after turn 3, thanks to the card advantage Twin Drive generates, Player 1 has card advantage over player 2. Imbalance.

What bothers me the most about Twin Drive though, as it is currently implemented and tied to Grade 3s, is that it gives you absolutely no reason not to ride into Grade 3. Imagine for a moment that Grade 3s didn't have Twin Drive. There'd still be plenty of reason you'd want to ride to Grade 3. They have higher base powers than the other grades and thus unlock much better fields and scaling for offensive purposes, and maintain higher magic numbers to better defend with for defensive purposes. At the same time though, you are using up card advantage to actually ride up to that point. To rephrase, you're trading short term advantage for long term benefits. This is common in good game design for an assortment of reasons, and I don't particularly feel like listing out why, but the point to take away is that, for example, if you are stuck at Grade 2, you are not immediately doomed. The opponent still has to burn a card to achieve Grade 3. That means you are given (at least for a short amount of) extra time to draw into a Grade 3 later and catch up anyway, thanks to the short term card advantage buffer created by riding. Twin Drive destroys this concept however, because in two turns, Twin Drive will already have paid for itself in terms of raw card advantage. That's, now you absolutely can not afford to misride ever, because the moment the opponent hits Grade 3, their card advantage rockets off far faster than you can possibly catch up. To those of you who have ever suffered from misriding ever, I guarantee you it is because of the Twin Drive mechanic.

And so concludes a lengthy rant about Vanguard's mechanics. With Thunkofcardgames turning into a site to analyze mechanics and more general ideas, this article is a sort of precursor to any future work I may do. Would you guys enjoy me doing more mechanic based or general articles like this in the future?


Saturday, December 20, 2014

A Possible Return of Thunkofcardgames

Well, yeah.

Honestly, I'm not sure if I am ever going to let myself build decks for the blog anytime soon; they are way too hard to maintain once I have too many deck lists and I lack the conviction to do so anyway.

On the other hand, math revolving around this game is far more long lasting and is less likely to be ran over every time a new set is released, and reviews based on individual cards is much easier to update so long as I keep interactions to a minimum. Strategies are also easily the most permanent thing in Vanguard until somebody up in Bushiroad HQ really jumps the gun, and game design of the very mechanics of this game can easily keep me occupied.

With all this in mind, Thunkofcardgames may be having a comeback sometime in the near future. For those of you who have seen the thread on Pojo, you'll be seeing a revised rant on Vanguard's mechanics as an article on this blog soon. For those of you new to this blog, please send something over to the request box, I need something to write about.

Now excuse me for a moment while I go hit myself for letting myself back onto this blog.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Anyone play League of Legends?

So, I plan on moving my work stage from Cardfight Vanguard over to League of Legends. Anyone interested in seeing the ultra technical math based side of League of Legends analyzed and explain like I do here for Vanguard, check it out.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Shutting Down

For real this time.

I'm done writing for this game, plain and simple. I plan to find someone like minded enough to me; one who focuses on analysis and numbers to replace me for writing articles, but so far, the search has been fruitless. Until then, don't expect to hear from me any time soon.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Why you Shouldn't Run Four Perfect Guards

So let's break down some myths and facts about Perfect Guards, and why you shouldn't run four.

See, the thing about running any four units is that you have some ~35.9% chance of damage checking one of them if you were to take five damage. Nevermind taking six damage, or if your deck has any form of Soul Charging or milling, but imagine the effects on your deck when you lose a Perfect Guard to your damage zone. Instead of effectively having the probability of four Perfect Guards within your deck, your losing one means that you essentially only have three Perfect Guards in deck now. This subverts whatever superiority in consistency any of those religious zealots would say about having four Perfect Guards entirely, as it's essentially like running three Perfect Guards in the first place. In fact, if you had just ran three in the first place, the probability of damage checking your Perfect Guard (once again assuming five damage) drops down to ~28.1%. IT'S A WHOLE ~7.8% DIFFERENCE. Think of it like this, if you played ten games in a row, you're going to damage check a Perfect Guard once more out of the ten games than if you ran three in the first place. A game out of ten! Now people might tell you about having to consider the probability of misrides, probability of Trigger-screws, and something stupid like standard deviantartation or something, but ignore them. I'm obviously the math blogger of the Vanguard community and I obviously know more than them anyway. With that out of the way, I'm quite sure you can see why you might as well run three Perfect Guards instead of four, because probability just does not favor running for. In fact, if you don't run any Perfect Guards at all, this drops the probability of damage checking a Perfect Guard all the way down to zero. See, if you don't run any Perfect Guards at all, you can't lose any Perfect Guards to your damage checks, and then you'll have all the advantage over your opponent as you defend yourself properly.

Of course, there's another reason why you shouldn't run four Perfect Guards. See, if you only ran three Perfect Guards, math shows that:
you will get a Perfect Guard by turn six in about eight out of ten games. A whole eight out of ten games! That is extremely consistent, in fact just as consistent as riding up to Grade 3 with most standard decks. In fact, because you ride your to Grade 3 right away in eight games out of ten, and that you can get at least one Perfect Guard from your deck eight games out of ten by turn six, this means you are guaranteed to get a Perfect Guard if you only run three. Once again though, there will probably be a few idiots in the crowd who are going to be like 'Oh, NACHO, the math doesn't work that way' or something stupid like that. Don't listen to them. Trust me, I'm an engineer, I know what I'm doing.

Still skeptical huh? I guess it is true that trying to get away with proving the use of only having three Perfect Guards is unfair without the use of four Perfect Guards to compare. See, if you run four Perfect Guards, math shows that:
there isn't even a 10% difference between the two! Also, when you consider the probability of misreading, trigger-screw, and standard deviation, along with the fact that not all games last until turn six, the probability drops considerably. This means you're not even guaranteed to improve your chances at all. And that's already ignoring that if you damage check a Perfect Guard, it's like you're running three anyway. See? It's totally useless to have a fourth Perfect Guard.

As you can see, there is no point in running four Perfect Guards. You only should run three Perfect Guards, it's all you need. In fact, don't even get me started on how Perfect Guards clog your hand, so you shouldn't even run Perfect Guards at all! This is how you improve your games, by using strict logic and thinking these things out objectively and with math.

Now I just wanted to say


And that you are a tragically misinformed person if you believe or believed even a smidgen of the logic that you can find in this article.