Tuesday, April 9, 2013

How Many Perfect Guards Should You Run?

In Vanguard, sometimes the biggest factor to winning or losing a game is how proficient a player is at averting damage, while also retaining as much card advantage as possible. In the end, with the constantly increasing rise of power, and many Limit Break skills making the late game a deathrap to even enter, there's one group of cards that simply stand above all others at keeping you safe while maintaining card advantage; the Perfect Guards. Despite this however, there are numerous anecdotes from many members all over the many Cardfight Vanguard communities who go as far as to detest even having Perfect Guards in the first place. Are Perfect Guards good enough to justify running in decks, and if so, how many? What are the arguments against Perfect Guards? In this article, the many ins and outs of Perfect Guards will be evaluated, and explain how many Perfect Guards you should run.

First, let's at least establish that you more than likely should run at least some Perfect Guards. No decks can realistically expect to win on a consistent basis without ever reaching the Late Game, and on top of this, they also cannot expect to never face any midgame Pressure Vanguards, meaning that Perfect Guards generally will have at least a few crucial moments in a match where there presence can mean the difference between retaining the card advantage necessary to outlast the opponent, or burning out too quickly and ultimately losing. Despite the fact that Perfect Guards use up 2 cards to guard, the fact remains that any stage 3 attack, due to the lack of 15K shields in this game, will be forcing out at least 2 cards from your hand to guard anyway.

Now let's pretend for a moment that Perfect Guards normally have a value of 5K shield, since they are Grade 1s. In the best case scenario, you will be spending a 10K shield and a 5K shield if you are guarding a stage 3 attack normally. On the other hand, in the worst case scenario you may have to drop a 10K shield to pay for the costs of the Perfect Guard. Line these up and:

Guarding Normally
5K+10K=15K, 1+1=2
15K shield, 2 cards

Guarding with a Perfect Guard
(5)K+10K=15K, 1+1=2
15K shield, 2 cards

Surprise surprise, when dealing with a stage 3 attack, the absolute worst case scenario when guarding with a Perfect Guard is the exact same (technical) value as guarding it normally. This essentially means that, upon using 5K shields or Grade 3s as the cost, Perfect Guards are only equal to and better than guarding normally the moment you'd normally need to expend 15K shield. 

Furthermore, you have to consider that I was assuming the best case scenario of guarding normally. The problem is that you aren't always going to be able to rely on best case scenarios all the time. By the late game, you'd probably have completely exerted whatever direct influence on your hand the mulligan gave you in the beginning of the fight, so you are going to be completely reliant on your Draws and Twin Drive. This varies from deck to deck, but generally, the vast majority of regular decks will round down to an average of 5K shield per card. Along with this, only about 1 in every 3 cards will be a 10K shield, assuming you run 16 10K shield Triggers. Finally, ignoring Draws, you add 3 cards to your hand every turn. In short, you generate 15K shield in the form of 3 cards per turn, and you'll generally only get 1 10K shield per turn. With only 1 10K shield per turn to work with, you can't reliably expect to have a 10K shield at all times to be able to carry the bulk of the guard necessary to block an attack, and you can easily end up having to drop 3 5K shields in order to stave off a stage 3 attack, completely destroying the shielding you generated the turn before. In this scenario, where your resources are at an edge, the Perfect Guards succeed to generate raw card advantage, by only requiring you to expend 2 cards, rather than 3.

Because the time when you'd need to deal with stage 3 attacks inevitably will happen, and that the Perfect Guards only succeed to equal or surpass guarding normally, there's really no reason not to run Perfect Guards. Rather, you can only benefit from using them. Rather, there are just so many reasons to use them, and they have a major influence on the fine line between losing or getting away with enough shield, making them an extremely important influence on the game. Playing such an important role in the game, with so few downfalls for the benefits they give, it should be obvious that they should be ran.

Okay, so we've established that you at least want *some* Perfect Guards in your deck, where to next? Well, it doesn't really help to have Perfect Guards at all if you never draw them in the first place, so using the 80% that a deck's riding consistency gives as our basis, how many Perfect Guards do you need to have in order to draw at least 1 of them by the late game 80% of the time?





...Oh, that's surprising, actually.

For those of you who can't figure out these numbers, by the end of turn 4, there is a 35% probability of drawing your 1 Perfect Guard, 58.3% if you run 2, 73.5% if you have 3 in your deck, and an 83.3% with 4. The only setup that meets that 80% quota I gave would be 4 Perfect Guards, basically meaning running 4 is the only way to consistently get that game saving Perfect Guard you would probably need.

Okay, math that surprised me aside, why by the end of turn 4? This is actually the result of some damage pacing I did a while ago:

61/49+73/49+73/49=4.2 damage

These numbers basically mean that if you run 12 Crit, and for some reason, your opponent's Heals aren't working, it would take 3 turns of attacking if you went first in order to push your opponent to 4 damage, the late game. And while some may argue that Heals should be considered into these numbers, I'd also like to remind that I completely ignore Rear-Guard attacks with these numbers, so all things considered, the late game 'officially' starting by around the 4th turn on average isn't a bad estimate. This also being the time when Perfect Guards often become absolutely necessary to the defending player.

So what do you think? With Perfect Guards, you can only benefit from using them correctly as far as card advantage goes, and with how power hungry the game is becoming, this makes them all the more necessary in a fight. Along with this, under normal circumstances, the player would require 4 Perfect Guards to be able to draw them on a consistent basis by the late game. This in mind, it should be very apparently obvious that you probably should run 4 Perfect Guards, as not only is it absolutely necessary for the role they play, but they only are there to serve you.


  1. So I should still run 4 in a Pale Moon/Dark Irregulars which might accidentally get them soul charged?

  2. Another thing to note is that a PG can be discarded for the cost of another PG, so 'clumping' them in the hand is really a non-issue.

    Also, I had a Bermuda Triangle deck that ran 8 G3's and a single PG (not by choice) and most games I lost, I lost while holding 3-4 G3 Units in hand, good fodder for a PG. As an advocate of running three PG's in most decks, after extensive testing it seems the best number is four.