Monday, August 26, 2013

Field Scalability, Shield Stages and Magic Numbers

Well I can conclude that that experiment was a complete success...

Just to sum up in short, 1 stage attacks are those that force out 5K shield, 2 Stages forces out 10K shield, and 3 stages forces out 15K. For every stage, an interval of 5K shield. Simple.

In Vanguard, there are many small things that are often overlooked by the general playerbase. Today, we'll be talking about field scalability, shield stages, and magic numbers.

Magic numbers, in simple terms, are the absolute lowest numbers you must achieve to start breaking stages. Let's say I have an 11K Vanguard like Dragonic Kaiser Vermillion, now how much power must my Rear-Guard have to go from forcing 0 shield out of it, to 5K shield? At 9000 power, the attack still isn't forcing out anything. 10K, still no luck. But at 11000, this shifts up to 5K shield. Because of Vanguard's guarding mechanics, that is that any attack at equal power to the defender being the same will get through, this would mean that the first magic number will always be equal to the defender. Due to all cards working under the same principle of 5K or 10K shielding, we can already figure out that the next set of Magic Numbers occurs within intervals of 5K. A stage 2 attack would be at 16K, and a stage 3 attack would be at 21K. Similarly, this applies to defending Vanguards at other base powers. 10K Vanguards have to deal with 10K, 15K, 20K... magic numbers, while 13K Vanguards have 13K, 18K, 23K..., etc.

Probably the biggest reason why
some of my first RP builds failed.
So why should you worry about Magic Numbers? Well, remember that Vanguard is a game based heavily on your ability to generate card advantage, and one of the biggest influences on this is the amount of guard you chuck at the opponent's attacks to deter them. Naturally, being able to best abuse the mechanics of battle in this game can lead to further influence on the outcome of the fight. More specifically though, this will be able to help outline deck decisions and goals in a cardfight. When building a deck, you want to be able to remember exactly what choices you are making and if you are capable of supporting them. For example, if your deck's strategy relies heavily on a 6K booster in the Rear-Guard lane or in high numbers, should you be loading up on a surplus of 8K attackers? If your deck has the luxury of 13K attackers, how many 8K boosters do you want to utilize for it? Normally, you'd want to suit these numbers to fit your metagame, but a good rule of thumb is to set your deck up for 11K Magic Numbers.

Okay, so your deck isn't crazy bad in the numbers department, what next? With this, we enter shield stages and scalability.

But first, why stages? Why can't I just say 16K column or 15K shield forcing attack? Well, for me, it's simply faster to type out than the latter, so laziness really. Meanwhile, there's an important thing to note about trying to say 16K columns. First I need to establish the premise that the opponent's Vanguard is somewhere in the 7K-11K range, which 9 times out of 10 would set up the correct premise I was aiming for in the first place. Furthermore, there's the gigantic issue of Vanguard's and Drive Checking. With 2 to pass being such a prevalent thing in this game (and with good reason), an extra 5K shield is dealt with with Vanguards' attacks. Though stages, I can better abstract the idea of the offensive capabilities I'm working with.

Now, when dealing with Shield Stages, the best numbers to set up for are stage 1 and stage 3 attacks. Stage 1 attacks don't necessarily mean for the opponent's Vanguard, but can apply as towards opponent's intercepts. While this leads to an open opportunity for the opponent to guard cheaply, this can end up helping you in the long run if your opponent is unable to defend, killing off that attacker and hopefully leading you to conserve shielding from that act. It is also the simplest action to do, capable with single, unboosted attackers. Next, stage 3 attacks are a step up from stages 1 and 2. Where 5K and 10K shields can completely shut down stage 1 and stage 2 attacks, there doesn't currently exist any single card that can block a stage 3 attack, meaning guarding it would be expensive, sort of akin to the abusing guard article. Through stage 3 attacks, your opponent would be completely overrun with the damage from not wanting to guard out such taxing attacks. After considering Twin Drive for example, your Vanguard when boosted should almost always be a stage 3 attacker, giving you a solid source of forward push to look forward to. This concept is also why some players are so attached to their 10K interceptors, or 9K-12K attackers despite, say, a lack of 8-9K boosters in their deck. Being able to set up attackers right away to threaten the opponent will better be able to spread out the amount of power you're throwing at and forcing out of the opponent, regulating their hand constantly and getting in some cheap jabs where the opponent can't compensate for.

One thing to note is that a solid combination of attackers and overall power columns is also why many beatdown decks are often so successful, as their playstyles are already directly linked to these sort of ideals.

Of course, while it's good to have overall goals like this, you still want to be able to actually get to these goals smoothly, field scalability. Simply put, plan ahead. You should think about the magic numbers you can enforce over your opponent and act on them, using the limited resources you may have at one moment to set up for later, when they become more abundant. There are basically 3 elements to keep in mind for this, each correlating to each Grade. Grade 1 boosters are rather permanent once they hit the field, at least if you don't like unnecessarily minusing yourself. Because of this, you need to be rather careful about just suddenly plopping them all down without any second thoughts. Let's think of, say, my Stern Blaukruger deck and how it can deal with 11K Vanguards. The biggest issue here is the deck's reliance on Blaupanzer, a 6K booster. Even despite all the built in safeties the deck has to counteract a screw up, the increased G1 count to the fact that Blaupanzer takes priority for riding, there still may be a time that you'd be forced to call it. The biggest problem here is that in the Rear-Guard lanes, there's only 1 unit that really puts Blaupanzer to use, a Stern Blaukruger, but seeing as you'll be riding one, it would be a really situational option if and only if you can set both up right away, hopefully without forgoing Death Metal Droid. On the other hand, especially if you didn't ride your Grade 2 Blaukluger, Blaupanzer would make a solid option for the Vanguard lane, as a restood 20K Stern makes no difference to a restood 16K Stern against an 11K Vanguard (Dancing Wolf vs Blaupanzer), which would mean that performance wise, you'll be able to act optimally anyway. In the end, there's always the option to simply cut your options, and opt not to call Blaupanzer at all if the Vanguard lane is already taken and you can't realistically expect a Stern Blaukruger anytime soon, and should use it as guarding material as you wait out for a Dancing Wolf or Tough Boy to act as a far better suited booster.

To sum up, when thinking about your deck, you should always plan ahead and know what numbers you are aiming for. Whether it's to decide on whether or not you really need that 8K attacker in your deck or what your field should look like once it's fully set up, it can save you a great deal of effort in the long run and even turn profitable. To best utilize them, you should aim to build stage 1 and stage 3 attacks where you can. While stage 2 attacks are solid for simply fleshing out your field, quickly setting up attackers and then power columns can make all the difference in quickly outpacing the opponent. Finally, you want to be able to reach these overall goals with precise forethought to a given situation. While something may help you immediately where it is, you should also consider the long term effects of what a card's position could mean for you in the long run. It's these little things that can really influence the outcome of a fight.

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