|Oracle “Think” Tank. Key word.|
Keeping track of everything that’s happening in Vanguard can be a difficult and daunting task. Even in the simplest of decks, you have to keep track of how many triggers you’ve seen of both players, what they were, possibly try to work out how many your opponent will have of each, and keep track of copies of other cards you both have as well. On top of that, you have to make sure you know the card advantage you have over the opponent and you have to remember what cards they’ve drive checked so you know what to expect. Most people don’t even see the point of putting so much work into the game when it’ll be over in 20 minutes anyway and the remembered information will be useless. What’s worse, you can’t bring paper or dice with you to an official Vanguard tournament match because having other objects on the table is a violation of the rules. What if I told you that having a great memory is not some superhuman feat that makes Misaki special? What if I told you, everyone is capable of feats of tremendous memory? Let’s take the red pill.
|So memorable <3|
I’m going to be honest, becoming good at multitasking and memory is not easy. But it’s not terribly difficult either. All over the world, every year, countries hold Memory Championships like the one in the USA this year. You may think that everyone who showed up, and especially the winner, are all savants from Rain Man who can perform Hollywood style feats of incredible memory. You’d be only half right, and it isn’t the half you think.
They were actually able to remember incredible amounts that boggle the mind, but they weren’t savants. They were normal, average people, most of which probably didn’t have an IQ above average. How can that be? How can someone who forgets where their keys are memorize Pi to obscene digits? The ability to have a great memory is actually not related very much to overall intelligence, so it doesn’t take a genius to remember obscene things. The truth is, everyone already remembers ridiculous amounts of information without realizing it.
Let’s get back on the subject of Vanguard. Do you remember most of the cards you’ve read? I bet if you played with the deck, you do. I bet you know the names of every card in your deck, its Grade, its power, your Grade ratio of the deck, how many triggers of each kind, and the shielding on every card. And at least remember most of what the skills do if you’re new to the game; intermediate and above players will remember all the skills even if not the exact wording. I remember that the Reckless Express in my deck is a Grade 1 5000 shield Spike Brothers Workeroid unit of the Dark Zone nation with 7000 power. It’s pretty easy to remember because I’ve both played with him a lot and he has really cool art.
There are your key words. “Really cool art”. Memory is best when you can associate things with pictures. Especially turning numbers into pictures. That permanent association of 7000 with Reckless Express’ art is very easy for your brain to do. Even the skill just becomes second nature after a single use or two. Vanguard already has a built-in memory improvement system, even more so than other cards games because it has full-art cards. You’re already able to perform feats of extreme memory in your day-to-day life and in Vanguard, you just have to go one step further and learn how to keep track of meta-information.
|Like a retarded physician’s map|
Since ancient times, there have been methods for remembering very complicated things very easily. One that we still use today is a mnemonic that goes by different names and different forms, but is essentially a number alphabet for turning numbers into pictures. But, there’s no way around this…this is going to seem fucking bizarre.
Each place on the body is mapped to a phonetic sound for association and easy memory. This is called a mnemonic, and they’re essentially ways of easily remembering things by translating the information into a way that’s easier for our brains to understand. One thing we understand and remember very well is our own body, which is why so many mnemonics use fingers, faces, or other body parts. This one is no different. So let’s go over this body map of phonetics.
|Digit||Phonetic||What the fuck?|
|0||s, z, soft c||s is the first letter in sky. z is also the first letter in zero.|
|1||d, t, th||t is for top, as in the top of your brow or head. Associated with eye. d and t both have similar phonetics.|
|2||n||n is for nose.|
|3||m||m is for mouth and luckily, looks like a sideways 3|
|4||r||r is for ribs. Also memorable because r is the last letter of four and capital R sort of looks like a reverse 4.|
|5||l||l is for liver. Capital L is also the Roman numeral for 50, to easily remember 5.|
|6||j, sh, soft ch, dg, zh, soft g||j is for joint, like the joint of your hip. sh, and ch are also related to this phonetic.|
|7||k, hard c, hard g, q, qu||c is for cap, as in your knee cap. What’s important is the hard k sound. g is also related to this phonetic.|
|8||v, f||f is for fibula, the bone in your calf, which ends with f. v and f are nearly identical phonetics. The f in calf becomes a v when plural (calves), for memorizing it.|
|9||b, p||b is for ball, like a football (soccer) you kick with your foot. Or the ball of your foot. p and b both look like inverted 9s.|
Now that you are thoroughly confused, let’s begin the process of explaining what the dickins is going on. You probably have no idea what you’re looking at unless you’ve had memory training before. This is essentially a phonetics table for consonant sounds that uses parts of the body to easily remember which number they are associated with. It’s actually very easy once you just remember that system. It probably seems pointless right now but hang in there with me. If you need to know what a number’s consonant sound is, simply start at 0 (above your head) and count “0 sky, 1 top, 2, nose, 3 mouth, 4 rib, 5 liver, 6 joint, 7 cap, 8 fibula, 9 ball”. Once you just do that physically with your hands and body a few times, it’s pretty much permanently ingrained. Now you just remember what phonetics sound like each other. S for Sky and Z are similar, and T, D, and Th for Top are all similar. Just repeat that with the remaining consonant sounds. This takes all of 3 minutes.
Okay here’s where it starts to make sense. What you now do is take a number and convert it into those phonetics. For instance, the number of leaves in Zork: 69105. If you want to easily remember that, you start by converting the numbers.
6, joint, j/ch/sh sound. 9, ball b/p sound. 1, top, t/d/th sounds. 0, sky, s/z sound. 5, liver, l sound.
Now string in whatever vowels you like so long as you make up a bunch of nouns (not other parts of speech). You could get ship dice hole. Okay what am I doing here? I simply start, left to right, and chunk the digits into two. So 69, 10, 5. Then I use the phonetics with a random vowel that makes a word. So 69 or sh and p can become ship. 10 can be d and s or dice. 5 is by itself, so we put a blank _ in front of it. Blanks have a special rule that make them different from simply being 05 or 0n (n is some number). You use the breathy H sound for a blank. So _5 becomes hole. Or hail if you want. Whatever will help you remember. So in my case, there’s a scene being painted. A pirate ship crashes into a gigantic pair of dice iceberg, and a hole rips in the ship! The crazier the scene, the more memorable. No one wants to remember boring every day crap. That’s what makes us think we have bad memories overall. Because those things are boring and uninteresting—trash day isn’t on the top of your list for memorable things. CEO Amaterasu, though, is a badass card with really awesome art so of course you remember her. I bet you’d remember a pirate ship crashing into dice and tearing a hole in the ship too. And since the only nouns are ship, dice, hole, and the phonetics are Sh-P-D-S-_L, you know it’s going to be 69105.
This gets much easier and much faster with practice. Some people even go so far as to create a list of standards words from 00 to 99, and including leading blank words. For a total of 110 words. But they’re all easy to remember nouns like Nut (21, remember n is nose, 2, and t is top, 1). You can do that if you want, since it makes decoding go much faster, and the act of creating each number means that you are associating numbers with pictures, which is the whole point. Training your memory and giving you a useful life skill are going to go a long way to becoming better at not just Vanguard, but all card games.
|“Marcus Agrippa, son of Lucius, Consul for the
third time, built this”
Let’s talk about another system which is called the Method of Loci. It dates back at least as far as Ancient Rome and is used all over the world by many people to remember things. By accident, anyway. Some of us do use it deliberately. The method involves associating things with familiar places to make things easier to remember. It’s easier to remember what flavor cotton candy you got at the Fair than what color car your friend’s mom drives.
This method can be combined with the above method as the “verbs” of your sentence to string together something much more memorable, like we did with the pirate ship hitting an iceberg made of dice. But it’s much more than that, actually. If you’ve ever heard of the term “memory palace”, that’s where this comes from. Essentially, you take a place you know very well, such as your own house (if you’re really good, you can just imagine a new place such as a palace), and each room you walk into, you make something crazy happen. Something so off-the-wall, it’s memorable. Just like before, if you do this enough, you’ll be able to do things like memorize a speech by putting all of your key talking points in the memory palace—a method that’s actually used by people who don’t write their own speeches, to quickly memorize them.
Eventually, you can get to a point where it doesn’t even need to be crazy. Your brain is trained to physically file visual memories away however you want. For instance, when I play Oracle Think Tank, I can walk into a memory palace when I check the top 5 cards, and however many I remove (0-1 depending on if I get a ride), I just sort them in a good order, remember the card art, and visualize that art being hung on the wall of the first room in my palace. That door has a number 1 on it.
The next door down (to my left), will have the next stack like this, but in between are either card art or backs of cards hanging on the wall medians that represent things I drew, damaged, cycled or whatever in the meantime. And I continue this for rooms 2 and 3. After that is a big room with no label that has groups of cards organized on the floor to help remember how many cards I have left until I reach the stack. And each time a new card leaves the deck, I simply move one over to the pile in my mind. It’s so much easier than it sounds, and some people can even skip the previous method and go straight to the method of loci. For those of you who haven’t yet trained your memory, a good method is starting by using phonetics for how many cards are left in the stack. You’ll never need to go above like 38 really, since you draw an opening hand of 6 from 49, then reveal the top 5 to start the stack anyway. This becomes very easy if you use as many unique art triggers as possible. So if you run 4 draw triggers, just run around 1 copy of each to make it easier for you to track (and hard for your opponent to guess the number of them).
|>Deck stacking is legal in Vanguard|
Once you start your deck-stacking, just remember 38 or MF, or muff like earmuffs. If you imagine feeling the earmuffs, then you can just remember that, and during your opponent’s turn just count how many you lose normally. If you damage check 1, for example, on your next turn, you draw 1, then drive check. Now you can just subtract that 3 from muff and get 35 or mole. Just imagine there’s a big mole on your face and you’re suddenly embarrassed of it. You see how easy this gets. All you’re doing is converting the number left in the stack into a picture, then counting real numbers on your opponent’s turn, then updating your picture on your turn. Once you get to House (_0) or Hat (_1) you know that Twin Drive will start hitting your stacked triggers.
As for remembering the actual stack itself, you’d use the Method of Loci (locus for singular), then you simply walk around somewhere familiar (or somewhere you imagine) while associating the 4-5 cards with those places. The reason I start with room 1 and move to the left, is because your stacks will be in reverse order chunks of 4-5. Reverse order is very key here. When I get ready to come back on the stack, I just walk down the hallway, ignore the pictures on the wall, open door number 1, look at the paintings on the wall, and plan strategies accordingly. Then as I move through the hallway, I ignore the paintings on those walls and focus on only the ones inside the doors. The big door at the end is probably the most difficult since the various stacked 1-times (skills like Tsukuyomi or Blue Eyes) can get a bit cluttered, but mostly, you won’t have to use them since going off with stacked triggers is pretty devastating. You get a lot of offense very quickly and a lot of defense too.
So take these two methods, the Phonetic Numbers and the Method of Loci and practice them with Tsukuyomi. Even if you don’t have the deck, you can further increase your memory by mentally proxying other cards that have the same Grades and power. If you just memorize all the skills and what the proxies are, then you start practicing turning the numbers left-until-the-stack into pictures, while also using a memory palace to remember the stack itself, I promise you will become much better at Vanguard. You can start off slow, so that it doesn’t seem as daunting, by just practicing mentally proxying some other clan. Get a decklist ready, gather same-grade, same-power cards in your collection (try to get the same number of each for each copy of the proxy card) and just remember what they are. Play with them a few times. Once you get good with that (should take 1-3 games, easy) just proxy in Tsukuyomi and start turning numbers into pictures. Don’t worry about the stack at all. Focus on turning numbers into pictures. Once you do that, just add another layer by walking through a memory palace of the stacked cards. With very little practice at all, you’ll be able to simultaneously:
- Mentally proxy an entire deck
- Memorize all the cards that you’ve seen at any point in the game and when they appeared
- Know how many cards until the stack
- Name every card in the stack in reverse-chunk order
- Mentally proxy multiple decks that you switch out modularly in your mind
- Memorize every card that your opponent has played as well
Remember, even though Misaki is a fake character in an anime, she is not special and doesn’t have super powers. You’re completely capable of the same “perfect memory” as her. Some people are born with an easier time of it, but everyone can practice it to develop mastery. You already had to memorize the rules of Vanguard, your card skills, and most other card skills just to be competent at the game. Just take it one step further.