New Video – Deck check on Za Warudo

This new video goes over the decklist found in the Nova Grappler clan section and highlights the various plays and uses. Particularly, the fact that it has no bad ride and how devastating its wins can be! Check it out and be sure to leave me feedback on videos. Most of my videos, for so long as I have a terrible webcam and nothing actually good, will likely be spur of the moment things I do once I get home from locals. Enjoy.

(Hi Zac from Alien games!)

From the Video Description in case anyone from here misses it:

MINOR CORRECTION: Rule – where you actually do declare attack, then boost, however for some reason Bushiroad has “on-attack” and “on-boost” abilities activate after the boost only, not directly after the attack. Well, chalk that up to weirdness. So yes your Mond stands the VG booster and each samurai gets +15k.

New Video – Deck Profile


Hey everybody! I finally found time for an off-the-cuff video after work. It actually ended up being pretty long since I decided to show the deck and explain a walkthrough for it. If you’re interested in seeing my personal tournament deck or want to run Bad End Dragger effectively, I highly suggest you take a look at this. If you’re curious as well! Read more

Understanding Cards


When a new card comes out, often the immediate knee-jerk reaction is to “ooh!” and “aah!” or call it shit. But often times, we all later collectively come to understand the card and its limitations which gives us a new perspective. Most of the time, the card text hasn’t changed between that time period, so what has changed? Clearly it’s our understanding of the cards themselves. And the fact that so many people change their reactions to cards once the novelty has worn off shows that there’s clearly something fishy going on there.

Knee-jerk reactions, as it seems, are poorly suited to understanding the card dynamics of Vanguard. Much like Yu-Gi-Oh or other TCGs, the new set often makes starry-eyed fans giggle in anticipation. But in games like YGO, there’s a clear difference between the people who stay star-struck for their first tournament and the people that have a clearer vision about the new release. Read more

Oh look an impostor + News


ss (2013-08-29 at 03.11.49)

Yeah, that’s not me. Way to go, fool.

So anyway, I really just wanted to make a post apologizing for not having an article out this month except the update. I haven’t been inactive in the community (even wrote two semi-articles for the Forum) but something about writing lately has been making me space out. Rest assured that I’m now working on another article and I have several planned for the future, as well as BT-11 testing. Work was pretty brutal and stopped me from doing any testing except on the weekends…which is when I would otherwise have to be updating posts. I have a small list of changes that need to be made to existing articles, but since people love to criticize me, I figured I could get all that hate to turn into help: if you see stuff in an article that seems inaccurate, out of date, or unnecessary, please let me know in a comment. I plan to take all of these down and address them soon.

Also two other things:

I plan to make another video soon and I wanted to get feedback from everyone on what they’d like to see in the videos and what, if any, changes would like to be made. For now I’m pretty limited since I do not have a video camera with any kind of presentable quality; I can’t just record myself with some cards like most people out there. I’m also limited to a netbook computer, so the video editing part of it can be quite intensive on this poor thing. For the next subject, my thoughts were hovering around discussing opportunity cost and what that means for deck building. If any of you have ideas, I’d love to hear it. The videos are basically for you guys, so it would be a shame for me to just do what I want to do.

The second thing I wanted to note is that I’ve been tossing around the idea of taking the crossride units, isolating out the part where they gain defense, and discussing them merely as normal 11000 Power units. This one was kind of tough because several of them were pretty lackluster when they didn’t have their defense and there’s always the chance that someone doesn’t read me carefully and assumes I’m now condoning free defense (oh who am I kidding, there’s not a chance, it will absolutely happen. People even misunderstood the same position in 10 Things I Got Wrong). But, against my better judgment, I’ve decided to do it anyway. In the coming weeks, expect some analyses of the units themselves and their effects. If those effects by themselves are good enough for a decklist, expect a decklist; but those lists will not include the base unit that gives them defense. Vanguard becomes the most boring game on the planet when you move everything to 13k.

So that’s all for now, I want to apologize again for even having to write a news post when my updates should’ve been speaking for themselves. Hopefully I won’t spend all my time from now on learning math and science. Ciao.

New Video – Deck Framework & News

Grade Ratios & Deck Framework

I have  a new video released (finally) talking about optimal Grade Ratio for riding and deckbuilding, then how to framework a deck in such a way that you get a step-by-step logical skeleton for building typical decks. It should help people understand the exact process of deck building in a general way. The narration is a good predecessor to the Deck Construction article, so go read that afterward if you haven’t already.

I definitely tried to spice up the presentation from last time (I noticed comments on the quality and was aware of the problem) by improving audio and video quality, adding more visual aids, and improving the Vanguard field to be more realistic and animated. I even had the dang thing digitally animated and most of it recorded within 1 week of posting my previous video (Perfect Guards).

Unfortunately, there were problems. Most of it was recorded when I was sick, since I wanted to get it done. So I have to apologize because most of the video has me with this weird throaty flu-like voice that isn’t really me. In addition, I kept coughing and having asthma attacks, so I had to cut the audio into segments and couldn’t record in one take (you’ll notice the tone shifts as I just got done coughing). And that’s also why I get really quiet sometimes because I can feel the lung itch coming on. Because my house rarely ever has peace and quiet to record, I ended up going several weeks without being able to follow up until last night when I got just enough time to finish recording but not re-record the sick parts. Apologies again. Anyway, it’s up now and I hope you can enjoy it for what it is, at least. The not-sick part starts around the time I discuss 11000 Power defense.

In other news, it’s been confirmed now that Bushiroad will release BT-11 before BT-10, now in October and BT-10 in December, citing “production reasons”; which literally no one in the history of never actually believes. I’m pretty sure we all know it’s because Dragonic Descendant ruined the entire game for Japan and it had to be restricted within its first official tournament. Way to go. So now, we get to wait all damn year for Spike Brothers which makes me sad. However, this does mean all my tests thus far have been completely wasted! Hooray. I’m in the process of re-working some things for BT-11, notably the Genesis deck which will no longer be stuck with BT-10 only units by the time they’re legal. However, there’s still some ground to cover with Extra Boosters and Trial Decks before I jump on BT-11, so please be patient.

The store I started running with my recommended products has become a pretty good success with many dozens of people finding this a good service. I hope that continues.

Until next time.

10 Vanguard Things I Got Wrong as a Newb

Oh, and this is going to be embarrassing. But I think that we learn a lot more from failure than from success. This is generally because things are far easier to criticize—I can more readily tell you the likely reasons something failed than for its success. It’s a tool of humanity that makes evidence-based science work so well for us in producing medicine, technology, building bridges, learning about the universe, and exploring where we came from. Particularly when you’re new to a field, you tend to be more wrong. It’s not necessarily because your intuition leads you to worse hypotheses (it does), but because you’re more likely to actually tout things you think as correct when you don’t know all the nuances yet. Read more

VMundi Videos

Alright, we’ve settled in and it took longer than usual because my ISP was being terrible about looking for the new server. I’ve done an edit to my HOSTS file so I can at least interact with you guys while they sort this out. Cool new things:

You’ve probably noticed the new youtube link! This is because we’ve started up a channel. For now, the videos can’t be great quality for several reasons, but mainly that my video editing PC is dead and I’m waiting to get the money to replace it so the videos can be more professional.  For now, members of VMundi will be working together to release videos, though not on any kind of strict or close schedule. All of the instructional videos will at least be available in HD 720p.

As for the first video—”Don’t run less than four perfect guards“, it makes the case for why perfect guards stop game-ending plays, and shows an argument from frequency of drawing them to motivate players to use 4 copies. Any less, and you’re likely not to be able to defend yourself.

You’ve also likely seen this guy in the sidebar. This will link you to the area for the V*Mundi Circuit tournament. That thread will explain what it’s all about, how to get certified as a vanguard judge, and includes a Tournament Organizer guide to help people who’ve never organized one, or veterans alike. This was by popular demand as several shops and individuals have contacted me (thank you!) showing their interest in this new feature.


Soon we should be entering the regular schedule of article releases!


Just barely made the end of May to give an update on V*Mundi articles.

Updated this time:

Updated last time:

Read more

Probability Theory

Vanguard often provokes discussion and use of random chance. It’s one of the great tools of mathematicians, meteorologists, astronomers, and especially quantum physicists. What what is randomness? What exactly is chance? How do they work and why is everyone so sure of them? In this article, I’d like to take a look at these questions and the nature of randomness, along with what randomness is, is not, and why it works. This is an important tool for Vanguard and understanding chance goes a long way toward bettering one’s self as a whole. It becomes a toolkit that can work not only in Vanguard and other TCGs, but also many other areas of your life. Read more

Tournament Survival

Hopefully not surviving a fire at a tournament

A lot of people think of a tournament as just a place where you show up and play card games, then get prizes if you win. If only it were that simple. The trick is actually being the person who wins and gets the prizes. To do that, you need to give yourself every advantage possible, and that comes with not only skill in playing but also having a plan of action for the tournament. Depending on the kind of tournament you’re attending (local, regional, national etc) then you should have slightly different plans of action, usually more complex and involved for anything above the local level. So let’s look at some of the factors that go into winning a tournament and the factors that go into having a good time. Read more

Game Theory

What is a game? We play games for various reasons. For the mental challenge, for mirth, for blind entertainment, whatever. But typically we just call anything that has rules and is fun a “game”. That’s not the only meaning of the word game. Game Theory doesn’t only describe the typical for-mirth kinds of games. It describes any rational decision making. Or more formally: “The interaction among rational, mutually aware players, where the decisions of some players impacts the payoffs of others”. This is important because Theories describe things. They explain why and how something works by using empirical evidence and reasoning. And Game Theory is important in Vanguard because it describes the rational decision making of two Vanguard fighters. It’s a method of prediction and optimality. So this is going to be part crash-course in Game Theory and part useful Vanguard application. This is going to very likely be an article you have to read multiple times and in chunks. This isn’t something you power through to get to the end. Unless you are already very familiar with Game Theory, you will likely need to take multiple breaks while reading this article. You need to prepare yourself for a base introduction to an entire subgenre of Mathematics. Read more

Deck Construction

Preferably one that glows with blue fire

Deck building is a core essential part of any collectible or trading card game. The ability to customize and expand your experience is one of the basic fundamentals that draws people to card games. But building a deck on your own is rarely easy in any card game. It requires a certain skill set that is actually separate from the ability to play the game. In Vanguard, that skill set can be broken down into several different categories, and you’ll need all of them to build the best deck for you. In order to fully understand this article, you will also need other skills sets, so there will be some prerequisite reading. If you have not read my articles on subgames, resources, pressure, and card advantage, you will be completely lost as I will be using key terms from those articles. It also helps to read several Deep Clans to understand how the analysis works. So let’s jump in. Read more

Pressure and Threat

My dinosaurs are pressure, your argument is invalid

In Vanguard, you’re faced with a huge problem. Anyone who’s read the articles on Card Advantage and Subgame Theory would know that once your opponent reaches Mid game, they get a free +3 every single turn. You both do, in fact. Well, this creates a problem because combining the Twin Drive and Draw Phase into +3 every turn means that your opponent can guard some and call some. If they get to call a ton of cards early because they didn’t have to guard, they can quickly fill up the field to screw over your +3.

If they have to guard a lot of attacks, they can’t fill up the field early, but don’t take damage. The opponent can simply choose to guard a few attacks (the weakest ones), and take the big ones. After all, you don’t gain extra critical just for gaining more power stages. So what we have here is a problem of pressure. That is, a problem of creating a pressuring situation on the opponent to force them to expend more cards than they get each turn. Read more

Deck Thinning

Sadly, yes.

Many card games share similar concepts such as Card Advantage, Tempo, Subgames, Perfect Information, and Pressure. One that not all card games share is Deck Thinning. This is the act of removing cards that would be considered unneeded from the deck in order to increase the chances of drawing into cards one should need. Inversely, it is the act of increasing the probability of drawing cards you need. From what we know about probability, one also knows that having a lower pool of cards directly increases the “chunking” size of probability to draw unaffected copies. In card games like Yu-Gi-Oh, you start with a very small pool of 40 cards, draw on opening turn 6 cards, and leave a remainder of 34 for you to thin. In deckbuilding, you can place cards inside that directly search copies of themselves or other cards and that is their only purpose. These are pure deck thin cards that serve to virtually make your total deck size smaller while still remaining legal.

If you’re not at all familiar with Yu-Gi-Oh, you can skip this paragraph. Using things like “Gather Your Mind” can decrease the total deck size by 3 cards. Using “Toon Table of Contents” and a random “Toon” monster can decrease it by 4 cards. It’s virtual because this can fail once or twice as you could draw more than one copy of these self-searchers and be unable to get the rest, therefore not thinning as much. But assuming ideal conditions, you could stack these cards in your deck building choice to further some overall goal. A Forbidden One win condition would serve the best use as it directly benefits from stacking multiple effects. Other decks often take the advantage where they can get it such as Agents using Venus to weed out Shine Balls (and usually get more utility from them after that).

However, Yu-Gi-Oh and other similar games are not Cardfight Vanguard. These games are wildly different and we cannot assume that the concepts for one wholly or partially transfer to another. Instead, we must re-evaluate each concept for each game we attempt to apply it to. Vanguard’s deck pool is initially 50 for construction purposes, but automatically “thins” by 1 by removing the Starting Vanguard—making it 49 cards for calculation purposes. Then you draw an opening of 6, and your deck size is 43. A whole 9 cards higher initially than Yugioh.

From there, you proceed to draw up to 2 cards per turn, and probably damage 1 per intermittent turn as well. That’s -3 from the deck each turn for two turns and sometimes an extra one due to Draw trigger or soul charging. The average deck would be at about 38 just before the start of Turn 3 depending on if you go first or second. At that point, an additional card is now removed each turn due to Twin Drive. So -4 each turn at the start of Mid Game, and that means you have 24 cards left in the deck by Turn 6, which is usually the maximum number of turns before both players get at least 4 damage and enter Late Game. You can’t assume to take 1 damage every single turn from the start of the game since that would be impossible. Events like Draw Triggers, Heal Triggers, drawing skills, and soulcharging skills almost even out the number of average cards per turn to -4 but not quite. So the number by Late Game can vary slightly between  ±3 cards.

I say all of this to get you familiar with the number of cards expected to be in the deck at the start of each Subgame. Start of Early is 43 cards. Start of Mid is 38 cards. Start of Late is 24 cards. This is going to be considerably more cards at the start of Late if you run no Draws, no soulcharging, and no ways to remove extra cards from the deck. Especially if you run ways to put cards into the deck like Tsukuyomi and Galahad. Those decks are helped considerably less by Deck Thinning, so take all of the following calculations as less reliable for their Thinning purposes. What we want to do now is take this skeleton template of deck size per subgame and determine how much thinning has to occur during a given subgame to make a difference.

Willing your triggers to you? Real life does not work that way

What do I mean by “make a difference”? Well, first we need a clear goal. In games like Yu-Gi-Oh, deck thinning just occurs to get to your limited powerful cards and key cards. Vanguard isn’t like that at all. Many cards in Vanguard are almost just as key as another card. As long as you get the proper rides (which all happens in Early game), then you probably won’t care too much about what specific cards you draw, and will more care that you draw cards that fit a certain template (like making a proper column, getting shield, getting a Perfect Guard, etc). The only things we really want to make sure we get are trigger effects. You want that Power +5000, those criticals, those draws, those heals, and those stands. The abusing chance article already goes over the standard approximate trigger checking probabilities. We’re going to start from Mid game and determine the number of cards you have to thin during a turn to make a significant difference. This will be defined as a difference that can be matched by having an extra Drive Check. Anything less is not going to be felt over 1 time during a given game, and any cards you would purposefully add to the deck to that end would be wasted.

At least 1 trigger check in twin drive with 13 triggers in a 37 card deck: ~58.6%
Exactly 2 triggers check in twin drive with 13 triggers in a 37 card deck: ~11.7%

This is the standard so far. Using 38 or 37 cards makes not much of a difference. At 38, it’s ~57.3%. A 1/100 difference isn’t anything. We have to make an estimate of how much thinning should occur (deck size down, trigger size remaining constant) in order to get something significant. At Mid game, a significant increase is yet another drive check chance.

At least 1 trigger check in triple drive with 13 triggers in a 37 card deck: ~72.7%

Now that is what I call significant. We have to determine Mid game’s thinning amount to reach that number, 72.7%, which is ~14% increase. Late game sees an approximate difference of 15% (accumulated decimal amounts), so that will be our standard for it. Starting at the next turn of Mid game, let’s assume we had thinned some.

At least 1 trigger check in twin drive with 12 triggers in a 33 card deck: ~60.2%

So that is the standard. Now let’s assume a thin of 5.

At least 1 trigger check in twin drive with 12 triggers in a 28 card deck: ~68.3%

Nope, 8% is not of sigificant value yet. Let’s assume a total thin of 8.

At least 1 trigger check in twin drive with 12 triggers in a 25 card deck: 74%

So at the earliest time most decks can thin, you need to thin 8 cards for the approximate probabilistic increase of 3 checks that turn. This seems to hold true for a given turn. So it should be sufficient to split the 8 thins up over any number of Mid-game turns to increase the total number of drive checks during that subgame by a virtual 1 check. Mid Game can last 1-5 turns, but usually only 3-4. We’ll be assuming 4, to give the deck thinning as much chance at success as possible. This would mean you need to thin 2 cards per turn as early as you possibly can. Things like actually drawing do not count as thinning since drawing a card can hit a trigger. Thinning only counts if you don’t hit a trigger with it. Out of a total of 8 natural drive checks, thinning 2 cards per turn increases you to 9 virtual drive checks. I would not say that this is very significant. We can’t really press our luck either since so few decks are equipped to thin better than 2 per turn on average. Starting from this point, let’s go to Late Game where the significance is +15%. We’re going to assume we pulled off the 8-thin and the number of cards left is reflected.

At least 1 trigger check in twin drive with 7 triggers in a 16 card deck: 70%

Very good, and almost +15% over 58.6%. We need another 4% increase which can be gotten from about 2 more thins over Late game. We can assume that we’ll get these in the following turn, so that by the End of the game, we’ve checked roughly an extra three times, virtually. This adds up to being 2 more triggers per game on average.

Tetsu does not approve

I’m not seeing the advantage here.

No, really. Two more triggers in an entire game is not worth an unusual deck list that otherwise sacrifices consistent plays for Deck Thinning. This is the sum of your efforts when you play a deck that specifically aims to thin. Purposefully counting anything below 10 total card thins in one game as an advantage is simply not reflected as advantageous in the numbers. If you put a card in that isn’t as “advantageous as other cards in more consistent ways”; but has the “advantage” of deck thinning, then you’re making a choice that makes your deck worse off on the whole. Until Vanguard gets a deck that deliberately works to thin by more than 10 cards per given game, this is simply not a concept worth bothering to include as part of a Winning Image or strategy.

tldr; 13

What? Yeah. You need to thin 13 or greater cards by the start of Late game in order to make a deck devoted to thinning that has any mathematically significant chance of increasing drive checks of triggers. That’s an absolutely monumental task given the cards that currently exist in Vanguard. And it still relies entirely on chance instead of consistency. Your deck would be a slave to the whims of a poorly-organized Tournament Structure. If you really hate the chance of triggers so much, then I would advise you to play Oracle Think Tank Tsukuyomi build. You’ll need a fairly higher amount of cash for that deck, a much greater understanding of the game and also a well-trained memory.

That having been said, if your deck can naturally thin without sacrificing even a single card choice to that end, then do it. A little bit that’s free should be considered a slight help. Dark Irregulars have Greedy Hand as their starting Vanguard, which can allow you to take excess Grade 1-2s and get them in the soul—which is a skill you’d use naturally. There are other less-potent uses for deck thinning such as getting more shield on average. To be significant, you would need to also thin a decently high amount while running extra 10,000 shields in the deck (which can screw up the Grade Ratio). Decks already naturally do this. Tachikaze uses Blightops to directly search for Shieldon which means not even having to thin for that purpose. Granblue uses Chappie the Ghost in nearly every build to get extra shielding, fill up the Drop Zone toolbox, and thin by 1. With so many natural choices to get around having to manually use brute force thinning to achieve some impotent goal, there yet stands no rational deck strategy for thinning. Keep this in mind any time you next go to appraise a card and count “deck thinning” among the positive aspects. Deck thinning is not “deck winning”.

Memory Mastery

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.