Good morning everybody, and welcome to the Zero Damage Gaming Blog, where we all learn to be a better Cardfighter.
Today is an opinion piece, looking forwards with what to expect, what to hope for, and what to dream of in the 2019 season of Vanguard, for the anime, game, mechanics, and tournament scene.
Its been one year since the announcement of the Vanguard reboot anime, and with it the start of V series. In 2018, although met with skepticism, turned out to be quite the success with the implementation of Standard bringing cards to a simpler (but not weaker) design allowing easier access into the game. The vision for Vanguard with the new series was Simple and Speedy, both of which were achieved with the standard format. This ease of access and entry into Vanguard was not lost on its fans, as many places in the world have shown an increase in player population, as well as an increase in casual player count.
Premium Standard, also grew with more and more deck archetypes coming up almost every set, showing the world how vast and interesting the meta can become. Even before the 2019 season begins, with only one year of new V series support, Premium Standard has become as varied with as many as over twenty viable decks! While the format was met with disdain from players that have not tried it out, many players are starting to discover the variety of play and interactions to be experienced in the format.
Lets hope the growing popularity of both Standard and Premium both continue well into the 2019 season.
There is the upcoming release of the Vanguard EX game for the Nintendo Switch and PS4, giving many players access to the game on their home consoles. Both of the consoles are not region locked, so be sure to pick up the games if you have a switch or PS4!
So what is the 2019 season?
On Feb 5th, bushiroad announced on their product release strategy conference that in Vanguard, they are designing according to "Seasons" now. Each season will come with a theme, and support each of the 24 clans at least once, as well as tie into certain tournaments and events. With the start of V series until April 2019 was the 2018 season, and 2019 season is scheduled for May 2019 to March 2020, with the 2020 Season already under development.
The theme for the 2019 season is Strengthen 2018 season, and they will be continuing the "Imaginary Gift" mechanic into the 2019 season.
So, this tells us with this plan, they hope to improve on each clan that came out in 2018, as well as most of the cards you have collected until now will likely continue to be used for the next year!
All those clans that just needed that little something more to be more powerful, or to run just that tiny bit better, you can expect that to come in the next year.
Another thing that was announced at the strategy conference was their product release schedule.
As you can see, in VBT05 and VBT06, they contain clans exactly the same as VBT03 and VBT04; while VEB08 My Glorious Justice contains the same clans as VEB02: Champions of the Asia Circuit. Bushiroad appears to be trying to keep the clans grouped together similarly to how they were in 2018, with certain clans being labeled as *easier* to get into by being put into the main boosters, with other, more technical clans being kept in Extra Boosters, but the rule is not absolute, as shown in the very first set: VEB07 THE HEROIC EVOLUTION.
One fairly interesting point is the reprints in the upcoming sets. VEB07 and VEB08 have all announced their main set reprints. One of their criticals, their vanilla draw, and their heal trigger for each clan will be reprinted. VSS02 and 03 have announced one new card per deck: Their new critical trigger.
Putting these pieces of information together we get that each clan will again have access to 8 crits and 4 draws, but with one new critical trigger. Who knows what this critical will be? Perhaps the null guards are now moved from draw to critical? This opens up a lot of play options for decks, or perhaps its just another vanilla trigger, but still opening up options for 12 critical decks! At any rate it appears every clan will be getting at least one new trigger in 2019 season.
The implementation of annual seasons is a potential sign of rotation down the road for Standard, with potentially 2 or 3 seasons being legal at once.
As for frequency of release and types of products, I predict we will see more of the Vanguard Special Series releases. These include Premium Collection, and 500yen start decks that we have seen announced, as well as a wider variety of Special Sets.
The 500 yen starter decks reprinting King Of Knights Alfred and Phantom Blaster Dragon are a smart move, enabling less hardcore players to get their cards for their decks while providing an entry point into the game that are cheaper than trial decks. Here’s hoping they will be a success and bushiroad continues to roll out these starter decks at low price point to increase players.
If we look to bushiroads other card game; buddyfight as an example, they
keep a wide variety of special sets, from two to three decks in one, to sets combined with sleeves/playmats reviving older archetypes, and staple reprint sets in foil are all options for the special sets. Who knows what theyll bring out as supplementary products: Starter sets with sleeves and playmat and decks? Two deck sets? Trigger only set to reprint triggers (and null guards) and distribute them as foil for all clans (and perhaps SP version of Null Guards)?
Vanguards current direction in sales is to target high rarity hunters, by giving them a wide variety of high rarity cards to find, which reduces cost of entry and deck construction for the casual players with lower rarity decks. Increasing the variety of available rarities for existing cards only furthers this goal, which is why I expect Bushiroad to use their supplementary products to print alternate art/rarity versions of existing cards.
What about the next season of the anime?
The next season of the anime will pick up where the manga left off, after the defeat of Brandt, with many issues yet to be resolved.
First, lets talk about the arc word: CROSS.
The poster features the word CROSS heavily on the text, and the 2019 sets will be introducing a new rarity: Cross Vanguard Rare (Dont worry, its like URR and IMR and SVR, just a bling-y version of the VR). Putting these together, I predict the arc word for the anime will be CROSS, similarly to how GYZE was the arc word of GZ, Vanguard G had GENERATION, Asia Circuit had LIMIT BREAK, etc. This is likely to tie into the game, with the new mechanic, if any, is likely to be named Gift Cross, or perhaps feature Cross Rides again, but perhaps in a different form, such as gaining a specific skill instead of just power when ride upon its base form (Even though we saw this already in Raven Haired Ezel, Monarch Sanctuary Alfred, ZANGEKI, Gust Blaster).
The main theme is the continuation of the high school arc, which means the Vanguard Koshien (Inter-High School Tournament) will be taking place. In the first anime season 3, Aichi and friends never qualified for it, being beaten in the qualifying rounds by the Fukuhara High School team, but perhaps in the anime we will be able to see it being featured with many rival schools playing a wide variety of decks in a tournament arc. Remember how enjoyable G-NEXT was?
Another key point in the manga was towards the end of the series, Kourin losing her connection to Blonde Ezel, resulting in her losing her memories and not being able to use her unit blonde ezel anymore. As highlighted in the key visual, at least part of the arc will be trying to restore kourin back to her old self.
However, without a unit to connect her with, what will she play?
Will we see a return of the Jewel Knights, only this time in Gold paladin? Will she move to Royal Paladin? Will she finally play Garmore again like she did in the first series? Or will she play Garnet Star and Photon and be a Star-Vader player?
And of course Ibuki Kouji being featured heavily on the art as well as a key player in the series, with link joker being the first to get support in the new series.
Link Joker is getting their Messiah archetype in VEB07, but will Ibuki change so quickly from his Deleting ways?
One thing I hope to see is Deletors being able to delete imaginary gifts. Its incredibly on theme, but its also the kind of ability that will be hard to cost and definitely come towards the end of the arc.
What units we can expect to see come back?
XVR (Cross Vangaurd Rare) is confirmed to be alternate art versions of the VR, with one card per set (at least for VEB07) being an OLD card art. This means that, at least for a few of the VRs, they will be continuing to remake old cards.
With all this arc word CROSS being thrown around, my main suspect for Kai's new unit/main unit for the next season to be Dragonic Overlord the X, with some restanding skills and a skill that powers up/drive up/crit up/whatever else on the turn you ride on top of old vanilla Dragonic Overlord. Maybe we'll see The End towards the end of the series?
As mentioned above, perhaps Garmore or the Jewel knights can be seen making reappearance for Kourin.
For Dark Irregulars, Tetsu's Amon is most likely to be the VR for the set, seeing as its the last big DI unit to not have a reappearance.
But Ren is perhaps one of the main characters people are hoping for. He still has several iconic units not yet remade: Spectral Duke Dragon, Raging Form Dragon, and Mordred Phantom. We may see these being reintroduced to us in the 2019 season!
I hope they don't shy away from making new units for the characters. Part of vanguards appeal was its variety of units and designs.
What about a new mechanic?
The 2019 season has confirmed they are continuing with Imaginary Gift as their main mechanic, but this doesnt not mean there is no design space to explore. 2018 has shown multiple gifts per turn, getting other clans gifts, and more. 2019 will definitely continue this trend in exploring the design space of imaginary gift.
As we have seen previously in Limit Break -> Break Ride and G-Zone -> Strides + G Guardians, a single mechanic may have a lot of space to explore given enough time. In this way, they may foray into the land of making cards that specifically interact with imaginary gift.
For example: "If this unit is on a circle with Gift, do X", or perhaps "if you have X or more imaginary gift, do Y".
Another potential area they can look into is sacrificing the imaginary gift for a powerful effect. For example, an OTT card may have: "ACT: Discard 1 Imaginary Gift, Draw 2", or a RP card may have: "ACT: Discard 1 FORCE to choose 6 units. They each gain 10k this turn."
However, the danger of putting these effects on unit skills is that they may end up power creeping all the previous units out of the game, and make any clan that doesnt have their support yet comparatively worse. Imagine being Bermuda and knowing you will have a year before you can experience what everyone else is enjoying with their new mechanic.
Therefore, they may instead implement the deeper imaginary gift mechanic into the rules themselves.
For example, Once per game, when you gain an imaginary gift, destroy that gift for X powerful effect.
Example: Protect Clans: Once per game, when you would gain an imaginary gift, retire that gift to draw 3.
This increases the depth of the imaginary gift mechanic while subsequently giving this option to all clans that exist previously.
Perhaps they’ll implement rule changes to imaginary gift to increase the interactions possible as their way of implementing a new mechanic.
What will the tournament scene in 2019 look like?
The 2019 seasons tournaments have already been planned and are already underway! In Japan, they are hosting the Vanguard Masters Cup, a tournament with many qualifying rounds all over the country held by players like you and me as well as their local game shops, with each stage having exclusive prizes and high value cards as participations, top, and winner promos. This tournament is to crown the Master Of Vanguard, and looks to be another focus of vanguard in 2019 alongside the World Grand Prix in Fall/Winter. Japan is going to be trying out the 2Deck format in May at GrandFest, which may or may not result in the implementation of this competitive format in the future!
In the Asia regions, the Asia Championship is already underway, with both Premium and Standard tournaments being held in all of the representative countries to fight in the Asia Championship Finals to be held in early may. With countries at the cutting edge of vanguard strategy and development such as Singapore Hong Kong and Japan for standard, and Malaysia Thailand and Taiwan for Premium, results from each countries tournament are to be watched. Later in the year, we will also be seeing each country join in for the World Grand Prix.
Regions such as Taiwan have started to adopt 2Deck format for their shop tournaments, and Malaysia is showing a rising trend of 2deck format being used in their Vanguard Championships.
In the Western + Oceania world of Vanguard, the 2019 season is slated to have Bushiroad Spring Fest and Autumn Fest, with the Autumn Fest winners fighting for their place at the World Championship.
Alongside this, we have several player/fan run tournaments to look out for, such as the France Circuit, Trigger Twice VGCS, and Alter Reality Games Circuit Series which will all showcase the development and strategy from their countries.
For now, the format for vanguard official events appears to be Best of 1, but there is a rising trend of popularity for the 2deck format.
What are some units you hope to see come back? What are you hopes for the anime? what do you think the new mechanic will be? What are you hoping to see in the 2019 tournament scene?
Information about the author:
CanYouSayG is a legendary Vanguard blogger, known for piloting Royal Paladin & Neo Nectar.