Friday, 2 January 2015

V Thoughts: 2014, and looking towards the future

This post going to be an overview of the past year; tournaments, set releases, additional formats, rule revisions and updates, and also what I anticipate going into the new year.

I can't remember whether or not I have announced this, or made it clear, but I'm not giving Legion Ver.E any investment. As such I'm  skipping Legion Meta and just clawing my way through it using Machining and modified Silver Thorns, not a lot of good when your local meta is, well- the meta. Not that there's that many decks in "legion meta" in the first place, even once both sets are out. But what create the english meta is typically Japanese results so lets look back at Fighter's Road 2014 and the first half of the VGCS circuit season.
But before any of that there is the conclusion of the 2013 World Championship, as it's finals occurred in Jan. Almeida Stewart taking the crown with Dauntless THE END in a tournament mostly consisting of Eradicators. This title would later be bought into dispute during the time of Bushiroad Spring Fest, but first we need to get there.

So the World Championships came and went and for the rest of the world of Vanguard, it's back to weekly/monthly locals, with no major tournaments again until the 2014 Team League series, but not so for Japan. I'm aware we still have the World Final to go but that has so few people competing being invite only, however I'm still rooting for Europe ofcourse.


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Japan began this year with the tail end of Season 3 of Vanguard, Link Joker-hen, while we were sitting on BT10 and 11 only at the time. Before the 2014 tournament series began however there was a shake up in the restrictions list. Every Kagero players' favorite starter (for good reason) Conroe, became banned as a starting Vanguard, meanwhile Majesty Lord Blaster and Goddess of the full moon, Tsukuyomi, became unrestricted. That said, the dominance of a certain Transcendence Dragon, Nouvelle Vague didn't stop there. The Grade 4 God of Kagero kept crushing all in it's wake for some considerable time. However, the pro scene still provided quite a few surprises, chief among which was very early in the year, Musketeers placing second during one of the rounds of the VGCS.

This event also marked the beggining of the new trend for Kagero of using Red Pulse Dragokid as Nouvelle's new starter, in place of the now banned Conroe.

And of course, there was also the announcement of Vangaurd's forth generation, Legion Mate, while we remained trailing behind having just had Catasrophic Outbreak revealed.

Going into February the international tournament, Team League 2014 is annoucned and while I despise that it was never, and will never be released in English, we had additional insight to the 3DS game, Lock-On Victory. Region Locking is the WORST thing to plague Video Games and entertainment. (Oh look, an opinion!) And also the reveal of Fighter's Collection 2014.

The VGCS's continued, and Kagero remained the most used clan with two builds, the meta being lead by Nouvelle, Regalia, Dauntless Dominate. Unsurprisingly being new cards, But the final form the Season 3 Japanese meta made its presence known by March. Despite the difficulty in obtaining the cover card of the Japanese Infinite Rebirth, Star-vader, "Omega" Glendios, the meta locked into it's final form as follows:

Kagero: 37.80%
Shadow Paladin: 13.78%
Link Joker: 10.24%
Gold Paladin: 6.69%
Genesis: 5.51%
Pale Moon: 5.51%
Aqua Force: 4.72%
Bermuda Triangle: 3.94%

While some of this popularity would be mirrored in the English game during it's own BT15 meta, we'd also end up looking very different at the same time. (Unfortunately accurately collecting this data is impossible due to the non-uniformed approach to collecting data between official TO's)

Even going into the transition towards Legion Meta, Nouvelle still had a high appearance rate, but was no longer gaining the results that it had previously boasted.


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Internationally April was not to be left without creating tremors, as the Team League kicks off in France, in which Defenders have their first victory over the Invaders, (helped by massively outnumbering the Invaders) rumors begin to spread that accuse the 2013 World Champion, Almeida Stewart of cheating, threatening not only his claim to the crown, but also the already fragile representation of the official format.

As May breaks, Stewert's claims to the title are, as far as the Vangaurd community are concerned revoked, and the unofficial World Champion, as there was never an official statement, becomes Albert Lee. The reason being that he goes down for being connected to a major theft in Luxembourg, this in turn strengthening the allegations of  cheating. Stewart is never heard of again, banned indeterminately from all official tournaments and locals in Belgium, France, and other countries related to any games by Bushiroad, Konami and Wizards of the Coast, that and facing what ever punishment decided by the court.
I say good feckin' riddance.

While Defenders protected France, in Sweeden however, the Invader's conquered, scoring their first victory of the Invasion League.

Returning to the mention of unofficial event, the VGCS resumes in Japan and the May BeNeLux takes place in France, BeNeLux showcasing a secessful debut for Chaos Breaker Dragon in the English Meta.

The popularity of unofficial events spreads throughout the year to give rise to the Beast Deity Cup and, the ARG Circuit and for the UK, Insomnia Gaming Festival begins to include a 265-slot Cardfight!! Vanguard tournament in their events line-up. Meanwhile Japan also has it's annual official Nationals, the Figthers' Road.

As Legion Meta comes into Swing in Japan, the Fighters' Road and VGCS gain some decks, which sparked quite a few complaints of being unfair, chief of which being Cat Butler Raizers, made possible due to the technicalities involved with having a Grade 3 AND Grade 2 Vanguard while in Legion.

Cat Butler, with it's skill became an effective and abusable way to re-stand a legioned Vanguard if it's attack did not hit. Being only -1 as his only cost his the removal of himself, his skill is a +2 for that turn is used once, and that's only counting card advantage and not factoring opponent behavior, involving the opponent taking a heavy negative.

Another card that benefited from the technicalities of Legion is Weather Forecaster, Miss Mist, who becomes a second perfect guard for Oracle Think Tank when vs. most Legions. With exception to Revival legions.



In the dawn of Legion Meta, while Raizers, with help of Cat Butler, were enjoying having some time at the top, it was Royal Paladins, with Seeker, Thing Saver Dragon. That were proving to be the most popular build. This popularity worked in the decks favor but would become twisted by shadows, giving rise to the highly used, and seemingly highly successful Abyss Saver deck. A build which I still can not get my head around as to why it did so well, the only thing really being it's favor is the portion of players using it.

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As of June, the Dragon that had ruled Japan for 6 months, Transcendence Dragon, Nouvelle Vague, has been completely slain by Legion. Outpaced, Outgunned and quite simply Outdone. Legion-Meta consistency and cost being much better than Limit Break Meta and only needing one key card as opposed to having to ride 2 Grade 3's as part of the gambits. Less parts meaning less room for error. The blame for Nouvelle's fall is often pinned on Thing Saver but really, it was Legion as a whole, not just one unit, that slew Nouvelle Vague. As it seems the mentality of players in this game has now become a case of "does not re-stand, do note want" it's no surpise that in Legion Meta, the decks with the most users were Cat Raizers and Seekers, Seekers overtime becoming the vastly more dominant and supported deck, and so the better choice for professional players.

Meanwhile, being behind the Japanese by the same Time Frame, the English game had just gained Nouvelle Vague, and just as swiftly as it fell in the east, it rose once more with fury in the west. Most topping Defender Teams dedicating one slot to Nouvelle Vague Kagero decks, Shadow Paladin Revengers and either Nova Grappler or Narukami often taking the remaining two team slots. Typically copying the Japanese meta of the same time.

While at the same time, 6 months ahead in the Legion Meta, Japan had gained Shadow Paladin and Genesis Legion support, and the Aybss was hungry... and yet among all this, one boss of the Limit Break era still remained. "Omega" Glendios, with his army of Reverse units still stood resilient despite power climbs all around, and he even had new allies to fall back on.

Breaking into July and the British Team Regional is approaching. My friends and I stand ready... and we get our butts kicked by Nouvelle Vague- DAMMIT! Specifically we are KO'd by a team of Beast Deities, Nouvelle, and Shadows. A line up which seemed to make up a lot of the UK Regional Defenders teams. It was pretty easy to tell apart those who wanted to win from those who were focusing on a good time. Only the event is it announced that Conroe is banned as starting Vangaurd, which if it had been before hand I can guarantee my odds vs. Nouvelle would have been a helluva lot better.

It was during this month that the World Championship was also announced. Short Notice for the first rounds timings though really, considering it started in August. (Complaints, about Bushiroad organisation?! Who'd have thought? :o)

And speaking of August, this was the month that solidified peoples belief in the ability and consistency of the Thing Saver, "Abyss" deck, when it dominated 5 tournaments in a row. Now I'd like to note something about the deck rate for this month.

Thing Abyss was the most used build in all tournaments, with an average ratio of 14.48% of people using it. Sure that may not seem much, but consider that the second most used decks, Revengers and Perdition were tied at 10.34% each, that's then followed by pure Seekers at 8.25%, that's 43.41% of the decks already, between just four of the represented builds. What? I'm a data analyst, this sort of stat tracking is what I do.

In list form based on percentages, the Japanese July/August Meta looked like this-
Meta: (including percentage of decks)
Aybss Saver 14.48%
Revengers 10.34%
Perdition 10.34%
Brawler 8.97%
Seeker 8.28%
Liberators 5.86%
Regalia 5.86%
Omega 5.86%
Raizers 5.17%

*On an additional note the full representation for Royal Paladin works out to be 22.76%, the highest usage since Majesty Lord Blaster at the end of Generation 1.*

The complete domination of Thing "Abyss" even prompted some fans to create a false Ban List and attempt to circulate it as a "leak." The forged list restricting Revenger, Phantom Blaster "Aybss" to 2 copies in any deck.

Noting the statistics just above in mind, in the finale of Fighter's Road it came down to a final showdown between Thing Saver "Abyss" and Star-vader, "Omega" Glendios. A case of many would consider "The Strongest Weapon" vs. "The Strongest Shield" answering an age old question. If the two collide the resulting paradox end with both shattering, however a shattered weapon can be refashioned, a shield not so easily. In the end, Hayashi Hiroki, using Thing Saver "Abyss" triumphed over his opponent, Hayashida Kenjun, to become the Japanese National Champion for the summer season of 2014. After this decisive battle an amendment to the Clan Fight regulations (which is Japan's standard format) made Thing Saver "Abyss" illegal, bringing an unceremonious end to the deck's reign

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As Autumn falls we receive our first preview of what is to come in the form of Harmonics Messiah, a card from the upcoming Cardfight Vangaurd Movie, Neon Messiah. The skill text of the Messiah, left cryptic and vague created a lot of speculation over what it did, or rather the question was "what is "Stride"?" Especially since the card itself states it can not be placed in the main deck.

The Vanguard movie also has a supporting Booster set of the same name, and one Trial Deck introducing Deletors, a new, more alien branch of the Link Joker army, with the terrifying new skill of Delete! A mechanic that turns one's Vangaurd to nothingness. Being but a husk with no power or ability, yet still retaining the ability to attack and (if applicable) Twin Drive.

On the English side, we verge on Legion with BT.16... Version. E? Ok, well this is new. Version E typically only happens in Wiess Schwarch. Well it turns out Bushiroad have completly mixed things up for the English Legion sets, and from a PR stand point it was a risky move, it certainly pissed off Narukami Players when they round out that there would be Brawler Trial Deck as all it's cards were assimilated into BT-16e. And I know it annoyed me when they pushed back Metalborgs and Raizers to BT-17e, except that's actually worked out in my favor, which I'll get to in my conclusion.

Alongside the previews and teasers of upcoming releases Bushiroad announced the Legion Campaign, which meant we got the Monthly Bushiroad Legion Promos. I was happy! Except for the Dark Irregular Legion becoming the BT16e Sneak Peak Promo. <.<

The World Chapionship was also in full swing and with quite an impressively mixed meta compared to the Japanese BT15 meta, sure we had the same decks but we also had some very interesting regional finalists, quite a few Bermuda up there and a much stronger presence from both Aqua Force and Pale Moon compared to the Japanese meta, as for Omega, there were a lot more Glendios' in circulation than in the Japanese format so that meant more Glendios deck were possible.

October bought answers to the one question everyone was asking about Stride, and as an additional bonus we were introduced to G-Assist, something welcomed by many, criticized by few, but accepted by everybody. With this reveal also came the next generation, Cardfight!! Vanguard G, the equivalent of Yu-Gi-Oh GX, with new setting, new cast and, a new start.

Reality though was a continuation as the Legion Meta settled into it's final form in Japan. And I suspect that our own English equivalent will look VERY different simply because of the order of releases. Thing Saver's dominance won't change though.
In the final form of the Legion meta, even Liberators now have a Glory Skill Vanguard... ok, this is getting stupid now. <.<
As for Seeker, Thing Saver Dragon and Revenger, Phantom Blaster "Abyss", it seems the latter walked away from their separation better off as Revengers remained popular, but Seekers become all but abandoned, falling from their plinth as the most played deck, despite Thing Saver theoretically still being just as effective as with "Abyss".

As of the final form of Legion meta, the meta itself is disappointingly small:
Revengers hold the majority of play with 28.99% of the Legion Fall meta consisting of Revenger builds fully dedicated to "Abyss". Kagero comes second with Perditions being used by 25.21% of player, after which there is a big drop for the third most used deck.

3. Seekers: 13.03%
4. Liberators: 7.98%
5. Regalia: 5.04%

No other decks reach my minimal requirement of more then 5% popularity for meta.


Now I'm hoping that since the English order or release is completely different, that it will result in a more diverse meta than just 5 decks, but the truth is, we may never know as as soon as we have BT17e we'll essentially be thrust straight into Generation 5, now only 4 months behind Japan and with that gap progressively closing to bring up level with the east. The mass release of 3 Trial Decks and 2 Extra Boosters, on the same day was the first step in closing that gap. If slightly overwhelming.

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So that's 2014, and off to the east their currently playing Generation Meta, with Kagero Dominating with Dragonic Overlord, The Xros, a Legion Revival for Dragonic Overlord, The End. So if you got The End back in Genration 1. Well done, it's the best investment this game has ever produced for the competitive player, and just when you think it's gone for good he wake back up and proceeds to wreck shit once more. And in his new legion he got upgraded to being a Lose/Lose for the opponent. Nuke or re-stand, pick your poison. And since the new PG(G)'s can only guard a Vanguard well that creates some issues.

Off to the far west, the US is in the middle of an ARG Vanguard circuit, one I'm enjoying watching on ARG's Twitch channel.

As for the future, what am I looking forward to, well I anticipate Metalborgs obviously, but while I'll be collecting them, I shall not be heavily investing in them. Which as it happens since most of my freinds want something different from BT17e, it means every clan will be claimed by one person each, and that makes trade fodder EASY. I get rid of what I don't want, and trade it for stuff I do. :D Gathering Metalborgs just became significantly easier for me.

But the meat of what I truly anticipate is Generation, so long as G-Regulation isn't introduced, however by the time it's announced I'll probably have enough G Gear that I don't even care anymore. Vangaurd's 5th Generation looks to be considerable cheaper to build for, taking the game back to being cheap and affordable for new players, even offering basic staples in Trial Decks such as the old traditional Perfect Guards. Really there is no room to complain. Furthermore my clan gets an Extra Booster, on one hand I could jump a cosmos, on the other hand my wallet is going to BURN!

Team League 2015 is looking like my Team will either be Gear Chronicle/Shadow Paladin (Shadow Disaster), Dimension Police (my slot), Royal Paladin (Cobalt Blade), or it may be Dimension Police, Oracle Think Tank(or Genesis) (Gold Angel), Aqua Force (Stratos), otherwise line-up three, Dimension Police, OTT/Genesis (Gold Angel), Gold Paladin/Kagero (Overlord)/

TO THE FUTURE!

And yes, I know G Meta is already active in Japan, and the Xros is dominating, but there are no detailed statistics available which is why I haven't bought it up.