Vanguard ZERO: A Year in Review
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Vanguard ZERO is a gacha/trading card game (TCG) for mobile devices based on the real-life TCG, Cardfight!! Vanguard, by Bushiroad. The game was released in English in April 2020, and I’ve been playing it every day (no joke) since it was released.
I’ve played in several thousand matches and easily could have done something better with the literal hundreds of hours I’ve put into this game. An outsider might think I might be one of the best, but in reality, I would still be considered a casual player.
2021 is turning out to be a big year for Cardfight!! Vanguard. The original game is celebrating its 10th anniversary, a new anime adaptation is being released with all-new characters, and the English version of Vanguard ZERO is now entering its second year. I’ve been a fan of the franchise for a long time, and I’m curious to see what the future holds, particularly for Vanguard ZERO.
Instead of going in-depth about how the game works, I’ll instead just talk about how the game has progressed so far, and where I think it might be going.
What I like:
As a game that is played on a mobile device, Vanguard ZERO is a video game, not a physical card game. While the game is similar to the original TCG, Vanguard ZERO uses its existence in the digital space to do things that wouldn’t normally be possible in the real world. Some of my favorite moments in the game are ones that wouldn’t be possible in real life — creating multiple copies of the same card, adding cards to your deck mid-game, and so on. Vanguard ZERO can also edit the ability of cards without reprinting them if they’re too powerful or not powerful enough, which is something that isn’t possible in the real world.
I also like how much the game makes players feel like they’re a character in the anime. Certain cards have special animations when they enter the field and when they attack, and the soundtrack and voice-over heighten the experience even further.
Finally, I like how easy Vanguard ZERO makes it to collect cards. While I’ve spent a lot of time in the game, I haven’t had to spend a single penny because the game gives lots of free things to regular players. When I was playing the physical TCG in high school, money was a big deterrent because I didn’t have much to spend on cards. Now with Vanguard ZERO, I’ve been able to build some of my favorite decks without having to spend any money.
What I don’t like:
One of my biggest concerns for Vanguard ZERO is how fast new cards are being released. In the world of mobile TCGs and gacha games, the release schedule of new content varies greatly. Games like Hearthstone release new cards every three or four months. Vanguard ZERO, however, releases new cards every month.
This is concerning because Vanguard ZERO uses the original TCG cards as the new releases for the mobile game, which means they are drawing from a finite pool of existing cards. The game has already released 2.5 years’ worth of cards in just one year. While the release of new cards has been a little more drawn out in recent months, eventually they’re going to run out of new cards because they will be at the point of the physical card game. I’m not sure what’s going to happen then.
Recommendation for New Players:
In short, I wouldn’t recommend Vanguard ZERO for new players. I think it would be too difficult to jump into the game at this point for a couple of reasons. First, new cards are getting released so frequently that you have to be a committed, regular user in order to reap all of the benefits. I started playing Vanguard ZERO during its first ranked season, and it was hard enough to climb the ladder to start getting rewards then. I can’t even imagine how hard it would be for new players now.
Second, Cardfight!! Vanguard and Vanguard ZERO are games that build on themselves. Unlike games like Hearthstone and Magic: The Gathering which phase cards out as time passes, cards in Vanguard build on each other. New cards support old cards and make them relevant again. But if you don’t have those original cards, the game can be much harder. That was the case when I started playing the original TCG, and I’m confident that is still the case with Vanguard: ZERO.
I’m simultaneously excited and concerned for the future of Vanguard ZERO. While I’m excited to see how the game progresses and how original TCG cards have been updated for the digital medium, I’m concerned that the game may be moving too fast to enjoy properly. It will still be several years before Vanguard ZERO catches up with Cardfight!! Vanguard, but it’s still worth thinking about. Vanguard ZERO is a game I want to enjoy for a long time to come, but the future is unknown. I can only trust that there will be many more enjoyable moments before then.
Now it’s your turn: Have you ever played Cardfight!! Vanguard or Vanguard ZERO? What are your favorite clans or decks? Let me know in the comments below, or you can reach out to me on social media! Cheers!
Want more tabletop content? Check out the original article and my blog.