I have always been a fan of trading card games. Having played Magic: The Gathering since it’s initial release back in 93′ (dang you Mom for throwing out my old box of cards, we could be rich), I have a pretty high standard when it comes to Trading Card Games (TCG) – and Cardfight!! Vanguard ranks right up there with the best. More than just a TCG, Cardfight!! Vanguard is a Japanese media franchise created in collaboration among the people behind Yu-Gi-Oh! R, Duel Masters and Bushiroad – namely Akira Itō, Satoshi Nakamura, Takaaki Kidani. Back when I first started with TCGs, Magic: The Gathering was my game of choice. We’d gather in groups and develop our own battle systems and formats. When I first moved to Singapore, it wasn’t uncommon to see much of the same. TCGs have come and gone and while some of the bigger brands have carried on, there’s really just too much clutter within the systems and playstyle that really makes it quite hard and complicated to get on – in fact, it’s even a badge of honour for some to create the most complicated decks possible. Today, the scene’s not just changing, it’s changed. While Cardfight!! Vanguard has been around for a while (since 2011), it’s still relatively young, has a great following, and the recent reboot for both the game and the anime, there’s never been a better time to jump on board the bandwagon. Set on the planet “Cray”, you battle with the help of your units. As a Cardfighter, you’re the Vanguard that leads your units into battle – think William Wallace in Braveheart. The Vanguard is set up front and centre, and it’s the only card that can deal direct damage to your opponent – and up to 5 rearguards. If you’ve ever played any trading card game the basic mechanics are the same. You draw your cards, set out your units, attack, and resolve combat. All pretty basic stuff. The Vanguard takes front and centre while other units are placed around. While learning the game can initially seem like a daunting task, it was surprisingly quite simple. A huge difference between Cardfight!! Vanguard and other trading card games is that the basic rule set doesn’t change much with more advanced and stronger cards – the cards simply upgrade. So as long as you can do basic math, you’re good to go. There are some abilities that shake things up a bit but don’t add any additional or conflicting rules that confuse new players. The ability to use your received damage to power special abilities also means that even when you’re down, you’re not out. Because of the supplied rules, the buy-in to be a more competitive player is quite attainable for a trading card game. We all know that cards like Black Lotus are legendarily powerful in Magic: The Gathering, but so are their prices. Cardfighter!! Vanguard’s more powerful cards are relatively inexpensive – creativity and deck crafting are more important than the size of your wallet. This not only helps to level the playing field but also allows for newbies not to feel overwhelmed when trying to start. One of my favourite things about the game, are the cards themselves. Often times with trading card games I find the level artwork is rather lacking. It usually seems like a literal ‘cut and paste’ from a video game or anime. The artwork is simply amazing and looks great on the heavy stock cards with a full-bleed which actually help visualize what you’re calling onto the field. I found myself wanting to collect some of the cards cause I like the art, as opposed to how useful they are to my deck. If you’re an anime lover this artwork will be right up your alley. I need to make mention of a special mechanic that I enjoyed called the “Drive” ability. After declaring an attack there is a chance by drawing a card that you gain extra attack ability or double your damage. This makes players decide if the risk is worth the reward when attacking. It adds an extra element to the game that makes both players have to cross their fingers and hope for the best. I have to say I really enjoyed this game and look forward to checking out one of their local tournaments. This one gets the Juan Pablo stamp of approval.