Building a Deck
- A deck must consist of exactly 50 cards. (This number includes your starting vanguard)
- A deck may not contain more than 4 of any individual card. The card with alternate images but with the same name will account as the same individual card.
- A deck must contain exactly 16 Trigger Units.
- A deck may only contain 4 cards with the Heal trigger.
- A deck may only contain 4 cards with the Sentinel Skill.
- A "Flash Deck" can only have 25 cards total and it can be played in a "Flash Fight" with "Flash Fight Rules".
Your Deck should be placed on one side of the game area. When you Draw a card, you take the top card from your deck into your hand. If you have no cards left in your deck at any point in the game, you lose immediately.
The Drop Zone (discard pile) should be a separate pile of cards. When you Retire a card, you move it to the Drop Zone. When you Heal Damage, you move cards from the Damage Zone to the Drop Zone.
The Damage Zone is a small stack of discarded cards that must be kept separate from the Drop Zone. Cards in the Damage Zone represent damage to your Vanguard. If there are ever six or more cards in your Damage Zone, you lose the game.
The main play area consists of two rows of three spaces. The row nearer the opponent is the Front Row and the other row is the Back Row. The Vanguard Circle is the middle space of the Front Row. It may hold multiple cards in a stack. The top card in the Vanguard Circle is your Vanguard. Any cards stacked below it are your Soul. Your Vanguard is not part of your Soul. If there is only one card in the Vanguard Circle, that card is your Vanguard and there are no cards in your Soul.
The other five spaces in the main area are Rear-Guard Circles. These can usually only hold a single card each.
The Trigger Zone is a temporary area where cards are placed while their effects are being resolved. Its location is unimportant. If you are making a Drive Check, you move cards from your Deck to the Trigger Zone and from there to your hand. If you are making a Damage Check, you move cards from your Deck to the Trigger Zone and from there to the Damage Zone.
The Guardian Circle is a temporary area where cards are placed during combat. It is normally located in front of the Front Row. Cards are played here during combat and then retired to the Drop Zone.
Starting a Game
1. Each player chooses a Grade 0 unit from their deck and places it face-down on the Vanguard Circle. That card will be their starting Vanguard.
2. Decide randomly who goes first. The player who goes first cannot attack on their first turn.
3. Both players shuffle their deck and draw 5 cards.
4. Mulligan: If a player doesn't like their hand, they can shuffle any number of cards from their hand back into their deck and then draw new cards until they have 5 cards in their hand again. The new hand must be kept.
5. Both players, at the same time, turn their Vanguards face-up.
To win a Cardfight! Vanguard match you must inflict 6 damage to your opponent's Vanguard. Damage to their Vanguard is represented by cards in their Damage Zone.
If a player ever has 6 or more cards in their Damage Zone, they lose.
If a player has no cards in deck at any point of the game, they lose.
Draw 1 card from your Deck and add it to your hand. If you cannot do this because there are no cards in your deck to draw, you lose.
You may place a unit from your hand on top of your existing Vanguard. The covered Vanguard card becomes part of your Soul. The new unit must be of the same grade, or one grade higher, than your current Vanguard. You can only do this once per turn. You do not have to Ride if you don't want to. Riding does not heal any damage to your Vanguard.
(Some cards allow you to Superior Ride. Superior Ride is usually found in two forms: a unit with a skill that allows you to ride another unit from your Deck, Hand or Drop Zone, like the effects of Blazing Core Dragon, Dragon Knight, Aleph, or a unit that allows you to ride itself onto a Vanguard if it is of a certain grade and if a certain condition is fulfiled, like Demonic Dragon Berserker, Yaksha and Spirit Exceed. A Superior Ride can Ride any unit, unless specified over the current Vanguard regardless of either units Grade, unless specified. Also, Superior Rides are not limited to once per turn, and doing a regular Ride does not affect your ability to perform a Superior Ride. If a Superior Ride is performed at the beginning of the Ride Phase a regular Ride may still be performed, unless otherwise stated.)
Place a Unit with a Grade that is either the same as the Vanguard's or lower in a Rear-Guard circle. You may Call as many times as you want in a turn. Unless stated on the card, there is no cost to Call a unit. You may Call a unit into a Rear-Guard Circle that is already occupied, but if you do, you must Retire the unit already there (ie, move it to the Drop Zone).
(Some cards allow you to Superior Call. This is a Unit skill which selects another Unit from either the deck or drop zone and allows you to Call it, for example Hi-Dog Breeder Akane (Deck) and Captain Nightmist (Drop Zone). When you Superior Call, you can Call a unit even if its Grade is higher than that of your Vanguard.)
You can move your Rear Guard units back or forward between the Front Row and the Back Row. Units cannot move from side to side and cannot move into or out of the Vanguard Circle. Thus if a Unit is on the Circle behind the Vanguard, it cannot move at all. Two Rear Guards in the same column may switch places.
- Use card abilities
Card abilities which are described as being used in the main phase can be used at this point.
- End the Main Phase
When you have taken all the actions you want to in the Main Phase, the Battle Phase starts and the main phase is over.
In the Battle Phase you can make as many attacks as you wish provided you have units that can attack. Once you have started the Battle Phase you cannot go back to the Main Phase or take Main Phase actions (so you cannot attack with a unit and then Demote it)
To initiate an attack select a Standing unit in the Front Row and Rest them . Then declare an Opponent's Front Row card to be the Target of the Attack (unless otherwise stated on the attacking unit's card).
If you have a card Standing in the Back Row directly behind the attacker you chose, and they have the "Boost" icon, you can also Rest them to add their Power to the Attacker's Power for the attack.
The opponent can Call Guardians from their hand to protect the Unit under attack. The opponent may play any number of cards from their hand to add their Shield power to the power of the unit under attack. The Shield power is found in the yellow square on the left side of the card. Some units have no Shield Power and cannot be called as Guardians. The Guardians must also have a grade equal to or lower than that of your Vanguard. Called Guardians should be placed in the Guardian Circle to keep track of the during the fight. There is no cost to Call Guardians, but all called Guardians will be retired to the Drop Zone at the end of the battle.
The opponent may also use the 'Intercept' ability (specific to Grade 2). If you have a unit in a Rear-Guard Circle in the Front Row that has the Intercept ability, you may move them from there to the Guardian circle and their Shield will be added to your unit's power as well. Just like other Guardians, they will be retired to the Drop Zone after the battle. Units with Intercept can intercept even if they are Resting. You cannot Intercept with your Vanguard and thus having an Intercept icon gives no benefit to a Vanguard.
- Drive Check:
If you attacked with your Vanguard, you perform a Drive Check.
Reveal the top card of your Deck and place it temporarily in your Trigger Zone. If the card is a Trigger Unit and is of a Clan that is also in your Vanguard or Rear-Guard, then its Trigger effect activates. Regardless of whether the card is a Trigger Unit or not, add the card to your Hand after resolving it.
All Trigger Units share a common effect: they give +5000 power to any Unit on the field that the Player selects for the rest of the turn. You may add the power to the attacking Vanguard to attempt to land a hit during the current attack, or to boost other Units.
There are four possible effects a Trigger Unit can have:
Critical - You add one to the Critical of any unit on the board, until the end of your turn. You may choose to give the Critical and +5000 to different Units.
Draw - You draw a card into your hand.
Stand - You Stand a Resting Rear-Guard and then use it to attack or boost again.
Heal - You move one card of your choice from your Damage Zone to your Drop Zone if the number of cards in your damage zone is greater than or equal to your opponent's.
If your Vanguard has the Twin Drive icon, two Drive Checks are performed. If a trigger is activated by the first check, the effects of the trigger must be completely resolved before a second trigger is drawn. For example, when a draw trigger is activated, the player draws a card and allocates the damage boost to his units before drawing the second trigger. The Twin Drive icon has no benefit to any unit that isn't played as a Vanguard.
- Battle Outcome:
To determine the winner of the Battle compare the total Power of the two cards.
If the Attacking unit's Power is less than that of the Target, the attack fails. The Attacking Unit does not suffer any damage or other penalty.
If the Attacking unit's Power is equal to or higher than that of its target, the attack is a success. If the target was a Rear-Guard, it Retires and is sent to the Drop Zone. The attack is then over. The Critical value of the Attacking unit does not matter if the Target was a Rear-Guard. If the attack was a success and the target was a Vanguard, the opponent must make a number of Damage Checks equal to the Critical value of the attacker. To make a Damage Check, the opponent moves a card from their Deck to the Trigger Zone. If the card is a Trigger Unit and is of a Clan that is also in your Vanguard or Rear-Guard, then its Trigger effect activates. Triggers have the same effect as they do for a Drive Check. The Trigger Unit does not have to be the same Clan as the Target.
After the Trigger effect is resolved (if there was one), the card is moved into the Damage Zone. This process is repeated as many times as the attacker has Critical value. Each Trigger must be completely resolved before the next Damage Check begins.
If a Damage Check reveals a Trigger Unit that gives a +5000 Bonus to a unit, you can use it on the Target if you want to but it will not change the fact that they have lost the current battle. However, it can protect them against future attacks in the same turn.
If a Damage Check reveals a Heal trigger you may move a card from the Damage Zone to the Drop Zone before placing the Trigger Unit in the Damage Zone if the number of cards in your Damage Zone is greater than or equal to your opponents. This means that if you have 5 cards in your Damage Zone and you make a Damage Check and get a Heal Trigger, you may heal damage before placing the card in your Damage Zone and thus avoid it being the sixth card to be placed there.
- End of Attack Phase:
Guardians that were called, or that intercepted, are retired (moved to the Drop Zone). If there are Units on the Front Row that can still attack, you can attack again with them. Declare their targets and repeat the process.
Declare the end of your Turn before switching to the Opponent's turn.
The list for all different Card Mechanics, Effects and Unit Skills are available to view at Card Mechanics page.
Tournament Rules - in Progress
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FAQ - (Frequently Asked Questions)
Some questions that are actually asked quite frequently and some answers that try to explain briefly.
Q) Can I have more than one Clan in my deck?
A) Yes, you can. There are downsides and upsides to doing so however.
Q) What is a 'Boost' and how often can I do one?
A) A 'Boost' is done using a grade 0 or 1 unit on the back row of your field. This unit 'rests' (as if it attacked) and all of it's power is given to the unit directly in front of it, 'Boosting' it's power for a stronger attack.
Q) What units can I defend with when I am being attacked?
A) If you are being attacked, you get the chance to defend. You can use any units with a shield value in your hand that are the same grade or lower than your Vanguard to defend any attack. You can also move front-row grade 2 units to the guardian circle to 'intercept' attacks. You can do either of these or both for any attack.
Q) If I get a Trigger on a drive or damage check, how long does the effect last?
A) ALL Trigger effects only last for the turn that they are activated and do not carry over to the next turn. Units that have been increased by a trigger effect revert to their original power at the end of the turn.
Q) Can I Ride/Boost/Guard with units of different Clans?
A) Yes you can. Although perfect defence units (units with an ability that stops attacks hitting) have special conditions that usually involve having the same Clan Vanguard as the guarding unit.
Q) During a Drive Check, if a Trigger is activated, can I add the Trigger effects to the Vanguard as it is attacking?
A) Yes, you can add the effects of the drive check to the Vanguard currently attacking. This can often affect if the attack hits of not if the trigger boost makes the attacking power above the guarding power.
Q) Can I Call a grade higher than my Vanguard?
A) No. You may only Call Units that are the same or lower Grade then your Vangaurd.
Q) I have a Rear-Guard that is being attacked and I don't have a Unit to guard with. Do I Drive Check or Damage Check?
a) Neither. You may only Drive Check when attacking with a Vanguard, and you may only Damage Check if an attack hits your Vanguard. You may check for explanations in the Battle Phase section for more information.
Q) If a cards ability contradicts the games rules, what do I do?
A) When this occurs, the cards ability always takes precedence over the games rules. In other words, you have to disobey the game rules and play the card rules.
Q) When do I lose by deck out?
A) As soon as you run out of cards. If you have two cards left in deck and you attack with a G3 Vanguard, even if that attack would finish your opponent off, since you are drawing the last two cards of your deck, you will lose the game. This has been confirmed by Bushiroad.
Q) Am I allowed to check face down damage?
A) "Yes, besides the deck, hand and bind area(*special case for the hand area is when the opponent states that he/she did not see the drive trigger check before you returned it to hand. Must be voiced out immediately and not 1 or more steps after), the rest of the areas are open areas. Both players may check if needed and requested." Quoted from Bushiroad themselves.
Q) Where can I get Vanguard Cards in my country?
A) see Bushiroad Store List
Cardfight!! Vanguard Quick Manual