May 29, 2023

Zero2pass here!  In May 2020 I put up a YouTube video where I discussed the evolution of the game through the different formats brought to us by Bushiroad.  With the 10th year anniversary of the game we love happening this weekend, now already occurring in Japan, we are going to review these formats as they were created.

Extreme Fight

BT01 (Feb 26, 2011) began with what is referred to as Extreme Fight.  The players were able to mix and match clans at will.  In fact, some of the clans debuted in this set did not even have enough cards to build a clan specific deck (Nubatama).  Only a small number of clans premiered in BT01, while the others would be eventually included in the game as more sets came out.  Despite not being terribly relevant now, one the most valued cards in the game comes from BT01, the SP version of Phantom Blaster Dragon.  Of note, Etranger was also an item specific to the JP format.  This off the wall ‘clan’ contained units such as an aircraft carrier, Spiderman, and Blaster Mameshiba.  Check out Mameshiba on YouTube. 

Limit Break / Break Ride

As sets continued to be released, with the introduction of new key words and mechanics, we eventually hit the ‘limit break – break ride’ era.  Limit break typically required the player to be at 4 damage for effects on a card to go online, aka to be at LB4.  There were also a few LB5 effects as well.  These effects would typically allow the player to generate strong effects to try to turn the tide of the game and push for the win.  Break ride, which would typically be a limit break effect itself, would proc when the player rode over the card containing the break ride effect.  Vanguard Zero is currently in this era of the game, with the likes of Revengers and Eradicators running rampant.

During this era of the game, the Link Joker lock mechanic was also introduced, along with Reverse units.  These units were tainted by Link Joker with the player required to lock their own units to proc powerful effects such as found on Reverse Ethics Buster.  Bushiroad also introduced the keyword ‘lord’ which would prevent units from being able to attack unless all units in play were of that unit’s same clan.  This was important for getting away from the prior Extreme Fight Format as well as helped limit such mixing of clans to Reverse units with the likes of Link Joker’s own Glendios and Reverse Cradle.


Next came the beloved legion era. This new mechanic allowed the player to perform an act referred to as ‘seek the mate’. When both players hit G3 they would then be able to Legion, requiring the active player to take 4 cards from their drop zone and shuffle them back into his/her deck after finding the legion mate of the card that they were currently rode on. This would combine the total force of both the G2 mate and the respective G3. The act of Legion itself would then either proc an effect that would occur immediately or be able to be performed once the requirement was met, such as ‘at end of attack’ do thus and such to, for example ‘restand’ as is the case ifor Thing Save Dragon in Legion with Blaster Blade Seeker.

Generation Stride

Before all clans received their Legion cards, the up and coming Stride era was already set in motion. With the movie Neon Messiah, debuting of Deletors, the finale showed a card the likes none had ever seen up to this point, Harmonics Messiah. This card would eventually be understood as being the first stride unit and had the [CONT] ability of being able to be played in every clan (similar to Cray elementals). It otherwise had no other special ability printed on it other than ‘stride’. Stride itself was what made this card unique at this point in the history of the game. When strode onto the G3 vanguard it would add 16k to the G3 base power, retaining the name of the G3 as well and providing a heavy hitter to help push for the win.

G era would continue for a span of 3 years, coinciding with the 3-year cycle that was noted to occur within the last 3 eras of the game (PreG, G, and V). Stride Generation provided Bushiroad a platform of constantly pushing the limits of power creep. The palette for creating complimentary strides for the slew of respective G3s was very broad and colorful to say the least. There was something for everyone at this point. We would witness the likes of Legion / Stride hybrids such as Revenger Phantom Blaster Abyss with the Phantom Blaster Diablo stride and LB4 / Stride hybrids such as Chaos. Bushiroad would eventually introduce ‘break stride’. The reader will likely correctly know what this means in the context of ‘break ride’.

Cardfight Vanguard, Rebooted

Next would be the V standard era that will soon be departed, being forevermore referred to as V premium or ‘V’-mium for short. This reboot moved away from the stride mechanic, initially bringing the player base back to a time reminiscent of when the game first began. We had only two trial decks at first and then VBT01 would only contain cards for Q4. The gift mechanic was introduced with each clan being able to gain a clan specific type of gift that would help power up the players card effects; force, accel, or protect. Bushiroad would later expand on this concept by providing a second version of each, some being obviously stronger than others. Accel 2 would create power creep issues the likes we had never seen since the end of G-era, and potentially more so. Perfect Guards were re-introduced as draw triggers, allowing the player to free up the G1 line up.

Like the PreG era, new clans would eventually be introduced as sets were released.  This meant that the Gears players would wait for many months to get their clan cards, with a pseudo-stride that would be lack luster until re-introduced yet another year or so later with Chronojet and Nextage.  For Bermuda Triangle players, the wait for their cards would be well worth it given the following half a year or so would be theirs to dominate.

Premium is born

With the V reboot would come the definition of the eternal format, premium. This would be, and is still, a fan favorite for some who enjoy the vast landscape of possibilities. Yes, I am personally biased to this, as I am to all forms of vintage across other TCGs as well. For those who started during V era, Bushiroad coined the term ‘standard plus’. Simply put, the idea is to take your V era deck and add a Gzone. A number of clans can do this fairly well. With just a few G era additions to the main deck, one can tune enjoyable combo and aggro decks alike. The good news is that Bushiroad has been very supportive of premium with the creation of the 2019 and 2020 premium exclusive sets. Hopefully this will continue overall. With the introduction of the next reboot of Cardfight Vanguard, before flash selling those decks you have enjoyed building and playing, take time to first consider converting your V decks into premium decks. I do not think you will regret it.

A new era, another hard reset

And now in steps the D era of Cardfight Vanguard, ‘Nation Fight’.  I am not going to say much here as others in Axis are already pushing ahead with discussion on the card reveals and new mechanics.  We have gone from 24 to 6, as discussed by our own AlphonZeus.  Please check it out.

Concluding Thoughts

I do hope you have enjoyed this short jaunt down the memory lane of Cardfight Vanguard ‘the cardboard‘.  Every format has much to offer.  Try them out.  The Anime itself is yet another story.  Excited to see how the new design group continues and how the new Anime crew paints the picture.

Until next time, ‘stand upTHEvanguard’…

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