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Tabletop Game / Cardfight!! Vanguard

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Cardfight!! Vanguard is a Japanese Trading Card Game developed and published by Bushiroad as the centerpiece of its Cardfight!! Vanguard multi-media franchise. The game was first released in 2010, alongside the manga and anime components of the franchise.

The rough premise of the game is that Cardfight!! Vanguard's cards depict beings from the planet of Cray, and the two players are astral spirits who call upon these fighters from Cray to battle for them. These cards are known as Units, and the act of placing them onto the field to let them do battle is known as Calling.Note 

The central gameplay involves calling units onto the field, letting them battle the opponent's cards, and eventually defeat the opponent by dealing a total of six damage to the Vanguard unit, a specific unit that represents the player. Units have two key values: a grade that determines its difficulty of being called, and a power value that determines its strength when battling.

The playmat includes one Vanguard Circle where the player's Vanguard is placed, and five Rear-guard Circles where other units can be called. At the start of the game, a grade 0 unit is placed in the Vanguard Circle as the First Vanguard. At the start of every turn, the turn player can "Ride" a new Vanguard by placing a new unit with a grade one higher or equal to the current Vanguard on top of the current Vanguard. During the main phase, the turn player can call units onto the field with grades equal to or lower than the Vanguard, and use the abilities of the cards on the field. There are two common types of ability costs: Soul Blast, which requires removing a number of cards under the Vanguard, and Counter Blast, which requires flipping a number of cards in the damage zone (placed face-up when the player is damaged; see below) face down.

During the Battle Phase, the units on the front row (the vanguard and the two rear guards beside it) can attack the opponent's front row units. The power values of the battling cards are compared, with a whole host of effects and mechanics that augment them. If the attacker's power is greater or equal to the attacked unit's power, the attack is considerd to have hit. If the hit card was a rear guard, it's retired and removed from the field. If it was the vanguard, then one (or more) damage is dealt.

Additionally, when the Vanguard attacks or is hit, the game performs an additional trigger check (known respectively as "drive check" and "damage check"), where the top card from the deck is flipped up and its listed trigger effects would apply. A deck must contain exactly sixteen trigger cards, with a maximum limit of 4 heal trigger cards, which heal 1 damage when triggered, and 1 over trigger card, which grants an extremely powerful effect that varies by card.

The Cardfight!! Vanguard card game was "rebooted" twice alongside the Cardfight!! Vanguard (V Series) anime reboot and the Cardfight Vanguard Over Dress anime soft reboot. Cards would either have a D icon, a V icon, or no icon on their bottom left corner next to the card ID. Each time the game was rebooted, a new format exclusively using the post-reboot cards would be created. Currently, there are three formats: a D Standard, a V Standard, and a Premium Standard where all cards can be used.

The storyline and lore within the cards themselves is strongly integrated with the story of the Anime and the Franchise at large. As such, additional info on the card stories can be found on these pages and their associated pages.


  • Card Cycling: Before the game starts, each player gets one chance to return as many cards in their hand as they wish back into the deck, and then draw the same number.
  • Constructed World: The world of Cray, which is populated by a large amount of nations and clans, and have their own storylines told across card releases.
  • Early-Installment Weirdness: Outside of "Lake Maiden, Lien" and "Barcgal" from the very first booster set, there are very few units whose skills require you to exhaust the unit to activate them.
  • First-Player Advantage Mitigation: The player going first cannot attack on the first turn. This means you miss out on your drive check which cold net you an extra card at worse. As the game went on, starting Vanguard units would also include extra advantages for going second, such as an extra draw or an extra shield card. Zig-zagged depending on format and mechanics. First player gets to establish their Imaginary Gifts and of course gets to twin drive first.
  • Flavor Text: A large amount of cards in Cardfight!! Vanguard have a short line of flavor text above their card effect description box.
  • Limit Break: Cards with the Limit Break keyword have abilities that can only be used when the player is sufficiently damaged.
  • Luck Manipulation Mechanic: Due to the Trigger mechanic present in the game, luck can be a deciding factor in the outcome of a fight, more so than in other card games. As such, there exists ways in the game to mitigate or control it, usually though rearraging the top cards of the deck or other forms of deck manipulation. One of the clans, Oracle Think Tank even has this as one of its core mechanics.
  • Mythology Gag:
    • Fittingly, the cards introduced with overDress seem to have playstyles and artwork that resemble the clans their respective nations used to have, with decks featured in the anime including Tomari's, which resembles Dimension Police, Zakusa's, which resembles Link Joker and Shinobu's, which resembles Dark Irregulars.
    • Harmonics Messiah's Balance Buff gives it three skills virtually identical to the Balance Buffs given to it in the mobile game Cardfight!! Vanguard ZERO, although due to the differences between the two games, its third skill creates a Guardian Shield ticket for the player who goes second, not first.note 
  • Time Skip: There is a time skip of 3000 years in between the original and V series and the overDress series, where the political situation on Cray has dramatically shifted.
  • Vanilla Unit: In the original version of the game, Units (cards) of each grade have a maximum power stat, which is reduced accordingly depending on the Unit's skills. In other words, a grade 2 Unit with no skills always has 10000 power, and grade 2 units with skills can have 9000 at the highest. Basically, it boils down to Unskilled, but Strong versus Weak, but Skilled. Most clans have at least one Vanilla unit per grade, but it's exceptionally rare to see grade 3 Vanilla Units, and grade 4 doesn't have any.
    • In the V Series iteration of the game, Vanilla Units distinguish themselves from units with skills in other ways. One might have increased power but no shield (for example, a grade 2 unit with 12000 power), increased shield but lowered power (a grade 1 unit with 7000 power and 15000 shield, as opposed to the norm of 8000 power and 10000 shield), or even units with only 3000 power but start with 2 critical.