Today, I will be sharing about a sometimes overlooked place where you can get grade 3s to use as your vanguards: the Japanese-only Cardfight!! Vanguard manga series.
Before we start off with the cards themselves, here is some background information about the manga. The manga is published in Bushiroad’s magazines and in bound volumes released once every 4-5 months. The storyline differs slightly from the anime and is more concise. It focuses more on character development and is told in a darker tone as the author is allowed to be more liberal in his storytelling, unlike the anime whereby the story is heavily convoluted for the sake of introducing cards in upcoming expansions. There are also some differences in major plot points: for instance, Aichi uses Exculpate the Blaster as Blaster Blade’s “ultimate transformation” in the manga and not Majesty Lord Blaster in the anime.
As most of you already know by now, the cards that appear in the manga but not in the anime are eventually printed in the Extra Boosters. However, as an added incentive for people to buy the manga and enable them to replicate the fights depicted in it, some of the manga grade 3 cards are released together with the volume they appear in. With the exception of Dark Irregular No Life King, Death Anchor, these cards are mostly from the main characters’ clans, Royal Paladin, Shadow Paladin and Kagero – after all, that’s how Bushiroad makes them your trust-fund clans by making them look cool and pumping gallons lot of support, subclans and variants to key cards like Blaster Blade, Alfred and Dragonic Overlord.
However, as with promos given elsewhere, they are not necessarily clear-cut stronger than regular cards. This is in the name of fairness so that players who cannot afford multiple copies of the manga (which is hard to obtain outside of Japan in the first place) will not be relegated to a disadvantage. They are mostly for those who want to use novel cards and gain bragging rights about it.
In addition, most of the manga cards often rely heavily on another card (yes, Blaster Blade, I am pointing at you) or a certain gimmick. Either that or the card does something that typical cards from the clan usually cannot do.
Now, on with the individual analysis of each card:
Volume 1: Alfred Early
Alfred Early is essentially the younger self the of iconic King of Knights, Alfred, Royal Paladin’s splashable ace that has been present since the days of BT01.
Early calls 1 Blaster Blade from your soul onto the rearguard circle, hence allowing you to re-use his retiring effect, assuming you already used it once when riding it over your grade 1 vanguard. How good this skill is is entirely conditional and depends on how else you want to use your damage, but from the looks of it, it is usually not worth it unless you are desperate to wipe a particular pesky rearguard.
At the point in time of release, players usually use Blaster Blade’s retiring skill only once per game. The remaining counterblasts are best saved for other purposes like calling rearguards or power-increasing effects that synergize well with the Royals’ strategy long-term, which are better deals than a one-time retiring effect. In stark contrast, Blaster Blade affects units on the opponent’s side of the field and this does not sync well with the Royal Paladin’s theme of increasing your advantage in terms of net Power and field size.
With only a one-time-use effect and 10000 power, we can shrug Early off as nothing too special or big a deal, and it is not a viable vanguard to keep for multiple turns. Thankfully, since Alfred Early has “Alfred” in its name, Lion Mane Stallion can be used as its personal booster but due to the soulblast requirement involved, it may not be worth it to use this pair of cards in the first place.
Volume 2: Dragonic Waterfall
This card was surprisingly good when it was released back in late 2011 when power increments of 10000 was a big deal prior to Limit Break, the LB4 + 5000 power breaker clones and today’s Break Rides.
The best card to pair it with is Dragon Monk Goku in a deck with 10-12 G3s to optimize its G3-checking effect. Goku goes first as your mid-game vanguard, bombing your opponent’s back row with is G3-checking effect and once you have around 4 damage or have 6-7 G3s in your hand and drop zone (whichever comes first), you can ride Waterfall and start ridding off the extra G3s Goku checked previously.
Unfortunately, Breakrides have pretty much killed the use for Waterfall as they do essentially the same thing and give your Kagero an additional one-turn effect on top of that. Thankfully, Waterfall can still hit for 21000 columns with an 8000 booster behind it to take on the dominant 11000-base vanguards we usually see today.
Volume 3: No Life King, Death Anchor
Death Anchor can be a swift, effective setup for Dark Irregular vanguards that require heavy soul like Amon and Reijy. It soulcharges 5 cards, a the fastest soul increase to DIs, which need that need a heavy soul for its vanguards’ effects, and gains a +10000/1 Critical for doing so.
It is however dangerous only interested in its power-and-critical gaining effect as the deck burn involved is a grave-digger in the long term. You are best off using its soulcharge 5 a maximum of twice the game as rushing through more than 10 cards is suicidal, and not to mention it burns triggers from your deck. This skill also prevents you from counterblasting for other purposes during the game, whether you should mind is up to you. DI can do well without counterblasts to charge its soul and use cards that soulcharge on-event (when it is called or used to guard etc).