Main rules about how to play a Cardfight!! Vanguard game.
- 1 Winning and Losing Conditions
- 2 Deck Construction Rules
- 3 Reading the Card Layout
- 4 Zones of the Game
- 5 Starting the Fight
- 6 Turn Phases
- 7 Card Mechanics
- 8 Comprehensive Rules
Winning and Losing Conditions
In order to fulfill one of these condictions, an ability or rule action in current process needs to be resolved first. Therefore, the game will continue if a losing condition no longer exists after resolving an abiliy or rule action.
- When a player's damage zone has six or more cards, that player loses.
- When a player's deck has no cards, that player loses.
- When a player has no vanguard, that player must choose a card from his or her soul, and rides it as [Stand]. However, if a player has no vanguard and his or her soul has no cards that can be ridden at the same time, that player loses.
- A player may win or lose the game automatically as a result of an effect, such as "Star-vader, "Omega" Glendios". In that case, the game ends while resolving said effect, which is decided before checking for any rule actions.
- A player may concede the game at any time, then the game ends without checking for any rule actions.
- If both players have fulfilled any losing condition at the same time, the game ends as a draw.
Deck Construction Rules
While preparing your main deck or G deck, continuous abilities regarding deck construction are applied as a replacement effect that changes the rules below. You may only have up to four cards with the same printed card name between your main deck and G deck each (even if anyone has different characteristics except its card name).
- Must have exactly 50 cards (including your chosen first vanguard).
- Must have exactly a total of 34 normal units and 16 trigger units.
- You may only have up to 4 [Heal] triggers.
- You may only have up to 4 Sentinels.
- You may only have up to 16 cards.
- Can only contain cards that are G units.
Reading the Card Layout
Currently, there are sixteen relevant properties that a card has concerning the gameplay. They can also be referred to as the "original characteristics" of the card.
- Card name: The proper name to identify a card. Some Japanese cards have small letters above the name called "furigana", which are used to help people read the name correctly. This is not a part of the card name and has no meaning in gameplay.
- Clan: The name of the clan a card belongs to. The clan is referred to during a trigger check. The clan is referred to by some abilities and effects. In card text, the name of a clan appears within "《》" for the Japanese version, and within "«»" for the English version. If a card has a nation's name instead, it belongs to all cards from that nation.
- Race: The name of the race of a card. The race is referred to by some abilities and effects. In text, the name of a race is expressed as <(race name)>.
- Grade: From 0 to 5. It is the numeric value that is referred to when you normal ride or normal call a card. The grade can give limitations when playing a card.
- Power : The numeric value that expresses the combat strength of a card.
- Shield : The numeric value that expresses the combat strength while a card is used as a guardian.
- Critical : The numeric value that determines how much damage this card deals to a vanguard.
- Trigger icon or trigger effect: The icon that indicates what to do for a card's effect when that card with the icon is revealed in a drive check or a trigger check. They are: Critical trigger, Draw trigger, Front trigger, Heal trigger, and Stand trigger.
- Card Type: The type of this card. The type is written on the left of the name. They are: Normal unit, trigger unit, G unit, and token unit.
- Skill icon: It shows the common abilities that many cards have. Each icon shows which ability the card has. They are: "Boost", "Intercept", "Twin Drive!!", and "Triple Drive!!!".
- Text Frame: The set of abilities a card has is written inside the text frame. The contents within the frame is referred to as "text". Some cards have text within parenthesis to show the description of a keyword or a keyword ability. This is called reminder text. Reminder text is part of the text, but it is just for explanatory purposes, and does not affect the game. Some cards may not have any ability on them. An ability is divided into three categories, known as "", "", and "". If an ability has a text within brackets "[ ]" or has "", that text is a cost to pay as long as the conditions met. An ability's cost is always optional. Some text is colored differently to put an emphasis on it. The difference in colors has no meaning in terms of rules, however, abilities that are granted by an effect are colored differently, and are not regarded to exist until being acquired.
- Flavor: The descriptive text of this card. The flavor is not a characteristic of a card and has no meaning in terms of rules.
- Art: The image of this card. The art is not a characteristic of a card and has no meaning in terms of rules.
- Collective Information: The location where the collection ID, rarity, artist’s name, and other information of this card can be found. The collective information is not a characteristic of a card and has no meaning in terms of rules.
- Nation: The name of the nation a card belongs to. The nation is referred to by some abilities and effects. There are 6 nations, and they are: United Sanctuary, Dragon Empire, Star Gate, Dark Zone, Magallanica, and Zoo. Cards with icons that are not any of the 6 listed above, do not belong to any nation, and do not have any nation information. There are cards without the nation icon. If they belong to a clan, they belong to the respective nation. Cards without a nation icon, and cards that do not belong to any of the main 24 clans, nor Cray Elemental, do not belong to any nation. Cards with a nation icon, but do not belong to any specific clan, are regarded as belonging to all of the clans of the respective nation.
- Imaginary Gift icon: Cards with this icon have an imaginary gift. They are: "Force", "Accel", "Protect".
Zones of the Game
These are the zones where you and your opponent put their respective cards while fighting. The information of cards are public or hidden depending on the zone where they are in. When multiple cards move from a zone to another zone at the same time, the player must put them into that zone one by one.
- "Deck" (山札 Yamafuda), is where you put your main deck at the beginning of the game after shuffling. Cards in this zone are staked in a pile face down. This pile is a hidden zone, and no player can see the information or order of this pile, also cannot change the order of the pile without a reason by game rule. You must always shuffle and cut your main deck at the beginning of each game.
- "G Zone" (Gゾーン Jī-zōn), is where you put your G deck at the beginning of the game, always face down. The G zone is a hidden zone, but you may see the information, and change the order of cards in your own G zone. The face down cards are stacked in a pile, and face up cards can be stacked in a separate pile. The G deck don't need to be shuffled at the beginning of the game. You can also store, physically, your gift markers and token units into the G zone at the beginning of the game, but they are not part of the G zone.
- "Hand" (手札 Tefuda), is where you put the cards that are drawn and added during the game. The hand is a hidden zone, but only the owner of his or her respective hand may see the information of the cards on it. You may change freely the order of cards in your hand. Always keep the cards in your hand hidden so that your opponent cannot see them, except the amount and order of cards.
- "Drop Zone" (ドロップゾーン Doroppuzōn), is a pile of cards that have been retired or discarded, always face up. Each drop zone is a public zone, and both players may see the contain of cards on them. You may change the order of cards in your drop zone. When you put a card into the drop zone, put it on top of the already existing ones.
- "Field" (フィールド Fīrudo), is where you put all of your units on, always face up. A card on a circle is also regarded as being on the field which the circle belongs to. The field is a public zone, and both players may see the information of cards on them. The order of cards on the field cannot be changed for no reason, except moving them manually between front and back rows of the same column during its player's main phase or using effects. The field consists of two rows and three columns, also they contain 1 vanguard circle and 5 rear-guard circles. The columns are divided into "left column", "middle column", and "right column". The rows are divided into "front row" and "back row".
- "Circle" (サークル Sākuru), is where you put each of your units on individually. Each player has seven circles: 1 vanguard circle, 1 guardian circle, and 5 rear-guard circles. When a card is moved to a rear-guard circle from anywhere other than another rear-guard circle, including from a vanguard circle, unless otherwise specified, it is put vertically as [Stand] state. When a card is moved/put to the vanguard circle from anywhere other than by Legion or Striding, including from a rear-guard circle, unless otherwise specified, it is put vertically as [Stand] state. When a card is placed/put on guardian circle, unless otherwise specified, it is placed/put horizontally as [Rest] state. A circle that have a locked card on it, is not regarded as any of the three aforementioned circles, but a "locked circle".
- "Soul" (ソウル Souru), is a pile of cards stacked under your vanguard (or Legion Leader in such case), either by riding a unit or by a card's cost or effect, and always face up. The soul is not a part of the field like the circles. Each soul is a public zone, and both players may see the contain of cards on them. You may change the order of cards in your soul.
- "Damage Zone" (ダメージゾーン Damējizōn), are cards you put in, either when your vanguard is dealt damage or by a card's cost or effect. When there are six or more cards in your damage zone, and there are no actions being resolved at that point, you lose the game immediately. The damage zone is a public zone, and both players may see the information of face up or face down cards on them. Cards that are face down do not have any card information and cannot be given any information. You may change the order of cards in your damage zone. When you put a card into damage zone, put it on top of the existing ones.
- "Bind Zone" (バインドゾーン Baindozōn), is a pile where you put cards that have been bound by a card's cost or effect. Bound cards are stacked face up or face down depending on the cost or effect is doing it, but they are always bound face up by default. The bind zone is a public zone, but only the owner of the face down cards in the bind zone may see the information on them. Cards that are face down do not have any card information and cannot be given any information. You may change the order of your bound cards.
- "Trigger Zone" (トリガーゾーン Torigāzōn), is where you put cards revealed by a drive check or damage check temporarily, always face up. Once per each revealed card, after resolving all effects and actions during that check, the card revealed in the trigger zone is put into its owner's determined zone, depending on the type of check that was performed. Cards revealed by a drive check are put into hand, and cards revealed by a damage check are put into damage zone face up. The trigger zone is a public zone, and both players may see the information of cards on them.. The order of various cards revealed cannot be changed. When you put a card into this zone, put it on top of the existing cards.
- "Removal Zone" (除外ゾーン Jogaizōn), is where you put the cards that were removed cards from the game, such as for G Assist and Ultimate Stride, and staked in a pile face up. Each removal zone is a public zone, and both players may see the information of cards on them.
- "Gauge Zone" (ゲージゾーン Gējizōn), s where you put the cards as an equipped gauge. The gauge is a hidden zone, but only the owner may see the information of the cards on it. You may change the order of cards in your gauge zone, as long as it is clear which cards they are associated with. When cards put into a gauge zone from a hidden zone, the owner of that gauge zone may look at the information of that card after all the cards have been put into the gauge zone.
These are additional rules to know in case of conflict with actions or effects that will resolve.
- While revealing, looking, or searching for cards in a zone, those cards doesn't leave that zone until a new action is performed.
- While shuffling, even if the cards in a hidden zone would be revealed in the process, the information of the cards cannot be revealed, or be looked.
- If a card would be moved to a zone without the player of the zone is specified, then the card is moved to its owner's zone.
- If a card is moved from a zone to another zone or it is unlocked, if this is not "from a circle to another circle" movement, then that card is considered to be a new card in a new zone than the original one. That means, all effects applied on that previous card will not be applied in the new card.
- Your opponent's columns that are directly in front of your own columns is regarded as being in the same column.
- Multiple units in the same circle are regarded as being in the same column or row.
- When a unit is placed on, or is moved to a (VC) or (RC) that already has other units on it (except by using Legion), all abilities that were activated at that point are resolved first. After that, all units that were previously on that circle;
- are put into the soul (if were vanguards).
- are retired into the drop zone (if were rear-guards).
- become heart cards face up (if the action was done by Striding).
- If you have a Legion Mate on your vanguard circle which no longer has an associated Legion Leader, move that unit to your soul.
- When multiple cards are moved from a public zone to a hidden zone at the same time, and the owner of those cards can decide the order in which to place them, the other players cannot know the order of those cards put into the new zone.
- When the effect of a single card moves a card to another zone, if any action would be performed on the card that was moved, that ability follows the card that was moved, and performs the action on that card.
Starting the Fight
- Each player chooses a grade 0 card from their main deck and puts it face down on their vanguard circle. That card is known as "first vanguard".
- Each player shuffles and cut their main deck. Then puts his or his main deck into deck zone face down, G deck into G zone face down, and any markers next to the G zone.
- Use a random method to decide who will take the first turn, such as rock-paper-scissors or a coin toss. The player who goes first cannot declare an attack during that first turn.
- Draw five cards from the top of your deck. These cards will be your starting hand. After drawing, starting from the player who goes first, each player chooses any number of cards in his or her hand, puts them on the bottom of his or her deck, and draws the same number of cards as the number of cards he or she returned. Then, if you returned one or more cards, shuffle your deck. You can only perform this step once.
- When both players are ready, at the same time, turn their vanguards from face down to face up, and can shout out "Stand up, vanguard!"
Both players go through of each of these phases in this order during his/her respective turn, until a winner is declared. If an effect or condition skips any of these phases, effects and actions that are mandatories will not be performed.
During your stand phase, turn all of your units that are rest (horizontal) to stand (vertical) one by one, unless they are prevented from doing so by an ability. After resolving all effects, proceed to the draw phase.
The draw phase takes two steps, which must be done in this order, and only once each turn.
1. Draw Step
Take the first card from the top of your deck, and put it into your hand without revealing it. This is known as "draw a card".
2. G Assist Step
Main article: G Assist.
The ride phase takes two steps, which must be done in this order, and only once each turn.
1. Ride Step
You may normal ride only once in this step. Choose a card from your hand that is one grade greater than or equal to your current vanguard, and ride it. Your chosen unit is always ridden in [Stand] by default. Either you rode or not, after resolving all effects, proceed to the stride step.
2. Stride Step
During the main phase, you prepare for the battle by playing units and using abilities. In any order, you may:
- Normal call any number of units from your hand to your rear-guard circles, only once each. The cards to be normal called must have the same or lower grade that your vanguard (or your Legion Leader in such case).
- You may call a unit on top of one of your rear-guards that already is on the field. In that case, the previous unit that was on that circle is put into your drop zone.
- Move your rear-guards between the front and back row of the same column where they are. Two rear-guards in the same column may be moved between them. When a unit is moved to a rear-guard circle from another rear-guard circle, it remains in the same [Stand] or [Rest] state as in the previous circle.
- Play [ACT] abilities; the [ACT] abilities of your cards only can be played during your own main phase. This can be done any number of times, as long as you can pay the cost, unless one of those [ACT] abilities has [1/Turn] on it.
Once you are ready to attack, proceed to the battle phase by declaring it.
During your battle phase, you may attack with your standing units in the front row against your opponent's units. It takes five steps, which must be done in this order, and only once each turn. A battle is considered a battle from the moment it begins. Even if the process of the battle is cut off midway, or even if any of the units in the battle leaves the field, and proceeds to the close step, it still counts as a battle.
1. Start Step
Start step is where you choose whether to attack or not. If you choose not to attack, or you cannot attack, proceed directly to the end phase, and none battle has been performed as a result. If you have chosen to attack, proceed to the attack step, and you cannot return back.
2. Attack Step
Attack step is where you may choose with which unit attack first. If there are no effects being used at this moment, choose one of your standing units in the front row as the attacking unit for this battle, then rest it (or rest both Legion Leader and Mate in such case). After choosing, choose one of your opponent's units in the front row other than a Legion Mate, which will become the unit being attacked. The state of "attacking unit" and "unit being attacked" only remains as long as those units continue present on their respective circles, until end of this battle. For the attacking unit, the unit attacked becomes its "battle opponent", and at the same time, for the unit that is being attacked, the attacking unit becomes its "battle opponent".
After choosing the unit to be attacked, you may choose one of your units with boost icon on it from your back row in the same column as the attacking unit, and rest it to make it boost the attacking unit (if it is a vanguard that is Legion, it will boost one of the attacking units under your choice). From this moment, the unit chosen becomes a "boosting unit" and the attacking unit becomes a "boosted unit" by that unit. The state of "boosting unit" and "boosted unit" only remains as long as both units continue present in their respective circles, until end of this battle.
Until end of the close step, while the boosting unit is in its original circle, its power value will continuously be added to the power of the boosted unit (even if its power is increased during the battle due to an effect).
Finally, resolve all abilities that were activated in any order, then proceed to the guard step. The real battle begins here.
3. Guard Step
Guard step is where your opponent may use guardians to prevent the attack hit. This is performed after resolving any ability, and in any order as he or she wishes:
- Your opponent may choose a card from his or her hand and normal calls it to his or her guardian circle as rest.
- Your opponent may choose a rear-guard with intercept icon from his or her front row that is not being attacked during this battle, and move it to his or her guardian circle as rest (this is not a call).
- Your opponent may discard a card with "HEAL" from his or her hand, and if he or she does, chooses a G guardian that is face down in his or her G zone, and calls it to (GC) as rest. This can only be done if both players' vanguards are grade 3 or greater, and the number of face up G guardians in his or her G zone is three or less.
Each time your opponent calls a new unit to (GC) or moves a new unit to (GC) during this battle, he or she chooses which unit it will guard among the units that are being attacked. Then, they resolve all abilities that were activated before calling a new guardian or intercept. Your opponent may continue calling or intercepting guardians, as many times as possible.
While the guardian units are in the guardian circle, the power of the attacked unit that was chosen, is increased by the total shield of units guarding it (if there is a unit without a printed shield, its original value will be regarded as 0 shield).
After resolving all abilities, if you opponent has finished calling guardians or intercepting, proceed to your drive step.
If your opponent chose not to call or intercept guardians against the attack in this step ("I don't guard" for example), proceed to your drive step.
4. Drive Step
If the attacking unit is a vanguard, you check for additional effects during the attack, known as "drive check". "Drive" is referred as the amount of drive checks that your vanguard is able to peform in this step. If you need to perform multiple drive checks, check for it one by one, and resolve it one by one.
To drive check, put the top card of your deck into your trigger zone face up. If that card has the same clan as a unit on your vanguard or rear-guard circle, resolve all effects indicated by the trigger icon on the card, in any order you like.
- More information: Trigger
After resolving all effects, if the card is still in the trigger zone, put that card into your hand, regardless of whether it has a trigger icon or not. Then, repeat this process as many times as your vanguard's drive (or Legion Leader in such case).
- More information: Drive
After completing all actions during the drive check, proceed to the damage step. The battle arrives to its climax here.
5. Damage Step
Damage step is to confirm whether the attack to the "unit being attacked" will hit, as well as the damage to be dealt.
Compare the actual power of the attacking unit with the actual power of the attacked unit, and if the attacked unit's power is less than or equal to the attacking unit, then the attack hits. If the attacking unit or the attacked unit leaves the field, or if the master of any of these units is changed, or if any of these units is moved to another circle, then the powers are not compared, and the attack does not hit.
If the attack hits, one of two situations occurs, depending on the unit who was hit. Also, retire all the guardians other than G guardianss that were guarding that unit, and all G guardians that were guarding that unit are put into the owner's G zone face up.
- If it is a vanguard, then the attacking unit deals damage equal to its critical (or Legion Leader in such case). If its critical is 0 or less, then it does not deal damage, and zero or negative damage will not regarded as dealt. See below for more details.
- If it is a rear-guard, retire it. After this, resolve all effects and proceed to the close step.
If your opponent's vanguard is dealt damage by the attack, your opponent checks for additional effects, known as "damage check". "Damage" is referred to as the amount of damage checks that the vanguard who dealt damage is able to perform, either during the damage check or a card's effect. If the player need to perform multiple damage checks, he or she checks for it one by one, and resolves it one by one.
To damage check, he or she puts the top card of his or her deck into his or her trigger zone face up. If that card has the same clan as a unit on his or her vanguard or rear-guard circle, then resolves all effects indicated by the trigger icon on the card, in any order he or she likes.
- More information: Trigger
After resolving all effects, if the card is still in the trigger zone, he or she puts that card into his or her damage zone face up, regardless of whether it has a trigger icon or not. Then, your opponent repeats this process as many times as the amount of damage dealt to his or her vanguard. If your opponent has 6 or more cards in his or her damage zone as a result, you win the game.
After completing all actions during the damage check, proceed to the close step.
6. Close Step
Close step is where all effects that happen at the end of a battle, or at the beginning of close step, are activated. After resolving all effects, the battle arrived to its end. Attacking units are no longer "attacking units", and attacked units are no longer "attacked units". After this, return back to your start step to continue attacking with your standing units. In that step, you choose whether to attack or not again.
If you choose not to attack during your next start step, proceed to the end phase, and the battle phase has ended.
End phase is where all actions and effects are activated and resolved at the end of a turn. The following actions take place before any ability, and the turn player then perform them in the following order:
- Put all the G units on your vanguard and rear-guard circles into your G zone face up.
- Return locked cards and deleted units on that player's field to normal state by turning the card face up.
After resolving these actions, abilities with "when card is unlocked", "when card is put face up" and "when card is put into the G zone" are activated, and resolved in any order. Then, abilities with "at the beginning of end phase" and "at the end of turn" are activated, and resolved in any order. Then, effects with "until end of turn" cease to exist.
At this point, if there is no longer further abilities nor actions to resolve, declare the end of your turn, then your opponent's next turn starts, beginning with his or her stand phase.
If an effect allows you to get an "Extra Turn", your opponent cannot declare the beginning of what would be their next turn.
- Main article: Card Mechanics.
The "Comprehensive Rules" is the official manual designed to explain and detail all the game rules and mechanics. While it explains everything in general, some unmentioned details can be found in the rulings of the card you need instead.
- Comprehensive Rules: English Edition (March 11, 2020)
- Comprehensive Rules: Japanese Edition (October 14, 2020)