Tier of Fear: AL4 JPN Meta Week 1 Recap

So the first week has passed since the release of Booster Set 02: Strongest AL4! and the meta has shifted to accommodate the new clans. This week we will be looking at two VGCS events and the weekly shop tournaments to see just how much has changed.

Format Details:

This format began on the 31st of August 2018 and the format will end on the 27th of September, 2018. The format consists of 14 clans released in the Japanese game. These clans and their gifts are as follows:

Force: Royal Paladin, Kagero, Shadow Paladin, Spike Brothers and Dimension Police.
Accel: Nova Grappler, TachikazeAqua Force, Murakumo and Pale Moon.
Protect: Oracle Think Tank, MegacolonyGranblue and Dark Irregulars.



VGCS are unofficial, large-scale events run by card shops and various members of the Japanese Cardfight Vanguard Community. These events usually have considerably larger turnout than weekly shop events and act as valuable representations of the trends in the Japanese Cardfight Vanguard meta. So far in this format, we have had two VGCS, 1st Oka Lab CS and the 2nd Cosmo VGCS.

1st Vanguard Oka Lab CS – Number of Players: 33

Top 4:

1st) Oracle Think Tank
2nd) Murakumo
3rd) Shadow Paladin
4th) Kagero

Event Clan Distribution:


The Shadow Paladins are here and they aren’t going away anytime soon. OTT still won the event with Kagero also being a contender, however, the real news is Murakumo.
This event only had two Murakumo players and one of them managed to come second, this is impressive considering the deck’s lacklustre hype and the spilt in the support from VBT02. Another interesting point of note is that Royal Paladin and Aqua Force had representatives equal to OTT and Kagero, something that hasn’t been seen before. The lack of EB01 clans outside of Spike Brothers is quite concerning, however as this is a smaller event (due to the nature of single events) I wouldn’t be too focused on representation.

2nd Cosmo VGCS – Number of Players: 90 (30 Teams of 3)

Top 4 Teams:

1st) Oracle Think Tank / Dark Irregulars / Kagero
2nd) Dimension Police / Dark Irregulars / Pale Moon
3rd) Oracle Think Tank / Shadow Paladin / Kagero
4th) Dark Irregulars / Granblue / Kagero

Event Clan Distribution:


So as we can see, Oracle Think Tank and Kagero are still the highest represented decks with Shadow Paladin close behind. The OTT domination has been slightly downgraded as decks like Murakumo who actively prevent the ability to ride and gain additional gifts and “break-ride” style benefits from units like Dragonic Waterfall and Imperial Daughter. Additionally, Accel is no longer doomed to terrible match-ups against Force clans as Pale Moon and Murakumo have ways to gather boards efficiently via calling from the soul or cloning their units from the deck. This reflects in my opinion, the rock-paper-scissors style gameplay Bushiroad was going for with the gift mechanic originally, however it remains to be seen if this is an overextension of design or just a fluke occurrence based on the first week of the meta.

The statistical perspective for OTT:
A team representation percentage 53.34% (a decrease of  25.61% from 78.95% in the last format’s final VGCS). 
50% placement rate in the top 4 unlike the 100% at the end of the last format’s VGCS)

Kagero increase in usage is simply an example of how the clan’s mechanics and winning image is so simple and generic that it can do well in any meta. Force allows it an extra layer of defence against Accel clans, cheap retires carve out the clan’s niche against other Force decks and sentinels don’t mean very much when you can ignore them. Out of the 30 teams, 19 of them had a Kagero player and of the teams in the top four, three had a Kagero player.

The statistical perspective for Kagero:
A team representation percentage of 63.33%
75% placement rate in the top 4.

Shadow Paladin’s rise is, in my opinion, is based on two factors: 1. The fandom of the deck and it’s anime representative and 2. The level of tempo the deck creates in the early game. From my own playtesting, the ability to swarm the board, gain card advantage and pressure your opponent on your Grade 2 turn is very satisfying. What makes it even better is on your following turn, you are either going to push with Dark Dictator, which can net you even more advantage or deal with a large Phantom Blaster Dragon.

Top 4 Clan Performance:


These VGCS clearly demonstrate the impact that VBT02 has made on the Japanese meta, how will the weekly events hold up?

Weekend Tournament Summary

The Japanese card shop scene is active and growing. The TCG industry is a mainstay of Japanese pop culture. We can use the weekly tournament reports from the local communities, to distinguish trends in strategy, card choice and the ever-evolving theory-crafting of the Japanese version of Cardfight Vanguard.

Week 1 to 3 (August 31st – September 6th) Clan Win Rate (Percentage):


Let us have a look; Shadow Paladin’s have a very good week with 21 points followed closely by OTT with 16 points. In my analysis of Phantom Blaster Dragon, I drew focus to how OTT would be a significant challenge for Shadow Paladin players (assuming everything from the last meta remained constant).

Next up we have a tie between Murakumo and Kagero at 12 points, Kagero being the same deck from the beginning of V, with effective tools and very little negatives against most match-ups. Murakumo is the clan to watch as Dueling Dragon, ZANBAKU ability to prevent standing the Vanguard on the next turn and Right Arrester ability to stop the opponents from riding is crippling to a large number of decks. Add a Twin Swordsman, MUSASHI on an Accel circle which swings for 27,000 power and requires additional guardians, the deck is a serious threat.

Pale Moon, Spike Brothers, Granblue make up the middle pack with 6 points each, Pale Moon being outclassed by Murakumo is saddening but the deck features a very strong VR in Golden Beast Tamer and can multi-attack by moving units on and off the Accel circles. Finally, the lower group which is made up of Dimension Police, Aqua Force, Royal Paladin, Dark Irregular which are not “bad decks” but simply are kind of being underused due to the shiny new toys or OTT.

So the meta is fresh and new, however, as I am currently writing the second week’s summary and looking at the few events we have had over the weekend, let me just say, this past week is as diverse as the meta it is ever going to be. I hope you join me next week when we look at what the second week of the AL4 meta and what it has done to competitive Vanguard.

Tier of Fear features statistical analysis based on data collected from a variety of sources, VGCS data comes from various twitter accounts and The Coach’s Office Discord channel while the weekly tournament data is sourced from Freedomduo and 2Critical blogs. Check those guys out as they make my job so much easier. I’m sure that these resources will help other players access the information freely to make their own conclusions.


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