An issue that I've seen in nearly every deck discussion thread on forums is on the number of perfect guards a deck should run. Some people say 3, others 4 and others say that you can get away with 2. Although what I discuss can also be applied to the Japanese format, I will focus on both the English and Japanese meta and on the decks that each have available. There also seem to be some misconceptions on perfect guards, especially among the newer player community. Through this article I hope people will get an idea on how to efficiently use perfect guards and how many perfect guards they should run.
The Purpose of Perfect Guards
Some players, mostly newbies, on forums seem to be fixed on the idea that because you have to discard a card for the effect of a perfect guard, you will lose hand advantage. The common sense of these players needs to be questioned, as the purpose of a perfect guard is to guard an attack that would otherwise have to be guarded with three or more cards, especially when your hand consists of mostly 5k guards. This should be obvious to most of the community, but needs to be clarified before continuing. Perfect guards are mostly used against opposing Vanguard attacks, to guarantee the attack does not go through, regardless of the amount of triggers revealed during a drive check.
Flash Shield Isolde, Royal Paladin Perfect Guard
So How Many Should I Run?
The simple answer to the above question would be "depending on your deck". Decks that involve cross-rided Vanguards such as Dragonic Overlord the End and Phantom Blaster Overlord do not need to run 4 as the boosted 13k power of the above Vanguards will rarely require more than two cards to guard an attack. On the other hand, decks such as Oracle Think Tank, with such a focus on drawing and draw triggers are highly recommended to run 4, as the lower amount of 10k shields available will force them to use three or more cards to guard more often than other clans. This is where 4 perfect guards can greatly benefit the deck.
However, most decks fall in a grey zone in the middle, such as Royal Paladin and Nova Grappler. In this case, another factor comes into play: the meta. The Japanese and English meta are obviously very different, with different decks being top tier. I would highly recommend to any Japanese deck that doesn't have a cross-ride Vanguard to run 4 perfect guards, as top decks that do have that access will be attacking constantly for 21k, forcing at least 15k, but most likely 20k guard to defend against.
On the other hand, the current English meta does not have access to cross-ride Vanguards, therefore it can become preference. But the question becomes, why wouldn't you run 4? The more you run, the more often you will have one in your hand when you do need one, and if you have too many in your hand, the worst-case scenario becomes discarding one to use the other's effect. And what's so bad about that? That is better than NOT having one in your hand in the first place because you only run 2 or 3. So unless you run Dragonic Overlord the End or Phantom Blaster Overlord, I highly recommend any other deck to run 4 perfect guards.
Impact of Set 6 "Limit Break"
With the release of Set 6, cards such as Great Silver Wolf Garmall and Thunder Break Dragon have the following Limit Break skill:
Auto[V]: [Limit Break (4)] When this card attacks a vanguard, this card gets [Power] +5000 until end of that battle.
With this skill, these cards will be able to hit the next level of magic numbers of 25k-26k. This will force at least a 20k guard for no triggers or 25k for one trigger. This is where perfect guards come in. With higher power attacks becoming more common, perfect guards will become more valuable. In my opinion, once Set 6 comes out, anyone that doesn't run 4 perfect guards will be at a disadvantage, especially against Limit Break clans.
In order to be effectively used, a player needs to be able to read the situation, predict how much they will need to guard for and play their perfect guards conservatively. With the release of Set 6 also comes higher powered attacks increasing the value of a perfect guard. Players will need to adapt to the meta and adapt their number of perfect guards accordingly. A strong attack that consumes your hand because you didn't have a perfect guard can swing the game around.
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