To kick off my string of Demonic Advent articles I want to talk about arguably the most hyped set of cards of the year. I am of course talking about domination.
Nubatama has for a long time been a troubled clan the inherent power of their initial mechanic (discard) meant that Bushi dropped them almost immediately and the clan was left to fade away. That is until Bushi tried again changing the discard from a permanent one to a temporary disadvantage, this was still at base incredibly powerful but the cards given to support it were somewhat lacking. Finally Bushi tried discard one more time in the reckless rampage, opting to combine discard and bind and trying to push the build forward with afterimage offering a hit and run option that tied into the previously established binding mechanic.
Well it didn’t work out afterimage was tied to a hand size limit which meant the hit and run style didn’t work all that well and the few powerful cards the deck had couldn’t carry such a low advantage and low pressure shell.
And so Nubatama once again switches gears and gains a new mechanic – Domination.
The basis of domination is pretty simple, attack your opponent with their own stuff, sounds easy right? Well unfortunately this needs to be made to work within the ruleset of the game which means it gets a little tricky. Especially in a game as restrictive as vanguard.
I’ll say it straight out domination is messy.
It has all kinds of rules specifically for it, its resolution is different than almost anything else in the game and there’s all kinds of strange terms that only really matter for it.
As someone who likes to be well versed in the rules and help resolve issues domination being throw into the mix is a bit of a hassle.
The best rule of thumb for resolving almost any ruling dispute in vanguard is to resolve all effects completely before moving onto the next skill in the queue.
Domination however is a little different Bushiroad breaks domination into 5 parts –
- Dominating fighter chooses a unit
- Opposing fighter stands the chosen unit
- The unit attacks the target chosen by the dominating fighter with the ability, and a battle occurs.
- Abilities that activate during battle can be used by the dominating fighter as though it were his or her own unit.
- If there are no more dominated units that can attack, the unit is no longer dominated, and the game returns to the phase in which the unit was dominated. If there are dominated units that can attack, or if there are dominated units in stand, it remains dominated, and return to 3.
The thing that really bugs me about this is step 4.
Activating a skill within a skill can create massive headaches especially if we look at something like Mujinlord which dominates multiple units. For example if you dominate 5 units and we assume they all have on attack skills, you half resolve each dominate, pause, use a skill from the unit, resolve that and then resolve the rest of the dominate. Repeat 5 times. The more complicated the skill the more tangled this will get. New players will learn harmful precedents from this such as pausing skills and its abundantly clear Bushi made it this way simply to push the new mechanic with no regard for how it would really fit in the game rules.
And then there’s the issue of who the unit belongs to…
When you dominate a unit you don’t control it you simply make the owner use it to attack the chosen unit but if you want to make a unit attack another dominated unit it is your unit and can’t be chosen as your opponents unit. So you don’t control the unit but it is your unit which means you can’t select it as an opposing unit but you can select it as your unit but not as a unit you control.
So intentionally writing aside this is obviously a bad idea. Creating a situation where you can have a unit but not control a unit is a bad idea, not just for ruling but also for complexities sake imagine trying to explain this to a new or even casual player. And this is in a trial deck, a product that lots of new players will gravitate towards.
However Bushiroad has us covered, now a unit can have –
- A Master
- An Owner
- A Controller
- Not really sure what to call it but whoever “has” the unit
That’s 4 terms that really only matter in regards to domination or else are intuitively solved by common sense.
We’ve gone from essentially 2 types of units, yours and mine, to 4 that all happen simultaneously.
It feels bad to rag on a mechanic so harshly especially when I believe game developers should be braver with the kinds of mechanics they are willing to put into a game but even then sometimes you need to accept that it’s too much. Domination is a badly designed and poorly implemented mechanic given to an already troubled clan.
I appreciate the attempt Bushiroad but this shouldn’t have left the drawing table.
Thanks for reading