After reading Oloh's feature about his first-hand experience of Vanguard's new style of gameplay, the correct word to describe the overall feel of the Vanguard: Saga of Heroes forums would be "buzzing".
Recently, an idea arose from Aradune himself that compared Vanguard's combat system with that of a certain cult-followed card game, Magic: the Gathering. Aradune was not the only person to see the resemblance either, considering the thread on the Vanguard: Saga of Heroes forums by Eshelon. For those who know of the game, and have read the feature, this will make some sense. For those who do not know about Magic: the Gathering, I'm here to tell you why it is being compared to Vanguard.
First off, I played Magic: the Gathering for approximately three years, so my knowledge only extends as far back as that. You start by collecting cards and building a deck to suit your needs/desires, this is always a personal choice on how you like to play the game, and I compare it to character creation a bit later. There are millions of different cards you can buy, that do an infinite number of different things. Each deck, from each person, can be extremely unique. I draw comparisons to creating your own character when you begin an MMO, there are millions of possible combinations, but frankly, most people end up choosing similar templates anyway.
Once you have your deck and are satisfied with your choices, you go out and look for an opponent to challenge. Here's where we get to the fun part.
In Oloh's feature, he discussed attacking an opponent, and having their incoming move flash up on screen to let you know what was happening. Some may feel that this may make the game easier, having the ability to know your opponent's move, but in reality, if you think about it long enough you'll realize that more than half the time it's just to let you brace for impact, since there's nothing you can do but wait for the pain.
In Magic: the Gathering, hereby known as M:tG, the game works in turns, with phases in each turn. You can play one on one, or multiplayer, and the phases in each turn give everyone the opportunity to respond to any given situation, even if they can't. Also, a deck is usually comprised of X amount of cards, of which you can usually have seven in your hand at any given moment.
For example, if you are playing in a one on one duel with me, and I play a card that for all intents and purposes tosses a fireball right at you, you have a phase to think about this and make a countering move. Now, let's say you have a counterspell in your hand that will nullify my spell. As long as you have enough mana to cast it, you have that opportunity. My fireball comes at you, and is nullified from existence. Both our cards are discarded and it is your turn to play spells. The same goes for Vanguard, since some classes will have the opportunity to counter spells or use abilities to stop an attack or spell from coming.
The main difference between the two games is that in M:tG, you have an unlimited amount of time to make that decision, whereas in Vanguard you have one or two seconds. You will have to be incredibly quick on your feet and be paying attention at all times to maximize your efficiency in this area. What all this means is you will not be able to effectively engage in combat by pressing a button, and then periodically hitting other buttons while you watch television. Those days are over, now you are in the thick of battle and what your opponent does incredibly affects what you do and vice versa. DaoC had a similar system, but not this complex.
Those who have played the game will be able to offer up some more fun analogies besides my fireball and your counterspell, but it seemed like a simple example. In M:tG, the game revolves around two or more wizards battling it out with everything at their disposal. They can summon monsters to fight for them, rely on a heavy counterspelling, controlling deck, or use a bunch of direct damage spells.
The fact that the two games can be compared gives me hope that Vanguard's classes will have huge amounts of skills to choose from instead of the same ones over and over. One of the most enjoyable parts of M:tG was the vast array of different spells you could pull off the top of your deck at any point. It became a very interesting game to simply watch as well as to play because you never knew what someone was going to do at any given moment. Would they build an army of monsters to attack with, or would they keep one and make it remarkably strong? Would they set up a defense and then bombard their opponent with direct damage, or would they rely on other mechanics of the game to win, like making their opponent discard their hand of spells, effectively silencing them for a turn or two.
When I think about these ideas it makes me excited to see how much it could possibly be compared. From someone who played and loved the game of M:tG, this is just another step up for my expectations for Vanguard.
And for those of you who have played the game, you might be amused to note what classes interest you and compare that to what types of decks you liked to make. My favorite type of deck was a combination of blue (control) and black (death). Making an opponent completely unable to get himself set up, and effecting his deck before he can even get his spells out and his monsters out. In other words, a strict control format. And then I notice that I chose the Inquisitor right away with no hesitation or regrets. Of course, this is just how I see the Inquisitor, it may not be how everyone else does, or even how Sigil does. If I'm even a little bit correct in my choice, I will be very happy.
This also means that in combat, if you know your opponent has a counterspell ready, you won't want to toss in your best move right away now would you? No, you'd want to bait your opponent into countering your medium spell, then going in for the kill. How sweet the taste of victory is.