Since the start of VALORANT, one of the most talked-about topics aside from the best Agents, optimal team compositions, strongest Ultimates, and which maps tick off the player base, is the talk about which of the two is stronger: Vandal or Phantom? We look at how the Vandal and Phantom are useful for situations that favor how you play the game.
Note: This piece is the sole opinion of the author, based on his hours of playing. It is not, in any way, authoritative.
Vandal: The All-Around Head Clicker
With a 25-capacity magazine and consistent damage across all ranges, the Vandal favors those who have control over how they spray. This means taking burst shots and even one-taps. In VALORANT, where “precise gunplay” comprises half of the game, having a sure-hit weapon means victory. This is where the Vandal shines. Despite this, it has its quirks. Among them, and a crucial one, is that its bullets can be traced if you shoot through the smoke. This means opponents can shoot at a Vandal user by spraying bullets through the smoke. It also has a high recoil that takes on a “T” shaped pattern, emphasizing the “precise gunplay” aspect needed to use the weapon.
Would you believe that back in the early days of VALORANT, you could spray-and-pray with the Vandal?
Phantom: The Stealthy Assassin
The Phantom has a 30-capacity magazine, allowing players to spray a little more than the Vandal. It is effective up until 30 meters. Its bullets can shoot through smokes without being traced, enabling spraying through smokes which the Vandal has a huge disadvantage over. The biggest con of the Phantom is its effective range. As mentioned, it does really well until 30 meters. Above that range and expect to spend at least 2 bullets. This is corroborated with the latest data provided by the VALORANT team: the Phantom player wins over the Vandal player when the Phantom is at its effective range (15 – 30 meters.)
Simplifying the Data: What Can We Interpret From Practical Experience
Early in my VALORANT journey, I favored the Phantom because of its similarity to the M4A1, a weapon I favored in Counter-Strike. After its nerfs around Episode 2 which affected both the Vandal and Phantom’s recoil and time-to-kill, I gravitated towards the Vandal despite being a Controller main. But if I’m a Controller main, would that automatically mean I should favor the Phantom because its bullets can’t be traced when spraying through smokes?
This is where situational analysis is important. If I’m going to play long sight lines with a smoke like Viper’s Poison Cloud (Q) or Omen’s Dark Cover (Q), I would favor the Phantom over the Vandal. However, in rounds that favor a tactical play that focuses on movement and positioning without using abilities, the Vandal is my choice.
There are rounds where playing very active both as defender and attacker would favor the Vandal user. As a defender, getting to an aggressive angle early in the round favors the defender. In maps with long sight lines like Pearl’s B site, Haven’s A Long and C Long, or Ascent’s Mid, the Vandal is the second best option (the Operator being the best.) Note: This also favors the defender who want to play a bit passively in the site, where peeking is the main mode of information-gathering since the accurate first shot of the Vandal is very favorable in this scenario.
For attackers, the wide peek of the Vandal user favors long-range battles. Oftentimes, it leads to a 50-50 for both the defender and attacker. The advantage being the way the defender holds an angle and expects a wide peek. In this case, the Vandal is advantageous. What about the Phantom?
Phantom users can do the same thing as a Vandal user would. However, as practical experience would say over and over, the Vandal can do it slightly better.
The Verdict: Which Gun Does it Better?
For me, the Vandal does it better. The catch here is that it does a bit better than the Phantom. The situations where one favors the other play a crucial role in choosing between the two, in the same manner as choosing between the Stinger and the Spectre, which also has near-identical situational uses.
To close this off, I’ll equate the times I have used both guns:
|Long range with smokes||Phantom|
|Long range without utility usage||Vandal|
|Holding aggressive angles||Vandal|
|Having accurate first shot when peeking||Vandal|
I hope this makes it a bit clear on how the Vandal tops the Phantom by a bit.
Tell us what you think about this age-long debate. When and how do you use the Phantom and the Vandal?
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