Shit yeah it's effective. It's easy to die as a Vamguard because you often get close but you learn what to do and what not to do and when to do it if you pay attention.
Charge is your bread and butter obviously, because it brings you in for shotgun and melee range while replenishing your barriers.
Following with the traditional shotgun to the face is always good but I went more biotic than soldier so I made sure to get the Asari Shotgun for weight reasons. It's not that high in damage ( but majority of my attacks are biotic) but it helps in a pinch.
The melee for Vanguards is outstanding and just screams powerhouse. You can do a fuckton of damage with Fitness upgraded right.
Vanguard Nova adds a nice risky flavor to the Vanguard ( which is already risky) but makes up in the shitload of damage it can spew out in a short range.
So from these few skills I have listed you have the skeleton of my Vanguard style: Charge, roll awhile to avoid damage while cool down finishes( just a couple of seconds), either use Nova ( which depletes shields do don't do it if there's a very high enemy count around you) or heavy melee or do all three in succession to really shit on some bodies day. The name of the game is movement. Stay moving (rolling, running) if you aren't attacking, that way you maximize your life span in close range.
Aside from that layout I've got some pro tips to add icing on the cake for anyone still playing me3 and wants to be a Vanguard Beast.
Pull is great because it can rip away guardian shields and leave enemies helpless to squad fire but it can also prime enemies for biotic explosions, which really fucks up anybody standing close by. So you can pull someone, use a charge to set the explosion off and bring you in to apply the basic strategy laid out above or if you don't want to get the close and you are at mid range use a shockwave.
Shockwave is fun to use because it can set off biotic explodins and go through walls, saving your health/shields and dealing some nice damage. Really useful to scatter crowds before you charge in to finish them off while their pants are down.
As for bonus powers I've experimented with a few:
Warp ammo is great simply for the fact that it wholeheartedly supports the Vanguard, biotic soldier play style. It boost weapon damage by a lot and does even more damage to enemies you have used pull on. Solid choice. Or just get Liara to give your squad a portion of hers. Works really well if you've got all biotics in your squad, complete massacre, especially if you tag team biotic explosions and what not.
If you do decide to play with your team in mind you can go for other bonus powers like Barrier. It does provide you with protection, but I've found it really doesn't matter if you are constantly moving and charging like I do. That and it impossess a rather irritating cool down period that not really worth what it does.
Lash is definitely fun, I've used it a bit but it makes pull feel redundant. They are not the same though. Lash can go through shields and barriers which is great for enemies like phantoms and marauders and can set enemies up for detonation but you gotta be really fast to set it off. Pull is better for setting up explosions. A downside is it make your character stand and take a lot of fire for a few seconds so it sort of violates my Vanguard philosophy.
Flare is the grand master of all offensive biotic abilities and so naturally it seems to go hand in hand with the Vanguard. It has a long cooldown so make sure you stay light and have cooldown bonuses from armor and stuff. It works extremely well with pull and allows you to set off massive explosions at range and in cover. Best used to fuck over large crowds and bosses before you zoom in to finish whatever happens to be left of them off.