Welcome back! After a long absence I’m going to be recounting some of my experiences with TCGs in Japan.
Since I’m in Osaka, this gives me access to Nipponbashi, which is essentially the Osaka equivalent of the much more famous Akihabara. Personally I prefer Nipponbashi, possibly because of my interests, or just because I’m more familiar with the area and have seen more of it. To me, Nipponbashi seems bigger, but that might just be because it’s more spread out, and has lots of smaller shops.
If you’re after card games, Nipponbashi has a huge number of card shops around, including Yellow Submarine, Hobby Station, Card Pal, at least 3 C-Labo, and many more too. The shops stock a wide variety of cards, most covering many games, with a few focused around specific titles. Series will often be split into different displays, or sometimes even different floors.
In addition to the boosters, single cards, sleeves and other playing goods, many shops will also have a play area where you can sit down and play cards with other people. These areas could be upstairs, or in the larger shops even next to the card displays.
If you’re after Yu-Gi-Oh! cards you can find these at practically any card shop, and I’m sure if you browsed the single cards for long enough, you could find practically anything you needed. It is worth shopping around though, because prices will vary from shop to shop (this is true for any of the games). There were also quite a lot of Vanguard cards around, as well as the multitude of other Japanese games, like Weiβ Schwarz, Z/X, Chaos TCG, and many more that I don’t even know the names of. I even spotted an advert for the new Attack on Titan expansion of Sieg Krone, which I imagine is popular amongst some fans.
Since for now I’ve mainly been eyeing up the Weiβ Schwarz cards, I’ve not really paid too close attention to the Yu-Gi-Oh! cards on offer, but may look closer into this later.
So far I’ve made two trips into Nipponbashi, the first of which was a rather quick look around, but the second allowed me to take things more at my pace.
My first trip to Nipponbashi was mainly in search of the special Wooser TD set for Weiβ Schwarz, which had been released that day. However, since it was only produced in very short numbers I had expected it to be quite hard to find, and my suspicions were confirmed when I could not locate a single copy. Despite seeing adverts in lots of shops, and on the streets outside, the best I could manage was finding one place that seemed to be sold out.
I also tried looking around a bit for some Weiβ Schwarz singles I was looking for, but to relatively little success.
During my return trip to Nipponbashi two days later, I pretty much had a free day, so was able to explore more and check more shops. My search for Wooser was more successful, finding one lone set in the first shop I entered (which I’d also been to 2 days ago). Despite further searches throughout the area, I was not able to locate a second set, but I’m just happy to have been able to find a single copy.
After this I set off again looking for single cards, and trying to find Hobby Station. I’d been informed they were holding a Wooser tournament, and was hoping they might have more copies of the cards too. Unfortunately they didn’t, and I wasn’t feeling up for trying to navigate my way through a tournament with Wooser at the time.
The search for singles was mixed. My main goal for the day was Literature Club Nagato (a 4th copy), the support Saten from the Railgun S TD (for the No Attribute deck) and the Chris card from King of Fighters (as a present). In addition to this, I kept my eye out for a few Signs, but those are generally too expensive to think about at the moment.
I managed to locate one relatively expensive Literature Club Nagato, but decided that I didn’t need it for that price just yet. I couldn’t locate the Saten, and do wonder if just buying the TD would be easier at this point. I did however find one copy of the Chris card, which is honestly the first time I’ve ever seen it in person before.
After searching around the shops for cards, and getting something to eat, I decided it was time to try and play a few games. This first of all involved finding people playing Weiβ Schwarz, and then working up the courage to ask them to play in broken Japanese.
Finding people to play was relatively easy, because a few of the shops had a couple of people playing, it was just a matter of picking one. In the end I settled for the C-Labo in the basement of Gamers, because it had one of the biggest playing areas. At the time I think it was mostly full of Yu-Gi-Oh! and Vanguard players, but I did manage to locate a few pairs playing Weiβ Schwarz.
Eventually I managed to work up the courage to ask for a game, and then sat down to play a long series of games with a variety of decks and against a variety of decks, using everything except my Robotics;Notes deck. It was lots of fun even if I didn’t quite understand everything that was going on, and my opponents and their friends seemed to be having fun seeing some of the fun decks I brought out.
The first game saw my Evangelion deck facing down a Love Live! deck. Things got off to a bit of an iffy start for the deck, because Shinji was nowhere to be seen, but thankfully the Level 0 and 1 Reversers were able to put in some good work. I don’t think Shinji made an appearance until really late on, when he had to go Centre Stage, to help me overcome more powerful threats.
When I got to Level 2 I was able to get two Finishing Blow Asuka out, which helped bolster Cooking Asuka, as usual giving me a fairly cheap but strong Level 2 game. Once my opponent reached Level 3 though, they soon fell before superior power.
During this time I just kept on drawing Level 3 cards, to the point I actually had 5 in my hand at one point, although one would eventually be Clocked. By the time I needed to play them, I was at 2/6, so lots of those heals ended up being wasted, but it was worth it for the board control. During the opponent’s next turn they lost their Centre Stage, either due to being forced to suicide, or thanks to Counters, but it did push me up to 3/6 in the process.
I won on the following turn with a series of direct attacks.
Next up I decided to switch to one of my fun decks, namely my Glasses deck, at which point my opponent switched with one of his friends, who I’d continue to play for the next 6 games. He started off with another Evangelion deck, but with more Blue than I choose to play.
Unlike in my previous game, he was able to start off with double Shinji, which meant he had a bit more power to work with. The glasses deck didn’t do anything particularly fancy at first, mainly having to rely on Tabitha at Level 0, then vanillas at Level 1. Thankfully, I think my opponent was lacking useful cards early on, so I was able to build a little bit of Stock.
Once I hit Level 2 I was able to fill the Back Stage with Chihiro, and start building a Stage of Literature Club Nagato, whilst generating a big pile of Stock.
I managed to fend off my opponent’s Level 3 Asukas thanks to Battle Mode, and even though a Climax combo Shiki failed to defeat another Level 3 Asuka, I managed to win whilst still at Level 2. I’d been waiting for a chance to drop the Miyuki with the silly heal combo, but never got the chance.
Next up was No Attribute vs Prisma Illya, which was my first encounter with some of the new cards, like the new Trigger. I opened with two of the Global support for the deck, but unfortunately didn’t have anything really to make use of this fact, so was quickly forced to Level 1.
Once at Level 1 I filled my Stage with 3 copies of Maya, who managed to give me some board presence for a while, thanks to their Encore. When more powerful threats appeared, the Saten Climax combo helped to deal with them.
Unfortunately, my Level 2 game was terrible, with my only Level 2 card being the Lucia Change. At the time there were no Level 3 Lucia in the Waiting Room to change into, but fortunately I remembered Triggering one on the previous turn. This meant I could pay it into there with the Stock requirement for the Level 2. Fortunately the Level 3 was able to survive through a turn thanks to my counter.
By the time the Level 3 game started I’d managed to gather 3 Saten in my hand, which I’d hope might be able to keep me in the game a bit longer, however the Illya and Miyu I was facing down made this problematic. After two of them joined Lucia on the Stage, I only had enough Stock for the final Saten to reach full strength. This meant I was only able to defeat Illya on that turn.
On the following turn my opponent played another Illya and used the Climax combo for the pair, giving burn to everyone, and making Miyu strong enough to defeat Saten. Despite the Soul reduction from my Saten, it wasn’t enough for me to survive the turn, and I was defeated by an attack from Miyu.
Next I decided it was time to switch over to the non-attribute themed decks, starting off with the Miyuki deck out. Coincidentally my opponent switch to their Lucky Star Twins deck, so it was sort of a Lucky Star showdown.
In this game it didn’t really matter what my opponent did, because Miyuki is the biggest card in the deck, and aside from her I don’t think anything else even breaks 3500 Power. In this game my opponent and his friends seemed quite impressed and excited that I happened to be playing a deck with Banana Parfait.
The deck got off to quite a good start starting out with both Kyon & Itsuki and the 3 idiots. The latter even managed to stay around for a while by repeatedly throwing themselves in front of the new Miyuki searcher PR card. I even opened up a copy of Suginami and my Encore support, so had hoped my Level 1 game was going to be set up as well.
Unfortunately though, as the game progressed I only ever had that one Suginami, so I was never able to establish my Stage properly. I was able to get rid of 4 Climaxes before Refresh, and since my opponent had triggered some of them, they ended up with a deck of 2 Climaxes.
Unfortunately because of my bad Stage position I struggled to build Stock, and due to repeatedly drawing Events I could no longer risk suiciding Suginami. My only hope pretty much rested on the opponent Triggering both Climaxes, allowing me to attack for game. Unfortunately I was defeated on the turn that they hit their first Climax.
Next I switched to the Usual Haruhi deck, which is one of the most annoying decks you could possibly face, as anyone who has ever played against it before can attest to. Initially my opponent and his friend were confused by the deck, thinking that it was maybe some kind of KyoAni deck, but once I reached Level 1 it became clearer. My opponent did seem to at least enjoy seeing this deck in action though.
The early game started off well, with me being able to use Onsen Haruhi to take out any threats, and build stock with other cards. I even had the pieces for Onsen + Dress up combo, but never had a chance to pull it off due to my opponent only playing 1 card at a time during Level 0.
By the time I reached Level 1, not only had I built a decent pile of Stock, but I also at had least one of each combo pieces already in my possession, with the Y-shirt card, Usual Haruhi and Dress Up Mikuru in my hand and Mikuru Asahina already on the Stage. Thanks to “I have no interest in ordinary humans” I was able to complete the full set up.
From here on out it was just a matter of killing things and dealing damage with two copies of Usual Haruhi and one of Mikuru Asahina, before having everything run away to Memory. Eventually once my opponent played a Level 3, I had to switch up the Stage to allow for a second Dress Up Mikuru. Apart from this I’d just heal when the opportunity arose via the Da Capo Blue heal combo.
As usual, the deck cancelled a lot, and eventually won the battle of attrition.
Next, I decided it was time to move back to Neo-Standard, and continued the Haruhi theme with my Nagato deck. This faced off against a Shana deck, which actually had very few Shana cards in it, instead focussing around Hecate and Wilhelmina.
Early game I was able to start with the 3 Aliens card and Nagato Yuki, providing a good starting wall. My opponent followed up with Empty Existence Hecate, which meant I had to use Usual Nagato to clear their stage, and fortunately I didn’t get them to Level 1 just yet.
On the following turn I added another copy of the 3 Aliens to my Stage, bolstering the power of my Aliens some more. Once we were both at Level 1, my powered up vanillas were able to overcome his cards, and this was helped by the fact that Kimidori ended up on top of the Clock.
By the time I reached Level 2 I had a massive pile of Stock, which meant I was able to search for, and play, 2 copies of Summer Festival Nagato. I already had a 3rd copy in my hand, but at that point in time the Waiting Mode Nagato I already had on the Stage wasn’t under threat. Both Summer Festival Nagatos managed to survive the turn, so that on the following turn I could get the complete trio out. The game then turned into protect Nagato, whilst building up my hand and Stock.
The Witch counter and another copy of Kimidori helped make sure my Stage could not be broken, and with 2 copies of the anti-Climax counter in my hand, I was pretty sure I’d be safe. Thanks to some fortunate cancels my opponent’s Hecate could not break my defences, meaning that in the end I was facing a completely empty Centre Stage on the turn I finally drew the right Climax.
This allowed me to heal away 3 damage, and put Kimidori back on top of the Clock, ready to weather more attacks. However I won that turn, whilst still at 2/1, making the set up unnecessary.
For what turned out to be the final game of the day, I switched to my weakest non-gimmick deck, which is my Tabitha deck. It features nearly purely Tabitha cards, with the only exceptions being her familiar, Sylphid, and one of the Louise Concentrates. Since the deck is mostly full of vanillas and unremarkable cards, its only real play is to try and get a Level 2 8500 with Encore out during Level 0, which did not happen here.
It was facing off against a Green Rewrite deck, featuring Lucia and Shizuru, which has just a few more tricks up its sleeve.
I started off the game with several copies of Sylphid, and Tabitha of the Yukikaze, which is quite frankly one of the few good cards in the whole deck, so I was expecting to have a pretty good start to the game. Unfortunately though, my opponent Changed into two copies of the 1/0 6000 Shizuru on turn 1, which put me in a bit of trouble.
I managed to force suicides though, thanks to 3 copies of Sylphid and 2 Tabitha of the Yukikaze and a Climax card. This did dent my hand quite a bit.
Once the game progressed beyond Level 0, my deck struggled to put anything too impressive on the Stage, having to make do with the 1/1 vanilla, until Louise finally brought back the Level 1 with Change.
From here on I kept on getting luck with Climaxes, which allowed me to do better in the game than I really should have done. First of all, my opponent Changed out the Level 3 Lucia, who got bounced away by a Wind Trigger on the next turn. Then they played Shizuru a Level early, who also got bounced away on the following turn.
When the game finally reached Level 3 properly, they could both be played normally, and thanks to Lucia’s Climax combo, my Centre Stage was soon empty, and I’d taken large amounts of damage. This left me at about 3/5 compared to their 3/0. Even at the best of times the Tabitha deck wouldn’t be able to break their field, and my hand was far worse than that. Aside from the bounce Climax combo, the deck really cannot do much about Level 3s with a decent Power.
Even though I had options to play from my Hand, I decided to take my chances with Louise, and happened to hit two Climaxes, bringing back two copies of the 1/0. I added to this the Great Performance version of the Level 3, and decided to ram everyone into my opponent’s cards, hoping for a little bit of damage, and then maybe to cancel lots with an empty Stage next turn.
Instead I attacked with a 1/0, hit a 2 Soul Trigger and it went through. Then the same thing happened with the other 1/0. Then finally the Level 3 hit, once again for 3 damage, which also wasn’t cancelled. Somehow I won that game, even though in all honesty I probably should have lost. From what I could tell, I think my opponent was getting a bit of gentle mocking from his friends for managing to lose to a Tabitha deck of all things.
After that my opponent and his friends had to pack up and head off home, so after our thank yous, I also decided it was enough cards for one day.
Coincidentally during my games, another English speaker had arrived at the shop and had been playing my first opponent, and we ended up exchanging details with the chance of playing or meeting again in the future.
Please visit again, and maybe you’ll get to hear more about some of the TCG related activities I get up to.