Hello everyone! For a new series of articles I’m going to be looking at some of the fundamental concepts and plays in Weiβ Schwarz. For those new to the game it should help you gain a better understanding of how the game works. For those that have played for a while, I hope it might help you play better, and give you more to think about. Up first I’m going to be tackling Encore, which will soon become very important for English players, due to the impending release of Angel Beats! in July.
What is Encore?
In Weiβ Schwarz, games are meant to be a performance between the two players to see whose series is the best. This is why you have zones like the Centre and Back Stage, and the Waiting Room, which is where cards go when they leave the Stage. This is unlike other games which have Graveyards or similar, because you can’t be killing off player’s favourite characters. That would just make them upset.
Encore is the mechanic that allows characters to return to the Stage after being sent to the Waiting Room, just like if they were doing a real stage performance. By game mechanics every card in the game has an inbuilt Encore which costs 3 Stock. Plenty of cards also exist which can use Encore via alternative methods, or give other types of Encore to your cards.
One of the most commonly used types of Encore involves discarding a card from your Hand to the Waiting room, such as for [Battlefield Konata]. Some series even have cards which can give this type of Encore to all of your cards, such as [Sending Everyone Off Kanade] from Angel Beats!. For shorthand, this is normally called Hand Encore.
Another commonly used type involves placing the top of your Deck into the Clock, such as with [Girl of Destiny Akari]. This will usually be known as Clock Encore. Dog Days’ introduced a variation of Clock Encore, which places cards from the Waiting Room into the Clock, such as [Wave-Riding Hero Nanami].
It’s also possible to find cards which have lower Stock costs, such as [Guard Maid Rouge] who costs 2, or [Hayate & Rein] who can give everyone Encore for 1 Stock. It’s fairly uncommon to see these used.
Any other types of Encore beyond this are fairly rare, and barely used, such as [Queen of Fyrlandt Riemsianne] who needs a Climax discard and [“Bluffing” Yoshimoto Imagawa] who sends a character from Stage to Clock. There are also odd cards like [“Self-Loving” Twenty] who costs 1, and places a certain card on the bottom of your deck. These are pretty much one-offs though, so it’s not really worth worrying about them.
How does it work?
So now that you know what Encore is, the next thing you need to know is how does Encore actually work? The majority of the time Encore will take place during a part of the Attack Phase known as the Encore step, where you are allowed to Encore any of your Reversed characters.
However, this isn’t the only time it can happen! Any time a character goes from the Stage to the Waiting Room you may use Encore to bring them back. It doesn’t matter if they lost a battle, were sent there by an effect, or had another card played on top of them, they can always be Encored. Although I’d really advise not doing it in the latter case.
When you Encore a card, you pay the associated Cost and then place the card back on the Stage in the same position it was before, but in Rest. Both of these facts are important, because it can affect the Power distribution on the Stage if you bring them back in the wrong position.
It is very important to remember that Encore does not happen until a character reaches the Waiting Room! When playing, most people will use shortcuts and just move a Reversed character to Rest when they Encore them during the Encore step. This makes it look like the card never left the Stage, and can be very confusing for new players.
Cards which gain Markers, such as [Asuna Takes Shelter], will lose them before you can Encore them. This is because they must go to the Waiting Room first, at which point all the Markers are lost. Questions about this card repeatedly come up because of the shortcuts people use to speed the game up, which have not been explained properly to newer players.
So, now that you know what Encore is and how to do it, you might be wondering what the point of it all is? At the most basic level it allows you to keep a character on the Stage that you wouldn’t have otherwise been able to. This means that you don’t need to replace that card on the following turn, or worry about drawing extra copies of that card.
If you are using Encore via Game Mechanics it will be because you do not have something better to replace it with. In the vast majority of cases, barring the few 3 Cost characters in the game, it is cheaper just to play another copy of the same card on the following turn. I really would not advise using this type of Encore on anything below 2 Cost, and not before you reach the end of the game, such as during Levels 2 to 3. Any other kinds of Encore which involve Stock are just cheaper variations of this.
Stock based Encore has the advantage of not needing other cards in your Hand, but it will prevent you from playing other cards, due to the fact you’re using up your Stock.
If you’re using Hand or Clock Encore, this allows you to keep characters around without worrying about Stock.
In the case of Hand Encore, you can get rid of a useless card in your hand, in order to keep a more powerful one on the Stage. For example, all of your Level 0 cards have now turned into extra copies of your higher Level cards. Since you also don’t need to replay the cards with Encore, you can save lots of Stock in the long run. Playing a 2nd copy of a 1/1 when the 1st is defeated would cost you 2 Stock, but using Hand Encore means you’ll only ever need to pay 1 Stock. This is much more noticeable for higher Cost characters.
With Hand Encore, you need to remember that you’re still losing a card, albeit a less useful one than the card you’re keeping on the Stage. So be careful not to give up too many cards by using Encore when you don’t need to!
Clock Encore does more or less the same thing as Hand Encore, except instead of losing a card from your Hand, you take 1 damage. Whilst this does move you closer to defeat, it essentially makes the Encore free. You lose no cards in the process, and get to keep the card that had been defeated. Sometimes you can even use the damage to your advantage, increasing your Level faster than your opponent would like. As such, Clock Encore is usually considered the most powerful variety of Encore, but also the most risky.
Some important things to consider when using Encore is what it will mean for the immediate game state.
When attacking, if your character only lost in battle due to an opponent’s Counter card, then it is possible that they cannot beat it without said Counter. So, if you Encore it, the opponent might not be able to beat it for a second time, and you not only save yourself some damage, but might even take out a second of your opponent’s cards in the process.
Equally when defending, it’s important to pay attention to how and why your opponent was able to defeat your card. If it was due to a Power boost from a Climax, Event or an ability which only lasts for one turn, then their Power will drop again during your turn. If you Encore your card, you’ll be able to strike back against their weaker card on the following turn, to make up for the card you lost previously.
Both of these scenarios demonstrate the power that Clock Encore has, because it allows you to get rid of your opponent’s cards without sacrificing any of your own.
How do I beat Encore?
Now that you know how powerful Encore can be, you might be wondering how to actually beat cards with it?
The most straightforward way is to simply play cards that are consistently bigger than the cards with Encore. If your opponent cannot beat your cards, it doesn’t matter that theirs keep on coming back. This is easiest to do against cards with built in Encore, because they usually sacrifice some Power to have that effect, but will be harder to pull off when the cards gain Encore via a support card, such as with Angel Beats!. Eventually they’ll either run out of cards, or just cause too much damage to themsevles.
Consistently having big cards isn’t something that every deck can manage though, so there are alternatives you can try.
One possibility is using cards which can Reverse cards of the same or lower Level when defeated. Currently I think English lacks these above Level 0, but decks like Evangelion for example have access to Level 1 versions, such as the [8th Angel]. Whilst this still causes an even trade-off with the opponent, your card will usually have a Cost than the opponent’s card, saving Stock in the long run.
Sometimes just winning battles isn’t enough, and you want to make absolutely sure that your opponent’s cards will not come back. One way to achieve this is to make it so your opponent’s cards do not make it to the Waiting Room. This could be done with cards like [Battle Ready, Hitagi Senjyogahara], who sends them back to the Deck, or [Heart of Yuzuru Kanade], who sends them to Memory. Be careful with the latter type of cards though, because it does mean your opponent will end up with less cards in their deck.
Another way is to shut down Encore completely, via cards like [“Mystic Eyes of Death Perception” Shiki], who has a Climax combo which completely turns off Encore for the turn, even via Game Mechanics. So as long as you can defeat your opponent’s cards, you know they won’t be coming back.
Given all this information, you might be wondering if there’s anything else you need to worry about when it comes to Encore? So far, most of what there is to know about Encore itself should have been covered, but there are also cards out there which can fulfill similar roles, often referred to as Pseudo-Encore. Since these cards do not use the Keyword Encore, they can get around anti-Encore cards like [“Mystic Eyes of Death Perception” Shiki].
One type of Pseudo-Encore is cards which give abilities equivalent to Encore, such as [Swimsuit Haruhi & Nagato], who allow you to bring back a defeated character in Rest for free. Another popular version of Pseudo-Encore are cards like [“Fate of Scattered Cherry Blossom” Sakuya], who sacrifices himself in order to bring one of your defeated characters back from the Waiting Room. Cost wise, this is functionally similar to Hand Encore, except that it could potentially be used with any of your characters.
Another form of Pseudo-Encore involves sending cards to Memory and bringing them back at some point in the future, usually your next turn, and often with an added bonus. An example of this kind of card is [Mikuru Asahina], who can send two cards to Memory and bring them back next turn with a Power boost. Whilst this does leave you open to direct attacks for a turn, it could allow you to save two characters from being sent to the Waiting Room, for only 2 Stock.
If you have any comments or questions, don’t hesitate to ask, and I’ll try to answer them if I can! If you’ve got any suggestions for what you’d like to see next time, please let me know.