For my second article looking at some of the fundamentals of Weiβ Schwarz, I’m going to be looking at a type of card commonly referred to in the community as ‘Runners’. These are powerful cards, that on the surface might not look that strong. I’m going to be covering what they are, how to use them, and how to beat them.
What are they?
Runners are cards which can move to an empty slot on your Centre Stage at the beginning of your opponent’s Attack Phase. This essentially allows them to run to or from battles, hence the name. Although, given their Power they’ll usually be doing the latter.
Why are they useful?
This effect might not seem that useful at first, because if you’re running from a battle, it means you’ll be taking a direct attack, and thus more damage. On the one hand, more damage means you’re getting closer to defeat, on the other hand, your deck might want to get to Level 1 faster than your opponent.
This is usually a minor concern compared to the main reason for using a Runner. By being able to run away from a battle, it means your opponent can’t get rid of your card. This means you can build Stock and damage on the following turn without needing to play any other cards. You don’t need to worry about the cards you draw being immediately useful, and can instead concentrate on the long term.
Once your Runner evades your opponent’s attacks, you can then use your other cards to defeat the characters they played onto the Stage. You need to be careful of filling your Stage up though, because it gives the Runner less space to run into. In this way, teaming a Runner and a Reverser up can be very useful, because it gives the Runner full freedom to move next turn, whilst also making an even trade with your opponent.
If your opponent has played a weak card, then sometimes you might even be able to have your Runner run towards a battle, rather than away from it, which can save you a little bit of damage.
How do I beat them?
The simplest way to beat a Runner is to play 3 characters to your Stage. There will be nowhere for it to run, and you can take it down in battle. If you don’t have enough characters to do this, then most decks will be unable to beat the Runner until they do. Be warned, that having to play 3 characters to the Front Stage carries with it a big risk. Your opponent could retaliate on the next turn, taking out all 3 of your cards, with them only losing their Runner. This is why these cards can be so deadly, because they force the opponent to make plays they don’t want to.
Every deck can beat runners by putting 3 characters out, provided they have enough Power to actually beat the Runner. Reversers also work, but they will only cause an even trade off with the opponent. What makes Runners so problematic is that all 3 of your characters need to be able to take them out, otherwise they’ll just run in front of the card that can’t beat them.
Runners with a bonus effect, such as [“3 Idiots” Suginami & Yoshiyuki & Wataru] have 1500 Power, which means they can be taken down in battle by just about anything. Even some support cards can at least suicide into them, making them the easiest to stop.
A step up from this are cards like [Admiration for Onee-Sama Kuroko], who just have the Runner effect and 2000 Power. This is a little harder to deal with, especially once factoring in supports, but even then, vanillas can at least match it.
At the very top end you have [Easily Lost Azusa], who has a negative effect, but comes with 2500 Power. There’s a good reason why this card is restricted to a ‘Choose X’ in Neo-Standard and outright banned in Standard. Supports could see her go as high as 3500, and thanks to cards like [Off Time Makoto], she can even become immune to Reversers. If you want to get a clean hit against her, you’ll possibly need to reach 4000 Power across your entire Stage, which can be problematic, and will often require you to have supports of your own to pull it off. Having to commit 4 to 5 cards to beat a Runner is a tall order, and you won’t always be able to draw these cards anyway.
An alternative way around Runners is to use cards which can send Level 0 cards to the Waiting Room, such as [Contractor to Tiamat Wilhelmina], who can do it for 1 Stock. You don’t need to worry about chasing after the Runner, and can just take it out at your leisure. Don’t go too overboard with these kinds of effects though, because you’ll still need your Stock for later. Unfortunately, [Easily Lost Azusa] can still get around this type of effect, because [Off Time Makoto] can make her a Level 1 during your turn.
Another way to deal with Runners is to use cards which stop them running away. The only example of which that I know off the top of my head is [“Curious Gaze” Yuiko] from Little Busters. Yuiko can trap the Runner in place, and then take it down with her Reverser effect. Unfortunately, this still wouldn’t work against the Azusa and Makoto combo mentioned above, which compounds just how good Azusa is.
If you lack any means to actually defeat the Runner, you can just choose to ignore them. You’ll both keep on getting Stock and direct attacks, because the Runner will prevent battles from happening. Just be mindful of the fact that your opponent will be able to start picking your characters off first.