For my latest article on some of the fundamentals of Weiβ Schwarz I’m going to be looking at a variety of cards often referred to in the community as ‘Loners’. These are important to look out for at the start of the game, so it can be useful to know how to utilise them, and how to beat them.
What are they?
Loners, as the name might suggest, are cards which get more powerful when they’re on their own. There are several different varieties of this effect, both in terms of how alone the cards need to be, and what extra effects are gained. Usually, the fewer cards that are allowed to accompany them, the more powerful Loners can become.
Generally speaking, most loners will gain a Power boost of 1,000, with an extra bonus on top. These bonuses can include character Encore, immunity to Reversing effects, an extra Level, or just more Power.
It’s also worth noting that Loner style support cards exist, such as [Butler of Werewolves Fenrich], which give large boosts when there is only 1 other character around. These kinds of cards become especially powerful when teamed up with the 1 character or fewer style of Loner cards.
For the purposes of this article I’m going to be focussing on Level 0 Loners, because they’re the most commonly used and most useful varieties. However, cards like [Supreme Overlord Baal] also exist, but are intended more as fun cards. Baal for example will become a 20,000 Power 4 Soul that can send cards to Clock when he’s on his own.
Why are they useful?
Loners are useful primarily because they’re big and hard to get rid of. Their high Power makes it difficult to beat them in battle, and their bonus effects make it hard to get rid of them via alternative means. This will allow you to pick off your opponents cards from the very start of the game, and also provides a reliable way to gain Stock.
Since Loners work best when you have fewer cards around, it means you don’t need to worry about drawing several combo pieces at the start of the game. Unless they have their own Loners, your opponent will probably need to have several cards at their disposal to take yours down, which is harder to do. Since you just need fewer cards at the start of the game, you can then focus on cards for later in the game.
I’m now going to look at some of the common bonuses that these kinds of cards can gain, and why that is useful.
The most basic kind purely grants Power, putting your card at 4,000. For some decks this can be difficult to beat in a straight fight, because without your own over-sized characters, it can often take 3 cards just to reach the same Power. These kinds of cards are still vulnerable to all types of character removal.
Up next is immunity from Reversing effects, which is useful because it eliminates one of the methods for getting rid of big characters. Your opponent will likely be forced into dealing with your Loner directly, instead of getting an easy even trade. If you can find a way to increase their Power even further, such as with the Fenrich support in Disgaea, these cards become quite a threat. Not only will your opponent not be able to get rid of them with extra effects, but getting rid of them in battle will be difficult for most decks.
Up next is cards which can gain a Level. This is basically a slightly more powerful version of the previous effect, since it provides protection against all varieties of Level 0 Reversing effects. It also means that your opponent cannot just side attack your Loner, since they’ll likely cause no damage.
There are some rare cases where immunity to Reversing will be more useful than gaining a Level, such as when facing Level 1 Reversers, or cards which do not Reverse based on Level.
Finally we have gaining Encore, which allows you to maintain your Stage. This can help mitigate the damage from Red Reversers, because even though you’ll both still be losing a card, you know you’ll have something to attack with on the next turn. Unfortunately, it still doesn’t help against the Green or Yellow varieties.
Encore is also useful for when your opponent can beat your card in battle, because you’ll be able to keep your character around, which is not the case for every other Loner. Sometimes your opponent might only be able to achieve enough Power whilst attacking, or for one turn, so you can then retaliate with the Loner on the next turn.
How do I beat them?
There are 3 main ways to get around Loners, but they aren’t all available to every deck.
One method is to work around their extra strength. Except for the Loners which gain a Level, alternative Reversers such as [Kyon & Koizumi] in Yellow and [Summer Camp Noir] in Green can deal with them all. These kinds of effects also permanently get rid of the Loners with Encore, which can really put a dent in the plans of decks which were hoping to ride them all the way to Level 1. However, these effects are rare, and not available to the majority of the sets out there.
It’s possible to work around the Level 1 Loners if you have a card which can Reverse based on Cost such as [“Big Sister” Kyou], but these are also rare.
Another method is to overpower them, but this can often be easier said than done. Since you’ll usually have access to more support cards, you can use them to help overpower the Loner, but this requires more cards and a greater investment on your part. It’s less likely that you’ll be able to get the 3 or so cards that you’ll need to beat the Loner than the 1 or 2 your opponent needs to set up their Loner.
This becomes easier if your deck has access to over-sized Level 0s that don’t take too much effort to play. Lots of sets have cards with 3,500 and small drawbacks, whilst some sets even have access to cards that start at 4,000, such as [Emergency Conscription Ayanami]. If you can match or even beat Loners without needing supports you should be at an advantage.
There are also cards which gain a quick burst of Power, like [Usual Nagato] who can be used to push over Loners. Be careful against those with Encore, because your opponent will be able to retaliate next turn.
The final option is to just ignore them. If you can’t beat Loners you can still attack around them for a Direct Attack. Unfortunately with this method, you’ll probably keep losing cards, because your opponent can pick your characters off. If you’ve got access to cards like [Nagato Yuki], which gain Power in the opponent’s turn, you might not be able to beat the Loner, but the Loner can’t beat your character either, putting you at a temporary stalemate. Alternatively, if you use a Runner you can try to force the opponent to fill their Stage, thus making their Loner’s effect useless.