Weiβ Schwarz Fundamentals: Starting the Game

10 May

On the request of a friend, for my latest article on the fundamentals of Weiβ Schwarz, I’m going to be covering the start of the game. For newcomers it is intended to clarify what happens during the first 2 turns of the game. Whilst for those looking to improve their game, I’ll be covering some strategy ideas and important cards for this point in the game.

Pre-Game

Weiβ Schwarz starts in a similar way to most other card games, but there are a few important differences to note. As usual, you’ll start by shuffling your deck. It is common courtesy to then allow your opponent to shuffle / cut the deck, as a matter of fairness.

Once the decks are ready to go, it’s time to decide who goes first. This should be done via a random method of your choice, such as a die roll or Rock Paper Scissors. The winner of this must go first and the loser second. You cannot choose who goes first when playing Weiβ Schwarz, it must be random.

Now it’s time to draw your opening Hand, which in Weiβ Schwarz is 5. Following this, you have Weiβ Schwarz’s version of a mulligan, where you are allowed to discard as many cards from your Hand to the Waiting Room as you like, and draw the same number. The player going first should do this first, and then the player going second should follow. In most games you’ll make your decisions independent of the opponent, but sometimes it’s to your benefit to pay attention.

Deciding which cards to keep from your first 5 and which ones to get rid of is an important choice that you need to make at the beginning of every game, so it’s important to understand why you’re doing this.

3Aliens

Hold onto powerful supports like this!

The most straightforward reason is to get cards that you can actually play at the start of the game. Sometimes you will open with lots of high Level cards, or support cards, and won’t actually have anything you’d want to play on the Centre Stage. So, by getting rid of your less useful cards, you get another chance to draw cards you can actually play. Unless you have a lot of them, for example all 4 copies, I would advise holding onto any low Level support cards you get. Even though you won’t want to attack with them, they will be important for helping your cards which can attack.

Exactly what you should be aiming for in your opening hand and what to get rid of will vary from deck to deck, but there are some general principles to think about.

Holding cards

Whilst it might seem like a good idea to focus on only Level 0 cards at the start of the game, because they’re all you can play at that point, it also pays to think ahead for the rest of the game. Keeping only Level 0 cards will mean that you won’t have any options for when you level up, and need to rely on drawing them later. If you keep a couple of higher Level cards in your hand from turn one, then you won’t need to worry about this. If your deck lacks salvage or search effects you need to be especially wary of this, because you’ll usually have no control over your future draws.

Most of the time, you’ll prioritise your cards in Level order, but as you’ll see later some decks do actually want high Level cards as soon as possible.

Bond and Change

Apples

Anyone who plays English should recognise this Kyoko.

Sometimes it’s not about what you keep, but what you get rid of. Depending on your deck, it might actually be more useful for your cards to be in the Waiting Room instead of your Hand.

Cards with Bond allow you to add a specific card from your Waiting Room to your Hand, so it would make sense to get the Bond target into the Waiting Room as quickly as possible.  As such, you can trade off a Bond target, which isn’t useful at the start of the game, for a new card, which will hopefully be more useful. Later you can just Bond it back and gain an extra card in the process. Thus, by discarding it from your opening hand, not only do you increase your chances of having a good start, but in the long run you have access to more cards than if you’d just kept it in your hand. Be careful though, because you won’t always draw the card with Bond in time.

No point keeping this in your first hand.

Cards with Change can exchange themselves for a more powerful card, often of a higher level, which in most cases will come from the Waiting Room. There are other types of Change, such as from Hand, but for the purposes of the start of the game I will just be focusing on this type. Much like with Bond, you will want the Change targets in the Waiting Room as quickly as possible, so you don’t need to worry about it later.

What to do with Climaxes?

Yaoi to the rescue!

Is it really worth it during Level 0?

Something which can be a tough decision when starting the game, is what to do with your Climaxes. The decision you make will be greatly influenced by what else is in your deck and precisely what type of Climax you have in your opening hand. If your deck plays early game Climax combos, then it could well be worth holding onto Climaxes to make sure you can use these combos. If you have late game combos, such as Level 2 or higher, then it is usually not worth holding onto a Climax for that long. Chances are you’d Refresh before you manage to use the combo, which will just leave you down one Climax in your deck.

Even if you’re not considering using the Climax for a combo, you might want to consider using it on its own merits. Climaxes can provide Power and Soul boosts, which can be helpful for winning battles, or ending the game faster. At the start of the game, you’ll be much more concerned about the former, because it’s much more immediate. If you push too hard for damage early on, you may find you can’t keep up Power wise for the rest of the game.

Asuka_climax

Climaxes which draw on being played won’t lose you cards early on.

Most Climaxes will not replace themselves, so you would need to be certain you’re not losing a card overall,  in exchange for a shot at some extra damage. As such, it is often a good idea to get rid of these kinds of Climaxes. Climaxes which do replace themselves, by for example drawing a card, are usually worth hanging onto. In the long run, resource wise,  it will be the same as discarding it from the opening hand, but you’ll get the effect of the Climax as well.

Something to also consider is whether your deck has cards which allow you to discard from your Hand. This could allow you to discard Climaxes later on. So, you might hang onto a Climax during the early game, in case you need it for a quick Power boost, but if you never use it, you can discard it later without losing any cards overall.

You should also be wary of exactly how many Climaxes you discard. If you have a very bad start and draw multiple copies in your first 5 cards, then it might seem like a good idea to get rid of them all. Which from the point of view of having playable cards, it is. However, it will also let your opponent know that you’ve already gone through that many climaxes, allowing them to more confidently go for bigger hits.

Experience

Shinji, why didn't you help?

Some cards want to be in your Level slot.

Another matter that some decks need to think about is Experience. This is a mechanic where you add up the total Level of the cards in your Level slot, and if you’ve got enough, your cards with Experience can gain extra Power or extra effects. If you’re playing an Experience based deck you want this out of the way as quickly as possibly, so you have one less thing to worry about late game. As such, it can be wise to hold onto higher Level cards, so you can Clock them immediately.

 

Once you’ve both sorted your opening 5 cards, it’s time to actually start playing.

Turn 1

At the start of your turn you would normally Stand all of your Rested characters, but since on the first turn you have none, you move straight onto drawing a card.

Clocking

After this, you can place 1 card from your Hand into the Clock in order to draw 2 more cards. In essence, you’re taking 1 damage in order to gain an extra card. There is no reason not to do this at the start of the game, because there will still be another 27 damage to go before you lose.

When considering what to Clock you will run through more or less the same procedure for discarding cards from your hand. As before, you will probably prioritise cards that are useful now, or in the near future, but you should also make considerations for the long term. In addition to Experience noted earlier, you should also start thinking about Colour requirements. If you play a mixed colour deck, then you need to think about what colours you’ll need for later levels. If you can Clock it now, then you hopefully won’t need to worry about it later.

Jun

Look out for the Clock Logo. Be careful that older cards didn’t have it.

If you have a card with Shift, then you might want to Clock that so you can add it back to your Hand afterwards if you don’t get anything better.

What to play / do turn 1?

Once you have your first 7 cards, the question now is, what to do with them? Since it’s the first turn, you’ll only be able to play your Level 0, Cost 0 cards, so you can’t just drop your most powerful cards right away. At least you don’t need to worry about colour restrictions.

WS_BM_S15_E055

An excellent starting play.

On the first turn, you can only attack with 1 character, so it only makes sense to play 1 character to the Centre Stage. They can gain you a stock and in most cases give you a shot at between 2 and 4 damage. It might be tempting to play additional characters alongside them, to prevent Direct Attacks on the next turn, but this is not worth it. Those extra characters will not gain you any Stock, will not defeat anything in battle immediately, and will not cause any damage to the opponent. All they can do is maybe prevent 1 damage, and sometimes they’re actually worse, because you might have cancelled on the 2nd damage.

In addition, these cards will be left open for your opponent to attack on the following turn, and if they defeat them, you will have lost cards for no gain on your part. You will essentially be handing your opponent an advantage on turn 1.

Often, you’ll want to play a powerful card on the first turn, in the hope that your opponent won’t be able to defeat it. This will mean you’ll take a direct attack instead, but you won’t lose any cards. However, you need to be aware that many decks have Level 0 Reversers, which can take out other Level 0s when they lose in battle, forcing an even trade off. You might consider playing a Reverser yourself on turn 1, in the hope that you will at least get an even trade off with it, but beware there are certain cards which are immune to these effects, leaving you a card down.

Where am I?

Can you catch Azusa?

Two of the most powerful types of cards you can play during Level 0 are known as ‘Runners‘ and ‘Loners‘, which are covered in detail in the linked articles. Needless to say, if your deck has them, it’s a good idea to play them on turn 1.

If you don’t have any powerful or useful cards to play on Turn 1, you need to start thinking long term. Chances are, the cards you could attack with are going to lose in battle, due to being underpowered. This might be because they need other cards around to become stronger, or because you only have support cards. If your deck needs Stock for later, it can be worth attacking with one of these cards, because you can make up for the loss later. However, it’s not the end of the world if you have to pass the first turn without attacking. It’s also worth remembering that sometimes your opponent has just a bad an opening as you do, so your cards won’t always be defeated immediately.

Be very careful with your supports though, since it will rarely be worth sending one of them out to the Centre Stage. Not only are you likely to lose a card next turn, but all your other cards will be weaker due to the loss of a support. If you have more than two of them in your opening hand, or it isn’t vital to your long term game plan, then you might consider attacking with them.

Whilst we’re on the subject of supports, it’s worth remembering that very little in this game, especially during Level 0, can hit cards that are Back Stage. Thus, there is generally little reason not to play your support cards Back Stage as soon as you can. There are of course exceptions to this, such as cards which have a bonus effect on the turn you play them, which you’ll want to save. Alternatively, you might just want to keep more cards in your hand for later.

Turn 2

The start of turn 2 is pretty much the same as for turn 1, except now the player going second will have a better idea of what their opponent has, and how to combat it. This will influence your choices of what to Clock and what to play.

I can attack 3 times, but should I?

An important change is the fact that going second means that you can attack up to 3 times, rather than the 1 allowed on the first turn. This makes it very tempting to attack with 3 cards, especially since 2 of them are practically guaranteed to be direct attacks. This can build up a lot of Stock and deal out a lot of damage as soon as the game starts.

However, this is often not the most sensible way to start the game, because it leaves you open to retaliation. Assuming you can get over your opponent’s lone card, you’ll take out 1 of their cards in the process. When your opponent retaliates, they could take out all three of yours. This means you’ve just traded off 3 of your own cards in order to take down 1 of your opponent’s, which is very bad for you resource wise. This could be mitigated with Reversers, but leaving them out in the open allows your opponent the chance to play around them, or take them down with a less valuable card.

It is possible for you to retaliate in kind on the next turn, but this will become harder and harder to do as the game wears on, especially since you’ll be at a 2 card disadvantage.

In the unlikely event you hit your opponent to Level 1 immediately, things can be even worse for you, because not only are you likely to lose 3 of your cards, but you’re then likely to lose even more on the following turn, because your Level 0s won’t be able to keep up Power wise. If you keep on filling the Stage, you could end up losing 6 cards whilst only taking out 1 of your opponent’s. If you try and mitigate the losses by reducing the number of cards on your Stage, you’ll then be giving away the Stock and Damage advantage you built earlier.

If you’re paying attention to what your opponent has, this type of strategy can sometimes pay off. If it’s clear they’ve got a bad opening hand, and cannot fight back, then it might be worth trying to rush early. Just be aware that they’ll be getting 3 new cards next turn, which could allow them to turn things around. If they’re out lots of Climaxes already, then it can be worth trying to end things as quickly as possible, just be warned, you’ll probably be losing lots of cards later.

If I’m not attacking 3 times, what should I be doing?

Usually, the safest option will be to try and match the opponent, and only commit as many resources as they have. So if they’ve only played 1 card to the Centre Stage, you should try and do the same. This will usually mean that at worst you’ll end up with an even trade off.

The first thing to consider is whether you can beat your opponent’s card in battle, without expending too many resources to do so. If you can play something bigger than your opponent, which won’t cost you any cards, then this is one of the best ways to start. You’ll be 1 card up, and know that at least some of your opponent’s cards can’t deal with yours.

It can be very tempting to use a Climax to help you over a card, but unless the Climax card replaces itself, it’ll still be an even trade off, and you’ll have used up a potentially powerful card that could have been saved for later.

Kyon_koizumi

These two can deal with just about anything.

If you can’t deal with your opponent’s card by overpowering it, you might be able to deal with it via some other effect, such as a Reverser. This will at least force an even trade, and get rid of a potentially powerful threat. Just be careful of cards which are immune to these kinds of effects. If your opponent put out a Reverser of their own, then you’ll be best off sending a weaker card after it, or if you can something which is immune to it. That way you’ll either get to save your good cards for later, or make their effect go to waste.

When Reversers are involved, this can be a good chance to increase your damage output, without leaving yourself too open to counterattack. Since Reversers will usually leave a section of the Stage empty, whether it’s your own Reverser or your opponent’s, it’s much easier to play a second card alongside them. You can get a direct attack in, and at worst you’ll go down 1 card. Just be careful of  pushing your opponent up a Level too fast.

If you cannot deal with your opponent’s card, then feel free to simply attack around it to cause some damage. Just remember that you don’t always want to be giving up a card that could be useful later, just to get some damage in now.

With the first 2 turns over, you can now start building up the Stage and your resources, but this isn’t the place for that discussion.
If you’ve got any comments, or anything else you’d like to hear about, feel free to drop me a message below the article.

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One Response to “Weiβ Schwarz Fundamentals: Starting the Game”

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  1. The WS Almanac Reading List – Weiss Schwarz Almanac - October 14, 2017

    […] Weiβ Schwarz Fundamentals: Starting the Game, by Xagor […]

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