After a long break I’m finally back to looking at some of the basics of the game. Today I’m going to be looking at a type of effect that will often get overlooked by newer players, Brainstorm.
What is Brainstorm?
Brainstorm is an effect, where you reveal a number of cards from the top of your deck, before sending them to the Waiting Room. Then you perform a special action based on the cards you revealed. The most common variety of this effect involves revealing 4 cards, then performing an action based on the number of Climaxes revealed. Other less common variations can include looking at the number of characters revealed, or varying the number of cards revealed. Most of the time Brainstorm will be attached to a character card, but Event cards like [Operation Tornado] can also have Brainstorm effects.
Brainstorm effects can be roughly split into two types, based on whether or not you can use the effect multiple times within a turn. Generally speaking non-repeatable effects will have an activation cost, such as Resting the card, meaning that outside of rare instances where you re-Stand a character, you cannot use the effect again. By their very nature Event cards also cannot be used multiple times.
There are some effects that are strictly speaking repeatable, but come with a prohibitively high cost to doing so. This includes cards like [Quiet Character Nagato], whose Stock cost is simply too high to warrant using more than once per turn (or even per game), or[Homura Watches Over], whose effect could be used multiple times, but would require resting most of your Stage to do so.
A noticeable difference between these two types of Brainstorm is the relative strength of the end results. Repeatable ones will usually at best only provide indirect advantage, such as Power boosts, whereas non-repeatable ones will usually give you raw card advantage when they succeed.
Most repeatable Brainstorms follow the same template of pay 1 Stock, reveal 4 cards, then get an effect for every Climax revealed. Since the only requirement is to pay Stock, these cards can be used again and again until you run out of Stock. Some 2 Stock versions do exist, but they’ll rarely see play.
One variety of these effects buffs the stats of the cards you currently have on Stage. For example [Xmas Party Kyon’s Sister] can increase the Soul of your characters, whilst [Blade User, Klein] can increase their Power. Power reduction cards do exist, but these seem to be fairly rare at the moment. If a card can only buff its own stats, such as [Kendo Girl, Suguha], then the gain will usually be much greater than if the boost can be applied to anyone.
A Soul boost doesn’t grant you any advantage in terms of field presence, or general card numbers, but can be used to help you win the game when you’re behind on damage. A Power boost on the other hand can contribute directly to a stronger field presence by allowing you to defeat more cards.
Other varieties of Brainstorm allow you to replace one of your older cards with a new one. This could be via salvage, such as cards like [Daunting Gaze Yuri], or searching, such as cards like [Royalty of Gallia Tabitha].
On rare occasions you will find repeatable Brainstorms that will gain you cards, but these may require you to succeed with fewer cards revealed. For example, [Paranormal Authority, Meme Oshino] lets you draw cards, but you need to find a Climax within 2 cards, rather than the normal 4. [“Railgun” Mikoto] allows you to get rid of your opponent’s cards, but is restricted to Cost 0 cards, meaning that her effect will become useless as the game goes on.
There are doubtless other varieties out there, but these cards are few and far between, and rarely see use anyway.
Non-repeatable Brainstorms tend to have additional costs over paying 1 Stock, such as Resting the Character, or Resting multiple Characters. In exchange for mostly being able to use them once per turn, you get access to more powerful effects, which often give you direct card advantage.
This includes searching effects such as [Homura Watches Over], salvage effects such as [Silica’s Unyielding Trust], drawing effects such as [“Never Ending Song”Hatsune Miku], or Clock swap effects such as [“Good Idea” Eli].
Other varieties might allow you to bring cards directly to the Stage, for example [Strong Bond Louise].
There are many other varieties aside from these, but they aren’t seen that often, and are usually just upgrades of other versions. This could mean huge power boosts, multiple salvages or even burn damage.
Why use them?
Brainstorms might be able to give you powerful effects, but they’re not reliable enough to build your plans around. More often that not, they’ll fail to work, and will simply leave you with one less Stock than you had before. So, you might ask yourself, why bother using them at all? If they’re probably going to fail just as much as they work, what’s the point in adding another element of luck to the game? There must be reasons people use them, beyond just their potential effect?
One reason is that it gives you a controllable way to pay out Stock. If you have a Climax stuck in Stock, you can use a Brainstorm to pay it out. This can be useful early game when you don’t necessarily have cards with inbuilt Stock costs. It also gives you a way to pay Stock out without committing extra resources to the Stage, because your Brainstorm will usually be sitting Back Stage already.
Another is that Brainstorm offers you a way to thin your deck and reduce the damage you take. If you’ve got a bad Climax : Non-Climax ratio in your deck, or even zero Climaxes left, then a Brainstorm can be used to fix this.
Don’t view a failed Brainstorm as losing a Stock for no reason, view it as reducing your potential damage by 4. When you’re out of Climaxes, a Brainstorm can be the difference between staying in the game and losing next turn.
Is there anything you can do about them?
Unfortunately, there are very few cards in the game that interact with your opponent’s Brainstorm, and usually only in a passive way to try and discourage the opponent from using it. For example [Smart & Bright Ritsuko] allows you to draw 1 and discard 1 if they hit any Climaxes. Whilst [Dress Up Mikuru] lets you give a card -2000 Power if you discard a card, allowing you to get rid of the Brainstorm card in question.
Anything else worth knowing?
If you’re going to be using Brainstorm, it’s worth knowing about a couple of technical issues with them, such as what happens if you deck out whilst using the effect.
The first thing to note is that since the cards for the Brainstorm are revealed before being sent to the Waiting Room, they will still be in resolution when you deck out. This means they will not be shuffled back into the deck.
Secondly, you will finish the effect of the Brainstorm before taking Refresh damage. This can be especially important for cards which let you draw or search your deck, because it will completely change which card ends up in your Clock.
If you have any extra questions about Brainstorm, don’t hesitate to drop me a message. You can either ask them on here, or ask me on Twitter @Xagor1. In the same vein, if you have any other topics you’d like to see covered, please let me know.