Log Horizon Overview: Living in the Database

Log Horizon was a much hyped Extra Booster when it originally appeared in Japan, partly thanks to unique cards like the Level 3 Shiroe and the relatively high density of good cards. However, this hype died down fairly quickly, with the deck disappearing from the competitive scene within a few weeks. The set is about to make an appearance in the English game, so I think it’s about time to revisit the set.

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Weiβ Schwarz Fundamentals: Experience

For the latest in my series looking at some of the fundamentals of Weiβ Schwarz, I’m going to be looking at another keyword in the game, Experience.

What is Experience?

Hitagi

You need to be careful when aiming for 6 Experience!

Experience is a game mechanic, introduced in Melty Blood, which adds another layer of strategy to the cards you place in the Level slot. Normally you only need to think about the Colour of the cards you place in the Level slot, since this is what allows you to play your higher Level cards to the Stage. With Experience you also need to consider the other aspects of the cards.

The most common type of Experience, and the one most familiar to English players, is Level Experience. One famous example of which is [Girl Who Met a Crab, Hitagi Senjyogahara] from Bakemonogatari. For Level Experience you add up the Level of all of your cards in the Level slot, then if it is equal to or greater than the requirement on your card with Experience, you’ll gain a bonus effect.

Typically lower Level cards will look for Experience of between 1 and 3, whilst Level 3s can go as high as 6. Sometimes lower Level cards will have  a powerful effect that requires an Experience of 4 or more, to prevent it from being used early in the game.

Louise

Who’d have thought an easy to play Level 2 healer could be a problem?

Another type is Name Experience, where the card with Experience checks your Level slot for cards with specific names. The most famous examples are [Louise, Royalty’s Duty] and [Takane of Ancient Capital], who were both powerful enough to become restricted cards.

Both cards reduce their Level by 1 once you reach their Experience requirement, allowing you to play them during Level 2. In the case of Louise you needed two specific cards in your Level, whilst Takane only needed a copy of herself. In the latter case, whilst this meant you could only actually use 3 copies of Takane, you could easily fit her into many decks, because her Colour requirement would be met at the same time.

SK

Don’t expect to see this type of Experience played much

A very rare type of Experience is Attribute Experience, which (to the best of my knowledge) only belongs to a handful of cards, namely a PR from The Girl Who Leapt Through Space and two Shana cards. These cards check the Attributes of the cards in your Level slot before gaining their effects.

What can I expect from Experience?

Asuka_1

Yes, Asuka looks unhappy in just about all of her cards.

Experience effects will usually give your cards extra Power, an extra effect or sometimes even both. The Hitagi, Louise and Takane cards mentioned above give you examples of some of the most powerful effects that can be gained thanks to Experience.

More ordinary, but still useful cards such as [Asuka, Unaccepting] are more powerful than their vanilla equivalents, and have relatively easy to fulfil requirements, which you will meet in nearly every game you play.

Unlike other cards which require a certain Stage set up, you don’t need to worry about your Experience cards suddenly losing their effects because your opponent has messed with your Stage.

How do I make use of Experience?

Shinji, why didn't you help?

Clocking a Level 3 on turn 1 can set you up for the whole game!

To properly utilise experience you need to take two matters into consideration. How you build your deck, and how you handle your Level slot and Clock.

If you’re going to play a Level Experience deck you will need to make your deck top heavy enough that you’ll be able to meet their requirements easily.

If you’re playing a deck such as Evangelion which has lower requirements (3 for Red / Blue, 4 for Red / Yellow), then you probably won’t need to go too far out of your way to accommodate this. 6 or 7 Level 3 cards isn’t an unusual number even for a deck without Experience.

Decks like Bakemonogatari which need 6 to reach their full strength will need you to load up heavily to meet this. It’s not unusual to see them playing as many as 10 Level 3s, because not only do you need them in your Level slot, but you also want to be able to play your other copies as well.

Decks which use Name Experience just require you to include those cards in your deck, so as long as you remember that you’re fine.

When it comes to actually playing the decks, you need to pay careful attention to what cards end up in your Clock, either by damage or by Clocking them. If you start with high Level cards you can Clock them immediately and then not need to worry about Experience requirements for the rest of the game. Just be careful not to get Colour locked or missing Experience if you get stuck on 0/6.

For decks which need more than one card in the Level slot, it can be important to hold onto cards until later, so you can Clock them during Level 1. You don’t want all your Level 3 cards in your Clock at Level 0, or both of the cards for Louise, since only one at a time can enter your Level.

Thank you for reading, and hope you’ll come back for future articles. I’m starting to run out of keywords and general effects, so if anyone has any suggestions for future articles, please let me know.

Weiβ Schwarz Fundamentals: Bond

Welcome back to another look at the fundamentals of Weiβ Schwarz! This time I’m going to be covering another keyword that you’ll find on many cards.  I’ve already covered Brainstorm, Backup and Encore, so today I’m going to be looking at Bond.

What is Bond?

Apples

Everyone should know this card by now

If you’ve seen a card with Bond before, then you’ll be familiar with how they work, since Bushiroad provide full explanation text with the effect. If you haven’t, they all follow the format:

Bond/ “Card Name” [Cost] (When this card is played and placed on stage, you may pay the cost. If you do, choose a card named “Card Name” in your waiting room, and return it to your hand.)

Typically, the cost for a Bond with either be 1 Stock, or putting the top card of your Deck into the Clock. Stock Bond is the safer option because you don’t hurt yourself, and it has extra uses which we’ll get to later. Clock Bond is a more powerful effect, but also more dangerous because it will put you one step closer to losing. Clock Bonds allow you to save Stock for your other cards, and can be used as early as turn 1, whereas Stock Bond has to wait until turn 2.

Bond effects will usually be themed around the series they are in, so you’ll often find that characters who are friends or allies will have two cards linked by Bond. One of the most famous examples is [Kyoko Shares An Apple] and [Second-year of Mitakihara Middle School, Sayaka] from Madoka, who will form the backbone of many Madoka decks.

Why is it useful?

Bond is a useful effect for many different reasons, some of which are straightforward, others less so. The most obvious advantage that playing these cards has is that they give you extra resources. You trade a Stock or 1 damage for an extra card. This can give you an extra attacker, more options, or simply replenishes your Hand.

Clock Bond is especially powerful because you’re gaining 1 extra card with no real impact on your other resources. You can still play your other cards and effects, because your Stock is untouched. There might even be instances where the extra damage is to your advantage, because it can push yourself up a Level earlier than your opponent might like.

Mikoto

Full power Railgun was a bit ridiculous

However, from what I can tell there aren’t all that many Clock Bond cards in the game that are worth using. The cards involved are usually not great, old or from seldom played series. Probably the most notable is [Mikoto, Tokiwadai’s Lady] and her Bond to [Kuroko, Tokiwadai’s Lady] in Railgun, because it gives you easy access to a powerful 1/1. Since Kuroko is currently on the choice of 3 for the series, not all Railgun decks will opt to use this pair, instead preferring to use one of the other restricted cards. Other Clock Bonds like the one in Visual Arts are useful, but unlikely to be seen due to the rarity of the actual set.

Cards with Bond can also add consistency to your deck, because you’re essentially running extra copies of the Bond target, and have more chances to get your important card. Losing the Bond target through damage is much less of a concern, and you can afford to discard it via effects or at the start of the game. You know you’ll be able to get it back later, so you can exchange it for other cards which could be more useful right now.

It can even act as a sort of Encore , especially if the Bond target is free to play. When your Bond target loses in battle, you can just play the Bond on the next turn and go at it again.

Sayaka

Even vanilla cards can be powerful thanks to Bond!

Sometimes the two cards will also work together after you’ve used the Bond thanks to an extra bonus provided by one of the cards. The Kyoko & Sayaka combo mentioned earlier gives Sayaka an extra 1,000 Power, meaning she can reach 7,500 without too much effort, which is pretty good for a 1/0. It also means that even when you happen to draw the two cards together, the Bond card won’t go to waste because there’s nothing to get back with it.

A similar combo can be found with Araragi and Senjyogahara in Bakemonogatari. Sometimes the Bond can be a general use support, that also happens to be useful with its Bond target, as seen with [Patricia Martin] and [Battlefield Konata]

Beyond all of this, Bond can also be useful for paying out Climaxes from your Stock. Since they’re mostly Level 0, you can play them at any point in the game, and you’ll be loading up your Waiting Room with another Climax for when Refresh comes.

It’s important to pay attention to what is happening whilst you’re playing, because then you can keep track of where your Climaxes are, or even possibly where Bond target are, if you’ve yet to see any make it into your Waiting Room.

Thank you all for reading, and if you have any additional comments or ideas, such as what to cover next, don’t hesitate to drop me a message on here, or by contacting me via Twitter @Xagor1.

 

Weiβ Schwarz Fundamentals: Brainstorm

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?

Umi

You’ll be seeing lots of Umi!

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.

tornado

Even some event cards have Brainstorm

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.

Repeatable Brainstorms

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.

Kyon_sister

This card even saw play in decks where she was the only Kyon card

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].

Mikoto

Low cost decks hate Mikoto

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

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.

Homura

If you play English, chances are you’ve seen this card

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?

Konata

Sometimes, not losing is more important than extra cards!

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?

Mikuru

I always forget this card has 2 effects

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.

Weiβ Schwarz Fundamentals: Counters

Counters make up an important part of Weiβ Schwarz, because most of the time they’re the only chance you get to interact with your opponent during their turn. Before considering why you would want to play Counters, and when to play them, I’ll first cover some basics about the cards.

What are they?

Sayaka

One of the first counters English players come across

Counters, or Backups, are cards which have a Fist symbol on them. When your opponent Front Attacks one of your Characters, you can play a Counter from your Hand, provided you meet the activation requirements for the card, such as Level and Cost. You cannot use them if you are getting Side Attacked or Direct Attacked. You also cannot use more than 1 per battle, but you can use 1 for every battle during that turn.

Counters can come in both Character and Event varieties, with the former showing the keyword Backup on them. This is an important distinction to make, because there are cards such as [Mami Endures her Fate] which can block Backup, but not Event Counters. Event Counters will often have more powerful effects, but this is weighed off against the fact that they are not Characters.

An interesting difference between these two types of cards is that for Character Counters you do not need to follow Colour restrictions in order to use their Backup effect. So you could play a Red one in a completely Blue deck and never have to worry about whether you can play it or not.

You’ll be seeing a lot of this type of card soon!

For Event cards you have to follow the Colour restrictions, so you can’t just throw something like [Self-sacrifice] in all of your Sword Art Online decks.

Both of these types of cards can usually be played during your own turn, but this will often be as a last resort. Most Backup cards have no other effect, and will end up being severely underpowered vanillas. Although, some rarer cards, like [Monopolising? Asuka] do have bonus effects. Some types of Event cards, like [100M Shock], cannot be used during your own turn, because they specify battling character.

Why play Counters?

The most straightforward reason for playing Counters is to keep your characters from being defeated in Battle. Most Counters give your cards a Power boost, to help them win the battle they’re involved in. Your weaker characters can deal with characters they wouldn’t be able to if they were doing the attacking, and you can often take out characters which are a Level above them.

If you have cards which you want to keep on Stage for a long time, and they do not have Encore or a way to gain Encore, then Counters are the best way to achieve this.

What Counters to use?

The choice of Counters for your deck will rely entirely on what the series has access to, and what will work within your build. There’s no use playing a card that requires you to play Alien cards if your deck doesn’t have any Aliens in it.

The deck can use any help it can get...

Don’t discount vanilla counters!

The basic types of Counters in the game are the 1/0, which gives 1500 Power, the 1/1 which gives 2000 and the 2/1 which gives 3000. Sometimes you just want Power, so it’s absolutely fine to use these cards. It’s also worth considering these types of cards because they might have more useful attributes than some of the fancier Counters in the series.

If you can get more Power out of a Counter for the same Cost as the vanilla varieties, then it could be well worth considering those cards in your deck.

If you’re playing for Power, you need to consider at which point in the game your deck is lacking most, and thus where it will benefit most from them. If you need to protect your weaker Level 1 cards there’s no point loading up on Level 2 Counters.

Be careful about playing too many Counters in your deck, especially off-Colour characters, or Event cards, because sometimes you will be short on attackers.

When to play Counters?

The most important thing about playing Counters is using them at the right time. We’ve all had games where we’ve wasted a Counter during a battle we didn’t really need to, and then regretted it later. It’s very tempting to use a Counter at the first opportunity that presents itself, but you will often need to resist the temptation.

Asuka_counter

Do I really need to use this card right now?

There are many different factors you need to consider, and I suspect this probably won’t be a completely exhaustive list.

Firstly, you need to think about how important it is to save that character. If it’s a lower Level character that’s overstayed its welcome, is it really worth keeping it alive for another turn? Chances are its going to run into the same problem on the following turn.

Secondly, can you replace the character next turn or not? This is especially important late game, where attacking twice or 3 times can be the difference between winning and losing. If not, then it’s in your best interests to keep the character around on the Stage.

Next, can you beat the other character on your next turn anyway? Some cards have a big burst of Power on the turn they’re played, or via a Climax combo and will become weaker on the following turn. If that’s the case, then it might not be worth using a Counter if you could just play another character and beat it on the next turn. You’ll get to save the Counter for a more important battle, and will usually also save on Stock.

If you cannot beat the card during your turn, for example because it gets bigger in your turn, then it can be worth using a Counter so you don’t have to deal with it later.

Some cards will have effects that only work when they defeat something in battle, so if you can stop that, it will get rid of one headache for you.

You also need to consider how much damage you want to do on the next turn. If you counter, that will usually leave an empty slot on the opponent’s Stage, allowing you to Direct Attack next turn. If you’re behind on damage this can be just the boost you need to win the game, but if you want to hit for precise damage then it might be better to leave your opponent’s card alone.

On rare occasions, Counters can also be useful for fixing Climax problems. If your last attack on the previous turn was a Climax, and you’re close to Refresh, then it could be to your benefit to play a 1 Cost Counter. This can get your Climax back into your deck before its too late.

Notable Counters

To round things out, I’m going to be listing some of the notable Counters in the game. Since lots of clones exist in Weiβ Schwarz, many series will have essentially the same card, so I won’t bother covering every single example which repeats. Counters can be notable because of the Power they provide relative to their Cost, or because of the effects they grant outside of pure Power.

witch

One of my favourite cards

Split Counters, such as [Magician Nagato & Shamisen] let you split Power across two characters, potentially saving two characters instead of one. Or you can give all that Power to a single character, for an above Cost boost. Split counters usually have 500 more Power than their vanilla equivalents.

GDM

Coming soon to an English card game near you!

Oversized Event Counters, such as [Self-sacrifice] give you huge Power boosts relative to their Cost and Level, often beating out higher Level character Counters on brute strength. This is a trade off against a variety of downsides because of the fact they are not characters. In most decks you cannot search for them, or salvage them, making them harder to get into your Hand. You can also never use them to attack with.

Shiina

Log Horizon stole both of these last two cards from Angel Beats!

Aside from Power boosts, Counters will sometimes add on bonus effects, or even forgo Power boosts entirely. One well known example of the former is [Skill of 100 People Shiina], a card which allows you to refresh your deck. At an extra 2 Stock, this might seem like a high cost, just to remake your deck, but you have to consider all the benefits that you’ll get out of this.

Firstly, you’ll avoid Refresh damage, helping you stay in the game longer. Given that healing for 1 tends to cost 2 Stock, this is worth it cost wise. Secondly you can use it to fix Climax problems you’re having. By making your deck again you give yourself more chances to cancel, but you can’t guarantee this will actually happen.

Jupiter

This card was once restricted

Some counters can even heal damage, the most famous examples being [Sayaka’s Wish] from Madoka and [Battling Jupiter!] from IdolM@ster. Healing counters often come at a cheaper price than it would if attached to a character, but you are usually losing a card in the process to balance this out.

[Dark Hero] from Disgaea not only heals one damage, but also saves one of your defeated characters.

Jack

Be careful of the Jack Brothers!

Persona has access to a couple of unusual and costly counters which can prevent your opponent from getting in  a full set of attacks. [Jack Brothers] has a massive 4 Cost, but can outright stop one of your opponent’s characters from attacking. [Maggie’s Tarot Reading] does the same thing for a Stock less, but does mean you’ll have to bounce one of your characters in the process.

In a game where it can be so difficult to stop or prevent damage, cards like these give you one of the few ways to guarantee your survival.

Info

Send your opponent’s Climaxes to Canada

Another way to keep yourself alive is to mess with your opponent’s plans, and deny them their most powerful combos. [Unlinking Information] from Haruhi is one of the few cards in the entire game that can get rid of Climax cards, making Haruhi one of the few decks in the game that won’t fall to random Soul rushes.

sakura

You’ll either cancel everything, or lose horribly

As counter-productive as it might seem, another way to try and prevent damage is to make your opponent cause even more damage than they were aiming for. [100M Shock] from Lucky Star can give a card +6 Soul, whilst [Miracle of the Unwilting Cherry Blossom] from Da Capo gives all of your opponent’s cards +5 Soul and prevents them from Side Attacking.

These sorts of cards can save you by making it incredibly difficult for your opponent to actually cause any damage. Getting hit for 6+ is much more likely to get cancelled than 1 or 2 damage. That said, this type of card should really only be used when you’re sure you’ll lose otherwise. You don’t want to turn victory into defeat because of your own card.

Compass

Don’t see Brainstorm on too many counters

Another way to save yourself from damage is [Compass] from Kantai Collection. At worst when it fails it will put you two cards closer to a Climax. When it succeeds you’ll block your opponent’s damage. Often you would have cancelled the damage anyway, but it can block a 2 Soul hit if the Climax was on the 3rd card, which would otherwise have stuck.

WS_BM_S15_E079

JPN doesn’t have all the interesting Counters

Whilst it won’t necessarily stop all of your opponent’s damage, [Inner Feelings, Tsubasa Hanekawa] can be used to reduce an opponent’s card by 1 Soul, saving you from 1 damage. This is practically equivalent to a heal, especially given the 2 Stock cost.

clubroom

I’ve rarely used the bonus effect

A few counters out there can also modify the number of cards in your or your opponent’s deck, usually with the aim of making your deck smaller, and your opponent’s bigger. Cards like [Clubroom Nagato & Koizumi] let you put 2 cards from your opponent’s Waiting Room back into their deck. On top of making it less likely that they’ll cancel future attacks, it can also deny them cards they might want to salvage or change into. Often I don’t think the extra discard for this effect is worth it.

On the other hand, cards like [“Happy Spiral” Komari] will send cards off the top of your Deck to the Waiting Room, which will hopefully put you closer to cancelling your next attack. Unfortunately it will sometimes rob you of a cancel.

Misae

Early Level 3s beware!

Some counters, such as [Misae, as “Magical Girl Misarin”] can even outright get rid of your opponent’s cards, but only under specific circumstances. In this case Misae is a type of card that would often be called ‘anti-change’, because it’s most likely to be used against cards which have been brought out early via Change. The cost is massive, but will usually be about equivalent to what had to be paid for the early change.

Just another working day for an Idol

Just another working day for an Idol

Whilst on the subject of Change, it’s worth mentioning one of the most unusual Counters in the game, [Ichii-Bal] from Symphogear. It performs a pseudo-change during your opponent’s turn, which could be quite a surprise when a Level 3 suddenly appears.

Hopefully this has given you some food for thought on the matter of what counters to use in your decks, and when to actually use them. The quick overview of some of the more unusual or interesting counters in the game should also give you an appreciation of the variety that can be found in the game. I’ve no doubt missed off some very important cards from this list, so feel free to drop me any comments on the matter.

Any requests for future articles is also welcome.

Weiβ Schwarz Fundamentals: Reversers

For the latest in my line of articles on the fundamentals of Weiβ Schwarz, I’m going to be covering a type of card that you see in most decks, and goes by a variety of different names. This can include Reversers, Bombs and Suiciders to name but a few. Even though some varieties of the card don’t actually Reverse things, I tend to use that terminology. This is because Bushiroad usually goes out of their way to avoid saying people’s favourite characters die during games.

What are they?

Reversers are destined to be defeated in battle

At their most basic level, Reversers are cards which Reverse other cards when they themselves get Reversed in battle. This kind of effect is most commonly found amongst Red cards, but Yellow and Green varieties also exist. These latter two trigger under the same conditions, but perform different actions, such as sending cards to Stock. All of these effects have the same end result, which is to get rid of one of your opponent’s cards for one of your own.

Haruhi0

Some Reversers even have bonus effects!

Red Reversers, such as [Onsen Haruhi], will Reverse cards who defeat them, meaning that both characters involved in the battle will be sent to the Waiting Room later.

Kyon_koizumi

There’s no coming back from this effect!

Yellow Reversers, such as [Kyon & Koizumi], will send the card that defeated them to the top of the opponent’s Stock, whilst sending the bottom of their Stock to the Waiting Room. One drawback to be aware of with this effect is that sometimes you will help your opponent by digging out a Climax from the bottom of their Stock. Other varieties also exist, such as [Yosuke in Yukata] who bounces the card that defeats him back to your opponent’s hand and makes them discard a card.

noir

Now we just need Blue to complete the set

Green Reversers, such as [Summer Camp Noir], will send the top card of the opponent’s Clock to the Waiting Room, before replacing it with the character that defeated them.

To prevent these Reversing effects from being too powerful, they will usually be limited to taking out cards of their own Level. Thus Level 0 Reversers can take out Level 0 cards, Level 1 Reversers can take out Level 1 and below cards and so on. Most series have some variety of Level 0 Reverser, but these effects become rarer as the Level increases. Level 1 Reversers commonly see play if the deck has access to them, but Level 2 Reversers are rarely seen, even from decks which do have access to them.

Kyou

Even some Level 1s can’t escape Kyou

Another variety of this effect involves Reversing based on Cost, rather than Level, such as [“Big Sister” Kyou] . Reversers such as Kyou are thus able to get rid of both Level 0 and Level 1 cards.

Adachi

Cards which can be played earlier better beware of Adachi!

Other versions of this effect also exist, but they are relatively rare. This includes cards like [Top Brain of the Station Adachi] who can Reverse cards whose Level is higher than that of the person controlling it, or [Going on a New Trip Minatsu], which can reverse anything, provided specific cards are  in the Memory.

minatsu

Minatsu can create a terrifying combo with Usual Haruhi

Support cards which can grant this ability also exist, such as [Y-shirt Minatsu]. These will rarely appear in Neo-Standard builds, because it’s difficult to make this kind of effect cost-effective.

Why are they useful?

Reversers are useful because they allow you to deal with your opponent’s cards, whilst ignoring their Power. It doesn’t matter how much Power cards have, they can still be brought down.

Rei0

No matter how powerful the foe, Reversers can still bring them down

At Level 0, lots of decks have access to oversized cards which can be difficult to get rid of in Battle if you don’t have your own. If your opponent opens with a card that has 4,000 Power, but you can only manage 3,000, then you’re going to end up down on card numbers. Reversers can get rid of these cards relatively easily, by simply ramming into them and causing an even trade off. You won’t be gaining any advantage over your opponent, like if you could win the battle, but likewise, your opponent won’t be gaining any advantage over you.

It’s usually a better idea to send Reversers into battle on your turn against the biggest threats, because it will deny your opponent an attacker on their next turn, and thus also a Stock. Leaving a Reverser out in the open will allow your opponent to send a less useful or powerful card into it, thus keeping their powerhouse alive.

The Yellow and Green versions are especially useful for getting rid of cards with Encore because they completely remove the other character from the Stage. They can also help with denying your opponent a chance to salvage them, at least temporarily, because they won’t be in the Waiting Room.

If you are able to defeat another card in battle with one of your Reversers, without expending a card of your own, it can be difficult for your opponent to make back the card difference. If the next exchange with the Reverser only involves an even trade off, then you’ll have secured the 1 card advantage you gained earlier. However, unless your deck has access to free power early game, via cards similar to [O-bento Duty Shinji], this is unlikely to happen.

chihaya

Level 1 Reversers are the bane of decks which rely on a strong Level 1 game

The same general principle applies at Level 1, but it also allows you to conserve Stock compared to your opponent. Generally speaking, Level 1 is where you will start playing cards which have a Stock cost. These will usually be more powerful and have better effects than Cost 0 cards, to make up for this. Often the only way to take down a Cost 1 card is to match it with your own, or invest several cards in order to overpower it.

Level 1 Reversers on the other hand will allow you to deal with these Cost 1 cards without paying any Stock of your own. It will still be an even trade off card-wise, but your opponent will have spent a Stock in the process, whilst you won’t have.

valvatoze

Level 2 Reversers aren’t quite so useful

The same is true of Level 2 Reversers, but the problem is that their usefulness is limited. They will usually be Cost 1, which means that trading off against other Costs 1 cards doesn’t gain you anything in real terms. Cost 2 Level 2 cards are rarely seen at the moment, with most decks instead opting for Changing to Level 3 cards, or using early play Level 3s. This can make it especially difficult to get something worthwhile out of your Level 2 Reversers.

Another contributing factor is that their Power is so low, that even Cost 0 cards can take them out, leaving the player with the Reverser at a disadvantage resource wise.

The above mentioned Adachi is one of the more niche Reversers, but can be very effective against certain decks. If your opponent relies on getting out their Level 3 cards early, then Adachi can get rid of them whilst only costing you a Stock. This can be a big gain for you, especially if they used a Change that cost them extra resources. Unfortunately, if they don’t play cards like this, Adachi is basically useless, so it will really depend on your play environment.

How do I beat them?

With Reversers, the issue is not how to beat them, but how to beat them without losing a card in the process, or at the very least only losing an unimportant card. The entire point of the Reversers is that they will lose in battle and take something else down with them. So you need to work to avoid this. Some of the measures mentioned here will not always be applicable, because often your opponent will use their Reversers on their turn, allowing them to choose what they defeat.

I'll show you guys who a real Kung Fu Master is!

Otaku are masters of the martial arts

Since most Reversers rely on Level to work, the easiest way around them is to use make sure your cards are a Level higher. This can be done via cards which gain Levels under certain circumstances, which can include Loners, or cards like [Kung Fu Master Konata], support cards which grant an extra Level, such as [Off Time Makoto], or by changing into a higher Level card, such as [“Path to Walk Together” Chihaya]. Unfortunately, in most cases, these will fail against Cost Reversers.

frau

Congratulations if you ever get to use her first effect

Another way around Reversers is to play cards which cannot be Reversed by effects. Several Loners can gain this effect, and cards such as [Kotori & Honoka & Umi, Preparation for Christmas], or [Frau Koujiro] have it built in. This type of effect is most useful on Level 0 cards, because that is when you’re much more likely to run into Reversers.

Higher Level ones are less useful, unless your locals is filled with people playing Level 1 and above Reversers. Cards like Frau can still be useful because of all their other effects, but her immunity to Reversing will practically never be useful. Stopping Adachi is pretty much the only thing you will ever do with that effect.

Some decks can just get rid of Reversers outright, without having to battle them, through cards like [Contractor to Tiamat Wilhelmina]. Who happens to also be a Reverser herself.

Everybody jump!

Take out higher Level Reversers with high Powered Level 0s

Another possibility is to deal with them via less important cards. Red Reversers with effects can be 1,000 or 1,500 Power, depending on how good the effect is, whilst vanilla varieties come in at 2,000. Yellow and Green varieties on the other hand have 1,500 Power. Cards on the lower end of this scale can be defeated by throwaway cards, such as extra copies of support cards.

For Level 1 Reversers, the Power levels are similarly low, coming in at 3,000 for those with a positive effect, 3,500 for vanilla varieties, and 4,000 for those with a negative effect. This can usually be dealt with via Level 0 cards, especially since you’re likely to have more support cards now than you did back at the start of the game. Those at the upper end Power-wise may need to be dealt with via Cost 0 Level 1 cards though.

Level 2 Reversers suffer pretty much the same fate, with cards like [Tyrant Valvatorez] only coming it at 5,000 Power. This leaves them very vulnerable to costless Level 1 cards, and even a few rare Level 0 cards can defeat him.

Ultimately, the main thing you need to be concerned about when facing Reversers is that your encounter with them doesn’t leave you worse off resource wise compared to your opponent.

Weiβ Schwarz Fundamentals: Starting the Game

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.