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Log Horizon Overview: Living in the Database

7 Oct

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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The Reappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya

27 Feb

In case you missed the news, the latest restriction list (effective March 2nd) made some important changes to the game, making Haruhi a viable deck again. In the new environment, the deck won’t be as good as during it’s prime, but it’s good news to the old time fans who’ve been hanging onto the deck for years, or the newer players who’ve always wanted to play the deck, but been told the restrictions ruined it.

March 2nd Restriction List Updates

Kantai Collection

hatsukazeHibiki_KC

Banned: Junyou, 2nd Hiyou-class Light Aircraft Carrier

Pick 1 of 3:

Hibiki, 2nd Akatsuki-class Destroyer (New)

Hatsukaze, 7th Kagero-class Destroyer (New)

Akagi Kai, Akagi-class Aircraft Carrier

The new changes for Kantai Collection mean that it’s likely to still be a good deck, but will no longer be the defining force of the game. The deck now has to pick between anti-heal, anti-salvage and one of its many game enders. So far, It looks like most people are favouring anti-heal with Hibiki, because she’s just a good card, regardless of the fact you also get anti-heal added on.

The new changes also mean that Kantai get back one of their best early plays in the form of Inazuma, and Musashi is once again allowed to roam free. Kantai’s finishing power will be just about as good as before, but other decks can fight back better because their entire game plan is no longer shut down.

Anti-heal will still be a thorn in the side of old revived decks like Zero no Tsukaima and Haruhi, but it no longer feels like you should just throw in the towel when you sit down across from Kantai Collection.

Haruhi

emo_swingLet's play 'Protect Summer Festival Nagato'!

Banned: The World Has Lost Its Colour (New)

Pick 1 of 2:

Trouble Girl Haruhi

Dress Up Nagato

The most important change here is that Summer Festival Nagato is no longer on the pick 3. This means the Alien deck finally has access to more than 4 cards for the entirety of its Level 2 to 3 game. You can either go the burn route with Trouble Girl, or messing up your opponent’s stage with Dress Up. I’ll go into more detail on this later.

Index & Railgun

Kuroko

Removed from Pick 3: Kuroko, Tokiwadai’s Lady

Railgun got its big 1/1 back, but it seems people have mostly moved on to Green anyway, so this is likely to have little impact on the game.

A History Lesson

Before going into details on the deck and where it stands now, I thought I’d cover a bit of my history with the game of Weiβ Schwarz, since it and Haruhi are directly linked to each other.

My first exposure to the game was back in the summer of 2010, during a trip to Japan. I picked up a few random Yuki cards (I think Usual Nagato from the TD and something else), not knowing anything about the game. I just intended to use them as tokens for Yu-Gi-Oh! because I liked the character.

3Aliens

A bit later, at the very first Hyper Japan in London, Bushiroad were there demoing the game. One of the choices of demo decks was a modified version of the Haruhi TD, with the 3 Aliens support added in. So of course, I had to try it out and quickly realised how good the support cards was. It was then that I realised the random cards I’d bought were from this very game. That event would be the start of the game for me, and the start of the Weiβ Schwarz scene in the UK. If Bushiroad hadn’t been there, the long time dedicated players that I know would never have gotten into the game.

After that, namimo and I got started on building Haruhi decks, back in the day when you could actually still buy TDs. She started off with SOS Brigade, whilst I went with Alien. It was always a pain fighting against The World Has Lost Its Colour (aka Emo Swing) whilst it was still legal. At some point we discovered Yuyu-tei, and the world of single cards was opened up to us.

finishing

A bit later the Haruhi Extra Pack would be released, which gave the Alien deck a massive boost, leaving the SOS Brigade deck in the dust. I would eventually settle on the famous 9 Level 3 Red / Blue build, but this would come too late for the French WGP in 2011, where I opted to go with Evangelion. In hindsight, testing them against each other to decide what to use was a bad idea, because Evangelion had the better match up.

Eventually, the deck would get restricted and fall from grace. I’d still play the deck sometimes, but it was a shell of its former self. Along the way I built other decks, like Robotics;Notes (because Science), and Usual Haruhi (because Level 3 unkillable Reversers are fun, for me), but would generally fall back to Evangelion. Silly decks like Deck Out and Traitless would get added along the way

Sunday

After moving to Japan I managed to pick up a Lucky Star deck, newly bolstered by the Comeback Campaign and Kung Fu Master Konata, which quickly became my go to deck. Other decks were improved with new cards and ideas, and new decks like Wooser and Log Horizon were built.

Every time the new restrictions game around, it would always be a case of waiting and hoping that the restrictions on Haruhi would one day be lifted, especially in the face of Kantai Collection. The Zero no Tsukaima unrestriction in December gave me hope, as I waited for the February announcement.

With the restrictions lifted, I can finally go back to where I started 5 years ago.

The Deck

It feels like 2011 again!

It feels like 2011 again!

Above you’ll see what my deck currently looks like, along with the 14 extra cards that I can swap in if I want to convert it into a Blue deck making using of Dress Up Nagato.

For the benefit of new players, I’m now going to give a run down of the options available to the deck. Since I’m primarily and Alien player, I’m only going to focus on the cards for either the Red / Blue or Blue versions of that deck. You’ll need to look elsewhere for most of the Green / Yellow options, and even good Red stuff like Usual Haruhi won’t be getting space in here, because it doesn’t really benefit the Alien build.

Level 0

We’ll be starting off at Level 0, where you’ll find the central card for the deck along with the cards you need to get your game started.

The Core

3Aliens

Aliens, Nagato & Asakura & Kimidori (hereafter called 3 Aliens) is a cornerstone of the deck, and you can usually tell how your game will go based on how quickly you can get one of these into your hand.

The give global 500 to all of your other Aliens, and you can pay 2 and Rest it to search your deck for another Alien. Often your first choice will be another copy of itself, followed by copies of Summer Festival Nagato for later in the game. At other times you might just search for a card you can play now, such as one of the many 0 cost cards, or a safety buffer like Magician Nagato & Shamisen.

The card is also useful for paying out Climaxes from Stock, since the deck is usually very cost light in the early game. Just make sure not to use it too much and run out of Stock for actually playing your Level 3 cards.

Nagato_yuki

The key to your Front Stage in the early game will be Nagato Yuki, who boasts Hand Encore, and + 2000 in the opponent’s turn. Some modern cards get away with that power all the time now, but it’s still nothing to scoff at. It’s fairly easy for her to be 4500, which isn’t that easy to beat, and you can always Encore her when that does happen.

Once you hit Level 1, she might even hold off some weaker Level 1 cards thanks to your counter, but don’t count on that happening too much.

She’s a bit weak on the offense, but you have other cards for dealing with threats.

Reversers

Haruhi0Kyon_koizumi

Depending on which Deck you’re playing, you have a choice of 2 Reversers. Either a normal one in the form of Onsen Haruhi, or a Stock Reverser from Kyon & Koizumi. I’d personally favour the former in Red / Blue for the colour fixing, with the latter being a better standalone card for the just Blue version.

On top of Onsen Haruhi’s regular effect, she can also give an SOS Brigade card +1500 when she gets Reversed, which in an Alien deck is pretty much restricted to the above Nagato Yuki. This can get you a quick 2 for 1, or mess up opponents who aren’t paying attention to your effects and attack her first.

Kyon & Koizumi is a stronger standalone card because they can get rid of cards that are immune to usual Reversing effects, and can deal with cards that have Encore or other annoying effects. Ideally you’d want to use them to get rid of Memory Anti-heal cards like Hibiki before they get a chance to use their effects. The problem is that they have 1500 compared to the usual 1000 you find on the Anti-heal cards. In the past, this wasn’t much of an issue, since Hibiki backed up by Hatsukaze was 1500, but now I reckon she’ll be sitting at 1000 most of the time. An opponent who knows what they’re doing would also never leave it in the 1500+ range anyway.

Filling out the Aliens

You’ll want most of the rest of your Level 0 cards to be Aliens, because you need as many on Stage as you can get for Summer Festival to be useful.

usual_nagato

My personal pick to round off your Level 0s is Usual Nagato, who gets a quick burst of power on play. When played from your hand, she gains 500 times the number of Aliens on Stage, meaning that at worst she’ll still be 3000. With just 2 supports, she’ll easily hit 5000, which can deal with nearly any threat during Level 0. If you still have her during Level 1, she can reach 6000, which can handle a few straggling Level 1s, or take down Reversers without costing you a more important card.

nekomimi

Nekomimi Nagato is a vanilla. I see no reason to play this when you have access to far better Level 0 Nagato cards already.

watermelon

Eating Watermelon Nagato is a change for the upcoming Swimsuit Haruhi and Nagato, which I feel is mostly a waste. You’ll get out a reasonably powerful card for during Level 0, but you’ll usually waste their free Encore effect keeping another Level 0 alive.

xmas

Why play this when you have the 3 Aliens?

wedding

Wedding Dress Nagato is a PR card that came with the first run of Nagato sleeves, so good luck finding either now. The Haruhi and Nagato ones are generally sold out, and have been for years, but you can sometimes still find the Mikuru ones. I always found it odd that the character whose whole point is meant to be her moe appeal, is actually the least popular of the 3.

This card lets you heal on play for the cost of 2 Stock. This is the sort of effect you’d expect on a 3/2, except she of course has a much smaller body, and if you’re stuck for cards, can just use to attack with for no cost. With the return of the Level 3s, this card is pretty much obsolete now. You only used to run it because you couldn’t play any Level 3s other than Summer Festival.

support_Nagato

Observer Nagato is another support card that can also act as an attacker thanks to her 2500 Power. She gives all your Aliens +500 during your opponent’s turn, making her a decent alternative to the 3 Aliens if you haven’t got them already. One of the better choices for the deck.

The remaining Level 0s either work with cards you don’t play (Nagato and Kyon’s Little Sister in Yukata), or are support for Book cards (Nagato in Apron), which you don’t really have enough to support playing.

Colour Fixing

bouquet

The obvious choice at Level 0 for added colour fixing is Flower Bouquet Haruhi. As well as being a normal assist, she has a rare type of effect that works when you hit a specific trigger, in this case a Gate. By paying 1, you can send an opponent’s Level 1 or lower from the Front Stage to the Waiting Room. Not only can you kill a problem card, but you can also pay the Gate out immediately. The net result is a +2 for you, with no worry about the Climax being stuck later.

Highest priority to take out are big 1/1s you can’t otherwise deal with, annoying cards like Runners, and things you don’t want getting Reversed, like Anti-Heals or on Reverse searchers.

As you approach Level 2, this will usually move up front to clear space on your Stage.

matsuri_Haruhi

Night of the Summer Festival Haruhi is an alternative (and much more expensive) option, who works as a backup for the 3 Aliens, who can also get Trouble Girl into your Hand. By paying 2 and Resting her, you can add a character from your Waiting Room to your Hand. She should add some consistency to the deck, but I’d be careful with her stock cost.

Dress Up

If you really want to pull off combos with Onsen Haruhi, then look no further than Dress Up Haruhi. If she Reverses something she can rest one of your other characters and move them Back Stage. Since she has SOS Brigade, this is the perfect card to team up with Onsen Haruhi. Onsen Reverses a card, pumps Dress Up to 3500 at least. Dress Up Reverses a card then moves Onsen Back Stage. If you pull this off you’ll take out 2 cards for the price of none.

She’ll probably lose next turn, making it just a +1, but at least Onsen Haruhi will probably be able to deal with the new threat as well.

Editor

A slightly more unusual choice for Red is Super Editor-in-Chief Haruhi. Her first effect is largely pointless, since very few of your cards will have book trait. You will sometimes get random power boosts off when Trouble Girl Haruhi gets Reversed. Or if for some reason you’re playing this in Blue, Dress Up Nagato.

Instead, you’ll be playing her for the second much rarer effect, anti-Brainstorm. If your opponent hits a Climax whilst doing Brainstorm, you can pay 1 to burn them for 1. This could steal you random games here and there, but isn’t something to rely on.

Other Utilities

imoutou

The final Level 0 I’m going to highlight is Xmas Party Kyon’s Little Sister. The reason for her inclusion in the deck is because it’s the only reasonable Brainstorm the deck has access to. The 2/1 Yuki won’t be much good to you earlier on in the game.

She has a really niche effect, which gives +1 Soul to a Kyon character for every Climax you hit. Don’t forget that as Kyon’s Little Sister, she counts as a Kyon card too. Most of the time she’ll just be used for deck fixing, but you can also use her for massive Soul hits when desperate, or as a way to side over big cards for damage.

Level 1

For most of the decks Level 1 game you will be relying on vanilla cards to carry you. If the opponent has Reversers and not too big cards you’ll fall back on your 1/0s, but if you need to take out something big, you can bring the 1/1 in. From this point on, cards will be pretty much exclusively Blue, barring counters and the Trouble Girl cards.

Vanillas

Onsen_MN

Onsen Nagato & Mikuru might just be a vanilla, but it shouldn’t be underestimated. Will usually be 6500, and can reach 8500 with your counter.

standby

If you have to beat things, bring in Standy Mode Nagato. Can reach 10,000 on defense.

Support

The rest of your Level 1 will be filled with cards to help keep your vanillas alive.

H_N

Swimsuit Haruhi & Nagato gives one of your characters free pseudo-Encore on play, allowing them to be Rested again if they get Reversed. Very useful if you want to ram something in for damage, but don’t want to suffer a direct attack next turn. Also helps gets around Reversers, and can put your opponent in a pickle if your cards have equal power, or you fall within their counter range. Whatever happens, you won’t lose your card, and your opponent will either be down a counter, or a card on Stage.

witch

Magician Nagato & Shamisen is one of my favourite cards in the game, and a key card to the deck. For starters it gives +1000 Power to a card in battle, but if you have 2 or more Aliens on Stage (which really isn’t hard), you can give another 1000 Power to any of your characters. You can put all 2000 into one card to keep them safe, or split it across two to make sure both cards stick around. The second card doesn’t even need to be an Alien, so you can help out Trouble Girl too.

Kimidori

Kimidori is an interesting Alarm card, that will probably be cut for space in most modern builds. She gives +1000 Power to all your Aliens when on top of the Clock, which is helpful for pushing over bigger cards with your vanillas. Her second effect can also give a card the ability to draw a card when it reverses something, but you’ll probably fairly rarely use this.

Other Aliens & Events

nagato

If you’re playing the Blue build, you’ll probably want to round out your Level 1 with Glasses Girl Nagato, who combos with the other Book Climax. When she attacks, all your Aliens gain ‘Pay 1, draw a card on Reversing opponent’s card’. This is useful for replenishing your hand, and instantly paying out Climaxes.

She’ll only see play in Blue, because there’s no space for the Climax in Red / Blue.

Bookmark

Message on a Bookmark is a useful event card which is probably past its prime. You pay 1, draw 1, discard 1, heal 1, send it to Memory. So you can dig into your deck, heal and compress for later, all at once. Currently I think it’s hard to find space for it over actual character cards, and you probably don’t want to leave yourself even more exposed to anti-heal.

It’s still a good card, so other people may find space for it.

I know there’s also the Ryoko card, but honestly, I’ve never felt compelled to use it, so that will be left out.

Level 2

At Level 2 you’ll play very few actual Level 2 cards, so I’m going to group Summer Festival Nagato into here, since that’s when she gets played.

What’s Level 3?

Let's play 'Protect Summer Festival Nagato'!

Summer Festival Nagato has finally been released from the restrictions list, now that decks can actually do things about her.

She has an incredibly easy to fulfil early play requirement, of having 4 or more Aliens on Stage. You can just drop down all your Cost 0 cards, then suddenly a 10,000 2 Soul appears. Just be careful of anti-Change / early play counters, which are much more common than when she was released.

In addition to this, she has a Climax combo which allows you to heal 1 and gives her +3000 Power for the turn. She’ll usually be hitting for 15,000 and will get over most other cards. In an ideal world, you will keep on pulling this combo off over and over again with multiple Summer Festival Nagato and never leave Level 2.

She still remains relevant in Level 3, because she still heals and still beats things in battle, it’s just that the opponent’s cards are probably bigger now.

Supports

Guitarist

Your primary late game support is Guitarist Nagato, who gives global Level support in the opponent’s turn, and Book triggers an extra kick. Whilst around, any book triggers you hit allows you to draw an extra card and discard one. This can happen quite often in the full Blue deck.

Thanks to Guitarist and a copy of the 3 Aliens, your opponent will usually be trying to get over a stage full of 12,000s from sometime in Level 2, whilst knowing you also might have a 2,000 counter waiting for them.

Info

Your Ryoko counter is the surprise trump card of the deck, and the card most likely to make your opponent question whether you’re cheating or not. It sends their Climax to the Waiting Room, shutting off their Climax combos and potentially robbing them of their stat boosts.

Watch out for on attack combos, since it’ll be too late to stop them, and remember that some Climaxes apply their effects on play, whilst others do it whilst they’re in the Climax slot. Don’t make the mistake of using this card for no effect.

K_N

I’m not a big fan of the Koizumi & Nagato counter, but at least it’s searchable and bigger than the 1/0. 2500 Power is still a but underpar for a 2/1 counter, but you’ll be playing it for the bonus effect. By discarding a card you can put two cards from your opponent’s Waiting Room back into their Deck. This can stop attack phase salvage cards, and slightly decrease your opponent’s compression. Back in the day, I rarely used this effect.

There are further Level 2 options, like Flower Viewing Nagato, who has a spammable +2,000 to Alien Brainstorm, or China Dress Nagato, who is a decent wall with Encore. However, I feel that since the deck got a proper Level 3 game back, it’s no longer worth thinking too much about them. Kyon’s Sister is cheaper stock wise anyway.

Level 3

Level 3 is where you try to end the game, and where you’ll see a different line up depending on which of the Pick 2 gets chosen.

Trouble

The choice for most people will be Trouble Girl Haruhi, if not for her own effect, but for the fact that playing her allows you to use other cards which add to the consistency of the deck. She is a simple and powerful card.

Haruhi heals on play, then combos with a Gate to burn for 1 on attack for free. Multiples of her can very quickly end the game when you’re attacking 6 times. She doesn’t even need to have anything to fight, like Akatsuki, and can quite happily just ram into bigger cards.

Don’t you wish Commons were this good now?

Dress Up Nagato

Your other choice is Dress Up Nagato, who has a unique effect that hasn’t been printed since. Shuffle Time comes close, but that’s random. On play she sends all of your opponent’s Stage to Memory, then you can put them back wherever you like. You can bring supports Front Stage to beat them in battle, move Bodyguard’s like Naotsugu out of the centre slot, and remove Markers and lingering effects from every card your opponent has.

Whatever happens, your opponent’s Stage is going to be messed up.

On top of this, she can also get an extra heal off if she reverses something on the turn she’s played. This is pretty easy when she’s got supports to fight.

Dress Up Nagato is definitely still a strong card, but I think the extra cards around Trouble Girl make her more worthwhile.

Climaxes

There are 3 main choices for Climaxes, depending on which build you’re making.

2 weeks

Nights of Remaining 2 weeks will be in your deck whatever you do, because you’re always going to be playing Summer Festival Nagato.

rain

If you’re playing Red / Blue you’ll need Someday in the Rain for Trouble Girl.

battle

If you’re playing full Blue you’ll mostly want Struggle in the Information Controlled Space, since it works with your Glasses Girl Nagato, and makes Guitarist even more likely to get her bonus.

You might also feel like teching single copies of the +2 Soul or +2,000 +1 Soul Climaxes in the Blue deck, but I personally just prefer 8 Books.

Hope you’ve enjoyed reading about my take on the Alien deck. I’m certainly looking forward to playing it in tournaments from next Monday. If you have any questions or comments, you can drop me a message on here, or find me on Twitter @Xagor1.