Attacking at Level 3

In Weiss Schwarz, games are at the most tense moments at level 3. Players hang on to avoid the game-ending level 4. Sometimes a player manages a triple cancel and then sneaks in the last damage on the following turn on the last possible attack. Sometimes a player gets KO’d by exactly enough damage only to peek at their next card which ends up being that lifesaving CX.

So how exactly does one determine how much to attack for at this all-important level 3? Attacking at level 0 is usually much more simple – the game is nowhere near over, and the objective is generally the same – build stock, draw cards and prepare for the higher levels. But if there is no higher level, what does one do?

The first thing to do is to survey the board and open zones. Even though it might seem silly to ask questions that are almost givens during a game, it’s still good practice to be aware of what factors are present.

How many CXs do you have in your deck?

How many CXs does the opponent have in his or her deck? Have they refreshed the deck recently, and if so, how many were in there?

(Player note: It’s good to keep an ongoing tally as the game is going. I generally ask my opponent if I can count their waiting room’s CXs while they’re making their decisions for the turn. It is an efficient use of the time because it allows me to rightfully determine free information while they are taking their turn. -Michael)

What is the opponent at? 3/0? 3/6? (3/X meaning level 3, X in clock)

Will you be able to keep your board after the attack? Or, will you be throwing your board away for the attack?

The first question is the most relevant when we enter level 3. Have we refreshed with a known number of CXs in the deck? If not, how many CXs are left in the deck, and how many cards are remaining? If there are very few cards remaining in the deck, is it good to attack, or is it better to simply pass the turn? Here’s where things can get very tricky. If we have characters on the center stage (more than one, especially one with decent stats) and pass the turn without attacks, that tells the opponent “Attack me please! I want to cancel and refresh with a lot of CXs!”

“But wait! What does the math say about doing any of this?”

The line is something like this: if you find yourself at level 3 before having refreshed the deck:

If you have 1 CX left and more than 7 cards total in the deck, attack for as much as possible. If there are any CXs in your stock you can dislodge with a single encore (or other payment), do so. If the CX is 6 or more cards deep, don’t burn stock. Each CX is worth roughly 7 non-CX cards. For example, if you refresh with all 8 CXs but have a 45 card deck, your chance of canceling the next attack (assuming it’s for one) is about 17%. If you refresh with 7 CXs but have a 40 card deck, your chance of canceling the next attack (assuming it’s for one) is 17.5%. An attack for two for either scenario gives a chance to cancel around 28-29% respectively, favoring the 7 CX refresh by a single percentage point.

If you have 2 CXs left and more than 7 cards total in the deck but fewer than ten, it’s an actual coin flip. If you have 9 cards remaining, the chances of triggering a CX in 3 attacks is exactly 50%, and the chances of triggering both in 3 attacks is 58%. In this kind of situation though, it is very difficult to justify not attacking. Why? Because of the refresh penalty. At 3/6, a deck refresh is a death sentence. Even though the math is against you, you have to attack into it to get through as many cards as possible. Though this situation is rare, it’s good to have a plan for what to do when it does come up.

If you have 2 CXs left but fewer than 7 cards remaining in the deck, there is a risk of having the opponent pass the turn with no attacks. (A bold but realistic play) The math is not so relevant here as finding out what the chances of canceling after the deck refresh is. If one refreshes with say, 40 cards and 6 CXs, there is about a 43% chance that there will be a CX in the top 6 cards (which would end the game if they were all non-CXs). If there is any CX close to the top of stock (within the first 2 cards), one attack should be made at least to reverse your own character to recover the CXs by paying for encore. Else, attack for maximum value – try to clear the opponent’s board to mitigate the next turn’s damage, and hope that no CX goes to stock on the attack. If you see one immediately on the first attack though, attack with two other characters if possible. The chances of seeing two consecutive CXs are so low that it is worth the risk to attack.

Note how so far, these questions only have to do with looking at one’s own CX situation as opposed to the opponent’s. In the ideal world, a player won’t have to be overly concerned with the CX compression in their deck, and instead worry about how much damage they will be able to force through in a turn.  But, if a game is going poorly, one may have to evaluate their own CX situation first to maximize the chances of canceling an attack on the opponent’s turn, to ensure they will be able to close the game.

If one is winning however, attacking at level 3 is a bit more straightforward.

If the opponent is at level 3 and has not refreshed their deck yet, be sure to count the number of CXs present in the waiting room. If there are 7 or more cards remaining in the deck and two or fewer CXs, go for broke. A +1 soul CX is a very reasonable way to ensure damage will go through, because even if the opponent cancels the first two attacks, the third will stick. To that end, attack for less damage first. Why?

Let’s say that the first attack cancels. The chances of an opponent having consecutive CXs on the top of their deck, while above zero, are small enough to warrant shaving them off the top first if they should be there, because the subsequent third attack gets the opponent ever closer to the critical 3/6 point or the game-over level 4. (3/6 being a ‘critical point’ because the opponent can no longer refresh the deck without losing, nor clock to draw more cards) If the opponent takes the first two attacks (5-6 damage), and there are fewer than 5 cards remaining in the deck, don’t attack a third time. Most likely, they will draw the remaining CX(s), and be unable to clock themselves due to the deck refresh penalty.

If the opponent HAS refreshed though, it is a good practice to right as they are about to refresh, ask how many they will be refreshing with. Because the waiting room is a public zone, it is rude (and presumably against tournament rules) to misrepresent/rush through the refresh process. (Author’s note: I personally advocate keeping a count clear to the opponent as often as possible, and tell my opponent how many CXs my deck will have when I refresh. If asked, I’ll count it with them before/as I am shuffling. It’s a habit I consider sporting behavior, and I’ve never had anyone object to the practice.) With this number in mind, if the opponent has refreshed with any number lower than 6, attack for everything; attempt to close the game on that turn.

Going with a blind 7 cards off the top, the chances of closing a game after a deck refresh are, assuming a 39-card deck after refreshing (percentages were rounded):

0 CX – 100%

1 CX – 82%

2 CX – 67%

3 CX – 54%

4 CX – 43%

5 CX – 35%

6 CX – 28%

7 CX – 22%

8 CX – 17%

(Want to tinker with other percentages? Use this calculator, set the population size to whatever number of cards you want left in the deck, successes in population to the number of CXs in the deck, sample size to 7, and number of successes to 0. This will find out your chances of finding no CXs in the top 7 cards of the deck, i.e. ending the game in one turn after the opponent is level 3 and has 0 in clock. To account for the clock from 1-6, lower the sample size accordingly.)

Any number of CXs 5 or higher means that if 7 damage is dealt during an attack after the refresh, there is a coin flip’s chance or better that an attack will cancel.

If there is a very high chance that an attack will cancel, aiming to put your opponent at 3/6 is not a bad place to shoot for.

Ultimately though, WS is a game of imperfect information. The numbers may not always work out “as they should”, and sometimes your opponent or you will have that miracle triple cancel at 3/6 to stay alive and come back. If your gut insists that an attack is better, go for it! Just know that there are some attacks that are better than others, especially at level 3.

Author’s note: Yes, I know the article is strictly about attacking at level 3, with no regard to characters. Board presence, card advantage, etc, are all part of the game, but the blog is being built one piece at a time. So while it may not be a complete picture at first, we’re working toward it! Thanks for reading!

Questions? Comments? Send me an email at theninthcx at gmail DOT com!