Weiss Schwarz is far from a perfect game. One of the most popular criticisms about the game is that characters, no matter how small, can attack for damage and end a game.
We know that landing an attack for 6 is quite difficult, and we also know that attacking for 4 is generally unfavorable. Attacking for 3 generally looks barely better than a coin flip. But these things will not stop some players from opting to use decks that have one plan and one plan only: attack for as much as possible as often as possible. This is strategy that players know as “soul rush”.
How does a soul rush deck work?
A soul rush deck uses characters, typically with low levels and low stock costs, with +2 soul CXs to overwhelm the opponent with damage. It does not particularly care about maintaining board presence, nor does it care for very many CX interactions or combos in the deck. Soul rush is an aggressive strategy that aims to make the game as short as possible.
A more “typical” deck may attempt to manage a game like this. Very orderly, very by-the-book. However, sometimes people want to-
FEEL THE SOUL RUSH
An good example of a generic soul rush deck is actually the vanilla deck.
So let’s dive into the breakdown of this hypothetical deck!
Cards – 50
Level 0 – 16
16 0 stock characters
Level 1 – 16
8 1/0 characters
8 1/1 characters
Level 2 – 10
6 2/1 characters
4 2/2 characters
CX – 8
8 +2 soul
At level 0, we have a plethora of characters. Some can be level reversers, some can be generic 3000 power characters, and others can have some sort of utility. All that matters is that these characters attack and build stock.
The key difference
The difference between a level 0 of a soul rush deck and a deck that isn’t, is that because the deck only cares about damage, card advantage is not necessarily king. While others decks may play conservatively to keep the opponent off of their next level, a soul rushing strategy has the option of attacking for a lot even on the first turn. Indeed, the math does not really favor a player hitting an attack for 4-5 soul, especially if that player’s opponent has 6-8 CXs in deck.
And just when you thought it was a dead meme…
Does this mean that one should use a +2 soul CX on the first turn if playing second? Maybe. One of the best effects to have with a soul rush strategy is a card that has a Heal tax effect. Because the newer cards with the effect are level 0, it is highly favorable to include those cards in the level 0 of this theoretical deck.
Isn’t it bad to attack the opponent to level 1 really early?
With a soul rushing strategy, the only thing that one will be doing is sending a high level character to clock to draw two more characters. +2 soul allows one to side attack to get in for maximum damage while minimizing damage to the self. Because the penalty for side attacking a level 1 character is 1 soul, +2 soul mitigates this perfectly by allowing the deck to attack for the most favorable amount possible, 2/2/2.
Should the deck get to level 1 at any point, the 1/0 and the 1/1 cards serve different purposes. The 1/0 characters are free damage because they require no stock commitment. 1/1 characters can dislodge triggered CXs, and also stay on the board for a while if the deck has gotten to level 1 first. This is about where the opening basic strategy for a soul rush deck ends.
Isn’t the idea of soul rush to be winning or ahead on damage all the time?
Not necessarily. The idea of soul rush at its heart is to keep an opponent on as few turns on a given level as possible. However, it attacks for larger chunks of damage that, while the chances may be worse in the short term, do demand that they be canceled, and as only up to 8 attacks can be canceled (barring use of cards and effects) during a single deck’s cycle, a soul rush aims to exploit that limited number as much as possible.
Ideally, the beginning stage of the game should be to get an opponent to 0/5. From there, the opponent will stay at that level for at most one more turn (especially if they clock to 0/6). On the following turn, an attack of 2/2/2 (3/X/3, 4/X/2, etc) will push the player to 1/5. On the turn following that, a 2/2/2 push ideally gets the opponent to 2/5, and then from there on out, it’s a matter of attacking in the best way possible to close the game.
But then what does the deck do during level 2? What about decks that soul rush and have effects anyway? What about level 3 characters?
Unfortunately, the idea of soul rush is very general, and the idea of a deck is highly complex. This disparity in simplicity makes it very difficult to explain how a deck might perform, particularly beyond level 1, when effects have larger impacts, and when many more “unfair” effects begin to see play.
Landing efficient and favorable attacks is easier to do at level 1 than it is to do at any other level with a soul rush deck. This is because level 0 characters can be used with +2 soul CXs to side attack for 2 damage. Against a level 2 character, side attacking severely reduces the potential damage, so the attacks become more wild and varied. However, this is not the only factor that makes side attacking less useful. As a game progresses,it can become very difficult for a soul rush deck to maintain a board presence. This can be because its characters are against higher power characters because the user is ahead by a level (level 1 against an opponent at level 2, for example) It can also be that the characters do not have any other ability to preserve themselves on their own aside from paying 3 stock to encore them.
Because of the presence of more readily accessible characters with Heal tax, characters at level 3 that Heal may become less popular. Because of this, soul rush strategies are slightly more viable because they may not have to worry about dealing 30 or more damage to win a game.
As for level 3 characters in general, they already attack for the ideal amount of damage. Using them with a combination of attacks of 1-2 soul to close a game is a concept not restricted to soul rush.
What about decks that just use all level 0 characters and keep attacking every turn? If Heal is less viable, will that strategy be viable?
Decks that use only small characters can and will find themselves losing cards from turn 1. A bulk of the damage done by those decks is in the early turns. However, going to level 2 early is not a death sentence. If the player going to a higher level early on fails to draw characters of sufficient power to prevent effective side or repeated frontal attacks, then he or she will likely lose. If that player draws too many CXs, he or she will also then likely lose, but at that point, the opponent could be playing anything and achieve the same effect. On top of that, every cancel that occurs from the all level 0 deck is one fewer +2 soul CX that it could have drawn to deal more damage.
But what if it wins?
Then it wins. In WS, anything can beat anything. This is because any given game will have at least one player that does not win. (Both players cannot fulfill a “win” condition at the same time because there is no card that currently reads “X player wins the game”. Therefore, only one or both players can lose a game at a time, and when a player loses, the opponent wins, unless both players lose.) Something that one must always consider is that there are so many possible combinations of cards in WS that it is OK to say two things:
- Every game is a statistical impossibility. The only reason that it doesn’t feel that way is because when we play a game, we play to a certain outcome, that it will have a result.
- If you play a game against another person, the chances of it being a complete repeat of any given game you’ve ever played and ever will play, are essentially zero.
But doesn’t that argument kind of counter itself if we say that it’s all improbable?
Because we have control over certain metrics, such as the cards that we use themselves, we are as players able to find combinations that lead to more wins than losses (ideally, and in the long term). Just because something wins once, or even ten times, does not necessarily mean that it is the automatic go-to strategy.
Author’s note: I have been guilty of this bias in the past. For a while I thought my monogreen Madoka soul rush deck was the best deck ever because I kept on winning with it. It took me a while to actually understand how much I was really running against the odds by making bold attacks for 4 and 5, and that in the long run, I probably will not find as many wins with that deck as a different deck with more even 2/2/2 attacks, as opposed to 3/3/3 or even 4/4/4. I also had been blocking out the two months of testing and not winning from my head. Over time, the deck, though it did edge positive, did lose a lot of games.
How do we beat “soul rush”?
Soul rush is a particularly interesting strategy because it does not pay attention to a lot of “expert” advice that one might hear about card games in general. The kind of tips that we might hear from more experienced players may be things such as:
- Make sure you don’t throw away your hand every turn
- If you have a board setup that your opponent cannot beat, you can skip a clock phase.
- If you have way too many CXs in hand, don’t be afraid to clock them.
Soul rush functions with a different set of priorities:
- Clock almost every turn, unless at 3/6. Draw as many cards as possible, and attack for as much as possible every turn.
- If you have a board setup that your opponent cannot beat, continue to draw cards because they will be needed for the endgame.
- If you have way too many CXs in hand, why haven’t you been playing them? ATTACK!
Soul rush is a strategy that enjoys and suffers from a very one-dimensional way to play. What it loses in its threat diversity and potential effects, it gains in simplicity and consistency. Because of that, it often shifts the burden of the unknown (i.e. the luck of the top X cards of the deck) heavily to the opponent, because it will usually be making high-risk high-reward attacks.
A deck that can refresh quickly is favored against soul rush strategies. Sets such as Ilya and Da Capo in their own ways (Ilya with very quick deck thinning, Da Capo with characters that send themselves to memory) can setup favorable compression scenarios for themselves. Decks can also run characters that give the characters opposing them -1 soul, such as Milky Holmes. Heal effects may have their mileage vary due to the presence of cheaper Heal tax cards that are going to be entering the game.
However, as with anything, the more focused deck is the better deck. Soul rush has a very easy strategy to focus on. However, its rewards, though potentially high, are nowhere near as high as some other combos that are in the game.
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