The Ban List – What Makes a Card Unfair?

For the list of banned and ‘choose one’ cards, check out the list on Heart of the Cards.

Update: As of December 29, 2014, the ban list has been updated! This article has been and will continue to be updated to reflect the new bans. For the specifics, see this article.

In Weiss Schwarz, the best cards let us break the rules.

To illustrate this point, let’s outline some rules we abide by when we play the game:

  • You cannot arbitrarily search your deck for cards and put them into your hand.
  • You cannot play a card that has a level higher than your current level.
  • You cannot send cards from your waiting room to memory “just because”.

The best cards in the game allow us to “break” these rules and do things the game normally does not allow us to do. The quest for an “unfair” card(s) and/or effect is present with every new set that is made.

Unfair effects are not necessarily limited to those that break the rules. Efficiency can determine the power level of a card.

For example, a card that lets you search for a card from your deck usually costs 1 stock and a card from the hand. These cards are most often found at level 0 and level 1. If a card was to allow for a search for no cost at either of these levels, it would very likely be an unfair card.

A card that has a Heal effect typically costs 2 stock, and will only Heal one damage. If a card was to Heal 2 damage for the same amount of stock, it would be considered unfair. Note that most of these types of effects are agnostic of the newer, more accessible Heal tax effects. (i.e. Kantai Collection, Vividred, Gargantia, Kill La Kill)

So what does “unfair” really look like in WS? Let’s take a look at the game’s worst offenders.

Note: The cards below have been banned from tournament use. 9th CX is not responsible for the number of friends lost while using these cards during fun games. For maximum fun/trolling potential, play against Wooser. 9th CX is not responsible for your opponent/friend/former friend/new enemy/tsundere-turned-yandere-turned-your-house-is-burning-mwahahaha for destroying your cards while you are on your journey. Cards will be used to match the translations given by Heart of the Cards.

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Rest! (LB/W06-096)

Rest! lets you choose up to 2 cards in your clock and put them in the waiting room, then send it to memory.

This card is a prime example of a card that is way too efficient to see play. Not only does card only cost 1 stock to play, but it has a double Heal effect. On top of that, after it’s been used once, it sends itself to memory. While normally in a card game we would think of effects that send cards to memory as a detriment, because in WS decks are cycled through relatively quickly; the effect improves the percentages for canceling, and should be seen, generally as an upside.

Remember how efficient a first Heal effect might be? Now just make it so that the second Heal effect is attached to the very same card.

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Supreme Overlord Laharl (DG/S02-061)

Supreme Overlord Laharl has a Heal ability. You can also send it to memory to salvage a combination of up to 2 [Angel] and/or [Demon] characters.

Supreme Overlord Laharl has a lot going for it. It has a Heal ability, but also a free double salvage ability that (in case it is ever relevant) can help improve compression by sending itself to memory. At one point in the game, it became incorrect to use any other deck, and any number of this card lower than 4, because it was so good. Being able to get additional copies of any character desired from the waiting room for no cost is too efficient to be considered fair. It should be noted that because this card is banned, its TD (trial deck) is not legal for use in tournaments.

 As of 12/29/14, this card has been unbanned, but is restricted to one copy per deck. Because of its abilities, it still remains a powerful card, but it has been determined to be not too powerful that it shouldn’t be played altogether.

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Cyrille, Changing Clothes (SE/S04-080)

Cyrille, Changing Clothes has two triggered abilities. The first triggers up to one time per turn, and states whenever one of your characters is attacked (this can mean both frontal and side), you choose one of your characters and give it +1000 power for the turn. Its second ability allows you to pay 2 stock whenever damage dealt by one of your characters is canceled to Heal.

Cyrille, Changing Clothes has only upsides. It costs zero stock, and can come down as early as level 1. It makes attacking into your characters difficult in multiples, and can Heal repeatedly, so long as damage is canceled and you have stock to pay. The way it changes the rules of the game are hideously in the user’s favor; either an attack will land, allowing the attacker to get that much closer to winning the game, or the attack will cancel, and prevent the opponent from making progress. Because this character typically stays in the back row, there are not very many answers to it. Even a Bounce trigger wouldn’t answer it because it costs nothing to play again.

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Akinari Kamiki (P3/S01-014)

Akinari Kamiki sends itself to the waiting room when you level up. When this card is put into the waiting room from the stage, your opponent discards a card.

This card is significantly different from the rest. It doesn’t steamroll other characters with an unfair power level. It even costs 1 stock! So what is really wrong with this card?

Author’s Note: Apparently, a very unfair combo with this card existed in Standard, and therefore was banned some time ago. With the context of current cards, this one probably isn’t so bad when compared to others on the list. With that in mind however, it is still worth noting that discard effects in Weiss Schwarz do not have very much counterplay, because cards that read “Draw two cards” and the like are rare, and difficult to find at early levels. The rest of the analysis here puts some speculation on what the card is like when discard truly has no answer.

It punishes the opponent for doing things that he or she would do anyway. A given character in a game is probably going to be at some point pushed over by a character of larger size. A level 0 3000 power character will fall to a level 1 5500 power character. This exchange will result in a slight edge for the person who attacked, as they will be even on cards (both players committed one card from hand), but will have gained one stock. In the case of this card however, the player is left between a rock and a hard place.

If the player attacks the Akinari Kamiki, he or she will lose a card. He or she will have committed a card from hand, gained one stock, but also be forced to discard a card. If the player makes a side attack but ends up forcing the opponent to level, he or she will still lose a card. Worst, if the player does not get rid of the card, the opponent will be gaining stock with a character that under most circumstances is unable to reverse a character.

In WS, effects that require one’s opponent to discard a card are particularly difficult to balance. In fact, there are only five cards in the game that include the text “Your opponent [chooses and] discards a card.”

Wait! This card exists!

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Izumiko, Easy Suits (DC/W01-008)

This card says it can’t be selected from your opponent’s effects (e.g. cannot be targeted by a Bounce ability) and when it gets front attacked, the opponent has to discard a card!

This is a case where context matters. Because Da Capo is an enormous set, (It’s the flagship of WS with more than seven boosters total!) it has access to effects that are far more abusive than this card.  However, in a vacuum, this card’s “downside” can be mitigated by constant side attacking, and it itself cannot do anything but side attack. Because of this, neither player actually loses anything by side attacking with or against this card.

What about “Choose 1”?

When a card is not good enough to be banned, but good enough in the context of other cards within its own set to be banned, it is placed on a “Choose 1” list. The “Choose 1” list is a rather witty workaround to banning a card or cards outright, because it does several things: it allows players to experience using slightly more powerful cards, it keeps cards relevant (i.e. the price doesn’t drop like a rock), and it also keeps a different power level cap on the set.

What does that mean?

Let’s say we have cards A, B, and C.

Card A is a wonderful card that reads, “You win the game. If you can’t win the game, send your opponent to the waiting room, and then you win the game.”

Card B is a card that reads, “Return two character cards from your waiting room to your hand.”

Card C is a card that reads, “Put the top two cards of your clock into your waiting room.”

Let’s think about these cards in context. These cards are quite powerful, and have existed in some form in the game (with the possible exception of Card A) at some time. To continue the example, we’ll say that cards A B and C are in the same series.

Very soon after this hypothetical set’s release, the tournament scene explodes with complaints about how the set is way too good and about how it is killing the game.

Those who are in charge of maintaining the game are left with a number of options, each with its own set of repercussions.

Mario Hammer

1) KILL ALL THE CARDS

Ban Cards A, B, and C. Players will stop complaining about the power level of the set, the set no longer will have much value, but, the game will be “fixed”. This is also known as the nuclear option.

JTMSSFM

R.I.P. 6/20/2011 

Author’s note: To give some context- Jace, the Mind Sculptor and Stoneforge Mystic were two of the most abused cards in Magic: the Gathering in 2011.  At one point, the only “good” decks (i.e. the decks that were winning $10,000+ prize pool tournaments) contained 4 copies each of these 2 cards, and it did not make sense for a deck to not have 4 copies of each card. 

2) Ban Card A, leave Cards B & C alone

This is a bit of a ‘kingmaker’ play. By banning Card A but leaving Cards B & C alone, you are left with a still very unfair pair of cards that will probably both end up banned should this option be taken.

Fortunately, a third option exists.

3) Ban Card A, and restrict Cards B & C to a ‘Choose 1’ list

The ‘Choose 1’ option allows players to play only one of either card in their deck, or none at all. While mixing and matching isn’t allowed, because any access to having both even in smaller numbers would then create another mess, it allows players to customize their decks to their liking. Cards, ideally, retain their value because a player could decide that one week she likes Card B, but then decides that she wants to try out Card C the following week.

What does a ‘Choose 1’ card look like?

For that, we can turn to Haruhi. Haruhi has a full four cards on its ‘Choose 1’ list, and with good reason.

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Trouble Girl, Haruhi (SY/W08-069)

Trouble Girl, Haruhi has a Heal effect and with its CX combo, will deal 1 damage to your opponent upon attack.

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Nagato, Dressed Up (SY/W08-077)

Nagato, Dressed Up, has a trigger upon it being played from your hand that lets you pay 1 stock. If you do, it gains the ability that when it reverses a character in battle, you Heal. When you play it from your hand, you may send all characters your opponent controls to memory, then place those characters onto the slots on the stage of your choice. (You can’t ‘steal’ your opponent’s characters with this effect)

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Nagato, Summer Festival (SY/WE09-24) 

Nagato, Summer Festival, gets -1 level in your hand if you have 4 or more [Alien] characters. With the CX combo, you Heal and it gains +3000 power for the turn.

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World with Faded Colors (SY/W08-071)

World with Faded Colors lets you put a level 1 or higher character you control into the waiting room. If you do, you choose a level 0 or lower [Brigade Chief] character in your waiting room, put it onto any slot on the stage, then Salvage twice.

Each of these cards has a powerful effect. On the red side, we have a combo that deals extra damage, and a double Salvage. On the blue side, we have multiple Heal type effects. If allowed to exist in the same deck, the set would come dangerously close to solving itself; that is, it would become very clear relatively quickly what the “correct” number of cards to use of each type are, and not using them would be the mark of an inferior deck.

Instead, with the “Choose 1”, we are allowed the best of a world of our choice, and a lot of fun decisions within the framework of, “Which one should I use and why?”, which is much better than, “Why can’t I fit all these in my deck and why are all the decks using all of them?”

So what good will knowing about some banned or restricted cards be?

From the banned and “Choose 1” cards, we can project that there are a few kinds of effects that are truly unfair in the game if they are imbalanced. This knowledge can be kept in mind when building new decks. Among the list of effects that are banned or otherwise restricted, we have:

Heal (highly efficient, potentially with damage or other effects)

Drawing cards (highly efficient, usually not based on a self-incurred penalty or cost)

Encore (highly efficient, either gives to all characters, or even gives a free encore effect)

Discard (nearly unconditional and unpreventable, early level and minimal stock commitment)

Salvage (highly efficient, potentially with any of the above effects)

Search (free, or in multiples)

New! Soul (+1 soul to all other characters you control)

When we build decks, one of the things we should look for is a build that give us access to as many unfair effects and cards as possible.

How about the newer effects, like Heal tax? Are those worth banning?

This is a point of contention among players, especially those who have been playing the game for a long time. For a long time, Salvage and Heal effects, for all their advantages, have mostly been kept in check by other effects that do similar things, but with little variation. Occasionally, an effect will be too good and warrant relegation to “Choose 1” or even the banned section.

Arguably, the newer effects such as Heal tax and Kantai Collection’s -3 soul anti-salvage are attempts to curb the dominance of decks that use 8 Door triggers and as many Heal effects as possible.

Banning these effects would be most likely because the cards themselves that give the effect are too efficient at what they do, but it would not necessarily mean that the effects themselves (Heal tax et al.) are imbalanced.

Is that going to kill the game?

Highly unlikely. If nothing else, the presence of these cards may not deter people from playing the “meta 8 Door / MAX Heal” deck. It could also allow for some innovation with strategies that completely ignore the effects. Soul rush could even become a more viable strategy (yes, Kantai can do that too).The effects are far-reaching and not all of them will be immediately obvious.

Questions? Comments? Got something to say about the effects? Chip in on a discussion on our Facebook page, or send us an email! Thanks for reading!