9th CX is proud to present Level 0, a column that explores the basics of strategy in Weiss Schwarz! Though 9th CX has presented articles in the past regarding some basics that exist in the game, there is still ground to be covered on the more broad and general concepts. On each Level 0 article will be a link to the previous and next article in the series.
Next Article: Card Advantage
Previous Article: [TBD]
For this article, we’re going to be looking at strategy.
“…[S]trategy is about shaping the future” – Max McKeown
Strategy is what we use to try to control the outcomes of our games. For Weiss Schwarz though, there are some factors of the game which are very different and unpredictable. It is this unpredictability that makes the strategy for WS a bit more nebulous than other card games. The list of differentiating factors that is contained in WS is rather long. In no particular order, here are some of the most prominent ways that Weiss Schwarz separates itself from other card games:
- Damage is not based on a character’s power (compare: MTG, YGO)
- Damage does not need to exceed a certain number to ‘pass’ (compare: Cardfight!! Vanguard)
- Card sets are separated by series and are not released in succession (compare: any non-Bushiroad TCG)
- Exactly 50 cards must be used in every deck
- Exactly 8 Climax cards must be used in every deck
- Cards generally do not take over a game on their own (i.e., if X stays on the stage for Y turns, you “win” the game) nor do they win very quickly (compare: Cardfight!! Vanguard, MTG, YGO, Hearthstone)
- “Strictly better cards” and “optimal builds” are difficult to compare across sets because of the way sets/series are structured (compare: CFV, MTG, YGO, Hearthstone)
- Cards tend to get better as a player gets closer to losing (i.e. A level 3 character is almost always more powerful than a level 0 character)
- The card pool allowed in tournaments is static and is not affected by time (no rotations)
- The rules prevent any kind of variation of play such as multiplayer or limited (sealed, draft etc)
- Alternate victory conditions that involve winning without pushing an opponent to level 4 are extremely rare, difficult to execute and are generally not worth the effort
- Interactions with cards are typically one-sided, and rarely allow for the opponent to do anything in response
- The sign cards are beautiful (Not necessarily exclusive to WS, but still, it is a significant quality)
Yikes. That’s a lot of things to keep in mind. So where do we start?
Weiss Schwarz, like any trading card game, is a two-part game. The first part is in creating a deck, and the second part is in the execution of the game. Someone who already knows how to play the game very well can in theory pick up a deck and do very well with it, but without proper card knowledge, can make costly blunders and lose.
Knowing your cards is the first step to understanding strategy in Weiss Schwarz.
Every card, even if it is a “vanilla” card with no abilities, can be given a purpose. For instance, a level 1 5500 power character can be “just another” vanilla character, or with the right strategy, it can become a “character that is played at level 1 for no stock, and generates stock by staying on the center stage for multiple turns because characters can’t go over its power”. Knowing the cards is the key to converting “just a card” to a “card with a purpose”. Pulling it all together gives us the way to start thinking about how to build decks from scratch. Now, this doesn’t mean that one should focus on learning every single card in the game, but it doesn’t hurt to know about the most powerful ones.
The more you know about the game, the better you’ll play.
It might seem like it goes without saying. To the experienced gamer, the concept is sometimes taken for granted. But for new and experienced gamer alike, it’s good to have that starting point to identify to begin understanding the game. And in the case of WS, it begins with learning the cards.
Why learn cards first over learning the flow of the game?
Learning the cards is one of the first ways to dispel the myth that Weiss Schwarz is “all luck”. Consider chess. There are pieces, and rules for how each piece can move. Knowing how each piece is able to move can propel a player from being a beginner to being a solid (or godlike) player. However, without knowing how the pieces move, one will never begin to even approach the concept of the way a game goes. This is also the case within WS.
Sorry, but Magnus Carlsen isn’t もえ enough, so have a Shiro.
Fighting games also provide an excellent parallel. In every fighting game, each character has its own unique set of abilities. Before one can truly enjoy the game to its fullest, one probably should know everything that his or her character can do.
“Master yourself. Master the enemy.” – Lee Sin
Now, learning the buttons and learning the cards isn’t the end of the strategic process. In WS, we have knowing the effects, and recognizing ‘soft’ numbers, such as keeping track of the number of CX cards left in one’s deck, and so on. Fighting games have frame data. (It’s not the only thing, but it’s for the sake of illustration that it’s being used.) And some of us may know what it’s like to try to play a fighting game without frame data.
So what can we take away from this? There are so many layers of strategy that it can seem daunting.
Knowledge reduces mistakes. Having good knowledge and good practice will make a player stronger.
Knowledge can prevent blunders and rules violations. Eventually, theory by itself is tested by execution. That is, if someone can go through the motions of playing his or her cards; if someone can go through the motions of pressing the right buttons. But having the right knowledge base is what can put a player into a position such that only his or her execution is being tested, not his or her game knowledge. Knowledge is one of the biggest ways that experienced players take an edge over players with less experience, because it translates to better outcomes. One of the ways that a player starting out can aim to level the playing field while playing from a disadvantage, is to make equal as many planes as possible, and knowledge is one of the most accessible (note: not necessarily easy!) ways to further one’s game.
An article on this site has already gone into depth about how and why to test playing a deck. If you want to read in further detail about it right away, you can see it here.
Be sure to check out the next article in the series, where we’ll be addressing one of the biggest concepts in card games but through the scope of Weiss Schwarz: card advantage!
If you have questions or comments, please send us a message via Facebook or an email at theninthcx AT gmail DOT com. Be sure to sign up for our monthly giveaway where we are giving away a box every month! Thanks for reading!