Welcome to the second installment of Level 0 – the column that explores the basics of strategy in Weiss Schwarz!
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Previous Article: Strategy
“Stand. Draw. Clock. Draw two.”
In card games, card advantage can be defined as any action that is taken that results in a player having more cards than his or her opponent. Most card games have a very simple method of illustrating card advantage by having cards whose sole purpose is to draw more cards. But in Weiss Schwarz, it is incredibly rare to see a card that only reads “Draw a card.” In fact, there is no card in the game with the text “Draw two cards.”
Forcing someone to discard cards is also a way to gain card advantage, but even an effect that forces an opponent to discard any cards is extraordinarily rare. In fact, one of the few cards that has this effect is banned.
Sparsely present in Weiss Schwarz are card effects that directly cause an opponent’s character to go from the stage to the waiting room. Cards that have this kind of effect may be known as “removal” in other games, but again, in WS, they are very much rarities. Even cards that deal X damage to an opponent are hard to find, and are neither cheap nor efficient.
All of this brings us to the all-important question:
With the game completely unable to access certain types of card effects, how do we determine where we can find card advantage?
The answer is in character cards.
The game of WS revolves around character cards. Without character cards, a deck cannot and will not function.
Why not? It’s because of the wide array of uses and abilities that character cards have. Some function to attack and reverse other characters. Others have abilities that can Heal a player and the list goes on for quite some time. They are one of the only ways to reliably generate stock and generate damage in the game.
So let’s take a step back for a second and look at character cards one layer at a time. If we peel back all the abilities they have, we can see that each of them has a core pair of abilities- dealing damage and generating stock. This is true of just about any character card in the game. For characters that are going to attack, we can put them into four general categories: Power, Utility, Encore, and Reverser.
Power – Power is used to represent a character that is meant to attack over smaller characters and is potentially difficult to reverse because of its size. Characters with good Power are good against characters with Encore and poor against characters with Reverser.
Utility – Utility is used to represent a character that is meant to be used as a part of a combo, or in a support role to assist other characters that are categorized under Power. If used on the center stage, they tend to be poorer against characters with Power and Encore, but with their intended combo can be greater than both. Utility in the back stage for the purposes of this breakdown can also help any one of the other three types beat the other. For example, a Utility character may give a character a level to make a Reverser ineffective, and so on. Many characters with abilities such as Backup, and anti-salvage can be put into this category.
Encore – Encore is used to represent a character with a special or alternate cost for the standard 3-stock encore, be it ‘clock encore’, ‘hand/character encore’, or another method. It is meant to sustain itself through its ability, occasionally attacking over smaller characters, and being difficult to deal with permanently because of its ability to easily return. Characters with Encore are effective against characters with Power on the defense, but worse on the offense. They are also very effective against Reversers.
Reverser – Reverser is used to represent characters that have a reversing ability; an ability that reverses the character it battles with upon fulfilling a condition, such as being a certain level or having a certain cost. Reversers are meant to trade with characters with Power, and are particularly poor against characters with Encore.
That is, in general, Power beats Power, Power beats Encore, Encore beats Reversers, and Reversers beat Power.
Waifu Support Utility can help any trump the other.
So then what best defines card advantage in Weiss Schwarz?
Characters are the most efficient cards for removing other characters, building stock, and dealing damage. If we take the “classic” definition of card advantage into consideration, that is, actions that result in a player having more cards than the opponent, we can extend that to mean actions that result in a player having more characters than an opponent.
It’s easier to focus on characters because they are the ones doing all the damage in the course of a game without exception. Having more characters on the stage for a longer time will result in more cards in hand, more stock built, and more damage dealt; card advantage. Having a character use its ability (to draw cards, search for cards, etc), and then reverse a character; card advantage.
Weiss Schwarz however, like any game, is not won by having the most cards in hand. While having more cards can and often will help, there is no game rule or card that reads, “If you have more cards in hand than your opponent, you win the game.”
“So why not,” one might ask.
Card advantage becomes less relevant as the game comes closer to ending.
Winning while having had card advantage can feel pretty awesome.
It’s like having cake AND getting to eat it!
Losing while having had card advantage (e.g. perfect stock, 8 CXs in deck, 7 cards and an ice cream sundae in hand) though…
Legend has it that you can still find it there today.
Card advantage can feel like the path to victory, but focusing only on card advantage cause someone to have tunnel vision. A great example of this could be a player so adherent to the need to clock and draw two cards every turn that he does not notice he was already at level 3 with 6 in clock! Because of this, we should not say that “card advantage wins games”. Rather:
Card advantage tends to lead to victory. Card advantage reduces the chances of losing, but doesn’t prevent it altogether.
One of the easiest methods of finding card advantage in Weiss Schwarz is having characters that will attack, and using characters and effects to deny the opponent subsequent attacks.
Because most characters follow the cycle of Power, Encore, Reverser, and Utility, finding the right kind of balance for a deck is key. Having a deck with only cards that can Reverse other characters for instance, may struggle to sustain damage output, though it may excel at denying the opponent non-Encore characters. On top of that, not all sets have access to each type of character. For example, Log Horizon has a Reverser at levels 0 and 1. Madoka Magica has a Reverser at level 0, but not level 1.
What about CX cards?
CX cards can be thought of as Support cards for the sake of argument, because they will generally boost the power and/or soul values of characters you control. 1k1 effects can potentially secure a massive advantage in terms of moderate damage and characters reversed, and +2 soul can score more in terms of damage (in general) than any other card in the game.
For more on what the effects of CXs can do, you can read about them here.
With these points in mind, the next step is learning how to break down a set and build a deck. Stay tuned for the next article, which will be dealing with deck building, color balancing, and how to play at each level!
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