Love Live! Deck Tech – 2014 NA Intercontinental Champion!

Love Live Muse

Welcome to the 9th CX’s Weiss Schwarz deck techs! For this article, we will be looking at the deck that won the 2014 North American Intercontinental Championship: Love Live!

The deck and interview are brought to you by Tianyu Wei, who is from New York City, New York. Tianyu won the qualifiers in New York to secure his invitation for the event, and then battled in a field of 10 qualified competitors to take the title. Because the set has been released in English, the official card names will be used.

さ、ライブの時間だよ!

Love Live!

Cards – 50

Level 0 – 15

2 Kotori Minami (LL/W24-E011)
2 Nico Yazawa (LL/W24-E017)
1 Spiritual Power, Nozomi (LL/W24-E028)
2 Otonokizaka High 3rd Year, Nico (LL/W24-E029)
2 Maid Outfit Honoka (LL/W24-E058)
4 “Minalinsky” Kotori (LL/W24-E064)
2 Great at Singing, Maki (LL/W24-E079)

Level 1 – 13

4 “Our LIVE, the LIFE with You” Umi Sonoda (LL/W24-E004)
2 “Our LIVE, the LIFE with You” Eli Ayase (LL/W24-E005)
4 “Our LIVE, the LIFE with You” Kotori Minami (LL/W24-E007)
3 Smile! Push-ups! (LL/W24-E095)

Level 2 – 5

2 Umi Sonoda (LL/W24-E013)
1 Otonokizaka High 3rd Year, Nozomi (LL/W24-E030)
2 Otonokizaka High 3rd Year, Eli (LL/W24-E031)

Level 3 – 9

2 “We Are Now Waiting In the Shining Light” μ’s (LL/W24-E014)
2 Idol Otaku, Nico (LL/W24-E027)
3 Otonokizaka High 2nd Year, Umi (LL/W24-E052)
2 Otonokizaka High 1st Year, Maki (LL/W24-E081)

CX – 8

3 First Thoughts (LL/W24-E073)
2 You’re the worst! (LL/W24-E075)
3 Youthfulness Must Be Listening (LL/W24-E023)

At level 0, we have 15 characters.

WS_LL_W24_E011

When you play Kotori Minami, you may pay 1 stock and discard a card to search your deck for up to 1 [Music] character.

WS_LL_W24_E017

If Nico Yazawa is hogging the stage (if you control no other characters), it gets +1 level and +1500 power.

WS_LL_W24_E028

When you play Spiritual Power, Nozomi, you reveal the top card of your deck, and put that into clock if the card is not a [Music] character.

WS_LL_W24_E029

When you play Otonokizaka High 3rd Year, Nico, you put the top card of your deck (face-down) underneath it as a marker. If you would pay stock to satisfy a Change ability, you can use the marker underneath it in place of 1 stock. When it attacks, you choose up to 2 of your [Music] characters, and each of them gets +500 power until end of turn. (It can choose itself, and you must choose different characters.)

WS_LL_W24_E058

Maid Outfit Honoka is a level reverser. When it attacks, you may return two characters in your waiting room to your deck (and then shuffle) to give it +2000 power until end of turn.

WS_LL_W24_E064

“Minalinsky” Kotori has a Change ability: at the beginning of your climax phase, you may pay 1 stock and put this card into clock to choose a “Our LIVE, the LIFE with You” Kotori Minami in your waiting room and put it onto the stage in the same position.

WS_LL_W24_E079

Great at Singing, Maki, gets +1 level and +1000 power if you control 1 or fewer other characters. When you play it, you put the top card of your deck under it as a marker, and that marker can be used as 1 stock when you pay for Change costs.

At level 1, we have 13 cards: 10 characters and 3 events.

WS_LL_W24_E004

“Our LIVE, the LIFE with You” Umi Sonoda gives all your other [Music] characters +500 power. You can pay 1 stock and rest two characters you control to Brainstorm and search your deck for up to one [Music] character for each CX revealed. (You shuffle your deck after whether you search or not. Source: Official Bushiroad ruling received via email)

WS_LL_W24_E005

“Our LIVE, the LIFE with You” Eli Ayase gets +500 power for each other [Music] character you control.

WS_LL_W24_E007

When “Our LIVE, the LIFE with You” Kotori Minami is in battle, neither player can use Backup abilities. (However, events that have Counter Step timing can still be played, as they are not Backup abilities)

WS_LL_W24_E095

Smile! Push-ups! gives a [Music] character you control +3500 power until end of turn. (It can be played during the Counter Step)

At level 2, we have 5 characters.

WS_LL_W24_E013

Umi Sonoda gets +500 power for each other rested [Music] character you control.

WS_LL_W24_E030

Otonokizaka High 3rd Year, Nozomi has a 1 stock +3000 power Backup ability. If you play it normally however, you choose another [Music] character you control and give it +2000 power until end of turn. (No one is safe from Nozomi)

WS_LL_W24_E031

Otonokizaka High 3rd Year, Eli gives characters you control in front of it +X power where X is 500 times that character’s level. When you play it, if you control 4 or more other [Music] characters, you may put the top card of your deck into stock.

At level 3, we have 9 characters.

WS_LL_W24_E014

“We Are Now Waiting In the Shining Light” μ’s has a Heal effect when played or Changed into. It has a CX combo with “Youthfulness Must Be Listening”: when it attacks, all characters (including itself) get +3000 power until end of turn.

WS_LL_W24_E027

Idol Otaku, Nico has a Shrink effect. (The character facing it gets -1 soul.) When it reverses a character in battle, you may pay 2 stock and discard a card. If you do, put that character into your opponent’s clock.

WS_LL_W24_E052

Otonokizaka High 2nd Year, Umi gets +1000 power if you control 3 or more other [Music] characters. It has a Heal ability when played, and a CX combo with “You’re the worst!”: when it attacks, you Salvage a character, and all your [Music] characters get +1000 power until end of turn.

WS_LL_W24_E081

Otonokizaka High 1st Year, Maki gets -1 level in your hand if you have 6 or more CXs in your waiting room. When you play it, you draw up to 2 cards then discard a card. It gets +500 power for each other [Music] character you control.

The CX spread is 3/3/2, split among 1k1Bounce1k1 + Door, and 2k1 effects.

WS_LL_W24_E073

WS_LL_W24_E023

WS_LL_W24_E075

Tianyu will be joining us for the analysis and walkthrough of the deck!

How do we play this deck?

Michael: This deck is quite a spread – it uses all 4 colors and the colors can be spread quite thin. The numbers at level 0 are slightly more aggressive than the average deck, as it uses 15 characters instead of the “normal” 16.

Tianyu: This is not an easy deck to play at all. It offers the best effects that the Love Live! set has to offer, but struggles with color balancing quite often.

M: Level 0 reminds me a lot of previous builds of Love Live!, but it has fewer Change effects. It focuses on using Kotori as its sole target and plan in the early game.

T: It’s important to focus more on the level 1 game than the really early game, because that’s when you gain the most advantage. The 7000 power Kotori that you can’t Backup is pretty huge and unfair because you can always use your event to give it +3500 power. Even if you fear the same effect from your opponent, you should just ‘yolo attack’ because you want to secure that advantage. If the opponent has it, then they have it, but you can’t win without taking some risks.

M: The deck also has a lot of options in the midgame. The “Our LIVE, the LIFE with You” Umi Sonoda is very important to have active. Not only does it power up your board, but it also lets you look through your deck for whatever you need at a given time. It also indirectly powers up an early level 3 Maki.

T: At the early levels, the “Minalinsky” Kotori is really critical to either have or have in clock because it provides the red necessary early on. Even though the level 1 game is primarily yellow, you can clock yellow cards and level with the Kotori to enable your red CXs. At level 2, [the level 3] Maki is not mandatory to play, but it’s a nice card to have if it comes up.

M: It looks like then, that the game really revolves around getting that early level 1 presence, and gaining as much of an advantage from it as possible, while saving stock for later plays. The deck can search for whatever it needs without a CX combo by using “Our LIVE, the LIFE with You” Umi Sonoda, and can power out an early Otonokizaka High 1st Year, Maki to get even more ahead. The deck also uses all 3 level 3 CX combos to maximize its Heal effects, as well as overpower opposing characters.

What does this deck not do well? Is it missing something? How do we beat it?

T: Honestly, this deck would benefit a lot from having better color management. The EB (Love Live! School Idol Festival) provided that, but since it’s not out in English yet, we have to make do with this.

This deck cannot soul rush because 5/8 CX cards are red, and there are only 9 red (non-CX) cards in the deck total. You could literally play an entire game without having been able to play a single red CX as a result.

M: The deck is definitely on the greedier side of things. It uses all four colors, and has very aggressive color ratios. Because of that, player skill is a much larger factor when using this deck than with others.

T: If you play poorly with this deck, it’s pretty much a disaster. If you play too conservatively, you lose potential advantages, and catching up is near impossible because soul rushing is so difficult to do.

Most of the game plan is on the 7000 power Kotori. If that gets knocked down it’s pretty much game over.

M: From a gameplay standpoint, paying attention to what the player has available is very important. For example, getting a blue card into level or clock is vital to protecting the deck’s level 1 game, especially the 7000 power Kotori.

If the opponent does not have blue available (and the likelihood is not terribly high), then using a very large character to run it over (e.g. using a 2k1 or other effects) is a very safe way to prevent the deck from gaining an insurmountable advantage early on.

If the opponent is aware of this though, they may decide to play a mind game and clock a blue card without having drawn the event counter. In either case though, just as this deck has to press for an advantage at its own risk, so should an opponent facing the deck.

How does the deck stack up? Is it conservative or greedy? What’s its overall power range? Is it easy or difficult to use? What would you say about its viability in the JP/EN metagames at large?

New section! This area will be featured in future deck techs and will contain opinions from the writers and when available, the deck designer(s). Again, the section will be featuring opinions; take it at face value and remember that they are not the final authority on if a card(s) or deck is good!

Greed will be ranked on a scale from 1-10, where 1 describes the most conservative build possible of a deck (monocolor, high redundancy), and 10 describes the most greedy build possible of a deck (multicolor, low redundancy, while still being cohesive). A deck that is only 1-ofs is unlikely to be assessed accurately on this scale.

Power range will assess how a deck might look like after a set of games. It will be based on the knowledge of cards and decks that compare with the deck at its various levels, and will use ranges, from X to Y. 0 represents a deck that does not function at all and may only play a few cards in a game due to issues (stock issues, color issues, sustain issues [characters unable to stay on stage for more than one turn], etc), and 10 represents a deck that functions almost unconditionally and will never have issues with stock, color, or sustain.

Difficulty will refer to how much practice a player would need with a deck to be familiar with its capabilities. 1 means that the deck can be picked up by an intermediate player with relative ease because of its simplicity and lack of complicated abilities. 10 means that the deck requires a high understanding of game mechanics as well as a high level of card knowledge outside of just the cards within the deck to maximize its potential. Note, a 10 doesn’t mean that a deck is impossible to use!

Greed: 9

The deck uses 4 colors, and only features 4-ofs of its most important level 1 cards (and the card with the appropriate Change effect). Most of its CX base (red) is very thinly supported by cards of the same color in the deck.

Power Range: 1 – 9

As stated before, the deck is super greedy. One awkward draw will make the deck look like a complete disaster, hence the 1 on the low end of the range. On the other hand, if the deck gets its best possible draw, clock, and level, it will dominate starting level 1 (or even earlier if it gets an early “Minalinsky” Kotori Change). It uses all 3 late CX combos, making all CX draws in the endgame very dangerous plays.

Difficulty:  9.5

Color management is something that gets tested by the deck, and being mindful of what colors you have access to at a given time can make or break the game from early on. Its game plan is almost like a glass cannon – its stability is determined by the same luck that anyone has (drawing & clocking), but also largely by the user (determining what to clock & level with).

T: I really do not recommend this [build] for general playing. (lol) It’s tiring to play.

EN/JP Meta viability:

T: Well, this deck topped in Nagoya, and the list was based off that one. It used only the first set despite having access to EBs.

M: In the JP metagame, the presence of Kantai Collection hurts this deck’s chances, but that alone shouldn’t be a reason to not run the deck. It Heals well, has a good spread of CX effects (Salvage + Bounce), and has (arguably) one of the best search effects in the game.

As for EN, it can square off against dominant decks such as SAO. In fact, I would call its search ability the strongest currently available in the EN metagame. Some SAO builds are opt to cut Self-sacrifice (+3500 power event), but others still have it. In any case, only having to worry about one card is not a reason to shy away from using the deck. (Plus, the deck can, if it really wants to, preemptively use a Smile! Push-ups! on its Kotori to ensure that it will reverse a character)

The consensus is that the deck is too greedy and inconsistent to be considered a reliable choice, especially for a long (5+ round) event.

Onto the interview!

M: Congratulations on another win and welcome back! To start things off, why did you choose Love Live! for the event?

T: I had Madoka, SAO, Fate/zero, and Love Live! to choose from, but I just wasn’t ‘feeling it’ from any except for LL!. I actually wanted to play Bakemonogatari because I think it’s one of the better decks suited for the current English meta (before the new set arrives).

M: What was a really lucky moment you had during the tournament?

T: I want to say every moment. There were’t any moments that stood out to me. Every cancel at level 3 could have gone either way. It was very possible for me to lose and also very possible to survive.

M: Sounds like you got the better end of some of those endgame nail-biter moments. How about a really unlucky moment during the tournament?

T: I lost the very first game and it did feel kind of [sic] suck. I basically [would] have to win the rest to advance.

M: Did you have any incredible comebacks?

T: Losing the first game during the Swiss rounds, then making it through the rounds and winning it all was kind of like a comeback in itself. My opponent in the finals ended up being the same guy who beat me in the first round. It was a weird feeling lol.

M:  So how did that match go for you?

T: I had a normal game, but I sensed by opponent was struggling early when he paid 3 stock to encore his 1/1 7000 vanilla Rider… and then did it 2-3 more times. He wasn’t having a good game.

M: How did you prepare for the tournament? Did you do anything special or in particular the day of?

T: Practice shuffling? [I] don’t want to offend any hardcore competitive players out there, but for me, WS is 50% shuffling, 30% deck building, and 20% playing. My advice for new players is to just shuffle a lot. I shuffle cards whenever I watch anime, like doing an exercise.

M: Interesting point. It could be something for a future article! How was your Anime Expo 2014?

T: It was great. Spent a lot less than I expected, and the ChaOS tournament was really fun too.

M: Nice! Well, congratulations again on the win and thank you for the (second) interview. Before we wrap up, any shoutouts or other things you would like to say?

T: Shoutouts to Chris Liang for organizing the awesome ChaOS tournament, and Shinong for lending me his Love Live! deck. And BCF2014 Nagoya 2nd place  神北虹樹 for the deck idea.

And… Nico Nico Niiiiiiii~ 

Nico Nico Nii

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