Keyword Spotlight – Burn, Anti-Burn & Shrink

Welcome to the 9th CX’s spotlight on keywords! This miniseries is geared toward newer players to go in-depth on the many keyword abilities in Weiss Schwarz.

For this article, we’re going to be going over BurnAnti-Burn, and Shrink!

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Burning love? Or perhaps a ship?

Burn

Burn is not so much a singular ability as it is a concept in the game. The ability can take on many forms, but the common thread is that it will involve: “Deal X damage to your opponent.”

Some ways Burn may be seen in the game include –

  • Deal X damage to your opponent (including Brainstorm variants etc)
  • When your opponent cancels damage, deal 1 damage. (Fire trigger)
  • When your opponent cancels damage, put the top card of your deck into your waiting room and deal X+1 damage to your opponent where X is that card’s level. (Punish trigger)
  • When this character is placed onto the stage or attacks, deal X damage. (Illya, Kantai, Vividred, Log Horizon… the list goes on)

Effects that send characters directly to clock are notably different from Burn because Burn can be canceled. While they are functionally very similar in that they result in your opponent having more cards in clock, Burn here refers to only effects that result in the opponent being dealt damage. Similarly, the penalty for refreshing the deck is not considered a Burn effect.

What’s good about Burn?

In Weiss Schwarz, the center stage (front row) can hold up to three characters. The amount of damage that one can do in a turn can be as low as 3 with 3 attacks. With other effects, this number can easily increase. Burn lets you do more damage than game rules would normally allow you to deal within the battle step.

Bottom line: It’s more damage!

Because Burn effects can be canceled, they can be used to exhaust your opponent of cancel effects remaining. For instance, if you have 3 characters on the field and your opponent has 2 CXs left in the deck, if you use a Burn effect (or two) and eliminate one or both CXs from his or her deck, you’ve effectively converted the rest of the deck into damage!

What can be challenging about Burn?

Burn effects tend to not be seen until later levels; usually cards at level 2 and 3 will have the effect. Using Burn effects while behind can be risky, especially if it leaves you at the same level as your opponent but with fewer cards in hand. If the effect is on a character(s), it can also test how you sequence attacks.

The amount of damage the effect will deal is kind of a test of two parts, guts and math. The math, if remembered correctly, can guide you to what a statistically “correct” play could be. (e.g. Burn 5 when the opponent has 0 CXs in deck is a very sound play. Burn 5 when the opponent has 8 CXs is very risky.)

The math that goes into that risk can have some pretty steep consequences, especially if the effect is being used at a time where it would not end the game. If you have a wealth of stock to spend on Burn effects, then it might not be so difficult to decide on when to use the effect. But what if you only have 4 stock and have to choose between Burn for 3 or playing 2 level 3 characters? The answer changes depending on the circumstances, and determining the best possible path comes with experience. (That is, lots of playing!)

Anti-Burn

The exact line “You cannot be damaged by [A] (triggered) abilities your opponents control” is (as of July 2014) only found on two cards.

Wait, then why is it relevant? What makes it good?

The ability is good because it forces the opponent to try to win through straight damage (though events are still fair game). The ability by itself completely shuts down the entire endgame of Illya

Illya Disapproves

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-and also renders the user unable to be damaged by the big “punish burn” effects from sets such as Kill La Kill and Kantai Collection. Large “deal 5 damage” triggers (Log Horizion, Vividred Operation, etc) are also prevented. You can still pay for the effect if you are the user, but it just won’t do anything.

Because the effect is so rare, it is difficult to separate the effect from the cards it is currently associated with. However, in a vacuum, if the effect is affordable, then it is quite a foil to a large range of effects.

What could be the downside?

The only downside currently to this effect is that it is rare, and expensive to use. However, those are card-specific disadvantages. The cards that the effect is on notwithstanding, the effect is a rare “only good”; it doesn’t require any other decisions or additional skill-testing. In a way, it is always at its full power because it cannot do anything else.

Shrink

“The character facing this card gets -X soul.” is the text that describes a Shrink effect. Typically, it is seen on level 3 characters in the form of “The character… gets -1 soul”, but has some variants.

What’s good about it?

Where Anti-Burn suffers from being rare and relatively narrow in scope, Shrink is a more accessible way to prevent damage from being dealt. If your center stage has nothing but characters with Shrink effects, your opponent will likely struggle to win.

-1 soul may not sound like much, but let’s put it into perspective. The typical character in the game has 1 soul. Characters at level 0 and level 1 almost without exception (Very special mention for Crayon Shin-chan here, which does have a promo that, at level 1, attacks for 2 soul… and is restricted to 1 copy in a deck) are this way, and level 2 characters are relatively split based on the stock paid for them. A 2/1 character typically has 1 soul, and a 2/2 character typically has 2.

Shrink effect that gives -1 soul is an effective 100% damage reduction (short of effects & triggers) against most characters, and a 50% reduction against some level 2 characters and most (if not all) level 3 characters. Think of it like a preemptive Heal effect. Remember how efficient a Heal effect is? A Shrink effect doesn’t even have to “resolve” to work, it just does! Best of all, it isn’t subject to tax.

Are there any foreseeable downsides?

Not really. While it is a good ability, a deck should be built with the knowledge that the series (or set) has access to this type of effect, instead of being built strictly for the effect itself. Characters with a Shrink ability tend to not be as large as characters without it. Basically, it trades its own ability to survive a turn to allow you, the player, to be more likely to survive a turn.

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