Welcome to the 5th installment of Level 0 – the column that explores the basics of strategy in Weiss Schwarz!
Next Article: [TBD]
Previous Article: Preparing for Major Tournaments
Author’s Note: This article is brought to you by an idea from Australian reader Elliot L. This article is intended to be a tool for some perspective on the ups and downs experienced by all players in tournament play, and is in no way meant to be an evaluation or attack on any person’s ability to play the game. Basically, this is the “how to get through bad beats and such” article. -Michael
The other month I opened an email from a fellow in Australia. He offered an idea that is in contrast to the normal article tone. Normally on 9th CX, we feature tournament reports from people who win whole events and so on, but what about a perspective from someone who has just gone 0-X in their local tournament scene? Elliott ended his email with “Personally if you don’t [have any interest] in this that’s fine, but if you do[…]” So naturally, I jumped at the opportunity. It gave me some pause and perspective after all: why don’t we talk about the rough beats of a tournament gone completely sour? To give some context, he sent the message after having just gone 0-4 in a 16-man event with his new Log Horizon deck. (i.e. absolutely dumpstered)
The next step was getting everything together, so I asked him some pretty interesting (I think) questions.
- What got you into the game?
- Why do you play?
- What keeps you going when you lose?
- Why do you lose?
- Are you open to using or testing other lists? What’s your testing experience like?
Why did I ask these questions? Especially that fourth one!
I wanted to get a sense of what his experience was like, and what he plays for. As I’ve stated before, everyone plays the game for different reasons. Some want to be the #1 player in the world, and others want to show others that their waifu is #1 and that other peoples’ waifu is absolute gutter trash. As a disclaimer, I don’t mean to create a false dichotomy by only mentioning two ‘types’ of players, but it’s just to give an idea.
I wanted to ask also why he as a player kept on playing the game despite losing. After all, sometimes people can be turned away by failure especially in games. (I mean can you imagine what it would be like to try to play a chess match against Magnus Carlsen or Shiro?) The question was really about getting a small sense of his grit as a player. But the fourth and fifth questions are really about the tactical approach to the game. You can get a sense of a player’s strategic approach from his or her reasons for playing, but the tactics come out in different questions.
So then, what did he say?
Elliott: I first started with Weiss Schwarz just over a year ago and I had started getting back into anime seriously, so my mate first showed me his collection of cards and as well how to play to the game, but it wasn’t actually how people played the game but it was more off the artwork that I loved and I will always remember the Psycho;pass climax card “Unit One of the Public Safety Bureau’s Criminal Investigation Division”. I was huge fan of the anime at the time and I just fell in love with how awesome it looked and I knew that this was something I could really see myself working toward.
Michael: Why do you play?
E: To be honest, I have questioned myself numerous times on why I play Weiss Schwarz. No matter how many times I play people, no matter what my card draw might be like, I will just never win against people. A good example of this is my friend Dylan. I have played matches with him nearly every single week for just over a year. Not once have I been able to beat him and personally, it’s frustrating; losing always is. But showing up and just playing a few matches for an hour, has been some of the most fun I have ever had. I wouldn’t trade it for the world.
M: What keeps you going when you lose?
E: Some people have said to me, “What’s the point you’re going to lose?”
This has been asked so many times, I can’t even recount. I have drawn all 8 climaxes in my hand before. I have been so close to winning and had it yanked out of my hands by +2 soul triggers. Now usually with this 9th CX you’re used to hearing about people with good decks but this is the story of the loser who didn’t come 1st, 2nd or 3rd but instead dead last. Now for us this was a big tournament for us as we have a mildly small scene and I had hopes that being able to win something or coming 8th or above at worst, but luck is a cruel mistress.
When it rains, it pours.
Now I had a friend who came in with Bakemonogatari trial deck, He was petrified of being smashed, and thought he was wasting his $20. Only because he had it slightly modified it with around 7-8 boosters, he came 3rd overall out of 16 people. This, I won’t lie, felt like being kicked in the balls- seeing your $250 deck that you have poured hours upon hours into that has been changed so many times, being smashed and being labeled as a statistically bad deck. It can feel degrading.
Again, some people might say “Sell the deck and move on,” or “You need to play a different deck,” but I realized that as annoyed as I could be, I actually felt encouraged to learn more. So for the final games all I did was sit behind one of the players and saw how they played, and trying to learn how to become a better player. I believe sometimes that this goes astray in a lot of people and just basing it down to luck isn’t something you should do, there are a lot of situations where I can say I played incorrectly and I could have done it so much better.
This last part is more of just a general statement to everyone, the next time you lose and you’re pissed, look at the people around you and ask yourself, “Are they having fun and enjoying themselves?”. Because I assure everyone of you reading this, putting on a smile, shaking an opponent’s hand, clutching your Nendoroid Waifu in your pocket and enjoying yourself, is much better than raging and complaining.
M: Are you open to comparing or testing other lists?
E: Well I’m always up for comparing and testing other deck lists, especially if they have some results behind them but I will always end up at least giving them a read through and checking out pros and cons. I will pay more attention though to waifu decks, there always a good laugh to read through.
M: Have you tried out other qualifying lists? (That is, other lists that have qualified for the WGP, etc)
E: Personally the only qualifying list I tried was the Red Letter/Animal deck for Gargantia which was a blast to run through. But it never really worked for me, so I try to collect as many opinions as I can.
E: Now I completely forgot I never answered the most important question.
M: Why do you lose?
The first and primary cause is just poor luck. An example of this is my last game against my friend Duncan who ran an Accel World deck. Every time I would attack, I would trigger climaxes, sending them into the pit of despair. This ultimately killed me as when I had to deck refresh, I was left with 35+ cards in my deck and only 5 climaxes. To add insult to injury, I clocked a level 0 at level 3 and drew 2 of 4 remaining climaxes. (Ouch – M)
The second I think is the value of cards. I think this is something that a lot of people forget about. I value cards on the basis of if it can beat something with a higher stock cost. Take for example the Akatsuki from the Log Horizon TD.
If you pick this up in your hand on the first turn, it has an absolutely amazing value. It might not have high power, but it can trade for a character for free. Making your opponent lose 2 cards for 1 is good, and you can apply this to characters with very high power. A lot of people throw them off and say that they’re redundant, but if you have a guarantee that the opponent is going to lose more cards than you use, your chances of winning goes up with every round.
What can we take away from this?
I think that Elliott makes a very good point with his response to the “Why you lose??” question. In every single game you play, luck can and will be a factor, win or lose. Sometimes you do hit that triple trigger and die. Very important to remember though is that card value is something that is not really emphasized as much in the game. As stated in previous articles, because the game does not have effects that read “Draw 2 cards” and “Your opponent discards 2 cards” and the like, determining what constitutes card advantage and straight “value” can be difficult.
I think he also made a great point earlier that could have easily gone into answering the same question, that he was inspired to learn more about the game instead of just bitterly blaming bad luck.
As a personal example, during the NA 2014 WGP Nationals event, I played Nisekoi – a deck whose cards I am very familiar with, but a list that I did not test extensively. When I lost my first game, I played back my whole game in my head, and thought of alternative plays and attempted to justify every play to myself. If I couldn’t think of a valid reason for why I attacked a certain way, or why I clocked a character during a given turn etc, I considered it a mistake, and then I would strive to not make that mistake again. Unfortunately for me, even though that kind of mentality would serve me well in the long run, it did not help me in my endeavors to win the event.
Side story –
I did end up making a “nemesis” during the event (hi Alvin!) because our game was extremely one-sided, and our “grudge match” after the event didn’t go much better for him. (For what it’s worth, he did get incredibly unlucky to lose just as much as I got very lucky to win…both times.)
Just as I’ve said before, you have to go into a tournament accepting that there is only one winner at the end of the day. Second place is just as good as last (at least, when dealing with invites and so on, but Bushiroad official tournaments tend to be more generous with invites, so we’ll say that top 8 is just as good as last), but that shouldn’t deter any of us.
When losing, it’s important to take it in stride, whether it’s just round 1 or the game with the invite on the line. I’ve watched friends lose prizes worth thousands of dollars (heck, I’ve done that myself), but every time it ends with a nod and a “Good game.” Being hot-headed doesn’t really get one anywhere as a player, and again, attitude counts for a lot.
If you win a tournament – hooray! Congratulations, good on you and keep playing.
If you, like many of us, don’t win, oh well. There will always be more, and remember, there will always be everyone else to share in your losses.
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