Welcome back to Level 0, the series on the basics in Weiss Schwarz!
This marks Article 7 of the Level 0 series.
Next Article: TBD
Previous Article: Being Wrong
For this time around, we’re going to go into the more WS-specific terms in deck building, and within that topic, delve into the many triggers that one can put in a deck. Our objective is to provide some insight on how to approach/evaluate them outside of the context of a deck, and then how to balance them in the context of a deck. Off we go!
CX Trigger Types
Shot (Burn 1)
Pants (technically gate, but many players use the terms interchangeably without confusion)
If you need a refresher on what each of these triggers does, the neat tooltip will give you the effects if you mouse over them.
Triggers are value-added bonuses added to CX cards that make them do even more than what “normal” non-CX cards can’t do. CX cards have 3 major functions in a game.
On the defense, a CX card cancels out any pending damage and halts the process. On offense, it is used two ways: as a played card for its effect (1k1, etc), and also as an incidental trigger (Bar, etc)
Now, because CX cards have two offensive capabilities and only one (albeit major) defensive one, it’s important to maximize the value one gets out of those potential triggers and effects. This does not mean that having specific trigger types or CX combos is mandatory. One of the challenges with deck building is to balance the potential pros and cons of running certain combos, and accounting for their strengths against running CXs based on the merits of their trigger types alone.
Sometimes, the combo is a very happy marriage of power and value. That is, you might sometimes run into a very powerful trigger with a very powerful CX combo. For example, there is the Bounce + Burn CX combo found in To Love-Ru 2nd Darkness, with Golden Darkness’s insane one-turn threat:
Has hexproof and +1500 power as long as you only control [Transformation] and/or [Housework] characters. Draws up to 2 and discards 1 when played. With the CX combo, gains and gives another character you control a Burn trigger until end of turn.
But most of the time, the value is not as clear, and more discretion has to be applied. So for each of these, we have a little chart to illustrate how good each given trigger is in general, over the course of a game. Context will make the value of these triggers vary wildly, usually much higher in the right deck, but we are also going to go through them out of context to establish a rough base line value for each.
There is one constant we can track outside of the context of a deck, and that is a CX trigger’s relevance in time. Some CX triggers are extraordinarily valuable in the early game and then fall off in the late game. Others, vice versa, and so on. To show this, we will include five times where a trigger will be valued: at game start (first 1-2 turns), early game (level 0-1), mid game (level 1-2), late game (level 2-3), and final turn (level 3, somewhere around 3/3 to 3/6).
For those who might be concerned that these numbers are out of thin air, we have taken great care to run them by previous contributors and known players. In our article discussion, we included: the 9th CX team, Bren, the 2015 NA WGP National Champion, Audri, #1 Honker fan NA, and Clinton, 2 time BWC Regional winner & 2015 Intercontinental Finalist.
These scores are from 1-10, where 10 is the best.
Ahh, +2 soul. The trigger, that is, not the CX effect. +2 soul gives you a chance to do a burst of additional damage that may not have been possible otherwise. This trigger is most commonly found on +2 soul CXs, +1 stock/+1 soul CXs, and 2k1 CXs. It is also seen in every color.
In the first turns, it’s never pleasant to trigger a CX. (We won’t be repeating that point, so from here we will take for granted that we know that a 1st turn CX trigger doesn’t feel great) For +2 soul, the way it makes up for that is by adding a lot of damage. Either your opponent will cancel it and be out a CX, paving the way for more potential future damage, or your opponent will take the full swing for 3-4 and have that much less time to be at level 0 and setup.
In the early game, +2 soul can set the pace for how quick the game may be. If the +2 soul bonus triggers and lands, it can threaten a shorter game. If they cancel, that’s one fewer CX to worry about. The drawbacks can be watching an opponent cancel the damage perfectly, or flipping the trigger during an already-risky direct attack. Ever try to land 6 damage in one attack? It’s hard!
The midgame is where players will try to take whatever advantages they have setup for in the early turns (superior stock, fewer non-CX cards left in deck, tons of cards in hand, etc) and accelerate the game. +2 soul feeds into this strategy quite well, and its “peak value” will be around the midgame where those level 2/level 3 disparities can decide who will have a better endgame, and by extension, end the game more quickly.
In the late game though, damage tends to be less ‘reckless’, as there might be certain levels (e.g. 2/5) that one tries to get an opponent to, so as to deny them the opportunity of using their powerful level 3 cards. Now in some cases, decks will continue to pound away for maximum damage. This can happen if the deck is dedicated to soul rush, if the player is very behind in damage (1+ levels), or if the player’s draw is very poor. The average value that the +2 soul trigger gets here is lower, because having more damage invites more cancels, and the late game is where one wants to minimize the chances of an opponent cancelling. There is still an incentive to use +2 soul here though, as it allows for 2 soul side attacks to get through for 1 potential damage against level 3 characters.
And that brings us to the final turn, where +2 soul will either be the saving grace for a rout of a game, or where it will be one of the worst things to see in a world where one is trying to attack for just enough to end. When dealing with +2 soul triggers, the endgame can feel like a coin flip/dice throw/[some obscure gambling reference], but over time, the general consensus is that +2 soul is not that welcome of a sight during the final turn.
Alternate perspective (ft. Bren):
Bren offers a different evaluation for the +2 soul trigger.
In brief, he feels the value of the +2 soul trigger is highest at the early game.
Following the average/peak legend, his numbers for it are:
Early Game: 7/8
Mid Game: 5/7
Late Game: 3/6
Final Turn: 2/6
The variance of the value of the trigger goes up as the game goes on, thus the different numbers.
Judgment & Tips:
Average. If using any number in a deck, it’s always good to be mindful that they are there; in the long run, they will make side attacks better and direct attacks worse. This trigger type is very unique in that it can fundamentally change the way a player plays and/or plays a deck. If you are not used to it, make sure to practice with it a lot to adjust to the types of attacks it makes you consider.
Bounce is a trigger that takes a while to ramp up, but can become backbreaking as the game progresses. It’s important to remember that this trigger is always accompanied by a soul trigger, and is only found on yellow CXs. It is only paired with 1k1 effects.
In the first turns, the trigger is nearly worthless. In some cases, it might even work against you to use the effect on an opposing character.
In the early game, characters tend to have no cost. The trigger becomes a tool to potentially save a character of yours from being sent to its doom with an attack, but it shouldn’t be relied upon as such. However, the trigger is considerably more valuable against lineups that involve costed characters at level 1.
In the mid to late game though, more heavy characters (particularly those of the 2-stock cost variety) tend to make appearances. The loss of a turn and the loss of stock (net -1 for your opponent) with the increased damage make bounce triggers especially punishing in the midgame. The bounce can also be used to clear away pesky supports in the back stage, allowing you to gain a further advantage in potentially reversing more (or all) characters. The counterbalance against this is that heavy-duty characters tend to have powerful on-play effects (heal, draw, tutor, etc), and giving your opponent the opportunity to use an ability again can sometimes backfire.
On the final turn, bounce is anywhere from sweet to insane. It can clear a slot on the stage to facilitate a direct attack in case of a damage-preventing event/backup being expected. (If you bounce the opposing character on a frontal attack, your opponent still gets to go to the Counter Step) It can shove an overbearing character out of the way, deny a static effect (like shrink), and again, clear an annoying support. Being able to deny (though usually at random) your opponent the opportunity to use the Counter step is huge during the final turn of a game.
The trigger is at most only half-worthless against a clear board, as the extra soul provides value if the effect itself is otherwise unusable.
Judgment & Tips:
Very strong. This trigger scales with the duration of the game. It becomes more valuable against decks that use costed characters earlier in the game, and a little weaker against decks that minimize cost overall. As the game progresses, it only gets better. While the effect on its own is not game-winning per se, it can do a lot of things to push you there.
Bag is an uncommon trigger. Once upon a time, it was easy to find at least one per set. Now, it is substantially rarer. It is only found on green CXs, and is a standalone trigger. It is only paired with 1k1 effects.
In the game start, Bag triggers are a way to gain advantage without worrying about hand size. It’s like a Book trigger; you don’t have to do anything special to make it worth something on the first turn.
In the early game, this trigger is and stays OK; it can enable some plays and/or encores that would not otherwise be afforded by attacking alone, and can also help fund an addiction to brainstorm effects.
The mid game is where we start to hit some differing opinions. Bren again weighs in against the potential merits of the mid game Bag:
On the upside, the trigger lets you build even more stock than would normally be allowed; if you attack with 3 characters, you (usually) generate 3 stock. Being able to go into a later turn with 4 stock instead of 3 for example, lets you play more expensive Backup abilities, or one additional beefy 2-stock character.
Against the Bag however, is that by mid game, one should already be done with setting up and cashing in on stock, rather than building it. In these situations, the Bag is much worse because if it is not triggered as the last CX, or you don’t have an on-attack way of paying stock, you end up refreshing with one less CX, for minimal benefit. Remember, one stock is effectively worth 1/2 of a card, so the downside can far outweigh the potential upside.
Unfortunately for the trigger, context is critical. As we can see, the benefits, while decent, are also threatened by a rather abysmal potential downside. It’s for this reason that Bren values the mid game bag as being somewhere near 1/4, not 6/7 as we have illustrated.
Judgment & Tips:
Average/below average. This trigger starts off with one of the best early game values, but time and context make it quite volatile in the later stages. On the final turn, it’s near if not completely worthless.
Door (comeback, salvage, etc)
The door trigger goes by many names and is one of the most popular ways to achieve card advantage. It is only found on red CXs and is a standalone trigger. It is only paired with 1k1 effects.
At the start of the game, this trigger can be completely worthless if you mulligan nothing. Decks that make use of these triggers often do so as a 4-of, and should mulligan a character at the start of the game whenever possible.
In the early game, a door allows you to stay even or ahead on cards, while also setting up for later turns. It can mean setting up for a turn at level 1 immediately following a level up, or even snagging an important level 2+ character.
The mid game is where the door shines the most. By the mid game, the waiting room will (should) be full of good targets. Whether it’s a key backup, or a bulky character that will be needed, it provides a future benefit. Note that the trigger is less valuable when used on characters with brainstorm abilities; WS does not have a “second main phase” to capture the benefits of those cards immediately.
In the end game, the door subsides in usefulness substantially. If you have had the misfortune of triggering a door as the last card in your deck (you never get anything back) or as the first card from a refresh (ditto), you know the pain of もったいない; the pain of your ‘wasted’ trigger. In addition, you may not even get a chance to use the card that is retrieved with the effect if you are sufficiently damaged (3/4+). If you do live to use the card, great! Otherwise, it’ll just be another CX in your stock that could have been hoped for to cancel incoming damage.
A door on the final turn can be like putting your foot into one as it’s closing – painful. Unless the card you get allows you to freefresh or affords some kind of other defensive action (such as a mill 3 effect), it’s most likely going to be dead.
Judgment & Tips:
Very strong. As a caution, there are a good number of effects in popular sets that can punish the use of these triggers (e.g. Little Busters!, To Love-Ru, Kantai Collection, etc). That aside, doors are one of the most powerful and popular triggers in the game, with good reason.
Before we get to the graphs, (yes, there are multiple), we should advise that the Book trigger is perhaps the game’s most controversial. Some people very much like them, and some, as we will see, despise them. To provide the most complete perspective, we’ll start with 3 charts: 1 for those who favor them, 1 for those who dislike them, and a special one, brought to you by Clinton.
The book trigger is only found on blue CXs, and is a standalone trigger. It is only paired with 1k1 effects.
Now that we’ve looked at the numbers from those who like and dislike draw triggers respectively, we can take stock of some commonalities. (No pun intended)
Another card drawn, especially in the early game, is excellent. At the start of a game, having an extra card in hand makes a lot of things better. It could mean drawing an important utility card, or just having fodder to add to clock the following turn. Yes, it’s still a CX in stock, but having access to one card that can turn into more whether through clock or use, is a big upside.
In the early game, drawing another card from the trigger means more or less the same thing as it would in the opening turns; more clock fodder, or more stuff to use.
The mid game is where opinions differ most. As the game develops, some players prefer to have more cards in hand. After all, more cards = more options, right? Others, don’t care for it as much, and place a higher priority on building stock and refreshing with as many CXs as possible. Because the trigger puts a random card into your hand (unless you know the top X cards of your deck through an effect, etc), triggering this on or near a refresh can accidentally cripple the number of CXs you refresh with.
The end game and final turn are refreshingly unanimous – books are not great there. At these points of the game, drawing another CX can spell a slightly more certain doom. Like door triggers, the drawn card, unless it is fantastic in preventing damage etc, will likely be dead in hand. Both have their advantages when triggered in the endgame. For instance, a door will allow you to salvage a freefresh backup effect, but a book can put an event with an effect to prevent damage or heal into your hand. Ultimately, these advantages are just the best that one can hope for in the subpar situation of triggering a late CX.
As for Clinton’s expletive-laced denunciation of book triggers, we’ll post this… ‘cleaner’ version:
“What does a book trigger actually do? It does nothing. Woohoo, I drew another card, but I’m not getting any extra damage, my character is still doomed, and (!@*&$ I triggered a CX. In theory, all CXs that aren’t bounce, burn, and 2 soul should be considered awful at level 3 (late game), and book is not one of them.”
We tried to get him to elaborate but comments soon broke down into unintelligible ranting and swearing.
(Okay not really, but he really really hates book triggers)
Judgment & Tips:
Highly variable, and primarily based on player preference. Even though the idea was to give an idea of how strong the trigger is outside of the context of a deck, player discretion means even more to this trigger than others. The simple answer is to try them out; see if the CX combo they accompany is strong enough to warrant their potential downsides. If you think they are, run them. If not, or if you are in the Clinton I-Hate-Books Camp, don’t.
Shot (Burn 1)
The shot trigger has the unique honor of being the trigger that is a welcome sight in the late game and even final turn. It is always found with a soul trigger, and is only on yellow CXs. It is always paired with 1k1 effects.
The shot trigger is a test of patience. In the opening turns, and even the early game, it’s nearly worthless. There are very few benefits that come from the ability to punish the opponent for a cancel, and can even cause you to fall behind if you needlessly put them to level 1 earlier than your hand can handle.
The mid game is where the trigger starts to “warm up”. Canceling becomes more important in the mid to late game, and a shot trigger can make that damage more “sticky”. It can also do a double duty and clear up to 2 CXs at once (barring other effects), increasing future potential damage.
The late game and final turn are where the shot burns brightest. Triggering one of these when an opponent is at 3/5 or 3/6 makes winning a much more likely outcome. No other CX trigger in the game offers this kind of security. If one has to trigger a CX in the last turns of a game, there is none better than the shot.
Interesting tip: this trigger bypasses anti-burn effects. This is because the character involved in battle is not what is given the ability to burn 1 in the event of a cancel; you, the player, are.
Judgment & Tips:
Above Average/Strong. It appears that the game designers are aware that the shot trigger is the only one that is near “broken” at the endgame. As such, CX combos will not be as powerful when compared to those available to other triggers. That is mainly what keeps this trigger in check. That said, it can still be worth considering without a combo at all.
Bar (Gold bar, treasure)
Bar or treasure triggers are found only on green CXs, and is a standalone trigger. It is only paired with 1k1 effects.
At the start of the game, the Bar is clock fodder. There will rarely be an incentive to try to rush the opponent to level 1, and the best use of it will generally be pushing it right to clock to draw more cards, unless there is a level 1 CX combo worth saving for. The saving grace to it, is that it isn’t a character you may need to use that you can dismiss to clock (usually) without a second thought.
In the early game, again, barring a worthwhile combo, the trigger is clock fodder.
In the mid and late game, the trigger can be trash or treasure. If it’s needed to setup a devastating level 3 CX combo, it’s one of the most threatening things to draw and can influence the way your opponent plays. If it’s near the bottom of your deck, it’s pretty bad because there are very few ways to get it into the waiting room before refresh. The reason that the trigger is run though is usually to ensure that a CX combo goes off at some point during a game. Otherwise, there would be very little point in running a CX that goes to hand instead of stock.
The add-to-hand effect is mandatory. If you are low in cards in deck, as you are aiming to get during the midgame, then it is typically the time when you want to control how much you use the number of cards in deck. There are times when the proper play is to not add the stock, and that reduces the amount of stock you get. Regardless, before refresh, triggering a Treasure (bar) is a surefire way for an opponent to know you’re refreshing with one less climax. I value early game bars around 6/8, and mid game bars around 4/5.
In the final turn, a bar is highly undesirable. It doesn’t help with damage, and may even displace another CX with its blind stock if you elect to use that part of the ability. If you manage to survive another turn, having it in hand can help mount a comeback attempt, but that’s a very big if.
Judgment & Tips:
Average/above average. The bar is tricky to use, but pairing it with the right CX combos can reduce the difficulty. There is an inherent risk in having too many go into hand, but the ability to send them to clock in the early parts of the game can counteract that. Because the CX going to hand is mandatory, it should not be used without a combo present in the deck.
The game’s newest trigger has remained the newest for the past few years. It is always paired with a soul trigger and is only found on blue CXs. It is always paired with 1k1 effects.
In the early game, a “good” gate trigger is still not great. Why? Because if you are getting value out of it, it is because either you mulliganed one or more away, or, you are going second and the attack canceled. While these aren’t the only circumstances that involve getting value out of the early pants, er, gate, they are the most common, and neither is a particularly desirable circumstance. Yes, you will get a card in hand to use for clock fodder. But, your opponent will know that you are out at least 2 CXs, and may plan for an early or mid game push for the maximum punish.
In the early game, the gate still does not wear the pants. The more narrow mechanic of only retrieving CXs keeps the value of triggering one questionable. At the very least, it allows you to pretend that you have bar triggers attached to your CXs to make comboing off more consistent.
Mid game, gates are still mediocre. Unless there is a very good reason to stock up on certain CXs, overall, they will be risky. Though the effect, like the door trigger, is optional, using one assumes you will have a way to get rid of it or put it to work the following turn. Or you could just be a stone cold bluffer and stare directly into your opponent’s soul as you retrieve the unnecessary CX from your waiting room.
You: “Don’t worry, I have plans for this one.”
Hapless Opponent: “Even if you refresh with four?”
You: “I don’t need to cancel to win.”
And so on.
In the late game, the gate becomes surprisingly powerful. By the late game, players have typically taken the last refresh that they will have for the game, and will want to cancel as much as possible. However, gates let you double-dip and enjoy all the aspects of the CX card. You get to have your cake and eat it.
Bren actually values the late game gate around 7/9, and that score may well be more accurate. The tricky part about managing them in the late game though, is ignoring the discomfort of putting CXs somewhere other than your deck during that time.
In the final turn, like most other triggers, the gate is unwelcome. (For those who play Charlotte, yes, we know that Nao is an exception…And to those who play Fate, yes, Caster is also a thing) If you survive for another turn, you may get to combo off again, but otherwise, it’ll usually be worse than a character card in hand.
Judgment & Tips:
Average/above average. Difficult to manage throughout the game, and the value is highly variable. If trying to ensure one or more CX combos (or card interactions) go off in a game, a gate trigger is very appealing. If used outside of the context of a good CX combo, it’s almost as bad as a lonely bar trigger.
Whew! And there we have it, all of the triggers.
This article could change and/or be updated as the game grows.