Level Up! – How Much Testing?

Welcome to another round of Level Up! For today’s article, we’re going to be giving our answers to a question:

How much testing does it take before you feel OK about a deck?

For today’s responses, we have Michael, Travis, Arin, and Felix.

It’s something we have written about before; testing is good! Testing allows you to see what in your deck is working, and what doesn’t – provided you do it enough. Here’s the premise we went in with to write our responses:

There are many schools of thought when it comes to testing. Some players opt for a high-test approach, where combinations of cards are discussed and then tested, kind of like an A/B test. Others simply theorycraft to bits and run with whatever feels best. Occasionally, there are moments of brilliance when decks just work when built. But, that shouldn’t stop people from feeling the need to test decks. So how much testing does it take before a draft is considered good to go, or junk?


When it comes to testing, or even in this case brewing, I consider the following;


  • What utility does this set have
  • What finishers do I have access to
  • What ways are there to deal with -insert situation here-
  • What plus combos does the set have to offer
  • What tech options are there

Once I have those questions answered, I start the brewing process. Each build I have goes through roughly 20-30 games before I make any major changes such as combo swapping. At most quantities in the deck will be edited and in the case of a major flaw in one of the cards it will be removed.

TL;DR Play blue, true meta. Can’t have green without blue.


I usually just go with the first draft of whatever deck I build. If there are obvious fixes, I’ll make them, but otherwise I’ll just run with it. If the deck sucks, I might try something different, but I rarely change decks.


Testing is difficult. You need to have a good scrim partner or group to get the best testing possible. Barring that, you’ll hit the value ceiling much sooner with a less experienced group. This might sound elitist, but consider this: let’s say you’re in a chess club and you’re the only player with a rating higher than 2000. If the remaining players are all rated ~1400, you’re not going to be learning as much from your games as your competition. Similarly, if you try to play test with a newer player, you may find some time sunk into explaining the mechanics of the game or other intermediate concepts that you’ve known for some time.

So let’s say you have a good testing group, and a new deck idea. You’ve drafted it up and want to play it out. How many games do you play?

In a “perfect” world, we would have all the time we need to play hundreds or even thousands of games. But as we become more experienced, we may notice that we need fewer games to really know if a deck will work or not. We may also find ourselves with less time on our hands. Since WS does not have a pro player scene (and never will), the idea of dedicating entire weeks or months to testing as players in other games will probably remain foreign.

For me, because my time for testing is so limited, I try to record as much data as possible from a set of three games, or even a single game. I recall each decision made during the game that I made that could have been either improved or changed, usually with input from my opponent. In a pinch, I goldfish, and play a hypothetical game against an opponent who attacks for 2/2/2 almost every turn, and clears at least 1 character. It’s a very narrow range of games that this kind of goldfishing represents, but it’s mostly to prepare for using CX combos. I don’t recommend it as anyone’s sole method of testing, and can’t recommend it using it frequently.

In practice, I probably echo Arin’s sentiment; I’ll just go with a deck idea and try it out at a couple of tournaments as my ‘testing’. Between weeks, if something didn’t work well, I may make an adjustment. Otherwise, I’ll be patient and give it another try if I find that my misplays were more responsible for my losses than my luck. If I can’t make a deck do reasonably well within 3 events (somewhere between 15-20 games), I’ll make more major changes, or just scrap the deck.


So there are many approaches to take regarding deck testing ranging from 0 to infinity games played. It is possible for testing to never be done as a deck can continually go through updates and refinement. This pertains largely to games with new sets constantly and eternal formats such as Magic: the Gathering, Hearthstone, Shadowverse, and to a lesser extent WS. The reason WS is put as a lesser extent is while the game has no rotation, not every set constantly gets updated and the amount of innovation in deckbuilding is severely limited by that fact. The other listed games allows for improvement of older decks to compete with newer archetypes that pop up, unless that archetype involves Spawn of the Abyss. In Magic, you can have a Modern/Legacy/EDH deck that you constantly add to and improve as new cards get released. When choosing to swap out cards, new testing needs to be done to verify that the changes are good. In essence, the amount of test games played drops to 0 because it is a different configuration. As other decks change and adapt to a newer metagame, you will need to test against those newer decks which effectively drops your test games played count to 0 again. In this sense, you will never be done with testing (unless you just jam 3x Spawn of the Abyss in your deck in which case you’re basically done testing) until the creators stop releasing cards.


In a more middle of the road case, with a relatively stale metagame, the number of testing games can be finite. For example, you have 31 other players who consistently goes to your local legacy FNM. You know what everyone else is playing so when you test anything, you can proxy up a gauntlet of decks that you know you will be facing. In this case, assuming your opponents do not make major deck updates, after about 1000 games against each unique deck every time you change something, you should have a good enough data set to draw some conclusions regarding your configuration. Good luck if all 31 people play unique decks!


Lastly, let us discuss the most practical way to test. Play 1 game with your deck. If any cards underperformed, take them out and put something else in. Play 1 game with your new deck. Repeat until you get a game where no card under performed. Deck done. Repeat entire process every time you change anything. Then the night before any large/important tournament right before you go to bed, completely change any and all decks you will be playing to something you’ve never played before and proceed to either smash or get smashed.


Tl;dr play aggro/mono red/+2 soul rush and avoid testing completely and have fast games for sanity of mind.

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Thanks for reading!

Level Up! – How to Use a Lead (Part 1)

Are Sonzai X and RNGsus conspiring against you in your games?

Are you convinced that you are just doomed to lose?

Is there a possibility that you have missed potential advantages and opportunities?

If there is, (and there might be!) we’re going to be looking at a much finer point in WS: just what do we do when we are winning a game?

In WS, having an advantage (or having it look like we’re winning) looks different from other games.

(These are general comparisons only)

For instance, in chess, a tempo is a turn gained. (e.g. Your opponent having to move out of check) In Magic, it could be getting a sweet 2-for-1. In Shadowverse, it could be slamming your animated Bahamut onto a full enemy board when your opponent has no cards in hand. Okay, that’s more like Winning™, but advantages come in many shapes and sizes.

In WS, there are many places for a player to gain an advantage, and each has a value that is dependent (ranging from barely to completely) on other factors. For example, an effect that draws 3 cards is powerful by itself, but is even more powerful the lower the level of the user and the higher their stock, and only slightly diminished by the number of remaining CXs in deck, and cards in hand.

But when it comes down to the little decisions in a game, we don’t have the luxury of notes to refer to; we can’t even take notes during a game. So with that in mind, how can we best prepare to recognize advantages that may arise during a game? And if we do spot one, how do we best use it? Our answers may change depending on what kind of deck we’re using, but we thought that there might be some general truths out there. For that, we’ve turned to our guests and team for their thoughts!

We’re featuring thoughts from Bren, Clinton, Sebastian, Travis, and Felix. We took everyone’s opinions blind, so no one has seen what the others have said. We did this to avoid accidentally biasing anyone, though the drawback is that some of the points may overlap. Michael will be adding some of his

When playing a game of WS, how do you recognize, take, and maintain a lead?

Contine reading

2k1 Theory

Good evening! Melanie here from 9th CX with a reflection and some playtesting on two decks to share with you.


It’s become apparent that decks that have climax combos with the following effect:

“When you play this climax, draw a card, and choose a character receive +2000 power and +1 soul for the turn.”

a.k.a, 2k1, have seen a decline in playability.

A photo of a 2k1 in the wild being denied

Earlier in the game, they were seen as a decent climax type because 1.) they replaced themselves in hand with a card draw, and 2.) they helped power up a character to get over an opponent. This type of climax is starting to show its age. Firstly, the lack of a global +1 soul to all characters on the board is a huge concern due to the need to push damage. Soul damage, i.e. damage dealt to players, is how you win in Weiss Schwarz, and while denying hand or field advantage can play a role in game victories, pushing damage and getting it to stick is the true goal. Secondly, the two soul trigger is less desirable in many deck types, especially those that run some type of global soul climax at Level 3 (such as the many variants of “+1000 power and +1 soul to all characters”) because of the tendency to over swing. Even decks that capitalize on the newer “Card of X color from waiting room to stock and +1 soul to everyone” are wary of this problem occurring since that climax runs the same type of trigger.

Oh Nao you tell us

Recent set design has actually been avoiding this climax, relegating it the Climax Common (CC) slot and comboing it with less powerful, but still playable, cards. Series such as Rewrite Anime that are getting continued support, have seen them not printed at all again due to the fact that they already exist in earlier sets. Some other recent series, such as Is the Order a Rabbit??, have seen them printed in TDs in some colors only. This is speculation, and the shift is more likely due to incorporating new climax types that are seeing play at the competitive level, there has been some judging and avoiding of some card combos because they do combo off of a 2k1. Also, some climaxes that have alternate types per climax name available have seen a slight spike in price if they are a limited promo (PR) that gives global soul damage.


While global soul damage may always be ideal, there are ways to make cards that have good climax combos with 2k1’s playable and competitive viable today. Taking some research from two recent deck builds that I have play testing throughout the previous summer and fall, I have found that there are ways to make this climax type at least mid-range competitive today. Let’s take a look at two decks that, in theory, shouldn’t work but have tournament records that prove otherwise.


Mono-Red Rabbit House (Pre-Extra Booster)

Tournament Record: 20 wins out of 23 games

Notable Losses: [email protected] CG Trancing Pulse and Card Game Shiyoko

Notable Wins: Persona 5 (Y/R focus), Rinne, and Kantai Collection (updated with set 3 card, G/R focus)


Level 0 – 17

4 “Rabbit Ear Parka” Cocoa (GU/W44-032)

3 “Dignified” Rize (GU/W44-034)

4 “Report that Brings a Smile” Cocoa (GU/W44-036)

4 Pitcher Rize (GU/W44-053)

2 “A Little Cool” Chino (GU/W44-T13)


Level 1- 13

4 Cocoa Very Drunk (GU/W44-037)

4 “Pretty Look” Rize (GU/W44-038)

2 “Invitation” Rize (GU/W44-043)

1 “Twintail Girl” Rize (GU/W44-T05)

2 “Greeting” Rize (GU/W44-P05)


Level 2- 4

1 “Guardian of Roses and Explosions” Rize (GU/W44-045)

2 “Suspicious” Rize (GU/W44-047)

1 Chino in a Maid Outfit (GU/W44-085)


Level 3- 8

4 “Rabbit Ear Parka” Rize (GU/W44-033)

2 “For My Little Sister” Cocoa (GU/W44-039)

2 Cocoa in the Wood-Framed Town (GU/W44-T10)


Events- 0


Climaxes- 8

4 Fluffy Hunter (GU/W44-065)

4 Helper, Wild Black Horse (GU/W44-067)


Older cards that were considered for this build:

Rize in the Wood-Framed Town (GU/W44-035)

Puppy Cocoa (GU/W44-044) * If you do not like clock encore or don’t have access to the 1/1 Rize PR *


New cards that should be considered for this build:

Rize, Being Herself (GU/WE26-020)

Cocoa, Going Together (GU/WE26-021)

Rize, Club Helper! (GU/WE26-030)



Some of the new cards in this set at first glance seem like they should be ‘gold starred’ for this build. In reality, they don’t have any synergy with the concept of this deck and in playtesting didn’t work out. Feel free to try them out, as they may work out for you and your playstyle/preferences.

Chino & Cocoa, Good to Have Met (GU/WE26-018) and Pillow Fight (GU/WE26-032): This is a very powerful finish combo that has seen play in the newer competitive decks of this series. In attempting to slot it into this build, I found that it’s finish had a likely chance of failing due to the ditch 2 cards from hand cost requirement. This deck cycles its hand, and while it can build an excess, it usually does not. This combo didn’t fit the playstyle of this deck for me personally and I feel is a better fit with the Chino “Shimakaze” clone.

“Present Exchange” Rize (GU/WE26-019), Cocoa Get Well Visit (GU/WE26-023), and Chino Being Playful (GU/WE26-035): It would seem that this pairing would be more optimal as an early drop trio than the old 3/2 early drop Cocoa salvage combo, but not for this deck. This pair eats too much stock (3 to early drop Rize), despite the benefit of the heal, and even though some assist power on the brainstorm would be nice the search brainstorm Chino works counter to what this deck does. This deck mills and salvages so much that it wants to turn our waiting room into an extension of our hand. While the search brainstorm is a compression search on hit that still mills, the reality is that this deck mills so much that half the time my search targets were in the waiting room and I was sitting there wishing I had my salvage brainstorm. The scry effect on the 1/1 Rize assist is also needed to help set up and make the chances higher for hitting the 3/2 Rize’s on play burn ability.

Rize Being Ladylike (GU/WE26-022), Rize, Big Transformation! (GU/WE26-026), and Liberal Interpretation of Phantom of the Opera (GU/WE26-033): As much as I like the idea of the swap for power and plus combo these two Rize’s can pull off, as well as the potential for a plus off of the stock soul salvage combo, these cards didn’t perform as well as I wanted in playtesting. They monopolized tech spots at Level 1 and had difficulty pulling off initial chain swap unless I went to Level 1 first with a very precise hand. The combo itself isn’t bad at all, just didn’t fit the synergy of this build. Definitely worth considering for Rize waifu and other deck builds for this series.*

Mocha, Big News (GU/WE26-027): This is a great Level Assist that pumps all Level 3’s in front of her, turns our healer from the TD into a big wall, and hand filters to get the healer back. A solid card. While she can be salvaged by many effects in the deck, she still causes problems with not having [Rabbit House] trait by interfering with the 0/0 Rize’s mill combo and the top check to burn Rize. Too risky to run with any consistency.*


How to Play This Deck:

This deck does take some hefty risks on both its plus combo and it’s end game finisher, but interestingly enough it ends up working out. This deck is a mill deck that seeks to turn your waiting room into an extension of your hand. This allows late game some interesting teching of Level 2 counters, and allows you to filter through your hand pretty easily if you get climaxes stuck in your hand before your multiple refreshes. In playtesting this deck, in 7 games the deck had refreshed at the end of turn 2, and in 10 additional games had refreshed by the end of it’s first turn. The deck seeks to compress by milling and hopefully plussing through your mills, refreshing early which naturally leads to a more compressed deck no matter what you do, and then repeating the cycle.

At Level 0 this deck pushes soul damage early game by committing heavily to the field. Most times any higher level cards that are not Level 0’s will be discarded from the opening hand as there is a chance they can be salvaged back early in the game. Optimal turn one plays are either the TD draw/ditch a card Chino or the mill Level Reverser RR Cocoa. Turn two at Level 0, if it happens, ideally sees the 0/0 Rize’s climax combo in hand coupled with at least one brainstorm Cocoa. I try to get as many of the 0/0 Rize’s as possible so that I can mill through the deck and potentially plus off of it. The 2k1 at Level 0 lets me get over wall characters, replaces itself in hand, and allows me to mill through the deck at any Level for either a chance at plus, milling through damage, or milling through climaxes I don’t want to trigger.

Level 1 this deck seeks to wipe its opponent’s board capitalizing the on the 1/0 Level Reverser Cocoa with hand filter, the 1/0 6500 Rize that usually can be a 7000 with the global 0/0 Rize assist in the back row, and the 1/1 clock encore PR Rize that on attack usually hits at 8500 with back row. I usually try to play any extra climaxes I get in hand, and also use the brainstormer to keep hand up. The clock encore Rize allows me to preserve hand with a decent size attacker if she becomes reversed on defense, although some players will prefer to swap this out for a hand encore character if they don’t like the clock encore dealing them damage. For my play style I found that the hand encore didn’t work in this deck as it hurt hand too much.

Level 2 can run two ways. With the right combo pieces, it is possible to early drop the 3/2 Cocoa that on play salvages a Rabbit House or Bread Character and then also has the climax combo with the new climax type “Draw a card. Choose two of your characters and give them +1 soul for the turn” (i.e. split soul) that allows for a hand filter to salvage 2. Sometimes, though, depending on how the game has gone you may not want to commit the stock to this. At this point I fall back on the 2/1 Rize that can take out early drop Level 3’s and preserve stock by using the 1/0 Rize’s and clock encored 1/1 Rize’s from the previous level. It is also possible, against “on reverse” decks to take advantage of the Level 0 tech in this deck, play a bunch of tech cards, crash your board, and cause your opponent to overswing (though this is a risky option).

Level 3 in this deck will pinpoint heal with the TD Cocoa, tech salvage back what you need with the 3/2 Cocoa if you didn’t drop her early at Level 2, and play as many of the 3/2 Rize finisher as possible. Even though her 2nd ability is very iffy to pull off, the on play burn effect that can be set up with the 1/1 Rize Level assist for a higher chance to hit. Building enough stock in this deck is tricky, but in 8 games I was able to pull of the on attack, pay 6 to burn 5. For most games, though, the on play reveal top to burn was enough of a finish to push the game to a close.

Little Busters! Y/B

Tournament Record: 32 wins out of 38 games

Note: 14 of these tournament games took place during the 2016 Nationals Qualifying Regional Season. This deck placed 9th at a 28 player regional in Indianapolis, and 5th at a 4 seat available regional in Columbus of about 19 players. At a regional in North Carolina, however, it did pretty poorly, finding bad match ups against the Monogatari series and To Love Ru.

Notable Losses: Monogatari Series (Several Variants), To Love Ru (Animals/Spirit Build), and Railgun (Post-Restriction List Lift, Pre-Power Up: Although it should be noted that with Power Up it will also probably still make this deck cry.)

Notable Wins: [email protected] CG Trancing Pulse (Several Wins), To Love Ru Aliens, Mono-Blue Rabbit House (Pre-Extra Booster), and Puyo Puyo (Several Build Variants)


Level 0- 18

2 “Costumed Mascot” Sasami (LB/W06-003)

2 “Optimistic Magic” Komari (LB/W02-E03)

3 Komari, Heart-thumping Donuts (LB/WE21-04)

3 Haruka, Water Shot (LB/W06-051)

4 “Shadowless Girl” Midori (LB/W06-082)

4 “Little Busters” Riki (LB/W21-065)


Level 1- 10

4 “Sunset-colored Feelings” Rin (LB/WE18-03)

2 “Pleasantly Cute” Komari (LB/W02-079)

4 “Away from this Life” Mio (LB/W06-091)


Level 2- 2

2 Yuiko in Maid Uniform (LB/W06-011)


Level 3- 10

4 “Step to Courage” Rin (LB/W21-001)

2 Kyousuke, Stage On! (LB/WE21-03)

4 Mio in Maid Uniform (LB/W06-081)


Events- 2

2 Farewell Yukichi!! (LB/W21-078)


Climaxes- 8

4 My Best Puppet Show (LB/W21-018)

4 We Should Date (LB/WE18-15)


Cards that probably should be in this build but aren’t:

“Godly Poor Control” Rin (LB/W02-017)

We Should Date (LB/W02-101)

“Little Busters” Rin (LB/W21-005)

“New Bond” Rin (LB/W21-009)

“Good Friends” Komari & Rin (LB/W21-032)

Kud, Playing Catch With Pillows (LB/WE21-13)

Mio, Unchanged Song, Unchanged Sky (LB/WE21-24)


How to Play This Deck:

At first glance, this deck probably shouldn’t have won any games. The reality is though, that while there are some definite tech options to deal with other decks and anti-heal would make this deck cry, this deck flat out doesn’t care what your opponent does half the time. It runs its own compress game engine and seeks to just keep using tech to either search out cards to play late game or to filter through the hand. Also, it turns out that while crashing your board most turns is playing a dangerous game of “Pray to Cancel”, it can also deny the plethora of on reverse abilities in the playing field.

Level 0 is where you want to capitalize on pushing soul damage with early attacks, taking out your opponent’s board (this is one of the few levels you can do that!), and using all of the various tech options Little Busters has available for hand plussing. The 0/0 Komari stock reverser is great against runners and Yuu from Charlotte, and her stock bomb effect can punish players for leaving Hibiki from Kantai or Yuu from Charlotte out on the board instead of crashing them. Riki is can search for either the 1/0 plus combo Rin, the 0/0 Mio bond, or the 0/0 Haruka Brainstormer for hand filter. If stock is clean, though, in some games I will wait to capitalize on some of these effects until later as this deck does eat a ton of stock. The 0/0 Komari assist is for certain match ups, like Railgun and Kiznaiver, that want to blow up your board. It allows you to keep your front row late game against these decks to use the anti-damage counter in at least two slots.

Level 1 is a mix of old and new Little Busters. The 1/0 Rin plus combo that on attack with the 2k1 or the +2 soul PR searches for a Level 2 or higher is a staple in many deck variants. The 1/0 Mio though is a bit of an older card that saw limited play in some variants of the old Stardust Himuro heal loop deck. She’s a 1/0 5000 that has the ability if she has [Glasses] trait, on reverse, send her to Memory. The 0/0 Midori that has a pay 1 to bond for her gives all characters with “Mio” in the name [Glasses] trait. Essentially, depending on your hand situation or how you Leveled, you can either light the 1/0 combo search Rin or can bond back the 1/0 Mio’s so that on reverse they go to memory.

Level 2 in this deck is super awkward until this set gets a power up set (unlikely, but I can hope!). Most times the deck has already refreshed, but if you haven’t and have 6 climaxes or more in waiting room you can early drop the 3/2 Kyosuke that has Musashi burn. Otherwise, I usually like to preserve stock if I can for Level 3 and will either relight the search Rin combo if I have the pieces, or crash 1/0 Mio’s into my opponent’s board so that they go to memory and help compress. It is also an option to drop the 2/1 Maid Yukiho and the 0/0 Sasami that gives +3000 to Level 2’s or higher to get over things.

Level 3 is very stock intensive, but essentially everything heals and/or compresses. Firstly, I will use the 3/2 Maid Mio to not only heal, but send her to memory to pull out maid traits (herself, the 2/1 Yukiho, or ideally the 1/0 Komari). If I have the climax, I will play the 3/2 Rin’s that heal on play, that become 14000 on their own with the punish burn climax combo. It’s possible to use the 0/0 Sasami to make her or the Maid Mio’s larger, but as this is a tech card, I typically don’t worry about it. No on reverse is necessary for the finisher in this deck, and we really only leave characters on the board at this level to use the anti-damage counter to prevent damage. Hopefully the deck is compressed enough at this point that you are able to repeat this cycle to a small extent. As this deck eats a lot of stock, though, the final turns of this game sometimes end up being playing a healer Mio, searching free play 1/0 Komari’s or another healer, and then crashing the board for pinpoint damage.

I’m going to mention it now: Yes, I probably ought to be running the +2 soul PR “We Should Date” climax in this build. There are plenty of decent Level 0 and 1 green cards that can be teched in to splash the green necessary and this would enable siding for more pinpoint damage, or fronting for more soul damage push.  I do own the climax, so it wasn’t the cost of it that was preventing me from running it. This build eats through it’s hand pretty fast with all of the crashing due to power creep recently, so the 2k1 being able to replace themselves in hand help. The siding tactic really isn’t so great because it allows people to relight their on reverse combos for plusses. This set has Level 1 counters, but many of the better ones cost stock better spent on other things and the only 1/0 +2000 counter in the set is looking for a [Sports] trait character on stage (primarily Sasami and Kengo in this set) to activate. There is also a color issue, as the +2 soul is green and the Rin is yellow. I have been finding, more and more lately, that I prefer mono-colored Level 1 games. Yes I lose some tech options, but more often than not I do have to level myself to Level 1 and am stuck with missing a turn on my plus combo.


How these Decks are Winning Games:

These decks both have three things in common that are allowing them to still push enough soul damage to win games. Firstly, it should be noted that the 2k1 climax combos are at early Levels in the game (0 and 1 respectively) that are not ideal. However, there are some things these two deck builds are doing that allow this to not be a problem.

These decks are both running a slightly larger Level 0 tech game that encourages attacking more at Level 0. This pushes soul damage early, and helps combat the problem that both decks have in needing more stock build to do what they want to do.

Count the number of triggers on cards including climaxes. These decks are running a larger than normal number of cards that have soul triggers. Honestly, this is the secret success to these decks. The Mono-Red Rabbit House deck is running 14 soul triggers on characters plus 8 +2 soul triggers to equal out to 22 triggers. That means that 44% of the deck has some type of additional soul trigger. The Little Busters deck is running 12 triggers, 4 single triggers on the punish burn climax, and 4 +2 soul triggers on the 2k1 climax for a total of 20 triggers, or 40% of the deck. These triggers in both builds, especially the Rabbit House deck, are getting put back into the deck to trigger after refresh. The punish burn trigger is especially effective in Little Busters because that gives us another finish option for triggering an additional soul.

Compression happens in any game of Weiss naturally, and sometimes doesn’t work out the way we wish, but these decks do it decently well in most match ups. Rabbit House does it through milling and refreshing more times in a game than typical, while the Little Busters deck does it by sending non-trigger cards to memory early game. True, this can backfire and cause us to trigger our climaxes, but in most cases we won’t be overswinging in this deck. Yes, it can still happen. Both decks, though, pay out a lot of stock throughout the game for their effects. This makes it pretty easy to pay out triggered climaxes both early and late game to prevent them from getting stuck.
True, these builds aren’t going to stand up to some of the bigger meta decks all of the time and have match ups that are extreme disadvantages. Yes, there are stronger builds in these series that will continue to see competitive play. But these decks have proven through play that they are capable of holding their own in the competitive scene even with running 2k1 climaxes early game. While they many not always be ideal, keep in mind they can work out in your deck builds if they have decent combos even if they are early game.

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Thanks for reading!

September 2016 Ban List – Commentary


It’s (a little after) September 5th, and that means that the newly released ban list is active in the JP game! Welcome to the 9th CX ban list commentary article, where we’ve gathered opinions from our team and beyond!

Featured in today’s article we have:

Felix (9th CX)
Melanie (9th CX)
Johnny (9th CX)
Travis (9th CX)
Clinton (Reigning EN World Champion)
Andrew (2014 NA WGP Champion)
Bren (2015 NA WGP Champion)
Russell (2015 NA WGP Qualifier, Las Vegas WS Community Organizer)
Michael (Glasses™)

Michael’s Note:

To get this article started, I reached out to everyone and began a massive Google doc for us to all put down our thoughts. I used some questions to seed the discussion, and here they are:

About the ban list as a whole- do you feel it is a necessary evil or just evil? (Or neither?)

I made this a loaded question because the ban list tends to have a lot of bitterness associated with it. Therefore…

For each card, does each change or lack of change make sense?

Presented without comment.

What were your primary targets for restrictions with this update?

i.e. Did you have anything you hoped would get banned/restricted?

Are you personally satisfied with it?

As we see the list as players outside of JP, do you feel ignored or overlooked?

Was there in your mind something that went criminally unanswered? Do you foresee any consequences or improvements based on the changes?

To the end that finishers such as Yami and Arle were not restricted at all, do you feel the game has come to a point where that kind of power is acceptable, or to a point where the kind of threat is simply too common? (Or neither?)

For reference, Yami & Arle are the finishers from TLR and Puyo Puyo which have a CX combo that results in a double cancel burn. They were thought to be prime candidates for restriction by some players. The question was narrow by design.

We’re going to be using some nifty new spoiler tags so you can check out everyone’s thoughts one at a time.


This is strictly an opinion piece, and everyone’s thoughts are presented here without any adjustments. (Minor text fixes though)

Here we go!


Expand - Felix

A ban list is 100% required for a game that is one large eternal format. There is going to be inevitable power creep in either direction. The ban list serves as a way of making sure overpowered sets don’t run away with every tournament. Then, when the meta changes or when a bunch of old banned cards are not as broken, they can be taken off safely. What the banlist isn’t for, is to cater to people who cry because a set wins locals (unless it’s a large turnout locals).
It is quite normal for a consistent set to be able to win 3-4 rounds in a row, but if it can consistently win 6-9 round tournaments going X-0 then there’s a big problem. Also, it isn’t very difficult to say “Ooops we overlooked something when banning/unbanning so we’re fixing that now,” if [Bushiroad] wanted to experiment with putting some cards on or taking some cards off the banlist, as long as it doesn’t happen every year. If it happens sparingly and if Bushiroad didn’t take a long time to update the banlist, then I don’t think that many people will have a problem with it. They could easily just bring Yami to 2 and see what happens. Yes, there will be people who panic sell, thinking the set is unplayable, but there will be people who are willing to test out new builds which might be more in line with what Bushiroad wants, and can perform decently enough. If the Yami at 2 thing falls flat, raise it back up after a while.

One thing I would like is more transparency from Bushiroad regarding banlist updates. While the explanations sometimes (Splinter Twin made Temur tempo unplayable????) at least the Magic banlist comes with “reasoning” behind each ban. There are various bannings that I would like Bushiroad to explain, such as why is Misakuro ok at 4 now but not the previous update/why are you allowed to choose if you want to play Xylophone in your deck but Rest! is banned etc, even if their reasonings are just as bad as WotC (Wizards of the Coast, makers of Magic: the Gathering). However, the current banlist is relatively small, so it’s not a huge issue.

It would also help if Bushiroad put out more event data from any tournaments they hold. Numbers such as total player count, # of players playing a specific set, what sets have the best records before top cut etc would help the playerbase understand why they ban certain cards a little more. Unless they do disclose these numbers, but no one bothers to look, we don’t know if there’s 80% of players in a room playing TLR or if it was one really good and lucky player who made it all the way to first place.

(Editor’s Note: Yes, BSR does publish some limited percentage data, but it happens so rarely that it does not contribute to transparency in what Felix considers a meaningful way.)

I’m OK with Yami being unbanned, even though she is a little overtuned, (watz an arle :v) because nowadays it’s all about being able to close a game out rather than durdling at level 3. Personally, I feel it is better with more finishers in the format (as long as they aren’t become grossly overpowered like Marika or if they print a cx combo that gives a regular cancel burn and a musashi burn on all characters :v) compared to heal loopers. One thing I feel is disliked about certain finishers is how consistent they are. I.e. Combos with a gold bar, ETB (on play) draw discard, look at X on play etc effects, contribute to how consistent a finisher is. There needs to be more tradeoffs with good finishers to have a balance. A card whose CX combo can only be used the turn it’s played without providing any kind of digging for it, or a card with very lower power (so either your opponent keeps their characters if you fail to end the game or they run you over so you can’t reattempt the same level of damage as easily) or just something along these lines would probably be a way of bringing finishers in line.


Expand - Melanie

The ban list is a necessary evil. Due to a lack of research and development, especially when mixing series together, the game tends to use its player base as the test market. At some points a card just dominates to the point that it needs a restriction to keep the play atmosphere healthy. There are many downsides, though, including upsetting players who have invested money in a set and also the loss of money when expansions to a set come out because fear of “breaking” the set again usually leads to weaker sets and shaken buyer confidence.

The older cards that came off of restriction in both Neo-Standard and standard for the most part make sense. As time has progressed, especially in the past 6 months, the game has undergone an unprecedented power creep. This is in the form of Level 1 plus combos, Level 1 power levels, and, finally, the addition of the “must-have” over-the-top damage push finisher. The cards that came off are powerful in their decks, but a bit lack luster by today’s standard. The ramped-up printing of anti-damage events, over +3000 power counters, and increased Level 3 powers make MisaKuro a bit harder to pull off than she was back in the day. Laharl’s heal loop, arguably, can be countered by anti-heal in sets like Kantai, Little Busters!, and Rewrite (which is getting support in the near future).

The added cards for the Monogatari series and The [email protected] Cinderella Girls are nothing but slaps on the wrists for the series being popular in Japan. Due to the lottery system and how some tournament structure is handled, the sets were earmarked and pinged to prevent them from being “over-represented” in Japan this upcoming WGP season. The cards in Monogatari series don’t synergize at all, and many other sets have far overpowered finishers in comparison. The [email protected] Cinderella Girls bans simply were meant to slow down the Level 0 tech-ins to the popular “Trancing Pulse” deck. The set has other ways to guarantee its late game, both at Level 0 and 1, by running other cards. These bans do little to balance the meta. They will barely affect most player’s builds, will drive up the price of an older Bakemonogatari RR that is already high (3/2 Hitagi from that set), and have simply served to make a large segment of the community angry.

The issue here is that the only tournament reports that Bushiroad had in governing their ban list update were from recent events held only in Japan. They are not able until WGP season to look at the global implications of some sets like To Love Ru Darkness and Puyo, which with their overpowered finishers are incredibly popular over here in North America. What is also irritating to many players, is that similar sets in the past (i.e. Kantai Collection and Nisekoi), were swiftly smacked with a ban list when their end games and consistency seemed too strong. Now the new thing that has been introduced is putting sets “on watch”, like To Love Ru Darkness. Why? My guess is that they didn’t want a loss in sales on To Love Ru Darkness 2 (see Nisekoi Extra Booster and Kantai Collection 2 as examples of this in the past) and are trying to mitigate that past damage. The new additions and lack of some in a few cases as simply served to fire up the community even more. In the past [week], on popular forums, ban list discussion, articles, YouTube videos, and conversations are still at the top of these pages. Tiptoeing around the ban list is never the way to go. Slapping players’ wrists for liking, supporting, and playing a series, isn’t the way to handle things. The anger toward this update, in my opinion, is far greater than any of the ones made because cards were actually broken in combination, because it strikes not at balancing game play, but an agenda.

Personally, I think that To Love Ru Darkness at this point in time is almost fine. However, Arle’s combo with a +2 soul needs to go in my opinion. I feel that the 3/2 and the +2 soul should have been put on a choice one of 2 list.

(Editor’s Note: Bren pointed out in the doc that Bushiroad bans by card name, so this kind of ban would need to be a card-number-specific ban, if it were to happen.)

With Yami and Arle running around, and the sickening increase of anti-damage/stand counters seen in the past year, I feel that Nisekoi and Kantai Collection’s lists deserve a second look. Compared to some of the stuff out there at the moment, some of the Choices of 3 could become Choices of 2.

The banlist should be used to balance cards that are overall too powerful for majority of sets to deal with, rather than to punish players because they liked a certain anime and elected to play the cards from it. A banlist probably isn’t ready for an update when you only have data from 2 organized events as well. Honestly, I feel that this update should have been timed for the end of WGP Nationals season when a larger body of data was available.

Due to the unfair forcing of Spring Fest in NA and EU being English Only in some cases, there is no data to represent the Japanese Weiss players outside the JP region until the fall WGP season. To continue updates of the ban list in August I would voice the recommendation of a Spring Fest or organized event that allowed for Japanese Weiss to be played. Unfortunately, the recommendation for a mixed format Spring Fest is almost impossible to make due to the translation, card pool, and ban list issues on the English side of the game. With an organized event in the Spring for Japanese Weiss players, a better data pool would be available to make updates and recommendations to the ban list. Two events in one country is not enough to base these types of decisions on. The data is too skewed.

(EN: Egg, meet chicken. Chicken, egg. Who’s first?)

In a research based environment, two events is not enough information or data to base decisions on. You need at minimum 10 events in most cases to recognize trends. In the past, Bushiroad seemed to be doing this (see 2014 Kantai and Nisekoi ban lists). But recently, the past report has done away with this, basing statistics and decisions on 2 events.This should not be. Banlist updates should probably not have occurred until WGP season was complete.

I feel that the [Arle + Yami] effects are overpowered for the other decks out at the time (in Arle’s case, the comboing with the +2 soul is what kind of breaks it for me). Prisma Illya’s new Illya 3/2 burn finisher also somewhat fits in this category, despite being harder to pull off. On the other hand, Bushiroad seems to continually be pushing the finish end game over the stall, delay finish seen in older sets that had heal loop, top check and toss, and anti-front effects. Hence why older sets that rely on Heal Loop at Level 3 (not 2) and sets like Charlotte have struggled a bit in some player’s hands.

If Yami and Arle are going to exist and remain unchecked, it is my feeling that Akagi from Kantai can come off the ban list and Marika from Nisekoi could probably be tested as a two-of in Nisekoi decks. Why? Because other decks are running around right now and pushing just as many, if not more, instances of damage at Level 3. Yami, with 3 in the front row, has the chance of up to 8 instances of damage in a turn. Arle has 9 potential instances. Triple Illya has the potential of 9 instances of damage. Akagi only has a potential for up to 6 (not including the clock kick), and 2 Markia with a 3rd character on the board would be at the 9 possible instances Arle has.  I feel at some point the math needs to be considered and some of these other 3/2’s need to be evaluated at potentially having restrictions eased. If Bushiroad is going to keep printing the finish push end game (which they are), they need to keep continuing to evaluate older set restrictions and taking some off a bit more quickly than they did with MisaKuro.


Expand - Johnny

I think a banlist is necessary because once in a while, Bushiroad likes to print something stupid like Marika or Yami, and that needs to be addressed. As for the banlist itself, Laharl and Misakuro were fine to take off the list. I didn’t see a problem with them in this meta. The CG one was interesting, I didn’t think people used Miria in TP but they did use Koume. And having played the deck I can attest that Koume is pretty OP in that deck with its millions of other ways to mill. And the PoS Rin is just a really good finisher. As for the Monogatari one that took me by absolute surprise and it kind of didn’t make sense to me. Monogatari has a lot of good on play abilities so they probably didn’t like how people were using that Shinobu to bounce say, clock kickers or Akatsukis.
As for changes I was hoping for, I mainly wanted Yami to go to 2 and since they’re kind of similar making Arle go to 2 as well. But, both of those did not get hit so I am not satisfied with the list. Personally I don’t feel ignored or overlooked. It’s likely Bushiroad knows we exist but the problem isn’t that they pay attention to the JP meta but it’s the way they determine what gets hit. They base their banlists off of representation and victories instead of individual broken cards. Monogatari is a good deck because the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. While in TLR, Yami IS the whole. So instead of basing hits based on how good or represented the decks are they should shift focus to how broken individual cards are. Sometimes I question if they even playtest these things before printing them. Another reason their hits might seem off, and this is just a guess, is that the Japanese players play differently than us over here in the US (I say US because I haven’t played anywhere else). Maybe over there they don’t field three Yamis and slam down a CX, and just settle for one, maybe 2. If that’s the case, I want to play in that meta. As stated above the thing that was criminally unanswered was Yami and her lesser twin sister Arle. Consequences would probably just be more TLR or all TLR at Regionals and Nationals here, because who doesn’t want an easy win with an autopilot deck? As for why Yami and Arle weren’t restricted, I don’t think that power is acceptable because based on the power and abilities of (some) recent lvl 3s being actually balanced and well designed. And for the sake of the game, I hope that kind of power is not going to be common because then it wouldn’t be fun anymore.


Expand - Travis

Honestly, as much as I hate living in fear of one of my sets getting hammered, a ban/restriction list is needed. For example, back before Marika was restricted to 1, who would want to sit in front of a field that was supposed to take you from level 2 to dead? It was oppressive and it was overpowered, and most tournaments, it was either play Nisekoi or don’t play. In a format where sets do not cycle out of rotation, the list needs to exist to give every set a chance instead of the same set taking the top spots every year, *coughkantaicough*, and after a set period of releases or time, let some of the restricted sets have their full power back.

Having a choice of 3 in Cinderella Girls makes sense. Miria doesn’t really affect the top CG decks, but the Koume and Rin restander do play a part. Players either have a choice of a free look at top 4 for a climax and only have to discard if you choose one, or a 3/2 restander that can pay half her stock cost on play. That much makes sense. Monogatari’s restrictions however, I cannot understand. The two cards on the pick 2 don’t even combo off each other, it almost feels like that the decision was just put there because Bushiroad was bored and decided to pick a set to give issues. I believe my statement early showed how I feel about MisaKuro and Laharl being unrestricted finally.

The main cards I wanted to see on the list was a choice of 2 between “Bayoe~n” Arle, or the +2 soul Variant of “Bayoe~n”(if such decision was possible). I’m perfectly fine with Yami because it isn’t as much of a threat to me as Arle is. A cancel burn on play that gets a second stack of cancel burn and +2k to your entire field that combos with a +2 soul is way too powerful, more powerful than Yami. Simply because you’re eating 4+ damage or taking two shots of cancel damage. I almost forgot to mention that depending on attack order, your front row is dead to rights. That is by far more powerful that the single instance of cancel burn Mayoi generates.

I’m neutral on the ban list, it doesn’t really affect me so much as it baffles me onto why some of the choices were made. However, I feel that NA and EU players are almost overlooked when these decisions are made since the choices for the ban list is based on the lottery system that Bushiroad runs instead of a Top 8 modified swiss. If the tournament format changed in JP, I could see a lot of cards being added/removed from the current restriction list. I just wish BSR would give better reasoning to their bans and restrictions instead of pie charts that don’t really tell anything to us in NA or EU.
Considering how some level 3 cards look now, I really hope that kind of power Arle has isn’t going un-watched. Considering nothing of those levels has been printed for a while, I’m hoping that other sets are getting enough utility so in the case they do have a run-in with these finishers, that they will be better prepared so finishers such as Yami and Arle don’t run rampant in tournaments.


Coming Soon


Expand - Clinton

EN: Remember, Clinton doesn’t play JP at all.

Ban lists are a necessity because they are essentially apologies for poor design. Games have died from their respective companies not making timely changes to alleviate a problem(s) in a meta.

I am happy with cards coming off the list. Many might have been too dominating in the past, and as the game progresses and other cards catch up, they can return to the game.

As someone who doesn’t play JP, I find it very laughable that people can complain that the EN side does not have a restriction list. After seeing how BSR determines what needs to be targeted (through popularity and not actually looking at what could be or is too strong), it would result in a horrendous list in English. Imagine a world where AoT and SAO have arbitrary restrictions, not because they have any really busted effects, but because they are played the most. Especially in EN, card availability and pricing affect popularity, and a list that focuses on popularity is like a tax on the poor.
I think it is very hypocritical to not want games to not take too long from too much healing, restrict certain finishers, and then print even better finishers and let them go unanswered. It looks bad on a design, research, marketing, and a trust standpoint.


Expand - Andrew

I will keep it short and sweet.  After playing this game for several years I believe my hopes for Bushiroad to make this game more relevant and more competitive is a dying dream.  Their approach to the game seems to run counter to what they want to achieve.  They have a massive tournament circuit every year but make decisions due to “being popular” rather than what needs to be balanced.  The power creep in the last year in a half shows this very trend.  If you are going with the mindset of making it a casual game, why eliminate those who play the game because of their favorite series?  #salty4life #quitingJPforEng

Clinton: Don’t believe you one bit Andrew lol.


Expand - Bren

Bushiroad is a unique company in that they tend to not outright ban cards unless there is either a change in design philosophy, a design mistake that was not caught in design, or a card was misprinted and there are reasons it cannot be errata’d or limited.  (For instance, there are a few cards that are banned not because they are powerful but because they extend tournament times and cause logistical issues with the playing area, and some other restrictions are made not to heavily dampen the power level of the deck, but to diversify the decks being played in that series.)  Instead, they like to use what is known as the Choose system, which allows a user to pick one of two or more cards that have been selected so that players have more deckbuilding freedom.  But humans are humans, and they are bound to make mistakes.  The option of a ban list is a tool for a company to stop a problematic card.  It is akin to a fire extinguisher in that it’s there to protect when used fast enough, but you really hope you don’t have to use it.

Let’s cover each card point by point, starting with the unbannings.

(Under One Roof, Misaka & Kuroko) – This card has had a long time vocal fanbase eager to have this card removed, and while it may not have been done with the timing Railgun players were hopeful for, it finally has been removed from the list.  It was first restricted in August of 2011, which makes it 5 whole years this card has been on the ban list.  What it did back then is hardly noteworthy now, but it is worth noting that Railgun at that point in time was taking the majority of top cut positions, and continued to compete even after this banlist to the point it got restricted further the following year.  The card was first put on the banlist for being the only non-Climax Combo card that had a reliable finishing effect, and while this is still a good card for Railgun, the single point of damage isn’t as powerful as many of the finishing effects nowadays.  The combination of being a finisher and heal still isn’t that common, though, and while [Last Shot, Sinon] may boast a better combination of abilities this card could come in at Level 2 and still has a niche even today as being one of the finishers of choice (the other being Touma) for the Index deck.

(Supreme Overlord Laharl) – This card has seen some tumultuous twists and turns, going from a restriction of 2 in August 2012 to being completely banned the following August, all for being the only set to counter Rewrite.  In December 2014, it had a slight release in the midst of all the Nisekoi carnage by being allowed at 1 again, and almost two years later it’s finally off.  Laharl’s powerful toolboxing and healing was the main reason it got hit in the widesweeping bans of August 2012, and jockeying with Rewrite caused it to get an even harsher hit.  The Choose 1 of 3 has been lifted since then, but it took this card some time before it finally came off.  Anti-heal effects, found in Suisei no Gargantia, Vividred Operation, Kill la Kill, Kantai Collection, Rewrite, and Little Busters have been very powerful and popular, especially Kantai’s since it doubles as an advantage engine and it was the Choose 1 of 3 choice more often than the other two.  This diminishes the power of Laharl, and the toolboxing effect in a set that really doesn’t have many finishers means that it essentially stonewalls against anti-heal.

Next, let’s cover the cards that got added.

(Smiling Until Her End, Mayoi Hachikuji) – Mayoi was really added here to force a few different options into the deck.  As one of the few finisher healers, she was vital in keeping yourself out of kill range while punishing an opponent all in one card, especially since she could target who got the Shot effect, which in most cases was (Tales of the Past, Shinobu Oshino), a card that couldn’t be targeted by an opponent.  In addition, Mayoi sent herself to memory afterwards, which would prevent clock kick or on-reverse effects during the opponent’s turn, despite not comboing with the other card on the list.  While she may be weaker in context to the next card, it is difficult for Monogatari players to choose between the two due to Mayoi’s role in the deck.

(Middle School Student, Shinobu Oshino) – Her second effect is the main reason to play her, though being a Level 0 attacker isn’t that bad either.  Shinobu is clearly the better card of the two, allowing Monogatari to reuse their Mayoi Level 0 if need be, saving characters from on-reverse effects (while adding to hand), and reusing on play effects like Heal late game.  Considered to be a staple by many, it’s understandable why she’s on here.

(Power of Smile Rin) – This is a dangerous card, despite anti-damage.  If you start the turn with 7 stock, you can play 3 of these, play the climax, and have enough stock to utilize all three Rin’s restand effects.  Her on play draw 2 ditch 2 stock 1 also let you filter out cards you didn’t want while giving you a slight refund on stock, effectively going three cards deep into the deck.  The mainstay finisher of the Triad Primus deck, this card went on to define the powerful endgame that deck had.  If it weren’t for Koume, Rin would be undeniably the go-to card for many players of Cinderella Girls.
(Miria Akagi) and (Loves Horror, Koume) – Both cards need to be talked about at the same time, because together they provided a dangerous engine.  Miria Akagi can grab Minami Nitta from the deck, while Koume can grab her climax, which made it a very consistent early game. It’s worth noting that Koume has no real direct replacement, while Miria’s job can be done by the Yellow Producer and Power of Smile Rin’s job can be done by Anastasia, both of which are slightly weaker, but at least there’s a comparative role.  Koume’s ability was the first free mill/search effect that had no upfront costs.  If you wanted to mill 4, you usually had to pay 1 stock for a Brainstorm, or discard a card to utilize an Azusa-clone effect.  Also, having no upfront costs made Koume a dangerous card, and a key card in Triad Primus decks, where having the correct climax at the right time was important.  Together, they made decks too consistent and too easy to play, and while Koume was rightfully added Miria was added alongside to prevent non-Triad Primus decks from abusing their combination together.

Now, for the cards that are still left on the list.  These will be brief.

(Anzu in a Swimsuit) – You can’t really talk about the reason this card is on the Choose 1 of 2 list without talking about the other card, (Xylophone Fortune Telling).  Anzu’s ALARM allowed you to heal her if she was the top card of your Clock, and normally this would be occasional, but Xylophone Fortune Telling let you pick any two cards from your Clock to heal, and you could easily combo the two to heal 3 if she wasn’t at the top card but very close to it.  This combination was put on February 2013 for reasons related to making the game last longer, and hasn’t been off since.

(Take a Break! [Commonly translated as Rest!]) – This card’s been here since August 2010, the very first Neo-Standard ban, and it’s never coming off.  This is an efficient heal that compresses and lengthens the game in high amounts, which is one of Bushiroad’s reasons for banning or restricting a card.

(World with Faded Colors) – Haruhi’s had this on the Standard Banlist since August 2010 but it got banned in Neo-Standard in August 2011 because it would loop Trouble Girl, Haruhi for healing.  While Zero no Tsukaima’s Event has been taken off, this one will stay for a bit longer.  For some who aren’t familiar, this Event could sacrifice and bring back the same <Brigade Chief> with a field combo so it would effectively read, Pay 1, salvage 2.  This is the main reason why it’s still banned, though it has the potential to come off and be limited.

(A Maiden’s Heart, Marika) – Yeah, this one’s not coming off for quite some time.  The end result of what made Nisekoi powerful (though it was not the driving engine, just the finisher), this card was hit in the only emergency ban ever in December 2014, and while it was allowed in a mono-Marika deck at 4-of for a bit it also lost that right and now sits at 1-of unconditionally.  While anti-damage and sacrifice Backups are present Marika’s damage potential is still looming, and it’s for this reason that Bushiroad is very cautious when considering whether to limit her to 2.

(Pendant of Promise) – There’s five links in the name depending on where you click, there’s so many of them.  Anyways, in addition to Marika causing havoc, a Choose 1 of 3 was implemented for the series as well.  This card is so vital to the deck that it effectively banned the other two cards in the Choose 1 of 3 in the <Key> deck, (Two of a Kind, Raku) and (Angel in White, Kosaki), though with the Extra Booster the <Sweets> deck now runs the latter.  The cards chosen were very important, as they still wanted the deck to shine and thus did not ban perhaps the most defining card of the deck, (A Maiden’s Heart, Kosaki).  This Choose 1 of 3 is effectively a ban for the main deck, though, and remains as an example to Bushiroad.

(Akinari Kamiki) – A pre-emptive ban from Bushiroad at August 2012, given what they knew about the Persona 4 Ultimate Booster, since it contained a card that could potentially be used with Akinari to perform a lesser version of the most dangerous deck in Standard, which is still destructive.  It’s never coming off for the foreseeable future.

(Changing Clothes, Cyrille) – Cyrille’s reason for being on the banlist since August 2012 was because she took up way too much time in tournaments.  When a cancelled attack meant a heal, even for 2 stock, it’s obvious it’ll take up a lot of time.  It’s there for that reason, and I don’t see it ever coming off.

(Cordelia’s Garden) – Yeah, same reason as Take a Break!  It’s not coming off despite the extra stock to play just because it’s a heal card that extends games and slightly compresses.  Not happening.

(2nd Hiyou-class Light Aircraft Carrier, Junyou) – Kantai’s drunk Light Carrier can go home because she was just too good.  At a time when Level 2 was a transition level even fodder like utility 1/0s had 2 soul for one total stock, and being untargetable put it over the edge.  It was first put on a Choose 1 of 3 in August 2014 alongside the next card, but December 2014 put an end to her reign.  May she drink at home in peace.

(Akagi-class Aircraft Carrier, Akagi Kai) – Correctly identified as the go-to finisher alongside Musashi, Akagi Kai was a dominant force because not only was it a dangerous Clock Kicker but its draw 2 ditch 1 ability allowed the player to draw into Compass more often than not.  And given how cheap the Compass was, even with Akagi Kai draining the stock each turn, you could survive more turns to dominate the board.  The reason this stayed on the list while Musashi did not is because with anti-damage creeping up in the format, Musashi’s inability to side attack hurt her brand, despite comboing well with anti-heal.

(7th Kagerou-class Destroyer, Hatsukaze) and (2nd Akatsuki-class Destroyer, Hibiki) – The two anti-cards that were part of a dominating Kantai performance in 2014.  These two were finally hit in February 2015, as Bushiroad tried to let them evade the banlist twice because they really wanted these abilities to be utilized.  In the end, Hatsukaze’s natural support with her anti-salvage, and Hibiki’s practically free anti-heal combined with a pseudo-change made the deck too consistent and rigid, and had to be restricted to allow more cards to see play.

(Sealed Fist, Action Mask) – This card was an awkward one.  Before even hitting the playable market it got an immediate restriction.  Normally, Bushiroad would errata a card if it was not printed the way they want it to be, but this one happened to be a special promo: a Blu-Ray promo.  There wasn’t going to be any way to redistribute this one, and thus the 1/0 with one more soul than was intended was restricted to one.

I tend not to have a major opinion on a banlist.  Typically, I see it happen, try to understand the reasonings behind it, and play to it.

Bushiroad has several branches, but there is no way that the any part of the world can compete with the number of players Japan has.  Despite being based in Japan, Bushiroad does keep an eye on overseas playing habits, but since Japan is the region with the most players it makes sense to gather data from the area with the most players.  In addition to being local, the fact company members attend the events allows the data collection to be in-depth and trustworthy.  Not to say that reports from outside of Japan are untrustworthy, but they don’t have a staff member at every single Level 2 or higher event to watch and take notes outside of Japan.  This obviously has the unfortunate side effect of having the majority of Japanese thought control the banlist to a degree, but it’s the most reliable way Bushiroad can obtain the data necessary to make changes to the banlist.

[Regarding Yami + Arle]:

(Golden Darkness) – To Love-Ru’s signature finisher, so much so that there are vocal minorities that have called for this card to be restricted or limited in a Choose 1 of X.  While the latter can indeed happen, I don’t expect this card to be restricted to anything but 3 copies, if there are any, and here’s two reasons why.  Firstly, it’s the Resonance card you have to reveal for a few cards.  If you restrict this card down to 2 (and even 3) copies or lower, you don’t just ban one card, you ban several.  It’s too broad of a change.  Secondly, similar to the limitation of Misakuro, what then?  What does the deck have left?  It’s the lifeblood of the deck and one of the reason it works, and restricting or banning the card effectively bans the deck.  I don’t see Golden Darkness ever hitting any restrictions, and would be a massive nerf for the deck if it was chosen as one of the Choose 1 of X.

(“Bayoe~n” Aruruw) – Pardon my transliteration of the name, every time I see her name I’m reminded of Eruruw’s sister from Utawarerumono.  Anyways, Arle doesn’t really have the problems of Golden Darkness.  She’s not the Resonance target for other cards, and can be limited to 2 without much problem at first glance.  But why would she not be hit in my mind?  It’s because she’s a combo card.  While stronger than Golden Darkness in offensive power and in Shots (there are 6 of them with 3 Arles as opposed to 5 with 3 Yamis), the thing that comes to mind is that she needs to combo and isn’t a one-card engine.  Arle needs you to have the climax in hand already since she doesn’t dig for it, and you need 2 (Whimsical, Carbuncle) in the back row if you want all 3 Arles to be untargetable like Golden Darkness is.  The fact you need all of this set up to be able to perform the same as playing 3 Golden Darkness is what makes me think that it is not a key card to be hit in a Choose 1 of X or restricted.  Similarly to TLR, I can see cards in Puyo Puyo I would put on a Choose 1 of X if I wanted to restrict them, but neither Golden Darkness or Arle would be touched in either case.


Expand - Russell

The current banlist is taking a turn for the better, releasing cards that should have been taken off such as Misakuro and Laharl. It seems Bushiroad is taking a slow and steady approach to freeing up some of the older sets; the meta has changed quite a bit since the reign of some of these cards. I would say it is safe to loosen up some of the other restrictions as well such as Cordelia’s Garden and the World of Faded Colors. The new restrictions on Monogatari and [email protected]:CG don’t ruin either series by any means. Monogatari quite honestly don’t need either card to be successful and there are enough options in the set to replace the missing slots. The choice of the 2 really comes down to your playstyle and potential deck synergy. [email protected]:CG is pretty self-explanatory; Triad Primus decks choose Power of Smile Rin, while the other decks choose between Akagi Miria or Loves Horror, Koume. Admittedly, Triad Primus decks will miss Koume but the Miria restriction won’t set them back too far, some Triad Primus decks even forego the Miria. Bushiroad taking Laharl and Misakuro off the restriction list was long awaited. Misakuro is rather lackluster compared to all the modern finishers. Laharl has a powerful effect but he won’t impact games the same way he has in the past.

I am personally satisfied with the unrestrictions that Bushiroad has put in place. The new restrictions are a little questionable since both the series have plenty of alternatives and don’t hinder the decks too much. It’s just nice to see Bushiroad approach this list rather smoothly without disrupting too much. The meta is actually great right now and there is a lot of diversity in terms of sets being played.

Regarding being a player from NA and not JP, I do not feel overlooked in any way. Although playstyles in Japan differ from America, the sets being played do not for the most part in NA Japanese tournaments. The Japanese prioritize different effects while the Americans have their own preferences. For the most part, the Level 3 lineups for most of the modern decks are relatively similar. Many of the gripes we have, the Japanese share (although we may be more vocal haha).

I’ve been asked before if I feel like certain sets need to be toned down such as To Love Ru’s Yamikan. While I do agree that the deck is incredibly powerful, it has its share of weaknesses that are rather exploitable by a good player. Yes, it probably has one of the best finishing potentials when the opponent is 3-2 and on, but it is hardly unbeatable. I can maybe see the Darkness Plan counter going on a Choice of 1 restriction list with Level 3 Yami in the future. All in all, I believe that in the future, Monogatari can come off the Choice of 1 list since those cards aren’t too oppressive by any means.

The current meta has many different and powerful finishers such as Yami, Arle and Illya. I just feel that this is a natural meta shift. We strayed from a heavy sustain meta with minimal finish potential to a meta filled with many different finishers. The point being, games may be much faster and at times feel overbearing, but that does not mean the game is less enjoyable. Living through a barrage of Yamis is a pretty good feeling regardless of what deck you are playing.

The one thing that I am glad about is that Bushiroad is finally balancing the Azusa/Akatsuki level 0 ditch a card, look at top 4 effect. They are starting to reprint the ability in Level 1s or restrict the color that similar cards can find. It makes it so that players have to commit to a color to get the effect rather than just dropping 4 in every archtype from that set (Kantai lol). Also shoutouts to my set finally getting an expansion, I’ve waited years for this! (Accel World)

Hime is best girl, best wife, and is life <3


Intensify Glasses

Ah, my turn at last!

I had the pleasure of editing the whole piece and I’ve gotten to see the whole kind of spectrum of salt in terms of how players might feel about the update.

There was a great temptation to provide clarification, analysis, and so on, but this is an opinion piece and so I’m going to put here what I think.

To be clear, I’m going to be speaking my thoughts as a player, and only a player. I’ve spoken my mind about Bushiroad’s challenges in the past and I don’t think those things bear repeating for now.

As someone who’s played several card games, I think ban lists are indeed necessary evils. A friend of mine actually, was a designer for the Naruto TCG, and could tell at length the struggles of coming up with good cards. While in my mind I think I know what would make a ‘fair’ and ‘balanced’ card in the language of WS and other card games, I know that in practice, it’s very trying. That said, we really do have to wonder sometimes about why people thought that cards like Marika, Jace, the Mind Sculptor, and so on, were OK. If we wanted to go super deep, we could hypothesize that a designer has always had this dream of creating the greatest card known to the game, and by some series of accidents, that kind of card occasionally sees print.

Card for card, I think of any new restriction as a new challenge or puzzle to solve. In WS, you can potentially afford to ignore the changes in sets you don’t own and/or intend to play, which is kind of nice. Other games are usually not this forgiving. If Puyo Puyo, a set that I play with a lot, was hit with some kind of restriction, I would either shelve it or think of other ways to optimize it. I don’t really have an opinion on the card selection. Unfortunately for me, it looks like the cards that were hit are from series that I do not play (Gasp), but I have had sets I play with get hit in the past: Nisekoi & KanColle. My feeling back then was that the restrictions were justified, but because I was not directly affected this time around, I’m not exactly comfortable with passing judgment. I will opt to defer to the other contributors here for their views.

The JP game outside of Japan proper is marred by hideous fragmentation. Indeed, it is quite fun, but inconsistencies, language barriers, training barriers, and most importantly, the business language barrier, all contribute to this lovely clown fiesta. I will acknowledge and be thankful for the fact that a system even exists. I also acknowledge that there is sacrifice involved in hosting and managing such things, even as distant and fragmented as they may be.

I will not ever pretend to be satisfied with the way the JP game is managed. I think that the EN market provides a great, limited field test for what would happen if the JP game was to either have seasons and/or no restrictions. The lessons learned from it may not be 100% applicable, but I would really like to believe that someone is paying attention and planning to act on them. Part of the cultural mismatch here is the arrogance or perhaps just sheer ignorance that is presented by Bushiroad. What is presented as an expectation that all people know that in Japan, high-level decisions are kept behind closed doors and senior members. That is, “what transparency?” Now I find that kind of practice to be very dated and highly annoying. (Remember the excellent Pokemon Go fiasco when there was no communication from the company? WS players could probably take note of what happened)

I think Yami/Arle are here to stay, and for now are serving as new benchmarks for finishers. You know the phrase, “Le roi est mort, vive le roi!” (The king is dead, long live the king!)? It’s always difficult to see new cards take the throne as the ones to beat, because transition in itself is uncomfortable. While I think that these kinds of effects might be watered down a little bit if they are to appear in future sets, Bushiroad has shown that the kind of effect is not as insanely powerful as Marika, Junyou, etc. I’m looking forward to future sets to see how they might reinterpret the effect. If we were to see the exact combination again though, I would be a little annoyed at what I would see as lazy design.

Did you get through everyone’s thoughts? Did we miss anything? Have a point of your own? Hit us up on Facebook to add in your two cents!

If you have questions, please send us a message via Facebook or an email at theninthcx AT gmail DOT com. Be sure to sign up for our seasonal giveaway, and subscribe to our YouTube channel!

Please check out our partner store, Card Academy!

Thanks for reading!

Preview Practice – Challenges


Welcome to another 9th CX Preview Practice!

We are going to be doing a bit of content on the upcoming GochiUsa (Is the Order a Rabbit?) set, but before that, we wanted to address some of the challenges that players may run into when looking at a set through the scope of only a few cards.

While we have done a fairly deep dive on previews before, we didn’t cover the topic exhaustively. Doing so would be very difficult, but in the spirit of doing things as well as we can, we want to follow up and add a couple things to the pot.

Special thanks to Clinton for lending his opinions for this piece.

So what did you miss?

A couple things, and probably more.

For those who need to catch up, here’s what we’ve already laid out:

CotD Spoilers Tips

But where might we need a little more information?

Let’s look at the first point: standalone viability et al.

By itself, (no meta joke intended) standalone viability refers to whether a card(s) can be played alone in order to work. As soon as a card requires a CX, for example, its viability alone decreases dramatically.

But what about if the card doesn’t require a CX? What if it requires a different kind of combination of conditions to be fulfilled?

If we go down the list, we can see quickly that we did not account for cards that might require cards of a certain quality present on stage in order to work. For example, there could be a card that requires 2 blue characters and 2 red characters to be on the stage before it can be played a level early, or before it gets an on-attack effect. This kind of card is technically a standalone card (because even though we need X characters, they could be any characters that are X), and is also not truly color locked. We should make sure we don’t immediately pursue nor dismiss these kinds of cards at first.

There is also a very large hint that we missed out on during our first pass: SHIPS.

Ships? Like…


Or… wait… you mean…

Ohhh yeah.

Like this kind of ship:



KyoSaya Yeeeeee

…But… But!


Yes, but not in the card world!

We really could have done better by showing that there was a major clue we overlooked – in-universe ships!

It boils down to this:

If a series is in or coming to WSif characters are together and/or shipped somehow, then their cards will likely have some kind of interaction and/or synergy.


Before we start jumping to conclusions about the purity of character relationships and spark discussions about various series (definitelynotNisekoiorKiznaiverohnono) we can look at some of these ships in action.

For example, in Madoka, where the previously used Hitomi meme comes from, it’s heavily implied (and later somewhat confirmed) that Sayaka + Kyoko = Yes.

When the set was brand new, red blue decks were popular and useful. Now, players could have come to the conclusion of using red (Kyoko) + blue (Sayaka) from a number of methods. One was that they could have looked for the set’s most powerful effects and gone from the top down; after all, Sayaka Miki was a pretty solid attacker and beater. Another was that a player could have looked at the combo synergies, such as Kyoko’s Apples + 2nd Year Sayaka. A third way (that we again, previously overlooked), was that they may have been a very big fan of Kyoko X Sayaka and ended up with a deck that worked because of waifu/shipping bias.

Isn’t building based on ships a kind of bias?

Not exactly, because we’re using our knowledge from a given series as a guide to see how decks might build themselves. This is pretty different from waifu-oriented building, where we simply channel our love for a character into a deck without the kind of competitive regard that others may seek.

There are limits to this of course. Just because a particular ship may be canon, it does not necessarily mean that it will be viable or powerful. On top of that, not every series has a ship that will be ‘officially recognized’ through the cards.

We’ll be adding these two methods to future preview practice articles and casts!

That’s all for today! We’ll be back later this week with our panel discussion about the latest spoilers from GochiUsa.

Did we miss something? Is there another method you use? Let us know!

If you have questions, please send us a message via Facebook or an email at theninthcx AT gmail DOT com. Be sure to sign up for our monthly giveaway, follow us on Twitch and subscribe to our YouTube channel!

Please check out our partner store, Card Academy!

Thanks for reading!

Level Up! – The Prelude, Level 0


Welcome back to Level Up!, 9th CX’s intermediate strategy column!

For the fourth level of our series, we’ll be going to the place where it all begins: Level 0!

This article and its analysis have been brought to you by the whole 9th CX team. Another special thanks to Clinton for his contributions.

Every game starts somewhere. For some, pieces must be setup. For others, apps need to be downloaded before getting ready to embark on long journeys on foot, bike, and car.


What can I say? The game has been out for about 20 days now and we’ve all been playing.

Weiss Schwarz is a little different though. At the start, the players have evaluated their opening hands, mulliganed X cards, drawn X cards, and have started the game. This is where the game begins, but certainly not where it ends. The tone of the game can be set early on, but it is subject to much change. This is Level 0!

Level 0 at its core is an odd level. It is where every game begins, and leaving level 0 means getting ever-closer to the point of defeat, level 4. Yet, it is necessary to both use level 0, and to get out of it.

The cards used at level 0 are almost all character cards. It is because of this level’s curious nature that most decks are behooved to use ~17 cards. Decks usually do not focus on using level 0 to gain card advantage.  Rather, they try to shape the game’s future as much as possible.

To facilitate this, we have a variety of options to choose from:


  • Level reverser
  • Beaters
  • “Married life” effect (When you play a CX, give +X power to a character)
  • Clock reverser
  • Stock reverser
  • Vanilla(!?)


  • Runners (or anti-runners)


  • Assists
  • Revenge trigger (When a character is reversed, perform X effect)
  • Backups (Yes, they exist)


  • Scry
  • Reveal top, filter
  • Search (Riki, Pay 1+Ditch 1, Reverse Riki)
  • Brainstorm (Search, Salvage, Draw, Hand Fix Search, Hand Fix Salvage, Power, Kill, Effects, etc)
  • Filter (discard card/CX/etc, salvage/draw)
  • Bond
  • Anti-X

Clock Fodder:

  • Whatever you can’t and/or don’t want to use at the moment

The importance of every level in a vacuum is difficult to quantify. Because every deck is different, the level 0 for one deck may not be as important as another. In general, it can be argued that level 0 is slightly more important than level 3 because it’s where the butterfly effect begins to apply. One small thing, like triggering a CX on the first attack – a nightmare for any WS player, can spell out many more instances of ruin down the line.

Let’s go down the list and look at each category and why it might warrant use in a deck’s level 0 lineup.

In Offense, we have a variety of ways to address opposing characters, all of which involve attacking. The premise of a “beater”, or a character meant to attack is simple; either go over the opposing character or trade, and net 1 stock for the attack.

There are nuances as to why one kind of reverser might be better than another because they can affect opposing abilities, but those are better discussed on a card-by-card basis.

Clinton does mention one interesting upside to using beaters:

[Because] utility 0s are king, […] vanillas are surprisingly effective.

When we asked him why, he had this to offer:

Most decks are so full of utility characters that they have a difficult time dealing with a character over 3000 unless they have a 2k1.

Runners are a unique blend of defense and offense. In the super early game, they allow you to open yourself to direct attacks to get to level 1 more quickly (as many decks may want to do), and they preserve your cards by conveniently dodging opposing attackers.

An unnecessarily cute illustration of how it might feel to be against runners

An unnecessarily cute illustration of how it might feel to be against runners

Recently, anti-runners (for lack of a better term) have seen print, where a character will run in front of an opposing character to either prevent a direct attack and/or prompt a side attack. They can have their moments in the early game, but can find themselves quite vulnerable in levels 1 and 3 where on-reverse or other related effects are very likely to appear.

In Defense, we have a handful of power-boosting abilities. These abilities are quite common, but they are usually used with another level (like 1) in mind.

In Utility, we have a whole mess of things. Things that scry, things that filter, brainstorm, search, and so on – these are the cards that can and will determine a deck’s strength. After all, a card with utility can make a significant impact regardless of the level and time in game. Don’t be deceived by powerful abilities being on humble level 0 characters! Some of the game’s most influential and powerful effects have been on level 0 characters.

Remember newly-released Hibiki and Hatsukaze from KanColle?


Level 0s, both!

Remember the most obnoxious runner+reverser combo Chitoge from Nisekoi?



One of the biggest challenges in deck building is maintaining the balance within the ‘triangle’ of offense, defense, and utility. Fortunately, many cards at level 0 will feature some kind of blend of abilities, be it offense+utility, defense+utility, double utility, and so on.

When selecting a level 0 line up there are some questions that need to be asked;

  • Can I sustain a field until I have enough stock for when I reach level 1?
  • Do I have a way to put cards into my hand whether it’s through searching, salvaging or filtering?
  • Are the effects that can add cards to my hand cost efficient?

Most, if not all, sets can answer those questions with a resounding “Yes, I can!” But a better question for players might be “Do I have cards that can provide 2-3 of the popular effects listed above?” or “How much mileage can I get out of one card?”

This kind of planning can illustrate to newer players as to why many experienced players opt to not use very many (if at all) level 0 characters that are considered beaters. If you measure a beater to the questions above, they often are only able to answer one question in the affirmative, and can only hang their heads in shame for the other two.

But wait, Clinton said before that beaters are effective! Why would-

Most decks are prepared to stage comebacks if faced with poor starts. Beaters can be more effective in a situation that we have not mentioned yet because it involves a great deal of variance: a stalled level 0.

If a player or players are stuck at level 0 for more than 2 turns, it most likely means that someone has canceled too many times in the early game. Beaters can help extend an early lead in the event that an opponent has disastrous luck. Now, banking on an opponent having poor luck is generally frowned upon because it does not call for you, the player, to make superior strategic decisions in order to gain an advantage.

So what about if we trigger a CX on the first attack?

Consider it lost, and try to build as much clean stock on top of it, unless you have a way to immediately dislodge it.

We have done the math, and if you can put about 4 non-CX cards on top of a CX in stock, it’s generally OK, even if it does mean that you’re going to be playing the game with a maximum of 7 CXs in your deck.

(For those who went back to click on the link, take a look at the 2 soul table; the break point for an attack’s likelihood of success occurs roughly every 3-4 cards, and attacks for 2 are quite common.)

This doesn’t mean that a deck needs to have a way to use 1 stock at level 0, but effects that use 1 stock are very common, because almost every brainstorm effect in the game (at level 0, at least) will need 1 stock to use!

Should I not attack my opponent to 0/X?

This question had a different answer years ago: try to strand your opponent at 0/5. Since then, many Riki clones have been printed, and it has become easier than ever for players to bump themselves from 0/5 directly into level 1. For some series, not even 0/4 can be considered “safe” if one tries to avoid getting to level 1 second.

This question is quite dependent on the matchup, and the additional question is “Does my opponent have an on-reverse combo at level 1?” Going first or second can also influence the number of cards you see from your opponent that could indicate if he or she is using one of those types of combos. Granted, some series are going to be more telegraphed than others. For instance, on the EN side of the game, if one sees an opponent with KanColle and yellow cards in the waiting room, it’s fairly likely there is a Shimakaze in the deck. On the JP side of the game, well… use your best judgment/memory!

Building a deck’s level 0 is hard! … Why?

It’s probably because it requires the most ‘homework’ of any level in a given series. Whereas it can be simple to build a deck from the “top down” from level 3 or 1, level 0 is always a blank canvas because it isn’t color-locked in any way.

Some players subscribe to the school of thought of “less is more”, in that a very structured 4-copy of 4 cards at level 0 is what every deck should have. Others may feel that variety is the key to strength, and focus on including as many effects as possible into their level 0.

Both of these sides have valid points. Using 4 copies of a card is indeed the best way to ensure that it is seen during a game, but at the same time, using fewer effects can mean that a deck is much less flexible, and therefore much less capable overall.

There is no strict formula for what will make a deck’s level 0 successful. When building a deck’s level 0, try listing out all the effects that the level contains. The more abilities, the better. Bonus points for if abilities continue being useful in the late game, such as CX filtering and brainstorm. Remember, it is possible to overdo it with certain cards and card types; a level 0 setup with 8 runners for example, might be significantly less powerful than a setup with 4 runners because the potential for redundancy is much higher (wherein said redundancy makes the others potentially useless and/or look silly).

If building a deck’s level 0 was not a big enough task, testing it can also be frustrating. Because level 0 characters can and will be used at nearly every stage of a game, it may not be possible to determine if certain cards in a lineup are worthwhile until a full game has been played. If you combine that with our philosophy about testing (Always play more games), it can take a while to evaluate!


  • Use as many efficient abilities as possible.
  • Check for cards that have multiple abilities across all colors – you might be surprised by what you find!
  • Try to balance the number of cards that fit into each category, with a much lower emphasis on Offense unless the series lacks utility or your deck has a specific agenda.
  • Evaluate the quality of your level 0 not from the turns leading to level 1, but throughout the whole game.
  • And as always, keep testing!

If you have questions, please send us a message via Facebook or an email at theninthcx AT gmail DOT com. Be sure to sign up for our monthly giveaway, follow us on Twitch and subscribe to our YouTube channel!

Please check out our partner store, Card Academy!

Thanks for reading!

Level Up! – The Contested Level, Level 1


Welcome back to Level Up!, 9th CX’s intermediate strategy column!

This time, we are going to be delving into perhaps the most contested level of Weiss Schwarz, level 1. This article and analysis are brought to you by Michael, Melanie, Johnny, Felix, and Clinton.

Same disclaimer as last time: If we missed something or if you see something that we might add, let us know! This topic is not easy.

In Weiss Schwarz, level 1 is a very turbulent point of the game. There are not very many quality generalizations to make about the level itself because, level 1 is where the game starts to take off for many decks.

Melanie has some points about the history of level 1 in decks.


Originally, the concept of dual laning, or, matching, prevailed in the early game. Players in the JP game used to either match their opponent’s field one for one, or would play just one more character to bait out a response from the opponent, in the form of another character. This was done in an attempt to preserve the “Triangle effect”; which states that cards in hand translates to having characters. Characters deal damage and build stock to pay for higher level abilities and characters, which goes back to refilling, or “plussing” the hand.

Now, as the game progressed, the idea of pushing for more damage began to creep up.


In other words, the game began to tilt in favor of more aggressive strategies.


Some have suggested that this happened due to the introduction of the EN game, but that isn’t exactly provable. But soon, level 1 became the time for players to begin committing to a full board to push for damage to end the game.

As decks began to commit more to filling up the board at level 1, something was needed to refill the hand. At first, this was done by running CX triggers (book + door, or even 8 door). Sets such as Rewrite would use 8 door triggers and salvage CX combos to sustain their damage. Cards would eventually move to provide a way to sustain the hand through cards outside of CX triggers.

Remember Asuna Invites to Party?


The CX combo, at the time of its release, was quite popular (and in EN, is still). Attack, pay 1 stock and tutor for any character? It’s the dream for many decks!

This was all quite good for a while until the Fire Nation attacked until KanColle was printed. Kantai introduced some unprecedented mechanics (easy-to-access heal tax, anti-salvage, etc), but among the biggest was Shimakaze.


The condition to search for a character was needing to reverse a character in battle, but she did it for free. Nisekoi would follow with a similar combo, but would without the benefit of thinning the deck.


The game has evolved significantly over the past few years, to the point where some older decks struggle bitterly to maintain their “triangle” if they do not have a reliable way to keep up at level 1. The strongest variants are those that trigger from reversing opponents in battle, and they include searching, salvaging, and milling up to 4 cards to look for a character.

So, now we have some context on how level 1 has looked and where it has gone over the years.

But what can we learn from this history to see how to build a deck’s level 1 game?

There are a few things we can take away at the macro level.

First, a less stock-intensive level 1 means that a deck can afford a more expensive level 3, and possibly a more expensive level 2.

Second, it helps to include a card advantage engine, be it in the form of CX triggers, CX combos, or events. (Generally, cards at level 1 do not have a lot in the way of providing card advantage on their own outside of combos)

Let’s go to Johnny for his approach:


To me, level 1 is the most important level, next to level 3. You can usually tell how good a (new) set is by those 2 levels. Usually, when I build my level 1 game for any set, I look at the costless level 1 characters. 1/0s are important because they build stock from the turn they’re played. (1/1 characters take a full extra turn to become stock-positive)

Next, I add any advantage engine the set has, whether the cards involved cost 0 or 1 stock. Speaking of 1/1s though, I sometimes include 2-3 1/1 characters, but it comes down to how good they are. I like to add them because decks sometimes just need to pay out stock to dislodge CXs in stock, etc. In addition, they tend to have higher power, which 1/0 characters typically have difficulty going over in battle.

Lastly, I look for backup effects. If a set has a 0-stock +2000 power backup or a 1-stock +3500 backup/event, I consider them.

Felix with the tl;dr:

  • Shimakaze combo? ☑
  • Stronk beater? ☑
  • Good utility? ☑


Which brings me to the types of level 1 characters we tend to see:

  • Advantage combo level 1
    • Combo with a CX to search or salvage
  • Assassins
    • Get +X power on play, and can get over most other characters during the turn they’re played
  • Level reversers
    • Formerly used to match other level 1s, but now are used for utility beyond their reversing ability
  • Clock encore beaters
    • Typically 6000 power at 1/0, and 7500 power at 1/1
  • Anti-level backups
    • Included in some sets at level 1 (e.g. Marika, Nisekoi; Nico, Love Live!)
  • Backups
    • Typically 1500-2000 power at 1/0, 2000-2500+ at 1/1

We have a general lay of the land now for level 1, but as many players know, the JP game and the EN game are (or can be) very different animals. This is where we have the reigning World Champion chime in:


The success of one’s level 1 game goes a long way in determining how the rest of the game will pan out. As said before, level 1 is only rivaled by level 3 in terms of importance, and that’s only because the game is over after someone gets pushed out of level 3.

The EN metagame is currently dominated by 3 strategies at level 1.

  1. CX combo card advantage (e.g. SAO, Nisekoi, Kantai, [email protected])
  2. Power (e.g. Angel Beats, Attack on Titan, Project Diva [Miku])
  3. Efficiency (e.g. Love Live!, Kill La Kill, Madoka)

Level 1 CX combo decks use their combos to setup for future turns. Those that focus on power aim to exhaust opponents early on and deny CX combos from going off, because many combos rely on reversing opponents. The last group of decks simply try to get as much mileage out of as few cards as possible to sustain a longer endgame.

Card advantage decks are usually the most commonly played. For a while, those focused on efficiency were popular despite the presence of power or “wall” decks. That is of course, until AoT was released, and the wall more or less came down on the meta, and it became the premier deck to beat.

More specifically on AoT, I consider the Corps build with Sasha + Mikasa at level 1 to be the best build, as the pair completely stonewalls most card advantage decks.


From this, we can draw some rock-paper-scissors-like comparisons in what happens at level 1.

Power beats CX combos and efficiency, but only early on. It falls off in the late game, but spikes highest in the early game.

CX combos can beat efficiency at any stage of the game, but have to rely on opportunities in the face of facing power/wall decks. It improves the late game, but spikes in terms of opportunity near level 0.

Efficiency is essentially a surrender to both CX combos and walls for the promise of a heavier and ideally superior endgame. It improves the late game, but its upsides are not seen until later in the game.

Here’s a very crude graph to illustrate where we see the level 1 games go for each type:

Crude Graph to Explain Level 1

But of course, this graph is sorely limited, because it doesn’t illustrate for us how these types might interact with one another. To get more accurate data for interactivity though, we would need to delve into an individual set, look at its potential layouts for level 1, and then compare that against many other level 1 setups to determine its viability.

Now, Clinton just gave us a good example of how a player in EN would want to check their level 1 game; taking a popular and powerful combination of cards and using it as a standard. His advice for EN players is to use AoT’s level 1 game as a litmus test to see if a deck is viable. Basically: Can’t beat AoT’s level 1 game? Consider other options.

In the JP side of the game though, where things are much more diverse, it can be difficult to pin down a reliable standard. Eventually, there will (probably) be so many sets in the EN game that it will also become just as difficult. So in the face of overwhelming options, what’s a deckbuilder to do?

Here’s a breakdown of recommended steps:

  • Identify
    • ID the potential level 1 game combinations from a set
    • Look for the CX combo engine, and/or walls, and/or efficient characters
  • Choose
    • Pair the level 1 combination with a particular endgame (to be discussed in a future article)
  • Test
    • Put the deck to work! Get in some games, ideally against proven lists
  • Evaluate
    • After testing is done, compile observations from your games, such as what worked well, and what did not work as well. Make the observations discrete, as there will be some that will be made in the context of the specific matchup tested, and others that can happen outside context
      • For example, “This character could never get over that potato” is a potential example of a context-biased observation, because it only points out a specific character that couldn’t be beaten
      • “This character could never go over 9000” is a better observation, because the actual number is being addressed, rather than a specific card; it’s more applicable because it covers more potential ground
  • Modify
    • If too many negatives or downsides are observed during testing, switch to another setup – remove the old, try the new

Good luck!

If you have questions or comments, please send us a message via Facebook or an email at theninthcx AT gmail DOT com. Follow us on Twitch and subscribe to our YouTube channel!

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Thanks for reading!

Level Up! – The Forgotten Level, Level 2

Where is the 2

Welcome to Level Up!, 9th CX’s intermediate strategy column!

This column will be a smaller column dedicated to more narrow and meta-specific topics that can’t be covered by the advanced topics or level 0 columns.

We will be discussing the “forgotten level”; level 2. This article and analysis are brought to you by Michael, Johnny, Melanie, and Felix. Thanks to our old contributor Billy for the article suggestion, and to Clinton for last-minute contributions.

Disclaimer: This column goes into details that significantly more experienced players may consider “common sense”. If you are one of those players and have noticed that we missed something, let us know! This stuff is hard to write about, but it’s much easier to edit and add to.

In WS, level 2 is often misunderstood. This happens usually due to some combination of bias and inexperience.

For instance, a newer player may see that level 2 is where 2-soul characters begin to come out. Because 2-soul characters hit for more damage, it could follow that level 2 is where to go “all-in” and ignore using level 3 characters altogether.

But let’s back up first and look at the most popular state of the level 2 game so that we know where we’re coming from.

For many decks, level 2 serves as a stepping stone into level 3. Stock is conserved, and a deck refresh is often sought to prevent as much damage as possible in the following turns. However, there are…


…some cards…


…that break the rules…


…and can show up much earlier than their level indicates.

It’s a mechanic known by other names in other games, and by none in particular in WS. Some call them early plays, or early outs, etc. Chaos knows it as “trespass”. Yu-Gi-Oh! knows it as “advance summon”. Magic knows it (kind of) as “cheating into play”, but the premise is the same: level 2 has become inundated with level 3 characters.

But wait, it’s always been like this! Level 3 characters have always been accessible at level 2!

True, but let’s also consider this: level 3 characters were accessible by means of using change abilities, and often, those abilities would trigger at the start of one’s draw phase. Sometimes, they would trigger at the end of a battle phase, or at the start of a climax phase. These newer level 3 cards, as seen above, cannot be as easily disrupted. Whereas before, a change card could have been bounced or even attacked, these level 3s just happen. That is, a certain condition on the user’s turn, must be fulfilled in order for them to be played.

Because there is very little play-by-play interaction in the game, it’s even more difficult for someone to sculpt a scenario where a level 3 cannot be played early. For example, some ask for specific cards to be in clock, and others to be in hand. There are very few ways for an opponent to manipulate the kinds of cards in a player’s clock, and even fewer (if any at all) that can manipulate a player’s cards in hand.

So now what do people do at level 2?

Aside from trespass effects, there is an assortment of popular effects found on level 2 characters.

Effects? Why not power?

So let’s take a look at the most popular effects first, and we will likely find the answer to that question.

The most commonly seen effects at level 2 are:

  • Trespass (see above)
  • “Slayers” (buff when facing a level 3+ character)
  • Level assists (characters that give characters in front +500 x level power)
  • Utility backups (backup abilities that include removal of over-level characters, filtering cards, and refreshing the deck)
  • Freefresh

The struggle for power is kind of covered by this “not-quite rock paper scissors” cycle of trespass characters, slayers, and backups (more specifically, anti-change effects). On attack, slayers and trespass characters beat one another. On the defense, anti-change beats trespass.

Raw power at this level is actually not consistent enough to factor into this equation. Raw power can beat slayers and is not prone to being defeated by anti-change, but it gets beaten by anything with trespass, and even more resoundingly if a level assist is behind it.

To be more specific, vanilla 2/2 characters tend to have two types. One is 10000 power with 1 soul, and the other is 9000 power with 2 soul. Trespass cards tend to have some kind of scaling power (+500 power per on-trait character) with a lower base, somewhere near 9000. If both a vanilla and trespass character are alone, yes, the vanilla wins. With one more character on board, they are even, but if one puts a level support behind both characters, the level 3 wins! It isn’t unreasonable to expect that someone will have more than one character at level 2, and therefore, trespass characters are almost always more attractive options.

Let’s also consider another thing – freefresh. Many decks want to use level 2 to refresh and prevent future damage as much as possible. The popularity of this effect also makes it much more difficult to play CX combos at level 2. When a refresh is imminent, having the choice of whether to play a level 2 CX combo or ditch it is kind of a Morton’s fork.

At level 2, the game is hardly over. There’s still a full level to go, and games rarely end in one fell swoop. If one plays a CX combo at level 2, this can make for an awkward decision tree: “Do I keep this in my hand to use later/after refreshing, or do I ditch it and use it to potentially cancel damage?” Most players will opt out of ever having to encounter this painful choice and use CX combos at levels 1 and 3.

Why levels 1 and 3?

Level 1 CX combos are typically used to find card advantage. There are combos that rely on reversing, on attacking, and so on, but ultimately, they are used to get more cards. Because these combos are usable at any level from level 1 and on, they often bleed into level 2. At level 3, CX combos are often used as finishers because they offer some form of damage and/or high probability damage.

Let’s consider something else too, that level 2 characters in one’s opening draw are essentially as “good” as level 3 characters; good to clock, and little else. In contrast, level 1 characters can be held and preserved for the next level.

Vanilla level 2 characters that cost 1 stock have historically hovered between 8500 and 9000 power. Level 1 characters have gotten progressively larger over time, to the point where it is not unreasonable for a level 1 character to hit 8000+ power. Card effects and CX combos make it possible to push the numbers even higher, e.g. Soundless Voice from Miku, and this ease of access has made power-oriented level 2 characters very nearly obsolete.

So what should level 2 be used for?

The most popular and powerful sets have access to the “big 5” level 2 effects; trespass, slayers, etc. Because the very effects are capable of keeping the others in check, it’s safe to say that generally, the level 2 for a deck should focus on the utility that those cards offer.

Won’t that mean that the number of level 2 characters will be really small in a deck?

For a lot of newer sets, yes, this is the case. Characters with trespass are usually level 3, and that cuts down the number of cards that are truly level 2. (There are some characters that can trespass at level 1, but those characters are rare and not as powerful as those that can do so at level 2.)

What about events?

Events are a little different, because they have a wide variety of effects. Some decks will use them to gain an advantage through sheer power, some will use them to prevent damage. The list goes on, and they often are played in decks that lack one or more of the “big 5” effects to fill the gap in power.

tl;dr for level 2?

  • Play few level 2 characters
    • For those that are played, make sure they are a part of the “big 5” effects as much as possible
  • Play events sparingly
    • Save the slots for powerful events
  • Play CX combos as little as possible

Good luck!

If you have questions or comments, please send us a message via Facebook or an email at theninthcx AT gmail DOT com. Follow us on Twitch and subscribe to our YouTube channel!

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Thanks for reading!

Level 0 – CX Triggers


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

2soul+2 soul 


stockBag (stock)

salvageDoor (salvage)

drawBook (draw)

shotShot (Burn 1)

treasureBar (Treasure)

gatePants (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.

1k1 + Bounce trigger

1k1 + Bounce trigger

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.

+2 Soul


2soul Chart

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:

Start: 4/5
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 Chart

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 (stock)


Bag Chart

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)


 Salvage Chart

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.

Book (draw)


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.

Draw Chart

Draw Chart2

Draw Chart3

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 ([email protected]*&$ 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)


Shot Chart

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 Chart

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.

Bren adds:

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.

Gate (pants)


Pants Chart

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.

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Level 0 – Turn By Turn




Welcome back to Level 0, the column dedicated to the basics of WS!

Next Article: TBD

Previous Article: Being Wrong

Today’s article is brought to you largely in part from Andree N. of the PH WS community.


The beginning of a game of WS is where the butterfly effect begins. We look at our opening 5, and ponder which cards to ditch and how many to draw. We look to see if we can setup for our level 0 and level 1 games, all while avoiding the dreaded CX flood.

That’s great and all, but what do we need to do turn after turn?

This is where this handy list comes in!

Before Draw

  1. Check your memory for characters that may need to return to the stage.
  2. Check your stage for change effects that trigger at the start of your draw. Remember, if you draw a card, you have passed the “at the beginning of…” timing!

Before Clock

  1. Check for colors in your clock/level. (Especially true if you are playing 2+ colors in a deck)
  2. Make sure you are not at 3/6 (or at 3/5 with a refresh imminent). If you are, don’t clock!
  3. Note the colors present in your clock if you intend to use a Shift effect; make sure to keep the necessary colors in clock if necessary.
  4. Evaluate the cards in your hand, and ask some questions:
    • Can I play everything in my hand with the color restrictions and the stock requirements?
    • Do I need to play everything right now?
    • Are there any ‘dead’ cards in my hand; cards that will have a relatively low impact against the possibility of drawing two more powerful cards?
    • Are my characters favored to win against their battle opponents, or is there something else I need to look for/draw into in order to handle them?
    • Will I draw any CXs from this clock phase if I do? Will I need those CXs for a combo or for damage?

During Main Phase

  1. Check for a Shift effect, if applicable. The ability only triggers at the start of your main phase, so if you do anything (such as playing a character or even moving one), you will miss the timing window to use it.
  2. Check for any other applicable abilities from your opponent’s characters, and your own.
  3. Check the power levels of your opponent’s characters, and your own.
  4. Add the power of potential Backup effects to your opponent’s characters when considering how to place characters for battle. As a general rule (and it will vary by series):
    • At level 1, a Backup can be reasonably expected to be from 1500 – 3500 power.
    • At level 2, a Backup can be reasonably expected to be from 2500 – 4000 power.
    • At level 3, a Backup can be reasonably expected to be less concerned with power, and more with a certain effect, such as damage prevention, or Heal.
  5. Check the number of CXs in your opponent’s waiting room. Always keep a mental note if your opponent triggered CXs during an attack the previous turn.
  6. Check the number of potential CXs left in your deck, gathering the number from CXs in hand, CXs in your waiting room, and any you may have triggered. (Marker cards can generally be considered non-CX cards, because more times than not, they will be a non-CX card, unless you have more than 4 blind markers under a card)
  7. Check how favored you are to trigger a CX during an attack this turn. (Depending on the types of triggers you run, this can affect your attack sequencing)

During CX Phase

  1. Check for abilities that trigger at the beginning of your CX phase. Remember, playing a CX is actually the last part of the CX phase. If you play a CX right away, you may miss an ability timing.
  2. Visualize the optimal order for your attacks.
    • For instance, if you are playing a CX combo that allows you to search for a character upon reversing a character in battle, attack with that first. Why? It eliminates the possibility that the card you want will be sent to stock in a subsequent attack.
    • If you have a character that gets larger when another character you control attacks, make sure it goes last whenever possible.
    • If you have a character that costs stock on-attack, attack with it closer to last whenever possible; this will allow you to pay out triggered CXs.
    • If you have a character that needs a large amount of stock, make sure it goes last when possible.
    • If you know your opponent is less than favored to cancel an attack and/or is about to refresh, attack hard!
  3. Play your CX if applicable, and resolve abilities that may trigger as a result.

During Battle

  1. Remind yourself exactly how many times you live.
  2. Turn the waifu sideways.
  3. If you did not win, repeat step 2.
  4. If you performed step 2 three times (or more, depending on series), and you did not win, pass the turn and proceed to the next section.

During Opponent’s Turn

The opponent’s turn is all about gathering as much information as you can. Because WS is a fairly low-interaction game, there are a lot of things you can do during the time that it isn’t your turn:

  • Note every CX trigger your opponent has, especially if one is going to stock. Bonus points if you can determine how many and which kinds of CXs are in his or her hand.
  • Prepare your backups and know how large you can get your characters. Determine if it makes sense to defend a character. For example, a character with encore gets less value out of having a Backup used on it, but a 2-stock character will usually always be more worthwhile to save via Backup.
  • Ask for an ability check on applicable characters before, and after attack. (Especially helpful if playing quickly, or if playing in JP and translations are not readily available)

Remember, this is not an exhaustive list, but using this list will provide a valuable base of mechanics for your WS game. As you practice and play more games, you may find more things to ask and add to the list. You can even go as far as to make a list for your individual deck!

Good luck, and happy testing! Thank you for reading, and please make sure to visit our sponsors and join the monthly giveaway!