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.

Be sure to sign up for the monthly giveaway, and visit our sponsor Card Academy. As always, thanks for reading!

Level 0 – The Art of Losing


Welcome to the 5th installment of Level 0 – the column that explores the basics of strategy in Weiss Schwarz!

Next Article: [TBD]

Previous Article: Preparing for Major Tournaments

Author’s Note: This article is brought to you by an idea from Australian reader Elliot L. This article is intended to be a tool for some perspective on the ups and downs experienced by all players in tournament play, and is in no way meant to be an evaluation or attack on any person’s ability to play the game. Basically, this is the “how to get through bad beats and such” article. -Michael

The other month I opened an email from a fellow in Australia. He offered an idea that is in contrast to the normal article tone. Normally on 9th CX, we feature tournament reports from people who win whole events and so on, but what about a perspective from someone who has just gone 0-X in their local tournament scene? Elliott ended his email with “Personally if you don’t [have any interest] in this that’s fine, but if you do[…]” So naturally, I jumped at the opportunity. It gave me some pause and perspective after all: why don’t we talk about the rough beats of a tournament gone completely sour? To give some context, he sent the message after having just gone 0-4 in a 16-man event with his new Log Horizon deck. (i.e. absolutely dumpstered)

The next step was getting everything together, so I asked him some pretty interesting (I think) questions.

  • What got you into the game?
  • Why do you play?
  • What keeps you going when you lose?
  • Why do you lose?
  • Are you open to using or testing other lists? What’s your testing experience like?

Why did I ask these questions? Especially that fourth one!

I wanted to get a sense of what his experience was like, and what he plays for. As I’ve stated before, everyone plays the game for different reasons. Some want to be the #1 player in the world, and others want to show others that their waifu is #1 and that other peoples’ waifu is absolute gutter trash. As a disclaimer, I don’t mean to create a false dichotomy by only mentioning two ‘types’ of players, but it’s just to give an idea.

I wanted to ask also why he as a player kept on playing the game despite losing. After all, sometimes people can be turned away by failure especially in games. (I mean can you imagine what it would be like to try to play a chess match against Magnus Carlsen or Shiro?) The question was really about getting a small sense of his grit as a player. But the fourth and fifth questions are really about the tactical approach to the game. You can get a sense of a player’s strategic approach from his or her reasons for playing, but the tactics come out in different questions.

So then, what did he say?

Elliott: I first started with Weiss Schwarz just over a year ago and I had started getting back into anime seriously, so my mate first showed me his collection of cards and as well how to play to the game, but it wasn’t actually how people played the game but it was more off the artwork that I loved and I will always remember the Psycho;pass climax card “Unit One of the Public Safety Bureau’s Criminal Investigation Division”. I was huge fan of the anime at the time and I just fell in love with how awesome it looked and I knew that this was something I could really see myself working toward.

Michael: Why do you play?

E: To be honest, I have questioned myself numerous times on why I play Weiss Schwarz. No matter how many times I play people, no matter what my card draw might be like, I will just never win against people. A good example of this is my friend Dylan. I have played matches with him nearly every single week for just over a year. Not once have I been able to beat him and personally, it’s frustrating; losing always is. But showing up and just playing a few matches for an hour, has been some of the most fun I have ever had. I wouldn’t trade it for the world.

M: What keeps you going when you lose?

E: Some people have said to me, “What’s the point you’re going to lose?”

This has been asked so many times, I can’t even recount. I have drawn all 8 climaxes in my hand before. I have been so close to winning and had it yanked out of my hands by +2 soul triggers. Now usually with this 9th CX you’re used to hearing about people with good decks but this is the story of the loser who didn’t come 1st, 2nd or 3rd but instead dead last. Now for us this was a big tournament for us as we have a mildly small scene and I had hopes that being able to win something or coming 8th or above at worst, but luck is a cruel mistress.

When it rains, it pours.

Now I had a friend  who came in with Bakemonogatari trial deck, He was petrified of being smashed, and thought he was wasting his $20. Only because he had it slightly modified it with around 7-8 boosters, he came 3rd overall out of 16 people. This, I won’t lie, felt like being kicked in the balls- seeing your $250 deck that you have poured hours upon hours into that has been changed so many times, being smashed and being labeled as a statistically bad deck. It can feel degrading.

Again, some people might say “Sell the deck and move on,” or “You need to play a different deck,” but I realized that as annoyed as I could be, I actually felt encouraged to learn more. So for the final games all I did was sit behind one of the players and saw how they played, and trying to learn how to become a better player. I believe sometimes that this goes astray in a lot of people and just basing it down to luck isn’t something you should do, there are a lot of situations where I can say I played incorrectly and I could have done it so much better.

This last part is more of just a general statement to everyone, the next time you lose and you’re pissed, look at the people around you and ask yourself, “Are they having fun and enjoying themselves?”. Because I assure everyone of you reading this, putting on a smile, shaking an opponent’s hand, clutching your Nendoroid Waifu in your pocket and enjoying yourself, is much better than raging and complaining.

M: Are you open to comparing or testing other lists?

E: Well I’m always up for comparing and testing other deck lists, especially if they have some results behind them but I will always end up at least giving them a read through and checking out pros and cons. I will pay more attention though to waifu decks, there always a good laugh to read through.

M: Have you tried out other qualifying lists? (That is, other lists that have qualified for the WGP, etc)

E: Personally the only qualifying list I tried was the Red Letter/Animal deck for Gargantia which was a blast to run through. But it never really worked for me, so I try to collect as many opinions as I can.

E: Now I completely forgot I never answered the most important question.

M: Why do you lose?

E: Let MeShow You

The first and primary cause is just poor luck.  An example of this is my last game against my friend Duncan who ran an Accel World deck. Every time I would attack, I would trigger climaxes, sending them into the pit of despair. This ultimately killed me as when I had to deck refresh, I was left with 35+ cards in my deck and only 5 climaxes. To add insult to injury, I clocked a level 0 at level 3 and drew 2 of 4 remaining climaxes. (Ouch – M)

The second I think is the value of cards. I think this is something that a lot of people forget about. I value cards on the basis of if it can beat something with a higher stock cost. Take for example the Akatsuki from the Log Horizon TD.


If you pick this up in your hand on the first turn, it has an absolutely amazing value. It might not have high power, but it can trade for a character for free. Making your opponent lose 2 cards for 1 is good, and you can apply this to characters with very high power. A lot of people throw them off and say that they’re redundant, but if you have a guarantee that the opponent is going to lose more cards than you use, your chances of winning goes up with every round.



What can we take away from this?

I think that Elliott makes a very good point with his response to the “Why you lose??” question. In every single game you play, luck can and will be a factor, win or lose. Sometimes you do hit that triple trigger and die. Very important to remember though is that card value is something that is not really emphasized as much in the game. As stated in previous articles, because the game does not have effects that read “Draw 2 cards” and “Your opponent discards 2 cards” and the like, determining what constitutes card advantage and straight “value” can be difficult.

I think he also made a great point earlier that could have easily gone into answering the same question, that he was inspired to learn more about the game instead of just bitterly blaming bad luck.

As a personal example, during the NA 2014 WGP Nationals event, I played Nisekoi – a deck whose cards I am very familiar with, but a list that I did not test extensively. When I lost my first game, I played back my whole game in my head, and thought of alternative plays and attempted to justify every play to myself. If I couldn’t think of a valid reason for why I attacked a certain way, or why I clocked a character during a given turn etc, I considered it a mistake, and then I would strive to not make that mistake again. Unfortunately for me, even though that kind of mentality would serve me well in the long run, it did not help me in my endeavors to win the event.


Side story –

I did end up making a “nemesis” during the event (hi Alvin!) because our game was extremely one-sided, and our “grudge match” after the event didn’t go much better for him. (For what it’s worth, he did get incredibly unlucky to lose just as much as I got very lucky to win…both times.)


Just as I’ve said before, you have to go into a tournament accepting that there is only one winner at the end of the day. Second place is just as good as last (at least, when dealing with invites and so on, but Bushiroad official tournaments tend to be more generous with invites, so we’ll say that top 8 is just as good as last), but that shouldn’t deter any of us.

When losing, it’s important to take it in stride, whether it’s just round 1 or the game with the invite on the line. I’ve watched friends lose prizes worth thousands of dollars (heck, I’ve done that myself), but every time it ends with a nod and a “Good game.” Being hot-headed doesn’t really get one anywhere as a player, and again, attitude counts for a lot

If you win a tournament – hooray! Congratulations, good on you and keep playing.

If you, like many of us, don’t win, oh well. There will always be more, and remember, there will always be everyone else to share in your losses.

Good luck!

Be sure to sign up for our monthly giveaway, and as always, thanks for reading!


Level 0 – Preparing for Major Tournaments


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Welcome to the fourth installment of Level 0 – the column that explores the basics of strategy in Weiss Schwarz!

Next Article: The Art of Losing

Previous Article: Building A Deck

Author’s Note: This article is going to be less about the game of Weiss Schwarz itself and more about the approach to take when preparing for large and/or major events. A lot of the ideas from this article are applicable to a wide array of topics. I will be drawing from my personal experiences from having played other games and using anecdotes to illustrate my points. An article like this would be boring without stories anyway, so enjoy! – Michael

Let’s start with a list of Things You Should Absolutely Do Before A Tournament and Why:

    • Smelling awful ensures that your opponent will make more misplays. Extra bonus for mixing BO with bad cologne or perfume.  Additional extra bonus for hitting the one week mark.
  • Don’t sleep.
    • Staying up for hours playing Smash with your friends with or without money on the line is an excellent way to burn those pesky transition hours between evening and morning.
  • Play something you’ve never seen or used before.
    • How else are you supposed to know that you’re the Chosen One? After all, the Chosen One can pick up a ham sandwich and win a tournament, so why not you?
  • Don’t eat.
    • Food is for the weak.
  • Brush up on as many racial slurs as you can.
    • Remember, trash talk is the soul of every game. If you can’t trash talk your opponent and make him or her feel bad about him or herself, you’re doing it all wrong. Bonus points if you get arrested.
  • Purchase a large salt shaker.
    • To have something to sprinkle on your opponent when you win.

Doing all of these things is a sure way to success failure in a tournament environment.  Sorry, the list wasn’t serious. Can you imagine if it was? Anyway!

Preparing for an event starts with the self above everything else. First step –

Take care of yourself!

Some things should be givens: hygiene, food, water, rest. If you can’t take care of these, then reconsider attending the tournament.

If you are tired, dehydrated, hungry, or smelly, these things can and will throw you off your game. No need to needlessly hinder yourself!

Test your deck!

Testing is very important.

Testing helps practice a lot of soft skills that are difficult to directly teach. Ideally, you should test with friends who share a common goal and vision. Testing with someone who throws a tantrum over a random bad game is not a great idea.

Even if you don’t have a group of friends to test with, local tournaments are good for opening cans of worms discussions among other players about ideas. The key is to keep an open mind. Disagreements will happen, but good testing will ultimately result in improvement.

There are many benefits to good testing. You not only learn your deck inside and out, but you also add to your existing knowledge of what to expect from other decks. (Granted, that does mean that it is easier to test for the EN metagame than the JP metagame because the card pool is smaller.)

Good testing helps you get used to the mechanics of the game (playing characters correctly etc), and trains you to remember what your ‘outs’ are at any given time during a game.

In the music community, there’s an old adage that goes:

Amateurs practice until they get it right once.

Professionals practice until they can’t get it wrong.

Just because something is done or played for fun doesn’t mean that it’s illegal to approach it with a professional mentality.

So you get to the tournament and you’ve rested and tested. What next? Here are some things to remember when playing in a tournament:

Mistakes happen.

Playing any game perfectly is difficult, and WS is no exception. A factor that separates the good players from the inexperienced however, is how he or she handles making a mistake during a game. Remember, no one is exempt from making mistakes!

An inexperienced player may not realize that he or she has misplayed. As that player improves, he or she might start to notice mistakes made more quickly, and if one of those mistakes is made in the middle of a game, may become flustered and play poorly for the remainder of the match.

A more experienced player is still capable of making that same mistake, but it won’t affect his or her standard of play. Remember – making mistakes is no excuse for choosing to melt down and play on tilt. On that note –

Tilt loses games.

If you know any semi-competitive player, you might have heard these kinds of comments:

“Oh he just got lucky.”

“Holy [email protected]&($ my opponent just drew the nuts.”

“There was nothing I could do, seriously he was pulling some Yugi Motou !&[email protected] or something.”


That face when you attack for 6 and it goes through

But if you’ve ever seen the games that some of these players have played, you might start to observe some cognitive dissonance. Yes, it is true there are some instances where the opponent straight outdraws you. And yes, there are times that you get outplayed. But doggedly insisting that you are never a factor in lost games is madness.

People tend to take good play for granted, and only remember the extremes. WS has no ranking system or ladder, so tracking the habits of the game’s best players is actually more difficult than other games. But, regardless of player skill, there is no “excuse” for poor play. Unless you accurately analyze your game and determine that you made no mistakes, complaining about being outdrawn doesn’t get you anywhere. Don’t let mistakes get to you. Even if you lose a character for free during an attack because you weren’t paying attention, stay calm and stay focused. Having a clear head is worth more than a lost card.

Losing happens.

Even the best players lose. Especially in Weiss Schwarz, it’s important to remember: Anyone can beat anyone.

Even though it’s much more difficult to close the skill-luck gap in WS than say, chess, it still means that anyone has a shot, so long as he or she has a deck to play with. There is no skill ceiling in WS that means you are virtually impervious to losing to a player of lesser skill.

Most days, it won’t be your day to win, but that’s the same reality that every player that enters a tournament deals with. Remember that at an event, only one person gets to walk away the winner!

Have fun!

How to properly have fun with the game is one of the most disputed points about it. Ask a player what makes him or her enjoy the game and you’ll get an answer. Ask ten different players and you’ll probably hear ten different answers. Here’s a simple trick to having fun with WS – don’t worry about what other people think about trying to have fun with the game!

Wait, how does that make sense?

Think about it – the reasons that we as players were brought into the game and continue to play are quite vast. Some people play because they are enthusiastic about certain series. Some play because they like card games. Others play for the competition. All of these are fine reasons to play.


Madoka #1!!

Sometimes, players are so passionate about the game that they want to make sure that others enjoy the game in the same way that they do. I’m sure you’ve heard them before:

“Believe in your waifu! Waifu power OP!”

“If you can’t understand why X is Y, then you’re just a bad person.”

“Casual only. There is no such thing as competitive WS.”

“I’m the greatest. Everyone else is just trash.”

Ironically, the way this can come across to others is being pushy, preachy, or otherwise sanctimonious, which leads to arguments, drama and community fracturing.

I don’t blame those individuals for being as passionate as they are about the game. In fact, I applaud their enthusiasm. However, it’s important for us to be mindful and respectful of others, and remember that everyone enjoys the game in his or her own way.

As someone who’s been a tournament organizer for WS and Magic, I’ve seen all sorts of attitudes come through the door. Sometimes you’ll get a super new face who just LOOOOVES everything about the game and believes that his waifu is best, and sometimes a competitive player who wants to crush everyone in her path. As a player, as long as you aren’t actively going out of your way to make another player’s experience miserable, your behavior is most likely just fine. Sporting behavior and competitive behavior are not mutually exclusive, and the areas that they reach are wider than people (generally) give them credit for. It is OK to have a competitive attitude when in a tournament environment, and it is of course great to have a sporting attitude.

Attitude counts for a lot, and will help you improve as a player. How a player deals with a bad beat can be very indicative of his or her willingness to improve.

Bottom line : Remember that you never stop learning.

Years ago I used to play a lot of online poker. In 2013, I took a trip to Vegas to try my hand in a live tournament.

I played poker for seven hours straight before coasting into the money. I had won some good hands and buffed my stack to a healthy amount. I felt alright about my chances of scoring the $10,000 top prize. As players were eliminated, players were shuffled around, and unfortunately for me, a gentleman with millions in chips was eventually seated directly to my right. This was a Very Bad Thing™. It was only a matter of minutes before I found myself shuffling back up to my hotel room with much less than $10,000 in my pocket.

Instead of despairing over my rather hilarious exit (seriously, I got my butt handed to me on a silver platter within an hour), I spent the next day or so analyzing my event and identifying mistakes I had made so I could avoid those in the future.

My introduction to WS in 2012 was even more rough than my experience with poker. I began with Madoka as my first set, and I really did go for two months without winning a single game. As someone who’s played Magic for 19 years, I admit that it was pretty unsettling to me that I wasn’t able to pick up a card game right away.

I asked myself, “Why can’t I figure out this game?” and “Why are cards so different?” It took me a little while to realize and accept that what I was doing was attempting to shoehorn in concepts from other games that I knew that simply were not applicable to WS. For instance, one thing that I know very well in Magic is the concept of ‘value’. That is, determining a card or a play’s complete range of value, from ‘abysmal’ to ‘game-winning’. However, what determines ‘value’ in Magic is wildly different from what determines good value in WS.

Respecting a game’s difficulty is critical to becoming better at it. Competence in one thing does not entitle one to being good at another, even if the two are related in some way. While there might be some mechanics and basics that are applicable, some things probably won’t click right away. Tenacity and grit are two great assets to have.

So to conclude…

Whether you’re going out for your first event or your hundredth, good luck! I hope I’ve been able to give some perspective and insight with this (much more personal) guide. If you want to talk more about it, you can find me on Facebook or send the page a message. (I answer everything, seriously!)

Be sure to sign up for our monthly giveaway, and as always, thanks for reading!

Level 0 – Building a Deck


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Welcome to the third installment of Level 0 – the column that explores the basics of strategy in Weiss Schwarz!

Next Article: [TBD]

Previous Article: Card Advantage

Author’s Note: This article is significantly longer than its previous counterparts because the topic of building a deck in WS is so broad. It is intended to be a general guide, but it contains reasons for why decks may be built the way they are, ranging from “waifu” to “super competitive”. There most likely will be things missing, and we intend to add on as other points are brought up!

Weiss Schwarz, like other trading card games, is a game of two parts: deck building and game play. When starting out, building a deck can be a daunting task.

It’s been said before that knowing your cards is the first step to understanding strategy in Weiss Schwarz. If we already know the cards and know what they can do, how can we translate that to making a deck?

This brings us to the first major questions about deck building:

What makes a good deck? What makes a competitive deck? What is an optimal list? Aren’t they all the same thing?

The answer to the last question is, “Not always.” A competitive deck will always be “good”, but not all “good” decks will be competitive. A deck can also be “good” while being neither competitive nor optimal.

Asking if a deck is “good” or not can be as simple as asking it a yes/no question: “Does this deck do what I want it to do?” If the answer to the question is “Yes”, then the deck is good.

For instance, if you build a deck that aims to Heal, if that deck does indeed let the user Heal a lot, then it is a good deck because it does what it was built to do. However, this does not necessarily mean that the deck is competitive. A “good” deck will always be “good” in a vacuum, but a competitive deck can change based on a number of factors, including the metagame (local and at large), and new card releases.

Finding out if a deck is competitive is a much more difficult endeavor. It’s even more difficult to pinpoint than if a deck can be called “good” or not because a deck’s competitiveness is highly contextual.

Take for example Kantai Collection, which is a set known for having some of the game’s strongest Heal tax and anti-salvage abilities. Let’s also take two players, Player A and Player B. Player A is in an area where the players tend to use neither Heal nor Salvage abilities, and Player B is in an area where players tend to use tons of Heal and Salvage abilities. Player A is likely to think that Kantai Collection is a mediocre set. Player B on the other hand, is more likely to think that Kantai Collection is the best thing since sliced bread.

In a vacuum though, a deck that is both “good” and “optimal” can be considered “competitive”.

A deck’s optimization is a contributing factor to it being good and/or competitive. A “good” deck can be considered optimal if it does what it is designed to do with great consistency, or if it explores and represents the highest possible potential of a given set. If the deck does either or both of these things, it can usually be considered “competitive”.

Why does this matter?

Knowing that there is a difference between a “good” deck and a “competitive” deck matters, because it can clarify what you want to get out of a deck.  It also get set straight what kind of approach you want to take.

Some players believe that the only good decks are the ones that are competitive, and some players just want to showcase their favorite character.  Even outside Weiss Schwarz, this can be a source of much misunderstanding, especially when players seek help from others to build a deck. So to preface how to break down a set and build a deck, there are some points to keep in mind.

Before building a deck, ask yourself this question:

“Do I want to make the best possible deck from the set’s card pool?”

If the answer is “No”, as long as the deck accomplishes what the designer has set out to do as much as it can and as often as it can, it’s good.

Wait a minute! That doesn’t really help if I’m trying to build [this fun deck] or [my waifu is #1 deck]! And isn’t there some hard and fast rule about how many characters to use at level X?

Just because more questions may be asked of a deck that aims to be competitive does not necessarily mean that the same questions asked of a different deck will be not applicable. However, a deck that does not aim to be competitive will be, at times, unable to answer the questions in the same way.

Guides have already been made for how to break down a deck by the numbers in general. However, blindly applying a deck building “rule of thumb” to just any series can be restricting, and sometimes can miss the point of the series altogether.

Due to player preference, one might not always want to ask the following questions of his or her waifu and/or casual and/or non-competitive deck. So if the answer to the previous question was “Yes”, ask yourself these questions:

How powerful do I want the deck to be? // How greedy do I want to be?

Each deck has to use a minimum of one color. Depending on the set in question, a deck can be very well-supported with one color (e.g. SAO Yellow), and it can also be very underpowered (e.g. Madoka Yellow, sorry Mami). Sometimes a set will have no choice but to use one or two colors (hi Wooser!) but that simplifies things more than it complicates them.

Because of the unique effects that the colors in the game tend to give to a deck, more colors will very often translate to more power in a deck. However, potential power comes at the cost of consistency.

A single (mono) color deck will have no problems using its cards outside of paying stock. Its minimum power will be fairly high, but its maximum potential power will (most likely) not be. A four-color deck can and probably will run into problems playing all of its cards. Its minimum power will be atrocious (worst case scenario, it’s unable to play anything after level 0, including its own CXs), but its maximum potential power will (most likely) be incredible.

Quick note: A question like “How many [color] cards should I run to support [this card]?” may come up, but the number can and will change based on the series. For example, SAO can support “splashing” Leafa’s Pure Wish with it being the only green card in a deck because the series is able to search its deck for characters a lot. [email protected], before bans and choose-one, was similarly able to support a range of characters. So for those asking about how many cards of a certain color they should run to support a card in their deck, sorry! It is simply impractical to try to give a general number because any number that is given will be changed by the cards used in a given deck, and the cards in that series.

How consistent do I want the deck to be? // How versatile do I want the deck to be?

Making a deck full of single copies of cards is usually a bad idea. Making a deck that is 4-colors and contains only single copies of cards is probably one of the worst (or hilarious) ways one could approach building a competitive deck from a set. However,  a deck that has nothing but 4-ofs of various cards can also be restricted in its power, colors notwithstanding.

The questions of what colors and what numbers to use in a deck can be refined further when you have looked into a series as a whole. Remember the point from the Strategy article: knowing your cards is the first step!


Aside: For creating a waifu deck, the questions are a bit different: (For husbando decks etc, simply switch and replace the appropriate term)

I can take them all

Is [my waifu] best girl? (The answer is always yes.)

Does this card have my waifu on it? If so, why is it not in the deck? (One can never have enough [best girl])

How many cards in the series contain my waifu? Can I fit them all? (Again, one can never have enough [best girl])

How many times will I need to beat my opponent with [card] to get across that [my waifu] is best girl? (As many times as it takes)


After you know the cards of a set/series, the questions of what to do with the cards themselves become more specific and difficult to answer:

How do I win the game with this deck? What are the mechanics of the set that are prominently featured that would work well in a deck?

What are the best cards that the set has to offer at level 3? Level 2? Level 1? Level 0?

Once you’ve answered the questions of what the best cards and effects are at a given level, it’s up to you, the deck builder to determine how consistent or greedy you want the deck to be. Note that decks that are very powerful may also need that much more practice to play well; very consistent decks will require less practice to play optimally.

What are the best effects to include in a deck?

Effects that promote card advantage, such as searching, Salvaging, and drawing are all good effects to include in decks in general. That doesn’t mean that it is correct for every deck, but it’s a good rule of thumb.

Effects that deal with damage, such as Heal and Burn are also very solid effects to include in a deck. Heal, as the presence of Heal tax has shown us, is one of the best mechanics in the game, mathematically speaking.  (You can check out what kind of impact a Heal effect can have on a game here.Burn may not have the same impact per se, but it is still a way to deal more damage and get around the standard rule of “up to 3 attacks per turn”.

Characters can also have very unique effects that do not fall under either category. So long as in some way they promote card advantage (overwhelming power, Backup denial, encore denial, etc), they are worth considering for inclusion.

Brainstorm is a mechanic that is present in nearly every set in the game. Having access to this ability is very important, because it can save you from losing a game prematurely due to a well-timed soul rush, among other things.

Remember: This is not a comprehensive list, as many unique effects exist in the game. Use the list as a starting point!

At level 0, you’ll want to include a good number of characters. Because it is incredibly difficult to win at level 0 (effectively impossible), the focus should generally be to build stock and gain card advantage by reversing characters and drawing cards.

Players tend to use 15-18 cards at level 0, but 16 is the generally accepted “normal” number.

For level 1, the diversity of effects that one can find in a given series really explodes. It’s difficult to win at level 1, but it marks a very critical turning point in a game because cards at level 1 tend to be better at generating card advantage than cards at level 0.

Players tend to use 10-15 cards at level 1. 13 is a very stable number, but the “optimal” number depends entirely on the set.

Level 2 is a very odd place for a lot of cards. Even though level 3 is where the game’s most powerful cards tend to be played, there are times where level 2 “bleeds” into level 3. For example, there are some level 3 characters that, under the fulfillment of certain conditions, get -1 level in hand. Characters that Change (especially in the same turn that they are played) into level 3 characters are also a contributing factor.

This overlap is one of the reasons that the number of level 2 cards in a deck tends to be much lower than the number of level 1 cards. Other contributing factors include:

Cost overlap; level 2 and level 3 cards can both require 2 stock to play, and –

Power disparity; level 2 characters tend to be barely more powerful than level 1 characters, and will often struggle to take down level 3 characters.

Players sometimes cut out level 2 from decks altogether, and some will make it the deck’s endgame. If a deck from a series has an incredible level 3 game, making room for only the best effects among cards at level 2 makes sense. If a card is a level 3 but can be played earlier under certain conditions, it can be effectively considered a level 2 (again because there is no hard and fast rule about how many of a card to have at the certain levels).

However, because decks tend to be focused on dominating at levels 1 and 3, a deck with a very good level 2 game can still have very good chances. Using level 2 characters can allow a deck to have decent comeback potential, should it be soul rushed or very unlucky.

Set knowledge trumps any arbitrary number recommended for level 2, so the number can be as low as 0, and as high as 10 (sometimes higher!). It is arguably the most volatile number among decks in the whole game, and is more subject to player preference than any other level.

Level 3 is the make and break time for a deck. Cards at level 3 will (99% of the time) have access to the game’s most powerful effects. Among them are effects such as HealBurn, and Shrink (e.g. -1 soul). While there are more, Heal is the most common effect at level 3, and is among the most powerful. The aim of a deck’s level 3 should be to exploit as many powerful effects as possible, and also end a game.

Level 3 characters tend to be unable to encore themselves on the cheap, in contrast to level 1 and 2 characters (in general). Power is something to keep in mind as well on top of all the effects, though it’s rare to see a level 3 character meant for attacking that has less than 9500 power.

Players tend to use 4-12 cards at level 3. The number is greatly dependent on how large the deck’s level 2 is, but decks (again, generally) tend to use more level 3 cards than level 2 cards.

Could we get a tl;dr?

Cards – 50

Level 0 – ~16

Level 1 – ~13

Level 2 – 0+

Level 3 – 4+

CX – 8


Last point: Remember, this is just a starting point. There are a multitude of points to consider and this is by no means a complete guide. If there’s a point you’d like mentioned or if you want to contribute to this article, be sure to send a message to us via email or Facebook, and if you’re okay with it, we’ll mention your name and level of experience with WS when we add on to the article.

Questions? Comments? Want to add to this article? Send us a message on Facebook or send us an email at theninthcx AT gmail DOT com! Be sure to enter the monthly giveaway, and thanks for reading!

Level 0 – Card Advantage

Welcome to the second installment of Level 0 – the column that explores the basics of strategy in Weiss Schwarz!

Next Article: [TBD]

Previous Article: Strategy

“Stand. Draw. Clock. Draw two.”

In card games, card advantage can be defined as any action that is taken that results in a player having more cards than his or her opponent. Most card games have a very simple method of illustrating card advantage by having cards whose sole purpose is to draw more cards. But in Weiss Schwarz, it is incredibly rare to see a card that only reads “Draw a card.” In fact, there is no card in the game with the text “Draw two cards.”

Forcing someone to discard cards is also a way to gain card advantage, but even an effect that forces an opponent to discard any cards is extraordinarily rare. In fact, one of the few cards that has this effect is banned.

Sparsely present in Weiss Schwarz are card effects that directly cause an opponent’s character to go from the stage to the waiting room. Cards that have this kind of effect may be known as “removal” in other games, but again, in WS, they are very much rarities. Even cards that deal X damage to an opponent are hard to find, and are neither cheap nor efficient.

All of this brings us to the all-important question:

With the game completely unable to access certain types of card effects, how do we determine where we can find card advantage?

The answer is in character cards.

The game of WS revolves around character cards. Without character cards, a deck cannot and will not function.

Why not? It’s because of the wide array of uses and abilities that character cards have. Some function to attack and reverse other characters. Others have abilities that can Heal a player and the list goes on for quite some time. They are one of the only ways to reliably generate stock and generate damage in the game.

So let’s take a step back for a second and look at character cards one layer at a time. If we peel back all the abilities they have, we can see that each of them has a core pair of abilities- dealing damage and generating stock. This is true of just about any character card in the game. For characters that are going to attack, we can put them into four general categories: Power, Utility, Encore, and Reverser.

Power – Power is used to represent a character that is meant to attack over smaller characters and is potentially difficult to reverse because of its size. Characters with good Power are good against characters with Encore and poor against characters with Reverser.

Utility – Utility is used to represent a character that is meant to be used as a part of a combo, or in a support role to assist other characters that are categorized under Power. If used on the center stage, they tend to be poorer against characters with Power and Encore, but with their intended combo can be greater than both. Utility in the back stage for the purposes of this breakdown can also help any one of the other three types beat the other. For example, a Utility character may give a character a level to make a Reverser ineffective, and so on. Many characters with abilities such as Backup, and anti-salvage can be put into this category.

Encore – Encore is used to represent a character with a special or alternate cost for the standard 3-stock encore, be it ‘clock encore’, ‘hand/character encore’, or another method. It is meant to sustain itself through its ability, occasionally attacking over smaller characters, and being difficult to deal with permanently because of its ability to easily return. Characters with Encore are effective against characters with Power on the defense, but worse on the offense. They are also very effective against Reversers.

Reverser – Reverser is used to represent characters that have a reversing ability; an ability that reverses the character it battles with upon fulfilling a condition, such as being a certain level or having a certain cost. Reversers are meant to trade with characters with Power, and are particularly poor against characters with Encore.

That is, in general, Power beats Power, Power beats Encore, Encore beats Reversers, and Reversers beat PowerWaifu Support Utility can help any trump the other.

So then what best defines card advantage in Weiss Schwarz?

Characters are the most efficient cards for removing other characters, building stock, and dealing damage. If we take the “classic” definition of card advantage into consideration, that is, actions that result in a player having more cards than the opponent, we can extend that to mean actions that result in a player having more characters than an opponent.

It’s easier to focus on characters because they are the ones doing all the damage in the course of a game without exception. Having more characters on the stage for a longer time will result in more cards in hand, more stock built, and more damage dealt; card advantage. Having a character use its ability (to draw cards, search for cards, etc), and then reverse a character; card advantage.

Weiss Schwarz however, like any game, is not won by having the most cards in hand. While having more cards can and often will help, there is no game rule or card that reads, “If you have more cards in hand than your opponent, you win the game.”

“So why not,” one might ask.

Card advantage becomes less relevant as the game comes closer to ending.

Winning while having had card advantage can feel pretty awesome.

image (2)

It’s like having cake AND getting to eat it!

Image Credit

Losing while having had card advantage (e.g. perfect stock, 8 CXs in deck, 7 cards and an ice cream sundae in hand) though…


Legend has it that you can still find it there today.

Card advantage can feel like the path to victory, but focusing only on card advantage cause someone to have tunnel vision. A great example of this could be a player so adherent to the need to clock and draw two cards every turn that he does not notice he was already at level 3 with 6 in clock! Because of this, we should not say that “card advantage wins games”. Rather:

Card advantage tends to lead to victory. Card advantage reduces the chances of losing, but doesn’t prevent it altogether.

One of the easiest methods of finding card advantage in Weiss Schwarz is having characters that will attack, and using characters and effects to deny the opponent subsequent attacks.

Because most characters follow the cycle of Power, Encore, Reverser, and Utility, finding the right kind of balance for a deck is key. Having a deck with only cards that can Reverse other characters for instance, may struggle to sustain damage output, though it may excel at denying the opponent non-Encore characters. On top of that, not all sets have access to each type of character. For example, Log Horizon has a Reverser at levels 0 and 1. Madoka Magica has a Reverser at level 0, but not level 1.

What about CX cards?

CX cards can be thought of as Support cards for the sake of argument, because they will generally boost the power and/or soul values of characters you control. 1k1 effects can potentially secure a massive advantage in terms of moderate damage and characters reversed, and +2 soul can score more in terms of damage (in general) than any other card in the game.

For more on what the effects of CXs can do, you can read about them here.

With these points in mind, the next step is learning how to break down a set and build a deck. Stay tuned for the next article, which will be dealing with deck building, color balancing, and how to play at each level!

If you have questions or comments, 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 where we are giving away a box every month! Thanks for reading!

Level 0 – Strategy

9th CX is proud to present Level 0, a column that explores the basics of strategy in Weiss Schwarz! Though 9th CX has presented articles in the past regarding some basics that exist in the game, there is still ground to be covered on the more broad and general concepts. On each Level 0 article will be a link to the previous and next article in the series.

Next Article: Card Advantage

Previous Article: [TBD]

For this article, we’re going to be looking at strategy.

“…[S]trategy is about shaping the future” – Max McKeown

Strategy is what we use to try to control the outcomes of our games. For Weiss Schwarz though, there are some factors of the game which are very different and unpredictable. It is this unpredictability that makes the strategy for WS a bit more nebulous than other card games. The list of differentiating factors that is contained in WS is rather long. In no particular order, here are some of the most prominent ways that Weiss Schwarz separates itself from other card games:

  • Damage is not based on a character’s power (compare: MTG, YGO)
  • Damage does not need to exceed a certain number to ‘pass’ (compare: Cardfight!! Vanguard)
  • Card sets are separated by series and are not released in succession (compare: any non-Bushiroad TCG)
  • Exactly 50 cards must be used in every deck
  • Exactly 8 Climax cards must be used in every deck
  • Cards generally do not take over a game on their own (i.e., if X stays on the stage for Y turns, you “win” the game) nor do they win very quickly (compare: Cardfight!! Vanguard, MTG, YGO, Hearthstone)
  • “Strictly better cards” and “optimal builds” are difficult to compare across sets because of the way sets/series are structured (compare: CFV, MTG, YGO, Hearthstone)
  • Cards tend to get better as a player gets closer to losing (i.e. A level 3 character is almost always more powerful than a level 0 character)
  • The card pool allowed in tournaments is static and is not affected by time (no rotations)
  • The rules prevent any kind of variation of play such as multiplayer or limited (sealed, draft etc)
  • Alternate victory conditions that involve winning without pushing an opponent to level 4 are extremely rare, difficult to execute and are generally not worth the effort
  • Interactions with cards are typically one-sided, and rarely allow for the opponent to do anything in response
  • The sign cards are beautiful (Not necessarily exclusive to WS, but still, it is a significant quality)

Yikes. That’s a lot of things to keep in mind. So where do we start?

Weiss Schwarz, like any trading card game, is a two-part game. The first part is in creating a deck, and the second part is in the execution of the game.  Someone who already knows how to play the game very well can in theory pick up a deck and do very well with it, but without proper card knowledge, can make costly blunders and lose.

Knowing your cards is the first step to understanding strategy in Weiss Schwarz.

Every card, even if it is a “vanilla” card with no abilities, can be given a purpose. For instance, a level 1 5500 power character can be “just another” vanilla character, or with the right strategy, it can become a “character that is played at level 1 for no stock, and generates stock by staying on the center stage for multiple turns because characters can’t go over its power”. Knowing the cards is the key to converting “just a card” to a “card with a purpose”. Pulling it all together gives us the way to start thinking about how to build decks from scratch. Now, this doesn’t mean that one should focus on learning every single card in the game, but it doesn’t hurt to know about the most powerful ones.

The more you know about the game, the better you’ll play.

It might seem like it goes without saying. To the experienced gamer, the concept is sometimes taken for granted. But for new and experienced gamer alike, it’s good to have that starting point to identify to begin understanding the game. And in the case of WS, it begins with learning the cards.

Why learn cards first over learning the flow of the game?

Learning the cards is one of the first ways to dispel the myth that Weiss Schwarz is “all luck”. Consider chess. There are pieces, and rules for how each piece can move. Knowing how each piece is able to move can propel a player from being a beginner to being a solid (or godlike) player. However, without knowing how the pieces move, one will never begin to even approach the concept of the way a game goes. This is also the case within WS.


Sorry, but Magnus Carlsen isn’t もえ enough, so have a Shiro.

Fighting games also provide an excellent parallel. In every fighting game, each character has its own unique set of abilities. Before one can truly enjoy the game to its fullest, one probably should know everything that his or her character can do.


“Master yourself. Master the enemy.” – Lee Sin

Now, learning the buttons and learning the cards isn’t the end of the strategic process. In WS, we have knowing the effects, and recognizing ‘soft’ numbers, such as keeping track of the number of CX cards left in one’s deck, and so on. Fighting games have frame data. (It’s not the only thing, but it’s for the sake of illustration that it’s being used.) And some of us may know what it’s like to try to play a fighting game without frame data.



So what can we take away from this? There are so many layers of strategy that it can seem daunting.

Knowledge reduces mistakes. Having good knowledge and good practice will make a player stronger.

Knowledge can prevent blunders and rules violations. Eventually, theory by itself is tested by execution. That is, if someone can go through the motions of playing his or her cards; if someone can go through the motions of pressing the right buttons. But having the right knowledge base is what can put a player into a position such that only his or her execution is being tested, not his or her game knowledge. Knowledge is one of the biggest ways that experienced players take an edge over players with less experience,  because it translates to better outcomes. One of the ways that a player starting out can aim to level the playing field while playing from a disadvantage, is to make equal as many planes as possible, and knowledge is one of the most accessible (note: not necessarily easy!) ways to further one’s game.

An article on this site has already gone into depth about how and why to test playing a deck. If you want to read in further detail about it right away, you can see it here.

Be sure to check out the next article in the series, where we’ll be addressing one of the biggest concepts in card games but through the scope of Weiss Schwarz: card advantage!

If you have questions or comments, 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 where we are giving away a box every month! Thanks for reading!


The Importance of Testing

Author’s Note: This article is an extended read. It covers some key concepts about playing to improve, playing to win, and so on, and they are not necessarily exclusive to WS. This article does not aim to incite a hardcore competitive, cutthroat attitude. My aim is to illustrate that it is possible to approach the game with a competitive spirit, while still having fun. That said, please enjoy!

“This deck is the best thing since 焼きそばパン!”

“That deck is garbage! How does anyone win with that?”

“This CX combo is broken!”

Ever heard these types of statements before? You may have heard them in different games. If you don’t think you have, I’d ask if these questions sound familiar:

“Kassadin is so broken. How do you go 0-3 in lane and still carry?”

“If they open with 1. e4, why wouldn’t you play 1… c5 every time?”

“If you put him on having AK suited with the 3-bet preflop, would you shove?”

“If he has two lands untapped, do you think he’s representing removal or a counterspell? Would you attack into it first, or try to play your threat?”

Weiss Schwarz shares properties with all the other games I just mentioned (League of Legends, chess, Texas Hold ’em, Magic: the Gathering). They are unsolved, iterative games of imperfect information.

A solved game is a game where a game’s outcome can be determined from any given point, assuming no errors are made. You can read more on solved games here. Because of WS’s inherent complexity involving a great number of cards and effects, it can safely be declared unsolved.

WS is a game of imperfect information because there are elements that are not revealed to players at all times. For example, the order of the cards in one’s deck is not public knowledge, nor is the identity of the cards in an opponent’s hand. These elements make the game more challenging, but also they contribute to the fun. They also add the element of luck to the game.

An aside for chess players: There is a popular argument that chess is in fact a game of perfect information. In fact, modern game theory classifies chess as such. However, this has been a hotly-contested subject. Though it is easy to remember the strong lines that have been calculated through many years of attempting to solve chess ([1. e4 c5, Sicilian], [1. e4 Nc6, Nimzowitsch], [1. f3 e5 2. g4 Qh4#, LOL]), there is still the human element in which one cannot be sure what move will be played. If chess was a game of execution of a constantly objective ‘best’ play, players would be celebrated for how well they memorized the moves rather than their abilities to adapt and improvise; Carlsen would be considered a robot, rather than a 2872 elo genius, and Kasparov would have been called a fraud after dropping a set to Deep Blue. 

Most importantly, WS is a repeated, or iterative game.  No one learns everything after just one, ten, or even a hundred games. In theory, one can map out the game of WS by taking all possible combinations of cards and every possible sequence therein. However, attempting to perform the math for that is beyond impractical, and it would, above all, be very very dull.

Math aside: The number of possible combinations of a deck of 50 cards is 50!, or 3.0414093e+64. Put that against how many 50 card combinations you could get from an average set, and add in the ability to have up to 4 copies of a given card in the deck, adjust for CX requirements, and then account for the combinations relative to another deck, which multiplies 50! (good luck) against all of that. And all of that math is before we take any human element into consideration. 

So how do we try to tackle the problem of how to best “solve” the game for ourselves, since we only get one match to deal with at a time, of the effectively infinite possibilities? We practice. We test.

Why is testing important?

Testing is important for many reasons. For players who may not know all the rules, testing allows them to put their game knowledge to the test and get used to them. For those that are testing a new deck, testing exposes them to the ways a given game could play out, and allows them to think creatively within the scope of the new deck they are using. Testing is valuable for the players involved, and can also be incidentally useful for observers. For those that are looking to improve or tune a deck, testing shows how consistent or inconsistent a deck may be, and can suggest changes in numbers.

Most importantly, testing allows us, as players, to qualify our evaluations. It adds to our credibility without having to rely solely on past results. However, we have to be careful on how we qualify our statements. Consider this:

Which ‘qualified’ statement is most likely to be useful to a player?

“I won the tournament with this, so it’s a good deck.”

“I’ve played fifty games with this deck, and cards A B and C have been doing X Y and Z pretty consistently. More than half of the games I was able to use the combo, and it was very hard for my opponent to do anything.”

Note that both statements are realistic and fair. In WS, a lot of credit tends to be given to players that win events, especially those that are featured on Bushiroad’s website, and rightfully so.  In both of these statements though, both players could have tested extensively, and both players could be very good. However, it’s easier to listen to player who has gone out of his or her way to quantify and qualify his or her opinion for his or her audience.

How should one test?

Testing is a very different approach to playing a game. It requires a mentality that may be very strange or odd to players unfamiliar with competitive play. A typical game might be a “show of strength”, or a challenge that starts with, “Let’s play a game!” Testing is not a typical game.

Testing is a playing setting where both players are attempting to find the most accurate lines of play together, as well as try to find alternative options. The threat of the result determining the quality of a player is completely ignored in a testing environment. That is, while testing, any player, whether a tournament winner or a first-week learner, is an equal to their opponent. Both players are able to take valuable experience away and become stronger players.

Remember, a player’s performance in one game does not form a proper basis for evaluation. When testing a deck, the goal is mutual improvement, not “players knowing their place”.

Respect is an absolute must to have when testing, both for oneself and one’s fellow testers. If someone ends a game thinking, (or worse, saying) “Wow, you’re garbage,” about his or her opponent, their results are effectively null. Why? Having fear of being surpassed by another player is the sign of an immature and less skilled player. One should aim for more objective and less personal statements, such as, ” I learned X and Y!” or “I think I misplayed at Z, and should have done A.” Even objective “you” statements are okay in this regard, such as “What were your options during B turn when you had X CXs left in your deck?”

If player quality is a concern, remember that there is always something to learn and practice, regardless of skill disparity. Think of it this way. If one tests with a player of much lower skill level, the game becomes a practice of execution for the higher-skilled player. On the other end, it becomes an incredible learning experience for the player of lesser skill.

Once players are on a similar (and higher) level, more advanced tactics, such as bluffing and other mind games can start to be used effectively, and they both stand to become that much better as a result.

Analog: If you play a fighting game, you probably know exactly how this might look. A less skilled player will struggle to even begin a combo, and for the better player it becomes a game of how well they can execute every punish. If the players are both extremely good, the game looks completely different, and inevitably becomes much more exciting.

How many times should you play with/against a deck?

More is more. There is no set number for how many times a deck should be played before it’s considered tested. The closer one can get to 100+ games though, the better.

Wait, 100? That’s kind of ridiculous, no?

If a hundred games seems ridiculous, try proving that these statements are not ridiculous:

“The deck is garbage. I played against it once and I just smashed it.”

“That CX combo is so bad, I only was able to do it once in two games.”

“The deck is just bad. I don’t know why you can’t see that, but it’s just bad.”

“I can beat that just because I can cancel 5 times, it’s no big deal. Why would anyone need to do anything like that? I’m just better than it!”

These kinds of statements are quite often heard in the noise in the theorycrafting world we know as deck building. They also share the properties of being unqualified and closed statements. If someone was to say these things about your deck, you would correctly feel rather defensive and probably put off that someone would make such remarks. But consider this kind of feedback, if we qualify the opinions with something:

“The deck seems inconsistent. I’ve played against it 50 times, and I wasn’t even able to see the combo go off in 5 of them.”

“I’m not sure the risk is worth the reward. You have to do X, Y, and Z, and the effect is only drawing a card. Does the set have any other effects that can do it more efficiently?”

“Is it generally favorable to be attacking for that much? What timing would make the most sense for this card, and is it reliable?”

Suddenly, the tone of the conversation has turned from a battle to one with a mutual objective. It moves from, “Let me show you how wrong you are,” to “Let’s improve!” This is a very good thing!

How do you know this works?

It would be a bit odd to write about all this without anything to back it up at all. For me, it comes from a combination of personal experience, and seeing it work with other players in other games (though I won’t mention them here).

A little history about my time with WS. I started playing in late 2012 when the game was gaining more interest in my area. I saw that there was a set for Madoka, and I felt this urge to play. I only knew a couple of people that played, and I was not able to really get much “testing” in so much as games where I floundered to keep up with how the game worked. And for the first two months I played WS, I did not win a single game. Even in my first tournament, I did not win a single game of WS all day.

As I started to get more into the game, I started playing around with the deck ideas, and bounced ideas off fellow players. Since everyone was more experienced than I was, I had to trust what they told me. Beyond that though, it was on me to continue to play and to test.

And test I did. I ground game after game with a friend before I figured out what my deck was doing well and what it wasn’t able to do. After that, during the next tournament I attended, I didn’t just place in the top cut, I won the whole thing. And since then, I’ve won a good number of tournaments. (I keep a running tally on the Authors page)

Through all of this though, the game has not stopped being fun for me. In fact, I even have fun writing about the game! I started 9th CX to see how I could contribute to the WS world, and I hope that you, the reader, have been able to take something away from it.

As always, thank you for reading. I look forward to hearing your feedback at suggestions, and if you want to send anything in, send an email to theninthcx AT gmail DOT com! If you are interested in hearing more about my experience in other card games, I’ll gladly respond to questions there as well.

The Vanilla Deck – Deck Tech

The vanilla deck is the deck where no characters have any printed ability text. Everything is as it is written on the card; power, soul value, and cost. All the CX cards are +2 soul, and there are no special triggers in the deck, aside from +1 soul and +2 soul.

The deck is better explained as a concept than a specific set, because a vanilla deck can be built from almost any (newer) set.

Level 0 – 16

16 characters with 3000 power

Level 1 – 16

8 characters with 5500 power

8 characters with 7000 power, 1 stock cost

Level 2 – 10

6 characters with 8500 power, 1 stock cost

4 characters with 9000 power, 2 stock cost

CX – 8

8 +2 soul CXs

Why would anyone use this?

Simple – practice! The vanilla deck is a way to practice playing Weiss Schwarz without having to memorize much effect text. The deck is also a very good way of showing a newer player how to play the game without getting bogged down with effects and complicated interactions. If one is feeling bold, it can even be taken to a tournament. In 2013, the vanilla deck was piloted successfully to the finals of an event in the Bay Area in its first (and only) appearance.

How does the deck win?

The same way that any other deck would; attack the opponent to level 4.

Isn’t this deck too easy to use?

For the seasoned veteran, certainly, though there are many decisions that one makes in a game that might be taken for granted. These decisions may not be as easily picked up by a newer player. For example, there is the issue of what to put into clock after drawing for the turn; does the card match other cards that may need to be played such as characters or CXs? Are the colors already present in clock?

In addition, it also rewards a player’s awareness of when to use a +2 soul CX. If the opponent has a lot of CXs remaining in the deck, it may not be an optimal time, but it may make sense to use one if:

– The player has more than one CX in hand, as the current attack will make the subsequent attack better, unless the attacks cancel perfectly (on the last damage) every time

– The player has more than two in hand (because the deck has no other way of burning CXs besides using them)

Already we can see that there are many decisions in any game of Weiss Schwarz, regardless of other complexities that may be introduced by card effects.

The deck is arguably more friendly to newer players than a standard trial deck. For players that want to introduce others to the game, I’d recommend taking any newer set (Sword Art Online, Madoka, Idolmaster, Nanoha, and Da Capo, are all capable of building the vanilla deck, for example), putting the deck together, and keeping it around to show off. The decks from series that have more than one set can even build a 2-color version of the deck. With minimal rules text in the way on the cards, the basics are much more easily explained, and practicing the game is much less stressful.

Good luck, and thanks for reading!

Questions? Comments? Send us your thoughts at theninthcx AT gmail DOT com!

Starting Out – Welcome to Weiss Schwarz!

Are you looking to get into Weiss Schwarz, or have you just started?

If so, this is the article for you. Welcome to Weiss Schwarz!

What Is The Game About?

Are you an anime enthusiast? If so, this game is definitely for you! Weiss Schwarz lets us all play with cards from our favorite anime series. It offers a combination of mild complexity, (generally) simple game mechanics, and our favorite memories.

Wait, memories?

Let’s say you’re a fan of Puella Magi Madoka Magica.

Remember this scene?

Card Image

Scenes from our favorite series get to be used as cards with powerful effects, and our favorite characters (or waifus, prefer that term) go to battle!


Even if Madoka isn’t your series, there are more than sixty sets in this game that you can use. Best of all, Weiss Schwarz does not have a time-based rotation of legal sets.

You can buy cards once, and use them for as long as you want!

How should I enjoy WS (Weiss Schwarz)? Who should I talk to about the game?

WS is a fun game! Play often, play for fun, play to win; it’s all good. As with other games though, don’t play to give others a bad time, and certainly, do not play to bully other players. This should sound ridiculous to people, but it has to be said, because things like that do happen. WS is best enjoyed without a hardcore competitive mindset, but players are certainly not held to that.

When starting out, enjoy the challenge. Play against more experienced players and ask as many questions as you can. There are no bad questions! If you are unsure of a card effect would resolve, or if there’s an obscure rule that you want to know more about, ask! There are a good number of groups dedicated to Weiss Schwarz on Facebook, so don’t be shy – join up!

If there is no one available or around to take your question, you can always send an email to theninthcx AT gmail DOT com, and we will do our best to give you an answer as soon as possible!

If you’re more of a collector of all things もえ and/or shiny, WS offers foil (or holo) cards, as well as the very hard-to-find sign card, featuring autographs and special messages from the voice actors! Part of the fun with WS isn’t even in playing; it’s in opening packs!

Illya UberBox

Sometimes, you get hit by a bolt of lightning named “Good Luck”. The community tends to celebrate these moments and be supportive of other players who open well. So don’t be afraid; snap photos of those ‘uber boxes’ and rare ‘sign cards’ and share them!

What about the players?

I, (now speaking for myself,) have yet to run into a person that played Weiss Schwarz that deliberately tried to make my experience unpleasant. Similarly, I have yet to see a WS player do that to anyone else. As with any card game, there will be a sour apple here and there. But WS in particular has a very friendly and welcoming player base.

Is this game super competitive?

Heads up to those that may be grinders from other games – Weiss Schwarz does not have a structure to support competitive play. There are no large cash prizes, and there are no enormous tournaments. There is one large tournament, called the World Grand Prix (WGP) that takes place every year, and even then, there is no monetary prize given at that event. So if you are looking to become a pro gamer, this isn’t the game for you. Sorry!

What should I play?

Your favorite series.

Wait, but what about the best deck?

WS has a lot of sets, and a lot of different effects. While there are different levels of power among these sets, anything can still beat anything. Terms such as “viability” and the “metagame” don’t really come into play until you’ve mastered the basics. My advice? Pick up a trial deck. Trial decks offer a rich experience while being completely playable off the shelf. In fact, trial decks have placed in the top cut and even won tournaments before.

Where should I play?

Once you’ve connected to your local WS community, find out where they’re playing. Usually there is a shop or two where people tend to play at regular times. Sometimes, people contact each other via Skype to battle over the internet.

What’s 9th CX?

The 9th CX is a blog dedicated to Weiss Schwarz strategy, with articles ranging from the basics to the most complex questions. Be sure to check in regularly every Monday for new content! We have monthly box giveaways, so be sure to follow us on Facebook! If you have any questions or ideas for new articles, or want to just drop a line, send us a message or an email at theninthcx AT gmail DOT com!

Welcome to Weiss Schwarz!