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.

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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…

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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!

The Ban List – What Makes a Card Unfair?

For the list of banned and ‘choose one’ cards, check out the list on Heart of the Cards.

Update: As of December 29, 2014, the ban list has been updated! This article has been and will continue to be updated to reflect the new bans. For the specifics, see this article.

In Weiss Schwarz, the best cards let us break the rules.

To illustrate this point, let’s outline some rules we abide by when we play the game:

  • You cannot arbitrarily search your deck for cards and put them into your hand.
  • You cannot play a card that has a level higher than your current level.
  • You cannot send cards from your waiting room to memory “just because”.

The best cards in the game allow us to “break” these rules and do things the game normally does not allow us to do. The quest for an “unfair” card(s) and/or effect is present with every new set that is made.

Unfair effects are not necessarily limited to those that break the rules. Efficiency can determine the power level of a card.

For example, a card that lets you search for a card from your deck usually costs 1 stock and a card from the hand. These cards are most often found at level 0 and level 1. If a card was to allow for a search for no cost at either of these levels, it would very likely be an unfair card.

A card that has a Heal effect typically costs 2 stock, and will only Heal one damage. If a card was to Heal 2 damage for the same amount of stock, it would be considered unfair. Note that most of these types of effects are agnostic of the newer, more accessible Heal tax effects. (i.e. Kantai Collection, Vividred, Gargantia, Kill La Kill)

So what does “unfair” really look like in WS? Let’s take a look at the game’s worst offenders.

Note: The cards below have been banned from tournament use. 9th CX is not responsible for the number of friends lost while using these cards during fun games. For maximum fun/trolling potential, play against Wooser. 9th CX is not responsible for your opponent/friend/former friend/new enemy/tsundere-turned-yandere-turned-your-house-is-burning-mwahahaha for destroying your cards while you are on your journey. Cards will be used to match the translations given by Heart of the Cards.

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Rest! (LB/W06-096)

Rest! lets you choose up to 2 cards in your clock and put them in the waiting room, then send it to memory.

This card is a prime example of a card that is way too efficient to see play. Not only does card only cost 1 stock to play, but it has a double Heal effect. On top of that, after it’s been used once, it sends itself to memory. While normally in a card game we would think of effects that send cards to memory as a detriment, because in WS decks are cycled through relatively quickly; the effect improves the percentages for canceling, and should be seen, generally as an upside.

Remember how efficient a first Heal effect might be? Now just make it so that the second Heal effect is attached to the very same card.

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Supreme Overlord Laharl (DG/S02-061)

Supreme Overlord Laharl has a Heal ability. You can also send it to memory to salvage a combination of up to 2 [Angel] and/or [Demon] characters.

Supreme Overlord Laharl has a lot going for it. It has a Heal ability, but also a free double salvage ability that (in case it is ever relevant) can help improve compression by sending itself to memory. At one point in the game, it became incorrect to use any other deck, and any number of this card lower than 4, because it was so good. Being able to get additional copies of any character desired from the waiting room for no cost is too efficient to be considered fair. It should be noted that because this card is banned, its TD (trial deck) is not legal for use in tournaments.

 As of 12/29/14, this card has been unbanned, but is restricted to one copy per deck. Because of its abilities, it still remains a powerful card, but it has been determined to be not too powerful that it shouldn’t be played altogether.

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Cyrille, Changing Clothes (SE/S04-080)

Cyrille, Changing Clothes has two triggered abilities. The first triggers up to one time per turn, and states whenever one of your characters is attacked (this can mean both frontal and side), you choose one of your characters and give it +1000 power for the turn. Its second ability allows you to pay 2 stock whenever damage dealt by one of your characters is canceled to Heal.

Cyrille, Changing Clothes has only upsides. It costs zero stock, and can come down as early as level 1. It makes attacking into your characters difficult in multiples, and can Heal repeatedly, so long as damage is canceled and you have stock to pay. The way it changes the rules of the game are hideously in the user’s favor; either an attack will land, allowing the attacker to get that much closer to winning the game, or the attack will cancel, and prevent the opponent from making progress. Because this character typically stays in the back row, there are not very many answers to it. Even a Bounce trigger wouldn’t answer it because it costs nothing to play again.

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Akinari Kamiki (P3/S01-014)

Akinari Kamiki sends itself to the waiting room when you level up. When this card is put into the waiting room from the stage, your opponent discards a card.

This card is significantly different from the rest. It doesn’t steamroll other characters with an unfair power level. It even costs 1 stock! So what is really wrong with this card?

Author’s Note: Apparently, a very unfair combo with this card existed in Standard, and therefore was banned some time ago. With the context of current cards, this one probably isn’t so bad when compared to others on the list. With that in mind however, it is still worth noting that discard effects in Weiss Schwarz do not have very much counterplay, because cards that read “Draw two cards” and the like are rare, and difficult to find at early levels. The rest of the analysis here puts some speculation on what the card is like when discard truly has no answer.

It punishes the opponent for doing things that he or she would do anyway. A given character in a game is probably going to be at some point pushed over by a character of larger size. A level 0 3000 power character will fall to a level 1 5500 power character. This exchange will result in a slight edge for the person who attacked, as they will be even on cards (both players committed one card from hand), but will have gained one stock. In the case of this card however, the player is left between a rock and a hard place.

If the player attacks the Akinari Kamiki, he or she will lose a card. He or she will have committed a card from hand, gained one stock, but also be forced to discard a card. If the player makes a side attack but ends up forcing the opponent to level, he or she will still lose a card. Worst, if the player does not get rid of the card, the opponent will be gaining stock with a character that under most circumstances is unable to reverse a character.

In WS, effects that require one’s opponent to discard a card are particularly difficult to balance. In fact, there are only five cards in the game that include the text “Your opponent [chooses and] discards a card.”

Wait! This card exists!

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Izumiko, Easy Suits (DC/W01-008)

This card says it can’t be selected from your opponent’s effects (e.g. cannot be targeted by a Bounce ability) and when it gets front attacked, the opponent has to discard a card!

This is a case where context matters. Because Da Capo is an enormous set, (It’s the flagship of WS with more than seven boosters total!) it has access to effects that are far more abusive than this card.  However, in a vacuum, this card’s “downside” can be mitigated by constant side attacking, and it itself cannot do anything but side attack. Because of this, neither player actually loses anything by side attacking with or against this card.

What about “Choose 1”?

When a card is not good enough to be banned, but good enough in the context of other cards within its own set to be banned, it is placed on a “Choose 1” list. The “Choose 1” list is a rather witty workaround to banning a card or cards outright, because it does several things: it allows players to experience using slightly more powerful cards, it keeps cards relevant (i.e. the price doesn’t drop like a rock), and it also keeps a different power level cap on the set.

What does that mean?

Let’s say we have cards A, B, and C.

Card A is a wonderful card that reads, “You win the game. If you can’t win the game, send your opponent to the waiting room, and then you win the game.”

Card B is a card that reads, “Return two character cards from your waiting room to your hand.”

Card C is a card that reads, “Put the top two cards of your clock into your waiting room.”

Let’s think about these cards in context. These cards are quite powerful, and have existed in some form in the game (with the possible exception of Card A) at some time. To continue the example, we’ll say that cards A B and C are in the same series.

Very soon after this hypothetical set’s release, the tournament scene explodes with complaints about how the set is way too good and about how it is killing the game.

Those who are in charge of maintaining the game are left with a number of options, each with its own set of repercussions.

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1) KILL ALL THE CARDS

Ban Cards A, B, and C. Players will stop complaining about the power level of the set, the set no longer will have much value, but, the game will be “fixed”. This is also known as the nuclear option.

JTMS SFM

R.I.P. 6/20/2011 

Author’s note: To give some context- Jace, the Mind Sculptor and Stoneforge Mystic were two of the most abused cards in Magic: the Gathering in 2011.  At one point, the only “good” decks (i.e. the decks that were winning $10,000+ prize pool tournaments) contained 4 copies each of these 2 cards, and it did not make sense for a deck to not have 4 copies of each card. 

2) Ban Card A, leave Cards B & C alone

This is a bit of a ‘kingmaker’ play. By banning Card A but leaving Cards B & C alone, you are left with a still very unfair pair of cards that will probably both end up banned should this option be taken.

Fortunately, a third option exists.

3) Ban Card A, and restrict Cards B & C to a ‘Choose 1’ list

The ‘Choose 1’ option allows players to play only one of either card in their deck, or none at all. While mixing and matching isn’t allowed, because any access to having both even in smaller numbers would then create another mess, it allows players to customize their decks to their liking. Cards, ideally, retain their value because a player could decide that one week she likes Card B, but then decides that she wants to try out Card C the following week.

What does a ‘Choose 1’ card look like?

For that, we can turn to Haruhi. Haruhi has a full four cards on its ‘Choose 1’ list, and with good reason.

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Trouble Girl, Haruhi (SY/W08-069)

Trouble Girl, Haruhi has a Heal effect and with its CX combo, will deal 1 damage to your opponent upon attack.

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Nagato, Dressed Up (SY/W08-077)

Nagato, Dressed Up, has a trigger upon it being played from your hand that lets you pay 1 stock. If you do, it gains the ability that when it reverses a character in battle, you Heal. When you play it from your hand, you may send all characters your opponent controls to memory, then place those characters onto the slots on the stage of your choice. (You can’t ‘steal’ your opponent’s characters with this effect)

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Nagato, Summer Festival (SY/WE09-24) 

Nagato, Summer Festival, gets -1 level in your hand if you have 4 or more [Alien] characters. With the CX combo, you Heal and it gains +3000 power for the turn.

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World with Faded Colors (SY/W08-071)

World with Faded Colors lets you put a level 1 or higher character you control into the waiting room. If you do, you choose a level 0 or lower [Brigade Chief] character in your waiting room, put it onto any slot on the stage, then Salvage twice.

Each of these cards has a powerful effect. On the red side, we have a combo that deals extra damage, and a double Salvage. On the blue side, we have multiple Heal type effects. If allowed to exist in the same deck, the set would come dangerously close to solving itself; that is, it would become very clear relatively quickly what the “correct” number of cards to use of each type are, and not using them would be the mark of an inferior deck.

Instead, with the “Choose 1”, we are allowed the best of a world of our choice, and a lot of fun decisions within the framework of, “Which one should I use and why?”, which is much better than, “Why can’t I fit all these in my deck and why are all the decks using all of them?”

So what good will knowing about some banned or restricted cards be?

From the banned and “Choose 1” cards, we can project that there are a few kinds of effects that are truly unfair in the game if they are imbalanced. This knowledge can be kept in mind when building new decks. Among the list of effects that are banned or otherwise restricted, we have:

Heal (highly efficient, potentially with damage or other effects)

Drawing cards (highly efficient, usually not based on a self-incurred penalty or cost)

Encore (highly efficient, either gives to all characters, or even gives a free encore effect)

Discard (nearly unconditional and unpreventable, early level and minimal stock commitment)

Salvage (highly efficient, potentially with any of the above effects)

Search (free, or in multiples)

New! Soul (+1 soul to all other characters you control)

When we build decks, one of the things we should look for is a build that give us access to as many unfair effects and cards as possible.

How about the newer effects, like Heal tax? Are those worth banning?

This is a point of contention among players, especially those who have been playing the game for a long time. For a long time, Salvage and Heal effects, for all their advantages, have mostly been kept in check by other effects that do similar things, but with little variation. Occasionally, an effect will be too good and warrant relegation to “Choose 1” or even the banned section.

Arguably, the newer effects such as Heal tax and Kantai Collection’s -3 soul anti-salvage are attempts to curb the dominance of decks that use 8 Door triggers and as many Heal effects as possible.

Banning these effects would be most likely because the cards themselves that give the effect are too efficient at what they do, but it would not necessarily mean that the effects themselves (Heal tax et al.) are imbalanced.

Is that going to kill the game?

Highly unlikely. If nothing else, the presence of these cards may not deter people from playing the “meta 8 Door / MAX Heal” deck. It could also allow for some innovation with strategies that completely ignore the effects. Soul rush could even become a more viable strategy (yes, Kantai can do that too).The effects are far-reaching and not all of them will be immediately obvious.

Questions? Comments? Got something to say about the effects? Chip in on a discussion on our Facebook page, or send us an email! Thanks for reading!

Keyword Spotlight – Heal, Salvage, Accelerate & Unofficial Keywords

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

For today’s article, we’re going to glance at some of the game’s most popular and powerful abilities.

Heal

Heal is an unofficial keyword. Whenever it’s seen on a card, it generally has the text, “When this card is put onto stage from hand (or from a Change effect), put the top card of your clock into your waiting room.”

Heal in the scope of WS is slightly different than the idea of “life gain” in other card games. In WS, Heal is only effective when there are cards in the clock. The Heal abilities themselves don’t ‘wait’ for the next damage to come along. If a Heal occurs with no cards in clock, nothing happens. A level cannot be reversed with a Heal effect; if a player is level 2 and has no cards in clock, a Heal effect will keep him or her at level 2 with no cards in clock.

Salvage

Salvage is another unofficial keyword that refers to an ability that gets a character back from the waiting room and puts it into hand. The distinction between a Salvage effect and a Bond effect is that a Bond effect always refers to its specific target by name; a Salvage effect, at most, will refer to a character card with a specific attribute, level, etc.

(Retrieving a CX from the waiting room is still such a rare effect that doing so is humorously referred to as Pants instead of Salvage)

Accelerate

Accelerate is generally an ability that triggers at the start of the player’s climax phase. That player takes a card from a zone, usually the deck, and puts it into their clock. Because it’s a triggered ability, it may only be paid for once per ability.

The benefits of using an Accelerate ability are usually in line with the payment associated with it. It’s a very steep cost, but the benefits can vary largely, though for very high upsides, the cost will typically be accompanied by an additional cost.

Standalone Accelerate effects are usually a boost in power, usually somewhere around 2500-3500 until the end of turn. The idea with that kind of payment and effect is that it trades an equal amount of damage while guaranteeing a card will be gained from the following attack. For example, let’s say you have a character with 5000 power and 1 soul that can get +3500 from Accelerate. Your opponent’s character also has 5000 power. Barring very large Counter effects, it’s very likely that the attack, should you use the effect, will successfully reverse the opposing character. Assuming your attack for 1 damage hits, you have traded 1 damage for 1 card.

That sounds less efficient than drawing during clock phase.

They net the same number of cards, but in different ways. Drawing during the clock phase nets 1 card in hand for 1 damage. Accelerate nets 1 card in stock for 1 damage, provided the attack is successful. And, this only applies to “simple” Accelerate effects that affect character power. In the greater scope of the game, the effects that can come from an Accelerate effect again, vary greatly.

Extra Section!

There are a few other terms that may be thrown around by players. While these terms are not part of the official glossary, they serve as time-savers when referring to certain effects or types of cards.

Vanilla

A character with no rules text. The term is borrowed from Magic: the Gathering, referring to a creature with no abilities. A character with a single ability such as hand encore, could arguably be called “French vanilla”, as its analog in M:tG a creature with a single keyword ability (e.g. flying, vigilance, etc).

Punish

Can refer to the penalty that is taken when a deck refresh is completed, or to a character that hurts the user when reversed.

Crash / Ram

Refers to a frontal attack that is made against a character of (significantly) higher power. The attacker’s character will be certainly reversed by the attack.

Trade

Refers to a frontal attack that is made against a character of equal power. Both players’ characters will be reversed by the attack (barring effects).

Pitch

Synonymous to discard. e.g. “Pitch this CX” = “Discard this CX”

Compress/Compression

Refers to the percentages/likelihood of canceling following the first deck refresh. “Good” compression refers to a refresh with as close to 8 CXs as possible, but also the most efficient deck size possible. “Bad” compression can refer to having few CXs left in a deck, especially when it is at a ratio that is worse than when the game began.

Tutor/Search

Refers to an effect that searches the deck for a card (usually) with a certain property. “Tutor” is a term borrowed from Magic: the Gathering, which is a reference to an old card, Demonic Tutor, which allows the user to search their library for a card.

Scoop

To concede a game. In WS, concessions are particularly rare.

Reverser

Colloquially referred to as “suicider”; refers to a character that (usually) reverses its battle opponent of equal or lower level when it is reversed.

Base

Refers to a character(s) with neither bonuses nor penalties to power.

Level Support

Refers to a character with an Assist ability that scales to the level of the character in front of it, usually 500x level.

Out(s)

Refers to a number of cards that are in the deck that can get a player out of a situation. The meaning can be very fluid. On the defense, it can refer to the number of CXs remaining in the deck. On the attack, it can refer to the triggers one might have left in the deck, or the characters one hopes to draw.

Sweeper

A card that is capable of removing more than one character. These types of effects are extraordinarily rare.

Removal

Refers to a card or card effect that is capable of removing one or more characters without an attack on the user’s part. In this sense, a card with Backup can be considered “removal” because it reverses and potentially removes an opponent’s character.

Synergy

Refers to the flow of a deck and how complementary the cards are to one another.

Miss/Whiff

When something (especially a combo or other complex interaction) does not fulfill a requirement to occur. Can also refer to a blank trigger being revealed on an attack, thus missing what would be the game-winning damage.

 

Questions? Comments? Have an idea for another article? Send us an email at theninthcx AT gmail DOT com! Thanks for reading!

CX Spotlight – Book & Whirlwind

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

For this article, we’ll be going into two relatively popular CX triggers, Book and Whirlwind.

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First, let’s look at Book.

Book is a very simple trigger, often found on blue CXs. When a Book is triggered, the player may draw a card.

Why is Book good?

Book is very straightforward in its strength; raw card advantage. Other effects that are similar to Book are Gold and DoorSo let’s lay out some differences in effects.

Book always lets you draw a card. It gives an extra card in hand, which could be a character, event, or CX. This means that at best, a Book will draw the best possible card for a given situation (let’s say you’re looking for that one level 2 character for that CX combo, etc), and at worst, a Book will draw your 8th CX. Book does not fail to resolve if it is the last card in the deck. Instead, a deck refresh occurs, the refresh counter is set to 1, the Book resolves, and then the refresh penalty is applied.

In contrast:

Gold always puts the CX in hand, which is the extra card. The additional card that it accesses in the form of additional stock is optional, and remains unknown to both players. If the additional stock is taken, it will remain unseen for potentially a long time.  Gold does not fail to resolve if it’s the last card in the deck; it will resolve as a Book will.

Door retrieves a character from the waiting room. It loses the unknown factor but trades that off for being able to select any character in the waiting room. Door does however, fail to resolve if it is the last card in the deck.

It’s also important to remember that the draw effect is optional. It’s very rare to not draw a card, but the situations may come up. For example, let’s say that you are at 3/6 (level 3, 6 in clock), and there is one card left in your deck after the Book has triggered. Drawing that last card would make you lose the game (refresh + refresh penalty). It might seem silly outside of a game, but in a higher-stress environment such as a tournament, simple things such as this can be forgotten.

For the next trigger, we’ll look at Whirlwind, or Bounce. Bounce as a term has its roots in Magic: the Gathering, referring to a spell that returns a permanent (or sometimes a spell) to its owner’s hand.

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In WS, the idea is no different, as a Whirlwind/Bounce trigger allows the player to target a character an opponent controls and return it to its owner’s hand. (For ease of use, the rest of the article will use Bounce to refer to the trigger type) It is seen on yellow CXs, and usually has a 1 soul trigger with it.

Bounce is a “targeted” ability, which means that characters that “Cannot be selected by an opponent’s effects” cannot be chosen as a target for a Bounce trigger. Any character on the center stage can be chosen though, including the character that the character that triggered the Bounce is going to battle, as well as a character in the back row.

Bounce does not make an attack a direct attack if the character in front of the character that attack is sent back to the hand. This is because the kind of attack that was declared is locked in (front or side), and cannot change regardless of if there is a character in front.

Why is Bounce good?

Bounce is an incredibly versatile if not one of the most unfair effects in the game. Bounce removes a character for a turn, which can disrupt character power (e.g. if a character with Assist is bounced), tax the opponent’s stock, prevent Change effects from occurring, remove a massive character, and help push for more damage. Bounce does not have very many answers, and the only way to truly “interact” with it is to not interact with it at all, by using characters that can’t be chosen as a target by an opponent or an opponent’s abilities.

Are there drawbacks?

Bounce for all of its strengths has limitations, more than drawbacks.  As stated before, Bounce is merely a temporary solution. Bounce is also notably less effective against characters with 0 cost, especially those in the front row in the early game. Bounce therefore, is a prime example of a trigger that, like Door, is weaker early, and then is much more powerful in the late game.

Thanks for reading!

Questions? Comments? Got an article idea? Want to see more things like this? Send an email to theninthcx AT gmail DOT com!

CX Spotlight – Bag, Gold, Fire

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

For today’s article, we’ll take a look at three types of triggers found on CX cards: BagGold, and Fire, also known as Bag, Bar, and Shot, respectively.

Bag

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Bag is a CX trigger that gives the player the option of placing the top card of their deck into stock. The card that goes to stock is and remains face-down. It is an optional ability.

Bag is a relatively uncommon CX trigger type because 1 extra stock tends to have a much lower impact on a game than other effects. It is typically found on green CXs.

Why would I use a Bag effect?

If a deck is particularly stock-intensive (e.g. requires 5 stock for an optimal board state on level 2), a Bag effect may be worth considering. However, because a Bag trigger offers little to none in the ways of card advantage (compared to Door or Gate, for example), it is generally unused. If a CX combo present in a deck so happens to require a CX with a Bag trigger, it may be worth using, but it would be more for the combo’s effect than the Bag trigger’s upside.

Gold (Bar)

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Gold, also known as Bar, is a CX trigger that has two effects. When the card enters the trigger zone, it goes to the owner’s hand. Then, that player may choose to put the top card of their deck into stock.

Gold is a fairly common trigger among green CXs, and tends to have the 1k1 effect.

Why would I use a Gold effect?

Card advantage. Gold is green’s answer or equivalent to BookGold is unique though, in that the trigger gives you the CX. 1k1, the most common CX effect associated with Gold, helps push for damage and win battles.

Let’s outline the best possible situation for a Gold trigger. Say that you have a deck with Gold triggers in the deck. An attack reveals a Gold bar, so you put the CX into your hand and opt for the stock. If you play that CX the following turn and reverse 3 characters with the help of its effect, you’ve gotten 1 stock, 3 damage, and 4 cards (if you include itself), which is a very respectable advantage.

The best possible scenario for a Gold trigger is rare, but the potential is much higher than other CX triggers. 

Are there downsides?

The new Pants trigger is kind of like a cousin to the Gold effect. While the Gate allows you to recover a CX from the waiting room, Gold puts the CX directly into your hand.  This is a mandatory effect, though the extra stock can be declined.  Gold triggers can actually become even more difficult than other effects when they are in a deck that is very close to refreshing. With other CX effects, they are sent to stock, where they can be used to pay for a reversed character, thereby improving the chances of canceling after the deck refreshes. However, with a Gold trigger, they will usually end up stuck in the hand, and effects that allow a player to discard any card during battle are fairly rare.  Not only that, but the opponent gains information about how many CXs are in your hand. Though this may seem marginal, remember that the trigger zone and the waiting room are public zones, and if there are no CXs remaining in hidden zones, a player will be able to potentially see how many CXs that you will be refreshing with.

Fire

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Fire, also known as Shot, is a less common CX trigger that gives the character that triggered it the following effect: “During this turn,  the next time this character deals damage and that damage is canceled, deal 1 damage to that player.” The ability triggers only one time per attack.

Fire is a strange duck among other triggers. It is one of the game’s most unique effects, and is typically found on yellow CXs. It is also usually with a soul trigger.

Why would I use Fire?

A way to look at a Fire trigger is as an alternative to a 2 soul trigger. What the Fire trigger trades in 1 damage it gains in the potential to do 1 damage if the attack is canceled. Let’s look at some scenarios for comparison, assuming that a player is front attacking with a 1-soul character, and a Fire trigger is revealed, versus if a 2 soul trigger is revealed.

Attack for 1 – Reveals Fire (+1 soul)

Attack hits – 2 damage dealt, 0 CXs used

Attack is canceled, trigger is not canceled – 1 damage dealt, 1 CX used

Attack is canceled, trigger is canceled – 0 damage dealt, 2 CXs used

Attack for 1 – Reveals 2 soul

Attack hits – 3 damage dealt, 0 CXs used

Attack is canceled – 0 damage dealt, 1 CX used

Note that the Fire trigger also has the ability to burn two CXs during a single attack. This is because the damage that the Fire effect deals, like any other damage, can also be canceled if the card revealed is a CX. As far as CX effects are concerned, there is none other like this.

Questions? Comments? Got an article idea? Want to see more things like this? Send an email to theninthcx AT gmail DOT com!

CX Spotlight – The Effects

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

For this article, we’ll take a look at the most common effects on CXs, and the impact they can have on a game.

Climax cards are a central part of Weiss Schwarz. Eight CXs and eight only must be used in a deck. They add powerful bonuses when on the offense, and cancel damage on the defense. Most of the time, a CX is a welcome sight to see when canceling damage from an attack. The more damage the CX denies, the better it is. But, because of the math, it’s hard to go for an entire game without having drawn or triggered at least one CX.

Because of this, it’s good to pay attention to the effects of a deck’s CXs. Just as the trigger types are different, so are the types of CXs. So let’s look at some of the more popular types of CX effects!

+2 Soul

This CX effect gives all your characters +2 soul until the end of turn.

The simple, straightforward +2 soul CX effect is among the most powerful effects in the game. Sacrificing potential for card advantage for raw attacking power, +2 soul serves to punish bad draws to the maximum, and play catch-up in a big way if the user is behind.

+2 Soul CXs often have a 2 soul trigger.

“Soul rush” is a term players use to generally describe a deck that focuses on pushing as much damage as possible onto the opponent, without as much attention paid to board presence or card advantage. To the “soul rush” deck, extra damage is card advantage.

The same idea applies to the +2 soul CX, as it offers the most potential damage from a single card. It is the hallmark of any aggressive, “soul rush” deck. However, this is not without its drawbacks and balances.

A +2 soul CX is just that; it gives your characters +2 soul without any other power boosts. Therefore, it’s optimal for a +2 soul CX to be used when one of these conditions are met:

– All characters you have on the board already have greater power than what is in front of them

– If your opponent has very few CXs remaining in their deck

– If you need to control damage through side attacking characters that are level 1 or greater

– If your opponent is short on stock

– If you are at level X with 6 in clock, and have your next level’s worth of characters ready in hand to be played on the following turn

Note that these are examples given without the context of a game. Because WS has many effects and many possible combinations of board states, it’s nearly impossible to determine whether playing a +2 soul CX is “100% right” or “100% wrong” at a given moment, especially during a game. However, the examples do have reasons behind them, which will be explained next!

If one is already winning on the board and set to clear the opponent’s field, it could be because the player is a level behind. e.g. the user may be at level 1 and the opponent at level 0; characters at level 1 will most of the time have the stats to eliminate any level 0 character. If the player wants to push the opponent into the next level to keep up damage-wise or if the opponent is already at 6 damage in clock, a +2 soul CX is well-positioned. Ideally, the scenario would be to get the opponent from 0/6 (level 0, 6 in clock) to 1/5 (level 1, 5 in clock).

If you have a deck that uses +2 soul CXs, it’s a good idea to monitor the number of CXs in your opponent’s waiting room. If your opponent ever has 5 or more in their waiting room and has 12 or more cards remaining in their deck, slam that +2 soul!

Wait, where’s the chart?

No chart this time – if your opponent can only cancel a maximum of three times (or worse, fewer than that), it’s very much in one’s favor to use a +2 soul CX to deal as much damage as possible. Each attack that is made sets up the possible scenarios for your opponent:

– The attack cancels immediately.

Good, but only optimal on the first attack. Not as good if on the second, and less than favorable if on the last attack.

– The attack cancels on the last damage.

Usually unfavorable, unless the CX is the last card in the deck. If the CX is the last card in the deck, it will be stranded in the resolve zone while the deck is refreshed. While the probability of this happening is low, it is not low enough to be ruled out as improbable, especially as other CXs show up in the course of the game.

– The attack lands, and the opponent has greater than a 1:2 ratio of CXs to cards remaining in the deck after.

Generally favorable, but not optimal. If this happens on the first attack, it can make subsequent attacks feel awkward, but it doesn’t reduce their effectiveness any; any attack that pushes the opponent to having to refresh is worth making. If your opponent has anything notable to Bond, or Change into or is running Door or Gate CX triggers, this is also good because it reduces their effectiveness on the following turn.

– The attack lands, and the opponent has close to a 1:1 ratio of CXs to cards remaining in the deck after.

Highly favorable, usually. At first blush, this evaluation might look crazy, especially if the opponent has characters with Change on the field. While the opponent may have access to almost anything they need in their waiting room for Change effects,  it also means that they are clamped in a predicament. Say for example your opponent has 2 CXs remaining in their 4 card deck. If your opponent wanted to take the risk of potentially refreshing with both of them, they would need to: draw a card that isn’t a CX, not clock, and not make any attacks. If the opponent is short on stock, this path is definitely worth taking.

+1000 power / + 1 Soul

The CX effect often shortened to “1k1” is perhaps the most popular effect in the game. This is because 1k1 is found with a wide variety of triggers, including: Bar, Bag, Door, and Gate, with Door being the most popular trigger among them.

This effect gives all your characters +1000 and +1 soul until the end of the turn. While rarely relevant, this effect includes every character, not just the characters on the front row.

While 1k1 does not offer as much potential damage as +2 Soul, it does have some distinct advantages. For maximum value, 1k1 is best played when:

– Your characters have exactly the same power as the characters in front of them (meaning your opponent would need to have Backup effects to potentially save characters from being reversed)

– Your characters are higher power, but your opponent is a level ahead (e.g. you are at level 2 and your opponent is at level 1)

– If attempting to close a game, but needing to side attack (to use the penalty in one’s favor) to control damage

– Your opponent has insufficient stock to encore characters

– Your opponent has few/no characters on the center stage and few CXs remaining in deck

1k1 has an advantage over +2 soul when attacking on a clear board because it hits for less damage. If a character with 1 soul is given +2 soul and attacks directly, you can guess that the likelihood of the attack canceling is reasonably high. 1 soul, +2 CX, +1 direct, plus a potential trigger, is a minimum of 4 damage. (You can treat the cards like you would Brainstorm and look at the chart here) However, with 1k1, the attack will be for 3 damage (1 soul, +1 CX, +1 direct), plus the trigger that comes up. What it sacrifices in potential it regains in reliability.

In addition, 1k1 can allow your board to completely sweep away an opponent’s board, 3 for 1, with the 1 card being the CX you use. The 3 damage that +2 soul would consider its card advantage is realized by 1k1 as potentially 3 reversed characters for your opponent. And, each character that is chosen for an Encore, whether it be for 3 stock or for an alternative cost, is an advantage gained as a result of using this CX effect.

+2000 power, +1 soul, draw a card

This mouthful of an effect is mercifully shortened to 2k1 by veteran players. 2k1 selects a character you control, and gives it +2000 power and +1 soul until end of turn. The user of this CX effect also draws a card. The card draw applies even if the CX is used without a target.

2k1 CXs often have a 2 soul trigger.

2k1 is a rather low-impact CX effect. However, just like 1k1 has its way to realize card advantage in reversed characters and +2 soul in damage, 2k1 realizes card advantage through straight card draw, and a single potential reversed character. Because it only targets a single character, 2k1 has a very different window of optimal play:

– When at level 0 and the opponent has a single (very large) character

– If early in a level (0-3 in clock), and you need to use a CX while at the same time avoiding leveling the opponent

– If experiencing a CX flood; 2k1 can, with 3 characters, clear 4 cards from the deck in a turn as opposed to 3

2k1 also has some variations. Some variations will give characters (sometimes all characters) +1000 power and draw a card with no bonus to soul. Others will give +3 soul with no power and a card.

+1 stock +1 soul

+1 stock +1 soul (1 stock 1 soul) is a less common effect that either gives the user one stock (either from the top of the deck or as a character from the waiting room), and all characters +1 soul until end of turn.

1 stock 1 soul typically has a 2 soul trigger.

1 stock 1 soul is a less common CX effect, and has the advantages of some CX effects with the disadvantages of others. As far as damage is concerned, it has the advantages of acting like a 1k1 CX, but it suffers from the disadvantage that +2 soul may encounter in being unable to give any characters any power boost.

Arguably, 1 stock 1 soul shares the same optimal timing window as both +2 soul and 1k1, but because it gives an additional stock, there are some more conditions that make its use optimal:

– You have three characters on the front row

– You are about to go to level 2/3 and need to build stock for the next turn’s plays

It should also be noted that the CX does have a variation on where it gets the extra stock. Some effects retrieve a character or card from the waiting room and put it into stock, while others take the top card of the deck and put it into stock. There are certain advantages to both effects.

‘Salvage stock’ or the stock effect that takes a card from the waiting room and puts it into stock may not be always be available. It is possible, though unlikely, to have a completely empty waiting room at a given time and be unable to gain the extra stock. In addition, ‘salvage stock’ does not necessarily help compression if one is CX flooded and trying to burn through as many cards as possible. However, ‘Salvage stock’ can also setup relatively safer Change effects. Since there are much fewer cards that interact with a player’s stock than there are that affect the waiting room, a Change target can be tucked away safely (though beware that if attacking with 3 characters, an encore effect or other payment will be needed to get to that stored card).

‘Blind stock’ or the stock effect that takes a card from the top of the deck, is arguably the better of the two. It is always going to give an extra stock, at the cost of it being an unknown card.Though this does mean that the occasional disaster of it stocking a CX will happen, more often than not, it will NOT stock a CX.

In the long run, these advantages and disadvantages are relatively minor, and one is not strictly better or worse than the other.

CX Effects

In a deck, consistency is just as important as variety. Some decks split their CX effects 4/4, some 3/3/2, and very rarely you may see 4/3/1. When selecting the proper CX effects for a deck, the desirability of the effects and the triggers present on them plays into what the optimal number is. There is no hard and fast rule, but in general, if there is a very powerful and worthwhile CX combo, that CX should more than likely be a 4-of in the deck. If a CX is being used for just its utility (either its effect or trigger, but not both), it may warrant only 1 or 2 copies. The best way to find out the best number though, is to test!

Questions? Comments? Got an idea for an article? Send us an email at theninthcx AT gmail DOT com!

CX Spotlight – Gate & Comeback

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

For today’s article, we’ll take a closer look at two types of triggers found on climax cards: Gate and Door, also known as, “Pants” and “Comeback/Gate”. (This will be explained!)

Let’s look at the much more common “Door”, officially known as “Comeback” trigger.

KyoSaya

(Note: Because “Gate” is a very new trigger type, most veteran players know this trigger, “Door”, as “Gate”, and may announce it as such. They aren’t cheating, it’s just force of habit. Just a heads up!)

Door is a type of trigger only seen on CXs, and therefore only triggered during an attack. When an attack puts this card into the resolve zone, the effect triggers. Door allows you to select up to one character in your waiting room, and put it into your hand. Note that because a card is moving from a public zone to a private zone, you must show your opponent what card you are getting back. Not doing so is actually cheating, so be sure to be very clear from the time you announce the ability to its resolution, exactly what character you intend to get back.

Why is Door good?

Door is one of the most popular triggers in WS. It is often found on Red CXs, in line with its tendency to retrieve characters from the waiting room, and also to complement Red’s tendency to discard characters to encore characters. Door is Red’s way of obtaining card advantage, sacrificing raw draw power and replacing it with a powerful alternative of being able to choose any character in the waiting room. This trigger allows a player to setup for future turns, and perhaps retrieve a very key powerful character that may have been sent to the waiting room one way or another.

Can Door be countered?

Door is certainly not without weaknesses. If a CX card with Door is the last card in your deck when you attack, your deck will refresh immediately, and you will be unable to choose a character to bring back! Remember that a deck refresh can happen even in the middle of resolving an ability. Dog Days in particular, also contains card(s) that can punish the effect, which effectively disrupts Door triggers.

Next, let’s take a look at the newfangled “Gate” or “Pants” trigger.

ClassCardSaber

For the time being, Gate or Pants, is only found on one CX, which is in the set Fate/kaleid liner プリズマ☆イリヤ. Gate allows you to select a CX from your waiting room and return it to your hand. Just like resolving a Door trigger, you must show your opponent the card that you are returning to your hand, or else it is cheating!

Why is Gate good?

Gate is currently exceedingly rare, so it is difficult to evaluate it in a vacuum. In the context of the deck that it is relevant to, that is probably better explained by the deck tech itself, located here.

However, on its own, Gate allows a player to re-buy a very powerful effect. Climax cards are free cards; there is never a cost to play them, and unless a deck refresh is imminent, no downside to having access to another CX for the next turn. The types of effects one can return and have access to can swing a game drastically. Let’s say a Gate returns another CX of the same name. The CX’s effect is to give all the player’s characters +1 soul and +1000 power. This power boost is usually enough to have a player’s character lineup go over their opponent’s, and push through for enough damage, while not tempting fate with something more wild such as a +2 soul.

If I’m playing in a tournament, how should I resolve a Door or Gate that triggers?

The safest way to resolve a Door or Gate trigger, is to leave the CX face-up in the resolve zone, and verbally confirm with the opponent that the trigger has come up. Leave the card in that zone as you resolve the effect. Show the character/CX you’re returning to your opponent, then put the CX into your stock face-down. If you have no targets, or if you want to decline the trigger, say that you decline, and then put the CX into your stock face-down.  Meticulous attention to the details of a trigger’s resolution typically do not come up, but following this practice ensures that there is zero ambiguity in the game state. In other words, for those of us that enjoy the game with a less competitive or “cutthroat” attitude, this method is one way to make oneself “sharkproof”!

Questions? Comments? Got an idea for an article? Send us an email and theninthcx AT gmail DOT com!

Keyword Spotlight – Bond, Bodyguard, Alarm

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

For today’s article, we’ll be going into some smaller keywords that have more simple effects. Posting an article for each would be a bit inconvenient to sift through.

(つまり、ちょっともったいないだ。)

Bond

Bond is a keyword that allows the controller to pay a cost to put a card with a specific name from the waiting room into the hand.

Usually, this cost is 1 stock. Other costs can be a clock cost (top card of the deck into clock), rest and stock, and so on.

Why Use It?

At first blush, Bond is a very narrow mechanic. Why? Because Bond only applies to cards with certain names. But, because of the way Weiss Schwarz works, there is a degree of freedom that one is allowed when paying the cost and using the effect of Bond. 

Did you know?

You are allowed to pay the cost of the ability even if there is no card with the name the card is asking for in the waiting room. This can be used to an advantage. Let’s say that you are using a card that bonds with “Card Y”, and “Card Y” so happens to be the top card of your stock. By using the effect of the card that bonds with “Card Y” and paying the stock that happens to be “Card Y” itself, you can put “Card Y” into your hand! Note the difference between this and other card games, where a target is required to begin an ability. In the case of WS, you can simply pay for an ability and not get the written effect, for better or for worse!

But really then, why use it?

Bond allows you to convert stock into more board presence. If a bond is retrieving a character that has no cost, say a level 1, the bond will be at stock parity. That is, after that character has attacked, it will have paid for itself. It also allows you to potentially get a free attack in with a character if the character with Bond is not particularly combat-worthy (for example, if it has 1000 power and no other effects). Sometimes, a card with Bond will not be worth using for damage because it will have an additional beneficial ability, such as boosting power. If you use the ability and are able to have the bond target win an attack, the bond has also achieved parity. Bottom line? Card advantage!

How many cards with Bond should go into a deck?

Not too many! Flooding a deck with characters that have this ability can serve as a detriment to the deck, especially if the characters that are being retrieved are very costly. This is especially the case if the card the bond is returning is not meant for attacking (e.g. a bond with an Assist ability, or a character with Change, etc). On the other hand, if the deck does not mind spending its stock and using the characters right away for damage, even having up to four copies of a character with Bond can be okay. It should be noted though, that it is hardly ever worthwhile to warp one’s entire deck around the idea of maximizing what one can retrieve from the waiting room. Usually, sets have powerful interactions that go beyond “play character, pay for Bond, attack with both, go.” In the event that you do find a set you want to play in desperate need of power or lacking synergy, Bond soul rush could, in theory, be a legitimate strategy!

Bodyguard / Great Effort

I can assure you that your waifu will always love you, even if you put her in the front to have her absorb all the blows from an incoming attack.

Bodyguard (aka Great Effort) is an ability that gives the character with it the ability to absorb all incoming attacks. If you have a character with this ability in the middle slot of your center stage, all incoming attacks (including what would be direct attacks) become front attacks and go to it, so long as it is not reversed.

Is the effect any good? Well, it is exceptionally rare. And the characters that the ability is on tend to be “understat”, that is, they tend to be level 3, cost 2 stock, and have less than 10,000 power.  Backup effects last until the end of the turn, so any of those effects that you might apply to it will last until the end of turn (instead of just the current attack). Unanswered however, it can force an opponent to throw away his or her entire board. A fun effect, but rare and narrow.

Alarm

Alarm is an ability that applies an effect when the card is the top card of the clock. Usually, the effect applies during the player’s turn only because the card will rarely stay for longer than a turn cycle due to attacks or subsequent clock phases.

Sometimes the ability will allow you to encore characters for a certain cost, others will give a static boost to power. However, like Bodyguard, the effect is rare, and usually does not have very good returns. It requires you to either clock or take damage in a very specific way. Though the game is very luck-based, minimizing how luck can swing away from you is a good thing; Alarm is not a keyword that allows you to maximize good luck. In short, it is a rare keyword, but almost never worthwhile to use.

Questions? Comments? Have an idea for an article? Send your message to theninthcx AT gmail DOT com!

Fate/kaleid liner プリズマ☆イリヤ Deck Tech

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Image Credit

Two deck techs in a single article? Yes! If you want to see the original list from December 2013, scroll to the bottom or search (Ctrl+F) for the text [Fate2013]

Welcome again to the 9th CX’s Weiss Schwarz Deck Techs! A more detailed walkthrough for Fate/kaleid Liner プリズマ☆イリヤ has been requested, and so without further ado, here is a new deck list and deck tech!

This deck list is brought to you by The 9th CX. The names have been adjusted to match translations from Heart of the Cards.

Now onto the breakdown!

Cards – 50

Level 0 – 17

4 Illya, Practicing Magic (PI/SE18-19)
4 “Promise” Illya (PI/SE18-23)
3 Miyu, Sudden Transfer Student (PI/SE18-24)
2 Rin, Kaleid Ruby (PI/SE18-03)
4 Miyu, Kaleid Magical Girl (PI/SE18-21)

Level 1 – 15

3 Illya, Kaleid Magical Girl (PI/SE18-10)
4 Miyu, Perfect Supergirl? (PI/SE18-11)
4 Illya, Guided Fate (PI/SE18-28)
4 “Believing” Miyu (PI/SE18-27)

Level 2 – 4

2 Illya, Dreaming Girl (PI/SE18-13)
2 Miyu the Realist (PI/SE18-16)

Level 3 – 6

3 “Kaleidoscope” Illya (PI/SE18-17)
3 “Kaleidoscope” Miyu (PI/SE18-18)

Climax Cards – 8

4 Class Card Lancer (PI/SE18-35)
4 Class Card Saber (PI/SE18-36)

At level 0 we have 17 characters.

pi_se18_023 pi_se18_024 pi_se18_021 pi_se18_019 pi_se18_003

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

pi_se18_023

“Promise” Illya is a 4000 power character as long as you have 6 or more cards in hand. 2500 otherwise.

pi_se18_019

Illya, Practicing Magic, is a Bond with Miyu, Perfect Supergirl? You can also pay 1 and rest it to give a Miyu +1500 power for the turn.

pi_se18_021

Miyu, Kaleid Magical Girl has a Brainstorm effect that has you pay 1 and rest two characters to draw a card for each CX revealed. It also gives your center character +500 power.

pi_se18_024

Miyu, Sudden Transfer Student is a 3500 power character with hand encore if alone on the center stage. Otherwise, 2500 power.

pi_se18_003

Rin, Kaleid Ruby gives your center character +500 power. You can pay 2 and rest it to salvage a character.

The level 0 for Illya is very versatile and powerful. “Promise” Illya is an excellent first turn play when going first because it will almost always (or at least should) be a 4000 power character. The characters generally do not have a great amount of rushing potential, and are best played one or two at a time at most, unless your hand size can keep up with it. Most sets will either have to attack around the characters or use reversers to go even on board. Four copies of Illya, Practicing Magic, ensures a smooth transition into level 1.

At level 1, we have 15 characters.

pi_se18_010 pi_se18_028 pi_se18_011 pi-se18-027

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

pi_se18_010

Illya, Kaleid Magical Girl is a 5000 power character that gains +1000 power with Experience 2. (i.e. if your level zone has a combined level total of 2 or more)

pi_se18_011

Miyu, Perfect Supergirl? is a 5000 power character that has a CX combo with ‘anything’ – if you have a blue CX in your CX zone when it attacks, you draw and discard a card.

pi_se18_028

Illya, Guided Fate is yet another 5000 power character. It has a specific ability that allows you to discard a [Magic] character (in this deck, any) to reveal the top card of your deck. If the revealed card’s level is 0 (CX cards count as level 0), it can attack something in the back row.

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“Believing” Miyu is a 4500 power character that gets +1500 power as long as you have 6 or more cards in hand. If you have Class Card Lancer in your CX zone when it attacks, you can put the top card of your deck into clock to draw a card and give it +1000 power for the turn.

The level 1 for Illya is a pretty scary time. During the entirety of its level 1 (and 2), it has every incentive to use its 1k1 effects to deal the most efficient damage possible (2/2/2), all while reaping the benefits of its minor CX combos and interactions. Illya, Kaleid Magical Girl can sometimes function as a 1/0 6000 power character, and go over the standard 1/0 5500 vanilla. Miyu, Perfect Supergirl? filters through the deck quickly with its effect, and allows you to access even more cards per turn to sculpt future plays. Illya, Guided Fate, early on, is a utility card at best to deal with troublesome support characters (e.g. Angel Beats!). It is generally better to hold off on using it or even playing it until level 2 or later, when the CX ultimate would be used. “Believing” Miyu is where the deck stands to gain some decent card advantage. With its CX combo, it can potentially have 8000 power (4500 base, +1500 ≥ 6 cards in hand, +1000 1k1, +1000 ‘Accelerate) for no stock! At level 1, it can be a tall order to get characters even to 7500 power for 0 stock. (Incidentally, the greatest power the deck can get a “Believing” Miyu to at level 1 is 10000 – it just means that every other slot on the stage needs to have either a Rin, Kaleid Ruby or a Miyu, Kaleid Magical Girl on it, and that is provided Illya, Practicing Magic hasn’t had its ability used on it)

The deck mostly lives for its 2 soul attacks at level 1 and level 2. But what happens if the deck finds its level 2 characters?

At level 2, we have 4 characters.

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Illya, Dreaming Girl, gives +1000 power to characters in front. It also gives the center character +500 power with Experience 3. At the start of your draw phase, you can pay 1 and Change into “Kaleidoscope” Illya.

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Miyu the Realist has clock encore and can Change into “Kaleidoscope” Miyu at the start of your draw phase at no cost.

The plan at level 2 is primarily to stay the course with level 1 characters. If one of the level 2 characters so happens to be drawn, it can enable an early level 3 play. Playing both of the characters at level 2 can be very tricky. Sometimes, it makes sense to use the Miyu to clear an opposing character. But at 2/2, 8000 power is not a very high power to have. Typically, a 2/2 with no abilities will have 9000 power. Arguably, from a design perspective, the loss of power comes in increments of 500 from its two abilities. If ahead by a level, that is, the opponent is level 3 and you are level 2, play the characters with Change in the back row. (Illya should be used in the back row regardless) This is because at level 3, it is much more common to see effects that prevent encore from happening, such as putting a reversed character into stock, on the top or bottom of the deck, or worse, into clock. If used improperly, Miyu can also disrupt otherwise favorable attacks by going over the optimal number of 2 soul, into a coin flip 3 soul or rarely-favorable 4 soul.

But let’s say the end game arrives and you can Change or just outright play level 3 characters.

At level 3, we have 6 characters (and 2 walls of text).

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When “Kaleidoscope” Miyu is put onto the stage from your hand or by Change effect, you look at the top X cards of your deck where X is the number of [Magic] characters you control. You choose up to one, put it into your hand, and the rest into your waiting room. If you have fewer cards in your library than you have [Magic] characters as this ability is resolving, you do not refresh the deck. Instead, you look at as much of the deck as you can, and finish resolving the effect as normal. This means that if you have five [Magic] characters but only one card in your deck, you only get to see that one card! If that wasn’t enough, if you play the CX Class Card Saber and this card is on the center stage, you draw a card. It gets +1500 power for the turn and the ability “When this character’s battle opponent becomes reversed, you may put that card on the bottom of its owner’s deck.”

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When “Kaleidoscope” Illya is put onto the stage from your hand or by Change effect, you draw up to two cards and discard one. Note that even if you draw zero cards, you still need to discard a card. When you play the CX Class Card Saber, if a “Kaleidoscope” Miyu is on the stage, you put the top card of your deck into the waiting room. If that card is level 1 or lower (again, CXs are counted as level 0), you may discard a Class Card Saber. If you do, each of your characters gains the ability “When this character attacks, deal 1 damage to your opponent.” until end of turn. This damage can be cancelled normally.

At level 3, the deck’s ability to filter through massive chunks of cards and draw a lot of cards on top of it skyrockets. The CX ultimate (the one that, as advertised, can make your opponent rest in pieces) is a rather elaborate setup, but the rest of the deck is numbered in such a way to maximize its chances of triggering and resolving successfully. In this list, there are only 10 cards in the deck that will make the ability fail from its first check, but because it requires that another Miyu be in play, that number is effectively 8. Note that if you are particularly lucky, you can give your characters multiple instances of the damage ability, but you would need to discard another Class Card Saber for each successful Illya trigger.

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The CX effects are both 1k1 effects, with the Pants and Book triggers, respectively.

How do we play this deck?

Very carefully. The deck is one of the closest things WS has to having a “combo” deck. (For Magic players, the deck is very similar to the old Time Spiral block + Lorwyn standard Spinerock Knoll Pyromancer’s Swath deck)

The level 0 game varies depending on who goes first. If you go first, play out a 4000 power character, and see what the opponent does. Use as much time as possible setting up for level 1, by clocking every turn and keeping the hand as close to 6 cards as possible. If going second, play characters to trade with the opponent, and draw out the level as much as possible, unless you have sufficient level 0 and level 1 characters to carry through subsequent turns. The ideal situation is to have your opponent with no level 0 characters in hand, while he or she is at 0/5, with you being at 0/6.

At level 1, there are a lot of options. You can sweep up your opponent’s lingering level 0 characters with oversized level 1 characters while drawing cards. You can also use the Bond and any CX to filter through your deck and sculpt future turns and plays. If you trigger a Pants trigger, get that CX back and use it the next turn! One of the biggest “secrets” to this deck is not the elaborate CX ultimate waiting at the end of the tunnel of level 2 or 3 but rather the ability to refresh at level 1 with all 8 CXs and cancel a lot of damage. If you have the choice between setting up a refresh with 8 against refreshing with 6 and having the CX ultimate, take the refresh with 8. The odds will be in your favor.

At level 2, it’s more of the same as level 1. Attack for 2 soul as much as possible, and take out key cards whenever possible. This is also an opportunity for the Guided Fate, Illya to shine, because its ability will be more relevant, and it’s very likely to have drawn more than 1 copy by this point in the game. It can take out troublesome Change effects from the opponent before they go off if they trigger at the start of the draw phase, as well as other effects. Its impact at level 2 is much more likely to be higher than at level 1.

At level 3, the story is again the same, cruise control with the same character base from level 1.

What?

This is a trap that many players may fall into when piloting Illya. The ability to use the CX ultimate is nice, when it happens, but should not be approached as the only endgame option. There are a couple of reasons for this. First is, if the opponent knows that you are holding multiple CXs in hand, they are much more likely to attempt higher risk (3+ soul) attacks, and, they are much more likely to hit as a result. Second, the CX interaction (half combo) with “Kaleidoscope” Miyu is fine on its own, to deal with annoying characters.

In fact, the threat of using the CX ultimate is best played when behind rather than when attempting to close a game.

Why?

The CX ultimate has a moderate expected value for damage when up against an opponent with 6 or more CXs remaining in the deck. Because the CXs are 1k1 effects, it means that the Illya will be attacking for 1+3(+ trigger) damage. The 1 damage is very likely to hit, and the 3 damage, though still favorable, is much less likely to hit. Whatever the chances may be at a given point, the total potential damage is still incredibly high, and if left with no other choice, the deck can force a win even if behind by an entire level. It may be a tall order, but it is quite far from impossible.

What does this deck not do well? How do we beat it?

A common observation for this deck is that it does not sustain itself very well. Very very few characters have an Encore ability that is easy to pay, and its Salvage costs are steep.

The deck also has no stable level 2 plan. At level 2, the most it can do is improve its character power by around 1000-2000, depending on the number of Illya supports drawn. This can be seen in two ways. From the user’s perspective, the level 2 is merely a “tech” – something to play and enjoy the benefits of should it be drawn in a match. From the opponent’s perspective, the level 2 is smooth sailing, and occasionally there might be a Miyu that can just be hit with a steamroller larger character.

Getting to level 2 early with a deck that has a plan to play very large characters at level 2 (in the range of 9000-13000 power) can actually be a boon, because the deck’s maximum power hovers around a very easy-to-shove 10000-11000. No bonus effects last until the following turn, which makes removing characters relatively easy.

Ultimately, keeping Illya off of as many characters as possible in the mid-late game a great way to keep it from closing a game. Making the CX ultimate a forced move is much better than having the threat of it still out there while the opponent continues to play smaller characters to attack for 1 or 2. Because the ultimate is not quite a win-more (it doesn’t make sense to use it on an opponent with no characters, for example), there is a bit of variance on when it is best played.  Forcing it narrows the variance and allows you, the player playing against it, to assert more control over the pace of the game. Though, this shouldn’t be taken as a statement of “Do this and it will never beat you”, because these are only the optimal conditions that one should expect to see most of the time. If you have the misfortune of refreshing with 5 or fewer, RIP.

The original deck tech for this set is still included below for reference.

Questions? Comments? Have an idea for another article? Send us an email at theninthcx AT gmail DOT com! Thanks for reading!

Deck tech 1 [Fate2013]

Fate/kaleid liner プリズマ☆イリヤ is the latest WS extra booster as of December 2013, and it is quite a set. With Fate/kaleid liner プリズマ☆イリヤ, we get the mysterious new Gate trigger (or as it’s jokingly known as, the ‘pants’ trigger), which allows you to recover a CX from the waiting room. You can see the article on the Gate trigger here.

This deck tech credit goes to ‘Hisoka’ for their deck idea. (The deck is unofficially named the 神様 Build)This list is my own, though. The names of the cards have been adjusted to match those that can be found on the Heart of the Cards website.

So what’s in プリズマ☆イリヤ?

Cards – 50

Level 0 – 19

4 Illya, Normal Girl (PI/SE18-09)

4 Illya, Practicing Magic (PI/SE18-19)

3 “Promise” Illya (PI/SE18-23)

3 Miyu, Sudden Transfer Student (PI/SE18-24)

2 Rin, Kaleid Ruby (PI/SE18-03)

3 Miyu, Kaleid Magical Girl (PI/SE18-21)

Level 1 – 11

3 Illya, Kaleid Magical Girl (PI/SE18-10)

4 Miyu, Perfect Supergirl? (PI/SE18-11)

4 Illya, Guided Fate (PI/SE18-28)

Level 2 – 6

3 Illya, Dreaming Girl (PI/SE18-13)

3 Miyu the Realist (PI/SE18-16)

Level 3 – 6

3 “Kaleidoscope” Illya (PI/SE18-17)

3 “Kaleidoscope” Miyu (PI/SE18-18)

Climax Cards – 8

4 Birth! Magical Girl! (PI/SE18-33)

4 Class Card Saber (PI/SE18-36)

What does this deck do then?

Let’s break it down by level like usual.

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Level 0

The Level 0 is pretty massive in this deck, with a whole 19 cards being dedicated to it. Having a lot of Level 0 characters in this deck however, is vital to performing its “ultimate” CX combo.

The Level 0 characters in this set are also quite noteworthy. In the back row we have 3 characters: Illya, Practicing Magic, Rin, Kaleid Ruby, and Miyu, Kaleid Magical Girl. The Miyu gives a boost to your front row center and gives you the option to pay 1 stock, rest 2 characters, and brainstorm. Rin has the same buff effect for your front row center, and lets you pay 2 (and rest) to put a character from the waiting room back to the hand. The Illya, Practicing Magic, is a bond for the Miyu, Perfect Supergirl? at level 1. (Currently not in the translation, but it also allows you to pay 1 stock, rest it, and give a Miyu character you have +1500 for the turn.)

On the front line we have a couple of characters that do very well if going first. Miyu, Sudden Transfer Student becomes a 3500 with hand encore if she’s alone in the front row, and the “Promise” Illya becomes a 4000 if you have 6 or more cards in hand. If you have the luxury of going second though, the Illya, Normal Girl is ready to start burning through your deck with the CX combo. When you attack, if you have Born! Magical Girl! in your CX area, you put the top two cards of your deck into the waiting room. If both cards have the “Magic” characteristic, you draw a card.

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Level 1

But that’s not all! This deck has even more cards that allow you to cycle through the deck in its entirety very quickly. At Level 1 there are no cards that cost any stock. The Illya, Kaleid Magical Girl becomes a 1/0 6000 if you have experience 2 (a total of 2 or higher level present in your level), and can usually attack over anything of comparable cost. Illya, Guided Fate allows you to discard a [Magic] character and reveal the top card of the deck. This card serves a double duty in setting up the deck’s ultimate, and occasionally sniping the key back row character. Miyu, Perfect Supergirl? is a CX combo with ham sandwich – when you attack, if you have a blue CX in the CX area, you draw and discard a card. It is possible to refresh the deck during Level 1, because of the Level 0 CX combo and the Supergirl Miyu.

Level 0 and 1 are effectively the same for this deck. No plays should cost any stock (except for encore and the occasional brainstorm).

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Level 2

This is where the fun begins. The Miyu protects herself with a clock encore, and the Illya is a +1000 front support, with an extra +500 for the center character if you have experience 3. Her change however, costs 1 stock. If there is a risk of the Miyu not surviving a turn due to a CX combo effect from the opponent, it’s best to leave her and Illya in the back row for a turn, and continue to attack with Level 0 and Level 1 characters to push for damage. Level 2 takes only one turn before going to either the real or effective-

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Level 3

Remember… this?

With the Kaleidoscope Miyu and Illya, you too can have your opponent rest in pieces with this intricate CX ultimate. (It’s probably best described as an ultimate, because there are many conditions to meet). Never mind the crazy draw power that both give when they arrive from change or hand (Miyu lets you look at the top X cards where X is the number of Magic characters you control, put up to one into your hand and the rest in the waiting room, the Illya draws two and discards one), if you have two Class Card Saber CXs in your hand, the ultimate can go off!

If you have both on the stage, when you play the Class Card Saber, you can apply Illya or Miyu’s effect first. Miyu draws a card, gets +1500, and the effect when she reverses a character in battle, may put the reversed character on the bottom of the opponent’s deck. Illya puts the top card of your deck into the waiting room (a mandatory ability). If the card put there is level 1 or lower, you can discard another Class Card Saber. If you do, all of your characters get the effect “When this character attacks, deal 1 damage to your opponent. This damage can be canceled.” The previously mentioned Illya, Guided Fate, can help you peek at the top of your deck to see which effect you should apply first if you are going for the ultimate.

With this ultimate effect, it is possible to end a game through up to four or even five cancels from the opponent.

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The CX setup is a 4/4 set of both CXs that have combos (or in this case, an ultimate) with cards in the deck. The CXs have such impact that it does not make sense to deviate from running the full set of both.

One player has commented that the printing of this effect could be to combat the ‘heal’ effects in decks that are in many sets. Some heal effects happen as early as level 2, and this CX ultimate can also happen at level 2.

Questions? Comments? Did you do well with this deck? Send an email to theninthcx AT gmail DOT com!

Keyword Spotlight – Encore

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

Encore

Encore is a very important ability in WS. It’s so important, in fact, that unless specified, all character cards have it!

So what does Encore do exactly?

Encore is a keyword that only applies to character cards. During the encore step, when a character is placed into the waiting room, the controller may choose to pay the cost (usually 3 stock), and return the character to the center stage, in its previously occupied slot, in the rested state.

Encore does NOT count as a character being played, does NOT count as a character being played from the hand, and does NOT preserve any counters, markers, penalties, or bonuses. Encore CAN be used outside of the Encore Step. Say for instance you use an event to reduce an opponent’s character’s power to 0 or less during the main phase. If your opponent has 3 stock (or whatever else is needed to pay the cost if there is an alternate cost), he or she may pay 3 stock (or the appropriate alternate cost) and return that character to the center stage, in the rested position. When paying for the cost, a player may only use one method of payment. That is, you cannot pay 3 stock AND put a character from the hand into the waiting room if a character has an ability to encore from either cost.

(A potential shortcut or analog for those that may play Magic: the Gathering- Encore is a triggered ability that all characters have that reads: Whenever ~ is put into the waiting room (graveyard) from the center stage (battlefield), you may pay 3. If you do, return ~ to the center stage in the slot it was in previously, tapped.)

How does Encore play out?

In practice, using the encore ability is subject to a lot of shortcuts. Why is this?

Well, if WS is played “by the book”, during the encore step, each player chooses one character at a time to send to the waiting room if it is reversed. It is at that point that each player elects to pay for the trigger that is created by the character hitting the waiting room.

Occasionally, adhering to this structure can be beneficial. The active player must make the first decision on which reversed character of his or hers to send to the waiting room, and then pay for the encore cost if he or she elects to. Then, the inactive player must. Thus, it can be in the active player’s benefit to not shortcut this process. However, if you or your opponent do not have sufficient resources to pay for any encore costs, going through the whole process will usually (and correctly) be seen as stalling. It’s best to be expedient.

Types of Encore

3 stock, while the default method of payment, is not the only way to pay for an encore. In this section, we’ll dive into the different methods of paying for encore that are out there, and also give some tips on how to use them best.

3 Stock Encore

As stated in the rules a player may pay 3 stock to encore a character unless a card effect states that encore may not be used.

Pros: Every character can use this ability, and the steep cost can dig into the stock to free CXs in stock.

Cons: Extremely stock intensive. Remember that a single encore with the 3 stock method wipes out an entire turn’s worth of stock.

Tips: Use very sparingly on your own turn. Try to use it only when you know you have a CX in the top 3 stock. Only when you have 2 or more CXs in the first 6 stock should you use it twice on your own turn.

X Stock Encore

Sometimes, a character will have the ability to encore for 2 or even 1 stock. The premise is the same for the 3 stock encore, but it allows you to keep the character on the board on the cheap, and can even mean more aggressive attacks on your own turn. And, because each character already has the default ability to pay 3, if you lodge too many CXs and have a reversed character, you can pay the 3 instead.

Character Encore

The most common form of encore printed on characters. The cost is paid by sending a character card from your hand to your waiting room.

Pros: Dead draws can be used very effectively to keep board presence.

Cons: Generally, cards that have this ability will have a power slightly lower than the average for a character of the same cost.

Tips: Definitely try not to use this on your own turn, unless you have an overwhelming board presence and hand advantage. This method of paying for encore can be significantly stronger than paying any amount of stock, as it guarantees that you will be able to generate stock for the following turn. This is most commonly seen on level 1 characters, so be careful not to discard your level 2 plan!

Clock Encore

Clock encore is rather uncommon. The cost is paid by taking the top card of the deck and putting it into your clock.

Pros: Maintain field presence and hand size, keep up in damage. Cards with clock encore tend to be at or slightly above the stats of a character of the same cost.

Cons: CXs can be clocked at random with this method, and could level the user too quickly.

Tips: Taking extra damage is objectively a “bad” thing. In WS, a clock encore is arguably worth two cards in hand (think of the two cards drawn during the clock phase), but at the same time, preserves the stock. Try not to use this especially on your own turn, especially at later levels. On the opponent’s turn, clock encore can be used to one’s advantage to escape from 2/5 (level 2, 5 in clock) and get to level 3, but make sure you have enough stock and power to justify this!

Field Encore

Field encore is a very rare type of encore. The cost is paid by taking a character from your stage and put it into your clock. This is where taking advantage of timings comes into play. Since you can use a reversed character for this, simply choose to send the card you wish to encore to the waiting room first, then trigger the encore and choose a reversed character to move to clock.

Pros: Salvage the value of a reversed character!

Cons: Ineffective if nothing else on your field is reversed, and a very rare effect

CX Encore

Even more uncommon of an effect. One of the only (possibly the only one) encores of this type can be found in the set Da Capo. That specific card requires you to discard a CX card from your hand to encore and then a marker is placed under the card.

Pros: Gets rid of stranded CX cards in your hand

Cons: Hard to find effect, extremely narrow as it requires you to have CX cards in hand

Questions? Comments? Send us an email at theninthcx AT gmail DOT com!