We all know what a banlist is. Most of us have been affected by one at some point or other, assuming that the readers of this blog play cardgames. Whether it be in a constructed Magic format, the rolling Yugioh format, or any BSR cardgame, banlists have made their effects known and have caused no shortage of salt and/or rage.
Banlists in WS have tended to be rather questionable at times. While there have been a slew of excellent bannings in the past, there have also been some that are perceived as extremely ineffectual, outdated and questionable ones. This is normal. Banlist justification shifts as rapidly as tier lists do, and if you read the other posts about tier lists, you’ll know tier lists shift really, really quickly. It is very difficult to see the justification for any particular banning unless you are sitting in the Japanese meta, and even then it can be difficult to discern why BSR bans the way it does. This is because, as with every cardgame, the metagame in WS changes with every year, and with every change comes new fundamental thoughts, meaning old axioms have to make room for the new.
Defining the goals of a banlist is an arduous task, and not one I really care to explore in depth here. Basically, if the banlist makes the format less awful for the majority of its playerbase, it’s a pretty decent list. Most lists do that by crushing the dreams of each respective deck’s players, but WS has a different objective in mind. They want to keep a deck playable, but not overbearing. You can see the contrast by looking at any other cardgame, which will usually go straight for the throat when it comes to crippling a deck. Decks that get hit in WS, however, usually linger around the top spots for quite awhile. Examples include Railgun, Rewrite, Nisekoi and Kantai Collection, all of which kept steady for quite some time after being hit.
Now for the meat of the article – a stroll through time regarding WS formats and banlists. There is precious little information about this floating about, so I figure it might be interesting reading, if nothing else. WS restriction list updates come in February and August, and are divided into Standard and Neo-standard. The latter is far more prominent today, but that was not always the case. If you want to read a bit about the WS world in 2009 and prior, scroll down to the bottom of the page.
2010 and prior – End of an Era
There was a significant focus on Standard as a format. Fast-forward to today, and there are whispers of Standard being completely removed, but back then, it was pretty much the main event. The purpose of the banlist here was just to prevent broken combos, such as the Akinari hand destruction loop (topped off by Trouble Girl Haruhi). Neo-standard wasn’t really pushed as a format until 2010. BSR realised that the prevalence of powerful combos would force them to outright ban those combo pieces, and they decided that it would be better to focus on the set-centered game we have today. Honestly speaking, they made the right choice from both a gameplay view and a financial view.
Banlist – 2010 Aug:
Akinari combo pieces (Akinari Kamiki, Playing in the Creek, Louise of the Void and World With Faded Colors) were banned in Standard. The deck (and a general advantage engine) was crushed, and the focus on Standard shifted to Neo-Standard.
LB’s infamous Rest Time, or ‘Kyukei’, was banned in Neo-Standard, killing a significant part of LB’s lategame sustainability.
Year of 2011 – Only Everybody’s Railgun
Releases: Index/Railgun II Booster, Haruhi Extra Pack, Shakugan no Shana Booster, Shining Force EXA Comeback Campaign
Raildex, Evangelion and Haruhi were the most prominent decks in the game, because all three boasted strong finishing power and acceptable field presence. Milky Holmes and Little Busters (even without Kyukei) continued healing forever, using Cordelia’s Garden and Starduster Himuro to great success. In the end, however, one series became truly overwhelming. The release and subsequent domination of Index/Railgun II really showed what happens when you construct a coherent series with good power behind it. The result? This. When a series is so strong that it takes up more than half the field by itself (and at least the top 4 spots), you know something’s gone awry. The banlist in August 2011 was aimed squarely at the Toaru series, which boasted extremely powerful field presence on their turn (Komoe 0/1 with clock bondable 1/1 Kuroko gave 9ks on offence), sustainability against suiciders (LB, DC) and burst power (MB) with Heaven Canceller (global Encore), and (at the time) the only reliable non-CCx finisher in the game: Mikoto & Kuroko, Under One Roof.
Banlist – 2011 Aug:
Heaven Canceller was completely banned. Mikoto & Kuroko, Under One Roof restricted to 2. Railgun lost its sustainability crutch and became unable to maintain ridiculous damage output with multiple Misakuros, though it was far from dead.
World With No Colors (Emo Swing) was banned for Haruhi in Neo-Standard in addition to Standard. Haruhi decks lost a significant part of their lategame recursion (read: the ability to easily loop Trouble Girls).
2011 – 2012 – Brave New World
Releases: Angel Beats EP1, Milky Holmes Phantom Thief EP, Milky Holmes G4 EP, iDOLM@STER 2 Booster
The meta at this point was quite field-focused. Milky Holmes became an extremely powerful deck for this reason, with high-power costless beaters that only a few select series could consistently break on offence. This, in conjunction with the fact said beaters have Encore, gave them a strong and sustainable field that built stock efficiently. Angel Beats did exactly the same. This is where the deck started being vaunted as a strong competitor, with the (now-less-played) 1/1 Encore-able 7.5ks we all know and love. Railgun, Shana and iM@S were very strong decks because their fields could compete very viably against these fields. Disgaea rose to prominence around this time, because Winged Slayer is Winged Slayer, and because the strong Level 1 focus made its finishers significantly better.
Banlist – Feb 2012
Cordelia’s Garden was added to the Neo-Standard banlist. This weakened Milky Holmes to some degree, though it wasn’t much of a hit when compared to Railgun’s. This heralded a new focus for BSR’s bannings – lategame attrition cards were squarely in the crosshairs from this point onwards, and continue to be so to this day.
Year of 2012 – The Times, they are a-changin’
Releases: Zero no Tsukaima F EP, Guilty Crown Booster, Persona 4 Anime EP, iDOLM@STER Anime Booster
Zero no Tsukaima got its extremely-powerful Extra Booster in April, and it started a death march that continues to this day. Despite the bans, Railgun soldiered on. Haruhi continued to be a dominant presence, giving that it not only looped heals, but had the most powerful finishing field in the game. Even though Kyukei and Cordelia’s Garden were long gone, a heal-focused attrition metagame became the norm, and cards that looped for advantage and heals were front and center in the spotlight. BSR has never been very happy with that. After all, it made events drag on for far too long. Hence, they proceeded to ban many cards that enabled this strategy, and hit Railgun too, because fukou da~
Banlist – Aug 2012
The first truly meta-warping banlist of Neo-Standard.
Railgun was slapped in the face yet again, forced to pick only one of four defining cards – 1/1 Kuroko beater, 2/1 Kiyama, 2/1 Pajamas Mikoto, or 0/0 Heaven Canceller. This hit its midgame, endgame and finishing game all at once, and most players ended up playing Kiyama or Kuroko. Misakuro remained restricted at 2. Heaven Canceller is notable as the first card to move from banned to unbanned status in Neo-Standard.
Zero no Tsukaima had its 2/1 salvage event, its advance summon 3/2, and its reshuffle/secondary advance summon slapped with restrictions. This was the core of its extremely strong Level 2 heal loop game, based on a Level 1 that rarely died to anything but bombs. Most players opted for the 3/2 advance summon, because it was simply too strong to give up, and because it had a cheaper and easier requirement anyway.
Disgaea had Laharl’s healing Level 3 restricted to 2 copies a deck. This card at 4 allowed Disgaea to toolbox and gain advantage ridiculously well while looping heals. Hitting it to two restricted the number of heals it could feasibly do, but honestly, the deck didn’t suffer too much. It could just get the 3/2 Desco with Laharl, after all.
iM@S had to pick one from Azusa runner, 1/0 Haruka and the 3/1 Jupiter event. While restricting the first two makes sense (the two together form a ridiculous stock-charge engine that can stonewall many decks), the Jupiter event didn’t really… do anything for most of the game. It was somewhat obnoxious, but it’s just an above average heal event that only comes into play late. Just another victim to Bushiroad’s newfound hatred of lategame attrition.
Haruhi had its three Level 3 cards put on a choose-1-of-3. Traditionally regarded as one of the hardest banlist hits in all of WS, because all three are pivotal parts of the deck’s lategame healing and finishing plan. Summer Festival Nagato is the most sensible option here, especially since World With No Colors was completely banned.
Shining Force EXA lost 1/0 Cyrille, mostly because her abilities ate up an inordinate amount of thinking time in tournament website link. The deck was quite strong at this time, given it had received a comeback campaign, but probably not strong enough to warrant banning this card on power alone. The card itself is pretty good, though. If the 2-cost let you draw two and discard one or something, then it probably wouldn’t have been hated out quite as badly.
Persona’s Akinari Kamiki was banned. This was the centerpiece of the Standard deck’s combo, but in Neo-Standard was mediocre at best, especially at this point in time. Even ignoring the lack of Kogawa + Louise, Persona had precious few ways to gain advantage in bursts or even over time, meaning Akinari doesn’t really have an abusable role in a loop. It’s possible they were doing this to pre-empt the next Persona 4 Ultimate booster, which did actually contain some ways to abuse Akinari.
2012 – 2013 – Brave New World Part II
Releases: iDOLM@STER Anime Booster, Angel Beats Vol 2 EP, Shana EP, Rewrite Harvest Fiesta Booster, Little Busters! Anime TD, Da Capo 10th Anniversary Booster
BSR did an about turn during this period. Most cardgame companies tend to work months to years in advance in regards to releases, and I suspect BSR is the same. If this is the case, the timing for the Rewrite booster and LB Anime TD/new DC booster makes a lot of sense. These series contained the first ever anti-heal and good clock summon Level 3s respectively, which all go against the whole healing thing they tried so hard to curb. The power level of cards increased to some degree, and the game became a lot faster and more centralised around consistency.
A great deal of strong boosters were released during this time. The iDOLM@STER Anime booster gave the deck an excellent advance summon and a slew of utility and power cards, though the deck was not really over-the-top. Soon after, Angel Beats was bolstered with a few extra utility cards, some of which were worthy inclusions. The most notable ones were the 3/2 Yuri, its gate, and its change, which formed a strong core for the deck’s previously uninteresting lategame. Shana got its power support in the 1/1 Khamsin, as well as more lategame plays. Disgaea preyed upon the high power game these decks had, using Winged Slayer to demolish these decks’ valuable backrow and power-orientated frontrow. All in all, the game was fairly stable, with a good mix of decks jockeying for the top spot.
However, all of that was to change when the
fire nation new Rewrite booster attacked. The players of the world didn’t know it yet, but Harvest Fiesta heralded a new era of devastation. Mischievous Kiss Chihaya and Charismatic Witch Akane together formed a truly formidable lategame. If that was all the booster had, it would have been fine. Alas, it was not to be. The best Level 1 > 2 change card since the original Persona 3 Thanatos summon dropped, and it was a terror. The booster was new and the original Rewrite expansion hadn’t been overwhelming, so it took some time to set in. In the meantime, the huge emphasis on field control continued. The successful decks were Angel Beats, Rewrite, Shana, Disgaea, and iDOLM@STER, all of which had great field presence and crisis management. Da Capo’s 10th Anniversary booster also dropped towards the tail end of this list’s period, giving the set an extremely powerful clock summon combo, but it didn’t receive the powerful Level 1 field or finishing game that other powerful decks at that time boasted, so it failed to breach the tournament setting in significant numbers.
Feb 2013 Banlist
More cleanup than anything else.
Da Capo received a slap on the cheek for having the ability to heal 3 cards with only two stock and two cards. In retrospect, this was a questionable banning, but whatever, BSR hates heals, we’ve long-since established this.
Railgun had Pajama Mikoto lifted from the banlist. You could now throw down Kiyama and a Misakuro as soon as you hit Level 2, which was… ok, I suppose. It still didn’t have much of a Level 1 field outside vanillas if it elected to run Kiyama, though Kuroko and higher Big Spider counts slowly crept into lists.
iM@S received a slight modification to the list – Jupiter was knocked off (why was it there to begin with? We still don’t know) and Ancient Capital Takane was put on. The combination of either stockcharging character (Azusa runner or 1/0 Haruka) and early summon Takane gave the deck a truly formidable game, and if the opponent was unable to deal with Takane, they would be slowly grinded out. After this list, Decks generally ran Azusa with a mixed bag at Level 1, usually centered around the 1/0 Ryou and the Sidetracked event, with the Miki advance summon.
Year of 2013 – The Death of YO-SHI-NO
Releases: Persona 4 Ultimate EP, Sword Art Online Booster, Nanoha A’s Booster, Project Diva Booster, Little Busters Anime Booster, Vividred Operation Booster, Love Live Booster, Dog Days 2 EP
I had to do it. Sorry, Chihaya. Also, lest we forget.
At this point, the releases become quite interesting. Bushiroad took each of their series in one of two directions – super-solid and packed with all the staples, or experimental and wacky. Persona 4 Ultimate, SAO and Vividred Operation were firmly in the former camp, with P4U introducing brainstormers, clock encore and splashable consistency. Sword Art Online ended up being what we would now call a supremely vanilla booster with your choice of any toppings. It had advantageous brainstormers, advantageous climax combos at Level 1, heals that helped push for game, and a spread of versatile field presence options. Vividred Operation got a heaping helping of utility Level 0s and a ridiculously large and advantageous advance summon, not far removed from Rewrite’s. It also got heals and passable endgame. We may take cards like this for granted now, but it was hardly the default back then. Dog Days 2 probably falls into this category too, but honestly, it didn’t really do a great deal for the already-solid deck, just introducing some consistency and field presence and offering a new Level 3 lineup.
That being said, some series were used as target practice. Project Diva was the poster child for experimental. This booster was climax combo themed, with several instances of multiple characters comboing with the same climax. While this in itself was hardly new, the focus on it was pushed to the point where they seemingly forgot to give Miku anything else at all. What resulted was a rather uninteresting booster that was forced to crutch on a PR climax combo for the entirety of its standalone existence. Even the PR climax combo was a venture into brave new territory – this sort of advantage-garnering effect existed already in Haruhi and Da Capo, but this was its first time as a costless Level 1 combo. The other ‘experimental’ booster was Love Live, which had a heavy change focus. When I say ‘change focus’, I mean there were a bunch of cards that supported changes. In reality, the best cards in the set were all extremely vanilla and no-nonsense, and while you could mess around with the change gimmick, most players found more success with a tried-and-true field presence + value build. The same remains true to this day.
Little Busters Anime is the interesting one. It introduced a few things suggesting a strong push in the no-heals-allowed direction. Firstly, the second antiheal ever printed in the game, and this time it was given to a series with a clock summon. Clock kicks and game-ending combos were printed to supplement this. Next, the first anti-runner suicider came into existence. This was an obvious attempt to curb a strong Level 0 archetype that built stock, advantage and let the player hit Level 1 faster. Finally, the second true antidamage counter ever printed is in this set. This seems a bit contradictory, given that it is as effective as any ‘heal’. I’m really not sure the last thing was a good idea at all, but whatever, each to their own. Lastly, it solidified the archetypes that partially existed in the series beforehand, suggesting Bushiroad would start supporting specific decks and characters more and more often. And oh, they definitely did.
I regret to inform you everything in this section was just senseless blabber. While the list of releases this year was extremely long, it was ultimately quite ineffectual. The only release that made any impact on the meta was SAO, though if you want to be generous, Vividred Operation, Little Busters Anime and Nanoha A’s put in work, the latter two probably by virtue of their fanbases alone. Railgun, Madoka and Shana continued to overperform, but the decks that really took over were Rewrite and Disgaea. These decks simply handled anything else in the meta, and had a very interesting dynamic against each other. The culmination of this was, simply, this. While this end result does not properly capture the absolute hold Rewrite had for awhile, it’s enough to know that these two decks were by far the strongest ones in the game, and something needed to be done about them.
2013 August Banlist
Rewrite was hit pretty promptly. The 1/1 changer Chihaya, 0/0 Sakuya ‘support’ and Akane brainstorm were all put on a 1-of-3 list. 1/1 Chihaya enabled a ridiculous amount of field presence for an incredibly low cost, while Sakuya backed her up by not only functioning as a pseudo-encore, but also gave free 1k buffs on the player’s turn (which was a lot more relevant than you might think). The Akane brainstorm was the questionable hit. While there were some sets that could get rid of multiple Chihayas, there weren’t really that many, so the buff effect was mostly cute rather than ridiculous. Additionally, by the tail end of the RW-dominated season, the preferred way to fight this deck was with some number of bounce triggers in your deck or with a wham-bam Winged Slayer, which Akane does nothing to help against. That being said, it’s a utility which lets them recycle Shizuru counters and Sakuyas to no end, so hitting it wasn’t overly objectionable.
If Rewrite took it to the knee, Disgaea took it right to the face. Or balls. Whichever seems more painful to you. Not only was Level 3 Laharl completely banned, but their main toolbox/advantage engine Laharl & Mao, their toolbox/filter Flonne, and the win-more asshole Mid-Boss all got put on a 1-of-3 list. Thank god they let Winged Slayer sit unmolested, or this series would basically have been Prinny fodder. Fodder for Prinnies. Which are usually fodder already. (Can’t get enough of these awful in-jokes? Don’t worry, just wait for the DG set review)
Likewise, Haruhi had Emo Swing knocked off the full ban list down to a pick-1-of-4. This was presumably done so people could screw with Haruhi players. I’m sure it would have been fun to tell them the bans had been lightened, when in reality not a damn thing changed.
2013 – 2014:
Oprah’s Bushiroad’s Ultimate Car Staple Giveaway
Releases: Suisei no Gargantia Booster, Disgaea D2 EP, Railgun S Booster, Devil Survivor 2 E, Nisemonogatari Booster, Daybreak Illusion Booster, Fate/Prisma Ilya EP, Symphogear G Booster, Love Live SIF Booster
It appeared that Bushiroad’s banlists were finally beginning to appropriately regulate the metagame. A wide variety of decks began to top, but a few stood above the rest. Zero no Tsukaima came back full force, Railgun’s new booster revitalised it quite a bit, Da Capo continued to compete very viably and Rewrite still boasted its antiheal + finisher game.
In terms of releases, the only one that made a lasting impact was Railgun S, which brought a new level of consistency to the table. Every other release had rather minimal impact on the metagame, whether it be due to lack of popularity, lack of stability, or just plain ol’ being bad. I would argue this as one of the most skill-intensive periods in all of WS history, given there was no clear front-runner deck and most anything could compete extremely viably, given an appropriate level of player skill. Don’t worry, all that will change soon.
A brief note regarding the 2013 WGP. While it was evidently a very hard-fought tournament, it represented almost nothing to me, aside from a time-worn and exasperating ‘murika.dec’ joke. The reason is that the metagame was the most fragmented it could possibly have been in a cardgame where the metagame was already ridiculously varied from region to region. People don’t generally play this game to win, so whatever wins Worlds isn’t necessarily the best deck. A competent player can top his or her respective nationals with a deck they are supremely familiar with. They don’t have to go the whole way and counter the entire metagame.
2014 February Banlist
It’s like they read my article in advance or something. No changes to the banlist. The metagame was healthy, diverse and every deck brought something others didn’t.
Year of 2014: Boats
: The Cardgame
Releases: Kantai Collection Booster, Sword Art Online Vol. 2 Booster, Crayon Shin-chan Booster, Kill la Kill Booster, Little Busters Refrain EP, Log Horizon EP, Love Live EP, Project Diva F2 Booster, Nisekoi Booster
The year started off with a ridiculous bang. Love Live was ‘revitalised’ with the release of the LL SIF booster, even though the deck really didn’t get that much from it. This mostly goes to show the level of hype that can be generated with a bolstered cardpool. That being said, there was one more particularly hyped set that came out around this time…
Kantai Collection completely changed everything about Weiss Schwarz as a game. It marked the first Konami-esque printing by Bushiroad, with blatantly pushed cards that forced a specific style of deckbuilding – pushing for game. Kantai Collection was, of course, extremely well equipped to push for game. That being said, this was nothing new. Bushiroad has hated healing and compression tactics since literally the first banlist, but this was the first radical attempt to stop it from happening. An un-interactable antiheal, an antisalvage effect significantly stronger than the Dog Days, Da Capo, Little Busters and Persona ones already in existence, and some of the strongest game-enders that Weiss Schwarz is ever likely to see. People were once again reminded of how much better 2 soul is than 1.
Deckbuilders very quickly figured out that a Yellow/Green build was by far the strongest, and it rapidly took over the tournament scene. It revolved around a few advantage engines, two of which the game had not seen the likes of before. I’m referring to, of course, Hibiki and Hatsukaze. Hibiki functioned as what was essentially a better version of the Bond mechanic, and the fact that it was also an antiheal pushed games towards the direction of ‘kill or die’. This theme will continue to rear its rather unsightly head for… well, presumably the rest of WS’s developmental lifespan. It didn’t help that the booster didn’t really have any exciting heals, aside from a Red Level 3 that you would normally consider quite strong. However, that Level 3’s climax combo was with a Gate trigger, and there was one very significant obstacle in the way of any deck wanting to run Gate triggers… that aside, they also stupidly printed a global +1 soul support for a reasonable cost, which basically amounts to a free climax play every turn. That, my friends, is madness.
The game Kantai Collection itself is very popular in Japan, so the deck took off and didn’t stop its flight. It completely eclipsed the next few boosters, most of which were extremely competent. Crayon Shin-chan was honestly one of the best standalone decks for quite some time. Little Busters Refrain pushed the already-competent Little Busters set to an enviable place – it became a deck that could quite reasonably mimic Kantai Collection, boasting an even more powerful anti-gate mechanic. Log Horizon was a very pushed set, with some of the most powerful Level 3s to be printed thus far. Its 50 cards (and a few PRs) compete quite viably with huge, modern multi-booster sets, if you need any indication of its power level. Love Live got yet another boost, this time gaining a competent finisher, a runner of sorts, and some other goodies to round out its already-quite-well-rounded cardpool.
However, none of these decks had a finisher lineup that could compete with multiple Musashis, Harunas and/or Akagi Kais, so they sat just outside the bubble of KC ridiculous. Kantai Collection was getting way out of hand, and it was time for a banlist.
2014 August Banlist
Kantai Collection had Inazuma, Junyou and Musashi put on a pick-1-of-3 list. Inazuma was the deck’s early-game search engine, generally pulling out Shimakaze to get even more cards and set up for the lategame. Junyou turned any Hibikis, Inazumas and other stray 0-costs into 2-soul beaters, which was pretty ridiculous when most of your 0-costs replace themselves. Musashi was the finisher run as a 4-of in every Kantai Collection deck, and with good reason.
Inazuma and Musashi were the more popular choices at this time, though Junyou did see play here and there. An Inazuma choice prompted a change in finisher. Akagi Kai became the one of choice, partially because bar climaxes kind of mimicked Junyou’s ability, and partially because draw-2-drop-1 is great for getting your Compasses lategame. A Musashi or Junyou choice pushed the deck towards using more of the traditional 2-cost plusses that the series had plenty of. Either way, the deck was alive and kicking.
Of note is the fact that neither the antiheal nor antisalvage cards were hit. Bushiroad was very much on a campaign to stop heals and stop mindless 8 gate usage.
Still… aren’t we forgetting something? A set released just before the August banlist… a set that some argued should have been on the August banlist, despite it only having been in the metagame for a couple short weeks…
‘There should be other decks with finishers as capable as Kantai Collection’s’, said one very misguided developer. ‘Yes!’, cried another. ‘In fact, let’s make a finisher so ridiculous that the game is thrown into despair!’ And so, the dark times came. Players worldwide started wondering, ‘Do they test their cards? Is Bushiroad actually Konami?’
August 2014 – December 2014: onodera is best girl
Releases: Little Busters Card Mission EP, Da Capo Sakurasaku EP, Persona Q EP, Gigant Shooter Tsukasa EP, Nanoha A’s Re:Edit Booster, Sword Art Online 2 EP, iDOLM@STER Movie Booster
Little Busters got an exceptional EB that pushed it to top tier status. Da Capo’s new booster bolstered the Magic deck in a very interesting way, pushing yellow cards a lot more than the traditionally strong red and green colours. Persona shored up a lot of its weaknesses with a very solid booster, gaining what is probably the best Level 1 bomb in the game. Nanoha got some finishers and SAO got a reason to not play salvage triggers. iDOLM@STER was thrust right back into the meta with a huge number of playable finishers and some excellent utility, including what was actually the first archetypal ‘Akatsuki’ in Azusa. She was overlooked to some degree, mostly because boats are more popular than idols, for whatever reason.
I don’t think any of that really mattered though.
Nisekoi stormed the meta in a way that literally nothing had before. It was the new set producer’s first headed design, so it’s excusable to want the set to be good. What isn’t excusable, however, is the fact it swamped everything. A combination of passable earlygame, incredible zone manipulation and a ridiculous amount of advantage-generating cards set the one-booster deck above anything that had come before.
The experimental event mechanic already existed in iDOLM@STER and was already somewhat playable, but making the events significantly more functional and easily retrievable definitely made it a more workable mechanic. Ignoring the accessibility options, all it did in iM@S was give you access to an advance summon heal, which was pretty much outclassed by Takane anyway. In Nisekoi, though? Oh… oh, it did so much.
A handfixing Level 1 bomb. A 3/2 advance summon that cantripped and sat at above-vanilla. A 0/0 standalone that became a 1-cost cantrip. And of course, the ridiculous finisher herself. The deck did it all, and the fake difficulty presented by the pendant event mechanic was severely overestimated by Bushiroad, and will hopefully teach them not to print the text ‘Attack 4 times’ on any one card.
I don’t even have to link a tournament to show the domination, pretty much EVERY TOURNAMENT IN LATE 2014 WAS TAKEN BY NISEKOI. The unmodified Neo-standard deck actually won a Standard tournament. Two of the biggest tournaments in Japan had 13 of their combined Top 8 placings taken by Nisekoi. This is a level of domination not seen since Railgun was in its heyday. Something needed to be done.
2014 December Emergency Banlist
Nisekoi got what was coming to it. Marika was hit to one copy maximum. This was expected, but the fact they didn’t outright ban it is yet another sign that they still just want games to end. The social media outcry against Marika and the new set producer was so extraordinary that the set producer was soon replaced by the old head of Victory Spark, a game which was crashing and burning.
That aside, the all-purpose support/pendant retriever Raku was effectively banned, as it was placed on a 1-of-3 restriction list with the Pendant of Promise in question, as well as the 2/1 Onodera free refresher. This effectively killed the insane synergy between the 2/1 freefresh and the 3/2 early play, and made Nisekoi’s toolbox a tad weaker.
Kantai Collection’s list was changed a bit. Junyou was completely banned, and Akagi Kai replaced her on the choose-1-of-3. Akagi was a 4-of on basically every list at this point, and was the finisher of choice for the rather straightforward KC deck.
Disgaea’s Level 3 Laharl was put back up to 1. This is a number where it can still show how incredible it is, but isn’t enough to warrant building around, which I think is fine. I mean, if it was completely banned while Marika and Musashi were still playable, eyebrows would be raised.
Lastly, Zero no Tsukaima was completely removed from the banlist. Good for them.
December 2014 – February 2014: Boats the Sequel: The Second Coming – and BEYOND
Releases: Kantai Collection 2 Booster, Girlfriend Beta Booster, Fate/Prisma Ilya 2wei EP, Love Live Vol.2 Booster
There were only 2 short months between the emergency banlist and this one. Nisekoi continued to romp around, though some other decks did take to the limelight. Kantai Collection, Little Busters and Love Live were particularly notable, though the former outstripped the latter two with rather careless ease. The popularity of Kantai Collection showed no signs of stopping, with the promise of an upcoming new booster. It was, at this point, the best deck in the game, and would continue to be until the banlist hit. Even after the February banlist hit, it is arguable that it is one of the best sets in the game.
You can read my pre-written thoughts on the sets that released in the first part of this post, and my thoughts about the February banlist itself in this one. I don’t see a reason to do work that I’ve already done before.
The most recent banlist can be found here. As it stands, the current banlist for Weiss Schwarz is:
- Banned: Rest!
The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya
Toaru Majutsu no Index/Toaru Kagaku no Railgun
- Maximum 2 copies: Mikoto & Kuroko, Under One Roof
- Pick 1 of 2: “Heaven Canceller”, “Multiskill” Kiyama
- Pick 1 of 3: “Fate of the Scattered Cherry Blossom” Sakuya, Akane, After A Bath, “Under the Brilliant Blue Sky” Chihaya
- Maximum 1 copy: Marika, Maiden’s Heart
- Pick 1 of 3: Pendant of Promise (all), Kosaki, Angel in White, Raku Being Similar
- Banned: Akinari Kamiki
Makai Senki Disgaea
- Maximum 1 copy: Supreme Overlord Laharl
- Pick 1 of 3: Laharl & Mao, Former Angel Flonne, “Beauty Baron” Mid-Boss
Shining Force EXA
- Banned: Cyrille, Changing Clothes
Tantei Opera Milky Holmes
- Banned: Cordelia’s Garden
Kantai Collection: KanColle
- Banned: Junyou, 2nd Hiyou-class Light Aircraft Carrier
- Pick 1 of 3: Hatsukaze, 7th Kagero-class Destroyer, Akagi Kai, Akagi-class Aircraft Carrier, Hibiki, 2nd Akatsuki-class Destroyer
- Maximum 1 copy: Action Mask, Sealed Fist
Edit: Someone very kindly pointed out to me an extremely informative comment on social media, which I’m going to straight up copy and paste here.
There was actually an early era. Although still standard, they were the era of the lv2s. Back in 2008, there was the extremely unforgiving Miharu lv0 support for DC that played well with Nemu, allowing a 7500 lv1 with Encore (huge at the time, since there were no 2k1s, and most 1 cost lv1s had a cap of only 6000 power), and a 11 000 lv2 (same reason). The only set in 2008 that could beat that power level for that particular level 2 + 3k counter, were green climax combos which boosted to say, 14000power, but they suffered due to lack of stability. Those were the days without +X support too, so it was hella hard.
The very first incredible level 3 that stood above the rest, was Ra Ves from Shining Force EXA. It was the first lv3 that could easily be summoned at lv2, have goddamn 10k power (the game used to only have 8500-9500 lv3s, except for Nanoha that preceded it) and heal to boot. That was the era of deck looping for close to infinite hand resource by looping Ogawa de Asobo with Siesta, and summoning lv2 Mid-boss multiple times to rush the opponent to level 3 on the opening lv2 turn. 1/1 7ks and Fairy Tail’s encore support did not exist at that time to allow Akinari to florish.
The otaku deck came in when Lucky Star released in early 2009, and was pretty stable. The only problem is the lack of decent lv3, which easily killed the set. Fate/ha extra pack was released shortly after, and was the first step to big change (discussed later) due to 1/0 6k Saber.. And 2k1s. Canaan and Alphard made ripples with unprecedented gayness (pun implied) and climax combo.
Then… KOF introduced Change. KOF had somewhat interesting Change mechanics too, but THE IDOLM@STER was the first to actually have very positive, and great Change stability, allowing iM@S to briefly hold top tier for that year’s WGP.
However, it was only shadowed by two titles that have creeped their way into top tier.
Little Busters! smashed its way to top tier with Kyukei and QK’s power alone. With Maid Mio, it had every single ingredient it needed to be the ultimate outlasting deck.
To fight off powercreeping at level 1, Haruhi had the first ever 1/1 7k vanilla, and was able to consistently change out powerful lv2s at level 1, which could also potentially seal off QK. The deck provided great end game with either Nagato, Mikuru or Haruhi.
That was in late 2009.
Just want to point out that there actually was another banlist before the Ogawa banlist, that consisted of a single card – Serafuku Siesta from ZnT (read the above post for why). It was unbanned after the Ogawa banlist hit and the game moving towards Neo-Std.