Do or Die: The Forbidden Deck

I did not want to write about this deck. I did not want to mention this deck at all. This deck is something that should be sealed away, never to see the light of day. It is a cursed deck, inflicting nothing but the deepest despair unto those who play against it, regardless of the game’s outcome. Relentless in its onslaught, it refuses to stop until the opponent reaches Level 4. In inexperienced hands, it turns on its owner and subjects those unworthy of wielding its might to a slow and subtle death. Under more adept ownership, it is capable of corrupting the purest of hearts, eroding a player’s soul and converting it into an empty husk, the sole purpose of which is to fulfill the deck’s own objective of playing climaxes and turning cards sideways.

If the article title and the subtle hints in the preceding paragraph were not enough to clue you in on the particular deck I am referring to, then perhaps something can still be salvaged if you close your browser tab right now. Run away, forget about this article, and return another day when it is safely buried under set reviews for excessively lewd Weiss Schwarz boosters and deck techs laden with snarky commentary and dank memes. Do not even think about knowing the name of the deck, for merely uttering its name is enough to cause the hair on the necks of the manliest of men to stand straight up (and who knows what happens when you chant it three times while looking into a mirror…).

If you already know of that which I am referring to, or perhaps you are even remotely curious, then I am afraid it may be too late. Your only choice is to press on.

The gates of Hell have opened.

The Forbidden Climax

 Okay, serious time.

I normally try not to mention this deck in public environments because I am a huge iDOLM@STER elitist enthusiast, and I feel that Do-Dai is a relatively easy and “scummy” way for those who aren’t emotionally invested in the series to be able to jump in and say, “Yeah, I play iM@S, I’m part of the cool kids’ club, right?” Call me petty, or elitist (wait, I already did that myself), or whatever you want, but I am a huge advocate for prioritizing love over tier placement when it comes to choosing a deck to play in Weiss Schwarz.

So why did I write this article to be posted on a blog as esteemed and well-known as Top Tier Tears? I like to think that Do-Dai is a relatively unknown deck, and that its strength is very under-appreciated (read: It’s hipster and secret OP). Recently, however, I have been coming across a number of other people who also run Do-Dai. This was a nice surprise, because it seemed that I had finally found others who share in my love of gimmicky soul rush swarm decks. They are all iM@S enthusiasts, as well, so there was no problem there. The problem manifested itself when I looked through some of their lists, and found that their builds are (and this is just my opinion, so please take it with plenty of salt) quite far from optimal. As a fellow Producer, I feel that it is my obligation to help others fix their mistakes in deck-building and guide them on the proper path to producing Top Idols. However, I like to think that I am a nice person, so I don’t want to outright tell them that they are doing things wrong.

So, giving the lower end of humanity the benefit of the doubt, I’ll do it through this article instead.

To begin, a summary of Do-Dai and its game plan. True to its name, a Do-Dai deck revolves solely around using Climax combo ability to flood the front row with three copies of herself as often as possible. Why would you want to do this? I mean, they’re low-powered and can barely run over things at Level 0, much less at later Levels, right? Unlike most other CCGs, power is not everything in Weiss Schwarz. Whether or not your Characters ultimately die are sent to the Waiting Room is not as significant of a factor as the amount of lasting damage those Characters can deal to your opponent. The winner of every game is not the one who has huge deck beaters, but rather the one who forces his or her opponent to reach Level 4 first. Yes, there does tend to be a correlation between the two conditions, as larger-sized Characters will stay on the board for longer and thus have more opportunities to attack and deal Soul damage. However, because the Do-Dai combo essentially guarantees the summoning of a full front row of attackers as long as you have a copy of the Climax on hand, whether or not you have initial board presence (sans your back row starter Mami) becomes irrelevant.

Wait a minute. Did you just summon a bunch of Mami in one turn?

Of course, this strategy does not come without its share of weaknesses. One of the main complaints coming from people who play against Do-Dai is that it’s basically free and guaranteed advantage every turn, and that’s it’s unfair to be able to slam a +2 soul every turn with your most difficult decision being whether to Front or Side Attack. While it is true that most turns playing Do-Dai will involve dropping a +2 Soul and swinging with kawaii ice cream-munching aidorus, the path one must take before reaching such lofty heights is not an easy one, and is another reason I decided to write this article. Do-Dai is in reality a deceptively complex deck, both to play and to build. Yes, the basic strategy is very straightforward: Play your Climax, pay the cost, turn cards sideways, repeat. Looking past that, however, this strategy contains many caveats that players who are unfamiliar with the deck will ultimately fall victim to.

Your Hand size has a glass ceiling. Take a look at the cost to activate the Climax combo: 2 Stock and 1 discard. Disregarding the Stock payment, the combo requires you to neg 2 from your Hand (one to pay the ability cost and the other from actually playing the Climax). But wait, what’s wrong with that? I mean, you get to dump 3 Mami onto the board, making it a net +1, right? This is where people become disillusioned. Board advantage is only relevant to overall advantage when it is is able to stay on the board for more than one turn. Mami is weak, and is all but guaranteed to become Reversed in battle before your next turn rolls around. The +3 you played to the board is merely temporary, and is almost instantly followed by a -3 after your opponent’s Attack Phase is over. You then return to having an empty Stage, except now your Hand has 2 less cards than you started with. On your next turn, you draw for turn to get +1, then you Clock a card to draw 2, which nets another +1; this process replenishes the 2 cards you paid for the combo, but does not result in you having more cards than you started out with. Unless you trigger Pants, or find some other way to generate cheap advantage (given the heavy stock consumption of the deck and the strict nature of its game plan, this is nearly impossible), your overall Hand size will never grow once you advance past the preparation phase. Why is this such a big deal? The advantage to playing Do-Dai is that it only costs two cards out of your Hand to field three attackers; this two-card cost is just barely replenished every turn. But what happens if you don’t get the combo off for a turn? In a comboless situation, you must drop three cards directly from your Hand to the board to be able to attack the same amount of times. This means that for every turn that you cannot get the combo off, your Hand size decreases permanently. This also applies when you drop Characters for their cantrip abilities, such as Azusa and drop searchers/salvagers, as any more than one extra Character will ultimately have to be played to the front row, and will have to be overwritten by Mami when it comes time to Do-Dai.

Your copies of Mami must be in the Deck or Waiting Room. This is one of the more apparent weaknesses, but the severity of it is often overlooked. If one of your Mami gets stuck in your Clock early on, or is sent to Memory, you are no longer able to completely fill your front row because the combo only plays the Characters from your Deck and Waiting Room. Getting a Mami taken as damage will either force you to play the combo disadvantageously or delay your combo until you Level Up; either case forces you to have to play a card(s) from your Hand to fill missing slots. Because of your Hand’s “glass ceiling” mentioned above (get it? Ceiling, above?), this means that you end up with an overall hard minus, which in turn permanently lowers your ceiling by that much. Having a Mami sent to Memory due to certain abilities (see: Persona) results in the same problem, except permanent. If a Mami gets Memory-kicked early on, you’re basically done. All that being said, there is also the issue of a Mami getting triggered and put into Stock, but this is much less of a problem than having her put in Clock or Memory. Unless Mami is buried three- or four-deep, the cost of the combo and associated events or abilities will pay her out into the Waiting Room, thus making her a legal target for summoning.

avoid letting Mami get sent to the shadow realm by this uncute girl

Your opponent gains free virtual advantage. Even the most advantage- or Stock-starved decks will eventually end up having more cards than they know what to do with, simply because unlike “normal” decks, Do-Dai does not actually kill anything. The purpose of Do-Dai is to push for as much damage as possible, disregarding things such as power or advantage. As a result, your opponent almost never has to pay Stock or Hand to replace his or her cards unless they’re playing over their smaller things to drop bigger things to accommodate Level Ups. This can become problematic, especially when facing certain matchups that already have good Stock generation such as Love Live! or Project Diva, as it causes their Stock compression to skyrocket to the point where they can consistently double- or triple-cancel your attacks every turn.

If you do not have a copy of Mami on the Stage, or you do not have a copy of Do-Dai in your Hand, you cannot combo. This is fairly obvious, but it is important to note that this can and will happen; sometimes you will draw absolute garbage, and sometimes people will play spot removal Events or Scorpion/Back Row Attackers that will kill your normally untouchable back row Mami, and you must learn to find ways around them. There are ways to recover from this, but none that do not require a significant investment in Hand and/or Stock.

So what do we do when that happens? Are there backup plans? Now we’re beginning to tread into card choices, so I’ll leave this subject for a bit later in the deck review when I cover contingency options.

For now, the list.

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(Note: A true master will run the of Do-Dai because it has best idol on it)

The namesake and core of the deck. All you need is 2 initial Stock, the Climax, and one copy of Mami to start off in the back row, and the rest comes naturally. Once you play the initial “starter” Mami to the back row, she will, with very few exceptions, stay there for the rest of the game, meaning all you need to focus on is simply grabbing the Climax as often as possible. The Climax is a +2 Soul, which we all know is the strongest type of Climax, and allows your so-called “ice-cream army” to not only Front Attack for a whopping 3-3-3, but also Side Attack Level 1 Characters for 2 damage–regardless of which you choose, this higher-than-average damage output allows you to keep up or even pull ahead in the damage race early on in the game. Siding with Mami means that your front row will be alive on your opponent’s turn, preventing your opponent’s Characters from Direct Attacking you for more damage. This can be helpful or harmful, depending on your level of compression, but at early Levels when your opponent only has 1-Soul attackers, it’s usually a good rule of thumb to just Side with everything and let your opponent poke try to poke away at you.

Aside from Soul damage probability, you must also take into account the possibility of any on-Reverse abilities that your opponent’s Characters may carry. Obvious examples include Clock-kicking, re-Standing, and burn-on-Reverse from common Level 3 finishers, but other less severe but equally threatening abilities include topdeck-kickers, Shimakaze and her various clones, and the most dreaded of all: Memory-kickers.

Four copies of both Mami and Do-Dai are run for obvious reasons, but of course even with four of each, it can still sometimes be difficult to get both pieces in Hand early on. And given that the deck’s entire game plan revolves around using these two cards alone, not having access to them as early as possible can be devastating. Luckily, we still have 42 more slots left in the deck to fill, so let’s see how we can use those to make the deck a little more consistent.

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One of the best cards to come out of the iM@S Movie set, and the originator of an ability template which is deemed by certain fruits as cancerous and borderline broken. At no net cost in advantage* or Stock, she mills out four cards, which greatly aids in compression, and digs for a Character that you need (read: Mami). At the beginning of the game, you generally want to throw down as many attackers as you can to can generate initial Stock to pay for Do-Dai, and Azusa is an excellent candidate for this, because not only is she an attacker, but she also digs for more attackers to throw down in the event that you don’t find Mami in your top 4, or if you already have Mami.

*Keep in mind that once Do-Dai is online, any Character you play to the board becomes an inherent -1 due to the nature of the combo. This includes your handfixing options (Azusa, Miki, Kotori, Takane)

2x

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The staple drop searcher and drop salvager that you’ll usually find at least one of in every iDOLM@STER deck. If Azusa fails to dig up a Mami, then your other option is a spot search/salvage with one of these, at the cost of one Stock and a card in Hand, of course. Besides being consistency options and discard outlets, they also serve as Turn 1 or Turn 2 Stock-generating attackers after everything is said and done. These aren’t run in as abundant an amount as Azusa, simply because once you search for one Mami, you basically don’t need these anymore until possibly late game when you need to fish for a Level 3 option.

Okay, so we have enough Characters that can consistently search out Mami very early on in the game. That’s great! But, what about the other piece of the combo, Do-Dai? Being a Climax card, Do-Dai is significantly more difficult to grab under normal circumstances, and unlike Mami, of whom you only need to search 1 throughout the entire course of the game, Do-Dai must be searched for as frequently as possible. Before the iM@S Movie set was released, this was a frustrating task indeed, but because of the new support released in said set, it has become much more manageable, to the point where it is laughably easy.

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(I don’t care what HotC thinks the card name is; the official romanization is clearly displayed in the movie and is as written here.)

With the Movie set came the release of a Climax with the Pants/Gate/Arch (whatever you want to call it) Trigger Icon, which is obviously a 4-of in a deck that relies on getting a specific Climax every turn. In addition to grabbing Do-Dai, Pants is the only costless way to generate hard advantage in the deck. In the event that you don’t have Do-Dai in your Waiting Room, but instead you have another copy of Pants, it’s probably a good idea to just pick up that copy anyways simply for the free advantage; even though it is basically dead in your Hand, Do-Dai will naturally allow you to filter it back out with its combo cost.

For additional swag points, you can choose to run the Pants box PR instead, since the deck doesn’t run the Level 3 Chihaya which combos with THE SLEEPING BE@UTY.

4x

This is easily the MVP of the deck, and the fact that its cost and colour allow it to fit perfectly with the combo makes it absolutely amazing. Glowsticks is basically four extra copies of Do-Dai. If you can’t draw into Do-Dai, you simply play this and grab Do-Dai straight out of your Deck. It’s a -0 in Hand advantage and only costs 1 Stock to play, which, when added to the 2 Stock cost of playing the Do-Dai combo, is exactly the amount of Stock that you get from swinging with three copies of Mami. In essence, this is the magical missing cog that transformed a broken hand-crank generator into a perpetual motion machine. Some people find that 4 ends up being a little too cloggy, because they tend to end up with more than they need by the end of the game, so they only run 3. That’s fine, but I personally find that 4 is still a good number–extra copies end up being ideal Clock and Level fodder.

4x

Before Movie set came out, this was literally the only way to grab Do-Dai besides naturally drawing into it, or using draw Events/abilities. There will be turns when you do not have Do-Dai or Glowsticks in your Hand. For this reason, LUCKY RABBIT is still a strong option for digging for Do-Dai, despite being significantly less consistent. Like Glowsticks, it is a -0, and the additional cost of Resting a Character is usually not a problem, since there is always a free Mami in the back row doing nothing. Additionally, it goes to Memory afterwards, which, though not particularly noticeable, does have an effect on post-Refresh compression. Even if you end up not hitting a Do-Dai, you still have the option to grab something that you can use as part of your alternative strategy.

That’s all there is for the Climax-searching options. Now that we have plenty of cards that can search for both pieces of the combo, it’s pretty much guaranteed that Do-Dai will go off every turn, right?

nah

Even with all of the search power available, particularly Climax-searching power, every CCG has a luck factor, and there will ultimately be games where you end up with no Do-Dai, no Glowsticks, and you whiff your UNLUCKY RABBIT. Now we return to the question posed earlier: What do we do when the combo goes offline? There are several backup options for when you just can’t seem to grab Do-Dai, but–with very few exceptions–no matter what option you choose, you will end up losing Hand. With this in mind, these are your last resort cards, and while they don’t look very pretty to play, I have found that they are the best option to play given the circumstances.

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Not exactly the first thing that comes to mind when thinking of playable Characters, but the 1/0 twins do allow you to at least swing for larger than normal, and serve to fill the void when you suddenly find that you don’t have a Climax to play for the turn. Ideally you want to dump all of your 1/0 Mami into the Waiting Room and hold onto your 1/0 Ami, since when Ami performs her free(!!!) Change into Mami, Mami becomes a 2-Soul body, mitigating the soul output you lost from having not played your +2 Soul. Note that even if you only have one of the twins in your Waiting Room, you can still potentially Change a full front row of the appropriate twins due to the single-file fashion in which abilities are resolved.

The Level 3 twins’ printed synergy with the 1/0 twins is part of the reason I chose to play the 1/0 twins as my secondary strategy. They heal, which is always a nice ability to have, but more importantly, the Startup ability not only applies its own Power and Soul boost to the summoned twins, but also triggers the twins’ own respective boosts. This makes Ami 9500 2-Soul, and Mami 7500 3-Soul. Dropping the Level 3 twins as well as a 1/0 Ami from your Hand gives you a strong Level 3 push even without using Do-Dai.

That brings the total so far to 41 cards, leaving 9 open slots to play around with. There are numerous different tech options, some which may be matchup-dependent, but these are the ones which I feel are the most valuable in a general setting.

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Sometimes you will be out 6 Climaxes with half of your Deck still remaining. Sometimes you want to peek at your top card to see if you’ll trigger something potentially unwanted. Sometimes you just want a 0/0 body on Turn 1 to swing with. Takane comes with several qualities that make her an incredibly versatile asset in Do-Dai. Her Brainstorm is spammable, allowing you to dig out any Climaxes that you potentially buried in Stock, as well as helping you compress the Deck very quickly–this is especially important because Do-Dai is a naturally uncompressed deck, due to its need to pull Climaxes out every turn. Her scry ability makes her Brainstorm more consistent, and can potentially set up for an Azusa mill or even send a peeked Do-Dai to the bottom to prevent it from being triggered. And like the rest of your Level 0 Characters, she attacks and sets your Stock up for your initial Do-Dai.

I thought this was really pretty and felt this was an appropriate spot to place it

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Besides being the only plussing option outside of Pants, Ami is included for the specific purpose of pulling Mami out of Clock, like any good sister would do. Being a Level 0, she obviously also serves as an early attacker for initial Stock generation. An interesting thing to note is that she has a strong synergy with the 1/0 twins (yet another reason I chose to run them): In addition to Resting your two back rows as you normally would, Ami can Rest two 1/0 twins to get an extra Brainstorm off without affecting their attacking capability, due to the fact that the Rested twins will simply Change themselves out for Standing counterparts.

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Morning Greetings is meant to be used in a very specific scenario, but being stuck in said scenario will completely halt the deck’s momentum and leave you helpless for several turns, so it is very important to take this into account and have an emergency out ready. This specific case of which I speak is that of being out all 4 of your Do-Dai with half of your Deck still remaining (it happens more often than you might think). Play Morning Greetings to force a reshuffle, and suddenly a dead Glowsticks in Hand becomes very much alive. It’s costless, which means it does not interfere with the Stock equilibrium of Glowsticks-Do-Dai-triple-swing, and even though it is a -1 to play, this minus is very much welcome in comparison to the usual -2 or -3 you would have to take from dropping Azusa or 1/0 twins from your Hand. Do keep in mind your Climax situation when playing Morning Greetings, however, as forcing a reshuffle with like 4 Climaxes in your Hand or Stock is probably not the best of ideas.

One important thing to note as well is that the Event reshuffles both players’ Decks, which can either be helpful or detrimental depending on your opponent’s Climax situation. If your opponent had cancelled a lot early on, and you’re forced to play Morning Greetings before you can capitalize on it, then needless to say you are unfortunately passing up on an opportunity to lay down a lot of free damage. On the other hand, if you manage to push in a large amount of damage because your opponent’s Climaxes are all sitting at the bottom of their Deck or are perhaps in their Hand or Stock, then playing Morning Greetings is basically like throwing salt in their wounds.

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This is more of a meta call than anything, but the existence of warrants a certain amount of precaution when playing Do-Dai, as they can single-handedly destroy the deck if you are not prepared. There are several ways to temporarily hinder Do-Dai, but only by removing Mami from the game can you truly slay it. Even having one Mami sent to Memory causes your Hand to begin to drop in size every turn. Because such a hard counter exists, “Stockbalance” Hibiki has a permanent spot in my list. By ramming Mami into a Chie with Hibiki in the back, player priority causes Mami to go into Stock before your opponent can kick her into oblivion. Of course, even Hibiki is not a perfect solution; a full front row of Chie/Akihiko will still cause you to lose at least one Mami, but at the very least it delays your inevitable doom.

Counter-counters aside, there are unfortunately not many opportunities to play Hibiki, as her 1-Stock body is rather prohibitive when considering the Glowsticks-Do-Dai-triple-swing equilibrium. However, if you do manage to field her due to not having to play a Glowsticks or something, she can essentially provide you with at least 1 extra Stock every turn (please take care not to bury Mami so deep that she can’t be paid out), which aids in compression and gives you a little buffer if you happen to whiff a LUCKY RABBIT.

obligatory yukipo gif

Wait, that’s it? But KatsuP, what about X card? Wouldn’t Y strategy also work well? These are merely the choices for the deck that I have made based on my own testing and experience, and of course, personal preference. There are other options that other players tend to incorporate in Do-Dai, the viability of said options ranging from “just as good, if not better” to “lol”.

First, alternative consistency options. When considering the basic goal of the deck of grabbing the Do-Dai Climax as often as possible, other than Pants, Glowsticks, and LUCKY RABBIT, the only alternative option is to draw into it. Fortunately, iM@S has plenty of draw options which, while not quite Griselbrand status, can still make the difference between drawing into Do-Dai and accidentally triggering it on attack.

Note: Don’t run the ; it’s terrible

A draw power card with the same general features as LUCKY RABBIT, except in Blue. This is meant to be an additional method for digging out Do-Dai Climaxes, but only being able to dig 2 deep rather than LUCKY RABBIT’s 3 unfortunately causes this to be overshadowed and seldom used when both are run in the same deck. On the other hand, this Event does combo with , which allows you to effectively +1 at the cost of 2 total Stock. This is a fair trade and a good advantage option, but given the amount of Stock that Do-Dai consumes on a turn-by-turn basis, you will be hard-pressed to find an opportunity to actually utilize this feature.

Ignoring her first ability, this Chihaya’s cycling ability can be particularly useful in digging for Do-Dai, especially since it does not cost any Stock to use. Leaving Chihaya in the back alongside Mami allows you to draw through four cards per turn instead of the usual three, making it slightly easier to draw into Do-Dai. Unfortunately, there are a few flaws with this. You cannot filter dead Pants out of your Hand with it, and you cannot use it if your Hand is all Events and Climaxes (the latter happens quite often, considering the deck’s goal is to fetch Climaxes as often as possible), but more importantly, you must Rest 2 of your Characters. This means that it cannot be used in conjunction with LUCKY RABBIT (and A Certain Day’s Scenery, if you run it). In addition, Chihaya’s presence takes up a back row slot that could possibly be used for better tech, such as Takane or Ami.

sorry, no room for washboards

As an alternative to the previously mentioned Chihaya, the topchecking Ritsuko from the Dearly Stars EB had been a mainstay in pre-Movie set builds and arguably fits better in the deck than Chihaya does. Like Chihaya, she offers a costless cycle, but only if the card you revealed was a Climax. Since Climaxes are exactly what we’re looking for in the deck, this condition not only works perfectly towards the goal of getting Do-Dai, but also ensures that your first trigger will almost never be Do-Dai. Additionally, unlike Chihaya, you can filter out any card rather than just Characters, and the ability cost only requires her to Rest herself, leaving your starter Mami free to be used for LUCKY RABBIT. The one downside to Ritsuko is that the “Climax-only” condition can actually turn out to be a double-edged sword–any Glowsticks or LUCKY RABBIT that you reveal will simply sit there just barely out of your reach, making you regret not running Chihaya instead.

Remember when I said that any card you play to the board is inherently a -1? That was a small lie, because Chihaya, Advancing Forward is an exception to the glass ceiling rule. At the cost of one Stock and one Clock, she replaces herself in your Hand when she comes into play. She gives you draw power and a starter body to attack with, which both aids in consistency and helps build your Stock and Hand in the early game. She is also somewhat viable mid-game as a secondary attacker, as she preserves your Hand size while still filling up an empty front row slot, but playing down multiples of her and punching yourself repeatedly over the course of the game will end up causing more harm than good. The main reason that I dislike running this card, however, is due to the fact that the Clock cost can potentially stick Mami and/or Do-Dai into your Clock. An unlucky self-punch could turn an okay situation into a nightmare, and I would rather not have to deal with that risk altogether.

That pretty much covers all of the consistency options for the deck. Are there really this few? Probably not, but everything else is either too costly, too risky, or too bothersome to run.

Going by the order outlined in the above deck list, right now is probably where I would start talking about alternative contingency options (what to do when you can’t get the combo that turn). However, there are a multitude of points that I would like to address regarding that topic, so I will save that until the end. For now, alternative general tech.

This card is, until very recently, what I had been running over Morning Greetings. Camera is a very strong utility card, and in this particular deck it beats out Azusa in terms of value, despite having the same effect. The trait that normally swings things in Azusa’s favour is that in addition to her pseudo-mill/handfix, she still has on-Stage value as a body that you can attack with; however, the latter point becomes moot when playing a Climax combo that fills your entire front row with attackers regardless. Even though Azusa and Camera are both a -0 in terms of overall advantage, Camera literally replaces itself in your Hand, while Azusa becomes figuratively dead once she is played. The existence of the deck’s “glass ceiling” means that any Character you play inherently becomes a -1, but self-replacing Events are still safe to use. The ability to mill 4 from your deck for no Stock or net Hand cost is very powerful, and allows you to quickly accelerate yourself into a compressed state or even a Refresh, while at the same time picking up pieces of your combo or backup plan; this feature of Camera has saved me numerous times when I had no way to grab Do-Dai.

So why did this eventually get cut from the deck? The reason for this is very simple. It’s Level 1, and Blue (read: not Yellow), meaning it is somewhat difficult to play it early, and of course by the time you are even of the appropriate Level, your main reason for running search tools like this are no longer relevant (if you don’t have Mami by the time you hit Level 1, you are probably having a very bad game regardless of whether or not you have this). Were a card like this playable at Level 0, I would cut Azusa for it in a heartbeat. Sadly, all you can really do with this is try to pick up 1/0 twins or Azusa in case something goes wrong.

The staple card in just about every iDOLM@STER deck, Makoto’s Power and Level boosts which frustrate many an opponent are not intended to be utilized in this deck so much as her ability to command search for a +1. The 2-Stock cost to search is quite prohibitive in Do-Dai, but when combined with Stockbalance Hibiki, they create a mini-engine of constant Stock and Hand generation which is the backbone of select rogue iM@S decks. Unfortunately, the sole reason Do-Dai cannot incorporate this engine is the fact that it takes up both back row slots, and Do-Dai needs one slot in the back to place its starter Mami in.

The global power boost is irrelevant in Do-Dai, but Azusa’s Clockswap ability helps pull Mami out of Clock, if she happens to get stuck there somehow. Seriously, that’s literally the only reason she’s here.

A great way to punish opponents for having accumulated too much clean Stock while you were busy playing solitaire with your deck. Being Green might make it a little difficult to play, with your only fixers being itself, Azusa, and any Ami Brainstormers you may be running, but aside from that, it has a lot of game-changing potential and is worth considering if you feel you can make the colours work.

Now  that we’ve gotten everything else out of the way, let’s talk about the main reason I decided to start writing this: “Backup plans”. Every Do-Dai deck naturally wants to have a secondary strategy to fall back on in case they can’t get their combo off. That’s fine. However, I have been seeing a number of lists that go about this the wrong way. If your deck runs any of the following at Level 1, you may want to pay close attention to the next section.

  • Oversized beatsticks
  • Any type of Encore
  • Power-boosting support Characters or Events (this includes Counters)
  • Climax combos that aren’t Do-Dai

Look familiar? This is the basic rundown of a typical Level 1 game plan, and it is fine for any normal deck. Do-Dai, however, is far from normal, and thus requires some amount of consideration when choosing appropriate Level 1 cards to accommodate its strategy. I’ll say it outright: If your Do-Dai deck’s contingency plan involves having a sustainable field, then it is not a Do-Dai deck. As proof of this point, try seeing what happens when you remove all of your ice-cream Mami from your deck and replace them with another Level 0, like runners or beatsticks. I guarantee that the deck will run at exactly the same, if not greater, efficiency. The reason Do-Dai works is because the board advantage that it provides, though temporary, is large enough to be considered an advantageous trade in resources. If you reduce the potential number of Mami that you can play by filling up your front row with other Characters, Do-Dai no longer becomes advantageous to play. You might as well just drop random Level 0 cards onto the board instead; you would still end up with the same amount of cards in Hand as if you had played Do-Dai. This is the sad truth of the deck: For a contingency plan to work in conjunction with Do-Dai, it must consist entirely of Characters that do not mind being sent to the Waiting Room. This stipulation is especially discouraging when considering the “glass ceiling” effect that the deck has on your Hand size, but consider it a trade-off for having such a simple yet hard-hitting strategy.

even Cirno is aware of this fallacy

But wait, what about cards like OFF-Time Makoto, or other advantage-generating cards? Those can be played to the Stage and still be used to replace themselves in your Hand, right? Yes and no. Most non-Climax combo advantage-generating cards in iM@S will cost you 2 Stock and usually a Rest as well, meaning not only can they not attack, but you will be burning through your Stock very quickly; as mentioned earlier, Do-Dai is already quite heavy on Stock consumption and does not have that much free Stock to utilize.

The exception to this is Bonds. Using Bonds as a cheap way to maintain Hand advantage while still being able to field attackers is somewhat viable, and is definitely worth considering. However, there is a small caveat to this. Let’s take a look at all of the Bonds present in iM@S:

  • ->
  • ->
  • ->
  • ->
  • ->

Do you notice any similarities among the Bond targets? Every Bond in The iDOLM@STER is to a 1-cost Character, with the only exceptions being Yukiho, who is 1-cost herself, and Mami, a Clock-Bond. Having to pay 2 total Stock to play a Bond and its target is no better than using an on-board OFF-Time Makoto to just tutor for something. Of course, there is always the option of simply playing the Bonder and leaving the Bond target in your Hand–but that basically means you are filling up vital slots in your deck list (and your Hand) with dead cards. Don’t misunderstand–this is still a viable strategy, because no card is truly “dead” with the existence of the Clock-to-draw mechanic and discard costs, but in my opinion, there is more value in playing cards that actually do things, like the 1/0 twins, or perhaps some of the cards in the section below.

With that little spiel of the way, let’s talk about options that don’t involve a sustainable field.

A staple card in many iDOLM@STER builds, Haruka provides valuable scrying utility on top of a body that goes up to 7k power. This allows you to easily run over most opposing Level 1 Characters, but she will likely die on your opponent’s turn since she goes back to being base value. This is fine, though, because at the very least she can provide a body to block Direct Attacks, and her presence afterwards becomes irrelevant because of Do-Dai. The one problem with Haruka in this deck is that she will usually come in at way less than 7000 power, since Do-Dai’s board is always almost completely blank.

The 1/0 twins from the Anime booster allow you to pull out any Level 1 or lower twin from your Waiting Room, if you can afford the cost. This is great if you run other Level 1 twins, particularly if you choose to run Set 1’s , as she will get 2k each from both her own ability and this card’s ability, putting her at 8500 Power. Even if you’re not running any other twins, you can still pull out another copy of this card, or worst case scenario, an ice cream Mami. Whatever you choose to pull, it goes back to being dead at the end of the turn, but remember that sustainability is not the name of the game here.

When looking for a card that can put a dent in your opponent’s front row, but only stays on the board temporarily, what better option to pick than a bomb? The iDOLM@STER does not have a true Level 1 bomb (there is another 1/0 Hibiki that becomes a Level bomb, but it requires a discard), but this Cost 1 bomb is just as good, if not better. The cost may be somewhat prohibitive, but if you’re playing this, you’ve likely resigned to not playing Do-Dai this turn, anyways. This also combos splendidly with Stockbalance Hibiki, allowing her to basically pay for herself when she bombs something.

She is a 2-Soul on the turn she is played (which hopefully is the only turn that matters), allowing you to push for more damage even without your Climax on the board. As such, she is a decent alternative to the 1/0 twins, with the only caveat being the 1-Stock cost. However, this can hardly be considered a drawback because Yukiho is best idol.

It’s not a Character, but it’s a +1 for just 1 Stock, which is extremely valuable. Because the Characters must be Level 0, they will probably have to be turned upside-down as soon as you turn them sideways, but considering the entire deck is based around this concept, this is not a particularly large concern. All that matters is that you have bodies to swing with, and unless you just Refreshed, you should have plenty of targets to choose from.

She’s Level 2 and thus not playable in the early game, but I just thought I would throw this in here because I adore the fact that she has 3 Soul.

Are there really this few costless Level 1 Characters in iM@S? No. Are there really this few costless Level 1 Characters who don’t have better abilities than “[C] This card is basically 6000 power”? Unfortunately, yes. In the end, though, it comes down to your own preference–these cards listed are merely suggestions; take them as you will.

What about Level 3? If we choose to not run 1/0 twins, wouldn’t it be pointless to also run the Level 3 twins? To be honest, Level 3 Characters aren’t even required in Do-Dai, since ideally you will still be using Do-Dai all throughout the endgame. However, the massive utility and finishing power that Level 3 cards can provide are definitely not to be ignored.

An early play healer who can go to 11k if you played enough LUCKY RABBITs. The early play condition is somewhat strict, but if you’re running Camera, or your Hand size can afford to drop a few Azusa, she becomes considerably easier to play. Of course, there is no shame in playing her normally at Level 3, either.

Defensive scry is literally my favourite ability in the game, and on a Clock-kick that works on both turns? I’m not normally a huge fan of Iori, but damn, her Level 3 is amazing. The main problem with Iori is that if you want to utilize her Clock-kicking ability, you need to be running her Level 0 drop target, which, while not bad, may be difficult to find space for when competing with tech more suited to the deck’s goals.

I literally only suggested this because of the burn-on-play ability, which is great and helps push out a little damage or even fish out an early cancel, if you can afford the extra cost. Other than that, she’s fairly… orthodox.

laughingpuchidols.gif

It’s obvious that you should run Pants in Do-Dai, right? Then, if you’re running Pants, why not run the Chihaya that combos with said Pants? Because her drop target is terrible in Do-Dai, that’s why. The can’t run over anything unless you discard something, and her ability suggests that she wants to stay on the Stage by dropping punches; both of these qualities are fine if built around, but clash hard with Do-Dai’s priorities. You can choose to simply run the 1/0 and not play it unless you desperately need something to swing with, but then she just becomes a dead card that you’re obligated to hold until you play the re-Stander at Level 3. It is viable, and such an inexpensive re-Stand is very powerful, but not worth the trouble, in my opinion.

This is here not because I think it’s a good idea, but because I’ve seen people run this in Do-Dai and I just don’t understand why. Even speaking generally, I don’t think I will ever get why people think Miki is the best Level 3 in the series. She is literally just a 10k body with Hand Encore. Yes, she has the potential to push in a lot of damage with her burn-on-attack ability, but only if you reveal a Level 1 or higher Character. In a normal deck with standard ratios, you will whiff her burn over 50% of the time. In Do-Dai, which runs anywhere from 18 to 22 Level 0s, and a high Event count on top of that, it is nigh impossible to trigger Miki’s burn. Miki is a card that really needs to be built around to reach her full potential, and sadly she clashes too much with Do-Dai to successfully accommodate both into a single build.

you can wake up now, I’m done

If you’re still reading this, congratulations! You’ve made it to the end of my long and admittedly incoherent rant about a relatively unknown deck type. Hopefully this little review has helped some people learn something about the deck-building process not just for Do-Dai, but for other decks in general, and hopefully this also serves to open people’s eyes and allows them to see swarm decks in a better light. Do-Dai is a deck that many people believe to be easy to play and unfair to play against, but underneath that very simple soul rush strategy lies a complex set of thought processes that starts right at the deck-building stage and continues all the way to kawaii playmats on which you and your opponent face off in heated battle. Do-Dai is very high-risk, high-reward; just like most other decks, there are many factors to take into account, both before and during gameplay, and one wrong decision could make the difference between having the nuts and getting hit in the nuts. In fact, it would not be a stretch to say that the most fearful person in the room is not the person playing against Do-Dai, but rather the person piloting Do-Dai.

So when playing against Do-Dai, do remember that even though it is indeed an evil deck that should be sealed away, it is a deck that requires a large amount of effort to build and play properly, and your opponent should be respected for that. Likewise, when piloting Do-Dai, always be mindful of your opponent’s feelings when you rip Climax after Climax and push your opponent to Level 2 while you are still at 1.2. When consecutive hits for 4 or more damage manage to go through, be respecting and always 港股开户 apologize because your intention is definitely not to win in such a ruthless fashion, and when the game is said and done, win or lose, always remember to shake the hand of your opponent and thank him or her for allowing you to experience such a fun match. If you do manage to win, after you and your opponent double-scoop up your cards, it is always an ice idea to treat your opponent to refreshments at your local Baskin-Robbins or Cold Stone, because damn, ice cream probably sounds good enough to do-die for right now.

fin

About Katsu

Just some random scrub who is bad at card games but makes up for it with heart
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10 Responses to Do or Die: The Forbidden Deck

  1. Vale ! says:

    Hello !
    To begin with, the deck seems to be quite interesting to play even though I’m a bit scared about the ability for the opponent to just build stock and compress the deck, especially if he can use it to massively heal later on (but oh well, I guess this is something that need to be experienced).

    I was wondering about two points : first, what is the match-up against Phantom Deck ? Is it good enough to not feel the need to have at least one trap in your “normal” build or is it because of your local meta ?

    The second thing is about your experience with the event “Daily Spectacle”. This is not the first time I came across such a card, but it seems especially fun to play in this deck since the opponent will naturally end up with a lot of stock (especially since I guess it’s the right answer against this deck ?). So I was kind of asking myself if it ended up being worth it and really allowed to fuck up your opponent or if it ended up being nothing more than a nasty trick on him.

    • Katsu says:

      I don’t think there’s anyone who actually plays Phantom at my locals, but from what I understand from other people’s experience with the deck, if you just let your opponent farm markers, they will eventually become over-compressed to the point where every card they draw and trigger is a Climax, and they refresh very quickly.
      At any rate, if they just sit on Zwei the entire game, they can only poke at you for 1 damage unless they drop a 1k1s. The only real concern is the clock kick, because it works on both turns, and the -1 Soul ability pretty much forces you to crash into him to deal more than 1 damage.
      If Phantom really concerns you, there is always the option of swapping out Pants for Wind triggers, or running one of the Hibiki bombs.

      As for Daily Spectacle: Even against Do-Dai, not every deck will maintain enough stock for Daily Spectacle to be useful. Sometimes you’ll see people blowing their extra stock on brainstorms or other abilities or cards just because they can (you’ll usually see this in decks that were cost-heavy to begin with). But, against decks that have a lot of free cards and ways to easily pay out Climaxes, it’s very good. Think of it this way: If you know your opponent has ten clean stock, and you play Daily Spectacle, your opponent is forced to dump out ten unknown cards from their deck/refreshed WR. In the *worst case scenario*, those ten new cards are all clean, but at the same time, you added ten non-climaxes to their refresh pool, so their post-refresh compression remains the same.
      There are obviously more factors to consider than just this, such as how close your opponent is to refresh and how many climaxes are actually still in your opponent’s deck, but I don’t think you can really go wrong with Daily Spectacle as long as you can use it against someone who has a shitton of relatively clean stock (decks that run gold bars are very easy targets for this). It’s somewhat matchup-dependent, as I mentioned earlier, but given that more recent sets are creeped to the point where advantage and stock management is very easy, I’m actually considering teching a copy or two in my main deck.

  2. Zephyrmist says:

    No mention of clothing change + energetic no. 1 mami&ami and miki, seduction expert?

    • Katsu says:

      Energetic no. 1 amimami is great because they give free soul, but it’s not actually free because it forces you to play Clothing Change beforehand, which, quite frankly, is not a very good card. imasA Clothing Change is a self-punch AND -1 to play in a deck that already struggles to maintain advantage, and imas1 Clothing Change is cool because it compresses your deck slightly but at the same time it costs 2 stock to play which is really heavy for something that ends up only being a +0 and a handfix. You could literally get more value out of playing the Dearly Stars Twins brainstormer instead.

      Miki, Seduction Expert is not bad, but she is only really relevant when you play her alongside 1/0 twins changers or imasM’s Practice Uniform event; the latter requires you to run tri-colour at Level 1 and the former is just silly because 1/0 Ami change literally does the same thing. You would have to proc Miki’s ability twice for her to beat out Ami, which means you would have to drop her and two twins from your hand to actually pull it off. It’s very difficult for Do-Dai to hold on to three non-utility characters without severely impacting its climax-searching potential.

  3. Mycstea P says:

    You forgot Ritsuko… 事件の予感 律子. She will allow you to check your top deck and possibly grab Do-Dai for free…

    • Katsu says:

      Oh man I can’t believe I forgot about that
      I swear I knew she existed beforehand :>
      I’ll add it in, thanks for reminding me

      • mycsteajp says:

        No problems. I used to write for WS@NK-DS and I really like the work you guys do here.

        I enjoy talking to Ps, especially those that play WS or go for their events. Do add me on FB or Twitter (same name) if interested to talk about either.

  4. GOKU says:

    don’t quit imas you fooOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOLLLL

  5. ronelm2000 says:

    Needs update with powerswt :3

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