You might have noticed a slew of articles coming from people who aren’t me, and that’s happening because apparently this blog is high-profile enough to get more than just me writing for it. Deck techs or not, I’m stoked to have more people writing about WS, and I encourage everybody to get out there and post. It doesn’t matter where – Facebook, forums, or even starting your own blog. It doesn’t matter how absolutely wrong your opinion is, or how terrible your taste is, or how many times elitist Singaporeans post comments about popcorn on your Foreign threads – if you’re helping generate discussion, you’re part of the cause, and we’re glad to have you on board.
That being said, I still have a firmly rooted bias against bare-bones deck techs, so you won’t see anything on this blog that isn’t at least somewhat fleshed out. Even when the articles are straight up deck profiles, I’ll be leaving those for other people to write. Instead, the recent comeback campaign announcements have me excited to write about a title that doesn’t get much attention in this neck of the woods. That series is called Half-Life.
No, wait. I meant Index. Sorry, it’s just that Index 3 and Half-Life 3 are both never coming out, and headcrabs, and, well, you get the point.
This article will be about taking a pre-existing deck and modifying it with new cards. I’ve covered the basics of starting from scratch and a short primer on jazzing up a TD, so you could say this is a step up from those articles. The reason this gets to be about Index is that it received the ever-wonderful boon called a Comeback Campaign. These are sets of 5 or 10 cards that spruce up an old and busted deck to proverbial new hotness. Index received a total of 10 cards, 7 of which help out the dedicated
Index headcrab deck to some degree. Two of the remaining three are basically Railgun cards (they’ll never admit it though) and the last one is Touma. Comeback Campaigns are basically condensed extra boosters. They are extremely quality-dense packages of cards that were specifically designed to work with old, existing decks, making them an extremely convenient example for any budding deck upgrader. You can apply the same process to larger boosters, you just have to evaluate the cards, which I wrote a mini-series on already.
Now, for the process of actually upgrading a deck. It’s going to be stepwise, as always.
1) Clarify your deck’s current strengths and weaknesses.
As it stands, Index as a standalone deck is pretty sucky. While writing up tier lists and stuff, I briefly considered putting Index in its own category, but ultimately decided not to because it’s just not on the radar anyway. It would probably be a C-tier deck. The standard Touma/Index deck is extremely vanilla and has glaring weaknesses at virtually every point of the game. Prior to the new Comeback, I believe that this deck was not a particularly viable tournament choice, and I say that having played the deck quite a bit. However, the new comeback has made Index/Touma decks significantly better, and have made heavily Index-centric decks into an extremely viable option. These decks have improved to the point where I could see them doing a lot of work against even the top tier series. Solo Touma builds didn’t really get much (nor did they really need much except a streak of luck), so I won’t be discussing them.
Firstly, you have to be well-aware of your deck’s major gameplan. This determines what your deck wants, and what your deck lacks. While a lot of decks are merely ‘play as many of my waifu as possible because waifu’, even those decks have a real gameplan at each level. The gameplan for my Index deck is simple: Compress your deck relatively well, maintain some amount of hand, then capitalise on this 3/2 Event as best as possible. That basically means you want to have Book trait support, which in turn means you’ll want Book trait characters on the field as much as possible. It’s basically an Index-centric deck, all focused on playing for a heal-based endgame.
Next, clarify the pros and cons of the deck. The best way to evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of a deck is to play a wide variety of decks, and use your own experiences. Someone who has only played trial decks will consider a deck like CLANNAD or MELTY BLOOD to be quite formidable, but anyone who has piloted something like Rewrite or Zero no Tsukaima will have an entirely different opinion. This might be a stupidly obvious statement, but playing and building a wide variety of decks is the best way to improve as a player and deckbuilder. I will be illustrating each of my strengths/weaknesses with examples that have lead me to my conclusion.
Extremely resilient lategame.
If we ignore the obnoxious mechanic of antiheal for a bit, we’ll find that Index has more Level 3 healing capability than most decks. The standard deck nowadays runs maybe 1 to 5 heals, whereas Index will frequently run 3-4 cards that heal 2 cards at a time, as well as some number of a Level 3 which can heal multiple times in a game. They may even run a practically-vanilla Level 3 for its CIP heal effect. The sheer potential for healing is greater than practically any deck in the game, with the exceptions of Da Capo, old Little Busters and Zero no Tsukaima. I regard this as a pretty strong theme, and consider it enough to build a lategame around. In fact, the healing counter is the sole motivation to even play any Index cards at all.
While it does have a bit of a reliance on drawing the right cards (events and climaxes), the deck can easily heal for days if the opponent fails to finish you off in one go. Because of this, it has a passable matchup against decks without strong finishers. Oh, and if you encounter antiheal? Cry.
Additionally, Index has the ability to compress its deck to some degree with memory-related cards. Appropriate compression will get you more cancels, which complements the heavy heal-based lategame quite well. On that note…
Powerful and advantageous compression engine.
Hyouka & Index is straight-up one of my favourite cards in WS. The effect of bouncing cards isn’t unique at all, but that’s not all it does. Not only do you get to recycle come-into-play effects, but it compresses your deck in addition to all of that. The card itself is bondable, which means that you aren’t under a lot of stress to use its effect on uninteresting targets, and it also means that it can easily pull double duty as an advantage engine. Not many other compression engines double as advantage, and those that do have frequently left a mark on the competitive scene.
I think this card is laden with potential, and that it’s outright depressing how few good targets it has in the Index cardpool.
That’s about it, really. The deck has other good stuff, like an effectively free 2k counter, an all-purpose memory searcher, and even random value cards. However, those cards are all sidekick status. They’re all part of the supporting cast, and if you haven’t got anything good to field frontstage, all the support in the world won’t be enough to bring you back. We now move on to the list of cons.
Sad reliance on Hyouka & Index to maintain advantage.
The deck has some issues keeping hand. Between a rather mediocre Level 1 and a smorgasbord of +0 utilities, you’re generally clocking most turns, and often using bonds and 2-cost plusses in addition to that. That’s simply not a good plan for a deck whose major gameplan lies in compression and healing, because you’ll be short on stock and be forced to hit yourself just to keep up. This is honestly the deck’s major weakness in comparison to other similar heal-orientated decks.
There simply aren’t any efficient ways to gain hand until Level 2, and most of the options at Level 2+ rely on you having a decent amount of stock to begin with.
Basically no strong Level 1 game. At all.
Yeah, you have kind-of big cards. Yeah, you have a 2k counter. Yeah, you can amass stock to some degree. The main problem here is that our best costless card is dependent on having a Touma name on the field. Given that there is no good Touma support, and that having 1/0 Toumas in a streamlined Indecks is reliant on drawing them, you’re left banking on a mediocre +2 soul combo that leaves you low on hand and often low on field.
The numbers you reach with both the Index and Index/Touma Level 1 lineups vary from barely-passable to absolutely terrible, depending on the matchup and how generous you’re feeling. You’ll find that a lot of decks crush you on defence, even though you’ve pulled off the combo and have a counter in hand. It’s just not up to snuff by any modern standards, and that remains one of the deck’s key problems.
The Hyouka & Index card mentioned above salvages the situation very slightly when used in conjunction with climax plays (specifically, +2 soul). However, none of the other cards have any real CIP effects, which means you’re just bouncing cards for the sake of having things to fling at your opponent next turn. Before you ask, bouncing bonds to your hand just eventuates in an infinite loop of you having no stock and being forced to hit your opponent with low-powered cantrips, so you’re gradually losing ground in terms of stock and hand anyway.
There is a change to a passable 2/2 Index, but the cost is enormously prohibitive (climax phase change that costs 3+ stock and a card in hand). God forbid you get hit with an antichange counter or bounce effect.
Nothing consistent at Level 2.
The gameplan I ended up with was to play down fat 2-soul Toumas and beat face. I tried. Oh, I tried. I tried the Kanzaki climax combo, I tried vanilla oversize cards, I even tried this. The only reason I tried so hard is because I desperately wanted Itsuwa to amount to something, because she’s definitely best Magic-side Toaru. There simply are no efficient Magic traits at Level 2, unless you really want uninteresting oversize characters with a heap of pre-requisites. There isn’t even a good change. To that end, fat oversize Toumas with no pre-requisites are simply better, and they cost a lot less to play, too. These cards are much better in a mono-Touma deck, which really goes to show how lacking Magic trait cards were. If it wasn’t for the Index 3/2 healing counter, there would be no reason to maintain an Index deck at all, outside of headcrab love (and who loves headcrabs anyway?).
No finishers in the relevant traits.
If you want to play finishers in Index, you have to splash out for Accelerator or Misakuro. It’s to be expected, really.
+ Passable healing lategame
+ Decent compression/advantage engine
– Poor advantage engines overall
– Level 1 sucks. A lot.
– Level 2 is possibly even worse.
– Can’t actually end the game efficiently
A very simple list of pros and cons, but WS is oftentimes a fairly simple game. So, now that we’ve established that Index has nothing at Level 1 and 2 (and absolute mediocrity at Level 0), we can keep that in mind as we move onto the actual evaluation of cards.
2) Pick the cards you’re going to fit into the deck
While it’s very easy to do so with a comeback campaign, you’re going to have to decide exactly what cards go into an existing deck by yourself. After you have determined what your deck needs and doesn’t need, you should choose relevant cards from the new booster. If you see strong new cards that are worth abandoning the old gameplan for, feel free to jump ship. Better yet, support those cards with existing ones. This is particularly easy to talk about when it comes to comeback campaigns, because these cards are literally designed with existing cards in mind. They’re basically tiny extra boosters. Still, even when it comes to targeted comeback campaigns, it’s important to look at every relevant card critically, because even here, not every card is worth running at high counts, and some aren’t even worth running at all. You cannot examine a card in a vaccum, and you must analyse it both in context of the old build, and in the context of other new cards.
More articles about why cards are good can be found here, though I implore that you look at cards yourself and think about what they actually do to improve your deck.
We can actually skip this step here, because the Comeback Campaign is so small. See my review of the Index Comeback Campaign if you want some exposition on the cards, and see my other deckbuilding primer if you want shortcuts on how to evaluate which cards are good, but in short, every card except the Kanzaki 3.5k and the Railgun-orientated cards made it into my eventual build.
3) Patch up the holes in the deck.
It is always important to make sure your deck has few weaknesses. This is significantly more important than making sure your deck has greater win-more potential, because you will encounter situations where crisis management is necessary to even stay in the game, never mind think about winning.
Each of the major weaknesses I identified in the first part will be addressed. Importantly, I will be completely disregarding the strengths of the old deck, because, as I mentioned, mitigating weaknesses is far more important than preserving strengths. Mitigating weaknesses will often consolidate those strengths (or even create new strengths) anyway.
Open up my brief set review if you need a refresher on what each card actually does.
Sad reliance on Hyouka & Index to maintain advantage.
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We got a plussing brainstorm (for almost anything in the deck), as well as a Usual Haruhi clone. Both of these are competent advantage engines when used right, and go a long way towards letting Index play cards more freely. That being said, we’re still keeping in the Hyouka & Index engine, as well as the 0/0 plussing assist, because those were fine cards anyway. These cards are a huge boon to the deck, though the 1/0 Index could honestly be much, much more. Still, beggars can’t be choosers.
Basically no strong Level 1 game. At all.
I am so looking forward to plopping this down, fixing my hand, then slapping a Hyouka & Index down alongside it, confident in the knowledge that I’ll do it all again on the next turn. Crazy good card. This, in combination with the 1/0 Index mentioned above, will do so much for the deck’s Level 1 game, and the addition of the brainstorm and its +1k boost make playing the 1/1 Index/Mikoto vanilla very defensible.
Nothing consistent at Level 2.
The Nisekoi cantrip freefresh and an advance summoned 11k fatty? The disparity of quality between even one of these options and the entirety of what existed before is mind-boggling. These cards don’t stop at just doing that, either. The Vento is usually going to be at least 9k, while the Index heals. An acceptable Level 2 game for any deck, not just for sad decks like old Index.
No finishers in the relevant traits.
Sadly, Touma is still not in the relevant trait, but I will take what I can get.
The end list is something like this:
Level 0: 16
- 2x Komoe in Cheerleading Outfit
- 2x Index, Beast Girl
- 2x Index in Cheerleading Outfit
- 2x Orsola Aquinas
- 1x Agnese Sanctis
- 3x Good Night, Index (brainstorm)
- 3x Usual Scene, Touma & Index (3.5k)
- 1x Kanzaki in Swimsuit (3.5k)
Level 1: 13
- 4x Hyouka & Index
- 1x Index & Mikoto
- 4x Infantile Body, Index (1/0 CIP +power, handfixer)
- 2x Being Frugal, Index (Time Machine-esque 1/0)
- 2x Saiji Tatemiya
Level 2: 3
- 2x Vento of the Front (refresher)
- 1x Itsuwa of Formerly Amakusa Catholics
Level 3: 10
- 3x Lively Meal, Index (advance summon)
- 4x Touma, Confronting the Enemy (TOUMAN)
- 3x Healing Magic
That would be my day 1 decklist, and I would be very open to making alterations. The non-Magic cards are Komoe, who searches for Hyouka & Index, Index & Mikoto, and the Level 3 Touma, as well as the Level 3 Touma itself (and the healing event).
The climax spread is on-colour plusses with no associated climax combos. The 2k1s are there because they will make both 1/0 Comeback Campaign cards significantly better.
Every comeback campaign card is at a high enough count that I can easily draw into them or search for them without incident, allowing me to see how they play. It’s very important to actually test card counts, not just the cards themselves. Sure, you might draw your one-of brainstorm every few games and be very happy about that, but if you want to really assess how it affects your gameplan, you need to run more of it.
4) Check you didn’t actually miss anything.
I wrote a short list of things I want my decks to have back in my other article, so I’m going double-check the deck with that list now.
- Acceptable Level 3s
- Coherent Level 1 gameplan
- An endgame
- Discard outlets
- Contingency plans (eg. Brainstorms, reshufflers)
- Advantage engines (eg. Bonds, plussing brainstorms)
Acceptable Level 3s
Advance summoned 11k heals, 12k fatties with finisher attributes, and a 3/2 heal 2 counter event? I think we’re fine on this front. We also have the old Index 3/2 climax combo if we feel the need for even more power.
Coherent Level 1 gameplan
Beat down on everything and recycle our oversized beaters. Occasionally mise value from Time Machine effects. Continue to brainstorm and work towards refresh. All of these are great individual strategies that this deck can now employ, and employ them it shall.
Now that we have efficient, low-cost fields and a good advance summon, we can actually focus on a heal-based endgame. We even get to occasionally hit things with Touma.
We had these even before the Comeback Campaign, but we now have an additional one. The various drop searchers and 1/0 Index will serve us very well.
We happen to have received a good brainstorm AND a reshuffler, and we already had decent handfixing resources. We’re solid on this front.
The fact I can tick this off the list actually brings a tear to my eye.
5) The most important step of all.
Like, if you actually enjoy WS, this shouldn’t even need to be said.
And there you have it. Aside from the assessment (which is such a big deal that I wrote three articles on it a long, long times ago), this is an easy formula to follow when upgrading decks with new expansions, and is especially helpful because you can approach it from two angles – either you have a deck you really want to upgrade, or you see a CotD that you really want to build around or integrate into your deck.