Pre-Emptive Deckbuilding – Bonus Porn Included

First post on the new site, huzzah.

There have been multiple requests of me lately to review series that are not fully spoiled yet. As much as I love to play along with spoiler season hype in TCGs, I find this to be a bit of a chore – you often have to re-evaluate many cards once the full set releases. This is not exactly the case for Weiss Schwarz in particular, and we’ll go over why I feel that way later. There are still reasons to evaluate cards in a vacuum, and those reasons are why this article is even being typed out. This is not an article on how to evaluate cards. This is just a post about why you should start designing your deck before the full decklist even comes out, because WS is getting more and more formulaic, courtesy of the design department.

The primary difference between evaluating in spoiler season and evaluating post-release is pretty simple. You don’t know everything. A lot of people hate evaluating new Magic and Pokemon cards when they’re first spoiled prior to release, because there are probably interactions we have no idea about. Is Ulamog playable in Standard? Will BREAK Pokemon be any good? We can’t possibly know that until we see everything the new set(s) have to offer, which means that it’s very difficult to give a definitive judgement about any given card. We can’t know everything in spoiler season, but that’s fine. It’s part of the card evaluator’s skillset to compensate for such shortcomings, and WS is one of the easiest cardgames in which to do so.

Firstly, money is a thing. People like the series present in WS. That’s why they’re printed to begin with. However, you’re spending real disposable income on these cards, and you probably don’t have an ever-flowing source of moolah. You have to be discerning when it comes to what series you buy into, which series you specifically choose to stray from, and what series you choose to full-foil (like a real man). Evaluating sets through the spoilers can give you ample time to decide whether or not you want to spend money getting boxes, whether you want to wait and single the only deck you care to build, whether you’re fine just getting a master set for display, or whether you want to skip the series altogether. It’s fine to talk about series love and whatnot, but love doesn’t pay your utility bills.

Second, you get to be prepared for new decks in advance. Spoilers tend to cover headliner RRs and Rs, and knowing about these cards will give you time to pre-empt any meta shifts at your local store. Knowing that a set has a Level 1 on-reverse plussing combo may well be a reason to put those 1/1 event counters back in your deck. Knowing a popular set has a heal-centric lategame may convince you to pick Hibiki as your restricted card. This is a bit of a contentious point, given I just said that you often have to re-evaluate post-release anyway (eg. Hatsukaze wasn’t even spoiled before the set dropped), but it will definitely give you an edge.

Thirdly, sometimes they really do spoil everything of note. The most notable examples would be… well, every EB in recent history. Even the plus-size ones like Little Busters! Refrain and Log Horizon had everything meta-worthy spoiled at some point, even if it wasn’t immediately obvious to everybody. If you’re inclined to dodge weaker sets for fear or doing very poorly/not enough waifu coverage, you can decide whether or not to buy in with some amount of confidence.

Lastly, it’s fun. Spoiler season is great when you’re invested into the series. Salt flies, you get to complain about lack of good cards for best girl (why is Yui’s lineup so mediocre gdi), you get to call people out on their abhorrent taste (how is it physically possible to like Lala I mean come on guys), and if you choose to, you get to expose those close-minded folk who think that set quality is a binary between top tier and unplayably bad.

unquestionable best girl

unquestionably best girl

While all of the above points are reasonable in regards to most TCGs, Weiss Schwarz is not your average cardgame, and it’s getting less and less average with each release. It is unique in that every new booster is self-contained and asks you to build decks with a very restrictive cardpool. It’s kind of like MtG’s defunct block constructed format, but far more diverse, and far more synergistic. How does that relate to the subject at hand? Well, perhaps the most compelling reason I write this article is that unreleased sets are getting less and less mysterious. We’re getting to the point where we can accurately describe decks before they even come out, because they’re designed so specifically by the folks at Bushiroad’s design department.

Before, decks were based around the absurd power level of some specific cards, which were so good on their own that they warranted the playing of other, weaker cards. Examples include playing a Komari vanilla because of Maid Mio, 2/2 Konata because of the Comeback support, or vanilla Sayaka because of the Apples bond. That was how the game used to be. However, we now live in an era of Weiss Schwarz where Bushiroad has hit a power level plateau. Decks are really, really strong, and in order to keep on selling merchandise, Bushiroad has had to raise the stakes.

In order to keep up this power level, Bushiroad has started designing boosters with specific archetypes in mind, often with little-to-no room for splashing other things. This creates a scenario where testing in R&D is far easier, and you have more room to print stronger effects, as the natural limitation of deckbuilding provides a (glass) ceiling for the deck’s potential power level. This has been the case for basically every modern release. For example, the Nisekoi EB pushed a heavy-Sweets build, with the obnoxiously powerful Azusa clone in-trait and several cards that rewarded you for as high a density of Sweets cards as possible. The SAO EB attempted to force a Sleeping Knights build, with plenty of cards that got better if you had the Sleeping Knights or Yuuki name on field. Both of Love Live’s most recent boosters have been pushing for mono-character builds very strongly. Unlimited Blade Works shoehorned you into a Rin/Archer build or a green-focused build.

The most obvious example (or offender, depending on how you think about it), however, is To-Love-Ru Darkness 2nd. The deck is segregated into 3 or so archetypes, each of which totes build-around-me cards that are fairly non-compatible with the other decks. Honestly, a lot of the decks’ plans are so immediately obvious that there is very little to actually assess when it comes to choosing what to play, and that makes evaluating any given card very doable, despite a perceived information gap. I’ll go over a few of the highlight cards and how well-supported they are by the deck design, talking about what utilities we already have access to and what utilities the deck would really like, all without access to the full cardlist. This is not meant to be a full set review, because we’re going to do one of those later, but don’t be too surprised if it comes remarkably close. All translations and names are taken from my own spoiler thread.

Sitting, Lala
TL/W37-063 R CH
Red / Level: 3 / Cost: 2 / Trigger: Soul
Power: 10000 / Soul: 2 / <Alien> <Science>
[A] When this Character is placed from Hand to Stage, you may reveal the top card of your Deck. If it is a <Alien> or <Science> trait Character, this Character gains +2000 power for the turn. Put the revealed card back.
[A] When this Character is placed from Hand to Stage, you may put the top card of your Clock to your Waiting Room.

The first build-around-me is the main heroine random forgotten girl’s Level 3. This card is so bad. I mentioned that Bushiroad was making build-arounds, but I didn’t say anything about how good they were. This is an example of an obviously orchestrated deck design that just doesn’t seems good at all. Resonance is an extremely boring mechanic that facilitates Bushiroad’s new colour-by-numbers design strategy, and I’m not sure I like it. Decks used to be built on the strength of good cards, but now that’s been replaced by a formulaic connect-the-dots deckbuilding exercise. You basically take every card that has this card’s name on it and slap it in a deck, which is lazy and uninspired.

Anyway, the Level 3 itself. It does basically nothing compared to most competitively-viable Level 3s, and the fact that it’s the Resonance target for other decent cards is honestly what kills those cards’ viability. We’re talking about an RR 3.5k runner, a 2/1 specifically designed to murder advance summons, and a playable global pump + salvage game at Level 1, all of which are reduced to utter mediocrity because of how uninteresting this card is. An utter waste of an archetype.

Momo Velia Deviluke
TL/W37-058 RR CH
Red / Level: 3 / Cost: 2 / Trigger: Soul
Power: 10000 / Soul: 2 / <Alien> <Plant>
[C] If you have 2 or more other <Alien> and/or <Plant> Characters, this Character gains +1000 power.
[A] When this Character is played from Hand to Stage, reveal the top card of your Deck. If that card is an <Alien> or <Plant> Character, deal 1 damage to your opponent.
[A] [Discard one card from Hand to Waiting Room] When ‘Heart-throbbing Approach’ is placed to your Climax Border, you may pay cost. If you do, choose one Level 3 or lower <Alien> or <Plant> Character in your Waiting Room and place it to any Border on Stage, then that Character gains +2000 power until the end of the turn.

Playable card with a Level 3 climax combo. I’m still not a fan of Level 3 global soul climax combos unless they come with extra guaranteed damage. You might not immediately realise it, but this one does just that. The obvious combo here is to use the climax combo for Sitting, Nana. While that card is a decent advance summon for the deck, it has no CIP effects whatsoever. That practically screams ‘custom made’ to me, as in, ‘custom made for this Momo to put onto the field’. Momo herself is a serviceable card, though she’s not exactly broken. She’s a decent incentive to play a heavy Alien lean though, and she does happen to ping before antidamage comes into the equation.

This is the first of many cards that want a heavy trait density, and in this case, the trait is Alien. I’m aware that Plant cards are also an option, but the deck is shaping up to be Deviluke.dec, which mean that it is a distant secondary option. The reason I say that is because of Trustworthy Look, Lala. While it’s a 1/0, that doesn’t make the free brainstorm any less ridiculous, and it’s not as if the ability becomes worse after Level 0, as Riki’s effect does. This card alone means that Deviluke.dec is one of the best ‘fair’ decks in the game. That’s how strong I believe the costless Azusa effect to be.

Momo, Sitting
TL/W37-060 R CH
Red / Level: 1 / Cost: 0 / Trigger: None
Power: 2500 / Soul: 1 / <Alien> <Plant>
[A] [(1) Discard a card from your Hand to your Waiting Room] When this card is placed from Hand to Stage, you may pay Cost. If you do, choose one Level 1 or lower <Alien> or <Plant> card in your Waiting Room and place it on any border on the Stage.
[A] When this card is reversed in Battle, if its Battle Opponent is Level 1 or lower, you may reverse that character.

No deck can be successful without a strong Level 1 game, and this set delivers. This Level 1 bomb doubles an excellent engine card that also doubles as removal for irritating Level 1 cards on the opponent’s side. The intended idea behind a Level 1 field with this card is pretty simple. After setting up your field with things like Seductive Pajamas, MomoParadise Plan and Trustworthy Look, Lala, you get to play this down, pay 1, and pull Gentle Warmth, Nana onto the field. This card, in combination with Furifuri Pen, Lala, will form a sizeable field that very little will be able to remove, barring anti-change counters or ludicrously large attackers. Did I mention that it’s a Level 1 bomb? That can let it kill anything which your 1/1 Nana is having trouble with, which is definitely a useful bonus. The thing that this Level 1 really wants is a costless oversize beater that will stay on field for Nana’s benefit. Bombs don’t typically last very long, so we ideally want a second row and a full Alien backrow to keep Nana fat.

Here’s where a bit of open-minded thinking pays off. While the setup seems quite strong in Deviluke.dec, that’s not all. This Level 1 game doesn’t require that your entire deck be of the <Alien> trait at all. There is also the distinct possibility that good 1/1 Rito cards (Rito is the other notable Plant trait) have yet to be spoilt, so a good 1/1 support or beater with said trait might be well worth playing. More relevantly, you can easily put this series of cards into an Animal and Plant deck with a heavy Haruna and/or Yui lean, because Nana (which this card synergises with) is Animal trait, and Momo herself is Plant trait.

Sitting, Haruna

TL/W37-088 R CH
Blue / Level: 3 / Cost: 2 / Trigger: Soul
Power: 9500 / Soul: 2 / <Sports> <Animal>
[C] If you have 2 or fewer Climaxes in your Waiting Room, this Character gains -1 Level in Hand.
[A] When this Character comes from Hand to Stage, you may put the top card of your Clock into your Waiting Room.
[A] When another <Animal> or <Plant> trait Character attacks, this Character gains +1000 power for the turn.

Speaking of Haruna, this is one of the better advance summons in the set. It has rather awkward traits and needs to be one of the first cards written on the decklist to be good, but it is definitely a strong card in a vacuum. It has the interesting and powerful clause of 2 or fewer climaxes in Waiting Room – this might possibly be an issue, were it not for Momioka Risa and the various milling cards (most notably Sitting, Mikan, even though she’s out of trait) and the Sairenji Haruna brainstorm. Haruna fits best into a deck that doesn’t care too much about traits, as her free refresh combo piece hasn’t exactly got a relevant trait. Even so, she contributes to other characters that do care about traits – she helps with the effect of Gentle Warmth, Nana and is a heal that you can get with Yui Kotegawa. Right now, the deck looks like it’s going to be Red and Blue, with a possible splash into Green (Yui’s cards kind of suck, though).

The combined Animal/Plant deck wants selective advantage that isn’t restricted by trait – the most realistic option is a salvaging brainstorm (one of which was possibly leaked already), though something like a search character/event for Animal and Plant would be pretty great as well. Girl in Love, Yui isn’t awful either, and Kitty Ringtone, Yui is a definite consideration, though there are probably better climaxes to be running.

You might have noticed a surprising lack of Yellow so far. Well, that’s because the entirety of Yellow has been designed as a standalone deck that is, quite honestly, unbelievably stupid. Introducing your new top tier overlord: Yami.

Golden Darkness
TL/W37-001 RR CH
Yellow / Level: 3 / Cost: 2 / Trigger: Soul
Power: 8500 / Soul: 2 / <Transformation> <Taiyaki>
[C] If all of your Characters have <Transformation> and/or <Housework>, this Character gains +1500 power and [C] This cannot be the target of your Opponent’s effects.
[A] When this Character is placed from Hand to Stage, draw 2 cards, then discard 1 card.
[A] When this Character attacks, if ‘Bonding Time’ is in the Climax Border, choose one of your other Characters and this Character. Those Characters gain [A] This ability activates up to once a turn. When this Character’s battle damage is cancelled, deal 1 damage to your Opponent.

Finally, we come to the most ridiculous card in the set. The Level 3 Yami is honestly absurd. While an untargetable 10k might not look like much to begin with, there is a startling level of support for her. Firstly, you can get her down at Level 1 via Calm Disposition, Yami. She’s now a 10k who cannot be anti-changed or bounced, so the only way to get rid of her is to straight up kill her. This is basically not happening, since you also have Memories that Bridge to Tomorrow, Yami, a 1/1 support that provides hand encore, and Ribbon Wrapping, Mea, an almost conditionless 1/0 2k counter. Not only that, but she is the Resonance target for several excellent cards – the Level 0 engine of Sitting, Yami, the serviceable 2/1 beater Her Own Heart, Yami, and the perfectly playable support Lickity-Lick Candy, Mea, all of which make the case for this card as a 4-of. If that wasn’t enough, she’s even Bondable, though the Bond itself isn’t on-trait, and therefore might not be worth running. She can be gotten very easily with Mikan, Getting Dressed, your primary climax combo, or Cute Pajamas, Mikan, a very standard brainstorm utility.

Now let’s examine her combo. It’s the Yamato ability from Kantai Collection, but far cheaper, and far more spammable. It has no additional cost aside from the climax play, and it effectively provides 2 guaranteed damage. The endgame goal of playing three of her onto the field with the combo will almost invariably kill the opponent. The entire deck is based on doing this – your Level 1 is otherwise a pretty costless Green combination of Goodnight Time, Mikan and Mikan, Getting Dressed, you have plenty of low-cost advantage engines. Very little will be able to deal with it effectively – Compass and Farewell Yukichi cannot be used to defuse her, taking away a huge reason why Musashi effects weren’t straight up broken. Scry and milling effects will probably be serviceable, but the former isn’t often seen on playable cards, and the latter is more random than anything. Anti-front effects will be good against the deck, but approximately nobody runs Little Busters, so who cares.

The only issue you might have is that you need a Wind climax to activate it, which isn’t exactly easily accessible. Other similar combos need to clock into the climax, hold it once they get it, or otherwise pray to draw it. Yami, however, has many auxillary methods to get the climax – raw drawpower off cards like Mea Kurosaki and her own draw 2 discard 1 effect are the primary methods for consideration, though Sitting, Mea and
Lickity-Lick Candy, Mea
both warrant consideration as well. These cards aren’t bad at all on their own merits either – they help dig for your other pieces, and more importantly, push you towards refresh almost as fast as any Azusa clone would (especially in conjunction with Sitting, Mikan). On that note, the deck literally has Hatsukaze. I don’t know why it was necessary to print this, and all it does is open the deck up to being banhammered, but hey, in for a penny, in for a pound, right? Do you see how many hyperlinks I’ve put in these paragraphs as compared to others above? That’s because this card is just that ridiculously-well-supported. All in all, the deck is absolutely ridiculous, and honestly speaking, probably banworthy.

What does the deck want? I’m not sure it wants anything, to be honest. All of the roles needed to create a serviceable deck have been filled – a playable Level 0 with plenty of utility, crisis management effects, antisalvage to trump any gate-based decks out there, advantage engines that ignore anti-salvage, a decently-low-cost Level 1, the option to advance summon your primary 10k attacker, supports and counters to keep that card on the field, and an endgame any other series can only dream of, complete with antidamage in Darkness Plan. It’s very noteworthy that the antidamage counter can be drawn very easily off the deck’s heavy raw draw advantage engines, which is a little bit disgusting, to be honest.

As you can see, it’s very easy to evaluate current Weiss Schwarz sets as they release. If you have a structured idea of what a good deck looks like, it’s literally a game of filling in the blanks. Yami.dec happens to fill in practically all the blanks, and hell, it even added more blanks to fill because it wasn’t satisfied with the template. That’s why I’m confident in saying it’s going to be a degenerate top tier deck. I’m not sure I like where the game is going, as the most fun I’ve had in this game is seeing my motley-crew decks combine effects in truly silly ways, but it is what it is.

About lycheepunnet

the victim in an abusive relationship with cardboard
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