So, we had a good run. The old rating system certainly worked out for awhile, but then card quality got higher and higher, and eventually the vast majority of cards got crammed into the ‘Playable’ category. That’s just not helpful. So, let’s get freaky. And by freaky I mean detailed.
We don’t use it here, but there’s a pretty well-documented system of grades that is used around the world, notably in America, which some percentage of our readerbase is from. It’s a letter-based system, going from A to F (realistically only to D, but bear with me), where A is a good grade, and F is an abysmal one. Pretty elementary. Actually, literally elementary. For that reason, we’ll use this system, which so many others before us have adopted.
The rest of the article will basically break down what each grade means in the context of card evaluation.
Plus (+) and Minus (-) Qualifiers
So far these designations have been used in a vague sense to differentiate between card power level, where Playable Plus led straight on into Good Minus. I think I should formally define what each of these means. I think these should refer to not just power level, but overall impact on the game. For example, a card such as a stock swap would ideally get a Minus rating, because it is not impactful every single game. Even though it is a unique and effectively irreplaceable effect when it is powerful, you cannot expect to use it against every deck. On the contrary, any plussing brainstorm would pretty quickly get a Plus rating, because you expect to use it multiple times every game, it is immediately impactful when you do, and it has function all throughout any given match.
What this means is that the grade designations can be used to differentiate power level, while the Plus/Minus modifiers affect how often you actively want the card. You’ll probably end up playing B+ cards a lot more than A- ones, but when you play the A- ones, they might directly win the game.
Basically our old Good grade. A will refer to any card strong and (importantly) unique enough to make you want to play this series. This will hopefully take the place of our old ‘Meta’ qualifier. Cards in this bracket will be headliners for a series, either through allowing something unique and powerful, or simply having a power level that is through the roof. I wouldn’t expect to see this rating overly often, as you’d want to conserve it for cards such as the Cocoa/Chino Level 3, Koume, or cheap antidamage/sac counter effects. At this point, conditionless Azusa or Riki effects would probably make the cut as well, as they’re becoming rarer and rarer.
Strong cards that you actively want in your deck. These cards may not be unique or irreplaceable, but they’re welcome effects that you look for whenever you evaluate a set or commence deckbuilding. I would expect brainstorms, selective Level 1 combos, powerful events, decent Level 3 early plays or heals, and good field-based plussing Level 0s (4000 power/runners) to land here. That is to say, most cards you play will be here, roughly our old ‘Playable Plus’ power level.
Reasonable cards that you’re always happy to have as fallback options. While these are the grades you’d start being disappointed about in your report card, in this system these are perfectly reasonable cards you have no real issues playing. Perhaps you might not be particularly overjoyed about them, and you might feel some envy for decks with better alternatives, but at the end of the day, they’re more than functional. Expect vanilla drop searchers, 6500 beaters, generic supports and non-selective combos to get this rating.
This is probably where we’ll throw all the vanillas and mediocre cards. Those cards are never so bad that they make your gamestate worse, but they also don’t really do a great deal. Try not to run these cards, but if you have to, they’re there. You’ll see generic Level 0 and 1 vanilla beaters, bad Standby targets, mediocre climax combos and other ineffectual cards here.
I don’t know why we don’t have E grades. Don’t really care either, F is for Fail. These cards, when included in a deck, will actually decrease the overall quality of the deck by a sizeable amount. I really hope we don’t hand this rating out much. You’ll only ever see cards with extremely detrimental downsides or ridiculously damaging opportunity cost land here.
As it stands, we’ll be trialling this system out for our next few reviews, which are late partially because of this, and partially because my co-host got addicted to some MMORPG. We’ll also be trialling out a Google Forms format, which will unfortunately mean I’ll have to pay attention instead of playing bad RPGs on my Vita. Any feedback is welcome, and we hope to keep on providing quality (or at least entertaining) content to everyone who’s stuck with us this far.