Due to lack of time and brainpower for editorial blogging this week, I’m going to post about something I’m always looking to promote – the anime crossover card game I’ve been into for roughly the past year: Weiss Schwarz…
I talked about Weiss Schwarz briefly on a past post about trading cards, and those of you who follow me on Twitter probably saw me tweet about it here and there. It’s a trading card game from Japan with card sets featuring a variety of anime, light novel, visual novel, and other series. Despite the cards having characters from different series, they can be played together – so you can have interesting battles such as Evangelion versus Bakemonogatari or Clannad versus Sengoku Basara. The game started in Japan in 2008 and just began its English release in mid-2012.
You may be thinking “If most of the cards are only available in Japanese, how can I play if I don’t know Japanese?” Well, a Weiss Schwarz site called HeartoftheCards.com has the solution – they’ve made English translations of every single card in the game and put them on card-size inserts that you can slip into the sleeve of your Japanese card. You just print the translation inserts, cut them out, put your cards in sleeves, and slip the inserts inside. So no reason your lack of Japanese skills should keep you from enjoying the game!
Here’s what a HeartoftheCards translation insert looks like in one of my Japanese cards
As for playing Weiss Schwarz, there are of course many online sources available in English to teach you how to play, both in text form and video form. But as someone who’s been playing the game for a while, both casually with friends and at tournaments, I have to say that it has a lot of rules and details to remember. It’s not a game you can master in just one or two playthroughs, like with Pokemon and Yu-Gi-Oh!. Because it’s a complicated game, online sources that try to fully teach it tend to be rather…intimidating. Even HeartoftheCards’comprehensive manual for the game could scare people away! So for this post, I wanted to discuss how to play the game but in a brief, non-complicated way. So I’m not going to cover every rule and detail, just the basics of how to play so those of you interested can see how it’s played without being bombarded by a laundry list of rules.
For starters, Weiss Schwarz is a 2-player game, with each player having a deck of 50 cards. You win the game when your opponent reaches Level 4. I’ll discuss Levels and such later, but the general concept of the game is that as you do damage to your opponent, they level up and can use more powerful cards, but at the same time they’re brought closer to defeat (reaching Level 4). This double-edged sword theme of the game is one reason I really like it and what makes it different from other card games.
First let’s look at the three types of cards in the game: Character cards (the most used), Climax cards (only 8 per deck), and Event cards (you may or may not use them depending on how you want your deck). First we’ll look at Character cards.
Pictured above is a Character card of Sayaka from the Madoka Magica set which I’ll use as a guide here.
-The number in the upper left corner of a Character card (a “2″ in this case) is the Level you need to be in the game in order to play that card. Each player starts the game at Level 0 and then levels up as they take damage.
-The number under the level number (a “1″ in this case) is how many Stock cards you need to pay in order to play that card. You accumulate cards in your Stock when you do damage to your opponent.
-The symbol in the upper right corner (which is the Weiss Schwarz insignia) is one that not every card has, but if they do, it allows you to do additional damage when you draw that card in your Trigger step (which I’ll discuss later).
-Under the text of the card is a special ability it has. In this case, Sayaka’s ability let’s her get more power if you have other Characters with the “Magic” trait. The “CONT” means that the ability is continuous (as opposed to AUTO ones, which only happen at certain times). Not every Character has a special ability.
-The number in the lower left corner (“8000″ in this case) is the power of the card. Obviously the Character with the higher number will win in a face off and the weaker one will be defeated. But there are many ways to boost your Character’s power.
-To the exact bottom right of the power number is a small gray circle with the Weiss Schwarz symbol on it. Those are called Soul and for each Soul your character has, you can do that much damage to your opponent per turn. Most characters can do 1-2 Soul on their own, but like their power, their Soul can be boosted with the help of other cards.
-To the right of the Soul in the thin gold boxes are traits the Character has. Most characters have at least one – in this case, Sayaka’s traits are “Magic” and “Love.” The traits are mostly series-specific; for example, only cards in the Haruhi set could have the trait “SOS Brigade” and only cards in the Guilty Crown set could have the trait “Undertaker.”
Now let’s look at Climax cards. The sample I’ll be using is pictured above, a Climax card from the Sword Art Online set.
-You can easily differentiate Climax cards because their images are horizontal rather than vertical. There are 8 of them per deck.
-The Weiss Schwarz insignia in the upper left corner allows you to do that much extra damage to your opponent if you draw that Climax card during your Trigger step, just like with Character cards (again, I’ll get to the Trigger step later).
-Above the Trigger icon is another symbol that only some Climax cards have and allows you to do something during your Trigger step. There are a few different symbols it could be and each does something different, such as letting you draw a card or send an opposing Character back to your opponent’s hand (which is the case for this card). What that particular symbol does is explained in the bottom left.
-The first line of text in the box on the bottom left tells you what that Climax card does for you when you play it during your turn (during the Climax Phase). Typically it’s something to boost your characters’ power and/or Soul.
And lastly we have Event cards. You don’t have to have these cards in your deck, but they can be useful. The symbols on them mean the same thing as for a Character card. The main difference is that unless they have a power number, which the one pictured above does not, you don’t play them like you do a Character card. You simply pay the Stock to use their ability during your turn and then discard them.
Now let’s look at your play area for the game:
-The three red boxes in the front are the slots for the Characters you’re currently using in battle to defeat your opponent’s Characters and do damage. They’re called the Front Row and the middle one is Center Stage.
-The two blue boxes behind them are also for Characters, but in the Back Stage, meaning you don’t use them in battle but they’re still in play. Typically you put Characters here if they have special abilities that help Characters in front of them.
-The Clock at the very bottom is basically your damage counter. For every damage (Soul) your opponent does to you, you put a card from your deck into your Clock. Every time you reach 7 cards in your Clock, you go up one Level (you then discard those 7 cards).
-To the left of the Clock is the Level Zone. After you get 7 cards in your Clock and go up a Level, you pick one of those cards and put it in the Level Zone to indicate that you’re now the next Level.
-To the right of the Clock is the Waiting Room, which is basically the Weiss Schwarz version of a discard pile. Defeated Characters and discarded cards go here.
-Above the Level Zone is the Climax Zone where you place Climax cards you play during your turn. You can only play one per turn and then discard it.
-To the left of the Climax and Level Zones is your Stock. Every time you attack with one of your Characters, you get a Stock. You use cards in your Stock as payment to play strong Characters or other cards, or to use some Characters’ abilities.
-Right above the Waiting Room is where your deck is kept. Whenever you run out of cards in your deck during the game, you shuffle your Waiting Room and it becomes your deck. You then take one damage in your Clock for the refresh.
-And lastly, above the deck is the Memory area, where cards that are either temporarily or permanently out of play are kept. The Memory is rarely used as only a few cards have abilities that deal with it.
*One last thing about all cards in Weiss Schwarz is color. There are four types of colors for cards – Red, Blue, Green, and Yellow. For Character and Event cards that are Level 0, color doesn’t matter. But for Climax cards and Level 1 or higher cards, you have to have a card of that same color either in your Level Zone or your Clock. If you don’t then you can’t play it.
And for the last part of this concise guide, I wanted to briefly go over what you do during your turn in the game.
1. Any Characters that attacked last turn are placed in the resting position (moved sideways). When you begin your turn, you move all these characters back into standing up position.
2. Draw a card.
3. Now you’re in your Clock Phase and you can choose to put a card in your Clock (do damage to yourself basically) in order to draw two more cards.
4. Next is your Main Phase and you can play Character or Event cards, move Characters to different slots, or use their special abilities.
5. Now we’re in the Climax Phase and you can choose to play a Climax card from your hand.
6. Next is the Attack Phase where you defeat your opponent’s Characters with your own and do damage to them. You repeat the Attack Phase for each Character that’s attacking during your turn. This is probably the most detailed part of the game so I’m just gonna cover the very basics:
-Characters can only attack one other Character once per turn. The one with the highest power wins while the weaker one is sent to the Waiting Room.
-Before actual damage is done there’s the Trigger step, where you draw a card from your deck and if it has a Trigger icon (which I discussed earlier) you get to do one more damage for each Trigger icon. The Trigger card is then placed in your Stock.
-When an attack is declared, you add up the Soul of the attacking Character (including the Trigger and any other boosts they got). If your opponent doesn’t have any Characters in the slot you’re attacking, you get an additional Soul from that.
-Next is the damage step where your opponent places cards from their deck into their Clock for each Soul damage your Character does. However, if they draw a Climax card, the damage is automatically canceled.
*There are other things involved with the Attack Phase too, such as being able to side-attack, Encore (bring back) your Characters that get defeated, or if your opponent plays a Counter card to hinder your attack. But as I said, I’m only trying to convey a general idea of the game here ;)
Now I want to list sources for buying Weiss Schwarz cards outside Japan and for finding out where tournaments are held:
-Plamoya is probably the best store I’ve found for Weiss Schwarz since they have a good amount of the old and hard-to-find card sets, and even if they’re sold out, you can ask them to email you if they get it back in stock (which they sometimes do).
-Besides HeartoftheCards which I’ve already mentioned, LittleAkiba is another site that has translations and scans of Weiss Schwarz cards. They have some kind of shop too though I’ve never used it myself.
I hope this guide made you more interested in Weiss Schwarz…or at least more knowledgeable about it XD When I went to Bushiroad’s panel at this past Anime Expo, they emphasized how much they need fan support in order to keep releasing the cards in English. So if the game sounds like fun, pick up an English trial deck or two for $20-$25 each and try it out with friends or whoever. Maybe you’ll get hooked like I did ^^,,,
*Except for the four large card images (which were scanned by me) all the others on this page are credited to LittleAkiba*