Food Friday – The Standard of Preparation

This article is rated Experience Level 8.  This article is perfect for those that do well in multiple areas of the game, but have trouble doing this consistently for months in a row.

As a chef, who was also given crash courses in Nutrition from a Nutritionalist who also was taking the same chef course I was, I found it rather disturbing to see the kinds of food available in Japan.  I’m lucky enough to eat fish, but otherwise I’m a bog-standard lacto-ovo vegetarian.  Vegans have it hard here.  Thickeners are made with Bone Marrow, Oil for Veggies is the same Oil for Shrimp and Chicken.  But besides that, there are a lot of fried foods.  Think back to your McDonalds at home.  Do you remember how greasy their food is?  Well, I did a side by side comparison of a Filet-O-Fish Burger, McDonalds fries, and a chain store’s Fried Vegetable Udon.  I went through three times more napkins with the Udon than the Burger and Fries together.  That’s a lot of oil.

Now, that’s not to say oil is bad.  Oil is probably the easiest way to fry something, cooks a food evenly, and unless you’re someone like me who aims to eat as little oil as possible, is a great way to fill up on Calories without eating a lot.  There are, however, side effects of living on an oil-based diet.

First things first: check what kind of oil is being used.  As a chef, we were trained to have very precise tongues to be able to taste whatever kind of food or drink something is.  It lets me know that the majority of Japanese-based food (aka not McDonalds and other such chains) is Canola Oil.  For those that don’t know, Canola Oil is an oil originating from Canada, and is made from a specific variety of rapeseed, as normal rapeseed oil is toxic in medium to high quantities (due to the erucic acid content).  However, Canola Oil is very good for you when comparing Oils.

The main downside, however, is that if you heat it up too much, the fats start to change and some may even become Trans Fat, which if you’ve ever heard that term before you know to stay away from.  And while it doesn’t hit that threshold in Japan (from what I can taste), it approaches dangerously close.

So why do I have a Weiss Experience Counter in front of this?  It’s because the diet you eat does directly affect how you play.  The inspiration for this article actually came tonight.  They gave us an entire supper tonight, and the majority of it was fried.  I did have some of their fried salmon, but the roasted tilapia and broccoli was what I aimed for.  Everyone else seemed to eat everything, and there was even Wine served there (which I avoided).  I also made sure to drink the Orange Juice about 15-20 minutes before eating, and then stop eating when I felt half full.  Little tidbits like that help to strengthen, rather than diminish, mental acuity.  When you treat the body well, you treat the mind well.  Vice versa too, of course.

I want to do a jog now, so I’ll sign off.

~thenightsshadow, still poring over the Worlds decklist

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Weiss Wednesday Part 2 – Culture Und Gaming

This article is rated Experience Level 7.  This article is perfect for budding tournament players that wish to understand more about doing well in tournaments and increasing their win rate.

Culture is such a powerful tool.  It’s so easy to just hear about a culture, but actually seeing it firsthand, breathing it all in and having it happen all around you is something else.  It’s a feeling I left out from yesterday’s summary because I wanted to bring it up today.

For those interested, today was a trip around Akihabara, and I got to see a lot of card shops.  A LOT.  I can’t even recount the order of the shops I went to today.  I’m sure Alex (2011 Nats Champ) can, but that’s digressing.

Besides searching for a key promo I wanted to try out before Worlds (this card if anyone’s curious), the thing that most stuck out today wasn’t the stores, the general mood, or even the crazy Mario Kart racers on the street.  It was in Card Kingdom, watching four tables of Weiss going on.  In fact, while looking for the promo again, I ended up watching a Y Mono-Fate (Nanoha) deck versus a GRB (Dog Days) deck.  It was interesting seeing the two players play.  Not a single person in the playing section had To Love-Ru.  Another table had Symphogear vs. Haruhi, another had Charlotte vs. Kantai, and the fourth I didn’t really look at.  I had a theory about Weiss playing and how it relates to culture, and while one instance definitely doesn’t prove it, the fact that all eight unwitting participants of this experiment validated the theory showcases an interesting trend between gamer and upbringing.

In Japan, for those who don’t know, the culture is precise and tailored to efficacy.  Streamlined access to wherever you want to go, buildings that do heavy business on the second to eighth floors because the first floor is all about getting you to see the rest of the floors, portioned meals tailored to fulfill but not to fill.  That’s not even counting the trays you put money on to buy something, the lack of tax in many stores, or hotel rooms that only have their electricity work if you put the key in a slot in the room, most of which (if not all) are completely and utterly foreign to Canadians and Americans.  Such preciseness and efficacy even translates into hobbies.  Take, for instance, the Nanoha and Dog Days player I mentioned earlier.  The Dog Days player seemingly is left-handed, so he arranges his clock in the reverse order that a player normally does, but otherwise everything seems the same.  The Nanoha player does an attack for three, reveals the trigger to make it four, and declares he is bouncing a back row character, then his trigger leaves his resolution zone and he puts the card to stock.  The Dog Days player instantly takes four cards from the top of the deck in one fell swoop, places them in his resolution zone, then flips them up one at a time.  On the third damage, he cancels, and puts the fourth card back onto the deck before slotting the three cards into the Waiting Room, not changing the order of the cards.  This series of plays didn’t seem forced, it was like watching clockwork.  It’s as if these two players have been doing it for years, like a routine.

So it is with their playstyle and decks.  As I continued to look at the Nanoha deck in particular, I noticed some peculiar cards I personally would not play in a Fate-focused deck.  The deck had a goal, and he sought to fulfill that goal in deckbuilding.  Then, he utilized his cultural tendencies in game.  Am I stereotyping?  Perhaps.  But I just happened to be there at the perfect moment to watch the Level 0-2 game of a Weiss match with two players showing stereotypical Japanese culture in their play.

Culture is not a bad thing to observe.  It means you already have formed the basis for a directive all your own.  Your mannerisms and card play are usually not the focus of the rules, so how you approach it can be traced to one’s culture in many cases.

At Nationals, or at least the matches I played, I noticed very early on that the Americans were more likely to Front Attack than Side Attack when in a situation where both looked appealing.  They also tended to play more Climaxes than clock them, and set up plays where they had control over the board or over an opponent’s play, if possible.  The lone Canadian (I’m not counting myself here) that I played was more willing to Side Attack at times, played less climaxes and tried to focus more on protection and compression than board control.  It is too small a sample size to even consider, but in those limited games I saw, culture poke through.

Utilizing your own culture in your deckbuilding, however, is another topic, so I’ll save that for another day.  In the meantime, think about how you were raised.  There’s a little bit of you and individuality in everything that you do.  And that includes Weiss.

~thenightsshadow, who doesn’t mean to offend by any of these statements

Weiss Wednesday: Trust Is Important

–This article is rated Experience Level 6. This article is perfect for those that recognize their status as an intermediate and want to eliminate the small mistakes in their play that may not be recognizable.–

Note: While this article definitely applies to the game of Weiss Schwarz, there is nothing card-related in this article at all.  You can treat this article like a story if you wish, or you can treat it as a strategy article using this story as a parable or allegory.  The choice is yours.

Day 1:

3:00 a.m. in the morning.  Everything is packed up and ready to go.  I leave work, seemingly ready for my trip to Japan.  It’s quite different from the last time I left at 3:00 a.m. in the morning: I’m traveling from the Vancouver airport onward alone.  It’s quite the change.  As someone who doesn’t have a lot of common sense, I feel I’m gonna be needing to taking things slow and make sure of everything.

I get through security, seeing the now-familiar checkpoints, shops, and gates.  Heck, I’m only two gates away from the gate I used for New York.  I take this time to catch a bit of sleep.  Not because I’m tired, but because using up the batteries of my 3DS and Vita before the flight is a bad idea, and it’s a better way of passing the time rather than eating something unhealthy.

I wake up in time to see boarding begin, so I buy a bottle of water to refresh myself before heading on.  I sit down, and fall asleep almost immediately after leaving the runway.  The only uncomfortable thing is the guy to my left, whose arm reaches into my seat space, but there’s nothing I can do about it, he’s a heavy build.

I had noticed that there was no specified gate in my second ticket from Denver to Narita, so the first thing I look for is the sign that shows where all the gates are.  I find it, and see that they’re already boarding.  Squeezing into the boarding row, I make it on, and get treated to a window seat thanks to a kind elderly couple that wanted the middle seat (my seat) to sit next to each other.  I utilize the majority of the hours on the plane either playing Etrian Odyssey, learning how to play Bridge, or testing my brain reflexes with the IQ tests and Math Showdowns.  I’m not able to stay awake all 12 hours of the flight though, but I get through a majority, waking up to the smell of the second meal on board.

I only glossed over the details of the previous several hours because this is where the rant begins.

So I get through to the baggage claim with very little problems.  I stand near the opening, and wait for my bag to come down.  I should note, I have this little fear I’ve always carried with me regarding airplanes.  It’s not the fear of the airplane crashing due to X or Y reason, that’s just paranoia and unreasonable.  Nah, my little fear is that my luggage doesn’t actually come down.  Probably also paranoia and unreasonable, but maybe I don’t trust airlines, deep inside.

But yeah, that’s what happened.  Everyone else filtered away, and when I was the only person left at the baggage claim carousel, I figured something was wrong.  Immediately, I went to the Baggage Help Desk nearby, and indicated I needed some help.  After going back and forth between the desk and the carousel, the situation dawned on the workers, and I got onto the process of recovering my luggage.  Apparently it didn’t even make the flight to Denver, so it “should” be coming the next day.  Of course, I have to survive a night without it.  You know what else is worse about that?  That’s where my deck is.

After making it through customs, I walk to the help desk and ask for help in getting to my hotel.  After some searching, she gave me a card that showed I needed to take the Skyliner Train from the airport to Nippori, then take the JR Yamanote to Shinokubo (as it was written).  It didn’t immediately register until I got onto the train that I didn’t know a thing about Shinokubo, and that I was certain my hotel was around the Shinjuku area.  Uh oh.  I reflected on it in the 30 minute train ride, as well as the yen it cost me for the trip, which was more than expected.

I arrived at Nippori, somehow made it through to JR Yamanote, and realized that Shin-Ookubo was the stop before Shinjuku.  Immediately, I became much more relaxed, and the 17 minute train ride was less worrisome than the 30 minute ride a little while back.

After getting off the station, I looked around, and realized that I had no idea on which way to go.  After some English-speaking ladies passed me, I decided to walk in their direction.  I could have asked them for directions, but I figured they were as lost as I was so it would be the blind leading the blind.  I’m also shy, so that didn’t help matters.  Anyways, I make it to a McDonalds, and while the worker there can’t speak English, when I pronounce the name of the hotel in proper Japanese, he asks his manager on how to get there, and the manager points the way.  I get accosted by a Fine Arts saleslady on the way, but otherwise I make it to the hotel.

And that’s where I’m posting this from, now.  I may not have my luggage, but I have my mind, my mouth, and kinda importantly, my wallet.  Somehow, I feel like this is a Weiss lesson I can use…

~thenightsshadow, who’ll post tomorrow about culture and how it relates to playstyle