Weiss Wednesday – The Two-Step Approach to Damage

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.

It’s too easy to slip into bad habits while playing Weiss Schwarz.  Putting a Climax into stock before resolving its effect, playing a Backup every single time you can win a battle utilizing it, putting cards into Clock before knowing whether they’re damage or not.  In fact, I bet that by the time a typical player has had a few tournaments under their belt and won a few games, their focus shifts from winning the game to winning the turn.  And while none of these errors are heavily egregious on their own, a combination of them can spell long-term disaster for a budding tournament player.

Everything in the game of Weiss Schwarz can be idealized with two steps.  From damage to cards in hand to managing your stock, everything has a two step approach.  Now, keep in mind I did say idealized.  Not everything in a game is going to right, but if you try and stick as close as you can to the mantras, you’ll find yourself in a position to win much more often than before.  There’ll be less blowouts and more close games, and those games are the ones that feel the best.

The biggest concept that this covers is battling an opponent at each Level, which is why I’m covering it first.  The two steps are rather straightforward, but I’m going to be going in-depth as to why each of those steps is important, and why they should be the focal point of the game.  For this concept, the following are the two steps you should try to adhere to as the game progresses:

1 – Try to make your opponent last only two turns at each Level.
2 – Try to aim for 3 damage early and 2 damage late with every attack.

This provides you with a platform where you’re not overextending and yet not allowing your opponent to accrue resources by stalling at specific levels, especially levels where that player’s deck is particularly strong at.

Alright, let’s break down these points as best as we can.

1) Try to make your opponent last only two turns at each Level.

Obviously, there are exceptions to every rule, but in general, if you can power through their early Levels you can make it difficult to come back and win. This in and of itself is a two-step approach, as for each Level you need to set up the damage to push them to the next Level.  During a game, it’s important to recognize your safety damage zones.  Given your hand, field, and matchup, each range will vary, but the general target will be to hit them to 5 damage at each Level.  Why is this important?

Level 0
Since, at Level 0, almost every player will utilize Clock themselves to draw more, stranding them at Level 0 gives you more control over what you can do to them during your next turn.  If your opponent is particularly slow at Leveling you up, or you got hit to Level 1 early, then you can utilize this time to speed up or slow down your game as necessary.

Level 1
When your opponent is at Level 1, in almost every deck, the majority of a deck is now playable.  Your opponent has a wide range of potential strategies available to them when discounting what series or archetypes they’re running.  Limiting the amount of time a player stands here limits how much stock and hand they can generate.  This is the typical Level for a player to play a full field, and also utilize abilities to generate hand.

Level 2
Players take one of three approaches at this Level.
– Letting their Level 0s and 1s tide them over until they reach Level 3.
– Putting down an early Level 3 or two and letting that wall off opposing attacks until Level 3.
– Playing Level 2s that help set up or defeat opposing Level 3s.
No matter the approach, however, it is all about set up, and disrupting that set up is ideal.

Level 3
Keeping an opponent at Level 3 allows them to utilize their most punishing damage combos or healing effects, and if you’re not at Level 3 (which usually means you won’t die during their next turn) it’s very likely you can’t remove their Units, which can drain you of hand size and make you ill-prepared for the upcoming Level.  Finish an opponent quickly (but properly) before they can punish you.

Of course, if a series has a well-known self-clock effect that is played, then at Level 0 4 damage is where you want them to be at.  As an ideal, here’s how the first couple turns play out for your damage.

Hit them to 0/2 on your first turn, then hit them to 0/5 (or 0/4).  On your next turn, if you’re at Level 0, hit them to 1/2, and if you’re at Level 1, hit them to 1/4.  Regardless, aim to hit them to at least 1/6, but ideally around 2/1 the next turn.  At that point, they should be close to if not already refreshing, so aim for 2/5 if they haven’t refreshed yet or 2/4 if they have.  Finally, get them to 3/0.  At this point, it’ll depend on what kind of damage options you have, but at the very least make sure to hit them to 3/4 or 3/5 to make recovering difficult.

There’s bound to be a glaring question here: what do I do when I’m behind or ahead in damage?  Well, that’s actually going to be covered in a different article in the future, but in general, remember that the you should always strive for the ideal.  If you’re behind, it usually depends on how your deck is structured, but in most cases you may just want to stop clocking and start focusing on walling or clearing as much as possible from your opponent’s field.  -1 soul effects and high amounts of healing help massively here.  If you’re ahead, recognize that it can take one lump of damage to even the playing field, so play defensively and don’t use too many resources.  Remember that your general power will be weaker than your opponent’s if they’re far behind in damage, so make sure you don’t give them an easy out to their ideal damage numbers.

Speaking of which,

2) Try to aim for 3 damage early, and 2 damage late with every attack.

Statistically speaking, if we’re looking for anything higher than a 50% chance of hitting, then 3 damage works great until the first turn after your opponent refreshes (on average). Of course, knowing the exact amount of damage you want to hit would normally be fine, but there are finnicky things like climaxes in hand, soul triggers, and open slots that tend to change our soul damage when we don’t want them to.  As such, sticking to attacks that swing for 2-3 early and 1-2 late are very good.  By that measure, of course, early damage is much more important.

Dynamics within a game change, and it’s possible to end up ahead or behind by a significant amount when it comes to damage.  That doesn’t mean it’s time to stop focusing on those numbers; after all, the ideal numbers for damage are still the same. When you’re behind, however, the numerically average damage isn’t going to be good enough to catch up unless you cancel a few attacks in a row.  As such, it’s better to start aiming for just slightly above a 50% hit rate at this point.  You’ll skirt the damage line but at the very least you’ll be going for a balance between damage and accuracy instead of a completely wild series of attacks that have a lower chance of hitting.  Likewise, when you’re ahead you can afford to slow down the damage, as accuracy is a lot more important.  You can continue to keep pressure, but one swing back you don’t cancel and you’re back on even ground in damage.  To utilize your lead, aim for high-accuracy attacks, like those that have an 80% or higher chance of hitting.  This allows you to not waste resources that you could use later on in the game.

Now, admittedly, 50% and 80% are rather arbitrary numbers, and not everyone can calculate the expected percentages of attacks in a matter of seconds mid-game.  As such, here’s a simplified and mostly accurate damage swing list you should aim for at specific points in the game:

(Opp is at) Level 0
Ahead – 1, (1 if there’s two Units to defeat)
Even – 1, (2 if you’re ready for Level 1)
Behind – 2, 2, (1 if you’re at Level 1)

(Opp is at) Level 1
Ahead – 1, 2, 2
Even – 2, 3, 2
Behind – 3, 3, 3

(Opp is at) Level 2
Ahead – 2, 1, 1
Even – 2, 2, 2
Behind – 2, 2, 3

(Opp is at) Level 3
Ahead – 1, 1, 1
Even – 2, 2, 1
Behind – 2, 2, 2

The order of the attacks can matter but in general you want to aim for those damage numbers at those points in the game.  The grand majority of players are unsure on what to do when they’re behind in damage, and as such this can help steady their game.  As mentioned earlier, I will be covering this topic before the end of the year, so I plan to go into this in more detail, but the information provided above should suffice for now.

Ultimately, what makes these two steps important is the fact that for many players, they provide a goal or a target.  It not only makes them more focused, but then able to then focus on the extraneous things, like climaxes in Waiting Room, what set an opponent is using, what archetype an opponent is using, hand size, stock gain, and others that are usually emphasized by other players ahead of this topic. Instead of taking a huge leap from the get go, start small and work your way from there.  Before a goal can be “Win the game”, you have to put yourself in a position to win the game.  Here’s one of those that can help.

~thenightsshadow, quickly finishing this up from the Philippines