Today’s article is rated Experience Level 3. This article is perfect for those that recognize their status as a beginner and want to learn how to become a better player.
I will admit, today’s topic came by chance. It has been a few days since I last felt like writing, and while I’m glad to have another writer on the team I felt it was time to write again. So, two days ago, I asked a couple of groups for a Weiss topic. Nearly everyone online at the time piped in asking for a specific deck tech or set review. From Triad Primus, reviewing the newest Illya set, and figuring out how CANAAN works, to CLANNAD’s new look, Railgun’s woes, and figuring out how best to abuse the Shirou/Rin/Saber Fate/ deck, there were a lot of topics to comb over. But with the exception of two suggestions, everything was about a set or deck. It reminded me of a glaring problem I had had for a while now, and as such I’m deciding to cover it today.
So why is it that people like deck techs or set reviews? I could just say tl;dr: they’re lazy, end of story, but that’s not necessarily accurate. They definitely are quicker than just checking the set or deck out yourself, especially if you want to cut the chaff of the non-winning deck techs, but at the same time, they’re also quite informative for their length. Good deck techs are a frame into the builder’s mind, and many times they’re referenced with reasons for utilizing certain cards. (I did a deck tech last week for Buddyfight for another channel, so I’m definitely not immune to it.) Likewise, for set reviews, there are the contextual aspects of it, like a card being compared to other cards within its own set, but some groups do a great job of putting a card in context to the other sets currently out, and how it fits in that setting. (I was part of TopTierTears’ To Love-Ru 2nd set review, so I can’t say I haven’t done this either.) Unfortunately, the reason I abhor deck techs or set reviews in general, and why I won’t be featuring any in the content I release on this website is that it produces poor habits in the players who use it.
I only need point out my 2015 WGP Nationals-winning deck list as an example of this. Within a day of winning the entire thing, I had so many people asking for my decklist I ran out of phone battery on the way home. It was posted quite quickly, but to everyone I could I warned that this was not going to be a successful deck if you just copy it and paste it, then play it a few couple times. Many didn’t heed the warning and copied it straight, only to lose nearly every game they played with it. It took only one day to get a lot of requests for my deck, and it took only a week to get flood with complaints about how my deck sucked and they don’t believe it won Nationals (despite being up on HotC’s website). To be fair, the deck didn’t have a deck tech video and people just copied it to try it, but I was never going to do a deck tech video of it because it was not meant for general play. The same applies to the Worlds decklist, which has had several hundred players testing it. While I continued to play the Worlds deck for a while after I got back from Japan for personal reasons, it wasn’t a deck I would consider playable in a general tournament.
The main reason is because seeing a decklist and hearing reasons for specific cards can only tell you so much. It tells you nothing about the style of play the pilot used in each round or situation, the luck factor involved in winning that tournament, or any misplays an opponent might have done. A set may have (as per the TTT rating system) Good, Playable, and Niche cards, but those Niche cards may be more powerful than the Good cards in certain circumstances or tournament situations. And it’s really impossible to account for all of that. That’s why I’d like to advocate a different way of thinking. Instead of just aiming for winning decks, I’d like both Beginners and Intermediates alike to focus on the foundationals. And I don’t mean the basic rules, like utilizing [ACT] abilities during the main phase, or Encoring Characters before the Attack Step immediately. Instead, I mean thing like recognizing your own style of play, what kind of weaknesses and strengths it has, and identifying cards and deckbuilding styles that complement that style. In the group I lead, there are a few players that I build decks for, including one that rarely builds his own decks and just plays decks I’ve built for him. But in that group, I learned each player’s tendencies, playstyle, and synergies, and aimed to build a deck for that person to be able to play to their fullest potential in that style.
You can actually look to the demographics in your continent for examples of this. In North America, there are quite a few diverse groups. There are some players that spend months preparing for the next major tournament by picking a deck ahead of time, fine-tuning it by facing the most popular decks over and over, and perfecting their play to the point of clockwork. There are some that focus less on their deck and more on their playing style, aiming to force an opponent to Level 2 before they refresh while avoiding the same fate, believing in the mantra that the player that hits Level 2 before refresh will lose the game. There are some that believe in revving up before a tournament, in where a player will only play high-level competitive Weiss only the last two weeks leading up to the tournament, so they will reach their highest level of play when it counts the most. All of these different styles of thought have varying degrees of truth to them, and it’s difficult to discount the style as wrong or invalid without acknowledging that a good portion of their thought is correct.
Surprisingly enough, Weiss isn’t the game that taught me all this. In fact, Weiss is a game where it is so easy to lose sight of individuality because there are cards that are very powerful and players gravitate to those in a set before all others. No, it was Luck & Logic, another Bushiroad game. (Side note, this might be a topic for another article, but it’s very easy to do quite well at a card game if you can play all the other games of that genre that company makes. If you are serious about improving your player statistics in Bushiroad games, I cannot insist more on playing Future Card Buddyfight, particularly Magic World and Katana World, to improve your deckbuilding skills, and Luck & Logic for identifying your playing styles.) Luck & Logic, from its very first play, showed me that every loss I took was a direct result of a play I had made at some point during the game that turned the tide. Each little mistake I made may not have made an impact at that point but caused a ripple effect for later in the game. It is these moments that cause me to understand that there is not one correct way of playing the game. This extends all the way to Weiss as well, especially in a game with this much variance.
As I close, it’s important to note that following deck techs and set reviews aren’t wrong at all. They do heavy work in helping the community, and it’s not my intention to say that they shouldn’t be done. All I ask is that players who follow them should do so with questions of their own. “When does this card work well, and how do I use it properly?”, for instance. And on the flip side, so I cover my bases here, to the content creators, not everyone is at your level, and you shouldn’t make people leap from their level to your level. Let them make mistakes instead of just flat out telling them of their incorrect ways. Not everyone aspires to be a top level competitive player, and just because they watch a deck tech or set review does not mean they aim to be that kind of player. Be the hand that feeds instead of bites.
~thenightsshadow, who is starting to piece together a strategy for the English Weiss Format