This thing. Ask anyone who’s ever played Weiss with me and they’ll tell you that I don’t like this thing. Lucky for me, my locals are mostly full of SAO and idols, so I don’t run into Erens nearly enough to be salty about losing to them – so disclaimer, this post is not a pile of game-losing salt.
Sorry to disappoint.
Anyway … when the world final has 3 of virtually the same build in the top 4, that’s something worth addressing. And it was addressed by just about everyone back then – mostly as an ‘unhealthy meta problem’. After EN got ‘blessed’ with other very potent sets like P5, the LLSS EB and the second Bang Dream set, I’d say the problem fixed itself, just like most of us were expecting it to. It’s not like any of those sets made Eren less effective per se, but they did give the competitive players more options to pick from that were (at the very least) close to AOT in terms of performance. Eren is still super powerful in EN, it’s just that the threshold between AOT and the next best available thing has been lowered significantly with the recent releases (excluding SAO, which has been breathing down AOT’s neck the whole time).
I don’t think Bushiroad made a mistake by printing Eren. Like it or not, power creep is inevitable in card games, so yes, eventually, new things will be noticeably more OP than the older things. If handled right, that keeps a game’s development healthy and interesting (though in Weiss a bit less so than in other games, because here some sets are just eventually rendered obsolete). That being said, I do think that the timing was a bit off – when Eren came out, at least in the EN format, it was a mostly unrivaled and unprecedented phenomena. As proven time and time again by its competitive presence, it wasn’t just noticeably peaking out from the top, it was its own damn tier list category – and something like that doesn’t just get noticed, it gets remembered too.
This whole time, it’s been impossible not to think about Eren if you wanted to play at least somewhat competitively. And for some, that brought a great deal of creativity in trying everything from adjusting their playstyle to adjusting their own decks so that they would either face Eren with suiciders like LLSS or try to wall it out completely like green P5. Is it reasonable to build your whole deck just for the purpose of beating one other specific deck? Maybe not always, but in the case of that meta, AOT was not just one deck, it was every other deck. And what could beat AOT could most likely beat other rogue decks as well.
Of course, some people didn’t bother finding countermeasures in other sets and instead just went with AOT themselves – and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that either. Say what you want, tweaking details of any build to be prepared to win a mirror match isn’t just something that can be written off as lazy – it takes skill and experience. If you can’t beat them, join them
or arrange to have them beaten. So no, I don’t dislike Eren because it narrowed the choice of sets seen in tournaments.
I dislike it because of how impactful it was, what impression it left on the player base (especially new players) and because of how that impression still lingers among all of us.
Once Eren was out and thoughts of an EN banlist started circulating again, many began to look towards the upcoming sets with a certain expectation in mind: to get answers for Eren. But it wasn’t always clear just what those answers should look like. Those who expected the same effect to spread over new sets got what they wanted, but not really – the same bounce effect got re-printed in both Apocrypha and MagiReco, but both times with nerfed power and another perk to replace the salvaging of Maneuver Gear. And as soon as both of these were reveled, the reaction was: “not as good as Eren.”
Others who wanted to combat AOT with different mechanics of the same power level or even stronger got their wishes fulfilled too – I wouldn’t say any of the newer sets are de facto stronger than AOT, but there’s definitely a variety of answers there. And that’s the thing, really: a card doesn’t need to be an exact copy of another card to be an answer to that card. Heck, it doesn’t even need to follow the same mechanic or be on the same power level by itself.
That’s where the deck building comes in … or at least it should. Ideally, a situation the likes of Eren’s would be met with an uproar of people trying to create new decks to face it – but it wasn’t. Not enough, at least. Too many people stayed at the sidelines, watching silently. Too many people did nothing but waited for an exact copy of Eren to come in another set. Too many people complained when that copy didn’t come, and too many people still complain about new sets coming out now … because the expectation still seems to be “Eren, or as good as Eren, or not worth it.”
And when new set after new set is being called boring, underwhelming and disappointing as soon as a few spoilers are out, that’s a problem too. We all get it by now – Eren is one of the best cards, if not the best one. It’s human nature to evaluate things in comparison to the extremes in their respective categories, so I’d be crazy to shit on that practice (and full disclosure, I’m just as guilty of it as anyone else). I’m also well aware that if it weren’t Eren, it would be something else – Eren just gives this problem a more convenient name.
I think that we, as a player community, must ask ourselves: what is the mindset we want to be in? Do we want to pass up building decks from perfectly serviceable sets because we know that those sets won’t win as easy as AOT does? Is it that much easier to just tell new players to build Eren-Mikasa instead of trying to teach them what makes for good deck building in Weiss, so that they can go off and potentially make their own viable decks that maybe aren’t AOT? Do sets really have to be superb in every possible aspect to be worth our time?
Because if the answer is yes, that’s not a good community. And Eren running wild in every single top cut isn’t a problem that ‘just happened’, it’s a problem we helped create by turning a blind eye to everything else that could have been … if someone dared to build it.
TL;DR: Eren was not a mistake. Power creep is inevitable. The only mistake in this whole story is people giving up on actually building new decks because apparently, if it’s not Eren, it’s not worth the time. But if we want to have a diverse meta, it should be.