Weiss Schwarz Rules: Don’t Panic, It’s Simpler Now

Allow me to share an exchange I’ve had with new players countless of times, both at our locals and online:

“I play this backup!”

“… you can’t, you don’t have the right color, and that’s n-”

“But I don’t need the right color for backups???”

“You don’t, but that’s not a backup, that’s a coun-”

“But the guy who taught me said if it has this icon, it’s a backup???”

And that’s usually the part where I let out a deep sigh before circling all the way back to explain the counter icon, the backup keyword ability, why activating an ability of a card in your hand is not the same thing as playing a card and why the resolution zone exists but also isn’t actually there.

Now don’t get me wrong, if you’re one of the people teaching newcomers with more or less simplified rules, I don’t think you’re at fault for the confusion. Far from it: teaching a new player to play a game they’re interested in is a great thing! And of course, there might not be enough time to explain everything in detail, but even if there were, unloading the entire rule book on some poor unsuspecting dude at your locals isn’t exactly the model way of teaching the game either. So it makes sense that people end up explaining only the rules pertaining to the cards they’re working with at the moment, and leave the intricacies of the game for later.

But when is later? And where?

That becomes a bit of a problem, because compared to other TCGs, the online content and support for new Weiss players is still relatively scarce. It used to be even more nonexistent than it is now, and it’s definitely expanding each year with more and more content creators trying to contribute to the community. And yet, when someone wanders over here from another big TCG, one of the first things they usually bring up is how little content there is to learn Weiss Schwarz from – and they’re not wrong. If you search for “weiss schwarz rules”, the first few links that come up are from the horribly outdated wiki’s gameplay page. And even if you do scroll down and open the ws-tcg rule page to find the holy book of Weiss that is the Comprehensive Rules pdf, then what? From the perspective of a new player, I highly doubt that thing is comprehensive at all. If anything, it just adds to the confusion – what the hell is a check timing? What are rule actions?? There’s a difference between revealing cards from your deck and flipping them over???

So obviously, the easiest way to get additional information and clarification on Weiss rules is to just ask someone: make a post on Reddit or Facebook and wait for answers.

To elaborate on the kind of questions that are being asked: I think there are only two types of rule-related questions in Weiss. Questions that exists because the person asking already knows multiple intricate rules, but they’re unsure which rule applies or takes priority in a given situation, and questions that exist because the person asking has little to no knowledge of the rules behind their question.

And when a question of the first type is posted, an answer along the lines of “yes, your interpretation is correct” or “no, actually A happens before B” is completely satisfactory. But there are a lot of cases where questions of the second type are answered in the same manner, and that’s not nearly as helpful as it could be. Let me give you an example:

Q: My level 2 card has an effect that says I can pay the cost and put a level 3 card on stage from the waiting room, but I’m not level 3 and I don’t have the right color for the level 3 card, can I still use the effect?

Now, you could answer this with a simple “yes” and be done with it, but in my opinion, that’s the wrong answer. I think it’s important to ask yourself why such a question even came up in the first place. The answer is because the person asking it doesn’t know that “playing a card” and “placing a card on stage” aren’t the same thing – and explaining that difference to them is the correct answer to their question.

In this kind of situation, a yes/no answer is just a temporary solution. It might solve their problem today, but tomorrow, they’ll be back asking if they can use the same effect if it says to put a level 3 on stage from hand instead of the waiting room, or something like that.

And once again, if you’re out there answering such questions with either yes or no, I’m not trying to say that the time you take to do that is wasted, or that you’re adding to the confusion of new players. Any input is appreciated! As I’ve said before, time really is the key problem here, because typing up an answer that sufficiently explains the rules always takes longer than just answering the damn question – so no, you’re not doing anything wrong by answering yes or no instead of typing up an essay and opening extra tabs just to make sure what you wrote is in full compliance with the current version of the rule book.

At the end of the day, it really is a “give a man a fish and you feed him for a day, teach a man to fish and you feed him for a life time” kind of situation. In the past few weeks, it really had me thinking because on one hand, I’d love to see the veteran players helping out newcomers in the best way possible, but on the other hand, I consider myself a pretty zealous enthusiast when it comes to explaining Weiss rules to people, and even I am tired of typing up the same explanations over and over again.

So in order to spare me having to copy-paste the same comments every other week, and to help you guys help new players, I’ve decided to start a new series here on the blog: Weissplaining 😂. In it, I’ll take the time to explain commonly misunderstood things like rule actions, check timings, the resolution zone, placing vs. playing characters, counters vs. backups, … and anything else that’ll eventually come to my mind or be suggested by you guys.

The archive that will list all the articles in the series can be found here & the first of them, covering one of my ‘favorite’ topics, is already out here!

So hopefully, the next time you see a question that needs an explanation more than it needs an answer, the required text wall will be just a link away 😛

Please, enjoy the fruits of my suffering.

9 thoughts on “Weiss Schwarz Rules: Don’t Panic, It’s Simpler Now

  1. I have been play casually for a bit and want to get more into the competitive field so i am very much looking forward to these and not just the yes no answers i have gotten!

      1. No offense, but when people say one TCG is more luck based than another TCG, that (to me) is usually a sign of someone who can’t really play the TCG in question all that well, or just never bothered to get the strategy part down. Vanguard feels like nothing but luck to me, but I’m fairly certain it’s because I couldn’t play it well to save my life. Magic, too, felt like mostly luck when I started it, and still does to a degree because I only play it casually and don’t care to learn how to build better decks or make better plays. But for one reason or another, I did learn these things in Weiss, and having done so, I can confidently say that yes, Weiss can be competitive. Very much so. Yes, it’s luck based, all TCGs are – but part of being good at TCGs is mitigating that luck, making sure your deck is built in a way that can turn the odds in your favor and most importantly, learning to play better. I personally know excellent players who have won tournaments before with just a demo deck, just as I know bad players who bought expensive meta decks and then (literally) threw them on the ground when they couldn’t win without becoming better players first.

      2. TCGs like magic and yugioh don’t have the same amount of luck like WS. When I played the meta deck Nekroz in ygo, I was always on top 4.

        Here in ws, with bang dream roselia, sometimes I’m able to reach top 4, then on another tournament, I lose all 5 matches. This happens with other decks like aot, konosuba, sao, etc.

        If this game was really competitive like magic and ygo, meta decks should be always on top. Instead we have sometimes things like this:
        1. aot 2. bunny girl 3. no game no life
        1. konosuba 2. overlord 3. kemono friends
        1. chain chronicle 2. P5 3. Bang Dream
        1. Love live sunshine 2. sao 3. konosuba
        and so on. Each deck was played by a different person.

        Also in magic and ygo, when there is a bad hand, you can always play 2 other matches, while here there is only one. No side deck also.

      3. I wouldn’t really consider mono-Roselia a meta deck as far as Bang Dream is concerned.

        I see the point you’re trying to make with the different top decks you’ve listed, but if you’re making these observations on the scale of one or two local shops, that’s not really a statistic that can be used as an argument. Conversely, I recently made a post containing all the stats from this year’s Springfest and with data from 60 worldwide teams, it’s pretty evident that Weiss has a well define meta at the moment.

        There have been multiple discussions in the community about whether or not a good player should always win and the usual consensus is that no, that’s not what makes a good player. Personally, I see good players as simply having a higher statistical chance of winning compared to other players – that doesn’t mean they’ll always win, heck, it doesn’t even mean they’ll win at all 😛

        Side decking or having a bo3 format in Weiss doesn’t work for multiple reasons. First, it takes too much time. A short Magic game can easily be over in less than 10 minutes, but short Weiss games still take at least 15 minutes or more. I knew a few people have tried using bo3 to some extent (like for top8 of a tournament), but it doesn’t really yield the same results as it would in Magic. Similarly, side decking is an idea I’d love to try in Weiss, but the truth is that if you get down to it, it also doesn’t serve its intended function here – because some decks simply have a lot more tech options than others. But that’s a content issue, not a game mechanic issue, so I won’t go into it further.

        And this last part is just my personal opinion, but I think objectively, on a bo1 basis, Weiss is less luck-based than Magic for 2 main reasons: first, you have a draw/hand fix engine in the form of clocking, and second, you go through your whole deck two or three times in the course of a game, so it’s much easier to get your hands on the cards you need, while in Magic you’d have to specifically play tutors to get out something that’s stuck in the bottom of your deck, and if you don’t draw either, you’re shit out of luck. Additionally, Weiss in general has far fewer interactions with the opponent’s board state than Magic does, meaning you’re more likely to have a game of Weiss where each player is just doing their own thing for the most part. That also leads into the fact that in Weiss, there are almost 0 matchups where your deck just doesn’t do anything, but in Magic, those lock-downs aren’t that uncommon. And finally, the mulligan system in Weiss seems a lot more forgiving of bad starting hands than the one in Magic.

        Once again, I’m not trying to say Weiss isn’t luck based – it obviously is. But the logic that “luck based” automatically means something can’t be competitive or strategic or dependent on statistical possibilities is faulty and detrimental to players who want to get into the competitive scene.

      4. There are some mistakes in your recent post.

        > if you’re making these observations on the scale of one or two local shops, that’s not really a statistic that can be used as an argument

        When I played ygo, meta decks were always on top, whether it was a local tournament or a big tournament. Again if WS has actually meta decks, they should be always on top on little or big tournaments.

        > I recently made a post containing all the stats from this year’s Springfest and with data from 60 worldwide locations, it’s pretty evident that Weiss has a well define meta at the moment.

        Some sets actually have versatile and powerful cards compared to others. It’s normal that lots of people play those sets in bigger events, but this doesn’t advantage them since the canceling system of WS. But what if two equal meta decks compete in a bigger event, one goes on top and one goes on bottom? If they are meta, they should always be both on top, right? ( I’m assuming both players know how to play )

        > Personally, I see good players as simply having a higher statistical chance of winning compared to other players – that doesn’t mean they’ll always win, heck, it doesn’t even mean they’ll win at all

        In fact, sometimes, I happened to not reach the top, but this happened very very rarely. If I’m not mistaken, back in the summer of 2014, I lost each match in a local tournament only once. Then I started to reach the top 4 again. Here in ws it’s not working like that.

        About the magic/ws comparison I can’t tell you more since I played only ygo, but I can make some kind of comparison as well.

        Bad hands on ygo can happen rarely. When it happens, you have two more matches to “fix” this. When in ws bad hands happen, you can still clock to try to fix that, but you can’t fix that “later”, since there is only one match.

        Obviously you can tell that is all about deck building: right. But in ygo each card in a deck has synergy that helps you to get those cards for your combo. With a neckroz deck of 40 cards, before the banlist, you had in your opening hand like one or two of the 9 cards that helped you.

        In a typical WS decks with a LV1 cx combo, when it happens that your opponents manages to bring you to level 1, and you don’t have the combo and the climax, what should you do? Akatsuki? What If I discover 2 cx with the akatsuki and no Chara? Brainstorm? Again let’s mill 4, hit 1, search or salvage whatsoever… Long story short, you have be lucky to take advantage! In ygo I don’t have this type of resolution that depends solely by luck.

        > Once again, I’m not trying to say Weiss isn’t luck based – it obviously is.

        No, in WS luck plays a very major role in winning or loosing. If you think I’m wrong, I’m sorry, but I realized this after playing this game since late 2015.

        This blog should create a post on this issue, I guess.

      5. I see the issue now: we take “meta” to mean different things. To you, if I understand correctly, “meta” means a deck that always wins, but I generally use that word to refer to the decks/sets/cards that are distinctively more prevalent than others, and achieve distinctively better results on average. As such, we can’t really discuss if Weiss has a meta or not, so I’ll refrain from that topic.

        However, a disagreement of opinions is not a “mistake”, and since you’ve said I made mistakes in my previous comment, I was looking forward to seeing you provide some information as to why anything I’ve said (and haven’t already clarified was just my opinion) was factually inaccurate. I don’t think there was any of that though, and I take a bit of issue with that.

        I commented that an observation on such a small-scale level as a locals tournament simply can’t be given any statistical merit. And if we’re talking about win ratios, we *need* to use statistically valid data, or else we’re just discussing the win ratios we perceive a deck to have – and that’s by its own nature limited to subjectivity.

        You also mentioned that a good set with lots of powerful cards has no advantage in WS because of the cancelling system. I see the logic there, however, if that were true, the term “compression” wouldn’t come up nearly as often as it does. For example, Rewrite does have an advantage because it has the tools necessary to consistently refresh with 7 climaxes in a 15 card deck – which increases the possibility of cancelling, which gives you pretty much all the advantage in Weiss. I won’t go into your remark about two meta decks leaving a tournament with vastly different scores because once again, our use of the term meta differs too much to have any constructive debate over it.

        You then bring up the topic of consistently topping tournaments, which I do agree is a decent measure of how much luck based a game is, but again – you’re using yourself as an example. That’s just one case – it has no statistical merit. And without the possibility for statistical analysis, we can not and should not reach generalized conclusions like “it’s not working like that Weiss.” Now, I admit I haven’t made charts of who topped what over the years on the regional and worlds level, so I can’t provide concrete info on that. But just from crude observation, there are many players who keep getting into top4s and top8s year after year, which leads me to believe your anecdotally acquired evidence might not be an accurate representation of the truth.

        > when it happens that your opponents manages to bring you to level 1, and you don’t have the combo and the climax, what should you do?

        This confuses me a lot, since you’re saying it like there’s no plan for that scenario in a good Weiss deck? That’s a misinformed statement. The decks which are considered the best in the game have at least one of two possible game plans for this scenario: either they have ways of getting the climax they need or they have other things to play if they don’t have the combo. For example, Kantai has a card that searches climaxes from the deck. SAO has a card that looks at top 2 and takes any card to hand at level 1, on top of already often running the Yuuki gold bar CXC, which is even easier to get in your hand because of the trigger. Bang Dream has the Ran PR that looks at up to 3 and takes any card to hand, on top of running pants to fetch climaxes as well. I can’t think of any similar cards in Konosuba and Sunshine right now, but both of those decks are playing level 1 suiciders anyway, so if all goes to shit, they can just slam that down at level 1. My point is – decks that top more than others have tools to deal with the problem you’re describing. You can’t say that milling/brainstorming for more characters is the only solution because, well, it isn’t.

        I don’t think you’re wrong in what you choose to refer to with the word “meta.” It’s not like any TCG community is really using it in its originally intended context, so as card game colloquialism, it’s rightfully open to different interpretations. I do, however, think that it is extremely nonsensical to call out different opinions as “mistakes” and then not providing any evidence as to why what I wrote is factually inaccurate. You’re allowed to have opinions about the game based on your experiences and the observation of your local community – but those opinions are not objective facts about the general state of Weiss. Your experience of the game is completely valid – it’s just rather limited, as all personal experiences are. It’s difficult to have a constructive conversation when those are used as arguments, so at this point, I believe it’s best to just end this on a respectful note. I appreciate your view on the game, but am sadly unable to understand it because statistics and my own experiences have both shown me otherwise.

  2. Thank you for digging through! It’ll be awesome to have updated, easily digestable content like this for new players.

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