The Curious Case of The English Weiss Schwarz Banlist

When I woke up today, this was not what I was expecting to write about – and yet, here we are.

I won’t go into much detail about whether the sole existence of a ban list is good or bad for the English game. I think it’s a good thing since it can help shape the already existing meta in a healthy way while also allowing space for experimenting with new effects in future EN exclusives; not to mention that it also opens the door for all the sets EN didn’t get because they were already on the JP banlist.

But that’s beside the point right now: today, I just wanna talk about how the hell this happened, and why I can’t help but be a bit skeptical about it.

A Brief History of English Salt For Those of You Who Are New Around Here

In its relatively short period of existence, English Weiss Schwarz has already dealt with a banlist – or more accurately, the lack of one – multiple times. This isn’t a complete overview of all the banned JP cards, I just attempted to include the most memorable examples in order to showcase all the hoops Bushiroad has jumped through in the past to avoid implementing a ban list in English.

The very first EN release in 2013, Disgaea ~Hour of Darkness~ Trial Deck, included Supreme Overlord Laharl as one of its cards. That card was limited to one copy per deck on the JP banlist for quite a while (until 2016, I believe), but never restricted in EN.

In 2015, Nisekoi came over despite the 3/2 Marika being restricted in JP. Did English get a ban list? Nope, we got different level 3s bearing the same art:

The set got slapped with a Ver. E label, some cards were replaced, and that “solved” the banlist problem as far as Nisekoi was concerned – even though other Nisekoi cards that were restricted in JP for a while never got the same treatment in EN, despite being identical to their JP counterparts.

The same year also saw the release of both Kantai sets, the first of which has cards on the banlist too. Similarly to Nisekoi, one of the cards (the one that’s completely banned) was replaced with a different version:

While others (currently only Inaduma, Hatsukaze & Hibiki) from the choose list are still sitting here in English with no restrictions.

Then, in 2016, we got Haruhi whose infamous event is also still completely banned in JP. And this time, Bushiroad “solved” the problem not by releasing it anyway, not by replacing it with a different card, oh no – this time, they ‘faded’ the card out of existence. Like, the card #071 literally doesn’t exist in the English set.

That same year, we also got Nisemonogatari and Cinderella Girls, but then their subsequent sets (Monogatari 2nd Season and Cinderella Girls 2nd Season) were never brought over – presumably because both of those sets had cards that were on the JP banlist.

As for more recent (and the most meta-relevant) examples, take Love Live!! Sunshine and Bang Dream. Sunshine already had its 1st set in EN and the Extra Booster was already announced for release as well by the time the series got hit with a banlist for the first time in February 2018. None of the existing English cards were restricted, and none in the upcoming Extra Booster were changed or replaced with different versions.

Bang Dream got its first JP restriction in August of the same year, and while the promo card that got the series on the banlist in the first place doesn’t exist in EN, the most recent (February 2019) version of the banlist does include cards that exist both in JP and EN Bang Dream – but the English format never restricted them.

The English format never restricted anything – until today.

Why Now?

So far in English Weiss Schwarz, Bushiroad has:

  1. replaced restricted cards with different versions
  2. printed restricted cards as they were anyway because yolo
  3. completely removed cards from sets without any replacement
  4. refrained from translating JP sets entirely because they had restricted cards
  5. not bothered to restrict cards that already existed in EN when their JP counterparts got restricted.

Time and time again, the topic of an English banlist got brought up by the community. This short list doesn’t even cover all the cases unique to the English format when the meta could have benefited from an EN-specific banlist due to how overwhelming some sets used to be in EN while not being as powerful or as often played in JP (like back in late 2017 & early 2018 when SAO and AOT had about 20% – 30% presence at each EN regional).

But alas, there was no English banlist, and many players began to make peace with the fact that apparently, there’s never gonna be an English banlist. Because if the Sunshine kraken (as I’ve seen someone hilariously call it once) couldn’t get us a banlist, if the meta-warping AOT couldn’t get us a banlist, if Bang Dream with more meta builds than I have hopes and dreams in life couldn’t get us a banlist, then what on Earth could possibly get us one?

One gorilla, that’s what.

If any of you are somehow still blissfully unaware of what’s the deal with these 3 cards, I’ll let Burn One’s video do the explaining. I think I can safely say that most of us were expecting either an errata on the card name or something like a blanket rule against mixing demo deck cards with booster cards, but no. This, of all things, is what got us an English banlist.

And like I said, I have absolutely zero issues with having a banlist in English. I think it’s a good thing, but … that’s if it actually functions as a ban list. Many people are now speculating whether that means other EN cards that are banned in JP will also be added to the EN list in the future, and what that would mean for the EN format. But as soon as I saw the news myself, I couldn’t help but wonder if that was even Bushiroad’s intention at all when they decided on this Batman restriction.

Because honestly, of all the problems they’ve already “solved”, this was probably the easiest one to tackle without implementing a ban list. I want to believe that this represents a new era of English Weiss, I want to believe that they’ll take this initial restriction and add to it if/when necessary, I want to believe this now means we’ll get access to previously untranslated sets, but … due to the circumstances of its implementation, I can’t really shake the possibility of this restriction list being just a quick fix for the Batman situation with no intention to further utilize it in the future.

I hope time proves me wrong, I really do. I wish I could add more to the topic, but at this point, I feel like I understand quantum mechanics better than Bushiroad’s decision making logic, so I’ll just leave it be. Ideally, the English banlist will live up to its full potential eventually, but if not … well, nothing really changes then, does it?


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