Collectible card games; most of us have played them, or at least heard of them. It involves collecting cards–some rarer than others–and playing a competitive game with them. Cards can usually be bought in trial decks, booster packs, or individually. And prices can range from a few cents up into the hundreds of dollars (Charizard…). The appeal to these games, for me, is that it allows you to create a customized deck based on your preferences unique to you–unless you just look up tournament winners and copy their decks *cough cough*. The most historic/famous examples would be Magic the Gathering and Yu Gi Oh, the latter of which was also a fairly successful anime. This brings us to our premiere CCG, Weiss Schwarz.
What is Weiss Schwarz (hereafter referred to as WS) all about? Well, it’s a CCG that’s entirely focused around anime. That’s right! Think of some of your favorite shows–or at least ones Bushiroad thinks you like–and picture them in, say, Yu Gi Oh. It’s not nearly as complex, perhaps, as the game itself is very reliant on luck; however, I still find it to be an incredibly rewarding game if you are feeling like something that won’t stress your brain too much. The current roster in English includes titles such as KanColle, Attack on Titan, Madoka Magica, Sword Art Online, Kill La Kill, and many more. The Japanese version contains basically twice as much, as well as some niche anime such as Terraformars. Unfortunately many of these sets are only in print for a few years, and then they are delegated to ebay. (RIP Black Rock Shooter). In fact, at the time of this article I believe the original SAO set and Kill La Kill set are discontinued. Sadly, like any other CCG, all this means is if you want specific cards you’ll have to fork over the dosh. (But not me cause I own every SAO card already >:P). Nonetheless, you’ll find a friendly and receptive community that gives lots of support. As well as official tournaments in lots of places–the card shop near my house actually holds one every Friday.
Weiss Schwarz is played with a deck of 50 cards. Typically 8 climax cards, and 42 assorted characters and events from the anime of your choice (you can mix and match anime if you want, but it makes it a little harder). The 8 climax cards are used to cancel damage from an attack, as well as power-up your characters on your turn for an offensive push. Essentially how the game works is you attempt to push your opponent into level 4, causing them to lose, while preventing your opponent from doing the same to you. The catch? You can only play cards equal to or lower than the level you are, and the higher the level of a card, the better it is. This is where the strategy comes into play; you have to balance out taking damage and dealing damage in a way that doesn’t immediately let your opponent hit a high level and play a bunch of badass characters, while reducing your damage enough that you can play said badasses, but don’t lose. The gameplay itself is simpler than it sounds, and most of the time playing whatever is in your hand and attacking as much as possible will net you a win. But the fact that it is all using characters you are familiar with makes it very appealing. I can’t quite explain the rush you feel when you use Sinon’s Last Shot to wipe out Satsuki Kiryuin and secure a victory. And because the damage you take is, a lot of the time, a gamble (when you take damage you flip the top card of your deck over, if it is a climax card, the damage is cancelled), the game feels very edgy, like a poker game where you’re not sure if the last card to flip will grant you that straight flush. The game itself is well-balanced, in that a trial deck can stand up to a hundred-dollar-plus deck. At least in the English set, the Japanese version has some straight up OP cards and effects. Don’t be scared to play in Japanese if your favorite set is not in English, http://www.heartofthecards.com/ has translations for all the Japanese cards, including super rare promotional cards. It also has a set of instructions on how to play, since I could not possibly teach the game through text. At the very least it’s fun to collect cards of your favorite characters, I don’t have a Fate/Zero deck but I collected some of the Irisviel and Kiritsugu cards because I like the artwork. On that note, the artwork is very good. It’s taken either from scenes in the anime or from pictures in the source manga and books (or in KanColle’s case, from the cards from the online game).
So, if you enjoy collectible card games, and you are looking for something anime related with an easy learning curve and a large variety; might I suggest to you, ladies and gentlemen: Weiss Schwarz. Watching a Youtube video of someone playing won’t adequately convey the entertainment of this game. If you are truly interested, I say go out and buy a trial deck (~$20) and play today! Before you go, please enjoy this picture of a card I got signed by Cherami Leigh at this year’s 2015 Anime Expo LA: