Chances are if you're an anime fan, at some point you've had arguments with your friends (or random people on the internet) over what the best anime are, or who the best characters are. Well now you can settle it once and for all, with cards!
What's it all about?
Weiβ Schwarz is a card game featuring popular anime, manga and video game characters battling it out to see who's the best. Whereas in other card games you might be a mighty wizard commanding an army of monsters, here your favourite characters are competing on stage to see who the most popular is.
The concept of the game is themed around a stage performance, with play areas and game mechanics reflecting this. Your main cards will duke it out on Centre Stage, whilst supporters stay Back Stage to help them. When cards get defeated they go to the Waiting Room, instead of the Graveyard, because of course you're not allowed to kill off people's favourite characters. Don't worry though, they can still be brought back via Encore.
Any series I might know?
There are a wide variety of series on offer, with over 50 titles in the Japanese game, and over 10 in the English version, with more being released all the time. Chances are, if you're an anime fan you'll be able to find something you're familiar with. Although the game tends to skew otaku-centric, so you won't find things like Dragonball Z or One Piece here.
The game is divided into two sides, Weiβ and Schwarz, where the former is meant to represent cute, and the latter cool. That means you'll find titles like Little Busters, Lucky Star or Angel Beats! on Weiβ side, whilst series like Sengoku Basara, Evangelion and Terra Formars will be hanging out in Schwarz. A few series might seem to have unusual placements, like Project Diva and Kantai Collection in Schwarz, but that's because video games often end up on that side too.
When playing in tournaments, nearly all the time you have to stick to a single series, so no mixing Log Horizon with Katanagatari, but it's fine to mix all of the many IdolM@ster cards together. This is different for friendly games though, if your opponent is okay with it.
Currently in the Japanese game, this biggest titles around are Nisekoi, Kantai Collection and Girlfriend(Beta), with the English game dominated by Sword Art Online, to the point some people jokingly call it SAO: The TCG. Expect a shake up later in the year when Attack on Titan lands.
With all the different series on offer, there's plenty to keep you interested. Where else would you find a love-struck teenager beating up on giant robots?
How do I play?
If you want an in-depth guide to how to play, one of the best resources is this video tutorial put together by some friends back in the UK. Here, I'll just be covering the basics.
The object of the game is to get your opponent to Level 4, starting from Level 0. As the game progresses, you'll take damage and Level up, allowing you to play ever stronger cards. This works somewhat as a balancing tool compared to a game like Yu-Gi-Oh!, since it means you can't just splurge all your best cards on the first turn.
There are three types of cards in the game, Characters, Events and Climaxes.
Characters are just like creatures or monsters in other games, and they will make up the majority of your deck. You'll use them to fight your opponent and defend yourself.
Event cards are like spell cards, which give you a special effect on use, like extra power or more cards.
Climaxes are a special type of card, which you can only have 8 total in your deck. Sometimes they can give you powerful effects for one turn, other times they can prevent you from taking damage.
On top of this, there are also 4 colours of cards which are meant to correspond to different playstyles, Yellow is Speed, Green is Power, Red is Technique and Blue is Advantage. After playing for a while you'll start to notice the kinds of effects that each colour specialises in.
Damage is caused by attacking your opponent, either directly or through battle with one of their cards. In this game the damage and character battles are treated separately, based on the Soul and Power of the cards respectively. This means that even if you can't win a fight, you might still be able to take out your opponent.
Dealing damage is a bit unusual in this game, but anyone who has played Cardfight! Vanguard before will probably be familiar with it. (They are both designed by the same guy after all). When you attack, you check the top of your deck, and if it has a special logo, you might cause some extra damage or gain a special effect. This card is then placed into your Stock, which you use to pay for your future cards.
After this, your opponent flips over a number of cards equal to the damage (Soul) that you caused, before placing them all into the Clock. However, if they flip over a Climax they immediately stop and all the damage is cancelled. This introduces a risk factor in causing damage. Hitting for 6 in one go could cause a lot of damage to your opponent, but it's much more likely to get cancelled and cause 0 damage instead, compared to just hitting for 1 or 2.
Once you reach 7 cards in Clock, one of those is placed into the Level slot and the rest go to the Waiting Room. You continue like this until one of you reaches Level 4.
As you might expect, decks run out really fast in this game, so you get to Refresh your deck once you run out of cards. This introduces an element of strategy in how you manage your cards, since the better the Climax : Not Climax ratio is after Refresh, the more likely you are to cancel damage.
What's so interesting about it?
Apart from being able to play with your favourite characters, and meeting other anime fans, the cards do a good job of reflecting the series they come from.
On a basic level this might just be colour coordinating all the cards, so that the Madoka, Vividred and Milky Holmes girls all fit into their matching colours. Although, Madoka herself is in Green rather than the more appropriate Red, but that's so she can be with Homura.
Effects of the cards will often also be linked to the series, like Magical Girls having lots of Change effects, or the Kancolle girls being able to upgrade to their Kai Ni forms. If characters are friends, allies or family, then you might find they get stronger when together, or have an effect known as Bond, linking the two together.
Lots of series also have flavourful cards which reflect the characters and series they come from. For example, you can use the 2nd Impact to wipe out the Stage, or Laharl's Winged Slayer to hurt all your opponent's characters at once. Or you might want to swarm the stage with an unlimited number of Sisters from Railgun, or Terraformars.
There are also fun cards that have you high five your opponent or play Rock Paper Scissors. Then there's a set like Wooser, where you get joke cards that let you do things like buy a pack and use those cards, or go on a journey.
There's also fun with the traits of the cards in the game. Whereas something like Yu-Gi-Oh! is full of dragons, warriors and spellcasters, here traits can be almost anything. From obvious ones like Magic, Weapon, or Mecha, to more unexpected ones like Glasses or Book, to joke ones like Forehead and Watermelon. You can even find characters like Saten and Touma who have no traits at all.
Another thing to watch out for is signed cards, because you can often get cards that have been signed by their seiyuu. Of course more popular ones like Kana Hanazawa and Mizuki Nana generally command a higher price.
Isn't the title in German?
Yes, but it's cooler that way.