Chill Clinton is a trading card enthusiast and investor who operates an online trading card store.
So You Want to Play Weiss Schwarz?
Weiss Schwarz is a trading card game that has been captivating audiences across the world since its release in 2007. Though the collectible trading card game has been most popular in Japan, it has seen steady growth in popularity in the American market since the initial production of English-language cards in 2009, and it can now be found in gaming and collectibles stores across the country.
Perhaps one of the most intriguing aspects of the game is its use of prominent intellectual properties from the world of Japanese media, including popular animes and mangas like Fate/stay night, Sword Art Online, and Attack on Titan among many others.
However, much of the game's success can also be attributed to the fact that it's an exciting and well-conceived game that's relatively simple to play—and a ton of fun.
This quickstart guide will cover:
- The Object of the Game
- The Level System
- The Organization of the Battlefield
- Starting the Game
- Card Types and How They Are Played
- Phases of a Turn
So let's get started!
The Object of the Game
The object of this game is a bit difficult to describe until you understand some of the game play mechanics surrounding "Level" ascension and combat, so I'll cover this quickly before describing how the game is won. Don't worry if you're a little confused at first, because I will expound on all of this in greater detail in following sections.
However, in order to understand how you win the game, you must know that, over the course of the game, players will move up four levels: Level Zero to Level Three. Players primarily ascend these levels from taking damage as a result of combat. As you ascend these levels, you can play increasingly powerful cards. However, if a player receives too much damage while at the Third Level, they will lose the game.
So the object of the game is to deal as much damage to your opponent as possible, forcing them to exceed the amount of damage that they can take at the Third Level.
Alternatively, a player can win the game if the opposing player has no cards in either their Deck or in their Waiting Room, but this is exceedingly rare.
In Weiss Schwarz, players do not have life points. Instead, they have "Levels". Each player starts the game at Level Zero, but can ascend levels as cards are placed in their "Clock". The Clock is a section of cards laid out in front of each player that are either discarded from the deck as a consequence of combat, or discarded from the hand in order to draw additional cards (we'll cover this later).
The Clock can hold up to six cards, but once the seventh card hits the Clock, you must ascend to the next level. To denote this, one card of your choosing from the Clock must be placed in the "Level" Zone, a section on the side of the battlefield. Then, the Clock is emptied for the new level, and the other five cards from the Clock are placed in the "Waiting Room", which acts as this game's discard pile.
As you ascend Levels, you can play increasingly powerful cards, but watch out. If a seventh card is placed in your Clock at the Third Level, you will lose the game.
Organization of the Battlefield
Though Weiss Schwarz's game play is fairly simple, it does have a somewhat complex battlefield. Let's take it one section at a time.
Deck: The deck is pretty self-explanatory. This will be your collection of unused cards from which you will draw. It also comes into play when taking damage, but we'll address that in a later section. A Weiss Schwarz deck will start with 50 cards, but you will typically run through this quickly. But unlike games like Pokémon or Magic: The Gathering, you will not lose the game if you run out of cards. Instead, you will shuffle up the cards in your "Waiting Room" and can do this each time you run out of cards until the game is over.
Waiting Room: The Waiting Room is Weiss Schwarz's discard pile. This is where you will place cards such as Character cards that are killed as a result of combat, and other cards that have been used throughout the game but don't remain on the battlefield. When you ascend Levels, cards in your Clock, other than the one you remove to place in your Level Zone, will also go to the Waiting Room.
Clock: Players will be required to discard cards to this section of the battlefield as a result of combat or to draw additional cards (we'll cover this soon). The Clock can hold six cards. Once the seventh card is placed in the Clock, the player will ascend to the next Level, the clocked cards will be placed in the Waiting Room, and that seventh card becomes the first card in their refreshed clock.
Level Zone: After a Clock empties, a player will choose one of their six clocked cards and place that card in the Level Zone. Because this card is essentially removed from the game, choose this card wisely. The number of cards in the Level Zone will represent a player's Level.
Stock: A player's Stock is a collection of face down cards that are placed there from performing "Trigger Checks" while attacking. Cards in this section cannot be looked at or rearranged. Cards in your stock will be used to help play certain cards- usually those of higher levels.
Stage: The Stage is composed of two sections:
- Front Row: This is where players will place up to three character cards that will engage in combat.
- Back Row: This is where players will place up to two supporting character cards that will provide effects to support the cards in the Front Row.
Climax Zone: This is a section where players may play Climax cards, or cards that can help them power up their attacks during combat.
Starting the Game
At the beginning of the game, players will shuffle their deck and then decide who will go first.
After making this decision, both players will draw five cards. Players may then discard cards into their Clock. For each card you discard this way, you may draw one card.
After doing, play begins with the first player.
Card Types and How to Play Them
There are three card types in Weiss Schwarz:
- Character: Character cards are placed on the Stage in either the Front Row or the Back Row. They can be used to engage in combat or provide support to other character cards engaged in combat.
- Event: Event cards can be played during a player's Main Phase, and offer certain benefits, dictated in the text of each card.
- Climax: Climax cards can be played during the Climax Phase of a turn. These cards generally offer combat advantages. A player can have a maximum of eight Climax cards in their deck.
Each card will have a "Level" and a "Cost", noted in their top left corner. In order to play any card, a player must meet the following three conditions:
- A card's level must be equal to or lower than the player's Level.
- The card must share a "color" with one of the cards in a player's Clock. There are four colors: Red, Blue, Green, and Yellow. A card's color can be determined by looking at its border. For example, the character card above is yellow.
- A player must pay a card's cost by placing cards from their stock to the Waiting Room where applicable.
Phases of a Turn
Stand Phase: If any characters are in the Rest position, return them to the Stand position. We'll address what the Rest position is and why it occurs when we discuss combat.
Draw Phase: In this phase, the player will draw a card.
Clock Phase: In this phase, a character can place one card from their hand into their Clock and draw two cards.
Main Phase: This is the phase when players may play character and event cards from their hand onto the stage, or move characters into new positions on the stage. During this phase, characters can also use an action, which will be described in the text of their card. If a character uses an action, it must be placed in the Rest position by turning it to the side. If a character uses an action, it may not attack.
Climax Phase: Before combat, players can place a climax card into the Climax Zone in order to provide bonuses when attacking.
Battle Phase: Players will use characters in their Front Row to attack the opposing characters or attack the opposing player directly.
There are three types of attacks:
- Direct Attack: If there is no Standing character in the position directly opposite your attacking character, you will attack directly.
- Front Attack: If there is a Standing character in the position directly opposite your attacking character, you can perform a front attack. When performing a front attack, you will compare your character's attack number, displayed in the bottom left corner of the card, to that of your opponent's character. Assuming yours is higher, you will kill your opponent's character. If yours is lower, your character will die.
- Side Attack: If there is a Standing character in the position directly opposite your attacking, you can perform a side attack, where characters do not exchange damage. Instead, you will attack your opponent directly, but there are some draw backs that will be addressed in the Damage Phase.
After attacking, a character must be placed in the Rest position.
Trigger Phase: After attacking and resolving that damage will go through, the attacking player will reveal the top card from their deck and look in the top right corner of the card. If there are any "Soul" icons, these will be added to the damage dealt in the Damage Phase. After a card is triggered, it will go to your Stock. You will trigger a card for each attacker.
Damage Phase: After the Battle and Trigger Phases have resolved, players will calculate damage. In this game, damage is referred to as "Soul". Damage is determined based upon the card's base stats, the type of battle, and any stat improvements provided during the Trigger Phase.
To determine a character's base "Soul" stat, look for the number of Soul icons to the right of a player's attack value.
Effect of Battle Type
- Direct Attack: Characters will receive the full value of their base stat +1 Soul and any additional Soul added during the Trigger Phase.
- Front Attack: If a Front Attack is successful, characters will receive the full value of their base stat plus any additional Soul added during the Trigger Phase.
- Side Attack: When performing a side attack, the amount of Soul dealt to the opposing player will be decreased by the Level of the character directly opposite of them. The attacking player will still Trigger a card from the top of their deck.
After calculating Soul damage, the opposing player will remove cards from their deck equal to the number of Soul and place them in their Clock. Do this one card at a time. If, at any time, a Climax card is revealed this way, cancel all remaining damage. The Climax card is still placed in the Clock.
Encore Phase: If a character is killed as a result of battle, a player may pay its Encore cost from their Stock to remove it from the Waiting Room and return it to the Stage in Rest position. If the character has a specific Encore cost on the card, you will pay that. If the character does not have an Encore cost, you may pay three cards from your Stock to return it to the Stage. Cards paid from the Stock will go to the Waiting Room.
End Phase: At the end of a player's turn, they will discard cards to the Waiting Room until they have seven cards in their hand. Then, if there is a Climax in play, they will place that card into their Waiting Room, and the turn ends.
I hope you have enjoyed this quickstart introduction to playing Weiss Schwarz.
Of course, there are some nuances to the game play that I was not able to address here, but many of these can be inferred by reading the cards and following the rules above.
So I encourage you to grab a friend, buy a few intro decks, and enjoy battling with characters from some of your favorite intellectual properties!