To Love Goon – How to be Green and Gold

As of writing, Y/G To Love Ru is one of the best decks in the game. It’s surely the second best deck to take into Swiss and it’s in at least the top 3 best decks to play in top cut. The existence of this deck – specifically the main 3/2, Yami – redefines the barrier of entry for every other set released before and after it. If you rock up to a serious tournament playing any deck that isn’t this deck, or one of the decks which can seriously challenge it, then you may as well take your lunch break instead of your fourth round. I personally ran this exclusively for tournaments before PY was released, because it is a very low-variance, high-reward deck that essentially allows you to chessmaster your way to wins. The deck has a lot of room for mistakes which leads some (incorrect) people to believe that it’s an ‘easy’ deck to play. This is true to an extent in that there are very few examples of complex sequencing in the deck and you can get along fine without having to think ahead a turn or two (compare to PY or NK, which at times have resource or card choice considerations to make). Furthermore, the finisher is the most self-sufficient in the game, which we’ll go into further in just a moment.

So grab your cask of Fruity Lexia and your sippy cup, cos you’re sure as fuck going to need it.

This is also the set that the Australian rep piloted to second place at Worlds 2015, where he was thoroughly robbed of his victory by an enormous streak of bad luck. There is no more green and gold deck than this.

Picture 2

As always, a poor quality photo to give you a rough idea of what the deck should look like.

4x TL/W37-035 R (0/0 Brainstorm Handfix)

2x TL/W37-005 R (0/0 Oversize Resonance)

2x TL/W37-004 R (0/0 Pseudo-Riki)

2x TL/W37-T01 TD (0/0 Drop-search Tutor/Beater)

2x TL/W37-034 R (0/0 Clock Bomb Support)

2x TL/W37-031 RR (0/0 Antisalvage Support)

1x TL/W37-103 PR (0/0 Expensive Promo buff thing)

1x TL/W42-006 R (0/0 Vol 2. Version of Expensive Promo buff thing)

(16)

4x TL/W37-040 R (1/0 Advantage Engine)

2x TL/W37-039 R (1/0 Oversize)

2x TL/W37-102 PR (1/0 Really expensive promo thing)

2x TL/W37-011 U (1/1 Hand Encore Support)

2x TL/W37-010 U (1/0 2k Counter)

2x TL/W37-026 U (1/1 Search Event)

(14)

1x TL/W37-044 U (2/1 Anti-change Oversize)

1x TL/W37-043 U (2/1 Change to 3/2 Mikan also apparently a support who knew)

(2)

4x TL/W37-001 RR (3/2 Yami Basically why you’re playing this deck)

3x TL/W37-032 RR (3/2 Mikan Oversize Healer)

3x TL/W37-027 U (3/3 Money Counter)

(10)

4x TL/W37-053 CR (Green 1k1, Gold Bar Trigger, CX combo with 1/1 Yami and 1/0 Mikan)

4x TL/W37-028 CR (Yellow 1k1, Bounce Trigger, CX combo with 3/2 Yami)

(8)

Hey, guess what, it’s another deck where I can shamelessly plug old timey stereotypical Australian music. 

This deck used to be a really fit and cheap investment, coming in around $200 or so but recently it has spiked up in price by roughly $100 because all the promos went on an unprecedented price hike (something something TLR Vol 2 Nemesis deck whatever I don’t really care). I feel that while people understand that TLR is very good, they overestimate how good Yami is at closing games and underestimate how well the rest of the deck works. In general TLR tends to win by creating and maintaining a slight lead over the opponent and then accelerating quite hard at Level 3; contrast this with PY, which plays a tempo game based on creating a small lead and widening this lead so that they can buy free turns to set up Triple Arle – at least, if you’re running it the way I am, and I don’t see any justifiable reason to pilot it differently at the time of writing. It’s worth mentioning that TLR is not a “freelo” deck and people don’t win simply because they play TLR, they win because they play it well, and this is true for any deck in the game.

I’ve heard a few complaints that TLR has a weak level 0; I’m fairly sure that a lot of worse players run a Level 0 that looks something like 4 Chaser Yami, 4 Mikan Brainstorm, 3 Puchi Mikan/China Dress Mea, 3 Antisalvage, 2 Stock Bomb. I’m pretty sure this is horrendously wrong. TLR’s Level 0 is honestly fine; it has enough tools as long as you opt for a build that isn’t completely braindead.

The majority of discussion will be included in the follow card analysis, so we’ll get to it.

 

4x TL/W37-035 R (0/0 Brainstorm Handfix)

This is a card which really sets TLR apart from other sets and although it’s extremely respected it’s still somewhat underrated. It is a very specific roleplayer and it’s awfully good at that role. Even given how good of a card this is, it’s not a card that you have on board at all times and it shouldn’t be. I expect I play it at least once per game, but I wouldn’t be surprised to find out that there are games in which I don’t play it at all. TLR is one of a very small pool of sets within which a Tap 2 Brainstorm is acceptable, because of the nature of your backline and the deck itself. There are awfully few situations where you as a player need to double brainstorm to dig for cards or mill through your deck; there are other cards which fill those roles. Having a handfix discard combined with a Tap 2 storm is very powerful and extremely unappreciated, as it tends to mean that playing this card and brainstorming will turn on two cards in your hand, rather than the regular one that a brainstorm for 1 will provide. There will be games where your backline will be the 1/1 and the antisalvage, and during these games a Tap 2 storm will be particularly welcome. Discard outlets also work well with Gold Bar triggers. The card is a bit of a possible nonbo, as the discard effect can throw a Climax on top of your clock, but this happens rarely enough that it’s not relevant. Keep in mind that the brainstorm is not even necessary, and you are still getting value by handfixing and crashing this card. This is probably the strongest toolbox card currently in the game.

 

2x TL/W37-005 R (0/0 Oversize Resonance)

This Yami is extremely underplayed for reasons with which I can’t agree. The usual explanation is that it’s not good on defense and poor against runners, which is true. However TLR has a fairly unassuming Level 0 and the alternatives are not much better, those being the 3.5k Cannot Side from the TD, and the newly released 3.5k Yami chaser which is currently sitting inexplicably around $20. The 3.5k is probably the better of the two alternatives, as it is always a 3.5k beater, and the “Cannot Side” clause is essentially moot. It can trade with most loner/oversize card profiles and doesn’t become terrible on Turn 2. The chaser, on the other hand, is only good on Turn 1, and is bad on Turn 2 unless you pay out a stock. Of course paying stock for good effects is never bad, but in this deck that means you’re either using a brainstorm or a tutor. The brainstorm isn’t guaranteed to give you anything, means you’re committing extra cards to the board, and probably isn’t your best Turn 2 play (swinging with it is fine on T2; it’s just the storm that isn’t). While a tutor on Turn 2 is acceptable, it’s generally better to wait as long as you possibly can before you tutor, because it’s likely you’ll have another, cheaper way to get whatever you needed (probably with the 0/0 Mikan storm). Plenty of decks don’t even run the tutor so you’re stuck with brainstorming. Sure, the chaser occasionally saves you a damage or discourages your opponent from playing board, but that’s about it. It’s just as weak to bombs as the 3.5k vanilla. On the other hand, the Resonance Yami will almost always take out a threat on your opponent’s board past Turn 1, and if you can get the Resonance (not unlikely, since it’s not uncommon to have a 3/2 Yami in hand) it’s practically a +1 as your character will live to see another turn. You don’t need to pump this card to 4k, it’s fine at 3k to reverse most things. At Level 1 if you whiff the 1/0 Mikan combo, you can play this card, reverse a straggling 0 and resonate a Mikan into your backrow to give you another chance next turn.

 

2x TL/W37-004 R (0/0 Pseudo-Riki)

Another card which really should see more play, if not because it allows you to push deeper into your deck pre-refresh, then because it is so poorly handled by many opponents. Here’s a cheat sheet: always take this card out as quickly as possible. There’s no real reason to let your opponent get free attacks and stock on board because you don’t want to give them an extra card; furthermore there’s an inherent fault in logic with this train of thought, in that by opting to not reverse a Level 0 which would normally be reversed you’re essentially giving your opponent a free card anyway. Too many otherwise sound players mess up this line of play, for some bizarre reason. While of course this card is not a Riki, and definitely worse than a Riki clone would be in TLR, it is not without merits; you are not required to show your opponent the card you choose, it clocks itself to fix for yellow and remove an otherwise subpar lategame card from your Waiting Room, and its effect activates on reverse, allowing you to pay out stock during your opponent’s turn.

 

2x TL/W37-T01 TD (0/0 Drop-search Tutor/Beater)

I have definitely gone on record more than once and said that drop-searchers are generally not incredibly impressive, and I am not disagreeing with that here; drop-searchers are very fair cards – this normally means they’re not good enough – and they gain value in decks with Gold Bars and with few on-play stock outs. In the case of TLR they also happen to be 3k, so they’re solid on the draw as a beater. A very unassuming slot and perhaps the most variable, but I would not soon change it.

 

2x TL/W37-034 R (0/0 Clock Bomb Support)

Oh heavens, an off-trait card. This is in here over the stock bomb for a few reasons: Firstly, unlike a stock bomb, which can be beneficial for your opponent if it pays out a Climax, this card puts your opponent’s favourite on-reverse effects into the Clock, a zone which many decks are inept at accessing during Level 0 and 1. Secondly, this is a super neat combo with the 0/0 Oversize Resonance Yami, giving you a 3.5k beater and a clock bomb, which will then rest and run to back row during your opponent’s next turn, essentially netting you a 2-for-1 off the bomb effect – and potentially also a 2-for-1 off the Yami, which will sit at 3.5k on defense and may survive your opponent’s turn for a net gain of two cards. Finally, this card fixes for green, which is somewhat relevant as there are not many green cards that ‘feel good’ to Level. The off-trait element is only really relevant if you misplay it. Just don’t be stupid (motto of the blog).

 

2x TL/W37-031 RR (0/0 Antisalvage Support)

Salvage hate is still a thing, some people run this at 3 but I’d argue that’s wrong because the only (relevant) decks that really salvage are PY, NK and IM. As for the other decks that salvage, you should beat them anyway. PY can play around this card quite easily, and it’s basically only important against NK and IM, both of which can play around it but have more difficulty in doing so. To be honest I’m happy dropping this to 1 but it will be painful in those relevant games where it gets stocked or milled early. Otherwise, the mill effect is great, and the 500 power is a fine boost. It’s convenient that NK and IM are matchups where you’ll least need the brainstorm, so you can sit on a backrow of this plus the 1/1 Yami fairly comfortably, and only play the brainstorm when necessary.

 

1x TL/W37-103 PR (0/0 Expensive Promo buff thing)

1x TL/W42-006 R (0/0 Vol 2. Version of Expensive Promo buff thing)

These are the same card as far as I care, except that one is yellow and one is green and they are traited differently. This is actually extraordinarily relevant when it comes to the interaction with the 1/1 event, because it enormously broadens the mix of cards you can search while maintaining relevant plays. There was certainly a time when I rated this card extremely poorly and although I’ve revised my decision in light of the release of the yellow reprint which allows for great flexibility, I will remain steadfast on the position that this is not a particularly strong card, and it certainly doesn’t make or break the deck in the way that some thought. It’s certainly not worth whatever ungodly amount it costs (like another promo on this list). The most useful feature of this card is its ability to guarantee two reverses alongside the buff from the 1/1 Yami support, while also crashing to prevent your opponent taking a free reverse on a cheap 0. This has the side effect of also making it incredibly easy to decide where you want to place your 1/0 Mikans. This card shines most brightly against NK, where it is entirely possible to prevent your opponent from ever getting the 1/0 Marika combo off – this is not to say this shuts the deck down at all, but it’s a speed bump and it will disorient less meticulous players. Some people run this card at 3, and these incorrect people now feel even more justified by the existence of the 2/1 Nemesis from the newer set that functions as a 1-cost 2-soul beater if you can marker the China Dress Mea. I don’t think this justifies running a card that will almost always crash; the optimal strategy of TLR is to maintain damage with your opponent, and leaving open that slot is not ideal. Running this card at 3 suggests that you would play it at least twice per game, and that’s simply not realistic, as opposed to playing it up to twice per game. It’s not often that you play double Mikan + buff, followed by double hand encore and then another gold bar + buff, purely based on the fact that there are few decks that can maintain a completely non-reversible field for two turns in a row. I mean, how many people actually play GC? (Answer: 1, my testing partner, and he would definitely agree that well-piloted TLR generally rolls over GC) If anything, I want to play this card only when absolutely necessary, and I’d rather fill that third slot with something that I can defend with a counter.

 

4x TL/W37-040 R (1/0 Advantage Engine)

You play two in front of your 1/1 Yami, it caps at 11,000 in center with Yami + Mikan support, a Gold bar and a 1.5k buff, advantage engine etc etc, hand encore it if you have a gold bar and nothing better to play and you can get reverses on the following turn, etc etc. This is a very simple card.

In terms of what you should be searching, the general answer is that you prioritize searching for cards so that just the seven cards you are holding at the end of the turn will allow you to play at least two relevant cards onto the front row if your board is wiped – this could mean you already have junk cards to encore, or you have extra 1/0s, or you have a counter. If you fulfil this condition, instead search for 3/2 Yami. You’re not always obliged to encore this card, of course, and it’s better in the long term to play the conservative route and not bet on drawing into the Climax (unless of course the odds are monstrous).

 

2x TL/W37-039 R (1/0 Oversize)

I’m seeing people running 4 of the 1/0 promo and I’m pretty sure this is disgusting and an abomination. Sometimes you may actually want to have a board, and forcing a bomb from a set like NK to deal with this card is always good. This is basically the only card you’ll ever field and not expect to disappear in some way before the end of the turn cycle. The conditions of the 1/1 event also benefit running this card, as you can search it alongside the 0/0 China Dress Mea, or the 1/0 counter, or the 1/1 Yami, or 3/2 Yami you get the idea. It’s a solid card that performs a different function to the 1/0 promo and they shouldn’t be considered interchangeable.

 

2x TL/W37-102 PR (1/0 Really expensive promo thing)

However much this is worth, it’s not worth that much, and if someone wants to charge you $40+ for this crap then feel free to tag me or send me a message and I will be more than willing to back you up on this one. Unless, of course, you’re buying from an Aussie, in which case sorry can’t help you there, gotta make back those Auspost costs. This $2 junk rare does however play an important situational role, in that it diversifies the portfolio of cards you can get with the 1/1 event and it offers a safe way of attacking without fear of counters. That’s about it. It’s obviously terrible on the backswing, but that’s not the purpose of the card. I’m not a fan of the glass cannon card type anyway; they’re good against bad players and often very bad against good players. Multiples on board are generally bad; the card is just a bizarre tempo play. If you can maintain one with hand encore so that it can swing twice it can actually be very good against decks without non-CX combo searches/salvages, but that’s one row. You don’t need 4. Or you do, if you want. There’s no law against stupid.

 

2x TL/W37-011 U (1/1 Hand Encore Support)

This card is not as overpowered as you think, but it’s more overpowered than you think if you don’t think it’s overpowered. Think about it.

Hand encore is an extremely busted mechanic in TLR, because it turns junk 0s into the best card in the game. It’s like in Chapter 4 of Valkyrie Profile when you go through Lezard’s Tower and finally get the Creation Gem, transmute a bunch of stuff, and suddenly all your broken gear can turn into Glare Guards and Icicle Swords and you have a great time, not that more than one or two people reading this have ever played VP. The point here is, in conjunction with the draws from 3/2 Yami, this card will give you the ability to always have a scary board at Level 3 without having to pay stock. At Level 1 this also has a CX Combo with Gold Bar which pumps any one of your characters by 2k which is essentially a free enabler for your advantage engine. I have been asked before if I think this is bad card design, to which the answer is no as long as a card has multiple functions which add depth to the game; there’s nothing wrong with multiple cards going off the same CX as long as they’re not some boring linear crap like the new blue CG stuff (idlers not welcome here). You don’t need to run this card at 3 either, you’ll get it if you need it, and if you don’t get it because of bad luck, the deck functions absolutely fine without it.

 

2x TL/W37-010 U (1/0 2k Counter)

2k counter etc etc keeps your shit alive etc etc you don’t really play these as often as a deck like, say, SAO, but they’re relevant.

 

2x TL/W37-026 U (1/1 Search Event)

Once again guys, you don’t need three. This is not a core card, this is an auxiliary that turns dead cards into live cards. The deck has been built in a way that provides an enormous variety of good pulls through the event that you wouldn’t be able to get with a build that looks more like:

4x

4x

4x

4x

4x

4x

4x

4x

4x

4x

2x

4x

4x

(50)

Not much to be said, search 2 ditch 1 is always solid, in this deck moreso than most because you tend to have a few junk cards in hand.

 

1x TL/W37-044 U (2/1 Anti-change Oversize)

TLR doesn’t have very good Level 2 characters, and therefore no extremely strong way to deal with early play Level 3s. This card is in here to deal with that situation, and as such it should only come out in the related scenario. People are running the new 2/1 Nemesis in this slot, which I think is a false assessment of the two cards; they don’t serve the same purpose at all. This is a 12k base beater, whereas the Nemesis is a 2/1 2 soul which will never get turned on in this deck because there’s only 1 China Dress Mea. If you’re running 2 of that Level 0 I can potentially see a justification for it, but in general it’s just kind of a meh card. In any case, the Mikan will pretty much always wipe out an early play and can survive the backswing due to the power lasting through your opponent’s turn. I don’t think this card should ever be taken out of the deck just because it provides a necessary contingency plan against decks such as PY which don’t rely on their early plays but which will completely wreak havoc on your game state (namely your clock) if you don’t get rid of them.

 

1x TL/W37-043 U (2/1 Change to 3/2 Mikan)

Read: 3/2 Mikan for 1 less stock if you discard 2 cards. This is a fairly niche play that only tends to be relevant at certain stock levels (7 and 8 usually). There is also a level support effect on it, but that’s rarely used. Due to the fact that this deck can overdraw enormously (PY-tier overdraws) at Level 3 leaving you well over the hand limit, it can practically function as a straight up 1 stock discount on the 3/2 Mikan in many situations. Not much more to say here, a slot that can be taken out but very relevant at other times.

 

4x TL/W37-001 RR (3/2 Yami)

This is essentially the reason why you’re playing TLR; while it is not the best finisher in the game, it is certainly the best card in the game by far and without question. Marika actually ain’t got shit on Yami as a finisher. Recently a couple of people linked me a blog post about finisher damage showing that after money counters (read: always) Yami will do more damage than Marika. Surprisingly, I have actually read that article.

There happens to be something that article does not address in regards to Yami, or any finisher; the effect of open slots. This is perhaps most relevant to cancel-burn (shoutouts to ballerspark that was a sick meme) effects, because of course you’re more likely to cancel if you swing into an open slot. But how much more likely? What’s the effect on your damage output?

I know you guys don’t actually love me, you’re just here for my tables.

It has come to my attention that a significant portion of you aren’t able to actually hit 25 cards in deck on refresh, and you tend to sit around 27/28. I fully understand this, but on the other hand I’m not the only player who consistently sits around 24-25. I’ll write up a thing about how to manage your ratios some other time. If you’re not sure what I mean you can go watch this commentary of one of my games where I get absolutely destroyed cancel-wise, luck-wise, and pretty much have no chance to play real Weiss for about 7 turns, but still sit under 25 cards for 2 out of 3 refreshes, and always have better compression than my opponent. Also, enjoy foringboiz calling me out for a misplay (that turns out to not be a misplay), but not understanding my opponent’s defensive scry ruling mistake when I’m looking away from the board, because silly people are still trying to prove I can’t play this game :     ^)

Yami Pings

At the top of the chart you will see MMG’s favourite climax splits, 4/25, 6/25 and 8/25. On the left you will see the damage output, followed by the cancel-burn, or “ping” allocation. For example, if you were to swing for 333-122, that means you are swinging into 3 characters, and you have allocated your pings so that one character has one ping, and the other two have two. If you swing for 443-113, you would be swinging into two open lanes and one character, and you would be allocating your pings so that the two characters hitting for 4 have 1 ping, and the character hitting for 3 damage would have 3 pings. Keep in mind these are the raw soul values before you account for triggers – and triggers have been included in the simulations. So, for example, if you swing at 333-122, and trigger twice, this situation will have occurred during the thousands upon thousands of simulations and will have slightly affected the overall expected damage. We haven’t bothered accounting for 444-122 or 444-113 because they’re horrendously unlikely and you can basically observe the trend that 444-122 will be better than 444-113 based on other results. Oh also, remember attack order doesn’t matter, so 343-122 is the same as 334-122 and we’ve removed those copies.

 The long and short of this is basically:

 If you swing into no open slots, swing for 333-122.

If you swing into one open slot, allocate extra pings to that slot e.g. 334-113

If you swing into two open slots, allocate extra pings to that slot e.g. 344-122

If you swing into three open slots, allocate 444-122.

I believe there may be an exception to the 334-113 rule in that if you swing first for 3 and it goes through ie there is no ping, it may be correct to switch your pings to 334-122. I seem to remember there being a mathematical precedent in this akin to the Monty Hall Problem but I don’t have a proof to back this up. However, if I can prove it, I will let you all know. Until then, 334-113 is the way to go.

 In a nutshell, Yami is a super absurd finisher because it does really solid damage, can’t be money countered (fuck off CG idlers, the red deck isn’t good so I don’t care about your money counter) and has an in-built draw which fuels not only its own CX combo but also your next turn. You’ll probably also be able to hand encore it and do the thing twice, and this is actually super crucial against Index, a deck which will likely be able to survive a single triple Yami, but not two in a row (and they definitely don’t have the power to kill you off in a turn). Putting the ID matchup as being in favour for TLR is definitely a little controversial right now, but I’m a firm believer that this is one of the stronger arguments for putting TLR ahead of ID in the head-to-head. But that’s what I’m here for: the controversy of calling everyone bad while making you better.

Oh also this card has hexproof and that’s super broken by the way.

 

3x TL/W37-032 RR (3/2 Mikan Oversize Healer)

This heals, it’s fat, you can change into it. Ayy.

 

3x TL/W37-027 U (3/3 Money Counter)

Running this at 4 is overkill. It’s worth running the third copy so you can basically ignore it all game and still have a very fair chance of it popping up when you need it. You’ll probably only play 1 per game, but that’s usually all you need. Make sure you have this against NK. Also, there’s a power boost on it, not that you care.

 

4x TL/W37-053 CR (Green 1k1, Gold Bar Trigger, CX combo with 1/1 Yami and 1/0 Mikan)

4x TL/W37-028 CR (Yellow 1k1, Bounce Trigger, CX combo with 3/2 Yami)

STOCK SOUL IS WORSE THAN 1K1 FOR ON REVERSE COMBOS, ESPECIALLY IN DECKS THAT ARE OVERALL RELATIVELY COSTLESS. YOU DO NOT NEED 14 STOCK. YOU ARE NOT PLAYING PY OR TWINS.

 Bounce is probably the best CX type in the game right now, considering the amount of backrow hate you can screw over with it. Cute play: trigger a bounce climax on your first Yami attack, then reallocate your pings so you swing for 4 and ping for 3 on that newly opened lane. Nice.

So now we know what I am playing in my 50-card loadout, let’s take a look at what I’m not playing. I’ll stick to cards I haven’t already mentioned.

 

TL/W37-002 RR (3/2 Check Top X Oversize Mea)

This is a good card and it will absolutely show up in the lists of players who aren’t as comfortable with their ability to compress. The only function of this card is to get that Bounce CX. If you are able to compress to X/25 or lower, this card isn’t necessary. Your draw for the turn, plus clock draw, plus triple Yami means you’re digging 9 cards deep to pull the climax, which means you’re looking at something like an 80+% chance of pulling it (off the top of my head), if you’re not already holding it through your refresh, which is probably a good idea. I don’t think this is necessary as a final way of digging through your deck; if you’re finding that you’re missing the CX, there are other areas of your play that you should work on first.

 

TL/W37-002 RR (500 Global Support, Resonance Topchecker)

I honestly think this is an awful card; I don’t want to hold a 3/2 Yami in hand beyond Turn 1 or 2 and that’s only if I’m using the 0/0 Resonance Yami. I also don’t want to pay 2 stock to add a card to my hand off the top of my deck – if I’m paying 2 stock, and using a Resonance, I at least want to search. The 500 power is so irrelevant, and the card won’t even stick around for more than a turn unless it’s in your back row, where you can play much better cards. The argument for this is that it’s the only ‘reliable’ way that you have to dig 3 stock deep without over-committing to the board, but at Level 0 you probably won’t have that much stock, and at Level 1 I simply don’t want to commit a slot to this card.

 

TL/W37-006 R (2/1 Oversize Yami)

This can be run if you think you need a beater at Level 2 for some reason. I don’t think you do, though. The draw on reverse isn’t bad, and you’ll definitely have a Yami in hand by that time. However, this card does nothing against early plays, which was the main reason for running the 2/1 Mikan in the first place. This could be run alongside the 2/1 Mikan, sure, but I don’t see it being particularly fantastic. It’s more of a “win-more” card than anything.

 

TL/W37-012 U (1/1 7.5k cannot be bombed)

NK and PY don’t really care if they can’t bomb you on one lane. On the other hand, Monogatari may have some small issues with this, but they have a bunch of other tricks to pull at Level 1 so this won’t have much effect either. Basically, there’s not really much of a downside to pitching a card from hand with hand encore, since you’ll often over-draw, and you can use that 1 stock for something else. One argument for this is that it’s an easy way to dig to 3 stock deep in one turn, which I don’t disagree with, but if I were to run it, I wouldn’t run more than one copy.

 

TL/W37-018 C (1/0 Change to 2/1 Yami and 3/2 Yami)

Don’t clock yourself two cards to play out a Yami at Level 1. It will probably die anyway. The long term benefits are just non-existent.

 

TL/W37-033 RR (3/2 Anti-Event Yui)

This is a card that beats one matchup; ID, where your opponent plays event counters that don’t target you, so the hexproof on Yami is irrelevant (and the power is irrelevant anyway if you just win the game). If, for some reason, I expect to go into a tournament which is over 40% ID, I will run this card at 2 copies exactly. Otherwise, you simply don’t need it, and it’s dead in every other matchup.

 

TL/W37-104 PR (0/0 Yui Anti-runner)

This is actually a super absurd card that I have run at 2 or 3 in the past. You shouldn’t have issues with the trait restriction and it absolutely decimates decks that rely on runners and utility to get through the earlygame. If you have a lot of runners at your locals, absolutely run this card instead of the 0/0 Oversize, 0/0 Mea or the 0/0 Tutor.

 

TL/W42-001 RR (0/0 Yami Chaser)

*sighs in Vegemite*

 

TL/W42-031 RR (3/2 Mikan Early Play)

This is likely a 3/1 and not a bad one either, except that you have to run 4 to have any chance at getting the early play condition off. Do I want to run 4 slots that aren’t what I already have? No, unfortunately. If you were to cut a 3/2 healer, the 2/1 change, and you could find two other cards to change (say the 2/1 anti-change and the third money counter) you could potentially run this card safely. I don’t prefer it over the current setup.

 

TL/W42-102 PR (Yui Counter)

I really like this counter, and the clock swap is nice, but do I really need an off-trait 2.5k? No.

 

Anything Red or Blue

*hmmms in fairy bread*

 

Anything not mentioned here or previously in the article is probably completely outclassed by something else here.

So that’s how you build TLR. Other than my Level 0, which may be unfamiliar to some players, I don’t think there’s much variation from the norm. But how do you play TLR? Luckily I’ve explained all of the major functions and interactions of the card, so there isn’t too much to say here.

 

General Concepts of TLR:

 As previously stated, TLR is a deck that prefers to keep the opponent slightly ahead in the damage race, and then win using its superior finisher. While it’s not necessary for you to memorize the damage tables above, it is worth remembering that your best numbers are on the 5 damage mark; there’s a bit of a drop-off when you go to 6. This means your overall gameplan should be to push your opponent to at least 3-2, while you’re at 2-X, and then play triple Yami. This requires only 6 stock.

To do this, you’ll have to at least maintain damage a slight lead over your opponent, and there are two main ways of doing so. In order of increasing effectiveness, firstly you can play Climaxes as often as possible from Level 1 onwards, to ensure that you aren’t crashing into your opponent’s field (and leaving open slots) and to increase your overall damage output. Secondly, you can manage the CX/card ratio in your deck, aka compression, in order to reduce your opponent’s expected damage output. This is admittedly harder as it will require you to adjust some of your plays on the fly in order to keep your ratios as high as possible. TLR is not necessarily an easy deck to compress with if you are unused to pushing for 8CX/25 in your refreshes, but as you continue to play the deck you will notice that the deck has a variety of ways to get Climaxes into your discard, and a variety of ways of refreshing at the best possible moment. This tends to revolve around the 0/0 brainstorm Mikan, the 1/0 Mikan CX combo, and the 1/1 event, in order of decreasing importance. I will write on managing your ratios at some other time, but for now it’s sufficient to be simply aware of the fact that compression will allow you to pull ahead in the damage race.

With that said, TLR should not sacrifice its field in order to maintain damage. If you have a choice between maintaining field and maintaining damage, you should always opt to hold your field. In the long term, this will work in your favour, and there is nothing wrong with having to sit on the 3/2 Mikan heals for a couple turns while you stabilize.

TLR basically cannot lose if it is ahead in the late Level 2/early Level 3 game, and if you see a break when you can push your opponent for a lot of damage and you have your Level 3 nearly set up in your hand, go for it. Yami’s ability to draw extremely hard is key here, as it means you can play off an otherwise dead hand and expect to finish the turn not only with a triple Yami, but also future plays. You can factor this in when deciding the key point to make your push, and take more risks than you might take with other decks.

 

Mulligan for (in order of priority):

 Any 0/0 that is not antisalvage Mikan

  • Any 0/0
  • 1/0 CX Combo Mikan
  • 0/0 Brainstorm Mikan
  • 3/2 Yami/Gold Bar

Any Turn 1 play is fine, you’ll draw into whatever you need afterwards. Brainstorm Mikan is a good hold because it will give you a stock-out and a way to dig through the clock damage you’ll take. It’s worth holding on to a single copy of your main Level 1 just because it’s impossible to get back once it’s in the WR. Finally, if you’ve got the Resonance, or you’re aiming to draw or search into it, keep the Yami. It’s fine to just clock it on Turn 2 or 3 anyway.

 

Level 0:

 TLR plays a very slow Level 0 game; you absolutely should prioritize maintaining hand size over anything on board. If your opponent decides to rush you by over-committing to the board, you are in a strong position to play out your 1/0 Mikans, CX combo and go from there. Ideally, your strategy at Level 0 is to stay roughly equal to your opponent’s damage and hit Level 1 while your opponent is at 0-5 or 0-6. If you’re on the play, this is much easier, as you’ll get two clock phases to push your damage up, but can also be difficult if your opponent refuses to direct attack you, as you’ll always be forced to direct attack at least on Turn 1. On the draw, prioritise attacking your opponent’s characters over attacking open slots; it’s often better to side attack a character that you can’t get over, than hit into the open lanes, just to prevent your opponent from hitting 0-6. TLR benefits from a longer Level 0 against decks with less explosive finishes (read: everything that isn’t PY, PI and SAO) because its critical mass is only 6 stock, and if you can get an extra turn at Level 0 you’ll be freer to use that extra stock or two for riskier plays, knowing that in the end it won’t affect your ability to close the game.

Tactics-wise, 0/0 Mea is extraordinary on the play, because unlike other Level 0s, which will generally force you to take 1 damage from a front attack, Mea will be able to clock herself using her effect and give you an extra point of damage to keep you closer to Level 1. If your opponent decides to front attack you instead, you’ll still take two damage. Even against decks that don’t have salvage, it’s worth boarding the 0/0 anti-salvage earlier rather than later in order to mill through a few cards in your deck. Against those non-salvage decks, just treat it as a Level 0 beater with a mill effect – of course it probably won’t reverse anything, but it swings for some soul and gets through junk cards.

On the draw, 0/0 Resonance Yami and the 0/0 Yui bomb are your best friends, and if you can draw both on Turn 1 you’re basically set for Level 0. Otherwise, just play what you can, and make good trades where possible. In general I would avoid attacking more than once per turn unless you have a very good attack phase (ie you have a board of Yami + anything), or if your opponent is pulling ahead a little too far and you need to keep up, in which case you should cap at two attacks. Don’t feel discouraged if your opponent is cleaning out your board, because of course those extra Level 0s they are playing will just be fodder when you hit Level 1. Also, if you stock a 3/2 Yami, and have the ability to get it out of your stock without pushing far beyond what you’d regularly do in a turn, feel free to do so.

There is somewhat of a bizarre dance at Level 0 nowadays which I believe many people play horribly incorrectly and I will write on this in the future as it is not all cut-and-dry; for now it’s sufficient to just follow the ideas above.

 

Level 1:

This is really where you have to kick into gear and pay attention to multiple elements of your deck. This is the point in the game which a lot of players seem to think is very easy and autopilot, but in fact requires more thought than any other. It’s not just “play advantage engine and go”. Your main strategy here is to start pushing ahead in damage here, while maintaining relevant handsize and cards. I mentioned in the 1/0 Mikan section how you’re going to use your searches, so I’ll talk about how you’ll manage the rest of your game here. You need to learn to establish long and short term goals at this point in the game. Your long term goal is to have triple Yami in your hand, and you should manage this alongside your short term goal of pushing damage and retaining handsize. However, priority goes to your short term goal. It doesn’t really matter how long you stay at the Level 1 game as long as you can sustain it.

Tactics-wise, remember that if you play Puchi Mikan + a Gold Bar you can hit 11k in the center, with your second Mikan sitting at 7k. Or, you can split, so you have two 9k Mikans, or an 8.5k and a 9.5k, these generally being more useful. Only ever commit to triple Mikan if your opponent has an absolutely uncounterable board, because it’s unlikely you’ll be able to maintain it through to the next turn. Getting your 1/1 Yami on the board isn’t your absolute priority, but it is important. Whether or not you want a brainstorm in the back row is dependent on the situation; you can function without it just fine, and it can be good to just sit on the 500 power Mikan support even if the anti-salvage is doing nothing. It’s often better to only play the brainstorm when you need it that turn, or if you specifically have a card to dig out of your clock. Once your initial Mikan turns blow out, just make good trades with your auxiliary 1/0s. Walling off with a 1/0 6.5k Mikan is a very good play at this point against decks which have already used up their on-reverse advantage engines, as it can force them to attack into you poorly, negating the gains they’ve already made. If your opponent is running a deck with a strong early play, you should consider holding onto the 2/1 anti-level 3 Mikan to deal with the threat when it arrives.

 

Level 2:

 TLR actually has a very serviceable Level 2; it can actually push for some decent power if necessary with the Gold Bar CX. This is probably when your 1/0 Yamis are most useful, as they sit at a decent base power on attack and can clean up any remnants of your opponent’s Level 1 game after their engine has dried up. If you’re very far ahead resource-wise, it can be good to use your 2/1>3/2 Mikan Change here, although I tend to save that for Level 3. There’s not too much to say here; you just need to pick up your last copies of 3/2 Yami however you can, and stick to that 6 stock goal. This essentially plays similarly to Level 1, except you’re no longer trying to set up your advantage engine, you’re trying to whittle down the benefits of your opponent’s advantage engine. It’s definitely worth making extremely aggressive pushes on your opponent’s clock at this point, and you want them at Level 3 before you. It’s not wrong to hold the Wind CX through refresh, by the way; 7CX/25 is an absolutely acceptable ratio that you shouldn’t be ashamed to aim for regularly.

 

Level 3:

 If you’ve played the game well so far, you should have your opponent around 3-2 or 3-3, and you simply need to slam triple Yami and close the game. If not, there are other things to consider. First of all, you will be drawing a lot of cards in your Yami turn; you may pick up an extra Wind CX, and I recommend you hold onto that as well as any 2 characters so that you can encore 2 of your Yamis and use the combo again the following turn. It’s also worth holding on to a money counter for obvious reasons. If you had more than 6 stock, you will also want to try and play some heals down to give you that extra survivability. Your opponent is essentially on a one to two turn clock against Yami (even Index) and you should abuse that pressure as much as possible. Close the game as quickly as possible; although you have good sustainability over two turns thanks to the Yami draws, your third turn will be extremely weak.

 

Some Matchups

 Yes, matchups do exist in this game, although literally nobody ever talks about them. I’ll put a score in brackets showing your rough overall position against the deck, so for example 55-45 would mean TLR has a slight edge, 60-40 would be a decent edge, and 80-20 would be a very free matchup. Keep in mind these aren’t necessarily percentages but indicate relative to other matchups how you should expect to perform. New Milky Holmes and IMCG haven’t been out for long enough to test, so they haven’t been included here.

 

YRB Puyo Puyo (45-55) (aka MMG PY huehue)

 PY has some very minor advantages over TLR; a better finisher, a very strong early play, and a Level 1 game that simply doesn’t care what you’re doing. It’s one of the best compressing decks currently in the game, and if it gets a lead over you in the damage race it is absolutely unbeatable. It does have some weaknesses, though, and you must exploit these to give yourself a better chance of winning: PY’s Level 1 doesn’t take cards off your board, unless they field bombs, so you will get more mileage off your on-board cards – however, against bombs their field will be left empty, so even if you do encore your stuff you may not have anything to reverse with your CX combos. The deck is also extremely vulnerable to triggering CXs, and if it misses a CX combo (not common, but it can happen) then it can fall apart. It can be hard to take advantage of these moments, and you almost have to predict them based on how your opponent is searching and salvaging. However if you can push your opponent at these points, you can come out ahead in the damage race. Unlike TLR, which wants its opponent at 3-2, PY is content having an opponent at 3-1, and a good PY player will work towards the “free turn” idea of pushing extremely hard at Level 2 to buy them a turn worth of safe damage where they can blow out their hand to fish for their combo without doing anything particularly relevant on board. As a TLR player, you need to try and keep up the pressure so they don’t get the chance to do this. PY tends to have a very weak Level 2 board though, and you should capitalise on this. If it comes down to a finisher vs finisher setup, and you’re getting your cards on the board the turn after them, you will lose. The Level 0 game is extremely hard here, as with a Riki clone and a runner, plus several ways of evading bombs, PY has an easy time getting to Level 1 first. 1/1 Yami is a very important card here, and you can throw away all your counters, because power isn’t relevant in the matchup and you both have hexproof – although if for some reason your opponent misses the double hexproof, slam that money. You must have antisalvage in play by the second turn of Level 1 or your opponent will triple Amitie you and enjoy mad plusses; even if you do have it, if you’re behind in damage they’ll salvage anyway.

 

YRB Nisekoi (55-45)

 Another very close matchup that will require a lot of practice. The Nisekoi Level 1 is not particularly oppressive, although it does have bombs and a solid salvage. Antisalvage is an important card here, turning off your opponent’s gates and Marika combo, but more important is making sure your own engine goes off at Level 1; you certainly won’t have the chance to use it at Level 2 when Onoderas start hitting the board. Even if you do have the 2/1 anti-level 3, you’ll have to buff it significantly, as a lot of players are (correctly) choosing to play the +2k support behind their Onoderas, which can get them up to well over 15k with counters. One strategy is to rush their Level 1 game very hard in the hopes that they will not be able to get their events out in time and may be stuck with very little stock to take advantage of their superior Level 2. 1/0 6.5k Mikan is a key player at Level 1 here; put it in front of an encore support to act as a brick wall which has to be bombed poorly. This is perhaps the only matchup where it’s worth holding a money counter from Level 2; Marika will hit you for a significant amount of damage if you don’t have it ready, and it’s for this reason that your stock goal should actually be 8 or 9 instead of 6. It’s actually quite likely that NK will push you to Level 3 first, due to their Onoderas, and this is not a bad thing. You’ll probably have to play two Yami turns, and remember to hold onto those two junk characters plus a money counter and a second yellow CX so that you can close out the game on the following turn.

 

YB Index (60-40)

 The key point here is that ID can’t actually finish the game; they just prevent you from dealing damage. Is this good enough to stop you from winning? Nope. ID has serious problems with keeping a relevant board on the backswing, and you’ll often get to chip in for an extra damage or two here and there, which will add up quite a bit over time. Abuse their weak backswing powers to get those on-reverse effects off as much as possible, and never stop pushing for damage. This is one game you want to play very fast as soon as Level 1 starts, so that your opponent can’t build enough stock to heal through your Level 3 onslaught. Try to play around the freefresh at Level 2 if possible but it’s not a big deal; if your opponent instead chooses to play the early play Index, don’t miss the punish and get that 2/1 Mikan doing work. Their 3/2 Toumas are hexproof, so you can’t get around the cancel burn, but their other Level 3s aren’t, so you’ll always have something to drop your money counter on. This isn’t actually as hard a matchup as some people make it out to be, and a lot of ID players think this is a positive matchup for them – it’s not. Heal counterplay has its limits and it simply can’t keep up if you put the pressure on early. This is one match where your 3/2 Mikans are going to be particularly useful, as Level 3 can go on for a few turns, and you will want a way to push for damage before and after you play Yamis.

 

YGB Kantai (60-40)

 think many people would put this at 55-45 or even 50-50, but it’s undeniable that TLR applies a massive amount of pressure at Level 3 and KC doesn’t have a way to deal with this. Although you have a superior Level 1, and can hit well over their 2.5k counter range, KC has an incredibly strong Level 2 in Haguro Kai Ni, and it’s at this point that a weaker TLR player could fall behind. It’s important to play the Level 1>2 transition well, so you’ll have to plan a few turns ahead; once you get used to doing this, the matchup becomes much easier. Aim to put your opponent at 1-5 or 1-6, then drop a climax and turn everything sideways. Ideally, do that again the following turn. Although HKN has an on-field counter mechanic, it’s important to remember that it leaves an open slot, so you can in effect bait it out of your opponent using a pumped 1/0 Mikan. This will give you a bit of extra damage to keep up the pressure. Essentially, you want to deny your opponent as many turns of HKN as possible. This is the only matchup where it can be correct to commit more to the board so that you can push damage, because you don’t want to give KC the opportunity to slow-roll you through the endgame. Keep in mind that their finishers are far inferior to yours, and will take two turns to finish you even if you’re at 3-2, and play accordingly.

 

GRB Idolmaster (65-35)

 Anti-salvage, play your massive 1/0s and ignore their Harukas, just walk all over their Level 1 game and force them to play their finisher while you’re sitting pretty at 2-4ish. Although they do have a burn on attack mechanic, which you can’t money, and two extra burns that occur outside of combat, you can still money their regular attack if you have the stock. The two extra burns are key here, because they hit both players, generally forcing your opponent into a bad position damage-wise if they don’t win the game straight out – which they won’t unless you’re already at 3-2, since their finisher is roughly as strong as a triple Yami. You can actually win this fairly comfortably with double Yami instead of triple Yami, so don’t be afraid to play the money counter, since you’ll probably be opening your Yami turn with your opponent at 3-3 or 3-4. IM does have access to the Jupiter event, which can give them a couple of heals, but it’s rarely enough to swing the outcome of this game enough in their favour. TLR simply has too much going for it at Level 1 and 2. Avoid your brainstorms, though, as they are basically a 4500 power buff for 1/0 Harukas. If your opponent decides not to field Harukas against you, they’ll have a poor board on the backswing, so go to town.

 

YGB Little Busters (55-45)

 Read PY, but minus the bombs and compression and add in stronger damage pushes pre-3. You’ll simply have to solitaire better than they do and you’ll have more opportunity to stabilize. Your 1/1 Yami is not as useful here, since you’ll be dealing with clock kicks, but it’s still good at Level 2 for converting junk cards into better 1/0s to try and deal with their Musashis. You may need to drop a money counter at some point to weather the onslaught, but otherwise treat this matchup similarly to PY. Luckily, this set can’t finish you in a single turn from 3-0 or 3-1 like a triple Arle can, but after that second turn you’ll likely be finished. Sure, they’ll have no cards in hand, but you’ll have lost.

 

RGB Madoka (60-40)

 …I’ll be honest, I don’t actually know what Madoka does even though I’ve played against it at least 100 times, but I haven’t lost against it in a tournament while playing TLR. I know they have a decent 1/0 bomb, and a fairly strong early play, plus a bunch of freelo heals off Sayaka’s Wish, but otherwise it doesn’t really do anything that stands out to me. I’d like to put this as an even more favourable matchup simply because I haven’t lost to it but seeing as I don’t really know why, I’ll just leave it where it is. Just play this like an ordinary matchup, I guess.

 

YRG Monogatari (60-40)

You basically have their Level 1, but with higher numbers and no bombs. Plus, they have a ditch 1 check top 4 card in the 1/0 gahara, which is great for them. Level 1 is going to be a bit of a wet noodle fight although it’s not unlikely you’ll be able to counter over one of their on-reverse combos and gain a bit of tempo. At Level 2, make sure you smash dat like button 2/1 Mikan down if they Change into the 3/2 defensive scry and get rid of it asap. Use all the buffs; just make sure you get the punish. Although defensive scry does practically nothing against multiple cancel burns like Yami because of turn player priority (basically you get to use all your cancel burns before they can use any of their scries, and then for each cancel-burn that goes through, they can scry once per character that has the effect), it’s an annoying fat hexproof body that you don’t want to deal with. They can prevent you from using money counter in various ways at Level 3 (Kaiki, hexproof etc) so be aware of this, but otherwise you can essentially treat this as a regular matchup. If they drop the 3/3 counter on you, it won’t do much because of the nature of your finisher, so don’t be too worried.

 

Rin/Saber/Shirou Master Fate Stay/Night (I have been made aware these are not the same, for clarification I mean the build with L1 Illya) (60-40)

I personally don’t have much experience with this matchup, but the way I read it, you have a much stronger Level 1 and they don’t meaningfully interact with your deck in a way which shuts you down completely. However, they do have that absolutely busted Shirou support that gives +1soul, meaning that a triple Rin/Archer finisher will triple side attack you for 2/1/2/1/2/1 – super crazy, if you ask me. Remember to keep the anti-salvage live against decks that crutch on salvage.

 

Everything else (75-25 or 80-20)

TLR honestly has some of the most oppressive Swiss matchups in the game, and you should feel extremely comfortable against non-descript decks. Be careful not to slip into autopilot mode though; you should always have your long- and short-term goals in mind and be making meaningful plays that have an effect beyond the current turn. Even if you’ve played the deck for a while, it’s okay to go into the tank during some turns in order to make sure you’re making optimal plays. Eventually your decision-making process will speed up and you’ll differentiate between important and unimportant information more easily, but it’s not necessarily easy to reach that point. There are plenty of players who cannot stop making basic errors, or who incorrectly judge their advantage over their opponent at a given point.

Currently, I think TLR is the second best deck to take into Swiss, just behind Nisekoi, and the second best deck to take into Top Cut, after PY. Nisekoi is simply so ridiculously dominant against decks that aren’t Top Cut worthy, to the extent that it essentially has 100-0 matchups against everything that isn’t Tier A+ or higher. Against those decks in A+ or S, though, Nisekoi has some very poor matchups, namely, it has no game against PY, it can’t effectively deal with the lategame of ID, and it has a slightly disadvantaged matchup against MG. On the other hand, in the pool of decks that you’ll see in Top Cut, TLR only has the PY matchup as very slightly below even, and it’s definitely possible to pull that up to 50-50 if you get used to the very chess-like methodology that I tend to encourage. Although I will admit, there aren’t many people who play PY at an optimal level and if nobody plays PY extraordinarily well in your area then TLR would definitely be the best deck to take into Top Cut.

TLR has a very low barrier to entry; you can pretty much pick up and play the deck at a roughly average level and do better than with whatever idler tier junk you were using before (probably RG Werewolves). That being said, there is an enormous difference between a good TLR player and a poor TLR player. In general, when watching a game a lot of players tend to underestimate how badly a player is losing and underestimate how far ahead the other player may be – redirect yourselves to earlier in this essay where a video was linked of my PY v CG loss, a perfect example of a game where it may not be obvious that I’m extraordinarily far behind (although I definitely am, and this is probably the worst loss I’ve ever suffered while playing the deck). TLR is one of those decks, similar to PY, where you will have won the game well before you actually get your opponent to Level 4. There’s a certain level of inevitability that can’t be overcome no matter what. As you become more experienced at playing the deck and begin to more critically analyse your plays – active, rather than passive play – you’ll become more aware of the situations that signal a win for you. Suddenly you’ll find that instead of your goal against every deck being to get them to 3-2 and triple Yami, you’ll have different goals that occur earlier in the game. For example, against Charlotte you’ll know that if you enter Level 2 equal in damage to your opponent, but they have fewer cards in hand, you can always pull ahead in the damage race because they will struggle to manage their resources, so you’ll always be able to get them to 3-2 with time to spare – your game strategy has now changed from “get them to 3-2” to “have hand advantage at the start of Level 2”. You can adjust your play accordingly to focus more on that new goal, because the 3-2 goal is more inevitable once you pass the first goal. Then you might realise that you tend to be equal or ahead in damage and have a hand advantage against Charlotte if you play your 1/0 Yamis earlier than against some other decks, so you’ll prioritise those cards more in that matchup than in another matchup, knowing that when you get those, you’ll be able to get to Level 2 in a better position, which will in turn make it easier to get to 3-2. This top-down approach will improve your game enormously, and although I’ve only given a taste of the thought process behind it, I recommend you adopt it with any deck you wish to play at a high win percentage. Unless that deck is new B IMCG, which is the most braindead, autopilot garbage that I have ever seen come out of any card game.

Although I’m an enormous proponent of PY and it’s definitely the best deck to play in Top Cut, given the current game environment I would always take TLR into a serious Best of 1 tournament. It is simply much less susceptible to bad luck. While for TLR, a poor earlygame can be recovered, on PY there’s basically no way to come back from successive turns of bad luck. TLR is also a little less thought-intensive; when you’re playing PY you’ll have to go into the tank almost every turn after Level 1 begins until the game is over, and this can be tiring over the course of a full day. I’m not saying it’s easy to play properly, but it’s a little less thought intensive because the deck is far less dynamic and doesn’t have critical decision points at every play.

Even I need a break sometimes, you know?

I mean, just look at how bloody long this article is.

Good night, you magnificent bastards.

-Nap

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15 comments

  1. asthtorean · June 18, 2016

    Since the main reason behind running both the 1/0 Mikan and the 1/0 Yami is to have more options to grab with the 1/1 event, what ratio of 1/0 6.5k and 1/0 glass cannons would you play in other decks (which don’t have a similar event)?

    Like

    • Napoleon · June 19, 2016

      I’d still run the 2-2 split even if the event didn’t exist simply because there are situations where a 1/0 6.5k is better than the Yami.

      I can’t really give an answer to the rest of your question because it’s highly dependent on what the deck is, but in general 1/0 6.5ks are better than generic glass cannons.

      Like

  2. Sephallia · September 6, 2016

    Hello, first of all thanks so much for this post. I’ve only recently started playing WS, when I started I thought that WS was mostly just a luck-based game. Certainly, luck takes a big influence, but I’ve started cluing in to the fact that I actually do have a fair amount more control than I had originally thought. Until now, I think I’ve mostly just made decisions based on the current turn, and mostly just tried to fill board and zerg for soul damage. As a result, it was definitely a surprise for me to see that at level zero, in most cases (at least for this deck, not sure about others) it’s actually better to limit the attacks at level 0 to 1 or 2 attacks. I think it makes sense though. When I just ran out my hand to do 3 hand attacks at lv 0, I’d find my hand to be very limited for almost the rest of the game.

    Anyway, I do have a question. In this post, you said that you’d write another one about getting better at managing compression ratios to be able to more consistently be able to achieve X/25. Have you gotten around to that yet? I checked the front page of the blog and found this post and scrolled up from it but didn’t manage to find it. If it is posted somewhere and I just went looking in the wrong place, please let me know where to find it. Otherwise, would you be able give me some short tips on how to achieve better compression rates to tide me over until you find time to make the full post?

    Like

    • Napoleon · September 8, 2016

      Hey, thanks for your interest.

      I haven’t written a post about compression yet, but the simplest way to approach compression is to attack three times per turn, refresh with 5-6 in clock, and have 7+ cards in hand at all times.

      Like

      • Sephallia · September 8, 2016

        Thanks for the response! I’ll try to think about how to achieve those things in the upcoming games that I play. In my recent games, one of the hurdles I’ve been facing is that I’ve been trying to attack three times per turn to build as much stock as possible. However, that ends up bringing my hand size down. I’m having trouble seeing how I’d be able to fulfill both of these conditions together. Well, I think I’ll start with trying harder to preserve my hand and see how that affects stock generation, and then perhaps try to find a happy middle.

        Liked by 1 person

    • Napoleon · September 10, 2016

      You’re actually doing a lot more correct than you might think you are, and the issue you’re having may be linked to mental approach, so I’ll try to give you another perspective akin to a chess opening line. It appears to me you’re approaching several concepts in isolation (hand, stock and board) when they’re actually all solved by the same play. Hopefully this explanation should tie them all together.

      From Level 1 onwards there are awfully few situations in which you don’t want to attack 3 times per turn, as you’ll need to keep up pressure on your opponent’s clock to avoid losing tempo; i.e., if you attack 2 times per turn, and I attack 3 times per turn, after 3 turns I’ve attacked 9 times and you’ve attacked 6 times, putting you a full turn worth of opportunity behind me. I’d go so far as to say that if you’re attacking fewer than 3 times per turn before Level 3, you’re misplaying. It’s an unfortunate axiom of WS.

      Your thought process should not be “how do I attack three times per turn, and generate and maintain stock and hand?”, but “I must attack three times per turn, so how do I generate and maintain stock and hand?.

      Generating stock is very straightforward: you have to attack 3 times per turn in order to play the game at even ground with your opponent, so you’re going to generate 3 stock per turn. If you are spending less than 3 stock per turn, then you’ll be maintaining stock. Top tier decks often have heavily costed endgames (PY wants 6+ stock, TLR wants 6+, PI wants 8+, LB wants 9+, MK wants 10+ etc), so to reach this critical mass they tend to play costless cards, stock generation cards/climaxes/combos, and spend as few stock as possible per turn on events, brainstorms and other such costed abilities. It’s a fair enough assessment to say that most of these decks will spend 0 stock per turn unless they need to pay out a climax or need to replenish their hand.

      Generating hand is more difficult but by no means complex. You are forced to draw 1 card per turn, and the process of clocking nets you an additional card, for a total of 2 cards per turn. You should play down 3 cards per turn in your front row, plus a climax on most turns from Level 1 onwards; let’s assume you lose all of your front row characters during your opponent’s turn. You’ll need to generate an extra two cards per turn in order to play out the following turn from the same handsize after your draw+clock phase – if you don’t want to clock, you have to generate three additional cards per turn, but whether or not you need to clock is another discussion entirely so we’ll focus on the more common scenario where you’re clocking every turn.

      Given the above two paragraphs, each turn we’re generating 3 stock, but need to generate 2 hand to be at a zero-sum. You could spend your 3 fresh stock to get back those 2 cards, but if you did that every turn you’d never have enough stock to play any costed cards. You should be using 0-2 stock per turn to get back 1-2 cards and return your hand to the same size it was when you started the cycle. This isn’t too difficult when you think about it: two costed +1s per turn (e.g. a brainstorm hitting 1 CX and an “on attack pay 1 to search” CX combo) will put you back at net hand size and let you play fairly comfortably, with a stock gain of 1 per turn. Costless +1s make your job even easier; even a single costless plus means you can spend up to 2 stock to get an additional card (e.g. an effect that reads “pay 2, rest this card, salvage a character) and still have a net stock gain of +1 per turn cycle.

      There’s no long term sustainability issue with this line of play, as you’ll always have ‘enough’ cards to play and you’ll slowly generate stock. If a game lasted for 6 turns after you hit Level 1, for example, this line of play would generate net 6 stock and have enough to play 3 characters at the 3/2 spec without much trouble. However, this approach never creates cards in hand beyond whatever you start with, so if you went into Level 1 with 4 cards in hand, you would enter Level 3 with 4 cards in hand. Playing off 4 cards is an issue, as it’s entirely possible that you’ll draw poorly and have cards in your grip that you won’t be able to play. This line also doesn’t give you the opportunity to play into your back row beyond Level 1. Instead, you want to have 7 cards in hand so that you’ll have the flexibility necessary to always make good plays.

      Much like in chess, there are two clear lines that deviate from this point onwards. The first is the most popular, most obvious, and also the most complex, being that you go into Level 1 with fewer than 7 cards in hand and attempt to recoup the difference from that point onwards. This is the line that the vast majority of players unwittingly follow, and follow badly, relying on brainstorms, costless and costed +1s, and the assumption of future gains, leading to a heavily luck-based game. Spoiler: this is a much stronger line to follow under a select few circumstances I won’t go into here.

      The other line is to enter Level 1 with 7 cards in hand. Once again, there are multiple lines leading to this point, all of varying difficulty.

      The line I offered and that you’ve mentioned is to attack less at Level 0. You’ll be playing fewer cards onto the board and drawing out your Level 0, giving you time to naturally increase your handsize by drawing cards, and giving you extra stock to mess around with at Level 1 onwards.

      In short, the choice to attack fewer than 3 times per turn at Level 0 is not simply a choice for Level 0 and 1, but a choice which changes the entire game, much like an opening in chess. Of course, just as in chess, your opponent is not forced to follow the line you’re playing and may opt towards a different game. Just as in chess, if your opponent is inexperienced or oblivious and they aren’t following a line, and you are, you’ll be more comfortable, because you’re playing into familiar theory that you’ve repeated hundreds of times, and they’re improvising based on the board.

      If you play this particular line until your eyes and hands bleed, you’ll notice your games feel different.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Sephallia · September 10, 2016

        Wow! Thank you for the in-depth response! I definitely was thinking of the three things as separate problems with potentially separate solutions. But seeing that stock, hand, and board are all part of a greater whole called Weiss Schwarz, I shouldn’t be too surprised that they’re actually linked. For some reason I had trouble getting to this thought on my own, but it makes a lot of sense after reading it.

        So my area’s local weekly tournament was yesterday and I tried playing with a more conservative level 0. I’m going for 1, or at most two attacks per turn. In essence to keep my hand size around 6 or 7 to enter level 1 with. Honestly, even with the few games I played yesterday, my games already began to feel different. For example, in general I had way more time to assemble the pieces for my 1/0 combo. Due to the accelerated pace of previous games, I found that I’d usually need to run out drop-searches or other things to get what I needed. I imagine playing a minus in order to assemble your advantage engine isn’t ideal. With the slower level 0, I was able to naturally draw into more pieces of my combo more often than not. Anyway, with this new experience, I have some more specific questions I’d like to ask.

        So say my opponent is oblivious to this line of play, goes second and slams down three level 0s. They proceed to turn their cards sideways and I end up cancelling some of the damage. Whatever the case, I go from 0-1 to 0-5. For sake of example, let’s say that a Riki clone or other such clock damage is not available to me so I can’t simply push myself into level 1. Suppose in this situation I have 3 level 0s in hand. Should I just respond in kind? It might depend on the specific situation too, but I feel that I’d probably be inclined to play out two and swing twice to not fall too far behind, and try to make back the difference in later stages of the game. Unless my opponent gets really lucky and later gets huge pluses with brainstorms or otherwise, playing the game in that way will likely restrict his options later on, giving me some room to catch up. On top of that, somewhat hidden behind this is that, running out their hand (and potentially stock) is likely to cause a poor refresh ratio, which should also work to my favor.

        In terms of spending 0-2 stock to gain 1-2 cards, it’s fairly simple to do this on the turn where I play out my Cx Combo. In most cases, the Cx combo turn will allow me to spend the 0 stock for 1-2 cards, but the issue is after that. Obviously brainstorms can miss, but what if the only brainstorm I have available is a clock-swap brainstorm? In which case, even if I hit, I might not have what I want in clock, and even worse, I might put a Cx into my clock. I imagine most of the top tier decks you mentioned have access to a searching or salvaging brainstorm though, so that might not be as relevant. For example, in the deck list outlined in this post, as far as I can tell, the only options available to plus are the 1/0 Mikan combo and the brainstorm. The 1/1 event is pretty nice, but it’s really just a hand-fix since it really only replaces itself and the discard. What do you do if you can’t Cx combo and you whiff the brainstorm? Will there just inevitably be turns where you can’t get back the 1-2 cards?

        Like

      • Napoleon · September 11, 2016

        Good to hear things are working out more smoothly for you. Which deck are you running?

        Re: Opponents responding to economic lines of play with aggressive lines of play:

        The short answer is “it depends” and you have to make a judgment based on experience, the deck your opponent is playing, and the cards that you’ve seen your opponent mulligan/play during turns one and two. It’s fair to say that if you only play for value (ie you always prioritise card economy over tempo/clock/hand pressure) then you’ll never run out of “correct” or “good” plays, but it’s equally fair to say that this approach fails to capitalise on your opponent’s misplays, poor compression etc. In the long game, playing conservatively tends to win, so it’s a good option to just slow roll the matchup, especially if you’re unsure about what your opponent is running.

        Re: Playing TLR and keeping handsize:

        You’re correct in saying that TLR does not have a whole suite of cards that allow it to maintain handsize, and this statement can also be broadly applied to almost every other deck. It’s also important not to crutch on brainstorms as advantage engines, as they are not perfectly consistent. TLR tends to have an easier time getting off its CX Combo, as it can recur Mikans with hand encore, search them easily from deck or clock, uses a bar trigger, and has the 1/1 power boost alongside the 0/0 power boost to confirm the reverse, so it’s a rare scenario where you whiff the combo completely. TLR also has the unique (among top decks) ability to give hand encore to any of its cards, meaning that you can improve the functionality of your hand – ie, although you might have 7 cards in hand, it’s probable that some of those cards are not optimal for the situation, so even recurring a 0/0 brainstorm that you’ve left in the front row would be better than holding onto a 0/0 Mea. It’s hard to evaluate just how powerful this effect is; although it doesn’t provide obvious advantage in the same sense as a CX combo, it improves the value of your CX combos by making them easier to perform, and improves the value of the cards in your hand by turning dead cards into good cards. It’s not unusual that you’ll have a turn where your total handsize will drop by 1 or 2, but TLR doesn’t really care, as it moves into a tempo role in Level 2.
        TLR also maintains handsize by playing cards that don’t die, e.g. 2/1 Nemesis, 2/1 Mikan, 2/1 Mikan > 3/2 Mikan Change, 1/0 6.5k Mikan. These are less obvious, but still relevant for long term card economy.

        Surprise, TLR isn’t actually as braindead as people think it is 😉

        Like

      • Sephallia · September 11, 2016

        I’ve been playing different decks, but most recently I played the G/Y build of GochiUsa. My build is fairly similar to the one by Top Tier Tears but very slightly different. I run 2 less copies of the brainstorm for 2 more copies of the drop-search. I just didn’t see much value to running 4 clock-swap brainstorms and felt that, especially with the 1/0 combo being top-check rather than search, having more drop-searches to turn those dead cards into good cards would be nice.

        Re: Opponents responding to economic lines of play with aggressive lines of play:

        That makes a lot of sense. Unfortunately, having just started I don’t really have a great idea of what different decks specifically do or look like. I’ll take your suggestion and just keep trying to play the slow game. If my opponent tries to play the aggressive game, I’ll try to take note of what deck they’re playing and see how I feel for the rest of the game and build my knowledge from there.

        Re: Playing TLR and keeping handsize:

        Yeah, I do realize that TLR has an easier time getting off its 1/0 CX Combo, but there will be turns or games where the cards just don’t come together for whatever reason. Honestly, “whiffing the CX combo” was more relevant to the G/Y GochiUsa build I was playing than yamikan, but seeing that I was commenting on a post about yamikan and the decks are… loosely similar, I thought it’d be best to just refer to the deck outlined here.

        The hand encore is definitely very nice. From a handsize perspective, discarding a card to keep one on board is essentially the same as playing the discarded card in place of the card that would have been sent to the WR. Assuming the card I keep is more valuable than the card I discard, I can definitely see how I gain value out of that. Especially if the cards I’m encoring are the 1/0 Mikans that CX combo and I have the bar in hand.

        Re: Cards that don’t die:

        I understand some of them, though from my experience, more often than not I find my opponent still has a way to push through. Could you explain the 1/0 6.5k Mikan though? From my experience, a lot of other sets have similar 1/0s available. The 6.5k Mikan at highest goes to 7.5k in the center. That’s fine, but generally speaking, my opponent’s 1/0 6.5ks have backrow support as well. On top of that, as it’s their turn they can further pump via other card effects or playing a 1k1. Though I certainly have some cards that I consider “more likely” to survive into my next turn, generally I assume that my front row will be wiped by the time I reach my next turn.

        Clearly my knowledge of sets and such is rather limited, but I don’t think that any deck in Weiss Schwarz is braindead. Because of the random element, there are so many different situations that can come about. Regardless of what deck is being played, the player will always have to strive to make the best possible decision in the given situation. That requires both experience and a brain. I hope over our discussions in this comment thread that I’ve shown that I have the latter, and am eager to work toward obtaining the former. Honestly, I’m pretty sure people just call decks braindead out of salt.

        Like

      • Napoleon · September 11, 2016

        I personally haven’t played GU (although I have played against it) but I agree with lychee’s build. Drop searchers in general are fairly weak beyond the first copy and they are expensive to use. It’s also very hard to reverse anything with a drop searcher past Turn 1/2, so they’ll set you behind in damage. Brainstorms are important because they allow you to mill through your deck at any time, and in this case since they’re pay 1 tap self brainstorms, you can use two at once if necessary. Clock brainstorms don’t seem awfully enticing but they’re not terrible; although you can’t search out from a large pool of cards, they actually mill through your deck more than any other type of brainstorm (bar TP) because you have to replace the card you pull out of your clock with a 5th card from the top of your deck. However these are all very minor details that don’t feature prominently when you play the game – running 3-4 brainstorms, you’ll notice you always have them, and you’ll notice you tend to compress better, but it might not be necessarily clear what the sequence of events is that leads up to that point. I could honestly talk about brainstorms forever because there’s a lot of maths behind it, but I’ll leave that for another article.

        Sometimes, you’re going to whiff your combo, and that’s just how it’s going to be. Games are rarely clockwork (although the more careful and comfortable you are with your plays, the cleaner your games will seem). If you miss your +1 combos/effects on a given turn, you may have to recoup the difference later. That said, it’s important to understand that the number of cards you have in your hand doesn’t actually matter beyond flexibility – otherwise said, if you’re only going to play 4 cards per turn, and your hand is usually sitting at 5-6 cards, that’s totally fine as long as those 5-6 cards include 4 good cards that you want to play.

        If you’re slow rolling a game, and playing for value and card economy over your opponent, your opponent will run out of (good) cards to put onto the board. If your opponent misses a beat then they might have to field a 0/0 into your full board of 1/0s, or they’ll have to play down utility cards as attackers. There is also the threat of counters. While these aren’t value plays, as you’re swapping your counter in hand for your card on board, the threat of a counter can encourage your opponent to side attack so that they 1) don’t lose their character and 2) don’t leave an open row for you to deal extra soul damage. In these mid-game situations, oversize characters are very useful, as they can provide a very unassuming wall to your opponent’s entire Level 0 and Level 1 cardpool. While it’s true that almost every set has some way to deal with oversize characters, if you can play them when your opponent is burning out their resources you’ll be forcing them to dig for a specific response, often at the cost of something else.

        This entire gameplan that I’m describing has a lot to do with applying small amounts of pressure early on. Attempting to make ‘value plays’ – e.g. using one of your characters to remove two of your opponent’s characters – will eventually create opportunities for you and lead to poor play from your opponent.

        For what it’s worth, if you ever need a break and you are actually looking for a braindead deck, try Do-Dai.

        Like

      • Sephallia · September 12, 2016

        Hmm I see. While playing the deck, I definitely found that there were moments where I wish I had more mill, but in the end, I think things turned out alright. I think perhaps I’m just overly concerned about the possibilities of hitting the clock brainstorm and then moving a CX from the top of my deck into my clock. In the end, I still lack general Weiss experience, as well as experience and extended data about playing the deck. Since I can’t just play online and match up against random people to get more experience with the game, I’ll just need to slowly learn and feel out these things for myself as I meet up and play with other people in my local area when time permits. I definitely look forward to reading the brainstorm article when you find the time to write it up!

        So basically, the idea of slow rolling is that it will give me the best chance of having the right answers to my opponent’s board at the right time. I guess I was fixating too much on hand-size and ignoring the bigger picture.

        Alright, I understand. Basically the point isn’t that the cards that you listed won’t die, but rather they’re at least less likely to die at their respective stages of the game, and even if they do die, generally speaking the opponent will need to spend resources unfavorably to get through them.

        Honestly, it sounds like Do-Dai will be a deck I avoid. Of course I really enjoy WS because the cards are themed after different anime series. But more than that, from what I’ve experienced, WS has a really nice balance between randomness and control. There’s enough randomness that I feel like I don’t necessarily need a S+ “God Tier” deck to compete, but also enough control that someone who puts significant thought into their deck build and play will take the win more often than someone who just throws a deck together and plays for the heck of it. There are plenty of other activities that I can do when I want to avoid thinking.

        Thanks for all of your help so far! I learned a lot from reading the post itself and from our exchange of comments. Honestly, when I posted my comment, I wasn’t really expecting it to blossom into a thread like this, but am really glad that it did. Thank you again for taking your time to not only answer my questions but provide deeper explanations along with the answer.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. frog · January 16

    What changes would you make for playing in an English enviroment?

    Like

    • Napoleon · January 18

      You use the run/ren combo alongside the 1/0 mikan bar combo in order to maintain advantage

      EN Meta is basically just shitty wall decks and although these are objectively terrible in JP (hence why nobody plays them and TLR can shine) TLR has a bit of an annoying time against them etc etc

      Run/Ren provides you a (slightly inefficient but still fine) way to maintain your game even when you would normally be squeezed for cards

      You should also consider running some stock souls instead of bars with the 1/0 Mikan, so that you can side attack more effectively in situations where the 1/0 mikan is not reliably going to reverse

      With that said, 1/0 Mikan does hit 9k on 2 lanes with a puchi mikan, so it’s not terribly hard to get over most things, but if you end up in a tournament which is PDF/AoT etc then you’ll need Run/Ren.

      Like

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