A lot of you may be wondering where I’ve been and what I’ve been doing for the last 5 months of seemingly no activity. In short, I discovered this thing called Netflix so I’ve been watching actual TV shows all day long as well as grinding in various RPGs. However, with the release of the first official English Weiss Schwarz booster box, I decided to take a little time and write about my thoughts on the future of Weiss Schwarz and it’s community.
Being the owner of a card store that mainly specializes in Weiss Schwarz and Vanguard, I try to pay close attention to how the members of these communities act towards each other as well as how the communities act towards each other. Before I begin, I want to make it clear that I’m an American and during this article I’m going to be really only talking about the future of Weiss Schwarz in America. My comments can probably extend to other areas as well but I’m writing this mainly in response to the recent changes in the American scene.
As many of you may know, English trial decks for Fate/Zero and Puella Magi Madoka Magica were released almost a year ago and following their release was a lot of discussion of how seriously Bushiroad was going to take the English side of Weiss Schwarz. There was also a Disgaea trial deck that was released a few years ago but it was never really a sign of Weiss Schwarz getting English sets because it wasn’t officially created by Bushiroad. Fast forward to where we are now: the booster box for Puella Magi Madoka Magica was released 13 days ago, Sword Art Online is officially getting an English release that is set to be released early July, and the language barrier that was stopping so many people from playing is starting to fade away. Exciting stuff! At this point you might be wondering, if everything seems to be going great so far then why exactly am I writing this article? The answer to this is that there are some concerns that I have for the future of this game and want to share my thoughts on these matters. I’ll start off with the biggest issue currently at hand.
When Bushiroad first announced that they were officially picking up English for WS, a lot of people (myself included) wondered what would become of the Japanese scene in America. I have about 13 decks that are all in Japanese so my first thought when they announced English WS was: Do I need to completely remake these in English if I want to use them in official tournaments? That would take a lot of time, effort, and money that I’m not sure I would be willing to spend. A little bit after the announcement, it was revealed on the English Weiss Schwarz website that English and Japanese cards would be allowed together. How great! Everything’s going perfectly! Or should I say, everything was going perfectly until 3 weeks ago when I received 2 e-mails from Bushiroad with links to sign my shop up for official tournaments. You may have guessed it when I said 2 e-mails, but pretty much Bushiroad decided to change their minds and sent me 1 message which was to sign up for English only tournaments and another message that was to sign up for Japanese only tournaments. A mountain of questions immediately started forming in my mind, when other card store owners started messaging me to ask if I had heard the news. We were all extremely confused and agreed that Japanese cards should be allowed with English cards in some way. We had always known that there would be 2 separate tournaments, but we were under the impression that 1 would be for English only and the other would be for both English and Japanese cards.
Some of you may be wondering, “Why is this such a big deal?” Now keep in mind that everything I write is my own opinion and isn’t necessarily true or going to happen, but let me share my opinions on what I feel could possibly happen in the future because of this. The very idea of splitting English cards and Japanese cards implies the splitting of old players and new players. Bushiroad was hoping that the release of English WS would cause many new players to start playing and join the already existing community; however, by not allowing the 2 sides to be actively involved with each other on a competitive level, this makes one think that the competitive side of WS will never reach it’s full potential. The American scene isn’t really too competitive in the first place, but it’s definitely not because we just want to be casual players, we were just never presented a real competitive environment. Among all the players in America, I consider myself to be on the more competitive side since I used to participate in tournaments every week and have gone to some relatively large WS events; because of this, you may think that I’m biased when it comes to wanting a more competitive atmosphere. To ease your minds, I’ve asked many customers at my store (both competitive and casual) what their opinions on the competitive scene are and all of them, including the casual players, said they would love to see a more competitive environment. For the competitive players it’s a way to test their skills and play new players that they would otherwise never get the chance to play. For casual players it’s an entertaining thing to spectate and can help them learn by watching new play styles. Overall, a thriving competitive scene would help everyone learn more about Weiss Schwarz and would help grow the community. Similarly. if the old players aren’t allowed to play with the new players without having to spend time and money on new decks, it could cause a lot of old players to not really care about the new players and, although that doesn’t directly hurt anyone, it certainly doesn’t benefit anyone. It could potentially keep the old players in a stagnant state with no real reason to get any more into the game and therefore cause new players to stop playing the game since it seems like the game isn’t going anywhere.
Of course some people are alright with the division between English players and Japanese players. A lot of the new players that start playing as a result of English releases come from a long history of playing card games and therefore have a different view on card game communities than I do. You see, I was never really a card game player before I started playing WS. I was simply a college student who watched too much anime and one day walked into a store that sold Angel Beats! cards. Compared to me, people who start playing WS after Magic and Yu-Gi-Oh! might not be so trustful of others since (though I hate to say it) there are a lot of cheaters and thieves in other card games. If I had known people who cheated in card games in the past, I would definitely not trust people telling me what every single Japanese card in their deck does. Many players may think that it’s good to have an English only tournament simply so that no one could cheat by mis-translating their card. Although I do agree with this, I am still in favor of when we thought there would be 2 tournaments: 1 for English cards only and the other for Japanese and English cards. I honestly believe that that is the best format we could have with the new transition into English sets and really hope that Bushiroad eventually changes their mind.
Another concern that I have for the future of Weiss Schwarz is that we have no idea which series are going to be released first. Madoka was a pretty solid pick as the first booster box, Sword Art Online is amazingly popular among both anime lovers and regular people so that will for sure be a huge success, and Fate/Zero isn’t as popular but it definitely appeals to the players that like more action oriented and realistically drawn shows so it’s not a bad 3rd pick. What concerns me is: what will be next? I don’t want to sound like I’m talking poorly of the higher ups in Bushiroad, but I have no idea who chooses what set will be released and, for all I know, they might not really know too much about the current Anime world and what people are into at the moment. I’ve talked to some people that work in the American Bushiroad branch about my opinions and what sets to release, and time and time again I keep telling them: release Fairy Tail in English. Fairy Tail (although not as popular in Japan) is extremely popular in America and would bring so many new players in just because it’s Fairy Tail. I don’t want this to become a rant that just talks about what I want to happen or anything like that, but can you imagine what would happen if the new set was something like Phantom or CANAAN? Obviously those 2 are less popular titles in WS so it’s very unlikely that they will be released in English anytime soon, but I can see sets that are decently popular like Da Capo or Milky Holmes getting English releases; even though those 2 are relatively well known, they definitely wouldn’t entice many new people to join just by their very existence being in Weiss. Of course this is all speculation but I worry quite a bit because I’ve seen Bushiroad make some pretty questionable decisions in the past.
I don’t want anyone to start thinking badly of Bushiroad because, without them, there wouldn’t be a community in the first place! I simply want people to start thinking about what all the recent changes mean to us as players and what we must do to overcome certain obstacles. As I stated at the beginning of this article, I’m a card store owner so I try my best to observe what’s happening in the community and try to resolve and conflicts that may arise. I don’t want to see a community that gets capped at a casual level where things never really get worse but never get any better either. On that note, I’ll talk about some of the hopes I have for the future.
One thing that I have always loved about Weiss Schwarz is the fact that when I play someone new, I know that I can relate to them in some way or the other. Whether it’s the fact that we simply both like Anime, or the fact that Kanade is also their Waifu, we can probably get along at some level. I’m always happy to meet new players because I find that most of the players in the world are relatively nice and always willing to help. I feel that if this kind of community kept growing then it would keep becoming better and better. Even if things never take a more competitive turn and we become stuck in a metaphorical hole of casualness, the one thing that would keep this community alive is the fact that everyone is generally nice to everyone. One possibility that could happen in the future is that the English side actually becomes extremely popular and the Japanese side itself starts to die out. Though this isn’t exactly “good” for the current community, I would argue at the same time that it is good overall because it would mean a larger player base and more inevitable support for the English market. This possibility kind of sucks for people like my current customers and I but we if we want to keep playing we would probably adapt and simply move on. One thing that I want to remind everyone is that Bushiroad is the first company to really bring a well rounded Anime card game to America (to the best of my knowledge). Even though they were pitted against companies such as Konami and Wizards, they were able to hold their ground and that definitely says something. If anything, Bushiroad is doing something right so far and all we can do is hope that they continue to make the correct decision.
I just reread everything I wrote so far and this really comes across like a long and disorganized rant. I hope that I don’t sound like I’m angry at Bushiroad or anything like that, I simply want to express my feelings about the current events that have been happening. I mean, Bushiroad could have simply decided to never make Weiss Schwarz into English and the community would stay in a rut, forever trying to solve the mystery of the language barrier. The fact is that Bushiroad is trying to help the community, and that alone is enough for me. I still think that they should change the tournament system to have both English only tournaments and mixed tournaments, but if this never changes then we just have to move on and try to deal with whatever happens.
That’s all I have for today. I want to say thanks to everyone who’s been reading my blog despite there being no updates in a long time. When I checked my stats today I was sure that there had been no views in the last few months but, to my surprise, there were actually quite a few! Hopefully this gives me the motivation to write more and more in the future. Feel free to leave your comments and let me know what you think about the future of Weiss Schwarz.