Welcome to the second Weiss/Weib Schwarz post. This time I’ll be reviewing trial decks.
It’s a trap!
Thanks Admiral Ackbar. That was a close one. I’ll buy from this trustworthy-looking gentleman over here.
(For non-Transformers fans, the Kreon on the right is Swindle)
Check out the previous post:
Part 1 – Play Experience and Observations
If you read my previous post, I took some jabs at trial decks. Why? They’re terrible. You might be thinking “Of course they’re terrible. They’re meant to teach people how to play, not be awesome out of the box.” You are correct. However, I feel trial decks are worse than your average starter deck in many of the games I’ve played.
The original Yugi and Kaiba Yu-Gi-Oh! decks were good buys. The cards were awful short of a few, but contained staple Spells/Traps making these decks worthwhile purchases for kids or new players. It helped that both included a decent amount of recognizable monsters from the show. Doesn’t matter if they’re terrible cards. They add value.
I can justify buying almost any Yu-Gi-Oh! starter or structure deck for reprints of hard-to-get cards, exclusives, or as a decent way to start. Some of these decks aren’t too shabby if you mash together three copies. Most of all, decks these days introduce you to a variety of gameplay mechanics, archetypes, and interesting combos.
It sounds like I’m pushing you to buy Yu-Gi-Oh! decks. I’m not. I don’t really purchase them myself, but based on the ones I have and recent ones, there’s a clear trend that Upper Deck and Konami wanted you to buy them. Even if it’s to rip them open, take out the exclusives/reprints, and throw the rest in the trash, that’s still a reason to buy them.
Moving on to Schwarz trial decks. Many years ago I bought a deck and some packs. I ignorantly paid scalper prices and chose Fate/Stay Night as it was the manliest thing there.
I didn’t understand the game on a deeper level at the time. What I thought were good plays with the deck were trash in a real game. While having enough cards from the start allowed me to play, you just can’t get a good handle on the game that way. It helps you grasp the basic rules, but trial decks simply do not give you the tools to play a decent game or cards to help you clear the learning curve and be better.
Most trial decks have around twenty vanillas (effectless)/clones out of fifty cards. When I say clone, I mean they are word-for-word the same generic effect nobody needs and easily outclassed. They take up space in every set/product. These may as well be vanillas since you’ll never play them competitively. It’s bad comedy when around 40% of your purchase is garbage. Yes, you can say that about Yu-Gi-Oh! decks too, but they’re saved by good reprints and exclusives. It’s one thing if trial decks reprinted rares or good uncommons from its respective set, but no.
The biggest insult was that my Fate/Stay Night deck did not have a level 3. How do you exclude that? Playing characters from level 0-3 is a main concept of the game. Games end around when players can use level 3s but you’re stuck with 2s? Imagine a Yu-Gi-Oh! starter without Tribute/Fusion/XYZ/Synchro monsters or a Pokemon starter without Stage 2s. What a joke.
You might be asking “Trial decks must include exclusive cards, right?” Well, yes. They do. Problem is that they’re awful or mediocre, at least from the decks I have. Doesn’t help that back then you only got two exclusives at one copy of each.
Today, there are more than two exclusives, but only some of them you get more than one of.
Everything else you can find in packs. I suppose bad exclusives are a good thing. Without good exclusive cards, the fewer of these awful things you have to buy.
But wait! There’s more! Older decks contain alternate art! And by alternate art I mean zooming out effects and replacing official backgrounds with standard issue computer wallpaper.
All those must-haves! Bushiroad really went all out here… I don’t mind this concept to add more exclusivity, but either do it right with real alternate art or don’t do it at all. And based on my Blade Works trial deck, it seems they chose the latter.
Let’s get to the biggest problem. $20 is the retail price for a deck, at least for the English ones. That is disgusting, especially for what you get. It’s shamelessly overpriced compared to starters from other games at around $10+. I think the Japanese trials cost less or around $20 with import shipping, but I’m speaking as someone who plays in English land.
Now comes the big question. Should you buy one? Maybe just one to learn with though I’m never against just buying packs and learning the game with a mish-mash deck. Higher chance of pulling something cool at the very least. The best way is to see if anyone can teach you. They can tell you the hints and intricacies of the game you can’t pick up from a trial deck due to lack of keywords and you know, effects in general.
If you’re a masochist for horrible rarity rates which I’ll go into next time, there are special variants that randomly come in decks. Decks these days guarantee a SR foil which is a flat foil. They serve as the cover card of every deck.
In the era of the original Fate/Stay trial deck, SR variants of either exclusive were the chase cards.
So when I heard that decks can now come with RRRs or SPs, I figured “So RRRs should be more common with SPs being the real prize.” A RRR is a textured foil and a SP is the same, but with a voice actor embossed autograph/quote/message.
Left = regular/standard version
Right = SP
How often do you pull either? Correct me if I’m wrong as I’m not stupid enough to buy a box of decks, but I’ve heard you get one per box of six decks. What’s the point of adding two rarities if they have the same rate in a box of decks? Yeah, SPs are still harder by default, but one in six for either? Gross…
That may sound very entitled, but unless Bushiroad has their audience pegged and I think they do, they are not giving me a reason to buy these decks. Between bad exclusives, 40% vanillas/clones, and the RRR/SP cards being obvious bait, I don’t know why any smart player would buy these things. If you didn’t get a chase, you got robbed. I’m not owed chase cards, but even for beginners these are awful. Give people who already play a reason to buy them too so you can maximize profits. Higher chance of a chase = more monies for them. Better cards/reprints = more monies for them. Replace vanillas/clones with more effects/keywords = better product so beginners can learn properly. What’s the problem here?
I want to be as fair as possible though. While trial decks aren’t as abysmal today, maybe they’re consistently awful on purpose. Bushiroad may not want to maximize profits and these are solely for new players. Occasionally, they’ll catch some suckers who buy multiples for a RRR/SP, but otherwise Bushiroad doesn’t evolve and people like me won’t buy them. Therefore they don’t have to put in any effort. They even cut their “alternate art”. I don’t know what’s in it for them to not evolve, but…
All I can say is do your research. I can’t speak for all sets. I doubt many can, but maybe there is a semi-worthwhile trial deck out there worth the purchase. From experience, they simply aren’t. Redirect that money into packs or singles. If you’re starting, split a booster box with a friend and learn from there. Making a deck out of randomness might teach you more than the vanillas and white bread that is a trial deck.
Also, be very wary about buying these online, especially on eBay. The older versions of the trial deck boxes can be searched so you run a higher risk of there not being a chase card. The newer boxes are more sealed and secure. You can’t check for a foil without opening the box and unlike the old versions where the cards are loose in a plastic band or just visible. The cards are now sealed in plastic and the sides aren’t visible in the box.
Next time I’ll talk about collectibility and the very fun subject of the game’s rarity system.