Author Note: Lucky Star is one of my favourite anime. As such, I found the July 18th fire that destroyed their Studio 1 extremely saddening. I feel being able to write about something I love that they were involved in is a way for me to think about the amazing works they have created and how they have enriched my life. If you want to support Kyoto Animation after the fire, check out their official store here.
Lucky Star is one of Weiss’ earliest sets, coming out in 2009. Busting the set out at a tournament often gets a shocked reply along the lines of “How did you find that,” “Why are you playing it,” or “Lucky Star, wow that’s a blast from the past.” The set is truly bizarre. It is based around a core concept that has, to my knowledge, not been replicated. Does this concept lead to weird but effective game play? I’m going to take you through this odd set to answer just that.
Unifying Concept: Discarding Climaxes
You read that right, pretty much every strategy in the original 100 card Lucky*Star set revolved around discarding climaxes in some way. All of the level three cards, one for each of the girls in the main quartet, had two abilities. The first allowed the player to pull all of their climaxes in the waiting room into their hand for one stock on play of the level three card, and discard as many cards as they pulled into their hand in that manner. Essentially, prepping your hand for their Start-Up abilities. Miuyki, Strongest Character for instance allowed you pay one stock and discard a climax to heal one damage. Tsukasa, Natural can increase the power of your field by 2500 power by discarding two climaxes while Kagami-Sama could decrease the power of one of your opponent’s characters for one less climax. Konata could discard two climaxes and pay one stock to top deck a level two or lower card. These effects are very expensive, and the only ones that were really any good are Miyuki’s spammable healing and Kagami negging your opponent to clear them off the field. In old Weiss, hand was hard to build, so removing your opponent’s cards and grinding were very viable strategies.
Discarding climaxes wasn’t limited to the level threes either. Tsukasa’s level one climax combo allows the player to ditch a climax and pay one to send an opponent’s character back to their hand. Level 0 Hobbyist Hiyori allows the player to tap Hiyori, another card and discard a card when you played Hiyori to freeplay a character of your level. This sort of stuff is marbled throughout the set.
Lucky Star, like many old sets, features Bond effects and event cards quite heavily. Lucky Star has some interesting events to play with. The Usual fits right in with Lucky Star’s stock theme, allowing you to heal a climax to hand at level one. Some of these even paper over some of Lucky Star’s shortcomings. The Most Natural Thing allows you to check the top card of your deck and allows you keep it or discard it and then goes to stock, to help alleviate some of Lucky Star’s stock hungriness and put climaxes into waiting room instead of stock to harvest later.
How did Lucky Star Win?
Lucky Star was a grinding deck. The idea was to use Lucky Star’s plethora of assist cards to make your field big, then deny your opponent hand and field. Many of Lucky Star’s climax combos and events facilitate this style of play. The Hiiragi twins, Tsukasa and Kagami, were probably the best at this while Megane (Miyuki/Hiyori) and Konata/Otaku could also play this. The twins benefits from cheap level two beat sticks and strong event back-ups that target multiple characters. They also have access to event burn based of the number of Sweets trait (Tsukasa, some red Kagami) if you didn’t mind burning yourself. Green also has access to some stock easing in the form of Minegishi, at the cost of needed power.
Lucky Star relies on having the resources to do the weird things it wants to do. However, all of this stuff costs a lot of resources to do! Before level three, getting a climax into hand requires either paying three stock for an effect on a level one Konata that already costs one stock, or playing events that cost two stock. Lucky Star also doesn’t have many ways to replenish hand outside of bond in the early game that are stock effective. Lucky Star has access to single trait drop searchers, but they cost two stock instead of one stock one discard.
This stock hungriness meant that Lucky Star had a hard time replacing fields that are lost due to its heavy stock use, making grinding out a game a tough proposition. On its own Lucky Star was never considered good. It was considered a trash set that was fairly dysfunctional. However, since this is a 2009 set, we have consider how Lucky Star was used in Standard. And to be honest, didn’t show up a ton. Lucky Star really didn’t have much appeal for decks that weren’t just Lucky Star, and some of its good events were outclassed by other events from other sets.
Lucky Star was a bizarre set. Its unifying concept is to discard climaxes instead of playing them, something I don’t think we have ever seen again. This lead to effects that were hard on your hand and stock without a lot of good ways to replenish either. The mix of effects led to beefy decks with weird effects that never really hit the mark. Overall, Lucky Star is a set for fans of the manga or anime. If you don’t already like Lucky Star, I can’t really recommend playing it…
But wait, there’s more!
… You thought I was going to write an article entirely about 2009 Lucky Star? I don’t hate myself. In 2014, Lucky Star received a large number of promo cards for the 10th anniversary of the manga. These cards moved Lucky Star from trash to actually fun to play. Lucky Star receives a lot of staples that it was missing, while the Twins and Otaku builds get much needed buffs. I play the new Otaku builds at weekly tournaments, with no climax discarding and good results. Next time, I’ll be looking at specific cards from both the original set and the extra promo cards.