It has been a long time since my last article but I am finally back with a new series titled WS Wallet Warriors! Over the last year or so you may have noticed that the price of WS singles has been creeping up. While it used to be rare to see a single card going for much over ¥1000, it is now becoming commonplace. Not only does this put a strain on everyone’s wallet, but I worry that it could be pricing people out of the game entirely. To help those in need I am going to highlight interesting decks I have created that can be built at extremely low prices. These decks won’t always be tournament toppers, but they should be more than enough to give you a fighting chance during your weekly shop tournaments.
In this introductory article I will be covering some ways to help you buy the singles you need as cheaply as possible.
Yuyutei is a lie
Having lived in Japan for 3 years now, it is safe to say that I have a decent amount of experience with WS singles and their pricing. During this time, one of my biggest surprises has been the amount of fluctuation you can find on the price of a single card. I frequently find cards that are ¥250-300 in one place, but then as low as ¥20 elsewhere. This brings me onto the WS communities’ favourite place for prices; Yuyutei.
An avid user of Yuyutei myself in my pre-Japan days, I soon found out after moving here that it is easily one of the most expensive places to buy cards from. Period. It isn’t too difficult to speculate why this could be the case as well. As arguably the most popular Japanese card site for foreigners, they can charge whatever they want for cards as they know someone will pay it. You know, supply and demand and all that.
Now don’t get me wrong, whilst I may be saying some rather negative things about the site here, I am a fan and I still use it from time to time. Whenever there is a decent sale on or there is a card that I just can’t find out there in the wild, I am looking at you Rinne mill promo, then I will happily use them. As an added bonus, since they are based in the same prefecture as myself, any orders I do make arrive incredibly quickly.
So if Yuyutei is as expensive as I make out, where else can you go? Well, there are a huge number of card shops out there with great online stores. I am going to list a few you might want to check out and then give them a ranking out of 5 based on ease of use for non-Japanese speaking users (5 being incredibly easy, 1 requiring quite a bit of Japanese knowledge to navigate and 3 being on par with Yuyutei). To make sure I suggest credible sources, these are all sites that I have either used myself or I frequent their brick and mortar stores.
Big Web is the online shop for the brick and mortar store known as Big Magic. Their stores are easy to spot thanks to their mascot, who has a big blue afro and is adorned with sunglasses.
Navigating to the WS section is fairly simple but getting to the singles section is not as self explanatory. This is not helped by the site having a bit of an early/mid 2000s feel to it. The main WS page has a selection of singles from recent sets, alongside pre-orders and some recommended sealed products. To begin searching the singles, you need to use the drop down box on the right underneath the「検索BOX」header. Here you can select a set to start searching in and filter by further criteria such as rarity, colour, card type and even quality/condition. Thankfully, for those that do not know Japanese each set in the list is preceded by its set code. This makes finding what you want much easier than it sounds.
When looking through a set the card images are quite small, but clicking on one opens a pop up with a larger image and more detailed information (if the card has any damage it will be listed under 説明). Even with no knowledge of Japanese you should be able to find the cards you need and add them to your cart. One downside is that you cannot tell how many copies of a card are in stock at a glance. You have to click the drop down box next to the add to cart button to see how many copies are available. You are also capped at 4 copies of any one card, which is a real pain if you want to buy a swarm card like Mugan or the infamous Stuffed Animals. Anyone who has registered for a Yuyutei account should have no problem setting up an account here. Any Magic players out there can even tie their DCI number to their account if they want.
I have used this online site previously but only whilst living in Japan. I had no problems and delivery was quite quick. If I remember correctly the packaging the cards came in was also pretty decent. The dated look of the site and small card images could be a bit off putting and hinder the experience for some, but the site is still usable. There is a slight learning curve with the drop down boxes being the only ways available to search sets and check card stock, however you should adjust to it after a couple of visits. All in all, anyone experienced with Yuyutei should be able to navigate around and make an order.
Ease of Use Rating: 2/5
Another brick and mortar store that I often find myself in, Amenity Dream is a great place to pick up some of those harder to find singles. Whilst their brick and mortar store can be one of the more expensive, their online store is actually pretty decent.
Once again navigating to the WS section is very straight forward and the presentation is wonderful. This site has one of the best layouts for searching for singles I have ever come across. Each set is accompanied by an easily identifiable picture and hovering on the image will allow you pull up a full set list or filter it by rarity. Incredibly simple allowing for anyone to begin searching right away. The number of copies in stock for each card is clearly labelled, with larger pictures available and further details just a click away. It is incredibly easy to find the cards you need quickly and add them to your cart. Again, creating an account is straight forward if you already have one for Yuyutei.
Even though I have an account with the online shop, I must admit I have never made an order with them. However, based upon their large number of brick and mortar stores and the high quality of their website, I have no reason to believe they are untrustworthy or will botch up the delivery. One of the easiest sites to navigate for non-Japanese speakers that I have found. Everything is laid out clearly and concisely.
Ease of Use Rating: 5/5
C-labo (short for Card Laboratory) is yet another nation-wide chain of card shops. They are one of the better shops for buying pre-built decks, especially for some of the lesser played series or strategies.
Getting to the WS section is simple and presentation is very modern. Scrolling down will show some images linking to singles for popular titles. Below that you will see a full list of sets similar to that of Yuyutei. This will require the same level of trial and error/set name memorisation as Yuyutei, so it is not the easiest thing for non-speakers to navigate. The images on the card list pages are a decent size but they can sometimes appear a bit blurry. This is rectified on the card details page where the images become incredibly high quality. Card stock is present, but requires focus to read due to the small font size being used. Adding cards to your cart is simple, but once again you are limited to 4 copies per card. Registering for an account is quick and easy.
Another shop I have an account with but have never ordered from. The same applies to these guys as with Amenity Dream, a big chain with stores up and down Japan means they should be a reliable site to use. Their brick and mortar stores are great and I have picked up some crazy cheap complete decks from them in the past (but that is a story for another article). I would put C-labo on par with Yuyutei for ease of use. The images for popular titles and the new stuff is a nice touch, but when you need to start looking for obscurer titles it could lead to a lot of trial and error to find what you want.
Ease of Use Rating: 3/5
Grand Panda Canyon
Grand Panda Canyon is a famous card shop in Akihabara. Don’t let the fact they are just a single shop fool you though, they are home to many a good deal.
Once again, navigation to the WS section is self explanatory via a large button on the home page. From there though you are faced with a list of links, giving you the same problems as Yuyutei and C-labo. I hope you are looking for cards in Nanoha, Bang Dream, Lucky Star and the like, otherwise you could be in for more trial and error. The card list includes decent-sized images and the amount of stock available is clearly noted. You can type in an amount and hit the ‘Add to Cart’ button to quickly add multiple copies of cards to your cart. Not to worry, there is no purchase limit here so add as many copies as you like. Building up your order is simple and clean. You can switch sets by using either the card list at the top of the page or the sidebar, once again a-la Yuyutei. Registering is short and sweet, but there is no way to login into your account without attempting to make an order.
Grand Panda Canyon is one my highlights when I find myself trolling around Akiba. I always make time to pop in and pick up some sweet deals. As far as the website goes I have used it before, but not for WS. I built the vast majority of my Final Fantasy TCG deck on there. The cards came well packaged and were in great condition, but it took a day or two longer than most places (the difference between arriving in 3 days and 4-5 is negligible normally, but rather slow by Japanese standards). Regardless, Tokyo tax doesn’t seem to apply here so knock yourself out.
Overall, Grand Panda Canyon’s website is on the Yuyutei standard level for usability. You need to know what your set’s name looks like in order to get where you want, but once there you should not have any trouble.
Ease of Use Rating: 3/5
ToreColo is the online storefront for Card Box, a chain of brick and mortar stores that began life in Nabari in Mie prefecture; a place famous for its Ninja village. I mention this rather random fact because they proudly proclaim it on their about us page, even going as far to add the katakana for ninja to make sure you are reading it correctly (katakana are characters often used for foreign/borrowed words, so they are really emphasising the ninja here).
At first the site appears extremely cluttered with buttons and links all over the place. However, if you take a moment to adjust the site isn’t that hard to navigate. You can scroll down to find the WS section, but things do not improve there. In order to start looking at a particular set, you need to scroll down and open either the 「ヴァイスサイド」(Weiss side) or「シュヴァルツサイド」(Schwarz side) lists on the sidebar. After that, you get the usual text-based lists that come with all the problems I have mentioned before. At least above those they have a list containing the last 30 sets to come out, so you often won’t need to delve that far.
Once you get to the card list, the images are decent and it is easy to tell when stuff is out of stock. If the button is red you can add it to your cart, if it is greyed out then you are out of luck. A cool addition is that if a card price has dropped recently, it will tell you the date it changed and the previous price. This can be really useful if you are often scanning the card prices, waiting for that all important price drop for your next purchase. The card details page contains a really useful feature, showing you prices for like new on the left and “damaged” on the right. If you are not too fussed about condition you can pick up some real deals here. ToreColo make a note that they do not sell sun faded or highly damaged cards, but the condition of the cards will vary. It is worth the risk if you ask me. I usually buy “damaged” cards as they are often like new anyway, due to the amount of care taken by players to keep cards in good condition here. Finally, if you are stumped on what to build they also have a small number of deck recipes taken from the official WS site, except each card is linked to that card’s details page on the website for easy perusal and purchase. I will include the link here because the page is quite difficult to find without any knowledge of Japanese.
Account registration is simple, but it is a more important feature on ToreColo than most card sites. They have an incredibly cool deck building feature built into the website. After building a deck it will tell you how much it would cost to buy the entire thing on ToreColo. There is even a button that will automatically add the entire deck to your cart. The deck is also assigned a unique link that can be viewed by anyone, even people without a ToreColo account. This can be a great way to share deck lists anywhere on the web. I will definitely be making use of this feature in future articles in this series.
Personally, ToreColo is a site I have used in the past, but only since moving to Japan. They ship fairly quickly and the cards I have ordered always come in great condition, but I will admit I am yet to try ordering any “damaged” cards from the website. There are deals to be had in this place and it is my main website for price checking alongside Yuyutei. The website has undergone a lot of improvements since I first used it, becoming a lot more user friendly and gaining a large number of cool features. However, even after all that it is still quite difficult for non-Japanese speakers to use. You should be able to stumble your way around and make an order, but to fully utilise the site requires at least a basic reading level. As much as I love this site, I have to say that Yuyutei is definitely a more user friendly time for foreigners. This is the kind of site that I imagine puts people off from trying to shop away from Yuyutei. It is just too Japanese.
Ease of Use Rating: 1/5
So that is a handful of alternative card websites that you can check out, but this is far from an exhaustive list. There are many more places you can use to buy WS singles. A couple of honourable mentions I have are Card Kingdom and Rakuten Shopping/Yahoo Shopping. However, with the former being largely text-based and the latter two being more akin to Amazon than your traditional card shopfront, I decided to leave them for the more adventurous of you to check out.
Whilst I have kept to sites I have either already used myself or would trust and happily use, please take care when making your own orders. Enter your proxy address details carefully and start with a small order to confirm that everything arrives in one piece. One final thing to bear in mind is that these shops are not going to be cheaper than Yuyutei on every single card. My aim here was to give you other options to allow you to scoop up the cheapest prices going on your singles.
Since this article has gone on a lot longer than I anticipated, I will bring it to a close here. For those of you that have made it this far, thank you so much for taking the time to read this introduction to WS Wallet Warriors; hoping to help you build fun and functional decks on a budget. Expect the first deck tech to come out sometime in the next few weeks. I am really looking forward to sharing my thoughts on WS with the community at large once more. So until next time, ta-rah~