Dozens of Weiss Schwarz (WS) players gather in a shop in Taman Anggrek shopping center in West Jakarta to hold card battles on Saturday
A dozen of men were seen sitting face to face at two long desks with eight seats each inside Anime Machi, a shop displaying various Japanese anime and manga items in Taman Anggrek shopping center in West Jakarta on Saturday afternoon.
Armed with packs of cards, they were ready to face off with spectators watching from outside the shop.
Jonathan Handy, 20, who came a little late that day, soon opened his card pouch, browsed through his collection of Weiss Schwarz, popularly known as WS cards after he registered himself in the contest by paying Rp 30,000 (US$3) to the shop.
A pristine deck of WS cards before being usedWS is a type of trading card game (TCG), which uses specially designed cards, showcasing pictures of fictional characters based on Japanese manga (comic book) or anime (animation) series. Each card has additional text explaining that card's effect on the game, usually comprising three effects; attacker, defender and spell cards.
Whether it is to attack or to defend, each should be accompanied by a spell card to give the aforementioned powers to those cards.
When the players are engaged in battle, they rarely talk to each other, instead they communicate through piercing eyes that monitor every card chosen by their opponents in front of them, as they determine whether or not they will lose points.
“It is not that easy to play WS cards. There are certain rules and strategies that one should understand if one wants to play,” said Jonathan, adding that currently all WS cards and rules were only available in the Japanese language.
Besides WS, Yu Gi Oh and Vangard are other types of TCG which are popular in Indonesia.
Different types of TCG have different objectives and sets of rules, but basically they require a player to finish off their opponent’s points.
“I like to play TCG because of various lessons that I have learned, like the skill to calculate probability,” said Jonathan. One of the card players inspects his WS cards to choose the best card to win the battle
He went on to say that he had been a TCG card player for over 10 years. He started playing cards when he read Yu Gi Oh manga comic, which tells the story of a boy who has to save his friend’s life and the world by joining a card competition.
“After reading the comic, I tried to look for information about the card game itself and learned how to play it,” he said.
However, his parents often yelled at him because he spent too much time on the game, as they were concerned that his grades would suffer if he played it too much.
“But, in the end I proved them wrong, I could still maintain my grades while indulging in my my hobby,” said Jonathan, adding that his mother also complained about the money he spent to buy the cards.
A pack of cards, containing various types of cards with different effects on the game, ranges from around Rp 150,000 to Rp 500,000. The price depends on the type and rarity. The more powerful or rarer a card is, the more expensive its price.
“But, I always save my pocket money. I never ask for additional money from my mom,” he said.
Handy’s current status as a student at the psychology department of Tarumanegara University in West Jakarta does not prevent him from enjoying his hobby. He said he still spent three days a week at the shop.
“On a weekend like this, I can spend almost the whole day playing TCG with my fellow card players,” said Handy.
Bennie (wearing the red jacket) mingles with his fellow card playersIn Saturday’s contest, 28-year-old Bennie Kurniawan was spotted joining the younger card players. When the contest was over, he warmly chatted with his younger companions and was sometimes teased by them. Their age gap did not prevent them being pals.
“We are all equal. There are no differences between us. We are all card players,” said Bennie, who works as a freelancer.
The equality among the players was also reflected by Hisiya, 21, winner of a WS card contest at the 2012 Anime Festival Asia (AFAS) in Jakarta. He did not seem to mind teaching and sharing his tips and tricks on how to be the best card player possible.
Hisiya said he had been playing TCG since he was in elementary school and claimed to be one of the first players of the game in the city, if not in the country. Since then, he has played several types of TCG and befriended various types of players.
One thing they had in common, he said, was that all TCG players were rarely away from their cards.
WS card formation on the battlefield “For me, it is so hard to be away from my cards. It is like people with their mobile phones. They cannot live without them,” said Hisiya, who always brings his cards in his backpack wherever he goes, adding that some of his acquaintances even slept with their cards.
Just like Handy, Hisiya’s love for his cards often makes people smirk at him, as many of them consider playing cards to be just a waste of time.
“But I rarely pay attention to them. My hobby causes no harm to them. It is not sinful. Nor does it violate the law,” said the law student at a private university in West Jakarta. (riz/iwa)