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Abilities in Weiß Schwarz are largely categorized by activation timing and requirement into three different type, the Startup Abilities, Automatic Abilities, and Continuous Abilities. It is then further categorized under three different category by the nature of its effect.
Denoted with 【起】 or 【Startup】, Startup Abilities are abilities that certain Character Cards possess. Their activation can be controlled by the player, by paying the appropriate cost whenever the player can legally do so. This usually refers to the main phase of a player's turn, unless otherwise stated by the card's text. Unless otherwise stated, as long as the condition for activating the ability is met and the player can pay the appropriate cost, the ability can be activated as many times as the player like. A subtype of Startup Abilities is the 【カウンター】 or 【Counter】 Abilities. Effects denoted with 【Counter】 are special in that they can be activated as the defending player during the Battle Phase's Counter Step.
The second type of ability is the Automatic Ability, and is denoted with 【自】 or 【Automatic】. All Automatic Abilities require a requirement to be met before it can be activated. An example of an requirement might be "at the beginning of the draw phase". All invoking requirements are written in parenthesis. For cost free Automatic Abilities, they are activated regardless of the player's choice upon fulfillment of their requirement. However, if instead of 「【Automatic】 (Ability Text)」 a 「【Automatic】[Cost] (Ability Text)」is stated, the player can choose not to activate the ability by choosing not to pay its cost.
Some Automatic Abilities require a specific combination of Character Cards, and is denoted by a symbol 絆／ (or in English, Bond/) followed by the partner card's name. Bond/(Partner Card's Name) allows the player to search for the specified partner card from the Waiting Room and add it to his hand.
The last type of ability is called the Continuous Ability, and is denoted by 【永】 or 【Continuous】. Continuous abilities are easy to handle because their effect is always in place for as long as the effect is applicable. That is, if an effect of [【Continuous】Increase the Power of all your other Character in play by 500]. The ability is activated as long as there are other character in play, contrary to what most might think, 【Continuous】effect only ends when the situation no longer meet the card text's description or when otherwise stated in card text. That is, even if a Climax Card that is played is returned to the player's hand, the Climax Card's ability which state that all Characters gain 1 Soul for the turn will still be in effect regardless of the presence of the Climax Card for that turn.
Abilities are also separated further into 「Instant Effect」, 「Persistent Effect」 and 「Substitute Effect」.
An Instant Effect carries out some action immediately, after which it has no further effect. These refers to an ability whose effects can be easily resolved, such as 「Draw one card」, which simply consists of a single play action.
Persistent Effects are different in that their effect usually involves a duration, such as 「The Soul of this card is increased by 1 for this turn.」. The effects last for a whole turn, ending its effects after they activate, and thus it is considered a Persistent Effect. In the case of a duration not being specified, the effect is in play for as long as the source of said ability is in play, up to a limit of the whole game.
The third type of effect is called Substitute Effect, and is comparatively rare. Substitute Effect refers to effects which changes one gameplay action or effect with a different action or effect, such as 「When you draw a card in your Draw Phase you can choose instead to add one Character Card from your Stock to your hand」. If the card text does not specify that one is allowed to choose to use the substitute action, the substituted action must be carried out in place of the original action.