Okay, that's it... I've had it.
The Japanese were very worried about all the balance issues being reported on Refess, so they went through some more playtesting last week... and they said that it seem to play fine, and was balanced with the other four colors. So either the Japanese brain has an extra lobe just for playing Refess, or something's amiss here. As of now, I'm not playing anymore Falkow (and my Black Cat deck is undefeated, too...). I'm going to switch to Refess and play the crap out of it until I figure out what's going on.
I checked the rankings this week and there are a few Refess in the top 20, shy of the 5 they should have but considering like 5% of the players are Refess i think that's well above average. Ironically, two of last week's top 20 switched from Refess to Gowen this week, and both their rankings dropped after (although that could be for any number of reasons). A few of the top Refess players have really, really good records. I have noticed one thing, there was a time when everyone thought Gowen was useless, then there was a time everyone thought Lawtia was useless. In both those cases this turned around when someone found a cheap, easy way to tweak the starter for maximum effect. This hasn't happened yet for Refess. (One could argue it's not necessary for Falkow -- add another Voredore, dummy). Whatever we're missing in the Refess camp, the one thing I've got hard numbers on is the lack of Iczers. Gowen and Lawtia have literally a thousand players each trying new things, perfecting what works, etc. It's not just that Refess are dropping out either, almost all new accounts are either Gowen or Lawtia, and while much less are Falkow the Falkow tend to become regulars so they kind of average out a little by the time you get to level 10. It could be that the style of Refess doesn't play as well in America, so the average new user just goes to Gowen or Lawtia. Let's face it, us Americans like our dragons and we like our vampires. Another possibility is that when new users troll the forums looking for some direction, they see lots of threads about Refess problems. I can tell you that before someone discovered LeBeau's effectiveness and the forums were full of threads about how broken Lawtia was, we got a lot less new Lawtia players.
Whatever the case, I'm going to put my money where my mouth is and start playing Refess. I might come back here with some good ideas, or I might make a total fool out of myself. That is always an option. If that happens, I'll be the first in line to complain to the Japanese.
Oh, and also I worked on the translation of all the original skills for all four Spheres, before and after they were adapted, and Refess was not hit harder than any of the others. Actually, the Japanese LeBeau was so strong I think Lawtia players would keep him out of the Soul area if they had him here. Remember, our cards are not based on the Japanese cards in play now, which have undergone five years of modifications to work with their other 900 cards. They are based on the original cards put out 5 years ago, so you can't really compare the two sets in any meaningful way.
"Scissors are overpowered. Rock is fine." -Paper