Oh my. Where do we begin?
- Across all three games, a single card has been singled out by speedrunners as absolutely fundamental. That card? The humble grass stage because of their ability to reliably double the damage of Fire attacks.
- Fire itself is an Infinity +1 Element, with fire-based decks or decks focusing on activating the Fire Big Bang attack can end bosses in seconds.
- The plethora of paralyzing cards and the general lack of Status Guard among enemies can hamstring many, many bosses throughout the series.
Star Force 1
- Generally, almost everything that have something to do with Satellite admins count in some way. Like their Giga Cards.
- Pegasus Magic in all its incarnations. Time it so your opponent can't block/evade it and you have an undodgable freezing attack. The same also goes to the Giga version. Both deal huge damage; however, the Giga doesn't do as much damage as its counterparts, but the freezing makes up for it.
- Leo Kingdom GX, which deals a tremendous amount of Fire damage and breaks guards.
- Dragon Sky GX is the worst offender. It hits 10 times, deals massive damage even when unboosted, blows away Auras, and to make matters worse, it's wood elemental, meaning that it doesn't give the enemy Mercy Invincibility.
- The Best Combo system in the first game was by far the most effective mechanic in the entire series, essentially allowing you to save a sequence of consecutive standard card attacks, and turn into a card that would cause you to repeat said attacks in an unavoidable, time stopping combo. The system can be exploited by manipulating the Counter Hit system — getting a Counter Hit while not in a transformation will give you a free random damaging card from your folder. So by building your folder such that your six Favorite cards are your only attacking cards and then fighting an easily-Countered boss, you can stall until you can load up all six attack cards, then take your time with counter hits to string together a combo of up to 12 standard cards, totaling over 1200 damage. The Legend Force cards are one-use, but an optimized combo can destroy bosses (even the Satellite Admins) in one turn for maximum SP chip power. A registered Best Combo can also be invoked as part of your Brother Card, so any real-life players you've formed BrotherBands with can let you use their Best Combo, too.
- The Favorites system in the first 2 games. You can select six (four in the second game) cards to be your "favorite" cards. What's the advantage of doing this, you ask? You can use it with any card on your screen, turning them into white cards that ignore the selection restrictions, making them available at any time. But wait, there's more! You can have up to two non-Standard cards as Favorites, including Giga Cards! (The White Card system is substantially nerfed in the third game, but you can use its password system to obtain the powerful cards early on).
- Also, you can share your favorites through your Brother Band, which means when your friends' brother cards come up in battle, you can access a roulette of their Favorite cards and their version-exclusive Gigas, which are still white. With enough luck with your Brother cards, you can access powerful cards earlier than you would normally get them in-game.
- Cipher codes, the Star Force equivalent of the Lotto Numbers and the Number Trader. By sending special e-mails to either your Admin Satellite (in the first game) or Legendary Master Shin (in the second), the player could receive certain prizes, usually items or battle cards...like the SP-level Boss cards. Much like Battle Network, early-game access to endgame weapons broke the games in two. Incidentally, in the first two games this could all be done as soon as you can hit the Select button.
Star Force 2
- The Gatling Good & Quad Damage combo returns from the days of Battle Network. In the second and third games, you have access to both Mad Vulcan and Attack +10 right from the start. Mad Vulcan shoots 5 rounds at 10 damage apiece — 50 damage; one (1) Attack +10 makes that 100 damage, and you can, of course, add more (later in the game, you can collect Attack Panel, a Battle Card that creates a Quad Damage Field Power Effect). Also note, since Mad Vulcan is non-flinching, no matter how much it does, it won't interrupt your opponent, so you have an easier time attacking during their counter-window, which will earn you another card or even a Big Bang. As you transition into the mid- to late-game, the combo gets outclassed and begins to feel more like a Disc-One Nuke.
- The Best Combo requirements were reworked. Now, to register a Best Combo, the boss must not have moved in between your attacks, so you can't just take your time with Counter Hits. However, you are now allowed to use Mega Cards as part of your Best Combo, so there's nothing stopping you from throwing high-power cards with movement-restricting ailments like Cancer Bubble and Gemini Spark into the combo. The addition of paralysis panels also makes the combo much easier to set up, so Best Combos break the game in a slightly different manner than the first. The subsequent game just scrapped this system entirely.
- Tribe King merges the abilities of the three Tribe transformations, in addition to doubling the base strength of every card. For Ninja players, this translates to Squall 3, a multi-hit Wood attack, dealing 640 damage, piercing invisibility, and locking on anywhere on the field. The counterbalancing part of Tribe King was that you needed to combine your three different transformations — which meant it needed 2 turns of setup since you can only transform once per turn, in addition to successfully having and drawing the right Brother cards in time and not get knocked out of your transformation in the process. Because Brother Cards took up space you'd be fighting in that transformation with 2/3 of your Custom Screen available. However, the Wave Command Card system allows Geo to enter Tribe King at the start of every battle without any prep time! Sure you have to input the code again after you turn off the game, but have fun blasting away every enemy to smithereens with ease.
- Capcom's Merchandise-Driven obsessions broke the Star Force games into tiny little pieces. The second and third installments have "secret" password menus that provide you with money, cards, and stupefying boosts to Mega's stats. The second game even provides you with free Tribe-On transformations, including the aforementioned instant access to the Tribe King. Capcom was originally going to sell the codes, but because this system is code-based, you don't actually need to purchase anything, as people in possession of the codes have put them online for all to use.
- The Blank Cards. You'll find 10 of these over the course of the game, and if you know the right codes, you can instantly turn them into practically any card in the game. Including Giga Cards from the first game and Purposely Overpowered cards that don't register in the games' normal libraries. The European versions of the games remove the system entirely and replace them with about 2000 zennys.
Star Force 3
- Wave Command Codes make a return as the Noise Kaizou Gear, without fixing any of the loopholes to the system from the previous game. If you can, you gain access to Noise Cards (which provide Mega with powerful stat mods), Rezon Cards (which provide Mega's Finalize form with powerful stat mods), and the Secret Satellite Server (which acts as a Brother whose card lets you replace your hand with one from a pre-selected deck that you can level up by performing a particular sequence of card selections, eventually enabling you to access the deck of your Finalized form without having to Finalize). None of this is mentioned or detailed in-game, providing an unfair advantage to those who know how to optimize it. The Noise Kaizou Gear's boons are so infamous that the game comes with an ability to search for multiplayer opponents who aren't using them. The international release is arguably better for the removal of these systems, as Noise Cards in particular practically obsolete the whole Ability Wave system.
- Black Ace and Red Joker are almost notorious for their powerful, easy-to-use sword cards, especially the Bushido series, which works on the very principle of Blade Spam. Bushido cards are single sword slashes that power up depending on how many cards of the same type you load in a single turn: if you load two cards, each card gains Wide Sword range, but if you load three, each Bushido card gains Life Sword range, disperses Barriers and Auras, and pierces invisibility. Each Bushido card of the same type also gains 50 extra attack for each of its companions (150 extra damage max), and the weakest, Bushido 1, has an inherent 110 damage already. The X version of this card deals 200 damage by default, so that's 900 damage with insane range right there.
- What makes sword cards even more dangerous is that there are three different Noise Changes that boost them. Black Ace favors Gemini Noise, which gives all Sword cards an extra paralyzing effect; Red Joker favors Wolf Noise, which gives non-dimming sword cards an extra 30 damage in its basic Noise Form (not coincidentally, Wolf-Gemini is a popular Merge Noise combo), and then there's Rogue Noise, the "secret" Noise that gives non-dimming Sword cards an extra 50 damage right out of the gate (Rogue Noise loves the Sword Fighter series, which unleash three or more near instant slashes for at least 50 damage each).
- We mentioned paralysis and stunlock above, and we ought to take some time to demonstrate how terrifyingly effective this strategy is. Because so few bosses or enemies have Status Guard, it's impossible for them to defend against paralyzing attacks, which require them to sit there harmlessly while you continue to unload on them. The Thunder Zerker and Gemini Noise forms, which specialize in paralyzing attacks, abuse this to a fault, stealing almost all threat out of the games. So popular is this strategy that when Star Force 3 revealed new "Body"-type abilities that negate specific status effects, some began to whine about how Paralyze Body completely broke their stunlock strategies. (Protip: Destroy Upper negates all "Body" programs when it hits)
- The Noise system can be so heavily abused it isn't even funny. As Noise rises to 50%, your Noise Form becomes a Vibrant Noise, unlocking extra abilities, and when you reach 200%, you gain the option to Finalize. While you are welcome to do sonote , you should know that Noise at such a high level endows you with certain abuse-able "glitches", first and foremost the ability to ignore Mercy Invincibility. Combine this fact with any of the strategies mentioned above. DO IT.
- Gemini Noise adds a paralysis effect to all sword cards, and this also erases the normal Mercy Invincibility your targets would otherwise experience. In multiplayer, it can be used to easily lock onto any enemy and stun them for a long period of time, while dishing out lots of damage. Combine with the Bushido series, Spinblade series, and basically any other sword card aside from a couple for best effect. It gets worse when you merge it with Wolf Noise, which buffs your sword card power and grants you Quick Gauge to access more sword cards.
- Ophiuca Noise — Normal cards confuse, your charge shot leaves grass panels, and +20 on all wood chips. Not bad so far, right? The problem here is the fact that wood cards don't flinch, which means they're spammable. Most of them hit multiple times, so your Noise's buff gets significantly amplified. It also buffs Club Strong, a Mega Card which has increased power if there are Grass Panels (which the Noise's Charge Shot can create), and if you found the means to access it, Dragon Sky GX (detailed above).
- Rogue Noise is the harbinger of destruction incarnate with a sword based folder. You lose the ability to form BrotherBands with other players, but the amount of power you get in exchange greatly makes up for it.
- Mu Rejection — A 1HP barrier that regenerates each time the Custom Screen is accessed, letting you shake off stray attacks at unexpected times.
- Non-dimming Sword cards +50 attack. With this, Sword cards begin to hit very hard, especially the Sword Fighter series which inflicts multiple hits in quick succession. Sword Fighter X under this boost can inflict 550 damage on its own when all hits connect.
- NO ELEMENTAL WEAKNESS, allowing the player to build Noise to reach a stronger Finalized folder without worry of losing their efforts when struck with a weakness.
- And as vibrant noise you get immunity to Lock-On (including Auto Lock-On); but more importantly, your non-elemental non-dimming chips inflict a short-lasting paralysis effect, which lets you stunlock your opponent into oblivion if your fingers are fast enough. This also removes the Mercy Invincibility your chips normally inflict, so you can unload a chain of damage if your target gets caught in it.
- If you Finalize when your Noise levels are really high, you notice your Finalized folder becomes a lot stronger as it begins to defy folder rules. Your cards are never dimmed out despite many of them overlapping, and you begin to see multiple Mega and Giga cards, up to and including Big Bangs that you can use like normal Battle Cards. Against most bosses, this becomes overkill as you would have dramatically weakened them to get this far. Against Bonus Bosses who have much higher HP, you can shorten the fights with this much power.