Welcome to the 9th CX’s Weiss Schwarz deck techs! For this article, we will be looking at the deck that won the 2014 Neo Showdown event in Scotland: SAO!
The deck and interview are brought to you by Benjamin Hancox. (There could only be one winner!) Special thanks to Laurent Mason for carrying out the interview. Because SAO and SAO vol. 2 have been released in English, the official card names will be used.
Author’s Note: Because SAO has been featured many times, this deck tech will focus on the differences it has with other deck lists. You can check out the older variations that were able to win Neo-Showdown 2014 OH, Fanime 2014, Neo-Showdown 2014 NY, and a 2013 WGP Qualifier to see the more detailed breakdowns of every other card not featured in this article.
Cards – 50
Level 0 – 16
4 Asuna Lays on the Sofa (SAO/S20-E003)
2 Asuna’s Married Life (SAO/S20-E008)
2 Lisbeth’s Blessings (SAO/S20-E048)
1 Silica’s Unyielding Trust (SAO/S20-E051)
4 Kirito in the Battlefield (SAO/S20-E079)
3 Solo Player, Kirito (SAO/S20-E083)
Level 1 – 16
2 Self-sacrifice (SAO/S20-E022)
4 Asuna Invites to Party (SAO/S20-E001)
4 Imprisoned Queen, Asuna (SAO/S20-E004)
2 Vice Commander, Asuna (SAO/S20-E010)
4 Kirito’s Strong Bond (SAO/S20-E085)
Level 2 – 4
2 <<Lightning Flash>> Asuna (SAO/S20-E002)
2 Asuna Yuuki (SAO/S26-006)
Level 3 – 6
3 Beacon of Hope, Asuna (SAO/S26-002)
3 Asuna’s Commanding Strength (SAO/S20-E007)
CX – 8
4 <<Star Splash>> (SAO/S20-E024)
4 On Top of the 《World Tree》 (SAO/S26-019)
At level 0, we have 16 characters. (All of which have been covered prior)
At level 1, we have 16 cards – 2 events and 14 characters, with 1 variant.
Kirito’s Strong Bond gives all characters you control with “Asuna” in the name +500 power and gives every other character you control +500 power during your opponent’s turn.
At level 2, we have 4 characters.
<<Lightning Flash>> Asuna gains +4000 power and +1 soul on your turn if it’s facing a level 3 or higher character, and sends any card it reverses to stock.
Asuna Yuuki gives another character you control +500 power until the end of turn when played and has a Change ability: At the beginning of your climax step, you may pay 2 stock, put this in the waiting room and discard a card. If you do, choose a “Beacon of Hope, Asuna” from your waiting room and put it in the slot this was in.
At level 3 we have 6 characters, and 1 variant.
Beacon of Hope, Asuna, upon play or Change, gains an ability until end of turn that triggers up to once: when damage dealt by it is canceled, you may Burn your opponent for 1. It also has a CX combo with “On Top of the 《World Tree》”: when it attacks, all your characters gain +5000 power and “When this character reverses a character in battle, send that card to stock. ” until end of turn.
The CX spread is a 4/4 split with all 8 having 1k1 + Bounce effects.
How do we play this deck?
Michael: The level 0 is full of familiar characters, except it has Solo Player Kirito to overpower most other characters and answer level reversers.
Benjamin: Basically, at level 0, you want to search for your level 1 game, and get to level 1 before your opponent. Ideally, you should enter level 1 with 2 copies each of Asuna Invites to Party and Kirito’s Strong Bond in your hand. After that, you search for an Imprisoned Queen, Asuna, and an Asuna Yuuki to setup the rest of the plays for the game.
M: Because the deck has no level reversers, using Accelerate abilities is not an option to get to level 1 first. However, Solo Player Kirito, if truly solo, leaves two of your center stage slots open to attack, and it’s likely that your opponent will not side attack your Solo Player Kirito (due to the soul penalty). It’s kind of a pinch for your opponent; if you keep on drawing cards at level 0, you’ll (ideally) eventually have a full hand with many options going into the next level. However, if they opt to soul rush you, they may be unable to get to level 1 just as quickly, and may lose a turn of attacks.
B: The deck has 4 Kirito in the Battlefield to look for anything it needs to at any point of the game too.
M: In the end game, it uses both level 3 Asuna characters to either clear the opponent’s board and/or do large amounts of damage.
B: If things get really bad at any point, the deck has solid Backup effects to fall back on.
What does this deck not do well? Is it missing something? How do we beat it?
Because this deck was built to address a certain meta (more on that later), it is noticeably different from many SAO builds in that it focuses on the very powerful and stable Imprisoned Queen Asuna. Because it has character (hand) encore and becomes very large with Kirito’s Strong Bond, the “best” foil to that in theory is a level reverser (or an enormous level 1 character). But aside from that, let’s take a look at the range of effects the deck has access to.
The deck does not have access to any Salvage effects or draw effects. It is able to Burn and Heal, but not repeatedly. All of its CX triggers are Bounce triggers, so characters that are able unable to be targeted by effects may find themselves more likely to stick around for more than a turn.
The deck not only lacks Salvage and draw, but it also does not have any answers to it. Because it is so focused on its game plan, a focused strategy that centers around Salvage effects, Burn effects, or even repeated Heal effects should have decent chances against this deck.
In theory, a strong set that has access to effects that prevents players from searching their decks would be very strong against this deck, but no such set exists at this time. While a deck that can Change into large characters early on would also in theory be good, the presence of so many Bounce triggers can hamper that plan’s effectiveness.
How does the deck stack up? Is it conservative or greedy? What’s its overall power range? Is it easy or difficult to use? What would you say about its viability in the JP/EN metagames at large?
The deck primarily uses one color, and only ever needs to access a second color at level 1. It runs a good number of search effects to smooth out its draws, thus minimizing the need to rely purely on luck to draw the best cards at the right time.
Power Range: 6 – 8
The deck has a very linear and predictable game plan. It is unable to trigger anything other than a Bounce trigger (besides soul triggers). What it gains from this predictability however, is a much higher probability that it will be able to carry out its intended game plan.
The benefit of running such a streamlined list is that color management is rarely going to be an issue, if ever at all. The most important cards in the deck are run as 4-ofs, and the important late-game plays appear as 2 and 3-ofs. The consistency that the deck has will mean that the player using it will see a lot of overlap in game scenarios and draws. Redundancy creates predictability, and predictability reduces difficulty.
EN/JP Meta Viability:
B: The deck has no Salvage effects and minimal Heal effects in an attempt to counter the current JP meta, which is dominated by KanColle. I played 8 search effects to make up for the lack of Salvage effects.
M: The deck is probably more well-positioned to do well in the JP meta because as Benjamin said, there are no Salvage effects in this deck and only a few Heal effects to speak of. Its level 3 CX combo in particular is nightmarish for a lot of decks, because +5000 power on top of a 1k1 is difficult to defend in the late game, even for KanColle.
In a JP meta environment where KanColle is dominating, this deck is a solid choice. It’s consistent, it searches for its answers, and it effectively ignores the A-game that KanColle has. However, in a very diverse metagame (where for example, Milky Holmes, Ilya, Log Horizon, Daybreak, Vividred, Railgun, KoF etc might appear at any given time), it may not do as well. The deck does not have access to many unfair (broken) effects, nor does it have excellent answers to them. (No anti-Burn, no anti-Salvage, etc)
In the EN meta, because of the lack of anti-Salvage and Heal tax effects, this deck is notably less effective. It has excellent answers to the endgame from other SAO decks that use yellow/green/red, but will likely struggle to end a game against Madoka especially if Madoka is able to Heal at all during level 2.
However, the level 1 power that this deck uses is portable and has been used in other successful SAO lists. It is particularly effective against the most popular Madoka and Love Live! character setups at level 1 (though not limited to those sets). For the EN meta however, it might be a good idea to adjust this list to include the Lisbeth reverser to be able to Accelerate to level 1, especially in the event of early cancels.
Overall, this deck appears to be a solid choice in JP, as well as a viable option in EN (with some adjustments recommended).
Onto the interview!
Special thanks again to Laurent Mason for carrying out the interview.
L: Congratulations on the win! For everyone at home first, would you like to introduce yourself?
B: Hi everyone, I’m Benjamin Hancox. I’m 21 and from Sheffield.
L: What was a really lucky moment you had during the tournament?
B: Top 2. Bang in the final, my opponent ran out of climaxes. There were 4 in the deck, and I needed 4 damage to win. I had Asuna to control the damage so no matter what, I had it. And actually, against you (Laurent) in the Top 8, was a shocker round, with both of us out 5 climaxes on turn 1.
L: How about a really unlucky moment?
B: As for unlucky moments, probably that same game against you where we both dropped a lot of climaxes. But the most unlucky one was in round 1 against Weihua. I had to deal 7 damage to win, but could only deal 6. If I had just one more soul trigger, I would have won, because the top card of his deck was a character. It was a hilarious game being that we were both at 3/6, but I got my revenge in the final round!
L: Any incredible comebacks?
B: No real comebacks, no. For most of the tournament I was ahead.
L: And how about that last match? What did you play against?
B: I played against Love Live! in a repeat of round 1, and I had the early game. He caught up but just ran out of climaxes in the end.
L: How did you prepare for the tournament? Did you do anything special the day of the event?
B: I didn’t really do anything special apart from a little practice with my mates at Patriot Games on Friday. As for the day of, I just relaxed and played the game like it should be played, for fun.
L: Nice, congratulations again on the win! Any other shoutouts or things you would like to say?
B: SAO does NOT suck, despite Weihua’s opinion. And the final rounds were fantastic.
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