Sword Art Online Deck Tech – BWC 2015 CA Regionals Winner


Welcome to the 9th CX’s Weiss Schwarz deck techs! For this article, we have a fresh tournament report and analysis from the 2015 BWC CA Regional Qualifiers, featuring SAO! The Pomona qualifier was a massive 258-player event, and yes, the same Michael who writes the articles here won the event! (Hi everyone!)

The event was covered by the Official WS USA page here.

If you want to skip the deck tech, you can scroll down or search for [REPORT] on the page.

Let’s get to the deck!


Cards – 50

Level 0 – 16

4 Kirito, Temporary Alliance (SAO/SE23-E20)
4 Silica Gathering Materials (SAO/SE23-E07)
4 Shoichi Shinkawa (SAO/SE23-E08)
2 Silica’s Unyielding Trust (SAO/S20-E051)
1 In the Sunlight Forest, Sinon (SAO/SE23-E19)
1 Ideal Self, Sinon (SAO/SE23-E18)

Level 1 – 11

4 Asuna Invites to Party (SAO/S20-E001)
4 Unknown Identity, 《Death Gun》 (SAO/SE23-TE04)
3 Vice Commander, Asuna (SAO/S20-E010)

Level 2 – 7

2 Mob Hunting Together, Lisbeth (SAO/SE23-E14)
2 Excessive Obsession, Kyoji (SAO/SE23-E13)
1 “True” Power, 《Death Gun》(SAO/SE23-TE06)
1 Gathering Materials, Leafa (SAO/SE23-E06)
1 《Lightning Flash》 Asuna (SAO/S20-E002)

Level 3 – 8

4 Asuna’s Commanding Strength (SAO/S20-E007)
3 Sterben 《Death Gun》 (SAO/SE23-E09)
1 Lisbeth’s Shining Smile (SAO/S26-046)

CX – 8

4 《Star Splash》 (SAO/S20-E024)
3 Power of 《Death Gun》 (SAO/SE23-TE08)
1 Fateful Estoc Wielder (SAO/SE23-E17)

At level 0, we have 16 characters.


Kirito, Temporary Alliance gives a Sinon you control +1000 power until end of turn when it attacks. It is also a conditional runner: at the start of your opponent’s attack phase, you may put the top card of your deck into your waiting room. If the revealed card is an [Avatar] or [Net] character, Kirito can run to an open slot on your center stage.


Silica, Gathering Materials is a level reverser. When played, you reveal the top card of your deck. If the revealed card is an [Avatar] or [Net] character, you put it in your hand, and then discard a card.


Shoichi Shinkawa gives all other [Weapon] characters you control +500 power, and all characters on your opponent’s center stage [Target].


Silica’s Unyielding Trust has a brainstorm ability for 1 stock and resting 2 characters you control: for each CX revealed, you salvage a character.


In the Sunlight Forest, Sinon gives the other character in the middle slot of your center stage +1000 power during your opponent’s turn, and has a brainstorm ability for 1 stock: for each CX revealed, search your deck for up to X [Avatar] or [Net] characters, then discard X cards.


When you play Ideal Self, Sinon, you can pay 1 stock and put the top card of your deck into clock. If you do, you search your deck for up to 1 level 2 or higher character.

At level 1, we have 11 characters.


Asuna Invites to Party gets +1000 power as long as you control 3 or more other [Avatar] or [Net] characters. It has a CX combo with Star Splash: on attack, you can pay 1 stock to search your deck for an [Avatar] or [Net] character.


Unknown Identity, 《Death Gun》 is a level reverser as long as the character battling it is a [Target]. You can pay 1 stock and rest 2 characters you control to give a character your opponent controls -1 level and [Target] until end of turn.


Vice Commander, Asuna, has a 0 stock, +1000 power Backup ability. When you use its Backup ability, if you control 2 or more [Avatar] or [Net] characters, you can choose another character you control and give it +1000 power until end of turn.

At level 2, we have 7 characters.


Mob Hunting Together, Lisbeth gets +500 power for each other [Avatar] or [Net] character you control. When it attacks, you can pay 1 stock to give a character your opponent controls on their center stage -1 level until end of turn.


Excessive Obsession, Kyoji gives all other [Weapon] characters you control +1000 power, and gives all characters on your opponent’s back stage [Target].


“True” Power, 《Death Gun》gets +1000 power if all characters you control are [Avatar] or [Net], and gives the character facing it [Target]. It as a CX combo with Power of 《Death Gun》: when the CX is played, you may discard a card. If you do, you choose a character with cost 1 or less your opponent controls and put it into the waiting room. (You can choose a character on center or back stage)


Gathering Green Materials Leafa has a 1 stock +2500 power Backup ability. When you use the ability, you win the game reveal the top card of your deck. If the revealed card is an [Avatar] or [Net] character, you put it into your hand, then discard a card.


Lighting Flash Asuna sends any character it reverses to stock. During your turn, if facing a level 3 or higher character, it gets +4000 power and +1 soul.

At level 3, we have 8 characters.


Asuna’s Commanding Strength has a heal trigger on play. On attack, you can pay 1 stock and discard a card to give all [Avatar] characters you control +500 power and +1 soul until end of turn.


If all characters your opponent controls have [Target], Sterben Death Gun may burn 1 on attack. It as a CX combo with Fateful Estoc Wielder: on attack, it gets +2500 power and “When this reverses a character in battle, you may put that character on top of your opponent’s deck” until the end of your opponent’s next turn.


Lisbeth’s Shining Smile gets +500 power times the number of [Avatar] or [Net] characters you have until end of turn when played. When played, you look at the top card of your deck, and you may put it into your waiting room. When it reverses a character in battle during your turn, you may pay 1 to send a level 2 or lower character your opponent controls on the center stage to the top of their deck.

The CX spread is a 4/3/1 split among 1k1 + Bounce, 1k1 + Gate, and 2k1 + 2 soul effects and triggers respectively.




Before I begin retelling how every round went, a question popped up that warrants a quicker answer:

This deck looks weird. Why did you use this deck? What possessed you to make it like this?

What I want to say: Because of a beautiful process of elimination involving hours of analysis, thousands of games testing, and blood sweat and tears.

The reality: I misplaced my blue cards and had to come up with something before the event.

This deck was the result of an eleventh hour edit. I went to SoCal with the idea of using YB SAO, using Asuna + Sinon as a way to push for massive endgame damage. I was expecting Attack on Titan, Log Horizon, and Madoka Rebellion to be major contenders, with a small slice of Love Live! players making up a significant minority. I had the cards for the YB build but somehow my level 3 Sinons went missing, leaving me scrambling for a solution.

Enter Sebastian.

Sebastian is a friend whose deck you may have seen last year when he qualified for the first EGP. I explained my situation to him, and at his wholehearted encouragement, told me that I should use LizGun. I knew that the basics of LizGun involved using very big red characters to beat down and end the game, but I also knew that the deck probably would not be able to stop a wave of charging titans in a fair fight. Thus, LizunaGun!

Here’s how the deck wants to work:

(Fair warning, if you are an experienced player, you have probably heard these things before)

In the early game, it wants to open with at least one global support, and a Silica reverser or Kirito runner. The runners are great for kiting and actually forcing damage through to you in the early game, and useful to deny damage later in the game if need be. Both cards have a bit of invisible power that give them an edge over other cards. Instead of moving only a single card at a time like most cards (the card from attack), they move two; the card from the reveal ability, and the attack. Silica, more often than not, will filter out a card, and if not, you get the luxury of knowing when to brainstorm, or when you might want to use the trigger on the top of your deck.

The first few turns are all about setting up as many copies of Asuna Invites to Party as possible, and searching for the backup(s). If you are beyond 1/4 though, the plan switches to searching for level 2+ characters. The curious part of the deck is how card-efficient the cards are. Each attacking character in the early game with the exception of the Death Gun reverser is capable of pushing 2 cards at a time, which increases the chances of canceling in the long run. The Death Gun reverser plays an interesting role and both levels 1 and 2, and sometimes 3, especially if your opponent plays an early level 3 character. While SAO does not have an anti-change effect, it gets to have an on-attack quasi-anti-change in Lisbeth + Death Gun.

The deck gets a lot of value out of its CX triggers (with the rare exception of the +2 soul, which will, thanks to confirmation bias, only show up at its most inconvenient possible time). Bounce can help gain cards by taking out a key support or tax your opponent’s stock, and salvage triggers can help maintain the board by reusing Backup effects (as an example).

By level 2, the deck should be ready to refresh favorably, but does not need a wealth of stock to function. (During the whole event, I would often go into levels 2 and 3 with an average of 4 stock.) Lisbeth is a huge character, and will often demand a large character to overpower. Given that a fully stocked back stage of support will give her +2500 without anyone else on the center stage, she, combined with a Death Gun reverser, can take down teams of level 2 characters with ease.

Level 3 is when having the full [Target] acquired is necessary. Even though a burn effect is much less flashy than a Sinon headshot (burn 4), it is immensely more difficult to cancel, and if the opponent should cancel that 1, they will be that much less favored to cancel the 2+ damage coming in from the Sterben. Asuna + Sterben can make the endgame a nightmare for your opponent if they have level 1 or level 2 characters on the board; side attacking skips the counter step, so anti-damage events etc can’t be used in those instances.

So what did you play against?


Tournament report, start!

My friend Thomas and I left the Bay on Saturday morning SoCal-bound to play in a local event at It’s Game Time. Fortunately, we had an uneventful 7 hour drive, and soon I was sitting in a store, building a horrible blue/green Charlotte deck for testing. I got to meet some new friends, give away some packs and see how bad my first draft of my Charlotte deck was. (To reiterate: the build was bad, it’s not worth posting about, and we’ll be seeing more real decks very soon)

Thomas brewed a much better Y/x build (which will have a deck tech of its own), and went on to win the whole tournament that night. We drove half an hour away for a 10,000 calorie meal of KBBQ, and headed to his friend Ryosuke’s place to crash. We tested some games until 3 AM (a very risky move), and then woke up at 8 to drive to the venue. It was during the testing session that I made the decision to play RY LizunaGun over another ‘fun’ deck I had, 9-bounce Idols. (Love Live!, Yellow Green, no CX combos, 8 bounce triggers; the closest thing to cute vanilla beatdown)

I took my player number (174), filled out my deck list, organized it by level, double and triple-checked it, took a picture for later, and went to check my pairing for round 1.

Please note! These rounds are being done to the best of my memory – there were ten of them, and my memory, however good or awful it might be, is certainly far from perfect. If I played against you and I have forgotten some key detail etc, I’ll change it if you let me know!

Round 1 – Love Live!

My first match was against a Love Live! deck; a series I was anticipating to see maybe once or twice in the day. Things got off to an interesting start when his first direct attack triggered a +2 soul, and a turn later, his third attack triggered another double soul. Thanks to the help of my Asuna Invites, I was able to dig out a lot of non-CX cards from my deck. At level 2, he used the Honoka anti-encore to delete a Lisbeth, but I was able to consistently reverse his characters every turn, tax his stock, and make him unable to assemble a game-winning attack.


Round 2 – Love Live!

My second match was against another Love Live! deck, running a yellow/red build. The early game went smoothly, and I was able to filter through a good number of CX and non-CX cards to get to level 1 on time. My Star Splash combo pushed him to level 2, and he replied with a beefy 2/2 Kotori to clear some of my Asunas. Unfortunately, the bird found herself in the sights of a waifu slayer and was shot down for free the following turn (SORRY KOTORI), and I ended the game almost 5 cards and a level ahead.


Round 3 – Kantai Collection (KanColle)

Round 3 had me paired against a green/yellow Kantai build that had an offbeat CX split: 4 bounce, 4 bar. I refused to sink a Hibiki for a long time, opting to side attack it for several turns in a row to keep him at level 0 as long as possible. When I finally hit level 1, I hit 3 copies of Asuna Invites + the Star Splash CX to search up a Vice Commander and other characters. Those Asunas stayed on board for a long time, and he kept using CXs and side attacking. During one turn when I was expecting to level to level 2, I remained at 1/4. I was out 6 CXs, and I clocked and to my horror, drew my remaining two CXs, a Star Splash, and a Power of Death Gun, with 7 cards left in my deck. At that point, I had a choice. I could brainstorm to refresh with 6, but after some thought, I realized there was a way I could refresh with all 8; I played my Star splash, attacked, searched for a blank trigger (to improve the chances of hitting a soul trigger for more damage), went to 5 cards in deck, repeated, going to 3 cards in deck, and ended the turn with 9 cards in hand, and 1 card left in my deck. I discarded my 8th CX and another redundant character, refreshed with all 8, and had also pushed him a full level ahead of me. During the final turn, he hit an unsuccessful Compass, went to 3/6, and began his turn with 2 cards left in his deck before conceding.


Round 4 – Log Horizon

As soon as I saw the Waltz CX hit the waiting room, I knew that I had finally been paired against one of the decks I was truly expecting to see at the high tables. I was on the draw, and he played not one, but TWO marker Akatsukis, and slammed a level reverser, hitting me for 2 damage. My hand did not improve from my initial mulligan, but in a stroke of good luck (or fit of consistency), I drew both a copy of the runner Kirito and reverser Silica. I did not want to give him any value from his Akatsukis, and it was not worth letting him know that I had any more copies of level 0 characters in my hand, so I opted to crash the reversers and pass the turn. The damage that did go through ended up sending his brainstorm Shiroe to clock, and he was unable to add more to his board for another turn. Instead, he moved an Akatsuki to the front attacked, and passed. At that point, I was certain that I was going to have to do a long trade with Kirito and Akatsuki, but a copy of the global Shoichi and brainstorm Sinon showed up. I traded again 1 for 1 with his Akatsuki, using the brainstorm Sinon (both had 1500 power), and then hit him to 0/4. When he pushed his final Akatsuki to the front, I was able to clear it for free with my Kirito, and deny myself a cancel to get to level 1 on time. When he hit level 1, he only had a pair of clock encore Shiroes, and a Marielle went straight to stock after revealing a CX. He used the stock to convert a Miss Isuzu searcher into another character, and was able to parry an attack with my Asuna with a Mind Shock, but he had an unfortunate refresh in the midgame, only getting 6 CXs back into his deck. A subsequent attack saw him trigger yet another CX, and he drew another, and I was able to crash 6 cards into an impossibly large Naotsugu to not only push damage, but deny him the Akatsuki burn combo, and the -2 soul ability from his support Shiroe.


Round 5 – Miku!

I thought that I might run into a Soundless Voice build at one point, but fortunately for me, this was not one of those times. My opponent’s initial mulligan revealed that he was in fact playing a green/red Miku build. Unfortunately for him, I was able to pick off his early characters for free, and I had excellent level 1-2 cancels thanks to a combination of searching and brainstorming. His board pretty much stayed the same from level 1, with the exception of a healer Miku he changed in. Though I was never able to deal with the oversized Miku, he was forced to commit too much stock to preserving his board since he was already 3 or 4 cards down from the early game. The game ended with me barely starting level 2 when the final damage landed.


Round 6 – SAO

This round, I got to play the SAO mirror against Scott, a member of our party from the night before. His deck was more of what my deck was supposed to look like for the event, but the game did not play out beautifully at all. To expand a little bit on the way-too-short-and-very-rude version of “I just got too lucky” (which… I did), the story of the game was something like this:

  1. I played characters.
  2. So did he.
  3. We battled.
  4. My 1k1 Star Splash hit for 9 damage.
  5. Twice.
  6. He canceled about 2 times all game, and triggered at least 4 CXs from attacks.

All said, it was a beautiful and horrifying display of variance in WS, and I so happened to reap the benefit during the round. (In his defense, he played all of his cards correctly, and did everything he could do to win; he was just behind a level and a turn, and was low on cards during the time that players normally use to rebuild their hand.)


Round 7 – Blue Titans

That round…

I was given a grim reminder…

The horror that was this round against a fellow Bay Area player is best summed up in image and GIF form.

MFW out 6 CXs in 2 turns, taking 14 damage

MFW out 6 CXs in 2 turns, taking 14 damage

tfw Asuna is kill

tfw Asuna is kill


After a 5 minute thrashing, I was 6-1 and the top cut was performed. The top 8 were announced, deck checks were done, and it was off to the elimination stages!

Populating the top 8 were:

Madoka x2
Attack on Titan
SAO x2
Love Live!

Top 8 – Quarterfinals – SAO

The look of the blue/yellow Imprisoned Queen Asuna build evolved to include Sinon and was staring me down across the table – with the identical playmat to boot! We even both had Asuna sleeves, and we were off. I only remember the midgame the best, where his Imprisoned Queen Asuna was punished by a Death Gun reverser, and we were both getting more cards in hand from Star Splash combos. His triggers were burn triggers, and mine were bounces, which made for some interesting interactions. While I didn’t get to bounce anything worthwhile in the early game, I did once get to keep a character for free because I bounced the character mine was about to crash into. I kept hitting soul triggers during the midgame, and twice, two consecutive attacks for 3 would hit, before an attack for 1 would cancel; a very unfortunate sequence for my opponent. I ended the game at 3/0 with what turned out to be a triple cancel waiting on the top of my deck.

Top 4 – Semifinals – Madoka

Another Bay Area player, Nick, was not someone I was looking forward to playing, out of respect of knowing how well he played Madoka. I ran a couple of tournaments, and he won both of them with the same list. Though he and I had actually not played previously, I knew that I could count on a hard game.

I went first, and saw my opening hand after clocking. I had only 2 playable cards: a Silica brainstormer, and a global support Shoichi. I knew that he ran Sayaka Looks Up to Mami (a 1500 power character), as well as the New World Madoka (4000 power as long as you have 2 or less stock), and the stock and damage I was going to get from the attack was not worth knowing that I would lose the card for free the following turn. After tanking for a while, I passed the turn, getting a surprised reaction. He drew, clocked a level 3 Homura, played 2 copies of the Madoka (which after seeing, I breathed a sigh of relief in my head), as well as a Sayaka Looks. The surprise play was a 1k1 he followed up with, opting for a soul rush gambit to get me as far behind as possible. His attacks for 3 and 3 landed, and his last attack was canceled. I leveled with red, clocked a level 3 Asuna, and cleared his entire board with larger characters, opting to hold onto a CX to deny him from getting to level 1. Sure enough, he started his next turn at 0/6 after clocking, and could only bond for his Second Year Sayakas with Apples.

I took the opportunity to brainstorm after a Silica revealed a CX on top of my deck, netting me some more cards. My next push hurled him well into level 1, and his follow up attack triggered two consecutive CXs. Once I saw that he was getting low on cards and was already out 7 of his CXs (4 in WR, 1 in clock, 2 in hand), I held onto the 2 CXs I drew, and then stopped clocking. He hit a brainstorm to try to deny damage, but his final attack revealed the final CX left in his deck, leaving 8 cards worth of free damage hanging. I jumped at the opportunity to hit a 1k1, and searched out as many blank triggers from my deck as I could to maximize the potential damage I could deal.

His refresh was kind to him, but the brainstorm the following turn was not; he hit 2 CXs and searched for 2 level 3 Homuras, but his attack triggered another 2 CXs. I canceled his attacks, and went to my turn. Because his board was actually much smaller than mine, I was forced to “win” trades by clearing his characters, only to make them delicious HomuHomu food. I had 1 CX left in deck among 3 cards, and was at 2/6 when he played his Homuras and pushed a 1-soul character to the front to crash. His first attack was canceled on the 3rd and last card, making me unable to refresh with the CX, but I was hit to exactly level 3 after the refresh, and 3/1 after my character was kicked to clock. A second attack for 3 went through and sent me to 3/5. His final attack went for 3, but the trigger was a CX, and it was canceled on the last card, eliciting a “うっし!” from the president of Bushiroad USA, who happened to be watching. (Not a joke) At that point, he was at 3/5, had only 1 CX left in deck, and extended the hand.

Grand Finals – Attack on Titan

The revenge match!!

One of the best things that could happen while facing the deck, is going second. Mono-blue Titans hates going first because it wants to run at the opponent at full speed with enormous Titans that can’t be killed easily. And fortunately for me, I got to go second in this rematch.

Bert drew, clocked, and passed the turn with no plays. (Sound familiar?) I used the opportunity to play a pair of runners, and pushed him to 0-4 after my first attack triggered a soul trigger. Not wanting to send him to level 1 before my hand was ready, I passed the turn. It felt weird to deny myself free stock, but I knew that it was not worth the risk of nearly losing the game on the spot. As I feared, the Titans came crashing down, but fortunately, my Kirito runners were able to mill away a CX, ensuring I would be getting to level 1 more quickly. Though I lost my front line, I was able to trade a Silica for a single Titan. It kept the open slots for him to attack into, but it also kept him at 0/5, thus saving me from the horrors of level 1 Titans for one last turn.

His response was to bump me to level 1; I leveled a Vice Commander Asuna for yellow because quote, “It’s not like this is going to actually do anything against you at level 2 right?” Between levels 1 and 2, I was only able to land 1 or 2 attacks per turn. I was filtering through my deck like mad, doing my best to also cancel, which I did a fair number of times.

There came a point near the end of level 2 where I had about 15 cards left in my deck, and 3 CXs remaining. I clocked a Star Splash and drew… an Asuna Invites to Party. Oops. But, in retrospect, it was not the worst thing that could have happened. The other card I drew was a Sterben, leaving my hand with a total of 2 Sterben, a red 1k1, and the Asuna. Had I played more correctly, I would have had the option of filtering through my deck for more cards to deny him damage, but I knew that I had to leave myself with 4 stock to be able to play both Death Guns the following turn. In a very quiet turn, I hit him for 1 damage with the Asuna. He went to 2/3, did not clock, and then proceeded to crush my deck with enormous swings.

Fortunately for me, there were a pair of cancels that showed up after I refreshed that gave me some breathing room. I drew the one level 3 Lisbeth in my deck, but declined to clock because I did not want to risk drawing more CXs and dealing myself free damage. I played my pair of Sterbens, but then pushed my level 0 Shoichi to the front, because all of his characters were going to retain [Target] for the turn. I played a 1k1, and went for a game-winning set of attacks. A burn for 1 from the first Sterben was canceled, and the 3 soul attack stuck, sending him to 2/6. The next burn hit to send him to level 3, but the 4 soul attack was deflected like:


My last desperate attack for 2 went through, but he went into the next turn poised to finish the game.

A pair of direct attacks sent me to 3/4, and also made me refresh to 3/5. He attacked with the Titan head for 3, and I flipped the first two cards  thinking “Please…”, and saw a Death Gun CX on the last card to save me from losing the game.

I drew a card, looked at my chances of living to see the next turn, and jokingly announced “Final turn!”, before putting a card in my clock to go to 3/6, and draw my last remaining characters.

I pushed my support Kyoji to the front, and played another 0 cost character. My level 3 Lisbeth was played between those plays; the sequencing was irrelevant because no amount of trying was going to let me beat his 14-15000 power Titans.

I saw that the top card of my deck was a blank trigger. I saw that he had only one card left in his deck, so I left the card there.

I attacked with my level 0 for 1 damage, forcing him to refresh with only 6 CXs. (The last card in his deck was a CX) He clocked to 3/3 with about 17 cards left in his deck, meaning I would have to hit a soul trigger during either attack and not cancel, or, hit a double soul trigger on the Lisbeth attack to win.

I attacked with my Lisbeth, and the trigger was blank. Two damage stuck, leaving him at 3/5. I looked at my Kyoji with only 1 soul, and shook my head, knowing that the probability was not in my favor. I turned him sideways and flipped a Star Splash! The 2 soul attack I needed was there, and he began to reveal his cards- Titan, and, Titan!

I’d like to give a shoutout to John and Card Academy for helping me with cards, Thomas, Ryosuke & friends and the IGT folks for lodging and great games, and Randall for the deck tech video collab. Another thanks to Sebastian for pushing me to play LizGun. Special thank you to Ben B. from the Bay Area for helping me with the Asunas, and a shoutout to the WS PH community for your support!

Fun fact: BWC for 2 seasons now has been won by a Michael. (Hi Mike!)



If you’ve made it through the nearly 5000 word brick of text, thanks for reading! I hope you were able to learn something about the deck (or just enjoy reading about the matches, or maybe even your match, haha), and enjoy the article. Thank you to everyone who showed their support for the website at the event – I am looking forward to continuing the 9th CX project, and to the Continental Championship coming up!

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