Legacy Deck Tech – King of Fighters


Welcome back to another 9th CX legacy deck tech! This column features older series in the game that we have not (or may not have) covered in the past. Special thanks to our contributor James H. for the list and the bulk of the article, and to Melanie for editing. Translations can be found on Heart of the Cards. As usual, if the correct translation can’t be found, an in-house translation will be used.

Now let’s get to the list!


Level 0 – 16

2 Daimon, Judo Practictioner (KF/S05-033)
2 Ash, Sneering Crimson Shadow (KF/S05-041)
2 Chris (KF/S05-052)
4 Eiji Kisaragi (KF/S05-063)
2 Shermie (KF/S05-058)
2 Yuri Sakazaki (KF/S05-084)
2 Shiyoko, Assisting (SI/WPR-002)

Level 1 – 14

4 Kyo Kusanagi (KF/S05-051)
4 Shermie, Provoking (KF/S05-060)
2 Japan Team (KF/S05-070)
4 Continue (KF/S05-097)

Level 2 – 6

2 Hiedern, Cold Assassin (KF/S05-026)
2 Ryuji Yamazaki (KF/S05-061)
2 Ryo Sakazaki (KF/S05-080)

Level 3 – 6

4 Ash, Plunderer (KF/S05-032)
2 Kyo, Successor of Powerful Flames (KF/S05-062)

CX – 8

4 Germinal (KF/S05-049)
4 Ura 108 Shiki: Orochi nagi (KF/S05-073)

At level 0, we have 16 cards.


Daimon, Judo Practictioner is a startup pay 1, choose 1 of your characters, and gives it +1500 power and the [Hachimaki] trait for the turn.


Ash, Sneering Crimson Shadow is a 3000 vanilla character.


Chris is a level 0 reverser that can change into “Shermie, Provoking” in your Waiting Room if it is still on the stage at your Draw Phase (cost is to send this card to Waiting Room).


Eiji Kisaragi has a brainstorm ability for 1 stock and resting it: for each CX card revealed you may salvage a character.


Shermie is a +500 in front Assist. He also has the ability of pay 1, rest this card, and choose an [Orochi] or [Dragon] trait character and give it the ability that when it becomes reversed, if the opposing character is of an equal or lower level  you may reverse that character.


Yuri Sakazaki gets +1000 power if you have more than 5 cards in hand.


Shiyoko, Assisting is a +500 in front assist that has the ability to rest this card and choose a character to receive the trait [Genki] for the turn. (It is a promo that can be used in any series, and does not come from the set.)

At level 1, we have 14 cards.


Kyo Kusanagi gets +1500 power if “Japan Team” is in your Waiting Room. It has a CX combo with “Ura 108 Shinki: Orochi Nagi”: when the CX is played he gets +1000 power and has the ability to top deck a character that he reverses.


Shermie, Provoking is a 1/0 5500 vanilla card that can possibly be changed into from Waiting Room at Level 0 during your draw phase if “Chris” is still on your stage.


Japan Team is an event that requires you to have a character with either “Kyo”, “Benimaru”, or “Goro” in the name to play it. It lets you salvage up to 2 characters.


“Continue” is a counter event that allows you to choose a battling character to gain a trait of your choice and to be returned to the stage in a rested position if it is sent to Waiting Room for the turn. (Effectively free encore, without actually being an encore ability)

At level 2, we have 6 cards.


“Hiedern, Cold Assassin” is a +500 Global Assist to all [Army] characters. If your opponent chooses to use any form of encore, you can gain a blind stock from the top of your deck.


When “Ryuji Yamazaki’s” counter ability is used, you may pay 3 and choose to send an opponent’s character with “Assist” and send it to the waiting room. He is also a +2500 power Level 2 counter.


Ryo Sakazaki can refresh your deck with no penalty on play if you have 5 or fewer cards remaining in deck. If he does so, you may choose to stand and swap an opponent’s character to an empty slot your opponent’s stage, or stand and swap the positions of any two of their characters.

At level 3, we have 6 cards.


“Ash, Plunderer” gains all character traits present on the stage and for each trait gets +1000 power. When you play the climax “Germinal” to the stage he heals off a card of your clock to stock and also shuts off events and Backup from hand for the turn. Finally, if he reverses a battle opponent, he sends it to memory.


“Kyo, Successor of Powerful Flames” Allows you to play 2 stock on play to choose and Event card in your waiting room and return it to hand. When you play an Event you may pay 4 and deal 3 damage to your opponent (normal cancellation rules apply). He also has character hand encore.

The CX spread is a 4/4 split of:


4 of “Germinal” which is a +2 soul climax. It also combos with the Level 3 Ash.


4 of “Ura 108 Shinki: Orochi nagi” which is a 1k1 with a gate trigger. This climax is used at Level 1 giving power and a top deck on reverse ability to a character.

How do we use this deck?

J: Your Level 0 game keeps a strong board presence early on using beaters, utility assists, and level reversers. The level 0 reverser “Chris” also has a unique effect. At the start of the next draw phase, if he is still on the field, you can have the option on changing into the level 1 vanilla “Shermie, Provoking” from your waiting room for no stock. By the time you hit Level 1, if you have a a few stock with climaxes in them, you can you pay them out with the Level 1 event “Japan Team” that lets you salvage 2 characters in your waiting room as long as you have one of the three characters listed on the picture on the field. Your Level 1 game is “Shermie, Provoking” and “Kyo Kusunagi” and you maintain their presence with the 1/0 event counter “Continue”. Kyo’s climax combo allows you to top deck whatever it reverses, making your soul damage more likely to follow through the next character attack, getting rid of other player’s utility Level 1 clock and hand encore characters, and circumventing “on reverse” abilities.

At Level 2, Hidern besides being a +500 Global Assist to all [Army] trait characters can build stock to pay for it’s expensive late game by gaining a stock any time your opponent opts to utilize an “Encore” ability.  Ryuji is an interesting counter that for paying the cost can send an opponent’s assist character to waiting room, and Ryo not only can free-fresh your deck but also swap wall characters out of the front stage to the back or send a character to an open slot.  By the time you hit Level 3, you play the level 3 Ash that gains +1000 for every trait on the stage. He also has a climax combo with the +2 soul “Germinal” to heal a card off of your clock to stock (getting around anti-heal) and to shut off events and character backup for your opponent for the turn. Finally, if he reverses a character he can send it to memory. Level 3 Kyo has an ability to pay 2 on play to salvage any event in your waiting room back to  hand, and you can pay 4 stock when you play an event and burn your opponent for 3 damage. This can be activated on your turn, or your opponent’s turn, and typically gets used with the 1/0 “Continue” event.

What are some of the deck’s weaknesses?

J: The deck does not have that much in terms of power, especially at Level 1 and 2. The Level 1 Kyo at most can reach 8000 power, with the standard average number for a front row field generally ranging from 6000 to 7000 for both Kyo and Shermie. The set does not have global power early game and since this is a multi-trait deck +500 in front assists have to be used.  Any global traits really only help out the Level 3 Ash. Another thing that this deck has to be careful about is stock management. Building stock through Level 1 and Level 2 has to be carefully balanced, especially against other wall decks, so that you don’t lose hand advantage while leaving enough stock for your end game.  At Level 3 careful judgement is needed in play the plus 2 soul combo for Ash. While all of his abilities are super solid, it is possible to over-swing for damage with no punishment if your opponent cancels easily with a compressed deck.

What are some risks the deck takes? Are there other cards that could warrant inclusion?

J: Careful stock management is a must. If you aren’t careful, you can set yourself back a turn if you don’t build enough stock early game.
How did you go about building the list?
J: After much play testing and advice from a couple of my friends who also play this  set,  I have come to accept this build of King of Fighters. You’re maintaining hand and compressing the deck the best way possible with Eiji’s brainstorm ability and the level 1 “Japan Team” event. At the same time you conserve stock for late game by playing costless Level 1’s, the 1/0 “Continue” event that allows you to save anything no matter how much it gets powered over, and utility 1 cost Level 2’s. Late game is when you can start paying out all the stock you have conserved and either play aggressively or defensively.
Onto the numbers: What is the deck like in terms of greed, power, difficulty, and viability?
Greed: 7
My definition of greed is how much a set wants to pull off each of their effects. This deck wants to salvage Kyo and Ash to pull off their respective Level 1 and 3 combos which have strong benefits. Players have to be careful not to overextend use of the salvage event and brainstorm, and to time the usage to your benefit to conserve stock for the deck’s late game.
Power: 3
The deck lacks a lot of power to reverse a lot of things on the field during Level’s 1 and 2. The set does not have level 1 reversers with the 0/0 Shermie assist being the only way to do this. His ability costs a stock and requires specific traits to light, which returns to the stock balance problem shared above. If you are playing against an opponent that has only one or two traits on their side of the field you have to rely on setting up as many different trait characters on your own field in order to pump Ash’s power high enough to make him a threat.
Difficulty: 2
The deck is not that hard to play, since you have only two strategies. You’re building stock for late game, so you’re not trying to pay as much stock early. You may use the deck to play either defensively with the Level 3 Kyo, or play aggressively with the Level 3 Ash.
*Melanie: Difficulty: 6 
This deck requires some very carefully balancing of hand and stock building at Level 0 and 1 to sustain through the end game. With no plus Level 1 combo and several abilities that can eat late game stock early on, this deck has to be very careful so that it has it’s pieces and the right amount of stock to pull of it’s end game.*
I would not consider this deck viable in the JP/EN meta for its lack of power. This deck is mainly for messing around with your opponent’s field with your back ups and sending your opponent’s characters to memory. One of the greatest things is to play against a deck that relies heavily on assist characters and decks that have multiple traits to boost up your late game Level 3 Ash. You’re unlikely to see it often though due to lack of set support and rarity.
What’s the most epic game you’ve ever played with the deck?
I would say the most epic game I have ever played with this deck was in a match against Log Horizon. The start was when I was still Level 2 and my opponent was Level 3. He had a Level 3 Shiroe in the back row and the Level 3 Naotsugu in the front. I had 7 cards left in deck and I clocked a card in my hand to draw two to leave 5 cards left in deck. I then played the Level 2 Ryuji that lets me refresh without taking a refresh burn and swapped the places of both the level 3 Naotsugu and Level 3 Shiroe. I then proceeded to battle phase, attacked and killed of the Level 3 Shiroe, and got my opponent to Level 3/6 damage. At the encore step he decides to let his Level 3 Shiroe die, but drew into another one. He proceeded to bring out his Level 3 Shiroe and two Level 3 Akatsuki to heal two damage to get his damage down to 3/4. During the first attack of his battle phase I decided to counter with the 2/1 red backup counter which kills an assist character by paying three stock, taking out his 2nd Level 3 Shiroe. On his next attack I played my blue event counter to give someone free encore while my Level 3 Kyo was on the field. Once I activated the event counter, my Level 3 Kyo effect activated and I paid four stock to burn my opponent for 3 exact damage. He takes all the damage right before I take my damage. Due to counter step effect happening right before my damage step, I won the game before I took the damage that would cost me it.

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