Level Up! – How to Use a Lead (Part 1)

Are Sonzai X and RNGsus conspiring against you in your games?

Are you convinced that you are just doomed to lose?

Is there a possibility that you have missed potential advantages and opportunities?

If there is, (and there might be!) we’re going to be looking at a much finer point in WS: just what do we do when we are winning a game?

In WS, having an advantage (or having it look like we’re winning) looks different from other games.

(These are general comparisons only)

For instance, in chess, a tempo is a turn gained. (e.g. Your opponent having to move out of check) In Magic, it could be getting a sweet 2-for-1. In Shadowverse, it could be slamming your animated Bahamut onto a full enemy board when your opponent has no cards in hand. Okay, that’s more like Winning™, but advantages come in many shapes and sizes.

In WS, there are many places for a player to gain an advantage, and each has a value that is dependent (ranging from barely to completely) on other factors. For example, an effect that draws 3 cards is powerful by itself, but is even more powerful the lower the level of the user and the higher their stock, and only slightly diminished by the number of remaining CXs in deck, and cards in hand.

But when it comes down to the little decisions in a game, we don’t have the luxury of notes to refer to; we can’t even take notes during a game. So with that in mind, how can we best prepare to recognize advantages that may arise during a game? And if we do spot one, how do we best use it? Our answers may change depending on what kind of deck we’re using, but we thought that there might be some general truths out there. For that, we’ve turned to our guests and team for their thoughts!

We’re featuring thoughts from Bren, Clinton, Sebastian, Travis, and Felix. We took everyone’s opinions blind, so no one has seen what the others have said. We did this to avoid accidentally biasing anyone, though the drawback is that some of the points may overlap. Michael will be adding some of his

When playing a game of WS, how do you recognize, take, and maintain a lead?


There is no such thing as a true lead, as in someone is “ahead” in the game, in most games.  There are cases where it does happen but they are generally blowouts and have very little, if any, comebacks.  However, that’s not to say there aren’t leads altogether.  There are what I like to call individual leads, such as resource, damage, board, or tempo leads.  Resource covers areas like hand size and stock, damage covers areas like clock damage and healing capability, board covers areas like power and runners, and tempo (side note: Tempo is a lot more broad than this, so this definition focuses on areas other focuses don’t cover) covers areas like momentum and burst damage/compression.

I’ve seen my fair share of players who are particularly good at one or two of these leads, but it’s difficult to manage all four and come out ahead, particularly when a series being played isn’t as good at one of them.  The reason mainly is that if you take a lead in all four of those areas you are currently in a blowout scenario, and those don’t happen very often.  With that said, the main way to take a lead in these areas is to just focus on it and direct your plays towards it.  To take a lead in damage, for instance, aim for accuracy and damage, leaning slightly towards accuracy.  To take a lead in resources, play costless characters and don’t pay out stock except to gain hand.

There’s quite a bit of luck involved when trying to maintain these leads.  Trigger three climaxes on your attacks, for instance, and it’s going to ruin your compression very quickly.  If six of your eight climaxes are in your bottom 10 cards at the start of the game, and you aren’t able to shuffle your deck, you’re going to be behind in damage from the start.  However, that’s not to say you can’t influence this.  Start from when you deckbuild, and identify the areas where you’d like to be strong in.  Those new to this style, focus on two different areas you’d like to try and lead in, and build a deck with each of those areas in mind (not neglecting good cards, of course).  Play games with that deck and get a feel for what you need to do to maintain it.  Once you learn specifically what you need to do, go back to your original deck and you can see what changes you’d make to achieve more of your desired goal.  Go back to your testing deck every once in a while to refresh.  (The only reason I don’t say specifically what it is you need to do is because every set is different, and what one set does another might not do.)

Of course, if you’re a veteran, then you may not need a new deck to learn and achieve what it is you need to do in your set.


First, I (try to) figure out what I’m playing against and then I consider what changes to my usual plan I should take for said matchup. I would know what windows I have, when they happen, and how long they last. So I time when I do things accordingly to get attempt to gain an advantage in hand, board, and/or damage. That means attacking and committing more aggressively at certain turns and levels or holding back a little to bait out bigger plays the following turn.


Some commentary – recognizing opportunities where attacking more aggressively will be rewarded comes from practice and card/set knowledge. If you figure out that your opponent’s set or specific deck will not be able to punish an all-out attack, then you should seize that advantage if able. Holding back plays (for instance, to deny your opponent an on-reverse search) is a little more tricky. Why? Because you surrender some immediate advantages (maybe some damage, 1 stock), in order to deny your opponent from building an even larger advantage from your play. It feels uncomfortable because it isn’t winning in the moment, but there’s that (supposedly) smoother future.


You recognize a lead when your opponent is out all climaxes, have more than 20 cards in deck and you have 2 plus 2 souls with 2 soul beaters in hand.
You take a lead by cutting your opponent to all their climaxes at the top of their deck then play plus 2 souls.
You maintain a lead by playing plus 2 soul every turn while triple cancelling every turn.

To win more, just stop losing. /r/koreanadvice


I recognize a lead in terms or resources and/or damage. In terms of resources (hand and stock), paying out CXs when necessary and filtering your hand out to get unnecessary CXs in hand out can help take or continue a lead in resources. In damage, capitalizing on when your opponent is out a significant number of CXs can offer the same advantage to take or maintain a lead.


In my opinion, a lead depends strongly on the deck you’re playing, as well as the deck’s plan. For instance, the Girl Friend Beta Pumpkin deck just tries to stay at level 2 as long as possible. Its lead comes from getting extra time by being able to play out large walls and making it difficult for the opponent to keep anything on board. TLR (Yami) on the other hand, surrenders or cashes in its card advantage for its endgame finishing potential. It tries to get as much out of its on-reverse search effects to reach level 3 with Yami + CX to end the game.

But in general, I’d say WS doesn’t really have a typical “lead” situation. Of course if your opponent punches you on an empty field with 3 characters and a +2 soul and you don’t cancel, they’re obviously in the lead, but that’s not normal. I try to get to my first refresh ASAP with as few CXs in my stock as possible.


From here we can also take away that an advantage is having a deck with plenty of CXs, or at least, enough to cancel incoming damage at the right time. However, because damage canceling is a reactive game mechanic, it’s difficult to classify having a CX-heavy deck as an advantage. Statistically, one could be more favored than the other player to cancel, but ‘being favored’ does not necessarily mean ‘will win’.

Part 2 will be coming soon!

So what do you think? Did anyone miss anything? Drop us a message, and if you’d like, we could put your comment in part 2!

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Thanks for reading!