Asuna vs Zekken, Switch vs Last Shot

Welcome to a 9th CX discussion post! Travis and Michael are here to talk about the new finishers that have come to SAO, and determine which one they prefer. Part 2 of this article will feature some more voices and will be posted later. Onto the discussion!

For reference, here are the cards being discussed:

When you play Attack in Waves, Kirito, you may sacrifice a “After the Battle, Kirito” you control. If you do, you may play this card at 0 cost. It heals on play. If you control 3 or more other [Avatar] and/or [Net] characters, this card gets +1500 power and “When this reverses a character in battle, you may choose another [Avatar] or [Net] character you control, rest it, and then move it to an open position on your back stage.

Attack in Waves, Asuna gives all [Avatar]/[Net] characters you control in front of her +2000 power and “When this reverses a character in battle, you may send the reversed character to memory”. When played, you may tutor for up to 1 [Avatar] or [Net] character. It has a CX combo with “Quest to Get <<Excalibur>>”: on attack, if you control 4 or more other [Avatar] or [Net] characters, you may pay 2 and discard a card. If you do, choose a “Attack in Waves, Kirito” you control, and this card, and exchange them. (Their status will not change)

Inherited Sword Skill, Asuna gets +1500 power until end of turn when played. She has a CX combo with “Demise of <<Zekken>>”: if she reverses a character in battle and you control 3 or more other [Avatar] or [Net] characters, you look at up to the top 3 cards of your deck, choose up to 1 card, put it in your hand, then send the rest to your waiting room. (You can choose 0 cards for either half of the ability.)

The other cards, <<Zekken>> Yuuki and Last Shot, Sinon, are the familiar gold bar and book CX combos.

Travis:

With the release of Sword Art Online Re: Edit, SAO has been given access to a new hand plus combo and a new finish combo. The new hand plus combo being a newer type of on reverse effect we have seen this year where the player checks only up to the top 3 cards of their deck and can select any card blind from those 3. As for the finisher, it is a type of pseudo restand combo where on other character attack, you can pay a cost to swap the position of two characters on the stage, potentially reaching up to 5 attacks in that turn. Now with two decent combos in both the hand plus and finish department, it makes deck building in an already decent set even more tricky. If you ask me, all the combos can be interchangeable. As in you can run Switch and Zekken, Switch and Asuna, Last Shot and Zekken, or Last Shot and Asuna. It just depends which combos you value more.

All my decisions and statements below are made based off my locale. These may not apply to where you play.

Personally, I value the Zekken over the Asuna for hand plus. Asuna is indeed a costless hand plus combo, on the condition that you reverse her battle opponent. On play she does gain 1500 power and does combo with a 1k1, so getting her reverses isn’t that hard to do just based on her being a 7k before adding in the power given by backrow cards. However, unless you double field Asuna’s Married Life, the board is going to look like 7.5k/7.5k/7.0k (with a Married Life and new Kirito brainstorm in the backrow) before the Married Life on CX play effect is assigned. Some decks have the defense power to block out one reverse, maybe two if they have a counter or two. If SAO had a Riki effect that searched for level 1 cards or lower, I would consider this card over Zekken since I would be able to force myself to get to level 1 faster and start to benefit from the hand plus ahead of time.

I value Zekken mostly because A.) She offers me a filter to get unwanted triggers out of my hand, B.) If I were to trigger a CX, I could pay it out with her CX combo and C.) Instead of pulling cards off the top of my deck, risking more than 1 CX being taken from deck, Zekken pulls damage out of the deck instead leaving in CXs unless it gets triggered. She might not have much to offer for defense, but pulling what you want or need out of deck makes it a lot more worth to run instead of the Asuna.

As for a finisher, I like Last Shot still over the Switch combo. I may have to give up more instances of damage, but it leaves me room to run Machine of Ice, Sinon in the back row to deny anti damage counters and rest counters, plus I can combo Last Shot in with the new Leafa cross turn clock kicker. Switch ideally can have 5 attacks in a turn with only 1 stock going into the attack phase, but I would need to have 2 of the new Asuna, leaving no room to deny my opponent counters or back-ups.

Michael:

One of the biggest drawbacks that stood out to me with the new Asuna search combo was that it requires a substantial board commitment to go off. Now, SAO has historically not had too much of a problem running a full field at level 1. In fact, among most builds that I have seen, it really does enjoy scrapping and drawing/searching for cards once it hits level 1.

There are some clear advantages that the new Asuna has.

The new Asuna:

  1. Looks at an additional card
  2. Can get a CX into your hand
  3. Can mill an additional card

But what if we consider what Yuuki does?

The “old” Yuuki:

  1. Only filters out future potential damage
  2. Can discard CXs from hand
  3. Can help tune damage depending on if soul triggers are pulled from the deck

The downsides that the two share regarding their power level are similar and potentially a non-factor. They aren’t supposed to survive for a turn. If they do and another CX combo can go off, that’s a huge plus, but it’s not the end of the world if they are steamrolled.

The endgame is where we start to see more differences. I have never been a big fan of Sinon’s headshot (burn 4) ability, simply because 4 damage is rarely favored to land. Yes, it can catch you up and give you another shot at ending the game if your opponent is at 3/3, but I have yet to hear anyone (be they experienced or new) call it a reliable effect.

So then where does that put the new Wave attackers? Being able to put out a healer for the cost of a 0 stock brainstormer is quite nice. No matter the build (that is, if someone is still using the 3/2 Kirito that can be played at level 2), it’s still a discount on stock, which SAO could use. Most if not all level 3 finishers would benefit from being free, so that’s already a point in favor of attacking in waves.

One of the biggest potential points of discomfort with the wave attackers though, is that they rely on the most easily disrupted method of ending the game: attacking! Perhaps my view is that of a spoiled player. After all, ending games with 1 damage pings is pretty safe and reliable. In comparison, trying to swing ‘wildly’ to end a game just feels clunky and barbaric. If one was in an environment where disruption at level 3 was unlikely, (i.e. no Compass, no Project Darkness), I’d call both finisher plans equally viable. As for my preference, I would have to test it before judging it. My gut says that I don’t like it, but I attribute that feeling to not having used it yet.


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