Welcome to part 2 of the SAO discussion post! We are continuing off of the previous article over the new hand plus and finishers that have came to SAO, and to do so we have Clinton Chan and Bren Olit chiming in!
For reference, these are the new cards that will be discussed today;
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.
Now onto the discussion!
So the first major point comparing Asuna vs Yuuki is does the deck want to play green as the primary or secondary color. If one doesn’t want to do more than splashing a few green versatility cards at 0 then the Asuna combo is the way to go. Asuna comes with a wind trigger that has uses throughout the game and the effect doesn’t require any extra cost in stock or cards from hand and provides milling and the choice of any card not limited to characters.
Yuuki is the number one reason to play green in SAO; she comes with a gold bar climax and the effect doesn’t require reversing an opposing character. She also provides some of the best filtering and compression the game has to offer at a reasonable cost of 1 stock and a card from hand, which many times is more beneficial than a drawback. I think the Switch deck requires a lot more specific cards to fill up deck space than Last Shot, and having Asuna to be your main combo at 1 is viable because it is already on color with the focus of the deck.
The Last Shot build could benefit greatly from not having to pay extra stock with Asuna compared to Yuuki, but as a deck that mains Book triggers, Yuuki’s ability to potentially pay out a climax and pitch one to fix your hand and thin out a deck is just too good at getting you out of a pretty common scenario. So I don’t think either one is better than the other per se, but any SAO deck will want to play one or the other.
Last Shot vs Switch is the first crossroad in SAO builds in a long time. Last Shot is simple, a 2 card combo involving a healer and provides a potential big burst of damage from 2 sources that can easily deal a whole level worth of damage to your opponent in one attack. The effect of 4 damage on attack for a relatively cheap 2 stock and 1 card in hand is good because it is before the trigger step. It gets around half the damage mitigation from Compass and Project Darkness, and you can get around that by side attacking. Also, if the combo effect for 4 damage gets canceled, you get a big 4k attack buff until the end of your opponent’s turn, which gives you a good opportunity to combo again or at worst having a 2 soul beater. Blue is easily the best color in SAO at the moment and she fits in relatively easily without much space commitments. The drawback is that the Sinon goes to memory on reverse so you can’t encore her, but most times you’ll probably too low on stock to even want to encore her. Also, a continuous source of anti-character damage like the level 3 Shiroe from Log Horizon is a counter but playing against Log Horizon was already such an advantageous situation that you can afford to give those poor players something to be happy about.
The Switch combo revolves around the Attack in Waves Asuna and Kirito. Both are level 3s and you need both on the field to make this combo work. The Kirito can be field for 0 stock if you sacrifice the newer brainstorm Kirito to waiting room. The effect is good enough to warrant playing that brainstormer, but isn’t absolutely required. The Kirito heals on play which is nice and on play, the Asuna searches for a character, so you can easily get Kirito. If you have 1/1 of each in play with the combo you get a 4th attack and with 2/2 in play you get 5 total attacks assuming you have a full board and a cost of 2 stock and 1 discard per Asuna activation. The strengths are that you aren’t affected by anti-character damage effects and you have more opportunities for side attacks for precise damage. The extra attacks thins out your deck from the triggers and makes up for losing damage from Compass and Project Darkness. Also, the Asuna effect of giving characters in front of her a huge boost and memory kick is good in the mirror and removing threats from the board. Drawbacks are more deck space is more limited because of slots occupied by 2 different level 3s and potentially a specific level 0, requiring a full board to go off and are vulnerable to effects that gives character memory kick or bottom deck on reverse and effects that exhaust characters like Mismatched Pair.
At the end of the day the preference can come down to what climax triggers you prefer to play or not play. I think both finishing combo are very similar in damage opportunities and it comes down to how the deck plays to get to that point. I personally prefer Last Shot more because… (Editor’s note: The following was specifically requested to be published as-is.)
I’m going to assume that this is posited toward the English Format of Weiss Schwarz with an emphasis on competitiveness. (Editor’s Note: It is.)
When we compare two cards with a similar role in Weiss, we can’t just take a look at what they do, but also the context of the deck they come from, as well as what are the advantages and disadvantages of each choice.
<Zekken> Yuuki and Inherited Sword Skill, Asuna are the generally accepted best advantage engines in their color (for those wondering, the initial question posed wasn’t specific, and it’s unclear whether they meant Inherited Sword Skill, Asuna or Asuna Invites to Party), and they share a small amount of similarities. Both of them gain power on play, and they use a Climax to obtain Card Advantage, but that’s about it. They’re vastly different otherwise.
<Zekken> Yuuki is great defensively in the short term, but also prepares for the future offensively. While it’s costed and requires a discard, it searches out two Characters instead of just one, a small but significant difference, especially if done in multiples. In addition, any Climaxes that are triggered, such as Treasure, Pants, or Book, can be either discarded or paid out to another Yuuki to prevent Climaxes from building up in either stock or hand. It also reaches a higher base power with the combo, since base it’ll be 6500 if the last one played, then adding the 1k from the Climax brings it up to a respectable 7500, and that’s before the supports that can bring it to 10k easily. The plus 1 level on both turns isn’t shabby either, as in English it blocks Level 1 Reversers from preying on them.
Inherited Sword Skill, Asuna isn’t without her strengths, however. She’s on-color for the Switch combo, doesn’t require any stock, and as such, increases future defense due to that increased first refresh compression. When she succeeds at her Combo, you get to go up to three cards deep, and choose any card, allowing you to set the pace and tempo while also keeping a small amount of information hidden. The ability to pick Events and Climaxes for future turns also keeps this card interesting, and the added benefits like extra stock don’t hurt. It also gets to a respectable amount on offense, going to 9500 with supports regularly.
<Zekken> Yuuki is a weakling. Even with supports, a 4000 base Character isn’t going to survive, with almost all Level 1s normally played in the center stage able to match or exceed that power level with their base power before supports. Even some Level 0s can beat it. The stock cost and discard may increase current compression, but it usually weakens the first refresh. Yuuki’s presence gives on-reverse Level 1 combos a bright “Kick Me” sign, and the +1 Level only blocks Chika and Natsu. Yuuki is also Green, a color that isn’t part of the Switch combo, and while it’s an easy squeeze for the Last Shot combo, it might be difficult to also squeeze any red cards in the Switch combo deck due to having to balance four colors. There’s also the potential anti-change counters here, as Level 1 ones like Taking Pride in Lyrics, Nico can function as a sort of anti-damage counter by sniping out a Yuuki once it’s received its level increase.
With that said, Inherited Sword Skill, Asuna isn’t much better on the power front. 4500 isn’t much better defensively than 4000, and still invites on-reverse combos to farm. In addition, without the +1 Level Chika and Natsu aren’t even blocked, and with the right supports can even surpass the power without too much of an issue. Asuna also doesn’t help solidify the future; she only adds cards in hand, not particular Characters, and most decks don’t run two of the most powerful events in SAO: Self Sacrifice and <Demonic Sword Gram>. Running Events, after all, weakens the chance that Determination with Life on the Line, Kirito will get his power boost, and as we already covered, 4500 is not a strong power line.
In very many cases, Yuuki is not the only Green thrown into the deck. Adventuring with Everyone, Leafa, is quite a good card for the pressure, and for being able to dig for a Climax or Character, depending on what’s missing. She slots in easier in the Last Shot build due to that build not requiring more than one color for its finisher, but she has a place in Switch as well since she’s not intrusive and enables the deck to run a card that can dig for the combo. Due to the way Yuuki operates, it’s much less likely Choice to Fight, Kirito will be run alongside her since their power gain is pretty much the same, and can ruin the power of either card if there are too many copies. In Switch, it’ll be harder to run Adventuring with Everyone, Lizbeth since that’ll put a fourth color out there. It’s also much more likely that the Stock Soul is run given the support Yuuki demands, but the jury’s still out.
Asuna has a few different roads to take, regardless of deck. You can go with Red with Lizbeth for a stronger Level 2 game, or a more solid Level 3 with Leafa able to grab necessary cards while providing an alternative finisher. While on color for Switch, the base of Last Shot is only mono-color, and adding Asuna can also provide Attack in Waves, Asuna to give Last Shot, Sinon and Adventuring with Everyone, Leafa power boosts and the crucial optional memory kick, useful to shut down the Switch combo in a potential cross-archetype set mirror. Yellow also enables the use of Agile Start, Asuna without making Level 1’s color situation awkward. A further question compares using Self Sacrifice in the deck to reactively shut down an opponent’s attempts to take advantage of your weaker defensive field to the use of Determination with Life on the Line, Kirito to not only accept your power line on defense but increase the mill factor of the deck while helping to hand filter. It’s possible to run both but it does weaken Kirito’s offensive capabilities.
Last Shot, Sinon and Attack in Wave, Kirito/Attack in Waves, Asuna (known as Switch) are the premiere finishers of the Sword Art Online set, and it is definitively a debate as to which is better. They provide interesting takes on how to finish an opponent, but they essentially provide multiple instances of damage that are difficult for an opponent to fully stop. Oh, and they require a cost of 2 stock and a card in hand with the Climax in play in order to add on damage.
Last Shot, Sinon is quite straightforward. It provides the most potential damage, the most instances of damage, is somewhat resistant to anti-damage, and on a Healer that can get prohibitively large if it doesn’t immediately finish the game. Your backrow is not prohibited, allowing you to place supports that last. Sinon can also self-compress by sending herself to memory if she’s somehow defeated.
Switch is likewise, straightforward, though with a bit more loopholes. It avoids anti-burn, is quite resistant to anti-damage, is slightly cheaper than Sinon, even when not using the cost reduction for Kirito, and can be assembled with just one Asuna and the Climax, making it much easier to set up. Since you don’t need particular Characters for the other slots, you can adjust your soul in your attacks.
Sinon is expensive for its full combo, requiring 10 stock, 3 Sinons, 3 cards in hand, and her Climax. This means that decks that are able to rush and have damage stick will be at an advantage due to the time needed to accrue those resources. Due to this, plenty of players end up using her combo only twice, making it only require 8 stock and 2 cards in hand instead, but it heavily weakens the damage range available, which allows Rest Counters to forcefully solve a good portion of the issue. The ability to burn can be stopped by Anti-burn, and burning for 4, while great against an opponent who ended up a ratio of ¼ or worse, if it’s close to ⅓, it’s quite harmless. In case Sinon is defeated, there is no option to try again, she sends herself to memory and you can’t try again, though usually the lack of handsize or stock will prevent another try. You get one chance in most cases. Also, due to her Climax being a Book, it’s very important to increase the number of Level 2s and 3s in English in order to pump up the Soul Triggers in the deck. Prototypical Sinon decks that run the Mother’s Rosario and Last Shot climaxes tend to have around 10 Soul Triggers in the deck, providing a damage output similar to a standard deck running 2k1 Climaxes, like Shimakaze-focused Kantai.
Switch is very reliant on attacks. A strong -1 or -2 Soul wall can heavily disrupt the damage output. If the attacking Asuna or Kirito gets removed from the board, say, from a memory kick, the combo is dead. Running After the Battle, Kirito takes up Brainstorm (and backrow slots), making running the Sleeping Knights Brainstorm at the same time awkward. If he’s in the deck as well as the Sleeping Knights Brainstorm, it’s very likely that Kirito will only be used to make Attack in Waves, Kirito cost 0, and while he does some good work in milling other cards (like Comforting Moment, Asuna) do much better at getting two stock. And without After the Battle, Kirito, a full combo requires 7 stock and 2 cards in hand, plus the Climax, though there is a reprieve in that starting with Attack in Waves, Asuna in hand lets you assemble the full combo as long as you have the rest of the pieces in the deck. A Rest Counter on a non-Switch member hits Switch just as hard as Sinon, taking away two attacks while making the turn cost the same amount of stock, while a Rest Counter on an Asuna/Kirito that hasn’t attacked yet costs 1 more stock but you only lose 1 attack.
Sinon is very freeform and can fit whatever shell you want to fit it in. As examples, her combo can fit into a Lizgun shell, an Accelerate shell, or even a Silica Waifu shell. By only having one color she opens up the floor for variety and greater accessibility by any kind of deck. As long as you provide more soul and a way to increase stock and hand size without too much interruption, you’ll be able to achieve a triple Sinon combo. This lends itself to having a more defensive Level 1 game, playing cards not for their offense but for their ability to reduce damage. Burst Compression cards like <Zekken> Yuuki or mill cards like Determination with Life on the Line, Kirito aim less for specific cards but more to compress and prevent as much damage as possible.
Asuna is less flexible early game, so it can be flexible late game. Running two colors late doesn’t necessarily close avenues, but it does make it a bit harder. In order to fit both Green (for <Zekken> Yuuki and Adventuring with Everyone, Leafa) AND Red (Adventuring with Everyone, Lizbeth), you need to force Blue to be the base color, with Green the main splash at Level 1, Red the main splash at Level 2, and Yellow the main splash at Level 3. It’s possible to not use Red due to it providing the least amount of help overall, but it still hurts to lose a card that avoids anti-heal and reduces stock usage, providing defense later on in the game due to stock compression. Regardless, a third color does make it harder for newer players to play the deck to its fullest capacity, and the fourth color lends itself only to those used to four-color decks. The emphasis for Switch is on its ability to be cheap and flexible late, so the early game is all designed to set up and go for specific cards over defense.
While both Inherited Sword Skill, Asuna and <Zekken> Yuuki have their individual strengths, the needs of both Switch and Sinon decks lends themselves to <Zekken> Yuuki.
Inherited Sword Skill, Asuna certainly adds more mill power to the Sinon deck like Determination with Life on the Line, Kirito does, but does so taking up a Climax slot AND a color slot. It isn’t guaranteed to improve defense, and in some occasions may even worsen defense with a Climax in the first few cards. Yuuki, while costing a stock, is guaranteed to compress with her ability, and while that does open up the deck to triggering more, due to the nature of Treasure and Book triggers the chance of cancelling is better with Yuuki on average, even if only slightly. The stock can be regained by Comforting Moment, Asuna, anyways. Finally, Green actually brings more use to the table than simply being the advantage engine. Adventuring with Everyone, Leafa complements Adventuring with Everyone, Sinon by being another two-cost way to grab the Last Shot Climax, while also providing a 2-soul attacker and an additional finishing option. Yellow’s main use outside of Asuna is her Level 3 variants, and while a Shot effect is alright, Asuna’s Commanding Strength’s role is mostly taken up by Machine of Ice, Sinon, the only exception being a Kantai Collection opponent holding multiple Compasses for your final turn.
Likewise, the Switch really cares about the <Zekken> Yuuki combo, but this time for her ability to grab specific cards rather than compression. It’s unlikely a Climax is going to be the necessary card in hand, and the deck doesn’t run Events, so Inherited Sword Skill, Asuna’s niche is more or less useless, and while Asuna is in color, Yuuki is more guaranteed to find the card you want anyways. Like with Sinon’s deck, Yuuki lets you run Leafa late, allowing you to help find the Climax while providing an alternative finisher. The added stock isn’t too much of a downside to the Switch, and having a discard outlet early on is beneficial when the endgame combo can be a Pants trigger.
Tl;dr: Inherited Sword Skill, Asuna is good. It just doesn’t do enough of what it needs to do in the Sinon and Switch decks because <Zekken> Yuuki does it better.
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