Bringing a Sword to a Gunfight (now WITH BULLETS)

This is kind of filling in the niche that the good folk over at nk-ds had for a fairly long while. That means a set review, and if you couldn’t figure out what set it is from the title… well… eh. So, SAO2 card-by-card review. Brief reviews. Of every card. No, I’m not doing the same thing for IM@S, that’s more than twice the number of cards, and like 40 cards of jank.

This article assumes you know the cardpool to some extent, and if you don’t know the cardpool, go learn about it. You’ll be better off for it, especially given how prevalent SAO is in both the EN and JP metas. That said, I’m not really aiming to appeal to veterans here. I’ll try to point out little nuances about cards that might be missed on a casual glance-through.

I’ll be grading the cards by colour: ExcellentAverageBad. The colour will be embellished in the card name. I’m also inventing a grade of Niche, which will apply to cards that only want to be in one specific deck. There is no such thing as an unplayable card in WS, though some come remarkably close. Most Average cards will not actually see play in tournament-grade decks, but that does not stop them from being somewhat decent.

Translations are taken from a public forum. Images are taken from that same forum.

Peaceful Times, Asuna
SAO/SE23-01 R CH
Yellow / Level: 2 / Cost: 1 / Trigger: +1 Soul
Power: 8000 / Soul: 1 <Avatar> <Weapon>
[AUTO] [Put a card in your hand into the Waiting Room] When “On Top of the <World Tree>” is placed in your Climax Area, you may pay the cost. If you do, choose a “Beacon of Hope, Asuna” and a <Avatar> and/or <Net> Character in your deck, reveal them, put them into your hand, and shuffle your deck afterwards.

Playable card that you can run if you want to use a bounce climax with no combo (though I don’t know why you would when the 1/0 Asuna combo exists). The main issue with this card is that it doesn’t Lucerne bring a great deal to the table outside of a quick soul rush. To get the most out of the search, you will have to have a refreshed deck, which means that you either held the climax through refresh (bad) or are relying on drawing it post-refresh (worse). If you brainstorm very frequently, then it is somewhat less risky to rely on this combo, but if anything, this is a supplementary filter card and not much else. If it gained power with the climax combo, you could use it as a cleaner, but alas, it does not.

Bitter Memories, Asuna
SAO/SE23-02 C CH
Yellow / Level: 0 / Cost: 0 / Trigger: None
Power: 1000 / Soul: 1 <Avatar> <Weapon>
[CONT] All your other <Avatar> and/or <Net> Characters get +500 Power.
[ACT] [Rest this card] Choose 1 of your “Kirito” Characters. During this turn, that Character gets +500 Power.

Honestly more solid than it initially appears. While it’s only a +500 support in your average deck, there are good Kirito lv1 cards, including a 1/0 6k that pseudo-clock-bonds a 1/0 2k counter every turn. Otherwise, it doesn’t really have much of a role – the Asuna 0/0 assist from the first set does the burst power thing a lot better, while the 1/0 Kirito from the same set provides a much sturdier base for your Level 1 game, if you choose to have a fat Level 1 game at all.

Everyday Life in <ALO>, Asuna
SAO/SE23-03 C CH
Yellow / Level: 1 / Cost: 0 / Trigger: None
Power: 3500 / Soul: 1 <Avatar> <Weapon>
[CONT] All your other <Avatar> and/or <Net> Characters get +500 Power.
[ACT] Brainstorm [(1)] Reveal the top 4 cards of your deck and put them into the Waiting Room. For each Climax revealed this way, choose 1 of your <Avatar> and/or <Net> Characters. During this turn, that Character gets +2000 Power.

Uninteresting brainstorm. It’s kind of close to the 1/0 Umi from Love Live, but Umi was good because she was Umi, not because she was kind of like Umi. Umi is a better girl than Asuna too, so go figure. The power buff isn’t worth the one cost, and you have much better brainstormers. This WOULD have been the spammable brainstorm of choice over the old Klein… if a better spammable brainstorm wasn’t already in this set. Brainstorms are always playable, and this one DOES provide a nice boost for your 1/0 Liz and marker Asunas, so it has a role there.

Autumn Stroll, Asuna
SAO/SE23-04 C CH
Yellow / Level: 1 / Cost: 0 / Trigger: None
Power: 5000 / Soul: 1 <Net>
[AUTO] When your other <Avatar> and/or <Net> Character attacks, during this turn, this card gets +1000 Power.

Not a terrible sweeper, but you have approximately infinity better options. It’s not even a bad card, it’s just outclassed on defence.

Private Sibling Time, Suguha
SAO/SE23-05 R CH
Green / Level: 2 / Cost: 1 / Trigger: +1 Soul
Power: 5000 / Soul: 1 <Net> <Sports>
[CONT] Assist All your Characters in front of this card get +X Power. X is the Level of that Character times 500.
[AUTO] [(2) Put a card in your hand into the Waiting Room] When “Fairy Dance” is placed in your Climax Area, you may pay the cost. If you do, choose up to 1 “Virtual and Reality, Suguha” in your hand and put it into any Slot on the Stage.

This card fills a bunch of niches that are already filled. There’s a 2/1 Leafa that does a similar support role, but also works for the 1/1 Suguhas that you would field in a thematic deck (as well as other Level 1s in general). The 3/2 Leafa from the first set is better at being a 2-soul advance drop due to not costing you an extra card (and an extra stock, if you count the cost of this level support), AND it takes the role of 1.5k support. The primary things it gives you are a heal on play, as well as preparation for Level 3 with the summoned card’s climax combo (same climax, which is cute). The heal is mostly new, but the Level 3 preparation can easily be done with other cards. Playable in a Leafa-themed deck, but I probably wouldn’t bother.

Collecting Materials, Leafa
SAO/SE23-06 C CH
Green / Level: 2 / Cost: 1 / Trigger: +1 Soul
Power: 2000 / Soul: 1 <Avatar> <Weapon>
[AUTO] When you use this card’s Backup ability, reveal the top card of your deck. If that card is a <Avatar> and/or <Net> Character, put it into your hand, then put a card in your hand into the Waiting Room.
[ACT] [Counter] Backup 2500, Level 2 [(1) Put this card in your hand into the Waiting Room]

Great counter. It loses 500 power for its ability, but you already have event counters. The purpose is not only to dig through your deck, but also potentially remove one damage that you would otherwise have taken. It also serves as a discard outlet, and importantly, if you reveal a climax, you don’t do anything, and proceed to cancel. 1-cost counters are fantastic in decks with gates anyway, and SAO did somewhat need an excuse to run one. The downside is that revealing an event means you do nothing, but most SAO decks run 2-3 events tops. It’s strictly a free bonus ability anyway, so you don’t really lose out.

Collecting Materials, Silica
SAO/SE23-07 R CH
Red / Level: 0 / Cost: 0 / Trigger: None
Power: 1000 / Soul: 1 <Avatar> <Weapon>
[AUTO] When this card is placed on the Stage from your hand, reveal the top card of your deck. If that card is a <Avatar> and/or <Net> Character, put it into your hand, then put a card in your hand into the Waiting Room.
[AUTO] When this card is Reversed while battling a Level 0 or lower Character, you may Reverse that Character.

Super-solid bomb. The old Lisbeth’s buff ability was kinda nice, but this filter is just plain better, in my opinion. It’s a topcheck in any case, so if you reveal a climax or event, you’ll be extra-well-prepared. Excellent card that retains utility into the lategame, which is the best type of Level 0.

Shouichi Shinkawa
SAO/SE23-08 R CH
Red / Level: 0 / Cost: 0 / Trigger: None
Power: 500 / Soul: 1 <Net>
[CONT] All your other <Weapon> Characters get +500 Power.
[CONT] All of your opponent’s Characters in the Center Stage get <Target>.

Good in the thematic Death Gun New deck they’re pushing ever-so-hard. It turns on the 1/0 bomb from the TD, as well as the 2/1 gate combo. This and either the 2/1 Kyoji in the booster or the 0/0 Kyoji in the TD will give your opponent’s entire field the <Target> trait, fulfilling activating the 3/2 Death Gun’s climax combo requirement. If you’re up for that themed deck, play this, probably as a 4-of, because it’ll be absolutely staple there. Otherwise, steer clear.

Sterben <Death Gun>
SAO/SE23-09 R CH
Red / Level: 3 / Cost: 2 / Trigger: +1 Soul
Power: 10000 / Soul: 2 <Avatar> <Weapon>
[AUTO] When this card attacks, if all your opponent’s Characters have <Target>, deal 1 damage to your opponent (This damage can be cancelled)
[AUTO] When this card attacks while “Estoc Wielder of Fate” is in your Climax Area, until the end of your opponent’s turn, this card gets +2500 and the following ability: “[AUTO] When this card Reverses a Character in battle, you may put that Character on the top of the deck.

This is actually a super-solid card. There is easily enough support for the <Target> trait, but you need a specific backrow. That being said, ping-on-attack is super-strong, and the climax combo isn’t anything to scoff at either, presenting some guaranteed damage for your next 3/2’s attack. Unlike cards like MisaKuro or various clock kicks, emptying your frontrow won’t do anything to stop the burn, which is a nice plus. In conclusion, just like Yukiko and Erica before him, Death Gun pays dividends for jumping through deckbuilding hoops, and the hoops you jump through aren’t even that problematic. A promising card, and the lynchpin of the entire <Target> trait build.

Spectating the Battle with Everyone, Lisbeth
SAO/SE23-10 C CH
Red / Level: 0 / Cost: 0 / Trigger: None
Power: 2500 / Soul: 1 <Avatar> <Weapon>
[CONT] While your opponent has 3 or less Stock, this card gets +1000 Power.

Exceptional 3.5k. It fails to get an Excellent grade because there are already good 3.5ks in literally every other colour, and red is the colour SAO least needs fixed, because you will be playing 0/0 bombs, the Silica brainstorm, and possibly the Lisbeth bond to 1/0 Asuna or the 0/0 Silica searcher. Still super-solid, and has arguably the best requirement of any 3.5k in SAO.

Red Player, <Death Gun>
SAO/SE23-11 C CH
Red / Level: 0 / Cost: 0 / Trigger: None
Power: 3500 / Soul: 1 <Avatar> <Weapon>
[AUTO] At the beginning of your Draw Phase, take 1 damage. (This damage can be cancelled)

The Tsukihi equivalent was at least relevant because it contributed to the 1/0 Tsukihi bomb’s requirement. This card is generally less worthwhile that the above Lisbeth. It’s less bad than it first appears, because you can generally mitigate the effect to some degree. However, while taking one damage isn’t always the end of the world, it can be pretty damn awful, because that’s more damage your opponent doesn’t need to deal to you. Opponents will sometimes side it and leave you with an extra attacker. This sometimes lets it act as a pseudo-runner, because runners expose you to one extra damage too. However, cancelling 2 damage is a lot easier than cancelling 1 and 1, and the mere chance that you might have this as a lategame throwdown could literally cost you games. It’s not unspeakably terrible in theory, but I wouldn’t bother.

Arriving God of Death, <Death Gun>
SAO/SE23-12 C CH
Red / Level: 1 / Cost: 0 / Trigger: None
Power: 5000 / Soul: 1 <Avatar> <Weapon>
[AUTO] [Put the top card of your deck into your Clock] When this card is placed on the Stage from your hand, you may pay the cost. If you do, choose 1 of your opponent’s Cost 1 or lower Characters in the Center Stage. That Character cannot Stand during your opponent’s next Stand Phase.

Not a terrible splash, especially since it’s costless. Flavourful too. The effect doesn’t do much for you in terms of damage reduction (if they attacked with their 1-cost they were probably hitting for 1 anyway), but you will either deprive them of one stock or make them switch up their field somewhat, softening it for your next turn. You could definitely put worse cards in your deck.

Overly Obsessed, Kyoji
SAO/SE23-13 C CH
Red / Level: 2 / Cost: 1 / Trigger: +1 Soul
Power: 4000 / Soul: 1 <Net>
[CONT] All your other <Weapon> Characters get +1000 Power.
[CONT] All your opponent’s Characters in the Back Stage get <Target>.

Lacks Avatar or Net, but I’m sure you’ll be able to deal with it. It’s meant for the Death Gun deck, as evidenced by the fact it has nothing to do with the aforementioned traits, and by the fact it combos with the Shouichi above to give their whole field <Target>. A solid step up from the 0/0 ASSIST 500 in the TD, but I’m not sure you’ll want to blow your stock on it ASAP. Niche card, but hardly bad in its niche.

Hunting Mobs Together, Lizbeth
SAO/SE23-14 C CH
Red / Level: 2 / Cost: 1 / Trigger: +1 Soul
Power: 7000 / Soul: 1 <Avatar> <Weapon>
[CONT] For each of your other <Avatar> and/or <Net> Characters, this card gets +500 Power.
[AUTO] [(1)] When this card front attacks, you may pay the cost. If you do, choose 1 of your opponent’s Proud Characters. During this turn, that card gets -1 Level.

This card is kind of lost and I don’t know what its purpose is. It seems like it wants to combo with the Level 1 bomb Lisbeth from SAO vol.2, but that Lisbeth requires a bunch of stock to activate, making this kind of antisynergistic. I can’t think of much else SAO cares about in relation to the level of opposing cards, so I guess this card’s only niche is as a fat 2/1, which isn’t a niche SAO was desperate to fulfill.

Fatal Bullet, <Death Gun>
SAO/SE23-15 C CH
Red / Level: 2 / Cost: 1 / Trigger: +1 Soul
Power: 7000 / Soul: 1 <Avatar> <Weapon>
[CONT] While all of your opponent’s Characters have <Target>, this card gets +2000 Power.
[AUTO] [(1) Put the top card of your deck into your Clock] When this card is placed on the Stage from your hand, you may pay the cost. If you do, choose up to 1 of your opponent’s Level 2 or lower <Target> Characters in the Center Stage and put it into the Waiting Room.

I dunno man, is this really what you want to do at Level 2? Most meaningful Level 2 plays these days are advance summons, so you don’t even get to target down what really matters, and killing Level 1s isn’t always a good return for 1 stock and 1 damage. I mean, sometimes it is, but it usually isn’t. Tech one-of at best in its deck. At least it’s kind of big.Rings 2017 live streaming film online

As Usual, Silica
SAO/SE23-16 C CH
Red / Level: 2 / Cost: 1 / Trigger: +1 Soul
Power: 8000 / Soul: 1 <Avatar> <Weapon>
[CONT] While you have 6 or more Stock, this card gets +500 Power and +1 Soul.

Absolutely mediocre. It’s too small for a 2-soul beat and you might not even fulfill the requirement. Even in Silica.dec I would rather have the 2/2 from the first set.

The Destined Estoc Wielder
SAO/SE23-17 C CX
Red / Trigger: +2 Soul
[AUTO] When this card is placed in your Climax Area from your hand, draw a card, then choose 1 of your Characters. During this turn, that Character gets +2000 Power and +1 Soul.

2k1s climax for the 3/2 Death Gun. Probably worth running 4-of in that deck, because burst power on a cantripping card is nice, as usual. There’s already a red 2k1s in SAO anyway, so it’s useless outside said deck (you can’t exactly bluff a Death Gun build).

Ideal Self, Sinon
SAO/SE23-18 R CH
Blue / Level: 0 / Cost: 0 / Trigger: None
Power: 1000 / Soul: 1 <Avatar> <Weapon>
[AUTO] [(1) Put the top card of your deck into your Clock] When this card is placed on the Stage from your hand, you may pay the cost. If you do, choose a Level 2 or higher Character in your deck, reveal it, and add it to your hand. Shuffle your deck afterwards.

Super-strong and a consideration in every SAO build. While getting Level 2+ cards is much, much weaker than the Level 1> you search with Akane, Riki or Inazuma, it’s also a 1-cost +1, and every card in this game can be clocked. Sadly, using this lategame isn’t particularly advisable, but SAO has strong enough finishers that you could definitely justify doing so anyway. If SAO can stabilise and keep a solid field at Level 1, you can use this to start pulling out Level 3s to go ham with. It’s also a good way to stop yourself from being stuck at 0.5 – this might let your marker Asunas feed a lot easier, though it is kind of sad you can’t search those same marker Asunas.

By the by, the art on this card is awful. Wasted potential.

In the Sunlight Forest, Sinon
SAO/SE23-19 R CH
Blue / Level: 0 / Cost: 0 / Trigger: None
Power: 1000 / Soul: 1 <Avatar> <Weapon>
[CONT] During your opponent’s turn, your other Character in the middle Slot of the Center Stage gets +1000 Power.
[ACT] Brainstorm [(1)] Reveal the top 4 cards of your deck and put them into the Waiting Room. Choose up to X <Avatar> and/or Sports <Net> Characters in your deck, reveal them, and add them to your hand, then put X cards in your hand into the Waiting Room. X is the number of Climaxes revealed this way.

Pretty solid brainstorm. It kind of does the job of the 1/0 Kirito in giving a character 1k on defence, which is a valuable part of the YRB deck’s strategy. To that end, this might be the best possible brainstorm for that deck. The brainstorm itself is fine, but it’s not like SAO needed handfixing. Fetching from deck is worse than fetching from discard simply due to the mechanics of brainstorm, but it still does the job of discard outlet and deck miller. Not much to say about this, aside from it being a very solid spammable brainstorm.

Temporary Alliance, Kirito
SAO/SE23-20 R CH
Blue / Level: 0 / Cost: 0 / Trigger: None
Power: 2000 / Soul: 1 <Avatar> <Weapon>
[AUTO] When this card attacks, choose one of your other “Sinon” Characters. During this turn, that Character gets +1000 Power.
[AUTO] At the beginning of your opponent’s Attack Phase, you may put the top card of your deck into the Waiting Room. If that card is a <Avatar> and/or <Net> Character, you may move this card to an empty Slot on the Center Stage.

Standard modern runner effect, rather than the stupid Love Live one. The mill is good for getting through your deck fast, if that’s something that you’re interested in. Most of the time, you will mill not-a-climax, getting you closer to the next climax (and therefore cancel) in the deck, which is an oft-missed effect of mill runners. It’s a risk, but hey, we play WS, risks aren’t anything new. The buff-on-attack to a Sinon is barely relevant – Level 0s aside, the only particularly good card that might be affected is the new 1/0 Clock Encore, which will likely sit above 6k by default. It’s kind of useful for the TD Sinon too, but at the same time, who cares about that card? You’ll play this because it’s a runner, not because it buffs anything in particular. That’s just gravy.

Temporary Alliance, Sinon
SAO/SE23-21 R CH
Blue / Level: 1 / Cost: 0 / Trigger: None
Power: 4000 / Soul; 1 <Avatar> <Weapon>
[CONT] For each of your other <Avatar> and/or <Weapon> Characters, this card gets +500 Power.
[AUTO] Encore [Put the top card of your deck into your Clock]

Oh hey, we were just talking about you. Good card that helps handsize and stock, not that SAO chicagobearsjerseyspop needed any of that. They were even kind enough to make it relatively splashable. Stock up on these, they’re probably not going down anytime soon, especially with Nisekoi popularising the hell out of this exact card.

While overspec 1/0 clock encores are great and all, decks will need to shift a fair bit to accommodate this. It will likely take the place of 1/0 Lisbeth as your overspec of choice, though I’m not sure if it’s worth playing in a deck running on the back of Kirito’s Strong Bond. Your 1/1 hand-encore 9ks and marker Asunas are still more formidable in comparison, and have the added advantage of pulverising decks that don’t run bombs. Why would you need to clock encore if you don’t die in the first place? Don’t get me wrong, this card is still strong, but you just have to wonder if other cards in SAO aren’t already stronger…

Strong Presence, Sinon
SAO/SE23-22 R CH
Blue / Level: 2 / Cost: todos? 1 / Trigger: +1 Soul
Power: 5000 / Soul: 1 <Avatar> <Weapon>
[CONT] All your other <Avatar> and/or <Net> Characters get +1000 Power.
[AUTO] Change [(2) Put a card in your hand into the Waiting Room, put this card into the Waiting Room] At the beginning of your Climax Phase, you may pay the cost. If you do, choose a “Final Shot, Sinon” in your Waiting Room and put it into the Slot this card was in.

I’ve never liked climax-phase changes from supports, so I might be a bit biased here. Not only does it feel like a waste of a support, but climax phase changes are expensive as hell and don’t even help out the thing you change to (unless you have two, I guess). Not many decks can support a climax-phase change as their Level 2 gameplan these days, and the ones that do had better change into something incredibly remarkable. What you get from this is (spoiler) a fairly mediocre card to have at Level 2. The Level 3 is a good card, don’t get me wrong, but it doesn’t bring much to the table as an advance summon. The Level 3’s climax combo is normally relatively affordable, but becomes depressingly expensive if you use it after this advance summon. This is a win-more card and not-much else, given the other 2/1 Sinon support from the TD is just all-round better.

… well, you do get that thigh shot. Have fun with that.

Consequence of Karma, Kirito
SAO/SE23-23 R CH
Blue / Level: 3 / Cost: 2 / Trigger: +1 Soul
Power: 10000 / Soul: 2 <Avatar> <Weapon>
[AUTO] When this card is placed on the Stage from your hand, look at the top card of your deck and put it on the top or bottom of your deck.
[AUTO] When this card attacks while “Former Name” is in your Climax Area, you may put the top card of your Clock into the Waiting Room, then during this turn, this card gets +3000 Power.
[AUTO] [(1)] When this card is front attacked, you may pay the cost. If you do, during this turn, this card gets +1500 Power.

Advance-summonable by Confronting <Death Gun>, Kirito (try the Ctrl-F function, it’s grand). Climax combo is with Vol. a Gate/Pants trigger (1k 1 soul). It has some degree of built-in defence, though you have to wonder if Asuna 1/0 counters, Leafa 2/1 counters and 1/1 Sacrifice counters weren’t enough. I guess this at least doesn’t expend hand. The scry effect is nice, but kind of an afterthought. The big beast in the room, however, is the middle ability – the Nagato heal and beatdown effect from the Haruhi EP. Nagato was a card good enough to get hit with a restriction, so that makes Kirito good, right? Right?

Well, not quite. Nagato was only good because she came down preposterously easily at Level 2 and usually healed the turn she did so. This Kirito CAN be summoned at Level 2 and it isn’t very costly, but you need to expend the climax that this card also needs to go off, which is just… ugh. The clmax may be a gate/pants trigger, but that does not qualify this card as something you will consistently heal down with at Level 2. It’s still an ok advance summon, and you might get to leverage a heap of benefit from it, who knows?

Final Shot, Sinon
SAO/SE23-24 R CH
Blue / Level: 3 / Cost: 2 / Trigger: +1 Soul
Power: 10000 / Soul: 2 <Avatar> <Weapon>
[AUTO] When this card is placed on the Stage from your hand or by a Change ability, you may put the top card of your Clock into the Waiting Room.
[AUTO] [(2) Put a card in your hand into the Waiting Room] When this card attacks while “Phantom Bullet” is in your Climax Area, you may pay the cost. If you do, deal 4 damage to your opponent, and if this damage is cancelled, this card gets +3500 Power until the end of your opponent’s next turn.
[AUTO] When this card is Reversed during battle, put this card into the Memory.

This is honestly a pretty good Level 3, and I would definitely consider hedging my bets on it. The climax combo is with a Book trigger (1k 1 soul), which is a solid boon in the face of a newly revitalised Kantai Collection. Healing is nice. Memory on reverse is eh, it has its ups and downs, and an inability to recur heals is way less important in the hyper-offense modern meta we play in. The fact you can advance summon it at standard climax-phase cost is just a boon, and you probably shouldn’t summon her AND use her combo on the same turn, unless you hate having stock. Now, to the meat of the matter. I don’t like flinging 3s and 4s at opponents as much as I like 2s, but I’m not really opposed to it either. The cost is kind of expensive, but hardly prohibitive. You get a discard outlet, if that’s relevant, and you get to pay out any climaxes that were just triggered too, which is neat. You only need the climax combo to fire off once or twice to pull its weight. Even if the damage is cancelled, this card will probably stick around for another turn, which will give you another two soul swing (or, heaven forbid, let you use the combo again). The real question is, does this card bring enough to the table to warrant usage over the current Silica or Asuna heals? We shall see. This card is definitely worth testing.

Also, the flavour of the ability is dumb. If the damage is cancelled (ie. misses the mark), why should Sinon become that much stronger? Snipers are made more vulnerable when they reveal where they are, which a miss would most certainly do. You could argue that missing would make them toughen their guard in anticipation of counterfire, but you could very easily do that even if you hit.

Basic Gun Knowledge, Sinon
SAO/SE23-25 C CH
Blue / Level: 0 / Cost: 0 / Trigger: None
Power: 2500 / Soul: 1 <Avatar> <Weapon>
[CONT] While you have no other Characters in the Center Stage, this card gets +1000 Power and the following ability: “[AUTO] Encore [Put a Character in your hand into the Waiting Room]”

The runner is better. You could argue the 4k standalone Kirito from the first SAO set is also better. It’s fine, but not that worthwhile outside themed Sinon decks. I guess it synergises with the runner, but it hardly warrants using valuable Level 0 slots for both an overspec as well as a runner.

Stealthy, Kirito
SAO/SE23-26 C CH
Blue / Level: 0 / Cost: 0 / Trigger: None
Power: 3500 / Soul: 1 <Avatar> <Weapon>
[CONT] This card cannot side attack.

This is a tad better than the 0/0 3.5k Kirito from SAO2 in that you will never eat extra damage from it, and better than the 0/0 4k standalone from SAO1 in that you can use the Asuna support from this booster alongside it to reach 4.5k on offence. Fairly good, but not at all special, and you should probably use the runner, the above Sinon or the 4k standalone instead, since a relative immunity to bombs is honestly more important.

Autumn Stroll, Kazuto
SAO/SE23-27 C CH
Blue / Level: 1 / Cost: 0 / Trigger: None
Power: 2500 / Soul: 1 <Net>
[AUTO] When this card is placed on the Stage from your hand, draw a card, then put a card in your hand into the cards Waiting Room.
[AUTO] [Put this card into the Waiting Room] When one of your other Characters is placed into the Waiting Room while this card is in the Back Stage, you may pay the cost. If you do, return that Character Rested to its previous Stage position.

Draw drop is fantastic, but the second effect isn’t very relevant for anyone in particular at Level 1. Sinon will have clock encores, Asuna has hand encore, clock encore or doesn’t care about being revived, Silica has Pina already… I guess Lisbeth can make use of this? Works with Level 3s too, if you think that’s worthwhile. I dunno, I can’t see this as a staple in the normal SAO goodstuffs deck. It’s good, though.

Longing for Strength, Shino
SAO/SE23-28 C CH
Blue / Level: 1 / Cost: 0 / Trigger: None
Power: 3500 / Soul: 1 <Net> <Glasses>
[CONT] All your other <Avatar> and/or <Net> Characters get +500 Power.
[AUTO] [(1)] When “A Small Step” is placed in your Climax Area, you may pay the cost. If you do, choose 1 of your other “Sinon” Characters. During this turn, that Character gets +2000 Power and the following ability: “[AUTO] When this card’s battle opponent is Reversed, you may draw a card.”

Won’t see play in the meta deck. Pretty good in a Sinon fandeck, I guess. It’s a valuable source of advantage, and the 2k1s climax that goes with this basically guarantees you that card. Niche card.

Selection of Battle, Kirito
SAO/SE23-29 C CH
Blue / Level: 1 / Cost: 0 / Trigger: None
Power: 5000 / Soul: 1 <Avatar> <Weapon>
[AUTO] When this card is placed on the Stage from your hand, during this turn, this card gets +X Power. X is the number of your <Avatar> and/or <Net> Characters times 500.

This thing is a great cleaner. Unlike the other cleaner archetype (bombs), this will stay on the field afterwards, providing its traits to the clock encore Sinon and any Asuna that wants a Kirito name. Not bad at all for a costless beat, but finding room for this may not be easy.

Beautiful Avatar, Kirito
SAO/SE23-30 C CH
Blue / Level: 1 / Cost: 1 / Trigger: +1 Soul
Power: 1000 / Soul: 1 <Avatar> <Weapon>
[CONT] Assist All your Characters in front of this card get +X Power. X is the number of your Characters with Assist abilities times 500.
[AUTO] When this card is placed on the Stage from your hand, draw a card, then put a card in your hand into the Waiting Room.

You have way better supports. Decks that run blue at Level 1 mostly threaten with huge yellow frontrow. Draw drop is nice, but not enough to salvage a mostly-dead assist archetype.

In a Rage, Sinon
SAO/SE23-31 C CH
Blue / Level: 1 / Cost: 1 / Trigger: +1 Soul
Power: 1000 / Soul: 1 <Avatar> <Weapon>
[AUTO] When you use this card’s Backup ability, put the top 3 cards of your deck into the Waiting Room.
[ACT] [Counter] Backup 2000, Level 1 [(1) Put this card in your hand into the Waiting Room]

Strong counter, though people have split opinions on them. It’s saved me far more times than it’s killed me, but I remember being killed by it a lot more vividly (as you do). I think the Asuna counter is better, but this is still a really good card. If you hadn’t figured it out, milling three non-climaxes will get you three cards closer to a climax, and it does so at no reduction of counter power.

“Check Six” Sinon
SAO/SE23-32 C CH
Blue / Level: 2 / Cost: 1 / Trigger: +1 Soul
Power: 7000 / Soul: 1 <Avatar> <Weapon>
[CONT] While the Character across from this card is Level 3 or higher, this card gets +3000 Power.
[ACT] [Rest 2 of your <Avatar> and/or <Net> Characters] During this turn, this card gets +2500 Power.

The first thing I notice is that it competes with the old 2/1 Asuna in its role of Level 3 killer. I think this is better from a conservative standpoint, because it doesn’t kick everything it kills into stock, and isn’t small, even when not facing a Level 3. At the same time, the 2/1 Asuna was also really good as a 2-soul beat. Up to preference as to which you play, but I personally would go with the extra soul swing. Not only that, but if you’re playing this, you’re also probably playing the TD support Sinon, which has its own (significantly more powerful) effect. I would give this a miss, but it’s a fair bit better than the Bad designation I gave it implies.

Confronting <Death Gun>, Kirito
SAO/SE23-33 C CH
Blue / Level: 2 / Cost: 1 / Trigger: +1 Soul
Power: 8000 / Soul: 1 <Avatar> <Weapon>
[AUTO] [(1)] When this card attacks while “Former Name” is in your Climax Area, you may pay the cost. If you do, draw a card, then during this turn, this card gets +3000 Power. At the beginning of your Encore Step, if this card is Rested, put this card into the Waiting Room, then choose a “Consequence of Karma, Kirito” in your hand and put it into the Slot this card was in.

The climax is the same gate/pants that the Level 3 Kirito uses. As far as pseudo-changers go, I actually quite like this one. It’s non-intrusive to the rest of your field, provides a nice power swing to beat over abberant Level 3s, and lets you pay out climaxes that you may or may not trigger before its attack. That being said, being forced to summon from hand turns the otherwise-potent draw effect into a null one, and is also a little harder than summoning from discard/deck in general. I do, however, like the fact that you get to scry at Encore Step with the newly summoned Kirito. You would obviously only play this in a deck running the 3/2 Kirito, which in itself is ok.

Former Name
SAO/SE23-34 C CX
Blue / Trigger: Gate, +1 Soul
[CONT] All your Characters get +1000 Power and +1 Soul. (Gate: When this card is triggered, you may put a Climax in your Waiting Room into your hand.)

Gate/Pants that combos with the 2/1 and 3/2 Kirito cards. Solid in a field of antisalvage, but often kind of annoying when you trigger it close to refresh. I’m not entirely sure I would run it outside a deck using the climax combo, but the option is there.

Phantom Bullet
SAO/SE23-35 C CX
Blue / Trigger: Book
[CONT] All your Characters get +1000 Power and +1 Soul. (Book: When this card is triggered, you may draw a card.)

Combos with the 3/2 Sinon. Good because the antisalvage meta is going to come back soon (but not before IM@S swamps us with more burn). Use it if you use the Level 3 Sinon, obviously.

A Small Step
SAO/SE23-36 C CX
Blue / Trigger: +2 Soul
[AUTO] When this card is placed in your Climax Area from your hand, draw a card, then choose 1 of your Characters. During this turn, that Character gets +2000 Power and +1 Soul.

Combos with the 1/0 Shino. Use it if you use the climax combo piece. Not that good, honestly.

Just to cap it off, this is what I would test with on Day 1.

3x Asuna, Newlywed Life
3x Collecting Materials, Silica
2x Lisbeth, Blessing Her Dear Friend
1x Silica, Straightforward Trust
1x Kirito, Putting Self on the Battlefield
2x In the Sunlight Forest, Sinon
4x Temporary Alliance, Kirito
2x Ideal Self, Sinon

4x Asuna, Invitation to Party
2x Asuna, Waiting Out The Rain
3x Asuna, Vice Guild Leader
2x Sacrifice
3x Temporary Alliance, Sinon

2x “Machine of Ice” Sinon
1x Collecting Materials, Leafa

3x Asuna, Dignified Strength
3x Final Shot, Sinon
1x Silica, Embarrassed Look

4x Star Splash
4x Phantom Bullet

The reason this build is mostly unimaginative and standard is because it is designed to test the capabilities of the new cards. The ability of the old cards is quite obvious, and it’s crutching relatively hard on the old 1/0 combo simply because that’s a proven way to keep your hand full and versatile. This list also makes assumptions – 4 Runner hedges on a scarcity of LB and N2 in my local meta, else I would run a combination of Asuna 3.5k from the first booster, and the 4k standalone Kirito form the same. In testing, I will constantly ask myself questions – is there a defensive role for the new brainstorm Sinon? Does it make a reduced focus on the Asuna assist possible? Is the new 1-cost clock-1 searcher actually good? How does the new clock encore Sinon fare, and do I have to force myself to get it instead of a marker Asuna? Is the new Sinon Level 3 good enough to warrant losing gates? cards Etcetera, etcetera.

This is by no means a polished list. In fact, it is literal theorycraft. You don’t get much more theoretical than this. This has hopefully been somewhat informative to those of you who haven’t really looked over the cards in great depth.

C-Tier reviews coming when I have the time. This is just a filler article to gauge interest, really.

About lycheepunnet

the victim in an abusive relationship with cardboard
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2 Responses to Bringing a Sword to a Gunfight (now WITH BULLETS)

  1. EversioTheHikikomori says:

    I feel the 2/1 Lizbeth is also meant to combo with her lvl 3 since the lvl 3 pays 1 on reverse to send a lvl 2 or lower to top deck.

    So the order would be attack with lvl 2 first, then lvl 3, then direct attack with whatever you had left over.

  2. Pingback: SAO II Volume 2: Two Years’ Worth of Tears Glopped Endlessly | top tier tears

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