The Light at the End of the Tunnel: A Shining Example of Deck Retrofitting

Hi. I’m Katsu.


Yeah, I’m Katsu.

You may recognize me from our latest set review, in which I basically contributed nothing more than simple nods of agreement despite being the resident expert on the Shining series. I mean, what more was there to say? It was fairly obvious from the beginning just how good the card interactions were, and it was pretty easy to see what direction you’d want to take to build a Shining deck, right?

Maybe so, but maybe that wasn’t all there was to it. Perhaps there was something that we missed. Something that we forgot.

oh, right

oh… right

We did throw out a few mentions of Shining Force EXA and its Comeback Campaign cards during the set review, but in the interest of time (and with the main topic of course being Shining Resonance and not EXA), these cards and their interactions with the new support in Shining Resonance were not covered in quite the detail that I would have liked. So, in the hopes of redeeming myself for my poor representation in the tearcast educating newer players and assisting older players in upgrading their decks, I’ll be covering and expanding on certain cards that were more-or-less overlooked during the set review.

Why is this set largely ignored? If you take a look at ninety percent of the cards in EXA, you’d see that the cards are… gimmicky, at best. Being one of the earliest boosters to be released in Weiss Schwarz, Shining Force EXA was a sort of pioneer, bringing with it many different unique abilities and card interactions*. However, in this day and age of homogeneity, where every new set is given cookie-cutter utility, advantage, and Level 3 finishers, “unique” just doesn’t quite cut it anymore.

* Editor’s note: Shining was actually pretty nutso for its time, it brought a new level of power at Level 2-3 and some extremely strong effects with regards to sustainability**. It’s pretty ass now though, don’t get me wrong.

** Author’s note: Oh, right… I forgot that there was a time before Cyrille was on the banlist.

The Comeback Campaign featuring Shining Force Cross Elysion helped bring the then-outdated set up to speed a bit by supplying the series with cards that were more in line with the meta at the time, but even at the time of its release, the lack of true synergy between EXA and Cross Elysion still made it fall somewhat short of expectations. Trait synergy was not particularly well thought out, with the Comeback Campaign’s two primary colours supporting a trait that was more prevalent in the other two colours in EXA. The series was not given any sustainable costless Level 1 Characters, leaving players with just their vanilla 5500s to beat in with. The viability of the series had definitely been brought up by quite a few notches, but there were still several holes that just could not be patched. Eventually, Bushiroad decided to just drop the whole thing and move the Shining series to Victory Spark, where it would hopefully have more success.

rip VS

well, we all saw how that turned out

The death of Victory Spark left many players saddened, but at the same time it opened up the possibility of existing IPs in the game being moved over to Bushiroad’s other games while they still had the licenses. Fast forward to almost a year later, when lo and behold, Shining Resonance (alongside another title from VS, Porn: The Animation To Love-Ru Darkness 2nd) was announced as an Extra Booster for Weiss Schwarz. Old Shining players around the world rejoiced — it seemed that we were finally getting the support that we deserved.

the hero weiss deserves

well said, Kidani-sama

And a few months later, upon the actual release of the set, we did.

Whoa, back up for a second. Didn’t Shining Resonance turn out to be a stand-alone set? Despite being Neo-Standard with the previous titles in the Shining series, it is indeed true that Shining Resonance may as well have been considered a stand-alone set — a vast majority of the cards in Resonance are only designed to work with other cards in its own booster, whether it be due to trait restrictions or the not-quite-new but vastly improved Resonance ability. However, Bushiroad R&D did leave a few treats for players wishing to continue using older cards; these cards, while seemingly useless in a deck based on Resonance, were actually a godsend for older players. This article aims to review this new support and specifically how it fits into older builds. If you’re looking for a deck tech on new Resonance stuff, just go ask your local bandwagoners and they’ll tell you all about how good the Kirika Changers are and why 2/2 zombie Georg and 0/0 4k Lesty are secretly broken. And they’ll spell all of the names wrong, too.


maybe I should write up something about Resonance after all

Anyways, let’s start off by taking a look at a standard pre-Resonance Shining build.

Because of EXA’s incredibly outdated card pool, a pre-Resonance deck has a heavy reliance on Shining’s Comeback Campaign cards – specifically, the two Darkwraiths and their Climax combos. One is a Blue Brainstormer which draws on attack, and the other is a Red healer/finisher which burns on attack and makes all of your Weapons and Demons bigger. Before these cards were released, the set had an incredibly difficult time generating and maintaining card advantage, and had absolutely no finishers.

toma restander

…okay, let me rephrase: no PLAYABLE finishers

Because the two Darkwraiths were so crucial to the deck’s success, Red and Blue basically became mandatory if you wanted to build a good Shining deck. It was possible to splash in other colours for additional support or utility, but for simplicity’s sake, I will only be discussing the most basic R/B build.

blue darkwraith id like to cross her elysion if you know what i mean cross elysionriemsianne early play

How does old Shining work? The traditional R/B Comeback Campaign-centric Shining build revolved around using Blue Darkwraith’s Climax combo and Brainstorm abilities to generate advantage and hopefully ride that to Level 3, where Red Darkwraith would come in for some sustain and possibly a finishing push. Shining Force EXA also had the benefit of being one of the earliest sets with an “early play” Level 3, which helped smooth out the transition at Level 2.

vanilla cyrille vanilla amililith

Unfortunately, with EXA’s incredibly low Power ceiling (you know your set is old when your biggest costless beater is a vanilla), you could only play the advantage game for so long before your opponent’s increased compression from not having to pay out Stock or Hand to replace their board began to kick in. The 1/1 oversized Lilith helped this somewhat by allowing you to overpower some lanes, but the fact that she required you to play Magic trait Characters in a deck that was predominantly Demon/Weapon often caused trait conflicts.


that, and the fact that the only good Magic back row is banned

Speaking of trait conflicts, even though Red Darkwraith provides a boost to both Demon and Weapon trait Characters, the former of which there were a fair amount of viable targets, Blue Darkwraith’s Brainstorm effect can only search for Weapon trait Characters. This was an incredibly huge conflict: EXA’s Red pool had no Weapon trait cards, and Blue’s Weapon traits were too terrible to consider running, meaning the only real targets you could pull with the Brainstorm were… just Darkwraiths. Seriously, you can’t even grab vanillas or Backups with it.

why would you help your opponent compress

I meant GOOD backups

To summarize, while the deck did have access to quite a few goodstuffs, it lacked any real synergy among its components, which made it somewhat clunky to run and inconsistent at times. Its power game was also pretty abysmal, with its strongest costless beater being 5500, and being unable to safely get out of counter range even with a 2k1s.

So how can these problems be addressed? Luckily, Shining Resonance brought with it several valuable assets to the older build, which brings us to the main topic that I’ve been waiting to discuss.

waiting intensifies

I was also waiting for an excuse to use this

not the golden witchBeatrice Irma

The 1/0 Beatrice may be somewhat lackluster in a Resonance deck when compared to her Yellow counterpart in the 1/0 Sonia, but she actually serves as an excellent beater in old Comeback Campaign builds. With the Blue Darkwraith’s ability to generate advantage off of both a Brainstorm and a combo with a 2k1s Climax, Beatrice’s Power condition is incredibly easy to maintain, such that she can basically be considered to be permanently 6500. This is a huge step up from the 1/0 vanillas that the old build was forced to run, and raises the deck’s Power ceiling to a much more appreciable level. On top of that, she is also Weapon trait, meaning that she can actually be searched through Brainstorming.

Jenius Aeonnot marker zwei

Like Beatrice, Jenius also sports the Weapon trait, making him a legal target for Blue Darkwraith’s Brainstorm and allowing him to receive a Power boost from Red Darkwraith’s Climax combo. He starts off at the same Power level as Beatrice, but if not dealt with quickly his Power can easily get out of hand. His markers are blind, though, so there is the possibility of sticking a Climax or two under him, but there are a number of readily available searching options (to be discussed later) that allow you to check your Deck and look for missing Climaxes before it’s too late to do anything about it. He also does not grow in Levels like certain other marker-based Characters do, which makes him extremely vulnerable to Level 1 bombs/reversers (this does get mitigated, though, when paired with an older card in EXA). On the whole, however, his lack of reliance upon the Magic trait and his potential to grow to over 7500 power make him worth considering as a replacement over the 1/1 Lilith.

Speaking of Magic trait, look what we have here!

Joachim Rubensjoachim

Shining Resonance introduced the only true global 500 in the series, and it’s… not particularly good. The important thing to note, however, is that he is Magic trait, meaning that if you do choose to run the 1/1 Lilith, he is a very solid card to run alongside her over the myriad of of Magic trait back row cards that only sport vanilla 500-frontal-Assist abilities.

not rikiYuma Ilburn

Did you think I forgot about the most important card in Shining Resonance? Even though he is arguably more important as the target for all of the EB’s Resonance abilities, Riki Yuma still serves a vital role in any deck he is legal in, because he allows you to search out the components of your all-important Level 1 game. This makes the deck vastly more consistent, especially since Yuma himself has his very own Bond in Agnum Bulletheart.

marion punch resonance agnum resonance soniaresonance kirika

Every card that has Yuma’s name printed on it

These cards are all Music and Dragon traits, so they don’t really gain any benefit from the Weapon support provided by the Darkwraiths, but since they get searched out by the Agnum Bonder and they Resonate with the Yuma that you’re probably going to be running anyways, they are definitely worth considering. Kirika opens up the possibility for a much more consistent (and much larger) early play than the 3/2 Riemsianne, Marion is a step up from the old 1/0 vanilla Cyrille Backup that old builds used to run, Agnum offers a way to generate costless advantage and run over larger enemies, and Sonia is a discard outlet and instant reshuffler that can save you from poor compression and allows you to avoid taking Refresh penalty.

the power of friendship

Resonance at work

ette lemon zestZest Graham & Ette, Cool-Headed Sniper

In contrast to Yuma’s buddies, a couple of the game’s antagonists appear in the Extra Booster as Level 0 beatstick options. Shining already has a runner, which is probably all you would really need in terms of Level 0 attackers, but these cards in particular are important to note due to their Weapon traits, meaning they are searchable via Blue Darkwraith’s Brainstorm (don’t ask me why you would want to search them at Level 1+; I’m just saying the option is there). Zest is particularly notable due to his additional resistance to Reversal abilities, allowing you to safely play him down in the face of Turn 1 bombs and making it difficult for your opponent to climb over him.

id like to storm her brain if you know what i meanWords of Gratitude, Sonia

This is the Shining series’s second spammable Brainstormer, and the only reasons I am mentioning this this are to appeal to a certain fruit, and because of the fact that she is the only spammable Brainstorm that actually flips over 4 cards. The other spammable Brainstormer only hits your top 3, which I personally think is still fine, but it is understandable for some people to be more inclined to shoot for that extra one mill. Sonia’s “success” effect is also arguably more useful, allowing you to search out your Level 1 or 0 cards rather than just cycling a bunch of cards and hoping you hit something good. The Power boost on your turn could also potentially help you climb over a few things, I suppose.

her name is fucking branche not blanche Sonia Branche & Yuma, the Boy with the Heart of a Dragon

These two deserve a mention solely for their Level 3 finishing power. With old Shining’s severe lack of useable Level 3 Characters, even cards that aren’t quite in-trait for the build are worth considering. Sonia provides a much less expensive restand than EXA’s Toma restander, not to mention she gets much larger than the Toma, making it quite a bit easier to proc her restand. Additionally, she cantrips on play by grabbing any card from your top 3, meaning you can potentially grab her Climax if it happens to be sitting near the top of your deck.

lv3 yumaThe Yuma is a little underwhelming when placed right next to the Sonia, especially because his main draw — the change into Shining Dragon — cannot be reliably used (unless you run a lot of Music/Dragons, in which case you might as well just build a full-on Resonance deck). Still, he has 10k Power, which is just fine for a Level 3, and his CIP Shot ability does increase the chance of sticking much needed late-game damage onto your opponent.


Excela, Dragon Knight Princess of the Divine Melodynana nana nana nana nana nana nana nana mizuki

The most sought-after SP in the set simply because the card bears Nana Mizuki’s stamped signature, the Excela Brainstormer provides decent utility for the old build in its Hand Encore-giving Assist ability. Excela’s Brainstorm probably won’t be put to too much use in a Comeback Campaign-focused deck, unless you choose to run a high enough number of Music and Dragon Characters to assuredly be able to find targets to search. Even so, the Hand Encore alone is a great asset. By giving your Blue Darkwraith Hand Encore, you can safely ensure his presence for a Climax combo on your following turn — he even pays back his own discard fodder with his Climax combo’s drawing effect.

Georg Zalbardzalbad

If you took away anything from the Shining Resonance set review, it should be that you should stay away from this card. He is tempting to run, especially in older builds due to his Weapon trait, but forcing yourself to get clocked at Level 2+ if your opponent happens to have Event Counters or just really big things in general is not a good way to go. Seriously, just play one of the early plays. Or ride your Level 1 game. Don’t run this card. It’s just Zal-bad.

shining pantsPants

Your Level 1 advantage engine and Level 3 finisher both run off of the same Climax. Why aren’t you running Pants?


That just about covers all of the notable support from Shining Resonance for Comeback Campaign-based builds. Some may be more viable than others, but the cards in particular that are definitely worth running are the Level 0 Yuma, 1/0 Beatrice, and 1/1 marker Jenius. As you may have noticed, quite a few of the cards mentioned are of the Weapon trait. This increased number of Weapon trait Characters not only works well with Blue Darkwraith’s Brainstorm as previously mentioned, but also opens up the possibility of running other Weapon trait support present in EXA.

gad fucking fortGadfort, Centaur Knight

This is literally the best Assist card in Shining Force EXA, but sadly was unable to be used to its full potential due to his Weapon trait restriction and the lack of good Weapon trait cards in the set. However, with basically the entire Level 1 line-up now being a Weapon (and the fact that marker Jenius effectively requires you to be running Yellow anyways), Gadfort fits right in with the new Level 1 game, proving stable Power alongside a Level boost, the latter of which protects Jenius from losing his markers to Level 1 bombs. You can still obviously get hit by Cost reversers or Level 2 or higher bombs, but those are few and far between, and overall Jenius (and your other Level 1s) is much safer with Gadfort around to back him up. In addition to that, the Level boost also makes it much more difficult for your opponent to poke through your defenses with Side Attacks, forcing them to throw down Climaxes and/or run into potential Counters if they want to deal sizeable damage. Overall, Gadfort is truly a powerful support card now that he actually has cards that he can support. Just look at his face, man. You can tell he means serious business, and that he’s not just here to horse around.

not touma not toumas climaxcyrille bonder

Toma, Chosen One (& Cyrille, Laughing)

A solid Level 2 alternative to the advance summoned Level 3s, and he even has his own Bond. The Power boost becomes a lot more active once he is backed by the Gadfort Assist, but it is still not particularly relevant due to the fact that most Level 2s (and definitely Level 3s) can easily break 9k Power anyways. His Climax combo, however, allows you to bounce away larger threats, forcing your opponent to burn more Stock to replay their card and potentially disrupting certain setups such as marker beatsticks, Draw Phase Changers, 6-Climax early plays, and other nonsense gimmicks. Do be wary of cards that your opponent can potentially replay with ease, however, especially ones with on-play abilities.

bornay“Money Over Life” Bornay

Man, this guy is neat. I’m not saying that he’s particularly good or anything, but he certainly is interesting. He sports the 2-Cost searching ability commonly seen on key support cards in other sets, which is a more consistent (albeit more expensive) alternative to Brainstorming, and in addition to that, he also has the ability to throw cards from your Hand into Stock. This second ability ends up being a disadvantageous trade if you look at it in terms of pure resource conversion, but it can actually be useful in some edge cases where you really need the extra Stock to make a play go off, or perhaps as a roundabout way to filter a Climax out of your Hand by following it with a costed play.

(Strategic value aside, it should be noted that this card has a particular amount of flavour attached to it, which I actually find quite charming)


obligatory upgrayedd image for an article about upgrades

With all that said, I think I’ve provided a good enough idea of what Shining Resonance really brought to the table in terms of support for older builds. It should be noted that really obscure decks in EXA that fall more under the “theme” category, such as R/G Amitaliri/Faulklin and mono-Red Riemsianne, weren’t really helped much (partly because they were off-colour, also partly because they weren’t really that good to begin with). Admittedly, I probably didn’t cover everything that could potentially be used to supplement the traditional R/B build (particularly the Green tech which I firmly believe is EXA’s strongest asset), but all of the important points that I felt really needed to be brought up were hit.

While it is true that the Shining Resonance Extra Booster was more or less designed to be self-sufficient, with most of its cards seemingly incompatible with older cards, Bushiroad actually did take care to include things that helped out people who still wanted to use their old cards (or perhaps people who simply wanted to play something other than just Resonance combos all day), and I have to say they didn’t do too bad of a job balancing out new with the improved. Newer players get to play with their silly Resonance combos, fat Kirikas and scary dragons, whilst older players still get to retain their old game plan of drawing a ton of cards with Blue Darkwraith and dropping them all for Red Darkwraith’s burn — except now they finally have decent Level 1 beatsticks, and much better consistency thanks to trait uniformity (and the fact that Riki Yuma is a thing). Which build would be better to play? I believe that, with the older build now being brought very much up to speed, each build’s respective strengths and weaknesses make them almost equally viable. In the end, however, it is really up to each individual player to decide — moreso than the actual strength of the build, what’s really important is that you play a deck that really resonates with you.



About Katsu

Just some random scrub who is bad at card games but makes up for it with heart
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