SAO II Volume 2: Two Years’ Worth of Tears Glopped Endlessly

OK, maybe we’re getting a bit ahead of ourselves with that title. TTT is just entering its second year of blogging, but I had to work a relevant joke into this set review somehow.

Anyhow, this write-up is sort of a continuation of lycheepunnet’s work from the first SAO extra booster. I’m Raging Mage (habitual lurker and occasional contributor on Pojo and Reddit—hi there!), and I’ll be exploring the latest installment of the set. The task to review an extra booster only available in Japanese somehow fell to an English-exclusive player, but I expect this article to ultimately guide working efforts in both card languages. Anticipating a future English release is prudent, after all.

For the unlikely few who lack familiarity with SAO in Weiss (in either language), the previously reviewed GGO extra booster greatly improved the set’s card pool, especially in blue. SAO received a quality runner, a spammable hand-fix brainstorm, a pay-1-clock-1 plussing card, and a 1/0 6k clock encore, which collectively worked to preserve and shape hand early on while improving the set’s milling and deck thinning capabilities. Blue also provided two late-game MVPs: a 2/1 anti-counter assist and 3/2 heal/burn with a book climax combo, either of which most sets would be glad to have.

Combined with a solid level 1 yellow advantage engine and counter game from the original set, Y/B Asuna/Sinon became SAO’s arguably optimal build. This diminished the set’s appetite for attack phase salvages, all whilst granting it the luxury of multiple healing finishers.

This newest set provides tweaks and minor improvements to existing meta-decks. Specifically, we picked up a desirable 3/2 Kirito advance summon with an easy-to-fulfill condition, a 1/0 Yuuki bar combo that compares favorably to Asuna’s Star Splash combo, a 3/2 clock-kicker, and a 0/0 clock bomb. Notably, these last three cards come in green, a mostly-neglected color in past SAO sets, and I believe they will enable G/B to compete against (and possibly supplant) Y/B going forward.

Just as GGO offered deck-building alternatives such as Death Gun/<Target>, a couple alternate strategies are available within this latest set’s avalanche of backrow cards. Two global +500 supports at level 0 — a Lizbeth that transforms accelerators into climax phase salvage engines, and a Yuuki to generate huge Asuna beatsticks at level 1 — may satisfy players looking to stray from the beaten path (with varying degrees of success).

How will this set affect SAO’s tier placement? Although I can’t speak directly about the Japanese meta, I expect that a set offering tweaks and minor fixes to its strongest deck plans (rather than earth-shattering improvements) is likely to solidify SAO’s existing placement, not to move it up or down. If the set ranked around an “A” or “A+” on our previous scale, that’s likely where it will remain.

An assumed future English release will help SAO chase after newly revitalized competition in Madoka Magica and Kantai Collection, though those sets will likely continue to hold the advantage against SAO (as they do in Japanese). KC is more difficult to gauge while we lack knowledge of a potential banned/restricted list in English, though.

Anyway, enough rambling. If you read this far, you’re probably here for the full card-by-card review. Color-coded rankings are omitted this time, as I would prefer to let the written analysis speak for itself. Let me know in the comments below if you think I missed anything important (such as dank memes, accurate best-girl references, good taste in anime, etc.).

Enjoy reading this novel. It won’t take two years, I promise.

SAO II v2 01Joining the Party, Asuna
SAO/SE26-01 R CH
Yellow / Level: 1 / Cost: 0 / Trigger: None
Power: 4500 / Soul: 1 <Avatar> <Weapon>
[CONT] While you have another Character with “Yuuki” or “Sleeping Knights” in its name, this card gets +1500 Power.

Madoka players will immediately recognize this card and its bonder as clones of the Mami/Nagisa combo from the new Rebellion set. It’s a simple and effective advantage engine with good costless power and resiliency—7k and hand encore, assuming Yuuki bonders in the back row. Hand encore on a bond target is a bit awkward, since you’ll sometimes prefer that it be reversed and sent to the waiting room so you can play another bonder for a plus, but having a backup plan to maintain your board is nice.

Drawing any combination of Yuuki bonders and Asuna targets at level 0 virtually guarantees early plusses, since you can mulligan or clock the Asunas and bond them back shortly thereafter. You can even use tutors and spammable brainstorms to set up those plusses, but that’s not necessarily the best use of your tech.

My one misgiving about this otherwise-solid bond is that SAO is already endowed with a prolific level 1 game, including multiple advantage engines via climax combos, burst power to accompany those combos, and 1/0 clock encores to preserve hand. The bond combo doesn’t really synergize with the rest of your level 1 unless you commit to the questionable Sleeping Knights stock-charge plan, and doesn’t directly prepare your hand for the endgame (as you would expect, since bonds sacrifice selectivity for their low cost). In short, this card isn’t my “plan A” for SAO, but it’s still good in a vacuum, because bonds to costless power are good. Take that as you will.

SAO II v2 02Sisterly Aura, Asuna
SAO/SE26-02 R CH
Yellow / 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, you may put the top card of your Clock into the Waiting Room.
[AUTO] Recollection [(1) Put a card in your hand into the Waiting Room] This ability may be used up to once per turn. When the damage dealt by this card is cancelled while you have a card named “<Legendary Sword Technique>, Yuuki” in your Memory, you may pay the cost. If you do, deal 1 damage to your opponent. (This damage may be cancelled)

Yep, SAO received yet another finisher that doubles as a healer. Unlike many other burn-1 effects, this Asuna’s ability can be used repeatedly, too. Before you start cursing the set’s good fortune, you should note that the burn-1 carries a somewhat higher cost than usual in exchange for its reusability, and at only 10k power before assists, Asuna may not survive for multiple turns. Compounding that problem, prepping the burn-1 requires that you first send a global +500 support to memory via its own, separate effect with a huge additional cost—4 stock and another discard, to be exact. You don’t have to look hard in SAO’s card pool to find better finishers than this.

SAO II v2 03Relaxing Walk, Asuna
SAO/SE26-03 C CH
Yellow / Level: 0 / Cost: 0 / Trigger: None
Power: 500 / Soul: 1 <Avatar> <Weapon>
[CONT] During your turn, your other Character in the middle Slot of the Center Stage gets +500 Power.
[AUTO] [(1)] Bond/”Innocent Abandon, Yuuki

The bonder for your new 2/1 Yuuki level assist. As compelled as I am to stick to the mantra of ‘bonds are always playable’, this one is disappointing for a couple reasons. First, you won’t play many copies of the assist (and probably none, because Machine of Ice is better). Second, most other bonders are capable of recovering defeated front row characters to your hand for re-use, rather than assists that likely won’t see battle. The minor power boost to a lane is more than you’ll get from many other bonders in WS, but it still feels like an afterthought here.

SAO II v2 04In Her Childhood, Asuna
SAO/SE26-04 C CH
Yellow / Level: 0 / Cost: 0 / Trigger: None
Power: 4000 / Soul: 1 <Net>
[AUTO] At the beginning of your Encore Step, put the top card of your deck into the Waiting Room. If that card is Level 0 or lower, put this card into the Waiting Room. (Climaxes are treated as Level 0 for this ability)

This Asuna isn’t the worst 4k ever, but she’s nothing special, not while she lacks defense against bombs. Her penalty (which is roughly a coin flip, given typical card ratios) isn’t checked until the encore phase, so she’ll at least get to attack once. She helps you mill slightly, which is nice, and triggering her penalty may force your opponent to direct attack, which is helpful for reaching level 1 first.

Annoyingly, this <Net>-trait Asuna (like others in SAO) doesn’t carry the same Japanese name text found on her <Avatar> cards, meaning other cards that support Asuna don’t synergize with her. That includes the new green brainstorm for cross-turn +1k power and +1 level in the middle slot, and the new Sleeping Knights Yuuki global support, which lets the original 3.5k Asuna break even with this card on offense.

I think the old 3.5k Asuna is a better option for yellow (even if 4k is fast becoming the new 3.5k in Weiss). She also carries no bomb protection, but her top-check penalty can keep a climax out of stock while also speeding you to level 1. She carries the standard Asuna name and traits, and she’s more likely to persist for multiple turns and build stock if your opponent fails to find an answer at level 0. Of course, you could just run… runners, and dismiss these beatsticks entirely if you want.

SAO II v2 05<Berserk Healer>, Asuna
SAO/SE26-05 C CH
Yellow / Level: 2 / Cost: 1 / Trigger: +1 Soul
Power: 7000 / Soul: 1 <Avatar> <Weapon>
[CONT] This card gets +500 Power for each of your other <Avatar> and/or <Net> Characters.
[AUTO] When this card attacks, if “<Zekken>’s Last Moments” is in your Climax Area, during this turn, this card gets +4000 Power and +1 Soul.

Combos with a bounce climax (because Asuna didn’t have enough of those already) to become a 3-soul cleaner that will typically swing for 15k or more. She’s not tiny on defense either, unlike many other level 2 options in SAO. Unfortunately, this climax combo does nothing to replenish your hand, and it could be uncomfortable to use in a set that likes to refresh before level 2. You may have to choose between holding the climax in hand during a refresh or trying to draw the climax afterward, which are both risky and ill-advised options.

It’s tempting to consider this as an alternative anti-early play option to Lightning Flash Asuna or Check Six Sinon, both of which have frustrating drawbacks. However, neither of those cards asks you to expend a climax, and unlike Lightning Flash Asuna, this card doesn’t guarantee removal of a reversed opponent.

Ultimately, I think this card is competing for nothing more than a niche role against the previous extra booster’s level 2 Asuna climax combo, which builds and fixes your hand in an awkward and somewhat restrictive manner. Most decks will find space for neither combo, and rightfully so. Yellow decks will use Asuna’s Star Splash for earlier and more reliable plusses, and complete the 8 with Sinon’s book climax combo (which is far more potent and worth draining your hand for).

SAO II v2 06<Zekken>’s Last Moments
SAO/SE26-06 C CX
Yellow / Trigger: Wind, +1 Soul
[CONT] All of your Characters get +1000 Power and +1 Soul. (Wind: When this card is triggered, you may choose 1 of your opponent’s Characters, and return it to your opponent’s hand.)

The bounce climax for the above 2/1 Asuna. Not much to add here, other than that if you’re also running Asuna Invites to Party, you could consider running the Star Splash shot promo to diversify your triggers. This is a niche card, in any case.

SAO II v2 07Undefeated Swordsman, Yuuki
SAO/SE26-07 R CH
Green / Level: 0 / Cost: 0 / Trigger: None
Power: 1000 / Soul: 1 <Avatar> <Weapon>
[AUTO] When this card is Reversed while battling a Level 0 or lower Character, you may put the top card of your opponent’s Clock into the Waiting Room. If you do, put that Character into your opponent’s Clock.
[AUTO] Encore [Put a Character in your hand into the Waiting Room]

SAO’s first clock bomb, and a welcome addition to the set’s toolbox (not to mention an excellent color-fix for green). Previously, your tech to fend off cards such as KC’s Hibiki and Inazuma was Kazuto Takes On ALO, which costs stock for his effect, lacks the desirable <Avatar> trait, and requires help from another attacking character. By contrast, Yuuki is costless and more easily searchable. She independently provides removal, and she nullifies many on-reverse and send-to-waiting room effects, most reliably when attacking. Her low power (1k) lets her serve this purpose well.

Yuuki’s effect is less potent on defense due to turn-player priority, so her encore may not be valuable outside of bad-luck cases where you struggle to obtain level 0 attackers, but she’s still good tech. The Silica bomb’s top-check, draw-drop ability is more useful than this throughout the game, but you can make a case for running both cards together (Silica is grand and all, but you don’t need her as a 4-of).

SAO II v2 08<Legendary Sword Technique>, Yuuki
SAO/SE26-08 R CH
Green / Level: 0 / Cost: 0 / Trigger: None
Power: 1000 / Soul: 1 <Avatar> <Weapon>
[CONT] All your other <Avatar> and/or <Net> Characters get +500 Power.
[AUTO] [(4) Put a card in your hand into the Waiting Room, put this card into the Memory] When your other “Sisterly Aura, Asuna” attacks, you may pay the cost. If you do, put the top card 11 cards of your deck into the Waiting Room, then deal X damage to your opponent. X is the number of Soul Trigger Icons present on the cards sent to the Waiting Room this way. (This damage may be cancelled)

Is this Yuuki/Asuna tandem really what you want to rely on to finish games? As hilarious as it is to imagine drowning your opponent in a salty ocean of soul triggers and massive damage, I don’t like the idea of paying an immense cost for a single, wild, unpredictable burn. Milling what should be a compressed deck at level 3 isn’t so hot, either. The global +500 boost is nice, but if you don’t intend to use the burn, you have plenty of superior backrow options.

Keep in mind that several of your characters with soul triggers will probably be sitting on the stage or in your hand at level 3 (if you prepared properly). Furthermore, SAO tends to run heavy on level 0 and 1 cards. Depending on your deck’s construction, it might have too few remaining soul triggers for a meaningful burn, or too many, if your climax spread includes them. If tweaking your card lineup and ratios to accommodate a random burn sounds uncomfortable, that’s because it is.

Most importantly, this finisher doesn’t stack up favorably against Sinon. Sinon compensates you well with strong field presence if her burn fails, you can often play the burn effect in multiples for a similar cost, and her damage potential is clearly defined in advance, which I find desirable when closing out games.

Oh, and don’t try to leverage extra value from Yuuki against anti-damage decks by crashing with her before Asuna, lest you say “farewell” to your fun before it begins.

SAO II v2 09<Sleeping Knights> Talken, Nori and Jun
SAO/SE26-09 C CH
Green / Level: 0 / Cost: 0 / Trigger: None
Power: 1500 / Soul: 1 <Avatar> <Weapon>
[CONT] Your other Character with “Asuna” or “Yuuki” in its name in the middle Slot of the Center Stage gets +1 Level and +1000 Power.
[ACT] Brainstorm [(1) Rest 2 of your Characters] Reveal the top 4 cards of your deck and put them into the Waiting Room. For each Climax revealed this way, reveal a <Avatar> and/or <Net> Character in your deck, add it to your hand, and shuffle your deck afterwards.

Good plussing brainstorm. The degree to which you value it will depend on the rest of your deck, and whether you’re color-fixing for green. Cross-turn power and level boosts for your middle character are nice, although Yuuki doesn’t have nearly as many good level 0 and 1 cards as Asuna does. Most notably, your 3.5k Asuna from the first set can become a bomb-proof 4.5k at level 0, and both Asuna and Yuuki have plussing climax combos at level 1 (although Yuuki may be too weak on defense to benefit).

Many SAO decks already emphasize searches and can’t easily access cards from the waiting room. Those decks should consider running the Silica brainstorm instead, even though she provides no boosts and this new card speeds you to a compressed state slightly faster by plussing via searches. Maintaining a modicum of access to waiting room characters when possible in SAO is important, especially given the set’s rapid milling and deck-thinning. Regardless, this new brainstorm is a solid choice for decks focused on green and/or the relevant character names.

SAO II v2 10<Zekken> Yuuki
SAO/SE26-10 R CH
Green / Level: 1 / Cost: 0 / Trigger: None
Power: 4000 / Soul: 1 <Avatar> <Weapon>
[AUTO] During the turn this card is placed on the Stage from your hand, this card gets +X Power. X is the number of your <Avatar> and/or <Net> Characters times 500.
[AUTO] [(1) Put a card in your hand into the Waiting Room] When this card attacks while “<Mother’s Rosario>” is in your Climax Area, you may pay the cost. If you do, choose up to 2 <Avatar> and/or <Net> Characters in your deck, reveal them, put them into your hand, then shuffle your deck afterwards. Until the end of your opponent’s next turn, this card gets +1 Level.

This Yuuki directly competes with Asuna Invites to Party as your primary advantage engine at level 1, while boasting superior utility that can’t be overlooked. Yuuki serves as yet another discard outlet for the set, shapes your hand more thoroughly than Asuna, removes more cards (read: damage) from your deck, and initially boasts higher power on offense to combat oversized level 1 opponents. Additionally, she combos with a bar climax, which is easier to add to your hand than either variant of Star Splash. Unlike Asuna, Yuuki isn’t a bond target, but that bond is a luxury of sorts. In short, Yuuki wins the duel (my, this story sounds familiar).

That’s a heap of benefits, but Yuuki’s pitiful defense also creates a much greater vulnerability to decks with on-reverse advantage engines (this means KC, NK, etc.). Asuna isn’t exactly a wall by comparison, but she at least keeps you within counter range to deny some of those engines. Yuuki’s +1 level from the climax combo is cute, but mostly useless since savvy opponents won’t pre-play level 1 bombs or waste them on a low-power character.

Can these defensive weaknesses be excused when considering the switch from Asuna to Yuuki in meta-decks? I think the gains far outweigh the losses, to the point that Yuuki will be a premier advantage engine and compression tool in SAO—she’s honestly that good.

SAO II v2 11Gratifying Memories, Yuuki
SAO/SE26-11 R CH
Green / 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, reveal the top card of your deck. If that card is a <Avatar> and/or <Net> Character, during this turn, this card gets the following ability: “[AUTO] When this card’s battle opponent is Reversed, you may put that Character into your opponent’s Clock.”
[AUTO] When this card attacks, put the top card of your deck and your opponent’s deck into the Waiting Room. If the Level of your card was higher than your opponent’s card, you may put the top card of your deck into your Stock. (Climaxes are treated as Level 0 for this ability)

An imperfect yet promising clock-kicker worth playtesting. Assuming Sinon is your main finisher, this Yuuki will compete with other level 3s (mainly your 3/2 Asunas) to become your number-two endgame option. The prospect of receiving a clock-kick at no additional cost (and with no climax requirement) merits attention, and your Sinon backrow will help ensure reversals. The top-check for your clock-kick is favored to succeed even in compressed decks, for the same reason that 1-soul attacks usually stick. Yuuki’s blind stock effect can also support your Sinon finisher’s torrents of damage at level 3, and the top-check will help you plan your attack order (and perhaps improve your odds of receiving that stock).

Speaking less optimistically, top-check failures on play can and will happen, and they’ll be etched into your memory when your opponent wins at 3/6 (because Weiss). Whiffing leaves you with a 10k 2-soul body and the blind stock effect, which is also far from guaranteed—ties in level go against you, and roughly half the cards in your deck will count as level 0, or automatic failures. The mandatory mill on attack will usually reveal not-a-climax from your opponent’s deck, decreasing Yuuki’s odds of landing damage sans the clock-kick itself (especially if she swings for 3 in G/B decks with a book climax in play).

You have a plethora of options to promote successful top-checks, including your 3.5k Asuna (a late-game liability), Blade User Klein (who can both top-check and brainstorm), the 2/1 Yui level assist from set 2, 3/2 End of Fate Kirito, and the odd Lizbeth and Silica in red. However, most of those are unlikely to make the cut in competitive decks. Even without such top-check aids, I think Yuuki’s finishing effect is good enough to outweigh the problems, but will she ultimately supplant anyone not named Sinon? Time will tell.

SAO II v2 12Rushed Arrival, Yuuki
SAO/SE26-12 C CH
Green / Level: 0 / Cost: 0 / Trigger: None
Power: 500 / Soul: 1 <Avatar> <Weapon>
[CONT] All your other “Joining the Party, Asuna” get +500 Power and the following ability: “[AUTO] Encore [Put a Character in your hand into the Waiting Room]
[AUTO] [(1)] Bond/”Joining the Party, Asuna

This bonder and its target were discussed previously, but to briefly reiterate, the combo is similar to Mami/Nagisa from Madoka Rebellion in that it produces a front row of costless 7k characters with hand encore. Hand encore in Weiss has somewhat lost its luster these days compared to hand-preserving clock encore options, and you have enough flexible advantage engines (and other conflicting level 1 plays) in SAO that this bonder may not be your best possible choice. It’s solid, nonetheless.

SAO II v2 13<Sleeping Knights> Yuuki
SAO/SE26-13 C CH
Green / 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 one of your Characters with “Asuna” or “Sleeping Knights” in its name. During this turn, that Character gets +500 Power.

Did I already mention the huge number of backrow cards in this new set? Anyway, I digress. This support looks like nothing special at first, compared to the usual burst-power options that complement Asuna’s climax plays. You hardly have any front-row Sleeping Knights characters to benefit from this, and how many Asuna attackers will really care about a meager +500 boost on rest?

Here are two you might have forgotten about: The 1/1 Lead Group Asuna from the first trial deck craves ACT abilities and will become an offensive juggernaut with two of these supports in the backrow (up to 10.5k before climax plays). Similarly, the 1/1 Asuna’s Gentle Appearance (clock encore) from the second set benefits from your rested characters on offense and can reach 10k without a climax if she attacks last. Lead Group Asuna walls on defense as well, thanks to your 2k split counters and 2.5k Leafa backups which are also ACT effects, while the clock encore insulates you from most bombs. The new plussing brainstorm could provide Lead Group Asuna with bomb protection, albeit by conflicting somewhat with your Yuuki backrow.

Power isn’t everything in Weiss, especially when bombs can keep it in check. Furthermore, this beatstick strategy isn’t new—the first set’s 0/0 Yui frontal assist enabled it as well. This Yuuki might be a sleeper hit that takes unsuspecting opponents by surprise, although my optimism is cautious at best.

Yes, that was a pun back there. TTT has infected me.

SAO II v2 14Simultaneous Attack, Leafa
SAO/SE26-14 C CH
Green / 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 +1500 Power.

Another 4k beatstick without bomb protection. Your Kirito runner (which conflicts with this) and various bombs will usually sustain your offense, rendering fat-level-0 archetypes mostly unnecessary. That said, this Leafa at least color-fixes for green, which was relatively neglected in past releases and needed as much help as possible. Speaking of help in green, the new plussing brainstorm unfortunately does nothing for her, but your bombs (including the new Yuuki clock bomb) can clear themselves from the field during your turn, leaving Leafa alone to fulfill her condition on the backswing.

By comparison, the green 3.5k Leafa in the second set doesn’t mind company up front, but she prohibits climax plays. That doesn’t normally matter at level 0, but can be pretty annoying if you’re setting up for Yuuki’s bar combo. Honestly, you’ll do better to pursue other options than either of these Leafas for color-fixing.

SAO II v2 15Time Limit, Leafa
SAO/SE26-15 C CH
Green / Level: 1 / Cost: 0 / Trigger: None
Power: 2000 / Soul: 1 <Avatar> <Weapon>
[CONT] All your other Characters get +500 Power.
[ACT] [(2) Rest this card] Reveal a <Avatar> and/or <Net> Character in your deck, add it to your hand, and shuffle your deck afterwards.

Yes, this card is functionally similar to Akashi from KC2, aside from missing a bunch of power. No, that doesn’t make it anything special in SAO. Unlike KC, this set’s meta-decks actually spend stock during the early game, and paying 2 for a meager +1 is a mediocre investment given your other plussing options, not to mention Sinon’s thirsty endgame. Leafa fixes for green, but I wouldn’t rely on her just for that. Look elsewhere first for card advantage (and you won’t have to look very hard if you’ve been following along so far).

SAO II v2 16<Imp> Girl, Yuuki
SAO/SE26-16 C CH
Green / Level: 1 / Cost: 1 / Trigger: +1 Soul
Power: 1500 / Soul: 1 <Avatar> <Weapon>
[AUTO] When you use this card’s Backup ability, look at the top card of your deck, and put it either on the top or bottom of your deck.
[ACT] [Counter] Backup 1500, Level 1 [(1) Put this card in your hand into the Waiting Room]

In a vacuum, this is a respectable utility backup, because decreasing your opponent’s chance to land damage via deck manipulation is good throughout the game. However, I think the availability of a costless 2k split counter and a 2/1 counter with a similar damage-denial role and extra hand-fixing utility make running this undersized 1/1 hard to justify. As an alternative to this card, I would prefer the 1/1 mill-3 backup, which speeds you to your first refresh (and better compression) while retaining its full 2k vanilla power.

Editor’s Note: I would probably value this as a one-of over the third Vice-Commander Asuna, even with the 2/1 Leafa counter in the deck.

SAO II v2 17Innocent Abandon, Yuuki
SAO/SE26-17 C CH
Green / Level: 2 / Cost: 1 / Trigger: +1 Soul
Power: 5000 / Soul: 1 <Avatar> <Weapon>
[CONT] Assist All your Characters in front of this card get +X Power. X is the Level of that Character times 500.
[ACT] [(1)] Choose 1 of your <Avatar> and/or <Net> Characters. During this turn, that Character gets +1500 Power.

On the one hand, this Yuuki is a bond target, which is typically a good thing. On the other, paying 1 stock for a single +1500 boost is a poor investment when you should be saving for your Sinon endgame, not to mention that SAO can already hand out free 1k boosts just by playing climaxes (which you’re likely to do with a green focus). You shouldn’t be so desperate for power boosts that you need to expend stock for them, especially when you have an option to render counter ranges on important targets irrelevant. By my estimation, this card is a clear miss, which is a pretty tough assessment to mete out for a bond target.

SAO II v2 18Asuna & Yuuki
SAO/SE26-18 C CH
Green / Level: 2 / Cost: 1 / Trigger: +1 Soul
Power: 7000 / Soul: 1 <Avatar> <Weapon>
[CONT] This card gets +1500 Power for each marker underneath this card.
[AUTO] When this card’s battle opponent is Reversed, you may choose a <Avatar> and/or <Net> Character in your Waiting Room and put it underneath this card as a marker.

An unexciting marker card. Generally, your front-row level 2 plays should either be cleaners or advance summons, and this card fills neither role. It isn’t as threatening at level 2 as marker Asuna is at level 1, either—that Asuna takes advantage of a sharp increase in the power curve from level 0 to 1, troubles level reversers, and exploits SAO’s strong counter game at that level. By contrast, this card will attempt to snowball in an environment where it can be stymied by fat early plays on the backswing, and it won’t always take advantage of small targets to start rolling. The 7k base is a pretty uncomfortable spring-board, even if you do have a way to prevent counters.

Editor’s Note: This is actually kind of threatening with the 1/1 Self-Sacrifice counter. I would consider this because it’s an excellent source of controlled compression, especially since SAO still doesn’t have a field staple at Level 2.

SAO II v2 19<Sleeping Knights> Siune and Tecchi
SAO/SE26-19 C CH
Green / Level: 2 / Cost: 2 / Trigger: +1 Soul
Power: 8000 / Soul: 2 <Avatar> <Weapon>
[CONT] While you have a “<Sleeping Knights> Yuuki” and a “Joining the Party, Asuna”, this card gets -1 Level in your hand.
[AUTO] When this card attacks while “Braves of 27th floor” is in your Climax Area, choose up to 1 <Avatar> and/or <Net> Character in your Waiting Room, put it into your Stock, then this card gets +1500 Power until the end of your opponent’s next turn.

My, is this thing awkward. The first problem you should notice is that the characters required to fulfill the early play requirement contribute to “backrow syndrome”—running the Asuna implies that you’re also using the Yuuki bonder for plusses, which will compete for backrow space with Sleeping Knights Yuuki. Speaking of space, you also need room in your deck for the climax. Ugh.

The stock-charge effect is tied to an all-or-nothing mechanic—if you have the climax, you get free stock from both the climax play and the attack (don’t say “that makes the character free”, because 2 stock is a steep entry cost when you’re also buying early-game plusses). Without the climax, you pay 2 for an undersized 2-soul beat in a set where you have no trouble finding opportunities to swing for 2.

As an aside, is it just me, or is Bushiroad making more of an effort lately to legitimize level 2 attackers by turning them into advance summons? In any case, the payoff for this card doesn’t justify the cavernous space it seeks in your deck, even if you do score a good bond combo along the way.

SAO II v2 20<Mother’s Rosario>
SAO/SE26-20 C CX
Green / Trigger: Treasure
[CONT] All of your Characters get +1000 Power and +1 Soul. (Treasure: When this card is triggered, put it into your hand, then you may put the top card of your deck into your Stock.)

The bar climax for 1/0 Yuuki. Bars are useful for maintaining an offense, and climax floods in your hand from bar triggers can be mitigated with this same card’s combo or the several discard outlets available in SAO’s level 0 toolbox. You’ll sometimes be able to use the blind stock from a bar trigger to pay for the climax combo, which is a nice touch (if you don’t believe in your cards).

SAO II v2 21Braves of 27th floor
SAO/SE26-21 C CX
Green / Trigger: +2 Soul
[AUTO] When this card is placed on your Climax Area, put up to 1 Green card in your Waiting Room into your Stock, then during this turn, all your Characters get +1 Soul.

The stock-soul climax to accompany your stock-charging advance summon, and one of several inconvenient and unreasonable deck-building hoops to jump through to make that early play work. It’s just not good enough for the trouble.

SAO II v2 22Firm and Strong-Willed, Lizbeth
SAO/SE26-22 R CH
Red / Level: 0 / Cost: 0 / Trigger: None
Power: 1000 / Soul: 1 <Avatar> <Weapon>
[CONT] All your other <Avatar> and/or <Net> Characters get +500 Power.
[AUTO] [(1)] When you use an Accelerate ability, you may pay the cost. If you do, choose 1 Character in your Waiting Room and put it into your hand read this.

If you’ve been waiting for a good excuse to play accelerate.dek, this is probably it. SAO has long eschewed most of its accelerate effects, but this Lizbeth turns them all into advantage engines that sidestep most forms of anti-salvage. Global +500 boosts are good, and playing two of these supports is reasonable (if not a bit greedy). Speaking of greed, Lizbeth the Blacksmith is also available for 1.5k boosts, but I don’t think squeezing two dedicated 0/0 supports in this deck is necessary or wise.

Whether she’ll outshine plussing climax combos at level 1 is up for debate, especially since the new Yuuki combo comes with a favorable trigger type and additional utility, and without the risk of stranding climaxes in your clock before refresh. The Asuna and Yuuki combos also pull cards from your deck instead of your waiting room, improving compression immediately rather than post-refresh. However, with typical early-game milling, the waiting room may offer a much wider selection of characters at level 1 to plus with, and this Lizbeth grants you waiting room access with an ease that most SAO decks lack.

Regardless of the comparative merits, she’s a promising option and you have good accelerators to pair with her, particularly the original 0/0 Lizbeth suicider, the 1/0 Kirito’s Unshakable Belief from the second set, and the new 1/0 Lizbeth beater that also seeks plusses. Ordinarily I’d argue that crutching on accelerate effects will cause you to fall behind in damage, but some of the aforementioned cards let you pay 1 and clock 1 to +2, and at that rate, you can stop clocking pretty early as compensation.

SAO II v2 23Readied Faith, Lizbeth
SAO/SE26-23 R CH
Red / Level: 1 / Cost: 0 / Trigger: None
Power: 4000 / Soul: 1 <Avatar> <Weapon>
[CONT] This card gets +500 Power for each of your other <Avatar> and/or <Net> Characters.
[AUTO] Accelerate [Put the top card of your deck into your Clock] At the beginning of your Climax Phase, you may pay the cost. If you do, during this turn, this card gets +1 Level and the following ability: “[AUTO] When this card’s battle opponent is Reversed, you may choose a <Avatar> and/or <Net> Character in your Waiting Room and put it into your hand.”

Well, I just mentioned this card, so let’s talk about it too. Notwithstanding her vulnerability to attack phase anti-salvage, this Lizbeth is an advantage engine that costs no stock, which demands attention. 6k power on a 1/0 is nothing to scoff at, and she’ll be more resilient on the backswing than both the 1/0 Asuna and Yuuki engines. The +1 level shouldn’t be relevant on offense, but if you catch opponents pre-emptively fielding level 1 bombs, more power to you.

Many players running accelerate.dek will fixate on this card for level 1, but I think Kirito’s Unshakable Belief from the second set is a somewhat stronger play. Backed by the new 0/0 Lizbeth support, Kirito’s +2 comes entirely during the climax phase and can’t be denied by walls, plus his 6k base power comes with an arguably easy hand-size requirement instead of a full field. If Kirito isn’t being walled, his 2k event counter can preserve your board to ensure repeated uses of accelerate and continual card advantage—and if walls render the counter useless, every card in the game can be clocked.

Of course, this Lizbeth accelerator doesn’t restrict half your +2 to the 2k event counter, so her ability to prep your hand for future turns is more potent. You could play both accelerators in R/B and retrieve the best choice for each matchup, or field them together and boost Lizbeth with recoverable 2k events as needed (if you don’t mind pinging yourself from deck repeatedly for cards, of course).

Before you mention it, yes, you have Recovered Memories Yui in the second set to convert accelerate effects’ clock-1s to pay-1s and to extract errant climaxes from your clock. However, that’s another cluttered backrow waiting to happen, and Yui doesn’t provide power on offense to help Lizbeth achieve her on-reverse condition. You also can’t tutor Yui because she’s a <Net> character, which is annoying.

SAO II v2 24Sinister Gaze, <Death Gun>
SAO/SE26-24 C CH
Red / Level: 0 / Cost: 0 / Trigger: None
Power: 2000 / Soul: 1 <Avatar> <Weapon>
[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 up to 1 of your opponent’s Level 0 or lower <Target> Characters and put it into the Waiting Room.

XaXa-chan needed at least one card in the new set, so we got this oddball. This Death Gun is a spammable brainstorm that takes cards away from your opponent instead of giving you plusses or hand-fixes. In conjunction with the second TD’s 0/0 Kyoji assist, Death Gun gives you access to your opponent’s level 0 backrow as early as turn two. He can also deny some defenders their on-reverse effects, although we just received the Yuuki clock bomb for that purpose.

Spammable brainstorms are always playable, but be careful not to overestimate this one. For every opponent who crutches on important level 0 backrow characters, you’ll face another who has nothing worth gunning down. Furthermore, this brainstorm isn’t the best fit in your own backrow, since your companion to the aforementioned Kyoji in <Target> decks should be the global +500 Shoichi Shinkawa. You don’t need both assists in your backrow at the start of the game, but don’t overlook the risk of “backrow syndrome” that comes from splashing this card alongside two level 0 supports.

Yep, that was pun #2 back there, if you’re keeping count. Or were there more?

SAO II v2 25Furry Head, Silica
SAO/SE26-25 C CH
Red / Level: 1 / Cost: 0 / Trigger: None
Power: 3000 / Soul: 1 <Avatar> <Weapon>
[AUTO] [Put a card in your hand into the Waiting Room] When this card is placed on the Stage from your hand, you may pay the cost. If you do, choose a Character in your Waiting Room with “Silica” or “Pina” in its name, and put it into your hand.
[AUTO] Change [(3) 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 “Fighting Stance, Silica” in your Waiting Room and put it into the Slot this card was in.

This is a stupidly-expensive and unnecessary climax phase change that conflicts with Silica.dek’s existing level 1 game plan. You’ll typically use stock with the 1/1 Silica Start of the Adventure and your choice of 2-soul or stock-soul climax combos to plus by fielding Pina supports directly from your waiting room. That combo also turns the 1/1 Silica into a 10k, 2-3 soul beatstick before assists, which leaves this Silica changer without much of a role (her defense is better, but Silica decks aren’t desperate for a wall). Using the change gives you an opportunity to salvage a character by winning a battle, turning the discard cost into another hand-fix, but why settle for that when your 1/1 Silica can plus?

The free tutor effect is good within Silica’s deck, but she already has access to a free hand-fix via her level 0 bomb, which more suitably fills a combat role. Being able to (eventually) filter two climaxes from hand with this one card is cute, I guess, but doing so still makes you commit to the expensive change. Speaking of resources, I’d strongly consider using Silica’s level 0 tutor over this as well, if only to help build and maintain clean early stock.

SAO II v2 26Fighting Stance, Silica
SAO/SE26-26 C CH
Red / Level: 2 / Cost: 2 / Trigger: +1 Soul
Power: 9500 / Soul: 2 <Avatar> <Weapon>
[AUTO] [Put a Character card in your hand into the Waiting Room] When this card is placed on the Stage from your hand, you may pay the cost. If you do not, put this card into the Waiting Room.
[AUTO] When this card is placed on the Stage from your Waiting Room while you have another Character with “Pina” in its name, during this turn, this card gets the following ability: “[AUTO] When this card’s battle opponent is Reversed, choose up to 1 <Avatar> and/or <Net> and/or <Dragon> Character in your Waiting Room and put it into your hand.

I covered most of this card’s issues a moment ago, but let’s look at a couple more. First, this Silica is awful if played directly from hand, since the plus isn’t available unless you use the (expensive) climax phase change, and a -1 to hand is an unjustifiable cost for 500 extra power over a 2/2 vanilla. Second, unlike the change cost on the 1/0 Silica, this 2/2 play directly from hand forbids you from choosing a climax for your discard—you’re forced to chuck a character. Stay away from this resource-guzzler if you can help it.

SAO II v2 27<SAO Survivor> Kirito
SAO/SE26-27 R CH
Blue / Level: 0 / Cost: 0 / Trigger: None
Power: 1000 / Soul: 1 <Avatar> <Weapon>
[AUTO] [Put this card into the Waiting Room] When one of your other Characters is placed into the Waiting Room from the Stage while this card is in your Back Stage, you may pay the cost. If you do, put that Character Rested into the Slot it was in.
[ACT] [Rest this card] Choose 1 of your Characters. During this turn, that Character gets +1000 Power.

This Kirito would have been more interesting if he preserved characters’ markers, or if SAO didn’t already have several front-row mainstays with their own encore effects (or a complete lack of interest in living for multiple turns), or if we didn’t just receive a glut of better supports that want deck space to fuel their associated game plans. His first effect counteracts anti-encore, just like the 1/0 Autumn Walk Kazuto from the previous extra booster, but how many decks actually use anti-encore these days?

By the way, to provide a brief rundown of said game plans that I see developing from this release, your Yuuki/Asuna climax combos at level 1 (usually) won’t care about being saved after completing their searches. While your accelerators and giant Asuna beatsticks could both benefit from this Kirito in bomb-heavy environments, their respective decks will run dedicated global supports, likely as 4-ofs. I’m trying not to keep using the words “backrow syndrome” in this write-up, but… you get the point. Your deck will survive without this.

SAO II v2 28Brains of the Party, Yui
SAO/SE26-28 R CH
Blue / Level: 0 / Cost: 0 / Trigger: None
Power: 2500 / Soul: 1 <Net>
[CONT] While you have 6 or more cards in your hand, this card gets +1500 Power.

Ignoring the fact blue doesn’t need color-fixing at level 0 (you already have the runner and a mountain of good utility cards), this Yui still isn’t a good play. She’s subpar on the first turn, since the mechanics of her +1500 boost will force you to play her by herself—a role Solo Player Kirito and his +1 level handle much better. Even as level 0 progresses, Yui’s requirement might be a continual nuisance—you’ll want to use your toolbox to craft your hand for future turns, but Yui will discourage you from fielding characters. I’m also biased against characters lacking <Avatar> and <Weapon> in my level 0 lineup, if only because tutors and the still-playable 0/0 Lizbeth bomb exist. Pass.

SAO II v2 29Off to Recover the Holy Sword, Kirito
SAO/SE26-29 R CH
Blue / Level: 3 / Cost: 2 / Trigger: +1 Soul
Power: 9500 / Soul: 2 <Avatar> <Weapon>
[CONT] While there are 2 or less Climaxes in your Waiting Room, this card gets -1 Level while in your hand.
[CONT] During your opponent’s turn, this card gets +500 Power for each of your other <Avatar> and/or <Net> Characters.
[AUTO] When this card is placed on the Stage from your hand, draw up to 2 cards, then put a card in your hand into the Waiting Room.

Proof that Kirito is still the best girl in SAO. This is a solid advance summon for any deck running blue (which should be most decks, given that the GGO booster revitalized blue with the Sinon finisher and a host of other good options). SAO is adept at refreshing just before level 2 for compression purposes thanks to a bevy of milling and searching options, so the arguably-solid early play requirement isn’t difficult to fulfill after leveling. The set needed more early plays without a huge appetite for resources, anyway (shots fired, 2/1 Sinon changer and 3/2 Leafa), so this Kirito is a welcome addition to shore up the set’s disappointing level 2 front row. He’s a wall with subpar offensive power for an advance summon, so he’ll sometimes need help from your Sinon backrow to attack comfortably.

Anti-change counters are a threat, but an acceptable one, since you also extract value from the draw 2/ditch 1 effect to refill your hand and prepare your Sinon endgame. Kirito gives you extra opportunities to draw the Phantom Bullet climax if it’s not in your hand, a frequent annoyance if you don’t hold a copy through refresh (and other than accelerate.dek, most decks can’t spare room for blue gates to ameliorate this problem). Being pressured to clock every turn to draw into the climax in a set that doesn’t have hand-building problems is frustrating, and Kirito can end that little bout of madness. On occasion, you might even play him at level 3 just to fish for the climax, although he’s admittedly far less impressive at that point.

All around, this is an excellent advance summon within the context of SAO, and a premier option at level 2 that will be sought after by most competitive decks due to the multiple issues it addresses.

SAO II v2 30Mountain Cat Girl, Sinon
SAO/SE26-30 C CH
Blue / Level: 0 / Cost: 0 / Trigger: None
Power: 2000 / Soul: 1 <Avatar> <Weapon>
[AUTO] When this card is placed on the Stage from your hand, choose one of your other <Avatar> and/or <Net> Characters. Until the next end of your opponent’s turn, that Character gets +1000 Power.

Disappointing tech. Her boost fails to address bombs at level 0, unlike Reliable Guide Leafa from the first set or Kirito Takes Shelter from the second (which honestly aren’t much better). Sure, those cards don’t provide defense, but bombs don’t care how big your level 0 is on the backswing. Later in the game, you have other options to find 1k boosts on offense, and a prolific counter game to maintain your board. That should be enough.

From a broader perspective, SAO has to ask a tough question of every level 0 card it considers adding to a deck: is that card a worthwhile replacement for anything? By the time you’ve added runners, bombs, supports, brainstorms, tutors, and perhaps Ideal Self Sinon to your lineup, this card simply won’t make the cut.

SAO II v2 31To Numerous Battles, Kirito
SAO/SE26-31 C CH
Blue / Level: 1 / Cost: 0 / Trigger: None
Power: 1000 / Soul: 1 <Avatar> <Weapon>
[AUTO] When this card is placed on the Stage from your hand, choose one of your other <Avatar> and/or <Net> Characters. During this turn, that Character gets +1000 Power.
[ACT] [Counter] Backup 1500, Level 1 [Put this card in your hand into the Waiting Room]

A costless 1.5k backup with extra offensive utility. While this Kirito may be a strict upgrade from vanilla level 1 punches, you already have costless 2k split counters, plus a direct competitor in blue—the recyclable 2k event counter. Why would you throw away this card on offense when you could play the 2k event and immediately recover it to hand for use on the backswing, while fielding a proper attacker instead? Sure, you’d take 1 extra damage by accelerating, but that’s likely what would happen if you ram this weak character and open a lane to your opponent, anyway. Running this over the event poses less of a threat to your runner and Yuuki clock-kicker, but that doesn’t justify settling for a mediocre counter by SAO’s standards.

SAO II v2 32Reporting, Yui
SAO/SE26-32 C CH
Blue / Level: 1 / Cost: 0 / Trigger: None
Power: 2500 / Soul: 1 <Net>
[CONT] Assist All your Characters in front of this card get +500 Power.
[AUTO] This ability may be used up to twice per turn. When one of your other cards with “Kirito (キリト)” or “Asuna (アスナ)” in its card name is placed on the Stage from your hand, look at the top card of your deck, and put it either on the top or bottom of your deck.

I’m not sure why we needed a support with this top-check effect. How many characters in SAO care about the next card in your deck during a game? I guess Yui helps your Yuuki clock-kicker if you splash them both in a Kirito- or Asuna-themed deck. She can steer a climax away from your clock if you’re running the 1/0 Kirito accelerator. If you’re trying to draw into Phantom Bullet with the new Kirito early play, Yui slightly improves your odds since you can choose the order in which your characters’ AUTO effects resolve…

Let’s stop there before I make this card sound good. Those can all be dismissed as corner cases, not substantive reasons to play a pitiful level 1 assist. By the way, Yui’s effect isn’t available when playing Asuna’s <Net> cards due to Japanese name text differences. That includes the new 0/0 4k in this set. Whoops.

SAO II v2 33“Death” Before Their Eyes, Kirito and Sinon
SAO/SE26-33 C CH
Blue / Level: 2 / Cost: 1 / Trigger: +1 Soul
Power: 4500 / Soul: 1 <Avatar> <Weapon>
[CONT] Assist All your Level 3 or higher Characters in front of this card get +2000 Power.
[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.

A painfully restrictive support that I feel is ill-suited to its set. Other than the occasional advance summon or level-gaining marker card, most of your characters won’t be able to benefit from this 2k boost at level 2 (hint: they’ll be level 1s), and you already have costless hand-fixing options at earlier levels. Yes, this supports the new Kirito early play and gives you an extra chance to draw into Phantom Bullet, but that’s not enough to replace a superior level 2 assist I’ve mentioned roughly infinity times so far.

SAO II v2 34<Cait Sith> Archer, Sinon
SAO/SE26-34 C CH
Blue / Level: 2 / Cost: 1 / Trigger: +1 Soul
Power: 3000 / Soul: 1 <Avatar> <Weapon>
[CONT] During your opponent’s turn, all your other Characters get +1500 Power.
[AUTO] [Put a card in your hand into the Waiting Room] When this card is placed on the Stage from your hand, you may pay the cost. If you do, look at up to the top 4 cards of your deck, choose up to 1 <Avatar> and/or <Net> Character among them, reveal it, and add it to your hand. Put the rest of the cards into the Waiting Room.

Look, up in the sky! It’s an Azusa! It’s an Akatsuki! It’s… well, it’s neither of those, actually. This otherwise-broken (read: ban-worthy) “free brainstorm” hand-fixing effect is far better at levels 0 and 1, when your deck is in its least compressed state. By level 2, your deck should be both refreshed and compressed, milling will be commensurately riskier, and tutoring will be safer hand-fixing by far (even though it costs stock).

As for the defensive power boost, it conflicts with SAO’s typical goal of playing costless level 1 characters and boosting them over opponents. Even traditional defensive decks with 1/1 Imprisoned Queen Asuna (which have fallen out of favor) won’t see this Sinon as an upgrade because she waters down Asuna’s offense compared to Kirito’s Strong Bond, and more importantly, she’s not a Kirito. I guess this support makes your counters and Kirito early play scarier, although you-know-who already does that well enough. This card doesn’t have much of a role, I’m afraid.

SAO II v2 35<Skill Connect> Kirito
SAO/SE26-35 C CH
Blue / Level: 2 / Cost: 1 / Trigger: +1 Soul
Power: 7500 / Soul: 1 <Avatar> <Weapon>
[AUTO] [(1)] When “Quest for <Excalibur>” is placed in your Climax Area while this card is in your Center Stage, you may pay the cost. If you do, during this turn, all your Characters get +3000 Power.
[AUTO] [Shuffle your deck] When this card’s battle opponent becomes Reversed, you may pay the cost. If you do, reveal the top card of your deck. If that card is “<Skill Connect> Kirito”, Stand this card. (Return the revealed card to its original position)

#17ATTACKSTHEDREAM

Don’t ask. Anyway, this Kirito combos with a blue gate to provide a large but unnecessary field wipe. Why do you need a sledgehammer when you already have a scalpel at level 2? (Guess who.) Kirito isn’t even your most cost-effective option for his role. Mace User Lizbeth (from the first set) and the salvage-trigger promo variant of her Awakened Feelings climax grant just 500 total power less while costing 1 fewer stock and coming down a level earlier. Sure, Lizbeth only supports the <Weapon> trait, but that encompasses virtually everything worth running in SAO. I hesitate to mention Beacon of Hope Asuna’s total 6k bazooka blast as an alternative here, because handing opponents extra stock in a world filled with thirsty finishers is a bad idea.

The potential re-standing effect is strictly a gimmick and not worth considering. You won’t fit 4 copies of this card into a meta-deck unless you cut something important, and even if you do, the re-stand condition is staggeringly unreliable. I’d stay far away from this (terrible) card, even if I’m splashing the accompanying gate climax.

SAO II v2 36Quest for <Excalibur>
SAO/SE26-36 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 card in your Waiting Room into your hand.)

The blue gate climax for the 2/1 Kirito we just discussed. You could make a case for running this card (or any previous gate climax) without the Kirito in accelerate decks, because if your continual accelerate-to-+2 shenanigans work out, you’ll stop clocking early and have more trouble drawing into climaxes to push for damage (including using the Sinon finisher).

Well, that’s it. The novel is finished. You can return to your life now.

….

Wait, you want deck techs, too? Really? After all that?

(╯°□°)╯︵ ┻━┻)

*contractually obligated rage goes here*

Here are a few lines of play that hold promise, in my opinion. Choose whichever one tickles your fancy, but as noted earlier, I expect G/B to earn top marks because it modifies and expands upon the battle-tested Y/B Asuna/Sinon deck. By contrast, I’m least optimistic about the Y/B beatstick deck, as it’s a marginally upgraded version of an old plan that never made a splash in Weiss.

You’ll notice a few peculiar card ratios here. Namely, these decks all run heavy on level 0s, brainstorms, and counters. This partly relates to my preferences, but mostly to emphasizing strengths of the set. SAO has a deep and effective toolbox for crafting hand at level 0, and restricting your deck to the usual 16 cards there is a waste. Brainstorms speed you to a pre-level 2 refresh and solid compression, all while setting up 3/2 Kirito and fetching other cards you want. Finally, strong counters complement your mid-game while serving additional roles, and they frequently open lanes for utility plays and extra damage. (And yes, I feature statistics Leafa in all three decks.)

I’m lazy by now, so I’ll spare you further explanations beyond a simple series of play-testing questions for each deck. If you read the card reviews, I trust you to understand how the decks work. Based on testing, card counts may need to change, and you might replace cards altogether based on effectiveness or playstyle. (In other words, don’t blindly follow me off a cliff, YMMV, caveat emptor, etc.) These are starting points, and nothing more.

Deck Tech: G/B Yuuki/Sinon
Test question(s): Is the 1/0 Yuuki bar combo an adequate replacement for Asuna/Star Splash? Can the deck easily access green for Yuuki by level 1, such as by clocking/leveling a spare 2/1 counter? Without 1/0 Asunas or Self-sacrifice, is defense lacking? How well does the 3/2 Yuuki clock-kicker complement Sinon?

3x Temporary Alliance, Kirito
2x Gathering Materials, Silica
2x Undefeated Swordsman, Yuuki
3x Mission in the Twilight, Sinon (or Asuna’s Married Life, if you hate EN/love money)
2x Ideal Self, Sinon
2x Kirito in the Battlefield
1x Silica’s Unyielding Trust
1x Sleeping Knights, Talken, Nori and Jun
2x In the Sunlight Forest, Sinon

4x Zekken, Yuuki
4x Temporary Alliance, Sinon
3x Vice Commander, Asuna

3x Gathering Materials, Leafa
2x “Machine of Ice” Sinon

2x Off to Recover the Holy Sword, Kirito
4x Last Shot, Sinon
2x Gratifying Memories, Yuuki

4x Mother’s Rosario
4x Phantom Bullet

Deck Tech: R/B Accelerate
Test question(s): Does the deck have an ideal number of accelerate cards at levels 0 and 1? Can the deck stop clocking at level 1 and rely solely on accelerate? How easily can the 0/0 Kirito tutor, 1/0 Kirito cleaner, and 1/0 event be recycled? Are blue gates a good splash to retrieve Phantom Bullet before level 3?

3x Temporary Alliance, Kirito (conflicts with The Seed, but within reason)
4x Lizbeth’s Professional Pride
4x Firm and Strong-Willed, Lizbeth
3x Kirito in the Battlefield (or Silica Looking Up At the Sky)
2x Silica’s Unyielding Trust
2x In the Sunlight Forest, Sinon

4x Kirito’s Unshakable Belief
3x Readied Faith, Lizbeth
3x Choice to Fight, Kirito
4x The Seed

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

2x Off to Recover the Holy Sword, Kirito
4x Last Shot, Sinon
1x Silica’s Bashful Troubled Look

4x Quest for Excalibur (or any blue gate climax)
4x Phantom Bullet

Deck Tech: Y/B Asuna L1 Focus
Test question(s): Alongside counters, how reliably do the new 0/0 Yuuki assist and 0/0 green brainstorm allow you to control the field at levels 1-2? Does that brainstorm help against bombs more than it hinders power boosts? Does the deck have enough stock for both plusses and power at level 1 without starving level 3? Can the deck easily access blue for Sinon by level 2?

(NOTE: This is the least refined of my deck lists and the most likely to require changes, but it’s presented here to sate field-advantage players.)

3x Temporary Alliance, Kirito
3x Gathering Materials, Silica
1x Asuna’s Handmade Cooking
4x Sleeping Knights, Yuuki
2x Ideal Self, Sinon
2x Kirito in the Battlefield
2x Sleeping Knights, Talken, Nori and Jun
1x In the Sunlight Forest, Sinon

4x Asuna Invites to Party
2x Asuna Takes Shelter
3x Lead Group, Asuna
2x Asuna’s Gentle Appearance
4x Vice Commander, Asuna

2x Gathering Materials, Leafa
2x “Machine of Ice” Sinon

4x Last Shot, Sinon
1x Asuna’s Commanding Strength

4x Star Splash (wind or shot)
4x Phantom Bullet

By the way, be mindful of set numbers when writing tournament deck lists. SAO’s second set is S26, while this new extra booster is SE26. Have fun with that.

As always, your feedback is welcome below. Let me know how badly I scrubbed out here \o/

About Raging Mage

I prefer to sling fire and ice, but anime cardboard will suffice
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One Response to SAO II Volume 2: Two Years’ Worth of Tears Glopped Endlessly

  1. ashes says:

    Yeah, the G/B version is stupid good. I think a buddy of teru and mine’s runs G/B/Y and he’s like the boss fight at locals. Such compression. Damnit SAO.

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