I’ve sold out my principles. I’ve said repeatedly that I hate doing deck techs, but here I am doing a deck tech. Sort of. Not quite. I’m going to do what I’ll be calling a Deck Deep Dive. This is just a fancy name for a deck tech, but I will make two promises regarding these. Firstly, these articles will be extremely comprehensive. They will include the vast majority of cards that didn’t make the eventual cut, as well as plenty of reasoning on every card and every card count. This is what I want the new standard of ‘deck tech’ to be, but for now I will be differentiating my deck techs from others. Secondly, you will come out of these articles knowing how to beat these decks. Illustrating the weaknesses of decks extensively is not something people ever do when it comes to deck techs. Hell, even I haven’t done it in the deck articles I’ve written. I think that exploring a deck’s weaknesses is the best thing you can do when it comes to a deck.
Anyway, the series I’ve chosen to talk about is one I feel people can learn a lot from. It is a somewhat undersupported series in a world of free +1 combos, explosive finishers, and stalwart advance summons. Deckbuilding for this series is extremely difficult, with a huge variety of weapons and magic to pick from, and an absolute requirement of precision, situational awareness, and good decision making. It’s a series I’ve spent a huge amount of time with, getting to know every last mechanic and stretching the series to its limits. So, without further ado, I present to you your blade-wielding, shadow-busting protagonist, whose friends are his true power.
The primary thing you need to know about deckbuilding in Chain of Memories is that Sleights are extremely abusable, and need to be arranged in a way so that you can abuse them both offensively and defensi-
What? That’s not what you’re here for?
Well, that’s a downer.
That joke was the literal reason I chose to talk about this series. It’s where the dressed-up name of this ‘series’ came from too. I know, I know, I’m terrible. The deck I’ll actually be talking about is a commonly requested one, based around an incredibly interesting card from the early days of Weiss Schwarz.
All the crap from the previous paragraph applies. I’ve spent far too much time on the Persona series, and it is by far one of the most interesting cardpools I’ve encountered in Weiss Schwarz. In particular, the Execution deck has a very incompatible deckbuilding and playstyle philosophy to the majority of current decks, and people who started the game in the post-KC era will probably learn a fair bit from just reading about its existence. It’s not a good blind metagame call. In fact, it has very little to offer aside from the titular event. No costless or pain-free advantage, no massive field, no finishers… there’s a lot that this deck lacks as compared to any solid, modern deck, but don’t let that deter you. This is one of the most synergy-driven decks out there, and I don’t mean trait synergy. Every card in the deck has a specific purpose at a specific time, and its purpose needs to be fully understood to really play the deck at any level at all. A lot of the cards in this deck kind of suck or are outclassed by other Persona cards in a vacuum, but we play them because they fulfill the precise role we want them to.
Execution is supremely customisable, and you can personalise it in an enormous number of ways, the majority of which I will cover. It is an incredibly challenging deck to even learn at a basic level, let alone master, and even after 3 odd years, I’m still not sure I have it down. Still, if you want to learn about one of the most interesting and shenanigans-filled decks out there, I’ve got you covered.
I’m going to cover what I consider the three key cards first, then I’ll cover the rest of the deck from Level 0 to Level 3. This will be followed by a list of cards I personally dislike in the deck (and reasoning, of course). A complete decklist will be provided, with plenty of notes on what can and can’t be customised, but I would urge you to brew your own list, as the card counts, card choices, and colour choices are extremely conducive to modification.
This is the legendary card itself. On reading it, you should immediately see two things. The first is that it costs EIGHT STOCK. That’s a lot of stock. What the hell could cost 8 stock? Well, the second thing you should notice is its effect. You heal your entire clock. To your hand. This effect is clearly ridiculous. You dodge antiheal and you potentially go +5 while healing 6. Think about that for a moment. You could literally have nothing else in your hand, but playing Execution will make you go from being on the verge of death to a healthy 3-0, all while having 6 new cards in hand, all of which are probably quite functional. Given that your standard +1 costs 2 stock, and your standard heal costs 2 stock, you could actually regard this as an effect that would normally cost 22. When you put it like that, you gain a lot of value, and it is for that reason that you should be clocking feverishly until you draw your event. Your pre-Execution gameplan can actually just be ‘survive until you can play Execution for 6’, but that’s a very dead-end mindset to have, and a lot of the time you’ll just die. You shouldn’t think about it like that.
Anyway, this is not an effect that would ever be reprinted, even in today’s age of super-pushed cards, and it is clearly strong enough to be the theme for a deck, unlike various other pieces of garbage. The goal of this deck is twofold. The first is to be able to use Execution while comfortably maintaining a standard ground game. You want 3 attacks every turn, as most decks do, and you need to plan your turns ahead with the assumption your guys are dying. The second and more important goal is to compress. You will not be winning on the field or by burning at the endgame, so you have to win by cancels. This is the true win condition for Execution, given the titular card does not directly win you the game. The longer you can go without Executing, the better your compression becomes. You can quite easily generate 15 or more stock with 1 or fewer climaxes stuck in there, all while maintaining a field and some number of cards in hand. This means you will cancel a fair bit – often just enough to get yourself to 3.6 with the aid of clock encores/clock phase, which conveniently maximises the value from Execution.
Remember, using Execution will heavily decompress you. Weigh the odds and make sure you only use it when the trade is favourable. The best time to use Execution is never. If you can win without using Execution, then you should do so.
This is one of the best costless clock encores ever printed. She features as a 3-4-of in any deck that supports Blue, even trait-reliant ones where she is out-of-trait. She’s a good stalwart and plays an integral role in the Level 1 game, especially when backed by assists.
Frankly, she’s kind of weak by current standards.
Elizabeth is a role-player and nothing else. However, the roles she plays in this deck are extremely important. Firstly, she’s sorta big. This sounds really dumb, but it’s really important. The majority of your cards up to Level 3 cannot actually kill things, and as such you need cards that can kill Level 0s and smaller Level 1s efficiently without also leaving gaps in your defence. I have to reiterate that this is extremely important, because you don’t want to fall too far behind in the damage race, and you definitely don’t want to give your opponent the choice to stop clocking early. Even trading for counters is fine, really. Secondly, she has clock encore. Clock encore is a lot more than just advantage for this deck – it’s clock manipulation, it allows you to level yourself up if you need to, and it (very importantly) gives you bodies that stay on the field and carry +soul from climaxes. It’s really not too far-fetched to throw your Elizabeths at your opponent, knowing you can choose to clock encore after all is said and done. Once you hit a certain point in the game, you will basically be aiming to throw a climax at your opponent every single turn while still having a few cards in hand (in case things get sour), and a 1/0 that carries a soul buff is valuable for that alone. Lastly, she has the Magic and God traits. This, in conjunction with Theo and her own clock encore, makes her a viable advantage engine at any point in the game. For those not in the know, Theodore lets you sacrifice a character to search a character that shares a trait with the sacrificed character. The majority of your cards have the Magic trait, and the next core card I’m about to talk about carries the God trait. The nature of execution means that you can rely on pain-based advantage engines a lot more freely, though this is, of course, based on how badly you need hand.
This card is a major reason why the deck can function as it does, though it’s probably less integral than the two Blue ones above. Both abilities are supremely relevant – the former giving stockcharges out of nowhere, and the latter providing you with hand encore, which is extremely useful in a deck that has a one-card combo which lets you go from 1 hand card to 6 hand cards. While there are definitely downsides to blind stockcharges every turn, you’re generally pretty thankful for the extra stock, even if it’s just used immediately for a brainstorm or Theo activation. Most importantly, you have an event that costs 8 stock, so you kind of want the extra charges. It’s important to note that the extra stockcharges are actually going to go towards brainstorms, Theo sacrifices, and 2/3 counters – you can easily get 8 stock without the help of Fox, but it’ll be hard to do much else without him.
I’ve tried this card at every count up to 4, and you want at least 3 if you ever wish to reliably drop it at Level 2. It’s especially important if you want to have plenty of stock later on to use utilities with, as it allows you to manipulate your stock as your compression allows. A high count allows you to rely on drawing at least one in the mid-late game instead of having to actively hold one, which you can’t afford to do in a deck that already wants to hold a great deal of cards early on – Execution and the clock encore Liz not least among them. Just as importantly, it means you don’t need to dedicate more salvages/searches to this card when you would rather take things to populate your field or activate this very card’s stockcharge. As for why I specifically play 4 instead of 3 – 4 is the only number with which you will ever reliably have the coveted double Fox backrow.
There is actually a similar card that comes down a level earlier – Yuko from the P3 set. That card is markedly inferior for several reasons, which will be discussed later down, but it can be built around quite effectively if your only goal is to play Execution 3 times in a game (this is very possible but is also a lot less devastating than it actually sounds).
This is the point where I throw a decklist at you, because you need context for this deck. In fact, basically every deck I go deep on will require a lot of context, because a card’s value should be considered as part of a 50-card deck, not in a vacuum.
There’s a lot to take in here. There aren’t many non-swarm decks that want to run 20 Level 0s, but I don’t think there’s any other way to build this deck. I’m not nearly arrogant enough to think I have the outright best Execution list for your specific meta (or even my specific meta), but at the same time, this is a deck that takes years of tinkering and tailoring. I can make a good case for every single one of my inclusions, and (as you are hopefully anticipating) a good case for all of my exclusions as well. I’ll go through the cards by general order of importance at each level, because that makes sense. Kind of.
Yep, the art still sucks. Sadly, it’s still one of the best cards in Persona. A plussing brainstorm that draws from arguably the most controllable resource is a huge boon, and it is even stronger in this deck. With Execution, you’re gonna lose resources. The resource that this deck does tend to have, however, is stock, and this card can convert stock into other stuff, whether that be discard outlets, more stock outs, more cards in hand, or even another brainstorm to mill yourself out more. It’s a very valuable card, and when I’m faced with an ambiguous search or salvage situation, I almost always end up taking this Yukiko.
I still hate relying on a plussing brainstorm. You really don’t need to brainstorm every turn in this deck, especially because it’s better to try and get as many non-climaxes into stock as possible (rushing through to your first refresh actually hurts this to a degree). That doesn’t mean I’m blind to how good brainstorming is in this deck. This card is an invaluable option at basically every point in the game, especially once you have a Fox out. One Yukiko and one Fox tends to be an extremely good backrow at that point in the game, especially if you’ve compressed to the point where you’re hitting multiple climaxes.
Someone once described this card to me as ‘Birthing Pod’. The card Birthing Pod is so strong that it got banned in one of Magic’s non-rotating formats, because it gave the player a ridiculously strong and cheap toolbox that stifled the rest of the format and rounded things out with a combo kill. That’s not quite what Theo does, but he’s not that far off. He’s probably the best toolbox enabler in all of WS, and he even comes with a serviceable global defence boost. He does get a lot worse as the game progresses (you want better backrow), but he’s fantastic at setting up your hand early on, and just as good lategame, especially after you’ve used Execution for a new hand of goodies. In terms of ability text, he’s my favourite card in the Q set and I wish there were more cards as interesting as it (for reference, Fuuka is my actual favourite because I hold a lingering grudge against the Yukiko card and Fuuka is second best girlsona).
The idea behind Theo is that he turns any card into a pretty big toolbox… at a cost. This might seem like poor efficiency – 1-stock to go +0? Well, WS is a game where there are lots of effects that can only be used once. Cards like Keisuke Hiiraga don’t have much use after coming into play. Cards like the Yukiko brainstorm above aren’t of immediate use after they’ve been tapped for their ability. There are an enormous number of cards with similar CIP effects, which I will address later. Suffice to say, these cards can be ritually sacrificed for sweet, sweet value.
The deal behind trait matching isn’t nearly as bad as you might think. It’s important to know your traits, but it’s not as if you have to construct your entire deck around one warping archetype. The main cards you will be sacrificing are your Yukiko brainstorm, and 1/0 clock encore Elizabeth, the latter of which is by far more important. If you weren’t aware, you can clock encore Elizabeth immediately after sacrificing her to get a faux-Riki effect, except you can search for any Magic or God trait. It’s a sweet two-card combo that is most often used to get another Liz for one cost and one damage. Outside of that, here are some things you can do.
- Yukiko and Liz are both Magic trait, giving you access to basically your entire standard gameplan, sans Fox.
- Both the 1/0 clock encore Liz and 3.5k 0/0 Liz are God trait as well, which lets you search for Foxes. Igor has this trait as well, if you choose to run a Velvet Room engine.
- Clean Cut Yukiko is only Fan trait, but that still gets the Yukiko brainstorm.
- The Aigis brainstorm and Teddie searcher can be considered simply because they’re Weapon trait and can be sacrificed to get Rei/Zen or Shabrys. Never mind that they’re fine cards to begin with.
- Almost every Persona Q card of note is either Magic or Weapon (or both).
- Your tech cards often have great traits.
- Chidori is both Weapon and Magic trait, which means it is one of only a few cards that gets you Rei & Zen.
- Ken, the Shinji bomb and the Takaya Level 3 are all Weapon and Magic as well, making them all good cards for both sacrifice and search purposes.
- Yukari is Magic and God trait, giving you access to anything Liz can get (ie. a lot).
I’ve talked about how drop searchers contribute to compression, so you’d think that putting one in a compression-focused deck would be a good idea. Well, you’re not wrong, but there’s a lot more to it than that. This card was a godsend to Persona players everywhere when it was spoiled. There are multiple reasons as to why this card was a fantastic boon, but foremost among them is, unintuitively, in the card’s cost. ‘Discard a card from hand to the Waiting Room’ was an extremely inaccessible effect to Persona until Q dropped, despite having about 80 sets. Thankfully, this card is not only good enough to be an easy inclusion in Naoto’s own deck, but in practically every Persona deck, even the archetypal ones. Some people even play 4, purely in order to facilitate running heavy on bar triggers..
The standard play with this card is to use it in searching out a Liz or Akihiko for the Level 1 game, though you can use it to grab any of your utility cards. Oftentimes, what you search really doesn’t matter. The real draw to this card is still in the cost. Not only is it an early stock out, but it retains use even when your Level Zone has stacked up high. The fact you only pay on attack means it continues to be useful well into the late game, where you can play it as a costless body that pays out stock mid-battle. It continues to function as a discard outlet, which is a bonus I can’t speak highly enough of. Even with that praise, I personally don’t regard this card as highly as others do, but I still maintain it in extremely high esteem. So should you.
Still the best Level 0 Persona series beater. The typical play is to slap one of these down turn 2, then put a New Ally Rise or Notorious Baddie Kanji buff on her to get a bonus swing, usually with that same New Ally Rise or even a Theo/brainstorm. Assuming you get the kill, you now run your other Level 0 into the backrow to live another day. This isn’t necessarily the correct play 100% of the time, and even though you get sweet value and one extra stock… oh, who am I kidding, it’s basically always the right play. Even if you hit your opponent to Level 1 first, you only leave one character in the front for them to capitalise on anyway (unless they played a 0/0 counter), and while you might lose the opportunity to direct attack another couple of times, it ultimately comes down to how much damage you’re willing to concede in the damage race. I think it’s fine to use this effect whenever possible, as this is a deck that focuses more on its own advantage than denying its opponent value.
If you can’t reverse something, it’s fine to play this as a beater and direct them/side their runner. This card gets so much worse at Level 1 onwards (your backrow will be rapidly filled) that you can just play it as a 2.5k if need be, or clock it if you need Red.
Rise is expensive for a reason. She’s an all-star in Protagonist focus and general goodstuffs, and she even pulls weight as a splash in other thematic decks, like Yukiko or bomb-focus builds. Here, however, she’s mostly just a green 2k. That’s fine though. Power is nigh-irrelevant in this deck outside of incidental value (like with the Yukiko above, or with your clock encore Elizabeth), so the CIP ability will only ever be cute rather than game-changing. The fact that you get it on play rather than on attack makes her work pretty well with Theo, too. That being said, the real draw to playing her is written on another card. the fact you can sacrifice her for a free heal is an enormous boon both before and after Execution – if you can make do with healing just 1, then this is a stock-free way to do it, and after Executing for 5 or 6, chances are you’ll have both pieces (or a way to get both pieces) in order to heal more and more. Most importantly, she’s your ticket to a costless 2-soul heal, which you definitely want in the lategame.
Card is eh when you think about Persona’s access to a much sillier bomb or two, but it triggers the Fox stockcharge while being a reasonable Level 0 play. It’s still mostly in here because it’s costless and triggers Fox, and you’ll often be targeting it with salvages lategame because of it. Not much to say here, bombs are good and trading one for one is also kinda good. Fixes for red too.
Cute stock manipulation, as well as a necessary way to dig two stock deep on one card. Like Kanji, his Glasses trait is the most valuable bit about him. It’s notable that you can stack his CIP heal trigger and any number of Fox CIP stockcharge triggers in whatever way you want, so you can blindstock once, pay 2, then blindstock again. If you have two Foxes down, you can play him, charge two stock, and get a ‘free’ heal. The options with this guy justify his inclusion as a tech. Just to reiterate, he’s in here because he’s Blue and has Glasses trait.
Same deal. In here almost exclusively for his Glasses trait. He’s the better lategame target if you aren’t running low on hand (ie. you can replace him after playing him for 1k power). He’s very mediocre backrow – the most he’ll do is tap and put your Liz to 7k before you decide you’d rather have a brainstorm. Also helps with making Clean Cut Yukiko bigger. Green fixing is also welcome.
This card is so stupid. Like, ridiculously stupid. Sometimes it is completely and utterly worthless, and other times it is the game winning play. Go read it. Basically, if you have a bunch of stock but somehow failed to draw your payoff cards (Execution and Tarot Reading), then this guy is a salvage-able stock sink that occasionally outright savages your opponent. I have won games using both modes on this card, and I have felt great while doing so. His second mode is great to get some damage in, though I’ve used it with no legal target to push myself to 3.6, just to have a better Execution. His shot ability is clearly immune to your typical antidamage counter, though hexproof characters are still an annoyance. You should also note that paying 7 does more than just ping them. In the case they still aren’t dead, the ability actually taps a card, meaning that they either lose an attack with that character, or they push something else up. This is occasionally backbreaking – tap down something like Yusa from Charlotte or Chris from Symphogear, and you turn off their scry. Tap down Marika, and suddenly Nisekoi has a ridiculously hard time attacking with Marika. It’s all-around good value. The only somewhat annoying part is that you need this card to live until your opponent’s turn, but that’s usually doable by slapping him in the backrow. It’s not exactly a common scenario anyway, so dedicate some extra thought to it if it ever comes up.
Probably the single least integral card on the list, though it does inspire some brilliant reactions from those not in the know.
Level 0 is the most customisable level in the deck, and it is simultaneously the most important lineup to get right. I’ll cover a lot of the Level 0 options you can use later on, and (of course) why I have elected not to use them.
This card is worth including for a few reasons. It’s an incredible card by itself already. The option to kick one of your opponent’s bombable Level 1s to memory is enormous, and already screws with decks like Angel Beats and Yellow/Red Girlfriend Beta to a significant degree. However, don’t go nuts and kick everything you see to memory. Not only are you wasting valuable stock, but you’re compressing your opponent by doing so, and that’s pretty terrible. Frankly speaking, whether or not you kick anything to memory at all is matchup dependent – you have a Level 3 that really appreciates it, so keep that in mind too. Also remember that you can kick on reverse, not just things when you bomb. If there’s a troublesome Level 0 with an on-reverse effect, you can sometimes deny that and leave a Level 1 bomb behind to stare at them, which is pretty sweet value as well.
Keep in mind it’s also just a bomb. You don’t break 7k very often in this deck, so a costless one-for-one body that carries a climax soul boost is pretty sweet as well. I would never consider cutting this card completely, and having it at 2 is already pretty eh.
This card is pretty sweet. It’s obviously included for its ability, so let’s think about exactly what this can kill. Every brainstorm in existence, Index & Hyouka, antisalvages, costless walls, synergy supports like the Gorgon twins or Kyoko Sharing Apples, Hibiki-type antiheals, etcetera etcetera. Honestly, I wrote out that big list, but this card isn’t meant to counter specific cards/decks. It’s meant to counter specific players and playstyles. The most common thing I have done is trash someone’s backrow brainstorm after they overcommit to the board, believing that their brainstorm will let them get back in the game. It sounds really niche, but in reality, that sort of player is everywhere. Even against normal players, killing a brainstorm can do an enormous lot of good. Hell, if you were to play me, killing my brainstorm would be extremely frustrating. Let’s not forget that the combo makes you 9k. That’s pretty big, and cleaning up one lane is very helpful.
It seems like one 1/0 makes it hard to get the ability on demand, but between Theo, Yukiko and Naoto, I’ve never had an issue when I’ve wanted it.
This card is so clutch. A 1-cost burn is something you would happily pay for lategame, especially when you have many ways to ignore or make use of the supposed downside. It’s not even an event. It’s a character that bashes in for damage, which is just great. You can play it post-execution to get more value out of the 3/2 Rise you were going to play anyway. You can play it to get more value right before you Execute. Hell, you can just play it for one damage and a beater at Level 1. Remember that symmetrical effects are rarely ever fair in cardgaming. If the effect was fair, you wouldn’t go out of your way to play it, whereas I would happily play this card in most actual meta decks I own.
There’s not actually a reason to play this over Jin. No, 500 power doesn’t count. That card is objectively better because you don’t run anything that can search for Chidori but not Jin, and because Junpei & Trismegistus is a terrible (albeit flavourful) card. Meanwhile, Takaya has a very serviceable Level 3 that actually combines pretty well with Jin’s purpose, and the ability to bluff people who know Persona and think to much is pretty solid. Note that the number of people in this category is approximately one, and he’s addressing you right now. Keep in mind you can still pay the cost when it dies if you want to get a climax or specific card out of stock.
Almost purely in here because you run some number of gates. Triggering a gate on the last attack at Level 2 and salvaging this often gives you a chance to pay out that stock immediately. That’s basically it, really. You don’t counter anything special, and your whole field probably has hand encore anyway. You could strongly consider running a 1/1 counter instead, because you might not even be Level 2 by the time you refresh, but the 3k is more meaningful than 2k enough of the time to make me run this instead.
Your secondary payoff card for jumping through all these unintuitive hoops. For those unfamiliar with this card, it basically nullifies an entire attack from one of your opponent’s targetable characters, which ranges from a complete blowout to an easily-played-around gimmick. It has a much, much higher ceiling than your standard money counter, but its floor is incomparably lower. People can side or direct with every character but the last, and at that point the card is pretty useless. Most times, however, your opponent does not have the luxury of playing around this card completely, so you’ll usually have a window of opportunity to use this to at least the same effectiveness as a money counter.
Unlike with some other blue-focused Persona decks, you might not even have characters on the field to make use of this card, so don’t prioritise it over cards which will have a definite, concrete effect. It’s often right to clock this, even at Level 1 or 2. It’s almost never right to clock Execution, by the way.
There is one extremely important part about this card. I’ll let you guess what that part is. Go on. Guess.
The answer was the card’s soul count. Two. If you said ‘it’s a costless 2-soul healer’, you get partial points, because you probably focused on the costlless bit more than the 2-soul. That’s honestly the most important part about this card, and I say that without a hint of my usual snark. The ability to change up your base soul damage lategame is enormously important, because chances are you will not have done anything to control the field and are probably slamming 1-1-1 pre-climax every single turn otherwise. A costless 2-soul body is immensely useful for pushing towards whatever counts as ending the game in this deck, and being able to beat down things is very occasionally useful as well.
Of course, there’s plenty more to love about this card. It heals, which is occasionally important. If you can keep yourself around 3.1 with just this card, that’s great and means you don’t have to force Execution. It’s really great after Execution, because you probably picked up both pieces or the means to get both pieces from clock, and you might even have Chidori to be a real tease. It has good synergy with your Yukiko brainstorm – it’s rare that you don’t have at least one piece after playing the game normally, and hitting two climaxes off Yukiko with a stacked yard is a 1-cost heal that also milled through your deck (and two climaxes that you would have triggered). Not only that, but Theo can sack the brainstorm to get the missing piece from your deck. Long story short, it’s a 2-soul beater that occasionally costs next to nothing, and we’re glad to have her along. Plus, she heals.
It’s rare to have a Level 3 that generally has less than 10k power and only a single ability. Luckily, that single ability is immensely powerful, because 4 damage is just the right balance between plausibility and nonsensically high damage. Just ask Sinon.
Joking aside, you treat this card as if the first two abilities didn’t exist. The first one is a neat bonus against some decks, but never rely on it. As for the second, you won’t be putting climaxes to memory, and you won’t see your opponent do that either (unless they’re playing a very misguided P4 Protagonist deck). The card’s last ability makes this the best splashable finisher into any Persona deck incorporating green and/or red. You play it down when there’s something to murder and get an extra hit in for doing so. You preferably want to be at 3.0 or 3.1 when using it though – that extra damage can and will bite you if you aren’t careful.
This card is good enough to make you use that extra stock to kick something with Akihiko. There are other options for filling your opponent’s memory, but each of those has its own issues, which you need to be keenly aware of if you’re building your own Execution deck.
And on that note, we move on to a fairly long list of cards which are good enough to consider playing, but that are (in my opinion) not good enough to actually play. I don’t expect everyone to read all of this, because there’s a lot of text, goddamn. If you want to skip to some conclusions on the deck, just Ctrl-F ‘Why Execution’.
For those of you still interested, I’ll break it down by colour. There are some cards which warrant playing other cards in order to maximise their utility, so if I’ve ‘missed’ something, it might be paired with another card. I’ll also warn you now, I’m going to derail the card discussion at points. There are times where you won’t understand why I’m not playing X card unless I actually talk about the deck build that it would eventually force you to go into. Remember, these aren’t cards. They’re deck components, so think of them in terms of their deck.
I feel it’s important to note that a great deal of the cards I’ve listed here as exclusions are not actually bad cards. Not even close. They are simply cards that, in my opinion, don’t fit into this very specific deck, whose playstyle is fairly incompatible with basically every other deck, including most Persona decks.
Pretty sweet tech, all things considered. Bonus points for being Magic/Weapon trait, making it fantastic fodder to find your Level 3s. Like I said in the Rise spiel, lategame soul manipulation is pretty valuable, and this effectively gets you a 2 soul beater at 0 cost. Yes, you need to have a Level 1 or 2 to put the buff on, but that isn’t exactly a difficult feat in a deck aiming to toss down 3/8 events and have all the resources to do so comfortably. I don’t play this because I don’t value the extra 1 soul over anything else in my current list, though I could definitely see playing this over a Glasses trait or the fourth Fox.
Rather uninteresting beaters. The only reason you would play any of these is if you were going for a field-based protagonist lean in Execution and need the fixing. I’ve listed them in the order I would play them. While Yosuke Hanamura is clearly the worst one in terms of effects, it’s the only one with an even remotely relevant trait, which I think is valuable. It actually triggers your Fox stockcharge, though there is a far better Yellow Level 0 that does that anyway. The card that you can sacrifice it for isn’t worth the time of day, and is far too swingy to consider. I’ll let you look it up if you’re that curious.
That being said, the extra stock from First Ally is theoretically clutch, and Nanako is one of the better Level 0 standalones… eh. Nah. Not a fan of any of these.
The former is the more interesting card of the two, but the latter may as well come with it. Aside from triggering Fox stockcharges, it’s a decent body that can get you a card back sometimes. It combos with a wind trigger, which ranges from useful to unremarkable, but it’s mostly a positive thing. Most importantly, it makes playing climaxes slightly more valuable than it otherwise would be – not only does playing the wind climax give you a chance at a free cantrip, but if they cancel this guy’s swing off any climax (into empty, even), you can choose to pay one stock to claim your cantrip anyway.
In regards to the climax combo – never rely on the climax hitting. If you have the ability to fill your frontrow without losing significant value, do it. The guarantee of having bodies to carry that climax’s soul buff beats any corner case where you flip your third beater off the top. Don’t gamble if you don’t need to.
As for the Level 3, it’s actually quite good. It’s functionally a 0-cost heal with two Foxes on the field, though you should note that you’ll have two blind stock afterwards. This isn’t like Keisuke Hiiraga, since that’s a CIP ability rather than an actual character cost. The climax combo is gravy more than anything else. If you do use the combo, make sure you realise the combo’s actual text is to turn the P3 Protag into a one-soul beater, and plan accordingly. Well, if they take the 4… that’s fine too. They just ate 4.
As for why I don’t play these cards? Firstly, the P4 Protag isn’t really good enough without the climax combo text. You could make a decent case for it, but I’m not convinced. That would mean playing Yellow climaxes, and I don’t want to play four colours. I’m not opposed to 4-colour decks. In fact, they can be quite good if you have a specific idea in mind. However, it’s just unnecessary when the fourth colour’s payoff isn’t significant.
Imagine that these cards were, in fact, good enough. I’m still not a fan of playing four colours in a deck that already wants so many specific pieces, and that wants to cram in as many different techs as possible. This would then mean I have to ditch Red or Green (because Blue is just too integral). Ditching Green means no Fox, which means you’re probably not going to get the stock to consistently Execute in addition to playing characters normally. At that point you’re not really playing Execution anymore – you should just convert to a YRB with a Protag lean and have the 2/3 Tarot counter as your trump card. This also frees up space for you to use the 2/2 advance summon for alternate field-based advantage. It’s a viable plan, but not for an Execution deck.
If you ditch Red, you lose access to the Akihiko bomb, 1/1 burners from P3, and gates + their climax combos. This honestly doesn’t sound too terrible, given you do have replacements for those. YGB Execution is definitely a consideration – don’t think I haven’t tried it. That being said, why am I not playing YGB Execution? Well, we have to examine some of the other cards that come with the territory before we decide which way is best. Those cards will obviously be Yellow, given we are trying to evaluate the colour in general.
I don’t understand why Ken is the only character who isn’t referred to by their first name on their PQ card. Whatever. This is the first and (so far) only Level 1 bomb in Yellow, and it is the reason why dropping Akihiko isn’t really that big a deal. This (plus the next card) gives you some game at Level 1.
The clear issue with this card is the fact it’s only a bomb on your turn. That’s problematic for just one reason – you lose the value of killing something in normal battle, at which point your opponent is forced to play around the bomb that remains. It’s just not a good drawback, but it doesn’t really change the fact that the card is a bomb that will usually ram in and kill a wall anyway, so I don’t think it’s a big issue at all. The real loss is the memory kick, which means you can’t reliably use 3/2 Rei & Zen. Card is fine.
This is actually the main draw to Yellow in Persona on the whole, if you ask me. If you aren’t familiar with the interaction, you play down Full Strength Following Naoto, then play the 1/0 Protag, naming Naoto. Now, you have a 1/0 7k beater. If the card is front attacked by something you cannot beat, you can pay 1 with Naoto and return it to hand to use it again. A fat Protagonist field with a great 1/1 counter in the mix is a perfectly viable way to keep stock flowing. Depending on how things go, you can even start to make use of the Aika counter.
There are a few problems, however. Firstly, Execution wants its backrow slots at all times. The best way to use the Protag + FSF Naoto is to have Naoto in the back, ready to sac itself if your Protag comes up against something you can’t deal with. If you don’t do that and leave Naoto up front, then Naoto will inevitably die and this regresses to a 5k on the next turn, which isn’t exactly impressive as the card you chose to play as your main beater. Secondly, this takes up a ton of room. We’re talking four of the 1/0, 3 of the lv0, and probably 2-3 counters. This doesn’t even factor in the fact you’ll be trying to find all of these pieces to even have an acceptable Level 1, because 7k really isn’t that big anymore. Lastly, this package folds to decks that have Level 1 bombs. Bouncing the Protagonist back with Naoto leaves a bomb for you to deal with anyway, and no amount of power deals with it. You have Liz for those matchups, but at the same time, most of those decks (Nisekoi mainly) run some amount of power, which makes this 1/0 pretty necessary. You can play around it all, but it’s a lot of trouble for questionable payoff.
Playing the 1/0 by itself isn’t really a gameplan, given that it’s a 5k without the soulbond effect, and that it’s only a 7k without ready access to counters. There isn’t an actual good soulbond target other than the 0/0 Naoto – 1/0 Liz still forces you to take pain if the Protag dies, anything else will just straight up die… it’s just not a good proposition without the full complement of support, so you either play all the support, or you stop yourself before you eat up literally all of your utility space.
The card package is good in its own Protagonist-focused deck. In here? It takes up far more space than I’m willing to give it, especially because you aren’t interested in the 1/1 counter at all after Level 1. Bombs continue to be a concern, while the GRB build just kind of ignores them and goes on its way.
This is probably the best place to tackle 2k1s climaxes in general. These climaxes simply aren’t as welcome as global soul ones in the current meta. Hell, Execution in general prefers global soul climaxes. The biggest possible buff to Execution right now would be one of the new type Stock + Soul climaxes. Well, maybe not the biggest possible, but the biggest plausible buff. You’re trying to keep up in damage against people playing bar and stock-soul combos, and 2k1s climaxes are horrible at doing that. You do get to make your Liz a little bigger, but it’s not big enough to beat decks interested in walling, and you probably won on the lanes where they don’t care about walling to begin with. I just don’t think that 2k1s does anything for you – you were prepared to lose the field game from the beginning, you have lategame soul manipulation in the form of the Rise Level 3 + 0 combo already, drawing extra blind cards isn’t that useful when you play minimal topcheck manipulation, and there aren’t really good combos to run with them. 2/1 Yu is one of the better ones, if only because he’s a 2/0 8k with a Fox on board. The combo itself is fine, but if you want something like that, why not just wait a bit and run out a P3 Protag? You even get a quote unquote better climax.
These cards are probably the best Level 2 play for Persona in Yellow, giving you a 9.5k 2-soul beater that cantripped from the top 3 cards. If you have only moderate stock, it even attacks as a 11.5k. If you had little to no stock, it even defends as an 11.5k. That’s all well and good, but let’s examine this card in the context of Execution.
Yes, the card’s cantrip can fetch you Execution, but you shouldn’t be relying on this – you should build the deck to accommodate you for holding Execution, no matter when you draw it. Yes, it’s a 2-soul beater and gives you stable field presence at Level 2, which the deck probably enjoys. Yes, it activates Fox, because it will be placed to the stage in a state where ‘Protagonist’ is in its name (Ruling Q241 if you don’t believe me). Yes, it gets to be pretty big after you Execute, because you’ll likely have less than 4 stock in the YGB build running this.
That’s where it all stops. Firstly, if you want this at Level 2, you’re eating a fair number of slots for the 2/2 event – you can’t reliably hold multiple lategame events from the earlygame, after all. It eats heavily into your stock for Execution, and if you haven’t had a decent Level 1 game, this might mean you won’t even get the chance to Execute at all. Yes, it charges stock with Fox, but remember that Fox’s bonuses need to be counted over many turns, especially since it itself costs 1. Lastly, it will usually only be 9.5k, which isn’t exactly an impressive number. It doesn’t heal or interact with Execution’s key components in any other way, aside from triggering Fox. It’s hard to make a solid case for including this simply because it eats up a lot of room if you want to have it at Level 2, and once you factor in all of the other cards you could be running instead, I really can’t see a reason to run this at all.
Yes, it charges stock with Fox. Yes, it heals. Yes, it sometimes plusses. But why? You won’t be killing Level 2+ characters reliably with this unless you have level supports and 2k1s climaxes in the mix. If you want to go really deep, you can even play a Mitsuru, but at that point you’ve gone way too deep for insufficient reward. Assuming that this is all acceptable, what then? All you get is a character that you probably could have used Yukiko to grab. Yes, you can get more Protagonists to stockcharge with Fox, but this is all assuming you get the reverse and aren’t killed on the following turn. I’m not talking about the heal, because if you want a heal, you already have Rise. If you want a healer that charges Fox stock, you already have the P3 Protag, assuming you are running Yellow already. If you somehow decided that Yellow is worth running without the PQ combo and you want a healer that refunds one stock, then I guess this is worth it, but outside of that strangely specific deck configuration, I can’t see this card in an Execution deck.
Thoughts on Yellow
I’m only writing this because it’s clear that this colour is mostly incompatible with the stock decklist I provided. It’s a combination of the above reasoning and my own testing.
On the whole, I’m just not sure I see a reason to run a Yellow/Green/Blue Execution deck over one with Red. It offers a high density of Fox triggers, which means you get to use your Yukiko brainstorms and Theo/Naoto searches more freely, but outside of that there just isn’t that much. No individual card is as strong as Akihiko or Chidori, and if you take Yellow as a whole, it starts eating up a lot of space. If I’m to be quite frank, the Yellow cards as a whole simply don’t offer as much as gate climaxes by themselves. I’m also very partial to 1/1 Chidori, but that’s bias and I’ll mostly ignore that.
I’m also going to reiterate that I don’t think going four-colour is worth the headache. No individual Red or Yellow card warrants that, and Blue and Green are both pretty integral.
I actually like this card a lot. Not only does it get you cards from your clock (including Execution and Tarot Reading), but the event it gets you is actually playable. Prior to PQ Naoto’s printing, this was actually one of the better ‘discard’ outlets for the deck, but now that we have her, this card loses one of its niches. I think I would have preferred it if Fuuka’s clock swap was a CIP effect that didn’t require her to rest, but you win some, you lose some. The only issue with this card is that you usually draw Execution/Tarot Reading by playing and clocking anyway, so it’s asking you to spend stock to handfix from a very limited assortment. Naoto is better at this (especially since she doesn’t take up a backrow slot), so we have to look at how good the event is. Whenever you have varied amounts of soul damage to throw at your opponent (ie. when you’re Level 3, or have Ken Amada helping you out), Analyse is very helpful in deciding the order of attacks. Is that worth playing some number of Fuuka and Analyse? That’s a pretty hard question to answer, but ultimately, the 2+ slots you have for not playing Fuuka are filled by very good cards. One of the more interesting options you have for this deck.
I’m also going to quickly talk about the 2/1 Special Investigation Squad event from P4. Not worth the 1 stock and is almost strictly worse than Analyse. That’s all.
I’m not convinced this card is even playable in a deck without significant topchecking effects, and even then I don’t think it does nearly enough. The assist effect is whatever – it doesn’t do much except with Elizabeth, and even then you aren’t that sizeable. Honestly, I only bring this card up because someone once tried to convince me it was amazing. You’re paying 1 to mill 1, and probably not getting any value out of the +1500 boost.
This is a pretty cool card. If you hit a Level 0, it’s undoubtedly the best turn 1 play for Execution, and probably Persona in general. Flipping a Yukiko or Theo off the top sounds really amazing, but that’s obviously best-case-scenario and therefore shouldn’t really be taken into account. The card loses a lot of worth past turn 2, and there’s the obvious scenario of her missing and being a 2k with no relevant trait. All in all, she’s good in a very specific (and luck-based) scenario and bad in almost every other one, whereas the other Green Level 0s I’ve chosen to play have purpose and synergy. Cute card, but it just doesn’t warrant inclusion.
These cards are sweet in several builds because of their mill effects, but they’re basically just oversizes that mill you through your deck a bit (and in the case of the Level 0s, sometimes dodge bombs). Chie in Yukata is better in this deck because of the high Level 0 count, but I can’t justify a card that hasn’t got a good trait or a particularly compelling effect. As for the Level 2, I just don’t think I can argue for its conclusion period, especially given its lack of Glasses trait.
It’s a brainstorm and is pretty good. Note that you can take events and climaxes with it, and that it’s Weapon trait, both of which are fine attributes to have. It also comes down on turn 1 and smacks for 3.5k, but let’s not bother with that mode too much. The reason I don’t regard this as highly as Yukiko (and subsequently choose not to play any of this) is the same reason I prefer Naoto to Fuuka Yamagishi. The pool you draw from with Yukiko is so much bigger that I feel it quite cleanly trumps Aigis’ ability to take climaxes and events. The clock is a transient resource and shouldn’t be regarded as highly as a resource that naturally synergises with the brainstorm mechanic itself.
Getting Execution from clock is a happy dream, but it’s not one that comes up nearly as often as you’d want it to. Yes, I am aware you probably think it happens quite rarely, but the instance where you have Aigis, need Execution, are willing to pay out stock, and have Execution in clock – that’s not common, and even then you still need to hit a climax. I’m not sold. Same goes for taking climaxes – how did that climax get in there? Unless you refreshed into it at Level 1 or 2 and really want to play that climax this turn, I don’t see this scenario coming up at all. If you refreshed into it at Level 3… read the title of the article, please. Therein lies a Level 3 event that does all of that for you, and more. Aigis is a great card, but Yukiko is just better in most scenarios.
I very briefly touched on this card in my Theo section, so I may have given you the impression that this is highly playable in Execution. I don’t think it’s as playable as most Green Level 0s, simply because you would much rather have 2 (clean) stock than another Level 2+ character in hand. That is almost all the reasoning you need to not play this. The last bit is that you’re taking a soul trigger out of your deck, which you probably want to trigger if at all possible. Not a terrible card, but it doesn’t make the cut in my book.
Power just isn’t that relevant for your deck, and it’s even less relevant when a card has to sit in the backrow in order to provide that power. Because the value of a +500 assist is so low, this card is basically a downgrade from New Ally Rise, so you shouldn’t run it before you max out the count of that card. The only benefit it has over that Rise is the Magic trait, but I don’t think that makes her a better play overall.
This is like Fox, but for Sports trait only. Despite it coming down a level earlier, I believe this card is markedly inferior to Fox. It doesn’t provide the hand encore that Fox does, which is a very valuable effect for Execution.dec. We’ve discussed this already, but there is a far more important reason. The Sports trait cards that you might actually play are mostly power-orientated, and belong in that specific deck – you have a various power supports, a 1/0 6k and a bunch of bad Akihiko cards. Aside from the Akihiko bomb and the 3/2 Chie, none of the Sports cardpool really supports what Execution.dec tries to do. For that reason, I would steer clear unless you are going for the G/B multiple Execution deck, at which point you can pull out the 2/2 Chie climax combo and go to town.
I don’t think I need to explain this one too much. You just don’t kill anything easily with cards aside from Akihiko, and the Music trait cardpool is, sadly, quite lacking. While the card goes ok in the Yellow build with the level support, you’d rather have Fox anyway. She’s also pretty unimpressive in terms of stats – a 1/1 hand encore with no good traits? I’ll probably pass on that.
This combination is actually quite interesting. It can come down, pump something by 1.5k, and serve as a 4k beater for a turn. The 1.5k is actually significantly better than the 1k offered by New Ally Rise, because 7.5k is just a better number than 7k for your Elizabeth. However, if that was all it did, there would be no reason to consider it. Rise & Himiko is a modal card. It can come down to stay in the backrow, pending draw phase change (because a 1/0 4k with draw phase change isn’t going to survive a turn in the front row). Putting aside the very expensive 2 cost, you do get quite a bit of value out of it (I’m aware that she triggers Fox, but it’s still pretty damn expensive). Rise bounces to hand and you get to re-play her for the 1.5k buff, and you also get Rise & Kanzeon.
If you’re playing against decks with a very specific trait (Music, Key, Girl, Magic, Weapon, etcetera) then you can pay 2 and tap Rise & Kanzeon for a passable imitation of Winged Slayer. I haven’t used the ability extensively, but the few times I have pulled it off, it’s been… okay, I guess. Most brainstorms, including Nisekoi’s, Index’s and To-Love-Ru’s, will fall prey to this ability, which is neat. The worst part about the card is that you have to tap Rise herself – this stops her from being an attacker, and while you think a 2/1 7k is small, it’s very welcome in a deck that rarely breaks 7k with all the relevant buffs included. I don’t think this warrants inclusion simply because the stock cost is too high, though the cards themselves can be quite good. The fact that they’re so expensive to use kind of dampens the fact they both have Glasses and therefore trigger Fox, and neither card is so good they warrant inclusion over other competing roleplayers.
This is a big long list of cards that all center around Special Kick Chie. The card itself has some great stats – it’s a costless beater that answers irritating Level 0s and 1s, and is oversize to boot. It has the Glasses trait and therefore goes well with Fox. It combos well with the Chie support from PQ, making any further 1/0 Chies pretty massive, and it even lends itself to turning on the Junpei counter, which really puts up a big wall on defence. The other two cards are listed because they both contribute to Chie’s purpose – to kick presumptious interlopers to memory. However, it’s not all steaks and sunshine.
The memory is a very powerful zone that aids compression like no other. Stock is used, is reliant on not triggering climaxes, and can be messed with. Hand and field are transient and are used up towards a greater goal. Memory? You literally forget about cards that go to memory when it comes to compression. Kicking an annoying clock encore or on-reverse card to memory can definitely be good, but unlike Akihiko, Chie is a forced memory kick. This means your opponent can start ramming useless Level 0s and non-vital Level 1s into her, getting compression for the low, low price of zilch. Yes, you get a beater that stays on field, but the long-term effects are terrible for this specific deck, which is aiming to out-compress the opponent. This reason alone is enough to never play this Chie in a serious Execution deck, and her entourage will likewise not be played. There isn’t really any demand for power-based utility in this deck unless it is entirely incidental.
Tapping two characters is so much worse than one. Theo and Fox are both very relevant, and neither enjoys being used as tapdown fodder. I also think the discard is a better raw resource than the deck, even before taking into account the fact you have Naoto and Theo to search the deck on demand. The assist effect is almost irrelevant when Theo does a similar thing on defence. On offence? Marginal benefit at best, you’ll need a New Ally buff AND a climax before we start considering assist +500 deckworthy here. Long story short, Yukiko > Fuuka.
No. Please, no. Anyone who plays this clearly enjoys being forced to cut themselves every turn with Liz just to have a field. I would rather play mono-blue Melty Blood than deck even one of these, and if you aren’t familiar with me, I hate Ciel. Just no.
Without the climax, this card is an expensive, undersized beater that will tax your hand virtually every turn for the benefit of 2-soul swings. With the climax, she’s a passable one-turn steamroller that helps you compress some more, but I’m not sure that’s enough to warrant her inclusion. Encore isn’t relevant because Fox gives everything encore anyway. That being said, running the bag climax isn’t something I’m willing to do, since I think other triggers are just much better, and that stock + soul is the better card in a deck with Pants. You can usually pay out the blind stock with a 2/3 counter if need be, but I’d rather not be forced into that situation. I think this card fits really well into the dedicated G/B Sports build, but here, it’s mediocre at best. Glasses traits helps a little, but I think there are better things you can do with your time than fielding a 2/2 that can’t beat most Level 1 fields.
Imagine that you spent the whole game cunningly memorising where all your climaxes and business cards are in your stock, only to have this card mess it all up. How do you feel? This would be incomparably better if it shuffled your opponent’s stock instead of yours.
This card is actually kind of cute as a tech to deal with crap like 3/2 Onodera or 3/2 Gai, but whether that warrants its inclusion is questionable. You don’t actually kill things like GFB’s Saya, and you’re still well within counter range for the other things I listed. Additionally, I’ve never been a fan of Accelerate in any deck, even that R/B SAO deck where it’s actually good, and the fact this only gets the pump for your turn is a bit off-putting. I would give it a miss in this deck, because Execution doesn’t really need a Level 2 cleaner so much as it would rather keep ramming costless dudes in for stock.
Another card that benefits from the high Level 0 count in this deck. The unfortunate part about this card is that it is, for most sakes and purposes, just a 2/1 8k. 20 Level 0s isn’t actually enough to make this effect reliable, so that makes this nothing but a 2/1 that occasionally sends one of your soul triggers to stock. If it was a 1/0 4.5k with the same ability, I would probably include this in a heartbeat. Seeing as that isn’t the case, I can’t make a strong case for its conclusion.
This card is pretty awesome and gets nowhere near as much love as it deserves. Unfortunately, that love is probably best given in its own decks, where it will consistently charge useless characters to stock with every attack, and where its restand will actually happen consistently against savvy opponents. In this deck, the only Sports traits are the Akihiko bomb and Akihiko 2/1 counter, if you so choose to play it. It would require a significant deck overhaul, parts of which are discussed above with Yuuko and Special Kick Chie. I don’t like any of the Sports trait components enough to undertake that overhaul.
This is mostly discussing the inclusion of Bar climaxes. I’ve seen counts ranging from 1 to 8 (and of course 0), and I’m not sure I like any number greater than 2. This deck pays out stock a lot easier than it discards cards, so in order to accommodate a really heavy bar count, you’d have to change up your Level 0 lineup quite a bit, including more costless stock outs like the 0/0 Alarm Naoto. Your goal here is compression. That hasn’t changed from the first typed word of this article, so you should really try to refresh with 8 when you play this deck. Bars honestly don’t help the cause, and instead force you to run card counts like 4 PQ Naoto, which I don’t think is anywhere close to necessary. If you so badly desire climaxes in hand, run Pants instead, like I have.
As for the Bar climax combos, Shabrys’ is the only particularly playable one. The 2/2 Chie from P4A is stupidly expensive, and isn’t even Glasses trait, while the 1/0 Rei & Zen isn’t worth considering in anything less than a deck wholly dedicated to it. Even so, Shabrys is borderline unplayable in this deck. Her requirements are absurdly stringent and still require you to reverse something, she doesn’t have any in-built power gain, and the fact that she heals is offset by the fact that Rise does the healing thing better. I’ve never liked Shabrys, and given that every attempt I’ve made to make her work has ended in mediocrity, that dislike will probably continue. I would play the Bars alone before playing Shabrys or any of her support cards.
The draw to this card is mostly on the memory kick effect for events. I’m not convinced the occasional salt you get from sending a Darkness Plan or Sayaka’s Wish to memory is really worth it. Those times you send nothing to memory are simply more frequent. When those times come (and they will, trust me), you’re mostly wishing you had played the vanilla Kanji bomb, because the Glasses trait is just so much better than randomly throwing events to Memory. Additionally, a lot of events want to be in there anyway. Putting a Pendant of Promise or Ignite Module in there isn’t really going to frustrate your opponent. Shinji has some decent traits, but neither of those traits are Glasses, sadly.
The Kanji assist is one of the only scry effects in Persona, and it’s actually pretty nice to have. Being able to control your next attack’s trigger can lead to some interesting situations, and being able to know your next Fox stockcharge is nice too. However, even after all that, scry effects are marginal, and you can very easily pay out your blind stock if you’re that worried over bad compression ratios. That being said, the rest of the card is mediocre at best. You’re probably sick of hearing me say that assists aren’t crash hot in this deck, but too bad, I’m going to keep saying it. Assists just don’t matter much when your deck’s gameplan accounts for the possibility of losing your whole field repeatedly. The other reason to play Kanji is to access the 2/2 you can summon over him. The card is ok, but it’s mostly just an 8k with 2 soul. You usually have better things to do with your backrow than tap it for power, but on the off chance you do get to pump it to 10k, it can be nice. I just don’t think either character is really worth it in this deck, because neither contributes to the overall gameplan in a significant way.
I prefer my bombs to be guaranteed, and I’m not willing to play topcheckers just to guarantee them. This card is even worse in a deck with a higher-than-normal Level 0 count. While it’s a funny card that occasionally inspires salt, I wouldn’t bother. Even when you do get to bomb a fat 0-cost character, they just replace it next turn and direct you.
This is a combo that needs to be built around, with enablers like Dojima, Shabrys and 1/0 Chie. Making everything and anything into a bomb is marginally useful at best, and absolutely unnecessary at worst. The combo can’t really be used as a successful advantage engine either, because that implies you’re clocking the events for more cards. At that point, you’ve played a 3k and tapped down one character on their field, which isn’t exactly what you want in a deck that can be left wanting for hand. The cards can definitely be great, but they certainly aren’t great in this deck.
Probably the most overrated combo in Persona. It’s fine in this deck, but I’m loathe to give it 4 cards worth of character space when the combo merely facilitates one free climax play. You’re left with a bunch of 5.5ks, which don’t really cut it against your typical Level 1 board. Hell, it barely cuts it in the Yukiko deck, and that deck has specific Level 0 assists for her trait. The card is fine because it’s a costless rush enabler, but in the instances where you don’t draw your gate, it does less than your typical vanilla 5.5k.
There is the possibility of the double Yukiko wombo combo, whereby you actually go +1. This is made significantly easier with Theo and the Yukiko brainstorm, but at that point you’re spending stock needlessly when you could have just fielded a Liz or two. I’m simply not convinced by this card, and I’ve almost definitely played it more than you have.
Oh Adachi. You’re so good in theory. Killing Sayas, Onoderas and any aberrant advance summons is, quite simply, a very enticing prospect. I haven’t included any Adachi in my build because I’ve never felt the need to kill the aforementioned cards while playing this deck. Yes, they give my opponent continual sources of advantage. Yes, they probably contribute towards my opponent’s compression by letting them keep stock and hand they might have otherwise spent. However, they need to attack multiple times to accomplish this, and if they heal, they actually probably decompress my opponent further. They get ahead in damage because of their two-soul beaters, but you can afford to drop behind in the damage race with Execution and Tarot Reading as backup plans. Your primary plan is still to compress and win by attrition later on, and it’s not hard to keep up suicidal attacks on one or even two rows. I don’t really care enough about advance summons to play a costed bomb that has no real function after Level 2. You can definitely make a case for Adachi’s inclusion, and hell, it might even be correct to include multiples of him in some metas. I’ve just found that I never really had a dire need for him, and would prefer techs that directly interact with my opponent’s clock.
It’s theoretically useful to pop brainstorms, antisalvages and other supports, but honestly, it’s not really worth the 2 stock in most cases, and if it’s actually relevant to stop them brainstorming, they’ve probably gotten 2 or 3 brainstorms already by the time you hit Level 2. You can also use it as a really expensive 0/0 Ken by allowing a direct attack, but I’m not sure that counts much towards its inclusion.
Symbolic is basically a better version of One Hit, unless you’re going for a half-assed deck that tries to leverage 3/2 Chie’s restand (and at that point you should be playing her specific deck). Neither is worth playing over Chidori or Jin, because they aren’t salvageable, can’t attack for 1, and are generally not reliable for anything in particular.
Expensive and not particularly reliable, given the ubiquity of To-Love-Ru in the meta. As for the 2k1s itself, refer to my spiel earlier about P-1 Grand Prix. Red isn’t the best colour to have your 2k1s in anyway (that honour goes to the Blue Naoto 2k1s). He does have arguably the best 2k1s combo in your colours, but like I said, it’s expensive and sometimes hasn’t got a good target. I would give it a miss, personally.
This card is pretty great in the bomb deck and Chie-centric deck, and it’s still pretty alright here. Yukiko has Glasses trait, so you can count her as a 1-cost plus (you charge a stock with Fox when you play her, then use that blind stock for her ability). Any plus is pretty good in this deck because those cards carry +soul effects from your climaxes. Remember to leave an open backrow slot before playing her. The best cards to pull out are brainstorms, Naoto searchers and Theo, all of which can still fulfill their function without actually being played. The clock bondable aspect is great as well, since any plus is great, and potential clock manipulation lategame (or earlygame) is fine. Probably one of the better cards I elected not to include, simply because I didn’t think I needed it and would rather run the 4th Fox and other Level 0s for greedy stockcharge reasons. If the Chie clock bond had Glasses trait too, that might have been a different story and this card would have been an auto-include, but that is sadly not the case.
There are better ways to get plusses in this deck. In fact, we just talked about the Yukiko above, which can fetch a brainstormer herself to do a remarkable impression of this 2/2 event. I would run higher Yukiko brainstorm counts and/or Case Closed Yukiko before any number of this card made it into my decklist.
I covered Jin already when I talked about Chidori, and Takaya and Hypnos is the other option worth considering. It has a negligible climax combo and the Bodyguard ability, but the actual draw lies in the second attack. Stacking a card on top of your opponent’s deck is a reasonable way to help confirm damage, and getting it for free on a two-soul beater is nice. The fact that the two-soul beater is weak enough to ram in to dodge clock kicks is also nice. However, if you’re running enough Red to include one or both of these two, then having the Akihiko bomb and splashing Rei & Zen’s Level 3 is a better finishing option overall. This is a more conservative card, but a card with a more explosive effect is welcome amongst what is otherwise an extremely passive deck. Not a bad card, but not one worth running over your other options.
I ran this for awhile with all sorts of corner-case scenarios in mind, then I realised I should just be playing Keisuke Hiiraga instead. If I need a Blue 2-stock out on one Fox-triggering card, I’d rather have one that doesn’t need to tap to do so. The advantage of being re-usable is very, very marginal. Going plus vs healing is a more interesting argument, but it boils down to the fact you have other ways to go plus for stock, whereas, having access to a heal before Level 3 is a unique effect you don’t already have.
You probably haven’t thought about it that hard, but 2-cost stock outs in decks that want to compress hard aren’t even that useful. If it’s not immediately accessible (or if you got hit for a large amount of damage), I often prefer to just keep one climax at the bottom of my stock and go full no-spend mode, piling 10-odd stock on top of that climax. Long story short, not as good as Keisuke when you want that card (Level 2+, usually).
The effect on this card is super-powerful and does something nothing else can. So, why would I elect not to include it right after making an argument for Keisuke Hiiraga, a much weaker effect that nothing else in the series can copy? Well, Keisuke is a card that triggers a stockcharge from one of your key cards and gives you a stock out with no strings attached. There is no chance of you being completely screwed over when you use that card. Your mileage with Teddie will vary extraordinarily. The best case scenario is that you get a free win because your opponent has 3 climaxes in stock and a 4th in hand, whereupon you proceed to play a gate and make him skip Level 1. The worst case scenario? You use it to pay out a climax two cards deep and compress your opponent.
No, you don’t lose the game, but you put yourself closer to doing so. Yes, this card occasionally gives you free wins, but those situations are few and far between, you need to have this card in hand (or have expended resources getting it), and you probably could have slammed and hit for 5 uncancelled damage anyway even without this card on the field. I’m just not convinced that this card’s occasional free wins should go into a deck whose entire goal is to outlast your opponent. You shouldn’t include cards that read ‘win the game’ if the card doesn’t mesh well with your overarching gameplan.
I could type a very long paragraph about this card, but I’m nearly 13,000 words in and this card’s effect is good, but not good enough to warrant inclusion over any utility or consistency card I’ve got in there. Mediocre traits and marginal (but potentially great) ability whose effect on a game is difficult to evaluate. Not worth playing over anything you already have in there.
This Naoto used to be an auto-inclusion, because clocking in this deck is a lot better than it is in most, and a discard outlet is just really valuable in a deck like this. I don’t think it’s needed anymore because we have a better Naoto anyway, and the meta has shifted to the point where you actively want to play climaxes anyway, so you probably won’t ever have that many climaxes in hand. Still a fine card though.
Mitsuru was a mediocre costless beater that also came with a discard outlet and was played in some Blue builds, but with PQ’s release, she has been superseded in terms of role and effect strength.
Just like with 0/0 Kanji, there really isn’t a reason to run topchecks that don’t also do something fantastic outside of its topcheck. Paying 2 to draw one is neat, but I don’t think the occasional times where you draw a clutch climax or event you wanted make this card worth playing. The effect is, as discussed with Protag & Yukari, too replaceable to be worth inclusion.
This card is actually really sick and lets you confirm up to 3 clean stockcharges at any point you attack with multiple Level 0s. It’s unfortunate that you can’t get the effect on this card itself, which might actually be what pushes it from amazing to marginal. My issue with this card is that I don’t think I’ll ever get full value out of it, and that it’ll be 2 other lv0s at most (and this is if I work for it). The effect itself has a chance of doing precisely nothing, as is the case with any topdeck reliant card. The best mode on this card is to help you win-more after compressing (and possibly Executing), which detracts from its value significantly. I would rather have cards that help you throughout the game instead of just at random points. Once again, poor traits do not help the cause.
I don’t think there’s any card I would want to keep alive in the frontrow while this card stays back in its stead, except maybe Akihiko and Level 3s. Not worth it.
1-cost draw ditch on a 3.5k is pretty good, but Clean-cut Yukiko takes its place as beater, and you have a better discard outlet now. Yukiko’s ceiling is just orders of magnitude higher, and Naoto has an actual search function instead of the blind draw drop. Let’s not forget the fail case on this card – going straight -1 is just really bad. I place a huge amount of importance on actually getting in attacks at Level 0, so I’m hesitant to run anything that could possibly detract from that.
power sucks don’t bother
This card is honestly pretty great, but in what seems to be a recurring theme, it’s just not as good as other cards I would rather play. I don’t think it’s better than the fourth Fox, I don’t think I want it over Chidori, Rei/Zen or Namatame, and nothing else seems like it would be worth cutting for a card that fulfills no specific role. This card doesn’t affect the board in a meaningful way, it has practically no function before Level 2, and even after Level 2, it merely provides a +1 if you happen to have it in your hand.
A similar version of this card’s effect has come to the forefront of the meta in the form of Hyouka & Index, but that card is completely different to this one. Not only does it go to memory and aid compression, but that card actually has good cards with good CIP effects to return, whereas here you’re just kind of lost. Not worth decking.
The card doesn’t have enough upside. Reusable brainstorms are great and all, but you would rather keep the stock in most situations and attack as often as you can with your uncompressed deck, because that’s when you have the highest chance of charging 3 non-climaxes. It sounds extremely counterintuitive to what I normally preach regarding getting through to your first refresh, but like I said, Execution is not an intuitive deck. The fact that you sometimes won’t even be able to play this is also another very minor downside.
This is actually a really great engine for any Blue Persona deck at all, not just this one. If you’ve never had the pleasure of playing with 2-cost +2s, you’ll never, ever have hand issues, even with a completely pathetic field. Igor himself has the God trait, so you can sac Liz for a 1-cost plus, grabbing him. The only issue with Igor is that you need to play some number of Velvet Room in addition to him, and you run into significant space issues. A 2-count of Igor and 3-count of Velvet Room can really go far, and I think that this is one direction that has a lot of potential, especially if you bump up the Pants count.
I had this card in my deck for the longest time, and I defended its inclusion for the longest time, but in the end, you just never have an empty frontrow slot to drag backrow up into, and at that point you’re playing 2/1 6.5ks. Its traits aren’t good, and the times I have felt justified playing this card out come to a sum total of one occasion, where I dragged up an antisalvage and didn’t trigger a single gate for the rest of the game.
I don’t think the drawback on Tarot Reading is bad enough to warrant playing a more expensive card. The worst thing that can happen is that they bounce a Fox, and it’s often at a point where you don’t really need it on-field anymore anyway.
Neither card warrants play because neither goes towards the overall gameplan of ‘conserve stock, play haymakers’. You just have better uses for your stock, and gaining incremental value through these cards isn’t that helpful. This is especially noticeable when your good target for Liz’s effect will really only be the Margaret. The Liz is somewhat more playable than the Margaret because it buffs your Rei & Zen to a not-insignificant level, but at the same time, Rei & Zen isn’t a supremely central part of the deck’s gameplan anyway.
If you’ve read this far, you kind of deserve kudos. That was extraordinarily long, because Persona goodstuffs is not a deck you can build and understand without knowing a good deal of the extensive and unique cardpool.
So, now that we’ve covered my deck’s components, we move to why you should and shouldn’t play it. I believe that Execution is very poorly placed at the moment. We’ll get to that in a moment, but I’ll cover the decks strengths first.
1) Execution has a trump card that no other deck can boast.
This is the primary reason you play the deck, and it is the reason why the deck is named Execution. Obviously. The ability to comfortably play a value-based game while stockpiling enough resources to play an 8-cost event is something no other deck wants to do, because they don’t have an 8-cost event worth playing. It just so happens that this event is good enough to make you warp the deck around it, which eventuates in a deck with a very specific purpose: compress and charge stock until you are able to play Execution.
2) Execution is capable of generating more resources than usual per turn.
Fox is a very powerful card. It breaks one of the apparent rules of WS, in that you can bolster your stock count prior to your battle phase. The act of extra stockcharges isn’t exactly rare, what with Bag triggers and plenty of cards that allow extra stockcharges on reverse. That doesn’t change the fact that this effect is incredible. The ability to charge blind stock prior to the battle phase is incomparable to the blind extra stock gotten from the various 1/0 enablers and bag triggers, because it means you are able to use that blind stock immediately for some (hopefully reasonable) purpose such as a brainstorm. Your method of resource generation also happens to play extremely well with a standard value-based gameplan. You get the stock for playing characters, which is something any player would do anyway. The fact you can control it puts it above bag triggers, and the fact it cannot be countered puts it above on-reverse stockcharges.
3) Persona has a ridiculous cardpool and even better toolboxing ability.
It really does. There aren’t many decks that can play costless heals, 1/1 characters that ping on play or memory-kicking bombs. There are even fewer series (read: none) that can toolbox with the efficiency that Persona does, so it makes sense to take advantage of that.
These are Execution’s main pros. Everything else is a means to an end – a way to keep gaining stock while maintaining hand and not falling too far behind in the damage race that is WS. A lot of the time you will be making unintuitive attacks and leaving your opponent free to rampage on multiple lanes. This is obviously not optimal, but it is something we endure for the chance to play Execution.
Now, why isn’t Execution well-placed at the moment? The reasoning is very, very simple. Everyone is dealing a hell of a lot of damage. The best games with Execution are the ones where it’s allowed to durdle at Level 0 and 1, charging a heap of stock and getting resources appropriately. This is even more apparent when you note that its main field force is a clock encore, which appreciates it when you take less damage. In a world where all the top decks play global +soul climax combos at Level 1 and have easy access to 2-soul beaters at Level 2, it’s very hard for Execution to cleanly get off its main gameplan. It’s still very possible – it’s a cardgame, after all – but it is much less likely.
The second element of the ‘helluva lot of damage’ argument is that Level 3 finishers are absurdly good nowadays. Any deck that can field three Musashis is nightmarish for Execution, because you can only cancel so much. You don’t want to take no damage with Execution, but you also don’t want to take too much damage. You want to take 4 or 5 damage over a few turns, so you can clock yourself to 6 and get maximum value. Current finishers minimise the chance of you lasting these few turns. You are often left with little to no stock after Executing nowadays, simply because you didn’t have time to build up more stock. The prevalence of decks that prevent Execution from playing its game at Level 1 and 2 is a major problem, but the fact these decks overlap with the decks boasting supremely powerful finishers – it’s just not something a modest 6k field wants to deal with.
How do you beat Execution? It’s really quite simple. Deny them value while dealing them damage. The deck doesn’t kill your characters very frequently, so you can usually be reckless with when and how you play your cards – they probably aren’t going to fieldwipe you in return, and you can be paid off for playing climaxes more frequently than normal. Play decks with runners and cards that sit comfortably around 7k on defence at Level 1, and play a good lineup of finishers. The deck is not well-equipped to deal with any of this, especially if they don’t cancel as much as you do.
It’s a deck that occasionally compresses extremely well and cancels forever, but by that same token, most decks occasionally compress extremely well and cancel forever. This one just happens to have that as its key gameplan, and it doesn’t really have a different mode, whereas Nisekoi, Girlfriend Beta and other decks with a lean on compression are able to change tack and punch the opponent in the face quite effectively. The deck is an excellent study on playstyles and deck construction, but by that same token, it’s very difficult to argue for its viability in a tournament that isn’t Persona Title Cup.
This has been an extremely long article. It might be the standard for future articles, it might not be. If you enjoyed this article, please leave some love in the comments. If you hated this article, I implore you to leave some criticisms in the comments. There’s only so far you can get without feedback, and while the Youtube side of this blog is flourishing, I’m finding it harder and harder to maintain the written side (which I know a lot of people really enjoy).
I hope you enjoyed my rather thorough dissection of Execution and Persona’s wider cardpool in the context of this specific deck. If nothing else, remember that 1/0 Zen & Rei is an unplayable piece of garbage. Peace.