I know I said I wasn’t much for the English format, but this kind of bridges between both formats, and it’s topical clickbait, so why not? Written by not me, but by celednb.
Welcome to this comprehensive guide about why saber is worst girl (Part 1):
- English (Set by set card overview, staples)
- Decktypes in English
Today I am here to talk about Fate/, a series with an interesting cardpool that leaves you with a lot of options and different ways to build a deck. These decks will usually fall into one archetype (either trait or name based) that tries to leverage a certain card or the synergy between certain cards.
I will start off by going through the sets that are released in English, singling out the stand out cards. I will cover Staples and playable, potentially interesting cards. I will then talk about what deck archetypes become viable for the English format and where I think they will stand. Due to time constraints this is where part 1 will end, since I wanted to get this out around the time UBW2 releases for EN. I originally thought that was to be in May, so I kind of panicked when I found out it was actually coming out this soon. I’ll then proceed to follow this up with part 2, talking about the JP only sets and the decks exclusively on the Japanese side of things.
I will proceed through the sets by chronological order, then in order of colour, so we are going to start with Fate/Edge Zero. The set doesn’t have a lot of cards that are still relevant nowadays, but there is some interesting stuff here nonetheless.
I’ve got a staggering 3 cards for yellow (really just 2, but I digress).
We start with a stock bomb. The relevant stuff here is that it has Master and Weapon trait (2 useful traits) AND is only 1000 power. Stock bombs being 1000 or below is very relevant because a lot of the things you want to deny with them come from cards with 1000 Power (Hibiki, on-reverse searchers, etc). The only thing the second effect (or first if you look at the card) is good for is that it made the card 1000 Power instead of 1500 (which is a good thing, so yay). You have better stuff to do with your stock and deck than to enable that ability, given that it is a mediocre pay-2 plus that makes you run a vanilla 1/0. Can be used to fix for yellow, or if you simply want a stock bomb.
I will only mention this card because it is a (spammable) Brainstorm. It is a +power Brainstorm, so it will usually be less useful than the red salvage Brainstorm from UBW1. It has the Weapon Trait, so at least that isn’t too bad. The set just doesn’t really rely on reverse effects a lot so this will just usually not be useful. Playable in (bad) waifu decks, and that’s pretty much it.
What we’ve got here is a very interesting Event. It’s a reshuffle counter that forces both players to reshuffle, but makes you lose 2 cards from hand (and it gives 1 of your characters 2000 Power for the turn, for whatever that’s worth). Unfortunately, you cannot discard climaxes pre-refresh with this card, as the reshuffle comes first. Still, it can save you from a bad climax situation or take advantage of an opponent’s bad compression (has a cx in play, maybe triggered a pants and salvaged a cx etc), and is therefore a very situational card with a high ceiling but a low floor. Since it’s an event it can’t be searched out, which makes it less splashable. It is worthy of consideration though.
AAAALaLaLaLaLaie we about to turn manly up in here. This is an oversize clock kick that has a pretty neat added ability. Making 2 of your characters go poof during encore step is better than it seems – it allows you to dodge on-reverse effects from your opponent (and your characters even come back, albeit without their CIP abilities). I don’t really think this will have a place in the English decks because Green is a hard splash – it doesn’t have a lot of useful cards apart from the dedicated Rider.dek, and that deck is only viable in Japanese due to the presence of a Hollow Ataraxia card.
This is a splittable oversize 1/1 backup. Sounds really neat, right? Except for the whole bit where it’s only oversize if you use it on Servant trait characters. Servant as a trait doesn’t have good support, and this is basically the only reward you get for playing them. It’s a mainstay in the Rider deck because that deck consists of almost exclusively Servants and wants to keep a big field, but as I said before, that deck can’t be played in English.
This clockbonds to a 1/1 7k Vanilla Rider (Majestic, Rider – I will not mention this card in its own section since it’s just a vanilla with Rider in the name). This is surprisingly relevant for the JP Rider deck. You can also pay 2 to search out the 2/1 4.5k Command Seal counter, which happens less often, but can be useful for paying out climaxes. This is a very useful card in Rider since it bonds one of your mainstay level 1s, and it is the only card the deck can use to escape a level lock. It’s terrible everywhere else.
4.5k Event counter that can only be used on Servants. Following this theme, that means it’s pretty much only used in the Rider deck (as is the case with most of green, really). Can be used to prevent on-reverse effects during Level 3 because of the power boost, and can also be used to ‘guarantee’ a clock kick (barring sac counters).
This is a healer with a rather interesting climax ‘combo’. If your opponent plays a climax you can pay 1 and ditch the 2k1s immediately to remove your opponent’s climax and completely shut down some sets’ finishing strategies. Gil also gets really fat, stopping unconditional clock kicks like Monogatari or Little Busters. The big issues here are that the card has Servant and Royalty traits (which make it rather hard to search for) and that it’s not a card you’d want to run a lot of copies of, since it’s so situational. Another big issue is that the climax you need to discard – it’s a 2k1s, which is very poorly placed in the meta right now. Most decks run a full set of global soul climaxes because the better decks all start slamming them from Level 1, and you need to keep up. To add salt to the wound, the card would obviously be best placed in a Rin/Archer deck, but that deck already runs a level 3 (finishing) combo and has no good ways to dig for climaxes. It’s still potentially a devastating effect on a healing body if you pull it off, but it definitely has a lot of drawbacks.
This goldie boy turns into a cost 1 reverser if you have a red Climax in play. Cost reversers are pretty rare and cost 1 reversers are even rarer. It also has Character Encore, for what it’s worth. I don’t think cost 1 reversers are particularly useful right now, since most decks just run 1/0s and directly transition into 3/2s from there. Maybe you have a weird Meta where this turns out to be useful? It can kill Marker cards that gain Levels unlike a level suicider counterpart so that’s neat I guess.
Editor’s note: I think that this card is underrated here simply because it’s still a Cost 0 reverser that ignores +level nonsense. The best scenario is obviously killing a fat 1/1, but if you were playing the climax anyway, it’s effectively a better Level 1 bomb.
A 4k loner that can’t be reversed by normal bombs (clock and stock bombs still remove it). I don’t think this card has a particular niche right now. If I wanted to run an oversize in the relevant Rin/Archer deck, I’d probably just use the 4k Rin from UBW2. It’s an ok zero for Gilgamesh waifu if you have bad taste, I guess.
What we have here is an interesting card that will almost always be bad. It’s apparently kind of a trap, because I’ve seen people advocate for it, which is why I need to address it at all. Bottom line, it’s a costed ‘support’ that makes anything you want into a bomb for further stock cost. That sounds neat, but in practice the effect is too expensive to be particularly useful, especially since your finishers don’t really care about reversing the opponent. You’d rather be doing different things with your stock.
When this attacks with a red climax in play, you may salvage and discard. It’s not a particularly good card, but can be a filler option for the Rin waifu deck (you can’t play your strong advance summon in that build because it requires you to run 1/0 Archers). Doesn’t have a place in serious competitive decks. It might have been a different Story if the effect was on a 1/0, but alas, it is not.
Editor’s note: Kind of sucks in EN, where any serious player should be rocking KC.
CHAIR-O-PLANE! This event allows you to salvage 2 Archers and drop a card for no stock cost. A pretty strong card for Rin/Archer that often won’t make the cut, purely because of space issues. This is exacerbated if you decide to run the Resonance package from UBW2 (which you probably should). If you can find space for it, it’s a very solid card, though probably not better than the alternatives.
You may as well read this as just a global 1k to Master traits on the opponent’s turn, as enabling a power-based game in Master.dec is its JP niche use. This doesn’t work nearly as well in EN because you don’t have the 1/0 split counter or the 1/0 Taigei clone. The change ability might be interesting since it’s a 1->3 change (in a set that can give the Level 3 encore), but the cost is very steep and the Level 3 itself is pretty bad.
The change target for the above 1/0, if that’s your thing. It heals and has a sometimes potentially useful second ability that costs far too much. It’s very niche, but I’d be lying if I said I haven’t tried some number. There is just better stuff to run, but I might as well mention it.
This card saw play in the Japanese Rider deck once upon a time, since it was your best way of searching out the 0/0 Stheno & Euryale support (I’ll get to that card once we go into the Japanese sets). It’s useless for the English game, but I’ll mention it because you might see old lists floating around with this.
And finally, for a change of pace, we have a good card. It’s a somewhat free early-game handfixer that pulls double duty as a discard outlet. The cost is obvious: the one damage. It’s a good searcher and lets you convert the cards you might draw with the 1/0 Illya CXC (from UBW2) into cards you actually need. Solid 2-of in most decks running Blue.
Fate/Stay Night UBW Vol1
Now we can start the actual talking. This set has a lot more useful cards than Fate/Zero, and actually gives you deck skeletons and staples to work with. One of these staples is extraordinarily powerful, though it might not seem like it – and what’s more, you get not one, but two of them! Sadly, one of those clones will not see play because it’s home is the JP-only Rider deck, but the other one will find its way into a lot of different decks and help pull everything together in every single one of those decks. For the record, I am talking about Azusa/Akatsuki clones. If you look at their Japanese prices, Illya and Sakura are by far the most expensive cards in their colours (blue and green respectively). Lastly (and most importantly of all), best waifu Rider* appears here!
This set was the first one on the Japanese side to include the snazzy new Resonance mechanic, but most of the Resonance effects in this set are fairly weak. BSR probably wanted to be careful when they introduced it. Basically, you reveal a certain card in your hand to your opponent and then get small benefits with other different cards. But enough talking, let’s get cracking on the cards.
* Opinions expressed here are the writer’s opinions and reflect on his taste only. We all know FSN Lancer is true best waifu.
We start off with a pretty neat card. The first ability gives your center slot hexproof, which means you can put one of your Sabersashis there and keep it away from getting Compass’d. It also protects you from bounce and anti-change effects, but because the set doesn’t really have great advance summons (apart from Rin/Archer), this is less relevant. The main reason for playing this card is going to be the second effect. It gives you basically a repeatable Riki effect with the downside of not attacking with said Riki each turn. This effect has been printed on DC and Railgun cards, and is excellent in both series. Here, it only searches for Saber/Shirou names, but that’s actually a pretty sizeable pool of cards to choose from. Funnily enough, the card feels right at home in Yellow focused Saber/Shirou builds, as well as the newly emerging Rin/Saber/Shirou builds. Also comes in SP if you wanna bling out or show your horrible taste in female 2D characters.
So here we have a yellow 1/0 that combos with a global soul climax and probably gets you card advantage. Sounds good, right? Except it’s not, because BSR (with their garbage taste) saw that Shirou was not a qt grill and should therefore be a lot worse than practically every other comparable card in the game. Not only do you need to reverse your opponent AND pay stock, you also need to pay that stock beforehand, meaning there is the chance you pay the stock and still go home empty-handed if they counter over you or have a sac counter. That being said, it’s still advantage on a global soul climax combo at Level 1. The card DOES get pretty big with a new support from UBW2, and it will usually have clock encore for another run, so it’s not all bad. Still pretty salty about how this turned out, but you’ll take what you can get. Will see play in all Yellow focused builds.
A supremely splashable finisher that is not tied to a climax combo. Very solid card. If you haven’t got 3-4 copies of this I’d advise you to go and grab them, because I can’t imagine its price going down anytime soon. The card will probably only become more relevant because it’s such an easy splash and requires little commitment for some sweet extra finishing power. Good card that even works well with the new soul support and other climax combos (why couldn’t this have been the Shirou RR orz).
This card, man. When UBW1 was first announced, people started speculating what would still be playable from the old sets and what would not be replaceable. Very high on the list was a certain card with the name Avenger, Anti-Hero. I went and bought a foil playset to avoid price spikes after the set release, because there’s no way they’d reprint an effect like that, right? Lo and behold, Bushiroad not only gave us a replacement, it gave us a strictly better replacement, since this card has Master trait at all times and is therefore searchable by our Azusa clone (RIP money). Anyway, this gives all your Master characters clock encore, which is a very powerful ability that gives you a lot of control over your clock state and handsize. Staple for every deck that runs heavy on Masters because it gives you a lot of flexibility. If you drop this at Level 0, you can be very happy. The second effect lets you search out the 1/0 RR CXC Shirou from this set for 2 stock, which is neat I guess. I haven’t ever used this ability.
The yellow Resonance target of the first set. The only reason this card is played is because it turns on a bunch of Resonance cards that were somewhat serviceable before UBW2 hit. Basically, if you reveal this card from your hand at the beginning of your climax phase, you get some small bonuses with certain other cards (I won’t cover all of them because most of them are mediocre, making this card also mediocre). The card itself is whatever, it will usually be a 4k on your turn and then almost certainly die because it goes down to 2.5 on your opponent’s turn. Not worth it after the second set hits, except for maybe in Saber waifu decks (but nobody would run that, right? Right?)
Should you (for whatever reason) decide to run the yellow Resonance package, this is probably your reason for it. It’s functionally a 1/1 2-soul beater with clock encore, which sounds… pretty good, I guess. The issue here is that it’s only 6k, meaning you have to encore it a LOT in a deck that is already pretty masochistic. Yeah, you can side attack, but at that point you could have paid no stock for a stronger character and get a similar result. The effect is powerfu,l but it requires you to commit a lot of space for a somewhat eh payoff, especially considering that Fate gets a far better way to facilitate cheap 2 soul swings in its new set. I will explicitly cover that card when I get to it, because I believe that it will be a major roleplayer for most Fate decks in the English game.
This card eats too much stock and also eats into your valuable climax space. Can be played in mono Saber because goddamn, the climax art is pretty. For a screencap, anyway.
This is more or less a vanilla healer with the added possibility of minor soul manipulation. If you could pay the cost for the extra soul on attack this might even have been a somewhat solid card, but being unable to give the soul to other characters is an unfortunate problem. I still mention it because it’s your healer of choice for the manliest deck you can build (mono-Shirou). Not really worth considering in anything else.
A fine beater that is pretty big the turn it comes in. The drawback is pretty good, since even if you lose your character you still gain your stock. Passable way to splash in Yellow for Sabersashi in certain decks, though you’ll probably just use the stock bomb or the new brainstorm (or the new Married Life assist) for splash purposes.
Something, something Lord Borden, something something Leafa counter. A pretty good backup that gets you one card closer to your next climax. It also allows you drop climaxes from hand and maybe fix your hand a bit. Solid card that is probably going to show up in most decks, though being a 1/1 counter instead of a 2/1 hurts it a bit. It’s still fine and can occasionally get you to that cancel (if not on that attack, then on one of the next ones). This also lacks Weapon trait for some dumb reason, but there’s not much we can do about that.
I’ll warn you guys now: almost everything I talk about in terms of green cards will only be relevant for the Japanese game, since Green is pretty much unplayable in English. Green cards either outright suck or attempt to support an unsupported archetype, which is missing its most important lolis (for the uneducated, meet your new goddesses). There is some generally useful stuff, but splashing green is really hard because, well, you have almost no good cards lol
I really don’t wanna talk about this card because it’s a tragedy how much worse this bae is than the Iskandar clock kick. Medusa you deserved better ;_;. Don’t run this, unless you wanna build a waifu deck and are a masochist or something, because most of Medusa’s cards suck for whatever reason. y u do this to me bushiroad
Wait, a good green card? What happened? This card is really really good, except for the whole part where Green sucks if you’re playing English, which therefore makes this unplayable. 4-of in Rider.dek and pretty much unplayable everywhere else. Also why are you giving her these shitty traits aaaaaaaa, everybody knows she is a master anyways she had Master trait in the first 2 sets too aaaaaaaa.
Yo if this card was as good as its art, that would be great. It’s sort of a plussing combo in a weird way, where you can sacrifice the Sakura you just played and rammed (since it was going to die anyway). You’re playing those cards frequently to fish for your twins anyway, so you may as well make the most of her impending death. This combo was pretty mediocre pre-UBW2, and I personally cut it from the Rider deck after UBW2 released anyway. Just a very underwhelming card overall, but don’t worry Medusa you are still best F/SN girl in
our my heart.
Editor: Speak for yourself pls
Best fishing-bro in here, saving Green with a non-shit card. Well, it’s also not good either, but it can be used to set up some nifty plays with the 3/2 Archer that topchecks and burns. However, at that point you are running a mediocre card (this) to make a very mediocre card (the Archer) sort-of playable, and that doesn’t seem like the best idea.
This card looks pretty bad and fairly vanilla, but in the Japanese deck it’s a 2/1 11k that can’t side attack, can’t side attack and also can’t side attack. And I guess it also can’t be reversed by [Auto]-Abilities twice over, should you somehow manage to run into Level 2 suiciders. Crap in English though.
Ok, now we’re talking. This card kicks your opponent’s compression into the dumpster, and should be strongly considered in every set that has on- wait a minute. You need at least 3 Green characters to play this? Goddamnit. So yeah, we almost had a playable Green card. So close, yet so far.
This card is mint. I can still remember when this was first leaked, and everybody thought this card would be bad because it’s only 9.5k. Turns out cantripping advance-summons that are tied to fake conditions and can be played after refresh are still pretty damn good, 9.5k or not. You run 4 of this and 4 of the Archer in the Rin/Archer deck and you will advance summon it every game unless you screw up badly or have extremely bad luck.
Editor’s Note: Not relevant to EN, but this is even better with the addition of the 2/1 freefresh promo to the JP side, as it is still able to be played post-refresh (therefore giving you two cards of free compression), though it does limit you to only those two stocked cards (and any Ilya mills) as salvage targets.
This card is in a bit of a weird spot. It was probably your finisher of choice (in combination with Sabersashi) before UBW2 released in English. It digs for its climax at Lv3, combos with a gate, and deals its damage on attack (it doesn’t need to reverse, unlike GFB’s Chloe). The burn damage is sadly quite random, but can be controlled to a certain extent with your brainstorms and mill-4s. Her drawback of having to rest a character might not have mattered that much in English, but on the Japanese side of the game you really, really wanted to rest your backrow for one of the best supports in the game. This might still stay as your finisher of choice in EN Rin waifu, but most of the other decks will instead go for the new Rin&Archer from UBW Vol2 (or the old Rin&Archer from first set if you are playing Japanese).
My Lord, this card. There have been so many people that thought that this was a good card, so many. Newsflash, it really isn’t. “But it’s a free burn that isn’t tied to a combo, isn’t that awesome?” Well, yeah, if it actually was what you described. Realistically speaking, this card has a 50% chance of doing absolutely nothing (assuming 17 level 0s and 8 climaxes), and it gets even worse when you run events, so Rin/Archer can just forget this exists). You can make the card work with the 0/0 Lancer support I mentioned above, but really it’s not worth putting mediocre cards in your deck to make other mediocre cards playable. There needs to be a broken card for mediocre supporting actors to ever be worth it. There is a cute little interaction where you can summon this with the double attacker from UBW2, so you might be able to make 1 or 2 copies of this work in a manly weapon build (which also might run that Lancer), but that’s pretty much it.
Back to actual good cards again, yay. This is a global clock encore support for cards with either Rin or Archer in their name. This effect is still dumb and very solid, and everything that I said about the Shirou above applies. It’s a staple at 3 or even 4 in the Rin/Archer build, and obviously won’t be run anywhere else.
Very good card. This goes into pretty much every deck at some number. The best type of spammable Brainstorm, in a good colour with an additional good effect. Being able to salvage mid-game sets you up fantastically for anything you want to do, and this is even better when you consider that JP has a 2/1 free refresh promo. It’s also not trait restricted, which is huge in a set with like a billion traits. Even better, it has good traits itself. Staple for pretty much every build, so get your copies before they rise in price.
Plussing salvage Brainstorm that only gets Weapon trait. This includes all Sabers post-Zero (previously Royalty), almost all Shirous, all FSN Archers, all FSN Riders and Lancers, all Kiritsugus, and probably a bunch of other random cards. You can run this in weapon-focused manly decks, but most other decks are going to prefer the plussing Shirou brainstorm from UBW2. The card’s second ability is cute, but 500 Power will pretty much never make a difference. It should be evaluated as a plussing brainstorm and nothing else. A neat bit is that it DOES have Rin in name, which mean it gets bolstered by the soul support.
This card is pretty much the only Resonance card worth running from Red in UBW1. Popping backrow supports or brainstorms is a relevant ability, especially nowadays, and you can easily run the Level 0 bomb anyway. This secondary effect is pretty neat, but the problem is that it only becomes available once you hit Level 2, whereas you would have preferred to kill their backrow a bit earlier. Note that this is all attached to a level support, which is fine.
The Resonance enabler for Red. It’s a Level 0 Bomb that can pump your Archers by a healthy amount. A pretty solid card, but the Resonance abilities it enables are mostly lackluster and you will usually have better things to do with your backrow than playing and resting this. It’s probably not worth running anymore after UBW2’s release.
This will always be a 7.5k without drawback. It can potentially be run in the Rin/Archer deck if you want a 1/1 7.5k with clock encore, but it’s not really necessary. Comes down to preference more than anything.
The other half of the 3/2 advance Summon Rin that needs to be in the level slot. Not really a great card by itself, but the Rin is good enough to make running this worth it. It’s still usually a 1/0 6k clock encore, so it’s rare that it’ll ever be less than fine. The downside is occasionally relevant, but can usually be played around.
I would usually gloss over this card profile, but I’ll mention this here because there actually are draws to this card. You don’t have good advance summons in Fate unless you are playing a dedicated Rin/Archer or Rider build. This card therefore becomes an ok filler option to take up spots before you hit Level 3. It also gets the additional benefit of clock encore (which admittedly shouldn’t be used after you hit level 2) and can even be summoned at Level 1 in JP. However, there was recently a new Fate/ promo released in JP, which is a 2/1 reshuffler/freefresh. That card profile is so obscenely powerful that it basically kicks this card out of everything past exclusively-Rin waifu decks (that are running the Kaleido Ruby climax combo). I don’t know if English will also get this promo, but if it does, this card is probably going to lose its worth in EN as well.
This event lets you salvage 2 <Gem> trait characters (aka all Rins) and ditch 1. Pretty solid card for a Rin waifu deck, though it is unnecessary in everything else. You either have better events to run, or not enough Rins in the deck to make it worthwhile.
Caster gets a very expensive restander that can be changed into from Level 2. The real draw to this card certainly isn’t the restand ability (which can admittedly come in handy), but instead lies in the other effect. You can topcheck up to (usually) 5 and add any one of those cards to your hand (without the need of having to show it to your opponent). This is very useful because it is a relatively reliable way of getting the climax for your finisher or choice, especially since none of your CX based finishers (apart from “Day of Date, Rin”) actually dig themselves. This card has good traits and is easily splashable, so it will probably see play as a 1-of in a lot of decks for the cantrip effect alone, never mind the restand effect.
Wow, UBW gave Fate not just their first plussing brainstorm, but also their second! However, before we do the happy dance, we should really read the effect again. It’s a tap 2 blind draw brainstorm. That dents its playability pretty significantly. Yes, you also get a 500 boost to the center slot, but that’s cute rather than good. I know some people that run this card because it still is a plussing Brainstorm that also has a support ability (and because it can possibly fetch you climaxes), but this is clearly outclassed by the Shirou from UBW2.
Welcome to the best card in this set. This archetype has been printed before, and it hasn’t gotten any less stupid. While this card is not as potent as, say, the Kantai Collection or Idolm@ster versions in a vacuum (because those can get pretty much every card from their sets), <Master> is still a very good trait to pick up, because it encompasses a majority of the good cards the Set has to offer. This functions as a costless discard outlet, costless handfixer, free Brainstorm and is just all around far too much on budget to be a remotely fair card whatsoever. Every deck that runs somewhat heavy Master (~28 cards) should run this at 4 and not look back. Get your copies while their price is nice and low. Oh, and this will henceforth be referred to as Azusa clone.
This is actually a fine support, it’s just in a set that doesn’t really need it. Hand encore is pretty useful, especially since clock encore gets really bad after a certain point, which is when this card becomes playable from hand anyway. You don’t really need to reverse in these decks, so the power is pretty irrelevant, but the option to change can occasionally be nice (you obviously run the Level 3). The biggest issue with the change is that it conflicts with the main reason you play the 3/2. You definitely play it to dig through your deck, but at the start of your Draw Step it’s more than likely that you won’t have many characters left, unless you threw cards encoring them. If you aren’t digging for 4 or 5, 3/2 Caster is simply a lot worse. Not a bad card per se, but not really worth playing with the arrival of UBW2.
Vanilla global support for practically everything that is also pretty much going to be outclassed by Asuna’s Shirou’s Married Life once UBW 2 hits.
Vanilla 3k backup that makes you mill 3 if you play it. Can be bad, can be good. I’ve personally gotten a lot of use out of it, so I play it over other 2/1 backups. It’s mandatory, so it can bite you in the ass and just be very bad at certain points in the game (and on the flipside, can win you the game at others). Bonus points for having the searchability of <Master> trait, and for having Rin in the name, which makes it fit right into Rin/Archer and any deck running the new Shirou brainstorm.
I’ve skipped over the TD but I don’t think there’s anything worth talking about in there and I don’t particularly want to waste your time (or mine). As a TD it works fine.
Fate/Stay Night UBW Vol2:
Whew, let’s get started with the last set for English (for now). This is going to be what pushes Fate/ pretty far in the EN game, as it not only gives you workable replacements for JP exclusives, but is also decent enough in terms of raw card quality to push Fate into competition with any other set (except for boats, because boats are stupid). Green is going to fall into disuse, same as always. Blue will push a new archetype, but it just won’t be as good as the JP equivalent. You simply can’t print a replacement for a 3/3 heal 3 event.
Solid plussing brainstorm with good traits. Its targets are limited, but definitely enough. Shirou, Rin and Saber have a bunch of good cards, which don’t really require that you specifically build around them. Speaking of, this is the first of a bunch of cards that make you want to run heavy on Shirou/Rin/Saber. These three will be abbreviated to SRS from here because I can’t be arsed typing the names out every single time, and it will be mentioned a lot. The brainstorm also gives a solid power boost, which is very relevant in the decks that want this. Good all-round card. Staple, even.
An okay-ish oversize healer that can come out at Level 2. This card would be a lot better if it had the 2 or fewer CX in WR clause as its early drop condition, but I honestly didn’t expect to get something like that. I have a personal bias against 5> cards in deck as a condition, but you ARE playing a set with an Azusa clone, making it more manageable. It still means that you have to play this card before your refresh, which dumps 3 extra cards into your WR (2 stock + the heal). Overall pretty meh, but playable.
This card is fun (and is also the second advance summonable restander Fate has). It’s actually a pretty solid finisher that I undervalued back when the set first came out in Japanese. In a dedicated mono-Shirou deck, it’s very plausible to get off 6 attacks if your opponent doesn’t clear his board (which is actually pretty hard, as you start fielding weenies with 2-3 soul once you hit level 2). 6 attacks can just close out the game sometimes. Even in non-dedicated decks it’s probably not that hard to get 4 or even 5 attacks, since the card does get fairly big on its own. You are probably going to run either this or the new Rin&Archer Level 3 as your CX based finisher (with Sabersashi as your supplementary Level 3). This card also has some cute synergy with the 3/2 Archer RR from UBW1, since that card can get an additional attack in even when summoned from the WR. That’s only if you want to run “manly men.dek”, not that I can recommend doing so.
This support archetype has been printed a couple times before and is probably most well known for its SAO and Nisekoi printings. It’s always been a pretty solid card and is going to be one for Fate/ too. Should see a decent amount of play in pretty much all builds, since it has good traits and can be easily splashed. Especially good if you choose to run the old Shirou 1/0 combo.
Decent beatstick for the SRS deck. It’s pretty big over both turns and has a negligible drawback, but you sadly don’t really have great counters to back this up. Your 1/0 oversize only works on Masters (and only exists in JP), and the 1/1 Lancer is both in a bad colour and has an unsearchable name. You do have a ‘bondable’ 3.5k event counter, if that’s your thing. It’s just a solid card and will likely be one of your main Level 1s.
Man, I really really really wanted Rho Aias Raw Ass to be antidamage, and I guess my prayers got answered in a weird, twisted way. The card has multiple issues facing it. First of all, it’s a 2/1 frontliner, and for a 2/1 frontliner to be playable it needs to either have 2 soul, or do something else incredible. The effect itself is pretty strong in a vacuum, but since the cx is a stock soul, you’re only 9.5k and therefore well within many decks’ counter range. The card has to survive to get its other effect, of course. The other thing you have to consider is that this card eats stock like mad, especially in multiples, which leaves you with much less for your endgame. Still, you can be the weird guy at locals who tosses out three of this, two of the RR Archer I’ll talk about later, and kill yourself via deckout.
There is a bunch of things on this card that actually make it pretty solid, namely its traits and name. This works with a bunch of cards from both UBW1 and 2. The power pump isn’t trait or name restricted either, which is nice. It’s a free discard outlet if you run the 1/1 event, and if you aren’t running that you probably have better cards to run than this. It’s especially welcome for any manly <Weapon> builds people might try out.
I like milling, especially if it’s free. Not sure if I like it enough to run this card (as it doesn’t do much else), but I guess it’s worth a consideration for the SRS deck.
So this SRS deck went from 0 to 100 real quick. This card is the payoff for building your deck that way, and boy is it a big one. As you might know supporting stuff for soul is pretty brokeadoke (hi Junyou, hope you have fun staying banned forever), because it turns all your 0 cost cards into 2 soul beaters. This card enables some silly stuff and is an absolutely worthwhile build-around. It actually has a second ability that allows you to change into the 3/2 RR Shirou finisher, which is cool I guess. You’ll rarely change because having this support out is usually just going to end up being more useful. You don’t need to run the 3/2 with this at all. It does come in handy every now and then, should you decide to run that climax combo as your main finisher (like in the Mono best waifu deck, which is actually retardedly strong).
Overspec counter for the SRS deck that can be used as the Level 2 backup of choice if you don’t like SD Rin. Not really much else to say about this.
The 1/1 3.5k backup the 0/0 Shirou & Archer bonds to. Fate/ doesn’t usually run a lot of cards worth protecting at level 1 (that don’t already have some form of Encore), but you can decide for a field-based approach with the SRS deck. This is also enables your only good way to ditch cards in manly decks, so it’s pretty much an auto include in those.
This card is pretty hilarious. It pumps your Shirous by a pretty ridiculous 5k, and then goes to Stock. Play this if you run the mono-Shirou deck, it’s not like you have better cards to run. It actually works pretty well in there, since you pretty much guarantee a reverse on practically anything, all the while fueling your stock for more restands.
The colour that continues to be irrelevant for the English side of the game. For completion’s sake, I’ll cover the cards that are relevant for the JP game. Lancer still has his E-Rank luck, so don’t expect to see a lot of playable cards from him.
Yeaaaah a good Medusa card, though I certainly didn’t expect one before Heaven’s Feel. We got this for whatever reason anyway, so I won’t complain. The early summon condition is a joke in rider.dek and makes this card very good. Play this after refresh, get your heal, then proceed to bash face. This looks pretty vanilla, but it does its job very well. Good stuff.
This would usually be a filler card that wouldn’t be worth running, but this card actually has a bunch of hidden lines in its text:
[C] This card can’t side attack.
[C] This card can’t side attack.
[C] This card gains +1000 Power.
[C] This card gains +1000 Power.
[C] This card cannot be reversed by [Auto] Abilities.
[C] This card cannot be reversed by [Auto] Abilities.
In reality, this is a 1/0 8k that can’t get killed by bombs, which is very, very good.
This Lancer is a good car- wait, what? This would be very solid if it was in literally any other colour (except purple, I guess), because Green is just such an awful splash. It fits nicely into Rider.dek (green and has <Servant> trait), but even there it doesn’t perform that well – the deck has very few ways of actually searching or salvaging without ruining its board, and you usually won’t have the luxury of just keeping this in your hand due to needing a Level 1 board and specific backrow. Being Lancer is suffering.
And we’re actually done with Green. Good for me, I guess.
Red has the highest density of playable cards in this set (15/21 is pretty ridiculous to be quite honest), and it pushes Rin/Archer into an incredible value machine.
I am using the SP artwork here because it’s hella cute and has delicious thighs, pls don’t sue me yyt. Fate/ finally got its costless 1/0 on-reverse plussing combo. There are just two little things wrong with it. First of all, it’s only really viable for Rin/Archer (which is already very limiting). Secondly, you reach a lukewarm 5.5k before supports, which really isn’t much when you need to kill things. Even ignoring the fact one of your supports is probably going to be a clock encore giver, you won’t be very big on the offence with this. Let’s not even mention that the advantage is through salvage, which can matter when the meta should be infested with boats. In reality it’s not that bad of a drawback, because you can just attack with this last. You’ll rarely kill more than one card with this anyway.
Comboing with a stock soul has its advantages and disadvantages. It’s just a good climax. The deck tends to get really stock hungry, so just playing the climax is pretty nice. On the other hand, you lose out on the valuable 1000 power that most of this card’s JP counterparts get. Luckily, you do have a bunch of incidental power boosters sprinkled throughout your deck, so the card is less bad than it might seem at first. You still can’t regard this as your main Level 1 gameplan, and it should only be a 2-3 of.
I am actually not sure what to say about this card. It IS pretty interesting (and sorta manly), but it’s ultimately just… pretty bad. One-sided antiburn is pretty sick, but having to repeatedly play climaxes to maintain the effect is not. Don’t even mention the fact you’re probably ruining your compression by doing so (assuming you are playing for compression). If you put down 2 of these and 3 of the 2/1 Shirou, you get to be the cool kid in the room by committing sudoku through deck mutilation, which is sorta funny.
This is a healer that doubles as a finisher. It’s even in a good colour, and has solid traits. Comboing with a gate is a plus, KanColle or not, and it even has a support that can fetch it for cheap. This is your replacement for the Japanese Rin & Archer from the original set. It isn’t nearly as good as that, but it’s still a very solid pick for a lot of builds. This is going to be your main finisher for Rin/Archer, and either this or the 3/2 Shirou is going to be your choice of top end for the Master and SRS Builds. A solid card overall. Also, Rin is a qt.
This card is a solid support that fetches you your lategame plays (or clock fodder) for cheap. Between this and all your other cheap advantage engines, you should never run out of cards. Your backrow in Rin/Archer will usually be one copy of this and one copy of the Rin clock encore support. Also, the zettai ryouiki is on point.
I dubbed this the best red card of the set for Japanese, and even if that might not be the case for English (they needed other cards more), the card is still pretty insane for Rin/Archer decks. This card is a free handfix/discard outlet that lets you plus for one stock at times. The condition for that is reversing something with an Archer, which isn’t exactly difficult when you note that he has a Level 1 bomb. Run at least 3 copies in Rin/Archer. The card got completely overlooked by a bunch of people for whatever reason.
After playing with this a bunch, I realized that I actually like this card a lot. Popping Level 0s for free is pretty neat (especially runners or or cards with abilities on reverse), and the incidental powergain is pretty relevant for this deck. You don’t need to run this card, but it’s a nice way to fill out your Level 0 slots. I prefer this over running any sort of beater in Rin/Archer decks.
Here we have a suicider that can pump a pretty respectable amount of power if you play the event. This would probably be worth running if the pump activated on resonance instead of on event play, but as it stands I think you have better options at Level 0. Useable as filler but I don’t think you’ll need them.
This is the aforementioned Level 1 bomb. I prefer running this over the FZ one since you don’t have to play a Climax to turn on his ability, and because being a cost 1 reverser actually doesn’t kill that many more things than a Level 1 reverser does anyway. The incidental power is a nice bonus, as always. I’d run around 2 copies interchangeably with the F/Z one.
This is actually not a Rin/Archer card, but rather a card for the Master and SRS builds. You don’t run any Archer backrow in Rin/Archer, which makes her power conditionvery annoying in that deck. This doesn’t even touch on her anti-synergy with the resonance event. The global clock encore Shirou, various Shirou supports (including the 2/1) and the Shirou brainstorm all fulfill her condition, so that’s not really an issue in Master decks. Basically, 1/1 8ks (with clock encore) are nothing to scoff at, never mind whether they have supports (or soul boosters) behind them.
This bonds your resonance target, and since the resonance effects are good for once, that automatically makes it very playable. The 2k power pump is pretty useful and comes up every now and then, especially since the only other card that taps backrow is the handfixing Rin (in EN, anyway). Solid card that you should probably run 2 or 3 of in Rin/Archer.
A 4k beater with a pretty easy condition. This usually doesn’t go into Rin/Archer but can be your beater of choice in Master/SRS decks. It also fixes for red, which can be pretty important. Not much else to say here.
Wooo Fate/ gets another anti change counter. Unfortunately, the happy dance will have to wait. I’ll tell you now, this one is unplayable. Going neg 3 to antichange something feels extremely bad, and the fact that the card is only a 1k backup in some scenarios is just an additional kick in the nuts. Maybe run 1 of this if your meta is full of Titan decks, otherwise just don’t bother.
This is a very interesting card. Being able to instantly charge clean stock from the Waiting Room is actually an obscenely powerful ability. Not as powerful as adding soul, but still ridiculous. The main issues here stem from the fact that this is only going to put Shirou or Saber cards into stock, and while you do have a bunch of good targets, there aren’t THAT many. If this card could also put Rins into stock it would honestly be pretty bonkers. It’s clearly meant for the SRS deck, but the issue there is that it takes up a backrow slot where you could have also put another soul support (which as we’ve already established, is super broke-a-doke). A combination of this in one backrow slot and the soul support in the other slot might be good, and the card is certainly powerful enough to warrant experimentation. Bad in JP because of a 1/1 support that you want to tap both backrow cards with every turn.
This card is going to be your best way of dealing with big advance summons in Rin/Archer. The red card encore is pretty nice, since it allows you to ditch climaxes if necessary, and the deck is mono red anyway. Not that you’ll actually encore this card much.
The resonance centerpiece of the new Rin/Archer deck. Helps you dig through your deck and is generally a nice tool manipulating deck size and ensuring favourable refreshes. The card is useful during most points in the game, and if you don’t need to turn on Resonance anymore (or have multiples) it just replaces itself with a character from the top 4. Being bondable helps a lot, since you can actually reap its significant on-play benefits and still have active Resonance abilities. Run either 3 or 4 copies.
So Blue is going to be doing its own thing with this set, namely make Illya/Berserker viable. It’s sadly a lot worse than the Japanese version (because you are missing the 3/3 heal 3 event from the original FSN set). Still, you have some really neat cards and the biggest payoff card for the deck is still here, so you can probably make it work.
Costless advantage with a basically nonexistent condition. It even combos with a stock soul for additional value. The problems the card has are that the advantage isn’t selective (which can be taken care of with another Blue card, Flames of Hell from F/Z), and that you’ll have trouble climbing over things. This card is still really, really good and is going to be one of the main players in the non-SRS Master builds. This will obviously also fit nicely into Illya/Berserker. Staple at 4 for both of these decks.
We keep on going strong, as the loli is bringing the good stuff. Costless handfixing is always nice, and this even has the option of helping you out of a level-lock. It turns out that Riki effects are a lot weaker when they’re non-selective, but it’s still a really useful card. It’s a bit overshadowed by the ridiculousness that is the Azusa clone, though it remains staple. You’ll probably want to run 2-3 copies, but you could go ham and run 4, it’s a good card regardless. It’s mostly dependent on space and preference.
Onto less exciting cards. Here we have a clock-bondable 1/0 fieldcounter. The fact that you have to pay for its ability stings a lot, but it does a give a pretty sizeable boost and can make combat math a bit more annoying for your opponent. The fact that it’s clock-bondable is noteworthy (especially since the ability costs stock), but is definitely less good in a deck that already has a global clock encore support. There are some cute interactions with this and the clock encore support itself. For example, if this Caster is reversed, you can triger her ability and immediately encore her, which gives you a really weird 1/1 2.5k backup ‘for free’ (you keep Caster). This actually might make the cut in English Master builds, because you are missing the 1/0 Kirei from the FZ extra booster. The only other level 1 option apart from 1/1 Rin and 1/0 Illya is going to be the 1/0 Rin boxtopper PR from this Set.
Hmm, what should I say about this? The effect is interesting but is worth neither the cost nor the deckspace (nor the climax space). First of all, this has to be in the front row, meaning you played this down instead of another finisher. Then, it needs to survive the turn (9.5k before supports is well in counter range at this point in the game). If the effect triggered at the beginning of the Attack Phase instead of at the Draw Phase, things might have been different and this could have been a very good card, but as it is, the card is just thoroughly underwhelming. Bushiroad should have given us some more cards where Caster loses the hood, ‘cause Medea is a real qt patootie.
The main (the only, actually) Level 3 for the Illya/Berserker deck. It’s a printed 11k that has an ok finishing combo and digs for its climax, which is a good thing because you also have a completely broken event you want to draw. Even better because of the 2/0 event we’ll discuss later, as it can dig for both the climax and the Level 3.
A bit boring, but it fits the deck well and does its job.
Editor’s note: This finisher profile sucks. It SUCKS.
I’ve actually tried this card a decent amount and it has actually performed better than I expected. It’s a level 0 that sticks around for ages in a deck that doesn’t want to play too many 0s. The fact that it eats stock isn’t such a big deal because the deck barely spends it anyways. I am not sure if I can really recommend this card, but it’s not really terrible and is pretty fun and flavourful, so if you’re building the Illya deck for fun reasons (which you should, since it is not going to be the most competitive build), there really isn’t anything preventing you from running this at 2-3.
This card is sweet and is a royal pain-in-the-ass to play around for many decks. The free search is already pretty solid, but the trap ability is the cherry on top. The 2/1 that pops out is usually going to be ~10k and is always going to be in your hand, because if you didn’t have it in hand before you are just going to search it out with the other ability. It’s the most telegraphed trap in WS, and demands your opponent go around it or deal with your fatty. If they do crash into it, you get another free search (because this card actually bounces back to your hand!). Otherwise, they side it, at which point you gain a free attacker. Your opponent needs to spend either handicap themselves or expend resources to deal with a card that you already got value out of. That sounds like a pretty good deal. I personally never run less than 4, but 3 copies is defensible. Staple for the deck regardless.
This supports the 2/1 Berserker that can come out at 1 (via the above trap) for an additional 1000 power, putting it at 11.5k with just one copy of this and any other Illya in the backrow. You might want to run this at 3, because the deck doesn’t have easy ways of searching it out (your only searcher targets Berserkers, and sometimes you won’t hit this with the top check 4s). The card does make your board considerably bigger and harder to deal with, making the fatties you were already running even better. Solid card overall.
This is the 2/1 that can pop out at 1. It gets pretty big. Not much else to say really, run 3 or 4 in the Illya/Berserker deck. 3 is fine because it’s bondable, but 4 is also good.
And last but certainly not least, we have THE payoff card for Illya/Berserker. This card pulls the whole deck together and makes it actually worth playing. A costless sac counter is already really good, but a costless sac counter that replaces itself is exceptional. A free sac counter that replaces itself AND can dig for EVERY single card in your deck (including climaxes and events!) is completely ridiculous. This card is just really silly and even lets you do some neat deck manipulation, because you can stop looking whenever you want (the same way you can stop looking with the Azusa effect). It loses some of its potency in English because you don’t have access to the 3/3 heal event, but it’s still a really good card and is the reason why you play this deck. You draw a lot with this deck anyway, so getting this into your hand isn’t hard. When you do play it you can just search for extra copies of itself if need be. Excess copies aren’t even excess, they’re the card you want most in the lategame anyway. Unnegotiable 4-of, or you are building the deck wrong.
I actually don’t know why this card is so expensive in Japanese, but a high price can be justified in English. For one, you actually do lack solid costless Level 1 options in the Master build, and this is one of the better options. If you see them cheap somewhere they are probably worth picking up, because I am pretty sure that they’ll rise in price.
A vanilla 500 global support for Illya/Berserker. You do want 3 copies of this for that deck, but otherwise you can safely ignore this.
(3.) Deck Archetypes:
There are going to be 3 major deckbuilds available for the competitive side, and 2 oddball fun builds.
The competitive ones are going to be Shirou/Rin/Saber, <Master> trait, and Rin/Archer. (These builds will be made with the expectation that the 2/1 freefresh promo does NOT get released, if it does you run 2 copies of it in all 3 of those decks).
The fun ones are going to be Illya/Berserker and <Weapon> Focus.
I’ll try to cover each of those really quick and will give an example list for all of them. If you have specific questions about something just comment and I’ll answer (and maybe incorporate that answer in the article).
Editor’s note: By that he means he’ll force the poor editor to incorporate it in.
This deck centers heavily around the 2/1 soul support, making the most of the fact that your 0 cost cards become 2 soul beaters. Your level 1 game is fairly sizeable and you have decent finishers that do an ok job pretending to be the Japanese Rin/Archer combo once you have a soulsupport behind them. For the uninitiated, that means being able to ping 1 on attack, and then side for 1 against Level 3s. A barrage of 1s not only helps with precision, but is just a lot of damage to deal with. It also helps dodge things like Compass. The 2/1 Rin assist is another very interesting card that you can potentially gain a lot of value out of.
3/2 Rin /Archer can be replaced by the new 3/2 Shirou. If you do decide on that option, pull out the Caster and put in 2 healers (either UBW1 Shirou, TD UBW1 Rin, or UBW2 Saber). Another variant of this is the mono Shirou deck, which gets to abuse the 2/0 event and lands you with 50 cards of best waifu.
You basic gameplan is going to involve finding your clock encore support at 0, using the climax combo at 1 (searching for your level 2 supports), keeping up in damage at 2 with your soulsupport, then going into close-out mode with your finishers.
This deck actually is surprisingly close to the SRS deck in English. The only real difference is the Level 1 game, but that changes the entire deck pretty dramatically. Running the Illya combo means you run a lower density of SRS cards, lowering the effectiveness of the 2/1 soul support. That being said, you are still running enough SRS cards to make the card worthwhile, and the Illya combo is enormously strong to compensate. The overall strategy is going to be pretty similar to the SRS deck as compared to the JP version. Since your cardpool is smaller, you obviously have less of the tools that differentiate these two decks in the JP game.
This is going to be value.dek. You have a ton of cheap plussing engines and ways to filter and handfix for free. The early summon is going to make it easier to apply pressure while keeping your handsize healthy, and it can be played after refresh (which is a pretty huge deal, hence why I mention it again). Your deck is a large pile of synergy, which leads to an extremely stable and difficult-to-disrupt gameplan. Antisalvage hurts the deck a bit, but you aren’t actually heavily reliant on battle phase salvage. You have bonds, the 0/0 Rin assist, 3/2 early drop Rin, and even battle phase workarounds that deal with Hatsukaze. Simply attacking last with your on-reverse salvager is a pretty simple tactic that works well. Be careful though – you don’t get to dig for your finishing climax unless you run the old UBW1 Rin, so you should consider holding onto it if it comes to hand at Level 2. This deck can easily adjust its plan and flows really well regardless, and if you want something stable this should probably be your pick.
Force your opponent to make hard decisions during Level 1 with your trap, then proceed to smash his face in with basah-car. Use the 2/0 event to dodge on reverse abilities and to fish for cancels. Don’t forget that you can also use this event during your own turn if you’re in a good position and just want to find pieces for your Level 3 combo. (insert basahcar gif)
I’ll just say it straight up. I can’t recommend playing this abomination, but it’s what happened when I tried to force the Rho Aias combo into a deck. If you want to try this deck I would recommend kicking out all worst girl cards and putting in more manly men, because then you at least get to play with a manly deck (and we all know Weiss doesn’t exactly have a lot of those).
We made it to the end of part 1, so you’ll have to excuse me as I proceed to cry about how long this took and how I am still not really happy about how it turned out. We will hopefully meet again in Part 2, where I’ll cover the Japanese sets, which new builds are available (mainly Rider.dek) and which cool options you get for the already-mentioned builds. Stay tipsy, and always remember: Saber is worst girl.