A guide to the Swordcraft archetype Evo Sword for newbs with pictures and video.
This is a lengthy guide so you can skip to sections you’re interested in. Otherwise it’s like reading a textbook. This is also my first guide so bear with me. You can skip parts like about who I am, example games and the glossary. I plan on making a 10-minute video version of this guide which I will include later. Also I’m not a genius but I’m sure this guide will help some newer players climb the ranks.
My name is butter and I started playing Shadowverse on the 20th of March 2020 (about 3-4 weeks ago). Although I am relatively new to Shadowverse but I have about 15 years worth of experience playing card games like Yu-Gi-Oh and its variants, Magic the Gathering, Vanguard, and Hearthstone. I write this guide in hopes of helping new players who are interested in Swordcraft and want to look for their first deck. My current rank is AA0 at 255 ranked wins and 34000 score. Probably not bad for a newbie eh?
I took the first day to familiarise myself with the game mechanics and on my second day of playing Shadowverse I decided to be a Swordcraft main as I liked the play style it offered. I liquified any card I deemed bad or was not a Swordcraft card. As a general rule of thumb, a bad card had two or more of the following criteria:
a. Cost too much
b. Lacking in stats (attack/defence points)
c. Has no effect or an effect that doesn’t influence tempo (the board or play points)
For example, for a good card, I would expect to pay 1 play point for 1/1 worth of stats and a good effect. For 2 play points I expect at least 2/2 worth of stats and a good effect. And so on and so forth that’s what I roughly expect. I made exceptions here and there for cards with very good effects and lower stats. By the end of my collection purge I had roughly about 80000 vials to play with and craft my first deck.
I crafted a variant of the deck I’m about to present today and changed it over time to what it is today. I did play some meme decks to break up the monotony of grinding ladder but after 247 wins I got my first decent rank of AA0. My best win-streak during this time was 15 which was a part of 28-2 win-loss ratio at rank A3.
Evo sword or evolution sword to me is a mid-ranged deck. I always says to myself with this deck, if I win the board, I probably win the game. It is called Evo Sword because many of the cards can either evolve for free or have great synergy with evolve effects. Most notably is the union burst mechanic featured on some cards which starts with a turn 10 time and is lowered each time you evolve. For example, if you evolve your followers 3 times, whilst you have a union burst follower in your hand, its time is reduced to turn 7. If you play that union burst follower on turn 7 it gains a bonus powerful effect.
Evo sword is very flexible as it has aggressive options, healing potential and late game variants. You can build it however you like so long as you keep the core evolution synergies present which is what makes it powerful and what it is. In general, it has strong cards to create early game pressure and establish board dominance. Many of the cards provide high tempo so once you get the board you’re probably going to keep the board which means you can hit your opponent in the face repeatedly. It has the ability to establish multiple threats which forces your opponent to make tough decisions on which threat to clear. It is very easy to put your opponents in lose-lose situations with the proper set-up and by thinking a turn or two ahead.
One advantage this archetype offers compared to others is the ability to start evolution chains for extremely high tempo or damage output. If you see the opportunity to evolve every turn for the next 3-4 turns you can consider going for the throat of your opponent and out tempo/damage them with the extra stats provided by evolutions. These extra evolutions allow for you to get easy free trades or value trades further swinging tempo in your favour.
IV. Example Deck Profile and Alternative Options
Above is the variant of Evo Sword I pilot. It is a little different from some other builds you may find online or come up against, but I like it due to its higher tempo playstyle to some builds whilst retaining strong late game potential. It also has less 2-drops compared to other variants but that’s because I want specific cards to be pulled when I need them. I will go through the reasoning of each card’s inclusion below but if you already understand Evo Sword you can skip this part. You may need to read what the cards do or what I say may not make sense.
3x Quickblader: Although this is a basic card it is extremely good for creating early game pressure. I believe it is a solid keep against combo decks on turn 1 as it can repeatedly chip them for a lot of damage if unanswered. You don’t have to play this follower on turn 1 as it can be used for trading into threatening minions on 1 defence point. It is also fantastic to play along Lecia, Sky Saber on turn 4 to evolve her for free. It has a roughly 50% chance of being pulled from a Courtly Dance to apply immediate pressure, close out games or trade when needed.
3x Kagemitsu, Matchless Blade: This card is fantastic for getting 2 for 1 trades. You play it on turn 3 to get trade into a 2-drop and It comes back on turn 4 to potentially trade into another 2 or 3-drop. How good is that? It’s does more than getting value trades because it presents a huge threat if left uncontested because each time it attacks it just grows larger which applies great pressure to the opponent. It can essentially die twice which gives it good synergy with cards which require 10 friendly followers to die. It combos well with Regal Wildcat to hit your opponent with very high damage. It has a 50-ish% change of being pulled by courtly dance which can make the early-mid game awkward for your opponent to decide what they need to trade in to. If pulled in the late game by courtly dance this card trades with basically anything as it can usually be a 9/9 or higher with rush. With every evolve this card only gets stronger.
2x Leod, the Crescent Blade: This card trades well into 1/1 tokens or any weak follower. It is good to play in the Evo Sword mirror as it develops your board whilst not playing into Kagemitsu, Matchless Blade. When evolved Leod can get in a free trade, ping off a low health enemy follower with veiled reckoning and give you an assassin. This assassin can hide Leod again if required or any other Swordcraft follower, most notably Lecia, Sky Saber. He combos well with an evolve and ivory sword can on turn 5 to help you swing the board in your favour if behind. Leod is one reason you can play courtly dance on 8 proactively and not trade because it has ambush allowing you to set up 2 turn lethal if required.
3x Twinsword Master: This card gives you free evolves and 2 for 1 trades. If unanswered it is extremely threatening as it can attack twice. Buff an evolved Twinsword Master with Ivory Sword dance or Regal Wildcat and that’s basically 10 damage to your opponent’s dome. Free evolutions speed up union burst.
3x Steadfast Samurai: This card gets free trades against aggro. When enhanced on 5 it allows you to get better free trades against bigger followers. It can be played early for board presence, mid-game for free-trades or late game building towards lethal damage. It has use against spell damage when evolved and gives you an out to decks like Natura Dragoncraft. It being pulled from Courtly Dance to be evolved against decks like those can be a life saver.
2x Ivory Sword Dance: This card allows you to push further board control without overextending into board clears, helps you to recover board control when behind and allows you to push extra damage. When played for 5 play points you can see it as 2/2 storm deal x amount of damage to enemy followers where x is your strongest follower’s attack. It can buff your followers to achieve certain breakpoints against board clears or evolved minions. For example if you play this card on turn 5 on a 5/7 Shizuru, Sisterly Saberer, it becomes a 7/9 and basically any follower your opponent plays without bane or some removal effect is not going to kill it while it heals itself for 3 each turn if you have that effect active. This card allows for many value trades for 2 or 5 play points as is an answer to ambush minions and cards like Steadfast Samurai. It allows you to build tall, can act as spot removal or a board clear.
3x Princess Knight: This card offers search power and when evolved, good trading power and massive tempo potential. When evolved it allows you to play your union burst followers 3 turns earlier and gives you an extra play point to fill out your curve and play more cards. When unevolved it represents that potential threat to your opponent. Although not as predictable as a tutor compared to Aether of the Warrior Wing, it may pull out a specific card when you need it. This is one of my favourite cards to evolve. I really don’t like Elegance in action and Princess Knight is one reason that makes me comfortable not including it in my deck. This card is a decent 3-drop to play against a combo or control deck but is poor against midrange and aggro due to its low health reducing its value trade potential in general.
3x Aether of the Warrior Wing: When played this card gives you the ability to play on curve by giving you a playable option for next turn. When evolved early game it can buff your followers past the damage break point of some board clears and allow for value trades against your opponent’s followers. When played in late game it can draw your Regal Wildcat to close out the game. Compared to Princess Knight this card is better played against aggro and midrange decks as its 3 health allows it to get better trades in general
2x Tsubaki of the Demon Blade: Usually Evo Sword runs 1 copy of Tsubaki at most due to the requirement for its removal effect being hard to achieve sometimes. I have two copies because my deck has 3 courtly dances which makes it easier to satisfy that requirement. I see this card as a 3 play point 4/3 destroy your opponent’s biggest threat for free with ambush. It is an answer to archetypes like ambush sword and can remove threats behind ward. It is so darn good for pushing tempo with its effect and when pulled from a Courtly Dance on turn 8 puts a 5/4 ambush in play which can be very threatening if you are close to lethal. It combos well on turn 10 with Regal Wildcat to clear a big ward follower and hit face. I used to play Valse, Champion Deadeye instead of Tsubaki but Valse is a very slow card and doesn’t combo well with Regal Wildcat on turn 10. I also don’t like pulling Valse from Courtly Dance.
3x Pecorine, Peckish Princess: This is probably one of the best cards in this deck. Against control or combo decks you can play it on turn 3 to build pressure. However, if you can activate its union burst effect (it’s pretty easy as Evo Sword), it’s basically a 3 play point 6/5 rush kill one of your opponent’s followers for free. This can happen as early as turn 6 or 7 due to synergy with Princess Knight and other free evolve effects. Due to its high attack points it combos extremely well with ivory sword dance for massive board clear potential. It combos very well with Regal Wildcat on turn 10 for very high storm damage potential.
Continued in next section
V. Example Deck Profile and Alternative Options pt.2
3x Courtly Dance: This card is the main reason I don’t play Elegance in action and I will explain why. For 3 play points it draws 2 cards from your deck and puts them into play. The cards put into play are what you want in play, otherwise you wouldn’t put them into your deck. This card for 3 play points builds threats on your board or can pull out answers to threats a reasonable amount of the time. Elegance in Action does something similar but it puts up to three 1/2 tokens into play. It seems good if you see it as a 5 play point 3/6 draw 3 or 2/4 draw 2 deal 3 and such but the stat distribution is poor and the tokens aren’t really threats. If you have to play Elegance in action on turns 2-5 you’re in trouble. Why wouldn’t you put good cards in play instead of searching for good cards? On turn 8 Courtly Dance gives you fuel for the late game by putting 3 threats into play while Elegance in action hopefully draws you finishers. I think Courtly Dance is too good not to play. It is similar to hearthstone’s call to arms for paladin (basically swordcraft) and every paladin played that card even after it got nerfed until it rotated out. To this day in hearthstone’s eternal format it is a staple for board centric paladins besides one specific archetype. That being said if I were to replace Courtly Dance I’d put in 3 Elegance in action instead.
3x Lecia, Sky Saber: This card can give free evolves, is a 5/5 threat that produces more threats in the form of Nanoblade (1/1 bane token) and sometimes Twilightblade (5 play point deal 5 damage to all enemies). This card combos well with any swordcraft officer, courtly dance and the assassin produced by Leod, the Crescent Blade’s veiled reckoning upon evolution. As this card can produce 2 bodies for 1 you opponent has to choose between destroying Lecia or the Nanoblade it produces. Nanoblade allows for trade into cards like Steadfast Samurai or high health followers.
3x Shizuru, Sisterly Saberer: This card is the bane of aggro decks and midrange decks because it basically kills any unevolved 4 drop or below for free and can potentially heal itself. It also heals you which can be relevant if you’re about to die but it healing itself is so damn powerful because it allows itself to trade into more thing for free providing insane value. It has fantastic synergy with all the evolve effects allowing Shizuru to evolve for free when its union burst requirements are met. It is very good at protecting a Kagemitsu which traded on the previous turn as it has ward, high health and defence restoration allowing Kagemitsu to grow very threatening. Against control or combo decks or in the late game her union burst fanfare gives you a little extra reach to achieve lethal.
3x Regal Wildcat: This card supports aggressive starts and with storm can close out the game on turn 7. This is basically a finisher card that can be combed with a 1-drop on turn 8, a two-drop on turn 9 or a 3-drop on turn 10. However, with its accelerate effect it can put out a bunch of stats on turn 4 if you wish to apply early pressure and swing wide on the board. As it can produce 3 bodies for 1 card on turn 4 it helps bring your Tsubaki and other Wildcats online faster.
Other cards to consider are:
Jafnhar, Warring Flame: Free evolves and good for tempo.
Hnikar, Warring Thunder: Free evolves and good trading potential.
Grimnir, Warring Tempest: Board clear if you want to play a more control style.
Elegance in Action: To draw extra steam if you’re afraid of running out of plays.
Luxblade Arriet: For extra ward, healing and higher tempo plays.
Zeus, the Supreme: If you want a strong finisher and more late game.
Cybercannoneer: Another 2-drop option or solid 4-drop to fuel Tsubaki and Regal.
VI. Basic Play Style Versus Aggro
Against aggro or aggressive decks win by overwhelming you on the board to get in early damage and follow up with high burst damage from storm minions. Your goal is to stabilise the board in your favour so dealing damage to their face is not so relevant. If your opponent can’t get on the board, they can’t hit you in the face. If they can’t hit you in the face they can’t win the game. To do this you should mulligan for early game by looking for 2-drops first and then follow up 3-drops excluding Princess Knight because it doesn’t trade favourably. Any 2-drop will do but you may have preference for different stat-lines dependent on if your opponent will likely play 1/1s, 1/2s, 3/1s, 3/2s, 1/3s or whatever. Kagemitsu is very good because it will most likely trade for 2 and if It sticks around it may very well net you too much tempo. If you can develop Kagemitsu behind a Shizuru that’s almost a guaranteed win.
In the mid-game you will hopefully have taken the board which means aggro decks will try to shift their game plan to bursting you down with direct damage spells and storm followers. You want to have your Shizurus on board and as healthy as possible to tank as many storm followers as possible. Having an evolved Steadfast Samurai on board also helps as it trades very favourably and can prevent direct damage spells. The game is pretty much over if you can do that as this point as they are likely to not have much steam left to produce threats.
If the match up makes it to late game, generally you’ve already won but may have done something to prolong the match. Aggro decks cannot beat you in a value war and it you’re making it to turn 8 to drop cards like Courtly Dance the game will definitely be over. Be careful not to become complacent and throw the game. Try to have ward followers in play, get in some healing and respect what little of a board they have (but don’t respect it too much).
Key cards you want are Kagemitsu for the early game trades and Shizuru for the big ward body and healing.
VII. Basic Play Style Versus Midrange
Midrange decks are quite flexible in their game plans. In this match up you basically want to fight for board getting as many value trades in as possible and get in chip damage. You mulligan the same way as you would for aggro but can consider keeping higher cost cards in your hand. Specifically, for the Evo Sword mirror match you want to keep Leod and maybe Ivory Sword Dance because you don’t want to play into Kagemitsu developed behind a Shizuru as that is a game winning play. If your minions can get in a trade without dying you should generally take it if you reckon your opponent doesn’t play board clears. Card like Pecorine should be kept in hand to play with its union burst active for huge swing turns with or without ivory sword dance.
For the mid-game If you win the board that’s when you can go all in and go for the throat. You don’t have to fight for the board as hard and if you can present multiple threats at once you will probably win the game. Try and spread out your stats wide to play around spot removal or have your stats tall to play round board clears better. You’re now in the driving seat and can play your Steadfast Samurais and Regal Wildcats with storm to close out the game. Percorine can be dropped as a 6/5 without its effect targeting anything to apply even more pressure. The other option is to starve your opponent out of resources by value trading even more. Since you have the board you have initiative and given the same amount of resources you should always win if you both still fight for the board. You cannot respect your opponent too much as they might have a gimmick to win the game up their sleeve like a Zeus the supreme.
For the mid-game if you lose the board your new game plan is to close out the game as fast as possible. Stop or minimalize the amount of fighting for board and try to race your opponent instead by playing your minions with storm to hit face. You will be less concerned about getting in value trades and focusing purely on tempo. Tempo and value trades can somewhat be synonymous but the goal in this situation is to develop minions in hopes of them hitting your opponent in the face rather than having the ability to trade. Basically, trade less and face more in general. Ambush minions such as Leod and Tsubaki can be developed and can represent lethal damage if your opponent cannot deal with them immediately.
If your match makes it to late game, there are two options. If you both have high amounts of resources in your hands you can continue like as if it were the mid-game but be wary your opponent may run finishers like Zeus the Supreme. This is where Kagemitsu becomes an important keep in your hand to combo with Regal Wildcat for huge burst damage potential. Kagemitsu can be set up the turn before you Regal Wildcat or be played on turn to together with an evolve for lethal. The other option if resources for both players are low is to begin playing for pure value. Make sure everything you do trades 1 for 1 at worst. Cards like Quickblader need to kill something because if you’re at this point and you’ve chosen this line of play 1 damage to face is probably irrelevant. It’s more impactful for it to trade into something to enable cards like Lecia to generate and play Twilightblades on the same turn. Cards like Pecorine or Tsubaki need to get their effects off to kill something. Steadfast Samurais should be played enhanced. In this situation the player with the last follower on the board gets to hit the other one. So if your card can answer their card and survive you will probably win. You should consider Lecia being played on turn 10 to guarantee giving you Twilightblade after attacking.
Key cards in this match up are Aether of the Warrior Wing and Princess Knight to keep up pressure and generate more resources. Shizuru gets free evolves, trades and heals itself. Pecorine and Ivory sword can provide huge swing turns.
VIII. Basic Play Style Versus Combo/Control
You’re not going to win the late game against decks like these because they either have too much value for you to handle or will kill you in one turn with a combo of sorts. Therefore, your game plan is very simple. Play as fast as you can and hit them in the face. I generally don’t like evolving to trade but if it protects key threats which can deal more damage later on then it may be worth it. For the early game aggressively mulligan for Quickblader and Twinsword master. You can consider keeping Leod too but he’s not as good for damage output. Princess Knight, Pecorine and Courtly Dance are great on turn 3 as they are more threatening than Aether of the Warrior Wing. Aether does give the option to buff your board with its evolve, anthem effect to help your board survive against board clears. Regal Wildcat can be played on turn 4 if you have nothing else to do but it’s a good idea to keep him for burst damage later on to close out the game.
During the mid-game you want to be ending the game by playing your storm followers or developing your ambush minions to hit your opponent the next turn or having Shizuru’s union burst effect go off. You generally want to stop trading at this point as every damage to your opponent’s face matters. Remember, you’re not going to win a long-drawn out game most of the time. Forget about value trades, tempo plays, and face damage matter the most. Try to squeeze out as much damage as possible. Only have followers with rush trade because if it can hit face, that’s probably the right thing to do. Remember to have your storm minions played first before Shizuru because damage from its union burst surpasses followers with ward.
If your duel makes it to late game, you are highly unfavoured to win. If you play 3 Courtly Dances, you may have enough steam to close out the game or contest what control decks throw at you. As for combo, you can pray they haven’t assembled their combo yet and continue as usual. An evolved Steadfast Samurai can prevent direct effect damage to your face.
Key cards in this match up are Quickblader and in other minions with storm to apply early pressure and close out the game. Twinsword master is also very good at applying pressure and can deal lots of damage when evolved, especially with Ivory Sword Dance buffs.
IX. Example Game: Versus Dragoncraft
Mulligan phase: I see my opponent is Dragoncraft so they’re probably playing Natura Dragon which has strong ramp but somewhat weak early game. This will be similar to a midrange matchup. I want to punish them for ramping by applying early pressure, so I look for Quickblader, Twinsword Master, Princess Knight, Aether of The Warrior Wing and Kagemitsu.
Turn 1: Since I’m going first it’s an easy Quickblader play because Dragoncraft usually doesn’t keep a 1 play point 1/2 against me. I’m not keeping Quickblader to combo with Lecia because I think that’s too slow. I draw Steadfast Samurai which will most likely be played to finish the game later on or prevent me from taking lethal effect damage. I expect the opponent to play a Naterran tree generator next turn.
Turn 2: I draw Lecia which will be played on turn 5 or later. I play twinsword master to apply pressure. I expect the opponent to play ramp or a 2/2 follower next turn.
Turn 3: I draw Pecorine and that’s the play. It fills my curve and applies pressure. The opponent ramped from 2 play points into 4 so I can expect two 2/2s or a 4/4 next turn or more ramp next turn.
Turn 4: I draw steadfast samurai. There are two lines of play. Either play both 2 drops or Shizuru. I opt to play Shizuru because the board is definitely in my favour and it’s time to go all in. Steadfast samurai is better played for its storm effect. Shizuru being played right now protects my board good enough as it will be able to tank a hit from a 4 or 5 drop being evolved. If my opponent doesn’t have one to play Shizuru becomes very difficult to overcome. I expect to win this game in a turn or two. If they play healing it is irrelevant because without the board they will take repeat damage from my followers.
Turn 5: Lethal damage achieved.
Take away message is if your opponent plays too slowly you be the aggressor to punish them and healing is mostly irrelevant if you have no board presence or board clears.
X. Example Game: Versus Forestcraft
Mulligan phase: I see my opponent is Forestcraft so they’re most likely going to be playing Greenwood Forest, Control Forest or maybe Amataz Forest. I decide to mulligan for midrange as that’s what I’m usually up against although with that being said, I didn’t fully understand what Greenwood Forest could do.
Turn 1: I draw Tsubaki which will be played once her effect is active. I’m thinking of playing Leod on turn 2 into Princess Knight or Kagemitsu on 4. I expect my opponent to pass.
Turn 2: I draw and play twinsword master because I think its stats are better than Leod. Either play would be fine depending on the follow up. I expect my opponent to play a 2/2 next turn.
Turn 3: I draw Shizuru which should be played later in the game to tank hits from Lymaga. Since I played Twinsword on turn 2 I should have played traded it into the Greenwood Guardian and developed a Princess Knight. But seeing Shizuru I wanted to play Kagemitsu instead which was a big mistake because I can’t evolve Shizuru next turn and I get punished if my opponent plays an assault Jaguar because Kagemitsu can’t grow if the Jaguar trades with my Twinsword master. I realise the blunder and expect an Assault Jaguar from my opponent.
Turn 4: My opponent played an assault jaguar which is quite bad for me but not the end of the world. I draw another Princess Knight but have no plan for it yet. I want play one Princess knight to draw something better to do next turn and I get a Tsubaki. I honestly didn’t know what to expect in terms of followers and effects from my opponent, but I did expect to lose the board.
Turn 5: I draw Regal Wildcat and that should have been the play with an evolve on a 1/2 token to trade into the opponent’s 2/2 or 3/2. This would have fuelled both my Tsubakis in hand by 3. Instead, I decided to play Princess Knight to draw and then develop a Leod. It’s not as good in hindsight but not the end of the world. I expect my opponent to develop the board as we progress further into the mid-game. I did get a Twinsword master which can be activated with Leod later.
Turn 6: I draw Pecorine and decide it must be played with its union burst effect. I didn’t think and snap played Shizuru and realised the mistake as soon as I played it. My Tusbakis will only be on 8 if my whole board dies after this turn. Shizuru won’t heal itself or me and I have no other wards to protect my face from Lymaga which will be invoked out very soon. As soon as I played Shizuru I knew I was probably going to lose. The correct play would have been Regal Wildcat into twinsword master and evolve to trade into 2. This will allow me to play two activated Tsubakis next turn. I didn’t think I could salvage the game at this point, but I played on knowing if my opponent played really poorly and I got lucky I could still win the game.
Turn 7: I draw Princess Knight which gives me hope. If I play and evolve it I can activate my Pecorine. The best thing now is to hope my opponent doesn’t have a good follow up turn and I draw Shizuru to protect my face and heal me or I top-deck courtly dance to swing the board back in my favour.
Turn 8: I draw none of my outs and concede knowing I can’t win anymore.
The takeaway from this game is that you need to realise what is in your hand and play to its strengths. Shizuru is only good most of the time if it can heal itself, evolve for free or protect something worthwhile. Otherwise there are probably better plays.
XI. Example Game: Evo Sword Mirror 1
Mulligan phase: This will probably be an Evo Sword mirror. Since I’m going first, I don’t want to play into Kagemitsu on turn 3 into Shizuru on 4. I want to be reactive funnily enough. I am looking for Leod, Kagemitsu, Aether, Shizuru to go with Kagemitisu and Ivory Sword dance to go with Leod.
Turn 1: I draw Lecia which will be played on turn 5 or later. Leod will be played on 2, Courtly Dance probably on 3 and Ivory most likely on 5. I expect my opponent to pass,
Turn 2: I draw Pecorine which will most likely be played with its union burst effect active. Leod is the play. I expect my opponent to play Leod or Steadfast Samurai or maybe a 2/2.
Turn 3: I draw steadfast samurai. It is a decent play now, but I prefer to hold it for a free evolve later and to get in trades because I expect to be behind on board. My opponent played a 2/2 which is surprising because Kagemitsu punishes that play which can force them to skip turn 3. Regardless I play Courtly Dance to stay on curve. I get quickblader and therefore trade with the opponent’s 2/2. I considered only sending in the quickblader to keep the Leods hidden which may have been the better play at the cost of 2 health. I expect my opponent to play Aether or Princess Knight and maybe Kagemitsu next turn.
Turn 4: I draw ivory sword dance. It will be kept for when I want to push a lot of face damage. I can use it liberally if I want because I already have another copy in hand. I think it’s wrong to play anything right now because I want value out of my cards. I keep one Leod hidden to give me potential to play Ivory sword dance on it. I don’t care about my opponent’s Aether. I expect them to play two 2-drops or a 3-drop next turn.
Turn 5: I draw Shizuru which will probably be played later for a free evolve. Right now it’s bad because it doesn’t get self-heal and my opponents gets to develop their own with healing with a Kagemitsu behind it putting me in a kind of bad spot. The play is enhanced Steadfast Samurai to get in a free trade. The Leod Stays hidden because I want to evolve it to get an Assasin to combo with Lecia next turn. My opponent is not going to send their Kagemitsu into that. I expect them to play a 3-drop and Ivory sword dance or 5 play points worth of stuff.
Turn 6: My opponent played Elegance in action last turn which I believe is terrible for tempo. I see this as my opportunity to swing the board in my favour. I draw Courtly Dance which will most likely be played on turn 8 to seal the game. This turn is definitely evolve the Leod, use veiled reckoning to ping off Kagemitsu, use the assassin to active my Lecia and full trade. This presents 3 threats for my opponent to deal with, the evolved Samurai, Lecia and Nanoblade. This also sets up perfectly for activated Shizuru into activated Pecorine next turn. I expect my opponent to play Princess Knight, an evolve on it into Pecorine. I expect my Leod, Samurai and Lecia to die. Anything less and I believe I’ve won the game.
Turn 7: I’ve definitely won the board and it’s time to close out the game. I don’t need more value so the Princess Knight I’ve drawn won’t be necessary. I want to develop the most stats possible and start hitting face. That Courtly Dance will seal out the game next turn if I haven’t already won. One way my opponent has a chance to get back on board is with Princess Knight, evolve into Pecorine into Ivory Sword dance and get lucky.
Turn 8: I did not expect them to play mirror Image and forgot Luxblade Arriet was a card but not a problem. Courtly Dance will probably be too much for them to handle. I draw Aether which can tutor out my Regal Wildcat. I will probably play her next turn with Ivory sword dance and combo Princess Knight with the cat on turn 10. My opponent will need Pecorine or Shizuru into an Ivory sword dance or two to stay in this game.
Turn 9: I have lethal damage.
Takeaway message is if you’re ahead on board stay ahead and don’t make low tempo plays.
XII. Example Game: Evo Sword Mirror 2
Mulligan phase: This will probably be an evo sword mirror. Since I’m going first I don’t want to play into Kagemitsu on turn 3 into Shizuru on 4. I want to be reactive funnily enough. I am looking for Leod, Kagemitsu, Aether, Shizuru to go with Kagemitisu and Ivory Sword dance to go with Leod.
Turn 1: I draw Leod which will be played on turn 2. Quickblader is a keep to combo with Lecia on turn 5. Kagemitsu will probably be played on turn 3 to deny my opponent’s turn 3. Shizuru will be played later in the game for a free evolve or to counter my opponent’s Shizuru on turn 4. I expect my opponent to pass.
Turn 2: My opponent played a Kagemitsu last turn. I can punish that by playing my Kagemitsu next turn on turn 3, killing their 2-drop if they play one then getting a free kill on their Kagemitsu on turn 4. I draw Ivory sword dance which might be played in the mid-game if I want to push face quickly instead of developing a board. I play Leod to develop my board.
Turn 3: My opponent passes. I draw quickblader. Looking at my hand there is not much steam but that’s ok. I might draw something bigger later. I won’t push face because I think it’s irrelevant at this point. I don’t really have an answer if I develop Quickbladers and my opponent plays a Kagemitsu so I pass turn. I expect them to play any 3-drop next turn which I will punish with my own Kagemitsu and protect it with a Shizuru on turn 5.
Turn 4: I draw another Shizuru and I’m not sure what I’m going to do with it yet. I continue as planned. I trade in a way which keeps two 1/1s on board which is the most stats I can have afterwards. I expect my opponent to play a 3-drop or 4-drop drop and probably evolve next turn.
Turn 5: I draw Lecia and want to play it this turn. My opponent didn’t develop such as strong board last turn which is an opportunity to establish myself with Lecia Quickblader. I want the most stats on board, so I trade in the Kagemitsu into Princess Knight. Kagemitsu has done its job well by getting a 2 for 1 trade and I’m happy with that. I feel that I want to be aggressive, so I evolve the Leod to go face. I want my Shizurus to be active by turn 7 and I probably won’t evolve anything next turn because I can lay Ivory Sword dance. I expect my opponent to play Shizuru and evolve it next turn.
Turn 6: My opponent played enhanced Steadfast Samurai which can get in a lot of free trades, especially with Ivory Sword Dance. I draw Twinsword Master which allows for two lines of play. Play Shizuru and Twinsword then evolve one of them (probably twinsword). I opt to play ivory sword dance instead because I fear enhanced Steadfast Samurai as it blocks my Shizurus’ union burst effects and can help my opponent trade back into the game. By buffing Lecia it makes it very hard to kill. I evolve Quickblader which was probably a mistake as it allows my opponent’s Shizurus to heal them. On the flipside I’m getting free evolves for the next couple of turns anyway and my union burst damage cancels out their union burst healing. I expect some combination of Princess Knight, Pecorine, Shizuru and/or Ivory sword dance to be played by opponent.
A play I did not recognise at the time was veiled reckoning on the opponent into Twinsword master evolve, hit face with Lecia then play assassin on her and Ivory Sword Dance. It might be good if you don’t expect to win in the next 2 turns, but I decided at the time to go all in with the face damage.
Turn 7: I want to set up a two-turn lethal by getting in 6 damage with Shizuru. If I can stick Nanoblader to hit once this turn and once again on the next turn I can finish my opponent off with veiled reckoning. I draw Kagemitsu which I will play alongside Shizuru so it can come back next turn to clear away my opponent’s Shizuru or Arriet to allow Nanoblade to go face. I expect my opponent to play Arriet and or Shizuru next turn or lose. If I don’t win in the next couple turns, I probably lose because my hand is low on value.
Turn 8: Lethal damage achieved.
Take away message is once you’re ahead stay ahead. If your hand is low on value, try to end the game quickly. If you’re behind, do what it takes to take back the board because without it it’s hard to win. You could say I got lucky with top decks that game and here’s the thing, it happens. Sometimes you draw well and sometimes you brick. It’s important to get too excited or disappointed when these things happen.
XII. Example Game: Evo Sword Mirror 3
Anthem effect: an effect which buffs all your followers in play (can include your leader).
Board clear: An effect which wipes out the opposing player’s followers or heavily damages multiple targets.
Brick: The act of repeatedly receiving dead draws.
Buff: Add stats or effects onto a follower or your leader.
Build tall/grow tall: The act of developing followers with large stats rather than many followers with low stats.
Burst damage: Immediate potential damage from cards held within your hand.
Curve: The curve refers to your play point curve and what you can play on each turn. Filling out the curve means maximising the amount of play points you can use each turn.
Direct damage: Refers to spells and effects which deal damage to a leader by bypassing ward followers.
Free trade: When you follower destroys an enemy follower without being destroyed or removed and or damaged itself.
Heal: Restore defence points.
Kuon, Founder of Onmyodo: Busted card.
Steam: refers to the amount of card resources in your hand.
Spot removal: Refers to single target removal for followers or amulets.
Swing wide/play wide: The act of flooding the board by producing many followers.
Tempo: Refers to the pacing of the game. High tempo means fast paced while low tempo means slow pace. High tempo effects can affect the board state such as fanfares on followers which deal damage to enemy followers or effects which reduce the cost of cards in your hand or restore your play points to allow for more options.
Tempo play: The act of producing or retaining the most stats on your board as possible while maximising your play point usage.
Top deck: The act of drawing a card from the top of your deck.
Trade: The result of using one card to interact with one or more of your opponent’s cards.
Tutor: Searching for a specific card in your deck and adding it to your hand.
Value trade: When you play a card and it destroys two or more of your opponent’s cards before being destroyed itself or when your low play point cost or injured follower destroys a higher cost follower with a trade.
1-drop, 2-drop, x-drop and etc: The number refers to the earliest turn a card can be played. For example, a 1-drop can be played early as turn 1.
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