Sheep Coachings Episode 1 - Control Sword (ft. stolz) - March Update

OnionSheep / March 9, 2017

This time, we'll dive deeper into tournament preparation and take a closer look at a class people claimed to be dead at the start of "Rise of Bahamut."

We are trying to find a fine deck to play in tournaments and one recommendation I can give is Control Sword.

Control Sword - Why play it?

Albert, Levin Saber is fairly straightforward. It is effectively an Imp Lancer which costs one less play point, and it also has an Enhance effect which is your primary win-condition going into most matches-- bursting 6-10 damage starting from turn 9.

Frontguard General was never a bad card to begin with, but back in the DE heyday of Midrange Sword, a more offensive build than Control Sword is now, Sword's curve topped at 6pp. It simply did not fit in the archetype and was not contributing enough towards the win condition. Not to mention, Roaches weren't everyone's biggest nightmare.

Sword in Rise of Bahamut has suffered primarily from all the board clear additions to several classes, as well as Bahamut itself. To name a few: Breath of the Salamander, Ancient Lion Spirit, Bloodhungry Matriarch, etc. It also used to have the strongest board throughout all classes with Sea Queen Otohime and Floral Fencer. Recently, Tempo Rune consistently builds up a bigger board than Sword is able to, which forces Sword into the defensive and into control.

Card Breakdown

Without further ado, I will give a brief explanation of the cards in the deck. There are a couple cards which I will discuss at greater length later.

Unicorn Dancer Unica

Widely used anti-aggro card. Control Sword, to my surprise, performs rather poorly against aggro, primarily due to only having wards to stabilize later on. It can easily get burned to death due to the lack of healing. That is why you need to tech against aggro to survive the early game even though it diminishes the value of your deck.

Veteran Lancer

The best defensive 2-drop in the game. 2/2 stats with Ward is very good on turn 2 but even later on it forces awkward trades, and Wards save lives!

Maid Leader

This is a filler card, but the directed draw must be kept in mind at all times to your advantage. It has at least a 50% chance of drawing a Ward. Keep track of how many Commanders you have in hand and in your deck.

Whole-Souled Swing

You are playing reactively-- you want as many of these as you can. It is so strong against 2/2s, and even post-evo, you can finish off 2hp followers. Offers a big tempo swing.

Healing Angel

It fulfills the same role Unica does, and a 2/3 body is a good statline for 3-drops.

Novice Trooper (Removed)

This card does not do enough for a control deck, especially compared to Blitz Lancer and Jeno.

Blitz Lancer

Very underappreciated card, although it's seeing more and more play. For details, see below.

Giant Slayer (Added)

Tsubaki is a card people will play around, Giant slayer is not. You are really happy if they shrink down their board to play an 5/6 Ancient Elf or you have an easy answer to opponents evo Albert on t5. Also it trades 1:1 with Bahamut while giving you 7 additional pp to play around with. The cheapness of this removal gives it flexibility and makes this card shine through many scenarios, rarely is it a dead card because even vs aggro you can hit evolved Veight and Imp Lancer or Shadowreaper / Cerberus. Since this is card is actually completely forgotten, the surprise element is also always on your side.

Jeno, Levin Vanguard

One of the backbones of this deck, a fast card that also works well on turn 6-- flexible and strong.

Amelia, Silver Paladin

It is better than Jeno going 2nd, and very strong versus aggro. If they have more than 3 followers this feels similar to a Floral Fencer on steroids.

In the update, we added a third Amelia. Very good vs 4/5 or even 5/5 bodies-- can evolve into a Goblinmount or Feena without dying-- and sets up Cyclone Blade to an extent. The reason to stock this up to 3 is to improve the Daria-matchup.

Aurelia, Regal Saber

Sometimes a win-condition. Crucial vs aggro and decks with Storm, such as Shadow and Forest.

Monika, Cloudhall Admiral (removed)

Replaced by Amelia. Having the consistency and predictability of which commanders you pull with your maids is more valuable than this card. You basically have a 75% chance to draw a ward when this card is removed. Also, the 4 drop is incredibly important in the tempo game.

Albert, Levin Saber

The card to carry sword-- I think Sword would actually be dead if it were not for Albert.

Cyclone Blade

Sword can get outswarmed-- especially Control Sword-- and now with Tsubaki and more Amelia (potentially 0 cost Gelts) this card’s value has gone up. As such, the deck now runs 2 Cyclone Blade.

Alwida's Command

Call of the Alwida, the versatility of this card make this the get-go 6-drop. It can trade, it can push for lethal, it blocks off the counter engage-- basically the most versatile of Sword's reactive high-drop.

Tsubaki (Added)

Useful in the current meta-- notably vs Daria or Bahamut-- even though I like Fangblade more, you might die before Fangblade gets played.

Frontguard General

This card is critical in walling off your opponent. Apart from Pixie Mischief, I don't see Forest breaking through this. If you are worried about White Wolf of Eldwood, avoid playing this into their turn 8; just play Alwida’s instead and they will despair.

Fangblade Slayer

Overlooked by many, right now the real strength of this card is that nobody plays around it. People always play around Albert as best they can, but this additional 3 damage catches the opponent off-guard. Some players choose Dragonewt Charlotte over this card, however Charlotte cannot go for chip-damage and 2:1 at the same time, because if you go face, you don’t control the board, and a 4/7 body is actually less pesky than a 3/x with bane. If they play a hard removal on your Charlotte you might simply die because they still have their strongest minion on board, where it would be gone if you'd played Fangblade instead. And with regards to the update: What's better than one Fangblade? Two Fangblades.

Dark Angel Olivia (Added)

It is not just Albert that is your ultimate win condition, but rather Albert + Evo pt. Having evolve points left is really strangling for your opponent. The highest pressure of remaining evolve points is Sword at the moment-- this is why Olivia is really important in Sword.

Bahamut (removed)

Sword’s strength is not in grinding but rather bursting and you cannot outdraw other control decks. You can still opt to go for Bahamut if it’s your style of play.


The deck presented is a variation on stolz' original Control Sword. These are the changes that were made in the most recent iteration (older list here):

Cut:
  • -1x Bahamut
  • -2x Odin
  • -1x Art of the Ninja
  • -1x Monika
  • -1x Novice Trooper
Added:
  • +1x Giant Slayer
  • +1x Amelia
  • +1x Cyclone Blade
  • +1x Tsubaki
  • +1x Dark Angel Olivia
  • +1x Fangblade Slayer
  1. On Unica: Unica was a soft taunt, thus a generally worse Veteran Lancer; there are very rare cases where Unica would be better than Veteran Lancer, since it has to survive for 2 or more turns to be actually better.

  2. On Blitz and Novice: Most of the time, I use Novice Trooper to hit a follower, like a Fairy, a Goblin, or even a 2/2, but Novice can deal with neither Yurius/Snake Priestess nor Clarke/Healing Angel, and there are also cases where Blitz Lancer deals more face damage than Novice does. For example, if the opponent plays 2 fairies on turn 2, you Blitz/Novice one of them and they Ancient Elf the following turn. If you answer the Ancient Elf with Jeno you actually get to push 1 additional chip-damage and the 3/1 leftover body is significantly better than a 2/1; it does not get traded for free by Fairy-evo, and Elven Princess Mage-evo leaves behind a 4/2 which dies to Whole-souled Swing. Furthermore, turn 8 Blitz Lancer + Cyclone Blade clears far better than the Novice Combo can.

  3. The times I found Novice Trooper useful are the games against control decks to push for chip damage, or against Daria if they miss their Clarke trying to race them, but in times where they place a turn 3 Ogler or 3/4 Ancient Elf, Art of the Ninja/Jeno are the only cards which can effectively answer such a threat. Due to the nature of Ambush, Art of the Ninja also provides some savage damage (14) going into turn 9 in conjunction with Albert.

  4. On Tsubaki: Tsubaki was initially cut in this list, but has been added back for more Cyclone potential, as well as its great strength against Daria and Bahamut.

  5. On Fangblade: A lot of times I experienced difficulties closing out the game, mostly with the opponent at 11 or just barely out of reach. Fangblade is able to fix that problem with the additional face damage it provides while at the same time conserve your evo points even if you are behind. The leftover body is not to be trifled with, since it has Bane. The downside is, of course, its cost, but there were many times I would have played Fangblade over Odin. Additionally, Fangblade kills minions below 5 attack whereas Tsubaki, a similar consideration, does not.

General Mulligan Guide

The general outline of how a game progresses depends heavily on your opponent, this deck mostly wins between turn 7-9. Your early game tries to go on par with your opponent and you aim to overwhelm them in the mid-game and close out the game with burst. Albeit counterintuitive it is not right to mulligan for as much early game as possible, especially in open decklist encounters.

Going 1st you want Jeno, and going 2nd you want Amelia. Blitz Lancer is really good and all your 2-drops are insanely good vs aggro. However, vs control you only want Maid Leader as your 2-drop and mulligan for your mid game tempo swing cards (the deck is rather reactive and you lack draw). In general cases Fangblade is better than Tsubaki vs Control Blood and Seraph Haven.

Thought Process

When you reach a certain threshold in tournaments, you have to stay unpredictable, this is what all the one copy cards in this deck are about. It is not simply a game where you play the board, it will become a psychological game as well. It’s the same as in Poker where your strategy sometimes fails against new players, because they do not follow through the same thought process as you do. But when we’re talking about high stakes tournaments, this deck performs exceptionally well in the high-end spectrum of a tournament-- particularly if decklists are open, with the amount of bluffs you are able to set up. Meanwhile it does not lose the power of a strong consistent deck.

Tournament Meta

I think most will believe me, without having to back it up with data, that Tempo Rune has had the most 1st place finishes in recent tournaments. It is safe to say that at the moment the viability of any decks in tournaments boils down to their ability to beat Daria. This deck however shines in its match-up versus the very popular Forest Roach Combo deck, which gets shut down by wards. Following these 2 decks there are many Aggro Bloods and Seraph Haven to be seen around. So taking the meta into account, I sat down for an interview with stolz, a strong and consistent control player (who placed 7-8th ExG 3rd Dec, 3rd ExG 21st Jan, and won the ExG Take Two Tournament on 7th Jan) to give us a deeper insight on why he chooses Control Sword and how he has success with it.

Why did you decide to run Control Sword in the last tournament?

Roach and Daria are the most picked tournament decks and Sword has a fair game against both of them. One just has to close out the game quickly against Daria.

In the last ExG tournament, weren't you using a more hybrid midrange build?

I've slightly updated the list and here is the list I would play now. (the list covered in this article)

I feel Bahamut was never much needed in the deck, and Maid + Cyclone has bricked my hand multiple times.

Bahamut can be played as a failsafe against Rune when you get into the late game and they topdeck a Daria to refill the board. Both 1 Maid and 1 Cyclone have been removed since you absolutely do not want to have 2 Cyclones in your hand. Hand size is usually pretty small as Sword because there are not too many good draw mechanics.

After it's initial teaser, most people looked down on Blitz Lancer, saying it would never see the daylight again after the release. People were like: "Arena card, next!"

Yurius, Clarke.

Floral Fencer?

It requires an evo point, otherwise it's just a Goliath.

Odin vs Fangblade?

Seraph is annoying, but by forfeiting Odin’s your deck’s overall strength and consistency rises. Your wincon is racing Seraph by having a strong t7-t8 where the opponent cannot afford to Drop seraph.

How do you plan out your game and what is the base idea when you are executing the deck?

The general idea is you answer their 2-drop with your 2-drop/3-drop, then you answer their 3-drop with your 3/4-drop. For example, going second, you Whole-souled Swing their 2/2 and Blitz Lancer their 3-drop and Jeno their 4-drop and so on.

Which Cards are the weakest link in this deck?

The only flex points for me are Tsubaki and Amelia, really.

Which cards are worth considering as substitution?

Fangblade Slayer, Lucifer, Art of the Ninja, Whole-souled Swing, Blitz Lancer, Jeno.

Who do you want to be the next Swordcraft Leader if neither Erika nor Latham were good enough?

Alexander, this guy never gets love. He is the Conqueror!

Any suggestions you have for the players who are about to netdeck you?

Curving out with the deck is important, make sure to mulligan accordingly for it. Since there is basically no draw you have to keep up with your opponent every turn of the game and edge out card advantage by 2 for 1 or 3 for 1 with your high value cards. Now have fun beating up some Darias and Roaches!

Where is my Waifu?

Some of you might ask: Where is Otohime? One issue with Otohime's Bodyguards is they guard absolutely nothing. The new board clear, Cyclone Blade, has so much synergy with Otohime that you can use it afterwards on Otohime to kill off your useless guards. Jokes aside, in a deck where I play no Sage Commanders, no Wind God, and literally not a single card in the deck to buff cards already in play, Otohime does not generate a significant threat. She is going to hurt you more than she will help you, either by giving the opponents multiple targets to Piercing Rune or by board locking you vs Roach Forest, thus giving them 1-2 additional turns to have enough pp to OTK you. There are more cards with the ability to 1:1 Otohime than ever. If I'm not mistaken, it used to be only Themis's Decree that cleared it on a consistent basis. Nowadays, Ancient Lion Spirit and Breath of Salamander clear flawlessly, whereas Matriarch punishes with at least 4 face dmg adding salt to the wound.

I want to thank stolz for contributing with his decklist and the interview and ElDynamite for letting me using this awesome portal to display my content. My name is OnionSheep and I'm a dedicated TCG/CCG player. I started playing card games competitively with Hearthstone and recently I placed 5-6th in ExG EU/NA 10th Dec; 3rd in the ExG SEA/OCE 14th Jan and 2nd in the ExG EU/NA 21th Jan respectively. My favorite classes are Forest and Rune, since those were the most complex decks to play when I started out Shadowverse during Darkness Evolved. This series is targeted at an experienced player base but I tried to keep it as simple as possible. If you have any questions or suggestions, including on which decks you want to learn next, feel free to contact me at koksriecher@gmail.com. You can follow me on twitter (@Bronionsheep) and on Twitch. You can also find me in the ExG Discord channel.

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