The nation of United Sanctuary has more than one protecting force. These dark and mysterious knights work in solitude and in the cover of shadow to protect United Sanctuary. However, these Shadow Paladins will not hesitate to step in and try to correct any wrongs that they interpret to be occurring. In the anime, their primary player is Ren Suzugamori.
V-era Shadow Paladin is a clan that traditionally revolves around sacrificing your own units to power up your Vanguard. The Shadow Paladin clan mitigates the cost of retiring your rear guards by gaining card advantage through superior calling units from the deck, and by having a high number of units that draw additional cards.
With the release of Claret Sword Dragon, the goal has become less to garner advantage and more to provide offensive power. Shadow Paladin's power comes from its ability to bind seven Grade 1s from the drop zone and restand the vanguard.
Shadow Paladin also has rear-guards that aid in this goal, such as Darkpride Dragon and Morion Spear Dragon. Nemain is also always a key piece in any Shadow Paladin deck, allowing you to deck thin and pull out your Grade 1s quicker.
Strong Grade 1s to generate advantage and set up the drop zone
Bulky units to hit hard very early
High chance of Grade 3 ride being lethal
Grade 1s can rush turn one with little punishment
Risks G-Assisting with low G3 and G2 count
High risk of deck out between milling, drawing, superior calls
Runs out of steam very quickly after the Grade 3 ride
Does poorly in the Protect matchup
Shadow Paladin has a good number of options for the early game. Of course, the best one will always involve Nemain deck thinning as early as possible to establish a field. However, you can also have Blue Espada Dragon, who can search for either Claret Sword Dragon or Morion Spear Dragon from the top three of the deck, as well as Cherishing Knight, Branwen, who checks the top five of the deck for a Grade 3. Your grade two turn only has two options: Darkpride Dragon or Morion Spear Dragon. While both function similarly, Morion Spear is the better of the two as he can discard anything to draw one card while receiving at a minimum, a 5000 power bonus.
It’s important to highlight that your grade one and two turns should be spent either looking for key cards, generating advantage--specifically the field, and setting up your drop zone with around seven grade ones. Spend your resources as you see fit while also being as aggressive as possible to ensure you have everything set up for what could be the final turn.
Your grade 3 ride is often the decisive turn in the game, especially if you went first. Force 2 is this deck’s preferred Imaginary Gift because your Vanguard, Claret Sword Dragon, is a re-stander and can obtain power through alternate means, thus the extra critical is valued more. However, situations where Force 1 would be better is if your opponent is already at five damage since it’d be a matter of overwhelming their guarding capabilities.
The most crucial element here is the number of grade ones in your drop zone. Claret Sword needs seven to re-stand, so making sure you fulfill this threshold is a top priority. However, it’s important not to overdo it because you may risk drawing into and/or milling triggers that can elevate the strength of your turn.
When beginning your attacks, be mindful of your field. Make the most of each of your units because it is fairly easy to turn off abilities and miss opportunities to use skills with improper sequencing. With that aside, push their hand and damage to a game winning threshold, the best case scenario is winning on this turn.
Claret Sword has a poor transition into the late game, and does everything it can to avoid having the game last long enough to reach this point. The reasons being that Claret Sword is a deck that runs four grade threes, meaning it’s less likely to ride again. Regardless if Claret Sword could re-ride or not, the main issue would be that Claret will be rendered useless going forward since needing to bind seven grade 1s is a heavy cost even for a deck whose grade one ratio is higher than both its grade twos and threes combined. Claret Sword also faces the inevitable risk of decking out due to the combination of drawing cards, milling cards, and superior calling units.
With the deck running out of steam, it becomes easier for the opponent to stabilize and push back, or wait for Claret to deck out. The only silver lining is that the opponent still needs to guard against your attacks regardless if they’re in or recovering from a weakened state.