Introduction

Table of Contents

Quick Guide

Game Play

 

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.

 

Pros

  • 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

Cons

  • 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

 

Claret Sword Dragon

Grade 3

4 Copies

Grade 3 Vanguard

Skull Witch, Nemain

Grade 1

4 Copies

Deck filtering

Knight of Machinations, Abagdo

Grade 1

4 Copies

Retires RG, provides power

Death Feather Eagle

Grade 0

4 Copies

Abyss Healer

Grade 0 

4 Copies

Morion Spear Dragon

Grade 2

4 Copies

Strong RG and promotes discard

Black-winged Swordbreaker

Grade 1

3 Copies

5K draw engine

Blue Espada Dragon

Grade 1 

4 Copies

Mill enabler, gains power

Darkside Trumpeter

Grade 0 

4 Copies

Promising Knight, David

Grade 0 

1 Copy

Darkpride Dragon

Grade 2

4 Copies

Mill enabler

Dead Armor Dragon

Grade 1

2 Copies

5K Guard restrict enabler

Cherishing Knight, Branwen

Grade 1 

4 Copies

Grade 3 searcher, 13K booster

Dark Shield, Mac Lir

Grade 0 

4 Copies

 

Claret Sword Dragon

Grade 3

4 Copies

Garde 3 Vanguard

Darkpride Dragon

Grade 2

3 Copies

Mill enabler

Ensnaring Mage, Conohr

Grade 1

2 Copies

Allows guarding with G1s on board

Cherishing Knight, Branwen

Grade 1

4 Copies

Grade 3 searcher

Abyss Healer

Grade 0 

4 Copies

Cursed Lancer

Grade 2

2 Copies

Counter charger

Skull Witch, Nemain

Grade 1

4 Copies

Deck filtering

Knight of Machinations, Abgado

Grade 1 

3 Copies

Retires RG, provides power

Darkside Trumpeter

Grade 0 

4 Copies

Dark Shield, Mac Lir

Grade 0 

4 Copies

Morion Spear Dragon

Grade 2

4 Copies

Powerful RG and discard enabler

Black-winged Swordbreaker

Grade 1

3 Copies

5K draw enabler

Blue Espada Dragon

Grade 1 

4 Copies

Mill enabler

Death Feather Eagle

Grade 0 

4 Copies

Promising Knight, David

Grade 0 

1 Copy

 
 

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.

mid game

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.

late game

 

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.

 

match up guide

Bermuda Triangle

Matchup Difficulty: Moderate

Claret Sword’s strengths are spread similarly across multiple Bermuda Triangle decks, regarding this as a mirror match of sorts wouldn’t be inaccurate. Riviere can generate advantage while also attacking multiple times with power that snowballs while Coral can gain big power and criticals very quickly. However, the most problematic deck would have to be the Melody variant which boasts incredibly high power with it’s columns, tutorable pieces, and an above average defense capability. Unfortunately, this matchup is decided by who can set up their wincons first and who is the first to run out of steam. Claret can outspeed Riviere since she’s more reliant on specific pieces than the dark dragon is. Melody will always maintain their huge columns while on Force 2 while also defending Claret’s offense a bit better than the other two Bermuda Idols.

Dimension Police

Matchup Difficulty: Easy

Dimension Police, although powerful, is a bit on the slower side which Claret Sword can take advantage of. Should Dimension Police go first, your priority should be you having the means to guard Dailiner who’ll gain an additional 20k power and critical. Although Dailiner turns their grade 3s into 10k shields, giving them more guarding power, Dimension Police also needs those grade 3s at the same time, especially Great Daiyusha. If you’re able to push their hand, their offense is hindered making their Great Daiyusha turn weaker. It goes without saying, Claret Sword going first should have no trouble in this match up.

Gear Chronicle

Matchup Difficulty: Hard

Whether you’re facing Chronofang Tiger or Chronojet Dragon, Gear Chronicle will prove to be an extremely difficult match up. Chronofang will always need to be blocked with a perfect guard, otherwise, your hand will suffer after having to guard a vanguard swing with multiple drive checks, multiple criticals, and with an ability that lowers the shield of all of your guardians by 5000 power while also giving their entire front row 10k power. 

 

You have some leeway in fighting Chronojet if they went first since their first superior ride won’t be as lethal. However, if they’re allowed to go into their ace, Chronodragon Nextage, the match will easily sway into Chronojet’s favor. With two vanguard swings, the second attack being a sentinel restriction, and Force 2 stacked on multiple columns means your hand will drastically crumble from having to guard multiple potential game ending swings.

 

Regardless which one of the two you’re facing, the key to either match up is damage control, and of course balance between increasing your hand size while also making a powerful field capable of pushing them or even taking the win over them.

Genesis

Matchup Difficulty: Easy

Genesis can generate the Astral Plane faster than before meaning the threat of having to face both the Vanguard and Valkyrion can occur as early as their first Vanguard ride. Always maintain a good handle of your damage so that Genesis doesn’t steamroll the black dragon. Occasionally, Genesis will opt to go Force 2 over the more traditional Force 1, for more damage. It is advised to try to find a perfect guard, otherwise Valkyrion will be pushing for victory with two near lethal attacks. When everything is said and done, Claret Sword Dragon will have his time to push back and claim victory over the Astral Poets.

Kagero

Matchup Difficulty: Easy

Kagero has two major factors that are going against it in the match up against Claret Sword. One being that it’s prominent gimmick, retire, is more beneficial to Shadow Paladin. Retiring Shadow Paladins grade 1s, regardless of how impactful they are, are still being sent to the drop zone, ultimately fulfilling what Claret Sword wants and needs to bring the match to a close, all at the expense of Kagero’s resources. The other factor is speed; Kagero’s best turn is turn 4 after re-riding a grade 3 regardless whether you’re using The End, The Great, or Dragonic Blademaster; they all operate at full force under the condition of needing a grade 3 in the soul. If they should get their second grade 3, you should have enough guard to stave off anything this clan throws at you.

Link Joker

Matchup Difficulty: Easy

Similar to Kagero, Link Joker is an exceptionally slow Force clan across all of their deck variants. However, one edge they have over Kagero is that nearly all of their removal options exist as binds as opposed to retires, which hurts Claret Sword significantly more. Claret Sword will definitely need to exercise caution when building their field to combat this - either by having their grade 2s in the front or making use of Knight of Machinations, Abagdo, a grade one who, on boost or attack, can retire another grade one in a different column for an additional 5000 power. Link Joker’s Deletor variant has both the option to bind rear-guards but also the Delete mechanic, which is a massive detriment to decks who run low grade 3 counts such as Claret Sword. This can be circumvented through your cards that search for Claret Sword and even the clan’s inherent draw power, but it’s still something to keep in mind when in this match up.

Neo Nectar

Matchup Difficulty: Hard

When fighting against Neo Nectar, you should seek to stay on the offensive as much as possible since it's a vastly glass cannon deck. That being said, this match up is decided by who can reach their win condition first and who can push more. Ahsha has the means to go at your vanguard with an extremely high number and criticals between 2 or 3, between herself and her Fairy Flower Token, the latter having a chance to become even stronger after her drive checks. However, should the game go on longer, it only serves to strengthen Neo Nectar due to it stabilizing better while Claret Sword will start to lose steam. It may also be worth considering rear-guard hating since both the Fairy Flower Token and another Ahsha, for Dream Ahsha specifically, are essential key pieces that reinforce Ahsha’s power.

Royal Paladin

Matchup Difficulty: Hard

The white knights of Royal Paladin take the clan to a new direction with Altmile as their focus. Being able to generate a board that has massive power as early as grade 2 is just the start of Claret Sword’s troubles. Upon getting to grade 3 is where Altmile shows he’s not as forgiving as the other Next Stage clans due to Altmile giving all of his grade 2 units an additional 5000 shield, with Starlight Violinist giving them intercept, thus giving Claret Sword a harder time to close out the game. Claret’s only way of fighting is being the aggressor since the skills of key units for Royal Paladin, and even Altmile himself, are turned off if Claret can land at least one damage during his turn. However, if Claret does not win, all of the damage accumulated will become fuel to hit Claret Sword even harder than before.

Shadow Paladin

Matchup Difficulty: Moderate

As with any mirror match, it comes down to who can set up first, with events needing to go perfectly for both sides, and staying ahead of the opponent. Something to consider is rear-guard, effectively damage denying, the player who decided to commit a full board to not give the aggressor the counter blast needed to resolve Claret Sword’s re-stand. It also helps that, when you ride your own Claret Sword, you can push more damage on your opponent and potentially go for the win right there.

 

While he isn’t seen as much since Claret Sword’s arrival, Mordred Phantom still exists and did receive quite few buffs to his consistency especially due to Branwen. Mordred’s best option is to stabilize, go for hand advantage, and find his pieces, while establishing and maintaining aggression. His flaw is that his grade 3 turn going first is not particularly lethal, at least compared to most decks, so he’ll need to give Claret Sword a chance to ride up and push before Mordred is allowed to play at full power.

Spike Brothers

Matchup Difficulty: Easy

Spike Brothers want to be on the offense from the start, but are especially fragile themselves, since they also want to see their pieces to further their aggression. Claret Sword, regardless if it went first or second, has no problem being just as aggressive and building both their hand and field to stave off attacks. Spike Brothers might be tempted to go Force 2 to catch up on damage, but this can be mitigated by managing your damage early on, so that you can take at least one Force 2 attack. When Claret Sword appears, it should be enough to overwhelm Spike Brothers and claim the win here.

Aqua Force

Matchup Difficulty: Hard

Both Shadow Paladin and Aqua Force want to go first, but Aqua Force is just as scary going second as they are going first due to Last Card, Revonns’ ability to take away 5000 power from the vanguard. This means even their weakest units are able to force a guard from a Force grade 3 with 8000 power. This coupled with re-standing rear-guards such as Algos, Tidal Assault, and Galleass or heavy hitters in Coral Assault and Nerissa, can be a make or break turn for any deck that stands in Revonn’s way, whom he himself is able to get additional power and an extra drive check. Aqua Force is able to start their waves as early as their grade two ride. Needless to say, if they’re allowed to get damage on you early, then there’s less chances of stopping their later turns. Guarding early would be the best way to go about handling yourself in this match up, and fishing for a defensive on during their grade 3 turn while also building your hand to help with going on the defensive. When you’re ready to attack, going at their vanguard would be the best course of action until their hand is low enough that you can afford to swing at any available key rear-guards to weaken their turn.

Gold Paladin

Matchup Difficulty: Easy

Due to Shadow Paladin having a higher base number, Gold Paladin is more prone to having their plethora of attacks being shut down with less guard than it would if it were up against a non-Force match up. The key to this match up is that to go for their Vanguard. Their hand is their most vital resource due to how they need to call a certain number of cards not only to fill their board but to add an extra card that Aggravain can check from the top of their deck. They’ll be forced to go on the defensive and drop their hand or take damage and conserve their hand for the following turn. Claret Sword Dragon and being a re-standing two critical vanguard should be capable of accomplishing that.

Great Nature

Matchup Difficulty: Moderate

Great Nature does show that it’s capable of handling itself in the ring against Claret Sword Dragon. This is ultimately due to their ability to generate hand advantage without needing Accel 2. Fortunately, for Claret Sword, Great Nature’s grade three rides going first aren’t nearly as lethal meaning regardless of who goes first, Claret still has a good chance to start hitting hard with little objection. However, should the game drag on, Great Nature will become more problematic to deal with while also taking into account Claret’s own issues in the late game. The best approach is to be the aggressor; get damage in, so that you don’t have to work as hard to get the final damage later.

Murakumo

Matchup Difficulty: Easy

Unfortunately, Shirayuki being restricted to one has opened Murakumo up to being weak to aggression, which is what Claret Sword, among other decks, specialize in. However, they’re still capable of giving Claret a good run for his money. Murakumo’s ability to create power lanes, direct tutors with HYU-GA, and still having access to their last Shirayuki can make for a really powerful push turn. Alternatively, Murakumo can go for a Zanbaku/HYU-GA hybrid that can lock the opponent’s grade 3 vanguard from standing, which can only be addressed by riding another grade three - something of which Claret Sword has as few as three copies of. If Murakumo can stabilize and survive beyond Claret’s re-stand turn, then the game is significantly in their favor, but all the same time, Claret Sword still has means to steamroll this deck.

Narukami

Matchup Difficulty: Hard

For Narukami, Shadow Paladin will inevitably struggle here. Narukami’s form of spot removal is done in the form of binding, so should Shadow Paladin try to make a board, they risk their grade ones not going to the drop zone from the field. However, the real problem with Narukami is how many attacks they can perform and how powerful each attack is. Dragonic Vanquisher being able to stack it’s entire front row with 10k will empty the hand or add damage to whomever they face, and Claret Sword is no exception. Additionally, being able to cycle through their hand will allow Vanquisher to increase both his offense and his defense, making it able to withstand Claret Sword. The best case going into this match up is to build up your hand in the early stages since Narukami isn’t as aggressive early on as other decks. Knight of Machinations, Abagdo can help maintain aggression while also fueling your drop zone, and providing one less target for Narukami to bind. When you’re ready to go for your push turn, you will definitely need to put your best foot forward, otherwise, Narukami will have the advantage for the rest of the game.

Nova Grappler

Matchup Difficulty: Moderate

Whether it’s Beast Deity or God Hand, Nova Grapplers can still hit pretty hard with how many attacks they can perform. While they may not be as impactful as other Accel options, due to how their turn is negated due to one defensive trigger (other Accel decks needing two), they’re still able to hold their own. Beast Deity will prioritize multi-attack which needs to see key pieces. If they start to go on the offensive, don’t be afraid to hit these rear-guards, as they’ll need to decide whether to let them fall or to guard them. Claret Sword is also able to maintain advantage between its hand and board a lot better than Nova Grappler can, making it less likely to be overwhelmed before you overwhelm it. On the other hand, God Hand focuses more on huge numbers by drive checking Front Triggers, so your best option is to push hard from the start, guard early to take later powerful swings, and finally finish them off with Claret Sword Dragon.

Pale Moon

Matchup Difficulty: Easy

With Dorianne being limited to one copy, Pale Moon has suffered a crippling blow that would’ve allowed it to generate hand advantage to survive anything Claret Sword threw at it. However, Silver Thorns are still able to play aggressively, so it’s something to be aware of when going up against this match up. Proper guarding will pave the way to victory as the later, stronger attacks will pose no threat, while you ease into your grade 3 turn ready to take the win.

Tachikaze

Matchup Difficulty: Easy

Tachikaze is another deck that has taken a backseat due to the restriction of their main grade 3, Angerblader. It’s deck now is a more slower yet conversative style using Gigarex to give it’s rear-guards and making it’s vanguard column powerful. The act of stacking their Equip Gauges not only buffs their units, but is also to grab their last copy of Angerblader for once they’re able to ride it, the game is easily swayed into Tachikaze’s favor. However, because of the loss of speed, Claret Sword is able to take advantage of Tachikaze’s situation and start pushing early to try and settle the match as quickly as possible.

Angel Feather

Matchup Difficulty: Hard

With the focus of Angel Feather being shifted to Arch-aider, Malkuth-melekh, the clan wants to start being as aggressive as possible in both it’s offense and defense. With their offense, being able to call back three cards from their drop zone with additional power and some with sentinel restriction, makes guarding them extremely difficult to defend against. Defensively, given the nature of the deck, Angel Feather has flexibility in their defensive options between Protect 1 completely shutting down Claret Sword or Protect 2 which gives them bulky intercepts that can be called back again in a later turn. How you approach this match is up to apply damage as early as possible. This is due to Malkuth-melekh needing to take a damage after calling cards from the drop zone, meaning unless he re-rides to heal a damage, there will be no calls when they’re at five damage.

Dark Irregulars

Matchup Difficulty: Moderate

Dark Irregulars still serve as a exceptionally strong Protect Deck with having access to a multitude of finishers such as No Life King and Master of Fifth Element. Additionally, No Life King being able to re-ride after it’s attack means that the clan will always have access to at least one perfect guard to use against Claret Sword at all times. However, they still need time to build up the soul for these win conditions, which makes it easier for Claret to start pushing. Additionally, due to the loss of Variants Hardleg as of May 22nd, Dark Irregulars do lose additional finishing power thus making it easier for a lot of decks to survive against their push turns. 

Granblue

Matchup Difficulty: Moderate

In a similar case to Dark Irregular, Granblue losing Violence Franger, as of May 22nd, lowers any threat the deck had, beyond Skull Dragons. However, it still has the option to build their hand through a succession of skills making it difficult for Claret Sword to get through all by himself if he were to go second. Should it come to this, the best thing to hope for is Granblue decking out faster than Claret Sword, which is coincidentally, one of Claret’s weaknesses as well.

Megacolony

Matchup Difficulty: Moderate

Megacolony can draw a myriad of cards while also forcing the opponent to discard and milling cards from the top of their deck for extra drives or guard restrictions. While it can be annoying, especially in the later stages, they don’t do much else. However, because Claret has a limited time before the deck runs out of steam, he needs to push as quickly as possible before Megacolony has a chance to stabilize.

Nubatama

Matchup Difficulty: Easy

While Nubatama does better with Protect 2, they won’t hesitate to go Protect 1 to shut down Claret Sword completely. Beyond this however, their discard mechanic can be a double edged sword since Claret would be more than happy to want grade ones in their drop zone. However, at the same time, whether it’s Hanzo weakening their field or Jamyocongo restricting their hand size to as low as four cards, Claret Sword would still have some trouble guarding but not by much, especially if Nubatama went Protect 1. Establish the flow of the game early on before Nubatama has a chance to, and Claret Sword will take it from there.

Oracle Think Tank

Matchup Difficulty: Moderate

Creating a stack at the bottom of their deck, while also being able to manipulate the top cards of theirs, and increasing their hand size will make fighting Oracle Think Tank a race against time for Claret Sword. In terms of speed, Claret is able to set up faster and steal the game especially if it went first. However, going second will prove to be an uphill battle. Oracle Think Tank is notorious for having a monsterous hand size with a guaranteed perfect guard within. If the game goes on for too long, Oracles can always count on their Victorious Deer to push for the win by giving each unit additional power and securing a double critical on the top of their deck, on top of Tsukuyomi’s stack. Claret will have a difficult time trying to find a way for victory between Oracle’s stacking and Claret’s own drawbacks of going into the late game.

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