Original Work: https://note.com/yatsushiro/n/ne2983198cdaa
Author: N (@yatsushiro)
CN Translator: 幻想崩壞 (@brokenfantansy)
EN Translator: Fuyuki
The author has given permission for this work to be reprinted and translated.
CN Translator’s Foreword
The Japanese Shaddoll player Mr. N’s seminal work, A Detailed Primer on Piloting Shaddolls, has been quite beneficial to a great many players. I am sure that many people have read my translated version as well.
I have made some editing decisions re: the original to fix some parts I did not render well in the past.
Furthermore, this article focuses on the Shaddoll archetype itself and not any of the other archetypes commonly used to hybridize the deck (e.g., Invoked). I recommend that the reader consult Some Thoughts on Shaddoll, by @他说他叫影融, for the relevant information there.
Hello, this is N.
About two years ago, I wrote A Detailed Primer on Piloting Shaddolls. Now, I have written a version updated for 2022.
This is because the information from two years ago is a bit outdated. Furthermore, Shaddoll Schism had just come out back then, so the attached explanation on the card’s usage was less than ideal.
Additionally, more and more players are experiencing Shaddolls for the first time thanks to Master Duel, which also contributed to my decision to update the article.
Thus, I have edited and added to my last article. I hope that the information is helpful to you.
(The whole article has been edited, but new content begins from Chapter 6.)
• Since we are discussing the Shaddoll archetype itself, there will not be any specific examples of builds or combos.
• Individual card effects will not be explained.
• In order to avoid excessive verbiage, there will be some shorthands used:
Regular Shaddoll(s): Shaddoll monsters in the Main Deck.
Fusion Shaddoll(s): Shaddoll Fusion monsters in the Extra Deck.
NS, SS, ED: Normal Summon, Special Summon, Extra Deck.
ETB: Short for enters the battlefield, a loanword from MtG. Denotes an effect that triggers when a monster hits the field.
Grave effect: Short for If this card is sent to the GY by a card effect… etc.
CA: Card advantage. Also known as plus(es)/(sing).
CL: Chain Link. Used to denote chain order.
Table of Contents
２．Dodging Negates and Handtraps
４．Going Second, and Recovery
５．Using El Shaddoll Winda
６．Using Shaddoll Schism
８．The Course of a Game
The power cards that a Shaddoll deck relies on are generally the following five:
• Shaddoll Fusion
• El Shaddoll Fusion
• El Shaddoll Winda
• El Shaddoll Construct
• Shaddoll Schism
Understanding their advantages and quirks is fundamental to piloting Shaddolls.
① Shaddoll Fusion
A very powerful card indeed. As long as the condition is fulfilled, this is a one-card Fusion that does not use the Normal Summon, triggering the Fusion monster’s ETB and two material grave effects in the process.
Because the card says “You can only activate 1 ~ per turn,” you will be able to activate a second copy if the first’s activation is negated. This is an advantage. (CN TN: Some cards, such as Thunder Dragon Fusion, can only be used once per turn.)
Moreover, the ability of Fusion Shaddolls to continuously recycle this card via their grave effects is one of the most powerful things about the archetype.
Of course, there are a few quirks to be mindful of as well.
First, though Shaddoll Fusion is very effective against ‘negate the activation’-type effects, it is still vulnerable to ‘negate the effect’-type cards such as Ash Blossom & Joyous Spring. In such a case, you will not be able to activate a second.
Second, you should be wary of your opponent chaining effects that would render the second condition invalid during resolution (i.e., their SS’d ED monster leaves the field). It could force you to Fuse from the hand, or worst-case scenario, render you unable to resolve the effect altogether.
② El Shaddoll Fusion
There is no cost or condition to activate this card. Much like Polymerization, you use materials from the hand or field. This is unquestionably a powerful card, with many associated uses, such as:
• Setting and activating during opponent’s turn to trigger Fusion ETB effects as disruption;
• Fusing during the Battle Phase for extra damage;
• Chaining in order to dodge negates or removal (e.g., Infinite Impermanence)
• Force opponent effects to miss activation timing (e.g., Thunder Dragon Titan)
There are many ways to use it, and it ends up being a flexible and worthy card that helps you at least break even. As it is a Shaddoll card, it can be recycled by the Fusion Shaddolls’ grave effects as well. Lastly, unlike Shaddoll Fusion, it cannot be negated by Ash Blossom & Joyous Spring.
Has a ‘one activation per turn’ clause as well.
③ El Shaddoll Winda
Has a powerful floodgate effect of only allowing one Special Summon per turn, and furthermore, cannot be destroyed by your opponent’s card effects. An incredibly potent card.
You can chain out the summon of this card to your opponent’s first Special Summon in order to prevent them from conducting any further Special Summons for the turn. If they cannot run this card over, they are prevented from continuing their combo.
Even if El Shaddoll Winda dies in battle, its grave effect recycle means that you will have the ability to fuse again next turn. Overall, a very troublesome card for the opponent to deal with.
There are many ways to use this card, which will be discussed later in the article. It is not an exaggeration to say that properly using El Shaddoll Winda is key to playing the whole deck.
④ El Shaddoll Construct
When this card was on the banlist before, it was a popular plea to ask Konami to release her from jail. This former convict is absolutely necessary in any Shaddoll deck. Who knows why she is allowed to walk free today?
Has the following non-exhaustive list of advantages:
• ETB effect can tutor any Shaddoll card or effect, which means it is an important starter / extender
• Nearly invincible in battle against any Special Summoned monster, helping Shaddoll break boards with impunity
• [Light] attribute: There are many Light-attribute monsters with strong grave effects, and the fact you can dump them from your Deck with Shaddoll Fusion into El Shaddoll Construct is a power play in and of itself. (For example: Fairy Tail – Snow, Eldlich the Golden Lord, Sky Striker Ace – Roze.)
• 2800 ATK: Kills in three hits.
It should be noted that the battle destruction effect is a mandatory trigger, which some cards will take advantage of (e.g., Thunder Dragon Colossus, in order to gain CA via its destruction protection effect). Because of this, El Shaddoll Shekhinaga can be used to kill it in the mirror.
⑤ Shaddoll Schism
An unbelievable card that can Fuse with the Graveyard as a resource during the opponent’s turn.
It also has the mysterious bonus non-targeted ability to send an opposing monster with the same attribute as your Fusion Shaddoll to the GY. This allows it to serve as disruption and removal in the correct situation as well.
Furthermore, a Continuous Trap like this card is generally a magnet for removal, but the Shaddoll in its name allows it to be recycled via the Fusion Shaddolls’ grave effects over and over.
It has some downsides as well, though. The effect can only be activated during the Main Phase, and the monster Summoned by it cannot attack directly, so it is not going to contribute much to putting more damage on board. If removal is chained to the effect activation, obviously you are not going to be able to Fuse either.
Due to this card’s significant divergence from the other cards in the archetype, its usage will be discussed later.
One of the most basic skills for playing Shaddolls is knowing how to order the chain of trigger effects re: regular Shaddolls’ grave effects and the Fusion Shaddoll’s ETB effect in order to dodge negates and hand traps and force through desired effects.
Naturally, there is no fixed order that should always be followed. It will depend on your own board, resources, the game state, and what course of action you intend to take.
Example: You Fusion Summon El Shaddoll Construct with Shaddoll Falco as material.
You can use the following combinations to dodge the listed negates and/or handtraps:
- Ghost Ogre & Snow Rabbit (no other cards you need to avoid, and losing El Shaddoll Construct is unacceptable)
CL1 El Shaddoll Construct, CL2 Shaddoll Falco
- Ghost Belle & Haunted Mansion (if you desperately need Shaddoll Falco to resolve in order to secure resources for follow-up plays)
CL1 Shaddoll Falco, CL2 El Shaddoll Construct
- Ash Blossom & Joyous Spring (if you need to resolve El Shaddoll Construct’s effect to trigger a specific Shaddoll grave effect from your deck)
CL1 El Shaddoll Construct, CL2 Shaddoll Falco
*Most of the time if Shaddoll Fusion resolves successfully, it is extremely likely the opponent does not have Ash Blossom & Joyous Spring. But if you are using El Shaddoll Fusion, or your opponent knows you have another Fusion Spell/Trap, avoiding Ash Blossom becomes a real consideration.
As described, avoiding crucial negates at specific points in the game is vital to incrementally securing victory. The small percentage points here and there add up in the end.
Other common cards used as hand traps are Effect Veiler, Infinite Impermanence, etc. These cards do not need to be chained to the effect being activated, so you cannot avoid them via reordering your triggers. Therefore, when what disruptions your opponent has is unknown to you, remember that ETB effects are easily disrupted.
Example: You use Shaddoll Squamata as material to Fusion Summon El Shaddoll Construct. The opponent has Ash Blossom & Joyous Spring and Effect Veiler in hand.
CL1 El Shaddoll Construct, CL2 Shaddoll Squamata -> opponent can negate both effects.
CL1 Shaddoll Squamata, CL2 El Shaddoll Construct -> opponent can only negate El Shaddoll Construct.
Though we have only used ordering a regular Shaddoll and a Fusion Shaddoll’s effects so far as examples, the principle is the same when two regular Shaddolls are involved as well.
Furthermore, when you go first and Fusion Summon El Shaddoll Apkallone, you can order it as the last link in the chain, targeting itself with the ETB effect in order to avoid hand traps. (You will lose the battle protection, of course.)
Nibiru, the Primal Being and Maxx ‘C’ are two more disruptions that do not involve negating your cards.
Let us first consider minimizing the effects of Maxx ‘C’. Depending on the materials used for a Fusion Summon, you can usually Fusion a Shaddoll and give your opponent x+1 cards as a compromise.
The following are a few examples.
① Ending on El Shaddoll Fusion or Shaddoll Schism (with Shaddoll Hedgehog or Squamata as material)
Fusion Summon El Shaddoll Construct, sending El Shaddoll Fusion or Shaddoll Schism to GY
-> Shaddoll Hedgehog or Shaddoll Squamata searches Shaddoll Beast
-> Set Shaddoll Beast, recycling El Shaddoll Fusion or Shaddoll Schism
Your opponent draws 1 card. You have access to El Shaddoll Winda on opponent’s turn.
② Ending on El Shaddoll Fusion or Shaddoll Schism (with worse materials)
Fusion Summon El Shaddoll Construct, sending El Shaddoll Fusion or Shaddoll Schism to GY
-> Link Summon Gravity Controller, recycling El Shaddoll Fusion or Shaddoll Schism
Your opponent draws 2 cards. You have access to El Shaddoll Winda on opponent’s turn.
③ Ending on El Shaddoll Fusion or Shaddoll Schism (with Reeshaddoll Wendi as material)
Reeshaddoll Wendi SS Shaddoll Hedgehog, El Shaddoll Construct sends Resh Shaddoll Incarnation to GY
-> Banish Resh Shaddoll Incarnation, flipping Shaddoll Hedgehog face-up
-> Search El Shaddoll Fusion or Shaddoll Schism
Your opponent draws 2 cards. You have access to El Shaddoll Winda on opponent’s turn.
④ Ending on El Shaddoll Winda
If your materials can fuse out El Shaddoll Winda, you can make it and pass with your opponent only drawing one. However, because Infinite Impermanence or the like alone is enough to break through, your goal should still be Shaddoll Schism or El Shaddoll Fusion, generally speaking.
Now, Nibiru, the Primal Being.
Because Shaddolls do not make any complicated Link Summon chains to combo off, nor do they Summon multiple monsters in-archetype by nature, they have a hard time making Apollousa, Bow of the Goddess in order to guard against Nibiru, the Primal Being.
The prevalence of Adventurer and Branded in the current OCG, though, means that Nibiru is rarely encountered there. In Master Duel, it is possible that you might be hit by Nibiru in the process of going for game. Therefore, you should be mindful of simply playing around it via the following methods:
① Limit the number of monsters summoned during the Main Phase to 4 or fewer
Obviously, this allows you to dodge the activation requirement for Nibiru, the Primal Being.
If you can deal damage to your opponent in the Battle Phase via El Shaddoll Fusion from hand, it is better to do that instead.
(TN: Nibiru calculates the summons for the entire turn, but can only be activated during the Main Phase. The author means that you should only summon 4 before the Battle Phase – if you make a 5th during the Battle Phase, it should be lethal or you should proceed directly to the End Phase.)
② Make use of El Shaddoll Winda
When El Shaddoll Winda is on the board, Nibiru, the Primal Being cannot be activated, as the player doing so needs to Special Summon both the card itself and the associated token. As such, if Winda is SSed as the 5th monster, you will be safe from Nibiru and still be able to SS yet another monster – bringing your actual number to 6 for the turn.
③ Use Shaddoll Schism as disruption (including when going first)
Load your GY with Shaddoll Schism as you combo off with Fusion Shaddolls. Even if you are hit by Nibiru, the Primal Being, you can use your Fusion Shaddoll’s grave effect to recycle Shaddoll Schism and access El Shaddoll Winda on your opponent’s turn.
As your goal is Schism anyway when going first, you will not be especially harmed by Nibiru regardless.
④ Use the token as Fusion Material
The token that Nibiru, the Primal Being makes is Light-attribute, so if you have Spells and materials remaining, you can go for El Shaddoll Construct and continue your turn. Nibiru, the Primal Being dies in battle to Construct, so there is no issue there.
As discussed previously, a basic goal for Shaddolls is to access Shaddoll Schism or El Shaddoll Fusion and chain El Shaddoll Winda to a Special Summon that the opponent conducts (and combine this with out-of-archetype disruption).
If you make El Shaddoll Winda on your own turn, cards like Infinite Impermanence or Kaijus can easily overcome it, and your opponent can also make whatever Special Summon they like. This is clearly the weaker option.
In other words, if you have the materials ready and Set Shaddoll Schism or El Shaddoll Fusion, you are already done your turn going first. This is fairly simple as combos go.
It is more important to know when to Fusion on your opponent’s turn, and sometimes what.
Keep the following three key points in mind.
① Don’t try to counter inherent Special Summons
It is generally not a good play to attempt to counter Link Summons by Fusing El Shaddoll Winda on your opponent’s Normal Summon. (Though this is, of course, occasionally necessary regardless.)
If you give a free Special Summon opportunity to your opponent, a certain Fusion Spell can sometimes get rid of El Shaddoll Winda with trivial ease, and you will lose the expected floodgating power. Additionally, if you casually make use of regular Shaddolls’ effects during your opponent’s Main Phase, you might get hit by Triple Tactical Talents, which will steal your Winda and turn her into Link Material.
② Shaddoll Schism is not necessarily better than El Shaddoll Fusion
Against fast backrow removal such as Twin Twisters or Cosmic Cyclone, Shaddoll Schism cannot make El Shaddoll Winda at all.
Furthermore, since Shaddoll Schism’s effect can only be activated during the Main Phase, decks that have Quick-Play starters such as Branded Opening or Emergency Teleport would be better countered via El Shaddoll Fusion.
It is important to take the opponent’s deck type into account when considering which one you want to end on.
③ Chaining Winda to an SS may not be the best choice
This seems to conflict with (1), but I do not mean necessarily changing the activation timing, but rather the purpose of Shaddoll Schism. If you chain El Shaddoll Winda’s summon to your opponent’s SS, of course you will lock them out from further Special Summons, but Shaddoll Schism will not generate any resources simply by making Winda.
Moreover, because Winda prevents yourself from SSing more than once per turn, this may prevent you from making plays next turn if you lack the resources in hand to play around this fact – Winda will only have bought you one more turn to live.
Though Winda is still necessary in some situations, since Shaddoll Schism has the send to grave effect on an opponent’s monster, if El Shaddoll Construct dumping a regular Shaddoll or El Shaddoll Apkallone’s negation is enough disruption in addition to that, then you may consider going for those instead to conserve resources.
Shaddoll is often seen as a deck with strong recovery and resilience, because of the effect of Shaddoll Fusion.
As mentioned in Chapter 1, any card that Fuses from the deck is overwhelmingly powerful if allowed to resolve. Consider a very basic example of: CL1 Shaddoll Dragon, CL2 El Shaddoll Apkallone, CL3 Reeshaddoll Wendi. The singular copy of Shaddoll Fusion nets a 2500 beater plus a face-up negate plus an unchainable Spell/Trap destruction plus a free Shaddoll from deck on board.
Furthermore, making use of the Light-attribute material sent from a summon of El Shaddoll Construct, plus appropriate Link Summoning, can easily allow you to go for an OTK. It is therefore not an exaggeration that this card alone is a game-winning play, which means resolving Shaddoll Fusion is the primary focus of recovery.
As such, the following is needed to push through a Deck Fusion when going second.
– Playing enough cards to force out the opponent’s negates and counters before Shaddoll Fusion
– Ensuring that Ash Blossom & Joyous Spring is already used before Shaddoll Fusion
– Ideally, ensuring that the opponent has nothing to make the Deck Fusion condition fizzle
One of the reasons that Magical Meltdown and Branded Fusion are often used in tandem with Shaddolls is their ability to force out Ash Blossom & Joyous Spring or various negates. (Of course, the best reason is that they are powerful one-card starters.)In addition to this, the practiced Shaddoll player is privy to the following lines that are oft overlooked by the general public.
– Using El Shaddoll Fusion, Super Polymerization, or some other Fusion Spell to summon El Shaddoll Construct, dumping Shaddoll Fusion with its ETB -> Link away Construct, recycling and activating Shaddoll Fusion
– After forcing out the opponent’s negates, use two Effect Monsters to Link Summon Predaplant Verte Anaconda, copying the effect of Shaddoll Fusion
As described above, though the focus is on using Shaddoll Fusion to recover, it is also possible to search out Shaddoll Fusion during the combo process and recycle it after exhausting opposing negates, or ending on Predaplant Verte Anaconda in order to push yourself further ahead.
*Greyed out parts are available only in Master Duel, since Verte has been banned in the 2022.4 OCG list.
As previously mentioned, El Shaddoll Winda has a plethora of uses in the deck. Aside from the powerful effects printed on the card, its generic recycling grave effect common to all Fusion Shaddolls and the fact it uses a DARK material are both clearly important also.
Because of this, El Shaddoll Winda is a cornerstone of the deck.
① Forcing the opponent’s Battle Phase
It is not easy to remove El Shaddoll Winda by using just a single Special Summon thanks to her effect destruction immunity, so battle is the preferred method to getting rid of her.
Since there is only one Battle Phase per turn, running over her to continue a combo usually means eschewing further battle damage for the turn. Effect destruction immunity is also adept at preventing absurd OTKs via methods such as Accesscode Talker.
Limiting the damage you take gives you more time for the grind game that Shaddolls are so renowned for, reducing the situations where [your LP runs out before your other resources do]. As such, El Shaddoll Winda’s ability to waste your opponent’s Battle Phase should always be kept in mind.
② Resummoning on the opponent’s turn for further disruption
It is true that El Shaddoll Winda has lower stats compared to other powerful boss monsters such as Herald of Perfection’s 2800 DEF or Number F0: Utopic Draco Future’s 3000 ATK.
Even so, El Shaddoll Winda has the unique characteristic of being recoverable (sometimes multiple times) on the opponent’s turn.
For example, if Herald of Perfection is eaten by a Kaiju or Number F0: Utopic Draco Future is negated by Infinite Impermanence, it is difficult for them to have any further effect during that turn. However, El Shaddoll Winda can be simply resummoned via fast cards and effects such as El Shaddoll Fusion, Shaddoll Schism, and Resh Shaddoll Incarnation.
You can take advantage of this by preparing two or more such methods, which allows you not to worry as much about your El Shaddoll Winda being run over or removed. You can chain your second El Shaddoll Winda when your opponent tries to continue their combo, slowing the game down to a crawl once more.
Your opponent obviously cannot run over two El Shaddoll Winda a turn, since they only have one Battle Phase, which helps make the second one that much more annoying to remove.
Shaddoll Schism is a bit different from the other Shaddoll cards.
It provides resources and disruption in one handy package, and allows Shaddolls to banish Fusion Materials from the GY besides. This is an unprecedented feature for the archetype, since outside of this card, the deck mainly focuses on manipulating resources between the hand, Deck, and Graveyard. Banishing cards removes them from this system.
Granted, Naelshaddoll Ariel has a Flip effect that can get back a banished Shaddoll, but it is very slow and clunky to make use of. As such, recovering banished cards cannot be relied upon.
Because banishing is a crucial component of Shaddoll Schism’s effect, here are some additional advantages and disadvantages to keep in mind when using the card.
• A clear goal to end on when going first
Before Shaddoll Schism, Shaddolls had a hard time finding a consistent goal to end on, and was largely forced to adjust on the fly based on any given hand. Nowadays, stacking the Graveyard with food and Setting Shaddoll Schism is very powerful disruption in and of itself.
• Freedom to use Fusion Shaddoll grave effect to get Resh Shaddoll Incarnation or a second Fusion
In the past, each Fusion Shaddoll could only recycle the Spell they were used to Fuse with for the most part. It was possible to Fusion every turn, but the deck lacked explosive power. Shaddoll Schism provides this, and allows the freedom to make use of Resh Shaddoll Incarnation besides as an additional source of CA.
• No need to keep regular Shaddolls in hand / on board
El Shaddoll Fusion has the flaw of needing materials (i.e., regular Shaddolls) you actually have. With Shaddoll Schism, you are no longer forced to access Shaddoll Hedgehog or Shaddoll Falco with El Shaddoll Construct, drastically increasing combo freedom.
Disadvantages and Advice
• Possible to Fusion without a Fusion Spell
If Shaddoll Fusion or El Shaddoll Fusion is not somehow sent to the GY (e.g., with El Shaddoll Construct’s ETB effect), the Fusion Shaddoll that you summon with Shaddoll Schism can have its effect fizzle without any targets. Exhausting your GY can leave you without gas to continue the game.
• Rapidly exhausts Fusion opportunities
Though Shaddoll Schism can be used every turn, thoughtless use of the card can lead to your Extra Deck running dry very quickly.
Most of the time, 1 Fusion Shaddoll will be used to access Shaddoll Schism. Another will be used for disruption on the opponent’s turn, and yet another for combos on your next turn. If conserving Extra Deck resources is not taken into account, going long will prove a much harder proposition.
• Schism into Winda gains no resources
The most common disruption on the opponent’s turn is using Shaddoll Schism to summon El Shaddoll Winda.
However, making El Shaddoll Winda with Shaddoll Schism does not trigger any regular Shaddolls’ GY effects, and usually the opponent will not lose any resources either. Gas for follow-ups is therefore not guaranteed.
Furthermore, El Shaddoll Winda often prompts the opponent to pass rather than summon an ED monster to fulfill Shaddoll Fusion’s Deck Fusion requirement, making it more difficult to gain free resources that way as well.
Though making El Shaddoll Winda is good, care should be taken to ensure that you do not play yourself into a corner.
• Rapidly exhausts regular Shaddolls in the Deck
Two uses of Shaddoll Schism require four materials in the GY. To achieve this goal, Shaddoll Squamata is often used to stack the yard. However, doing so leaves fewer regular Shaddolls for future use via Shaddoll Fusion, so excessive usage of Shaddoll Squamata may prevent the player from Fusing the ideal materials from the deck later on in the match.
Therefore, it is useful to carefully ration Shaddolls sent by Shaddoll Squamata such that no more is sent than necessary for the planned number of Schism usages.
• Vulnerable to Called by the Grave
It is worth noting that if you only have one Shaddoll in your GY at the time of activating Schism’s effect, your opponent can fizzle your activation by banishing said Shaddoll.
Furthermore, to avoid your opponent using Called by the Grave to negate an on-field Fusion Shaddoll’s ETB effect, it could be useful to banish Fusions as fodder for Schism.
Of course, it is also possible to simply chain Schism’s effect to Called by the Grave in order to avoid its detrimental effects.
Though Shaddolls are considered powerhouses in a grind game, the deck cannot use its Graveyard as a second hand in the same way as Drytron or Eldlich. If your hand and field are both emptied, it becomes extremely difficult for you to recover.
Furthermore, Shaddolls lack cards like Thunder Dragons’ Thunder Dragon Fusion to easily replenish deck resources with. Recklessly summoning Fusion monsters will only lead to premature depletion of available resources.
As a way to recover on board, Resh Shaddoll Incarnation can be looped with El Shaddoll Construct for infinite resources, but as the former is a Trap, it is difficult to take initiative with this combo on your own turn; and it is easily broken by Called by the Grave. Therefore, it is not something that should be relied on.
Given all these facts, Shaddolls are forced to spend their resources bit by bit in the course of fighting an opponent, especially in a grind game. This section was a bit incomprehensible in the 2020 version of the primer, but resource management remains a crucial concept for the deck, so I have tried to condense it down to three points instead:
①Keep track of the number of Fusions available from your Deck, both Main and Extra;
②Understand what each Fusion and regular Shaddoll can provide in the context of a game state;
③Consider the amount of advantage and pressure that is generated by each potential play, and whether a balance can be struck between expenditure and returns;
In summary, the two principles of “minimizing waste” and “maximizing tempo” should be followed in order to squeeze every ounce of advantage out of your resources.
Let us now discuss how to utilize Shaddolls in the context of a game.
(Apologies in advance for any difficulties in expression.)
The most difficult part about playing Shaddolls is thinking about how to win.
Each Shaddoll monster is flexible and suitable for a variety of situations, but the archetype in general does not excel at making boards or mass removal.
Thus, the deck lacks a clear gameplan such as “play through disruption, make Borrelsword + another monster to OTK”, or “use Update Jammer to make Accesscode Talker, then blow up the board and attack for game”.
Because of this, it is vital to consider the following:
• What is the opponent’s board? Is it possible to OTK with my current hand?
• If not, how do I pressure the opponent for a victory next turn?
• If I cannot exert much pressure, what kind of resource lead can I build? What play is my opponent forced to make to counter my imminent push?
In order to choose the most appropriate strategy to employ.
Based on the opponent’s deck, your starting hand, and other details, there are a number of plans available.
• A risky blitzkrieg that exploits the opponent’s potential flaws to obtain a quick victory;
• A midrange strategy that uses Fusion Shaddolls to maintain board presence and eventually steamroll the opponent;
• A slow grind game that focuses on developing nigh-infinite combos via cards like Naelshaddoll Ariel;
• A floodgate plan that tries to keep El Shaddoll Winda on the board as much as possible, to prevent the opponent from playing the game.
It is important to know what plans are feasible, then choose the one with the best chance against the opponent’s deck.
If the wrong plan is chosen, for example:
You want to play fast aggression but get dragged into a grind game, causing you to run out of gas, or;
Or, you want to go for the long game and some NI combos, but get OTKed because of insufficient disruption;
You would lose these kinds of games with the regretful knowledge that you could have won them, had you adopted a different, correct strategy.
Moreover, the nature of Shaddolls is such that you do not use different cards according to the plan you choose, but rather use them differently depending on what your plan is. Unlike some decks, it is harder for you to change plans on the turn of a dime.
• Shaddoll Falco
Fast: A regular Shaddoll that can be used as material twice.
Medium or slower: A resource generator.
• El Shaddoll Apkallone
Medium or faster: Important removal and searcher, can be banished for Shaddoll Schism.
Slow: Repeatedly revived to reuse its negation and recycling effects.
• Resh Shaddoll Incarnation
Fast: Used as a combo piece to put damage on board as part as an OTK.
Medium or slower: A recyclable revival card that can generate infinite resources.
As such, in order to ensure that you are following the correct plan, it is important to:
1. Know what your build is capable of;
2. Understand all the potential uses of each Shaddoll card in any kind of plan;
3. Figure out which plan is most suited to defeating the opponent.
These will come with time and experience, so be sure to get plenty of practice in.
(EN TN: The author glosses over a pretty important card game concept here, the one covered by the legendary MtG article Who’s the Beatdown? by Mike Flores, expanded upon in Who’s the Beatdown II: Multitasking by Zvi Mowshowitz, and reprised in Eight Core Principles of Who’s the Beatdown, again by Mike Flores. Yu-Gi-Oh! is a drastically different game than Magic, but they may be useful reads nevertheless if you are somewhat familiar with the latter game but have not heard of these articles; and the roles of beatdown versus control do exist, even though most good decks can do everything at once. As the author discusses, it is especially important for a flexible deck like Shaddoll to master the skill of knowing what role to take. Role misassignment = game loss.
Thank you for reading this unbelievably long article.
Although I have already said too much so far, I think that the main reason whenever Shaddolls lose a game is because they are prevented from Fusion Summoning. (You will know what I mean if you have played the deck.)
If you do not have a Fusion Spell or Fusion Materials, there is no room for you to play the game, so a build that ensures a good supply of both is crucially important. The contents of the article should only be understood after you get the fundamentals down.
This article will be updated with any new thoughts I have in the future.
Please enjoy your time dueling with Shaddolls; may we ever continue to submerge ourselves in the mysteries of the Shadow Prison.