If you’ve ever tried to build a deck out of Swordcraft’s dysfunctional amulets, you’ve probably felt Support Cannon’s strange, seductive magnetism. Next to cards like Castle in the Sky, it seems pretty good. It can hit face, it can hit followers, and you can activate it with plenty of cards. Sounds like midrange paradise, right? Unfortunately, every Support Cannon deck shares two critical flaws:
- You have to draw Support Cannon.
- You have to put the Support Cannon you drew on the board.
The worst card in every Support Cannon deck is also the most important one. Cannon is an awkward tempo loss, bloating your already crowded 5PP slot and eating a critical evolve turn, and the only way to justify it is building your entire deck around it, putting yourself at the whim of Shadowverse’s merciless RNG and Swordcraft’s abysmal card draw.
But hey, the list has 3 Alberts in it. How bad can it be?
The first question I tackled when tuning this deck was simple: “How many Support Cannons and Uriels should I run?” After exhaustive testing with a variety of different mulligan strategies, I’ve finally arrived at the right number: zero. Every Swordcraft amulet is garbage and you should never play them.
If you’re being held at gunpoint and forced to play Support Cannon on ladder, 2 Uriels and 2 Cannons is just enough to ensure that you never have Cannon in any matchup where it matters. If you add an additional copy of either card, you’ll mulligan into two Cannons every game, then miss your turn 3. I usually prefer the latter, since it means you actually get to play your deck sometimes.
Start with a standard mulligan for your early curve. Pitch Teena (and maybe Uriel) if going first, and consider pitching Jeno if going second. Otherwise, look for Unicas and your low-cost rushers. If you can use them to make strong trades, you’ll have an easier time recovering when you drop Cannon.
This deck runs a pretty standard control low end1, with the addition of Goblinbreaker Teena to clean up wide boards and Young Ogrehunter Momo as pretend removal. With that in mind, Lux’s statline may look suspect. A 2PP 1/2 can sometimes create some pretty awful trades, but she actually makes the deck more consistent. Lux is effectively a power-creeped Maid Leader, and the cards she fetches can all help you stabilize the board. Besides, you need the draw, since Staircase to Paradise gives every aggro list an uncomfortable amount of extra reach.
When turn 5 rolls around, ideally you have an advantageous board and you can drop Cannon with no worries. What actually happens is that you get to make an exciting choice: “Can I survive getting hit in the fucking face as my opponent floods the board? Should I drop Cannon and have confidence in my gameplan, or spend some resources and try to set up a better board state?”
You will ask yourself this question almost every game, and like a malevolent version of quantum mechanics, picking an answer will rewrite causality to guarantee it’s the wrong one. Just remember, if you don’t drop Cannon early, it’s unlikely you’ll get to drop it at all.
Once Cannon is down, the clock starts ticking. Playing your core amulet is essentially like casting Dimension Shift for your opponent (this is how you know a deck concept is really good), and you’ll have to fight your way back into a favorable position. If your opponent curved in a circle, this is probably where you die. Otherwise, use White Paladin, 6PP Jeno, and Barbarossa to clean house, saving Momo and Mr. Full Moon to disable or remove any irritating late-game bombs.
Once you’re out of danger, the goal is to bombard your opponent’s followers, outvaluing their turn plays, and build up your own board while shooting them in the face. Finish with an enhanced Albert (Sword’s only real wincon since the beginning of goddamn time), a storm of Barbarossas, or just beat them to death with whatever happens to be left on your board. Hell, you could even tech in Zodiac Demons2. Everything’s fake and we’re all going to die, so you do you.
Just keep the plan in mind. You’ll be able to easily clear the board most of the time, assuming you didn’t instantly lose for dropping your win condition, but this is not a grinder deck. Take greedy evolves when you’re not in obvious danger, and trust your board presence to keep you afloat, saving wards and Durandal to lock out your opponent’s finishers.
And hey, if everything goes to shit, you can just drop Bahamut and blow up the whole board. Including your Cannon. God fucking dammit.
A word on double Cannon
Lecia looks pretty cute on the Support Cannon card art, but unfortunately, she’s about as intelligent as your average Shadowcraft player. If you play multiple Cannons simultaneously, she gets very confused.
When you play a Commander, every copy of Support Cannon checks for followers before targeting. If one Cannon kills the last remaining follower on the board, your other Cannons won’t fire, since they have no followers to target. This makes no goddamn sense, but Cygames seems to think it’s okay, since they’ve left it like that since the card was printed.
Because of this bizzarre bug, you’re usually better off playing another follower. Versus fast decks, you want to crowd them out instead of continually answering their board. Versus certain slow decks, you might need to save the extra copy for amulet removal or after a Bahamut. And if you expect to play Roland, you might even run into problems with board space…
Forestcraft: Pray for Swings and rushers. Barbarossa and White Paladin do a great job of keeping Forest’s wide boards in check, and if your opponent disrespects them you’ll be able to cheat a lot of stats onto the board fast. Beauty and the Beast will delete your cannon fire (and ignores Momo’s Bane, because this game is fucking awful), so if you see Neutral tells, you may have to drop Barbarossa on T5 and combine him with a T6 rusher or evo.
Dragoncraft: Dragon has shat on Sword since the beginning of time, and this list is no different. If they ramp, you explode. Cannon is one of the rare Sword tools that can kill Prime Dragon Keeper, though you’ll need prayers and pagan rituals if you want it to pick the right target from a wide board. If you don’t see PDK tells, Roland can protect your dome from heavy Storm like Genesis Dragon and evolved Forte…as long as you can play her in time.
Note: Remember, if your pagan rituals call for a human sacrifice, Shadowcraft players are technically people.
Swordcraft: Look for rusher value versus aggro—bully them with Jeno and bleed them out with Frontguards. Bonus points for Blitzing a 1/1. Versus midrange and control, first verify that you haven’t accidentally traveled back in time, then beat the absolute shit out of their board with Barbarossa.
Shadowcraft: Play Barbarossa as much as possible. The complex card text will confuse the average Shadow player into conceding.3 Failing that, standard clown fiesta rules apply. If you see Staircase, play aggressively, and if not, play it patiently. Don’t bother trying to play around Atomy, it doesn’t help. If Mordecai hits the board at any time and you don’t have lethal in hand, your best hope of victory is to start roping them.
Bloodcraft: This is one of the few decks that can take grinder Blood to late game. Barbarossa is perfectly statted for blowing away Blood’s midgame and late-game threat, as long as you can maintain board presence and avoid eating Temptress Vampire to the face. On the other hand, Carabosse is the stuff of nightmares. If you don’t curve perfectly to answer every threat, you won’t have enough time to gain a foothold past turn 6.
Havencraft: Storm Haven gives this deck a really hard time. Frontguard is too slow, White Paladin’s effect doesn’t work on amulets, and your rushers aren’t worth much versus angry birds. Slower decks like Elana can be bullied into submission for a while, but if they drop Aegis, see the Shadowcraft section regarding Mordecai. Try not to leave Barbarossa in range of Blackened Scripture.
Runecraft: If you see Insight, concede. In theory, Roland is an answer to Giant Chimera, but in practice, they’ll just drop 40 golems on the board and shift you twice for 800 damage. If you really want to play it out, use Cannon on turn 5 to bait a possible Petrify, pass turn 6 to deny them spell targets and delay the inevitable, then drop Roland and pray they can’t solve the puzzle. For the weirdos playing Dirtcraft, just make sure to kill Magic Illusionist and you’ll be fine.
Life after Support Cannon
Support Cannon is really fucking bad, but somehow I keep coming back to it every expansion. There’s a certain sort of satisfaction that I can’t get with any other deck. And it’s not just the meme—if I wanted to meme, there are way stupider decks I could be playing.4
Support Cannon is so interesting because it’s almost there. The deck runs like a well-oiled machine given the right conditions, forcing itself into strong positions through sheer value, and it’s an absolute joy to play. But when you’re not winning, it’s plagued with consistency problems, hard-pressed to get ahead, and Cannon itself will pick the wrong targets at the worst possible moments.
The high points are incredible, the low points are brutal, and even if you know it’s a horrible idea, you’ll always find yourself drawn to it again. Basically, Support Cannon is the Shadowverse equivalent of heroin—and much like actual heroin, it’s probably best to stay away.
A lot of Swordcraft’s staple Commanders are missing from this list, and for good reason. It can be tempting to flood your deck with low-cost Commanders and maximize Cannon value, but they’ll dilute your Lux pulls and sap your hand size. It’s more consistent to build for early-game tempo, but feel free to experiment with cards like Dragonewt Charlotte, Amelia, and Luminous Mage—you’re not going to gain rating with this abomination anyway. ↩︎
Zodiac Demon is one of Razaku’s 400 IQ inclusions; the idea is to use Barbarossa and Frontguard General with it, punishing an open face with 10 damage out of hand. It’s pretty fucking funny, but is it worth the 7000 vials? Maybe… (no) ↩︎
My apologies to Shadowcraft players, you’ve been the butt of three jokes thus far. Kudos for making it this far in the article, though, I know it must be difficult. ↩︎
Hamsa + Call of Cocytus + Kiss of the Princess + Castle in the Sky = new meta ↩︎