Each "Sylvan" monster is based on various plants and take on a variety of occupations.
|Sylvan Hermitree||Delonix regia tree/Hermit|
|Sylvan Sagequoia||Sequoia tree/Sage|
|Sylvan Guardioak||Oak tree/Guardian|
|Sylvan Lotuswain||Lotus Blossom/Coxswain|
|Sylvan Bladefender||Blade of grass/Defender|
|Sylvan Mikorange||Orange fruit/Shrine maiden|
|Sylvan Peaskeeper||Pea pod/Peacekeeper|
|Sylvan Cherubsprout||Plant sprout/Cherub|
|Sylvan Princessprout||Plant sprout/Princess|
|Alsei, the Sylvan High Protector||Alseis plant/Byakko|
|Orea, the Sylvan High Arbiter||Suzaku|
The Japanese word shinra is shortened from shinrabanshō (森羅万象) meaning "all things in nature", hence the plant-life motif. The word "sylvan" refers to an association with the woodland, specifically that which inhabits the wood, is made of tree materials, or comprises the forest itself.
All monsters introduced thus far, except for "Alsei, the Sylvan High Protector", have the common effect of excavate a number of cards from the top of the Deck, and sending any excavated Plant-Type monsters to the Graveyard. In turn, the other effects of the Main Deck "Sylvan" monsters activate when they are excavated from the Deck and sent to the Graveyard.
Their basic playing style involves excavating other "Sylvan" monsters from the Deck and sending them to the Graveyard, in order to activate their effects, ranging from card destruction to monster revival. Their effects also let the player, if no Plant-Type monsters were excavated, send potentially dead draws to the bottom of the Deck, thus allowing good draw advantage. However, this mechanic can also place handy cards on the bottom of the Deck, so before blindly excavating the cards, it is recomended to use effects that reorder the cards on the top of the Deck, in order to make the most of the strategy.
When playing "Sylvans", there is a tendency not to rely on Normal Summons, facilitating the use of "Miracle Fertilizer" without heavy repression. Such plays could include discarding "Sylvan Hermitree" with "Mount Sylvania" and then having the advantage placing the card desired by its owner. Then "Miracle Fertilizer" can be used to revive "Hermitree" to excavated the stacked "Sylvan" and draw a card.
One of the advantages of "Sylvan" is the lack of adding cards from the Deck to the hand, placing them on the top of the Deck, instead. While this may seem disadvantageous, by using cards such as "Shared Ride" or "Mistake" one can punish the opponent for adding cards or stopping them altogether, thus keeping with the pace of the Duel or slowing the opponent down without affecting the playing style of "Sylvan" player. This advantage becomes apparent against Decks that rely on adding cards to the hand, such as "Raidraptor", "Monarch", "Tellarknight", etc, or lockdowns involving "Thunder King Rai-Oh".
Some non-"Sylvan" cards that may be useful in a "Sylvan" Deck include:
- "Kuribandit": Adds a Spell/Trap Card while setting up the Graveyard for "Miracle Fertilizer" and triggering the effects of the "Sylvan" monster(s) sent to the Graveyard.
- "Fallen Angel of Roses": Can be Special Summoned by returning a low-Level "Sylvan" monster to the hand that has already used its effect, and also allows quick access to Rank 7 Xyz Monsters.
- "Rank-Up-Magic - The Seventh One": Can be placed on the top of the Deck using "Orea, the Sylvan High Arbiter", "Sylvan Hermitree" or "Sylvan Charity" in order to draw it during the next Draw Phase.
- "Number 49: Fortune Tune": Can be Xyz Summoned by using "Sylvan Marshalleaf", "Dandylion" or "Sylvan Princessprout". Alternative to the passive-aggressive wall "Wind-Up Zenmaines", it can recycle "Dandylion", "Kuribandit", "Marshalleaf" or "Lonefire Blossom". Also, restores 500 LP during each of the player's Standby Phases, fueling for "Soul Charge".
- "A Feather of the Phoenix": The player can discard a high-Level Plant-Type monster (preparing for "Miracle Fertilizer") and place a fallen "Sylvan" monster on the top of the Deck.
- "Rose Lover": Searchable by "Sylvan Cherubsprout", it can banish itself from the Graveyard to Special Summon a high-Level "Sylvan" monster from the hand, and make it immune to the opponent's Trap Cards for the rest of that turn.
- "Reasoning": Special Summons a "Sylvan" monster from your Deck. Since this card "excavates" the monster first, if the opponent guesses correctly, the monster is sent to the Graveyard and its effect can be triggered.
As with most Decks nowadays, "Sylvan" Decks rely a lot on the Graveyard, so cards like "The End of Anubis", "Soul Drain" and "Macro Cosmos" will cripple the Deck and are to be prepared against if using a "Sylvan" Deck.
Since a main strategy of "Sylvan" Decks is to put needed cards on top of the Deck so that effects that rely on excavating the top card of the Deck can lead to an advantage, cards like "Card Shuffle", "Grave Protector" and "Peeking Goblin" can mess up this stacking. "Ancient Telescope" and "Convulsion of Nature" are superb assists here as one can better time when to use such card effects to shuffle or re-locates "Sylvan"s in a Deck. If "Convulsion's" not being used, "Grave Lure", combined with "Sylvan" monster top-decking tactics and a good eye, can also interdict "Sylvans" by not only also sending would be "Sylvan" monsters further down a Deck but also discarding the excavated "Sylvan" via the said Trap as soon as it is drawn.