Each "Sylvan" monster is based on various plants and take on a variety of occupations, with touches of various aspects of Shinto, Japan's chief religion.
|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. This could also allude to the concept of kami, or "Shinto gods/spirits" that are omnipresent. 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.
Almost all "Sylvan" monsters have the common effect of excavating a number of cards from the top of the Deck, and sending any excavated Plant 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 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. Cards like "Sylvan Charity" and "Mount Sylvania" are indispensable for the Deck for this very reason.
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".
The boss monsters of the archetype are "Orea, the Sylvan High Arbiter" and "Alsei, the Sylvan High Protector". The latter's effect excavates the top of the Deck and then bounces cards on the field without targeting them, up to the number of Plant monsters excavated and sent to the Graveyard. This effect can be used to recycle cards like "Miracle Fertilizer" and/or take target-immune opposing monsters off the field, like "Borreload Dragon", "Blue-Eyes Chaos MAX Dragon", "Supreme King Z-ARC", etc. It can also reorder the cards from the top of the Deck, setting up the excavation effect the "Sylvan" monsters, including itself. The former's effect adds a card from the top of the Deck to its controller's hand, provided they correctly guessed the excavated card's name; if the guess was wrong, "Alsei" spins an opponent's card, which can give the "Sylvan" player a control over the opponent's future draws, while getting rid of a troublesome card in the process.
With the advent of Link Monsters, "Aromaseraphy Jasmine" became an essential card for the Deck, with two search effects for Plant monsters and a blanket protection against battle destruction to the Plant monsters it points to. It can be easily Summoned by sending "Dandylion" to the Graveyard with the effect of "Mathematician", which in turn can be Tributed as cost for its effect.
As with any Graveyard-reliant Deck, "Sylvan" is vulnerable against cards like "The End of Anubis", "Soul Drain", "Dimensional Fissure", "Silent Graveyard" and "Macro Cosmos". Also, "Sylvan" monsters have very assorted Attributes, making it a cinch to cripple their field presence via "Gozen Match" and "Battle of the Elements".