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The Sword-and-Shield Discipline might easily be criticized for its overuse or repetitive appearance in the series. This becomes nearly redundant as three of the game's veterans (namely Sophitia, Cassandra, and Lizardman, though Lizardman switches to an axe starting with SC3 onwards) have defined the style too uniquely for it to be duplicated again.
However, fans and critics will be wronged on this note.
The Sword-and-Shield Discipline takes away from the movesets of the game veterans. One notable thing about it is that the shield now has more of its own strikes and attacks, some completely independent of the sword, as compared to those movesets of Cassandra and Sophitia. This allows more variation and unpredictability in fighting tactics for the user.
Some combos exaggerate with longer attack time, added hit bonuses, and shifts to devastating stabs. (One good example is the B+K, down-to-forward B combo.) Precision is of utmost need in these combos, and correct execution becomes rather rewarding. Having said this, it is no surprise that the moveset also deals higher damage than other movesets.The icing on the cake is the lone surge of lightning (A+B; can also be found in crouch K, A+B) which is usually reflected off the shield, making for an impractical but equally damaging long-range attack. If one is far off from the opponent, he can use this attack to strike while evading. The disadvantage of this measure, especially for beginners in the discipline, is that the attack may be used on desperate counts, leaving the user open (or as would be termed by gamers alike, the move becomes for the "noobs").
The surge of lightning may also serve as a requisite stance for specified moves to become guard-break and unblockable moves. This is done in the taunt-button execution (G+K). Albeit providing additional damage, the stance is not advisably done when the user seeks closure in a battle.
There are numerous rip-offs of already established moves, however, which are included in the Sword-and-Shield discipline. (One would be Sophitia's back throw, which also evidently becomes the Sword-and-Shield discipline's back throw.) Questions also arise whether there are moves borrowed from SC2 guest character Link, another sword & shield user, or not.
The Sword-and-Shield discipline is represented by Chronicles of the Sword character Abelia Schillfelt, and can be exclusively located in the Gladiator and Sage classes. Gladiators get the Sword and Shield discipline by default, but Sages must level 10+ times to use it.