Sunday, December 29, 2013

Tier Predictions for All 150 Yugioh Archetypes (Winter 2014)

Here’s my breakdown of all 157 Yugioh archetype for the coming format.  

… of course,  I need to give a few provisos, conditions, and caveats. What pundit doesn’t?  

The meta will likely change dramatically as new products are released. I have tried to include those changes in this list.  For example, Bujins, Chronomaly, Heraldics, and Ghostricks will be substantially stronger.  Geargias are also getting new support though its not clear when Auger will get released.  

With that said, here are a few observations about this list:
  1.  Diversity now!  This meta will have many strong decks but not a single dominating deck.  It’s a risky prediction because all of the formats are generally dominated by one deck. Nevertheless, I do not see us experiencing a Dragon’s 2.0 
  2.  Down the drain. Decks that can play Skill Drain get a bit of a boost. This format will be a battle of the effect monsters and Skill Drain is going to hurt.  As a result, Malefics and TGs get a boost.
  3. Gentlemen, have your Trap Stuns ready.  This will be a trap heavy format.  Several of the decks rely on a substantial backrow.  Madolche, Bujins, and Geargias all fall in this category
  4. Yugi glory is under the sea.  Once again, Mermails are poised to be a very strong deck.  They have not suffered at all from the F&L list.  They are still underplayed but I suspect a lot of Dragon Droolers will make their way back to this deck. 
  5.  Creature Swap is a card.  I’ve made the point before that Creature Swap is a very strong card this format.  It doesn’t target and doesn’t destroy. Float like a butterfly and swap like a bee. 

I hope you find this list helpful as you prepare for more Yugioh!

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Is Innovation in Yugioh Deck Building Possible?

Deck building has always been my favorite part of Yugioh.  If given the choice between finishing 32nd with a novel deck and winning with a standard deck, I’d take 32nd place any day.  I suspect I’m not the only one with this perspective.  Few epithets are more vindictive than “net-decker”.  If novel decks are innovative, then standard decks must be insipid and derivative.  

However, winning with a novel deck is very,     very,       very      hard. 

It’s not impossible.  Jeff Jones topped a YCS with a Psychic Grandsoil deck and Christian Obermiller came in 2nd at an OTS Championship with Crash Bugs.  But Jones and Obermiller are the exceptions that prove the rule.  Most of us will lose in ignominy rather than win with distinction. 

I was reminded of this fact after seeing a “Deck Doctor”.  SSJason graciously decided to test and modify my most recent Harpie deck list.  The result of this make-over is as follows: 

Most players looking at this list will say Jason took a more original deck and turned it into a standard Harpie deck.  Some may even assume it took no more than a few minutes to make such recommendations.  However, I’ve watched several hundred hours of Jason’s channel.  The man’s on line play is staggering.  When he says he “tested the hell out of the deck”, I believe all traces of perdition are gone.  Furthermore, mine is not the only deck to become “standardized” by an expert.  Look at Tyler Nolan’s articles for ARG.  His insight is excellent and his advice is solid.  However, the results are usually pretty vanilla.  Their conclusions are not the result of simple bandwagoning; their conclusions are based on what works.  

To see how homogeneous decks have become, I looked at eight Geargia decklists taken from regional and YCS tops as listed on TCGPlayer.  From these lists I constructed a “heat map”.  The names of the cards listed on the Y axis and the individual decks are on the X axis.  This map shows graphically what many of us have suspected.  The variation in winning decks is quite small.  On average, there’s a 5% difference between one deck and the others. That’s 2 cards!  

I can think of two reasons for this phenomenon:
1. Card choices are being forced by card design.  Part of the blame belongs to Konami. For example, Geargiarmor says add a Geargia monster to your hand.  Why would you fill up you deck with anything else?  The next format will bring out the same bias in Buijins and Noble Knights.  It’s inevitable.

2. The information age brings tremendous efficiency.  Access to a large number of decklists means that testing and refining are taking place on a huge scale.  The standard Geargia deck is really the product of collective wisdom.  See, test, refine, and play – that’s the Yugioh cycle that will be repeated ad nauseam until the best lists emerge. 

Of course, a new format and new product will shake up the status quo.  Players with better deck-building skills tend to be rewarded early in the format.  YCS Atlanta should be a lot of fun precisely because it is the first big tournament of the format and it falls a week after the new set is introduced. However, most of the time spent agonizing over card choices is probably not worthwhile.  Play the standard deck with 2 to 5 cards of tech tweaks.  

On the other hand, if you want real Yugioh glory, take the challenge and fight the corporate and collective mind.  There are over a googol* 40 card combinations in Yugioh.  There must be one deck in a googol  that no one else has played. 

* A googol is 1 x10e100

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Mistake Free Harpies

The new F&L list may have ushered in the meta of impotent anti-meta cards.  Stopping special summoning has little effect on decks that rely on fortifying their normal summoned monster.  Are you really going to play Maxx “C” or Vanity’s Emptiness against Bujins or Noble Knights?  I suspect most of these cards are going back into your binder.  What about anti-trap cards?  Trap Stun and Forbidden Lance used to be a staple in my decks.  However, many of the quick effect monsters make these cards much less useful.  Who wants to set, activate, and resolve a trap card when a monster can do the same thing more efficiently?  

Enter the last of the great anti-meta cards: Mistake.  This card will be a real headache for many of the top-tiered and mid-tiered decks.  In fact, so many decks rely on searching that Sangan must be wondering why he is relegated to the underworld for searching out 1500 ATK point monsters … and he had to go to the graveyard to do it!  

Of the likely competitive decks, I think Harpies is the only one that can play this card effectively. Mistake does shut down Queen and Sign searches so one needs to play smart.  However, the deck also has some outs to this card.  

So without any further ado, here's Mai deck list:
Harpie Lady #1 3
Phantasmal Dragon 1
Harpie Queen 3
Ice Beast 2
Harpie Channeller  3
Chidori 2
Harpie Dancer 1
Dire Wolf 1
Mist Valley Falcon 2
Maestroke 1
Abyss Dweller 2
Eswarm Hraesvelg 1
Exciton Knight 1
DD Crow 2
Black Rose 1
Gale 1
Fairy Dragon 1
Zephyros 1
Blackship 1

Big Eye 1
Pet Dragon 1
Dracossack 1
Dark Simorgh 2

Hunting Ground 3
DD Crow 1
Hysteric Sign 3
Light Imprisoning 3
Magic Planter 2
DNA Surgery  3
Elegant Egotist 1
Swallow's Nest 1
Soul Drain 1

Rivalry 2
Debunk 2
Mistake 3
Transmigration Prophecy 1
Hysteric Party 3

Divine Wrath 2

Icarus Attack 2

        COTH       1

Deck  Notes
  1. Mistake x 3
  2. Harpie Monsters x 11: Since Divine Wind is now limited, I saw no reason to play Dancer at three.  This card does have utility in knocking out back row cards when Hunting Ground is on the field.  The Channeler into Pet Dragon play is still the strongest opening move of the deck.
  3. MV Falcon x 2: One way to play around your own Mistake is to destroy it by summoning a Harpie.  However, negging yourself is not a good practice.  MVF allows me put it in my hand and reset it.
  4. Dark Simorgh and friends x 7: Ghostricks, Chain Burn, and Raccoon decks melt in the presence of Simorgh.  However, I am more concerned about Fire Fists.  This deck gets around Mistake but it can’t get around the big fellow.  For this card to work, you need to have dark monsters.  D.D.Crow is a nice fit since it is effective against Fire Kings, Dark World, and in the mirror match.  Evilswarm Hraesvelg is an uncommonly used card but it’s also winged beast, which makes Icarus Attack live. 
  5. Standard Harpie Spells/Traps x 10: The only change compared to previous builds was increasing Party from two to three. As you can see, I don’t play a lot of Sign discard outlets.  I’ve never liked to pitch cards.
  6. Magic Planter and COTH x 3: I don’t know why people don’t play Planter.  Allure and Trade-In have their fans.  Planter, on the other hand, can thin the deck by two cards after the card has given you an advantage.  I have 7 continuous traps in the deck so it has a reasonable chance of being live.  I also have 9 continuous traps in my side deck.
  7. Very Good cards x 5: People don’t always read Icarus Attack.  This is especially true when you tribute a face down monster.  I have 20 winged beasts so the card is always live.  Divine Wrath may be the card for the meta.  Check out SSJason's exposition for a more elegant explanation.  The last card is Swallow’s Nest.  This card gives me access to MV Falcon and can put a dark in the graveyard.  SN can also get to Dark Simorgh if Pet Dragon and Channeler are on the field 

… and so begins the march to YCS Atlanta! There is much testing that needs to be done, but this is a pretty good start.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Dragon Killers

Match the dragon killer with the method they used: 

1. Beowulf           ___              A. Shot an arrow over the garden wall
2. Sigurd              ___              B. Attacked it with a lance and then bridled it with a girdle
3. Saint George    ___              C. Enlisted his friend Wiglaf to help him stab it to death
4. Hercules          ___               D. Dug a pit and then stabbed it with an anvil-busting blade
5. Konami           ___               E. Forbade the babies and limited the big dragons

Who’s the greatest dragon slayer of them all? Arguably the minds of Konami are.  They took on multiple dragons at once and wiped them out in an afternoon.  

I have now lived through enough forbidden and limited lists to know that pronouncements of a deck’s death can be premature.  Remember when the hit they Wind-up loop?  Within weeks, clever players created new ways of making the deck work.  Granted, I am not a clever player; but, I can think no way to make the dragons work in a manner that we have grown accustomed.  We may see other dragon type decks show up in regional lists from time to time.  For example, the addition of Chaos Sorcerer may boost Chaos Dragons.  However, I feel comfortably predicting E dragons will soon be history. 

As a result, we may be living in a time where 60 to 80% of the meta is not dominated by one archetype ...

… at least for the time being.  The new sets will bring support to several archetypes and we will be back to a meta dominated by one or two.  Nevertheless, the near future will likely be pretty open and interesting. 

My post on all 150 archetypes is forthcoming.  For now, here are a few thoughts:

1. Mezuki, Plaguespreader, and Tourguide go to three.  I suspect there has been some disappointment in the interest in Vampires and Ghostricks.  Unlimiting all three of these cards will allow for some creative deck-building.  Of the three, Plaguespreader will have the least impact.  Its effect is costly and the pool of level six synchros is still weak.  TGU should see more play even without Sangan.  At three, the chance of drawing her before some other level three fiend is significantly increased.  We also have better rank three XYZs.   Most Zombie players have dreamed of the days with Mezuki at three.  Though the deck suffers from “Neg One” special summoning, Zombie World could be a very effective anti-meta card.  I would predict that all three archetypes will see increased play though not quite to the tier one level.  

2. Tenki to three.  I am not thrilled about this change.  Fire Fists have always been a hard match up and I didn’t think they needed help.  I suspect this move is to further boost Bujins though I’m not sure they need it either.  This change, along with Ptolemy M7, will help Constellars.  Though a lot of Constellar players have become a little disenchanted with their deck, it should do better in a slower format. 

3. Divine Wind to one.  This change was a blow for those of us who love the Mist Valley archetype.  Sure, there is this FTK, which is so unlikely that no one with sense would play it.  Konami should have noticed that Divine Wind Harpies were not overrunning the meta.  In fact, standard Harpies were more successful than Divine Wind variants.  Personally, I don’t think the latter has much likelihood of success at this point. 

4. They kill trolls too!  The only reason that Konami took so long in limiting Final Countdown and forbidding Self-Destruct Button is that they were embarrassed to admit these cards existed. Frankly, I never found Chain Burn and Final Countdown decks that difficult to beat.  However, I will not mourn their loss.   Same goes for Sixth Sense though I found playing this card underwhelming.  People’s hatred for the card has more to do with selective memory.  In other words, they remember the times their opponent used it to draw six cards and forget the times they milled two.  Nevertheless, it has no business being in the game.  Return from a Different Dimension also has some trollish features.  At the very least, I won’t have to watch Bujin players summon five monsters from their banished pile.  

So how good are you at Dragon lore?  Below are the answers to the quiz at the top of the page. 

1. C; 2. D; 3. B; 4. A; 5. E