Saturday, September 27, 2014

Beating Shaddolls

I admit to being a fan of Satellarknights.  The cards are aesthetically pleasing; the theme is noble; and the design is balanced.  While the stalwart will point out that today’s balanced is yesterday’s broken, the archetype is not overrunning the current meta.  In fact, I don’t anticipate that it ever will.  Though Stellarknight Trihiver will be a welcome XYZ addition, the knights fail because of the clause that limits game actions to only tellarknights. 

I call my current build “Stars and Cars” because it combines Tellarknights and Geargia.  While eclectic, the deck is one of the most consistent that I have ever played.  It maintains hand advantage, provides flexibility, and rarely produces dead hands … 

… it also consistently loses to Shaddolls.  In brief, the deck reliably makes Shaddoll Fusion live, which leads to Winda, which leads to tears.  Given the lack of recent Tellar tops, this problem can’t be easily overcome. 

The low moments in Yugioh give doolists a choice: Join ‘em or Screw ‘em.  Since I have already invested too much money, I opted for screw ‘em.  Though zeal and salt may be on my side, successful construction of an anti-meta deck is a bit of a long shot.  The list of positive features in a Shaddoll deck is formidable.  Consider the following:

  • Flip effects
  • Graveyard Effects
  • Search Effects
  • Anti-Meta Effects (e.g. Winda)
  • Spell Effects
  • Large Boss Monsters (particularly when combined with dragons or Lightsworns)

Most anti-meta decks specialize in stopping one or two game mechanics.  Shaddolls gives us six.  Furthermore, some of these mechanics are very difficult to stop.  Graveyard effects are negated by only a few cards, a fact that also causes problems when playing Burning Abyss as well. 

Inspired by ROTA’s promotion to three, I took another look at my Harpie Hanzo deck.  The deck list is given below:

File:DarkSimorghSOVR-EN-ScR-1E.jpgHarpies: Channeler x 3; Lady #1 x 3; Queen x 3, Dancer x 1
Friends: Hanzo x 3; D.D. Warrior Lady x 1, Evilswarm Hraesvelg x 2, Dark Simorgh x 2

Spells: Soul Charge x 1, D Fissure x 1, Raigeki x 1, Elegant Egotist x 1, Hysteric Sign x 3, Hunting Ground x 3, ROTA x 3

Traps:  Hysteric Party x 3, Art of Transformation x 2, Fiendish Chain x 3, Soul Drain x 1

Extra: Castel x 2, Chidori x 2, Zerofyne x2, Abyss Dweller x 2, Silent Honor Ark x 2, Dire Wolf x 1, Exciton x 1, Blackship x 1, Beserk x 1, Heartlandraco x 1

Side: Anti-Spell Fragrance x 3, Stygian Dirge x 3, Emptiness x 3, Soul Release x 3, Creature Swap x 3

While this deck won’t stop every aspect of the Shaddoll deck, it does have several devilish features:

No Setting!  Dark Simorgh keeps opponents from setting any cards on the field.  Good luck if you are playing the Jonesian 20 trap card deck.  Thanks to the triple ROTA, doolists have six cards in their deck that will get them to the big bird. 

Big Body: Not only does Simorgh hinder opponents play, he is also something of a beater.  While Hunting Ground is active, Dark Simorgh has a 2900 attack.  More importantly, he is not summoned from the extra deck, which lowers the effectiveness of Shaddoll Fusion.

Decreasing the Graveyard Threat: There are 13 cards that take away graveyard activation: Warrior Lady x 1, Hraesvelg x 2, D Fissure x 1, Soul Drain x 1, Castel x 2, Chidori x 2, Abyss Dweller x 2, Silent Honor Ark x 2. 

The best XYZ ever! Ice Beast Zerofyne is the single most broken and most unknown card in the game.  It negates monster effects and gains 300 for each face up card on the field.  This latter property is the reason for the 16 continuous spells and traps. 

 I will post my predictions for all of the archetypes for the next format in the coming days. 

I have invited haou judai to become an author for this esteemed blog.  This  invitation also goes out to anyone over the age of 40 who plays this game with passion.  Who knows, maybe I will change the name of the blog to "The Minds of the Yugiold".

Monday, September 22, 2014

Gentleman, Start Your Engines!

One of the greatest privileges of aging is the opportunity to complain.   What is “bitching” when you’re young becomes “reproach” when you’re older. Young people are whiners; old people are curmudgeons.  Like those in my epoch, I have embraced this role, particularly in criticizing the lack of creative deck building. 

Before you dismiss this post as another missive against the young, please understand that I do not blame the players.  In fact, I marvel at the genuine ingenuity in the builds by some of today’s top talent.  The problem is with card design.  The newer archetypes leave little room for imagination. Decks come together like pre-assembled Lego kits. Gone are the days when most young people created using generic bricks.  

One solution is to simply mash the kits together.  Who wouldn’t want to see a combination of Cinderella’s Magic Castle and Dragon Mountain?  The same fun can be had in Yugioh deck building by combining different “engines”.

In Yugi-speak, an “engine” is a subset of cards that function well together.  For example, one can consider three Armors, two Accelerators, and three Arsenals as the Geargia engine.  This eight card combination efficiently searches and summons two level four cards that can be used for a rank 4 XYZ play.  Since the number of cards is small, this engine can be combined with other engines to make a workable deck.  

When done right, the combination is more successful than the individual archetype.  For example, Geargias bring consistency to Karakuris by providing a ready source of Synchro materials.  The combination works because Geargias are Earth Machines, which is required for the summoning of Burei and Bureido.  In other words, the engines are synergistic.  Recognizing this synergy is the key to combining different engines. Always ask the question, “What am I getting from the combination that I don’t get from the single archetype?”
Creative deck-building can be considered as an exercise in combining engines.  I began this process by listing many of the current engines and a few salient characteristics.  I focused on those archetypes that promote XYZ summoning and noted their types, attributes, and their effect on card advantage.  The result is given in the following table: 

This list is more illustrative than exhaustive.  I realize that Gadgets are not included even though they combine nicely with Traptrix.  I should also point out that some of the listed engines quite unwieldy and make for poor partners.  Madolche and Evilswarm are large engines that can only be combined with the smaller ones like Traptrix, Hands, or Star Seraphs.  

Whether you should combine these engines is a question of synergy.  In fact, most of these combinations won’t work.  The chart below gives my impression of the 50 combinations of Rank 4 engines.  Those listed in Red are not worth considering.  Who wants to play an Evol/Hunder deck?  Those in Yellow seem a bit sketchy. I haven’t seen and Fire Fist/Satellarknight mix, but someone may have tried it.  The ones in Green seem interesting and worth a test.

To that end, I actually took a SatellarGear deck to a recent regional.  While I have been thinking about this deck-building strategy for many weeks, I didn’t have the pluck to use it until I read posts by Einsam_Delphin on Pojo.  His talked about playing a deck quite similar to mine.  Unfortunately, my bottle-nosed friend changed his mind at the last minute and went with pure Satellarknights.  Too bad, this deck actually runs pretty well.  Pure Satellarknights tend to run low monster counts.  As a result, they can be left staring at a lot of dead hands.  The addition of the eight-card Geargia engine not only increases the chances of summoning a monster, it gives the deck access to Tin Goldfish and Cycle Reader.  
This is a "tweaked" version of what I took to Fredericksburg. I went 5-4.
Perhaps, it may not be the strongest deck around, but I did enjoy watching my opponents reaction when faced with both Gears and Knights.  Strike one for creativity. 

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Ready or Note, Here I Come

Sometimes real life gets in the way of the quest to become a great doolist.  110 hour work weeks and a ward full of leukemia have a tendency to do that.  So I am off for my first regional of the format with little or no preparation.   Oh well, at the very worst, it’s a full day to play card games. 

While nothing can take the place of careful playtesting, I did want to get a sense of the current meta. To that end, I looked at the spell and trap lineup of 34 decks that have finished in the top 8 of regionals over the past four weeks.  The results are given in the chart below: 

While this is not a complete survey, it does highlight a few trends.  The first is the lack of battle traps.  A few players are including Dimensional Fissure, but Mirror Force has all but vanished.  The bottom line is that players should not be afraid of attacking.  The second trend is the raise of non-destructive traps. In particular, Burning Abyss players are taking advantage of Phoenix Winds to put cards in their graveyard and their opponent’s cards on the top of the deck. 
I also took a look at the side decks from these regional tops.   The table below lists the number of times a card was included in a Side Deck divided by the number of copies available to the doolist.  For example, Maxx “C” was listed 29 times and Gran Mole six times.  The table lists Maxx “C” as 9.7 (29/3) and Gran Mole as 6 (6/1).  It’s a rather imprecise index but it does give one some idea of what is being played.  

Despite the prevalence of Vanity’s Emptiness, MST remains in the side deck.  This is reasonable given the low number of continuous spells and traps that are played.  Stygian Dirge was a bit of a surprise.  It works well against both Burning Abyss and Satellar Knights.  Chain Disappearance is also on the raise.  Banishing cards has real advantages in this graveyard dominated game. 

Hopefully the heart of the cards will be with me.  It certainly beats work.