The ARG Championship Series came to Raleigh and brought a little home field advantage with it. I didn’t have to drive for hours, spend the night in a seedy hotel, or deal with unfamiliar accents. Surely, this southern boy could give these foreigners a good ‘ole Dixie whupping.
Uh huh …
Unfortunately this tournament was in the right place at the wrong time. Had it been a week earlier, I would have had a shot. Instead, the tournament was coincident with the release of Next Challengers, which forced me to deal with an even stronger contingent of Shaddoll and Burning Abyss monsters.
Of course, the astute doolist was either playing one of the archetypes or had traded their mother for Qlipharts. Since I had to make mortgage payments, I was forced to continue with the decks I already had. Besides, our home already had a Burning Abyss player. Given these constraints, I decided to go with an updated Geargia Karakuri deck. Perhaps, a $9 set of Augers could add enough speed to make the deck competitive again.
Round 1-2: To paraphrase the late Johnny Cash, my little Gears and I quickly fell into a burning lake of fire. While it may be pricier to pick up the inferno’s intrepid tour guide*, Fire Lake is the card that dictated my doom. On three occasions in the opening rounds, my opponent went plus 3 or more with this card.
I was able to slow my 2nd round opponent down with Rivalry of Warlords. However it was not a particularly wise choice. When you are staring at X-2, there is a temptation to side in too many cards. Desperation can push you to dump the cards that make your deck work. In retrospect, I would have been better off to side in the three Shadow Imprisoning Mirrors and left it at that. 0 – 2
Round 3-4: My third round opponent played Yang Zings. I jumped out with a large field of monsters early in the duel. Normally, this array of Karakuri power is enough to end the game in a turn or two. However, this is not the case when Yang Zing Creation is on the field. Those pesky wyrms kept coming back like a Yugi edition of Wack-a-Mole. Nevertheless, I was able to win game 1 in time.
I played Satellarknights in round four. Having instant access to Cycle Reader makes this match-up a bit unfair. Still, I was glad to have an easier win. 2 – 2
Round 5-6: I have to thank my 5th round opponent for showing me the true futility in playing a tier 2 deck. Between Foolish Burial, Mathematician, or Sinister Shadow Games, Shaddolls can start the graveyard train effects by turn one or two. While Yugioh has had more annoying openings (e.g Wind-Up Loop), this combination is very difficult for the average deck to overcome.
The 6th round paired me with a very pleasant Geargia player. Perhaps, he was just glad to see someone else playing the deck. He played a rank four build that used Machine Dupe and pulled off the triple Auger once. Nevertheless, the Karakuri monsters were a bit overwhelming. 3 – 3
Round 7-8: I was hoping to finish 5 -3, despite knowing that this record would not get me remotely close to the top. In a repeat of round 5, the Shaddolls dashed even this small dream. I did manage to win round 8 against a Burning Abyss player. He summoned Majesty’s Fiend in game 2 but this turned out to be a bigger problem for him then me. I simply played a bit of defense, gathered my resources, and went in for the kill once I drew into Breakthrough Skill. 4 – 4.
Final Thoughts: It is not a coincidence that my losses were to Shaddolls and Burning Abyss and my wins were against other decks. The Yugioh Meta is quickly becoming a three dog race between Shaddolls, BA, and Qlipharts. The best counter to the first two decks is sitting in a structure deck box to be delivered in January**. Unfortunately, our hero does little against the third dog. From time to time, you will see a rogue strategy amongst the winners, but don’t kid yourself. Diversity has been replaced by a three-headed monster, which is precisely what Virgil found at the end of his trip.
* Virgil is the tour guide for Dante through the Inferno
** Masked Hero Dark Law will be in the Hero structure deck in January