One thing that Doug "Dewit" Zeeff and I have harped on for years is the importance of collaboration.

For a myriad number of reasons, an awesome deck could be lurking in the shadows but just never see the light of day. When a well known player like Jeff Jones almost makes the Top 32 cut at YCS Minneapolis with a Dark Magician deck, everyone loses their minds. If someone named Weesnaw Parsnips did the exact same thing, it would garner a fraction of the attention. Perhaps highlighting some well-tested rogue strategies can push other duelists to tweak a cool deck idea and make Top Cut at a Regional or YCS!

This week I sat down with Chris Skogen, a very creative duelist that's been bouncing ideas off me since we became friends back in September of 2014. In fact, I think the first time I ever contacted him was in response to a Morphtronic deck idea; I sent him a picture with the caption of "i leik morphtronics smarfon". At the West Allis regional in Wisconsin a week and a half ago, he narrowly missed Top 32 and his invite to Nationals playing a deck without some extremely busted cards.

Take a look at his deck list below.

DECKID=107107Highlighting decks and players that didn't manage to make a Top Cut doesn't minimize the brilliance of duelists like Hanko Chow that manage to do things like go 9-0 at a Toronto Regional. I just think if I can inspire someone to take what they see here, tweak it, and then improve on what's already come before, I'm doing an important job.

The Dreaded X-3
Since the Allis Regional was 254 players – just on the cusp of the 257 competitors needed for a ninth round – there were only 8 rounds of competition. I'm pretty sure if there was one more, Chris Skogen would have finished 6-3 and an X-3 record could have squeezed him from 43rd place to the Top 32. With such a clever strategy… and one that doesn't run Solemn Strike pr Pot of Desires due to their price tag… I really wish he'd had one more chance to prove the deck's mettle. Skogen was turning heads all day and deserves a shoutout for going all-in on a very original rogue deck.

"I heavily debated playing some version of Metalfoes," he explained, "but I really didn't want to play the same standard list as everyone else, so I tested many 'spicy' variants." When Skogen says "spicy" he means it - he bounced around Subterror Metalfoes and Ritual Beast Metalfoes with Pot of Aquisitiveness, but quickly abandoned both for D/D Metalfoes. "The dual engines were fun, but I was really pressed for space in the Extra Deck. That led to fragile boards, even with Crystal Wing Synchro Dragon or D/D/D Cursed King Siegfried."

"Ultimately, I settled on Brethren Ninja because Dark Simorgh and Masked HERO Dark Law together are just too much for some decks to deal with. Dark Simorgh shuts down Metalfoes and Paleozoics completely, while Masked HERO Dark Law ruins ABC-Dragon Buster and drastically hampers D/D/D's."

Access to two really powerful monsters on Turn 1 - often in tandem - would completely shut down many of the big decks today, but he realized that setup wasn't as easy as it sounds. "I wanted to see Ties of the Brethren and Ninja Grandmaster Hanzo every game." Those two cards alone put Dark Law and Simorgh on board. "Starting with something like Call Of The Haunted was nice for more free searches, but the main combo was where it's at. Even though I had some access to Wind monsters as banish fodder, like Castel the Skyblaster Musketeer in the Extra Deck, drawing Dark Simorgh wasn't great."

While decks like Ninjas and Heroes have some stellar cards, they do pack a handful of cards you'd really rather not draw. And over the course of a long tournament, luck may not be on your side all day.

Chris highlighted Ninja Grandmaster Hanzo and Ties of the Brethren for good reason - the deck lives and dies on that one combo. You Normal Summon Ninja Grandmaster Hanzo, search Ninjitsu Art of Transformation, and bring out Armageddon Knight and Elemental HERO Shadow Mist with Ties of the Brethren to yard Twilight Ninja Getsuga, the Shogun and get a free Mask Change II.

Next turn, it's Dark Simorgh and Masked HERO Dark Law, and if you discarded a Ninja with Mask Change II and start with a Call Of The Haunted, that means Twilight Ninja Getsuga, the Shogun can get going as well.

"If I could take out changes, I'd definitely drop Twilight Ninja Getsuga, the Shogun and Upstart Golden Ninja down by one copy each. Running so many led to bricky hands, and I'd really rather not have. There were numerous times where I wished I could dump a Blackwing - Zephyros the Elite. It can bounce Call Of The Haunted and Ninjitsu Art Notebook."

As Chris notes, the deck can be a double edged sword. You'll need to start with Hanzo and Ties, but adding more draw power means drawing suboptimal cards like Getsuga or Dark Simorgh more often. He noted that Pot of Desires could Backfire on him way too easily with so many cards played in single copies. Running multiples would only increase the chances of drawing the cards earlier on as well.


"I could probably switch up the Extra Deck. I only really ever went into Masked HERO Dark Law, Castel, the Skyblaster Musketeer, Number S39: Utopia the Lightning, and Daigusto Emeral to recycle those cards." When coming up with a deck the night before, it's easy to look at the Extra Deck with rose colored glasses. Things like Heroic Champion - Excalibur are phenomenal, but most of the time you'll resort to your bread and butter… or in this, case your Hero and birdy.

As Chris noted, the deck does great going first, but mathematically he knew he wouldn't hit the combo every Game 1. When the primary game plan doesn't work out you'll have defensive traps to keep the dream alive and other Rank 4 threats when all else fails. Unfortunately the deck can't capitalize on any unique opportunities when you go second, since your opponent will already be set up, largely invalidating your combo. And in Games 2 and 3, cards like Archfiend Eccentrick, Majespecter Unicorn - Kirin, Dark Hole, any Kaiju, and Raigeki can cripple the set-up anyways. No strategy's always 100% untouchable.

What impressed me most about the deck was the reactions it was getting. Summoning Masked HERO Dark Law is commonplace these days thanks to entire decks that revolve around the Fusion, but if you've never seen the Ninja cards or Ties of the Brethren used outside of Majespecters, it suddenly gets very confusing when your opponent starts with a Hanzo and ends with Dark Simorgh and Masked HERO Dark Law.

Obviously, any crazy decks that go undefeated at big tournaments will get the spotlight, but I'm on the hunt for those decks that maybe just need a little bit of a push to do just that! My Inspiration for this column largely came from Johnny Nguyen's Top 32 Scrap deck – I know I'm not the only one who wants to see what a winning rogue deck may look like, even if it didn't walk away with a place in the Top Cut.

Just remember, beat your opponents before they beat you!

-Loukas Peterson

Loukas Peterson lives in Madison, Wisconsin where he enjoys freezing in the cold only slightly less than his job as a software engineer. When he's not playing cards, you can find him on his kayak reading a book and playing the ukulele or at his painting desk, probably on his 30th cup of coffee for the day. Hailed on the only one capable of cooking Minute Rice is 57 seconds, Loukas is always looking for another creative outlet.

I'm all about collaboration - the more eyes on a deck, the better! Two heads are better than one, and eventually something's got to stick, right? Who's to say there isn't an untapped Doom Donuts OTK deck that would doom us all!

Can all themes and decks be good? Will Fableds ever be good? Can Loukas ever get the weird way that Doug says "Dragunity Tribus" out of his head that haunts his dreams? Maybe it's due to budget costs, some terrible luck, or your insistence on using three copies of Doom Donuts AND Snapesnatch, but a creative deck may not go the distance. It's ok - it's the thought that counts. If you or someone you know performed well enough to be on the cusp of greatness at a Regional or YCS event with a deck that's crazy and innovative, I want to hear about it!

You can directly message me on Facebook with:

Your name, city, and event!

Photo evidence of your record and place in the tournament!

A full deck list!

A positive attitude!

As always, you can send your deck to to have your deck featured in the "Re-Routing" deck fix column!