As a few of you know by now, I set a goal for myself while I was judging at the 2013 North American World Championship Qualifier: qualify for the 2014 WCQ and play in it. I'd qualified in 2011 but opted to judge the event instead of play, and I've been concentrating on judging since then. But last year I decided that I was going to devote the year towards playing in the 2014 WCQ. That's where the As A Player series came from.

Well, it's now May 2014, just two months away from the WCQ, and through three Regional Qualifiers that I've attended as a player, I've not qualified. I spoke about my first attempt last year, but I didn't come anywhere closer in the next two attempts. Since one can get a WCQ invite at a YCS (through the Main Event and through Public Events), this is the next stop in the journey.

Joe leaves his Black and White judge shirt at home and arrives to YCS Philadelphia As A Player.

Deck Choice
As per usual, when preparing for a tournament, you need to know what deck you're going to bring to the table. As my friends know, I have many different decks available to me at any given point. Almost all of these are strategies I've created, as "netdecking" is a practice I don't actively partake in. Granted, I can look at a deck and see why someone would make certain card choices, but I won't just copy a list and build it then play. I'll build my version first, play it, evaluate the deck then change it as necessary. I do this so I can fully understand the complexities the deck can offer; copying a list is a useless exercise if you don't know how the deck works. You need to make optimal decisions during a game and that doesn't happen without knowing why every card is included in the deck and how it all works together.

To that end, I predicted the metagame for YCS Philadelphia to be a mix of what it's been, plus Artifacts. So I had to keep Mermails, Fire Fists, Geargia and Mythic Dragons in mind when I chose what deck I can best pilot; one that would have a fighting chance against the field.

Azure-Eyes Silver Dragon was a good card that can protect all Dragons I currently control from being targeted or destroyed by card effects. Even if it only lasts for two turns, that kind of protection is devastating if used correctly. Blue-Eyes White Dragon has always been a powerful 3000 ATK threat that can attack over pretty much anything, and Maiden with Eyes of Blue can wall an opponent single-handedly because they'll avoid attacking into it if they can't deal with the resulting Blue-Eyes.

And it's Dragons. Everyone loves Dragons, right?

DECKID=100347Just a bit of a warning: since the only notes you can take during tournament matches are Life Point changes and what caused them, turn counts and mandatory effects, there will be a lot of generalization and jumps right to what boards looked like. If I was allowed the opportunity to jot down specifics after the match was over, I did so, but that happened only sparingly. And since I didn't employ my own personal reporter / recorder to track my games, well… this is all you'll get.

Round 1: Table 160 vs. Jose. A. Alicea (Lightraysworns)
Game 1

In the late game, Jose was able to yard two Eclipse Wyvern for Judgment Dragon and Lightray Diablos, then banished both of them for Tidal, Dragon Ruler of Waterfalls, netting him both monsters. He Summoned Judgment Dragon, popped the board, and dropped two more.

Game 2

I Soul Charged into Blue-Eyes, Azure-Eyes and Maiden, then Normal Summoned Koa'ki Meiru Draco to shut down the board. I had a Fiendish Chain to deal with the Card Trooper already on his field, but then he dropped a second Card Trooper. Draco hit the graveyard, but the game was already out of reach as he couldn't deal with Azure-Eyes bringing back a second Blue-Eyes and I attacked with everything for game.

Game 3

I was able to Special Summon Stardust Spark Dragon and Maiden, which let me flood the board with Blue-Eyes. I did a Soul Charge for three at some point, and my field on my penultimate turn was Divine Dragon Knight Felgrand, Azure-Eyes, Stardust Spark and Crimson Blader. I passed my turn, and Jose Summoned Tidal, attacked into Stardust Spark, and I used its effect to protect itself.


On my following turn, I had Crimson Blader attack and destroy Tidal to shut down any possible threat next turn, then I used Stardust Spark's effect on itself and attacked into Lumina, Lightsworn Summoner which was backed by Honest. On his turn, he discarded Black Luster Soldier - Envoy of the Beginning for Lumina's effect to get back Lyla, Lightsworn Sorceress, Normal Summons Ice Hand, Xyz Summons Evilswarm Exciton Knight, attempts to destroy the field, but I used Felgrand on itself and Stardust Spark on Azure-Eyes. In hindsight I could have simply used Felgrand on Exciton Knight, but not knowing what cards Jose had left concerned me. He set one backrow and passed. On my turn, I brought back a Blue-Eyes; Dragon Shrined for Blaster, Dragon Ruler of Infernos; used it and Redox, Dragon Ruler of Boulders to Xyz Summon Number 11: Big Eye; and took Evilswarm Exciton Knight to attack with all for game.

His last face-down was Solar Recharge. Very good match.

Round 2: Table 233 vs. Eugene Alonzo Bowie (Bujins)
Game 1

Me: 8000 -> 7400 (Bujin Yamato + Bujingi Crane) > Blue-Eyes White Dragon
7400 -> 4400 (Soul Charge)
4400 -> 1400 (Soul Charge)


8000 -> 6000 (Soul Charge)

No notes on this game beyond the Life Point notes, but it looks like he opened with a Bujin Yamato and had control the entire time. My Soul Charges were ineffectual.

Game 2, I'm posting my Life Point notes, as they tell the entire story.

Me: 8000
7500 (Ice Hand < Bujin Mikasuchi)
7200 (Fire Hand < Bujin Mikasuchi)

Him: 8000
6600 (Ice Hand)
5200 (Ice Hand)
3800 (Ice Hand)
2400 (Ice Hand)
1400 (Soul Charge)
0 (Ice Hand)

Game 3

Me: 8000
7900 (Fire Hand < Bujingi Hare)
7500 (Bujin Yamato + Bujiingi Crane > Star Eater)
6700 (Colossal Fighter < Bujin Yamato + Bujingi Crane)

Him: 8000
6600 (Ice Hand)
5100 (Star Eater > Abyss Dweller)
4100 (Colossal Fighter > Bujin Yamato)
3100 (Colossal Fighter > Bujin Yamato)
2400 (Colossal Figher > Number 101: Silent Honor ARK)
400 (Soul Charge)
0 (Blaster > Bujin Yamato)

The Life Point notes speak for themselves, but just to clarify, Colossal Fighter against Bujins is superb. If they don't run or sided out Bujingi Quillin, their outs to Colossal Fighter are extremely limited and costly. Had I not used Skill Prisoner to protect my Colossal Fighter from Number 101: Silent Honor ARK's effect, the game may have turned out very differently.

Round 3: Table 126 vs. Brandon Andrew Formanes (Bujins)
Game 1

Me: 8000
6000 (Soul Charge)
4200 (Bujintei Susanowo + Bujingi Crane > Blue-Eyes)
3700 (Susanowo > Red-Eyes Darkness Metal Dragon – 800)

Him: 8000
7900 (Bujin Yamato + 100 < Flamvell Guard)

I don't remember the details sadly, but either he beat my Azure-Eyes setup, or the Soul Charge I played wasn't an Azure-Eyes play at all, in which case his setup was even more secure.

Game 2

Me: 8000
5600 (Susanowo + Honest > Red-Eyes Darkness Metal Dragon)
1800 (Susanowo + Crane > Debris Dragon)
800 (Soul Charge)
0 (Gagaga Cowboy)

Him: 8000
5600 (Number 15: Gimmick Puppet Giant Grinder on Bujintei Susanowo)

Again, I'm lacking details, but he pushed for big damage from an opening I allowed and I was too low on life to mount a comeback. So that's the first loss for the day.


Round 4: Table 268 vs. Narom On Sun (Spirits)
Shoutout to Doug Zeeff.

Game 1

I set up an Azure-Eyes, which got Fiendish Chained on my next turn. I Normal Summoned one of my Tuners and Synched off the negated Azure-Eyes for Leo. I initially did that just to have a live monster on the field, but as it turned out, he had no out to Leo.

Game 2

I don't know if it was this game or the previous one, but I think it was in this one where I had two Azure-Eyes on the field protected by their effects, and Narom overextended into a Torrential Tribute losing five monsters while I kept both Azure-Eyes. Absolutely brutal.

Round 5: Table 97 vs. Luis Angel P. (Mythic Rulers)
Didn't get your last name, Luis. Sorry!

Luis took no damage in either of our two games, but the long and the short of is that in Game 1, I Soul Charged for four, did Synchro and Xyz shenanigans to make Number 46: Dragluon, stole his Heliopolois, used Heliopolis to pop the rest of his field and passed. Unfortunately, Luis had more Dragon Rulers in his hand and easily broke my board.

In Game 2, Luis put a Star Eater out to deal with a Blue-Eyes. My deck has a hard time matching anything with more ATK than 3000. His ending field was Crimson Blader, Stardust Dragon and Star Eater, and I was under Crimson Blader's effect for multiple turns.

Round 6: Table 172 vs. Christopher Thomas McCready (Madolches)
His turn 1: Thunder King Rai-Oh, two backrow, go. Welp. Nevermind that my hand is nearly unplayable. Almost all spells and traps, no combo pieces, no good way to set anything up.

Game 2's hand was worse than Game 1's. I couldn't get anything going, and Chris was able to keep a board and just steadily lean on me with little monsters until I was at 0 Life Points.

At this point I was figuring that if I took one more loss, this was probably a drop.

Round 7: Table 255 vs. Jefferey Neal Moreira (Evilswarms)
And then my worst matchup happened.

Jeff opened up Rescue Rabbit game 1. Lovely.

Game 2, I sided hard. All the hands, Fiendish Chains, Black Horn of Heavens and everything went in. All of it was irrelevant because I didn't see any of the ten cards I sided. He picked off the spells and traps I did set, and played Rabbit. Scoop it up. Jeff paid a Solemn Warning, presumably to negate an Azure-Eyes summon.

Ok, so that didn't work out. It was late and my friends were getting tired, so we all headed back to the hotel, and I contemplated what changes I was going to make to the deck for the 16-person Regional Qualifiers tomorrow. I decided on only two changes…

- 2 Call Of The Haunted
+2 Phoenix Wing Wind Blast

With so many cards that like to be discarded, and Wind Blast able to break an established field set-up, it seemed to address a key weakness the deck has.



Regional #3 Round 1 vs. Joseph Fail (Karakuri Geargia)
Yes, I asked him if that was actually his name. Yes, it is.

Yes, it's spelled that way.

Game 1 was a real grind-game, as my first recorded damage was my Divine Dragon Knight Felgrand over his Mechquipped Angineer, followed by an Azure-Eyes direct hit and an Azure-Eyes over an Evilswarm Exciton Knight. Then for some reason, I wrote down 400 damage for Joseph but wrote "Redox" as the note. I dunno. I'm sure it made sense at that time.


Game 2 was more ridiculous. You wouldn't be able to tell from the notes, but this game featured a standstill in which I had a face-down Kidmodo Dragon and The White Stone of Legend against his Geargiano and face-down monster with a face-up Vanity's Emptiness and other face-down.

To break the deadlock, I had to Tribute Summon Redox, attack the Geargiano to force Emptiness off the field, Special Summon Tempest, make Mecha Phantom Beast Dracossack, pop the face-down Geargiaccelerator, and pass. The notes become less helpful from that point, but I did do a Scrap Dragon targeting Dracossack play while I controlled a Mecha Phantom Beast Token. That was cute.

Afterwards, Joseph drew and revealed the next few cards in his deck, one of which was a Karakuri Watchdog, which took me by surprise since I saw no Karakuri cards the entire match.

Regional #3 Round 2 vs. Aaron Foreman (Frog… Monarchs?)
I'm a little iffy on what to call this deck. It used the Frog cards to Tribute Summon things, but I didn't see any Monarchs in any of our three games. I did see The End of Anubis and Majesty's Fiend though. To say I was unprepared for this matchup would be an understatement.

Game 1 I lost to Majesty's Fiend. Without monster effects, the deck just doesn't function. It's literally dead cards everywhere.

Game 2 had a few interesting rules thing happen. So I have a Blaster, Dragon Ruler of Infernos on my field. Aaron used Book of Moon to block an attack. Next turn, I flipped Blaster face-up. On Aaron's next turn, he cleared the other monster I had out and Creature Swapped his Gachi Gachi Gantetsu for my Blaster. In the End Phase, Blaster should've activated because it was Special Summoned. Aaron was unsure if Blaster going face-down would make Blaster "forget" it was Special Summoned. And to be fair, it's a fair assumption to make, but our current knowledge of the game says that monsters don't forget if they were Special Summoned, so Blaster ended up back in my hand. I was also able to get Soul Drain out to lock down his Roadintoadins and stop his deck cold.

Game 2 also featured Maiden with Eyes of Blue attacking because Gachi Gachi Gantestusu gave her 200 ATK. Too bad none of it stuck because three Battle Faders are a thing.

In Game 3, Aaron was able to set up his graveyard and Tribute Summon The End of Anubis. Once again, my deck was cut off from one of its most important resources.

Ok, let's do another Regional, then…

Regional #12 Round 1 vs. Sengphet Dam (Sea Lancer Frogs)
In Game 1, I Soul Charged for four and Sengphet Soul Charged for three. There was way more back and forth than my notes let on, but my damage to him came from two hits with Number 15: Gimmick Puppet Giant Grinder, one on a Number 101: Silent Honor ARK and another on a Herald of Pure Light. The final hit came from a Number 107: Galaxy-Eyes Tachyon Dragon using its effect, negating Sea Lancer, forcing two equipped Dupe Frogs to fall off, both of them triggering and boosting Tachyon Dragon to 5000 ATK into Sea Lancer's 1300. Powerful.

Game 2 had me Soul Charge for four and a second time for two (I think one of monsters on the second Soul Charge was an Azure-Eyes I Summoned from the first one. Again, powerful.) Sengphet took two direct Blue-Eyes shots and then conceded.


Regional #12 Round 2 vs. Daniel Nguyen (Infernities)
I don't remember too many details about this match. Game 1, Daniel did Infernity thing, setting up a board of Lavalval Chain and three Infernity Archfiends, attacking direct with everything before finishing it off with a Gagaga Cowboy.

In Game 2, I was able to Soul Charge into an Azure-Eyes. Daniel paid for a Solemn Warning and took a Blue-Eyes hit and had no answer.

Game 3… oh boy.

So on Daniel's second turn, he Normal Summoned Summoner Monk, discarded Soul Charge, and I chained Fiendish Chain. Sadly, I coldn't take advantage of that and we both drew and passed for what felt like an eternity. I'm drawing and setting Hands and other things that can't beat 1600 DEF.

Eventually he drew another Level 4 monster and was able to get things rolling. Daniel's ending sequence was actually very good; on his Last Turn he started to go off: I activated Maxx "C", but Daniel chained Infernity Barrier, so I got to sit on my hands as he combo'd off. He wound up with a few Lavalval Chains and Infernity Archfiends. He attacked into my Maiden, which triggered her effect, but Daniel chained Infernity Break targeting Maiden. She still negated an attack, but because Maiden couldn't switch to defense, she didn't Special Summon a Blue-Eyes. The rest of the attacks did me in.

After getting lunch, I entered one more Regional at around 2:45pm. Public Events close at 3pm, so this would be my last chance to qualify today.

Regional #22 Round 1 vs. Scott Santapola (Geargia)
Game 1's LP notes look like this.

Me: 8000

Him: 8000

I didn't even write down a monster name. I took a swift beating.

Game 2 goes a little better. I was able to Skill Prisoner a Number 101: Silent Honor ARK as I've been doing all weekend, attack over it with Blue-Eyes and he can't answer the field.

Game 3 is…

You ever leave someone at 200 LP when you're at 8000 LP? And you don't win that game?

Scott's sided Dimensional Fissure hurt a lot. He had a Wind-Up Zenmaines out, and I knew if I could get any Rank 8, I'd win. But I couldn't gather 2 Level 8 monsters nor draw a Soul Charge in time for it to be relevant. It was definitely a well-played game, but it's so brutal to be that close and come up short.

Reflecting On The Weekend
What I gathered from the weekend was, unfortunately, that both my version of Dragons and the typical Mythic Ruler build are capable of powerful plays, but they're ultimately inconsistent as they really rely on particular combo pieces to make their plays. Cut off one of the combo pieces and the whole thing falls apart.

In my journey to qualify for the WCQ, I have two more Regionals I can reasonably attend. Both of them will have the same card pool and same format, and this is the format that will be in place for the WCQ. With the emergence of the Hands/Artifacts/Traptrix deck, my preparation for these two events will have to take that strategy and the rest of the tried and true decks in the area into account. I'm not entirely sure this deck is the one to go with; I'll be heading back into the lab for more testing. Should my efforts prove useful, you'll be hearing about them in a future As A Player!

In the meantime, if you have questions about YCS's, WCQ's, card interactions, tournament policy or game mechanics, send your questions (one question per e-mail please!) to and your question could be answered in a future Court of Appeals!

-Joe Frankino