Well, it's started! Crossed Souls is upon us and the game's beginning to see the emergence of what could be some big changes. While Nekroz players have been slowly and quietly innovating their strategy over the past several months, everybody else has just been playing catch-up. But with the arrival of CROS, it's quite possible that the deck could not just be challenged by other strategies, but overtaken.

Plenty of players are viewing Shaddolls as the Nekroz slayers; it's hard to say if that's true, but Shaddolls certainly got a big leg up in Crossed Souls. Many are also keeping an eye on Zefras to see how that unique deck matches up. Furthermore, some players are even holding out for Harpies to make competitive amends now that Harpie Harpist has joined the fray. There are lots of tough calls, but lots of decks have potential right now.

As for me, I've got my eyes on the prize, and that prize comes in the shape of a giant weasel. While I've long believed that Yosenju were competitive, there just haven't been enough victories to quash the opinions of the naysayers. Really, most players seem to believe that the only reason the deck won in the first place was because of Vanity's Emptiness – a fact that I've sorely contested for ages. My thoughts are simple: without Vanity's Emptiness the deck's still strong enough to hold its own.

The Yosenju engine, at its currently accepted core, is simply one of the best – if not the best – stun engines in the entire game. Yosenju Kama 1, Yosenju Kama 2, Yosenju Kama 3, Yosenju Tsujik, and Fire Formation – Tenki form a well-fortified backbone that you can build an incredibly pesky strategy around. But the issue thus far hasn't been the actual Yosenju monsters themselves; the problem's a matter of what you surround them with.

That's where most critics and plenty of would-be Yosenju players have run into brick walls. Your Yosenju monsters are the least important part of your Yosenju deck. The biggest flaws I've seen in current Yosenju lists are the spells and traps, because really, your monsters are going to do what you need them to do. You just have to protect yourself long enough to let them get the job done.

As We Make This Transition…
Now, don't get me wrong here, I'm not saying the core challenges to Yosenjus are easy to solve: one look at the deck's competitive track record tells you it obviously isn't. I'm saying that with some of the cards released in the last few sets - up to and including Crossed Souls – the time for a Weasel Renaissance may finally be upon us.

If you've spent enough time with Yosenjus then you know that the two biggest challenges are fielding attacks and making sure your Normal Summons get through successfully. Building off of that premise, you also need to ensure that you can recover if your opponent manages to disrupt your Symmons. So what do you do to fix that? With the addition of a few new cards, I think both of those issues can be assuaged with relative ease.

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The first new power player is Soul Transition. This Secret Rare Normal Trap came roaring out of the gates in Secrets of Eternity to an excited reception, but quickly stagnated in competition. The card's obviously brilliant; it lets you draw two cards just by Tributing a Normal Summoned or Set monster. However, it comes with steep qualifications for play: you can't control any Special Summoned monsters at the time of activation and you can't Special Summon monsters the turn you activate Soul Transition.

By eliminating Special Summons the turn Soul Transition's activated, the number of decks that can actually take advantage of it in a competitive environment is slim. From the get-go, the card was seen as a potential boost to the recently-nerfed Qliphort strategy, but if recent tournament topping Qli decks are anything to go by, the strategy's largely moved beyond its illustrious promise of free cards.

But Yosenju – the deck that can Pot of Duality and still end up with four monsters on board the same turn – can abuse Soul Transition no problem. The deck revolves around repeated Normal Summons, so eliminating Special Summoning for a turn isn't a problem.

The chief strength of Soul Transition in this build is its defensive potential; a recovery option when your Normal Summons are jeopardized. The key to playing Soul Transition like Pot of Greed is to make your opponent waste a card in the process. By doing so, you turn your 2-for-2 exchange into a +1 of card economy. Given how Yosenju effects work, your opponent's always going to try and nix your first Normal Summon. If they've got Bottomless Trap Hole, Fiendish Chain, Breakthrough Skill, Effect Veiler, or the new Ghost Ogre & Snow Rabbit they're going to drop it on your first Yosenju to stop you from building a field, and to stop your effects.

In response you can now respond with Soul Transition: you'll get two new cards in hand, your additional Normal Summon will go through, and you can continue along on your merry way. It's a powerful little trick that can completely change the pace of things given the opportunity.

…We Also Make A Turn For The Better!
Lose 1 Turn is the next big and transformative card for Yosenju. The Heir Apparent to Vanity's Emptiness, it's a remarkably powerful floodgate that can easily warp the game in your favor.

It's simple: you can only activate Lose 1 Turn if you control no Special Summoned monsters (there's a theme here), and it negates the effects of all Special Summoned monsters the turn they're Special Summoned. If they're Special Summoned in attack position, they're get switched to defense position. It's a great card! If you're looking to get more in depth with its intricacies and join in on the discussion, Doug did a great write-up on it last week. However, I want to focus on the fact that it plays into Yosenju better than Vanity's Emptiness or Macro Cosmos ever did.

First off, Lose 1 Turn isn't as fragile as Vanity's Emptiness, and that makes it infinitely more effective. Emptiness discouraged you from playing your spell and trap cards, for fear of losing Emptiness to its own effect. That could be a big problem depending on what you were playing. Vanity's Emptiness usually ended up being a complete blow out or utterly ineffective; it was rarely anything in between. The absolute same thing could be said about Macro Cosmos, but its range of effectiveness was also severely limited depending on what you were facing.

Lose 1 Turn's different. It still lets your opponent play the game, but it forces them to play slowly and wastefully. It hinders their aggression, and any effect that would trigger upon Special Summon is useless. As an added plus, all of their Special Summoned monsters get switched to defense mode the turn they're Special Summoned, which means your opponent won't be OTKing you if Lose 1 Turn's on the field. This card radically eases the burdens of the Yosenju theme.

There are actually more upgrades beyond those; new additions since the last time I wrote on it! But before we discuss them, let's look at the deck so you can see the whole picture.

DECKID=102090I'm sure there're some tech choices here that caught your eye. The one that may stick out the most is Brotherhood of the Fire Fist – Bear. As a one-of, Bear's brilliant for this deck because it's a way stronger opening play than any of your Yosenju monsters. The key is that Bear forces your opponent to use cards that you don't want to see used elsewhere. When it really comes down to it, that's the gist: when you're staring down two or three pieces of back row in a competitive environment, the last thing you'll want to do is drop a couple of Yosenju and just YOLO your way through it.

With Bear, you can either force the use of cards that your opponent wanted to save, or you'll start applying pressure and build up insurmountable card advantage. It's never a lose-lose situation. Even late game, Bear can be an MVP that turns the tide of the duel with its destructive abilities – especially after your Tenkis have been sitting around dead the whole game.

As for defense, I've felt for some time that Waboku's simply optimal for this deck. It's always live on your opponent's turn and it's incredibly chainable. Those two factors weighed heavily on my decision to run a third copy over a third Mirror Force.

Lastly, Galaxy Cyclone's taken the place of Mystical Space Typhoon in the Main Deck because, even though it's not chainable, the dual effects have proven way more valuable here. This strategy can respond better than most to backrow cards. MST just isn't as important as it was last format and Galaxy Cyclone seems to outplay it in every match-up save for maybe Qliphorts. But now, with Galaxy Cyclone and Mystical Space Typhoon that match-up just got even better.

Weasel Your Way Into Winning
I strongly recommend that you give this deck a try. It's competitively viable, it just suffers a little from Acute Battlin' BOXer Syndrome. It's a great deck that very, very, very few people seem to pilot correctly.

That's a crying shame, because these weasels deserve a fair shake. Maybe you could help them out? I really do believe in you. Let me know how it goes!

-Zach Buckley

Team Nofatchx