While Salamangreats didn't take the same beating on the Forbidden & Limited List as other big themes, the latest round of restrictions weren't without some hits. Limiting Salamangreat Gazelle, Salamangreat Circle, and Lady Debug dealt big blows to Salamangreat's consistency, stripping the strategy of numerous cards that started a wealth of one-card combos.

Those Limits didn't lower the overall ceiling of what Salamangreat decks can do, but they certainly made it harder for the strategy to see the same end-result from so many different avenues.  It's surprisingly similar to Orcust's growing pains the past year.  Forbidding Knightmare Mermaid didn't really do much to hamper the raw power of the Orcust sute, but heaven forbid you'd need more than "two monsters with different names" to start your combos.

In the same way that Sky Strikers adapted to their fate, Salamangreats mitigated their losses by switching up their cards.  Sky Strikers might be a bit more nebulous in their playability and versatility by virtue of Sky Striker Mobilize - Engage! and Sky Striker Mecha - Hornet Drones, but dedicated Salamangreats and pure Sky Strikers decks both overcame similar obstacles to stay relevant.

With all that in mind, congrats to Walter Jule for his success at YCS Pasadena, finishing in 3rd Place out of more than 1500 competitors!

DECKID=110297 Could we see this as a trend in the near future?  The answer is absolutely yes – Salamangreats aren't a one hit wonder, though we'll certainly see more and more innovations each week.

It's Ya Boi, Flame Bufferlo
Since their release, Salamangreats have never been bad. We've seen them shift up and down in popularity and power relative to other top decks on the competitive scene, sure, but they've always been relevant.  That said, there's a chance they've been flying under your radar the last few weeks.  If you're not familiar with the strategy now's a great time to fix that, because Jules' performance is sure to make Salamangreats more popular. In short, the deck hinges around recursive cards and using Link Monsters to bring out new copies of themselves with extra abilities thanks to Salamangreat Sanctuary.

Since Sanctuary's searchable with Salamangreat Balelynx, which you can make with nearly every monster in your deck, it makes sense that Salamangreats streamline their core plan so easily.  Salamangreat Spinny sends a free monster to the graveyard every turn, and Salamangreat Jack Jaguar refuels your Extra Deck for longer games. And did I mention Salamangreat Sunlight Wolf can get your counter card - Salamangreat Roar - back from the graveyard?

Recursion and consistency are still the core strengths of the Salamangreat theme, despite the recent losses to the F&L List and what you may have been told by players underestimating the matchup.  As I mentioned earlier, it's simply a matter of adapting to what life throws at you, and Salamangreats have had a pretty simple time adapting to the restrictions and new trends of the current format.

Now that Salamangreats have embraced more deck thinning and discarding, Will of the Salamangreat's arguably become the most powerful card for the deck; it's a combo starter, a play extender anda comeback card all in one.  Imagine if Soul Charge or Rekindling packed the same power for a wider spread of cards and synergies, and you start to get an idea of how good Will can be.

#####CARDID=24405#####

Whether your Normal Summon is stopped by Solemn Warning or Lady Debug runs into an Effect Veiler, Will of the Salamangreat helps you field another Salamangreat from your hand.  Perhaps you're all but forced to discard a good Salamangreat from your hand with Cynet Myning?  Will of the Salamangreat has your back.  Need an explosive play to make something like Apollousa, Bow of the Goddess?  Will can fetch you the few extra cards you need to meet that goal and lock in your biggest plays!

It's an extra boost that can help you field a powerful counter on the first turn much more easily.  Yes, plenty of Salamangreat combos end with Salamangreat Rage or Salamangreat Roar, but turning a single Will of the Salamangreat into two monsters might be the difference between making an Abyss Dweller or Mekk-Knight Crusadia Avramax versus a more predictable field.

Them Traps Be Handy
While not every deck needs an influx of hand traps, Salamangreats benefit greatly from what you can call "card economy boosts" Obviously Ash Blossom & Joyous Spring and Infinite Impermanence work well in just about any strategy as hand traps, but between Pot of Desires, Cynet Mining, Flamer Bufferlo, and Fantastical Dragon Phantazmay, Salamangreats have the luxury of getting more out of simple cards.

The unique searching and draw power that comes from all of those cards isn't to be taken lightly.  They lend themselves to an uptick in card economy, and the costs are often turned into actual gains because Salamangreats can take advantage of the graveyad when they throw away cards, both by discarding them or banishing them face-down.

Salamangreat Rage, Salamangreat Roar and Salamangreat Sanctuary are all highly searchable, freeing up the deck to slam down a Desires while half the Salamangreat monsters benefit from being yarded anyway.  The concept isn't revolutionary, but with the restrictions doled out by the Forbidden & Limited List, adapting has turned out to be a blessing – Salamangreats now lengthen their plays even while they're paying costs.

The other extender that deserves some praise is Sea Archiver, another Cyberse monster that was pretty obscure until recently.  It's sort of a warm body and not much else, like Kagetokage from Rank 4 strategies of the past.  It might not be quite as attractive as other recursive or explosive cards, but it's searchable off Cynet Mining and it's fodder for Salamangreat Miragestallio. Its versatility is key.

It's no secret that Miragestallio's a core monster of the Salamangreat arsenal, feeding Salamangreats from the deck that'd be hidden deep from your reach otherwise. Miragestallio represents access to Salamangreat Jack Jaguar, giving the deck the recursive edge the strategy needs. Instead of more narrow options like Junk Forward, Spell Striker or Instant Fusion, Sea Archiver comes from the hand or GY, seamlessly integrating with your other discard cards.

Just remember: beat your opponents before they beat you.

-Loukas Peterson

Loukas Peterson lives in Nashville, Tennessee, hoping one day to run in 5th Congressional District on the platform of "Fabled Link Monsters for Everyone."  You can find him on  Twitteror building a bonfire in his backyard to attract the local wildlife for an audience with his ukulele. Hailed as the only person capable of cooking Minute Rice in 56 seconds, Loukas is always looking at expanding his backyard to house every dog in the world without a home. Well, and those with homes already.