Don't get me wrong, obviously competitions between similar strategies willoften be determined by wits and brains – arguably the only tool aside fromluck in a mirror match competition. But in 2014 when 99% of decks at anygiven YCS were the dreaded "+1 Fire Fist" strategy, with card deviationsacross the Top 32 in the single digits, things just weren't veryinteresting for many of us.
While the most recent Forbidden & Limited List didn't crushSalamangreats, Thunder Dragons or Sky Strikers outright, they brought thosedecks down from their obscenely consistent heights and ushered in ahealthier competitive landscape. Without the dominance of cheap consistencythose strategies have become vulnerable, and it shows. The release ofNibiru, the Primal Being and Dark Ruler No More helped even things out abit as well, landing us in what seems to be a golden era of competitiveYu-Gi-Oh.
There's just no two ways about it: we've seen so muchcrazy stuff happeningin Regionals over the last few weeks, it would be almost impossible toencapsulate it all in one discussion. Heck, I've written about SPYRALs andMadolches just this month, two decks I thought I might never see in TopCuts ever again, and rogue decks have just kept winning from there.
When I say "rogue," I don't mean Iron Chain Beatdown or Ice Barrier OTK -I'm specifically talking about the fringe strategies that were *almost*good enough to whup up on the best decks of the format over the summer butfell short due to the overwhelming power and consistency of thosestrategies; decks that can now survive despite opening with something otherthan a perfect hand, since that level of precision and reliability is nolonger the difference between absolute life and death.
What decks are we talking about? Well, let's highlight three of the mostnotable from recent Regionals, starting with what might be the biggest ofthe bunch.
DECKID=110037Oh boy is there a lot to say about Orcust Cyber Dragons; probably enough towrite a 6000 word article, to be honest. But since I want to cover multipledecks in time for YCS Niagara I'll just stick to the highlights. BetweenCyber Dragon, Galaxy Soldier and Machine Duplication there are plenty ofways to get two monsters onto the field for an Orcust Combo, so naturallyCyber Dragons fill a dual role: you'll either have the right cards forCyber Dragon Infinity or you'll blaze through Orcusts via your Knightmarecards, and the rest is history.
But while you could rely on any ol' combo of monsters that establish twopieces of field presence for your Knightmare and Orcust combo, CyberDragons are unique not because of their latent search abilities but ratherfor their monster removal. While the Orcust combos are good for buiildingbig boards backed by negations, there's just not much monster control tospeak of when you're staring down a big board.
Ed's no stranger to the Top Cut tables, so even if you'd only heard abouthis recent successes you could probably guess that his Cyber Dragon deckmaxed out on Chimeratech Megafleet Dragon. While Megafleet's existencedoesn't mean you'll wipe the board every turn, it keeps a monster on yourfield while dealing with an opposing threat. That may seem elementary, butit's really huge, acting as a proactive way to create combos going forward.
Whether it's Nibiru, the Primal Being, any given Kaiju or Raigeki, monsterremoval typically comes with a caveat that it's bait for negation. That oryou're forced to draw a hyper-specific card early on or even worse, you'relosing card economy to make your plays. Chimeratech Megafleet Dragon flipsthose axioms on their collective head while letting you keep a monster onboard for your generic 2-card Knightmare and Orcust combo, and likewiseremoving something you need to get rid of to win; that's something Orcustdecks historically have a rough time with.
What's even more exciting to me is something I rarely raise eyebrows at:the Side Deck. The Main Deck may be very much concentrated on allowingpushes with Cyber Dragon, but the Side Deck feeds into that even more,goading opponents to try and make a big board. It's the perfect Catch-22:either you use all your cards for your combos and get wiped out by Nibiru,the Primal Being and Chimeratech Megafleet Dragon, or you settle for aconservative approach, which means you're stuck staring down Cyber DragonInfinity.
Watch for this deck at the YCS this weekend.
DECKID=110061Moving along, uh… Can anybody tell me what year this is? Is it 2015?Where's That Grass Looks Greener? It's crazy to think that Infernoids couldbe doing so well in 2019, but now we've seen several Infernoid decks makngTop Cut appearances and Lukas Leyba's build specifically piqued myinterest. Why? Because trap cards and Field Spells, that's why.
When I think of typical Infernoids or the quintessential Infernoid deck,I'm thinking "milling cards like crazy." You can have Lightsworns, MonsterGate, That Grass Looks Greener… whatever floats your boat, but you'regenerally dumping cards into your graveyard and summoning Infernoid Devyatyas your path to victory. Instead, Leyba takes a very different approach byhaving plenty of ways to beat through established fields while also settingup his own.
Trap Trick and Lilith, Lady of Lament combined with the traps he was tryingto draw into, meaning an insanely high chance he'd start the game on theright foot. Where Infernoids have failed most, at least historically iswhen they go first. Sure, you could hope to combo with Void Vanishment intoVoid Feast, and, uh, I don't know… NOT DIE or something, but Leyba foundways to punish his opponent even when he went first, whether it was byspringing Artifact Scythe, Infinite Impermanence or Mystic Mine on hisopponent.
Lilith, Lady of Lament can get Metaverse into play which in turn throwsMystic Mine onto the table, but with Set Rotation and Demise of the Land,they act as counters to stymie your opponent. Furthermore, capitalizing onInfernoid Tierra lends a dimension to the deck that was previouslyunthought of, especially when you're slowing down opponents with MysticMine and Artifact Scythe.
I guess I'm the fool for giving up on Infernoids when Elder Entity Nordenwas Forbidden.
DECKID=110048While I could write about the Frogs or the Spellbooks that have also toppedrecently, I'd really like to focus on Subterrors and their insane powerlevel right now. Not because of any one Subterror card per se, but ratherthe slower back-row decks that have been cropping up in tournaments. Sure,Red Reboot, Twin Twisters and other backrow answers are rising inpopularity, but Subterrors are a real threat with the cards at theirdisposal; both on-theme and off.
I could talk about the insane draw power this deck has with Pot of Dualityand Pot of Extravagance, or I could laud the boundless search power ofSubterror Guru, or I could expound upon the new and improved traps likeCrackdown that bring Subterrors back into the spotlight. But the real gistis that we haven't seen an "anti-meta" deck with this many control toolsand enablers at its disposal since… Dino-Rabbit back in 2012?
Look at all the varied choices Subterrors have now - they have genericremoval, generic search support, access to draw power, spot removal, handtraps left and right, generic powerful traps, counter traps, and last butnot least Super Polymerization. What exactly can a deck do againstSubterrors that counters all the counters they currently command?
Whether you cut off traps, monsters or spells, the deck has the other twoto fall back on, and Ryan Gaskins piloted the deck knowing full well thathe could put his opponents between a rock and a hard place very easily.There's no magic silver bullet to defeat Subterrors, and the strategy'sreal strength is that it's simply versatile enough to ward off anythingthat might cripple it.
The second half of 2019 has proved that anything is possible, and we'regoing to see more and more strategies excel in the near future. Who knows,maybe someone will come up with a Doom Donuts OTK and really shake up thecompetitive scene. One can hope.
Just remember: beat your opponents before they beat you.
Loukas Peterson lives in Nashville, Tennessee, hoping one day to run in5th Congressional District on the platform of "Fabled Link Monsters forEveryone." You can find him onTwitteror building a bonfire in his backyard to attract the local wildlife foran audience with his ukulele. Hailed as the only person capable ofcooking Minute Rice in 56 seconds, Loukas is always looking atexpanding his backyard to house every dog in the world without a home.Well, and those with homes already.