The Fire Fist HAT ploy was a successful strategy, getting numerous competitors into the Day 2 top cut and taking Top 4 finisher Tej Trivedi all the way to Italy. But Infernities are different: instead of exploiting slow early games to create an advantageous grind for card economy, Infernities win by… well, winning.
Very, very quickly.
The Infernity deck can beat those slower strategies – and just about anything else – by creating a set-up as early as Turn 1 that's just impossible to beat. If you're not familiar with Infernities, the deck's been quietly doing well this year ever since YCS Chicago: it abuses the repeated use of Infernity Archfiend's search ability by Special Summoning it over and over with Infernity Necromancer, Stygian Street Patrol, Infernity Launcher, and its own ability that lets you Special Summon it when you rip it off a successful topdeck.
Basic establishing plays consist of Foolish Burial, Dark Grepher and Armageddon Knight to load your graveyard with Infernity Archfiend, Street Patrol, and Archfiend Heiress. Heiress in turn searches Infernity Archfiend, Archfiend Palabyrinth, and in some builds Archfiend's Roar. Infernity Archfiend seeks out Infernity Launcher, Infernity Necromancer, Infernity Barrier, and Infernity Break, and your overall goal is to create a field of strong and diverse Rank 4's backed by those Barriers and Breaks. Instant Fusion supplements your plays by giving you quick access to cards like Kamionwizard for Rank 4 plays; Barox, a Fiend for Palabyrinth; and Fusionist, a Beast to combo with Diamond Dire Wolf.
All of your Xyz Monsters either create more combos, eliminate problem cards, or cut your opponent off at the pass when they try to stop your momentum. We'll talk about those in detail a little later, but for now let's take a peek at Kheireddine's deck list, keeping an eye out for the innovations that made him so successful.DECKID= 100638@Kheiredine exploded into the limelight last year at YCS Toronto, a highly competitive event where he made waves by scoring a Top 4 finish with Blackwings. In a field where the dialogue of the day was Dragunity Rulers versus Dragon Rulers, Blackwings were way off the competitive radar and Kheiredine played them like an absolute champ. He re-emerged five months later at YCS Atlanta, this time playing Infernities in the Top 16. The WCQ was far from Kheiredine's first Infernity rodeo, and it was nearly a year removed from his first big showing as an insightful innovator, willing to make an offbeat deck choice to beat the expected field.
And he didn't disappoint at the WCQ. Not only did Kheireddine play a deck that virtually no one was ready for heading into the weekend, selecting a strategy that was perfectly positioned to beat the trends, he did it with a build that was fine-tuned in ways we've never really seen before at the Championship level. While previous successful builds in this format opted to try and outplay all the trap hate by simply bombarding the opponent with as many as twenty trap cards, Kheireddine went in the opposite direction and ran no trap cards whatsoever aside from those he planned to search as free +1's with Archfiend.
That works for reasons that are unique to the Infernity deck. While a slower strategy might try to use its trap cards for defense or to accomplish a very specific set of goals on a per-card basis, Kheirredine largely just wanted one thing: to tear apart his opponent's backrow. He wanted to plow through those big Geargia, HAT, and Bujin set-ups as quickly as possible, and that meant buying himself the opportunity to unleash a string of monsters with impunity (or the freedom to blow away the field all at once with Evilswarm Exciton Knight). Since he was searching out Infernity Barrier and Infernity Break for free, whatever 1-for-1 trades he'd make with them were really just leveraged +1's, so those exchanges wouldn't limit his ability to create his key combos.
The same philosophy led him to run triple Mystical Space Typhoon and to play Fusionist with Instant Fusion, feeding another 1-for-1 opportunity with Diamond Dire Wolf's effect. While traps like Bottomless Trap Hole, Torrential Tribute, or even the chainable Compulsory Evacuation Device require particular conditions to help clear the field, Kheiredine stuck with only the most versatile 1-for-1's at his disposal. That way he'd never be stuck with dead draws.
Since Kheireddine's general goal was to blow out his opponent as quickly as humanly possible, a light trap line-up allowed him to play cards like Allure of Darkness and triple Upstart Goblin, helping him draw into his combos. It also let him run Forbidden Lance to ensure that he wouldn't lose out in the face of effect negation or simple removal, which could threaten his Infernity Archfiend searches or interfere with his Evilswarm Exciton Knight plays. It also gave him room for his secret ingredient, an innovative monster pick that was far and away the highlight of Kheiredine's build.Dynatherium's So Freaking Cool
And until the WCQ the number of ways an Infernity duelist could do that was fairly static. Summoning multiple Infernity Archfiends with Normal Summons or their effects or the abilities of other cards, was the most basic. Cards like Summoner Monk, Street Patrol, and Infernity Launcher could make it happen as well, and the deck's newest addition earlier this year – Archfiend Palabyrinth – could make it happen too, swapping out a Level 3 or Level 5 Fiend for another Level 4. Instant Fusion for a Level 4 was clutch, but it came with one big drawback: you can only use one per turn. That could leave you with dead copies in hand, or more frequently just set you scrabbling to complete the other half of a basic Rank 4 move.
Enter Dynatherium: an Instant Fusion equivalent that doesn't demand space in your Extra Deck, doesn't cost Life Points, and won't interfere with Instant Fusion itself (like a second copy of Instant Fusion would). It's even an inherent Special Summon, so there's no effect for your opponent to chain the ability of Maxx "C" to. Dynatherium accomplishes a lot of different things for you, but it's most important as a simple Level 4 you can Normal Summon or Special Summon straight from your hand, with no pre-requisite conditions to tie you down beyond the one-Dynatherium-per-turn limit. Three Instant Fusions? Risky. Two Instant Fusions and two Dynatherium? More robust because it's easier to draw one of four cards instead of three, and actually less risky because while two Instant Fusions would conflict, one Instant Fusion and one tiny hippo can team up to make an immediate Rank 4.
Drew two Dynatherium? Special Summon one and Normal Summon the other. Got Diamond Dire Wolf? Dynatherium's a Beast, so it mimics the "Instant Fusion for Fusionist" play that lets you pop a card with Dire Wolf and keep the 2000 ATK Dire Wolf on the table as a game-ending attacker. Yes, Dynatherium can give your opponent a free Special Summon of a Level 4 monster from either player's graveyard, but think of all the ways Kheireddine could play around that:
-There's nothing for your opponent to Special Summon on Turn 1 anyways, and the deck aims to explode as fast as possible. Sometimes Dynatherium's totally free.
-Kheireddine could take whatever his opponent Summoned with Mind Control, actually using Dynatherium's drawback to his advantage.
-He could also use that extra monster to engineer the card disadvantage he'd need for an effective Evilswarm Exciton Knight activation.
-Simple removal effects, largely grifted for free like Infernity Break and Diamond Dire Wolf, can also eliminate would-be Blockers.
Dynatherium was the extra speed and consistency Kheireddine needed to take this strategy to the next level. He knew that speed was key, and it was likely the biggest reason he opted to play this deck in the first place. Flash forward to today and numerous shifts in the game have aligned to create an environment that seems favorable for Infernities. While hitting those big combos on Turn 1 going first can be more difficult, the deck can play a strong Turn 1 going second, often taking advantage of that immediate +1 and the attack opportunity afforded by the new first turn draw rule. If the deck can't win on Turn 1 going second, it can set up a killer Turn 2 anyways, working with seven cards to the opponent's six plus whatever card advantage it grifts with combo plays. The addition of a second Reinforcement of the Army just makes it even better.
An Infernity deck like this one has great match-ups with most of the format's big decks, and as we saw from Kheireddine's Worlds-qualifying finish at the WCQ amongst a sea of HAT decks, it can hold its own there as well. While Artifact Sanctum into Artifact Moralltach can be a problem, careful use of Infernity Barrier mixed with just the overwhelming number of ways you can make combos to power through a single disruption effect definitely gives the Infernity player a strong shot. (A Side Deck stacked with cards like Malevolent Catastrophe and Vanity's Emptiness certainly helps as well.) There really are no bad match-ups for this deck right now, and that's why we're discussing it today, two weeks after the WCQ itself.
As I write this Sehabi Kheireddine is in the last Swiss Round of the ARG Circuit Series Championship, sitting pretty with an X-1 record. In my mind he's definitely one of the biggest rising stars of the 2013-2014 season, and the 2014-2015 competitive period could be huge for him. Keep an eye out, because I get the feeling this is just the beginning.