How's it going TCGplayers? This past weekend we saw the tournament debut of the newest set, Primal Origins at YCS Philadelphia as well as the TCGplayer.com Yu-Gi-Oh! Series in Orlando. The introduction of the Artifact archetype, as well as plenty of support for Sylvans, Madolche, and Traptrix opened the playing field for a tournament scene that was previously dominated by Mermails, Geargia, and Bujins. We also got to see just how powerful Ice Hand and Fire Hand can be in a slower format that thrives off of +1's. The pair of elemental gauntlets were seen throughout the Top 32 at Philadelphia and all over the YGOS in Orlando, supplementing the strategies of numerous decks.

Neither event disappointed when it came to the new support, as a Madolche duelist took home first place in both! This week I'll be looking at Chris Leblanc and Jason Gillbert's Madolche decks, which were able to navigate a tourney full of worthy duelists. As always, let's get started with the decklists.

DECKID=100302DECKID=100275The Madolche core of both builds is nearly identical, with three copies each of Madolche Magileine, Madolche Hootcake, Madolche Messengelato, and Madolche Anjelly. Leblanc ran a playset of Madolche Mewfeuille to combo with Messengelato, too. Leblanc and Gilbert both ran three copies of Maxx "C" to combat Dragon Ruler variants and Mermails, as well as other explosive strategies. Madolche Magileine is the glue that holds this deck together; one of the best free +1's we've seen since Elemental Hero Stratos, it lets you search for whatever missing combo piece you need, and it even searches itself in a pinch if you just need beaters on the field.

The newest addition to this sweet repertoire is Madolche Anjelly from Primal Origin. Similar to Lonefire Blossom, you Tribute it to Special Summon a Madolche monster from your deck. Anjelly opens up a slew of power plays due to its synergy with Madolche Hootcake. Normally you'd need additional support like hand traps to get monsters into your graveyard for Hootcake's effect, since Madolches usually return to the deck when they're destroyed. But Anjelly gives you a monster to banish, and it grabs Hootcake when you need it. Together, Mewfeuille and Anjelly create a powerful combo:

-First summon Mewfeuille to Special Summon Anjelly from your hand.

-Tribute Anjelly to Special Summon Hootcake.

-Activate Hootcake's ability by banishing Anjelly, to Special Summon Messengelato

-Search for Madolche Ticket with Messengelato, then activate it.

-Xyz Summon either Leviair the Sea Dragon or M-X-Saber Invoker with Mewfeuille and Hootcake, to Special Summon back Anjelly or another Messengelato from your deck.

-Xyz Summon Madolche Queen Tiaramisu; you can then get the full value out of her effect with the two monsters you used for Xyz Materials, as well as having Special Summonin option of Madolche Ticket.

Madolche Queen Tiaramisu's one of the most efficient boss monsters around, giving you an out to virtually any card – Tiaramisu doesn't even target! She's also boosted to a respectable 2700 ATK with the help of Madolche Chateau, and alongside Ticket, you gain even more card advantage because the Madolches you target with her effect go back to your hand. Also don't forget that the effect applies not just to Madolche monsters, but Madolche cards in general, letting you recycle spells or traps for later use.

#####CARDID=16145#####

LeBlanc expanded on the Madolche core by including a pair of Ice Hand and Fire Hand to grind out +1's when needed, or give you a solid opener when you don't draw a Magileine to get your engine going. A lone D.D. Crow can also help fend off the likes of Sylvans, Bujins, and even the occasional Inzektor duelist.

Spells And Traps
We see further variation in the spell lineup, especially with the themed support. Leblanc and Gillbert both used a pair of Madolche Chateau, while Gillbert chose to use two Madolche Ticket while Leblanc played just one copy. A lone Ticket can work nicely because the effect doesn't stack, and you can search for it off of Messengelato when you need it.

Where the two builds really diverge is how they try and fix one key problem: the Madolches' reliance on Normal Summons to make their plays. Leblanc went with a pair of Double Summon to accelerate into quick Xyz Summons, while Gillbert opted for a lone Soul Charge and Instant Fusion to set up his pushes. Soul Charge can be a bit counter-intuitive at times, especially with the inherent Madolche effect of returning to the deck, but you can make a big late play after you've sent monsters to the grave for Xyz.

Now the crux of the Madolche strategy is grinding down your opponent through +1's until you just have so much card advantage that they can't deal with it all. From Ticket searches and Chateau adding monsters back to your hand, you're never short of gas. But what holds this strategy together are the traps. This current format is one of the slower ones we've had in a long while, with decks like Bujins, Geargia, Traptrix Hands, Artifacts, Fire Fists, and Madolche all seeking different ways to gain card advantage rather than OTK'ing opponents.

Leblanc and Gillbert saw the strength of defensive traps, with cards like Breakthrough Skill and Dimensional Prison able to protect you from big threats. Gillbert chose to run more prevention, taking advantage of the extra room he made by skipping Mewfeuille; he played a pair of Vanity's Emptiness and Wiretap. Emptiness almost goes without saying: it's amazing at locking down your opponent after you've already established a threatening field. Wiretap from Dragons of Legend has quickly emerged as one of the premier cards in long, drawn out duels, as counter traps are so few and far between right now, and having a trump card when you need it is invaluable. Although Wiretap doesn't outright eliminate Seven Tools of the Bandit, eventually those 1000 LP payments add up. Like Trap Stun, Wiretap makes sure that your big plays go through, or that your last line of defense holds strong.

Madolchepalooza deserves special mention. While it does take an entire turn of set-up, it combos beautifully with Ticket and Chateau, as both cards ensure that you'll have a hand chock full of Madolche monsters to Summon. Madolchepalooza's your Soul Charge equivalent, except you don't sacrifice the use of your Battle Phase! I do believe one is the correct number to play right now because of how difficult it is to use properly, as well as the fact that you can search for it, but time will tell whether Madolche decks need an extra copy to make adequate pushes.

Side Deck Tech
Before we go any further, let me just take a moment to plus Kelly Locke's write-up from yesterday. It's a great piece on how to side against this strategy. I've always believed Side Decks are a great chance to showcase your own personal style, and that's evident from how different Leblanc and Gillbert's Side Decks are, despite the fact that they accomplish the same goal: disruption.

Gillbert's Side Deck is more focused on disrupting his opponent with cards like Gozen Match, D.D. Crow, Book of Moon, and Ally of Justice Cycle Reader, running his opponent out of options. Leblanc went for a more proactive approach, and just wanted to stop his opponent before they got things going; we see a playset of Black Horn of Heaven as well as two Debunk, two Needle Ceiling, and a Soul Drain for good measure. Both duelists also sided additional copies of Ice Hand and Fire Hand for more removal. It should be noted that Leblanc and Gillbert both Side Decked Dark Hole and Swift Scarecrow; Scarecrow not only gives you a monster to target with Madolche Hootcake, it can prevent an opposing OTK should your opponent break through your backrow (barring Divine Dragon Knight Felgrand). Dark Hole's just a great card to combat Soul Charge and with the help of Ticket and Chateau it's like it didn't even affect you!

#####CARDID=11905#####

I have to mention again just how influential Ice Hand and Fire Hand have become in current competition. Having Tengu-like Special Summoning abilities while taking a card from your opponent in the process is insane value, and the only real way to combat that type of smart card economy is to use it yourself. Primal Origin also introduced new Xyz monsters like Number 103: Ragnazero, a card exceptionally well positioned against all of the ATK modifying cards like Fire Formation - Tenki, and Madolche Chateau. Ragnazero can be the mirror breaker you need in the coming weeks.

That's all I have for this Competitive Corner! It was awesome to see such a surge of new strategies thanks to the help of Dragons of Legend and Primal Origin. Be sure to keep testing as we draw ever closer to the World Championship Qualifiers. As always, remember to think outside the box. The results may very well surprise you.

~Joe Soto

Invictus