His monster-heavy build included over a dozen Level 10s for Rank 10 XyzSummons, and his Extra Deck was appropriately loaded with Xyz likeSuperdreadnought Rail Cannon Gustav Max and Number 81: SuperdreadnoughtRail Cannon Super Dora. Rank 10 strategies have typically been theexclusive domain of the Train theme, but Al-Baaj definitively proved thatat least one other Level 10 theme can play in the same sandbox.
Two years ago I wrote about Timelords from a Side Deck perspective, and since then we've seen plenty of duelists run Timelords in their Mainand Side Decks to deal with their opponent's field commitments. Metaion,the Timelord was a popular pick against Thunder Dragons initially, andZaphion, the Timelord still puts in a ton of work against backrow-heavythemes like Sky Strikers and Altergeists. Time Maiden made Timelords a moreviable tech engine and Side Deck choice, and it also made a dedicatedTimelord deck a real possibility for the first time. Al-Baaj's build isabout as close as you can get to a dedicated Timelord strategy withoutsacrificing a competitive edge.
There are a handful of fascinating tech choices here, but theoverall strategy's just as interesting.
DECKID=110010The sheer number of proactive removal effects in Al-Baaj's build is anoutlier in a format where the majority of removal effects are tucked awayin the side. Naturally his deck was built to play second – the Main DeckKaijus and Evenly Matched should give that away – so Game 1 removal shouldbe expected. He had a whole toolbox of Timelord effects that he could relyon to break boards, attack over monsters, and deal huge amounts of LifePoint damage on his first turn.
Broadly speaking, going second was a popular trend over the weekend thatwas largely driven by a decline in Thunder Dragons and a fear that Nibiru,the Primordial Being would crush combo decks. Al-Baaj brought a differentset of cards to tribute his opponent's monsters, and his results show thatKaijus still have a place in the game with Nibiru in the mix.
Timelords Are Great For Breaking Boards...And Life Point Damage??
Let's take a quick look at the Timelord monsters in Al-Baaj's Main Deck:his primary combo pieces were Sandaion, the Timelord; Raphion, theTimelord; and Michion, the Timelord. He played a full set of each, plus apair of Kamion, the Timelord, and a single copy each of Lazion, theTimelord; Metaion, the Timelord; and Zaphion; the Timelord.
Time Maiden could Summon or search any of his 0 ATK Timelords in the deck,so only his most important Timelords needed to be maxed out. In Al-Baaj'scase his most important Timelords all carried extremely potent burneffects, and their job was to put his opponent within striking range ofSuperdreadnought Rail Cannon Gustav Max.
Al-Baaj used Sandaion, the Timelord to cut out a quarter of his opponent'sstarting Life Points simply by battling, and combined with the LifePoint-halving effect of Michion, the Timelord his opponent would be leftwith just 2000 Life Points. Gustav Max just happens to deal exactly 2000damage with its effect, and both Sandaion and Michion are Level 10 monstersthat contribute directly to its Xyz Summon.
Al-Baaj could win the game in just three Summons in a perfect scenario, buthe had plenty of ways to adjust his OTK to fit the conditions of the duel.Raphion, the Timelord could deal Life Point damage equal to the ATK of hisopponent's monsters, so if his opponent Summoned a particularly powerfulmonster he could OTK without Sandaion's help.
He could also turn the smallest opening into an OTK thanks to the extremeLife Point manipulation at his disposal. Creating those openings wasrelatively easy: Kamion, the Timelord has an unchainable removal effectthat activates at the end of the Battle Phase, and Zaphion, the Timelordand Metaion, the Timelord can wipe the field clear of monsters and backrowrespectively. Lazion, the Timelord carries its own 1000 LP burn in additionto a highly disruptive graveyard reset. Time Maiden's ability to Summonnearly all of these monsters gave Al-Baaj the ability to handle just aboutany situation on the field, but he needed more ways to bait his opponent'sremoval and clear a path for his Timelords to make successful attacks.
A line-up of supporting spells and traps in the Main and Side Deck gaveAl-Baaj all the tools he needed to take advantage of his Timelords. He ranthree copies of Celestial Transformation because Timelords are allFairy-types, and the free Special Summon's more than just a fancy way ofSummoning a Timelord. Celestial Transformation's a Quick-Play Spell, so hecould activate it in the Battle Phase to dodge Effect Veiler or surprisehis opponent with a follow-up after his first Timelord was interrupted.
The ATK-halving effect is mostly irrelevant, and the End Phase destructioncan be safely ignored. But even then, Celestial Transformation's the bestpossible addition to the deck to boost its Summoning power outside of TimeMaiden, and the combination of both cards mitigates an otherwise shortsupply of Special Summon effects in the theme.
Drowning Mirror Force and Torrential Tribute pair spectacularly with atheme of monsters that frequently leave the field and can't be destroyed bycard effects. Drowning is devastating when it resolves, and TorrentialTribute adds even more mass removal to an already packed strategy.Al-Baaj's Side Deck is geared to address the unfortunate situation where hemight end up playing first, and it's basically designed to bring the gameto a grinding halt with cards like Mystic Mine and Unending Nightmare. It'sa win for his Timelords, and a big problem for opponent's playingcombo-heavy strategies.
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Kaijus complemented Al-Baaj's Timelords by removing his opponent's negationbodies. Timelords can't be destroyed by card effects, but their effects andattacks can be negated. Kamion, the Timelord is a small exception that canstill be negated by a card effect before the Battle Phase begins, or itmight become the victim of a non-targeting removal effect.
Al-Baaj could bait out his opponent's negation with Interrupted KaijuSlumber, or simply devour an opponent's monster with a Quick or Triggereffect that might disrupt his Timelord plays. There's not much that can bedone about hand traps, unfortunately, though again Effect Veiler can bedodged with Celestial Transformation.
Jizukiru, the Star Destroying Kaiju is the best consistent target forRaphion, the Timelord's burn effect. Al-Baaj couldn't rely on his opponentto present a target with sufficiently high ATK on Turn 1, but Jizukiru lethim resolve Raphion for 3300 burn damage against decks with small monstercounts like Sky Strikers.
Speaking of Sky Strikers: Kaijus helped Al-Baaj swing a largely unfavorablematch-up back into his favor by shutting off his opponent's best disruptionoptions. Sky Striker Mecha - Widow Anchor wouldn't kill Al-Baaj's deckoutright, but it would buy his opponent enough time to end the duel ontheir terms. The fact that any of his Kaijus could shut off thatall-important spell made the match-up so much more manageable, and thelikelihood of an OTK would skyrocket whenever he could plant a Kaiju on hisopponent's field.
Extra Deck Titans
Taha Al-Baaj's robust Extra Deck was packed with Rank 10 monsters designedto OTK by dealing burn damage or by scoring multiple attacks againstopposing monsters. Keep in mind that Al-Baaj could set up his opponent'sfield with Kaijus, and as a result he could ensure that SuperdreadnoughtRail Cannon Juggernaut Liebe would resolve into an OTK. Consistent OTKpotential is the biggest claim to fame for Cyber Dragons, but Al-Baaj'sbuild is just as capable of pulling off quick wins thanks to his Rank 10and Rank 11 Machines.
His other Extra Deck monsters slowed down the pace of the game or offeredanother kind of OTK if his Timelords or Machines were stopped. Number 81:Superdreadnought Rail Cannon Super Dora let him maintain field presencedespite his opponent's removal effects, and if it lasted until his nextturn he could also use it to protect a Timelord play. Shaddoll Fusion alsohelped apply pressure against his opponents with minimal investment. ElShaddoll Winda can win games with very little support, and El ShaddollShekhinaga is both a negation body and a Level 10 for Xyz Material.
Exodius the Ultimate Forbidden Lord was more free material for a Rank 10Xyz Summon, but it's also uniquely capable of recycling every monster thisthing runs. It acted as a refill for Interrupted Kaiju Slumber, TimeMaiden, and Shaddoll Fusion by loading monsters back into the deck. Al-Baajcould play a lengthy grind game, avoid running out of resources too earlyand then slowly chip away at his opponent's field (while not-so-slowlyripping out chunks of their Life Points).
His deck challenges players to take stock of their outs to multipleindestructible monsters, and he clearly caught most of his opponentsoff-guard. It's an incredibly unconventional strategy, but one that's stillbuilt on the most basic premise in the game: reduce your opponent's LifePoints to zero before your opponent can do the same to you.
Until next time then
Kelly Locke is a West Michigangamer and writer. You can follow him on Twitter for more updates and check out his Youtube channel. He also studied marketing at Western Michigan University.