It wasn't too long ago that SPYRAL decks dominated the competitive landscape. Shortly after the release of SPYRAL Double Helix, the strategywent from a rogue pick focusing on SPYRAL Super Agent to a blitzkrieg ofLink Monsters achieved through SPYRAL GEAR - Drone and SPYRAL Quik-Fix. Ifyou need a reminder of just how dominant SPYRAL was in its heyday, hop over to the deck archive and look at the wall of SPYRAL lists that made the Top Cut and won public events at YCS Dallas.

It's chilling to look at.

Now that SPYRAL Quik-Fix, SPYRAL GEAR - Drone, and SPYRAL Resort are allLimited, you'll actually have to try if you want to win any games.Heaven forbid! I remember the first time I used the overpowered version of the SPYRAL deck - the one with three Machine Duplications - and despite a bevy of misplays and questionable choices on my end, it felt like it was almost impossible to make Mistakes big enough to warrant a loss.

Flash forward to today and while I don't want to beat a dead horse, SPYRALshave been knocked around by the F&L list at every turn even long afterthe fact. Set Rotation, Terraforming, Metaverse… while those cards wereLimited chiefly due to their interactions with stuff like Mystic Mine,their restriction makes it that much harder to get to SPYRAL Resort.Obviously, SPYRAL Master Plan can fetch Resort when the situations calls for it. But getting a free monster once per turn while likewise replenishing your deck?

Maybe curbing SPYRAL's access to that was the right choice.

DECKID=110019 I had a joke about Barricadeborg Blocker, but honestly it's one of the better recovery cards for the deck, getting back SPYRAL Resort to help you stay in the game. Outside of SPYRAL Double Helix it was the only card this player ran multiple copies of, so you can tell even at a glance that it was hugely important to the strategy's survival.

The Combos - Such And Such And That One
Don't despair, there are still lots of ways to capitalize on the bestSPYRAL monsters.

Start with SPYRAL Super Agent and SPYRAL Resort - one of the best openers this thing can have. Activate SPYRAL Resort to fetch SPYRAL GEAR - Droneand summon it to rearrange the top of your opponent's deck and place SPYRALSuper Agent onto the field. Link them into SPYRAL Double Helix to summonSPYRAL Master Plan and you'll get to fetch a SPYRAL MISSION card.

Or you can start with SPYRAL Tough and SPYRAL Super Agent; together they're an easy play for multiple monsters and you can start snowballing their effects to get through cards. Terraforming, Reinforcement of the Army, One for One… as long as you have several ways to field two SPYRAL monsters you're good to go. With the aforementioned hits to SPYRALs on the Forbidden& Limited List you usually won't score an instant kill from just any two cards, but SPYRAL Double Helix doesn't put you too far off from a win.

So if Extra Linking isn't the prime goal for SPYRALs any more, what is? The answer there largely comes from SPYRAL GEAR - Last Resort and SPYRALSleeper, fielding an almost unbeatable thug that can deal with virtually any monster threat you need to get rid of. SPYRAL Sleeper's amazing because it's so easy to search and it's virtually free to summon from your hand.Meanwhile SPYRAL GEAR - Last Resort makes it nearly impossible to stop.

I mean, there's a lot to like about big monsters that can destroy your opponent's cards in battle or with such a flexible destruction ability? ADecode Talker backed with SPYRAL Sleeper attached packing SPRYAL LastResort is nearly lethal damage by itself, but it also pops your opponents' cards on their turn until you're ready to go. What's not to love about it?

Hey, if all else fails just thrown down Set Rotation. You can activate it on your opponent's turn, fielding Mystic Mine and netting you SPYRAL Resortthat much sooner. It won't be the prettiest way to win, but sometimes it's enough just to stall until you can unleash SPYRAL Double Helix and start comboing off.

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With the Limited status of some of the most powerful SPYRAL cards, establishing a dominating board on Turn 1 - whether through giant negating monsters or Extra Linking – isn't a regular thing for SPYRAL decks anymore.While it's still rare to build a deck that thrives on the choice to go second, SPYRALs actually manage to thread the needle as a combo deck that works really well letting opponents go first.

Gaining card economy's surprisingly difficult. SPYRALs can't make use ofSekka's Light, and Pot of Desires is completely out of the question. Ther eare too many combo pieces that completely shatter the strategy if they're banished with Pot of Desires. SPYRALs use the extra draw by going second, and this duelist played Pot of Extravagance, Slash Draw, Set Rotation, andFantastical Dragon Phantazmay instead.

While none of those cards are immediately helpful in their own right, they all work nicely when you're choosing to play second. Since SPYRALs can pump out so much damage going second, the Extra Deck isn't as vital to creating unbreakable boards; Pot of Extravagance may be quirky but it was definitely a purposeful pick here. Slash Draw's a horrible card going first, but it speeds through the deck going second and replenishes cards you've thrown away.

Set Rotation and Fantastical Dragon Phantazmay are played here purely toramp through your deck faster. Set Rotation acts as another way to seeSPYRAL Resort, and Fantastical Dragon Phantazmay means you can draw morecards, also getting you to SPYRAL Resort faster than you would otherwise.

The strategy's not complete without hand traps as well - Ash Blossom &Joyous Spring combined with Ghost Ogre & Snow Rabbit stop cards both onand off the field. And to stop an opponent's hand traps, Called by theGrave is a necessary component. The deck may not be the most consistent strategy out there, but everything points to one simple fact - you'll only need one SPYRAL Double Helix to go off.

It's not inherently clever or pretty, but it's the kind of conscious choiceyou have to make when your back is to the wall. If SPYRAL decks can't make strong opening boards on Turn 1 thanks to the dastardly Forbidden &Limited List, why not go with the flow and play towards the deck's inherent strengths? So sure, go second, get that extra card, and banish freely fromyour Extra Deck with Pot of Extravagance. What else have you got to lose?

Just remember: beat your opponents before they beat you.

-Loukas Peterson


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 for an audience with his ukulele. Hailed as the only person capable ofcooking 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.