Enter Salamangreats, also known as Salamanders, Slamgreats, "Salad ManGreats", and a dozen other nicknames you've no doubt heard in casualconversation the past couple weeks.
While the Salamangreats first appeared in the Soul Fusion boosterset, it took the back-to-back release of Savage Strike andStructure Deck Soulburner in February to really bring the decktogether. Once those releases dropped, Salamangreats quickly became acontender on the already crowded competitive scene, immediately scoring abig win
If you take a look at the
Congrats to Koschel and his strong showing, and if you haven't seen it yetcheck out the list below.
DECKID=109603Looking at each individual card in a vacuum Salamangreats seem much weakerthan they actually are. It's the Spider Web of interactions that give thedeck its real strength, often turning 1 or 2 card combos into respectableboards. It's very rare that one card will decimate your opponent on itsown, but Salamangreats benefit from compounding bonuses over time, allowingany counters they have to be that much stronger.
It's no accident that Koschel did well - this wasn't a list that he blindlycreated out of thin air nor was it just lifted from events earlier in themonth: it was a collaboration with others that made the same Top Cut. "Iplayed the exact same list as my friend, card for card," Koschel said, andwhile some might consider that a cop out, it's really the exact opposite.If you have several people with the exact same build and severalof them make the knockout rounds, you've clearly got a very strong deckwith successful, deliberate choices.
Consider one of the more basic Salamangreat combos starting with LadyDebug. You'd Normal Summon Lady Debug, search Salamangreat Gazelle, thensearch Salamangreat Sanctuary when you Link Summon Lady Debug intoSalamangreat Balelynx. Activate Salamangreat Sanctuary to Link Summon yourfirst Salamangreat Balelynx into a second, then Special Summon Gazelle fromyour hand.
Salamangreat Gazelle sends Salamangreat Spinny from your deck to thegraveyard, but you'll just Summon it right back and make SalamangreatMiragestallio with your two monsters. The Miragestallio fields SalamangreatJack Jaguar from your deck and the Jack Jaguar combined with SalamangreatBalelynx makes Salamangreat Sunlight Wolf. If you made Sunlight Wolf in theother Extra Monster Zone, you can revive the Salamangreat JackJaguar.
It's a pretty concise combo all things considered, but the important partis just how solid and versatile it is once you add in other cards. SunlightWolf, Miragestallio, and Jack Jaguar together won't exactly dominate afield of powerful monsters, but hey, free damage! Depending on whichevercard you already have in your hand - Salamangreat Gazelle or SalamangreatSpinny - you'll finish with another monster or even a set SalamangreatRoar.
Plays like that aren't over-the-top flashy, even if they take a while tochurn through, but they're just incredibly solid. Simple card combinationsnet you sizeable chunks of damage when you're playing this thing, orperhaps a few traps to back up of your forces, or even ways to bounceopposing threats like when you yard Salamangreat Miragestallio.Salamangreats combine strong, secure fundamentals with enough flexibilityto perform incredibly well. Koschel used those simple combos to hisadvantage, stocking the rest of his deck with threats that could cover themost ground possible.
Take a look at Koschel's hand trap line up: Infinite Impermanence, AshBlossom & Joyous Spring, Effect Veiler, and Fantastical DragonPhantazmay. There's nothing inherently aggressive about those choices, butthe surge of hand traps indicates a very targeted approach to counteringopposing strategies. Even though cards like Veiler and Impermanence won'tdestroy cards outright, they're played specifically to stop whateverSalamangreats can't get over when it's their turn again.
"You can even ditch a Salamangreat you'd rather have in the graveyard,"Koschel said of Fantastical Dragon Phantazmay, touting its versatility asboth an accelerator for your plays and a way to slow down your opponent."Even if it goes back to your hand, you can summon it again."
If It Ain't Broke, Don't Fix It
If you're new to the deck, it might seem like Salamangreats don't have onebig win condition. And you're right. In the broadest sense, Salamangreatswin by doing a little bit of everything and taking opportunities whenthey're presented or created. But we can still explore some specifics.
Whether you're drawing them or retrieving copies from the graveyard withSalamangreat Sunlight Wolf, the small Salamangreat trap lineup isdeceptively powerful. It might remind you of the defenses Infernity used intheir heyday with Infernity Break and Infernity Barrier, but theSalamangreat cards are just better, thanks to their effects andthe ease with which you search everything.
Take a step back to consider Salamangreat Gazelle: not only does it sendthe important recursive monsters to your graveyard as needed - SalamangreatSpinny and Salamangreat Jack Jaguar – but both Salamangreat trap cards areoptions as well. That gives you instant access to cards that negate aspell, trap, or monster card with Salamangreat Roar, or you can wipe out abevy of cards with Salamangreat Rage.
"It's the best one," Koschel admitted, talking about Salamangreat Gazelle."It gets your [plays] going, gets your traps, spells, whatever you want."While other cards may be the more obvious powerhouses of the deck, Gazelleis the one that ties most of it together.
But as I said, this strategy really relies on a bit of everything to bringit all together and reach its peak potential. Spinny and Jack Jaguar comeback turn after turn to keep your field full of monsters, while it's thepowerhouses like Salamangreat Heatleo and Salamangreat Violet Chimera thatdo the heaviest hitting.
Heatleo's worth a nod just because it's so easy to bring out with its lowbarrier to entry: it only requires two Link Materials, hitting the fieldand clearing away any backrow your opponent might have been relying on tokeep you at bay. But its second effect really puts in the work, Shrinkingthe attack of anything in its way! Since Koschel played Effect Veiler,taking away all of a monster's ATK is actually on the table; it can add upto a lot of damage.
Consider Salamangreat Violet Chimera, Fusion Summoned after you've usedSalamangreat Heatleo's effect to knock a monster's ATK to 0. Not only willChimera have boosted attack from the Fusion materials you used, but you candouble its ATK without any other restrictions.Since Fusion of Fire's considered a Salamangreat card and thus easy to getto, you can pop out lethal damage almost any time you want it.
Going forward, there isn't a lot that Koschel said he'd change. But heactually wasn't a fan of Lady Debug. "It's the weakest Normal Summon in thedeck. [Especially] if you get hand trapped." He laughed, and said that theywere surprisingly poor for him, even admitting that he Side Decked them outin many games. "Against [Thunder Dragon] Colossus, Salamangreat Foxy isbetter."
Combine fantastic hand traps that help you just as much as they hurt youropponent, recycling monsters from the graveyard that artificially inflateyour Extra Deck, counter traps that get set to your field for free and evensurprise ways to OTK your opponent, and you have the current Salamangreatdeck. Congratulations to Jonas Koschel again, and all other otherSalamangreat players that performed so well at the YCS.
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 "Marshmallows forEveryone." When he's not submitting ideas for Fabled support and aFabled Link monster, you can find him building a bonfire in hisbackyard to attract the local wildlife for an audience with hisukulele. Hailed as the only person capable of cooking Minute Rice in 56seconds, Loukas is always looking at expanding his backyard to houseevery dog in the world without a home. Well, and those with homesalready.
Do you love winning with unconventional strategies? Do you lovecreating mash-ups? Does your deck need an injection of crazy? Send thefollowing to firstname.lastname@example.org have your deck featured in the "Re-Routing" deck fix column!
-Your Main and Extra Deck list. (No Side Deck needed, but please send awritten deck list, not a screencap; screencapped deck lists will befiled and then burned in the furnace accordingly… and your deck shouldbe TCG legal).
-Your name and city.
-Remember, please use full card names! Abbrevs and mis-sipllngs makeLoukas' life sad. Try your darndest to get the TCG name on there.
-A paragraph or two describing your deck: what it does, why you'replaying it, and its strengths and weaknesses. "Winning" is not astrategy per se, and neither is "beating your opponents before theybeat you."
-Your favorite card from the build and why – make me fall in love withthe deck! The cooler your strategy the more I'll want to fix it, and ifyou throw in funny jokes, that'll surely get my attention too; bewarned, unfunny jokes will push your deck to the back of the stack.Don't be afraid to get creative! New stuff takes priority, because I'mnot bored of it yet! –LJP