Subterror Guru's release in Savage Strike unleashed the infamous'Guru Control' strategy upon the TCG, and it's surprisingly playabledespite how long it took for Guru to arrive here. Can Tari made the Top 8of YCS Dusseldorf 1 with a Subterror build that competes with the bestdecks in the game, and it does it while only Summoning from the Extra Deckonce per duel.

Tari's build emphasizes the power of going first in today's tournaments:there's a huge number of disruptive effects packed into his list, and eachof them addresses a different threat against his set-up. Subterror Guru'sQuick Effect is only one piece of interruption among many, but it'sarguably the most important card in the deck: there's a reason why thisstrategy couldn't exist without Guru and it has everything to do withGuru's excellent search effect and Quick Effect interruption. Its FlipEffect let Tari search for nearly all of his themed cards, and its abilityto set opposing monsters made it invaluable as an offensive and defensivetool.

Subterror Guru's search effect totally changes the way Subterrors haveplayed in the past. The Hidden City and Subterror Nemesis Warrior were oncethe only way to search or Special Summon Subterrors from the deck, butmodern builds have dropped Nemesis Warrior entirely and shrunk the Behemothline-up to just one card.

The Subterror Behemoths have always had questionable value anyways, so themove toward a more consistent monster line-up makes sense when SubterrorFiendess and Guru pair up better than any other combination of Subterrors.

Here's what his build looked like.

DECKID=109613Searching Fiendess immediately with Guru sets up a negation against anyeffect and adds another hand trap to your arsenal. It's a low-impact playthat begins a snowballing roll of card advantage by freely acquiring cardsthat are often 1-for-1 trades.

Example? Tari could flip Guru face-up with The Hidden City to searchFiendess immediately, then flip Guru on his opponent's turn with The HiddenCity or Subterror Final Battle to search another copy of Fiendess. That'spotentially two hand trap activations and two negations, all sourced from asingle card. Guru's early game searches helped to support the rest ofTari's arsenal of hand traps and floodgates, and those four cards – Guru,Fiendess, The Hidden City, and Final Battle – did more than their fair ofwork towards achieving his win condition.

Setting Monsters Isn't So Bad
Modern competitive play abhors the idea of setting monsters – it hasn'tbeen competitively viable since Shaddolls.

A face-down monster can't be used for a Link, Xyz, or Synchro Summon, andcan't activate Quick Effects or apply a Continuous Effect. Setting amonster's by far one of the most passive plays you can make, and mostopponents will gleefully capitalize on a set monster by destroying it witha card effect.

Flip-heavy strategies have had a hard time overcoming the inherentdisadvantages of playing monsters face-down, but Subterror builds with Guruhave largely succeeded. They've managed to do the impossible by passing onthe disadvantages of set monsters onto their opponents via Subterror Guru,and Guru itself is astonishingly easy to manipulate even while face-down.

Tari had a few different ways to control his monsters, including Guru's owneffect that would flip his opponent's monster and Guru face-down. TheHidden City could trigger Guru's search effect immediately, and SubterrorFinal Battle could do the same while also providing a Subterror name on thefield to make Guru a Quick Effect. Subterror Fiendess could set Guru againto reload its Flip Effect while also negating a card activation. SubterrorBehemoth Umastryx can also be manipulated by the same set of cards, and itstargeted banish effect would add another potential interruption to Tari'sfield alongside a copy of Guru.

Unfortunately Tari's monster line-up made it challenging to Link or XyzSummon. Losing access to arguably the best toolbox in the game is no smallsacrifice, but Guru would make it just as hard for his opponent to LinkSummon in return. Again, face-down monsters can't be used for most ExtraDeck Summons, so Guru's ability to flip monsters is incredibly potent.

Its utility can be a bit limited against Thunder Dragons and Sky Strikers,but Salamangreats and Orcust are particularly vulnerable to finding theirmonsters face-down. Flipping a non-Link Monster face-down in the ExtraMonster Zone is still extremely powerful even if it doesn't happen often.

Set monsters are a delicious snack for Subterror Nemesis Archer. Tariplayed a single copy of Archer to kick his opponent's set monsters backinto the deck, and if Archer was destroyed Tari would simply Special Summonanother Subterror from his deck. It's a risky card to play since it's notspecifically a combo piece, but in a pinch Tari could attack with it into astronger monster to Summon Guru during the Battle Phase.

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The basic Subterror skeleton is already fairly consistent: The Hidden Cityand Terraforming kickstart the engine and get Guru into play on Turn 1, butTari couldn't rely entirely on drawing into Guru or his Field Spells. Drawspells were crucial to his success, and with no important Extra Deckmonsters there was no reason to pass on Pot of Extravagance.

Subterrors are the perfect showcase for Extravagance's competitivepotential, and virtually everyone that's playing the Guru Control variantis running as many copies as they can get their hands on. The extra drawsare critical to gaining a card advantage in the early game, but moreimportantly the draw power makes Turn 1 hands more likely to contain a wayto reach Guru.

Pot of Duality's an excellent pairing with Pot of Extravagance to skirt thelatter's condition. Extravagance keeps you from drawing cards by cardeffects for the rest of the turn, but since Pot of Duality excavates itcompletely dodges that restriction. Tari didn't play any other draw effectsoutside of Extravagance, so he'd rarely run into problems unless he drewanother copy of Extravagance when resolving the first.

Ideally he'd draw into Pot of Duality instead and dig for a play starter, aSide Decked card, Super Polymerization, or a trap like Solemn Warning. Ilove the idea of playing those two cards together in any situation whileplaying second just to find Evenly Matched more often. This deck strugglesagainst established boards, so digging for Evenly Matched is definitelyworth playing both spells.

Solutions For Playing Second
Speaking of playing second–Can Tari had sided aggressively to answer themassive Turn 1 set-ups of opposing decks like Orcust or Danger! ThunderDragons. Evenly Matched was only one solution: he also sided inDinowrestler Pankratops as a general-purpose offensive monster. Most of hisstrategy hinged on stopping his opponent's best plays with his line-up ofhand traps, then following up with a slow roll of searches led by Guru andprotected by Called by the Grave. Actually, Called by the Grave isespecially important here because Guru and The Hidden City are sovulnerable to Ash Blossom & Joyous Spring and Ghost Ogre & SnowRabbit.

There's some offensive utility in There Can Be Only One, but the real hottech in Tari's build is Super Polymerization. All but one card in his ExtraDeck was dedicated to supporting Super Polymerization, and each card wasplayed in pairs to hopefully leave enough Fusion Monsters after resolving aPot of Extravagance. All bets were off after a second Extravagance, buteven then there was enough redundancy in Tari's line-up that SuperPolymerization would still be able to handle the most common fields fromThunder Dragons and Dark strategies.

Tari could fuse Thunder Dragons into Thunder Dragon Titan, turn ThunderDragon Colossus and another Dark Monster into Predaplant Dragostapelia, orcombine two Dark Monsters to Summon Starving Venom Fusion Dragon.Salamangreat Violet Chimera was typically the go-to target againstSalamangreats, while Prank-Kids Rocket Ride consumed materials from anyPrank-Kids players he ran into. Both Chimeratech monsters were dedicated tothe Cyber Dragon match-up, while Mudragon of the Swamp kept SuperPolymerization live even against non-Dark rogue strategies.

Super Polymerization's incredibly disruptive and a major game changer inany number of situations. There are few cards in the game that can soeffortlessly convert your opponent's strongest monsters into a boss monsterof your own, and with Ghost Reaper & Winter Cherries trending downthere's plenty of space for Subterrors to play a massive line-up of FusionMonsters. Tari was able to Main Deck a card that most other players aresiding for the mirror match, and that gave him a massive advantage in Game1 in addition to a very real surprise for his opponent. An unexpected SuperPolymerization is game-ending, and Tari clearly realized the value of apower spell that could be played uniquely in his strategy.

I think we'll continue to see Subterrors exist as a viable competitivestrategy through Dark Neostorm. It's a robust, consistent, andalmost annoying straightforward strategy that doesn't deviate far from thehand trap-heavy gameplay of Trickstars or Sky Strikers. Winning games bysimple card economics isn't especially flashy, but as Can Tari showed atYCS Dusseldorf 1 it's capable of tackling the game's hardest match-ups andcoming out on top.

Until next time then

-Kelly


Kelly​​​ ​​​Locke​​​ ​​​is​​​ ​​​a​​​ ​​​West​​​ ​​​Michigan​​​​​​gamer 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.