David Mendoza won YCS Niagara Falls last weekend with a uniquelyDanger-fueled Gren Maju strategy.

His win came almost exactly one month after Yishan McNabb's 2nd Placefinishat YCS Portland with his Gren Maju build, and Mendoza's card choices seemingly take some inspiration from McNabb.That said, Mendoza's Danger line-up is different from anything we've seenin a Top Cut this format. You could argue that Mendoza won the YCS playingwhat's essentially a pure Danger strategy with a few tech picks likeFantastical Dragon Phantazmay, Gizmek Orochi, the Serpentron Sky Slasher,and of course Gren Maju Da Eiza.

I think most of us have had enough first-hand experience with the Danger!theme to get an idea of how a deck with seventeen Dangers might play out.The Danger discard effects have excellent synergy, a factor that doesn'treally get highlighted enough in strategies like Danger Orcusts.

DECKID= 110081 When you're only using a small number of Dangers as extenders you'llprobably miss out on the theme's best interactions: discarding a Dangerwith the effect of another quickly builds card economy, triggers the bonusremoval and Summoning effects in the theme, and sets the stage for Danger!Response Team. Just playing an above average number of Danger monstersmakes support cards like Danger! Response Team and Danger! Zone viable, andthey're surprisingly useful if you're actually playing them.

Danger! Response Team gave Mendoza another out to problematic monsters likeApollousa, Bow of the Goddess, Dingirsu, the Orcust of the Evening Star,and Thunder Dragon Colossus. Danger! Bigfoot! and Danger! Thunderbird! wereenough to pick off the occasional card with their destruction effects, butResponse Team was a more permanent solution to harder-to-beat monsters;cards with effect negation or built-in protection from destruction. It wasalso searchable with Danger! Nessie! and recyclable as long as Mendozadidn't banish it with Pot of Desires or Gizmek Orochi.

Danger! Zone would come out of Mendoza's Side Deck whenever he was forcedto play first, and depending on the match-up he'd even side it inoccasionally when he was playing second. Resolving Danger! Zone couldtrigger two removal effects, two Special Summons, or some other combinationof Danger effects. It's excellent draw power for the theme and it'ssearchable with Nessie, but it was still too slow to find its way into theMain Deck. It's got a lot of utility on defense, but even that ultimatelyisn't why Mendoza played it: it's really just more draw power.

Mendoza's deck is loaded with draw effects, even if you ignore hisseventeen Danger monsters. Trade-In, Pot of Desires, Card Destruction,Fantastical Dragon Phantazmay, and sided copies of Shared Ride and Danger!Zone allowed Mendoza to dig for outs to his opponent's set-up – cards likeHey, Trunade! and Super Polymerization.

It probably goes without saying, but all of Mendoza's discard costs wereeffectively assets to his Danger line-up. Trade-In, Super Polymerization,Twin Twisters, and Phantazmay all deliver their own utility but also doubleas a means of triggering the discard abilities of Danger monsters. Danger!Response Team's graveyard effect is especially useful, and Danger! Ogopogo!can send it to the graveyard to bring its second effect online even faster.There's a deceptive amount of utility in Ogopogo's ability, and it'sespecially noticeable if you can use it to chain multiple discards in quicksuccession.

Patience Wins Games
Mendoza's deck isn't about building set-ups or developing an unbeatableboard. The Danger! theme lacks meaningful recovery options, and outside ofassisting other Link engines it's not terribly effective at leveraging theExtra Deck to win games.

With so few hand traps and a shockingly short list of Quick Effects thereweren't many ways for Mendoza to stay in the duel against decks that couldmatch his raw offensive power. Orcusts won't hesitate to put over 8000 ATKon the board in a single turn, and Phantazmay might not be enough to helpmake a comeback against a field that's stacked with negation andfloodgates. Mendoza couldn't match his opponent's in sheer defensive power,but he could beat them with an unrelenting offense.

What Mendoza had that his opponents didn't was the ability to put hisentire win condition into play all in one turn, without lengthy combos or adeveloped position on the board. It didn't matter if his opponent had zerocards or twenty, or if his field was empty. All of Mendoza's Dangers couldbe Summoned right from the start of the duel, and his capacity to load upthe field with game-ending damage wasn't hinged on his Normal Summon or aparticular Link Summon.

Dangers have seen play for months as extenders to help decks like Orcustsplay through interruptions. It's only natural that a deck packed withDangers would be able to outplay negation bodies, hand traps, and otherdisrupting card effects that are used elsewhere to break Orcusts combos.

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While other players are specializing their tech choices to beat Orcusts,Gren Maju players are easily slipping through the cracks and pushing forgame on Turn 2 after resolving just three or four monster effects. Calledby the Grave is the go-to solution to protect your combos despite youropponent's hand traps, but Mendoza played Hey, Trunade! instead becausesuccessfully attacking was more important than resolving any one singlecard effect.

Sky Striker Mecha - Widow Anchor was likely the most dangerous card he'dface off against all weekend, but even something like Crackdown could bedevastating to his ability to win the duel that turn. Gren Maju playershave to make a serious effort to keep their Gren Maju under their control,so Hey, Trunade! is a perfect fit.

Mendoza's capacity to simply wait out his opponents and ignore theirever-growing set-up is remarkable. While decks like Orcusts presented anOTK threat, other strategies are usually content to build up card advantageover time and slow roll their way to victory. Sky Strikers, Altergeists,True Dracos, and Salamangreats often take their time working their waytowards victory – practically assured that an opponent who hadn't yetcommitted to the board by Turn 3 or 4 probably never would. That's exactlythe wrong way to navigate the match-up against Danger Gren Maju, andMendoza exploited that line of thinking by biding his time in each dueluntil he had an ideal hand to go for a win.

A deck with Gren Maju can definitely be guilty of firing off too early.Throwing Dangers at an established set-up with no plan is a sure way tolose any chance of breaking your opponent's board. But the late game – orwhat amounts to a late game these days – is actually an excellent place for Gren Maju players to get into a topdecking war with theiropponents. The volume of high-ATK monsters in Mendoza's build, and thepotential to drop a Gren Maju at well over 5000 ATK, made late game wins aninevitability. Where Mendoza had the most success was probably in the midgame, shortly after stalling his opponent with defensive Blockers likeGizmek Orochi and Phantazmay.

Speaking of stalling, Mendoza used Number 68: Sanaphond the Sky Prison todrag the duel out even further against graveyard dependent strategies. Heplayed it in the Finalsto seal Game 1 and completely deny his opponent a chance at making acomeback. Without the ability to Special Summon from the graveyard, and with no wayto destroy the Xyz Monster itself without Dingirsu, his opponent was forcedto concede immediately once Sanaphond resolved. Setting up the Rank 8 XyzSummon wasn't much of a challenge for Mendoza, so he could quickly get itto the field and use its effect to buy him up to two turns against a decklike Orcusts.

At this point it's hard to imagine a more successful 'rogue' strategy oversuch a short period of time. In a one month span we've seen two Gren Majudecks make the Finals of YCS events despite an overwhelming number ofOrcust variants and Sky Strikers crowding the Top Cut. The fact that thisdeck isn't succeeding more elsewhere is a bit of a surprise.An anti-meta buildtopped a Regional in Rosemont late last month, but other than that thedeck's been largely overshadowed by the best decks of last format. Theoverall diversity of this format probably explains why there hasn't been alarger movement towards Gren Maju, although that's not to say that moreplayers haven't been picking it up.

David Mendoza's build highlights just how vulnerable modern decks are tolow-combo, high-ATK strategies with an even moderate resilience againstinterruption. Just two weeks ago we highlighted aTimelord listwith a similar capacity to win games using just a few Summons. It's easy toget into a mindset of viewing deck choices as a binary: either you'replaying Link spam or you're loaded up on dozens of interrupting cardeffects and small monsters like Subterror Guru or Altergeist Silquitous.Mendoza's deck defies that binary by channeling raw attack power andremoval effects with one of the game's best engines.

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.