No one's really talking about the fact that Rogger Antonio Vera Moran won last weekend's South American WCQ in Chile with Machina Gadgets. I'm not sure why that is. Coming out of that event there was no Youtube deck coverage of Vera Moran's deck list for days; I just tracked him down and asked him for it, and he was more than happy to share it with me. The list he gave me was on one hand predictable in many ways, and on the other hand kind of mind bending. It's surprising to see a deck that's done nothing this format explode and win one of the big Championships of the year. It's not surprising to see the general shape of the build itself. And then it is surprising again when you see stuff like, "3 Green Gadget; 3 Red Gadget; 2 Yellow Gadget."

And let's be clear: that wasn't a typo. The dude was actually playing eight Gadgets. If you haven't seen the list yet here it is:

DECKID=100584Timing and positioning amongst the most popular strategies – that's what success in the WCQ season comes down to. There's a sea of people playing proven strategies, the best of whom are hunting for tiny tech tweaks they can use to get an edge on everybody else. And then on the flipside of the coin there's people like Rogger Antonio Vera Moran, who look to play an entirely different deck that has natural advantages against not just the most popular Main Deck strategies, but also the most common Side Deck choices as well.

Innovation and the recognition of trends and opportunities wins these tournaments, and you can either do it on the micro level or the macro level. This deck's an example of the latter.

This Deck Capitalizes On Numerous Trends
Some of them are obvious. Big backrows full of trap cards? Very good right now, provided Judgment Dragon and Black Rose Dragon aren't blowing up all your stuff. Vera Moran played into that with a whopping sixteen trap cards – not as many as a lot of the successful Geargia decks we've seen lately, but still enough to get the job done. The trap lineup itself is really interesting, because while we're used to seeing Geargia and Bujin players go really heavy on removal and trap negation, Vera Moran played just two Wiretap and no Seven Tools of the Bandit; committed to two Call Of The Haunted to get more play out of his Gadget effects (effectively mimicking the use of that card in Geargia); and ran a full four copies combined of Breakthrough Skill and Fiendish Chain.

There are only eight actual removal traps here, leaving Vera Moran to rely on his Xyz Summons to deal with many of his opponent's monsters. This deck's extremely Xyz-centric, running triple Tin Goldfish for easy 1-for-1 Rank 4's and Redox, Dragon Ruler of Boulders alongside Machina Fortress for 1-for-1 or +1 Rank 7's. While Tin Goldfish has long been a popular pick for Gadgets in the past, it's much more common to see it played in twos rather than threes. Combined with the search power of Gear Gigant X the deck's really good at making repeated, free Xyz Summons consistently and quickly. Mind Control furthers that game plan and gave Vera an edge against the trending play of leaving Geargiarmor face-up in Games 2 and 3 to outplay Nobleman of Crossout (which many of Vera Moran's opponent's would have expected, but wasn't actually in his Side Deck in the first place).

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I'm fewer than 600 words into this discussion and I've already made several comparisons to Geargia. That's no accident: this strategy's effectively the same deck, with different timing, pacing, and different views on the permanency of stable set-ups in this format. The Geargia deck wants to stick Geargiarmor on the field for multiple turns, grinding out card advantage before turning it all into pressure via Rank 4's – often Gear Gigant X's, generating more free cards and thus more pressure. There's a lull in the early game that's vulnerable but well-protected, followed by a relentless press of free, self-perpetuating midsized beatsticks. That's the Geargia plan.

The Gadget plan's different. While it's also focused on leveraging card advantage off monster effects into pressure via Xyz Summons, there's no waiting around: while Geargiarmor flips up and down to get you repeated +1's of card economy, each Gadget searches you a plus just once, immediately when it's Summoned. That means you have to work a little harder for your card advantage and there are more moving pieces, but in return you avoid all the waiting around: the strategy effectively has no early game. That means you can play it really aggressively against decks with weaker early games that rely on a few turns of set-up: while Geargiarmor actually protects Geargia to some degree thanks to its high DEF, you can immediately start throwing attacks at decks like Lightsworn, Sylvan, and Bujins, before they establish a dug-in field and begin to gather protective effects like Rainbow Kuriboh and Bujingi Hare. That's the number one factor that sets Gadgets apart from Geargia and dang near well every other deck in this format.

At the same time, that ability to garner card advantage without relying on a consistent set-up also means you don't care as much about defending the fields you create. I mean don't get me wrong, it's always best to not have your monsters wiped than it is to lose them. But since each Rank 4 play you make is essentially a self-perpetuating source of free cards, you recover much faster if your opponent clears the table. Dark Hole's been a major source of debate this format: lots of players have bumped it to their Side Deck or eschewed it completely, though ironically the number one place it still sees Main Deck play is actually Geargia – one of the most set-up driven strategies in the format. Plenty of Geargia players don't run it since blowing up your own Geargiarmor is usually pretty poor, but looking at recent tournament deck lists, more Geargia players are running it than not. I'm not convinced that makes sense – at best, it's a rough compromise.

Gadgets don't have that problem, so Vera Moran was free to run Dark Hole and play it in ways other decks simply can't. That's pretty cool.

Machina Fortress, And Running Eight Gadgets
One of the biggest advantages this deck has over Geargia, and just about everything else out there, is Machina Fortress. Kicking out a free Rank 4 every turn is pretty good, but it frequently won't be enough pressure all on its own. Machina Fortress fills in the gaps and really bumps up the aggression with its 2500 ATK. Meanwhile its effects are a nightmare to deal with: cards like Fire Hand, Number 101: Silent Honor ARK, and Atlantean Heavy Infantry can and will eliminate Fortress from the field, but not without triggering its effect to cost your opponent a card from their hand. That forces your opponent to, at the very least, play out all their cards at once – never the kind of decision you want to make just because your opponent suggests you do it.

Meanwhile you can't run Fortress over in battle without losing your most essential card to its effect. It's really tough for most strategies to deal with, since it can swing in for big damage and then just sit there being an obnoxious wall and a continual threat. And it's searchable as a plus thanks to Machina Gearframe. And it drops for free thanks to all your free card advantage. It's just brutal, even before you start rolling it together with Redox, Dragon Ruler of Boulders for Rank 7's. The popularity of Dimensional Prison and Bottomless Trap Hole can create some definite hostility, but those cards just aren't very impressive when your Fortress is effectively free. In fact, pressing through them without taking hard losses of card economy is precisely the kind of simplification that can win you games.

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And yeah, the eight Gadget thing! Naturally when I see something like that I need to follow up because it smacks of typo. But in this case? Not a typo at all: Vera Moran was happy to explain to me that he made the decision based in part to avoid the dreaded triple Gadget opening. If you run six Gadgets, you have a 65% chance of opening with one, and a 21.5% chance of opening with two. With nine Gadgets you wind up with an 80.8% chance of seeing one, and a 41% chance of two. But you also have an 11.5% chance of opening with three, which is actually a pretty significant risk across a super-long tournament like a World Championship Qualifier. Running just eight knocks the odds of that happening down to about 8%, while still retaining a 76.4% chance of opening with one Gadget. While I'm not sure how important that all is, Vera Moran felt it was the best choice and he freaking won the South Am WCQ with Gadgets, so I'm willing to trust him on this. The math does back him up.

Naturally he chose to skimp on Yellow Gadget, because it has the weakest stats of the Gadget family. If he ever needed to recycle a Yellow Gadget because he ran out, Vera Moran did have Daigusto Emeral at his disposal, but I think the aggressive pacing of this deck would've preempted that issue altogether in almost all imaginable scenarios. Very Moran wanted to hug the 40 card minimum as much as possible, because that's frankly the right way to play Yu-Gi-Oh! in virtually all cases, but it's especially important here when you have cards that spike your win ratio so obviously like Machina Gearframe and Tin Goldfish. He remarked to me that by dropping the third Yellow Gadget he afforded himself the room to run his one teched Traptrix Myrmeleo – definitely a good call in a strategy that's all about making free Rank 4's and grifting cheap 1-for-1's in conjunction with free pluses.

I actually alluded to one of my favorite things about this deck earlier on: the fact that it outplays so many commonly-sided cards. I think it's fair to say that Nobleman of Crossout might be the most popular Side Deck pick for the Geargia match-up right now, and it's powerless here – nothing goes face-down. Debunk and D.D. Crow hit nothing but Redox, Dragon Ruler of Boulders. Mystical Space Typhoon, Wiretap, and Seven Tools are just more 1-for-1's that can work against their controller just as easily as they could work for their controller, in the face of your card advantage. Rivalry of Warlords, Gozen Match, DNA Surgery, And The Band Plays On, and numerous other floodgate cards do little or outright nothing to stop this strategy. Maxx "C" is practically useless, and anything that negates a Gadget effect in the early game better be ready to negate another one in short order, since Vera Moran has those extra Gadgets and Gearframes to compensate. Cards like Mistake and Stygian Dirge just aren't being run, and this particular build happens to play around certain cards that would normally make life reasonably hard on Gadgets.

This deck is all about positioning, and with just days remaining between now and the North American WCQ I've seen nothing that's made it any weaker than it was in South America. In fact, the rising popularity of Sylvans and Lightsworn – two decks that will often play a weaker early game, and thus fall to the aggressive pacing of this strategy – may count in its favor. It's at the very least worth discussing and considering, and I wouldn't be surprised if we see some Day 2 Gadget players making the cut in Detroit.

-Jason Grabher-Meyer







Oh, and hey! Now that the competitive season's almost over, it's time to break out the deck fixes again! I need your deck list submissions for upcoming columns;if you want to see your strategy featured in a "What The Fix?" here on TCGplayer just send the following to fixmydeckjason (at) gmail (dot) com to be considered:

-Your Main and Extra Deck list. (No Side Deck needed, but please send a written deck list, not a screencap.) Remember, your deck should be TCG legal!

-Your name and city.

-Remember - please use full card names! Abbreviations and mis-spellings make Jason's life sad.

-A paragraph or two describing your deck: what it does, why you're playing it, and its strengths and weaknesses.

And don't forget, the cooler your deck is the more I'll want to fix it, so don't be afraid to get creative! New stuff takes priority, because I'm not bored of it yet! -JDG