Late last week, European Yugitubers revealed the ENTIRE card pool from the upcoming Speed Duel: Battle City Box, arriving December 11th. And as a fan of Speed Duels myself, the spoilers made me jump out of my seat as I saw each and every new card that's about to be introduced into the Speed Duel universe. There are so many big, new additions to the format, many of which will warp and change the way competitors play this version of the game.
If you don't know what Speed Duels are, Kelly wrote a really good intro to the format last week. You should definitely check that out, but for now, the tl;dr version that might make sense to you is that Speed Dueling is sort of like Duel Links - the Yu-Gi-Oh mobile game - but in real life. With smaller decks, smaller fields, half the Life Points, character-based skills, and a custom card pool, the two forms of competition always draw comparisons.
But the two card pools are very different, and instead of farming to get gems to get packs to get better cards, as you would in Duel Links, you can just buy them all in the real life version. That might not sound awesome, but Speed Duels are historically super affordable, and it's a much smaller card pool compared to the Advanced Format we're all used to.
Another big difference is that in Speed Duels, there's currently no Forbidden or Limited list. That means you can play every card at three! Aside from the card pools and unique Skill Cards, the lack of a banlist is one of the biggest differences between Speed Duels and Duel Links.
A little bit about myself. I played a lot of Duel Links a long time ago, and when Speed Dueling was announced I bought into it. I studied the format and played the heck out of it, earning myself two second place finishes at a couple of "Speed Duel: Attack of the Giant Card!!" side events early on. I'm still really into it, so I guess I'm pretty knowledgeable when it comes to the Speed Duel format.
There's lots of other differences between Duel Links and Speed Duels, but the game mechanics are roughly the same. The Speed Duel card pool offers a lot of advantages: Speed Duels are much easier to get into, because the sheer number of cards isn't as complicated as Duel Links. That said, the new Battle City Box definitely brings the Speed up a few notches in Speed Dueling.
I say that because while they're called "Speed Duels," the format's actually become really slow with Stall Burn and Deck Out strategies becoming more and more dominant amongst serious Speed Duel players. I think the creators didn't want to make the game too similar to Duel Links and risk it becoming too fast. They wanted players to enjoy a back-and-forth style of game, creating a format with powerful defensive cards and fewer answers to them.
I'm not going to go through the entire history with you here, but to bring you up to date, the best Speed Duel decks recently revolved around Nightmare Wheel, Zoma the Spirit and Lava Golem. I think you see the synergy there. There were also lots of other annoying hard-to-deal with cards in the format too, stuff like Man-Eater Bug, Blast Sphere, and Floodgate Trap Hole, as well as the Skill Card Twisted Personality, and the combo of Cocoon of Ultra Evolution and Parasite Paranoid summoning out Perfectly Ultimate Great Moth.
Then Europe hosted a special event that released Jinzo as a promo card, introducing it to Speed Duels. It was generally accepted as legal to play with, since it'll be released in the Battle City ox set anyways. But due to COVID-19, very few locations were able to host the events that awarded this version of Jinzo; it was hugely exclusive, and not everyone was happy that it was so tough to get. In an era where Remote Duels are bringing players together from all sorts of places, the legality of the Speed Duel Jinzo was in question everywhere. If Jinzo was legal, then the skill card Inner Conflict combined with Jinzo was clearly the dominant strategy.
Inner Conflict lets you take control of your opponent's monster so you can Tribute Summon it away for Jinzo, or even Gaap the Divine Soldier. That's all I've been seeing in the remote Speed Duel discords lately, and I assume it's going to become even more popular once the highly anticipated Battle City Box arrives, bringing Jinzo to the masses!
So now that I've got you up to speed. I want to take some time and give you my thoughts on the new box set. What cards will impact constructed format Speed Duels? And what Skill Cards are the strongest? I've watched the videos and gone over the card pool over and over again, and this is what I think so far.
The Battle City Box brings some big search power to Speed Dueling: Reinforcement of the Army, Foolish Burial, Fire Formation - Tenki, and Union Hanger are all new to the format. I can't believe we're about to have a format where you can run a full three copies of Foolish Burial and Reinforcement of the Army.
Once it's legal there are going to be lots of great cards to send to the graveyard with Foolish Burial. King of the Skull Servants is a real strategy in Speed Duels, so you can bury Skull Servant to buff it up. You could load your graveyard with copies of Slushy or Levia-Dragon - Daedalus for the Umi board wipe combo. The new box set also introduces the good ol' Green Baboon, Defender of the Forest. Send the Green Baboon, Defender of the Forest with Foolish Burial, so if your Beast-type monster gets destroyed by a card effect, you'll get a free 2600 ATK monster!
Reinforcement of the Army isn't even in Duel Links, and Warriors decks were already a strong anti-meta beatdown deck in that version of Yu-Gi-Oh. Here in Speed Duels, it gives Amazoness decks more options and you can search an Exiled Force for easy removal, a pretty popular play from the days of the original Goat format that instantly destroys any monster on the field. Battle City Box also introduces Zombyra the Dark, a 2100 ATK beater that you can search for with Reinforcement of the Army.
Fire Formation - Tenki might be one of the best search cards in the modern Yu-Gi-Oh TCG, but there aren't very many good beast-Warriors in Speed Duels. That said, the new box includes Vorse Raider, starting off at 1900 ATK but growing to 2000 ATK or more with Fire Formation - Tenki boost! Pitch-Black Warwolf is in the set too, and it's got a great trap-stopping effect that works during battle.
Last but not least, Union Hangar. The ABC-Dragon Buster cards aren't in Speed Duels yet, but XYZ Fusions will be! Union Hangar a topnotch consistency card that not only gives you a search, but also equips your monster, effectively giving you two searches for the price of once. Here's an example of how that could be useful in a format with no ABC-Dragon Buster: fetch Y-Dragon Head, summon it, and use Union Hangar to equip it with Z-Metal Tank from your deck. From there you can contact fuse into YZ-Tank Dragon, and follow it up with Union Scramble for more plays!
Sadly you can only use Union Hangar to attach Z-Metal Tank to Y-Dragon Head and nothing else, because Y-Dragon Head effect only attaches to X-Head Cannon, which isn't a Union Monster. But the plays are still definitely viable.
Woah, and I almost forgot to mention Pre-Preparation of Rites! It's more search power for the rogue Relinquished deck, on top of an already-strong lineup of Senju of the Thousand Hands, Sonic Bird, and the Skill Card Ritual Ceremony to search everything out.
What makes this even better is that Metaverse is also making its debut. That means you have up to six copies of Union Hangar in any deck that wants it! I think Union Hangar and Union Scramble make a very easy, very strong and flexible deck moving forward.
Well to start off, Book of Moon somehow made it into Speed Duels! Like, what were they thinking?! Book of Moon will definitely draw more players into the format, since everyone loves the card. It's so good that you can play it aggressively, defensively, reuse Flip Effects, or even dodge certain cards on the chain. Sometimes Book of Moon can even end a turn entirely. We'll see if players will run this as a 3-of or not; we'll probably see it happen, but the number of copies you play will likely depen on how you build decks and what you value.
Cosmic Cyclone getting another reprint, and now it's arriving in Speed Duels. Cosmic Cyclone been a staple in Duel Links since it first appeared, and it's obvious why: it's Mystical Space Typhoon, with the added bonus of a banishing effect and the added cost of 1000 Life Points. The LP cost is a huge help triggering a number of Skill Cards earlier in the game in Duel Links, and we might see that become a factor in Speed Duels.
Speed Duels are really lacking in spell and trap removal besides Dust Tornado, Double Cyclone, and Night Beam, so Cosmic Cyclone will no doubt see a lot of play replacing those options.
Nobleman of Extermination and Storm are both new to Speed Duels too, and both are in the Battle City Box. Nobleman of Extermination kind of a mix between Night Beam and Cosmic Cyclone; it only targets a face-down card like the Night Beam, and it banishes like Cosmic Cyclone, but only if the target remains face-down upon Nobleman of Extermination resolution. If Nobleman of Extermination does manage to banish, it also gets rid of all the copies of the cards in both players' decks, so it can kill future plays, too, which could knock a big hole in your opponent's defenses.
Storm was popular when it first showed up in Duel Links, since it's kinda similar to Heavy Storm. Combine it with spells that give you value after you play them, like say, Fire Formation - Tenki and Union Hangar, and you can get some free board clearing power in the process.
Hammer Shot in Speed Duels while Duel Links only just got Fissure? What a weird coincidence.
Anyways, this spell's pretty good in terms of raw quality. Sometimes you might be the one with the higher ATK monster instead of your opponent, which may lead you to want to hold the card. But in the best-case scenario, you get to destroy an opposing monster - often their best monster - with a single spell card. It's also one of the few answers to Obelisk the Tormentor in the Speed Duel format, which may prove to be important.
One trend we might see early on, is players failing to adapt quickly enough, and continuing to believe that Flip Effect monsters are good. In Speed Duels, Parasite Paranoid was the whole reason why setting monsters was better. So it does create a problem if a monster's equally vulnerable regardless of whether its set or Normal Summoned.
Why should players be scared of setting a monster? Before the Battle City Box, the only cost-effective ways to eliminate set monsters were to absorb them with Relinquished, flip up a Man-Eater Bug, Tribute Summon Gravekeeper's Oracle to destroy all set monsters, or play Sasuke Samurai. Besides the Sasuke Samurai, all those options were either slow or required more set-up with relatively low payoffs. But now, with Nobleman of Crossout and even Soul Exchange in the game, committing to the field first just became a lot scarier.
If you're a fan of Goat format then Nobleman of Crossout needs no introduction. It's very good against Flip Effect monsters, making an immediate trade so you can Normal Summon a monster and have a higher chance of making a direct attack. Not to mention that it can banish all other copies of whatever Flip Effect monster it hits, straight from both players' decks.
Meanwhile Soul Exchange is effectively an old-fashioned version of The Monarchs Stormforth. It lets you Tribute Summon with an opposing monster, with the only restriction that you can't attack for the turn. You can even Soul Exchange and Ritual Summon by tributing your opponent's face-up monster, since you know that monster's Level.
Imagine just being able to instantly summon Jinzo going second. Or summoning Dark Red Enchanter to rip a card out of your opponent's hand. Did I mention the new boxed set also brings in Spell Canceller? Like, why? Backed with the right trap cards, Spell Canceller is going to be troublesome for Rituals or any search-reliant decks.
Speaking of traps, even though Jinzo very relevant, I think the option to run three copies of Book of Moon keeps traps viable, since flipping Jinzo face-down frees you from its trap-crushing clutches.
So what new and flexible traps does the Battle City Box bring to the table?
The classic Mirror Wall is now Speed Duel legal. It's been very relevant in Duel Links basically since the start of the game, helping you defend yourself and possibly even destroying an attacking monster by halving its ATK in response to an attack declaration. It usually buys you a turn, or even more than one turn if you can afford to pay 2000 Life Points to keep Mirror Wall on the field. The Life Point reduction's also just enough to help trigger Skill Cards for the following turn, such as Destiny Draw (April 2019)! So now that Mirror Wall's in Speed Duels, we could see that combo!
Widespread Ruin and Draining Shield are finally here too. Or to be more broad, "defensive attack declaration traps in general" are finally here. All we had before were just Kunai with Chain, or the ability to change battle positions with Windstorm of Etaqua. With Widespread Ruin you actually have to be afraid of losing your monster, rather than the relative security of believing it'll only get swapped to defense mode.
Draining Shield is very niche, but can help stall strategies buy more time. One of my favorite combos in the earlier days of Duel Links was Draining Shield and Lava Golem. You'd drop that 3000 Attack Point monster on your opponent's side of the field, they'll always try to attack with it, and you'd just gain all of it as Life Points. Since Speed Duels only give you 4000 LP to play with, having more Life Points is more useful than you're probably used to; it'll usually get you more turns. So while the Battle City Box does include lots of hate for stall decks, I'm kinda glad Konami's still willing to give that type of deck at least one more support card.
And then there's Waboku. This card isn't even in Duel Links! Hallowed Life Barrier is in Duel Links, and it's very similar to Waboku, but it costs you a discard. Waboku free, And it's definitely super strong; stalling a turn to build a better hand, or to bait your opponent to commit to the board is very nice.
This kind of card also makes "once-per-duel" skills and effects worse, in some sense. Take Inner Conflict or Cocoon of Ultra Evolution for example. Many players try to use those skills to combo into an OTK. But now with Waboku, a player could commit their once-per-duel effect only for their opponent to Waboku, then use their once-per-duel effect in retaliation to try and steal the win.
This type of card also works great at protecting your monsters by battle, so it's kind of another battle trap. It's better in fact, because you can also use it in the Main Phase and it has value when your opponent blindly tries to snipe it with removal, letting you play it in response. In a game without a Main Phase 2, losing your Battle Phase could be very rough.
Mind Crush is a nice addition to the format, going hand in hand with all the search cards that the Battle City Box adds. Imagine a player attacking you, you flip The Forceful Checkpoint to see their hand and stop the attack, then you Mind Crush another card they have in hand. That would be pretty good. It also gives you another answer to Ritual decks or Relinquished in general.
I think Lost Wind is the only monster effect negation in the entire Speed Dueling card pool! This card is another that never appeared in Duel Links, though they do have Fiendish Chain. Unfortunately Lost Wind is only good against Special Summons, but I have a feeling we'll be doing more of that in Speed Duels soon anyways. I think this card will be very good at keeping Unions in check, since they're very reliant on the removal effects of their Fusion Monsters. Being able to bring it back in that matchup is just great value.
Lastly Psychic Shockwave is situational, but definitely rewarding if you resolve it.
If you have the higher attacking monster, and your opponent has to use something like Widespread Ruin to try and defend, you can chain Psychic Shockwave, discarding a spell or trap. Do that and you'll get a free Jinzo to negate the opposing trap, letting you attack successfully while also gettinig another 2400 ATK monster to swing with.
While there aren't that many rogue monsters in the Battle City Box, there are some generics that could potentially see play. I've already mentioned Spell Canceller, so let's cover some others.
Absorbing Jar a pretty neat card in a version of Yu-Gi-Oh with no Main Phase 2. Since a player has to set cards before committing to the Battle Phase, you're almost guaranteed that your opponent will set all their traps before attacking into this. So in a resource game, being able to clear some of their traps from a 20 to 30 card deck could net you an early lead in the deck-out game. You could even combo Absorbing Jar with a face-down Wild Tornado, drawing you a card and popping your opponent's attacker.
There's finally a place where you can play three Night Assailant! One of the ways players have abused Night Assailant in the past was to loop between two copies, discarding each to retrieve the other. Since Sinister Serpent is errata'd even in the Speed Duel card pool, this could be the next best thing.
Giant Rat will be the first generic battle recruiter in Speed Duels; it gets you to any Earth monster with 1500 ATK or less if the monster you Special Summon survives until your turn. Cards that you might fetch with this include Exiled Force to pop a monster, or Zombina to keep floating back and forth between the two. Combine that with Jar of Avarice and you have a pretty neat package. Plus it's a Beast-type, so if your opponent wipes it out with Widespread Ruin you can summon the classic Green Baboon, Defender of the Forest from your hand or graveyard as well.
Wall of Illusion and Kelbek are both fresh additions, but they're very similar to Hyper Hammerhead, which is already in this version of the game. These cards are a little different: they only bounce the opposing monster if they're being attacked. With 1800 DEF, these cards are great sets to bluff Flip Effects, and if your opponent attacks into them you'll usually wind up with more field presence than your opponent.
Swarm of Scarabs, Swarm of Locusts, and Des Lacooda are all here too! Some players might even think that this means the old "Pac-Man" or "Flip Flop Control" deck is back, but like I mentioned before, there are many answers to set monsters.
One of the main reasons that strategy was so successful in the early days of Yu-Gi-Oh was because you had floodgates like Messenger of Peace and Level Limit - Area B to protect them. This format doesn't have those types of cards. So while they could be very strong against another defensive deck, reaping card advantage every turn, they aren't going to be good against an aggressive deck unless we see a consistent, low-cost defense.
Now I want to talk about the new Skill Cards. The coolest thing about Speed Duels is that you can build a deck revolving around certain card combos in the Main Deck, just like we do in the TCG. Sure. But you can also build a deck revolving around a skill like Twisted Personality or Cocoon of Ultra Evolution.
The new Battle City Box reprints the exclusive Skill Cards that were only available as promos through Yu-Gi-Oh! Day events, and it introduces many new skills too. Some are themed around the God cards, or a particular character's playstyle in the anime, and some are themed around signature ace monsters.
The first skill I want talk about is It's Jinzo! from Esper Roba. It's the only skill effect in Speed Duels so far that specifically makes a card unaffected by your opponent's Skill Card. That's a nice buff to protect your Jinzo from Inner Conflict, Twisted Personality, Cocoon or even Nightmare Sonic Blast! Not only that, you could also draw a card EACH TURN while you have a Jinzo on the field, and your opponent has a face-down trap. This skill will be insane if you can protect Jinzo for multiple turns.
They've finally brought Endless Traps into Speed Duels. Formally known as Endless Trap "Hell" in Duel Links, it's a once-per-duel trap-recurring power. The strategy would be to use multiple traps, and then once you have exactly three, you can get one of them back to your hand, one to your deck and then banish the last one. It was much more powerful in Duel Links, but even this nerfed version could be viable.
Ha! I get it. You made it funny, Konami. You did it. "Mai"... playing off "Guy"... or even "Gai" like Unexpected Dai… Yeah, it rhymes I suppose. The effect isn't too bad either. But only if your attacks actually go through against multiple backrow cards. It'll probably work best with Pitch-Black Warwolf or Jinzo.
"I'm Just Gonna Attack!" is a hilarious name. It's definitely something Joey would say in the show. The tiny ATK boost may be relevant in a mirror match with Tenki boosts, but the more important effect is that second one, sort of an invisible Malfunction every turn. A free trap negate is crazy. It just means that whenever you have the higher ATK monster, you know it'll take your opponent either a Book of Moon or two traps to stop your attack. This skill has lots of potential.
The last Skill Card I want to talk about is Tea's Power of Friendship. It's the opposite of what Tea had in Duel Links, where she had a skill called Holy Guard. That skill has a continuous effect that keeps you from taking battle damage on your own turn. This new Skill Card is totally different, stopping you from taking EFFECT DAMAGE on your own turn.
With this skill, you don't mind if your opponent drops Lava Golem on you. It's just a free 3000 ATK beatstick. You don't care if your opponent tries to block your attack with Zoma the Spirit either. Just attack over it, no consequences. This skill is so amazing against that one big matchup. I can see it being Side Decked everywhere until those burn cards just fall out of popularity.
There's so much more I could mention, like Archfiend's Oath and Aroma Strategy along with many others. But so far these are my first impressions when I saw the new cards from Speed Duel: Battle City Box, and all the new stuff that's going to be showing up in the Speed Duel Constructed format.
Overall, my immediate thought when I watched the reveal video the first time was, "Man, they really added the 'Speed' back into Speed Duels." And I say that because until last week, I called the format "Stall Duels" as a joke. The best strategy really was to stall, burn and deck your opponent out.
But with all these new cards, competitive Speed Duel metagames are probably going to change to a much faster and more aggressive game. I'll definitely be getting my hands on a full playset of Battle City Box and really getting back into Speed Duels; I may even play in some Remote Speed Duel events. Until then, thanks for reading!