The October 1st format started off with a bang at YCS Dallas last weekend and it appears our competitive game has virtually stayed the same. Some toys may have been removed from the Big Three's arsenal, but the Top Cut was largely the same as they appeared at the end of last format: Shaddolls, Satellarknights and Burning Abyss. Billy Brake won the tournament with a strategy that mashed-up nearly a full Shaddoll and Burning Abyss deck, keeping the Artifact engine intact as well: kind of remarkable if you ask me.

It was a crazy idea that worked for a lot of reasons, a big one being that nearly every three-of the deck played could search something else out from the deck. Knowing that, Brake could run the best cards in today's format without fear of horrible hands or the inability to thin his deck. Congrats to Billy Brake for surprising everyone with a unique take on the best two decks of the format!

#####CARDID=6525#####

With the benchmark for the month of October in place, it was important to identify a counter to these incredible strategies. The first card that came to mind was Koa'ki Meiru Drago. Creating a deck loosely centered around that beast of a Dragon would allow me to shut down the most powerful cards in the top three decks currently seeing play. Shaddolls would lose Shaddoll Fusion, Super Polymerization, Shaddoll Falco, Soul Charge and Artifact Sanctum. Satellarknights wouldn't be able to activate Satellaknight Vega or Altair and their Call Of The Haunted's would sit useless in their backrow. Burning Abyss lose all of their key monster effects and their Malebraches can't be Special Summoned from the hand.

Drago seemed like the perfect counter to these decks, and it was all about weaving together the perfect strategy.

One Iron Core To Save Them All
With only basic knowledge of the Koa'ki Meiru monsters, it was extremely important that I understand the full scope of the strategy. As per usual over here at Interestingly Innovative, I jumped on over to the Konami Yu-Gi-Oh Database to check them out. My initial search began by simply looking for all cards with "Koa'ki Meiru" in their name. A whopping twenty-seven cards appeared in front of me and I began sifting through them to find the perfect support.

The first two cards, Diamond Core of Koa'ki Meiru and Iron Core of Koa'ki Meiru are the lynchpin to any Koa'ki deck. Diamond Core searches for any Koa'ki Meiru card, whereas Iron Core unleashes certain monsters' special abilities or protects any monster from destruction during your End Phase. There's a wealth of spell and trap cards dedicated to the theme and a high majority of them require Iron Core. It's probably one of the worst cards in the game, since it does nothing on its own and yet it's the most important piece of the theme: quite the double-edged sword. Thankfully there are a ton of incredible monsters, so we can make do.

My initial search into the Koa'ki ranks was a hunt for Dragons, since Drago needs some in order to stay alive each turn. Unfortunately there's only one on-theme Dragon-type: Koa'ki Meiru Maximus. It forces you to banish an Iron Core from our hand, but from that point on it's actually really good. It can destroy any card your opponent controls for free and has a devastating 3000 ATK. For me, Maximus seems like a card that you'd hold to swiftly end the game and up until that point, can be used in desperation or to simply pay the maintenance cost of Drago. There are worse things.

Like Iron Core.

Continuing our search for a solid monster lineup we have Koa'ki Meiru Urknight! Sitting at an impressive 2000 ATK and boasting an important Beast-Warrior type, Urknight can Special Summon any Level 4 or lower Koa'ki Meiru from the deck by simply revealing the Iron Core from your hand. Urknight's importance should go without saying, but searching Drago from your deck is how you'll win a ton of your games. You'll have no fear of the newly Semi-Limited Gorz, The Emissary of Darkness either.

#####CARDID=9982#####

The other Beast-Warrior – Koa'ki Meiru Crusader – is also nothing to scoff at. Clocking in at 1900 ATK, Crusader can recycle any Koa'ki Meiru card from your graveyard when it destroys a monster by battle. These two, combined with Drago and Maximus are going to create quite a headache for any of your opponents. They all boast impressive stats for Level 4's and have effects that let you constantly unleash powerful strings of plays each turn.

Consistency Is In The Fire Formations
Realizing that two of the more important monsters in the theme are Beast-Warriors, it's only right to run Fire Formation – Tenki. With Tenki in the deck, you're free to splash in a small Fire Fist engine, which was all the rage of splashability before Artifacts came along. Brotherhood of the Fire Fist – Bear will give you the spot removal you need for annoying monsters, while the newly Unlimited Coach Soldier Wolfbark grants more ways to make Rank 4 Xyz for the cost of a single Normal Summon. Bear's usefulness also shines when every deck is packing triple Vanity's Emptiness!

Heading back to the Yugioh Database's homepage and quickly searching for Fire Formations will lead you to some other gems as well. Every popular deck now is jammed full of chainable traps, which can really set back a deck that relies on Normal Summons. Thankfully, Fire Formation – Gyokkou locks down those cards and stops your opponent from chaining to them.

I also feel the need to give a special shout-out to Fire Formation – Tensen. On activation it boosts one of your Beast-Warriors by 1000 ATK; that's obviously solid, but its lingering 300 ATK boost also means that you could Normal Summon Urknight or Crusader and destroy El Shaddoll Winda by battle, which is huge. Toss in some face-up Tenkis and Gyokkous and your Koa'ki Meirus start getting enormous.

With the basics out of the way, let's see what the rest of the deck's comprised of:

DECKID=101220The deck plays out in a pretty linear fashion, but because of the strength and lockdown power of the monsters, it works well even if it's predictable. Diamond Core shines bright here protecting your monsters from self-destruction and random unexpected traps your opponent may have. The level of protection is high, because you need to resolve Koa'ki Meiru Urnight's effect as early as possible to get the deck moving along.

Iron Core Luster is left out of a lot of Koa'ki decks, but I find it impressive for this format. Shutting down spells and traps by simply revealing Iron Core, a card you'll be revealing often anyway, is very solid. You'll have no fear of going into your Extra Deck against Shaddolls with Core Luster set; that's something I take comfort in.

I've included the Limited Soul Drain to help out against Burning Abyss monsters, because they're simply too good. The fact that it hurts Shaddolls is only a bonus.

If you're looking to go against the grain at an upcoming tournament, I'd highly consider running a Drago-focused Koa'ki Meiru deck. Drago's devastating power this format shouldn't be counted out, because once it's on the field against the Big Three, those strategies are fighting the clock to remove it from the field before you deal them a swift defeat. Test it out for yourself and tweak my tech choices to your liking!

What's the next big tournament you'll be attending and what are you considering playing? What cards are you looking forward to in New Challengers? Let me know in the comments below!

-Pasquale Crociata
-Team Parallel Worlds Gaming