Frogs will always have a special place in my heart. Frog cards can always be found in one of my deck boxes never to be un-sleeved, because I can pilot the deck with my eyes closed. I've taken these critters to numerous YCS events and two North American WCQ's, qualifying for the second day of competition in all but one event. I find that people are truly unaware of the deck's potential and think that if you don't drop Soul Exchange on them followed up by Caius the Shadow Monarch then they have nothing to worry about, which is far from the truth.

As the game's progressed, Rank 2 Xyz Monsters have become quite devastating. Between allowing Wind monsters to attack twice, recycling important hand-traps from your graveyard and blowing up opposing monsters, they've become quite an aggressive toolbox. Sea Lancer has given Frog decks insane longevity, while the Mega Monarchs have created new win conditions. However, with the first Regional weekend upon us with Duelist Alliance now legal, many Frog enthusiasts fear the deck is no longer worthy of competitive play.

Those enthusiasts are wrong.

A Little Bit Of This
Loukas certainly had the right idea when he declared last week that he'd be playing Monarchs for YCS Toronto. But I don't think a dedicated Monarch deck is the way to go, because there's only so much they can do. I think Frog decks need to adapt a bit more, because of how odd competitive metagames are shaping up to be. We're at a point where Shaddolls are trying to slow the game down and limit your Special Summoning, while Satellarknights, Infernitiers and Sylvans are trying to keep the speed of play at an all-time high. The Yang Zing and Burning Abyss themes are attempting to replace themselves to victory, grinding out wins with Skill Drain and Rank-Up-Magic Astral Force. Each deck has a fairly linear game plan, but they're all extremely effective at what they do.

Frogs are no different. They rely heavily on Swap Frog to get things moving before they start their onslaught. Sea Lancer Frogs enjoy a long grind game where they can continually wipe your opponents spells and traps with Mobius the Mega Monarch, or simply create a wall with Lancer using Dupe Frogs as equips, making it insanely hard to get rid of. Frog Monarchs, however, rely heavily on their Normal Summon and use it to unleash Caius and Raiza the Storm Monarch to control the game.

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Unfortunately those monsters' ability to remove one card isn't nearly as relevant as it once was. I'm not going to touch on the Des Frog OTK deck I piloted at the North American WCQ, because it's its own beast and vastly different than other Frog strategies. Is Des Frog OTK still viable? Of course! But I think the other Frog strategies are a bit better right now.

The beauty of figuring out how to play Frogs in this format is combining what makes Lancer and Monarch strategies great on their own, without losing the core focus of each strategy. What I'm going for here is thriving on long grind games, but having insanely powerful Normal Summons that can end the game in one Tribute Summon!

A Little Bit Of That
Before Duelist Alliance, the only good Mega Monarch was Mobius the Mega Monarch, but last weekend Raiza the Mega Monarch arrived in Duelist Alliance leaving duelists scrambling for their Wind monsters. Raiza, in some instances, is even more devastating than Mobius, because you can place two cards, one from the field and one from the graveyard, on top of your opponents' deck; that sets them back two turns instead of one. Tributing a Wind monster will allow you to bounce away another problem card on the field as well, which is a pretty underwhelming "mega" effect if you ask me. The mega effect of Mobius all but guarantee's that three of your opponents spells or traps will get blown up, which is what makes it so incredible. But placing the two of them in the same deck is asking for free wins, which is exactly what I'm trying to do here.

Mega Raiza also came with another toy, The Monarchs Stormforth. Remember in my NAWCQ Tournament Report when I discussed how powerful non-targeting, non-destruction cards were? Well the Monarchs got one in Duelist Alliance. Big time. Stormforth brings the deck to a whole new level, because where Soul Exchange failed Stormforth succeeds! It's an out to nearly any situation, and its only drawback is that it shuts off your Extra Deck for the rest of the turn. Yes. You read that correctly. Your Battle Phase is still intact.

It's every Monarch player's dream.

Enemy Controller has been a long-time staple in any deck looking to abuse Treeborn Frog, and taking a page out of Frog Monarchs, I'm trying to do just that. I'm stuffing in a handful of monsters that are not easy to Tribute Summon, and Enemy Controller helps get them to the field. I think Mathematician is insanely underused in Frog decks, because it allows you to get Treeborn Frog into the Graveyard without a reliance on Swap Frog or the loss of card economy that comes with Foolish Burial. The key to any deck's success is to have a strong opening play, and in Frogs, that means getting your engine started. Since we're stealing pages from both Lancer Frogs and Monarchs Treeborn's going to be important here, so Mathematician makes the cut.

I Get By With A Little Help From My Friends
Most Monarch decks only play one Ronintoadin and typically don't use a full set of Dupe Frogs, but I'm going for a bit of a mash-up here, so making explosive Rank 2 plays is going to be very important. Two copies of Ronintoadin will fit the bill nicely, because I don't really want to draw into it, but I want the ability to make a Rank 2 Xyz without using Swap Frog. Dupe Frog's an incredible wall that if equipped to Sea Lancer will still find you a Frog from your Deck or Graveyard when it's destroyed. I've mentioned how important Swap Frog is already, so I find three copies a must.

Since we're abusing Treeborn Frog, trap cards won't make it into this deck, but hand-traps easily will. I think a lot of them are great right now. Effect Veiler's finally relevant again, while Maxx "C" still shuts down so many strategies that I wouldn't hang up that card either. Other obvious choices include Battle Fader, Ghostrick Jackfrost and Gorz, the Emissary of Darkness, because stopping your opponent from killing you is important.

With most card choices explained, lets take a look at the list all together now:

DECKID=100961While this deck may look pretty standard on the surface, it's far from it. A lot of the choices I've made are not popular, and I'm not entirely sure why. Card Advance is a solid spell that can easily fix bad hands with multiple Monarchs. A successful Mobius the Mega Monarch followed up by Mega Raiza should end the game right there; you'll destroy up to three spells or traps and you'll stack your opponent's deck with two potentially useless cards, all the while controlling your next five draws. The incredible part is that you can simply Tribute the spent Mega Mobius for Raiza, so there's no need for a second monster unless you want to spin back a card on the field to the hand. It's a powerful three-card sequence that's too good to pass up.

Shining Elf entered the fray for a few reasons, but the main one is its Wind attribute. Summoning a Treeborn Frog followed up by two Ronintoadins, then Xyz Summoning Shining Elf will allow for Mega Raiza to unleash its full wrath. Also, a 1600 ATK monster that permanently lowers any monster your opponent Summons by 500 ATK is pretty fantastic when you're staring down weak monsters most of the time. Shining Elf is pesky, annoying and surprisingly strong: just how I like my monsters.

Most of the spells and traps seeing play right now are chainable, so Forbidden Lance is a lot more useful than Typhoon' rel="https://yugioh.tcgplayer.com/db/WP-CH.asp?CN=Mystical Space Typhoon">Mystical Space Typhoon in Game 1. The one-of Caius is there for quick spot removal and is easily recyclable with Herald of Pure Light. These days, Caius won't win you the game on his own, so I felt like only one was needed.

Looking ahead at the rest of the format, I think this deck has some fantastic matchups and can be highly competitive. I'd include four or five cards in your Side Deck that can handle annoying Continuous Spells and Traps, because Macro Cosmos, Dimensional Fissure, Skill Drain and the like are devastating to combat. Flip Flop Frog's also a great Side Deck choice, because bouncing away El Shaddoll Windas and Leo, the Keeper of the Sacred Trees is that silly Frog's specialty.

I'm not a huge fan of stun monsters like Majesty's Fiend or The End of Anubis right now, because I find they're much better on paper than in actual practice. I think refining your Side Deck to combat the strategy's weaknesses moving into Games 2 and 3 is much more effective than trying to stun your opponent out of playing Yu-Gi-Oh. For some reason, it just doesn't work when the stun card has legs; it only works if the card sits in the backrow.

What're your thoughts on Frogs right now? Would you play or pass given the insane power of the Mega Monarchs and the longevity of Sea Lancer? What are you going to play at your first regional of the format?

Expect to me to be pretty active in the comments below on this one, so ask any questions you have and I'll do my best to answer them effectively!

-Pasquale Crociata
Team Parallel Worlds Gaming