Who doesn't love Wind-Ups, huh?!

…Actually, I guess the answer is "a lot of people." You might know several players who have emotional scars from this deck. It was an incredibly fearsome sight to behold in almost any of its incarnations and for several formats it absolutely dominated competition. At the start of last March's Advanced Format Wind-Ups poised to continue their reign but by time May came around those notions subsided with the invasion of the Dragon Rulers into competitive play; a deck even more horrific than Wind-Ups. Lord of the Tachyon Galaxy convinced most every duelist to place their toys in the attic, and for the better part of half a year, they've been gathering dust up amongst all the other things we've collectively forgotten.

Shed A Little Light
Times change, however, and with the shape of competition now vastly different from the one we saw over the past six months it may be time to dust off those toys and get ready to play again!

The Wind-Up strategy's remarkably diverse and may very well have what it takes to flourish in this competitive landscape. I've spent the last week or so exploring the strategy myself and while my study's certainly ongoing, I feel comfortable enough to share what I've constructed with you. I've both loved and played this deck since the beginning, and it's easy for me to say that it's like putting on a good pair of boots that fit better than any other shoe you own. Let me share with you my toy chest.

DECKID=99339A number of factors have changed in the time between now, and the time when this strategy was last competitively viable. In that span of time, a few select cards were released that Wind-Ups can put to great use. In the Main Deck, the new Pot of Dichotomy is an obvious choice. This impressive spell card has largely flown under the competitive radar because we've been playing in a Format dominated by single monster type decks. Spellbooks and Dragon Rulers have dominated up until now and neither can really use Dichotomy to any great reward. Whilst both Evilswarms and Constellars can put this card to excellent use, they haven't needed to, and so here we are.

Wind-Ups are different: they can do wonders with Pot of Dichotomy. Depending on how intense your early game is, you could find yourself with a remarkably thin mid or late game where you're hard-pressed to pull monsters from anywhere. In cases like that, Pot of Dichotomy helps to mitigate your mid-game woes by recycling some of your more important monsters.

Over in the Extra Deck, you have the new Mechquipped Angineer and Number 49: Fortune Tune; two Xyz that have drawn a lot of recent praise as the best Rank 3's we have – a fair evaluation, all things considered. Mechquipped Angineer can back up any of your strongest attackers and keep them on the field when things get bad. If you have any of your power-hitters on the field backed up by this guy, it's tough to actually lose. Number 49: Fortune Tune does wonders for your early game. If you find yourself opening Tour Guide from the Undeworld – and you often will – it's your best Turn 1 play next to Wind-Up Rabbit backed by Wind-Up Factory. This Rank 3 is Gachi Gachi Gantetsu and Wind-Up Zenmaines but better, if that's even a thing you can imagine. Not only is it resistant to destruction but your opponent can't target it for card effects. However, its final effect is the real coup de grace: when Fortune Tune's sent from the field to the graveyard, you can return it to the Extra Deck and send back two of your Level 3's back to the Main Deck. Fortune Tune alone makes Tour Guide worth running at three. Speaking of which…

The second big factor that plays into this strategy's potential this Format is the newly unlimited status of both Tour Guide From the Underworld and Fire Formation – Tenki. We've already discussed the merits of Tour Guide in the previous paragraph, but let's talk about Tenki next. I'm sure that it's safe to say that most of us didn't expect to see this card move from Semi-Limited to unlimited and I think all of us can agree that it'll have a big competitive impact from here on out, bolstering decks like Fire Fists and Bujins.

That said, Tenki at three is great for Wind-Ups too, and allows you a greater chance of seeing your ideal opening of Wind-Up Rabbit and Wind-Up Factory. With three Pot of Duality, triple Factory, triple Tenki, and triple Wind-Up Rabbit it isn't too difficult to see that opening hand consistently.

So What Makes Wind-Ups So Great, Anyway?
To put it one way, Wind-Ups can go from 0 to 60 and back again at the drop of a hat. When you have a deck with such incredible speed that can also run trap cards, you have to sit up and pay attention. Most decks that have the ability to kill you in one turn are usually incredibly monster-heavy affairs that can be shut down by a heavy defensive line. Sometimes, these strategies are largely glass cannons. What makes a strategy like Wind-Up isn't just its fearsome ability to OTK under the right conditions, but also to grind with the nastiest of them. Wind-Up Rabbit alone wins games if you can back it up with the appropriate backrow.

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A strategy like this one is so self-contained that it can leave some room for powerful tech choices. To keep those Fire Formation – Tenkis from clogging your field, you're running a lone copy of Brotherhood of the Fire Fist – Bear to get rid of pesky problem monsters that you wouldn't be able to handle otherwise. When you're in a situation where you're grinding your opponent down with Wind-Up Rabbit, just one Bear backing it up with a steady stream of removal can be a kiss of death.

Another powerful pick, albeit a seemingly counterintuitive one, is the use of Thunder King Rai-Oh in the Main Deck. The one thing that every successful strategy has in common right now is an ability to search out most, if not all, of its important combo pieces; if you can stop the top decks from doing that, you suddenly have a tremendous amount of power and control on your side. Sure, having Thunder King on the field can stop you from searching yourself, blocking cards like Wind-Up Factory, but in the larger picture, if you can keep Thunder King on the field there's there's a strong likelihood that you'll win because of it.

Moving Forward…
The tournament scene this month is going to be riddled with a lot of strange sights. Wind-Ups have a fairly strong match-up against most of the common suspects. The one thing you have to watch out for is Skill Drain – if you can't get it off of the field, it will kill you, quickly and mercilessly. It's worth attempting to Main Deck the third Mystical Space Typhoon if you can find the room.

In return for that risk, Wind-Ups have one big force on their side in the form of Soul Drain. Save for pulling monsters out of your graveyard with Wind-Up Rat, you have next to no interaction with the yard and therefore no dependence on it. You also have to watch out for Gozen Match and Rivalry of the Warlords, but it isn't anything a couple Dust Tornado can't solve.

When it comes to Xyz Monsters, this deck lets you take your pick of the cream of the crop. Anything between Ranks 3 and 5 are at your disposal. After Legacy of the Valiant, this notion will be even more horrifyingly powerful when you can take full advantage of Evilswarm Exciton Knight and Number 101: Silent Honors Ark Knight – two of the most fearsome Xyz to ever grace this game. I'm genuinely frightened to play after those two are released. I urge you to look into this deck before the release of those two monsters. The potential's there: once LVAL drops, Wind-Ups could climb back to the top of the competitive heap.

-Zach Buckley

Team Nofatchx