Salamangreats disappeared from the Top 10 this week despite Regionalresults that were consistent or better than previous weeks. The likelyreason was the growth of interest in Orcusts, which placed three cards inthe Top 10 this week one being new and two coming in at higher spots thanlast week.
Some recent success from True Dracos and Altergeists may have had someimpact as well, with Crackdown once again taking the Number 1 spot, and thecards associated with it remaining strong beyond the confines of the Top 10proper. Sky Strikers made a shift the last couple weeks as well, and thatinnovation may be drawing players back to that strategy instead ofSalamangreats.
HERO cards saw a big surge in demand, with price spikes occurring all weeklong in the wake of announcements surrounding the OCG'sDuelist Pack: Legend Duelist 5.Our friends at The Organization broke the news over the weekendabout the new Evil HERO Sinister Necrom, sending cards like Dark Callingand Evil Hero Infernal Prodigy skyrocketing. HERO cards in general havebeen huge ever since DANE dropped, and even the release of the2018 Mega-Tin promos last year suggested a rising nostalgicinterest.
What else took spots in the Top 10? Mystic Mine and Unending Nightmarecontinued to be popular, as Mine saw a resurgence of interest thanks to theestablishment of Mine Strikers as the dominant Sky Striker deck.Nightmare's a hot pick both for and against dedicated Mine Burn decks, andeven though burn strategies continue to struggle in big tournaments theyalso still exist in competition as a very real threat.
Beyond that the rest of the Top 10 was all Side Deck and flex spot filler,starting with one of the most popular tech cards of all time.
#10: Ash Blossom & Joyous Spring
Yes, Ash Blossom & Joyous Spring was back on the bestsellers list. Itnever really left competition, but at a time of the year when many duelistscommit to their strategies and stop adding new cards to their collections,staples like Ash Blossom often sell well to returning competitors andlapsed tournament goers. With Ash Blossom & Joyous Spring moreaccessible than ever before, I wouldn't be surprised to see it on thebestseller list more frequently like Dinowrestler Pankratops and Called bythe Grave.
The only real mystery is why Artifact Lancea – easily the most popular SideDeck card of the format in Top Cut decks – hasn't followed suit yet. It gotclose this week, more on that later, but for now it's a bit of aheadscratcher.
#9: Unending Nightmare
Mystic Mine Burn is still a threat despite a widespread lack of success,and Unending Nightmare is one of the forces keeping it in check as a SideDeck pick. We're seeing it in more and more Side Decks as time goes on;even if many players don't believe that Mine Burn's capable of consistentTop 8s nobody wants to lose to it, and Nightmare's an efficient answer thatcan crush the match-up without occupying a ton of Side Deck space.
That said, Mine Burn itself often runs Unending Nightmare to help fight thetough Sky Striker matchup, which is sort of a funny ouroboros now that SkyStrikers are taking up Mine themselves. Regardless, you probably want aplayset of Nightmare to cover your assets.
#8: Galatea, the Orcust Automaton
It's starting to get to a point where if you can't beat 'em you're justjoinin' 'em. YCS Knoxville may hasten that trend this weekend, or it couldpump the breaks on Orcusts as a whole. We'll have to wait and find out.
#7: Orcust Harp Horror
Up from Number 9, Orcust Harp Horror's seeing increasing play as a three-ofwhen it was previously run in smaller numbers; successful players arehappily leaning into the Orcust engine.
There are lots of ways to play Orcusts right now, but they're allvariations on the same core moves: one of the biggest is sending HarpHorror to the graveyard in a wide variety of ways so you can go off with astring of Special Summons. More Harp Horrors means more redundancy and agreater grind game, so it's no surprise to see heightened demand.
#6: Dinowrestler Pankratops
Pankratops dropped from Number 3 to Number 6 over the course of the week,but that could just be a function of its age: at this point most playersalready have their copies and it was largely outpaced by newer cards thisweek.
I will say that triple Dinowrestler Pankratops in the Side Deck is becomingless common in Top Cut decks as players make room for other priorities –namely Artifact Lancea and answers to Mystic Mine – and the dip in demandcould be a reflection of that. But there's not much you can do with thatinformation. I guess if you were living that three-dino life and youabandoned one of them for a different card, you can let your consciencerest easy knowing you're not alone?
If that was a thing that was keeping you up at night.
#5: Orcust Crescendo
Up from Number 7, Orcust Crescendo's become one of the most feared cards ofthe format and it's the factor that's truly locked in Orcust's position asthe frontrunner strategy heading into the YCS. The broad spectrum negationand banishing effect alone would make Crescendo viable, but the fact thatit kicks in a Reinforcement of the Army for free is just nuts.
When this thing was first revealed in the OCG we saw an immediate marketreaction stateside, that's how good it is. The 25 cent price tag doesn'thurt either; a lot of players are converting to Orcusts, but many are alsohedging their bets by picking up cheap copies of Crescendo just in case itgoes up in the coming weeks.
#4: Elemental HERO Solid Soldier
All of the 2018 Mega-Tin HERO promos sold like hotcakes uponrelease, probably for a number of reasons: Heroes are selling well off agrowing nostalgia factor; Solid Soldier's been a high profile card in DuelLinks; there's always overseas demand for Tin cards; and it's alegitimately great starter card and combo extender.
Is the demand jumping the gun on a release we won't see for months?Probably not, actually. The huge volume of sales hasn't moved the needle onSolid Soldier's price yet, but it could happen very soon. Right now it'sstill about a $2 card, but there are very few left at that price point andfrom there it jumps to three bucks pretty fast. It's definitely a card tokeep an eye on.
#3: Mystic Mine
Mystic Mine was up a spot from Number 4 last week, likely a function ofevery Sky Striker player in the world buying multiple copies.
Sure, that's a bit of an exaggeration. But I think if you're runningStrikers right now and you don't at least own Mystic Mines to give yourselfthe option you're selling yourself short. The soul-crushing force ofplaying this thing when your opponent thinks they have you on the ropes isdevastating, and it's no surprise that all but one Top Cut Striker deckI've seen over the past two weeks ran Mine.
If you're up against Sky Strikers you basically have to play as if youropponent runs Mystic Mine; they probably do. That situation could changeover the weekend thanks to the YCS, but for now you just have to anticipateit and make your decisions accordingly. And that's rough.
#2: Called by the Grave
Called by the Grave was WAY up from last week, where it was sitting atNumber 6 in our countdown. Again that's probably just a function ofshifting buying patterns and lower interest this time of year in themedcards, which tends to fluctuate more than the solid interest insplashables.
Called by the Grave remains relevant for numerous reasons, but the chancefor Mine Strikers to bring Kagari and Co. into a higher percentage of TopCut tableshares definitely sits at the forefront of that list today.
Some of the strategies running Crackdown are definitely getting some morecredibility, largely True Dracos and Altergeists. While it seemed unlikelyin the run-up to Dark Neostorm, backrow really has made acomeback: Crackdown's a big factor, but we're also just seeing a lot ofdecks running Solemn Strike, Solemn Warning, and Solemn Judgment again,with or without other "real" trap cards.
It's a welcome change that's added more variety to the game, and it'sactually coincided with Mystic Mine's release in an interesting way: theTwin Twisters, Typhoons, and Cosmic Cyclones a lot of players now feelforced to run because of Mine's presence don't actually feel all that bad,because they have utility in other matchups that happen to involve backrow.
As situations go, it's surprisingly not awful.
Looking just past the Top 10 there's a lot of relevant information hidingbeneath the surface. Artifact Lancea nearly made the cut at Number 11,followed by Effect Veiler, Phantom Knights' Fog Blade and OrcustKnightmare. Both Fog Blade and Knightmare indicate the interest in Orcusts,with Phantom Knights really only seeing play in Orcusts right now. Pot ofDesires and Orcust Cymbal Skeleton clocked in at Number 15 and Number 16 tofinish painting that picture.
The speculative picks of the week – stuff that was bought up en masse by atiny handful of buyers for market reasons, moreso than tournament interest– were dominated by HERO cards.
Destiny HERO – Dystopia, Elemental Hero Chaos Neos, Destiny HERO –Dominance, Vision HERO Trinity and Xtra HERO Cross Crusader were alltargeted by opportunistic collectors placing their bets on futureinvestments. We also saw a spike of interest in Isolde, Two Tales of theNoble Knights, so keep that card in the back of your head – Isolde's heydaymay be in the rearview, but it's still a huge threat under the rightconditions.
That's it for this week, but we'll be back in the wake of YCS Knoxville andthe release of Speed Duel: Attack from the Deep with new info nextweek! Stay tuned toour Facebook pageand our Twitter for a minimarket update on Monday.