For weeks now it's been almost impossible to create a truly cookie cutterbuild of many dominant strategies – there's just too much variation betweensuccessful decks. Thunder Dragons and Sky Strikers the most familiar andmost standardized of the bunch, but both themes are being played indifferent ways.
Meanwhile there is no consensus yet on the "best" way to playSalamangreats, Dark Warrior combo, or the numerous Danger decks that havebeen sharing the competitive spotlight. Not only are we seeing drasticallydifferent concepts – Salamangreats come in two different flavors with handtrap builds and Artifact variants, the best Danger decks are being playedwith and without Orcusts, and Dark Warriors are all over the place – theindividual flex choices are hugely varied. Cards like Salamangreat Fowl,Flame Bufferlo, Danger! Bigfoot!, and countless others are staples to some,and wildly unpopular with others.
But the days tick by, and as these unsolved strategies spend more time ontournament tables answers are emerging. Fusion of Fire and SalamangreatViolet Chimera were missing in many early Salamangreat decks, but are nowfeaturing regularly in Top Cuts. A new "standard" Danger! engine is takingshape, and Dark Warrior combo players are beginning to find the best waysto react to a shifting landscape.
Some of those settling trends were a big factor in the secondary marketthis week, and that makes this a particularly powerful Top 10. Get ready,because the bestsellers list this time around may give you a sneak peekinto tournament metagames this weekend.
#10: Effect Veiler
The rising use of Fantastical Dragon Phantazmay has made it tougher formany players to run Infinite Impermanence: you can only activateImpermanence from your hand when you control no cards, and Phantazmay'sSpecial Summon interferes. That's the biggest reason we've been seeing moreEffect Veiler in recent Top Cuts – while Veiler was once a budgetalternative, the differences between Veiler and Impermanence have made themdistinct cards with different uses.
That new division spiked demand for Effect Veiler from the release ofSavage Strike on forward, and with the SAST Special Editionbringing more Phantazmays into circulation today, that demand is likely toremain high for at least a while.
#9: Danger! Mothman!
While Thunder Dragon, Sky Striker, and Salamangreat variants are allquickly reaching consensus builds, Danger! combo decks are still sort oflike the Wild West; anything goes, and there's no real conclusion as towhich builds are "correct."
And despite the fact that Danger! Mothman! was usually just a one-of amonth ago, it's becoming more common to see duelists running entireplaysets. With Danger! decks looking for more names and more sheer drawpower to push the engine to its limits, triple Mothman is making more andmore sense. That placed it at Number 9 for the week.
#8: Summon Limit
Sky Strikers are still the most successful deck in terms of recentChampionship wins, while True Dracos are making a notable comeback in TopCuts. Summon Limit's fantastic in both, shutting down the long combostrings that are so common in nearly every other strategy competing today.
For a while that drove Summon Limit to nearly ten dollars; aside from thescarce Duelist League versions it was never reprinted after itsLight of Destruction debut. But a lot of copies came out of thewoodwork over the past week and a half and that kept the price undercontrol. Demand remained strong as Summon Limit became more affordable,landing it squarely at Number 8 for the week.
#7: Salamangreat Violet Chimera
Demand for the Salamangreat finisher has slid since its release, which isunderstandable: as an easy pick-up that remains affordable, mostSalamangreat players already have their copy whether they're choosing toplay it or not. As we've seen from YCS Dusseldorf and this week's UDS LasVegas, Salamangreat Violet Chimera's becoming more and more ubiquitous inTop Cut Salamangreats. But as a one-of the demand for it's going to run outat some point, and we're starting to reach that phase in the card's life.
That said, don't think that the falling demand for Chimera means reducedpopularity in tournaments. Quite the opposite: given the card's success inthe latest Championships I'd expect it to become a staple in the comingweeks. You should always be anticipating a possible Fusion of Fire play.
#6: Fusion of Fire
Speaking of Fusion of Fire… the demand for it has followed the same slow,downward arc as Salamangreat Violet Chimera, given the intertwined natureof the two cards. Again, it's not that Fusion of Fire is going to be anyless popular in tournaments moving forward: it's that as a singletonthere's limited demand, and slowly but surely everyone is getting theircopies.
The Salamangreat deck is quickly shaping up into two solved builds – onefocusing on hand traps and one running Artifact Sanctum, Artifact Scytheand Trap Trick – and both builds are running this card for its awesomepotential to end games.
#5: Called by the Grave
Still one of the most powerful tech cards in the game, we've spoken a fewtimes recently about how higher supply of Ash Blossom & Joyous Springcontinues to drive demand for Called by the Grave. Now Effect Veiler's apush-factor too, on top of all the other hand trap monsters you'd normallywant to play through anyways. That's kept Called by the Grave at Number 5.
#4: Lady Debug
While a handful of successful Salamangreat players have begun to preferSalamangreat Foxy and Flame Bufferlo as their Normal Summon of choice, LadyDebug remains a three-of in almost every build we see, and the mostsuccessful Salamangreat players at the tippy-top of recent Top Cuts don'tseem to be questioning it.
It's an on-theme Elemental Hero Stratos that kicks off some very specific,very powerful combos, and as it slowly deflates toward the $7 mark it'sjust becoming more and more accessible to Salamangreat converts who've yetto make the leap.
#3: Salamangreat Sunlight Wolf
Salamangreat Sunlight Wolf's operating on a similar level: an undisputedmust-run at three, it's the lynchpin to most of the deck's key combos andit's WAY down in price from where it was. We've seen Sunlight Wolf reachthe $12 in the past month – virtually unheard of for a regular Rare,especially from a core booster. Now that people are opening reams ofSavage Strike Special Editions the supply has gone up, and a newwave of budget players can snag their copies and take up Salamangreats.
The huge price drop kept Salamangreat Sunlight Wolf massively popularthrough the week, and even though demand will surely decline over time it'sstill going strong as we enter the weekend.
#2: Dinowrestler Pankratops
With Sky Strikers still so popular and the field still so varied in mosttournaments, Dinowrestler Pankratops remains an undisputed Side Deckstaple. While Main Deck use in strategies like Go Second Skystrikers seemsto have subsided in the last few weeks, it's still one of the most SideDecked cards in the game and it's still just a buck if you need yourcopies.
…And I'm still waiting on that Ultimate Rare. Youjust know it's coming.
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#1: Flame Bufferlo
Finally, Flame Bufferlo took the Number 1 spot for the second week in arow, as player perception of Normal Summons in Salamangreats continues toevolve. We've yet to see a decisive, superior showing from the Salamangreatdecks prioritizing Bufferlo over Lady Debug, but we saw more Bufferlo thanever before
Slowly but surely the success stories are stacking up. Will Flame Bufferlobecome a staple of consensus builds? It's too early to say. But moreplayers are clearly intending to give Bufferlo a shot, and that's somethingyou'll want to consider yourself if you play Salamangreats, or somethingyou'll want to keep in mind if you're going to play against them.
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That's it for the Top 10 this week, but we did see some big speculation onsome cards that are competitive, and some cards that arenot-quite-competitive-yet. Extra-Foolish Burial sold an incredible numberof copies to a tiny spread of speculating buyers, though the reason isunclear. With Nekroz gaining steam in tournaments the speculation couldshow that buyers are placing their bets on that strategy, but I wouldn't besurprised if there was some other factor at work.
Galatea, the Orcust Automaton was another popular target this week, as it'sincredibly affordable now despite being competitive, and may not remainaffordable as we get closer to Dark Neostorm. Extra Net,Predaplant Dragostapelia, Medium of the Ice Barrier, and True KingAgnimazud, the Vanisher were all popular amongst ambitious investors aswell. Whether or not those bets will pay off? That's anybody's guess.
Looking beyond the Top 10, we saw Update Jammer slide to Number 11 and AshBlossom & Joyous Spring at Number 15, while interest in Orcust Dangercombo decks and upcoming Orcust buffs in DANE placed Orcust Knightmare,Time Thief Redoer, and Orcust Harp Horror at Number 12, 13, and 14respectively.
Regionals are back this weekend, so if you're heading to one yourself bestof luck! We'll be back next week with another look at all the secondarymarket action just in time for YCS Atlanta.