Raccoons! I've revisited the raccoon strategy many times since the Baby Raccoons debuted two years ago. It's a testament to the potency of the theme: very few things in Yu-Gi-Oh! last for very long. For the ones that do, it's usually because nostalgia has captivated the person keeping them around. Most decks fall out of competitive favor in a year and a half, getting outpaced by the power creep or just obliterated by the F&L List.

So when a strategy does manage to stick around for longer than a competitive cycle, it usually means there's something to it. I think it's often the budget strategies that people hold onto longer than others – especially when a theme's reinvigorated by legacy support or a weird tech card (spoilers: that's today).

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The Raccoon strategy falls into all of the aforementioned categories for a number of reasons. First up, the cards are all non-foils. It's very rare – pun intended, btdubs – for any card without a sparkle to capture the attention of the competitive masses. Usually, when an entire deck of really decent cards gets printed in this fashion it secures its place for the years to come. You don't see Konami chomping at the bit to cut down Battlin' Boxers, do you?

Secondly, the Raccoons fill an exploitable niche: Level 2 monsters, and Beast-types at that, are really underrepresented. Therein lies an opportunity for Konami to easily fill card slots in new sets. Legacy support – both direct and indirect – is here to stay and it makes the game better. It also makes the Raccoons better. And weirder sort, of. Let's talk.

Let Me Admit It: I Like Mimiclay. A Lot.
I think Mimiclay's a cool card. In fact I think it's a really cool card, to be exact. Yes, I did repeat that one statement essentially three times in a row for clarity's sake, if you were wondering. I genuinely believe that I'm the only person on the planet at the moment that actually likes Mimiclay – much like Tannhauser Gate. However, while Gate's purpose is at least easy to see, I think everybody else has been touting the shart factor of Mimiclay. But why?

There's three big perceived drawbacks to Mimiclay: your opponent has to have a monster on the field to activate it; you have to have a Level 2 monster on the field in face-up defense; and the monster you Special Summon is banished when it leaves the field. Okay, so you've got some weird things going on here and Mimiclay is a really specialized card. There aren't many decks that can actually make decent use of it. But while there aren't many ways to play it right now, you can make a decent argument for it in Raccoons.

In fact, this article is sort of that argument. Even if you conclude that Mimiclay still sucks, I think it's at least worth exploring. So let's take a look at the deck and continue our talk on the other side…

DECKID=101732Ask anybody who's spent any amount of time playing with Raccoons and not only will they tell you their rabies story, but they'll also tell you that the deck has a rough late game. So much of this strategy is focused on getting off Obedience Schooled that deck construction can lean a little too heavily on trying to get that card first turn.

Don't get me wrong, of course you want to see Obedience Schooled early – it's the best card in the deck. Anything that nets you a +2 in Yu-Gi-Oh! is good, really. But you don't want your deck to be a glass cannon and interestingly enough, Mimiclay helps keep your late game strong while ALSO boosting the power of your Obedience Schooled plays. There aren't many cards within the Raccoon repertoire that serve that unique function. Let's look at what you can do with it.

Magnificent Mimiclay Magic!
Let's start with making your Obedience Schooled plays even stronger. Right now, opening with Obedience Schooled and any of your Level 2 Beasts means you can make Naturia Beast, and if you keep it on the field you win. On its own, Mimiclay serves as a sort of +2 to the number of possible monsters you can Normal Summon; boosting your chances of hitting this play without boosting your monster count unnecessarily.

However, add Mimiclay into the situation as a third card and you open up a ton of new combos. If you want to consolidate all five monsters to Summon Leo, Keeper of the Sacred Tree, you could do that. I wouldn't recommend it, unless you have a guaranteed victory because of it, but it's an option. Instead, you could do something like this:

-Drop Obedience Schooled and Special Summon Valerifawn, Kalantosa, and Wind-Up Kitten in Defense Position.

-Activate Mimiclay to Special Summon your second copy of Valerifawn in Defense Position. The one you Mimiclay'd still has its effect.

-Overlay the two non-Tuners for Number 64: Ronin Raccoon Sandayu and use its effect to Special Summon a Kagemusha Raccoon Token. (Your field at this point is two Valerifawn, Sandayu, and the Token.)

- Discard a card for Valerifawn's effect and bring back the non-Tuner from your graveyard. Overlay the Mimiclay'd Valerifawn and the non-Tuner on the field so that way Valerifawn won't be banished. (Your field at this point is two Sandayu, a Token, and the negated Valerifawn.)

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Now, Normal Summon any of your Level 2 Earth monsters and Synchro Summon Naturia Beast with Valerifawn, the monster you Normal Summoned, and the Token. Lastly, Special Summon another Token with the second Sandayu and if Beast is the biggest monster on the field you have another 2200 ATK beater.

Now you can negate all spells and your opponent has a difficult wall to break through! That's a very specific scenario played out from a pretty common opening. The play changes depending on what you've got in your hand at the time, but needless to say, adding Mimiclay can create some incredibly explosive hands.

A Little Later On…
Mimiclay can serve as more than just an added stick of dynamite to an already explosive bundle. You can resuscitate a shattered field with the help of Junk Synchron and Ayers Rock Sunrise, and Mimiclay's a supplement that puts another body on the field so you can make the most of those plays. In the least flashy of its applications, Mimiclay's a killer follow-up to Threatening Roar.

That timeless trap card is already seeing some play right now as a Dante killer of sorts, and here it serves an internal purpose as well. Opening up Baby Raccoon Ponpoko is a great but if you can't defend it, it goes down really quickly. Having the ability to defend Ponpoko with Threatening Roar creates Obedience Schooled kind of plays the following turn, without Obedience Schooled.

Keep Ponpoko and Tantan on the field and next turn you can flip up the Tantan Special Summoned and use its effect to Special Summon either a Kalantosa and pop a card, a Wind-Up Kitten to send stuff back to the hand, or a Valerifawn to make Synchro plays. After that, drop the Mimiclay on what you brought to the field, or the Ponpoko that you can conveniently throw into Defense Position now. It's a big play built off of almost nothing.

Alright, Buck! Where's The Bang!?
This one rings in at about $100 with the Extra Deck, of course. It's a crazy fun deck to play and if you've built it previously based on my recommendations, getting ahold of the Mimiclays will set you back about a nickel. Pricy, but worth it!

Give it a try. Build the deck and test it out. I'm confident in the possibilities presented here, so let me know how it turns out for you. At the very least, it may have opened up the door for a worthy examination into Mimiclay.

-Zach Buckley
Team Nofatchx