The Wednesday before the new Forbidden & Limited List dropped I was hanging out with some friends at my local card shop. Naturally, our conversation eventually came to a point where someone asked me what I felt deserved to be hit on the next List, which none of us could possibly know would be released just hours later. My response, ironically, was that I didn't feel that anything really needed to get hit.

Surprising, right?

Despite the overwhelming number of complaints I've heard over the past year about how bad Yu-Gi-Oh has gotten, I've been extremely happy with how the game has shaped up. For example, while some players took the absence of huge F&L Lists as a sign of Konami being lazy, I took it as a testament to better card design. After all, if you build in a system of natural power creep between set releases you don't have to worry about manually hitting things on a list to create artificial power creep.

#####CARDID=11890#####

As much as I hated watching Nekroz of Trishula banish my cards, or Fire Lake of the Burning Abyss blowing up my field, or Shaddoll Fusion taking advantage of Extra Deck monsters, at the end of the day I honestly thought the format was balanced. And I don't think that I'm the only one on that boat. After the World Championship, duelists began testing out a variety of strategies, many of which saw more success than I would've thought possible. Themes like Heroes, Yang Zings, Infernoids, Burning Abyss, Shaddoll variants, Nekroz, Clown Blade, PSY-Frames, Kozmos, and a bunch of other decks were all totally viable, despite consistent complaints about Nekroz being too powerful.

Regardless, it'd be an understatement to say that I was surprised when I heard the news about the new F&L List. Unlike previous formats we've had this year, the November List's changes were almost entirely Limitations, whereas previous format changes focused mainly on cutting the List's actual length by booting things like Glow-Up Bulb, Goyo Guardian, Dark Strike Fighter, and Sacred Sword of Seven Stars into unlimited territory. Nekroz, Shaddolls, and Qliphorts are all virtually useless, and Burning Abyss took some severe strikes as well. However, there were a couple cards that are now off the list, and that's what today's article is going to hone in on.

Specifically Speaking…
Did anyone foresee Geargiagear coming off the F&L List entirely? I sure didn't. While the competitive scene's drastically different from the last time when Geargiagear was unlimited, the Geargia strategy as a whole has more at its disposal. There's Geargiano Mk-III, Geargiauger, some new Extra Deck monsters, and – maybe most importantly – it looks like big competitive decks are susceptible to several floodgates that don't affect Geargia in the slightest. Namely Anti-Spell Fragrance, Imperial Iron Wall, Shadow-Imprisoning Mirror, and Light-Imprisoning Mirror.

And we know this version of Geargia works. Before the deck really gained popularity, veteran duelist Samuel Pedigo won YCS Turin in 2013 with a floodgate heavy build of Geargia. Pedigo knew that he was likely to face Dragon Ruler after Dragon Ruler every round, so he Main Decked three copies of Imperial Iron Wall and Gozen Match. It was A Major Upset accomplished by a player that knew exactly what he was doing. And even though tournament metagames aren't nearly as defined today as they were back then I still think there are quite a few overlaps in gameplay between each strategy.

Floodgates aside, there has to be a reason to play Geargia instead of another deck like Yosenju, Volcanics, or straight up Anti-Meta. What sets Geargia apart is Gear Gigant X and Geargiarmor, both of which search pretty much everything in your deck at the drop of the hat. Gear Gigant X is particularly useful because it can grab one-of Machines from the deck and grave, which allows repeated access to cards you don't really want to run in multiples. One thing I've really liked so far is using Gear Gigant X to search out Cyber Dragon Core, which I can then Normal Summon to wipe a board of big Kozmo Machines by making Chimeratech Fortress Dragon.

Geargiagear plays a big part in the viability of the strategy though, and that's why I'm interested in picking up the deck again. You can flip Geargiagear in your opponent's End Phase to Special Summon two of the smaller Geargianos, and then overlay them on your turn for Gear Gigant X. That lets you make your best Rank 4 monster without even using your Normal Summon. If you also had a Geargiarmor you'll actually make two Rank 4's without using your Normal Summon, too.

Even better, with Geargiagear at three we can run the Karakuri suite to give the deck more aggression. Clever combos using Karakuri Strategist mdl 248 "Nishipachi" and Karakuri Watchdog mdl 313 "Saizan" push out huge Synchro Summons, generally resulting in you winning on your second turn. Like I mentioned earlier, Geargiagear's even better than it was before because of Geargiano Mk-III's existence. Assuming you don't draw any of your Geargianos, you can use your second Geargiagear to bring out Geargiano Mk-II and Geargiano Mk-III, the latter then revives another Geargia monster from your grave, which is probably the easiest +2 you've ever performed. Keeping all of these ideas in mind, let's take a look at what I've come up with after a week of testing:

DECKID=103703Not only do I believe that it's possible to build a Geargia deck that consistently OTK's your opponent, I also think that it's by far the most viable approach to the strategy right now. Sitting behind a million trap cards and flipping Geargiarmor every turn is slow and ineffective. Because of that change in tone, I've opted to play three copies of Performage Hat Tricker and Instant Fusion. Those, coupled with generic Geargiagear and Geargiarmor shenanigans, usually let you push through multiple backrow cards and come out on top. And if your opponent's playing a trapless deck? Even better! That just means you can set up a huge board without any worry of trap cards.

While I didn't decide to Main Deck any floodgates besides Imperial Iron Wall I still feel it's important to leave that option open. We're not quite sure how this format is going to shape up so I figured that Imperial Iron Wall would be the best floodgate to have against a wide open field. It's obviously insane against Kozmo, and it's also good against stuff like Nekroz (if people decide to still play it) and Infernoids. Anti-Spell Fragrance is useful against those three decks too, but it hinders your own Instant Fusion combos. I'm keeping it in the Side Deck to swap in if need be.

Your game plan in the early stages of each duel is to get Geargiarmor on the field as soon as possible. That free +1 every turn is incredible, but what's really special is that you can leverage that +1 into a ton of other combos. Gear Gigant X is easily one of the best Rank 4's in the game, letting you search out any Level 4 or lower Machine. You'll probably use your first search to nab Genex Ally Birdman because it's your best Tuner, and from there you can go into your Karakuri Synchros to bring out the Karakuri Tuners from your deck. Add in a single Hat Tricker, a second Geargiaccelerator, or an Instant Fusion and you can put enough damage on the field to win the game that turn.

Another thing about Gear Gigant X that's useful is how you can search out one-of Side Deck monsters. I haven't quite decided if I want to play a single Proto-Cyber Dragon or a few Cyber Dragon Cores, but regardless you'll still have free access to Chimeratech Fortress Dragon when you're paired against Kozmo. Currently I've been liking one Proto-Cyber Dragon and two Chimeratech Fortress Dragon in my Side Deck, but feel free to tinker with the ratios to fit your own tastes.

Overall, I think Geargia could be a real sleeper hit this format if built correctly. When you play it as aggressively as I am you have a huge toolbox of Rank 4's and Synchro Monsters, and that's how the deck should be played. I've experimented with this build as well as the super floodgate heavy one and the aggressive version comes out ahead in almost every scenario. What do you think of Geargia? Is it too late for a revival of the archetype? Let me know in the comments!

-Doug Zeeff


Doug Zeeff hails from Michigan and is currently an English major in college. When he's not found emailing Konami about why there's not a single walrus card in all of Yu-Gi-Oh! you can find him regularly posting unorthodox, unfiltered semi-Yu-Gi-Oh! related content on his Youtube channel, Dzeeff. In his spare time he enjoys eating cheese, opening three Volcanic Scattershots, and, of course, playing Yu-Gi-Oh.