For the first time in what seems like months I've really been putting serious testing into Yu-Gi-Oh on a competitive level. Despite the public outcry against both the price and power of Nekroz, Burning Abyss, and Qliphorts I actually think it's the perfect time to play rogue decks. Shaddolls were honestly the biggest nightmare for rogue strategies because Shaddoll Fusion punished you for even touching your Extra Deck. Now, though, all three of the top strategies have obvious similarities that make them manageable if you build your Main and Side Deck accordingly.

Of course, there's still some awkwardness when talking about the traps that the Big 3 play. Almost every single one of the logged Top 32 Nekroz players from YCS Tacoma excluded trap cards from their Main Deck, and most Burning Abyss players are doing the same, even forgoing Fire Lake of the Burning Abyss. Qliphorts, of course, aren't playing a lot of "real" backrow, whatever that means. If they have cards set it's usually a floodgate like Vanity's Emptiness or Skill Drain. Still, Mystical Space Typhoon's crucial in that matchup for hitting said floodgates as well as the infamous Qliphort Scout.

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So what we have is a paradox that many experienced players have been talking about for months. You want to play spell and trap hate so you don't get blown out by Qliphorts, but conversely you don't want three dead cards against Nekroz and trapless Burning Abyss. Luckily I feel that this is better than when Shaddolls and Burning Abyss were at the top because Qliphorts - the deck that you want your backrow hate for - don't play five million relevant traps like Karma Cut, Phoenix Wing Wind Blast, Vanity's Emptiness, and Enemy Controller. We're in a situation where Mystical Space Typhoon is great against one deck and bad against two, instead of it being not enough for one match-up and too much for the other.

So… What Do?
The default place that most budget or rogue players go to is floodgates, and for good reason: depending on which match-up you're facing there's a pretty good floodgate to deal with it.

Mistake hurts Qliphorts and Nekroz tremendously; Shadow-Imprisoning Mirror wrecks Burning Abyss; and Macro Cosmos hurts Nekroz and Burning Abyss. The difficult part is finding a deck that can actually play all of those. Almost every recent strategy to date has to search, so it's hard to play Mistake, and Shadow-Imprisoning Mirror is less useful if you're running Darks yourself.

So yeah, there aren't many decks that can play Mistake, Shadow-Imprisoning Mirror, and Macro Cosmos while still making normal plays. Like, Raccoons are the only thing that comes to mind on the first two, but I can't say I'd bring those to a longer tournament (sorry Jason and Zach). Floodgates also tend to be useful only if you can get them up before the flood, and they're susceptible to Mystical Space Typhoon, Twister, and Typhoon. It's difficult figuring out one single tech that beats the top three strategies without restricting your own plays, but I think it's finally time for Mind Crush to shine once again.

Mind Crush Vs. Burning Abyss
Out of the Big 3 match-ups Mind Crush is definitely the least powerful against Burning Abyss, but that doesn't mean it's useless. The obvious application is discarding a Tour Guide From the Underworld searched off of Scarm, Malebranche of the Burning Abyss. That's really good because Burning Abyss duelists will often use Tour Guide From the Underworld as a crutch during their second wave of Special Summons. Assuming they went first they'll set up a field of multiple Dantes and then add a Tour Guide From the Underworld just in case you get over them. Remove Tour Guide from the equation and all you have to do is get over the Dantes, which isn't nearly as hard as it sounds.

Furthermore, you can chain Mind Crush when your opponent reveals a Burning Abyss monster in their hand to try and Special Summon it. This is really good mid to late game when both players are low on resources, but not so great in the early game. The issue here is that if your opponent's trying to Special Summon that Burning Abyss monster then they've already accepted that they won't be getting the graveyard effect that turn. This means you'll usually only be able to nab a Calcab, Alich, or Farfa. It's not spectacular, but as a Main Deck tech I'm fine with Mind Crush not being absolutely game-breaking against all three strategies. After all, it's better than Main Decking Shadow-Imprisoning Mirror and getting blown out by Qliphorts and Nekroz.

Mind Crush Vs. Qliphorts
Moving up the ladder, Mind Crush sort of rips apart Qliphorts. Qliphorts do a lot of searching between Summoner's Art, Saqlifice, Qliphort Scout, and Pot of Duality you've got nine to twelve plays that turn Mind Crush online. If you go first, or if you go second and your opponent doesn't open with Scout, you can use Mind Crush to rip a Scout out of their hand before they have a chance to search with it. If they do open with Scout you can hit the Qliphort Disk or Qliphort Stealth that they'll most likely add if they ended their first turn with a Qliphort monster equipped with Saqlifice.

Even better, if your opponent manages to have multiple Scouts in hand (trying to prepare for Mystical Space Typhoon) then you can force them to discard them all with Mind Crush. You'll send them to the graveyard, not the Extra Deck, so they're nearly impossible to recover.

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If you can push through the initial onslaught of Qliphort cards and the duel becomes a grind game you can basically force your opponent to lose 800 Life Points for nothing while at the same time costing them their second or third copy of Saqlifice.

Lastly, Mind Crush is really, really good at beating Apoqliphort Towers. Experienced players are only going to search Towers when they can Tribute Summon it immediately afterwards, but that leaves them super vulnerable to Mind Crush. If they're searching Towers it means they probably didn't have a Stealth or Disk in hand, which means if they made a Pendulum play for three monsters they're now stuck with them because they wasted their Scout search. If your deck doesn't play a conventional out to Towers then Mind Crush is a great option to consider.

Mind Crush Vs. Nekroz
Nekroz are one of the most confusing decks in a while. The mirror match is incredibly skillful and every other match is almost a cakewalk if you know what you're doing. Of course, the theme's so inherently complicated that it's not exactly easy to know what you're doing. That being said, a ton of players at YCS Tacoma pointed out that it's a heck of a lot simpler to learn how to beat Nekroz instead of playing them. It's one thing knowing where to stop each combo, it's another looking at a hand of six searchers and trying to decide on the correct sequence of actions.

On the most basic of levels Mind Crush can be used after a variety of the 1-for-1 searching effects of Nekroz. Using it after a Nekroz of Brionac or Nekroz of Clausolas to hopefully prevent a slew of Ritual Summons is a stellar plan. Additionally you could use it after a Manju or Senju search, although that's slightly less advisable because they still get a +1 overall.

Where Mind Crush gets interesting is when you chain it to the activation of Ritual Spells. If your opponent's trying to Ritual Summon Nekroz of Trishula then they probably want to use Shurit, Strategist of the Nekroz instead of using a Brionac and a Clausolas. However, if you chain Mind Crush on a Nekroz Cycle or Nekroz Kaleidoscope and call Shurit then they're forced to continue the Ritual Summon if possible. This means if they had Trish, Clausolas, and Brionac in hand they have to Ritual Summon Trish using the other two. This is most effective against Nekroz Kaleidoscope because literally nobody is playing a Level 9 in their Extra Deck. Take note, though, because if you discard Shurit when they Nekroz Mirror they can still banish it from the graveyard.

And once again, the three one-of Nekroz monsters (Trishula, Gungnir, and Decisive Armor) are all extremely obvious plays. Seeing they're one-ofs your opponent's going to search them only when they want to Ritual Summon them that turn, so you can easily save your Mind Crush to deal with whichever one is a problem for your deck.

The question remains: is Mind Crush the perfect generic tech that rogue decks have been waiting for? Maybe. I feel like your own strategy has to be able to support a potentially worthless trap card, which means your overall theme has to be incredibly consistent. Almost all of my rogue testing has gone into Volcanics, and I can definitely say that Mind Crush is insane there. You're drawing so many free cards off of your effects that 1-for-1ing a search isn't going to leave you defenseless, and you can even do niche plays like purposely missing a Mind Crush call to discard your Blaze Accelerator Reload and blow up your opponent's field with Scattershot.

…Anyway, what do you think of Mind Crush? Is there a better piece of generic tech that you think is better? Tell me in the comment section!

-Doug Zeeff