Leading up to the Indianapolis Regional Qualifier last weekend, YCS Sand Jose showcased just how popular Kozmos would likely be going into the new format. Naturally I began frantically testing different builds from the Top 32 of that event, as well as various Majespecter, Performage Pendulum, and Geargia lists. Despite having the opportunity to go to four Regionals this season I've missed all of them due to unforeseen circumstances, so Indianapolis was going to be my first chance to nab an invite to next summer's World Championship Qualifier. As usual, I try to get my invite knocked out as early as possible so I can spend the rest of the year messing around.

And for a while, it looked like I was going to take Kozmos to the Indianapolis Regional Qualifier. But I became increasingly annoyed with the interactions between the bigger spaceships in the Kozmo mirror match, a matchup I was convinced I'd see frequently at the Regional level. Kozmos have easier outs to stuff like Kozmo Dark Destroyer and Kozmo Forerunner than most decks, because you can just use your own ships to crash in battle. Other methods I've seen include Cyber Dragon and Chimeratech Fortress Dragon, Raigeki with Abyss Dweller, and monsters like Juragedo that can boost a smaller monster's ATK. Generally speaking, I didn't like any of those options because I hated going so far out of my way to get rid of set-ups I expected to see really frequently.

So, four days before the event, I started testing Brilliant Madolches again after not touching them for several weeks. About a month ago I produced an article arguing the strategy's merits, but looking back I feel like I didn't grasp how the deck was actually supposed to be piloted. While the list itself is pretty similar to this version, my combos throughout the tournament were very different from what I originally came up with when I first built the deck.

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For example, at some point I discovered that you can banish Elder Entity Norden with Madolche Hootcake and then bring it back with Leviair to get a second Norden effect in one turn. Norden's ability isn't limited to once per turn and Instant Fusion technically Fusion Summons it, so you can unleash some pretty stupid combos. For example, I used this one quite often:

Opening hand: Madolche Anjelly and Instant Fusion

- Normal Summon Anjelly, and tribute it to Special Summon Madolche Hootcake

- Activate Instant Fusion for Elder Entity Norden, reviving Anjelly

- Overlay for Castel, the Skyblaster Musketeer to clear a card

- Banish Elder Entity Norden for Hootcake, Special Summoning Madolche Mewfeuille

- Overlay for Leviair the Sea Dragon

- Detach a material to Special Summon the banished Norden, and then revive Anjelly

- Overlay for Diamond Dire Wolf, then detach a material to blow up Castel and another card

One of the reasons I relied so heavily on this combo was that it was an almost perfect answer to the variety of Pendulum strategies I faced during the tournament. Spinning face-up Pendulum Spells back into the deck with Castel is usually better than hitting them with Mystical Space Typhoon, especially when you're spinning a Performage Plushfire that would activate its effect otherwise.

Beating Popular Decks
I've written on it before, but whenever I play a rogue deck at an event I do it because I feel it has good matchups against the expected field, not because I'm avoiding playing the top strategies for moralizing reasons. Madolche Queen Tiaramisu's one of the best Xyz in the game, shuffling away up to two of your opponent's cards without targeting them. That's a fantastic effect just in general, but it's even better right now because of the shape of competition. None of the Majespecters or big Kozmo spaceships can be targeted, so a blanket non-targeting removal effect is actually just ridiculous. Not only that, but getting rid of both of your opponent's Pendulum Scales often wins you the Performage Pendulum matchup outright.

I also noticed that in this format, both players often spend a turn setting up, and then they go for an immediate OTK. One of the reasons I liked Brilliant Madolche so much was that it usually didn't require a turn of setup and could almost always go straight for the OTK on your first turn. You have so many good opening cards: Madolche Hootcake, Madolche Anjelly, Brilliant Fusion, Instant Fusion, and even Madolche Magileine.

But the reason I chose Brilliant Madolches over a similar strategy like Brilliant Performage Pendulums was that Madolches can actually make use of Gem-Knight Seraphinite – the Level 5 Fusion Monster that grants you an extra Normal Summon once per turn. If you play Madolche Puddingcess you can overlay it with Seraphinite for Madolche Puddingcess Chocolat-a-la-Mode. It lets you shuffle back a Madolche card into your deck once per turn, and then if you have the regular Madolche Puddingcess as material you can detach to Special Summon a Madolche from your deck. Couple it with Madolche Ticket and you can Special Summon two Madolches from your deck for free.

As you can tell, this deck gets crazy pretty fast.

My other reason for playing this strategy was that there wasn't really a floodgate that ruined my day. Imperial Iron Wall's subpar and can easily be dealt with using the Performages; Rivalry of Warlords isn't played competitively anymore; and Mistake hurts, but doesn't cripple you. The only real problem card is Maxx "C" in decks that play Performage Damage Juggler, but I found through testing that there were a bunch of ways to still win pushing through one Damage Juggler, so your opponent had to draw multiples if they wanted to survive the turn. That played out the way I expected it to in practice, once the Regional Qualifier arrived. Let's take a look at what I played:

DECKID=103753Nekroz of Unicore's absence was another reason I thought this deck was well positioned compared to the last time I ran it. In my last build I had to play Breakthrough Skill just to out Unicore, but I felt comfortable passing on it in the Main Deck here. Overall, I played against three Kozmos, three Pendulum Performages, two Majespecters, and one Igknight deck over the course of the Regional.

To my surprise, the Igknight match-up was the one that felt the most out of control, because they play Tyrant's Throes. In Game 1 my opponent opened with it and I didn't play a single card for several turns, though I quickly beat him in the following duels because he didn't see the deadly trap. Heck, in Game 3 he ended his turn with Number 86: Heroic Champion – Rhongomyniad with four Materials and it still didn't matter because it wasn't a Tyrant's Throes. Outside of that one match I felt completely in control. Brilliant Madolches can push through back row cards effortlessly, and when you're playing against decks that don't run backrow cards you can just OTK immediately. It's really, really difficult to draw an unplayable hand with this deck.

Sometimes you can draw the worst cards in the deck and still win. There was a game where I opened both Madolche Puddingcess and Gem-Knight Garnet, and I was able to Brilliant Fusion into Seraphinite and Performage Trick Clown, Normal Summon Garnet, tribute it for Puddingcess, and then discard Madolche Chateau for Brilliant Fusion. Then I overlaid for Madolche Puddingcess Chocolat-a-la-Mode and shuffled back the discarded Chateau, netting a Madolche Hootcake from my deck. It was by far the coolest play I made all day and it was a testament to how powerful even your weak hands are.

I was also super happy whenever I sat down against Kozmos. With all the new support most Kozmo players are playing far fewer traps. That makes it even easier to OTK them. On the off chance that they do play a lot of traps – one of my opponents did – you can simply auto-win with Denko Sekka or Royal Decree. Basically, it's a win-win scenario against Kozmos because the trapless versions rely on their big spaceships as defense and Madolches tear through them.

Going Forward
Like I mentioned before, most of my losses throughout the tournament were my fault, not the deck's. Out of nine rounds the only times I felt I didn't have control were the Igknight matchup and one particularly bricked hand. I've noticed that bricking isn't a big issue with this deck as long as you have one or two good cards to play out of it, but in that one case I opened with two Denko Sekkas, Madolche Puddingcess, Madolchepalooza, and Mystical Space Typhoon going first and quickly lost. The important thing to note is that if you put the time and effort into learning the combos you can defeat most opponents.

That said, my list wasn't perfect. Most of it was straight theory, with only one local tournament serving as out-in-the-wild play testing before the event. Luckily the Main Deck turned out great, and the only change I'd make would be dropping Forbidden Lance. I was afraid of Majespecters because they can search so many defensive cards, so I included Lance, but in reality that strategy isn't as good as I originally thought and I don't think it's worth worrying about with this deck. Because the Majespecter player has to keep tributing monsters to activate their spells and traps you can simply bait out the backrow and then hit them with a Madolche Queen Tiaramisu.

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On the other hand, the Side Deck was pretty bad. I only ever sided Denko Sekka, Mystical Space Typhoon, and Royal Decree. I realized I couldn't side out a lot of cards from my Main Deck if I wanted to maintain the same level of speed. That meant the cards I'd want to move out of my deck to side others in were usually Raigeki, Solemn Warning, Vanity's Emptiness, Forbidden Lance, and Double Summon. There's probably an argument to be made over whether you need the third Instant Fusion or third Madolche Hootcake, but I wanted to see my power cards as soon as possible, so I kept them in.

One edit I've already made is swapping the Poisonous Winds for Anti-Spell Fragrance. As I mentioned before, Majespecters are way worse than I thought and I never needed more than Denko and Decree against them. Poisonous Winds is subpar against literally every other competitive deck so I swapped in Anti-Spell Fragrance to get an edge against Pendulum strategies. Against Performage Pendulums all I had was the third Mystical Space Typhoon and a Maxx "C" or two, but I don't feel like that was enough. I want an easy floodgate to stop my opponent's entire turn, especially when they force me to go first.

All in all I'm happy that I was able to get another Regional Top 8, and I'm glad I did it with a deck I have so much fun playing. All day I was extremely focused on technical play and I had a blast figuring out new combos as the tournament continued. Hopefully I can make it to another Regional Qualifier before metagames shift, because I'm confident I could do even better the next time!

-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, driving too fast on the highway, and, of course, playing Yu-Gi-Oh.