The November Forbidden & Limited List props up new Pendulum themes by knocking their competition down a notch. The biggest threat to Pendulums – Evilswarm Excition Knight – is now Forbidden, dealing a blow to Rank 4 strategies while simultaneously making Pendulum Scales a safe field investment. Anti-Pendulum tech cards are in high demand now, especially with Majespecters making their debut in the TCG this week.

Anti-Spell Fragrance is easily among the best Side Deck options to counter Pendulum themes, if only for its sheer effectiveness. We've all heard how a first-turn Anti-Spell Fragrance is the end-all solution to Pendulum strategies, but is that enough to justify its spot in your side deck against Majespecters, Igknights, Zefras, Qliphorts, Pendulum Magicians, and Performapals?

What Makes Anti-Spell Fragrance So Powerful?
Before Pendulums, Anti-Spell Fragrance was sided against spell-heavy decks to slow the pace of the duel. Fragrance delays spell activations for a full two turns. Even Quick-Play Spells can't be activated until its controller's next turn. It cripples your opponent's ability to react to changing conditions during the duel, and gives decks with low spell counts a distinct advantage. While your opponent is waiting two turns to use their spells you're free to play out your strategy at its intended pace. Assuming, of course, you're not heavily dependent on spells too.

Of course, nobody is siding Anti-Spell Fragrance to slow Pendulums down. Instead, it's there to stop them completely. Pendulums can't be set in the Pendulum Zone, thus preventing them from being played altogether. No Pendulum activations means no Pendulum Scale, and no Pendulum Scale means no Pendulum Summons. Any Pendulum that's sent to the Extra Deck will be stranded there. Effects that activate when a monster is Pendulum Summoned become impossible to activate, and high-Level monsters end up stuck in the hand.

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Anti-Spell Fragrance is a death sentence for Pendulum strategies unless they have an immediate out. Mystical Space Typhoon can be chained to Fragrance's activation to destroy it before it resolves, but most Pendulum decks opt to play Archfiend Eccentric instead. Unfortunately Eccentric is useless against Fragrance, forcing those players to keep Mystical Space Typhoon in their Side Decks to answer Fragrance in Games 2 and 3. But what if, instead, someone decides to include Fragrance in their Main Deck? At that point the duel is usually over, and the Pendulum player needs to win two consecutive games to win the match. Talk about an uphill battle.

All of this hedges on the premise that you can play Anti-Spell Fragrance before your opponent can establish their Pendulum Scale. Going second or drawing into Fragrance too late simply adds another dead card to your hand. Fragrance has a highly specific set of conditions that must be met for it to exert its full effectiveness. These conditions always exist on the first turn, but there's only a 34% chance of opening with one of your three copies. That's assuming you're playing three. At best you're looking at starting with Anti-Spell Fragrance once a match. Is that worth gambling on?

It's not the End of the World if you don't start the duel with Fragrance. You could simply side it with the mindset that it's worth risking a dead card or two for a potential blowout. If you have lots of discard outlets then you might as well go for it. If you don't, you may want to look elsewhere.

Making Fragrance Work
So maybe you really, really want to make Anti-Spell Fragrance work in your Side Deck. Maybe you're even more ambitious and you plan on maining it some time in the new format. How do you make Fragrance work beyond Turn 1? Luckily all you really need to do is knock out one end of your opponent's Pendulum Scale. That alone locks them out of Pendulum plays. It's not necessary for you to destroy their cards – if your opponent uses something like Luster Pendulum, the Dracoslayer or Wavering Eyes you can respond with Fragrance to interrupt a would-be combo. But if you can, you want to avoid relying on that. Many players are already anticipating Fragrance, and won't empty their Pendulum Zones until your backrow's clear.

You can get great results by pairing Anti-Spell Fragrance with traps and monster effects that destroy Pendulum Zones. Fairy Wind and Typhoon are excellent outs to Pendulum Scales by themselves, and since they're both trap cards you can use them a turn earlier if Fragrance is face-up. Typhoon in particular covers Fragrance's weaknesses when going second. You can destroy a Pendulum Spell during your opponent's first End Phase, set Fragrance on your turn, then activate Fragrance before your opponent's Main Phase.

Unfortunately, even that tactic runs into concerns of probability. Now you're not just looking for Anti-Spell Fragrance, you're also trying to grab one of the cards in your deck that makes it worthwhile against an established Scale. Searchable, themed removal is probably your best bet when you're trying to maintain solid consistency with Fragrance. Cards like Kozmo Sliprider, or Extra Deck monsters like Castel, the Skyblaster Musketeer, help you set up your pseudo-win condition much more consistently. In many decks Castel's merely an Instant Fusion away, so situations where you can't lock your opponent with Fragrance even in the mid game are rare.

Looking At Alternatives
Even after you make Fragrance viable in nearly all situations, it's still competing for Side Deck space against other cards. Grand Horn of Heaven, Mistake, Fairy Wind, and Galaxy Cyclone are great Side Deck options for Majespecters, and all of them have arguably better utility than Anti-Spell Fragrance. What's more, they don't need to be supplemented by supporting cards and aren't as reliant on being played during Turn 1. Fairy Wind or Spell-Shattering Arrow are being phased out both in favor of Wavering Eyes and in response to it; you don't want your opponent to chain Wavering Eyes to your Fairy Wind.

The downside? None of them stop Archfiend Eccentric from hitting the field. In Games 2 and 3 there are at least five cards bearing down on your spells and traps: two Eccentrics and three Mystical Space Typhoons. Anti-Spell Fragrance is mostly immune to Eccentric by design, and it delays a freshly-drawn Mystical Space Typhoon for two turns. It's surprisingly robust as far as anti-Pendulum floodgates are concerned. Other cards make up for their vulnerability to Eccentric by being chainable, like Wavering Eyes. That said, you'll probably end up activating them at inopportune times anyways.

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Other cards that affect the play of spells are actually quite a bit worse, mostly due to Majespecters and Archfiend Eccentric. There's too much monster removal for Spell Canceler or Naturia Beast tos urvive. Neither card will stick around on the field for long, if at all. Majespecters alone have multiple searchable outs for both monsters.

Whether or not it's worth gambling on Anti-Spell Fragrance depends on the match-up. What cards can you play to make Fragrance live beyond the first turn, how many outs your opponent's playing, and which alternatives are available should all factor into your decision. I've seen it work both ways: being on the receiving end of a first-turn Fragrance is devastating. It's almost impossible to win if you don't have an out within the first few turns. Yet, in the same match my opponent has drawn into Fragrance after I've committed cards to my Pendulum Zone, leaving them with a card that's barely relevant.

Anti-Spell Fragrance will either be the defining Side Deck card of the format next to Wavering Eyes, or a footnote among better choices. We'll find out as we head into December.

Until next time then

-Kelly


Kelly Locke is a West Michigan gamer, writer, and college student with too much free time on his hands. Besides playing Yugioh, Kelly posts Let's Play videos of Minecraft on his Youtube channel and plays a possibly unhealthy amount of Destiny. He is currently studying marketing at Western Michigan University, and hopes to graduate before Dragon Ravine is Unlimited.