Dark Hole and Super Polymerization are both Unlimited again after spendingyears on the F&L List, and the decks to beat of last format got acomplete reshuffle thanks to new restrictions on cards like SalamangreatGazelle and The Phantom Knights of Rusty Bardiche. Get Out! is a brand-newoption from Rising Rampage that's definitely worth talking about,plus there are plenty of popular picks from last format that will still bemust-plays heading into the new competitive season.
But first let's talk about what we're up against.
Here Be Dragons
The latest F&L List left the Guardragon engine untouched, and I thinkwe can expect players to heavily abuse the Guardragon Extra Deck cards atthe start of this format.
Thunder Dragons managed to survive the F&L List with hits only toaccessory cards like Eclipse Wyvern, Black Dragon Collapserpent and WhiteDragon Wyverburster. The deck is still very strong, and its closestcompetitors took far bigger hits. Salamangreats, Altergeists, Sky Strikers,and Orcusts are questionably competitive this format, but Thunder Dragonsare clearly still among the top decks to beat.
Every deck needs a way to deal with the monsters that Thunder Dragon can soeffortlessly spit out. Thunder Dragon Colossus can still win games on itsown or when backed up by another Colossus, and its destruction-protectioneffect gives it incredible staying power. It's an uphill battle forsearch-heavy strategies even when your opponent can't kick off theirGuardragon combo. Yes, the deck isn't as consistently explosive as it oncewas, but that doesn't mean the ceiling for its power has been reduced. Infact, the gap between Thunder Dragons and other explosive strategies –namely Orcust – is even wider now thanks to the F&L List.
If your opponent does resolve their Guardragon Link Monstersyou'll be stuck facing multiple negation bodies and a massive amount ofATK. Mounting a comeback against numerous interruptions and potentially oneor two floodgates is nearly impossible without the perfect hand or severemisplays from your opponent. Number 38: Hope Harbinger Dragon TitanicGalaxy, Hot Red Dragon Archfiend Abyss, Hieratic Seal of the HeavenlySpheres, and the threat of Amorphage Goliath are beatable, but it'stypically going to take specific tech choices to make that a reality.
Beyond Thunder Dragons and Guardragons there's a new generic negation bodythat'll be seeing significant play in Extra Decks. Apollousa, Bow of theGoddess represents even more negation that's accessible to any deck capableof Summoning a Link 4. It's a bit like the classic Light and DarknessDragon, but its total negation count is tied to the total number ofmonsters used for its Link Summon. More importantly, Apollousa can activateas many times per turn so long as it can lose exactly 800 ATK.
While it can't activate multiple times in a chain the fact that it cannegate every monster effect at your disposal from Turn 1 should be causefor alarm. Its presence underscores the importance of Main Deck monsterremoval and especially removal that isn't attached to activated monstereffects.
Cards That Can't Be Countered
I've been putting a lot of thought into Super Polymerization since it wasunrestricted.
For years I've written about ways to break your opponent's set-ups bydodging the kinds of interruptions they're most likely to have. Beating thenumbers game by overwhelming your opponent with activations can work if youmanage to sneak in some interruptions of your own, but the best route isusually finding some kind of mass removal effect that can't be stopped.Kaijus were hugely popular because they were nearly impossible to stop, andlikewise The Winged Dragon of Ra - Sphere Mode is fantastic this format fordealing with Guardragon fields. But there's an even simpler solution: wecan play a card that cannot be responded to at all.
Super Polymerization handily solves the negation body problem by swiftlydismantling otherwise destruction-immune monsters. Hope Harbinger and HotRed Dragon Archfiend Abyss can't negate it for obvious reasons, and it canmake short work of your opponent's best monsters while landing a usefulmonster on your side of the field.
Apollousa, Bow of the Goddess is unfortunately hard to beat with SuperPolymerization unless you're playing Shaddolls or Invoked. That said, SuperPolymerization might be even more popular next month than it was lastformat simply because it's more consistently available. Dedicating multipleExtra Deck slots to a two-of tech card is risky, but a full playset ofSuper Polymerization makes the trade-off much more realistic.
Kaijus don't have the stopping power necessary to deal with the output ofGuardragons, but The Winged Dragon of Ra - Sphere Mode and Evenly Matcheddo. Sphere Mode was significantly less popular than Evenly Matched lastformat despite the fact that it dismantles Guardragons fields relativelyeasily. While Evenly Matched can be countered directly it's notunreasonable to bait out Hot Red Dragon Archfiend Abyss before heading tothe Battle Phase.
Of course, Evenly Matched wasn't terribly popular either; most players weresiding and maining cards to stop the Orcust and Thunder combos on Turn 1with hand traps. Artifact Lancea, Ash Blossom & Joyous Spring, EffectVeiler, Infinite Impermanence, Gnomaterial, and Fantastical DragonPhantazmay were in just about every Main or Side Deck at the WCQs in June.
Proactive removal is difficult to recommend because so many cards areeither immune to destruction or stacked with negation effects. It's mucheasier to simply side in hand traps when you're playing second and hopeyour opponent can't force their way through your interruptions. From thereyou can simply play the game as normal, so Kaijus, Evenly Matched, andSuper Polymerization can take a back seat to your strategy's Main and ExtraDeck solutions to problems on the field.
Dinowrestler Pankratops might not shut down every negation body you'll see,but if you halt your opponent's Turn 1 combos you can mop up theirremaining defenses with Pankratops' effect. It's arguably the best "I'mgoing second and I need to pave the way for the rest of my cards" removaleffect in the game pre-Rising Rampage. Apollousa might change thatand pave the way for Cyber Dragon to come into the spotlight.
Trap Line-Ups Are Much Better This Format
The return of Super Polymerization to the Unlimited List coincided withSolemn Judgment moving off the List. Trap line-ups have been improving invalue over the last few months thanks to new cards like Crackdown and GetOut! and with Solemn Judgment it's easier than ever to protect yourbackrow. It's not hard to imagine why Altergeist Multifaker landed on theLimited List especially given how popular Crackdown has become.
Monster removal is a broad category that includes effects that destroy,send, banish, or kick monsters back to the hand or deck. It alsoencompasses effects that take monsters from your opponent, and right nowthe undisputed king of control-based interruption is Crackdown. It's not assearchable as the Phantom Knights' Fog Blade, but it's significantly moredisruptive if you manage to steal a negation body, floodgate monster, or aLink Monster with favorable Link Arrows for your opponent.
It's a hard sell when you're playing second, but when you're playing firstit's by far one of the most effective traps you can have in your backrow.Crackdown should be at the top of your list if you're planning on playingtraps other than themed Counter Traps and Infinite Impermanence.
While Crackdown is a well-defined trap this format there's a newcomerthat's worth talking about: Get Out! It's an upgraded Liberty at Last! withnone of the same timing issues. You can activate Get Out! whenever youropponent controls two or more monsters that were Special Summoned from theExtra Deck, and that's hardly a strict condition in an era where LinkMonsters are being rapidly dispensed from everyone's Extra Deck. It's not acard you'll want to play against True Dracos or Sky Strikers, but it'sfantastic against anything playing the Guardragon engine or most other Linkand Pendulum themes.
Initially I wasn't much of a fan of Get Out!, and I think it's strictly aSide Deck choice in most cases. Still, shuffling cards back into the ExtraDeck is extremely powerful and the +1 you'll pick up resolving it goes along way towards leveling the playing field against an opponent that got toplay first. Yes, I'm actually recommending siding in Get Out! even whenyou're playing second. It's totally capable of brushing away youropponent's strongest Extra Deck monsters at the start of their turn, but ithas to be part of a larger trap line-up and run in a deck that can affordto wait a full turn before dismantling their opponent's board. That's adecent amount of caveats, and yet I'm still a timidly a fan of Get Out! asa Side Deck pick. It's not Evenly Matched, but it's also more flexiblethroughout the duel.
My immediate sense is that Dinowrestler Pankratops, Evenly Matched, andSuper Polymerization will either continue to see the same amount of play asthey did last format or–especially in the case of Super Polymerization–endup in even more Side Decks to beat Thunder Guardragons. These cards aren'teffective answers to Apollousa, Bow of the Goddess, and I think thatcreates an opportunity for Crackdown, Get Out!, and even thefreshly-Unlimited Dark Hole to see some play.
Ghost Ogre & Snow Rabbit happens to be a decent out to Apollousa, so ittoo could see more Side Deck play in match-ups where your opponent isrelying on it to keep your monsters at bay. That sweet spot of defensivehand traps, proactive removal, and defensive Turn 1 Quick Effects andfloodgates doesn't fundamentally change for the new format, butconsiderations like Apollousa and Get Out! make decision making a littlemore interesting.
Until next time then
Kelly Locke is a West Michigangamer and writer. You can follow him on Twitter for more updates and check out his Youtube channel. He also studied marketing at Western Michigan University.