Demise True Dracos have returned to the top of the competitive scenemultiple hits on last year's Forbidden & Limited List.

To be sure, True Dracos were absolutely scoring Top 8's at Regionals andremained competitive even after Circuit Break, but the dominanceof Pendulum Magicians, Trickstars, and SPYRALs overshadowed those successstories almost completely. It didn't help that True Dracos had a poormatch-up against SPYRALs, where SPYRAL Resort and Decode Talker madetargeting effects nearly impossible to play.

Over the last two months we've seen a resurgence of True Dracos bolsteredby a fresh F&L List and a tech choice from last year: Amano-Iwato. Thedeck's worst match-up fell out of competitive play entirely, but moreimportantly, players discovered a way to beat hand traps and push thestrategy to the next level. Amano-Iwato synergizes so well with the DemiseTrue Draco strategy that it's shocking it didn't see play until threemonths after it was released in Circuit Break. The firstrecorded instance of a Regional top is froman early February Regional in Fort Worth Texas.

The late breakthrough of Amano-Iwato is a curious case of its own that'sworth discussing another time, but what's more relevant now is theaftermath. Demise True Dracos began to play Amano as a staple, and for themonth of March the deck was incredibly successful at Regionals and YCSevents. YCS Salt Lake City saw nine True Dracos land in the Top 32 withPendulum Magicians only claiming two more spots overall. The deck is justas competitive as it was last year before it lost a number of cards to theF&L List.

The strong presence of Master Peace, the True Dracoslaying Kingand the recent tech of Amano-Iwato is shifting both Main Deck andSide Deck picks. This week we'll take a look at how these cards areinfluencing the game, and what changes players are making to their decks toget an edge in one of the format's biggest match-ups.

Master Peace Is Still King
You can't expect decks to fully 'die off' as long as the cards and combosthat make them so successful remain in play. Last year's hits targetedDinomight Knight, the True Dracofighter, Ignis Heat, the True Dracowarrior,and True King's Return, but those cards were all ancillary to the goals ofthe True Draco strategy. Master Peace, the True Dracoslaying King is thesoul of the deck, and it's still Unlimited alongside Dragonic Diagram. Itshouldn't surprise anyone that Master Peace eventually made a return inTrue Dracos or as a tech pick inanother strategy.

Master Peace is extremely well-designed with a unique Summoning condition,a protection effect, and a potent destruction ability rounded out by animpressive 2950 ATK. It's certainly old news that Master Peace is anoutstanding card, so with a deck-searching Field Spell and Terraformingboth Unlimited there are an insane number of ways to reach it. Ash Blossom& Joyous Spring and Ghost Ogre & Snow Rabbit were keeping DragonicDiagram in check, but Amano-Iwato has dampened effectiveness of hand traps.

Old counters to True Dracos have found their way back into Side Decks andspell and trap line-ups. Kaijus and Eater of Millions are leading thecharge as outs to Master Peace, and Cosmic Cyclone has resumed its role ofknocking out backrow without triggering the effects of True King's Return,True Draco Apocalypse, True Draco Heritage, and Disciples of the TrueDracophoenix.

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Zaphion, the Timelord also answers developed backrow and shuffles awayNormal Spells set to avoid being discarded by Cards of Demise. Its immunityto destruction and targeting effects makes a mockery of Master Peace andthe True Draco/King traps. Gigantes can pull off a similar stunt that's abit riskier, but it won't eat your Normal Summon.

Since the last time True Dracos were among the best decks in the game, ifnot the best, a game-changing trap has emerged on the competitivescene: Evenly Matched. Card of Demise creates the perfect set-up for EvenlyMatched–and True Draco players are well aware of that. True Draco SideDecks patch up that vulnerability with Imperial Iron Wall and wield itequally against Evenly Matched, Eater of Millions, and Cosmic Cyclone. It'salso a great trap to bring in against 60-card strategies, ABC's, and avariety of other banish-heavy decks.

The Monarchs Erupt covers even more vulnerabilities by negating non-TributeSummoned monsters and acts as a one-sided Skill Drain. Anti-Spell Fragranceslows down opposing strategies and delays some forms of backrow removal,but it's the forced drop in tempo that most helps True Dracos stay ahead inthe game. The True Draco backrow is terrifying when it's supported withSolemn Judgment, Skill Drain, Imperial Order, and a wide range ofdisruptive effects built into the True Draco theme.

Amano-Iwato Shifts Game 1 Tech
Siding while going first or second is further complicated by Amano-Iwatoand its floodgate effect. It's worth noting that Amano prevents monstersanywhere from activating, but it doesn't harm continuous effects in anyway. That said, negation bodies packed into Extra Decks everywhere areutterly useless as soon as Amano hits the field. Strategies packed withmonsters have as much to lose from Amano as they do from The Winged Dragonof Ra - Sphere Mode. You can immediately follow up on an Amano Summon witha Raigeki to wipe a board of monsters without their effects activating inthe graveyard.

It's not necessary to side out your hand traps against True Dracos, butAmano-Iwato does give you a good excuse to play more combo pieces andproactive removal. Mekk-Knights can play more Mekk-Knight monsters againsttheir opponent's larger backrow, Invoked strategies can bait removal withWindwitches or another small engine, and Pendulum Magicians might find usein Time Pendulumgraph again. In fact we'realready seeingPendulum Magician playersexperiment with a single Time Pendulumgraph since it's already searchablewith Duelist Alliance.

The risk of having any particular Side Deck card countered by an opponent'stech choice is often outweighed by the potential reward of that cardresolving. That's some of the logic behind Evenly Matched, and it extendsto hand traps in the True Draco match-up. Your opponent's still going totake a hit from Ash Blossom & Joyous Spring if they don't seeAmano-Iwato in the opening hand, and they can't use Cards of Demise or Potof Desires to find it without running the risk of losing their draws to AshBlossom.

Ghost Ogre & Snow Rabbit has the most to lose from Amano-Iwato sinceit's really only suited to stop Dragonic Diagram. Chances are if you letyour opponent resolve their draw effects they'll get to a copy of Amano,Summon it, then activate Dragonic Diagram. Otherwise, Droll &Lock Bird's very strong here. Once activated it sticks around for theremainder of the turn whether Amano's Summoned or not.

That's handy, but most players would prefer to simply negate the first Cardof Demise instead of blocking future draws and searches. That said, I thinkit's still a great slightly-more budget alternative for players whocouldn't get Ash Blossom from Legendary Collection Kaiba.

More Cards To Play Against True Dracos
Tribute monsters, Timelords, hand traps, and spell and trap-basedfloodgates can still win games against True Dracos, particularly sincetheir line-up of monsters is weaker than ever. The strategy's effectivenessthis format is largely driven by its own ability to out grind and outplaythe best decks in the game, but interrupting that war of attrition orcountering Master Peace directly will usually solve the match-up. SinceAmano-Iwato makes some popular set-ups irrelevant you'll want to changethose set-ups by building interruption using cards like Twin Twisters andUnending Nightmare, which counter the most likely Side Deck cards you'llend up playing against.

Solemn Judgment and Solemn Warning are incredibly powerful when playingfirst, for obvious reasons, and they're especially strong in a deck that'sreliant on Normal Summons. Negating a Summon can be a major setbackdepending on your opponent's remaining cards, so some players are optingfor floodgate effects to keep True Dracos off the field. Zombie Worldshowed up ina Regional Top 8in Texas to block non-Zombie Tribute Summons, and you can guess how manyZombies True Draco players are running these days.

True Dracos take full advantage of the fact that they're so different fromother strategies this format. It's a deck that's totally willing to playagainst an established field of monsters, but it's not nearly as effectiveon offense against backrow. Traps are so powerful here because they dodgenearly all of the counters True Draco players are running, but it'sexceptionally rare to see a Master Peace that isn't immune to traps andmonsters. A solid combination of tribute monsters and a few key traps iscurrently the most popular way to play against True Dracos, and I don't seethat changing for a while.

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The latest Side Deck tech – Called by the Grave – isn't necessarily amust-play in True Dracos thanks to Ameno-Iwato, but it can act as aslightly better D.D. Crow in the match-up. Once again you'll be tradingcounters between the two options: spells can potentially lose out toAnti-Spell Fragrance and Imperial Order, while monsters run the risk ofbecoming useless when Ameno hits the field.

It might not be a game changer for the True Draco match-up, but with it nowexisting in the game in addition to True Dracos I could see many moreplayers dropping hand traps entirely. Once again tech choices are beingrailroaded by just a couple of cards, and that's barely a month afterSPYRAL Resort–a bane to targeting effects–was Limited. Side Deck techremains one of the most interesting areas to catch larger trends in thegame.

Until next time then

-Kelly


Kelly​​​ ​​​Locke​​​ ​​​is​​​ ​​​a​​​ ​​​West​​​ ​​​Michigan​​​​​​gamer and writer. In​​​ ​​​addition​​​ ​​​to​​​ ​​​writing​​​ ​​​onTCGplayer,​​​ ​​​Kelly​​​ ​​​writes​​​ a ​​​​​​personal​​​ ​​​blog​​​​​​ ​​​covering​​​ ​​​Yu-Gi-Oh!,​​​ ​​​Destiny,​​​ ​​​and​​​​​​other​​​ ​​​hobbies. You​​​ ​​​can follow​​​ ​​​him​​​ ​​​on​​​​​​​​​Twitter​​​​​​ ​​​and​​​ ​​​check​​​ ​​​out​​​ ​​​his​​​ ​​​​​​Youtube​​​ ​​​channel​​​. He​​​ ​​​also studied marketing at Western Michigan University.