I'm particularly interested in the latter question (surprise!) but that's not just because of my column's topic. Since PRIO's release I've been playing dozens of new-and-improved decks like Koa'ki Meiru, Mecha Phantom Beasts, Hazy Flame, Evols, and Sylvan. Facing off against arguably stronger and more consistent strategies has been tough, but even after losing plenty of matches I still don't want to drop those decks. They're so much fun to play that I'd rather look for ways to find an edge in key match-ups instead of joining the crowd and picking up Bujin, Geargia, or Tratprix.
There's a ton of unexplored potential hidden within various strategies that's only now surfacing thanks to Dragons of Legend. Fire Hand and Ice Hand offer card removal to themes that lack it, while Soul Charge creates combos that simply weren't possible before. Kuribandit and Mathematician have already breathed new life into Inzektors and Dragon Rulers, and players are still discovering new combos each week.
Personally, I don't want to give up the fun I'm having playing older decks with new tech just to bump up the odds of a Game 1 win. Instead, I'm focused on finding tech cards to push match-ups in my favor. There are some great Side Deck cards being played right now that do exactly that, and this week we'll take a look at a couple of them, and how they're influencing post-PRIO format.Debunk's Never Been Better
It used to be that if you were playing Debunk, it was because you needed a Side Deck card for the Mermail match-up other than Soul Drain. Now things are different: with so many of the top decks playing effects that activate in the graveyard, Soul Drain's out of the question. Debunk has become a Side Deck staple for several strategies as a counter to Artifacts, Bujin, and evenSylvans. It prevents Madolche monsters from returning to the deck and triggering Madolche Ticket, and it negates hand traps like Effect Veiler and Maxx "C". How likely am I to suggestsiding Debunk for those situations? Not very, but there are times when you'll want to side Debunk to counter tech cards that may appear in those match-ups.
If you're looking for a simple and effective counter to Fire Hand and Ice Hand, Debunk's definitely something you should consider. Both Hands activate in the graveyard after being destroyed, making them vulnerable to Debunk. You'll also banish the negated Hand and keep it from being recycled with Pot of Dichotomy or Daigusto Emeral. Dimensional Prison can banish Hands too, but it's useless when you're the one doing the attacking. If you run into a set Hand–or lack the means to remove one without destroying it–Debunk saves your field from being ravaged by their effects.
Artifacts are the latest deck to find themselves at odds with Debunk. All Main Deck Artifact monsters Special Summon themselves from the graveyard when destroyed during your opponent's turn, and as a result they can be negated by Debunk. For instance: when Artifact Beagalltach destroys a set Artifact Moralltach, you can negate Moralltach's effect. Unfortunatelythat's where Debunk's usefulness comes to an end, as it's powerless to stop an Artifact that's summoned by Artifact Sanctum. It's also at the mercy of Artifact Ignition and sided copies of Mystical Space Typhoon. Given thpse weaknesses, you might expect D.D. Crow to be a more common Side Deck card for Artifacts. I'm sure that would be the case if this theme were being played by itself, but as long as Hands are being run alongside them Debunk will continue to be the better pick.A Nightmare For Your Opponent
I briefly mentioned Traptrix Trap Hole Nightmare last week in my article on Madolche, but I'd like to take a second look at it in the aftermath of YCS Philadelphia. I'll admit that while I expected Traptrix to make an appearance at the event I was still surprised at how well the deck did. Only Geargia had more representation in the Top 32. Madolche, on the other hand, were a bit of an oddity. Only two decks made it to the Top 32 despite it being a favorite going into the tournament. Check out this page from the official event coverage where duelists were asked to name the top decks of the weekend. Only one of the ten listed Geargia, while nine answered Madolche. Granted, ten players isn't a very useful sample size, but it's worth pointing out the difference between player perceptions and reality. In the case of YCS Philly I don't think we candismiss Madolche as being an inferior deck. The way I see it, this deck is struggling because themost popular tech cards in the format are geared against it.
One of those tech cards is most certainly Traptrix Trap Hole Nightmare! Traptrix Hands and Traptrix Hand Artifacts already have a strong match-up against Madolche thanks to their excellent removal and effect negation, but it's Nightmare that really puts them over the edge. When a monster Summoned by Hootcake or Anjelly activates, that monster will very likely end up being negated and destroyed. Normally that isn't a big deal for Madolche so long as they can get a Ticket or Chateau on the field; their monster will either replace itself or bounce back to the hand. However, Artifact variants have plenty of backrow removal in the form of Artifact Ignition and Artifact Moralltach that will keep Continuous Spells and Traps off the field for most of the duel. Even when Artifacts aren't present, Myrmeleo and Ice Hand's effects can do some serious damage to your opponent's backrow.The NSA Is Watching
Wiretap's interesting because it doesn't destroy the negated trap. Instead, it just shuffles that card back into the deck. This stops Artifact Sanctum from triggering and destroying a card you control. It also prevents Traptrix Dionaea from recycling Trap Holes, and keeps Breakthrough Skill out of the graveyard. Unfortunately Wiretap might also put a Trap Hole back in the deck for Myrmeleo to search out. Trap Stun's a tempting alternative, but it doesn't negate Solemn Warning or Debunk. Wiretap, for now, remains the best choice this format when it comes to negating dangerous traps without triggering additional effects.
Debunk and Traptrix Trap Hole Nightmare are fascinating solutions to this format's biggest threats. Nightmare's recent price spike signals an increase in demand as Artifacts and Madolche become more relevant match-ups. Debunk's been slowly-but-surely climbing for over a year and a half and now sits above the $20 mark. These cards have always been functionally strong, but now their utility has reached the point where they're seeing play almost everywhere. Wiretap's popularity is closely related to the prevalence of trap cards, and both Nightmare and Debunk are playing a big part in increasing its playability. It'll be interesting to see how or if that changes as the post-PRIO format continues.
Until next time then.