I fully expected to be talking about Blue-Eyes in the context of a fresh format ushered in by a new Forbidden & Limited List. As of the time of writing this article there's no new List in sight, but with YCS Toronto less than three weeks away we're running out of time to discuss, test, and start deciding on builds going into the first YCS of the new season.

The two new decks on the competitive scene are Metalfoes and Blue-Eyes. Both strategies saw intense play in the OCG so it shouldn't surprise anyone if they perform well here. They're both excellent, highly-competitive themes with huge potential going forward, and that's what makes them targets for this column.

But until we get word about a new F&L List it's hard to tell if they'll be rogue match-ups or the decks to beat. In the meantime the best we can do is plan out siding strategies against the new strategies in their current forms. We'll start that process this week with Blue-Eyes.

Bright, Shiny, New, And Floodgate-y
The new Blue-Eyes builds play several Level 1 Light Tuners, Level 8 Dragons, various Synchros, and a few Rank 8 Xyz. The bulk of the monster line-up revolves around landing both a Level 8 Dragon and a Tuner on the field to Synchro Summon Blue-Eyes Spirit Dragon. Sage with Eyes of Blue and The White Stone of Ancients are dual-purpose cards that can act both as Tuners and a way to field a Blue-Eyes. Sage is the deck's chief search card alongside Melody of the Awakening Dragon, and it's an especially convenient way to add Effect Veiler from your deck to your hand. It's no surprise that Sage's price has leapt to the highest price point we've seen from a core set Ultra Rare since Dimension of Chaos.

The White Stone of Ancients has taken on a new role since the release of Blue-Eyes Alternative White Dragon. You can banish The White Stone of the Ancients to add a Blue-Eyes card from your graveyard to your hand, allowing you to repeatedly use a single copy of Alternative so long as you have access to a copy of The White Stone of Ancients in your graveyard.

Blue-Eyes Alternative White Dragon is a powerhouse with a built-in targeted removal effect. It's the easiest way to get a Level 8 monster on the field for Synchro or Xyz plays. Alternative and a Level 1 Tuner easily make Blue-Eyes Spirit Dragon, while Alternative and a revival spell like Silver's Cry or Return of the Dragon Lords gets you a Rank 8. It's incredibly important to search Alternative in the early game, and it underscores why Melody of the Awakening Dragon is so important.

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The Blue-Eyes deck also has built-in spell and trap removal in the form of Dragon Spirit of White. Thanks to Cosmic Cyclone anyone can banish spells and traps, so some of Dragon Spirit's novelty is lessened by TDIL. However, its effect is a repeatable +1 that's also available on your opponent's turn with Silver's Cry or The White Stone of Ancients. It's one of the biggest threats to Pendulum strategies that would rather not burn resources trying to keep Dragon Spirit off the field.

Despite Dragon Spirit of White's excellent banish effect it's only the second-most effective Blue-Eyes card in Pendulum match-ups. If you're playing Blue-Eyes your #1 priority is Synchro Summoning Blue-Eyes Spirit Dragon, and if you're playing Pendulums it's exactly the opposite: getting Spirit Dragon off the field. Its effect prevents both players from Special Summoning multiple monsters at once, which means the maximum number of monsters you can Pendulum Summon at any time is exactly one. That's not a sustainable position to be in for more than a turn.

Even if you're not playing a Pendulum theme you might run into Spirit Dragon's graveyard negation effect. It's not a floodgate like its first effect, but if you can't get Spirit Dragon off the field it'll burn out your resources before long. Return of the Dragon Lords and Azure-Eyes Silver Dragon help Spirit Dragon stick around against destruction, targeting effects, and even battle. Non-targeting, non-destruction effects are the only consistent answers Spirit Dragon.

The Anti-Dragon Arsenal Returns
Remember the last time a Dragon theme was worth siding against. Luckily Blue-Eyes aren't nearly as strong as Dragon Rulers, but the deck's viability for competitive play makes it impossible to ignore. It's probably not the deck you'll end up siding heavily against, so we'll emphasize cards with high match-up utility.

Most floodgates will run head-first into Twin Twisters or Dragon Spirit of White. Hand traps are flexible options for this match-up that come in handy in various situations. While going second a Maxx "C" will usually persuade your opponent against Synchro Summoning Blue-Eyes Spirit Dragon on their first turn. The Blue-Eyes deck is loaded with Special Summons, and the strategy relies heavily on its Rank 8 toolbox to handle problem cards and defend set-ups. Maxx "C" will either stop those monsters from being Summoned, or give you more than enough cards to push past them.

One of the biggest drawbacks to Maxx "C" is its inability to provide real stopping power against an opponent willing to let you draw cards so long as you don't get a chance to use them. Blue-Eyes are certainly capable of pushing for huge damage early in the duel – exactly as you'd expect from a theme that's playing multiple 3000 ATK monsters. However, Maxx "C" can let you draw into hand traps that are much more potent. D.D. Crow and Ally of Justice Cycle Reader handily answer the many graveyard revival effects in the Blue-Eyes theme. Silver's Cry, Return of the Dragon Lords, and Azure-Eyes Silver Dragon resolve without effect if their target is banished.

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Ally of Justice Cycle Reader has twice the banishing power of D.D. Crow against Light themes, but it's relatively useless in other match-ups. It can't banish Return of the Dragon Lords either, so even in Blue-Eyes there's a possible reason to play Crow over Cycle Reader. Ultimately if you're choosing between one or the other your decision will come down to how much you value D.D. Crow in other match-ups. If you don't expect to side Crow elsewhere, just side Cycle Reader for this match-up.

If you can empty the graveyard against Blue-Eyes, do so. Deadening the deck's revival effects will limit your opponent's options and turn combo hands into brick hands. Cycle Reader gets you close, but something like Big Burn, Fiend Comedian, or Kycoo the Ghost Destroyer will get the remainder of the job done. Again, continuous floodgates are still incredibly vulnerable to Twin Twisters, so Dimensional Fissure and Macro Cosmos are risky. However, they'll absolutely help you win the match-up if you can keep them on the field. Just don't expect them to last long.

There's one more hand trap that Maxx "C" bring you closer to: Ghost Reaper & Winter Cherries. Ghost Reaper is a solid pick for the mirror that lets you banish your opponent's Blue-Eyes Spirit Dragons before they can banish yours. It's not quite the blow-out that it is against Burning Abyss, but it'll weaken the deck's opening plays and make it harder for them to lock out your Special Summons or graveyard effects. In the mirror Ghost Reaper can also be used to take out Azure-Eyes Silver Dragon or preempt a Rank 8.

It might be worth your time to run a copy of Spirit Dragon in your Extra Deck you're already siding Ghost Reaper and can afford the space. Otherwise, leave it for the mirror match.

Moving on, let's talk about monster-based floodgates. Surprising no one, Koa'ki Meiru Drago is really good here. It's essentially untouchable by your opponent outside of negation and destruction effects. Drago presents them with a card they'll need to answer with generic removal because nearly all of their themed outs are useless. 1900 ATK puts Drago out of range of any Main Deck Level 4 or lower monster. Their best bet is to negate its Summon or effect, destroy it with Raigeki or Dark Hole, or use Effect Veiler and Silver's Cry to field a monster while Drago is temporarily negated. Not exactly ideal options since Blue-Eyes builds are typically light on traps.

Vanity's Fiend works well here for largely the same reasons as Koa'ki Meiru Drago. Fossil Dyna Pachycephalo or a Barrier Statue are just small enough for your opponent to swing The White Stone of Ancients over them with Mausoleum of White. Much like Honest it's not a huge threat as most players won't be running ATK-boosting cards. However, Manju of the Ten Thousand Hands might ruin your day.

Proactive solutions to Blue-Eyes Spirit Dragon consist of all the usual favorites: Book of Eclipse, Kaijus, and Swords of Concealing Light are all excellent at turning off its effects for a turn. For Pendulum strategies those cards are likely all you need. A face-down 3000 DEF monster or Kaiju is incredibly easy to deal with. Keep in mind that attacking it while face-down will still let your opponent banish Return of the Dragon Lords to keep their Dragon alive. Metalfoes and Ritual Blue-Eyes decks like flipping monsters face-down to capitalize on the double piercing damage of Metalfoes Orichalc and Blue-Eyes Chaos MAX Dragon, so expect to see those cards show up in Side Decks for both themes.

Light-Imprisoning Mirror and Chaos Trap Hole are also worth looking at. Twin Twisters is obviously a threat to Light-Imprisoning Mirror more so than Chaos Trap Hole, but at least it can't be banished by Dragon Spirit of White. Chaos Trap Hole does an excellent job of stopping Summons and banishing Blue-Eyes, Tuners, and Synchro monsters. You always want to prioritize banishing monsters in this match-up to prevent them from coming back several times over the course of the duel. It's useless against Silver's Cry and Return of the Dragon Lords, but ideally Chaos Trap Hole will prevent your opponent from having targets in the first place. Most importantly it banishes Blue-Eyes Alternative White Dragon, Sage with Eyes of Blue, and Blue-Eyes Spirit Dragon.

Blue-Eyes are unfortunately badly positioned at the long end of a format where Dark and Light themes are already running rampant. Even cards that are currently sided for other match-ups, like Anti-Spell Fragrance, are solid picks against Blue-Eyes. There's a chance you're already siding cards for Blue-Eyes and won't need to adjust your Side Deck anyways. If not there are plenty of great options to choose from.

Until next time then

-Kelly