Dedicated Lightsworn decks and other strategies using a Lightsworn engine –especially Infernoids – are very competitive at the Regional level, and Iwouldn't be surprised to see a few decks like those Top 32 of a YCS, evenafter the release of Circuit Break. It's not just Charge of theLight Brigade pushing those strategies to the top tables; Minerva, theExalted Lightsworn plays a major role by offering mill, draw, anddestruction effects in one neat Rank 4 package. Its mass printing a fewmonths ago coupled with Charge's move off the F&L, combined with recenthits to Zoodiacs, Dinosaurs, and True Dracos, is driving up the popularityfor a pair of shockingly affordable strategies.
I want to discuss siding strategies for Lightsworn-heavy decks at somepoint, but for now I'd like to focus entirely on Fairy Tail - Snow. It'sone of the best cards of the format, and it's a total gamechanger when youropponent has a loaded graveyard; there are plenty of decks out there thatare crippled by its Book of Moon-like effect. For some strategies thebiggest threat in the deck isn't Minerva, Judgment Dragon, or any Infernoidcard. Instead, Fairy Tail – Snow's often the most dangerous monster in theentire deck.
Your Side Deck's at its best when you maximize the effectiveness andmatch-up utility of your sided cards. "Effectiveness" can mean a lot ofdifferent things: the stopping power of an individual card, its resilienceto removal, or how easy it is to search or put into play. You can alsoincrease the effectiveness of a sided card by targeting the biggest threatamong your opponent's cards. For example, True Dracos get extra mileagefrom Kaijus because they answer Beelze of the Diabolic Dragons – a cardthat's exceedingly difficult for them to remove from the field otherwise.
For others, that means siding cards specifically to handle Fairy Tail -Snow.
Keeping Snow Off The Field
Lightsworn, Infernoids, and some Zombie variants are loaded with cards thatdump monsters in the graveyard, but they'll inevitably toss plenty ofspells and traps into it too. Fairy Tail - Snow converts those non-monstermills into card economy and aggressive or defensive disruption withfrightening efficiency. Its high-utility effect can swing the duel aroundby locking the Extra Monster Zone and stomping momentum, all the whileproviding an excellent Level 4 material for Synchro, Xyz, and Link Summons.
There's no reason to let such a powerful card go unchallenged. Snow's costis steep: banishing seven cards might be cheap the first time, but as theduel goes on your opponent will have to make increasingly difficult choicesabout what to banish; you can make those choices harder by limiting theirmill effects or by negating Snow's activation, forcing them to bashinganother seven cards.
Which path you take largely depends on how much Snow's effect impacts yourown strategy. Will an unchallenged Snow impede the Summon of key Extra Deckmonsters? Will it stop a crucial OTK or combo? If so, you may want totarget Snow directly. Otherwise countering search, mill, and other effectswill probably be fine.
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For some strategies Snow can be the difference between a successful OTK andyour opponent living another turn. It's much-needed defense for Lightswornsand Infernoids – two decks that have historically struggled with findingthe right defensive cards to compliment their mill-heavy strategies. Yearsago Necro Gardna was a competitive option for Lightsworns, andElectromagnetic Turtle from two years ago still isn't a bad choice.
Fairy Tail - Snow is just so much better, and if you need to punch throughthat defense in a hurry you'll want a proactive way to take Snow out of thegame. Most of the time your opponent will end up milling it during theirEnd Phase, or loading it back into the graveyard after detaching forMinerva's effect.
Targeting banish effects and graveyard negation in the form of hand trapswill either force your opponent to bashish another seven cards or losetheir Snow Summon entirely. D.D. Crow is obviously a solid choice here tobanish it, but Skull Meister's negation is often just as good. Theimmediate result is usually the same: either Snow won't be Summoned, oryou've knocked out at least one of your opponent's Summons that turn. Butkeep in mind that D.D. Crow does edge out Skull Meister slightly if theduel goes on a bit longer; your opponent will eventually fill theirgraveyard again.
It's easy to make an argument for D.D. Crow this format given its match-uputility, but it does suffer from having a relatively weak impact on theduel. Banishing a single monster can make a difference, though itmight end up stuck in your hand for a while. Ally of Justice Cycle Readeris another option and trades utility against Infernoids for greatereffectiveness against Blue-Eyes, Lightsworns, and ABCs. Banishing twomonsters is a huge improvement even if it's limited to Light monsters. Youcan take out two Lightsworn names from your opponent's graveyard to delayJudgement Dragon, or set your opponent's ABC-Dragon Buster back a turn.
When a single Fairy Tail - Snow isn't enough to change the outcome of aduel these hand traps become phenomenal choices. When your opponent hasenough fodder in their graveyard and a single Snow is enough, thenyou'll need a floodgate to keep it off the field. You're looking for a cardthat can either put up some restriction on graveyard activations, or a cardthat prevents your opponent from banishing. Luckily there are plenty ofSide Deck options in both categories.
Necrovalley has amazing utility this format and counters nearly everystrategy outside of Pendulum Magicians. Paleozoics, ABCs, Infernoids, andLightsworns lose access to some important effects, and Necrovalley makesSummoning key Extra Deck monsters much more difficult.
Your opponent will actually need three monsters on the field to FusionSummon ABC-Dragon Buster, and Xyz Summoning Toadally Awesome will requirethree Water monster in hand including Swap Frog or some other SpecialSummon effect. Infernoids lose access to all of their Infernoid monsters,and Lightsworns won't be able to use Lumina, Lightsworn Summoner untilNecrovalley is off the field.
Most importantly Necrovalley keeps Fairy Tail - Snow stuck in thegraveyard, and for some strategies that's more than enough reason to sideit. The question is: where can you play Necrovalley this format? Some TrueDraco variants could pull it off, and Pendulum Magicians can easily forsakeBlack Fang Magician's effect. It's hard to justify anywhere else though,and since it's a Field Spell it's vulnerable to all the spell and trapremoval being played this format.
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You can also prevent banishing with Chaos Hunter and Kycoo the GhostDestroyer. Both monsters are relatively easy to play and Chaos Hunteritself can be chained to Snow's Special Summon. That's very handy for deckslooking to push for an OTK–the extra 2500 ATK is great, but the real prizeits continuous effect that prevents any more Snow Summons while it'sface-up. You can safely destroy Snow and continue attacking withoutworrying about it returning to the field. It's a great pick if you cansurvive a single Snow, but it's even better if you can Pendulum Summon itbefore the first Snow can activate.
The downside to monster-based floodgates is that a Normal Summoned Snow canflip them face-down and turn off their continuous effects. Keep that inmind when choosing between monster-based or spell and trap-basedfloodgates. Monsters are surprisingly fragile despite the presence of TwinTwisters, Lyla, Lightsworn Sorceress, and Infernoid Patrulea.
Light-Imprisoning Mirror, Soul Drain, and Forbidden Graveyard negate FairyTail - Snow while in the graveyard. Although it's not technically afloodgate, Debunk's nature as a Counter Trap will stop Snow in its tracksand banish it before it can activate again. Keep in mind that while Snowcan be Summoned by banishing cards on the field and in the hand it's stillunlikely that your opponent will actually do so. Card that prevent youropponent from banishing in the graveyard will stop Snow from being Summonedin a vast majority of situations.
Stopping Snow From Hitting The Graveyard
If Fairy Tail - Snow never ends up in the graveyard how can your opponentSummon it?
There are plenty of ways to negate monster and mill effects, but withCharge of the Light Brigade at three it's difficult to keep the graveyardtotally empty. Blanket-banishing effects like Macro Cosmos, DimensionalFissure, Banisher of the Radiance, and Different Dimension Ground have seena lot of play in past formats, but their current positioning is extremelyawkward. Only Different Dimension Ground can be feasibly played in currentstrategies, although Metaphys will be putting Macro Cosmos and DimensionalFissure back into play.
Ash Blossom & Joyus Spring is the go-to card of choice for negating themajority of mill effects in both Lightsworns and Infernoids. Theall-important That Grass Looks Greener is easily outed by Ash Blossom, andwhile it can't stop the three-card mill from Charge of the Light Brigade itcan negate its search effect. Ash Blossom can be chained to Solar Recharge,Reasoning, Monster Gate, and nearly all Lightsworn effects includingMinerva. It slows your opponent's engines to a crawl, and Snow becomes deadweight if they can't load their graveyard quickly.
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Other negation effects, like Light-Imprisoning Mirror and even EffectVeiler, can slow your opponent and prevent them from landing multiples ofseven in their graveyard. Again, when a single Snow isn't enough to changethe duel you don't have to pull out all the stops to keep it from beingSummoned. You just need to get your opponent to a point where they have tomake hard decisions about what to banish, and let their own Snow emptytheir graveyards.
At a recent Regionals I did exactly that: I forced my opponent torepeatedly Summon Snow to avoid game-ending damage to the point where hebanished all of his Lightsworns in the graveyard despite holding threeJudgement Dragons in his hand.
The OCG Limited Fairy Tail - Snow for a reason. I suspect we'll see it headthat way here in the TCG soon enough, but in the meantime there are plentyof Side Deck options to keep this reoccurring headache from bouncing up outof nowhere, flipping your monsters face-down, then being converted to anXyz, Link, or Synchro monster. It's the star player of current Lightsworndecks, and well worth siding for directly.
Until next time then
Kelly Locke is a West Michigangamer and writer. In addition to writing onTCGplayer, Kelly writes a personal blog covering Yugioh, Destiny, and otherhobbies. You can follow him on Twitter and check out his Youtube channel. He also studied marketing at Western Michigan University.