Geargia has become one of the most popular decks in the format thanks to its obscene consistency. With so many players piloting it, it's no surprise that Geargia continues to turn up again and again in the Top 8 of Regional Qualifiers and National Championships. Let's face it: the deck's relatively low price and recent tournament success are incredibly enticing to players who are looking to put their invite to good use at the North American World Championship Qualifier. Among the many match-ups you're likely to face off against from now until the format comes to a close, Geargia will likely be your most important one simply because of the sheer number of players using it.

It's been a while since we've taken a look at Geargia in this column, and once again we're going to focus on a specific variant of the deck: Hand Geargia. The use of two Fire Hand and Ice Hand didn't reinvent the wheel for this strategy, but those cards do have an influence on the types of Side Deck picks that you'll want to play against it. Other new cards from Dragons Of Legend have had a similar effect, and it's about time we took a second look at the Geargia match-up.

The Stuff That Doesn't Work
I've spent a lot of time over the last few weeks talking about Debunk, and I'm of the opinion that it's the one of a few cards nearly everyone should be siding. Its match-up utility is incredible, and it's also an easy out to the Hands. That said, Debunk isn't perfect. One of its biggest weaknesses is that it's relatively weak against decks that are playing the Hands, but otherwise use only a few cards that activate in the hand or graveyard. Outside of Gear Gigant X you won't have many opportunities to use Debunk in the Geargia match-up. In fact, Geargia is one of the few decks that can forgo siding Debunk themselves. Dimensional Fissure, Macro Cosmos, and Soul Drain are more than enough to deal with Bujin, Mermail, and other graveyard-dependent strategies.

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It's always tempting to side System Down against any Machine theme, but you'll want to resist the urge here. Against any halfway-competent Geargia player you'll rarely have the opportunity to banish more than a couple of monsters. Even then, those monsters will usually be Gear Gigants that have already activated and resolved their effects. It's incredibly easy for your opponent to recover from System Down, and in a single turn it'll be as if you never activated it in the first place. That's not to say you can't turn the duel around with it, especially if your opponent's foolish enough to overextend and not end the game outright. In that one situation, System Down's devastatingly effective. But I'm extremely hesitant to side a card that simply doesn't work against a face-down Geargiarmor. There are better better options available.

Lastly: any trap you side is likely to be negated. Geargia builds are rarely playing less than a full set of Wiretap, and have even begun playing Seven Tools of the Bandit for even more trap negation. The most successful Sylvan builds at the ARG Circuit Series in Milwaukee took advantage of these trends and avoided using traps altogether. For some of the Geargia players in the Top 16, going up against a trapless deck would mean each copy of Wiretap or Seven Tools would be dead in Game 1.

That was a huge advantage for Edward Lee, who won the event with Sylvans, but forgoing traps isn't a viable option for every strategy. Instead, you can elect to side spells over traps whenever possible in this match-up. Thankfully there are a couple of great Side Deck cards that happen to be spells, and both are hugely effective against Geargia.

The Stuff That Works
Players are setting more monsters this format, and that's brought Nobleman of Crossout back into the game in a big way. Geargia Hands and their frequent sets are Nobleman's primary targets, but there are plenty of other match-ups where it can be a serious asset. Ghostricks, Evols, Gravekeepers, and other set-heavy themes are also vulnerable. Nobleman doesn't just destroy the set card either; it'll also banish whatever it hits. That's hugely important when playing it against the Hands, but it can be even more devastating when you hit a crucial Flip Effect Monster like Evoltile Westlo or Gravekeeper's Spy. In fact, Nobleman's effect was so strong in previous formats that it warranted a Limit. It ended up bouncing between Semi-Limited and Limited right up until 2009; it's remained Unlimited ever since.

Again: it's Geargia Hands that's mostly driving up Nobleman's popularity. Geargia will rarely open without a set Armor, which means Nobleman is almost always live. That said, I was hesitant to suggest it for this match-up in the past. After all, if your opponent can make even one Gear Gigant X before you can resolve a Nobleman, you'll find yourself drawing into useless spells. After Geargiagear's release I became very skeptical of Nobleman's playability, but that changed when Fire and Ice Hand made their way into Geargia builds. Because the Hands are frequently played face-down, they add a minimum of four extra targets for Nobleman. That's a huge boost to its utility in that match-up, and given Geargia's popularity it's no surprise to see that the spell has started showing up in Side Decks everywhere.

Nobleman's a proactive solution to a set monster that's ready to go as soon as you draw it. Unlike slower traps like Debunk and Dimensional Prison there's no delay between drawing and playing it. You can clear away a face-down monster and make your attacks with a sense of security, as opposed to either waiting a turn or risking your attack backfiring. There's another big advantage this card has over other Side Deck options: your opponent is extremely unlikely to have an out to it. Forbidden Lance can't protect a face-down monster and Wiretap is, well, useless against a spell.

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Mind Control has a lot in common with Nobleman, and they share a few of the qualities we looked at earlier. Both take advantage of set monsters. With Mind Control you can target a set Hand or Geargiarmor, identify which card it is, and then deal with it on your terms. With so many decks playing Rank 4 Xyz you'll almost never have to return the stolen monster to your opponent's field. Mind Control is also great against the Hands. You can easily defuse a set or face-up Hand by taking control of it, then overlay it with another Level 4 monster.

It's phenomenal in the mirror match, too. Taking your opponent's Geargiarmor and using its effect to grab a Geargia monster from your own deck is a straight +2. That kind of leap in card advantage, followed by a series of Xyz Summons, can quickly back your opponent into an unwinnable position. Not only are you undercutting their combos and defense, you're also using their cards as a springboard for your own plays. Mind Control has become a popular Main Deck choice in Geargia and Bujin lately, and if you're not already maining it you should definitely have it in your Side Deck.

Traptrix Trap Hole Nightmare's a searchable out to Gear Gigant X and a number of other Xyz. Similarly, Black Horn of Heaven negates Xyz Summons and keeps Gigant from ever hitting the field. There are plenty of differences between the two, so it's tough to recommend one over the other for general play. However, it's worth pointing out that Nightmare can and often will be played around by skilled duelists. Summoning Gigant and refusing to activate its effect that turn leaves Nightmare unable to activate. Playing around Horn is much more difficult, but it can't negate and destroy a Geargia Summoned through Geargiarsenal. There's definitely a trade-off you'll want to consider here.

Xyz Universe is totally awesome, and it happens to be great in this match-up. Gear Gigant X can't win games by itself, so Geargia players will usually need to pair it with at least one other Xyz Monster. Once another Rank 3 or 4 hits the field, Xyz Universe can scoop up those monsters and turn them into a Rank 7 or 8. Players are quickly catching on to how effective this card is, and some of them are even siding high-Rank monsters to make Universe live.

Gearing Up For The WCQ
You'll want to be very comfortable with your Geargia match-up heading into your WCQ. Bujin, Traptrix variants, and Lightsworns could be very popular over the weekend, but it's Geargia that will likely be the most-played deck. It's a consistent strategy that's perfectly suited for long tournaments, and that's going to be a big draw for players as they choose their decks to compete with.

At the Championship-level it's consistency and a number of solid match-ups among the format's biggest decks that make any strategy worth piloting. Geargia definitely fit that description, and whatever wins your Championship will have to fight its way through an army of Machines first.

Until next time then

-Kelly