Crawling back from the depths of obscurity; the insect horde has once again returned. Inzektors, an archetype of Dark Insect-Type monsters, are taking plenty of wins at Regional events this month as players seem to be caught off-guard by their strength in the new format. Both the recent success and popularity of the deck came as a surprise to me. I certainly wasn't expecting to see Inzektors top multiple Regionals just two weeks into the format. But what's even more interesting is the lack of preparedness even after it was clear that Insects were once again a threat. Few players actually sided for the match-up even in the wake of its first big appearances, and others sided poor counters that ultimately lead to losing games they otherwise could have won.

There's a whole lot of hate against Light-based and Tenki-based strategies right now. Light-Imprisoning Mirror, Dust Tornado, and DNA Surgery are all hugely popular. Fire Fists are at their peak right now, and Bujin are about to get a whole new set of support next week in Legacy of the Valiant. Both are very susceptible to Dust Tornado and DNA Surgery, and both Constellar and Hieratics join Bujin in being vulnerable to Light-Imprisoning Mirror. There's a ton of cross-coverage elsewhere and plenty of Side Deck options have the utility to be played in lots of different match-ups. Harpies, Spellbooks, Madolche, and even Dark World are demanding you side cards against them to avoid being at a major disadvantage in Games 2 and 3.

Utility is probably the most important quality of your Side Deck cards right now. The more coverage across different match-ups the better. That said, it's easy to let a match-up slip through the cracks. Few players are siding for Inzektors, yet they're played enough to place in the Top 8 of Regionals. As usual, when a deck starts to see success it'll also draw more players to use it. Writing this article is reactionary: Inzektors will become an increasingly relevant match-up so long as players keep their Side Deck's attention elsewhere. There are some immediately obvious cards to side, and a few other not-so-obvious ones. Picking the right cards to counter the build you're playing against is tricky too.

A New Generation - Same Old Tricks
Inzektors have two powerhouse cards: Inzektor Hornet and Inzektor Dragonfly. Unfortunately for Inzektor players both monsters are currently Limited. Inzektor Centipede's deck-searching effect is absolutely crucial to making this strategy work, and as a result most builds are based around Summoning Centipede as quickly as possible. You can accomplish that in a variety of different ways; perhaps the simplest method is to use Pot of Duality alongside draw cards like Cardcar D, Reckless Greed, and Upstart Goblin. Maxx "C" also lends a hand in certain match-ups. The faster a player can get to a Centipede-Ladybug combo, the more consistent their deck will be. But sometimes simply drawing cards isn't enough, and alternatives are needed.

Insect Imitation turns Level 2 monsters into Level 3 Insects. It's a bit more useful than Transmodify, though it essentially serves the same purpose: summoning Centipede or Dragonfly from the deck. Tributing Inzektor Ladybug sets up a Centipede search or a Dragonfly play that can lead into a Rank 5 Xyz. While slightly less consistent, Insect Imitation offers a more precise way of getting the cards you want as opposed to trying to draw them. There's also Summoner Monk and Lavalval Chain to consider. Chain can dump Hornet into the graveyard or place Dragonfly on top of the deck. Monk makes getting to Chain a bit easier, and also grabs Armageddon Knight whose effect will kick in and yard an Inzektor target.

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While by no means a new strategy, Verdant Sanctuary has become a popular choice among Inzektor players this format. When an Insect is destroyed, Sanctuary searches Insects from the deck that are the same Level as the destroyed monster. It's more than a tool to search the Level 3 Centipede, Dragonfly, and Hornet: Sanctuary is the Inzektor version of Wind-Up Factory or Black Whirlwind. Howling Insect becomes a +1 each time it's destroyed by battle, grabbing another copy of itself while you search out an Inzektor monster. Maxx "C" can also be searched with Verdant Sanctuary when Ladybug or Gokipon are destroyed. This build can easily out-grind decks like Fire Fists and win a long drawn-out resource war.

When Dragonfly and Hornet hit the table together it's bad news for your field set-up. Hornet can destroy numerous cards while triggering the effects of Dragonfly and Centipede, leading to a massive accumulation of card advantage. What's worse is that this play is entirely repeatable. If you can't clear your opponent's field next turn, you'll still end up losing more cards to Hornet's effect the turn after. It's a pain to deal with, especially since a single Call Of The Haunted can quickly turn the tables in a duel that was previously in your favor. Side Decking makes a big difference in this match-up, and there are plenty of cards that shut Inzektor players out of the duel. Let's take a look at a few of them.

Exterminators
Shadow-Imprisoning Mirror is by far the most popular Side Deck choice against Inzektors. The reason why is blatantly obvious: it stops the deck from making all of its basic plays. Centipede, Ladybug, Dragonfly, and Hornet can't equip other Inzektor monsters to themselves while Mirror is on the field. If you aren't playing any Dark monsters yourself, it's essentially a one-sided Skill Drain that sends Inzektor monsters fleeing to the nearest piece of furniture to hide under. You can easily win games off this card alone, but there are alternatives if Continuous traps aren't your style.

Consecrated Light prevents Dark monsters from being Summoned and thus remains safe from Hornet's effect. In the meantime it'll keep your opponent from doing much of anything with their Inzektor monsters. However, Verdant Sanctuary builds will probably just grab an Earth Insect to run your card down. It's a bit specific, although Consecrated Light can also be played effectively against Blackwings and Evilswarms as well. Not convinced? Well imaging how Shadow Imprisoning Mirror fairs against Evilswarm Exciton Knight. Consecrated prevents your opponent from Summoning the Xyz Materials in the first place, while Mirror's powerless against the Light Attribute Exciton Knight.

D.D. Crow's tempting, but any time you banish Inzektor Hornet, Inzektors can easily Summon Leviair the Sea Dragon to bring it back. Because Dragonfly, Centipede and the rest don't target when they activate, you might end up banishing a Ladybug in their graveyard only to discover your opponent has another copy in their hand. The risk is too big, especially when there are better alternatives. Namely, The Transmigration Prophecy. While it also removes cards from the graveyard, it returns them to the deck rather than banishing them. This prevents your opponent from being able to use Leviair and continue their combos. Instead, they'll have to fetch the returned monsters back out of the deck once again. At times it's only a minor setback, but there are definitely situations where The Transmigration Prophecy can bring the deck's tempo to a grinding halt and buy you the time you need to win the duel.

On the topic of hand traps: Effect Veiler's great here. It negates the best Inzektor monsters when they try to activate their effects, and barring a face-down Call Of The Haunted there aren't many ways for your opponent to recover that turn. Forbidden Lance and Trap Stun are powerless in this situation, and they'll be put on the defensive for a turn. It's a great way to buy yourself some extra time while also exposing an Inzektor to destruction by battle. Again, Verdant Sanctuary builds can just recycle a negated monster, but it's better than losing to a play led by Trap Stun.

Verdant builds offer a lot of protection against common Side Deck cards and are very good at playing the resource war with Fire Fists, Spellbooks, Madolche, and Bujin. However, by incorporating additional search effects players open up a huge vulnerability to Mistake. Unlike Shadow-Imprisoning Mirror, Mistake can be destroyed by Hornet...assuming your opponent can get to it. Both Lavalval Chain and Armageddon Knight can dump Hornet in the graveyard and Dragonfly can summon it from the deck, but those plays are much more infrequent than Centipede or Verdant searches.

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Other usual Side Deck options work as well as you'd expect. Macro Cosmos is devastating, and while Dimensional Fissure can be played around it does force your opponent to abandon a few plays. Verdant builds lose to both cards fairly quickly. Banisher of the Radiance is also excellent here. 1600 ATK might not seem like much, but it's stronger than Centipede which means it'll be tough to remove. Similarly, Thunder King Rai-Oh's great in the early game, although it's a rather large Hornet magnet. Deck Lockdown prevents Centipede and Dragonfly from using their second effects. Finally, calling Inzektor Hornet with Prohibition not only keeps your spell safe, but it also prevents your opponent from destroying any of your cards with Hornet plays.

Inzektors might not have the longest competitive life ahead of them given how easy they are to side against, but they do have enough on-theme removal to punish poor Side Deck choices. Combining a Continuous Trap like Mistake or Shadow-Imprisoning Mirror with Consecrated Light or Effect Veiler is the best way to avoid losing to Trap Stun. It'll eat up precious Side Deck space, but those cards have a lot of match-up utility in the current format. Going back to my statement earlier: utility is the most important aspect of your sided cards right now. Keep your Game 2 and 3 strategy flexible, and it'll pay off in a big way.

Until next time then

-Kelly