If you pay attention to the OCG at all you probably caught their latest Forbidden and Limited List announcement for January 1st. It's a short list of changes, moving just three cards to the Forbidden section: Number 16: Shock Master, Performage Plushfire, and Performage Damage Juggler. Personally I'm shocked (no pun intended) that Shock Master stuck around in the OCG as long as it did. Even Tellarknight Ptolemaeus, and by extension Outer Entity Azathoth, hit the Forbidden List before Shock Master did.

The highlights of the OCG changes are the Performage forbiddings. To be clear: those hits don't make the engine unplayable. Performage Trick Clown, Lavalval Chain, and numerous Breakers of Shadow cards are keeping Performages relevant in the OCG. Although it's not quite in the context of the immediate discussion, it's worth noting that Wisdom-Eye Magician is also Limited in the OCG. However, it wasn't hit in response to Magician Pendulums as a standalone strategy. Instead, Wisdom-Eye was Limited because Performage players had teched the Magician engine into their builds. Sound familiar? It's exactly what's happening right now in Magician Performage hybrids here in the TCG.

Comparing those changes to our game yields some interesting results. First, our Forbidden and Limited List makes no attempts to cull the ridiculous power of current Pendulum strategies. The only Pendulums that've found their way onto the TCG F&L List are Qliphorts. Luster Pendulum, the Dracoslayer; Performage Plushfire; Performage Damage Juggler; and Wisdom-Eye Magician are all unlimited here. Plushfire and Damage Juggler, which form the backbone of the Performage Pendulum strategy, are outrageously powerful and deserve a place on the Forbidden List. Unfortunately, there's a good chance we won't see any changes to those cards until March, and even then it probably won't be enough to stop the deck from dominating.

The possibility of a single-deck format as early as next month is a real fear for the TCG. Even now, Performages are arguably the most popular deck in the game. Their success over the last two months was a surprise for me; I fully expected Kozmos to be the undisputed deck to beat until Structure Deck: Master of Pendulum arrived. Performages are flexible, consistent, and incredibly explosive. Turn 2 OTK's from Kozmos and Performages have defined the aggressive nature of this format. If you're competing at any level of competition, knowing how to win the Performage match-up is essential.

Raising The Curtain
Distinguishing between Performage Pendulums and Magician Pendulums is difficult. The two decks have become blurred together over the last few weeks, so decks with eight Magicians and nine Performages are often being labeled as Magician Pendulums. The terminology for these strategies will end up being refined again and again over the next three weeks until Breakers of Shadow adds a third theme to this deck chimera: Performapals. I'm reminded of the HAT decks of 2014, and the questions we asked about the naming conventions of the time. Would you call a Traptrix-Artifact hybrid HAT if it didn't play Fire Hand or Ice Hand? What if those cards were sided instead?

Naming conventions aside, I think Performage Pendulums are a spiritual successor to the HAT strategies of old, and a descendent of the now-ancient Plant Synchro builds from 2011. The same deck building ideology of HAT and Plant Synchro shows up in Performages – that is, playing a collection of the best possible cards in the same deck. We saw this crop up briefly last year with Burning Abyss and Shaddoll hybrids, but Performage Pendulums are much more consistent and explosive than last year's model.

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Performage Plushfire steals the show, acting as a Lonefire Blossom, Artifact Sanctum, Tour Guide From the Underworld, or Graff, Malebranche of the Burning Abyss-style card that can Special Summon any other Performage monster from the deck. Its interaction with Luster Pendulum, the Dracoslayer can be fairly described as "busted." There are almost no restrictions on its monster effect, allowing you to activate it as many times per turn as you'd like. That's great if you're playing the deck yourself, and decidedly less so if you're matched up against it. Destroying Plushfire with Luster Pendulum nets you two cards, immediately scoring a +1 and loading a monster into your Extra Deck. You're also set up for a Rank 4 Xyz Summon using Performage Trick Clown or Performage Damage Juggler.

King of the Feral Imps plays a role similar to Gear Gigant X in this deck, searching out Tuners like Masked Chameleon and X-Saber Palomuro; Pendulums for building Scales, like Peformapal Lizardraw and Performapal Partnaga; or another Rank 4 material in the form of Jigabyte. The remainder of the Extra Deck's designed to deal with threats on the field. Castel, the Skyblaster Musketeer, Diamond Dire Wolf, and Ignister Prominence, the Blasting Dracoslayer have a huge range of coverage. Ignister Prominence is simply amazing here, especially when its effect is used to destroy Plushfire.

The Pendulum Magician side to this strategy adds a more consistent way to establish Pendulum Scales through Pendulum Call, as well as more cards to feed Rank 4 plays. Wisdom-Eye Magician quickly adds more Level 4 monsters into the Extra Deck while building a larger Pendulum Scale than Performages are usually capable of. The more inclusive Scale makes it easier to play Majespecter Unicorn - Kirin, which can return Performapal Skullcrobat Joker back to the hand to reuse its effect.

Performapal Pendulum Sorcerer's on its way in Breakers of Shadow, but for now your siding tactics don't need to consider it. Emphasis on "for now." Still, preparing for the Performage match-up is still hugely important this format. Let's check out some of the cards that make this this deck work harder to be successful and also make your job a lot easier.

The Show Must (Not) Go On
It's not imperative that we stick to Side Deck cards that can't be removed by Rank 4s', but anti-Xyz floodgates are definitely better positioned for this match-up. Chief among those is Flying "C", which you can Special Summon following a Pendulum Summon to limit your opponent's access to their Extra Deck. Performages aren't playing Rank 3's in any form, so their best outs are Level 7 Synchro plays using Masked Chameleon. That said, they're usually not playing Level 7 Synchros anyways, and even if they are, Flying "C" prevents them from Summoning King of the Feral Imps to search a Tuner. You can still lose to PSY-Framelord Omega or Ignister Prominence the Blasting Dracoslayer after resolving Flying "C", and even Red Dragon Archfiend' rel="https://yugioh.tcgplayer.com/db/WP-CH.asp?CN=Scarlight Red Dragon Archfiend">Scarlight Red Dragon Archfiend's an out to the lock. However, that assumes they already have Masked Chameleon in hand.

Magician hybrids are a much better equipped to deal with Flying "C". They can tribute it to Summon Oafdragon Magician or Dragonpit Magician, or use Dragonpulse Magician's Pendulum effect to destroy it. Majespecter Kirin, Archfiend Eccentric, and Dark Hole also answer Flying "C" in their own way. Timing's everything here. If you can get Flying "C" on your opponent's field after they've Normal Summoned and Pendulum Summoned, you might lock them out of all available Monster Card Zones for a turn. Or, their Pendulum Summon could fill up their Zones and leave your Flying "C" dead in hand.

Other hand traps besides Flying "C" are strong in this match-up. Effect Veiler, Maxx "C", and Ghost Ogre & Snow Rabbit all have their uses. Of course, it's Maxx "C" that gets the most attention. Performages depend heavily on their combo chains, which usually involve a large number of Special Summons that go well beyond their Pendulum Summon. Making a single Xyz or Synchro Summon when starting with an open field requires at least two Special Summons, and Performages aren't like to stop there. Maxx "C" forces their plays to end prematurely, and gives you a chance to end the game on your terms.

The biggest advantage Maxx "C" imparts to players is its ability to bring you closer to hand traps on your opponent's turn. If your first draw gifts you with Flying "C", you can apply a hard stop to their plays. The same can be said for Effect Veiler or Ghost Ogre. Veiler probably won't see a lot of play until BOSH drops, but in the meantime Ghost Ogre happens to be excellent against Performages. The Pendulum Spells are considered Continuous Spells, which means their effects can be nullified through destruction. If you chain Mystical Space Typhoon or Wavering Eyes to Luster Pendulum, the Dracoslayer or Wisdom-Eye Magician neither effect will resolve successfully. Ghost Ogre does the same, and it's available on either turn without committing a card to field.

Moving on from hand traps we'll take a look at some of the stronger continuous floodgates, including Anti-Spell Fragrance and Stygian Dirge. Once again it's impossible to ignore Anti-Spell Fragrance's sheer effectiveness against Pendulum themes, but it doesn't perform nearly as well in this match-up compared to Majespecters. Performages aren't quite as dependent on their Pendulum Scales, and can make Castel or Diamond Dire Wolf at the drop of a hat...with Performage Hat Tricker or Jigabyte.

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Stygian Dirge ends the threat of Xyz and Synchros by lowering the Levels of all your opponent's monsters by one. It's a smart pick for decks like Kozmos or Infernoids where Levels are irrelevant, or even beneficial. For Performages, extra monster Levels are neither of those things. As long as Stygian remains active they'll be stuck with a group of weak, self-replacing monsters and few options for aggressive plays. That's the position you want to put your opponent in regardless of your match-up, although Performages can hold their own against an onslaught of attacks. It's still not a viable long-term strategy for them, but it can buy time until they draw an out.

Monster-based floodgates like Naturia Beast, Mechanical Hound, Vanity's Fiend, and Majesty's Fiend are all excellent choices. Each of them gives a different sort of coverage against your opponent, so you'll have to do some testing to figure out which ones – if any – complement your strategy. Performages are just as frail as any other Pendulum strategy, even if parts of their Scale happen to replace themselves. Trying to put a lock on an extremely flexible deck might not give you the results you're looking for, but stalling out your opponent is still a viable tactic in an OTK-heavy format. It's even better when you're still looking for an answer to one of their sided cards, or biding your time as you wait for a counter to a potential Wavering Eyes.

Lastly, we can take a quick look at Grand Horn of Heaven. Cards lost to the graveyard in Performages usually aren't lost forever, especially with Performage Trick Clown and Oafdragon Magician available. Still, knocking out a multi-card Pendulum Summon is game changing, even if you're giving your opponent a card in exchange. Plushfire won't trigger when it's destroyed by Grand Horn, so you're safe there. It's an excellent response to Ignister Prominence, so if you can't afford to let it resolve then Grand Horn might be your ideal Side Deck choice.

This match-up might seem hard now, but it's nothing compared to what we'll be up against after January 15th.

Until next time then


Kelly Locke is a West Michigan gamer, writer, and college student with too much free time on his hands. Besides playing Yugioh, Kelly posts Let's Play videos of Minecraft on his Youtube channel and plays a possibly unhealthy amount of Destiny. He is currently studying marketing at Western Michigan University, and hopes to graduate before Dragon Ravine is Unlimited.