There's really only two questions remaining: which Zoodiac variant will be best-suited to win the WCQ, and will Pendulum Magicians have an impact?
The first question is incredibly boring if you're not deeply invested in the back-and-forth discussions around the 38th, 39th, and 40th card in the tried-and-tested Zoodiac build. Build diversity among Zoodiac players is dropping, although there's still the occasional duelist going all out with an innovative mash-up. Players are serious about scoring their invite to the WCQ as opportunities dwindle, and World Qualifying Points encourage winners to keep attending events. If it weren't for Zoodiacs we'd probably be seeing many more fifty-card decks with True Kings and Dragonic Diagram. Unfortunately Zoodiacs are that powerful and remain the go-to choice for duelists who want to rack up points.
It's been a while since I've written about Zoodiacs specifically, and since then a new variant has emerged: True Draco Zoodiacs. The TCG followed the OCG closely, although we're seeing Kaijus much more in the Side Deck than the Main Deck. True Draco Zoodiacs have about tied with pure builds in terms of Regional tops the past few weeks, but the June 12th changes might make it the superior build. Either way, both decks require slightly different siding approaches. Specifically, you need an answer to Master Peace, the True Dracoslaying King and its entourage of support cards.A True Master Peace
Keep in mind that one of the strengths of the Zoodiac deck is its ability to play through disruption. You generally have three ways to get a combo started: Normal Summoning a Zoodiac, Summoning one through M-X-Saber Invoker, or using Zoodiac Barrage to Special Summon a monster from the deck. Generally you can use each method on the same turn, but that's changing on June 12th. Without Speedroid Terrortop it's harder to make Invoker without burning your Normal Summon. Using Instant Fusion and Elder Entitty Norden to recover a fallen Zoodiac is out of the question too.
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Master Peace makes it that much more difficult to get your plays started, and it's built-in immunities let it survive mass removal, negation, and monster effects depending on how it was Tribute Summoned. True King's Return can put Master Peace on the field during your turn, and Return's effect will also destroy a monster. That's a lot of targeted removal packed into a single Summon, and you can also trigger Return by destroying it with Dragonic Diagram. True Draco Heritage can be activated the same way, which means Diagram can effectively take out floodgates of any kind.
Dragonic Diagram itself is stupidly strong. It has an incredible search effect that activates the True King spells and traps as well as Baobaboon, the go-to Rank 3 engine most likely to replace Speedroid Terrortop. Diagram's presence gives the deck even more search power, but it also makes the strategy more spell-heavy and increases its vulnerability to certain floodgates. It might solve Flying "C" and other cards that can be destroyed through True Draco Heritage and True King's Return, but there are plenty of ways to exploit those deck building decisions.Mixing The Best Zoodiac Counters With Answers To True Dracos
Beyond the most obvious set of cards you're probably already siding, Magic Deflector is another great pick for this specific match-up. It's a chainable negation trap that stops all non-Normal Spells from resolving successfully, and its utility against True Draco Zoodiacs warrants serious consideration. You'll be putting a one-turn moratorium on Zoodiac Barrage, Fire Formation - Tenki, Twin Twisters, Cosmic Cyclone, True Draco Heritage, and the all-important Dragonic Diagram. Its coverage hits a nearly every relevant card in the match-up, including a few extremely important Zoodiac and True Draco engine components.
Magic Deflector won't stop a Zoodiac Summon on its own, and it won't keep you safe from Zoodiac Drident. It's also not an answer to Instant Fusion for the short time that it remains relevant. On the other hand, stopping Zoodiac Barrage and Fire Formation - Tenki might put a Zoodiac monster out of your opponent's reach for a turn, and with Dragonic Diagram also disabled it could be hard for them to put anything meaningful on the field. For a deck that's geared towards leveraging monsters on the field as their first, and sometimes only, line of defense, losing the ability to search anything to Summon is a real problem.
Magic Deflector's biggest drawback is its near-uselessness against a developed field. It's hard to justify siding it in when you're going second. You might find its impact diluted if you can't stop a Zoodiac Normal Summon, so pairing it with another trap or a hand trap is definitely necessary. Lastly, you'll want to capitalize on Deflector immediately. If you give your opponent the chance they'll resume their usual plays on the following turn, effectively wiping away what little time Deflector bought you.
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There are a few more options for stomping out Dragonic Diagram. Cosmic Cyclone has picked up in play as a counter to both Diagram and True King's Return. You can chain Cosmic Cyclone to Return's Tribute Summon effect to prevent your opponent from Summoning Master Peace on your turn. Since you're banishing Return its destruction effect won't activate. Cosmic Cyclone performs best as a bit of insurance as you head into your opening play after starting second. When you know True King's Return is set and ready to go there are very few cards you'd rather have on-hand than Cosmic Cyclone.
Imperial Order is already strong against spell-heavy strategies, and the True King engine adds many more spells than traps. Unfortunately your opponent can take it out with Zoodiac Drident or by sending True Draco Heritage to the graveyard, but the latter isn't too likely. If Imperial Order hits the field early enough it'll stop Dragonic Diagram, crush the True Draco engine's consistency, and leave your opponent scrambling to field Drident to unlock their spells again. Of course, that's the best possible outcome. Your Imperial Order is likely to be instantly targeted by spell and trap removal immediately after it's activated.
Magic Deflector, Cosmic Cyclone, Twin Twisters, and Imperial Order all compete for limited Side Deck slots against Magic Deflector. You'll find spell and trap removal just as frequently in Main Decks for the same reasons why Deflector is so useful. That said, Deflector solves the problem of multiple Dragonic Diagram in a way that Cosmic Cyclone can't match. A banished Diagram usually just makes room for another one. A negated Diagram can't simply be replaced.
Imperial Order operates similarly, but it's vulnerable to removal. Magic Deflector is the safest way to ensure Diagram does not and will not resolve that turn.
Mask of Restrict, Mistake, Anti-Spell Fragrance, Fog King, and other floodgates have varied mileage and depend largely on whether or not you can keep them safe from Zoodiac Drident, Cosmic Cyclone, and Raigeki. Ghost Ogre & Snow Rabbit remains a top Main Deck pick this format due to its utility, and True Draco Zoodiacs have a lot to lose to it. Ash Blossom & Joyous Spring also hits numerous cards in the deck, but both hand traps are vulnerable to your opponent simply having two Dragonic Diagrams at their disposal. With three copies of the Field Spell and three Terraforming it's very likely they'll have another way to search for a True Draco or True King card.
Offensively you can play both Forbidden Chalice and Forbidden Lance. Lance is especially interesting because it can protect your monsters from True King's Return. A spell-immune Master Peace can shrug off either card, but there are a few situations where Lance can drop its ATK low enough for it to be defeated in battle. Typically your opponent will use a trap and monster as tributes to get the ATK boost from Dragonic Diagram. Forbidden Lance counters this strategy by not only dropping Master Peace's ATK, but also robbing it of Diagram's ATK boost.
Keep in mind that the Side Deck cards that work best against True Draco Zoodiacs are not necessarily the same ones that play best against Demise True Dracos. You'll want to side slightly differently for each match-up unless you really don't have the space to dedicate to True Dracos. If that's the case you might want to make room anyway unless your match-up is somehow amazing. We'll talk more about the pure True Draco build before the WCQ.
Until next time then
Kelly Locke is a West Michigan gamer, writer, and college student. In addition to writing on TCGplayer, Kelly writes personal blog covering Yugioh, Destiny, and other hobbies. You can follow him on Twitter and check out his Youtube channel. He is currently studying marketing at Western Michigan University, and hopes to graduate before D ragon Ravine is Unlimited.