Hello again, duelists! The Remote Duel scene's picking up some serious popularity, and that means competition is ramping up as well. If you're playing in Remote Duel tournaments, you can't expect to see nobody but your pals and their more casual strategies. Suddenly, duelists from all over are entering local tournaments they wouldn't be able to otherwise!

That's great because it means stores are getting more support from more than just their local area. It also means that as a player, you need to be primed and ready for some higher levels of competition; we're all looking to snag as many of those hot OTS 14 packs as we can get!

First and foremost, it's important to establish what we as duelists think the best decks of the format are. Personally, I feel that Dragon Link is easily the most powerful deck of the format. On top of the ridiculous combos they've had for a while, they can abuse Vylon Cube as well! Now suddenly, you're no longer safe to have cards like Forbidden Droplet and Dark Ruler No More. I'm going to lump the Infernoble deck into this as well because it's essentially the same thing for the purpose of Side Decking; it's another hard combo deck, which means many of the best answers will work against both strategies.

From there, the deck I respect the most after those two monsters is Dinosaurs. Anyone in a group chat, discord, or conversation with me knows how much I hate sitting down against this strategy, because it allows you as the Dino duelist to just ignore your opponent in ways that are simply unfair. I mention Dinosaurs before say, Invoked Dogmatika or Eldlich due to frequency of play. That's not to say you shouldn't respect those strategies if you encounter them frequently, it's that they're probably not as common in Remote Duel tournaments as they are in unofficial online dueling platforms. The actual cost of entry suddenly matters when you're playing the game with physical cards.

That's a huge part of Side Decking for a tournament like an OTS event. There's no reason to side for a deck you'll probably never play against, so the Side Deck "rules" that I'd typically follow for a larger tournament don't always apply here. Anyway, now that we've established the "Big 5" for the current format, let's dive into some key cards you'll want to have, so you can combat these mainstay strategies.

I'm not going to mention cards like Forbidden Droplet and Triple Tactics Talent because those are just extremely obvious, and really expensive. In fact, none of these cards will cost more than a few dollars!

Artifact Lancea

Let's kick it off with something super obvious. Unless you live under Niribu, the Primal Being you've probably noticed just how many of the best decks banish their cards to extend their plays. If not, I'll break it down for you. Dragon link uses the "baby Chaos Dragons" White Dragon Wyverburster and Black Dragon Collapserpent alongside cards like Chaos Dragon Levianeer in their key plays. Dinosaurs use Double Evolution Pill, Pot of Extravagance, and most importantly Miscellaneousaurus to achieve their Dino destruction. Invoked decks use Invocation and Eldlich uses theme-stamped traps and spells with banish effects to keep raking in free cards.

There's basically no matchup where Artifact Lancea won't shine. That's incredibly rare in a Side Deck card, so if you aren't including Artifact Lancea in your side you need to consider your decision very seriously.

Be careful though, I wouldn't recommend just slamming Artifact Lancea down on the table in your opponent's Draw Phase; you want to play around PSY-Framegear Gamma as much as possible, and try to maximize the value you get from your Artifact Lancea as well. If possible, wait to drop it until the choke point when your opponent would begin banishing cards, and get some sweet additional card advantage for your patience.

Droll & Lock Bird

Droll & Lock Bird

Another hand trap that rotates in and out of style, Droll & Lock Bird is poised to be a blowout once again. Many of the best decks are historically reliant on searching specific cards, which is why they're so consistent. Droll & Lock Bird is a great tool to shut that down. When Dragon Link uses Chaos Space or even their Striker Dragon, you can stop their extenders for the remainder of the turn. From there they aren't making their combo plays with free cards anymore, and it's suddenly way less efficient. That's great because the deck already struggles to grind out games.

Infernoble is much more resilient under the pressure of the Droll & Lock Bird, so I wouldn't really recommend it there; I'll recommend other options for you for that deck later on. As for the Invoked, it's famously the deck that can lose the hardest to Droll & Lock Bird depending on the composition of both players' hands. If you drop it on the resolution of Magical Meltdown and your opponent doesn't have PSY-Framegear Gamma, it's just DONE. Your opponent has to have hard drawn Invocation in their opening hand to continue in any meaningful way.

Similarly, Dinosaurs can struggle under a lucky resolution of Droll & Lock Bird. If you drop it post Pot of Extravagance and can protect it from PSY-Framegear Gamma (notice a trend?) you can limit their plays severely. You can also hold it and wait to see if they Fossil Dig for Animadorned Archosaur. If they do, then your Droll & Lock Bird will gain some extra value.

It's a tough card to use correctly and requires a secondary defensive card as well in most scenarios, but when it works it's usually massive.

Gnomaterial

Now we're getting to the good stuff! I've been extremely excited to see Gnomaterial every time it's been used in a meaningful way since its release last spring, in Dark Neostorm. While Droll & Lock Bird and Artifact Lancea can be effective going first or second, Gnomaterial a powerhouse exclusively useful when you're on the draw. It's particularly good at the beginning stages of most combos, and it's a simple, yet effective way to stall out the game for a turn and really punish your opponent.

For example, Gnomaterial can be truly turn-ending in the Dragon Link matchup if you're facing someone who isn't particularly careful with their zone placements. The center Main Monster Zone's actually the most important zone in the entire turn for the Dragon player if they don't have Red-Eyes Darkness Metal Dragon. That's because regardless of which side of the game mat you want to do your combos, you'll need the center column to be free in order to do the full suite of Guardragon plays. That's great because many players don't really consider the ramifications of where they're placing their first cards, and can be utterly shut down because of it.

Similarly, a well-timed Gnomaterial is really powerful against Infernobles if you get a read on their hand as being weak on extenders, and you can just slam Gnomaterial down to shut out plenty of silly plays. Unfortunately it doesn't really shine in the other Big 5 matchups, but that's okay. It's a niche card that creates blowout scenarios against two of the best decks of the format when it does resolve.

Summon Limit

Full disclosure: I'm including this card only because I love flipping it and watching the light leave my opponent's eyes. It's like watching a candle being blown out. Anyway…

Like Droll & Lock Bird, Summon Limit one of those cards that's only ever fashionable for a time before it rotates back out of competition. With good reason, too: it's extremely easy to deal with, when it's respected. But that respect is key. If you're not expecting your opponent to side Summon Limit against you, and they're playing say... Invoked Shaddoll or something, you won't necessarily be concerned with their face-downs. So when your opponent suddenly flips it on you mid combo and you're sitting there with stars swimming in your vision while your opponent laughs and shotguns an energy drink, it's a rough time.

Seriously though, you can just end turns with a well-timed Summon Limit, and that's after setting up your own turn. If you played back in the days of Tele-DAD (I'm giving you all some strong indicators of how old I am) you know the utter horror of seeing a Royal Oppression flipped up after your opponent sets up multiple large bodies.

Same concept, new era.

Gardarla, the Mystery Dust Kaiju

The final entry is one that I'm hesitant to include, but I feel it needs some love.

There's been a surge of Dinosaur decks with Barrier Statue of the Stormwinds online, and I'm not quite sure why. The deck's already incredibly powerful, but it's prone to awkward and bricky hands. Yet some duelists out in the world swear that it's the way to go.

Are they right? Maybe. That said, it's likely atrocious and cheesy. Unfortunately you can't ignore it so here we are.

Another funny recent trend is Gizmek Uka, the Festive Fox of Fecundity played with Barrier Statue of the Torrent. Keep an eye out for both, as they can cripple entire games. Luckily, the Dinosaur player is weaker to Dark Ruler No More and Forbidden Droplet so I wouldn't worry as much. Still, if it catches you off guard, you're going to have a bad time.

The lovely thing about the Kaiju cards is their utility across the board. There isn't really a match-up outside of Mystic Mine burn that they're not useful in. So keep a few close by.

That's it for me today, I'll catch you all next week! I'm officially taking submissions for my upcoming deck doctor column, so if you want an assist please send your lists in to YGOinfinitedoctor@gmail.com along with an explanation of the deck, how it plays, and why you like it. You might get picked! And be sure to follow me over on Twitter as well.