Of all the volatile changes that the Yu-Gi-Oh! TCG's gone through over the years, one of the things that's been relatively constant is the average lifespan of a monster on the field. A long time ago when things were just getting started, a combination of factors all contributed to monsters rotating off the field rather quickly: a huge lack of defensive backrow; Raigeki running around; Change of Heart with Tribute Summoning; Dark Hole; Man-Eater Bug, and a number of other factors were all over the place.

Eventually Sakuretsu Armor, Bottomless Trap Hole, Dimensional Prison and other reactive backrow came out, and the availability of monsters with built-in destruction picked up. Judgment Dragon and Dark Armed Dragon nuked things with an authority that nothing could match for a long time, then Black Rose Dragon found itself in every Extra Deck on the planet. Even today it almost feels like cards that destroy monsters are so readily available and common that they're not even interesting unless they offer something else on top.

Hand-in-hand with that, draw power isn't anything new to the game; Pot of Greed and Graceful Charity were in the mix from the beginning, and now it's pretty standard for most archetypes to end up with a themed draw card. Six Samurai United, Karakuri Anatomy, Sylvan Charity, Solar Recharge and Rare Value all come to mind, but there are some that encompass entire monster types and attributes. Nearly all of those cards involve discarding or trading away something of value to the respective theme in exchange for the cards you get from your deck, and virtually none of them offer you any actual additional card economy. Now that we've got Super-Starter: Space-Time Showdown we have a new draw card that embraces some of those older ideals, with a bit of a twist: Supply Squad.

Drawing On Inspiration
Supply Squad shares a fair number of design elements with other cards, but wraps them up into a package that isn't like anything we've seen before. Generic draw power in the form of a continuous spell's been done a few times, either resulting in comically bad commons or Forbidden & Limited List bait. Look at Shard of Greed or 7, and you'll see that waiting around to draw cards later isn't anything special; if you aren't getting a return on your investment rather quickly, it's not doing you any good – it actually might as well be a straight-up -1 until you start generating cards from it. With Mystical Space Typhoon unlimited right now and a myriad of cards that blow things up seeing play all over the game, you're usually only looking at a 1-for-1 on Shard.

7's only a break-even if you draw all three copies, so I mean… there's that.

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On the other end of the spectrum, there's Mirage of Nightmare's insane +4 that you can exploit by kicking it off the field with absolutely any removal. Black Rose Dragon after drawing leaves you in a great position, MST wouldn't be the worst, Double Cyclone could result in some serious hilarity. There's Evilswarm Exciton Knight, too, but you'd have to be down an awful lot of cards to shoot out the field after drawing until you had four in hand. There was no way Mirage could be left in the game lending that kind of game-breaking draw power to whatever deck you happened to be running.

The main difference between Supply Squad and any other draw spell is that there's no limit to the amount of cards you can pick up with its effect, with no consequence whatsoever. Mirage of Nightmare was a once per turn effect, but you had to drop as many cards as you drew before you got a chance to use them for anything, so it became a use-and-ditch spell in practice. Six Samurai United, Shard of Greed and that kind of thing each hand out two cards and no more, since they eliminate themselves from the field. Supply Squad gives you a draw every single turn when one of your monsters dies, regardless of whose turn it actually is, with no loss or trade of card presence. If you draw three cards, that's it – you got three free cards.

There are a few field-wipers in the mainstream tournament scene right now, between Judgment Dragon, Exciton Knight, and Black Rose Dragon, but the majority of cards that destroy your monsters won't blow away your backrow. Since your Supply Squad's typically not at risk of destruction at the same time as your monsters, your card presence becomes tremendous for essentially no investment overall. Being compensated for every lost monster drives you forward very passively as you go about playing the game like normal. On top of that, multiple copies of Supply Squad will all stack, netting you as many as three cards each turn.

More than anything else, Supply Squad's real strength is generating situations where your opponent feels disgusted to attack, since they'll be handing out free cards in the exchange. Once you've taken away any incentive to use the battle phase, you'll find that your monsters stick around longer and you're free to breath easy for a few turns while your opponent figures out how to tackle Supply Squad first. It's sort of like a battle-floodgate in that way, though it won't always deter everyone.

Romanticizing the idea of infinite free cards can be a dangerous thing, since most duelists' eyes roll back into whatever symbol free cards would be represented by at the very thought – mine definitely did. In practice, you'll usually only draw one or two cards per copy before you lose them to Mystical Space Typhoon, Ice Hand, or a field-nuker. Even then, that still means you're breaking even or going +1 on each copy through their own effect and forcing your opponent to dump resources into clearing them away. Every time your opponent jams cards into removing Supply Squad from the field, you're making sure those resources don't remove more important backrow or monsters you want to keep alive.

Public Group
There are some monsters that you can use Supply Squad with to generate an even stronger presence, since this format's unique pool of self-replacing monsters is pretty wide. Ice Hand and Fire Hand come to mind immediately, since they replace themselves and take cards from the field at the same time. Losing a Hand in battle's already a +1 for you, but Supply Squad basically dares your opponent to try and come at your field and eat -2's every time they attack. Last week, I talked about how Fire Hand was a natural check to Goyo Guardian, and how big that was this format (here's a link in case you missed it); Supply Squad changes that check into an aggressive counter-strategy, letting you ram Fire Hand into things even more effectively than you already could. Luckily, most decks that use the Hands also play other monsters, and wouldn't you know that's exactly what Supply Squad happens to use as draw fuel?

Despite the generic nature of Supply Squad, and the fact that nearly every single deck ever made by anyone has at least some monsters in it, it's still not necessarily an auto-splash for everything. Of course alternate win condition decks like Chain Burn, Exodia and Final Countdown aren't going to use it, since the monsters in those decks are either going to be living in your hand indefinitely or can't be destroyed by normal means. Metaion, the Timelord and Cyber Valley are both good examples, since they either bounce or banish themselves and have some mild protection from destruction one way or another; the others like Exodia piece and Swift Scarecrow just aren't going to be dying most of the time.

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You probably won't want to jam Supply Squad into certain faster decks, like Mermails or Infernity. Those strategies operate at a pace that just doesn't make sense for Supply Squad, since they're attempting to run through you so fast that Supply Squad would actually force them to hold back and wait for their monsters to die. Outside of Abyss-sphere, most Mermails aren't going to be dying if things are going according to plan, and Infernities lay down two or three Infernity Break and an Infernity Barrier to keep every possible threat out of their face.

That said, you can put Supply Squad to work in more than just Traptrix Hand Artifacts (HAT). Supply Squad needs monsters to funnel cards into your hand, and Madolche have the most reliably recurring monsters thanks to Madolche Chateau's constant resupply. Even if the monsters are getting spun back into your deck, Madolche Magileine, Madolche Hootcake, and Madolche Anjelly all speed through your deck so efficiently that drawing a few extra cards should dig you to another monster most of the time. Regardless of Supply Squad's nature as a combo piece requiring at least one other card to do anything, it's such a vague and easy requirement that it'll practically never be dead.

I've been testing a lot of Bujins lately between my locals and late-night gaming sessions with friends, and Supply Squad's pretty ridiculous in that deck. There are lots of times where your opponent's going to have three or four backrow that you'll need to safely push through if you want to get anywhere for the rest of the game, and making a Tsukuyomi' rel="https://yugioh.tcgplayer.com/db/WP-CH.asp?CN=Bujintei Tsukuyomi">Bujintei Tsukuyomi with Supply Squad active is the end-all answer; you won't be hitting for as much damage, but you can freely swing in with no consequence thanks to Supply Squad's draw and Tsukuyomi's two-Bujin refund on being removed from the field. If you're worried about Dimensional Prison or something, just go into Tsukuyomi and swing away. Supply Squad's really effective at correcting those hands where you'll have to open by setting Bujingi Hare or Bujingi Turtle and hope for the best, too. With three Bujin Yamato and three Fire Formation – Tenki you'll open with one of them more often than not, but Supply Squad helps you dig down for them as needed.

Topping Off
The fact that Supply Squad's generic, universally available draw power with no limit or restriction to when you have to stop drawing, yet also not an automatically broken 3-of in everything, says something about the card design at work here. Or it says something about the ridiculous speed of the game right now, but I'd rather think that the card's just designed in a hyper-balanced way. Glass half full, you know. As draw power, battle-repellant, and resource-soaks, Supply Squad's essentially an all-in-one bundle with no cost and only the possibility to improve your economy. The odds of having a dead Supply Squad in your opening hand are pretty low, since you'd have to have zero playable monsters for it to be useless.

Is there a particular deck you've been wanting to use Supply Squad in? There's certainly no format-restriction on it, and it can help a lot of underwhelming casual-level decks keep their hand size up against more mainstream threats, so there's plenty of room for testing and discovery. How do you feel about the speed of a deck compared to the effectiveness of Supply Squad? Are some strategies just too fast to benefit from what would otherwise look like a card designed to win the grind game? More draw power's never a bad thing, and I think most people would agree with that. I'd expect it to become popular pretty quickly, so don't be surprised if we start seeing it in serious competition over the coming weeks.

-Beau