To TCG duelists the Japanese OCG sometimes seems like a crystal ball: a preview of the future of competitive play in our version of Yu-Gi-Oh. I've written about the differences between the OCG and the TCG before, and the key takeaway from that article is that both games are now too disparate to expect the TCG to follow in the OCG's footsteps.
If you're relatively new to the game you might not know that the TCG and OCG once had nearly identical Forbidden & Limited Lists, and as a result we also had similar competitive scenes. Those days are far behind us now, but that hasn't stopped players from expecting their favorite decks to get a serious boost from a handful of upcoming OCG-only cards.
For the most part the OCG's competitive scene features the same line-up of top strategies as the TCG. Decks like Zoodiacs, Shaddolls, Eldlich, Tri-Brigades, and Virtual World have all been hugely successful in OCG tournaments. Anthony's article covering the TCG Remote Duel Extravaganza touched on many of those decks. But beyond the differences in the Forbidden & Limited List there's also a different card pool that's driving tournament results. The OCG has access to cards like Crossout Designator, Diviner of the Herald, and new cards coming in Lightning Overdrive that are impacting the top decks.
This week we're taking a look at some of these cards, and envisioning how they'll impact the TCG when they finally arrive here.
Diviner of the Herald was marked for greatness the minute it was revealed to OCG audiences. Originally printed early last year, Diviner's largely credited with the continued success of Drytrons in OCG tournaments, and the reason why it's so effective there becomes obvious as soon as you read its effect.
Diviner is like a powered up Manju of the Ten Thousand Hands: you can Normal or Special Summon it, send Herald of the Arc Light from your Extra Deck to the graveyard, and search your deck for a Ritual Monster or Ritual Spell thanks to Herald of the Arc Light effect. It's essentially an extra playset of Manju of the Ten Thousand Hands–no need to compromise with Senju of the Thousand Hands.
Of course, Diviner's a lot more than just another search effect. In fact, Diviner will typically give you three searches if your opponent lets both effects resolve uninterrupted. Tributing Diviner for any reason lets you Summon a Level 2 or lower Fairy from your hand or deck. And your go-to target for Diviner's effect is Eva, the Level 1 Fairy that lets you search two more Level 2 or lower Light Fairy monsters. All you need to do is find a way to send Eva to the graveyard, and luckily a simple Link Summon will do the trick.
When you trigger Eva effect you can banish Eva and Diviner to search another copy of Diviner and Herald of Orange Light, which sets up your next Normal Summon and/or fuels a hand trap that gives you even more options against monster effects.
It's not hard to see why Drytron players are so keen on Diviner of the Herald. Between Diviner and Eva the Drytron deck has a stronger Turn 1 play that's repeatable throughout the duel. It's a huge boost for the Drytron early game that should help make up for the Limited Cyber Angel Benten–a problem the OCG doesn't have.
Crossout Designator is a near-staple OCG spell that's seen a tremendous amount of play across every strategy imaginable. Unfortunately it's totally missing in action here in the TCG. It's been nearly two years since Crossout Designator debuted in the OCG, and we still don't know when, or if, it'll arrive here. As with other V-Jump promo cards there's a chance that Crossout Designator will take even longer to appear stateside, but I'm hopeful it'll be added to a core set later this year. Maybe.
So why's Crossout Designator such a big deal? In the OCG you'll see Designator played as a counter to the game's most popular hand traps. When your opponent plays Ash Blossom & Joyous Spring you'll chain Crossout Designator, banish your own Ash Blossom & Joyous Spring, and negate its effects. Of course, you'll need to be playing your own copies of Ash Blossom & Joyous Spring for that play to make sense, but it's not a bad bet. Popular strategies can get away with including Crossout Designator in their Main Deck because they know it'll always be live in the mirror match.
Rogue decks won't always want to play Crossout Designator mained, but it's a fantastic Side Deck pick that plays a bit like Prohibition. You'll side in Crossout Designator alongside copies of your opponent's key cards, or the tech cards they were playing last game. You can even side in cards you think your opponent will be siding in against you.
Designator opens up all kinds of mind games, you we can expect it to see a lot of play if it ever makes its way to the TCG.
Lightning Overdrive is delivering a massive boost to Tri-Brigades in the form of a new Link 2. Tri-Brigade Bearbloom the Heavy Hitter has two excellent effects that nicely complement the existing Tri-Brigade deck, and more importantly, it delivers something that Tri-Brigade players have been asking for since the theme debuted.
Bearbloom's first effect extends combos by Special Summoning a banished Beast, Beast-Warrior, or Winged Beast monster, while its second effect searches a Tri-Brigade spell or trap from the deck to the hand. Both abilities have hefty costs: you'll need to discard two cards to summon a banished monster, and Bearbloom's second effect triggers when it leaves the field. Luckily this is Tri-Brigades we're talking about, so even summoning Bearbloom in the first place isn't a problem.
Until Bearbloom there were essentially zero ways for the Tri-Brigade theme to search its spells and traps. Since you're already sending Tri-Brigade Rendezvous to the graveyard with Tri-Brigade Kitt, and Tri-Brigade Stand-Off isn't a must-play, you'll mostly see Bearbloom searching Tri-Brigade Revolt. It's basically a free Tri-Brigade Link Monster during your opponent's turn or your next turn, and a free Tri-Brigade Shuraig the Ominous Omen is a big deal. There's no doubt that we're going to be seeing a lot more action from Tri-Brigades after Lightning Overdrive hits.
There's a lot of love coming to Pendulums and Pendulum themes this year, and Antagonistic Intelligence ME-PSY-YA is a standout among the generic support. Debuting in Dawn of Majesty, ME-PSY-YA is both a floodgate and a weirdly useful defensive tool.
It's hard to pin down exactly where ME-PSY-YA will find a home, but I think its applications as a Side Deck pick will likely put it on the radar for competitive players. ME-PSY-YA's Pendulum effect will banish any non-monster that would be sent to the graveyard, which means decks like Sky Strikers are poised to lose their best cards. You can replicate that effect with something like Macro Cosmos or Dimension Shifter, but ME-PSY-YA stands out as a continuous floodgate that can be activated immediately at the start of your turn.
ME-PSY-YA's monster effect isn't anything too crazy–at least, not at first. You can summon it from your hand by sending a Pendulum from your hand or in your Pendulum Zone to your Extra Deck, which may or may not be worth it if you can already Pendulum Summon a Level 8 monster.
ME-PSY-YA's second monster effect is a lot more interesting: when your opponent summons a monster while ME-PSY-YA is on the field you can send that monster to the graveyard during the End Phase. That effect resolves whether ME-PSY-YA is on the field during the End Phase or not, and it's not a once per turn effect. Your opponent risks losing their field if they can't destroy ME-PSY-YA before making their final summons that turn.
Sword Master of the Bewitching Iris is another new Level 8 monster arriving in Dawn of Majesty. Besides having one of the best arts of any new cards we've seen in years, Sword Master is a potential competitive pick in formats where players are constantly negating each other's monsters. Sword Master has three beneficial effects that activate when your opponent summons a monster, in addition to a Quick Effect that lets you summon it on your opponent's turn.
It's a lot like Fantastical Dragon Phantazmay, but instead of summoning itself when your opponent controls a Link Monster, Sword Master can summon itself from the hand when a monster is on the field that has its effects negated.
It's really important to distinguish between the kinds of negation effects that negate an activation and/or negate an effect, and those that negate targeted cards or cards in specific locations. Sword Master is specifically looking for monsters on the field that have their effects negated, like those under the effect of Skill Drain or Effect Veiler. A monster that had its effect negated by Ash Blossom & Joyous Spring doesn't count.
That's the bad news, but the good news is that you can supply your own cards with negated effects. Cards like Tri-Brigade Airborne Assault and [Zoodiac Chakanine can summon monsters with their effects negated, although it's worth noting that some cards like Crystron Halqifibrax merely prevent the monster they've summoned from activating their effects.
Sword Master's probably a response to Crossout Designator, so I imagine it might have a smaller impact in the TCG if Crossout Designator doesn't materialize in Dawn of Majesty. I think it'll be a great opportunity to pick up copies of Sword Master while Crossout Designator doesn't exist. I'm not convinced that this card is worth playing in the Main Deck if you can't supply your own monsters with negated effects, but there will absolutely be match-ups where Sword Master's easily among the top hand trap choices.
From Lightning Overdrive to Dawn of Majesty and beyond, the OCG's competitive scene is loaded with powerful cards that are still just out of our reach. There are plenty of outstanding new cards and themes arriving in just the next few months. Crossout Designator might be a ways out yet, but Diviner of the Herald is already confirmed for Lightning Overdrive and very likely the biggest chase card in the set.
The TCG competitive scene is about to see three new themes debut this Friday in Ancient Guardians, and we'll see a major upheaval when Tri-Brigades and Drytrons get a shot in the arm in Lightning Overdrive. May is turning into an exciting month.
Until next time then