It was the first event of its kind, and strategies for 3v3 tournaments arelargely unexplored. Do you focus on finding the absolute best deck for theevent, or instead diversify your team in an attempt to avoid bad match-ups?That's a topic for another time, because there were plenty of interestingtech picks from the YCS to discuss this week.
More Dragons, Less Thunder
Chaos Thunder Dragons with the Guardragon engine have been expanding theirline-ups of Dragon monsters to leverage the awesome power of Number 95:Galaxy-Eyes Dark Matter Dragon. Resolving Dark Matter in Thunder Dragons isinsane: you can dump three Dragons into the graveyard from your deck, andtypically that meant loading up Arkbrave Dragon and Amorphage Goliath.Jesse Kotton – who was part of the 2nd Place team at YCS Atlanta –specifically described Dark Matter as a card that "is not fair."It's hard to disagree with that assessment when he and his team used DarkMatter so effectively at the event.
The goal of the Guardragon engine in Thunder Dragons is to add morenegation options to Turn 1 boards. Crystal Wing Synchro Dragon and Hot RedDragon Archfiend Abyss were the ideal monsters to Summon with GuardragonAgarpain in the past, but Number 95: Galaxy-Eyes Dark Matter Dragon is evenmore explosive than a simple negation body.
Agarpain can Special Summon Galaxy-Eyes Cipher Dragon as a stepping stoneto Dark Matter, then load up the graveyard with Dragons to fuel an OTK.Dark Matter itself is an offensive powerhouse that can attack up to threetimes per turn, and at 4000 ATK it's stronger than nearly every other cardon the competitive scene.
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The shift to playing both Arkbrave Dragon and Amorphage Goliath in ThunderDragon Main Decks has given the strategy a monster floodgate that'sdevastatingly strong in numerous match-ups. Goliath blocks Extra DeckSummons and stops Sky Strikers and Salamangreats from playing their bestcards and combos. It's not as strong in the mirror match or against deckslike Altergeists, but it's easy enough to simply Summon Hot Red DragonArchfiend Abyss instead. The flexibility in the Guardragon engine is nuts,especially since the top cards to Summon with Agarpain are arguably some ofthe best Extra Deck monsters in the game.
There's another new addition to the Dragon line-up in Thunder Dragons too:Defrag Dragon. It's not an incredibly powerful monster on its own, but itsSpecial Summon effect comes in handy for Summoning Guardragon Elpy orsimply putting another monster onto the field for Link plays. Any Darkdiscard outlet –which unfortunately doesn't trigger Danger effects – isespecially valuable in a strategy that's playing cards like White DragonWyverburster, Black Dragon Collapserpent, Chaos Dragon Levianeer, andEclipse Wyvern.
Defrag Dragon's useful not just as Link Material, but also as an extenderfor most Chaos Thunder Dragon plays. Even it own Special Summon effect cantrigger Thunder Dragon abilities in the graveyard, and Thunder Dragonitself is an excellent way to set up a free Special Summon.
Removal Tech In Salamangreats
Thunder Dragons weren't the only strategy adapting to a more aggressiveplaystyle at YCS Atlanta.
Salamangreats also experimented with Crusadia Reclusia in an attempt to addmore removal to their Main Deck. Reclusia doubles as an extender for Linkplays and it's an out to dozens of cards. Its effect destroys itself and acard your opponent controls, and you can activate it whether it's Normal orSpecial Summoned; you can play it even when your Special Summons are lockeddown by a floodgate monster like Amorphage Goliath. It's even better ifyour opponent's giving you a Linked Zone through Saryuja Skull Dread, butit's not necessary either.
Crusadia Reclusia gives Salamangreats a way to play through numerousfloodgates like There Can Be Only One and Amorphage Goliath, but it's alsojust excellent spot removal. As Reclusia sees more play, and I can onlyimagine it will seeing as nearly every Top Cut Salamangreat deck list wasrunning it, the Side Deck picks of choice for the match-up are likely tochange.
Hot Red Dragon Archfiend Abyss might actually be the better choice over theGuardragon engine in the long term if Goliath can be dispatched so easily,and floodgate timing's definitely a bigger issue going forward. Temporaryfloodgates are an excellent pick here, but which ones carry the most bangfor your buck? Abyss Dweller, Artifact Scythe, and Different DimensionGround are all worthwhile, and you could say the same for interruptioneffects that activate in the hand.
What's great about Crusadia Reclusia is that's playable in virtually everyLink-heavy theme. Only Orcust or Sky Strikers would find problems with it,while dozens of other strategies can play it as easily as Main Deck copiesof Dinowrestler Pankratops. I think Reclusia's simple enough to side out infavor of Pankratops when you're playing second, but if you really want topunish your opponent's sided floodgates you could just choose to play sixmonsters with removal effects. Reclusia's a vastly superior Main Deckchoice though, and it will likely be the bane of Main Deck floodgates forweeks to come.
Upgrading Mind Control
I've been waiting a long time for Electric Virus to start seeing seriousplay, and I think we're finally at the point where it's now a highlycompetitive Side Deck pick. If you were playing in 2011 during the peak ofthe Legendary Six Samurai deck you might remember Puppet Plant being playedto out Legendary Six Samurai - Shi En.
Since Shi En couldn't negate monster effects, and the deck's themed CounterTrap only negated destruction effects, there was almost nothing youropponent could do to stop you from taking control of their boss monster.Since then I've been keeping a close eye on both Puppet Plant and ElectricVirus, but neither card has had any real staying power outside of a coupleof formats where it appeared in a handful of Regional deck lists.
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This time Electric Virus might be here to stay. While Crystal Wing SynchroDragon makes short work of its effect the same can't be said for Hot RedDragon Archfiend Abyss or Amorphage Goliath (keeping in mind that it ispossible to bait out its negation). It's an excellent counter to theoutcomes of the Guardragon engine, and it capitalizes perfectly on thestrength of cards like Hot Red Dragon. Taking control of an opponent'smonster naturally changes the dynamic of its floodgate or negation effect,but these monsters also have extremely high ATK and can totally swing theduel around even without activating their effects.
What sets Electric Virus apart from Mind Control is that the monster youtake control of can make attacks and be tributed. The makes the attackvalue of your opponent's Dragons all the more important, and luckily mostof the monsters you'll be targeting have insanely high ATK. It's mucheasier to OTK with Electric Virus, and the value of stealing a monster thatto destroy another in battle is significantly higher than one taken by MindControl.
There's also another massive difference between the two cards here:Electric Virus can't be negated by Hot Red Dragon Archfiend Abyss. It'stotally unacceptable to use Mind Control to out Hot Red Dragon, butElectric Virus is actually ideal. For that reason alone it's a top pick anda three-of in the Side Deck for each of the 2nd Place finishers.
Jeff Jones Shakes Up Sky Strikers
One of the game's most innovative players in the history of the game tookSky Strikers to the Team YCS and played a handful of interesting choices inhis build.Jeff Jonesplayed two copies of Lost Wind in his trap line-up alongside a set ofInfinite Impermanence. The extra monster negation helped him play throughfloodgates like Thunder Dragon Colossus without burning his copies of SkyStriker Mecha - Widow Anchor too early. The deck has plenty of expendablemonsters, but it's backrow is vulnerable enough that negating removaleffects goes a long way towards staying in the game.
He also played Swords of Concealing Light in his Side Deck as an out toThunder Dragon boards where Amorphage Goliath and Thunder Dragon Colossuswere common. Although Hot Red Dragon Archfiend Abyss and Thunder DragonTitan could counter it there were plenty of times where neither card wouldbe on the field. Swords of Concealing Light shut down his opponent'sability to play the game for multiple turns, and it was arguably a betterchoice over Book of Eclipse in a deck like Sky Strikers.
Jones might not have been able to clear out a field of set cardsimmediately, but he could certainly pick away at them over the two turns ofrelative safety that Swords of Concealing Light provided him.
The Team YCS was ultimately still a playground of the same threestrategies: Sky Strikers, Thunder Dragons, and Salamangreats. PendulumMagicians and Dark Orcust Warrior decks made small showings, but the toplevel competitive field is largely set by this point. Individual techchoices, and innovations in the branching plays of combo strategies are thedifference makers at the top level of competition, but so is player skill.
It's nearly impossible to discuss individual skill in a game where luckplays such a commanding role in the outcome of games, and yet in a 3v3environment it's perhaps more important than ever to rely on the tacticaldecisions of your teammates–perhaps even more so than their card choices.
Until next time then
Kelly Locke is a West Michigangamer and writer. You can follow him on Twitter for more updates and check out his Youtube channel. He also studied marketing at Western Michigan University