We're living in a golden age for this game – Frogs are back on top!

This most revered of themes is one of my all-time favorites, and to see it topping tournaments again warms my soul. It hasn't been this good to be an amphibian since 2010.

Now I'd be lying if I told you that pure Frog decks are dominating everywhere – they're definitely not. But one look at the deck archive and you'll see that nothing is pure these days in Yu-Gi-Oh. Everything is a hybrid and be that as it may, one of the best indicators of a card's power, and its influence on competitive play, is seeing how many decks it winds up being run in.

Powerful cards that see play in tons of different strategies generally end up in one of two positions: they become a staple, or they become fodder for the F&L List. Think of cards like Mystical Space Typhoon or Tour Guide From the Underworld as examples.

That Froggy Feeling
Right now Frogs are making an impact in two ways: they're being played in hybrid variants of Paleozoics and Mermails, and they're run in any deck that can Special Summon Toadally Awesome onto the field. While Awesome requires two Level 2 Aqua monsters to Xyz Summon, you can skirt that problem altogether by Special Summoning it with Bahamut Shark off just two Level 4 Waters; that's much easier.

Right now Paleozoic Frogs, Heroes, Mermails and a few Lightsworn decks have cornered the market on Toadally Awesome, but the fact that they're the only decks taking full advantage of this Format-defining monster baffles me. So today I want to take a look at three different decks that could also be running it, and could find viability in tournament level play as a result.

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The cool thing about these three decks is that none of them have been competitive in ages, if ever. In every case, a successful Toadally Awesome variant would mark a return to competitive status or an outright debut – and that's just really cool. Am I saying that these decks could sweep nation-wide metagames off their feet and reshape the game as we know it?

Not necessarily. But you know how every once in a while, somebody Top 8's a Regional with a deck so cool and stylish that everyone takes note? I would say they fall in line with that ideal. If you love these decks, you've probably already experimented with this yourself. But if you're looking for something new, then there's ample reason for you to explore the options I'm presenting to you today.

So let's just drop right in!

Everybody's favorite toys spent years at the top of the competitive heap for good reason – they're fast, flexible and can overpower your opponent very quickly. First it was the Wind-Up Hunter hand loop and then it was Wind-Up Magician-fueled OTK's, but regardless of the specific build, you were always swarming the field with a ton of little Wind-Ups and Xyz Summoning out the wazoo.

Nobody can deny that Wind-Up Shark is one of the most important monsters in the deck. In fact, I think a fair argument could be made that Shark is more important than Magician, Special Summoning itself to the field and manipulating its Level to fit your Xyz Summoning needs. Wind-Ups were one of the earliest decks of the Xyz era and they carried the burden of having to convince players that Xyz were worth playing. Shark had one of the biggest roles in that transition.

The wonderful thing about working Toadally Awesome into your Wind-Up deck is that you don't have to change your build much. Wind-Up Shark's Water attribute means you've got everything you need to make Bahamut Shark, and with a little back-up from Elder Entity Norden and Instant Fusion, you're good to go.

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In fact, a hand of two Sharks with Instant Fusion could net you a field of double Bahamut Shark and double Toadally Awesome – fearsome by anybody's standards. If you threw a Jigabyte into your deck you could make the same field with Wind-Up Shark and Magician.

Setups like that aren't all that tough with a card like Wind-Up Factory in your arsenal. It's a more favorable scenario as a backbreaking midgame play once you're established, but it's viable nonetheless. If you want to speed to that sort of setup, you can always experiment with stuff like Gold Sarcophagus and Speedroid Terrortop to get you there on Turn 1. But there's enough already in the deck's core DNA to make Toadally Awesome a powerful and ultimately effortless addition.

This is the newest deck on today's list, but the case could be made that Toadally Awesome would see the most play here. For the unfamiliar, the Dinomist theme is a bunch of Level 4 and Level 5 Water Pendulums. Each has its own unique monster effect, but they all have a Pendulum Effect that protects your other Dinomists in some fashion. They're all Scale 3 or 6 too, so you can always Pendulum Summon any of your Dinomist monsters. It seems like a no-brainer, but Toadally Awesome really hasn't seen as much player here as we'd all like to think.

The biggest thing to note about Dinomist is how quickly you can get a Rank 4 onto the field. Cards like Dinomist Pteran and Dinomist Charge fill your hand really fast and you're often just a Pendulum Summon away from a killer field. You'll always have a stocked hand thanks to Charge, so recovering a broken field can be incredibly easy.

Tin Goldfish is great in this deck if you've got Toadally Awesome in mind. It carries a lot of synergy as a Machine but a ton more for being Water. Opening with Tin Goldfish and any Level 4 Dinomist – or Dinomist Charge – is an instant Toadally Awesome. You can also take advantage of cards like Iron Call and Limiter Removal that feature in any Machine-heavy deck.

This is one of my all-time favorite decks and Toadally Awesome gives one of the theme's best cards a strong purpose it was really lacking. Gishki decks have always been about Ritual Summoning big powerhouses first and foremost – as they should be.

The biggest variations you'll generally see revolve around the choice to play Gishki Zielgigas and a slant towards mammoth Level 10's, or an emphasis on Gishki Soul Ogre and some of the smaller Gishki Rituals. But regardless of that choice, the use of Gishki Vision, Gishki Shadow and Gishki Abyss is a constant, getting your Rituals on board quickly.

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And Gishki Beast is a part of basically every Gishki deck too. Its place in the hierarchy has always been a fascinating one: the Beast's ability to Special Summon any Level 4 or lower Gishki from your graveyard is obviously powerful, but that doesn't actually give it a clear place in the Ritual Summoning process, and that's made it an odd card out over the years.

But now, with Toadally Awesome that role changes big time. Normal Summoning Gishki Beast to grab Gishki Shadow and go into Bahamut Shark and Toadally Awesome is a decidedly powerful move. It really makes Gishki Beast an equal with Zielgigas, which is saying a lot. It's also worth noting that Beast's 1500 ATK makes it a Salvage target; you can recycle it to use it for Xyz Summons over and over again. That's some incredible stuff.

How Toadally Awesome Could They Be?
Opportunities like this are always super cool to me. Great deck building is all about finding the connections between cards that most people don't realize are there. That kind of perspective gives you the element of surprise, and the surprise factor goes a long way to making a cool combo into something even more successful.

All three of these decks have the potential to be relevant and useful in today's competitive landscape – they just have to be built correctly. It's up to you to build them for your local or Regional metagame, and to make the kind of changes and tech choices necessary for success. But just imagine being the duelist who roflstomps your way through a Regional with a freaking Gishki deck?

It doesn't sound that farfetched when you factor in a 3200 ATK mammoth and a big giant 'nope' like Toadally Awesome, does it?

-Zach Buckley

Zach Buckley is a junior at Illinois State University where he studies Arts Technology. When he isn't doing his best to meet deadlines for homework and articles, he can often be found trying to strike up a conversation about politics, theology, electric cars, music and videogames with literally anybody who'll listen. The poor soul who is most often subjugated to these talks is his loving wife, Emma.