Playing with friends and competing at locals, I typically avoid playing my Spellbook deck because I've piloted it since Return of the Duelist's release and haven't looked back. It's currently on par with Soul Control for my favorite deck of all time, but I like to keep things fresh with crazy mashups and the wonkiest strategies I can piece together whenever I'm playing causally. I opted to play Spellbooks at the Garden City Regional this past weekend because I sincerely believe the deck has a good chance to be competitive even with only one Spellbook of Fate. Resolving World of Prophecy's effect normally means victory shortly after.

My team converged at my apartment Friday, and we planned to play-test, prepare deck lists, pack and get a good night's sleep. Instead Doug Zeeff, our friend John and I talked about how annoying Gravekeepers are about to become with Legacy of the Valiant and ate French bread in my living room until 4 AM.

With roughly two hours of sleep the next morning, we left Grand Rapids for Garden City, brimming with excitement and a surprising amount of energy. I was more concerned with not falling asleep at the wheel and killing us all in a hideous car crash than finalizing my main and Side Deck choices in my head. I should have prepared more with a few different card choices, and I regret some of my Theory-Oh! ideas. Nevertheless, I knew that I had a powerful deck, but I didn't want a fourth consecutive 7-2 finish with a Spellbook deck at Regional Qualifier. A new format meant a new Spellbook variant, and the list below is what my sleep-deprived caffeine-jilted mind deemed best.

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Looking at the Main Deck, there are probably a lot of questionable choices, and I'll admit I know I didn't make the best picks. My Spellbook deck is a mix, using the Spellcaster version of Judgment Dragon while also playing a heavy trap lineup. I'll explain some changes I'd make after the round-by-round report, but I'll discuss my Side Deck quickly here.

Fairy Wind's beautiful against Madolche, Firefist and Bujin. It just happens that those were the most represented decks of the tournament behind Mermails, but still proved to be effective. The downside to Fairy Wind is the destruction of my own The Grand Spellbook Tower, so I sided Mystical Space Typhoon as well; it's never a bad choice for spot removal of spells and traps. A lot of my choices were motivated by past experiences rather than trying to make the best Side Deck for predicted match-ups.

Everyone's favorite Insect, Maxx "C", was the card to play to counter Special Summons last format. I had no idea what I was going to be playing against at this event, and I felt like this was a good choice for the Side Deck. I played Mind Drain for a lot of reasons, not all of which I remember: Bujingi Crane and Mermail Abyssmegalo were two of the big ones. That said, I didn't side this thing in against either deck over the course of the tournament. Soul Drain was similar: this card's effectiveness is certainly lessened while Limited, but it's never left my Side Deck since its release. And yet, I never activated it the entire tournament.

Now that Spellbook decks actually have real traps face-down instead of just Spellbook of Fate, I figured that cards like Kycoo the Ghost Destroyer would be less important in the mirror match. Retort worked well for me in the past, though I'll admit I've yet to play one mirror match in three weeks. I played Rivalry of Warlords for Constellars, Evilswarms, Mermails and Madolche; it proved really effective in my feature matches at YCS Toronto, so in a wide field like this Regional it was a good pick.

I had ibuprofen, my lucky stuffed duck named Frank Thompson, and was crossing my fingers I didn't have to play Dark World all day! Here's how it went.

Round 1: Evilswarm
I'd like to say that Evilswarm's one of my least favorite decks to play against, but Evilswarm's just one of the handfuls of decks that makes me cringe. With the most recent Forbidden and Limited List, it's a wonder to me why anyone would bother wasting their time playing it, but yeah.

Game 1: I didn't know what he was using initially because he dropped a Photon Thrasher on Turn 1 backed by a Black Horn of Heaven and a Dust Tornado. This was the first game out of many where I opened with both the World of Prophecy and High Priestess of Prophecy in hand, and wasn't able to put either on the field until late in the game.

Finally, I had three Spellbooks in hand to summon my High Priestess. Shortly after, Evilswarm Ophion hit the field and without a Spellbook of Fate to protect my trump card, the extra 50 ATK really hit home. With Ophion on the field, I was unable to bring out either World or High Priestess of Prophecy and couldn't find an answer to the Infestation Pandemics my opponent had for me. [Jason's Note! That's why people would bother wasting their time playing it. -Jason]

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Game 2: This game exhibited why I'm so comfortable playing Spellbooks. My opening hand consisted of Spellbook Magician of Prophecy, Spellbook of Secrets and Spellbook of the Master. I quickly established a dominating field with the Solemn Warning, Spellbook of Eternity and Seven Tools of the Bandit and quickly won the game.

Game 3: I went second and was staring down an Evilswarm Ophion and five set cards on my opening turn. Meanwhile, I held a Temperance of Prophecy, High Priestess of Prophecy, World of Prophecy, Spellbook of Power, Spellbook of Wisdom and The Grand Spellbook Tower. My only "real" play was to Summon Temperance of Prophecy and use a Spellbook of Power to have two draws the next turn because my hand was so poor against an Ophion. Sadly for me, he had a Mystical Space Typhoon for my Tower, and I quickly lost from there.

Record: 0-1

Round 2: A Legendary Mermail
My opponent admitted this was his first Regional, and we spent the a few minutes of the round slowly talking and playing as I explained how larger events typically worked. I can't remember his name, but I did enjoy a slower paced game without stressing about the tournament.

Game 1: This guy was a duelist after my own heart. His deck was a mashup of A legendary Ocean and Mermails! He went first, and I was at a loss for how to approach his deck once the craziness started. At one point he used Deep Sea Diva and an Atlantean Heavy Infantry to Synchro Summon a Formula Synchron! A legendary Ocean reduces all Levels of your Waters by 1, and he was able to capitalize on this with Mermail plays never before conceived. It was like he had a Field Spell that was a reserve Mermail Abyssmander. However, I was simply able to grind longer because thanks to The Grand Spellbook Tower.

Game 2: I don't think he had much experience playing against Spellbooks because his sided copies of Curse of Anubis and other irrelevant cards were beyond ineffective. At least my opponent enjoyed the event.

Record: 1-1

Round 3: Madolche (Eli Hill AKA TeamWhirlwind)
I've played against this guy before at local tournaments, and I can really say I enjoyed playing him again. He's a very cordial and courteous opponent, despite opening two copies of Black Whirldwind every game we play. Even though he claimed not to be running Blackwings, I was skeptical.

Game 1: Neither of us opened strong, but Spellbook of Fate and The Grand Spellbook Tower were able to pick apart his resources without triggering Madolche Ticket. Madolche Hootcake is a scary card because it can generate a field of Xyz when coupled with T. G. Warwolf or Spell Striker. Spellbook of Fate's hard to get around because it doesn't target, and Madolche Queen Tiaramisu is so powerful because it doesn't target either. That said, I resolved my World of Prophecy, and it's hard to lose a game after returning two Spellbooks to hand and then destroying every card on the field.

Game 2: I was sorry to see that he opened very poorly without any monsters in his first few turns. I know my opponent was a good player, and I felt I won an unearned victory. I made a bad judgment call to summon World at one point because I forgot you couldn't just target one Spellbook to bring back, but it didn't matter in the end.

Record: 2-1

Round 4: Inzektor
Every time I discover an opponent's using Inzektors, I weigh the options of poisoning his food and going to jail. I looked through my Side Deck after Game 1 and actually sided in Retort against him simply for Mystical Space Typhoon, because my Side Deck was so ineffective in the Inzektor matchup.

Game 1: Nothing interesting happened during this duel because I started with possibly the best hand possible sans Temperance. After a while, my opponent had more Inzektors banished than he had in his Main Deck.

Game 2: Thanks to Inzektor Ladybug, Inzektors can turn subpar hands into more favorable ones. My opponent used Lavalval Chain to yard an Inzektor Hornet from his deck and was prepared to kill me next turn. I set a lonely Book of Moon hoping to save myself from the combos, and I was able to stay alive thanks to this timely Spell.

I honestly don't know how, but I was able to resolve a World of Prophecy the following turn despite only returning a Spellbook Library of the Crescent and a Spellbook of Power to my hand. In terms of card advantage, I went from -4 to a +4 because I think I destroyed six cards with World. I wasn't complaining, and the match quickly ended after that.

Record: 3-1

Round 5: Volcanics (Doug Ziggityzag Zeeff)
I hate playing against my friends in any tournament, and I was very upset to see my Round 5 opponent was my friend and fellow TCGPlayer.com writer Doug Zeeff! I don't think anyone should really feel sorry for winning, but this was probably the worst I felt for winning at an event, ever.

Game 1: Doug and I spent the last week reviewing his Volcanic deck, and I knew the deck list almost card for card. I'm very impressed with Doug's build, but it's sad when one of the best Pyro-type monsters is Volcanic Slicer.

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Game 2: I drew World of Prophecy, but that had very little impact on the game as a whole. Yes, Volcanic Rocket nets you a card to hand upon Summon, but The Grand Spellbook Tower gives you two draws per turn. Checkmate, Blaze Accelerator.

Record: 4-1

Round 6: Mermail
My opponent was some kid from my locals who I'd actually played in the last Garden City event a little over a year ago. He tries out new decks and strategies all the time, and though he hasn't had much success in the past, he piloted Mermails with great Side Deck choices here, and actually finished in the Top 8. I did feel really stupid when I got mixed up on a very simple ruling involving Mermail Abysslinde, which only added insult to injury for the match overall, but that didn't detract from his good card choices.

Game 1: I won't compare Spellbooks to Dark Worlds, but the biggest weakness a Spellbook deck currently has is losing to itself. Well, that and Main Decked copies of Mistake, but I digress. A single Mermail Abysspike dealt nearly lethal damage to me over the course of four turns while I sat and played no cards.

Game 2: A very similar situation happened in Game 2 where my first card drawn was World of Prophecy, and because of an unplayable hand, I couldn't do anything. I understand that getting a perfect field on Turn 1 is impossible for any deck, but I really would have appreciated doing something besides staring at an unplayable hand while I was on the receiving end of an OTK.

Record: 4-2

Round 7: Bujin
My opponent in Round 7 was yet another duelist I knew from locals, bringing the total to four competitors I'd played many times before. I can get pretty hotheaded when I'm agitated, and I definitely expressed my frustration at playing another friend in this Regional.

Game 1: I think World of Prophecy secretly had a crush on me during this tournament because this game marked the seventh time I opened with my one copy. Spellbook decks generally work best in the mid to late game, and I believe Bujin decks are similar. They protect Bujin Yamato while filling the graveyard with Bujingi Turtle, Bujingi Centipede and after Legacy of the Valiant's released, Bujingi Hare.

Game 2: This game was actually quite amusing. Thanks to Spellbook of Fate in the early game, I kept Bujin Yamato from using its effect. With the help of Spellbook of Power, I thought Spellbook Magician of Prophecy could take out his Yamato, but my opponent responded with his own Book of Moon! I returned the favor with my Book of Moon during his turn and had to waste another Power just to kill that darn Beast-Warrior. Thanks to my "real" traps, I kept other copies of Bujin Yamato off the field and won the duel.

By the way, I opened with World of Prophecy.

Game 3: Finally, I didn't draw World of Prophecy on my first turn! I had a Temperance of Prophecy and made the World go round shortly into the game, and just dominated the rest of the game from there. Resolving the World's effect is devastating.

Record: 5-2

Round 8: Madolche
I have many nicknames for Madolche decks, but my favorite is "Better Version of Wind-Ups." It's amazing to think we still don't have all the support for the Madolche theme yet. I think the following two sets, but especially Legacy of the Valiant, are going to boost the deck significantly. It turned out my opponent and I had a lot in common, and we conversed for about ten minutes after the round was over.

Game 1: Thanks to Solemn Warning, Fiendish Chain, Divine Wrath, Effect Veiler, Seven Tools of the Bandit and other stun cards, neither I nor my opponent could get the ball rolling. I think he pecked me for 2500 damage over the course of five turns with Madolche Mewfeuille. It's very rare to do with only one High Priestess of Prophecy, but I actually Summoned it from my hand and did 4000 damage in one turn over Mewfeuille thanks to Spellbook of Power and Spellbook of the Master.

Game 2: Let it be known that Madolche Hootcake is a very powerful card.

Game 3: Back when Dino Rabbit ruled the competitive scene, opening Rescue Rabbit with five sets was nearly impossible to defeat, not to mention blood-boiling for the opponent. My opening field consisted of The Grand Spellbook Tower, Spellbook Magician of Prophecy, Solemn Warning, Spellbook of Fate, Mystical Space Typhoon, Compulsory Evacuation Device and Rivalry of Warlords with three Spellbooks in grave.

Record 6-2

Round 9: 3.54 Axis Fire Fist
Doug and I averaged the Levels of all the Fire Fist monsters played in my opponent's deck, and we determined that the best name for this Fire Fist deck was 3.54 Axis Fire Fist. That is to say, he played a mix of Level 3's and Level 4's.

Game 1: Upon seeing World of Prophecy in my opening hand, I about ripped the damn card in half, but I convinced myself to keep my shiny cardboard intact because I also started the last round with a Divine Wrath. I was able to pitch World with Divine Wrath so I could revive it with Spellbook of Life. Destroying six cards with World's effect while getting back two free Spellbooks from the graveyard is beyond amazing.

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Game 2: It's official: Fairy Wind, the unknown trap from Ancient Prophecy, is officially my favorite Side Deck card of all time, surpassing Retort. Against a deck that profits from face up spell and trap cards, Fairy Wind acts like a Mystical Space Typhoon. Against a Side Deck stuffed with DNA Surgery and extra Copies of Fiendish Chain, it's like a double Mystical Space Typhoon. My three copies of Fairy Wind annihilated a grand total of eight of my opponent's cards in this game, though I did kill my own Spellbook Tower in the process. I don't think I lost Life Points this game, excluding payment for my own traps and damage from Fairy Wind.

Record: 7-2

To be honest, I was a Little Disappointed with my finish at the Regional. Yes, I was grateful to finish with a 7-2 record in matches (15-6 in games,) but the losses for the day came simply to bad draws. What does that mean? It means I'll still be looking to improve my Spellbook deck for the next event to make it more consistent, of course! Since I'm not above shamelessly self-promoting my own videos on YouTube, I'll be posting a video of a more in-depth explanation of my deck choices shortly.

Just remember, beat your opponents before they beat you.

-Loukas Peterson
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