If you hadn't heard the news, I've finally retired my Spellbook deck. Don't worry, I don't plan on ever trading any of the cards away, but I can't see myself playing any Spellbook variant in the future aside from Spellbook Frogs or XYZ Prophecy. Instead, I'll force my Spellbook deck upon friends who need their invite if they insist on qualifying for Detroit's WCQ with Gravekeepers or Fabled.

Since I dropped the 'Books a few weeks ago, I've been searching for a competitive yet fun deck to replace it. Popular strategies like Fire Fists, Geargia and Mermails fail to entice me because we've all seen lists on lists on lists of those strategies succeeding on the competitive circuit, and that kind of repetition slowly bores the Yu-Gi-Oh! community to death. I have no personal vendettas against any deck amidst the Regional and YCS tops right now, but succeeding with those strategies simply wouldn't bring me the same joy that excelling with a fun, original deck would.

That's where Doug "Ziggity Zag Swiggy Swag" Zeeff comes into the picture. After what I thought was an anomaly at Yu-Gi-Oh! day a month ago, Doug has fine-tuned his deck into a legitimate threat. I've watched him absolutely wreck Geargia, Mermail, Fire Fist and somehow even Spellbook decks with what I thought was a mediocre strategy on the verge of crumbling. Adverse to trap cards, I built my own version of the deck but focused on getting the mighty Hino-Kage Tsuchi to the field and discarding my opponent's hand!

I loaded my deck with Ghostrick Jackfrost, Battle Fader, Enemy Controller and Treeborn Frog so I could always have two tributes for my mighty Spirit. This deck fared well enough on the local scene, but Hino-Kagu Tsuchi is the definition of gimmicky. I realized that I would have to relinquish my love for Hino-Kagu's effect and smokin'mhot abs if I wanted to push this deck to any real sort of competitive success.


Out came the Hino-Kagu Tsuchi support, but I was at a loss for what to add in. Fortunately, I have the privilege of being friends with the Legendary Master himself, Jeff Jones, and showed him my deck about a week ago. Turns out that all three of us – me, Doug, and Jeff – were all working on our own variants of Spirits. Jeff suggested that I fill my Hino-Kagu Tsuchi void with the Ghostrick engine, which turned out to be only Ghostrick Jiangshi and Ghostrick Mary. I initially thought the Ghostricks were another gimmicky idea that were more flash than substance, but after some test games with my teammate John, I realized just how valuable those six cards could be and added Jiangshi and Mary to my long term plans.

After another day of testing, I found that Jeff and I had created very similar decks. I refuse to take any credit for the Ghostrick idea, though I'm happy to see that a lot of my thoughts coincided with Jeff's, one of the greatest players ever. It's funny, though - Doug and I have both been playing Spirits before we knew Jeff had a build, yet every time we've thrown down an Aratama, the response is "Did you netdeck Jeff?" Anyways, enough backstory: you probably want to hear how I did. I promise you, I didn't play eight rounds of Gagagas, and thus this Regional Top 8 finish DOES have some merit!

Before The Tournament
Friday night turned out to be a typical pre-Regional Qualifier experience. I ate chicken strips, playtested with my teammate John, refused to get any real sleep and still hadn't finalized my Main or Side Deck by the time I passed out on my couch. My roommate decided he wanted to see if his keyboard could make the same sounds as a blender, and so I had to sleep on the lumpy couch that smells of lotion and be awoken by John singing ♫You gotta wake up it's 6:49! Damn right, it's regional time! You can't sleep, 'cause you have to drive! ♫ to the tune of Kelis' "Milkshake."

One of our teammates cancelled on us at the last minute, but I still had to drive from one side of Grand Rapids to the other to collect the rest. I got really mad at Doug because I wanted to leave early and avoid the snow, but he was taking his sweet time. I kept sending him threats that I'd leave with or without him in five minutes once I arrived at his dorm. I was timing him. Finally, with 22 seconds left of my patience, he waddled out through the snow looking like he got no sleep, probably having spent his night looking up pictures of walruses on the internet and eating mac 'n cheese.

Turns out that he'd spilled hundreds of cherry tomatoes in his backpack as he tried to pack up and was trying not to squish them right at 6:30, so I'll give him some slack. However, something bad always happens to us when we head to one of these things, and my GPS took us to the wrong 1858 Middlebelt Road. According to my GPS, there are actually six 1858 Middlebelt Road locations near Garden City. Fortunately, Jeff Jones is amazing and made sure registration didn't close without us. We rolled in around an hour later than expected, and I had to take on the tasks of finding cards for my Main Deck, figuring out a Side Deck, and fighting through the line in the bathroom.

DECKID=99774If you have no idea what the deck does, it's pretty simple. You generate as much card advantage as possible with Ghostrick Jiangshi and Aratama and then whittle down your opponent with Rank 4 Xyz and… other things. I don't think any two games were alike from start to finish, and I felt like I had a new challenge every Round. Honestly, the only answer I could give to people on how my deck functioned was that "it does things and stuff." Totally unprofessional and seemingly unprepared, I kinda awkwardly wandered through the day using my knowledge of the common matchups in this format to capture victory.

My Side Deck was an abomination. I kept in Fairy Wind, forgetting that it is so unneeded in Spirits. In a deck like Bujins where your opponent will have 23-36 Continuous Traps cards in the Side Deck to counter you, Fairy Wind is unusable. All it did for me Saturday was destroy a few Fire Formation cards and deal some unneeded damage.

Maxx "C" was useless too. Mind Crush was underwhelming. Soul Drain only got sided in twice. Royal Decree was too little too late. Mistake was the worst idea I had since I wondered if spray cheese could travel through my nose into my mouth when my mouth was full of other food two weeks ago. I'll probably do another video explaining a lot of my card choices in detail because of the unconventional nature of the entire deck.

Did I mention that I didn't have a playmat with me?

Sleep deprived and hungry, I sat down to write out the Deck List and nearly crashed then and there, before Round 1 even started. I did not have a good week at school, but I needed to psych myself up for a full day of dueling. I'm really fortunate to have a good group of supportive friends and teammates wherever I go.

Round 1: Spellbooks
Before the round started, my opponent asked his friend for a Spellbook of Power, and I put two and square root of Pi together to surmise he was getting ready for some heavy reading in Round 1. Doug plays Yaksha, the Spirit monster that bounces a spell or trap, and claims Spellbooks are not a problem for him at all. I beg to differ – I've found the matchup a challenge – but somehow I wasn't slaughtered this round anyways.

Game 1: My opponent won the die roll and used Spellbook Magician of Prophecy to get a free +1 on the first turn with The Grand Spellbook Tower and three set cards to back it all up. I'd already given up at that point, but I Normal Summoned Nikatama and Izanami for Evilswarm Exciton Knight expecting some response from my opponent to staunch Mr. Boogy-Go-Boom Man's effect. Instead, I destroyed five of my opponent's cards. I knew he had a Spellbook of Eternity in hand but didn't use his set Spellbook of Fate to keep Eternity live, and thus I quickly won soon after.

Game 2: I started with a mediocre again, but my opponent opened about as well as you can with Spellbooks. Spellbook of Secrets, Spellbook of the Master, Justice of Prophecy with three back row is pretty good, right?

However in the following turns, he quickly exhausted all his Secrets and his Spellbook Magician of Prophecy, and I had a Mystical Space Typhoon for every copy of The Grand Spellbook Tower he played. His own Consecrated Light was his eventual downfall because his Downerd Magician couldn't attack me, and without him drawing two cards per turn, I could amass card advantage with Ghostrick Jiangshi. I would have lost for sure if his own Consecrated Light didn't hamper his plays, or if he simply brought out High Priestess of Prophecy by tributing his Consecrated Light and Downerd Magician.

The duel ended with my opponent holding six cards in hand, but only one of them was a Spellbook while he was stuck with three High Priestess of Prophecy. Honestly, Ghostrick Spirits should never beat Spellbooks. Like… ever.

Record: 1-0


Round 2: Six Samurai
I asked my opponent what he'd won against in Round 1: Hieratic Rulers. I expected to glean some knowledge of his deck by asking that question, but I didn't get any insight from the answer and thus prepared for the worst.

Game 1: My opponent played so painfully slowly, I am fairly certain I briefly fell asleep during one of his turns. I'm not kidding, I seriously dozed off. I thought that I was just dreaming that I'd blinked out, but then I realized that you have to be asleep to dream. Circular dream logic is crazy. Sure, I knew I was going to be a slower player myself using Ghostrick Spirits, but enough is enough. When you have a Kagemusha of the Six Samurai and a Legendary Six Samurai - Mizuho, it shouldn't take you five minutes to make a Legendary Six Samurai - Shien on turn 1. I lost because he resolved three Double-Edged Sword Techniques early on and I still hadn't seen an Aratama all day.

Game 2: Game 1 took 30 minutes, but Game 2 barely took any time at all. My opponent churned out a field of five monsters but didn't want to attack and trigger Ghostrick Mary. Fun fact: I didn't have a Ghostrick Mary in hand. Nikitama + Dark Dust Spirit meant he lost five monsters while I got a free draw. I wasn't complaining about the easy win here.

Game 3: Maxx "C" completely shut him down, or at least should have. I didn't know what to do with all the cards in my hand when he pressed on through Maxx "C" and I had to discard in several of my End Phases. This is one of the few matchups where Maxx "C" is actually useable. Since my opponent muddled through the Maxx "C" challenge, I was able to effectively have my entire deck in my hand and win because of that.

Record: 2-0

Round 3: Nordics
Fortunately, I've toyed around with this deck and knew what its biggest threats are. Still, I re-read every card a dozen times to make sure I wasn't playing into the hands of the Norse gods. I hated playing my friend Brandon because it meant one cool deck, Nordics or Spirits, was going down.

Game 1: I refused to let my opponent resolve Tanngnjostr of the Nordic Beasts until the late game, and by then it was already too late for him to make a comeback. At one point he popped my Ghostrick Jiangshi with Ghostrick Alucard. It was ironic.

Game 2: Thanks to all my attack stops I survived Odin, Father of the Aesir after Dark Dust Spirit destroyed it three times. If I had any doubts about Creatures Swap, they were quieted in this round. Creature Swap is the reason I won this match, handsdown. Oh, and Ghostrick Jackfrost. That's a neat card.

Record: 3-0

Round 4: +1 Fire Fist
In theory, this should be a terrible matchup for me. Actually, every deck should be a terrible matchup for me because Fire Fists, Geargia and Spellbooks all generate as much card advantage as I do but at faster rate. Again, I had to play one of my friends, something I always hate doing at Regionals.

Game 1: I don't really know what happened in the first game. Honestly, after about five turns each, he had no cards to my eleven. I didn't even know what was going on. My favorite part of the duel was when he ran his Brotherhood of the Fire Fist - Gorilla into my Downerd Magician because he didn't know it gained 200 ATK for every Xyz Material attached to it. He also lost a Forbidden Lance in the same exchange.

Game 2: Wolfbark' rel="https://yugioh.tcgplayer.com/db/WP-CH.asp?CN=Coach Soldier Wolfbark">Coach Soldier Wolfbark helped him stay in the game and pull out a victory.

Game 3: I opened subpar, but my opponent opened absolutely amazing. Even after I used Mind Crush to take Brotherhood of the Fire - Fist Bear out of his hand, I was in a terrible position.

I think together, we both played the worst game of our lives. I'm not one to constantly talk about misplays because it's hard to determine exactly what a "misplay" is, but I think we both made the worst possible choices every turn for the entire game. Whoops, I won.

Record: 4-0


Round 5: 3.26 Axis Fire Fist
Based off the Levels his Fire Fist monsters, I think the true axis of this deck was somewhere around 3.26. My opponent was probably the nicest duelist I've ever come across, and I really wish he'd won out to make the Top 8 with me.

Game 1: I'd resolved at most five Aratama searches by Round 5, but this game let me see my favorite Spirit in my opening hand for the first time in the tournament! Despite us trading blows and card presence, I knew that his deck would run out of steam before mine, and that's exactly what happened. He exhausted all his Main Deck and Extra Deck monsters while I was keeping the ball rolling with my biggest beaters.

Game 2: My opponent took the Maxx "C" challenge twice in this game and that let me draw into Effect Veiler both times. Good thing I barely won before he was about to topdeck Rekindling… again. I don't think it would have mattered because he exhausted every Extra Deck Fire Fist anyways, making his Rekindling irrelevant.

Record: 5-0

Round 6: 3.4 Axis Fire Fist
At this point I was very confused at my own success. I wasn't complaining, I was just confused. I sat down and recognized my opponent from earlier rounds and thought "Great, another Fire Fist matchup."maHe ran more Wolfbark' rel="https://yugioh.tcgplayer.com/db/WP-CH.asp?CN=Coach Soldier Wolfbark">Coach Soldier Wolfbarks than my Round 5 opponent, but also played Brotherhood of the Fire Fist - Spirit and Leopard.

Game 1: I felt like Oprah giving out Effect Veilers to all his monsters and canceling out literally everything he tried to do in Game 1. "You get Effect Veilered! You get Effect Veilered! Everybody gets Effect Veilered!"

Game 2: My opening six cards seemed unplayable, but Ghostrick Mary made it all better. My hand was: Raigeki Break, Fairy Wind, Ghostrick Mary, Dark Hole and two Chaos Sorcerers. My opponent started off strong with the Spirit, Horse Prince, Leopard and Rooster combo.

When I used Fairy Wind on his second Fire Formation - Tenki and then Raigeki Break on his Bear, the duel went to hell for him. Turns out, he'd opened with three Tenki and two Leopard, and if you know Fire Fists, that's really bad because you exhaust all of your Tenkis early on and can't make late game pushes with Wolfbark.

We got down to a situation where it was my Chaos Sorcerer versus his two dead-in-hand Leopards, plus two face-down Fire Formation - Gyokkou. He didn't have any Fire Formations left in his deck, and I never bothered to set any cards for his Gyokkou. Checkmate, Tenki.

Record: 6-0

Round 7: Heraldic Beasts (Aloysius Miller)
This guy and I were both so excited for each other's success all day as we both kept winning, but we felt so deflated when we had to play each other because once we faced off there would be no guarantee both Heraldic Beasts and Spirits would Top 8.

Game 1: Despite no Aratama, I won this game. Thanks, Black Luster Soldier - Envoy of the Beginning.

Game 2: Say what you will about Heraldic Beasts, but in the right hands this deck is a threat. Even though I knew what all of my opponent's cards did, I couldn't keep up with his sheer card advantage, especially when his Black Horn of Heaven hit my Evilswarm Exciton Knight. Sad day for me, and even sadder when time was called.

Game 3: I was really kind of dismayed when time was called, because his deck was infinitely better at doing damage than mine in the early game and that's exactly what decided the match. I had to take 2000 to the face early on from Heraldic Beast Leo to jumpstart my Ghostrick Mary, and from there I couldn't catch up as I ran into his set traps when I tried to make pushes for damage. I had to play recklessly and waste so many resources trying to catch up for the last 300 Life Points, and I was downright livid when I lost.

I was frustrated I had to play the other coolest deck at the tournament, and then I lost to it in time despite me being up on card advantage. It goes to show that that card advantage doesn't mean everything. My opponent was understanding and honestly one of he nicest people I've ever met, so I kind of ran away from the table to ensure he wouldn't receive the brunt of my annoyance.

Record: 6-1

Round 8: Bujin
Oh look, I'm playing on the bubble against Bujins.

Game 1: In one giant push, I brought out Caius the Shadow Monarch to banish my opponent's back row then brought out a Chaos Sorcerer to bait his Bujingi Turtle. I followed up those two with Constellar Ptolemy M7 to get back Chaos Sorcerer. He scooped when I dropped Sorcerer again followed by Black Luster Soldier - Envoy of the Beginning.

Game 2: Grind games seem to usually go my way, but my opponent won Game 2 without even resolving Bujin Yamato! He just poked me to death with Bujingi Turtle and Bujingi Quilin because I couldn't get anything going.

Game 3: I was really annoyed when he opened Solemn Warning for the third game in a row, but it's somewhat comforting to know you won't have to play around that card for the rest of the duel.

The pivotal point of the third game came when I swapped his Bujintei Susanowo for my Ghostrick Mary, and from there I just ran over Turtle after Hare after Quilin until I had a seemingly infinite number of cards in hand. He eventually destroyed the stolen Susanowo with a Dark Hole, but the damage to his card economy and his Life Points was already done.

Final Record: 7-1


I was surprised and kind of impressed with myself after 8 Rounds. There are always things I could have done better throughout the day, but at the time the final standings went up I was more focused on the positive, quite ecstatic to have placed 2nd overall at a Regional with Spirits! There were roughly 260 people in attendance, and I'm glad that I was able to play against decks that are recognized as the best strategies in competition to validate the 7-1 finish. Doug played all the Mermails and Geargias for me, and I took down the Fire Fists for him, and I think it would be really easy to disregard my Top 8 finish if I only had to play less popular decks all day.

I plan on changing the Main Deck slightly, but completely revamping the Side Deck and effectively starting from scratch with that part of the build. I was satisfied with my Extra Deck, but I'll probably find room for another Downerd Magician and another Exciton Knight. Next Regional I'd like to actually be prepared and finish my deck before 9 AM the day of, get some real sleep, and have accurate directions to the venue, but for every negative there were ten positives for the weekend. I had a wonderful day not only in respect to Yu-Gi-Oh, but also just seeing all of my friends from across the states. I was happy to see Aloysius Miller finish undefeated with his Heraldic Beasts and to see a total of three people from my locals make Top 8! I'll probably play something different for the next Regional because you know me, I always have to play something crazy to have fun.

Just remember, beat your opponents before they beat you.

-Loukas Peterson