Hello and Happy Holidays, duelists!

I hope you're all winding down the year safely, and securely. This past month has been huge for the game, with a new Forbidden & Limited List, a new deckbuilding pack, an LCS, AND a Yu-Gi-Oh Extravaganza, all in the past couple of weeks!

If you're like me, you're always looking to maximize your win ratio, and if you're struggling to see the level of success you're aiming for then these tips are for you! I'm gonna keep it short and sweet, starting with...

Zookeeper Duties

Zoodiac's have been really popular recently, but the deck hasn't been very successful in higher tier competition. Still, don't let that fool you! The Zoodiac strategy's very good and can easily snatch victory from you if you aren't familiar with its gameplan. Like previous formats where Zoo was dominant it's looking to grind out wins, and this time around it's using cards like Divine Arsenal AA-ZEUS - Sky Thunder to wipe fields and reduce your card count to zero.

As you'll see over on my YouTube channel, I've been playing a going-second Zoo build that looks to pick apart the set-ups that are common in this format, and leverage additional cards to keep the opponent starved for resources, while making minimal investments on my end.

The best way to beat the Zoodiac strategy is to simply save up resources and overwhelm the Zoo player with multiple pushes. The deck's incredibly efficient, but it has a relatively low power ceiling compared to other big decks right now. If you can overwhelm a Zoo player once they've used up a decent number of plays, they'll often be left with nothing, and you'll coast to an easy win.

Ghost Belle & Haunted Mansion

Everything Is Eldlich

Eldlich and its many, many variants have been extremely popular in the new format, and with good reason. Eldlich can largely ignore the set-up created by Virtual World and just flip a bunch of removal traps, while the theme has synergy with essentially every strategy imaginable. It's nothing short of fantastic. If you haven't seen it yet, you might be unaware of the Eldlich Trap "pile" as I've affectionately named it. It's truly something to behold.

While Eldllich's seen serious play for the majority of the time since it arrived in Secret Slayers, there's a growing number of Red-Eyes Dark Dragoon Eldlich decks appearing in recent weeks, piloted by a small number of very prominent players like Avery Foster, John Wilkin, and others. On top of leveraging a strong defensive straetegy with the ability to support other engines, they went ahead and slapped everyone's favorite Wizard in terms of Attack and Defense into the deck, and now you can wind up staring down multiple negates alongside an obscene number of trap cards.

In order to beat Eldlich as a whole, cards like Cosmic Cyclone are high value. Banishing Cursed Eldland, Conquistador of the Golden Land, and Huaquero of the Golden Land is great. Cards like D.D. Crow and Skull Meister are great too, keeping your opponent's momentum from spiralling out of control too quickly.

Ghost Belle & Haunted Mansion shines in the Eldlich matchups, stopping Eldlixir of Scarlet Sanguine and Eldlixir of White Destiny, because they can summon from the graveyard. Holding your reactive cards for Eldlixir of Scarlet Sanguine is important, as you're cutting off your opponent from the bonus effects of the Golden Lands.

Paleozoic Dinomischus is another card you could consider. Depending on the deck you can banish any face-up card while loading your graveyard, placing lots of pressure on your opponent. As a potential extender later in the game as well, Paleozoic Dinomischus is also good for Linnk climbing. Finally, Ice Dragon's Prison can create situations where your opponent simply cannot win, banishing multiple copies of Eldlich the Golden Lord, or even using cards like Ash Blossom & Joyous Spring to do so! The key to winning this matchup is to time your pushes correctly, and ensuring you don't exchange cards needlessly.

Taking Down Drytron

There's nothing I can say that would overstate the raw power of the Drytron strategy as it currently stands. The myriad of consistency cards available means you're often just choosing whatever you want in your hand, and the searchable negation cards alongside the ability to search Vanity's Ruler is truly scary.

So how do you beat it? I haven't found a silver bullet yet, but I've definitely been trying. Forbidden Droplet, Book of Eclipse, Dark Ruler No More, Dark Hole, and Raigeki are all great. You need to be able to break the full set-up Virtual World builds, and from there you need to effectively hold your opponent down in the dirt to keep them from doing it all over again.

Cards like Mistaken Arrest and Droll & Lock Bird are also good, shutting down your opponent's starter cards. I prefer these to cards like Mistake because they can resolve safely in the face of spell and trap removal. Ghost Belle & Haunted Mansion also very strong in this matchup for many of the same reasons that make it a good pick against Edlich. Stopping Preparation of Rites and Pre-Preparation of Rites will serve you extremely well. D.D. Crow is also fantastic, as a response to tributing cards like Cyber Angel Benten.

A quick addition to that: you should make sure you ask your judge to check how they're ruling that kind of interaction. D.D. Crow worked against Cyber Angel Benten at the Remote Duel Extravaganza, but that ruling isn't set in stone.

Defeating Dinosaurs

Dinosaur's back and better than ever!

…Okay so that's not true. The deck's definitely a bit outclassed these days. But functionally speaking it's still the same beast it was before. Now that the format's slowed down, Dinosaur's have a bit better positioning to break apart big set-ups. But it has a really hard time with Drytron; it struggles to beat Vanity's Ruler, and Herald of Orange Light shines (ha) in cutting off Miscellaneousaurus.

Cards like Artifact Lancea are still great, and pushing your opponent to go first is another surefire way to pressure them into unfavorable positions. D.D. Crow, Ghost Belle & Haunted Mansion, and Skull Meister are all great in the matchup as well. If you're playing Dinosaurs, those are all cards you want to be testing.

All in all, one of the biggest reasons why you aren't winning right now might be impatience. The format's moved away from the fast-paced, combo-heavy days that were so popular earlier this year, and suddenly we're back to a tempo-focused competition of mind games. I highly recommend taking the time to slow down and look at all the moving pieces in any given match. Games are often won and lost off mistakes that might seem small, but prove over time to be irrecoverable. This is a great time to improve your technical skills, and really try to find your faults as a competitor.

Shoot me a tweet and let me know what you've been working on lately! I hope you're all set to have a great end to your year, and I hope that we can see some in-person dueling in 2021. Until then, I'll see you all remotely!