Welcome back, Kaijudo duelits! We've made it to the last week before Dragonstrike Infernus hits shelves on March 15th! It's been a long four months since Evo Fury released, but DSI is sure to shake up the metagame and provide us players with a bunch of competitive options for the upcoming Duel Days and Kaijudo Master Challenges. Before Evo Fury came out, I did an article detailing how the meta had progressed in the months prior; I'll be doing the same this week for the pre-DSI meta. Next week, when we know all the cards in the set, you can expect a "prediction" article like the one I did for Evo Fury, where I'll talk about some ideas for competitive strategies looking ahead. For this week, while I may mention the possibility for some pre-DSI cards and strategies to maintain a presence in the upcoming months, I'll save most of the predicting for next week, when we know all the cards.
I mentioned this in a couple articles during the last couple months, but aggression really defined the pre-RIS metagame. Decks like Blurple and Saber-Bolt were widely regarded as top-tier - and I guess now would be a good time to talk about my thoughts on Blurple.
Blurple, or Water/Darkness, was the first deck I built on the day that Evo Fury released. My original build paid tribute to the more control-oriented builds of the past, though with the obvious inclusion of Hydra Medusa and Emperor Neuron. I quickly became aware that I was doing it wrong. Over the coming weeks, Blurple decks evolveed to be more aggressive and really take advantage of the momentum that a turn three Emperor Neuron or a properly timed Hydra Medusa could give you. For this reason, Rusalka, Aqua Chaser saw more play over the last few months than ever before and Aqua Seneschal continued to be one of the most important cards in the game. Cards like Gigabolver also began to see use in Blurple, for the ability to drop a Chimera and Medusa on one turn with relative consistency. Blurple in its new form really set the pace of the meta and was something all decks had to be able to deal with to compete.
Hydra Medusa didn't make its presence known in just Blurple, either; mono-Darkness and deck such as Darkness/Nature saw play probably only because of its existence. I didn't anticipate mono-Darkness being very viable over the last few months, but looking back, I'd definitely say it proved itself as the most consistent mono-Civilization deck. Mono-Water also did relatively well, riding the wave of aggression it received in Emperor Neuron. A turn three Neuron wen going first gave its user a very strong footing in the game, something that this deck, as well as Blurple, benefited from.
One deck that had no problem competing was Saber-Bolt, or any aggro deck focusing around multiple copies of Bronze-Arm Sabertooth and Bolt-Tail Dragon. The most common variation included Water, for aforementioned cards such as Seneschal and Rusalka, but Dark Saber-Bolt with Terror Pits, Bone Blades and Skull Shatters proved strong as well. There were even some builds of just Fire/Nature that were able to claim victory purely by riding Sabertooth and Bolt-Tail to victory. The strentgh in this deck was in Sabertooth's power early in the game; at 7000, it got over anything in the Blurple deck and almost everything in a standard control deck. Even better, when the opposing player was able to get rid of Sabertooth with a Bone Blades or Hydra Medusa, it usually meant the Saber-Bolt player would be dropping the "Bolt" part of the equation in the immediate future, and most decks simply didn't have enough consistent answers to that kind of progression. I did predict that Beast Kin would be a force in the last few months, but I was surprised how threatening this combination turned out to be. This is one of the reasons Scaradorable of Gloom Hollow became such a necessary card in so many decks; it's one of the few cards that can neutralize the Sabertooth threat early in the game.
The most saddening casualty to me during the shift into the Evo Fury meta was the loss of the competitive 4-civilization Keeper of Dawn control deck. It still existed, but it quickly became apparent that it couldn't keep up with either of the two decks I mentioned above. That being said, other control decks were able to harness the power of Evolutions and survive, namely Cobalt, the Storm Knight. The first versions of this Water/Darkness/Light control deck that I saw originated from the Texas area, and while they were quite different than the versions my team, Team PEACH, came up with later, the basic idea remained the same: utilize the effect of Cobalt to put yourself back in the game against more aggressive decks, use its 6500 power to attack over cards such as Neuron, Medusa, and King Neptas, and then sweep the battle zone for turns on end with cards like Orion, Radiant Fury, Stormspark Blast, and the re-use of power spells with Keeper of Dawn. Halon, Paragon of Light was another common finisher in the deck, though a lot of its use came from being a level five, to help against any deck running Bronze-Arm Sabertooth. Of course, Water provided the draw and search capabilities to make this strategy possible, and Darkness provided discard such as Skull Shatter and Razorkinder Puppet.
Two cards that deserve mention are Flamespike Tatsurion and Grand Gure, Tower Keeper. Both were overlooked when Evo Fury was new, at least by myself and the players around me, but they're power became apparent in the coming months. Water/Darkness/Nature variants popped up using Flamespike as the heavy-hitter, giving the deck something that could consistently beat over Bolt-Tail dragon. Grand Gure was a card that mostly only saw play in Cobalt Control as a one-of or two-of, but it still made quite the impact. Since aggression had been the general way to go before people picked up Cobalt, no Saber-Bolt player really accounted for a 9000 power Blocker that could attack creatures and come out before Bolt-Tail could. As a result, it helped give Cobalt a much-needed edge on such strategies. Grand Gure proved lackluster a lot of the time against Blurple, since that particular deck is full of Rusalkas and Hydr Medusas, but as a tech for raw power against other decks that focused on power, it did its job quite effectively.
What didn't work
Since I mentioned in the above paragraph that W/D/F/L control didn't make the transition too well, I should probably talk about why, and mention a couple other strategies that fell off for the last couple months. The truest forms of control (the ones that rely completely on pushing the game into late game) didn't really perform well enough against Blurple and Saber-Bolt. Water/Darkness/Fire got by to an extent, though it was basically forced to run a Chimera lineup to use Hydra Medusa, adding a consistent way for the deck to take care of early threats. Cards like Razorkinder which had been so strong previously were rendered mostly useless for the time. Like I said, control remained strong in the Cobalt variants, but over the last couple months, it was weaker overall than it had been before Evo Fury, when the most impressive aggro deck was based around Hyperspeed Dragon instead of Bronze-Arm Sabertooth. With the resurgence of Dragons come Dragonstrike Infernus, I also expect a resurgence of control, though I'll talk more about that next article.
Spearking of Dragons, they didn't fare well in the last few monthe either. Hyperspeed Dragon decks, which were vying for the spot of "best deck" before Evo Fury, took a beating to Saber-Bolt decks especially, which could just drop bigger things faster. Saber-Bolt said, "Oh, you can summon a 6000 power Fast Attacker (Chain-Lash Tatsurion, etc.) on turn 5 after a Sprout and Hyperspeed? I can summon a 7000 power Fast Attacker, Bronze-Arm Sabertooth, on turn four, and I only need one other Beast Kin to do it." That, coupled with the prevalence of the battle zone-clearing Hydra Medusa, gave Hyperspeed-centric decks an incredibly hard time. However, that was the last few months; as we all know, if Dragonstrike Infernus is rekindling the hype for any one strategy, that strategy has to be Dragons! Be sure to read my article next week for my predictions on those as well.
I think that about covers the main points of the last few months in Kaijudo. It's been a ton of fun, but I'm sure I don't need to tell you all how much I'm looking forward to the influx of new cards we'll be getting with Dragonstrike Infernus. As always, leave a comment down below with your thoughts, and be sure to stay tuned for next week's article, in which I'll discuss my predictions for the future of the metagame with all the new cards at our fingertips. It might be the most important prediction article I'll have done yet, since the Kaijudo Master Challenges are a mere two months away! As always, play hard or go home, and I'll see you all next week.