There is an overwhelming consensus that Instant Fusion is not needed in the Pendulum deck. Most players who do use it don’t maximize on it. Click here to see some of the deck lists from YCS Atlanta that clearly indicates a trend away from the card. I think that this trend is incorrect and today I’m going to make an argument for why Instant Fusion should not only be included, but also maxed out on.
First of all let’s address how it’s possible for the masses to come to an incorrect consensus. After all, it is being excluded in the decks that are performing well, isn’t it? Shouldn’t that count for something if the decks that are winning don’t use it and the decks that do use it aren’t winning? The truth is what is played has little bearing on what’s actually good and its entirely possible for the majority to come to an incorrect conclusion about what is good.
Let’s look at the case of Mermail and Fire Fist from early 2014. At the beginning of the format Fire Fist were overwhelmingly dominant. More than half the top cut of any given tournament was occupied by Fire Fist, while Mermail only accounted for a spot or two of the top cut. This is because early on many of the good players had decided that Fire Fist was good and played it. Other players saw the good players playing it and thought that if they were playing it, then it must be good! That caused them to play Fire Fist too. When Fire Fist was overwhelmingly represented it then makes sense for it to have performed well and secure a good number of spots in top cut. Then going forward people used this as evidence that they were right all along about Fire Fist being the best deck because it had done so well early on, and that further reinforced the idea that they were the best deck. It created this self-reinforcing loop where everybody mistakenly believed that Fire Fist was the best deck. As the format went on it became clear that that wasn’t the case and Mermails became more and more represented throughout the format until they dominated the meta by the end of the format.
I think it’s very likely that we’re seeing something similar here with Instant Fusion. Some people believed that it wasn’t good, which caused other people to stop playing it, this idea was overwhelmingly well represented, which caused it to do well, then people took it doing well as an indication that they were right all along and that Instant Fusion wasn’t needed. What’s popular doesn’t determine what’s good. Popular is determined by the average player and the average player has a limited perception of what’s actually good. It is much more useful to ignore what is popular and think for yourself about what’s truly good and not good.
Even still, there must be legitimate reasons for people to have cut Instant Fusion in the first place. The biggest reason is that it can contribute to bricking your hand. If you open it in a five-card hand, you’ve basically got a four-card hand because it won’t help you advance your game state until you’ve already been able to make a play. This is a legitimate concern, but this concern has only limited relevancy. What cards are people choosing to play over Instant Fusion? Trap cards like Solemn Strike are commonly played alternatives.
But does that really make sense? If you’re cutting Instant Fusion because it’s bricking your hand in the early game, why are you adding other cards that don’t also contribute to the early game? If you have Solemn Strike in a five-card hand you’ve basically got a four-card hand, much the same as you had with Instant Fusion. Solemn Strike isn’t going to help you advance your game state. It’s only going to be useful when you’ve got a board to go along with it. You’re not going to be winning many games by flipping Solemn Stirke without having a field that you’re also protecting. Because of this, you’ve pretty much already had to get going in order for it to be useful, giving it the same drawback as Instant Fusion.
And what about when you do get going? If they have the same activation requirement of needing to have already started to be good, then which one is going to be more impactful once you do make it live? Well, they can act functionally the same. Instant Fusion being a one-card rank four gives you immediate access to Traptrix Rafflesia, which you could then use to send Bottomless Trap Hole or Time Space Trap Hole to stop a Pendulum summon just the way you would be doing with Solemn Strike.
Instant Fusion also has upsides that Strike does not have. If you draw Strike to an established board and attempt to set it, you can almost guarantee you won’t be getting another turn. You’ll be out of the game before your next draw phase if you set a card like Solemn Strike to their established board. Instant Fusion doesn’t have this downside as drawing it to an established board is great. It acts as instant spot removal to whatever problem we are facing. We can use Castel to clear a monster or Diamond Dire to clear a backrow. People often turn to subpar alternatives like Twin Twister to kill backrow, but Instant Fusion is much better. If you draw Twin Twister when they don’t have a set card, then it will be useless. If you draw Instant Fusion when they have a set card, you can Diamond Dire it. If you draw Instant Fusion when they don’t have a set card, you can do something else with it.
I think that Solemn Strike’s increase in play is directly due to Instant Fusion’s decrease in play. People can use it to negate big Pendulum summons because there is not much of a threat of the opponent making Diamond Dire before Pendulum summoning if they do not have Instant Fusion in their deck. My friend Abe couldn’t have put it better when he said, “All trap cards have the same effect. They all say ‘Negate the summon of Diamond Dire Wolf.’” This is hilariously accurate, but only in decks have access to Diamond Dire by some means other than Pendulum summoning, primarily Instant Fusion.
Instant Fusion also adds the ability to advance your game state. It can make King of the Feral Imps to search the missing piece. You can search for Lizarddraw if you need a high scale or Partnaga if you need a low scale. Either way, it can get you what you need.
If you draw a card like Solemn Strike, it has to be a defensive card no matter what point of the game you draw it. If you draw a card like Twin Twister or Raigeki, it has to be removal, even if it is not an opportune time to remove something. If you draw a card like an additional scale, it has to be that scale. If instead you play fewer of each of those kinds of cards and max out on Instant Fusion, you have a card that functions as removal when you need it to be in the form of Diamond Dire, defense when you need it to be in the form of Traptrix Rafflesia, and either scale when you need it to be in the form of King of the Feral Imps. Instant Fusion is exactly what you want at all points in the game. It doesn’t make sense to cut it because it can be dead early game, because you’re adding cards that are dead even more often because they only are good in a specific scenario. What happens when you draw Solemn Strike to their field? Or Twin Twister instead of a scale? If you had a card like Instant Fusion you would have a card that is good at all points of the game in lots of different scenarios. Think for yourself and don’t let groupthink dominate your thoughts.
This is the definition of what a three of should be and is exactly the kind of card you want to be maxing out on. Until next time, play hard or go home!