ARG Circuit Series Columbus Top 8 Report

patrickHey everybody! I’m back this week as I bring you my Top 8 ARG Circuit Series Report from last weekend’s event in Columbus, Ohio! In this report I will explain my deck, focusing on the changes made since the last event in San Mateo, give a round-by-round account of my experiences in the tournament, and highlight some of the trip. Let’s jump right into it!

A lot of my trips are pretty last minute and often times I don’t think I’m going even within a week of the event, but even when this is the case I acknowledge that there is a possibility that I will be able to go. This event was completely different. This event I had absolutely no intention of going to because of my test schedule in college. I had a midterm on the Friday before the event and a midterm on the Monday following the event. Because of this, I just planned on attending a local regional this weekend which would allow me to study for these classes. Well, Thursday night I’m knee deep in personal finance notes when I get an offer from my wonderful Leverett family to wait until my test had finished on Friday and drive through the night to make sure that I was back for my test on Monday. That offer was simply too good to pass up and I knew I could study on the long car ride back so I began packing well after midnight on Thursday to leave to go to Ohio early afternoon on Friday.

I was meeting Brandon, Desmond, Ben, Zach, and momma Leverett outside of Atlanta after my test was done. This, unfortunately, put me right in rush hour so it took close to two hours to make it to the other side of Atlanta from Athens. Columbus was about a 9 hour drive at that point so we weren’t set to get in until 2:30 in the morning. Talk about ride or die friends! The actual ride was mostly filled with episodes of Dexter. As it started to get late, I offered to drive and the rest of the car dozed off. I was pretty tired myself, but decided this would be a perfect time to think about my deck list. This is what I decided on:

[ccDeck="Main Deck"]3 Blaster, Dragon Ruler of Infernos:3 Redox, Dragon Ruler of Boulders:3 Tempest, Dragon Ruler of Storms:3 Dragunity Dux:2 Dragunity Phalanx:1 Dragunity Mystletainn:3 Upstart Goblin:3 Sacred Sword of Seven Stars:3 Dragon Ravine:2 Terraforming:2 Cards of Consonance:1 Gold Sarocphagus:1 Book of Moon:3 Reckless Greed:1 Return From the Different Dimension:1 Mirror Force:1 Solemn Warning:1 Compulsory Evacuation Device:1 Raigeki Break:1 Castle of Dragon’s Souls:1 Vanity’s Emptiness[/ccDeck] [ccDeck="Extra Deck"]2 Mecha Phantom Beast Dracossack:1 Number 11 Big Eye:1 Hieratic King Dragon of Atum:1 Constellar Ptolemy M7:1 Scrap Dragon:1 Stardust Dragon:1 Colossal Fighter:2 Crimson Blader:1 Dragunity Knight – Gae Dearg:3 Dragunity Knight – Vajrayana:1 HTS Psyhemuth[/ccDeck] [ccDeck="Side Deck"]1 D. D. Crow:2 Metaion the Time Lord:3 Mystical Space Typhoon:2 Mystical Refpanel:2 Divine Wrath:2 Skill Drain:2 Imperial Iron Wall:1 Chain Disappearance[/ccDeck]

Changes from Last Time

This was the 4th major event in just 6 weeks. I’d elected to play Dragunity at all 4 events and have placed in top cut at all 4 events as well including taking home the gold at the first ARG Circuit Series in Fort Worth, Texas. In that time, the main deck has changed very little. While San Mateo was only 1 week ago, my main deck actually more resembles the deck I used in Texas 3 weeks ago. The main deck was 4 cards off the list I used last week in San Mateo, but only 2 cards off the list I used in Texas. The four cards that changed from San Mateo were

-          Blue-Eyes White Dragon

-          White Stone of Legend

-          Trade-In

-          Raigeki Break

+     Mirror Force
+     Vanity’s Emptiness
+     Gold Sarcophagus
+     Castle of Dragon’s Soul’s

There were three cards that I really liked with running the Blue-Eyes engine; White Stone, Trade-In, and the second Raigeki Break. The card I did not like running was Blue-Eyes himself. The engine worked great when you didn’t draw him. Trade-In was instantly live as you could send White Stone to the graveyard with Ravine, White Stone and Blue-Eyes gave extra Dragons that gave me an upper hand in the Dragon matchup and fueled additional discard cards such as the second Raigeki Break. Unfortunately, I lost my top 16 match in San Mateo because I drew Blue-Eyes. This left a sour taste in my mouth and I decided that I wanted to focus on having the most consistent deck that I could for this event. After several thought experiments, I kept winding up back at my Texas list which played 2 Vanity’s Emptiness, the Gold Sarcophagus, and Red-Eyes Darkness Metal Dragon in the four slots that were different from the San Mateo build.

One piece of theory that was used at San Mateo was the exclusion of Vanity’s Emptiness from the main deck. The idea behind this was that when they had a big field of monsters or they stopped my play with Maxx “C,” Vanity’s Emptiness would be bad and that when I had a big field of monsters, any trap would do what Vanity’s Emptiness would do. That is why I chose to run the second Raigeki Break at San Mateo. Unfortunately, without the Blue-Eyes engine, I didn’t feel like I had enough discard power to allow for 2 Raigeki Breaks in this build. Because of this, I conceded and added back 1 of the Vanity’s Emptiness.

The second trap that I elected to run was Castle of Dragon’s Soul’s. Honestly I never really had time to test the card, but everyone was saying good things about the card so I took them at their word with only 1 local’s worth of testing. In actuality, it has the same problems as Vanity’s Emptiness. If I have a field, anything is just as good and it’s bad when they have a field. Because of this, I probably wouldn’t run it again.

The reason I cut Gold Sarcophagus in the first place for the San Mateo build was that it is essentially another monster. In Texas, I ran 16 monsters and a Gold Sarcophagus meaning I essentially ran 17. To accommodate the Blue-Eyes engine, I did not want to increase the number of monsters in my deck as I thought it could clog, so I cut the Sarcophagus to keep it at 17 monsters. Without the Blue-Eyes in the deck, it was safe to add back the Sarcophagus.

The final change from Texas was dropping the Red-Eyes Darkness Metal Dragon. While I didn’t run Red-Eyes in San Mateo, it was replaced with another equally as bad or worse draw in Blue-Eyes. As I mentioned above, with this event I decided that I wanted to go for consistency. I have never liked Red-Eyes to begin with as it is very win-more and the worst draw in the deck, but never have actually cut it without including the Blue-Eyes which compensates as another bad draw. I decided that it would be okay to cut it if I added M7 to my extra deck which would allow Dux Mystletainn with no Dragon to be M7 Stardust with M7 being able to add back another Dux the following turn. The problem is what to cut it for? This is what I spent the vast majority of my time debating. Ultimately, I was not satisfied with any of my options and wanted to run fewer cards. I briefly considered an idea Paul Clarke joked about the week before with [ccProd]Into the Void[/ccProd], but realized it wasn’t very practical. I then remembered back to YCS Miami earlier this year to when Samuel Pedigo and I were discussing theory in our Wind-Up decklists. Before an official “Upstart Theory” had been published, I was running 3 Upstart Goblins in that deck. Sam suggested that I cut 1 of the Upstarts for a Mirror Force with the idea that Mirror Force would likely get me to my next draw anyway, but would give the added benefit of potentially clearing a threat.  Because of this, for that tournament I decided on a ratio of 2 Upstart Goblin 1 Mirror Force. I now consider this to be wrong as I surely could have cut something else for Mirror Force, but the logic seemed to fit this situation perfectly. I could add Mirror Force as the 37th card with the idea that it could get me to my next draw anyway and potentially deal with some problems too, particularly a Crimson Blader after I am hit with Maxx “C.”

The only change I made in the extra deck was I took out Gaia Dragon for the M7. I explained above why I felt M7 was needed, and it seemed like Gaia Dragon was the most unneeded. I would only summon him after summoning Atum. I would only summon Atum when I had Dux Mystletainn Dragon, in which case I was probably winning. Throughout the weekend I never missed Gaia, but I would still consider him, likely over HTS Psyhemuth. Psyhemuth serves a very niche purpose in that when you get Maxx “C”ed you allow them one extra draw and you cannot get Crimson Bladered. Unfortunately, I find that I am losing the majority of the games where I allow them an extra draw and where I don’t have traps (if I had traps I’d just set them and not make HTS).

I changed 3 cards in the side deck from San Mateo. Originally I had 2 Vanity’s Emptiness and 1 Royal Decree over 2 Imperial Iron Wall and 1 Chain Disappearance. I added one of the Vanity’s back to the main deck and decided to drop the other one entirely as to not over side. The Royal Decree I found was only good against decks I was consistently beating anyway so I found it to be unnecessary. After San Mateo, there was a big hype around Dragunity siding Imperial Iron Wall with the idea that you summon Stardust and set Imperial Iron Wall against regular Dragon decks and the game would be over. Again, with no time to actually test the idea, I took people at their word for it, and just like Castle of Dragon’s Soul’s, it was a big mistake. Throughout the tournament I quickly realized that it never worked out like that and that too many things could go wrong. They could MST your Ravine or Maxx “C” the Dux and you would have a hard time making Stardust actually hit the field. I found that Imperial Iron Wall greatly exaggerated how hurt I was in these scenarios. Let’s say that I had 2 cards committed to making that play (Ravine and Dux). That left me with 4 cards left if they stopped it that I could use to recover with. Iron Wall was extremely bad if they stopped my Stardust play which meant that if I had it in my hand, I only had 3 cards instead of 4 to try to recover with. As I was playing throughout day 1, I realized this and ultimately stopped side-decking it in altogether and just accepting a 13 card side deck.

The last card I added to the side deck was Chain Disappearance. The idea behind this card was that I could side it in the mirror, regardless of whether I went first or second and I would be able to hit Phalanx which would make it exceedingly difficult for them to win. They don’t really have enough cards to consistently remove for Dragon’s and they would shortly run out of steam.

As you can see, lot’s of theory goes into some of these decisions (we’re already 2000 words deep and I’ve only explained 8 cards), but some of these I trusted other people where I should not have. Ultimately, I’m going to trust myself more than I trust someone else.

We get to the hotel around the time that we planned and quickly head to bead so that we can wake up early for the next day.

We get to the event and find out that a similar number of people to Texas were in attendance (slightly above 300) with lots of all star players there like Billy Brake and Frazier Smith. I run around trying to borrow some of my last minute decisions like M7 and Chain Disappearance and barely get finished on time. Shortly thereafter, round 1 starts!


Round 1

Vs Malefic Dark World

Game 1: I start off pretty strong, but he has some Reckless Greeds to keep up and keep him in the game. He drops a Malefic Cyber End to attack over part of my field, but as Dragons do, I eventually grind him down through most of his cards until he sets a monster. Summoning Dracossack or Scrap Dragon wasn’t an option and I briefly consider it as Morphing Jar. I decide against attacking it and simply set Warning and sure enough, it’s Morphing Jar! Had I not been able to Warning it, that game could have gotten out of hand quickly. Until he conceded I did not think he was playing Dark World, but just some Malefic variant, but he threw his hand of 3 Dark World monsters onto the board before going to side deck.

Game 2: This game was relatively short. He had an Imperial Iron Wall that he got to pretty early in the game, but that doesn’t do that much against my deck. I was able to MST his other sets and then pop it with Scrap Dragon when I was ready to. This allowed me to put up a Dracossack, Stardust, Scrap Dragon, and have my own Imperial Iron Wall set.


Round 2

Vs. Dragunity

Game 1: I win the dice roll and start off with Gae Dearg to search Dux backed with protection. He has Ravine for my Ravine, but I stop his play. On my turn I flip Reckless which gets me into some draw cards and into another Reckless and the advantages quickly overtakes him.

Game 2: He starts off with a couple of backrow, but isn’t really able to get anything going. I have an average hand which begins to snowball quickly as Reckless once again put me so far ahead in the game.


Round 3

Vs. Dragunity

Game 1: I win the dice roll and start off with a synchro and several defensive cards and Reckless. Winning the dice roll here was huge as he was playing the wombo combo version of the deck and opened with it. It took all of my traps to keep him at bay for a turn until I could flip Return and kill him the following turn.

Game 2: He starts off with 4 backrow. He eventually gets into double Reckless which would almost certainly mean that I lose, but when he attempts to push for a combo, I have Chain Disappearance for his Phalanx. He has a huge 7 card hand and several sets, but can’t actually capitalize and I’m able to come back.


Round 4

Vs Jordan Winters, Dragons

Game 1:

Game 2:

Game 3:


Round 5

Vs Mark Valez, Dragons

Game 1: We have a pretty big ruling dispute this game where he said that my Mystletainn’s summon was fine, special Phalanx and ask for a response. After several minutes, he flips Book of Moon saying “on the summon.” Well if he’s said that Mystletainn is fine and Phalanx has been on the field, I clearly think he’s talking about on the summon of Phalanx, but he’s saying on the summon of Mystletainn. We argue about this for a couple minutes and call a judge, who gets the assistant head judge who eventually rules in my favor because the entire two minutes he was thinking, he never gave any indication that Phalanx should not be in the monster zone. After this, I make Crimson Blader to kill his Big Eye and Blaster to crash with Scrap Dragon and take the game on the following turn.

Game 2: This was a really strange game. I open triple Reckless Greed, but never can really get anything going and he ends up winning.

Game 3: We have 3 minutes until time so I’m forced to side out Upstart Goblin and subsequently open a bad hand containing Ref Panel, double Iron Wall, and Metaion. I flip Iron Wall when he draws and for some reason he decides to summon Debris and attack for 1000 with three minutes until time is called. I’m still not able to get anything going the following turn, so to not fall behind in life points for time which is inevitably coming, I summon Metaion and attack Debris to which he picks it up and reads it, puts it down, and flips Raigeki Break. I ask for a response and he says no before I tell him that it can’t die. I still couldn’t capitalize and end up losing in time.


Round 6

Vs Spellbooks

Game 1: I put up a monster, but he’s able to get over it. He then uses Justice’s effect and passes with no backrow which allows me to kill him.

Game 2: He wastes a Maxx “C” and then I Divine Wrath his Magician and take the game easily.


Round 7

Vs Trey Massengale, Lightsworn Zombie

Game 1: As Trey won a YCS before, we get featured on camera, but it’s not up yet. He’s not really able to get much going in the first game and has lots of dead cards like[ccProd]Bacon Saver[/ccProd] and Necro Gardna without any real defense and I resolve multiple Reckless Greeds to take the game easily.

Game 2: Again, he’s not really able to get anything going and my deck just does what it does. After the match he showed me what all he sided and it was something like 13 cards. This is a classic example of oversiding. There’s no way he had 13 cards that didn’t help his engine out that he could take out to side in those cards which resulted in an awkward hand.


Round 8

Vs Frazier Smith, Dragons

Game 1: Again we go on camera, but it’s not up yet. We both start out pretty well the first game. I have Dux, but get Maxx “C”ed. I make HTS and set double Reckless. He plays Sword and now has 8 in hand. I flip double Reckless the following turn and we’ve both got lots of options at our disposal. I decide against playing Mirror Force on his Dragon attacking, even though I know I’ll lose it main phase 2 to Dracossack because I’m scared that one of his sets might be Return. I later realize that I should have Mirror Forced because if his set were Return, he’d have made Dracossack main phase 1 to tribute itself and pop my set and then flip Return for game.

Game 2: Frazier has a slow start this game and when he’s finally able to get something going with a Cards of Consonace, I have a Refpanel to end the game.

Game 3: I could tell that he was hurting for elements early in the game. He summoned Trooper first turn to try and get some, which meant that his set was a defensive card. I could tell that it was a Phoenix Wing and tried to get him to play it on my Ravine before I played my draw cards so that I could simply draw it back, but he wouldn’t. Shortly afterwards, a Debris came down. I could stop the first one, but when a second one hit the following turn, the game was over.


Round 9

Vs Dalton Bousman

Game 1: They make an announcement to start the game. I won the dice roll and had the best hand possible. It was going to end with M7, Stardust, Raigeki Break, and double Reckless set with Ravine on the field. At this point a judge comes by and tells us that we can’t start, even though they clearly made an announcement that we could start. He said that it was a mistake and that’d we’d have to restart.

Game 1: I open the complete opposite and my hand consists of no monsters, Book of Moon, and Vanity’s Emptiness, a horrible combination to be facing Spellbooks. I quickly lose the first game and become very frustrated at the situation.

Game 2: I start the game with a Scrap Dragon and some backrow. Reckless puts me pretty far ahead and I win with a Divine Wrath still set.

Game 3: He starts with Magician searching Fate and Tower with Fate being able to remove 3 since he used Crescent. I Blaster away the Magician so he can’t Fate my Ravine, but he has MST. I know I’m in an awful position now and just have 2 Tempest and a Reckless. I use Tempest to search a Phalanx and set my Reckless. He summons a Kycoo and attacks for 1800. I get pretty lucky and hit a Cards of Consonance off the top. Reckless gets me into some more cards including Return and Book. I use Book on Kycoo and revive a Dragon to Sacred Sword away hoping to get a Ravine or Dux. I get Ravine and use it over his Tower. Dux makes Crimson Blader and I set Return. He sets two which I get through with Scrap Dragon and Dracossack before flipping Return for game.

I knew I had good tie breakers and that I should make it. Sure enough, I was in 13th place after standings giving me my 11th top overall and 7th top this year. Desmond and Zach also made top cut. Afterwards we went for pizza at Pizza Hut before heading back to the hotel for some quick sleep before day 2. I was excited to replay Mark Valez, my first loss in swiss in top 16.

We get there nice an early and find out that decklists were posted online. This is something that UDE used to do before top cut began and certainly effected how people played. Knowing that he played 2 Scarecrow, 1 MST, 1 Econ, 1 Emptiness, and 3 Raigeki Breaks was certainly important in how I would play the match. On the reverse side, he knew all the cards that I played.

Top 16

Vs. Mark Valez

Game 1: He had an early Maxx “C” which was pretty crippling when paired with Sword to put him ahead in the game and he ended up taking it easily.

Game 2: I have Book of Moon for his Crimson Blader which allows me to put game on board with a Crimson Blader of my own to play around Scarecrow.

Game 3: He starts off with lots of sets. I get it going with a Sword into a Reckless. He has Maxx “C” to stop my first Dux push. Reckless gets me into another Reckless, but he’s able to stay in the game with a second Maxx “C.” He then has Dark Hole to clear the field, but isn’t making one himself. The following turn, a third Maxx “C” comes down to stop my push, but now I’ve got a lot of advantage. He makes a last ditch effort when he’s finally able to summon 1 Dragon by tributing for Vanity’s fiend, but I’d been holding double Blaster for quite a while which effectively ended the game.

Top 8

Vs Sean McCabe, Constellar

Game 1: McCabe is a really good player who understands the game extremely well. At some point in the game, he attacks with 3 monsters, knowing I play Mirror Force. I think this was correct. I think he acknowledges that his deck is more fair than my deck is and that he needs to end the game as quickly as possible in order try and avoid unfair things happening to him. The game starts off with him using the Stratos-type guy and setting 2. I know he plays 3 MST and 2 Dust. I have 2 Sword with no Dragons, Cards of Consonance, Ravine, and 2 traps. I decide that there’s no way he doesn’t have MST/Dust and that if I use Ravine and he does have it, I’m too far behind so my best chance is setting a backrow and baiting it and hoping for the best the next turn. Sure enough, he MSTs one of my sets. The following turn he makes the rank 5 that bounces after attacking for a lot of damage. I don’t draw a Dragon, but now have to play Ravine. He doesn’t have another MST and I get Phalanx to Cards it away with still no Dragon in sight. I set 3 knowing I’ll live if he doesn’t summon a monster and have Reckless to hopefully get me back in the game, but when he bounces my Reckless on the end phase I scoop it up.

Game 2: I start off this game strong with a couple of Reckless and Skill Drain. He makes Crazy Box to stay alive, but I make Dracossack and pop it and then flip Return for game.

Game 3: This game was weird where I had no draw cards and no traps. It was mostly monsters. When I summon a Vajrayana, he bounces. I summon Blaster and attack over it. Next turn he searches the Kerkyion-type guy with the Stratos-type guy and makes Zenmaines with an already face up Stratos guy. He rams into my Blaster and kills my Ravine and then sets traps taking control of the game.

I’m glad that Sean went on to win the entire event. He’s been a consistent player throughout the years and as I said, I think he has a really good understanding of the game. While I wasn't able to win back-to-back Circuits, I am glad that I have been able to remain consistent myself. I still hold the most tops this year and am doing my best to climb up the list of top players. I’d like to thank ARG for yet another smoothly run and fun-filled event. I certainly hope to see you all in Boston for the next Circuit Series in November. Until next time, play hard or go home!


Patrick Hoban

Patrick Hoban

Patrick Hoban

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