Hello everyone, I’m back this week to recap my Third Place finish at ARG Circuit Series Orlando! Leading up to ARG Orlando I had my heart set on playing PePe, or some deck that utilized the powerful pendulum mechanic. As I played more and more matches with PePe I began to feel myself losing control of games just because my opponent had Wavering Eyes and I did not have an out (Damage Juggler/Wavering Eyes). At first I thought that these games where I was losing control could have been the result of making an incorrect play, but then I noticed a pattern one night.
The weather outside was indeed frightful and there was no fire to be delightful, but nevertheless Brad Larmie and I tested for several hours. While testing we wanted to ensure that we were both playing optimally, which lead us to discuss each other’s line of play as turns came and went. With both of us playing at what we deemed “near-perfect”, we still ended up with an even win ratio. As we drove back home in the blizzard that swept Wisconsin that night, I began having more doubts about PePe simply because I did not want to fly all the way to Orlando and flip coins for 8-9 rounds.
The next day I went to my locals with the intention of testing PePe against Kozmo because Jeff had been ranting and raving for a few weeks about how well he was going to do with Kozmo. I sat down to play against my friend Ryan and I found myself struggling to deal with multiple Dark Destroyers. My preconceived notion regarding the Kozmo match-up was that I would just Ignister them and then finish them off in one turn. While this can happen occasionally, I began to see the ignorance in my original theory. Sure you can use Ignister to out a Dark Destroyer if there’s no other factors influencing the gamestate, but if you add 1/2 backrows, the equation becomes much more complex. What happens if there’s a Breakthrough Skill or some other form of negation? You will probably fall behind and lose because PePe doesn’t typically utilize trap cards for protection (besides Blair Hunter). I found myself losing more games than expected to Kozmo while testing against it and it was at that moment I realized that Kozmo was my pick for Orlando.
Immediately after this realization at my locals, I asked my buddy Ryan to lend me his deck for the weekend and he was more than happy to supply me the deck. Mind you, I knew very little about how to play Kozmo that night, which lead me to fishbowl various hands and just think about what I could do with them. I had vivid memories of Jeff doing some spectacular combo with Strawman and Dark Destroyer, but I was having a hard time seeing the super cool ones. I asked Jeff for help with the deck and he was extremely helpful with building the deck and showing me some simple combos to look for. By the time we had finalized the deck list (namely the side deck), I realized I still needed quite a lot of cards to actually play the deck for Orlando. I immediately contacted ARG and they were able to supply me with 90% of the cards I needed, which was wonderful. The remaining cards I borrowed from Ned Salkovitch and my local friend Xavier, shout out to them for helping me finish my deck for the weekend.
New Years Eve came and it was time to fly in to Orlando to see Jeff, which was slightly annoying because my flight took off at 6pm and got in around 10:30pm. Once my plane touched down I met up with Josh Bovarnick, ARG’s head judge for Orlando, and he drove me to my hotel. In the car ride Josh and I discussed Yugioh theory and something particularly interesting came up in conversation. Josh told me that Naturia Beast’s text was changed in Legendary Collection 5ds and a lot of players failed to notice this for a whole year! The new wording on Naturia Beast meant that it had to remain face-up on the field to actually negate a spell. This is a huge deal because it means you can use Ghost Ogre to essentially “negate” Naturia Beast, which is extremely advantageous for those playing PePe over the weekend. Josh dropped me off at the hotel and I almost immediately told Jeff about the Naturia Beast text change and he didn’t even believe me! He had to go online and look it up, only to realize that Josh was right. After some New Years celebrations, we went to bed knowing we were going to have to playtest the following day.
Jeff and I woke up around noon on New Years day and we ate with the ARG staff because they were grilling lots of yummy food outside our hotel room. We couldn’t leave our hotel until one of my best friends, Colton Young, landed in Orlando. This was likely to be Colton’s last event before he leaves for the National Guard; he wanted it to be a big one! Before dinner, Jeff had Colton and I playtest (he was using PePe) and I was winning almost every game but with the help of Jeff. Feeling pretty uneasy about Day One, I left our hotel to go out to Downtown Disney with Jeff, Colton, Jim, Brad and some other ARG employees. Dinner was particularly hilarious because Colton informed everyone of his plan to win ARG Orlando and use the prize money to pay for his cat’s operation. Colton’s cat has been limping for a few weeks and his father does not want to pay for X-Rays and the surgery needed (I’m not making this up), which gave Colton his drive to try and win. After a delicious dinner with hilarious conversation, we all took an Uber back to our hotel to get some much-needed rest for Day One!
Colton, Jeff, and I all got in an Uber and headed towards the convention center where the event was being held. Our driver, Paul, was very memorable because he knew we were going to a Yugioh event before we had event told him! To quote Paul,
“Sh*t, If I was playing one of my guys in the final, we’d have to set aside our friendship and focus on winning that bread,” we all laughed pretty hard and told Paul more about how Yugioh worked. After a five star Uber ride, we went in the convention center and met up with all our friends. I ran over to the ARG booth and grabbed the cards they had promised to lend me, then I walked around the room to get a scope of what deck seemed to be popular.
“PePe, PePe, Kozmo, Synchro Fusionist, Burning Abyss, PePe, PePe,” I thought to myself as I looked at what everyone was using. Still feeling a little uneasy about my chances at the event, Jeff and I turned in our 100 points to redeem 2 byes for this event. The last time Jeff and I both used 2 byes we ended up getting paired up in the third round (ARG Indy). Hoping that this would not happen again we searched for some much needed water (the water on tap was gross). Two rounds came and went and it was finally time to duel!
Round One: Bye
Round Two: Bye
Round Three: Kozmo, Jeff Jones
Furious that we were paired up again at round three, we elected to intentional draw at the beginning of the round.
Round Four: Satellarknights
This match was one of my favorites in the entire tournament. I sat down and put my hood up to focus on my match, when I hear my opponent start spouting some absolute nonsense.
“It’s crazy how people think Jeff Jones is good, when his boyfriend just builds all his decks for him”, I actually couldn’t believe my ears. Patrick James was playing diagonal to me and he completely lost it and burst out laughing. I looked to my right and Jeff was sitting there, but I didn’t think he heard what this man said. I quickly corrected this mans mistake, and formally introduced myself as “ARG Max Reynolds.” The look on his face was priceless as he shrugged and apologized to me for what he had said. At this moment I realized that he was already on tilt and the match hadn’t even started yet. I ended up losing the dice roll and he went first, which irritated me. He did some Satellarknight things and I preceded to Kozmo him to death because he hadn’t drawn the most ideal hand. After losing game one he looked pretty down on himself, I told him he should change things up and put his Pikachu hat back on for good luck. He reluctantly put back on this Pikachu hat and drew insanely broken game two. I don’t remember anything more than multiple Triverrs and some Imperial Iron Walls. Game three started and I realized we were going to go into time because we were both taking a long time to make our plays.
Game three didn’t look good for me because my hand was slower than his and he started this off with an Imperial Iron Wall activation followed by three other backrows. I had a Grand Horn of Heaven and a Time Space Trap Hole to work with, as Kozmo Farm Girl had no ship to pilot. On his turn he summoned a Vega, grabbed Altair from his hand, and used Altair to get Deneb from the graveyard. At this point I knew I had to do something to get him to Triverr me because if he just attacked me I would probably lose.
“Shoot, if I get Triverr’d here I will literally just lose the game,” I sighed. This man thought for a moment, and then stacked his three childish monsters on top of each other and made a Triverr, to which I flipped Grand Horn of Heaven. He looked pissed and passed his turn. I got in there with some good ole Farm Girl damage and the game eventually simplified down to a point where I was roughly 2000 points ahead of him. A similar situation arose where he was in a position to attack me and probably win the game, but I had to have a chat with him before he made his play. He entered his battle phase and just like before, I had a Farm Girl with no ship to pilot. My card in hand was a Strawman, which obviously wasn’t doing me any good at this point. He was about to attack my Farm Girl but I looked at him and gripped my card in hand. He literally said, “Oh Honest,” and went into his main phase 2! On my following turn I was able to draw a Dark Destroyer and finish him off!
Round Five: PePe
After quite the hilarious round four I sat down across my next opponent who was super nice! We had a really pleasant pre-game chat about the most recent Star Wars movie because I noticed he had an Episode 7 shirt on. I won the dice roll and elected to go first. I drew a Time-Space Trap Hole, Sanctum, and a Scythe, which was awesome. I didn’t have any Kozmo monsters to normal summon (Just a SlipRider in hand) so I just passed after setting three. He drew and normal summoned a Kozmo Goodwitch.
“Oh god why, not the mirror match, this is going to be such a drag,” I thought to myself. He attacked me and I accepted the 1800 damage. I drew a Wicked Witch and summoned it with the initial thought of “well if I attack him and he tags out into a ship, I’ll just Time-Space it and take control.” Following through with my plan of attack, I swung in his Goodwitch. He thought for a moment and said,
“Anything before battle step?” I thought for a moment, and told him no. Once we entered battle step, he asked me for a response, and I shot gunned the Slip Rider summon out of fear. I attack the Goodwitch with Sliprider and he discarded a Damage Juggler! Completely surprised I thought,
“Kozmo PePe? There was no way this guy was playing that type of hybrid deck I kept telling myself.” He went about his turn and did typical PePe plays, which were eventually stopped by my Artifact Scythe. I quickly finished him off game one. While we were side decking I asked him if the Goodwitches were in his deck to out Naturia Beast and he nodded his head “yes.” Game two was over on my second turn as I just otk’d him, he couldn’t seem to get anything going.
Round 6: PePe, Gabriel Molina
As soon as I sat down I smiled because Gabe and I were sitting next to each other all day long and I knew he was using PePe, which was my most preferable match-up. Gabe and I exchanged pleasant conversation as we were talking in-between rounds leading up to this one. Gabe won the dice roll and let me go first, which is exactly what I wanted to happen. Game one was a clear cut win for me because of the Artifact cards locking him out of the game. After side decking, Gabe let me go first again, and I had zero complaints.
I used Artifacts and well sequenced Time-Space trap hole to cut Gabe’s advantage, and inflict massive damage to him, which left him at 4000. Gabe drew and used Kaiju Sea Turtle on me and tributed my Sliprider to play around a potential Pleiades on my next turn. Gabe couldn’t do much more on his turn and passed back to me. I thought for a moment and looked at the Kaiju monster I was given; after reviewing my options I realized I had an awesome play.
“What do you have, a rank 8?” Gabe joked. I smirked and the look on his face was priceless. I used my own Dark Destroyer and his Sea Turtle Kaiju to make Number 23: Lancelot! The whole game I was saucing but it was at this moment I was indeed lost in the sauce. Once it had sunk in that I summoned Lancelot, Gabe took a moment to read the card and understand what it did. I used Lancelot and my remaining monsters to finish him, because Lancelot was able to prevent him from using monster effects to block my damage. This was one of my favorite matches the entire tournament and at the end of the game I told Gabe that we would both top and he went on to get 2nd!
Round 7: Burning Abyss
This match was seen on the ARG stream, which should be published to YouTube at some point this week. I ended up winning the match so be sure to check that out once it’s made public.
Round 8: Kozmo
My opponent and I both agreed to intentional draw this round because it would guarantee us both a spot in the top cut.
Top 16: PePe
Before this match started my opponent received a game loss for not writing Daigusto Emeral on his deck list, I felt really bad because I’ve received my fair share of game losses when it’s mattered. Knowing that he wouldn’t be able to side deck I felt extremely comfortable and he even let me go first! I set three and on his following turn I used the power of Solemn Warning to halt his flood of pendulum monsters. He tried to come back but was then met by a Time-Space Trap Hole, which sealed his fate. On my following turn I beat him down with my skillful attack deck. I’d say I attacked pretty well that game.
Top 8: PePe
This match was streamed so be sure to check it out once it’s posted! I ended up winning fairly quickly because I got to resolve Artifact Scythe multiple times.
Top 4: PePe, Blair Hunter
Yet another match that was streamed, don’t forget to check this one out! I ended up losing because I played pretty horribly in game three. Nevertheless congratulations to Blair for beating me and winning the entire tournament, very well deserved!
3rd/4th Playoff: Kozmo
See streamed feature match. I ended up winning pretty fast.
Feeling pretty down on myself for messing up in Top 4, I tried to remain positive looking back at the overall weekend and I smiled knowing my vacation wasn’t over yet. The following day, we all went to Sea World, which was awesome. I’d like to thank Alterealitygames and all my friends for lending me cards, and Jeff for supporting me all the way. I was pleasantly surprised with how much I liked Kozmo and I will definitely be testing it for the next event. Until next time duelists, Play Hard or Go Home!