Deck Doctor #11: Skill Drain Machina

tyler nolanHey readers, this week we're going to do things a little different. Normally, I'd pick 2 decks from the facebook inbox, and make a few changes on each, with a fairly brief write-up to go along with each one. This week, however, we're just going to take a very in-depth look at Alexander Chu's Skill Drain Machina deck. The reason for this, is because of Tachyon, a lot has changed, and I want to use this opportunity to more fully explain the reasoning for the changes I'm making, and explain my thought process when building/refining a deck.

2 Ancient Gear Gadjultron Dragon
3 Beast King Barbaros
3 Machina Fortress
3 Machina Gearframe
3 Malefic Cyber End Dragon
2 Silver Sentinel
2 Thunder King Rai-Oh

Spells: 15
1 Dark Hole
3 Forbidden Lance
3 Geartown
1 Heavy Storm
3 Mystical Space Typhoon
2 Pot of Duality
1 Terraforming

1 Mirror Force
3 Skill Drain
1 Solemn Warning
2 Torrential Tribute

skill drainSo here we have a deck built to capitalize on various synergies with Skill Drain, while also locking the opponent out with the same card. The main problem that I see with the deck is that it looks like it’s setup to fight in a pre-Tachyon metagame, with cards like Silver Sentinel, Forbidden Lance, and Mystical Space Typhoon, which right now just don’t cut it. My main goal with this deck is to convert it over to a post-tachyon list, designed to better combat the big threats.

The cut I want to make is the two Silver Sentinels, with a lot of decks even cutting Heavy Storm, and MST being a cut almost across the board, Sentinel is definitely out. Thunder King doesn’t seem to have much synergy with the rest of what your deck is trying to accomplish either, without ways to protect him, he just gets run over by an Elemental Dragon, Evilswarm monster, or Priestess. While it’s definitely very high-impact versus Spellbooks overall, the card is so easy for other decks to play around that I can’t see a justification for maining the card.

Moving onto the spells, I’m going start by cutting the 3 Forbidden Lances. The threats in the metagame right now don’t come in spell/trap form, and the 800 atk is pretty negligible with all of your monsters extremely large as it is. Generally, the decks that benefit from Lance the most are the decks that gain advantage through battle through cards like Bear, and Guiaba. Next, I’m going to cut the 3 Mystical Space Typhoons. As I said earlier, this format is extremely trap-light, while being able to Typhoon your own Geartown is nice, I have a replacement for that coming up later. Dark Hole is also extremely mediocre right now with Dracossacks, Wisdoms, and Pandemics everywhere. I’m cutting that as well.

The last spell I’m going to cut is going to be 1 Geartown, this is going to become a 2nd Terraforming later on for reasons I’ll explain when I add another field spell.

mirror forceFor the trap cards, I’m going to cut the Mirror Force and the two Torrential Tributes. There is good reason why traps like this aren’t seeing play, between Infestation Pandemics, Spellbooks of Wisdom, and virtually free lv7 xyzs with Elemental Dragons, the card will either do nothing, or the simplification will be in their favor. What we need to do with our traps is establish a setup, and kill the opponent before they get to break it. Neither of these cards is going to prevent Dracossack from coming down and blowing up your monster, nor will they prevent an opponent from summoning Ophion and locking you out of the game.

The cuts in summary(15):

-2 Silver Sentinel

-2 Thunder King Rai-Oh

-3 Forbidden Lance

-3 Mystical Space Typhoon

-1 Geartown

-1 Mirror Force

-1 Dark Hole

-2 Torrential Tribute

Evilswarm OphionBefore I get into discussing the additions, I want to go on a bit of a tangent.

When building a deck this format, I have some essential questions I ask myself:

  1. How do I deal with the fundamental setups of each deck (t1 Dracossack out of Dragon, t1 Jowgen out of Spellbook, t1 Ophion out of Evilswarm)?
  2. What is my plan versus Spellbook and Dragon? For example, resolving Eradicator versus Spellbook is a plan. Summoning Obelisk versus Dragon is a plan. You can’t compete with these decks in a grind, so you either need to lock them out of the game, or kill them before they get to capitalize on the immense number of cards they generate.
  3. Do I care about Ophion? If so, do I have enough answers to it?

This format is really weird, because decks do what they are designed to do with extreme consistency on turn 1. More often than not, your opponent playing Spellbooks will be able to Judgment -> Jowgen turn 1, you need an answer to that. More often than not, your Evilswarm opponent will be able to produce an Ophion turn 1, you need an answer to that. More often than not, your Dragon opponent will be able to summon a Dracossack turn 1, you need an answer to that. Just like how during Samurai format, your deck needed to be able to answer Shi-en, now your deck needs to be able to answer this wide-variety of threats, THEN you get to play Yu-gi-oh!

So how does this deck answer these questions?

  1. Dracossack? Hope to have Skill Drain. Jowgen? This one is a little easier, we have Gearframe, Barbaros, and Skill Drain to answer Jowgen now, but Jowgen + Fate practically hard locks us if we don’t have Storm. Ophion? We’re again pretty much just on a prayer for Skill Drain. Even with Drain though things can still get a little sticky if we don’t also have aBarbaros to summon, since they can Pandemic on our turn to continue locking us out with Ophion for another turn.
  2. Versus Spellbook before the cuts, we had a kind of awkward plan of protecting the 2-of Thunder King, and hoping to kill our opponent before they drew an answer. As of right now though, we don’t even have that, we’re basically stone dead to Spellbook game 1 before adding more cards in. Our Dragon plan is a little stronger, Skill Drain + a beater can actually be rather tough for them to answer if they overextend early on, or just don’t have a Blaster + fire to pitch to deal with Drain. It’s a little fragile, but it’s a solid start.
  3. We definitely care about Ophion, and right now we just have Skill Drain as an out.

Now we have something concrete to work towards, we want confident answers to all of these questions. This has been the first step I’ve gone through for all of the various decks I’ve been brewing this format. In most cases, it won’t be possible to confidently answer all of these questions, so we’ll just do as much as we can and see where it takes us.

necrovalleyThe first addition I want to make is a 2nd Terraforming, as I said I was going to do earlier. Next is the Field Spell I wanted to add, 2 copies of Necrovalley. Necrovalley improves our plan versus Elemental Dragons, locking out their Graveyard effects, and it also locks out Spellbook of Fate in the Prophecy matchup giving us more answers to Jowgen + Fate. Not to mention how well Necrovalley synergizes with the rest of the deck. If fills Typhoon’s role of being able to destroy Geartown, while also sticking around and putting in a ton of work as the game goes longer. Even versus Evilswarm, it shuts out Kerkyions, making it much more difficult for the opponent to summon a 2nd Ophion should you deal with the first one. Maining Necrovalley also opens up a sideboard option with Royal Tribute as well, versus decks like Dragons, and some other rogue decks with high monster counts that card can be a huge blowout.

Instead of adding a 3rd Necrovalley, I’m going to add in a Gravekeeper’s Commandant as a tutor for it, this way you have fewer clumped hands, as worst case he’s a 2100 beater rather than a dead field spell. He also doubles as another monster that can attack over a Def. Jowgen, which isn’t completely irrelevant.

Next, Breakthrough Skill is the best answer right now to Jowgen and Ophion. Because you get 2 uses out of it, a single Wisdom/Pandemic doesn’t save their monster, and while it seems a bit redundant with Skill Drains, in this case the redundancy is a good thing. With Jowgen/Ophion up, we don’t get to play the game at all, Breakthrough gives us more answers, thus more opportunities to play. Also, where Skill Drain loses to Fate, it’s much more difficult for Breakthrough to lose to Fate.

Breakthrough SkillA comment I anticipate seeing below is, “Breakthrough + Necrovalley = Nonbo” And yeah, they are a bit of a nonbo, but they fill such different roles. Breakthrough helps get you in the game early should a turn 1 Jowgen/Ophion be locking you out, you can hold the Necrovalley until that problem is taken care of.

I’m going to add 2 copies.

With all of these field spells, we can easily support a bigger Malefic engine. Malefic Stardust Dragon, while he isn’t a machine, protects your Necrovalley from Blaster in the Elemental Dragon matchup, and Post-Board versus Spellbooks gives you a real plan in Eradicator Epidemic Virus. With just Malefic Cyber End, you couldn’t really support it, but with 6 Malefic monsters it’s actually very viable.

Compulsory Evacuation Device is a rather silly looking answer to Jowgen/Ophion, but it baits the Pandemic/Wisdom all the same for a Skill Drain/Breakthrough Skill to finish the job. However, the real reason for this is for Elemental Dragons. Normally, trying to play a 1-1 game, even with the xyzs of the dragon deck, is a pretty poor plan. Because of Necrovalley however, their xyzs are actually a significant investment, so following up a Necrovalley with a Compulsory to get rid of the Dracossack they try to make as an answer for Valley/passed turn 1 with is a pretty devastating line if they can’t answer the Necrovalley. To round off the traps, I’m going to add in 3 Compulsories, and a Solemn Judgment. Book of Moon is another card that functions like Compulsory in here, it baits Wisdom/Pandemic, and provides a quick answer to Dracossack. Chainability is Huge right now. I’m going to add in 1 Book of Moon.

With the last slot, I’m going to add in a 1-of Forbidden Chalice. This card is a bit tricky, while you only get one use out of it, you get to use it on your own monsters unlike Breakthrough. This means Barbaros can go from 1900 to 3400 in the damage step, providing another out to Ophion. Being a quickplay rather than a trap has benefits as well, being able to use it as soon as it’s drawn can be huge for overcoming a Jowgen.

Additions in summary:

+1 Terraforming

+2 Necrovalley

+1 Gravekeeper’s Commandant

+2 Breakthrough Skill

+3 Malefic Stardust Dragon

+3 Compulsory Evacuation Device

+1 Solemn Judgment

+1 Book of Moon

+1 Forbidden Chalice

compulseNow let’s go back and revisit those questions we asked earlier:

  1. Dracossack? We have proactive answers to the initial Dracossack in Compulsory Evacuation Device, and if we get a turn before Dracossack comes down, we can also Breakthrough Skill, Book of Moon, or Skill Drain it to prevent the tokens from coming out. Beating over the remaining 2600 body shouldn’t be too tough for this deck, especially since the dragon deck doesn’t play real traps. Jowgen? This one is still a little tough, but we definitely have a lot more answers now than we started out with. We don’t get hard locked by Jowgen + Fate now either, since we can force the Fate out with a Necrovalley, then beat over the Jowgen with one of our monsters. We also have cards like Breakthrough Skill, to slowly push through the Jowgen. Ophion? We have way more answers than we started out with, Plenty of traps that force Pandemic, as well as Breakthrough Skills that almost deal with Ophion by themselves.
  2. Versus Dragons, we actually have a reasonable grind plan with Necrovalley. With them unable to access their Graveyard, and with Skill Drain, it’s actually going to be very tough for dragons to get ahead through all of the stuff we have able to slow them down before we just kill them with our own large monsters. Versus Spellbook, our plan is still a bit shoddy. While Necrovalley is a nice answer to looping Fates, they can just play a Tower over our Necrovalley and take care of it. We’re going to have to sideboard pretty heavily for this deck, I’ll get to the sideboard in a minute. Game 1 we’re basically just summoning monsters, and hoping that we kill them before their card advantage becomes completely insurmountable(which can happen very, very quickly)
  3. Ophion is still a huge problem, yup. However, now we definitely have answers to it.

Now moving onto the sidedeck, if you’re not comfortable with the number of outs to Ophion you have, you can sideboard Genex Ally Duradark, who fills a double role as something who can destroy Ophion, and something you can pitch to Fortress. You could also go with the more standard Tsukuyomi. You can’t discard Tsukuyomi to Fortress, but it can be reused in case they make more Ophions. Royal Tribute is another card that easily gets sided in versus Evilswarm when you’re going first, preventing an Ophion is just as good, if not better than killing it.

Versus Dragons, Vanity’s Emptiness as I stated in my previous article, is one of my favorite cards versus that deck. Because all of their summons use the chain, you can respond to them with Emptiness, and not only will emptiness prevent that summon from occurring, but it also continues locking them out until they destroy a card you control, which can be quite a task for the Dragon deck. Here especially, Royal Tribute is insane since the deck plays so man y monsters.

I said earlier you’re going to need your sideboard to carry you versus Spellbooks. So to begin, you’re going to want 3 Eradicator Epidemic Virus. You can tribute Malefic monsters for it. Now, 6 targets for Eradicator is a bit slim, you’re probably going to want to board some number of Fusilier Dragon, the Dual-Mode Beast. This guy fills real roles in your deck besides Eradicator as well. He synergizes with Skill Drain, becoming a 2800 normal summonable beater. He is also another Machine for Machina Fortress. Also, Droll & Lock Bird is another card you’re going to want to have, just as a way to slow them down while you try to establish EEV, or better yet, killing them.

Now we have concrete answers to the 3 big decks early setups, so we are at least able to play. We have a plan to combat the powerful engines from Spellbooks and Dragons, so we’re playing our cards with a productive purpose. Now what? Playtesting. This is all just theory, you need to make sure everything is cohesive and runs well. This is far from a final build, it’s just a new starting point. We have a plan, now make it work.

There are other decks to worry about as well, Tidal Mermail, Frog Monarch, Infernity, Dragunity, and Inzektor are all smaller, but still relevant decks you should have a plan against. This however, will likely just come naturally with playtesting.

So that’s all for this week. Normally I’d doctor another deck, but I wanted to go as in-depth as possible on the previous deck, and try to explain my thought-processes in great detail. The game right now is extremely different than it was before Tachyon came out, rather than competing with decks like Water which throw 8000 on the board on a whim, we need to compete with decks like Dragon Ruler, or Spellbook which generate so many cards it might as well be infinite. Trying to compete with one for one simplification just isn’t possible right now, you need brutal efficiency with the few cards you have access to. Be it Eradicator, Obelisk, or Vanity’s Emptiness, you need your cards to be much more than simple one-for-ones to compete in a longer game versus those two decks.

So I hope this was an enjoyable read, for those of you who made it through. If you have any questions about anything I said, post a comment and I’ll try to reply to you. If you have a deck you’d like to submit for either Johnny or myself to doctor, send us a message on the deck doctor facebook page, located here:

Until next time readers, remember to play hard or go home!