Every now and again the Yu-Gi-Oh card pool happens to align in such a way that a unique First Turn Kill variant becomes viable. The original perpetrator was the dreaded Magical Scientist/Catapult Turtle combo, but since then, the likes of Royal Magical Library and Substitoad have been able to recreate all of the Scientist's glory with their best FTK impressions. In some instances, like the days of Frog FTK, those decks were not just considered fringe strategies in the face of the meta, they were firmly respected as a part of the format. Well as the past few months have shown, the Yu-Gi-Oh world has been introduced to yet another FTK variant, but one more so resembling the likes of Royal Magical Library Turbo decks, as opposed to the goliath that was Frog FTK.
The deck I am talking about today is Gishki Deck Out Turbo, and today I am going to tell you all you need to know about defeating this new combo deck.
A decklist from recent regionals throughout the United States can give us the following as a sample:
2 Evigishki Mind Augus
3 Evigishki Soul Ogre
3 Gishki Shadow
3 Gishki Vision
1 Royal Magical Library
3 Upstart Goblin
3 Into the Void
3 One Day of Peace
3 Hand Destruction
3 Moray of Greed
3 Gishki Aquamirror
1 Dark World Dealings
1 Magical Mallet
1 Card Destruction
1 Magical Stone Excavation
Since I could write an entire article about exactly how the deck functions, I am just going to briefly give an overview of what it is trying to accomplish, without elaborately going into how to pilot it. The goal of this deck is to turbo through every single card in the deck, through the use of can trips such as Upstart Goblin and Into the Void. Once the deck is able to draw the entire 40 cards it is able to use the effect of Evigishki Mind Augus to refuel the deck with Hand Destruction/One Day of Peace and establish a gamestate where it replaces the same collection of cards over and over - without ever decking out. In doing so, the Gishki player is able to continuously activate cards which require the opponent to draw, such as One Day or Hand Destruction, while avoiding the possibility of deckout. Enough activations of each of those cards and the opponent will eventually be the one to deckout. Simple enough right? You can easily search the likes of YouTube for a more detailed explanation of how the deck functions, since there are a lot of unique situations that will come up while piloting it, and the goal of this article isn't to give a step-by-step tutorial of how to win with it - my goal is actually the complete opposite.
Unlike something like Frog FTK, this deck is extraordinarily linear in its approach to the game, meaning it is unable to adapt its play style when it is unable to quickly execute the FTK. Since the deck is entirely hit-or-miss, it is important to know exactly what you can do in order to avoid losing to it at an upcoming YCS or regional event. While the deck is not nearly positioned well enough in the current format to actually win a YCS, it has all the potential in the world to draw closure to any YCS-goers day.
So that leaves us with answering the question: How do we beat Gishki Turbo?
Seeing as how you have gotten this far into the article, chances are you know more about defeating this deck than most players did a few weeks ago. While this specific archtype has been known since October or September, it has only now become a more mainstream part of the format. When the deck first came out, it was incredibly difficult to look through the pile of 40 cards and actually understand how the deck was going to win. However, either by knowing before reading this article, or by making it this far - you now know. In order to actually perform the entire deckout combo, the Gishki player could easily take the entire time allotted in a given round of a YCS. This dimension of the deck is an extraordinarily powerful tool for the Gishki player, since an unknowing opponent will often times sit and watch the Gishki player just slam down card after card, not knowing that they are truly assisting in their demise. If you allow the Gishki player to effectively play out their entire combo, you can often times see yourself going into time during the first game of the match. Unfortunately for you, once the Gishki player has established their loop, you are powerless to the hands of the deckout, and subsequently are about to lose the entire match 1-0.
In order to avoid losing the match in time, it is absolutely crucial to know when to concede a certain game. There is still potential in whiffing with the combo when you are approaching no cards remaining in the deck, so there really is no reason to concede while the opponent is drawing close to the end of their deck, however it becomes academic when they have established their loop. Unless you have some off the wall cards in your main deck, it is essential to scoop before they are able to continuously play out their loop, allowing you to modify your deck for the remaining games in the match. It is also important to take into consideration that you must win the second game of the match before going into time, so remain aware as the clock ticks down. Always have your eye on the clock, and if you think your opponent is playing at an unreasonable pace, do not hesitate to ask a judge to watch the game.
Another important aspect of playing against this deck, is actually knowing what cards matter! Bottomless Trap Hole is your friend when facing the Gishki Turbo deck since they need two copies of Mind Augus to effectively execute the loop. Gishki Aquamirror requires the same level to be used when performing a ritual summon, which means the only way to summon the win-condition (Mind Augus) is to tribute the second copy of the card. If you are able to remove Mind Augus from play, and the opponent only has two in their deck at the time, you will be able to avoid the deckout loop. Often times the Gishki player will try and bait out pieces of removal like Bottomless Trap Hole by ritual summoning Evigishki Soul Ogre, but do not be fooled and take the bait. The win condition is Mind Augus, Soul Ogre is realistically just a Trade-In target (unless they are forced to try and win via damage).
This deck can have a difficult time playing through multiple copies of Effect Veiler, and the real trick is understanding when to use them. It really depends on how many cards the FTK player has been able to amass in their hand, but sometimes the most efficient route to victory is holding off until you have drawn multiple copies of your Effect Veilers. One Day of Peace and Hand Destruction are going to give you a plethora of time to find your hand traps, so you do not have to worry about recklessly tossing down an Effect Veiler on a "value" Mind Augus (one played before the loop to refuel the resources in the deck). Waiting until you have two or three Effect Veilers can simply stop the FTK in its tracks.
Another prevalently played card that can go a long way into deciding how the game plays out is Solemn Judgment. You would think stopping the Ritual spell at the end of the loop is the best way to play Solemn Judgment, but you would actually be mistaken if you thought that. If you have ever played a Turbo deck like this, you would know how important the "Discard X: Draw 2" spell cards are. In this deck we are talking about Trade-In, but historically we have seen cards like Destiny Draw or Solar Recharge in its place. If you are able to Solemn Judgment an early copy of Trade-In, and leave the opponent with four or less cards in hand, the chances of you surviving additional turns absolutely skyrockets. The same is true for Evolzar Laggia. If you let the opponent endlessly draw cards, they will find the best way to bait out your negation, but stopping a crucial draw spell in the first few plays of their turn can spell an end for the combo.
Other cards that complicate the effectiveness of the deck include Thunder King Rai-Oh and Macro Cosmos/Dimensional Fissure. Together they all stop Gishki Shadow and Vision from searching the deck, but Cosmos and Fissure also cripple the combo from reusing Mind Augus. Most decks nowadays have something for Mermails in their side deck, and if you have either Dimensional Fissure or Macro Cosmos, put those cards right into your deck for games two and three. With respect to Macro Cosmos, I would usually just flip it upon drawing it. If you let your opponent slim their deck down, it gives them more chances of drawing something they sided like Heavy Storm or Mystical Space Typhoon.
Of course there are narrow side deck choices you could be making to counter this deck. For example, Droll and Lock Bird can stop the deck after the activation of one of their numerous can trips. And the cool thing about Droll and Lock Bird, if you activate it after Into the Void, the opponent is forced to halt their combo and discard their entire hand at the end phase. However, they will be able to set five significant spell cards to their backrow before ending, so you might want to slow roll the Droll and Lock Bird until you have drawn Heavy Storm and Droll and Lock Bird for the virtual instant victory.
Anyway, now that we have covered how to defeat this deck, I suppose I should comment a bit on why I do not think this deck is particularly viable. I imagine there are going to be people looking to play this new combo deck at an upcoming regional or YCS Miami, but truthfully, you are essentially tossing out the event if you decide to do so. This deck had moderate regional success at best when no one knew how to play against it, but those times are no longer. Even before writing this article, word of the deck had spread, and thus, people began to understand more and more about how to play against it.
But even if this deck was still unknown, I would not even consider playing it at anything more than a local. There is a laundry list of crippling counters that are found in decks throughout the format (Laggia, Solemn, Thunder King, Macro, Dimensional Fissure, Shock Master, Effect Veiler, Bottomless Trap Hole, etc.), and this deck simply does not have the resiliency to combat it all. Unlike Frog FTK, this deck is a one trick pony, and cannot deviate from the same game plan. Frog FTK was able to alternate between a fierce FTK, to the best control deck in the Cold Wave/Cat format.
In the end you might be able to dodge a few bullets, but you will never dodge enough to lift the trophy at the end of the day, and isn't that the goal of every YCS?