Dragons running about? What a Disaster! Your Guide to Disaster Dragon.

Hey there ARG! Dragontamer Michael Boire coming back at you with another article. I know I know. You're all thinking "again with the dragons?" Don't worry, there's a lot more in my arsenal of linguistic Yu-Gi-Oh! knowledge. This is just my favorite.

I'd like to first start by congratulating my friend Tanner Trachsel who has also contributed to this contest and got an article posted prior. He's got a lot to say about Inzektor's, and I implore you to check it out here: http://articles.alterealitygames.com/?p=9308

Tanner and I both play at Phoenix Hobbies and Games in Ontario and if there is anything he can tell you is that I don't give up with Dragons. I earned my invite to Nationals 2009, 2010, and 2011 with a Dragon deck and I plan on earning as many invites I can in the future with one. Today I'm going to talk about the advantages and disadvantages of one of the most widely played and commonly known Dragon deck. We're talking of course about the infamous Disaster Dragon that burst into the scene in 2009 and have been surprising and toppling competition since.

Today I'm going to give you a brief history of the deck, tell you how the deck stands in today's meta, and where the deck stands to go in the future.

Into the Light or Succumbed into Darkness

If many of you recall, the 2009 March and September (which crept into the March 2010 format) was flooded with Lightsworn, Blackwings and Zombie decks. The Top 16 lists in Orlando, Nashville, L.A., and Austin were all sprinkled these treats.

As far as Dragon decks were concerned, we rarely scratched the surface until the format demanded that we step up and push the meta into our corner. At this time, I was playing a "Deep Draw" Dragon deck which consisted of an engine involving The White Stone of Legend and Blue-Eyes White Dragon in order to speed through my deck to access Light and Darkness Dragon as well as Red-Eyes Darkness Metal Dragon to force my opponent to burn resources on LaDD. Once they've toppled the beast, they'd have to deal with a bigger monster who could revive Blue-Eyes for devastating game-ending blows. The deck was fast, explosive, but lacked enough consistency to control the pace of the game. It was an all or nothing approach; all of my chips were on the table and I had to be as aggressive as I possibly could.

As May 2009 dropped, the release of Raging Battle bestowed upon us a new weapon in our arsenal in the form of Koa'Ki Meiru Drago. For those unfamiliar, Koa'Ki Meiru Drago does the following:

Koa'Ki Meiru Drago
Level 4/Dragon/Effect/WIND
During each of your End Phases, destroy this card unless you send 1 "Iron Core of Koa'ki Meiru" from your hand to the Graveyard or reveal 1 Dragon-Type monster in your hand. LIGHT and DARK monsters cannot be Special Summoned.

All the members of the Koa'Ki Meiru family have a condition that forces you to dump an Iron Core of Koa'ki Meiru to the grave or reveal a monster of the same type. For Drago, that automatically created a huge amount of synergy. At this time in the meta, Book of Moon was at 3. This allowed you to turn Drago on and off like a switch while being able to explode and put huge pressure on your opponent with big LIGHT or DARK monsters while flipping him back up and crippling your opponents set-up and possibly their entire match. And when your opponent thought they got rid of him for good, a well-timed Darkness Metal brought him right back and you were immediately back into total control.

In a field full of Zombies, Lightsworn and Blackwings, this was huge. With a Drago on the board, your opponent was cut off from the majority of their important resources and more importantly their win conditions. This meant no Zombie Master, no Plaguespreader, no Bora's or Gale's from the hand, no Armor Master, no Wulf's, no Judgment Dragon, and dead Lumina's. Meanwhile, you were free to maintain field presence and put enormous amount of pressure on your opponent with the constant threat of recursion.

Sadly, Disaster Dragon at this point was only good on paper. The theory behind it was fantastic, and Richard Clarke made sure to take his innovation far during the deck's infancy, going 9-3 at Shonen Jump L.A and nearly undefeated at American Nats 2009. His larger tournament record also includes 5 Regional tops with - you guessed it - Disaster.

It remains the most popular deck of its type and continues to see much success in Europe. Which leads us to the current state of the meta...

Across the Pond

Kim Just Jensen took Disaster Dragon to 9th place at Worlds, 4th place at the European WCQ, and many Regional tops in between. I was really hoping for a Disaster build to take a few spots in Brighton but alas to no avail. Perhaps we Dragontamers are all sleeping, waiting for our change to strike in Atlanta.

If you read the coverage of Brighton, you'll notice that Vincent Ralmbomiadana sided two Electric Virus. Although Electric Virus can help in a multitude of matchups, it's interesting to note that Ralmbomiadana said that it was meant as a silver bullet against Disaster Dragon decks which commonly sneak by players due to their sheer factor of surprise.

To further cement the rise of Disaster variants in Europe, let's look at some past trends. Omar Ramirez topped 16 with it at YCS Ecuador, and Jensen topped 16 at YCS Paris. Furthermore, Dragon's took three spots in Denmark's "DAK Showdown", one of their largest Yu-Gi-Oh! Events.

So What Does this Have to Do With Today?

Disaster Dragon continues to be a viable strategy for two reasons:

1) Disaster continues to change and adapt
2) LIGHT and DARK monsters continue to dominate the meta

This past WCQ season, we all feared Plants and Agents to be the dominating contender. Much to our surprise, T.G. was capable of sneaking by a win. However, this does not dispute the fact that Plants and Agents rely heavily on LIGHT and DARK monsters (the latter more so then the former).

Plant decks existed (and continue to exist, depending on where you look) in various categories. There was the Dopplewarrior version, the Quickdraw Warrior variant, and the Tengu/Tour Guide version that we've all become accustomed to today. The Quickdraw version took a huge hit with the limitation of Dandylion, so Dopplewarrior and the newly coined "Synchrocentric" were hot on the scene in Pittsburgh this past summer. These versions of Plants were capable of furiously Synchro Summoning multiple copies of T.G. Librarian and Formula Synchron to net a huge amount of advantage very quickly. This put a lot of pressure on the opponent because they could barely contend with the pluses you netted; You could essentially draw into every out you needed to finish the match right then and there.

While the original version of Disaster Dragon focused on flipping Drago on and off in order for you to go off and leave your opponent weak and vulnerable, Jensen's view of Disaster Dragon shifted to a much more control oriented approach. Now you summoned Drago, you protected it, and brought it back went down. A similar strategy, but a lot less aggressive.

Remember how those Plant decks focused on T.G. Librarian and Formula Synchron in order to net those huge gains? Drago put a stop to all of that. Although Plants were flexible and consistent enough to play around him, it forced them to play a slower game while committing less cards to the field, unable to fully explode. Drago also stopped Tour Guide, and BLS upon it's un-banning. The Disaster Dragon deck of this format was more controlled, much slower-paced, and much more strategy based. It's easy to see why this was the pick of many Duelists like myself who wanted to put a dent in the meta this past WCQ season.

Against an Agent deck, you completely shut down all access to the majority if not all of their plays. They cannot Venus into Gachi, they cannot drop Hyperion, and they can't drop Krystia.

Unfortunately, this version of Disaster also had many drawbacks. Slow hands forced you to grind out resources you may not have wanted to waste in order to overcome an opponents set-up. Furthermore, a single misplay could ruin your entire game and possible lose you the match. In decks like Plants for example, it's easy to recover from a mishap and plus yourself back. Dragons have a very hard time plussing unless it is with Darkness Metal. With that in mind, you have to play your cards very carefully. This deck now requires a very heavy chess mentality; You need to know what pieces you have, when to play them, and when to protect them.

Disaster has a strong matchup with Plant variants, and has the ability to overcome them if their pilot is strong minded and careful. Nowadays, Disaster Dragon variants play Thunder King Rai-Oh. T-King is a very powerful card in the current state of the game, and has excellent synergy with the way this deck plays. A Thunder King and a Drago on the field is a very strong board. Your opponent is locked out of their boss monsters, and have the inability to search for any outs. Also, if one goes down, you can still force them burn resources on the other. This further cements the idea that Disaster can adapt to suit the meta.

Now and The Future

Much to our chagrin, Disaster never made as big an impact as we wished for it to take. Sure it is the topic of discussion on many forums and still takes top spots in Regionals across the world. But it's still missing that certain spark that can take it to top tier status. It has always been a strong rogue contender but it never really rose past that due to consistency issues. As new sets loom on the horizon, and the shift in the current metagame, the deck's power also slowly decreases.

The release of Photon Shockwave brought upon us the Dino Rabbit deck. A deck that can consistently drop a walking Solemn Judgment or a two time Divine Wrath.

This deck is fast, and drops big monsters with ease. Not only that, they are neither LIGHT or DARK. Karakuri's are also gaining steam, which Disaster proves to be nearly ineffective against.

Order of Chaos is set to drop shortly and then we will see the Inzektors. Although Drago can stop Dragonfly's effect, Hornet will destroy him before he gets the chance to disrupt any play. The deck rarely Special Summons aside from Dragonfly and can +4 you almost once a turn. Yikes.

Disaster Dragon will need to adapt once again to fit the new and upcoming formats. The deck will be forced to sacrifice its slow pace and consistency for a more aggressive approach once again. If you've read my previous article, you know that the Chaos themed Dragons will soon be making their debut. This version of Dragons is extremely aggressive and fast.

We Dragontamers may have to shelve our Disaster variants for the time being in favor of something a bit more spicy. But with enough testing, tweaking and patience, we may find a new groove to settle into. I implore all of you Dragontamers to continue trucking through. We will prevail, and we will show the Dueling World exactly what we're made of!

Remember guys, keep playing what you love, be it Dragons or otherwise, and make sure to play it hard!

Michael Boire (DN: Synaku)
Brantford, Ontario, Canada
Phoenix Hobbies and Games