Duelist Alliance Meta Analysis

frazierIn this article, I will give a quick analysis of the four new decks from Duelist Alliance and how they interact with each other. We’ll kick things off with the one I’ve used the most so far.

Satellarknights

This deck is the definition of consistency. It follows directly in line with the 4-axis Fire Fist deck of the early 2014 format, and the Geargia deck that came afterwards. Satellarknights do what both of those decks did, but better. It has a total of five copies of Stratos (Deneb), meaning a warrior monster that can search any of the other main pieces, and all of the monsters are light, which gives you access to some unique Xyz cards like Starliege Paladynamo. It also comes fully equipped with a broken counter trap (Supernova Alpha) that resembles Infernity Barrier, but you have to tribute one of your guys for its effect. The good thing is you draw a card when you resolve it, so none of your advantage is ever truly lost.

Probably the best opening for Satellarknights is having Deneb search Altair, the deck’s personal Wolfbark-esque monster, and then setting a Supernova Alpha to go with it. This way, you can stop the best play your opponent has on turn one, and then immediately follow it up with more plusses by abusing Deneb and rank 4s. When the Satellarknights are finally about to run out of steam, they can go into Daigusto Emeral to return all three copies of Altair to the deck and draw a card. If the Emeral lives for another turn, you can put back even more monsters, including a few Xyz.

maxx cI think the main reason this deck is insanely good, though, is because of its side deck options. Satellarknights can side Shadow Imprisoning Mirror, Rivalry of the Warlords, Gozen Match, Maxx “C,” Effect Veiler, D.D. Crow, Soul Drain, Dimensional Fissure, etc. None of the aforementioned cards hurt the consistency of the deck because you only need to see one Deneb to get your entire strategy going. Every game plays out exactly the same with no surprises. Despite the fact that it does follow such a linear progression, there is little that your opponent can do to stop you. In fact, when my opponents use Effect Veiler or Breakthrough Skill in an attempt to stop my Altair train, they usually just lose anyway to shear card advantage, and the deck’s ability to reestablish the same momentum. Between Call of the Haunted and Soul Charge, it is nearly impossible to throw a wrench in the cogs of Stellarknights.

This deck does have a bit of a problem in the Shaddoll matchup because of how awkward it can be to NOT use your extra deck. We all know how Shaddolls thrive off of spamming the fusion card, and sometimes you won’t have a choice but to Xyz to get over their monster(s). Even a Shaddoll Dragon with 1900 attack can cause too many problems. In this matchup, Vanity’s Emptiness will be your best friend. Avoid using your extra deck until you have the proper backrows and you can grind it out. Xyz too soon and you will lose fast.

Yang Zing

I was always told that if you have nothing nice to say, you should make sure you go all the way in when you do. I’ll just start by declaring that this deck is like the unwanted stepchild of the set. Only few determined duelists are willing to play it, and for good reason. Unlike the other three decks that came out of Duelist Alliance, this one requires a lot of interaction from your opponent. All of the cards trigger when they are destroyed by battle or card effect, but any smart player will make you work hard for it. Whenever I play against this strategy, I simply never attack them until I’ve established an Abyss Dweller or a Vanity’s Emptiness. The Yang Zing deck completely falls apart once that happens. I have heard that at some point down the line, the deck will become competitive, but for right now, there is no way it should be going too far against competent opponents. I say you keep this deck as a casual pick for locals or for dueling against small children—you might actually win a game against them.

Tour GuideBurning Abyss

This is the TCG exclusive archetype that focuses on spamming level 3 fiend monsters. It goes without saying that Tour Guide from the Underworld is the lynchpin of the deck. It utilizes a multitude of rank 3 Xyz, especially Dante, Traveler of the Burning Abyss, who does a ton of things to further the strategy along. If you’re unaware of what he does, here is his effect:

Dante, Traveler of the Burning Abyss

2 Level 3 monsters

Once per turn: You can detach 1 Xyz Material from this card and choose a number from 1 to 3, then send that many cards from the top of your Deck to the Graveyard; until the end of this turn, this card gains 500 ATK for each card sent to the Graveyard this way. If this card attacks, it is changed to Defense Position at the end of the Battle Phase. If this card is sent to the Graveyard: You can target 1 "Burning Abyss" card in your Graveyard, except this card; add it to your hand.

ATK/1000 DEF/2500

All of the Burning Abyss monsters activate when they are sent to the graveyard, making Dante exceptionally good because he can mill up to 3 cards each turn. He also happens to be a huge wall for the deck, sitting nicely with 2500 defense. I’ve played against the deck a lot over the past two weeks and I can vouch for its speed and resilience. It is extremely hard to stop in game one, and if your opponent opens with Rank-Up-Magic Astral Force, things will get ugly very quickly.

Rank-Up-Magic Astral Force

Target the 1 Xyz Monster you control with the highest Rank (your choice, if tied); Special Summon from your Extra Deck, 1 monster with the same Type and Attribute as that monster you control but 2 Ranks higher, by using it as the Xyz Material. (This Special Summon is treated as an Xyz Summon. Xyz Materials attached to it also become Xyz Materials on the Summoned monster.) During your Draw Phase, if this card is in your Graveyard, instead of conducting your normal draw: You can add this card from your Graveyard to your hand. You cannot Special Summon during the turn you activate this effect, except by the effect of "Rank-Up-Magic Astral Force".

To be honest, I never thought the Rank-Up cards would ever become relevant, just because they are minuses by nature. However, when you’re able to summon cards like Constellar Pleiades, Number 61: Volcasaurus, Crimson Knight Vampire Bram, and several other powerful Xyz monsters that you might not have even heard of before, the “minus” doesn’t really matter anymore. Also worthy to note, Dante will trigger if he is detached from Pleiades, so you will actually continue to plus, especially if there is another Burning Abyss monster under that, too.  Here is a quick breakdown of the best monsters to Rank-up and what they become:

Constellar PleiadesDante, Traveler of the Burning Abyss -> Constellar Pleiades

Grenosaurus -> Number 61: Volcasaurus

Mechquipped Angineer -> Tiras, Keeper of Genesis or Number C102: Archfiend Seraph

Ghostrick Alucard -> Crimson Knight Vampire Bram

The typical first turn play is to summon Tour Guide, special summon Scarm, overlay for Dante, and detach the Scarm for his effect. This way, you will end up searching yet another Tour Guide on the end phase, giving you a great follow-up play to your already established field presence. Use Astral Force to turn it into a Pleiades, which poses a huge problem for every deck in the format. In my testing, I have found that Burning Abyss have a pretty good matchup against Shaddolls. The ability to play three copies of Phoenix Wing Wind Blast, and the option to summon an Xyz monster that bounces rather than destroys is too much to deal with. Also, every deck seems to be playing some number of Vanity’s Emptiness, so there’s that, too. It may seem like you can just throw your Shaddoll Fusion down to punish the Burning Abyss player, but if they have backrows, you might want to account for the possibility of Emptiness.

Another cool tech choice that I’ve seen in a few Burning Abyss decks is Supply Squad. It lets you draw a card each time a monster you control is destroyed by battle or card effect. All of the Burning Abyss monsters will automatically self-destruct if you control a monster that is not a Burning Abyss monster (unless they were summoned by Tour Guide because she will negate that effect). This can be used to your advantage because it will activate their effects, and it will trigger Supply Squad. If you combo it with Phoenix Wing Wind Blast, you can trigger Supply Squad on your opponent’s turn, too.  Pretty cool, right? Well guess what? This deck gets to play some of the best boss monsters ever, including Dark Armed Dragon and Black Luster Soldier – Envoy of the Beginning. In case you didn’t know, nothing is quite as cool as those guys.

Shaddolls

This deck is the definition of control. It is the most reactive and adaptive strategy playable right now. Shaddolls are all Dark, Spellcaster, flip effect monsters (except their fusions), that pack extremely powerful effects. They also have secondary effects when they are sent to the graveyard by card effects. The deck utilizes a powerful spell card known as Shaddoll Fusion, which punishes players for using their extra decks. Not only that, but the fusions also make it very hard for the opponent to utilize their own special summons, giving the strategy an unfair advantage against almost everything else.

Shaddoll Fusion

Fusion Summon 1 "Shaddoll" Fusion Monster from your Extra Deck, using monsters from your hand or your side of the field as Fusion Materials. If your opponent controls a monster(s) that was Special Summoned from the Extra Deck, you can also use monsters in your Deck as Fusion Material. You can only activate 1 "Shaddoll Fusion" per turn.

This card triggers all of the Shaddoll graveyard effects, making it so you won’t lose advantage when you play the card. After resolution, you should always be at a break-even-point, unless you use two of the same Shaddolls for the fusion. If you can force your opponent to summon something from the extra deck, the card becomes a blowout. You get to play it for free, and the plusses will quickly pile up. What I have noticed in my testing is that Shaddolls happen to be pretty big monsters on their own. They have a 1900, an 1800, and a 2200. This means that sometimes, your opponent will have no choice but to summon something from the extra deck to get rid of them.

For example, none of the Satellarknights are over 1800 attack, therefore, a Shaddoll Dragon with 1900 attack can cause some serious problems. To make matters worse, the deck does have outs to everything. Players have been speculating if Evilswarms would give them a hard time, and that couldn’t be further from the truth, especially when you have two different flip effect monsters that deal with Ophion. Shaddoll Dragon can bounce him back to the extra deck, and Shaddoll Squamata can outright destroy him. Once the threat is gone, the game usually ends rather quickly. There’s also the fact that the deck makes rank 4 monsters pretty often, so you have other outs, too.

KuribanditFor consistency, the deck has Mathematician, Armageddon Knight, and Kuribandit to get things started. There has been no general consensus in the TCG or OCG as to which of them is the “correct” choice, and perhaps arguments can be made for each, but they are all very good cards in this particular deck. The benefits of Armageddon Knight are that he is a dark, level 4, warrior monster, and Reinforcement of the Army happens to be on two right now. He makes it easy to bring out Rank 4s when combined with Wyverbuster and Collapserpent. The benefits of Mathematician are that he is a spellcaster, 1500 attack, floater. He can crash with Satellarknight Deneb to draw a card after he’s already used his effect, and he can send Felis, Lightsworn Archer to the grave to make a one-card Arcanite Magician or Black Rose Dragon. He also can beat over Armageddon Knight as an added bonus. The benefits of Kuribandit are that he can trigger several Shaddoll effects in one turn, while also digging for Shaddoll Fusion or Soul Charge in variants that aim to abuse it.

Then we have El Shaddoll Winda which is probably the most annoying fusion monster since Thousand-Eyes Restrict, and has a nasty effect that inhibits multiple special summons in a turn.

El Shaddoll Winda

Level 5/Dark/Spellcaster/Fusion

Must first be Fusion Summoned. Cannot be destroyed by an opponent's card effects. Each player can only Special Summon monster(s) once per turn while this card is face-up on the field. If this card is sent to the Graveyard: You can target 1 "Shaddoll" Spell/Trap Card in your Graveyard; add it to your hand.

ATK/2200 DEF/800

This card is absolutely obnoxious. You can’t get rid of it with cards like Bottomless Trap Hole, Torrential Tribute, Artifact Moralltach, Dark Hole, Black Rose Dragon, etc. On top of this, if you make an attempt to get rid of it with a special summon, it better be a good one. I have seen many a duelist lose the game when using their one special summon per turn to bring out Castel, only to have him get caught by a Breakthrough Skill or Effect Veiler. It’s a sad sight to behold. And just when you thought that was enough, they decided to give Winda—and all the Shaddoll fusions it seems—one last hoorah by adding back a Shaddoll spell/trap card when they are sent to the grave. It’s quite literally the gift that keeps on giving.

If your special summoned monster happens to be too big for Winda to take care of, there is always the option of Shaddoll Construct. She packs 2800 attack and can kill any special summoned monster in battle with her effect.

“That’s a nice Leo you have there. It’d be a shame if something happened to it.

Perhaps the most powerful card in the Shaddoll deck, though, would have to go to Super Polymerization—a card that has no equals short of Exodia. Super Poly makes it so that you can fuse with your opponent’s monsters and they can’t respond. It has its own spell speed for crying out loud. This means that Construct and Winda will the bane of every deck that uses light and dark monsters. It also means you have to be very careful in the Shaddoll mirror match, or else you could lose your entire field to it.

Unfortunately, since Shaddolls are all dark monsters, they are very susceptible to the infamous floodgate card, Shadow Imprisoning Mirror. They are also quite vulnerable to cards like Macro Cosmos, Dimensional Fissure, and Soul Drain since they have graveyard effects. The deck plays a strong game one, but it WILL struggle in games two and three if it doesn’t see an out to one of the many floodgate cards that people are sure to side.

Until next time, duelists! Remember, Play Hard or Go Home!

-Frazier Smith

-The Dark Magician

Frazier Smith

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