What's up ARG community, TourGuideForGame here with another article, and today I wanted to talk about Dino Rabbit, and it's evolution into the september 2012 format. Since it's birth in Photon shockwave, Dino Rabbit dominated the meta for two whole formats and won more YCS events than any other deck during that year. It single handedly made plant synchro (Which was the best deck before PSHW) almost obsolete. As well as this, some of the most popular opposing decks come March 2012 had a poor matchup against it (inzektors, windups) , and laggia and dolkka were able to answer almost every single card in the game. It was incredibly difficult to side against for most of the year, popular side deck cards such as snowman eater became useless whenever you went into dolkka over laggia, and laggia itself was able to answer most of the cards that would get sided in as well.
However, since both tour guide and rabbit have been semi-limited, the deck has lost a lot of momentum, and whilst it's still a solid tier 2 deck, it seems to struggle to keep up with the current meta, and I find myself scratching my head as to why. While it's true you're now more likely to draw into the normal monsters than you are rabbit, the deck didn't win before purely by drawing rescue rabbit. So what went wrong? The worst matchup, chaos dragons, are far less popular, and t hey have also been affected by the banlist. In addition, windups are the most popular deck, which last format was a good matchup for rabbit.
The reason rabbit is struggling to keep up, is because the meta has evolved, whilst rabbit hasn't. Dino rabbit players seem to be trying to play the deck exactly as it was last format, and most rabbit decklists i've seen have basically replaced the lost TGU and rabbit with a night assailant and another trap card, extra hand traps etc. I don't think this is the way to go, and with Mermails coming out in ABYR I think Rabbit will sink further down the rankings if it stays the same deck.
The deck is simply too slow to keep up as it stands, and to solve this people simply need to think more creatively, and work on a new play style for the deck. Take a look at any dino rabbit build for this format and most of them will be nearly identical, with the main variation being things like 3 MST or 2 MST, 3 D prison or 2 D prison, etc.
The staples and tech are almost exactly the same as last format as well, which in my opinion is restricting the deck massively. Cards like snowman eater and spirit reaper aren't as good anymore. Snowman eater was main decked to combat dino rabbit, as game 1 people typically go into laggia first. It was OK against windup if you drew it early and/or they opened with windup rabbit, but it was dead after you got handlooped, or if they swarmed the field already it didn't do very much at all. Spirit reaper was awesome against both decks, but that was only because nobody had discovered Photon Papiloperative and dino rabbit didn’t run much in the way of monster removal outside of dark hole and 1-2 soul taker. Dino rabbit isn't that popular anymore so main decking cards for the mirror match isn't a good idea, and the windup loop kills snowman eater with Papiloperative, whilst making snowman eater a 0 ATK wall against a field of up to 5 XYZs.
Of course, it's good against HEROs and anti meta decks, but neither of these decks are popular enough to warrant main decking specific cards for them. When you enter a regional or YCS, assuming you make it to day 2 you're only going to face a couple of deck types, and you want as fewer dead cards in the main deck as possible. As well as this, you want to ensure that cards you’re running actually work in your deck and work toward your strategy. I often see people using tech cards in one deck because someone topped a major event with that card in an entirely different deck that had an entirely different playstyle.
The problem now, is that because the format is so diverse, it's hard to actually gauge what you should be main decking to combat the meta. It's obvious what the best two decks are right now, windup and geargia, but unlike formats of old where you could end up going the entire tournament playing the same 3 decks, so many different decks have potential now it’s likely you could end up seeing 5 or even 6 different deck types. So if you're main decking something to specifically combat windups, said card is going to be dead for a large majority of the day.
So what can you do as a dino rabbit player? The answer is fairly simple. Stop playing hoping you’ll hit that rescue rabbit play. Don’t draw your starting hand and moan because you didn’t open with rescue rabbit. Play with what you’ve got at any given moment, and don’t just stall out for that one rabbit/TGU play. As said previously, you’re now more likely to draw kabazauls & sabersaurus than you are TGU & rabbit. Meaning more often than not, you will summon that laggia or dolkka using 2 normal summoned vanillas, and therefore the advantage you would have gained with rabbit is nonexistent. So at best you’ve granted yourself a 1 for 1 with a 2400 beater. Learning to play the deck how it should be played THIS format is key to success. The play styles of other decks are not the same as they were last format, so don’t try to play last format.
This format is too diverse to be main decking cards for a specific matchup, because in most cases these cards aren’t going to help. Those 2 spirit reapers you’re main decking are dead VS windups, most geargia variants, heiratics, inzektors, agents, darkworld, and reaper is poor against heros due to Gemini spark and the amount of traps they have to get reaper off of the field quickly. The same can be said about snowman eater, although in most of the examples above snowman is slightly better. This format’s Game 1 is more about consistency than counteracting such a wide Meta, and the traditional rabbit decks don’t have that right now. Dino rabbit needs to evolve. It needs to find that niche that other decks can’t afford to play, just like a six samurai deck can play cards like rivalry of warlords that other decks cannot. It needs to control the board in a way it didn’t previously. Meaning both the deck and the play style need to change.
So ‘how’ exactly does the deck change? People may argue the deck is so tight that it’s hard to find room for more than one or two tech choices. This statement is unfortunately false. A dino rabbit deck only NEEDS 15 cards. 6 Normals, 2 rabbits, 2 TGU, and 1 sangan, as well as the staples, reborn, heavy, hole, avarice. Whilst some will argue that cards like the solemn brigade, mind control, lance etc are all necessary, they are not, and whilst I’m not saying you shouldn’t run these sorts of cards, if you think a deck NEEDS a card that it doesn’t, your limiting your card pool considerably. People are too committed to playing what worked last format, or at the last YCS, as opposed to playing what works now. Patrick Hoban excellently explained this concept in one of his latest articles. People play what worked in the past for others, as opposed to what is working now.
As an example, forbidden lance isn’t great this format for a few reasons. Firstly, the use of guaiba is practically non existant now. Second, now that inzektors aren’t ‘Tier 1’ trap cards are used consirderably more, and so cards like bottomless and torrential tribute are near staples themselves. Both these obviously destroy both normal monsters, so lance is useless. Also the solemn brigade obviously can’t be chained to with lance. Of course, it can help you run over bigger monsters, but there should be enough trap cards in your deck to help keep those pesky monsters away anyway. My point is, it helps, but it isn’t necessary, yet I constantly see people telling others to run it in their rabbit decks because it’s what a ‘normal’ rabbit deck does.
Just looking over your deck and seeing how good certain cards are VS multiple matchups and how bad they are in others is what will allow you to find cards you can actually try and take out. As an example, Maxx C was a staple last format in almost every deck. This format outside of windups it’s fairly mediocre if not completely dead, yet I still see plenty of people using it. The 2nd most popular deck, geargia, doesn’t focus around explosive plays, and when it does make an explosive play, maxx C is useless anyway. Fortress is an inherent summon, and so is geargia accelerator. So outside of breaking even when they go for a geargiant X, you’re getting nowhere. And using a situational card in hopes you’ll break even is a bad idea. Maxx C is only good VS decks that swarm the field with little to no inherent summons, and the only three competitive decks that I can think of that do this right now are windup, hieratic and six samurai. Heiratic and six samurai are still pretty much rogue, and at most you’d face one of each in a tournament, so it’s certainly not worth using it in the main deck. Whilst you may well go against 3-4 windups in a tournament, for the 3+ rounds you’re facing something else, you want as few dead cards as possible, especially when you’re on the bubble.
I guess it all boils down to what exactly can be used to replace the tech of old, and how this will help rabbit evolve. Below, I will list a number of cards I’ve been testing in rabbit as of late to help illustrate my point, all with excellent results. I encourage you to test out other cards you think might work. Who knows, you may discover the next big idea.
Pot of Duality
This card is excellent in rabbit, and in my opinion should be main decked over the two Maxx Cs. Outside of the 5 cards that special summon in the main deck (2 rabbit, 2 TGU, reborn), duality is almost always live. It helps you dig for your combo pieces most importantly and as such increases your odds of drawing into something you need in a given situation. It adds a lot of consistency, which as I stated earlier on, is something traditional rabbit decks don’t have any more. It also lets your opponent know what’s coming next.
Whilst this sounds dumb, in most situations it has allowed me to control the entire game from that point onward, and has on occasion caused my opponent to scoop for the next game. A few examples; grabbing a dark hole, storm or MST from duality means your opponent can’t over extend without that starlight road, because they know at any point you can just clear their field. Forcing your opponent to set 1 backrow at a time can give you the much needed momentum and ultimately win the game. On occasions I have also used duality and added a second rabbit or a TGU to my hand, meaning if my opponent doesn’t have an answer on his next turn, I’m going to have a laggia/dolkka lockdown which they simply can’t recover from.
I have been ridiculed many times for main decking this card in my dino rabbit deck, and every single time I’ve drawn it it’s wiped the smile off of a face or two. The argument against it is always the same, “That card is bad, it conflicts with laggia/dolkka!”. And my response is always “No S***”. You simply don’t use it then. Skill drain is an amazing card this format, because it hurts almost every single deck except darkworld. The only other matchup it’s not amazing against is HERO, but even then it still has its uses, as your opponent can’t search with stratus, or use any XYZ effects. When skill drain is on the board, your opponent has to use resources to get rid of it so they can actually make a play. The same is said about laggia and dolkka. So by using skill drain in the main deck, you’re increasing the number of cards that puts pressure on your opponent, whilst at the same time protecting your other trap cards. The only time skill drain is dead, is if you have a laggia or dolkka with XYZ materials. So the idea is to use skill drain when you’ve already used your laggia/dolkka. Which leaves you with a 2400ATK beatstick that’s already given you card advantage.
Skill drain shuts down so many decks this format it wins games all by itself, and as such is one of the most versatile cards of the format with only one bad matchup. If you play it right, this card is an absolute beast in dino rabbit. I highly recommend you try it.
Call of the haunted
Another card that doesn’t seem like it suits the deck, but it’s incredibly useful. It acts as a second monster reborn, which at the right time can provide you with the necessary push to win. You can make a one-turn laggia/dolkka with an in-hand normal, reborn a rabbit that was hit by the solemn brigade/attacked over, chain to an MST to get a search with sangan, or just provide much needed pressure without having to waste a normal summon. To explain this, let me give you a quick example.
You have a rescue rabbit in hand, call of the haunted set, and a normal in the graveyard. Your opponent has 3000 life points, and one spell or trap card with two cards in hand. You could summon the rabbit, and risk being hit by an effect veiler, solemn warning or torrential tribute. Meaning you’ve wasted a normal summon, and can’t attack that turn so your opponent realistically can survive 2 more turns at least, and will start the turn with card advantage. OR, you could use call of the haunted, and summon your kabazauls/sabersaurus, and either attack for 1700/1900 damage, or bait out their backrow. If that one backrow card is a warning/TT/MST, you can follow up with the rabbit and win that turn. If not, you will have put them in a position where one more attack wins the game. By not normal summoning the rabbit, you have still put essentially the same amount of pressure on the field, whilst maintaining a key card in hand for the future. Obviously this is a situational example, but it can be applied to many situations. By being able to put a beatstick on the board without using a normal summon, you can keep board presence and get rid of your opponent’s resources whilst maintaining your own, and so call of the haunted has plenty of potential.
Autonomous action unit
This is a serious suggestion, believe it or not. I’ve had amazing success with this card for many reasons, some of which also apply for the above CoTH. As stated before, it can put much needed presence on the board without using that all important normal summon, but at the same time adds a massive surprise factor to the game. Unless your opponent is using a degenerate deck like chain burn or exodia, it’s almost always live, and in the right moment can put you in a very favorable board position.
You can grab a magician/shark out of there for an XYZ play/stop their rat play, but you can also grab an opposing Wind-up rabbit. If you weren’t aware, if you take control of your opponent’s windup rabbit and banish it with its own effect, it returns to your side of the field, essentially giving you a free 1400 beatstick they have trouble getting rid of, and when necessary can be used for a rank 3 play.
XYZ plays, or you could reborn a fortress or karakuri synchro to put a massive beatstick on the field.
Basically you can turn any deck that’s just full of boss monsters against itself for massive damage. You can reborn a pulsar, REDMD, grapha, BLS, Sorcerer, etc, and turn your opponent’s deck against them. This is especially useful against darkworlds, since they rarely have monster removal outside of grapha itself, you’ve given yourself a 3000 beatstick they can’t abuse by normal summoning their own darkworld monsters and they can’t get rid of since they don’t run prison, BTH etc. You can also control graveyard orientated decks, by removing the necessary fiend for gates, removing the light for a chaos monster, etc.
Grab that shi-en/barkion/beast and use it against them, XYZ plays, potential synchro plays.
This card is still in testing for me, and certainly doesn’t break the deck, but I find it to be very useful, especially against decks that can easily summon big beaters, which is what rabbit struggles against. It’s also amazing in any mirror match, so its use is encouraged in all popular decks as well.
I first considered this card in rabbit when I was actually playing against my friend’s dino rabbit deck, using plant synchro. I had a scapegoat token on the field, and a set enemy controller. During his turn, he summoned rabbit and used its effect. When he summoned the 2 kabazauls, I used enemy controller and tributed the scapegoat token to take control of one of his kabazauls. He hurled abuse at me, because he had no further plays and both vanillas died in the end phase, wasting a rabbit. This got me thinking about how dino rabbit can turn this idea into an incredibly control based playstyle. When you use your own rescue rabbit and use creature swap, you can give yourself a better monster in place of one of your own vanilla monsters, and since both vanillas die in the end phase, your opponent gains nothing from it. If they control a level 4, you can XYZ it with your own remaining normal monster, if it’s a synchro or XYZ, you just swapped a weak vanilla monster for one of their powerful ones. Either way, you’re not losing card advantage at all since you used the 1 rabbit and 1 swap to gain 1 monster and have your opponent lose 1 of their own.
Even without rabbit, you can swap a used TGU, sangan or a normal summoned vanilla for a more useful monster they control .
Creature swap has always been one of my favorite cards, as I prefer slower decks that play control-based, as opposed to decks that spam the same combos over and over like windups or chaos dragons, which is why I think it has potential in here.
To conclude, you probably disagree with a lot of the cards I have suggested above, but that’s perfectly fine. I’m not claiming to know which card choices you should be using in your own deck. I suggested a variety of weird cards, and my aim is to encourage other dino rabbit players (And in a sense, players of other decks) to think outside of the box when it comes to finding new cards and ways to utilize a deck. This happened at the start of the format and is why windups are still amazing. The deck has lost one of the most powerful cards it has in its arsenal, yet the deck is actually doing better this format. Why? Because its play style changed. The combos changed. It stopped being about spamming one particular combo, and became an incredibly fast XYZ toolbox (Of course it still has the ridiculous magician-shark combo, but it’s not required to win) And so I believe if someone is able to do this with Dino Rabbit, it has the potential to once again become the best deck of the format.