Hey duelists, I’m excited to announce that I will be returning to competitive play this weekend at ARGCS Raleigh. I haven’t played in an event since YCS Toronto at the beginning of September, so it’s been a little over 2 months for me. In that time, a new pack has been released and it adds quite a few tricks to the decks that are already on top. Shaddolls and Burning Abyss were both strengthened from New Challengers, which means you will have to know how to play against their upgraded strategies from here on out.
I will start things off with Shaddolls because it’s the deck that I have used the most since their release in Duelist Alliance. They gained El Shaddoll Fusion, El Shaddoll Grysta, and El Shaddoll Shekhinaga. The best card of the three is El Shaddoll Fusion because of its high utility. It is essentially a quickplay version of Polymerization for the deck, which may sound underwhelming, but actually makes the deck far more outrageous. Being able to fuse on your opponent’s turn is huge. You can disrupt plays like never before, and you become more immune to things like Trap Stun and Wiretap. If you’re up against Burning Abyss for example, you could chain El Shaddoll Fusion to the activation of your opponent’s Tour Guide from the Underworld, bringing out El Shaddoll Winda and stopping him/her from doing anything else for the rest of the turn. It is quite devastating when it happens. If that weren’t enough, the Shaddoll monsters used for the fusion will trigger, which is something that doesn’t normally happen on the opponent’s turn unless you use Sinister Shadow Games.
El Shaddoll Fusion also doubles as a pseudo-Forbidden Lance, allowing you to dodge annoying trap cards like Phoenix Wing Wind Blast, Karma Cut, Compulsory Evacuation Device, etc. In the battle phase, it has even more implications. You can swing for massive damage and then fuse to attack for more damage, or you can dodge a Dimensional Prison. When your opponent attacks your weaker Shaddoll monsters—like Falco or Hedgehog—you can turn them into whichever fusion you are able to summon, trigger their effects, and maybe even stop the battle phase.
You can utilize El Shaddoll Fusion on your opponent’s end phase in the same way that you would use an MST, simply by fusing with a Shaddoll Dragon. This play will become very popular in future tournaments, and if you’re up against Shaddolls, never assume that your backrows are safe. Never assume that your lifepoints are safe, either, because this deck can dish out some insanely fast damage now—all thanks to this one card.
One of my personal favorite things to do is looping Shaddoll Falco. You flip it on your turn, bring something back, then set El Shaddoll Fusion to trigger both of their effects on your opponent’s turn. Not only is it an extremely defensive play, but it is also your bread and butter against Burning Abyss before they have an established field. It basically gives you something to do with a used Falco, because most of the time you will flip it and then have it sitting there as just a floater. When you think about it, El Shaddoll Fusion adds unlimited options.
A lot of people have been wondering which fire monsters they should play to support El Shaddoll Grysta, but I think that’s just silly because fire monsters suck. The only real way to summon it would be with Shaddoll Core, which is a considerably better card now, or with Black Rose Dragon / Lavalval Chain / Number 61: Volcasaurus. Maining fire monsters is not the answer. Fortunately, when it comes to El Shaddoll Shekhinaga, there are a few good earth monsters, including Mathematician and Maxx “C,” so you won’t have as much of a problem there. The best part about Shek is that you can utilize Super Poly against Qliphorts, and it has amazing defensive capabilities. It will protect you from opposing Constructs, Black Luster Soldier – Envoy of the End, Dark Armed Dragon, Virgil, Rock Star of the Burning Abyss, etc.
In the case of Burning Abyss upgrades, we have Fire Lake, which is just not okay in any way, shape, or form. The card gets rid of two Burning Abyss monsters you control to destroy UP TO THREE cards on the field. Now, if you know how to play against Burning Abyss, you would know that overwhelming them with a huge field will typically be the end for them. All of their traps before this came out would hit just one monster at a time, which made them pretty easy to play around, and pretty ineffective against established fields. Now, though, you will have to be careful not to lose everything you’ve built at the hands of one card.
If that isn’t ridiculous enough, you can add this powerful trap back to your hand with the effect of Dante, Traveler of the Burning Abyss. This makes for a nice little loop with Dante and Cir, since Dante can add back the Fire Lake, and Cir can summon Dante back to the field. In almost every case, whichever two Burning Abyss monsters you tribute will most likely replace themselves. So now, if you have Tour Guide and Fire Lake, you can wipe down your opponent’s whole field without losing any advantage. Summon Tour Guide, special summon Graff, overlay for Dante, detach Graff, summon Cir, set the Fire Lake, then apologize for what you’ve done.
Fire Lake even gives you some options with just summoning two Burning Abyss monsters from your hand and passing your turn. Though it may be blatantly obvious what you’re telegraphing, sometimes there isn’t anything they can do to play around it. You’ll also be out of harms reach when it comes to Shaddoll Fusion, since you don’t control anything from the extra deck. And speaking of which, you can chain Fire Lake to the activation of Shaddoll Fusion when you control an extra deck monster like Dante or Virgil, tribute it, then destroy some cards. This can be ruinous if your opponent’s plan was to fuse from his/her deck, because now that you don’t control an extra deck monster, he/she will be forced to use whatever is on the field or in hand.
There are a lot more cool things to be discovered between Burning Abyss and Shaddolls. As the format progresses, duelists will push the boundaries of creativity to build decks more powerful than their predecessors. To kick it off, check out the live coverage of ARGCS Raleigh this weekend.
Until next time, duelists! Remember, Play Hard or Go Home!
-The Dark Magician