The numbers don't lie - Light/Water/Darkness control variants took up more top eight spots than any other deck during the first season of Kaijudo Master Challenges and definitely racked up their fair share of wins. That being said, they didn't win all of them, far from it in fact. Before Clash of the Duel Masters released, Greed Dragons was one deck that was commonly seen at the top tables and other decks have since taken up the task of trying to beat the typical LWD control decks. Besides the ever-present mono-Fire rush decks (which have proven they have the capacity to steal games, matches, and even tournaments from unsuspecting duelists), there has been one other strategy of note gaining a lot of popularity recently in various forms: tempo.
Tempo in trading card games, according to the reliable source Wikipedia, is defined as "the means by which a player gains additional options or decreases the options possessed by the opponent by means not directly pertaining to respective numbers of playable cards." Whereas the idea of "card advantage," which is always important to control players, relies strictly on numbers by assessing the number of cards you have in the battle zone and in your hand in relation to your opponent, tempo is a little more abstract. These strategies know there are ways to be in an advantageous state while not necessarily being ahead in card advantage. Rush is a strategy that lives because of this concept (how many times have you seen a rush player ahead in card advantage?), but a rush deck can't maintain the advantageous board state it gains by putting a lot of things into the battle zone quickly for too long. Once it fizzles, it really fizzles.
The first really successful tempo decks in Kaijudo were probably the Blurple decks of the Evo Fury meta. They used cards like [ccProd]Emperor Neuron[/ccProd] and [ccProd]Aqua Seneschal[/ccProd] to put a ton of pressure in the battle zone, and then kept their opponents' fields clear by using cards like [ccProd]Rusalka, Aqua Chaser[/ccProd], [ccProd]Screeching Scaradorable[/ccProd] and [ccProd]Hydra Medusa[/ccProd]. If they could summon a Rusalka and make the opposing player waste an entire turn re-summoning their only creature while slamming home some attacks with a Neuron or other creatures, they were doing their job. A lot of the cards from those Blurple decks aren't seeing much play currently, but the strategy lives on thanks to a few cards that have breathed new life into tempo. One of the most important, as the title might suggest, is [ccProd]General Finbarr[/ccProd].
I never had a doubt about the playability of General Finbarr, and I think it's finally realizing some of its potential in the meta. It's like [ccProd]Rusalka, Aqua Chaser[/ccProd]'s big brother; for a steeper mana cost, it comes with 3000 more power, the same great bounce ability that continues to make Rusalka a playable card, and an absolutely insane draw ability on top of it all. In a deck geared towards aggression, it's possible to get a ton of value from the "Finbarr's Command" effect. You might not directly win the game the turn you summon Finbarr, but the bounce combined with the fact that you can go toe-to-toe with your opponent in card advantage while breaking their shields thanks to "Finbarr's Command" is often just too much to come back from for a lot of decks barring Shield Blasts.
So where does General Finbarr fit in today? One answer can be found in the LWN Megabug deck my teammate Carl Miciotto piloted to a first place finish at KMC Oakmont, PA. I mentioned in my tournament report here on ARG that the matchup was definitely not in my favor, and that's largely thanks to Finbarr. General Finbarr is actually the reason that deck doesn't even need to run [ccProd]Lyra, the Blazing Sun[/ccProd], which would be another strong level six option. Tapping a creature will get it out of the way for the turn, but so will "Finbarr's Hoverhex," and if you go the Finbarr route you probably also get to draw at least two cards that turn. When played in multiples or combined with cards like [ccProd]Aqua Seneschal[/ccProd] and [ccProd]The Hive Queen[/ccProd], things can get out of hand very quickly. The deck also ran Bottle of Wishes to deal with rush decks, and when a Bottle is cast off a Shield Blast, Finbarr can play a defensive role as well. It can bounce a potential attacker to save one of your shields, and then allow you to make a counter-push on your next turn, drawing cards along the way. If you haven't already seen this particular deck list, you can check it out in fellow ARG writer Aiden Thorne's article, "The Final Set of KMCs."
Oakmont wasn't the first instance of General Finbarr putting in work at a KMC. Preston Brimage's "Starseed Smashers" deck won in Colorado two weeks after Clash released. Not too surprisingly, it too features the Light, Water, and Nature civilizations. Upon talking to Preston, he was surprised that people chose to name his deck after [ccProd]Starseed Squadron[/ccProd], noting that it didn't do much at all for him all day. After seeing a few matches with the deck, I have to agree that it's far from the centerpiece. Go back and take a look at the decklist from that event and you'll find many similarities to Carl's Megabug deck that recently won.
"Starseed Smashers" should have probably been named "Rusalka / Humonculon / Finbarr / Lyra / Strategist Smashers." Each of those cards, numbering thirteen in total, provide the user with an ability that gets opposing threats out of the way while serving as an attacker in itself. The fact that this deck can utilize all of them is very scary, and having them make up such a large portion of the deck ensures that opposing creatures are never truly safe. There are possibilities for insane progressions; the always popular Seneschal to Rusalka play can be followed up with a [ccProd]Humonculon the Blaster[/ccProd] for more field-clearing, and then Finbarr on the next turn. I'm sure these cards are the real reason this deck can succeed as well as LWN Megabugs.[ccProd]General Finbarr[/ccProd] has also seen play in WFN decks and updated Blurple lists. Basically anything aggressive using the Water civilization is fair game. Cards like this have put aggressive decks back on the map since Clash of the Duel Masters released, and the meta is in an interesting place thanks to it. These tempo and midrange strategies have what it takes to potentially give control players a rough time, but have to watch out for rush decks, which have also seen an increase in use. Only time will tell how it all stacks up at the championships in Seattle next month, but I'm sure some tempo strategies involving [ccProd]General Finbarr[/ccProd] will be there. If you have any thoughts about how this card is affecting things or the article in general leave a comment down below, and until next week, Play Hard or Go Home!