This weekend marks the the beginning of a new era in the March 2013 format. If you're preparing for YCS New Jersey or have a regional coming up like myself, I'm sure you've been trying to figure out the best ways to fight off new strategies brought to life by the newest set: Hidden Arsenal 7. The new viable strategies actually stretch farther than a lot of people realize, including Evilswarm, Constellar, Infernity, Gadget, and a couple new combo decks that abuse Constellar Ptolemy M7. A lot of people think it's not Evilswarm's time yet and personally I'm not sure yet. Evilswarm Kerykeion is definitely a powerful card and it feels naked playing without her but does she completely make the deck? Constellars are pretty powerful but the need to combine 2 cards into an xyz is risky in a meta full of trap cards like this one and is overshadowed by Evilswarms. That deck is similar and the xyzs you make are much better than in Constellar. On top of that, popular cards ran in Constellar like Ghost Ship and Solar Wind Jammer are hurt by Ophion's existence so making the deck work right now won't be a walk in the park. Lastly Infernity got a huge boost from Lavalal Chain and I think people are sort of ignoring it and hoping that if they don't think about it, it'll go away. Before anything I feel like I should clear up some myths about the upcoming format we're about to play in.
First off, Evilswarm does not bow down to kiss the feet of Fire Fist. Fire duelists shouldn't see Evilswarm as an auto-win matchup because if they can stop your Bear from popping (or you just drew Bear without Tenki or anything else to pop with) you're in a world of trouble. If they successfully summon an Ophion they'll gain a free Pandemic and if it survives to the next turn.. which there is a really good chance it will.. they'll be able to add a second copy because there's no reason to keep a material under it. Evilswarm Thunderbird can also cause some real problems since the deck is so "summon a monster and protect it with a bunch of backrows" orientated. Next up is the Synchro vs XYZ variant of Inferity and which one is truly better. While you can just play and Synchro version and just xyz summon while Ophion is up, to me it's not worth the added inconsistency. Avenger and Mirage are just extra monsters to clog up your opening hands and I feel like what these cards contribute to a win-more strategy. Sure, your opponent isn't going to take down 3 synchros and an Archfiend backed with Breaks and Barriers but do you think they can take down 2 Lavalal Chains, an Archfiend, and a Necromancer backed with those same traps either? Especially when you can stack whatever you want to the top of the deck next turn, the chances are pretty slim. The games might be closer but a win is a win and you'll get a lot more of those if you build your deck for consistency. If you go off with either version you're going to win regardless, you don't need to win so hard it'll knock your opponent out of his seat.
And so we are left in a weird spot. The addition of so many decks, especially with them being Anti-Meta and Combo decks, makes everything a bit sketchy. It's going to be hard to dodge Infernity, Gishki FTK, and other first turn loop decks if you don't side for them. On the other hand is it really worth it? Let's take Gishki FTK for example and say you essentially decide to cut your side down to 12 cards in order to fit in 3 [ccProd]Droll & Lock Bird[/ccProd]. You have a 34% chance of opening it in your first 5 cards. Looking back to last format I ran 8 "Anti Shock-Lock" cards post-board (1 [ccProd]Book of Moon[/ccProd], 2 [ccProd]Effect Veiler[/ccProd], 2 [ccProd]Maxx "C"[/ccProd], 2 [ccProd]Compulsory Evacuation Device[/ccProd], 1 [ccProd]Needle Ceiling[/ccProd]) because in a perfect world you should see 1 of those in every 5 cards you go through. Even then I would get Shock Mastered and not have one of those cards in my opening 6 to battle back. 3 Droll & Lock for the 1-2 matches you might face Gishki? Not worth it at all. The solution? Obviously to run more cards to up the percentage of opening a counter. [ccProd]Maxx "C"[/ccProd] is a perfect fit for this role. If you open [ccProd]Maxx "C" [/ccProd] and they keep going it's absolute game against Gishki FTK. They're most likely going to try to deck you out by special summoning over and over and all you have to do is sit there and wait for 2 things - Them to play [ccProd]Into the Void[/ccProd], and you to draw [ccProd]Heavy Storm[/ccProd]. Once this happens you can discard Droll & Lock to stop both players from adding cards from their decks (thus turning off your [ccProd]Maxx "C"[/ccProd]) and they'll lose most of their cards to [ccProd]Into the Void[/ccProd]. Next turn you simply take away what they have left with [ccProd]Heavy Storm[/ccProd] and unleash hell upon your opponent. 6 cards is still not the best but it's certainly not bad and knowing you also have the [ccProd]Maxx "C"[/ccProd]s as backup against Infernity is nice.
As inconsistent as it is, Infernity is starting to see play and so counters have arisen against it. [ccProd]Fiendish Chain[/ccProd] and [ccProd]Breakthrough Skill[/ccProd] are both really strong. I talked to my friend Squiddy and he suggested using these cards in a different way than most other people would. He said that instead of negating the initial Archfiend and risking any follow up plays you should wait until they use their normal summon and add a monster (usually Necromancer or Archfiend) to their hand, banking on making Lavalal Chain and dumping [ccProd]Stygian Street Patrol[/ccProd] to special summon it. If you negate the Lavalal Chain you keep their monster trapped in their hand and their Infernity trap cards dead. Then on your turn you can do whatever you want freely and crack their board. [ccProd]Compulsory Evacuation Device[/ccProd] is similar as it can stop an Archfiend effect or do the same thing as I stated above if timed right. Just make sure to have your [ccProd]Maxx "C"[/ccProd]s, [ccProd]Effect Veiler[/ccProd]s, [ccProd]Fiendish Chain[/ccProd]s, [ccProd]Breakthrough Skill[/ccProd]s, and [ccProd]Compulsory Evacuation Device[/ccProd]s handy if you're planning on playing against this deck. Those should be enough to get you the W.
Evilswarm is probably going to be the most popular of all these decks but it also has the most counters available. [ccProd]Neo-Spacian Grand Mole[/ccProd] is one of the best answers to Evilswarm Ophion you can find.
It's risky either way - side a lot for matchups you might not play against and lose because you can't efficiently side for all the other decks or ignore them and risk getting knocked out.