Floodgates. You’ve seen them before. They’re everywhere and they’re annoying. In fact, I would go as far as to say that floodgate cards are the lynchpin of competitive side decking right now. For those of you who do not know what I am referring to when I say “floodgate cards,” I will briefly elaborate. A “floodgate” is a card that sits on the field and prevents the opponent from playing Yu-Gi-Oh. They are usually so crippling to the opposing strategy that entire games can be won with just a single copy of any given floodgate card. Examples include Shadow Imprisoning Mirror, Light Imprisoning Mirror, Soul Drain, Macro Cosmos, Dimensional Fissure, Stygian Dirge, Vanity’s Emptine$$, Rivalry of the Warlords, and Gozen Match. I am going to break down these cards and explain which ones you should be siding against specific matchups.
We’ll kick things off with the not-so-familiar floodgate card known as “Stygian Dirge.” I only recently found out about it card at ARGCS Milwaukee this year while watching a Geargia player get absolutely destroyed. The effect reads as follows:
Reduce the Levels of all monsters your opponent controls by 1.
Seems simple enough, right? But that’s just it; it’s too simple. Cards like that are typically extremely broken (think Pot of Greed, Dark Hole, Raigeki, Harpies Feather Duster, etc). Now, don’t get me wrong, I am not saying Stygian Dirge is as powerful as those cards, but I am saying that it has one line of super effective text. It’s kind of like Stealth Rock on a Charizard. If you haven’t put 2 and 2 together yet, let me assist you with the answer. It destroys decks that aim to make a specific rank of Xyz summons over and over again. Examples include: Geargia, Infernity, Burning Abyss, and Satellarknights. The aforementioned strategies attempt to spam Rank 3 or Rank 4 summons until they win. Unfortunately, there isn’t much room to include random Xyz monsters that are one rank below that. And even if they could, there aren’t many good options to help in that particular situation, anyways. If you’re thinking Zenmaines, I can tell you that that’s wishful thinking.
In my opinion, I think that everyone should be siding some number of this card. It completely ruins mirror matches for the opponent, while keeping your entire strategy intact. In the finals of ARGCS Atlantic City, you can see Tyree Tinsley and Aaron Furman utilizing Stygian Dirge to control their matches. This is mainly because Satellarknights cannot make real plays without Rank 4s. Burning Abyss becomes a deck of 2-star monsters that do nothing but cycle. The same is pretty much true for Infernity and Geargia. I should also mention that this card is not good against decks that play tuners because they can typically Synchro summon their way out of it.
Next up we have the infamous Shadow Imprisoning Mirror and Light Imprisoning Mirror. For short, I will refer to them as SIM and LIM. These cards are not new to the game of duel monsters. They have been around since 2007 and they have jumped in and out of relevance ever since. SIM should obviously be sided against Shaddolls and Burning Abyss. LIM should be sided against Satellarknights and Lightsworn. These cards stop a plethora of powerful effects, like Kuribandit, Dark Armed Dragon, every Shaddoll so far, every Satellarknight, all of the Artifact monsters, etc. They do not stop continuous effects, such as Thunder King Rai-oh’s effect that prevents players from searching their decks, but it would stop his effect to tribute himself and negate the special summon of a monster. You wouldn’t be able to negate El Shaddoll Winda’s effects that prevents players from special summoning more than once per turn, or her effect that says she cannot be destroyed by your opponent’s card effects, but you would be able to stop her effect that adds back a Shaddoll spell/trap when she is sent to the graveyard. Do not forget, though, that all of these effects that are negated by SIM and LIM can still be activated, but they will simply resolve without effect. In rare cases, this can be relevant.
Moving right along, let’s take a look at Soul Drain. It prevents the activation of monster effects that activate in the graveyard or in the banished zone. If you were around last year for Dragon Ruler format, you will know that this card used to be insane against them because they all activate in those two places (and the hand and field, too, if we’re being technical). Now we have the Burning Abyss and Shaddoll monsters that are all graveyard effects, and Soul Drain shuts them down all the same. On the plus side, Shaddolls have pretty good flip effects that may be able to help against Soul Drain, like Shaddoll Dragon, who returns one card on the field back to the hand.
Soul Drain can also be really good against Bujins and Frog Monarchs because they play several cards that utilize the graveyard. If your deck can operate without graveyard effects or banished zone effects, then this is the card you want to include in your side deck. Satellarknights make perfect use of it because it does not affect a single thing about them.
I’m sure everyone already knows a lot about Dimensional Fissure and Macro Cosmos. They have been around forever. Literally. Forever. On the plus side, I think the only deck that is capable of siding them is Satellarknights, but I am not too big on siding Macro Cosmos in that deck because it relies heavily on Altair, and Cosmos interferes with that. Dimensional Fissure, on the other hand, is perfect because when you detach your Deneb from under an Xyz, it will still go to the grave. If you draw Dimensional Fissure or Macro Cosmos against a Shaddoll or Burning Abyss deck, you should make your next focus on getting out Cairngorgon, Antiluminescent Knight. He will protect it from simple destruction like Mystical Space Typhoon, Artifact Ignition, Twister, Dust Tornado, Lyla, etc. Beware of Malevolent Catastrophe, though!
Perhaps two of the most powerful floodgate cards in the game, Rivalry of the Warlords and Gozen Match, have also been around for quite some time. Rivalry stops players from controlling monsters with different types and Gozen stops players from controlling monsters with different attributes. They are both incredibly annoying and incredibly hard to play around. I actually side three copies of Rivalry of the Warlords in my Shaddoll deck because it deals with Burning Abyss. You see, when they Xyz for Dante, he is a warrior monster, and the rest of their deck is all fiends. You can literally lock them out of the game until they draw an out, which will usually be in the form of either Phoenix Wing Wind Blast or Rank-Up Magic Astral Force to make Constellar Pleiades. In either scenario, they will still be in a tight spot because they cannot commit to the field knowing you have a Rivalry. It puts the deck into a very awkward situation that allows you to gain momentum. Also, a lot of Burning Abyss players use Raiza instead of Caius, which is certainly fine, except it gives them one less out to a card like Rivalry.
Satellarknights can actually side both Rivalry and Gozen as well. When you really sit down and think about it, the deck can side just about everything. All of their monsters are light warriors, so the same rules apply against Burning Abyss. What I love about Rivalry is that it happens to be great against Infernity and Mermails, too. It can prevent both of them from making powerful Xyz plays to win the game, which is usually how they operate. I noticed how incredibly detrimental it was to Mermails at the ARG $20K when Patrick Hoban flipped Rivlary on my Mermails. Their typing is all over the place, and it utterly destroys them. Madolches suffer the same fate, too—all of their monsters are different types.
Last, but certainly not least, we have our new money card, Vanity’s Emptiness. This pesky trap is everywhere right now, and you need to be prepared for it. Leading up to ARGCS Atlantic City, I noticed how powerful Emptiness was if you didn’t have an immediate out to it. I decided to main Mystical Space Typhoons as a result. I noticed that a lot of the players who topped the event also mained Mystical Space Typhoon. Emptiness is just one of those cards that can outright win a game on its own, and it sucks when you’re on the opposite end of it. In fact, one of my losses at the event was to Soul Drain and Emptiness being simultaneously face-up on the field. When you smell an Emptiness in the backrow, you need to make sure that your play is not going to leave you completely shut out if the card is flipped. Try to wait until you have an out to it before proceeding, and if you do not have an out, then at least have a backup plan. I typically hold a copy of The Monarchs Storm Forth in my hand for those scenarios. You can do the same thing by holding your copies of Mystical Space Typhoon.
If you want to do well in this format, you need to be ready for floodgate cards. In games two and three, players should be saving their backrow destruction for a time of need. The only time I would warrant using a Typhoon, or any card like it, in games two and three is when your opponent has just one backrow. If they have multiple, you should wait until they flip the floodgate.
Before I end this article, I want to leave you with this. It would be fair to say that in game one, Shaddolls and Burning Abyss are the two best decks in this format, but because of the numerous floodgate cards available to Satellarknights in games two and three, I’d argue that Satellarknights are the best deck post siding. And since we play more games with our side decks than without them, it would also be true to say that Satellarknights are the best deck. Now, ideally, the format is still wide open, and the absolute best deck has yet to be discovered, or at least the perfect list, anyways. Unfortunately, this forbidden list expires on September 30th, so it is completely possible that there isn’t enough time to find it. So what do you think about the flood? Do you agree that Satellarknights are best because of it? Let me know in the comments below.
Until next time, duelists! Play Hard or Go Home!
-The Dark Magician