As I type this, I’m 37,000 feet above the Earth traveling to a YCS I never thought I’d get privilege to go to in a country I’ve never been to; YCS Barcelona. There I will meet up with fellow ARG writers Paul Clarke and Frazier Smith. By the time this article is posted, the YCS will have come and gone and hopefully someone from team USA will have been able to capture the gold. The purpose of this article today is to discuss a particular side deck strategy against one of the most degenerate decks in recent history; Dark World. The reason I say that it is a degenerate deck is because it either does what it’s supposed to do with little regard for what the opponent has or it simply does not. The deck cares very little about player interaction. This lack of interaction from the Dark World player is the basis of my theory on siding against them.
The title and thesis of this article may be a bit misleading as I believe the best way to approach Dark World when coming into an 11 round tournament is to not specifically side deck for it at all. This means don’t side cards like Gemini Imps at all. On the surface this seems very counter intuitive, but let me explain more in depth.
The Diverse Meta
In the past, I’ve explained why the competitive player should advocate one deck formats. If you need a refresher, or have not heard the argument before, feel free to remind yourself by checking out a previous article of mine titled “The Diversity Argument.” In this article I give reasons why one deck formats are traditionally more skillful than diverse formats. Unfortunately, we find ourselves in the middle of a very diverse format. Wind-Ups, the Water deck, Agents, and Rabbit are all considered tier 1 decks and Geargia, Inzektors, Dark World, Chaos Dragons, and Heroes aren’t far behind. That’s almost 10 decks that can be considered “meta.” When the game experienced a shift from 1-3 deck formats, to 4-5 deck formats, and now to 10 deck formats, we weren’t given any additional side deck space to compensate for having to play an increased number of decks when we are playing on a competitive level. This leaves us with two options. We can either side more generic cards that are good against a large variety of matchups such as Soul Taker as a card that hits both Agents and Chaos Dragons, or we can choose to side for fewer decks overall and roll the dice hoping to play against those that we sided for and avoid those that we did not side for.
If we are going to take the first option and side more generic cards, cards like Gemini Imps are going to be the first cards we cut. After all, what else are you hoping to side Gemini Imps against? Empty Jar? Or maybe you’re hoping to sack it out against one of the three Gravekeeper players in the thousand man tournament by hitting their Royal Tribute. Realistically though, if our goal is to top, or ultimately win, we need to be siding against the decks that we think we are the most likely to play, not every deck that is legal in the current format. If we know some super-secret FTK deck, but no one else does, why bother siding the one card that cripples it that no one else will be siding when you know you aren’t going to play against the deck? This means that realistically, if we included Gemini Imps in our side deck, our only reason for putting it there should be Dark World and that if we get paired up against one of the other off the wall matchups that it has applications in, so be it, great for us, but hitting Morphing Jar in Empty Jar should not be our reason for including it when the deck is essentially nonexistent in the meta (Even Paul Cooper stopped playing it!)
The other option is to not side against specific decks and hope not to play against them. If this is the second reason, why is it that Dark World should be the deck we opt not to side for over say Chaos Dragons? I’ll explain this more in the next section.
Likelihood of Playing Dark World
Ever since the release of the Dark World structure deck, the deck has constantly been a part of the meta, yet it has never been a driving force. It has never been the deck and likely never will. This is because of most players ability to realize that it is not a strong choice regardless of the rest of the meta. I’ll come back to why I don’t think Dark World is a strong choice in the next section. Regardless of how good or bad of a choice it may be to play the deck, ultimately 1-2 Dark Worlds still seem to make it to top 32 at any given Jump. It’s certainly a persistent thorn in the side of players that want the winner to be determined by skill and player interactions rather than which combination of cards you drew when, nevertheless, it does exist.
That being said, it’s not heavily played. I’ve been to pretty much every YCS in the last couple of years and since the release of the Dark World deck I’d say that I haven’t played against more than 1 every 2-3 tournaments and have only ever played 2 in the same tournament once (and the second one was in top cut, not in the swiss rounds). Realistically, the deck’s just not that played. So if we’re going to choose a deck to not side for, despite it being someone relevant, we’re going to want to pick one of the lesser played decks.
The Degenerate Nature of the Deck
Outside of a couple of obvious ones, Dark World doesn’t really have good and bad matchups, it just has good and bad hands. This is essentially why I do not think it is every the correct deck choice for an event. I don’t want to play a deck that doesn’t have good matchups and is more reliant on how well I draw than just about any other deck in the format.
When I say the deck is degenerate, I don’t simply mean because of Card Destruction. Every deck has it’s degenerate moments where they throw caution to the wind and disregard player interaction for the rest of the game. Wind-Ups have Magician Shark, Chaos Dragons essentially can’t lose after resolving Charge of the Light Brigade followed by Solar Recharge, and good luck trying to beat a Rabbit deck that opens Rabbit Tour Guide going first. The difference is that these decks doing it is an exception, whereas Dark World doing it is the rule. Wind-Ups and Rabbit are two of the best grind decks in recent Yu-Gi-Oh history. The thought of a Dark World deck grinding a game out to victory is simply laughable.
Dark World is essentially an FTK deck that doesn’t win on its first turn. It’s extremely similar to watching a Blasting the Ruins deck run itself from start to finish. It doesn’t really care what your opponent has at pretty much any stage of the game. Realistically, drawing 1 Shadow-Imprisoning Mirror (keep in mind that even if you side 3, the chances of opening with at least 1 are only 39% and the chances of opening with 2 are only 5%) isn’t really going to do anything against the deck. Like I said above, they don’t care that much about the individual match ups. They might side a couple cards like Gozen Match, but in general they’re just going to side hate for your hate like MST, Dust, or Ryko, because if they can do what they are supposed to do, then they are going to win. A Shadow-Imprisoning or Dimensional Fissure might slow them down for a couple of turns, but really it’s just a floodgate card. A floodgate card is one that doesn’t actually deal with anything your opponent has, it just forces them to hold it. Then once they get rid of the floodgate card, they still have everything and are free to play their hand. And since they’re siding a lot of answers to your floodgate cards (pretty much every card you can side against Dark World is a floodgate card), it’s not going to last more than a couple of turns before they draw an answer.
Realistically, the games are going to be determined by how well your opponent draws with Dark World. If they open Card Destruction and 2-3 Dark Worlds, a Dimensional Fissure is only going to last so long. When they draw their MST, they’re still going to have Card Destruction and 2-3 Dark Worlds. The games aren’t going to be determined by which cards you sided.
The last reason I have to not side against Dark World is the recent release of a generic XYZ that does the same thing as all the floodgate cards; Abyss Dweller. I didn’t think Dark World was worth siding against before this card’s release, but this really pushed it over the top. The fact that it’s generic is insane because pretty much all of the top decks have access to it. Wind-Ups can use Magicians and Sharks (or Rabbit trigger Magician get Shark), the Water deck has Pikes and Dragoons to make him, and the entire Rabbit deck is level 4. A couple decks such as Agents and Chaos Dragons have a bit harder time making him.
Because of how little Dark World you’ll play, how ineffective the side options are against the deck, and because the recent release of Abyss Dweller I don’t think Dark World is worthwhile to side against. I don’t want to side 3-4 ineffective cards against a deck that I probably won’t play and even if I do and draw 1-2 of them, I still might lose. I’d rather just better utilize my side deck in other match ups and hope for the best in the Dark World match up.
(After Barcelona edit: I didn’t play any Dark World)