I apologize in advance to those who don’t want to read even a sentence more about Samurais. I understand it’s not the most exciting deck to read about, but when it comes to competitive play, exciting can’t always been achieved. Nonetheless, today we’re talking about the future of Samurais, because it’s pretty apparent they aren’t the deck they used to be. While many a Samurai player is still topping events, overall, there are fewer and fewer Samurai tops as the format has developed (and continues to develop). Let’s start by taking a look at the current format.
What are the current top decks this format? That question’s been asked a lot recently, but usually the answer is “Tengu Plants and Sams”. That’s simply not the case (not entirely, at least). Tengu Plants are definitely one of the, if not the, best deck this format, but Sams aren’t. They were pre-US Nats, so I guess to be fair that answer was relevant until recently, but it’s not true anymore. Currently, the best decks, in order of how good they are, are Tengu Plants and Skill Drain T.G. Feel free to debate this in the comments section. Skill Drain T.G. ended up doing amazingly well at the US Nationals because it has a very good Plant matchup, it doesn’t sacrifice its Samurai or Gravekeeper’s matchup by having a good Plant matchup, and it’s a deck of almost entirely floaters that interact with very good Trap cards (Horn of the Phantom Beast and TG1-EM1). This allows the deck to break up Synchro plays, generate massive card advantage, and steal powerful monsters like Hyper Librarian and Trishula. And Skill Drain, of course, puts in work against Samurai, Plants, Water Synchro, and most rogue decks. Like Jason Meyer said, it was definitely the breakout deck of the event. This article isn’t about T.G. though, so enough on that. The point is that now Samurai have another deck to beat that has a good matchup against it. However, there’s a plus side to this: both Tengu Plants and T.G. rely on the graveyard, and Samurai have no problems working without a graveyard.
Anyone that follows worldwide Yu-Gi-Oh! coverage knows that Jack Quinsee won the U.K./Ireland World Championship Qualifier with a Samurai deck that mained three Dimensional Fissure. The strategy isn’t entirely new – most Samurai decks have sided two to three Dimensional Fissure since the deck became popular, and many have started to main Dimensional Fissure – but it’s better now than ever before. Dimensional Fissure makes it so that no monster reaches the graveyard, and that means T.G. monsters aren’t going to get their effects. While this doesn’t make Horn of the Phantom Beast or TG1-EM1 entirely useless, it does hinder their power quite a bit, as not being able to search for monsters when you run a very low monster count makes both cards live much less often. As far as Fissure versus Tengu Plants goes, Dimensional Fissure makes Pot of Avarice, Dandylion, Glow-Up Bulb, Spore, Debris Dragon, Sangan (and effectively Tour Guide from the Underworld), Limit Reverse, and Blackwing – Zephryos the Elite dead cards. That eliminates about a third of their deck, which by most people’s standards is good Yu-Gi-Oh.
Finding room for three Dimensional Fissure isn’t enough to put Sams back on top, though, at least not in my opinion. I’ve been testing Samurai a lot recently and I’ve come to the conclusion that there are two cards in particular that are just sub-optimal choices for the current format. The first of those two cards is Hand of the Six Samurai. For one, this card wastes a Normal Summon, and your Normal Summon’s a pretty big deal this format. Second, and most importantly, Hand’s dead against Tengu Plants and T.G. Versus T.G., you just lose a creature and let your opponent search for another monster (a -1 on your part). Against Tengu Plants, Tengu just replaces itself, Dandylion puts tokens onto the field, Sangan gets its effect, Stardust “can’t” be destroyed by it, and they can Limit Reverse almost every card in the deck. It’s simply not a good choice right now and I’ve found that by not playing the deck runs a lot more smoothly and does a lot better overall. The second card I’m not a big fan of this format is Musakani Magatama. A lot of people swear by this card, and last format, rightly so. The problem this format is that the two best decks, which as noted earlier are Skill Drain T.G. and Tengu Plants, don’t destroy cards much. In testing, I’ve had Musakani dead on the field far too often for my liking, and I’d much rather it be a Bottomless Trap Hole most of the time. Bottomless is once again useful, as it hits Librarian, Rush Rhino, and many other now-popular/legal cards. For that reason, I’ve taken my two Musakani out of the main and put them into the side deck in favor of two Bottomless Trap Hole. What to replace Hand of the Six Samurai with, though, is a lot more of a difficult choice. Personally, I play two Fossil Dyna Pachycephalo over Hand and the typical “one tech card” Sams have space for. If you haven’t stopped reading, think of Fossil Dyna as another Royal Oppression, but better. If you open up with an awkward hand, which Sams can tend to do, simply Normal Summon or Set Dyna and work from there. At worst, it eats a Warning. It’s also great to play after you’ve setup your field, preventing Gorz, Black Rose, Trishula, and numerous other threats to Shi En from hitting the field. Furthermore, going second in the mirror isn’t as much of an issue if you run Dyna than if you didn’t. Simply set the Dyna and clear their field if they don’t have a Musakani. I love it in my deck and it’s definitely worth trying out yourself. Like they say, don’t knock it ‘til you’ve tried it.
Another card I’ve been considering maining recently is Rivarly of Warlords. It’s obviously very good against Tengu Plants, and not as obviously good against Skill Drain T.G. Apparent or not, though, it’s very good against T.G. Rush Rhino, Striker, and Warwolf are all different types, so Rivarly makes it difficult for the opponent to gain field advantage. Add in Dimensional Fissure and the end result is crippling. I wouldn’t run more than one or two, though, as Gravekeeper’s and Heroes are a still a deck, and too many dead cards against those decks isn’t a good thing.
Anyway, before this article gets too long and you tl;dr, here’s the deck I’ve been testing to much success:
3 Legendary Six Samurai - Kageki
3 Kagemusha of the Six Samurai
3 Legendary Six Samurai - Kizan
1 Grandmaster of the Six Samurai
2 Fossil Dyna Pachycephalo
3 Dimensional Fissure
3 Upstart Goblin
3 Shien's Smoke Signal
1 Reinforcement of the Army
3 Six Samurai United
1 Gateway of the Six
2 Mystical Space Typhoon
1 Monster Reborn
1 Giant Trunade
1 Book of Moon
1 Dark Hole
2 Solemn Warning
2 Bottomless Trap Hole
1 Royal Oppression
1 Solemn Judgment
1 Mirror Force
1 Rivalry of Warlords
I’ve chosen to not run Asceticism in favor of Upstart Goblin because I don’t like the Asceticism build much. Elder’s a bad draw without Asceticism, and forcing the engine in takes up a lot of space that I’d rather use otherwise (see: Rivalry, Dyna, Upstart, etc.). I also don’t feel like it makes any of your matchups any better this format. Thus, no Asceticism. I may be a bit bias, but I definitely feel that the changes made to the traditional Samurai list make this deck a top contender in the current format, and hopefully what's been discussed today helps fellow Samurai players out.
Anyway, that's all for today. I hope you enjoyed the article, and if you have any questions, concerns, or comments, feel free to comment below.
Until next time,