State of the Meta – May 2015

Hello, duelists. With ARG Richmond in the history books, I’d like to take some time to assess the current state of the meta. A whopping 11 out of 16 players in the top cut used Nekroz, while 4 used Shaddolls, and 1 used Qliphorts. Without a doubt, Nekroz are the deck to beat, so the only question that remains is how are players building their decks? If you looked at the Top16 decklists from that event, you will have noticed some trends amongst the blue gang. I will give my insight on each and tell you what to expect at the coming events.

Before we start, I would like to congratulate Nick Ma on winning Richmond since he is a player from my local area. Though he does not get to play very often anymore, it does not surprise me to see him win as he has several premier event tops already. It’s always a great feeling to finally get that win when you’ve been playing for years, so good on him.

maxx cThe Return of Hand Traps

Almost every player who topped Richmond used several copies of Maxx “C” and Effect Veiler in their main decks. Some even opted to main Artifact Lancea as an extra layer of protection against the notorious Trishula/Djinn Lock. Of the 15 players who used Maxx “C” and Effect Veiler, 13 of them mained both, which is 81% of the top cut. Those results are pretty staggering, and I’d argue that those card choices were a key part of their success. Unlike Shared Ride, Maxx “C” is good against just about every relevant deck in the format. If your opponent activates Kaleidoscope to summon Nekroz of Unicore and you chain Maxx “C,” he will be left in an awkward position. The fact of the matter is, he will now have a hand, a graveyard, and a field—I think we all know what that means. His other option is to continue on that path, which would most likely be setting up a Djinn Lock, or to lose the game from not playing around the super relevant hand trap.

Maxx “C” also puts Shaddolls in a less than ideal position now that they use three copies of Shaddoll Falco. Let’s say your opponent activates Shaddoll Fusion with the intention of summoning Construct using Falco and a Star Seraph. If you chain Maxx “C,” he or she will be giving you a +1 should he decicde to use the effect of Falco. You’re fine with that either way because it will be one less card to deal with, or you will have one more card to deal with it. The other option is for him to forego using the effect of Shaddoll Falco and taking a -1 on his Shaddoll Fusion. These are both very good things no matter how you look at it.

Effect Veiler is very similar when it comes to putting your opponent in an awkward position. If you wait until he or she summons Lavalval chain, you can ensure that you don’t get Djinn locked (assuming he or she did not draw the one copy of Djinn), and you can kill the Lavalval chain on the following turn. This should put you out of harm’s reach for a while as it will be incredibly hard for him to get the Lavalval Chain back into his extra deck and then re-summon it. Waiting on the Chain is especially important if you’re using Shaddolls because the Nekroz player will have an extra deck monster on the field. Needless to say, that is the best-case scenario for that deck. Also, depending on the hand, there are times when hitting a Manju or Senju will be absolutely crippling. If you have a strong enough setup, or a hand that can’t deal with giving your opponent a guaranteed search, I’d highly recommend just hitting the Ju. The way I see it, if your hand is already pretty weak, you were going to lose anyways if they can make plays without the effect of the Ju going through.

Solemn Scolding

Only two players in the Top16 decided to use this card. I cannot say that I am surprised though, because builds that play it tend to be all or nothing when it comes to the Djinn lock. The hands where you draw Scolding are typically amazing as long as you have a Ju to make a strong play, but the card can also contribute to bad hands if you don’t. It’s a double edged sword in a lot of ways, because there are times when you are forced to activate it on something less than ideal, and your opponent has the follow-up play to blow you out. There are other times when your opponent only has one play available, and the Scolding just shuts it down, ending the game. It is also worth mentioning that 3000 lifepoints is a lot, and one battle phase can make it so that you can only use one Scolding for the entire game (trust me, it happens a lot). What I will say about Solemn Scolding is that it is a card that rewards good players. I won’t spend too much time going into details, but let’s just say that it plays a lot like Emptiness if you recall my insight from previous articles.

vanity's emptinessVanity’s Emptiness

There were thirteen players in the Top16 who mained Vanity’s Emptiness. I think it’s safe to say that this card is back in full swing. This has also led to an increase in people playing Mystical Space Typhoon, which I don’t agree with, and an increase in destruction cards like Raigeki and Dark Hole. The way I see it, Emptiness is one card and you’re not going to always have your main decked MSTs to stop it in the few games that it does get flipped against you, so I rather not make my deck worse against Nekroz by playing it. On the other hand, Emptiness is still pretty much an auto-win in this meta, and that is reason enough for almost everyone to main it. Imagine breaking a Djinn lock to find out that the one backrow your opponent had set the entire time was Vanity’s Emptiness. It’s beyond demoralizing. Hopefully, this card gets banned eventually, but until then it will continue to see play. The biggest problem with it now is that since there is only one copy of it, you really can’t build your deck to deal with it, and you can’t legitimately play around it most of the time.

Catch These Hands

5 of the 11 Nekroz players who topped were siding Fire and Ice Hands. A friend told me about them at a regional a few weeks back and I haven’t taken them out of my side since. I found that Denko Sekka does not get rid of absurd problem cards that people are siding against Nekroz, like Spell Canceller, Anti-Spell Fragrance, Vanity’s Fiend, Mistake, Thunder King, Imperial Iron Wall, etc. The Hands actually deal with all of these problems, and they do it without losing any card advantage. Now, of course there are some situations where Denko Sekka is better, but those situations are becoming fewer and further in between. The hate is getting too real these days, and her effectiveness is diminishing. I think more people will be converting to the Hand side deck after seeing this, and after the next pack comes out.

Have you noticed any other popular trends amongst the top decks in this format? If so, feel free to list them in the comment section below.

Until next time, duelists! Remember, Play Hard or Go Home!

-Frazier Smith

-The Dark Magician

Frazier Smith

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