Surviving the Lone Star State

Howdy ya’ll!... Is that how you say it? I’m not quite sure. I am more used to the use of the terms “wicked” and “pissah” seeing as how I live 15 minutes outside of Boston. Anyway, as we all know YCS Dallas is upon us and in just a few short days duelists from around the globe will be flocking to the Lone Star State in hopes of walking away with YCS gold. Dallas has always had a special place in my heart because it was where I first placed in the Top 32 – breaking beyond all the barriers I thought would hold me back forever, proving to myself that I could succeed in premier events and since then I haven’t looked back. Being a history major I always enjoy the opportunity to visit the state where General Zachary Taylor took orders from President James Polk to provoke a war with Mexico… but anyway I suppose I should get onto discussing some Yu-Gi-Oh content, Right ya’ll?

Over the past year, or so, there has been one distinct revelation in the game of Yu-Gi-Oh. A good friend of mine and I recently discussed how similar the Yu-Gi-Oh trading card game was with Magic The Gathering. For those of you who follow both games you may understand what I am about to get at, but regardless try to follow. In Magic there are often times a myriad of viable decks which can be played at any given event. The assortment of color combinations, generic strategies like control, burn and ramp have  (for the most part) given Magic diverse fields of play (of course unless Jace the Mind Sculptor, Stoneforge Mystic and Squadron Hawk are all legal). While deck building has played an influential role in the results of their premier events, the real question has always been: What is the best deck at this event?

The top teams in the game of Magic spend more time relentlessly testing differing decks than they do trying to tweak what is already an accepted archtype. These teams continuously runs matches between the top decks and determine what they feel is the most viable choice for a given event. With the sheer volumes of events Magic has to offer the metagame can change drastically from week to week. While one week control variants were dominating the top tables of a given event – the next week more aggro based decks can exploit the weakness in control and overtake the field. Suddenly the night before a Pro Tour the format seems to be trending away from control and towards aggro – perhaps it is time for a removal heavy ramp deck to take its turn in the cycle of dominance?

It seems as though Yu-Gi-Oh has suddenly become so richly diverse that the question is no longer, what slight tweaks does my deck need and rather – what the best deck is for this event. Heading into YCS Atlanta there was much debate between players as to if Inzektors or Wind-Ups would be more suited to combat Dino-Rabbit, or if the Rabbit was quite frankly to powerful for either. Opinions were split before the event, but people soon accepted Rabbit was better in the weeks after. The next event on the schedule was of course – YCS Long Beach, but several top players decided to register decks that did not include 3 Rescue Rabbit in favor of other decks. Why was that?

Players, like myself, who even ran Dino-Rabbit to a Top 32 finish in YCS Atlanta, believed that for this event is was not the right choice. Virtually nothing had changed in the card pool between YCS Atlanta and Long Beach but the trends I discussed in my article entitled Long Beach Rescue Guide began to indicate to me it was time for a change in what I wanted to play.

So the question remains today on April 11th when I write this article. What is the best deck for this weekend? The best deck for Dallas may be the absolute worst choice for Chicago and have been an even more abysmal choice for Long Beach - that is all irreverent. The event on the agenda we need to concentrate on is Dallas.

The real skill today is not only how to manage the matches you take part in, but how you are able to analyze the format to exploit any weaknesses you see with what deck you play.

So what makes Dallas different than Long Beach?

Of course the first issue at hand is that Dark World reigned supreme in Long Beach. Much to the surprise of most players Michael Balan was able to pilot his build of Dark Worlds past the likes of Dino-Rabbit in the finals to claim the first victory for Mr. Grapha. But why was this able to happen?

Michael acknowledged the expectations of the field and tried to exploit a weakness in their preparation for his deck. Anyone who has played against Dark World knows just how insane the deck can function. Yet, the main issue has always been how devastating an unchecked side board card like Macro Cosmos or Shadow-Imprisoning Mirror can be. Yet, while those cards were quite powerful in the side decks of many players, most players only realistically had a handful of cards they would find ideal against the Dark World matchup. Yet as they fingered through their decks after game one, where Michael most likely exploited his favorable matchups, they were finding their decks unequipped to adequately fight back with only a continuous trap card Michael was assuredly putting in Mystical Space Typhoons to stop.

Was Dark World the best choice for YCS Long Beach? Well it is difficult to argue with results, and I know the consensus of most players would be to shy away from that statement but there is one thing that is certain – Long Beach was the best event to this day to play Dark World in.

In a similar fashion the Skill Drain Elemental Hero build I used in Long Beach was designed specifically for what I was expecting from the immense field of players that gathered in Long Beach. Yet, as I imagine everyone is seeing in their local area, the popularity of Heroes has absolutely ballooned in the wake of Long Beach and things may suddenly become increasingly more difficult for Stratos and his friends. Running Heroes again is totally an option I have in mind heading into this weekend, but there should be no doubt the use of cards such as Bottomless Trap Hole, Compulsory Evacuation Device and the Dark World deck as a whole will increase. I might have felt with my heart that Heroes were the best choice for Long Beach, but I am not sure I am going to have that feeling as I ponder this Friday night. Not to mention how frustrating Super Polymerization is when you start to play sided games in the mirror match.

So what do I feel might be the best choice for this event. Well I have, like several other ARG writers, begun playing around with the idea of playing Inzektors for this event. The deck has been overshadowed at times with the likes of Dino-Rabbit, but is certainly a powerful choice for this event. The question really left to answer is how much Dark World side deck hate is going to translate into inherent hate for the Inzektor matchup. Macro Cosmos, D.D. Crow and Shadow-Imprisoning Mirror are obviously all fantastic choices against each deck and not many players are going to show up without something like that in the side deck. Therefore, as much as I am trying to convince myself to possibly play Inzektors I am having huge reservations about how the format is trending. I thought Inzektors was the second best option in Long Beach. The suddenly surge of main decked Snowman Eaters, Dimensional Prison and the likes registered to combat Dino-Rabbit was primetime bait for Inzektors. Is it okay to assume those cards will still see main decked play because of the success of Heroes and the versatility against Dino-Rabbit? Or has Dark World cast so much of a doubt in player’s willingness to explore those types of main deck options.

Another thing that seems to be occurring which should effect your decision is that Maxx “C” continues to fall in popularity but Effect Veiler has risen in play. The Inzektor deck Alistar posted recently sported a full three copies of Effect Veiler with zero Maxx “C”! I would have thought he was crazy if someone told me that decision on March 1st when the format started. But this trend has even more so affected my desire to run Inzektors for this event. A clutch Veiler can absolutely clinch a game against Inzektors, unless of course they have a live Call of the Haunted. Call of Haunted has honestly become the main reason I am considering this deck. The ability to bait out Veiler, flip a Call and essentially win the game is quite attractive. Plus you know there will be players who carelessly drop Mystical Space Typhoon on it when you have a Sangan or Card Trooper in the grave. Oh boy, doesn’t that sound brutal! I want my mind to wrap itself over a decision now but something is just holding me back. Luckily we all have a few more days to decide.

Something I certainly need to touch upon that I discussed in my article about Long Beach was finding out the next powerful tech card. In Atlanta the likes of Shield Crush, Kaiser Colosseum and Arcana Force 0 – The Fool were revealed. I suggested players start looking forward for the next batch of powerful, under the rader cards and viola we have – Gellenduo and Forbidden Chalice. Both cards saw surges in play in Long Beach for their inherent strengths against a variety of matchups. Gellenduo is seen as an absolute tank against Dino-Rabbit, but has applications in anti-meta or matchups which, like Dino-Rabbit, would have trouble removing it from the field. Michael Balan had even side decked two copies in against me in the Top 4! Forbidden Chalice is something fellow writers have written about, so I will refrain from going to in detail but the point is these cards played an immense role in dictating success for players at the event.

But that was Long Beach… what are those cards going to be in Dallas?

Submersible Carrier Aero Shark has begun to be seen as a viable out to Gellenduo. Is that the next card which will separate success from failure in Dallas?

So here we are at a crossroads. Deciding which way to turn in the format. Is it time for Inzektors to finally prey upon the vulnerable field? Was Long Beach just the first chapter of Heroes triumphant returned to relevance? Have Wind-Ups (and Billy Brake) finally become wound up enough to spring into first place? Was Grapha and his minions only striking back in Long Beach, are they ready for the return of the Jedi… I mean Gemini Imps? Will enough Rescue Rabbits hop into enough opening hands in Dallas to render everything else irrelevant? Or perhaps you have come across exactly what is ready to shake the format from its foundation!

Well I’m excited to get this weekend started!

Joe Giorlando

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