Welcome back, Kaijudo duelists! I'm back after my week off to discuss the current Kaijudo metagame some more! During the past few weeks at my local, and in reading the results of locals in other areas, I've discovered the importance of tempo in the post-Evo Fury metagame. Shortly after Evo Fury released, I talked about Aggression in an article, and this goes hand-in-hand with that... sort of. To me, "tempo" signifies controlled aggression. Not just blindly attacking shields and being punished for reckless plays, but knowing when the best time is to attack to put your opponent on the ropes. The idea is that even though you're giving your opponent cards with each break of one of their shields, you're playing cards in such a progression that you can maintain control over the battle zone and deal with any possible answers your opponent might be able to play. Certain decks can set and maintain the pace of the game almost indefinitely if they have the right setup, and might not need more than five or so mana to do it.
The Importance of Turns 3 and 4
Aren't you all tired of hearing how good Aqua Seneschal is? Well it can't be helped; with such a small card pool as we have right now, Seneschal, continues to be the life force of most of the top tier decks, from Aggro to Control. In a Water/Darkness "Blurple" deck, Emperor Neuron or Aqua Seneschal are almost always the optimal turn three plays, and what makes these cards even better are their potential follow-ups on turn four: Screeching Scaradorable, Bone Blades, and Rusalka, Aqua Chaser. Other cards such as Razorhide can also function well as a turn three play before cards like these.
If you happen to go first and summon an Aqua Seneschal with one of these cards in your hand, you're probably in a very good position. If they responded with their own Seneschal, Bone Blades and Rusalka can take care of the situation, Rusalka even giving you another body as you begin attacking with Seneschal. Then, if they use their mana to replay the Seneschal, that's another free turn you have to attack before they can even retaliate. If they had a low-level blocker and nothing else to stop Seneschal, Screeching Scaradorable can remove their defense and allow Seneschal to attack, even setting up for a Hydra Medusa on the next turn; if they have a Bone Blades or Rusalka to bounce one of your creatures after that, they'll have to deal with the other threat. A lof of times, barring a lucky Shield Blast, a progression like this coming from the other side of the table can make you feel like you're constantly fighting an uphill battle, especially if you're going second.
Evolutions: the Ultimate Tempo Switch
Dropping an Evolution such as Hydra Medusa or Bronze-Arm Sabertooth at the right time can completely turn the tide of the duel in your favor. Often, this coincides with holding your Evo-bait for the right time like I mentioned in my previous article. For example, if I drop Gigabolver and Hydra Medusa for 6 mana on one turn against a field with two tapped creatures, I can clear them both out of the way immediately as well as give my opponent a 5000 power creature to deal with. This is why, if you happen to watch a match of two Water/Darkness decks going head to head right now on YouTube or at your own local, you'll see the control of the field switch so often if both players are able to maintain strong options in their hand.
This isn't to say that Hydra Medusa is the only Evolution capable of this; though it is one of the best we have right now (I might even say it's the best), dropping a Bronze-Arm Sabertooth on turn four can lead to great plays that allow the pilot to keep momentum in the game. The power of Bolt-Tail Dragon cannot be underestimated right now, and if Sabertooth can live one turn, when your opponent finally banishes it, it can give you enough mana to go straight into the Bolt-Tail play - or the Flamespike Tatsurion play, or any other such big threat he or she might be running.
Making Good Progressions
The metagame right now greatly rewards players who can make strong turn-by-turn reads and progressions. Knowing how to react to your opponents' potential plays and planning out future turns is the key to maintaing tempo, which is all-important right now. There are the simple ones, such as turn three Seneschal with a turn four follow-up which are always effective, and then there are more tricky ones that player's don't necessarily see coming. For example, to combat decks that rely on Seneschal, Light has the cool progression of a turn two Cloudwalker Drone and turn three Blinder Beetle. This puts Cloudwalker Drone at just the right power to deal with the power of Seneschal and other major creatures, at no loss in card advantage while developing a field that can be evolved to cards like Halon, Paragon of Light.
A lot of matchups right now rarely give the more conservative player a chance to build up resources turn after turn without having to deal with a strong battle zone presence. Control decks right now are pretty much forced to have a strong early/mid game as well, leading to larger plays that hopefully disrupt the flow of decks like Blurple. Barrage and Tendril Grasp are obvious answers, and in decks running Nature, they can happen even earlier than usual with the help of Reap and Sow. Tatsurion the Unchained is a very potent late game threat right now as well, clearing away tons of Evo-bait and getting over the power of Emperor Neuron and Hydra Medusa. Another card that shares that strength is "Tatsurion" from the Battle Decks, which is a pretty good card right now simply because it comes out earlier, and can deal with cards like Neuron, Medusa, and King Neptas before they do too much damage. Both of these cards also give their player a huge presence to deal with on the board as well.
The trick to using a Control deck effectively against all of these decks that can focus much more on tempo is to never put yourself in a position where they can benefit too much off of their progressions. This is why I think Heat Seekers is necessary for all Control decks using fire right now; it's the only removal spell that can consistently deal with a Seneschal or Gigastand regardless of what else your opponent has in his hand. Playing a Sun-Stalk Seed or other blocker could potentially stall the opponent, but if they drop Rusalka or especially Screeching Scaradorable, you'll be at a huge loss in tempo and, most likely, card advantage. With so many decks being designed to dictate the pace of the game even from the early turns, Control has to fight back with early game answers and the proper plays to prevent the opponent from capitalizing. Later in the game, the more disruptive plays can happen.
Hopefully this article has shed some light on why some of the major decks and cards in the current metagame are doing so well. It's a rather difficult subject to explain, but tempo and field pressure really do matter a lot right now; I encourage everyone to play at some locals happening near them and share your results. There are still roughly two more months until Dragonstrike Infernus releases, so I think it'll be fun to come up with new ways to cope with the already established "tier 1" decks. Be sure to leave your comments down below with your thoughts, and I'll see you all next week!