The Physician’s Recommendation: Blackwings and Fire Fists

Johnny Li

Hey duelists!  I’m back again with my fourth article.  It’s been a rather eventful week in Yugioh for me, with the new ban list taking place, to becoming an administrator on Dueling Network, to attending my first regional of the new format.  Thank you for your continued deck submissions to ARG Deck Doctor.  If you would like our writers to take a look at your deck, “Like” the Deck Doctor fan page.

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New Format, Special Edition

As you know, I usually look to doctor both competitive decks as well as under-the-radar fun decks in my articles.  I also like decks that give me a chance to teach ideas.  In today’s special edition, I will try to teach some deck building principles utilizing a Blackwing deck and my very own Fire Fists.  I will show you the thought process behind how I doctor my own deck, as well as how I have set up my Yugioh toolbox for the March 2013 format.  With so many things packed into one article, I hope you can pick up something useful!

 

lylaDanny Beatham’s Chaos Blackwings

Main Deck: 42

Monsters: 25

3 Lyla, Lightsworn Sorceress
3 Blackwing – Bora the Spear
3 Blackwing – Kalut the Moonshadow
3 Blackwing – Gladius the Midnight Sun
2 Blackwing – Blizzard the Far North
2 Blackwing – Shura the Blue Flame
2 The Dark Creator
2 Ryko, Lightsworn Hunter
1 Dark Armed Dragon
1 Blackwing – Sirocco the Dawn
1 Blackwing – Gust the Backblast
1 Blackwing – Vayu the Emblem of Honor
1 Blackwing – Gale the Whirlwind

Spells: 8

2 Dark Eruption
1 Charge of the Light Brigade
1 Monster Reborn
1 Black Whirlwind
1 Pot of Avarice
1 Allure of Darkness
1 Cards for Black Feathers

Traps: 9

3 Icarus Attack
2 Bottomless Trap Hole
2 Torrential Tribute
1 Mirror Force
1 Starlight Road

Extra Deck: 15

1 Wind-Up Zenmaines
1 Maestroke the Symphony Djinn
1 Steelswarm Roach
1 Photon Papiloperative
1 Ally of Justice Catastor
1 Blackwing Armed Wing
1 Ancient Fairy Dragon
1 Black Rose Dragon
2 Blackwing Armor Master
1 Crimson Blader
1 Stardust Dragon
1 Blackwing - Silverwind the Ascendant
1 Mist Wurm
1 Ally of Justice Decisive Armor

 

kalutAt a Glance

Danny has taken notice of Kalut becoming unlimited at three copies on the March list.  While most players have dismissed this change as without impact, experienced BW players will testify that there is in fact some significance.  As a player who has often been on the receiving end of Blackwings, I can definitely say that I have had situations where my momentum would have been lost had the opponent dropped Kalut on me, and I only run meta decks to boot.  Kalut is a pretty scary card from the opposing point of view.

Chaos Blackwings have been toyed around with for a long time.  However, I will have to disagree with their usage, especially at this time.  Blackwings have excellent versatility, and to run a main deck that is vulnerable to Macro-like effects kind of shoots you in the foot since you’re taking away one of the advantages that the Blackwing deck is trying to offer you.  Also, a mill engine takes what should be a strong control game and flips it into something more luck-based.  Finally, I don’t even see Chaos Sorcerer and BLS in this deck to begin with, so the deck we have here is essentially Lightsworn splashed into Blackwings.  Let’s just stick to Blackwings.

Overall, I really like Blackwings, having my own rich history with the deck (starting with their reign when DSF was not banned and Gale and Whirlwind were at 3).  Colby Blomstrom, the most talented Blackwing player I know (and most likely the best in the country), recently went 8-1 with the feathered birds at a Houston regional (over 400 players attended).  And get this – he didn’t even main deck the holy trinity of spells.  Not a single one.  With that said, Blackwings are certainly still in the contest, even if they aren’t dominating it.  I’ll offer fixes to address the meta, but since not everyone can play at Colby’s level, I won’t suggest the absence of trinity in this article. 😛

 

Monsters

3 Lyla, Lightsworn Sorceress
3 Blackwing – Bora the Spear
3 Blackwing – Kalut the Moonshadow
3 Blackwing – Gladius the Midnight Sun
2 Blackwing – Blizzard the Far North
2 Blackwing – Shura the Blue Flame
2 The Dark Creator
2 Ryko, Lightsworn Hunter
1 Dark Armed Dragon
1 Blackwing – Sirocco the Dawn
1 Blackwing – Gust the Backblast
1 Blackwing – Vayu the Emblem of Honor
1 Blackwing – Gale the Whirlwind

the dark creatorAs already argued, the Lightsworns are a hindrance to the deck.  The Dark Creator is a win-more card that is challenging to drop, and it never really belonged in Blackwings.  Yes, I am aware that it has been in at least one build that has topped a major event in the past, but I stand by my claim.  You will flat out lose games for running this card.

Gladius is too aggressive a card to run in a deck that would more comfortably play defensive rather than try to swarm.  Oh, how times have changed.  Gust is a strange choice here, as the card literally has no effect unless you’re losing, and even then, its effect does next to nothing to save you.  It’s like Bubbleman without the miraculous component.

Shura is a threat that needs to be played in triplicates.  Vayu isn’t what it used to be.  Even off a Shura search, you would often still not want to synchro summon with it.  And you’d hate to draw it.

Lastly, there’s Spirit Reaper.  I ran this card in my 2010 build of Blackwings, and I still love it to death.  Who doesn’t enjoy ripping cards out the opponent’s hand with a monster invulnerable to battle destruction?

-2 The Dark Creator
-3 Lyla
-2 Ryko
-3 Gladius
-1 Gust
-1 Vayu
+1 Shura
+1 Blizzard
+1 Zephyros
+1 Spirit Reaper

 

Spells

2 Dark Eruption
1 Charge of the Light Brigade
1 Monster Reborn
1 Black Whirlwind
1 Pot of Avarice
1 Allure of Darkness
1 Cards for Black Feathers

Dark EruptionI think Dark Eruption was the single most common incorrect card choice in the deck when Blackwings were first released.  The consistency argument can’t really apply to the card, even when Gale was at three, since it doesn’t always act as a fourth copy the way a searcher like Tenki does for FF Bear or Wind-Up Rabbit.  It doesn’t search.  It’s mediocre.

I notice the absence of Heavy and Dark Hole here, and I’m guessing it’s not because the deck builder lacks the cards.  Heavy is a card you can always threaten to have even when not running it.  I did plenty of this when I ran Gladiator Beasts.  Dark Hole is a card easily played around, and if you’re opponent’s bad enough not to play around it, you should take the duel for that reason alone.  On top of that, end phase Icarus offers similar functionality, but with greater versatility and chainability.  So as strange as it sounds, I will actually agree with their exclusion here.  While Colby the BW legend has his own argument for excluding Reborn as well, I still recommend it for all its usefulness and game-clinching potential (plus not everyone can play like Colby).

Book of Moon has to be in this deck.  Chainable spell that flips Shura targets face down and interrupts every threatening boss?  Yes, please.  The removal of Gladius also takes away dependency on special summons.  So let’s roll with Duality.

-2 Dark Eruption
-1 Charge of the Light Brigade
-1 Pot of Avarice
-1 CfBF
+2 MST
+2 Duality
+1 Book of Moon

 

Traps

3 Icarus Attack
2 Bottomless Trap Hole
2 Torrential Tribute
1 Mirror Force
1 Starlight Road

fiendish chainFiendish is the best unlimited trap in the game right now, period.  There is no reason not to run it in every deck with a standard trap lineup.  Similar things can be said about both Solemns.  I’m going to advocate the inclusion of other reactionary traps and attack-response traps over Torrential because monsters are somewhat of a scarcity after I dropped the count by a whopping 8.  You also have to consider that running Allure effectively makes that count even smaller.  And lastly, I want to be able to threaten with Icarus to force my opponent to play differently around it, and Torrential conflicts with this in ways other traps simply do not.

-2 Torrential Tribute
+1 Compulsory Evacuation Device
+3 Fiendish Chain
+1 Solemn Judgment
+1 Solemn Warning
+1 Mirror Force
+2 Dimensional Prison

 

Extra Deck

1 Wind-Up Zenmaines
1 Maestroke the Symphony Djinn
1 Steelswarm Roach
1 Photon Papiloperative
1 Ally of Justice Catastor
1 Blackwing Armed Wing
1 Ancient Fairy Dragon
1 Black Rose Dragon
2 Blackwing Armor Master
1 Crimson Blader
1 Stardust Dragon
1 Blackwing - Silverwind the Ascendant
1 Mist Wurm
1 Ally of Justice Decisive Armor

As is apparent, Blackwings have a nice balance between XYZ and Synchro potential.  There are some cards here that would never be the correct play to summon.  Rather than belabor the point over each card individually, I will just say: ask yourself in the situations where you summon questionable cards whether they were truly the correct play.  I find that the answer to this question is “no,” even to certain cards that people consider staple.

Blizzard into Gravity Warrior is a relevant play today to counter mermail pushes.

-1 Papilloperative
-1 AFD
-1 Armor Master
-1 Silverwind
-1 Decisive Armor
+1 Acid Golem
+1 Cowboy
+1 Number 50: Blackship of Corn
+1 Dweller
+1 Gravity Warrior

 

Final List

Main Deck: 41

Monsters: 17

3 Blackwing – Shura the Blue Flame
3 Blackwing – Bora the Spear
3 Blackwing – Kalut the Moonshadow
3 Blackwing – Blizzard the Far North
1 Dark Armed Dragon
1 Blackwing – Sirocco the Dawn
1 Blackwing – Gale the Whirlwind
1 Blackwing – Zephyros the Elite
1 Spirit Reaper

Spells: 8

2 Mystical Space Typhoon
1 Book of Moon
1 Black Whirlwind
1 Allure of Darkness
1 Monster Reborn

Traps: 16

3 Icarus Attack
3 Fiendish Chain
2 Bottomless Trap Hole
2 Dimensional Prison
2 Mirror Force
1 Solemn Warning
1 Solemn Judgment
1 Starlight Road
1 Compulsory Evacuation Device

Extra Deck: 15

1 Wind-Up Zenmaines
1 Number 30: Acid Golem of Destruction
1 Gagaga Cowboy
1 Abyss Dweller
1 Maestroke the Symphony Djinn
1 Steelswarm Roach
1 Number 50: Blackship of Corn
1 Ally of Justice Catastor
1 Gravity Warrior
1 Blackwing Armed Wing
1 Black Rose Dragon
1 Blackwing Armor Master
1 Crimson Blader
1 Stardust Dragon
1 Mist Wurm

Danny has requested side deck recommendations along with his deck submission, and I am happy to oblige.  Since Wind-Up format is over, you no longer need to side Gozen or Rivalry, which frees up space.  But still keep this card in mind for future format changes.

Banisher is a card I am siding three of in Fire Fist, and before Fire Fist, I loved it in Rabbit.  And now, I still love it in Blackwing.  Advanced Ritual Art went to 2, and Banisher turns an unsalvageable game into straight victory against Perfect Herald.  But the primary reason to run it is because Mermail is simply the best deck at the moment.  Along those same lines, maxing out on Rai-Oh would a wise move as well right now.  Mind Crush has become a staple choice in side decks due to the proliferation of Water and FF, and even has clutch uses against the less commonly played DW and Prophecy.  Please side the Dark Hole as well.  Just because we aren’t maining it does not mean it isn’t a great card.

A final shout-out once again to Colby for being one of the best players I’ve had the pleasure to theorize with and for showing the Yugioh world what Blackwings are capable of at regionals this past weekend.  His next stop (and next top) is YCS Austin.

 

Johnny’s own Fire Fist Journey

So what has the deck doctor himself been up to?  In medicine, you generally would not want to be your own patient, but in Yugioh, you pretty much always have to.  Last week, I did some reflection on video over my Fire Fist theory, in preparation for the first regional of the format.  Well, the first video is just a toolbox showcase.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BJIdbdE3BkM

This is how I organize my cards.  I find this method very streamlined and the easiest way for me to find what I’m looking for amidst the other junk cluttering my desk.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MTNR2yQnlyc

This is where my theorizing began.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=usCl_6hVbrQ

In the third segment I delved into how I would side in and out in my attack against the meta.  Now I’ll show you how I doctored my own deck through playtesting and realizations while theorizing.

fire fist - bearMain Deck: 41

Monsters: 13

3 Gene-Warped Warwolf
3 Brotherhood of the Fire Fist – Bear
2 Brotherhood of the Fire Fist – Gorilla
2 Rescue Rabbit
2 Reborn Tengu
1 Brotherhood of the Fire Fist - Dragon

Spells: 15

3 Fire Formation - Tenki
3 Mystical Space Typhoon
2 Forbidden Lance
2 Fire Formation - Tensu
2 Pot of Duality
1 Monster Reborn
1 Heavy Storm
1 Dark Hole

Traps: 13

3 Fiendish Chain
2 Mirror Force
2 Bottomless Trap Hole
2 Fire Formation – Tensen
1 Fire Formation – Tenken
1 Solemn Warning
1 Solemn Judgment
1 Starlight Road

Extra Deck: 15

1 Gagaga Cowboy
2 Abyss Dweller
2 Maestroke the Symphony Djinn
1 Steelswarm Roach
1 Lightning Chidori
1 Diamond Dire Wolf
1 Number 50: Blackship of Corn
1 Photon Papilloperative
2 Brotherhood of the Fire Fist – Tiger King
1 Number 16: Shock Master
1 Gem-Knight Pearl
1 Stardust Dragon

Side Deck: 15
3 Maxx “C”
2 Snowman Eater
1 Effect Veiler
1 Fossil Dyna Pachycephalo
3 Dimensional Fissure
2 Night Beam
2 Soul Taker
1 Mind Crush

 

At a Glance

I’ll keep the text short since the video more thoroughly goes over my initial card choices.  I understand that listening to someone talk for an hour is not something everyone will want to do.  Personally, I enjoy lengthy theorizing with players, as it fosters mutual growth.  My first build, as seen in the video link provided earlier, was very standard.

 

Monsters

3 Gene-Warped Warwolf
3 Brotherhood of the Fire Fist – Bear
2 Brotherhood of the Fire Fist – Gorilla
2 Rescue Rabbit
2 Reborn Tengu
1 Brotherhood of the Fire Fist – Dragon

The night before the regional, after reviewing Michael Steinman’s interview on conversion Fire Fists (which he and Dalton Bousman pioneered) over and over again, I decided that a trick-side would be a good idea for a regional, where every opponent you face will have no idea what you’re up to.  Thus, I scrapped the monster lineup you see here in favor of the TGU version that had 1 Gorilla and no Dragon.  A few other players at the regional I attended also ran Steinman’s conversion build, with one player taking it all the way to top 8.

At the conclusion of the event, I agreed with Steinman’s perspective in his interview: while the build is very good for its time (aka roughly the time of this article posting), it cannot endure without changes.  One obvious reason this is so is because the build is becoming very popular, so it is losing its surprise factor.

After theorizing some more over this, I realized I really liked conversion side against Mermails but didn’t think it was needed for other matchups.  I also wanted the forceful strength of the standard build’s game one engine.  Thus, I reverted BACK to a more standard main deck like the one here.  However, I did make a few changes.  I added Thunder King to help with a borderline monster deficit, and Veiler because Fiendish is so good right now that I wanted a version that didn’t lose to MST, Lance, or Heavy.

+2 Effect Veiler
+1 Thunder King Rai-Oh

 

Spells

3 Fire Formation - Tenki
3 Mystical Space Typhoon
2 Forbidden Lance
2 Fire Formation - Tensu
2 Pot of Duality
1 Monster Reborn
1 Heavy Storm
1 Dark Hole

pot of dualityPot of Duality was the card I was originally most torn over.  When I mirrored Steinman’s strategy, Cardcar took its place.  However, both cards have their fair share of deficiencies.  In the case of Cardcar, I dropped a few games to normal summon clog.  In any case, I am convinced that Duality, while once a staple in this deck, is now a minority strategy and should generally not be used.

I really like Book of Moon and will further consider it in future builds, but currently I have opted for Soul Taker because it is pure removal, answering tough cards such as Abyssgaios.

-2 Pot of Duality
+1 Soul Taker

 

Traps

3 Fiendish Chain
2 Mirror Force
2 Bottomless Trap Hole
2 Fire Formation – Tensen
1 Fire Formation – Tenken
1 Solemn Warning
1 Solemn Judgment
1 Starlight Road

As I discussed in my video, Starlight Road was the trap card I was most iffy on.  It’s so bad sometimes, yet at others, it’s so good.  I’m currently still running it because in game 2 and 3 I can force Mermail players into a grind game with an average hand, and Road will double the probability of drawing your answer to the push they make with Heavy Storm.  3 Fiendish, as I mentioned in the Blackwing section, is a good idea in many decks with standard trap lineups right now.  Since I added 2 Veiler to the mix, I figured it would be safe to go down to 2 (and because space was tight).

Mono Mermails surged in popularity since I began studying Fire Fists, which warranted the removal of the 2nd copy of Tensen.  Chainable, searchable Axe of Despair sounds good on paper, but when you actually draw it instead of searching it, you start questioning life.  The card is deplorable against Mermails, and that is the deck that requires the most attention in both the main and side choices.  It’s best in the mirror, which I expect to win with superior skill rather than mediocre card choices, and against Dino Rabbit, which should be autowin for FF without the second Tensen.  Thus, it is expendable.  I dropped the second mained copy and I side out the only copy often now.

While Torrential is generally not a card you want to run in decks that cannot recover field presence easily, it is a necessary “evil” due once again to Mermails.  It helps you stabilize, similar to why the card works in Dino Rabbit as well, despite seeming like bad theory on paper.

Prison is a card I see people running but cannot agree with in this deck.  Field wipes have risen in importance, and the situations where Prison is the superior card over Force have dwindled over the past six months.

-1 Fiendish Chain
-1 Fire Formation – Tensen
+1 Torrential Tribute

 

Extra Deck

1 Gagaga Cowboy
2 Abyss Dweller
2 Maestroke the Symphony Djinn
1 Steelswarm Roach
1 Lightning Chidori
1 Diamond Dire Wolf
1 Number 50: Blackship of Corn
1 Photon Papilloperative
2 Brotherhood of the Fire Fist – Tiger King
1 Number 16: Shock Master
1 Gem-Knight Pearl
1 Stardust Dragon

Ally of Justice CatastorHere is my suspect list: Chidori, Papilloperative, Utopia, Pearl.  These are four cards commonly run in Fire Fists that are almost never summoned, or, when are summoned, are the incorrect play for the situation.  I have no problem cutting these cards once better replacements find their way into the deck, such as when Emeral becomes legal.  Roach is sometimes argued against because it is seldom summoned, but you have to keep in mind that the card is downright crucial once you come across the relevant matchups (Twilight, Agent, etc), and you certainly will sooner or later.

I currently run Catastor since I maindeck Veiler now, and I am giving serious thought to the second Cowboy.

-1 Photon Papilloperative
-1 Lightning Chidori
+1 Number 39: Utopia (for now)
+1 Ally of Justice - Catastor

 

Side Deck

3 Maxx “C”
2 Snowman Eater
1 Effect Veiler
1 Fossil Dyna Pachycephalo
3 Dimensional Fissure
2 Night Beam
2 Soul Taker
1 Mind Crush

My original plan to side 8 to 10 cards for Mermail was solid: block their win condition with Fissure, and interrupt it with Mind Crush and Maxx “C” whenever Fissure was gone or I didn’t draw it.  However, I found it to be only partially effective.  The problem was I didn’t draw Maxx “C” enough.  I literally wanted at least 5 copies in my deck because sometimes it feels like that’s what it takes to sufficiently answer the matchup.

However, the conversion option took my deck construction along a different though similar route.  Since I couldn’t run additional Maxx “C”s and since there is no card in the game that adequately replaces what it does to Mermail, I went with more win condition blocking instead.  This took the form of Thunder King and triple Banisher, which has great relevance in other matchups as well.  Consider that it wins the Perfect Herald matchup for you, among others.

I dropped the second Snowman since it’s essentially impossible to lose to Dino Rabbit when you pilot FF correctly, moved a Soul Taker and Veiler to the main, and upped the count on Mind Crush because Prophecy and the mirror are also common matchups.  With a conversion side focused heavily on locking Mermail, I figured the aggression-based Night Beam was less ideal compared to the chainable Dust Tornado here.

I now side 14 cards against Mermail, and if I had more room, I would side another Maxx “C” as the 15th card against them.

-1 Maxx “C”
-1 Snowman Eater
-1 Effect Veiler
-2 Night Beam
-1 Soul Taker
+3 Banisher of the Radiance
+1 Thunder King
+1 Mind Crush
+1 Dust Tornado

 

Final List

Main Deck: 41

Monsters: 15

3 Gene-Warped Warwolf
3 Brotherhood of the Fire Fist – Bear
2 Brotherhood of the Fire Fist – Gorilla
2 Effect Veiler
2 Rescue Rabbit
2 Reborn Tengu
1 Brotherhood of the Fire Fist – Dragon
1 Thunder King Rai-Oh

Spells: 14

3 Fire Formation - Tenki
3 Mystical Space Typhoon
2 Forbidden Lance
2 Fire Formation - Tensu
1 Soul Taker
1 Monster Reborn
1 Heavy Storm
1 Dark Hole

Traps: 12

2 Fiendish Chain
2 Mirror Force
2 Bottomless Trap Hole
1 Fire Formation – Tensen
1 Fire Formation – Tenken
1 Solemn Warning
1 Solemn Judgment
1 Starlight Road
1 Torrential Tribute

Extra Deck: 15

1 Gagaga Cowboy
2 Abyss Dweller
2 Maestroke the Symphony Djinn
1 Steelswarm Roach
1 Diamond Dire Wolf
1 Number 50: Blackship of Corn
2 Brotherhood of the Fire Fist – Tiger King
1 Number 16: Shock Master
1 Number 39: Utopia
1 Gem-Knight Pearl
1 Ally of Justice - Catastor
1 Stardust Dragon

Side Deck: 15

3 Banisher of the Radiance
2 Maxx “C”
1 Snowman Eater
1 Fossil Dyna Pachycephalo
1 Thunder King Rai-Oh
3 Dimensional Fissure
1 Soul Taker
2 Mind Crush
1 Dust Tornado

Since I began playing the current build, I have won 10 out of 10 matches, including 6 tournament matches.  I hope no one feels sleighted that I have chosen myself as a patient today.  Bear in mind I have done so to illustrate the process behind improving a deck.  This is an arduous process that includes elements beyond just tournament testing.  To watch videos (in my case, I did so repeatedly), read articles from both past and present, and perform mental exercises by theorizing down specific paths and coming up with the costs and benefits of each course you take – all contribute to the job.  Some parts of the process are more fun, other parts feel like boring homework.  But it’s all about improvement.

Even if you do not play Fire Fists, I hope I have demonstrated to you that even in the span of a week, a deck can evolve for you based on your local trends, development in theory, and match results.  The same can be said about any deck, really.  Take Mermail, for instance.  Whoever wins or tops YCS Austin with the deck will have to do more than mimic what has already been played.  He (or she) will have to evolve.  Trends and the community mentality must be sufficiently accounted for, especially in side deck strategies.  Good luck doctoring your decks.

Until next time,

Play Hard or Go Home.

 

Sincerely,

Johnny

Johnny Li

Johnny Li

Houston, TX
Johnny Li

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