The Physician’s Recommendation: Bubble Beat and Gravekeepers

Johnny LiWelcome to the thirteenth installment!

In today’s intro I’d like to talk a bit out test playing.  The most grating sentence I’ve had the displeasure of reading this month has been, “Card X has tested well for me lately.”  I see it everywhere.  This statement is the epitome of vagueness, shining with the brightness of a thousand glittering generalities.  To determine what cards to run (for the NAWCQ), you have to use a results-oriented approach that’s measurable and fits scientific constraints.  Namely, you need to define your parameters.  What makes a card test “well?”  How do you measure that?  Does it mean that it wins you the game?  If so, you stil need to ask yourself whether you would have lost without that card, and whether another card substituted for that card in the same scenario would also have won you the game.  And just what does “lately” mean?  That you succeeded at your most recent locals?  That it carried you through 5 matches?  10?  20?  Lastly, the statement completely disregards the question of “against whom?”  If Card X tests well against a player who is not playing correctly to begin with, do any results from your playtesting with him confirm anything about the card?  No.  You have confounding variables; it will be difficult to discern whether the card performed well or whether the player was just a poor representation of how the deck should be played.  This same faulty logic is often applied when players challenge the notion of a “best deck.”  For example, “I beat Mermails with Gladiator Beasts, so it doesn’t matter what deck you play!”  Oh?  Was this an isolated incident, or at least something that repeated in a pattern across 30 instances?  Did the Mermail player misplay?  Was his build correct?  Did he side correctly?  Confounding variables.

So remember, readers, the next time you wish to contribute to meaningful discussion: avoid glittering generalities.  It helps no one to use anecdotal evidence in defending a card choice.  (You often see this poor theory used in YCS top cut deck profiles as well.  “This card is SO GOOD.  Today, I did this, this, and this with it in one match.”)  Turn your results into concrete answers by having measurable ways to define success and ask the right questions when you testplay.

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Please write your decklist out fully.  Use the deck lists in this article as an example.  Thanks!

bubblemanMatthew Wilkinson’s Bubble Beat

Main Deck: 42

Monsters: 12

1 Elemental Hero Stratos
3 Elemental Hero Neos Alius
2 Elemental Hero Bubbleman
1 Summoner Monk
1 Photon Thrasher
2 Thunder King Rai-Oh
2 Maxx "C"

Spells: 15

3 Gemini Spark
3 Miracle Fusion
2 E-Emergency Call
1 Reinforcement of the Army
2 Pot of Duality
1 Book of Moon
1 Dark Hole
1 Monster Reborn
1 Heavy Storm

Traps: 15

1 Solemn Judgment
1 Solemn Warning
2 Fiendish Chain
2 Bottomless Trap Hole
2 Compulsory Evacuation Device
2 Dimensional Prison
1 Breakthrough Skill
1 Mirror Force
1 Torrential Tribute
1 Mirror Force
1 Hero Blast

Extra Deck: 15

2 Elemental Hero The Shining
1 Elemental Hero Absolute Zero
1 Elemental Hero Gaia
1 Elemental Hero Nova Master
1 Elemental Hero Escuridao
1 Elemental Hero Great Tornado
1 Diamond Dire Wolf
1 Abyss Dweller
1 Maestroke the Symphony Djinn
1 Daigusto Pheonix
1 Gagaga Cowboy
1 Number 16: Shock Master
1 Heroic Champion - Excalibur
1 Blade Armor Ninja

Side Deck: 15
2 Effect Veiler
2 Kycoo the Ghost Destroyer
2 Dimensional Fissure
2 Super Polymerzation
1 Mystical Space Typhoon
2 Prideful Roar
2 Rivalry of Warlords
1 Vanity's Emptiness
1 Trap Stun

At a Glance

Bubble Beat is a close relative of Hero Beat, sharing similar combos and card choices.  See Entry 12, where I wrote a little history about Hero Beat.  Bubble Beat exploded in popularity in Japan when they got Night Beam in Galactic Overlord.  The ability to quickly pick off backrow and steal game with Excalibur was enough to keep pilots of tier 1 decks on edge.  Matthew is a Dragon Duelist and is using Bubble Beat at (presumably) the NAWCQ.

Monsters

1 Elemental Hero Stratos
3 Elemental Hero Neos Alius
2 Elemental Hero Bubbleman
1 Summoner Monk
1 Photon Thrasher
2 Thunder King Rai-Oh
2 Maxx "C"

maxx cBubblebeat decks, unlike their cousin Hero Beat, need to keep a low monster count.  Cards like A Hero Lives, Miracle Fusion, The Warrior Returning Alive, and ROTA act as surrogate monsters and can, in one sense, be considered a part of the monster count.  Including non-Heroes may work in a stun deck like Hero Beat, but in Bubble Beat opening hands can lose combo potential.  I would especially caution against using Monk in almost any deck.  I see many more decks that try to use Monk that have no business running Monk than decks that run Monk and are actually meant to do so.  Its vulnerability to Veiler is the first on a list of things that can go wrong with the card.  The last deck I’ve encountered that truly should run Monk was Infernity, which is a Veiler-devouring machine.

-1 Thrasher
-1 Monk
-2 Thunder King
-2 Maxx “C”
+1 Bubbleman
+1 Zephyros

Spells

3 Gemini Spark
3 Miracle Fusion
2 E-Emergency Call
1 Reinforcement of the Army
2 Pot of Duality
1 Book of Moon
1 Dark Hole
1 Monster Reborn
1 Heavy Storm

gemini spark3 Gemini Spark is a trap of an idea here, in the sense that it is enticing to use, but will ultimately backfire as a dead draw combo.  There isn’t space to allocate to a Neos-centric strategy, so we’ll cut a couple Spark and focus more on the bigger pushes with Bubbleman.  Spells like A Hero Lives and The Warrior Returning Alive will facilitate such pushes and increase the overall consistency of your gameplan.  Maindecked MST isn’t viable in most decks this format, but a deck like Bubblebeat will always depend on backrow removal because you cannot expect the Dragon Ruler matchup day in and out, and your monsters do not inherently destroy spells and traps in their own right.  Also, since we are building this deck for the Dragon Duel format, we should expect to see a good amount of rogue strategies.  One piece of tech I would strongly advise is Enemy Controller.  You can pull off various moves with it, such as triggering Zero while stealing a monster, beating over a boss, dodging Veiler, etc.  The main thing is that it’s versatile and can steal games.  I think a card as manipulative as Econ is a good choice for Dragon Duel format.  Realistically, most of the players in this format will not be adequately prepared for the tricks the card enables you to pull off.

-2 Gemini Spark
-1 Book of Moon
+1 Foolish Burial
+2 A Hero Lives
+3 MST
+3 The Warrior Returning Alive
+2 Enemy Controller

Traps

1 Solemn Judgment
1 Solemn Warning
2 Fiendish Chain
2 Bottomless Trap Hole
2 Compulsory Evacuation Device
2 Dimensional Prison
1 Breakthrough Skill
1 Mirror Force
1 Torrential Tribute
1 Mirror Force
1 Hero Blast

fiendish chainThe trap lineup here indicates a defensive playstyle and philosophy, which is a hurdle that must be overcome if you are to commit to Bubble Beat for this event.  Traps make a player feel safe and protected, but can also be a hindrance to one’s player development at times.  It was certainly a hurdle for me, the first time I dared to run a trapless deck.  Bubble Beat is not a trapless deck, but it IS an offensive deck.  You want to win right away so that you don’t get caught in a grind game where you are trading one for one.  So wave goodbye to the defensive lineup and practice, practice, practice those combos.

-2 Fiendish
-2 Prison
-2 Bottomless
-1 Breakthrough
-1 Hero Blast
-1 Mirror Force
+1 TT
+3 Call of the Haunted

Extra Deck

2 Elemental Hero The Shining
1 Elemental Hero Absolute Zero
1 Elemental Hero Gaia
1 Elemental Hero Nova Master
1 Elemental Hero Escuridao
1 Elemental Hero Great Tornado
1 Diamond Dire Wolf
1 Abyss Dweller
1 Maestroke the Symphony Djinn
1 Daigusto Pheonix
1 Gagaga Cowboy
1 Number 16: Shock Master
1 Heroic Champion - Excalibur
1 Blade Armor Ninja
Space usually gets pretty tight in the Extra Deck of Hero variants.  It’s hard to fit every rank 4 we could potentially want to summon in a diverse tournament, but the most attention must be given to the central strategy of trying to put game on board immediately.

-1 Phoenix
+1 Excalibur

Final List

Main Deck: 40

Monsters: 8

1 Elemental Hero Stratos
3 Elemental Hero Neos Alius
3 Elemental Hero Bubbleman
1 Blackwing - Zephyros the Elite

Spells: 23

3 Miracle Fusion
3 Mystical Space Typhoon
3 The Warrior Returning Alive
2 A Hero Lives
2 Enemy Controller
2 E - Emergency Call
2 Pot of Duality
1 Reinforcement of the Army
1 Gemini Spark
1 Dark Hole
1 Monster Reborn
1 Heavy Storm
1 Foolish Burial

Traps: 9

3 Call of the Haunted
2 Compulsory Evacuation Device
2 Torrential Tribute
1 Solemn Judgment
1 Solemn Warning

Extra Deck: 15

2 Elemental Hero The Shining
1 Elemental Hero Absolute Zero
1 Elemental Hero Gaia
1 Elemental Hero Nova Master
1 Elemental Hero Escuridao
1 Elemental Hero Great Tornado
1 Diamond Dire Wolf
1 Abyss Dweller
1 Maestroke the Symphony Djinn
1 Gagaga Cowboy
1 Number 16: Shock Master
2 Heroic Champion - Excalibur
1 Blade Armor Ninja

The maindeck is now more zeroed in on a theme - to kill early and quickly.  Call of the Haunted over protection traps, Zephyros, and A Hero Lives will all facilitate this.  As an added bonus, Gorz and Trag see little to no play right now.  For the side deck, increase the count on cards that lock out the top decks.  Cards like Mind Drain, Soul Drain, and so on will help to ensure your opponent does not get a chance to play Yugioh before you go off.

gravekeeper's spyRyan AuCoin’s Gravekeepers

Main Deck: 40

Monsters: 14

3 Gravekeeper's Spy
3 Gravekeeper's Commandant
3 Gravekeeper's Recruiter
2 Grabekeeper's Descendant
1 Gravekeeper's Assailant
2 Cardcar D

Spells: 11

3 Necrovalley
2 Royal Tribute
2 Gravekeeper's Stele
2 Pot of Duality
1 Dark Hole
1 Book of Moon

Traps: 15

1 Starlight Road
2 Compulsory Evacuation Device
2 Fiendish Chain
2 Dimensional Prison
2 Mirror Force
2 Torrential Tribute
2 Bottomless Trap Hole
1 Solemn Warning
1 Solemn Judgement

Extra Deck: 15

1 Gem-Knight Pearl
1 Number 39: Utopia
1 Number 50: Blackship of Corn
1 Diamond Dire Wolf
1 Wind-Up Zenmaister
1 Maestroke the Symphony Djinn
1 Abyss Dweller
1 Gagaga Cowboy
1 Number 30: Acid Golem
1 Number 17: Leviathan Dragon
1 Leviair the Sea Dragon
1 Temtempo the Percussion Djinn
1 Wind-Up Zenmaines
1 Gachi-Gachi Gantetsu
1 Stardust Dragon

Side Deck: 15
2 Thunder King Rai-Oh
2 Fossil Dyna Pachycephalo
2 Maxx "C"
2 Effect Veiler
2 Mystical Space Typhoon
2 Deck Devastation Virus
3 Gozen Match

necrovalleyAt a Glance

The last time I featured a Gravekeeper deck, there was nothing exceptional about Gravekeepers’ role in the format.  It wasn’t the best deck, nor was it terrible - just in the middle.  This format, Gravekeepers have a more focused purpose within the meta.  Necrovalley, which historically has been an anti-chaos card, is now used to prevent Dragon Rulers from banishing from the grave, as well as Spellbooks from using their key removal card, Fate.  Success will hinge on winning dice rolls and seeing Valley (and Royal Tribute) early on.

Monsters

3 Gravekeeper's Spy
3 Gravekeeper's Commandant
3 Gravekeeper's Recruiter
2 Grabekeeper's Descendant
1 Gravekeeper's Assailant
2 Cardcar D

I believe the exclusion of Gravekeeper’s Guard was a wise choice, given the current format’s ignorance of set monsters.  Inherent s/t destruction is major now in the form of Mecha Phantom Beast Dracossack, and with larger attack barriers, we’re going to want a boss of our own.  Malefic Stardust Dragon is the obvious choice since it protects the win condition of Necrovalley while hitting over all the big dragons.  Ryan has opted to exclude any fancy tech from the main deck.  However, this format is one which rewards tech in the main, so I would recommend at least something to catch players off guard.  I think Wisel, EEV, and Iron Wall are potentially good choices the deck could utilize, but test around with it and see what you prefer.

+1 Malefic Stardust Dragon

Spells

3 Necrovalley
2 Royal Tribute
2 Gravekeeper's Stele
2 Pot of Duality
1 Dark Hole
1 Book of Moon

Ryan’s ratios here are quite good.  We don’t need Monster Reborn since Necrovalley will ideally be up to lock effects that move cards away from the graveyard.  Also, Stele is like double Reborn since the strategy is not to rush monsters onto the field but to make resource trades one at a time.  As an additional suggestion for readers who want to toy with GKs as a fun deck: you can include a Spellbook engine to take advantage of your monsters’ type.  Engine aside, you could even just play Wisdom alone, as it’s a solid card by itself.  I’ve seen players dispute over The Grand Spellbook Tower getting its effect when destroyed by Necrovalley’s activation.  Keep in mind that Tower must be destroyed by an effect, not by game mechanics.  The activation of Necrovalley destroys any other previous active field spell by game mechanics alone.

dimensional prisonTraps

1 Starlight Road
2 Compulsory Evacuation Device
2 Fiendish Chain
2 Dimensional Prison
2 Mirror Force
2 Torrential Tribute
2 Bottomless Trap Hole
1 Solemn Warning
1 Solemn Judgement

This is a pretty standard trap lineup that would work in most formats, but as Joe wrote about at the start of the format, this format is anything but ordinary.  Cards that were once staple have become very undependable, and we will want to change our traps to reflect that.  Ryan did mention that he didn’t want to tech out his main deck, but it is still important to tailor it towards the meta, especially for a competition such as a WCQ.

As I’ve mentioned, Wisel and Iron Wall are cards that can potentially work for you.  Narrow choices like Mind Drain or EEV to go after specific decks are also viable.  However, I strongly recommend against generic traps, as cards like Prison and Fiendish just beg to get run over by Dracossack.  The reason we leave in Mirror Force is combined with soft locks from side deck cards, it is not as susceptible to Dracossack g2/3 (this is also why Book players like to hide behind it when they have Jowgen/Kycoo up).  As a placeholder, I will write in Dark Bribe because Valley is your utmost win condition to be protected.  Spellbook players run perhaps 1 maindecked out to Valley outside of their Tower(s), and a clutch Bribe conserved for their out is GG.

-2 Fiendish Chain
-2 Dimensional Prison
+1 Compulsory
+2 Dark Bribe

Extra Deck

1 Gem-Knight Pearl
1 Number 39: Utopia
1 Number 50: Blackship of Corn
1 Diamond Dire Wolf
1 Wind-Up Zenmaister
1 Maestroke the Symphony Djinn
1 Abyss Dweller
1 Gagaga Cowboy
1 Number 30: Acid Golem
1 Number 17: Leviathan Dragon
1 Leviair the Sea Dragon
1 Temtempo the Percussion Djinn
1 Wind-Up Zenmaines
1 Gachi-Gachi Gantetsu
1 Stardust Dragon

shockmasterZenmaister has a very slow combo with Spy, but if you ever end up using it you’ve probably misplayed at some point.  Gachi and Leviathan are made once in a blue moon, and do not warrant running.  Space is not terribly tight, so we’ll go for 2nd copies of cards you may want in dire situations.

-1 Gachi
-1 Zenmaister
-1 Leviathan
+1 Stardust
+1 Shock Master
+1 Cowboy

 

Final List

Main Deck: 40

Monsters: 15

3 Gravekeeper's Spy
3 Gravekeeper's Commandant
3 Gravekeeper's Recruiter
2 Grabekeeper's Descendant
1 Gravekeeper's Assailant
2 Cardcar D
1 Malefic Stardust Dragon

Spells: 11

3 Necrovalley
2 Royal Tribute
2 Gravekeeper's Stele
2 Pot of Duality
1 Dark Hole
1 Book of Moon

Traps: 14

3 Compulsory Evacuation Device
2 Dark Bribe
2 Mirror Force
2 Torrential Tribute
2 Bottomless Trap Hole
1 Solemn Warning
1 Solemn Judgement
1 Starlight Road

Extra Deck: 15

1 Gem-Knight Pearl
1 Number 39: Utopia
1 Number 50: Blackship of Corn
1 Diamond Dire Wolf
1 Number 16: Shock Master
1 Maestroke the Symphony Djinn
1 Abyss Dweller
2 Gagaga Cowboy
1 Number 30: Acid Golem
1 Leviair the Sea Dragon
1 Temtempo the Percussion Djinn
1 Wind-Up Zenmaines
2 Stardust Dragon

A few comments on the side.  Tking and Dyna are the choices which influence my decision to leave in Mirror Force, as combined they can hold the fort down in the slower paced g2/3s.  GKs can support both Gozen and Rivalry, though overall it makes a lot more sense to use Rivalry this season.  Evilswarm players will struggle more, and Dragon players will be obligated to play Dragon Beat instead of going into XYZ plays, which you will be ready to meet with Torrential and Force.  DDV is an interesting pick that can reliably be made live with this deck.  However, the aim of narrow answers is preferred, and more dedicated shots like EEV, Mind Drain, Anti-Spell Fragrance, and the like will provide stronger answers than the kind of blind swings that a card like DDV takes.  And it’s not like you need their Maxx C’s and Veilers gone anyways.

Good luck to the both of you at the upcoming event.

Until next time,

Play Hard or Go Home.

Sincerely,

Johnny

Johnny Li

Johnny Li

Houston, TX
Johnny Li

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