With the release of Extreme Victory the Yugioh 5Ds season has come to an end. This series that began so long ago in 2008 with The Duelist Genesis put our game through a dramatic and exciting period of evolution, and has forever changed the way we play this game. Synchro monsters introduced not only a new game mechanic, but a totally new view of gameplay, theory, and deck diversity. In addition, the many Synchro and Tuner monsters and support cards have left us with a new pool of cards and strategies to build with.
Synchro-based builds have defined the metagame since the creation of Teleport Dark Armed. From there, Synchro Cat, Quickdraw, Plant, and finally Tengu Synchro have made their mark on competitive play. Each of these decks have been relatively light on themes or archetypes, unlike other top-tier decks of the time, for example, Gladiator Beasts, Lightsworns, Blackwings, Zombies, Infernities, X-Sabers, Frogs, Six Samurai, or Gravekeepers. Synchro decks that utilized combinations of non-direct support cards continue to display the power of the Synchro strategy in a game where themed support breaks decks in an instant.
The Extra deck has evolved. What was once a source of a few great monsters is now a toolbox of game-breaking cards that can hit the field fast, and without costing card presence. Playing out of the Extra deck is now a strong and viable strategy with a great number of options. This has led to a lot of major impacts on the game, and with the release of T.G. Hyper Librarian, this impact will be fully realized.
Playing from the Extra Deck
Tengu, Plant, and Debris Synchro are terms that have been thrown around quite a bit recently. For the most part, these decks are identical. They all feature easily accessed tuner monsters and materials that want to be used for Synchro summons. Setting up Synchro plays is very easy for these strategies, particularly since most of the material monsters either special summon themselves, or summon other cards. Debris Dragon, Junk Synchron, Lonefire Blossom, and Limit Reverse are great tools for grabbing tuners and non-tuners alike. Cards like Reborn Tengu, Doppel Warrior, Dandylion, and T.G. Warwolf are readily available for Synchro plays. Genex Ally Birdman, Plaguespreader Zombie, Glow-Up Bulb, T.G Striker, and Spore are also notable because they can special summon themselves.
The result of running these cards is quick and easy access to monsters in the extra deck. It’s just so easy to drop multiple monsters and make several quick Synchro summons without losing much, if any card advantage. With so many special summon-able monsters, it’s rare for a duelist to be in a position where they can’t access a Synchro, regardless of the game state. Keeping that in mind, it’s no wonder that cards like Fossil Dyna, Effect Veiler, and Solemn Warning are so critical. Comebacks in the form of Black Rose Dragon, Brionac, and Trishula are often just a single card away.
Due to the dependence these decks have on the graveyard Ryko is a crucial component to the strategy. Not only does it help fill the graveyard, but it also hits dangerous monsters and helps deal with large backrow setups. If there’s one thing Synchro decks can’t handle, it’s a 3+ backrow. Simply put, Ryko backed by Warning is still one of the best first turn set-ups you can ask for.
The game plan for these strategies are very similar, and for good reason. While each build prioritizes different cards, the end goal is the same: summoning Synchro Monsters.
Early Game: First turn Synchros are nice, but they don’t always happen. Most of the time a duelist is forced to wait for the right combo pieces before making a play, but there are obvious instances where a board setup on the first turn is not only idea, but very much possible. The Plant engine alone can churn out a first turn Shooting Star Dragon, and I have personally seen Doppel make first turn Shooting Quasar Dragon. Tengu is going to be the slowest to get started, and will often simply summon Reborn Tengu as its opening play. As I mentioned before, a set Ryko backed by a Solemn Warning is also a very good opening. Tour Guide and Birdman plays are very popular as well.
Mid Game: At this point, bar a huge field rush or a Hyper Librarian play that leaves the Synchro duelist with incredible card advantage, players are likely to be making constant Synchro plays. Junk Synchron, Debris Dragon, and really anything involving a tuner and an on-field Tengu are likely to start applying pressure to the opponent. Baiting Warnings, Veilers, and the occasional Book of Moon is critical here. Keeping up a constant stream of big monsters puts the opponent on the defensive. Black Rose Dragon plays can also help to simplify a duel state that is getting away from you. Formula Synchron and Pot of Avarice should net early game pluses, but Avarice may still be difficult to use at this time. Trishula is best used here.
Late Game: You know you’re in the late game when you can activate multiple Pots of Avarice, and not run out of monsters in your graveyard. Synchro players will have huge, loaded graves, and Avarice helps restock the deck with tuners, materials, or Synchros to make those plays all over again. This is really where Synchro decks shine…so long as they are not dealing with backrow setups. Cards like Royal Oppression can push a player into the late game but still not offer any solutions. Holding on to cards like Mystical Space Typhoon and Giant Trunade allow you to make Trishula a game winning card on its own.
A bit of stall, some searching, breaking apart setups, and finally, aggressive Synchro plays are what compose the Synchro duelist’s game plan. At times, it can be a steamroll that is impossible to stop. When it’s not though, these strategies are extremely vulnerable to a large number of side, and main deck cards.
Looking at the Extra Deck
What I have listed below is a very, very generalized view of the extra deck for most players using strategies that can manipulate levels easily. All of these monsters are generic, and therefore can be played in any deck with tuners where levels are attainable.
1-3 Formula Synchron
1-2 Black Rose Dragon
1-2 Stardust Dragon
1-2 Trishula, Dragon of the Ice Barrier
1-2 T.G. Hyper Librarian
1 Colossal Fighter
1 Scrap Dragon
1 Brionac, Dragon of the Ice Barrier
1 Armory Arm
The first thing that you’ll notice about this list is that there is a huge variety in levels here. This is somewhat distinct from theme-based Extra decks, where six to nine spots will be held by on-theme Synchro monsters. X-Sabers, Dragunity, and Karakuri are good examples of this. Their decks are built around hitting specific levels rather than a variety. Here, Synchro climbing is the key to success. Armory Arm may have lost some of its luster recently, but it is still very effective at turning two tuners and a monster into something much bigger.
Hyper Librarian makes much of this possible. Overextended? Need to push for game but don’t have the cards to comeback from failure? Librarian and Pot of Avarice ensure that even if the opponent tops Dark Hole, you will still be able to make a strong play next turn. Formula Synchron loads the grave very quickly when it is used with other Synchro monsters, and generates card advantage on its own.
Looking at these monsters it’s hard not to see why Synchro decks are so popular. So many of these monsters have amazing effects, stats, and can completely change the course of a duel. In addition, Synchros are fun to use, something that I hope Xyz monsters will be as well. For at least the rest of this format Librarian abuse will be an important part of our metagame, and Synchro monsters are going to continue to dominate. Whatever September brings, I have no doubt that Synchros will take a hit in some form. Outside of Orient Dragon, some Hidden Arsenal cards, and Shooting Quasar Dragon, there aren’t many Synchros to look forward to. For now, I think that dubbing this the end of the ‘Synchro Era’ is appropriate. Until next time then.