The Validity of Rush in the Current Metagame

cvhWelcome back, duelists!  The first weekend of Kaijudo Master Challenges post-Clash of the Duel Masters has concluded, and I'm back to talk about a strategy brought to light by the results: Rush.  Rush has always been around, and will probably stay a legitimate threat in the meta forever.  However, it's doubtful that many players expected it to win a KMC.  As expected, many of the same decks that were good before Clash released are still tier 1 now.  Light/Water/Darkness control won the KMCs in Ohio and South Carolina (piloted by fellow ARG writer Aiden Thorne and my teammate Spencer Swan), but mono-Fire rush took down the KMC in Florida!

The whole idea of Rush is very straightforward.  It aims to win the game within the first four to five turns, and if it doesn't accomplish this purpose, there is a high probability of it losing the game, especially with the widespread use of cards like [ccProd]Lyra, the Blazing Sun[/ccProd].  It can easily be shut down if there is an opposing blocker and the Rush player has no removal for it in their hand, or by a timely Shield Blast or two.  For this reason, most competitive players stay away from the deck and classify it as a very risky deck to take to a tournament.  However, there's no doubt that it will remain popular, especially with its recent win in Florida.  Let's take a look at the list that won:

Patrick Vanlandingin - Mono-Fire Rush

3 [ccProd]Jetflame Bodyguard[/ccProd]Blaze_Belcher_(Y1PRM)
3 [ccProd]Blaze Belcher[/ccProd] 3 [ccProd]Flame Spinner[/ccProd] 3 [ccProd]Branca the Treacherous[/ccProd] 3 [ccProd]Drakon Weaponsmith[/ccProd] 2 [ccProd]Scaled Impaler[/ccProd] 3 [ccProd]Laser-Arm Drakon[/ccProd] 2 [ccProd]Burnclaw the Relentless[/ccProd] 3 [ccProd]Drakon Warchief[/ccProd] 3 [ccProd]Gilaflame the Assaulter[/ccProd] 3 [ccProd]Comet Missile[/ccProd] 3 [ccProd]Heat Seekers[/ccProd] 3 [ccProd]Tornado Flame[/ccProd] 3 [ccProd]Barrage[/ccProd]

You can't say that it isn't about as standard as it gets, but that's what Rush usually has to be.  No creature in this deck is above level 3 unless it has Fast Attacker.  The only major difference in this build as opposed to other mono-Fire Rush builds I've seen is that it runs 12 removal spells instead of another possible creature such as Jet-Thrust Darter.  This might have been a call made to counter other Rush decks if he expected to face a lot of them.  The three Barrages and Tornado Flames, while clunky int he opening hand, can single-handedly win this deck the game against a similar strategy if they happen to be in Shields.  The Comet Missiles and Heat Seekers are already perfect cards for the strategy since they're cheap and get rid of early Blockers.

Though Mono-Fire has been a go-to civilization combination for Rush ever since Evo Fury gave us Drakon evolutions, other forms of Rush are gaining a lot of support as well, and I'm personally expecting a rise in their popularity for future KMCs.  My team and I always make sure we test against what we believe to be the most consistent Rush decks at the moment because it can be such a real threat to a lot of strategies if the player is unprepared, and right now we have a Fire/Darkness Rush very capable of taking games and matches off of established decks.

Team P.E.A.C.H. - Fire/Darkness Rush

3 [ccProd]Blaze Belcher[/ccProd]250px-Shapeshifter_Scaradorable_(7CLA)
3 [ccProd]Jetflame Bodyguard[/ccProd] 3 [ccProd]Drakon Weaponsmith[/ccProd] 3 [ccProd]Flame Spinner[/ccProd] 3 [ccProd]Jet-Thrust Darter[/ccProd] 3 [ccProd]Laser-Arm Drakon[/ccProd] 3 [ccProd]Gilaflame the Assaulter[/ccProd] 3 [ccProd]Comet Missile[/ccProd] 3 [ccProd]Lizard-Skin Puppet[/ccProd] 2 [ccProd]Baron Burnfingers[/ccProd] 3 [ccProd]Gigabolver[/ccProd] 3 [ccProd]Marrow Ooze[/ccProd] 2 [ccProd]Screeching Scaradorable[/ccProd] 3 [ccProd]Shapeshifter Scaradorable[/ccProd]

This deck is definitely more Clash-inspired than the mono-Fire deck.  Shapeshifter Scaradorable is a key card in here as it can evolve from every creature in the deck.  This means that it essentially turns every creature in the deck into a Fast Attacker, and it doesn't lose steam easily thanks to Scaradorable's "Loyal Friend" ability, which returns it to your hand whenever it's banished.  This card alone makes the level 1 creatures such as Gigabolver, Marrow Ooze, and Jetflame Bodyguard much more playable.  A sample progression might be turn 1 summon Gigabolver, turn 2 summon Baron Burnfingers and pass, turn 3 evolve the
Gigabolver into Shapeshifter Scaradorable and begin the assault.  If your opponent wants to Bone Blades the Scaradorable, it will simply return to your hand, and with any luck you'll have the mana available to summon a new level 1 creature and evolve it into Scaradorable on the same turn.

On the subject of Baron Burnfingers, it definitely has some serious power behind it's rather underwhelming exterior.  On first glance it may seem like a bad card, but it's perfect for a Rush deck like this.  During a fun match against Spencer Swan who was playing this deck, I made the mistake of banishing it somehow, allowing Spencer to break one of his own shields, which happened to be Comet Missile.  He used the Shield Blast and all of a sudden I was down a blocker.  Of course, the odds are against Baron Burnfingers breaking your own Shield Blast in this deck, but Rush doesn't really care; as long as it's getting more cards in its hand to summon and put the pressure on, it doesn't really matter where they come from.  That's the glory of Burnfigers - you can't let it stay in the battle zone forever, but you really don't want to get rid of it either.

Other standouts from Clash of the Duel Masters in this list include Lizard-Skin Puppet, a level 2 slayer which can act as another answer to those pesky early blockers like [ccProd]Aqua Strider[/ccProd].  Besides those cards, the list is pretty standard as well.  It does run a level 4 creature that is not a Fast Attacker in the form of [ccProd]Screeching Scaradorable[/ccProd], but that creature usually acts as a removal spell with a body, reaching peak effectiveness against decks that run level 2 blockers or the mirror match.  Obviously we don't claim to have the "perfect" build built to test against, but like most Rush decks, not a whole lot is really up for discussion.

How It Wins

There has to be some explanation for the deck taking top 8 spots at KMCs and even winning one.  The 250px-Aqua_Strider_(7CLA)reason, I believe, is that it's just an accepted bad matchup for a lot of decks.  In play-testing, one might be comfortable in the control mirror match and in the aggro matchup against a Dragon-heavy deck, but the very early game sometimes suffers.  This was especially true for LWD Control pre-Clash, since it seems to be running more Shield Blasts now.  Generally, when a player has to choose which match-ups to really focus on, they will make card choices that allow for more consistency against more consistent strategies, because those are the decks that are expected to do well.  A competent control player will tech a multitude of cards for the control mirror match, but might only run 3-5 blockers for the Rush matchup; past that, they'll
have to rely on Shield Blasts which are included in the deck because of their functionality against other strategies as well.  Very few cards are dedicated solely to the Rush matchup, and I can't say I blame anyone for this decision.  As a "coin-flip" deck with a very narrow plan of action, it's very rarely the favorite in any given tournament, but if players forget about it or remove it from their testing gauntlet entirely, it's very capable of stealing wins just like it did in Florida.

In conclusion, Rush is always a threat.  It may be the least consistent deck type out there, but it isn't without support, and players disregarding it as a valid deck can contribute to it doing well in premier events.  Going forward, especially with Rush having one KMC win under its belt, it's more important than ever to make sure you're getting the right testing in against this style.  Knowing what you're doing late game and functioning against all the control decks out there is great, but it all could easily mean nothing when you take a a loss to a Rush deck in the first four turns of the game.

Make sure to leave a comment down below with any thoughts you have on the article, and until next week, Play Hard or Go Home!