The Winning Touch: Evilswarm Trends

joe giolandoSo over the course of the last two weeks we looked at Rodrigo's Dragon Ruler and Kye Baker's Prophecy decklists. Seeing as how they are far and away the top two decks this format, it was only fair to begin our deck analysis by looking at them first. Of course they are not the only decks in which people are playing, so this week I decided we begin looking at some of the Tier 2 decks that have seen some popularity this format. The obvious choice would be Evilswarms. Unfortunately there really hasn't been a single unique build of Evilswarms to do well at a recent Nationals, they all have been relatively similar. So what I decided to do instead is to look at some of the trends which have existed from build to build, and discuss why these continue to be seen in the archtype.

compulseThe first card that is impossible to ignore is [ccProd]Compulsory Evacuation Device[/ccProd]. Out of the four Evilswarm decks in the Top 16 of the Poland Nationals this past weekend, there were 10 out of a possible 12 copies of Compulsory Evacuation Device in the main deck. And Tom Thureson's first place Evilswarm decklist at the Finland Nationals had the full playset of [ccProd]Compulsory Evacuation Device[/ccProd]s.  Perhaps a little bit over a month ago I wrote an article about the new era in Yu-Gi-Oh, and I certainly still stand by what I said as the format has progressed. But if you are insistent on playing old fashioned trap cards, Compulsory is exactly where you want to be when [ccProd]Evilswarm Ophion[/ccProd] is in your decklist. In theory you are using Compulsory on whatever XYZ monsters your Dragon Ruler opponent is putting on the board, but the problem with this approach is the ability to simply reuse the Dragon Rulers from the graveyard on the following turn. The beauty of Compulsory in this archtype is the ability to negate the card advantage by dropping an Ophion on the following turn. Seeing as how Dragon Rulers only have three copies of Blaster, and perhaps a few singleton outs throughout the deck, if you are able to put an Ophion on the field every turn, you will be in surprisingly good shape against one of the mammoths of the format. Unlike some of the more inferior trap cards like [ccProd]Bottomless Trap Hole[/ccProd], Compulsory allows you to use it after an XYZ like Dracossack has hit the field, which plays a tremendous role in how much utility the card has when you can subsequently shut down their special summoning abilities.

But those are the obvious benefits of [ccProd]Compulsory Evacuation Device[/ccProd]. The hidden gem is how aggressive this deck truly can be. As much as card advantage plays a role in deciding who wins the game, life points have always existed as that hidden way to "steal" a game card advantage would have otherwise determined. With cards like [ccProd]Evilswarm Castor[/ccProd] and Kerycion, Evilswarms have the ability to put a reasonable amount of damage onto the field, and with [ccProd]Compulsory Evuacation Device[/ccProd] you can clear the board in order to chip away incremental amounts of damage. If anyone is familiar with some of the recent Magic the Gathering formats, [ccProd]Vapor Snag[/ccProd] (which is more of less Compulsory) became an auto-four of in the Delver decks which ran rampant. The deck certainly could win with control and card advantage, but pushing through damage was the hidden trick to winning as many games as the deck could.

Evilswarm OphionThe way Ophion functions forces players to immediately deal with it unless they happen to have one of their few outs. For example, even if a Dragon Ruler play opens with a copy of [ccProd]Breakthrough Skill[/ccProd] in their hand, think about how much damage they are going to take. They have to set the [ccProd]Breakthrough Skill[/ccProd] and pass back to the Evilswarm player with an open field, unless they opened with an ideal set like [ccProd]Exploder Dragon[/ccProd], but for this example assume they pass with an otherwise open field. The Evilswarm player is then able to summon another creature and attack for over 4000 points of damage. While the Dragon Ruler play is able to use [ccProd]Breakthrough Skill[/ccProd] on the following turn, with a full playset of [ccProd]Compulsory Evacuation Device[/ccProd]s in your deck, all you have to do is pinpoint a few moments to push through the remaining damage. This card is what makes Evilswarms right now.

But there are also a few other cards worth mentioning that have been appearing in Evilswarm deck lists. The first of which is [ccProd]Dark Illusion[/ccProd]. Unlike [ccProd]Safe Zone[/ccProd], which would need to be prematurely activated in order to protect Ophion and other creatures from [ccProd]Tsukuyomi[/ccProd], [ccProd]Dark Illusion[/ccProd] has emerged as the perfect counter for several of the outs Dragon Rulers have been playing for Ophion. Blaster and [ccProd]Tsukuyomi[/ccProd] are stonewalled by this powerful counter trap, and even against decks which play old fashioned trap cards, you might be able to sneak a [ccProd]Dark Illusion[/ccProd] on a [ccProd]Dimensional Prison[/ccProd] or [ccProd]Compulsory Evacuation Device[/ccProd]. Unfortunately this card is not particularly fantastic against Prophecy decks, but if you gear your deck enough towards countering that archtype - perhaps you can get away with a [ccProd]Dark Illusion[/ccProd] in your main deck, and certainly in the side.

safe zoneThe problem with [ccProd]Dark Illusion[/ccProd], which is also the problem with another popular trap card [ccProd]Safe Zone[/ccProd] is that it does not counter the newly popular Psi-Blocker. Compulsory can stall out the effect of Psi-Blocker for a turn, but you are truly delaying the inevitable. This is where Evilswarm players are going to need to adapt and find an efficient counter.

The other problem for Evilswarm players is that Prophecy decklists have been moving away from [ccProd]High Priestess of Prophecy[/ccProd]. Of course, in theory, Ophion should shutdown the "boss monsters" in both Prophecy and Dragon Ruler. But by cutting [ccProd]High Priestess of Prophecy[/ccProd], Prophecy players suddenly have a deck that should absolutely run through Evilswarms bar [ccProd]Eradicator Epidemic Virus[/ccProd]. This is going to be a difficult trend for Eviswarm players to adapt to, seeing as how not only are Prophecy players cutting Priestess, they are replacing her with [ccProd]Kycoo the Ghost Destoryer[/ccProd] - a natural out to Kerycion.

In general Evilswarms have proven to be a bit more successful than I would have imagined, and that is because players loyal to the archtype have been willing to adjust their decklist in whatever way possible would allow them to handle the top two decklists. However, going forward - the popularity of Psi-Blocker and the Priestessless Prophecy are going to force these players to adjust yet again. What modifications have you been making to your decklists for these two format monsters?

Joe Giorlando

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