As players prepared for the North American World Championship Qualifier, there was one deck virtually no one in the room truly wanted to face – Final Countdown. Regardless of the amount of Stealth Birds and Spiritual Fire Arts you were siding, the idea of sitting and playing against that strategy was absolutely depressing. And thus it was a fairly common practice throughout the room to prepare one-sided burn effects, like those previously mentioned, in order to try and burn out Countdown players before their 20 turn clock ticked away. Interesting side deck choices, like Spiritual Fire Art had been popping up over the course of the last few weeks, but nothing was quite as interesting as the card that was jokingly discovered in the ARG hotel room in Columbus.
As Pat Hoban and I were discussing side deck choices for his Chaos Dragon deck we stopped to try and consider the most efficient way to defeat Final Countdown. Chaos Dragons have universally been known as having a horrific matchup against Final Countdown, due to the nature of a high monster count decklist. Possibilities such as siding Plaguespreader Zombie to go into Tempest Magician, through the use of Lyla, have been well known, and up until this point we both considered it the most effective approach to combating the matchup. The problem we felt was that you would need to find access to both pieces of the puzzle, Lyla and Plaguespreader, before the 20 turns wasted away. Tour Guide from the Underworld and Sangan would help alleviate the issue with Plaguespreader, but there was also the concern of Lyla. Plus this would require the extra deck to be tweaked in such a way that more room was made for cards such as Tempest Magician – a proposition Pat was far from fond of.
Then the one and only Alex Vanscant offered up his wacky approach to the situation. With a grin on his face, and a chuckle in his voice. “Just side a Catapult Turtle!” He may have been joking, but Pat and I looked at each other and both seemed to legitimately consider that option. Now, I was far from considering Chaos Dragons as a deck I was going to play at the event, I was dead set on Dino-Rabbit again, but boy did I love the idea of helping teammates out – and now the goal was to find Catapult Turtles before the event. From there Pat and I packed up our things and searched the city of Columbus for the Metal Raiders Super Rare… at 11:30 PM the night before the event. No more than 20 people encountered us along our journey, but that didn’t stop the word from spreading around the city.
The reason a single Catapult Turtle solves the Final Countdown issue over all other cards is the ability to avoid reconfiguring the extra deck, while offering the most effective production of direct damage. One of the funny things that went on Sunday morning before the event was how fast word spread about Catapult Turtle. A joke amongst Pat, Alex and myself had suddenly exploded into this “secret tech” that everyone needs to get their hands on. People actually came up to me and asked if I was siding it in Dino-Rabbit. You see, Catapult Turtle is the perfect card for Chaos Dragons for a couple of reasons, and those reasons are the exact ones why it is far less optimal in Dino-Rabbit.
With three copies of Tour Guide and the single Sangan, there was a high chance that a Chaos Dragon player would either draw one of those four cards – or the Catapult Turtle itself. Unlike Dino-Rabbit, if the Chaos Dragon player were able to draw into some form of Sangan, there would then come the opportunity to tribute summon Darkflare, Lightpulsar, Gorz or Red-Eyes by using Sangan. From there Sangan would obviously be able to search Catapult Turtle. Dino-Rabbit does not have such a volume of tribute monsters to go along with triggering Sangan’s effect, and instead would need to rely on Torrential Tribute or Dark Hole. Chaos Dragons and Dino-Rabbit then have the critical difference of the attack strength of their deck. In Chaos Dragons you have access to an arsenal of monsters with over 2000 attack. Each of which is going to be able to deal 1000+ points of direct damage when you tribute it off with Catapult Turtle. If you are able to land a Catapult Turtle and create a steady stream of chaos monsters, your opponent is looking at only a few turns before they are completely burnt out – the exact reason why the turtle is such an optimal side deck pick. Dino-Rabbit on the other hand is only going to be able to summon weak normal monsters – with the occasionally opportunity to summon multiple monsters through Leviair – Rabbit plays, but those could easily just end in Evolzars anyway. Cards like Stealth Bird or Spiritual Fire Art are far and away better choices for a deck like Dino-Rabbit. Word spread like wild fire throughout the venue Sunday about Catapult Turtle, but there seemed to be a huge discrepancy as to why!
Chaos Dragons also have a few cool combos that can deal almost enough damage to whip out Final Countdown in a single turn!
For example, with the following set up you can bring the opponent down to 50 life points!
Field: Catapult Turtle, Dark Armed Dragon, Lightspulsar Dragon
Graveyard: Red-Eyes Darkness Metal Dragon and 2 darks.
You can use Dark Armed Dragon to remove a Dark monster and destroy Lightpulsar Dragon, triggering the effect to bring out Red-Eyes Darkness Metal. From there you use Red-Eyes effect to revive the Lightpulsar.
Catapult Turtle then tributes the Red-Eyes to deal 1400 points of direct damage. Repeat the process with Dark Armed Dragon to revive the Red-Eyes by removing the second dark. Then revive the Lightpulsar with Red-Eyes and launch it away for another 1400 points of damage. Tributing off the remaining Lightpulsar for 1250, the Dark Armed Dragon for 1400 and the Catapult Turtle for 500.
The total damage dealt with equal 5950! Just 50 points off from 6000, the amount they would have left after paying for Final Countdown. One single Hopes for Escape and the game would be won. Since you are playing against Final Countdown you should be able to set this play up turns in advance and if you can place a 3rd dark alongside Red-Eyes (for 4 total, meaning you would need to summon Dark Armed when you had 3 and add the 4th), you can loop the Lightpulsar an additional time to deal the remaining amount of direct damage to finish off your Final Countdown opponent!
Looking over decklists from a few Nationals around the world has shown Catapult Turtle pop up in the side decks of Chaos Dragon players, and I couldn’t help but laugh since the idea originally started as a joke in our hotel room! It just goes to show you casual legitimate tech cards can be thrown around in conversation! Anyway, hopefully Final Countdown has been drowned out of the metagame enough, but if it hasn’t… just drop the Turtle and launch everything at them!