With the advanced forbidden/limited list now in effect, many decks have become viable that were once borderline unplayable in full-power Pepe format. I think we can all agree that seeing twenty-nine of the same deck in Top32 of YCS Atlanta was not healthy for the game. It is acceptable for a deck to be the best, but it does not need to be absolutely uncontested. Think about Nekroz format where you had Burning Abyss as a strong second. Both decks won their fair share of events despite Nekroz having the stronger engine. Players were forced to innovate constantly to keep up, which is honestly something that will happen no matter how ridiculous the format becomes, but at least other decks had chances. I think if there were an event tomorrow, we would see a good amount of Kozmo, Water, Burning Abyss, Monarchs, and Dracopal variants. In this article, I will be discussing the viability of the Water deck. In future articles, I will do the same thing with the other aforementioned decks.
So, what are the strengths of the new and improved Water deck? Well, it has an incredible normal summon in the form of the Atlantean Prince, Neptabyss. Much like Madolche Anjelly, it is a +2 if it resolves. Since Water plays like an OTK deck, it wants to go second which is another +1. This means that going second and resolving the effect of Neptabyss will give you a total of eight cards before you make any further plays. This is huge because Water has built-in removal for monsters, spells, and traps, so you do not need to main too many non-engine cards; searching pieces can deal with problems just fine. For the most part, the deck just wins by reusing the effect of Atlantean Dragoons until you either kill your opponent or overwhelm him with card advantage through things like Moulinglacia, Trishula, and Abyssmegalo. The addition of Neptabyss makes all of these things possible while allowing the all-important Instant Fusion to be live on turn one.
My good friend and fellow writer, Patty Hobes, recently wrote an article about the importance of Instant Fusion in today’s meta. He stressed the fact that the card is something everyone should be maxing out on—deck permitting—and that it can accomplish the same goals that other cards can do, but also things they cannot do. In Water, Instant Fusion is absolutely unreal when coupled with Atlantean Dragoons. It gives you yet another way to resolve the Sea Serpent searching effect in a single turn, allowing the deck to combo into game winning boards. It also helps that Norden is a water monster because you can use it for things like Megalo’s effect or to meet the requirements to summon Mounlinglacia. Most importantly, Instant Fusion allows the deck to go into Abyss Dweller rather quickly so that it can deal with Kozmo big ships, or cut off the annoying graveyard effects of the Monarch deck. It also allows an easy summon of Trishula when coupled with Deep Sea Diva. All you need to do is get a level three monster with her effect, and then Instant Fusion into Norden/Dragoons to be your level four monster. Against Kozmo, this is one of the keys to success.
As for specific matchups, I would say that Water has a decent advantage against the current pendulum decks. Without Damage Juggler in the mix, you can OTK them fairly easily. Traptrix Rafflesia does little in the face of Neptabyss (outside of Treacherous Trap Hole), and the same goes for Evilswarm Nightmare. Also, Solemn Strike sucks against Water without a Dweller to go with it. Since Neptabyss sends a monster for cost (typically Dragoons), you never really want to Solemn Strike it. In general, Water tends to power through backrows anyways. This has always been the case ever since the olden days when Fire Fists were the opposition. Even the good boards that Dracopals sometimes puts up are easily dealt with when you throw Heavy Infantry and a 3200 double attacking Megalo into the equation. On top of that, good scales are hard to come by these days with the limiting of Monkeyboard, so having them get destroyed can be problematic. The searchable equip spell negates spells, too! This means that catching a pendulum deck when it has few cards in hand might be game winning. It is important to note that the equip spell must negate the first spell activated, so your opponent can burn a card he does not need in order to break through.
Water is not without its problems, however. As I said before, the deck wants to go second, but it happens to hate going first. There is not much to do with Water when going first. I mean, sure, you can open with the Moulinglacia and Trishula combo, but that assumes that nothing gets negated on the way. It is also not a play that you can depend on consistently in a long tournament. Even when you do get it off, decks like Kozmos can come back with a simple Dark Destroyer play. To make matters worse, if Moulinglacia dies you will be forced to skip your next battle phase. It may not seem like much on the surface but I promise you that it will make the game nearly impossible to win if your opponent understands how crippled you actually are.
The other problem is the severe weakness to Abyss Dweller. Once your opponent knows you are playing Water, he will throw his resources into Dweller to thwart your future plays. I think maining any number Forbidden Chalices helps to mitigate this problem, but it is unsearchable. In cases where you do not have something like Forbidden Chalice to deal with the Dweller, you will have to find a way to kill it without using too many resources…AND you will have to live to see your next turn. These problem are further emphasized if your opponent knows you are playing Water before the match even starts, because as you would imagine he will be going into Dweller on turn one. If the Dweller was made with a Water monster, you will have less outs to it (namely Abyssteus), and may require more resources than you can afford to get rid of it.
Most of the Water lists that I see circulating play too many normal summons for my tastes. Between combinations of Neptabyss, Genex Undine, Deep Sea Diva, Abysspike, Abyssturge, and Abysslinde, I think it is just a little too much. Players have opted to fit in things like Double Summon to help with this problem, but I am not sure if that is the correct solution. Imagine drawing it without having two good normal summons? I can see it being good at times, but that argument can be made for almost any tech card.
Water also has a glass cannon feel to it. This means that while it has a strong early game, the tradeoff is in the fact that it has a terrible late game. Usually, the deck aims to put as much of its hand on the field as possible, as soon as possible, and win that turn. When games go too long, the other decks will simply overpower it. Therefore, your kills have to be precise if you want to use this deck. You have to seize the moment when your opponent can either be killed or put so deep in the hole that there is little to no chance of coming out. When you think about it, most combo decks would want to keep the game as complicated as possible. Simple gamestates where players have two to three cards to work with are not beneficial for a deck using a monster that requires you to discard two other monsters. To avoid going into a simplified gamestate, you can play cards like Salvage to replenish your card advantage. There is nothing fair about adding back Neptabyss or Deep Sea Diva when your opponent is already in the hole.
Perhaps the biggest problem with playing Water is the inability to easily deal with Dark Destroyer and Dark Eclipser. Those cards are bigger than anything you can summon, and they cannot be targeted. The only way to get over them is with the use of Trishula, or Abyss Dweller to boost your monsters, or Abyss-Scale of the Mizuchi. Both cases require that your opponent has nothing when you make an attempt on their big ship, which to that you might be asking “well, isn’t that the case with any deck trying to out big ships?” And you would be correct, except the other decks do not put all of their advantage on the field when going for it. Monarchs could simply play Storm Forth and pendulum decks would go for Ignister. If those options fail, they could try again next turn with another pendulum summon, or search another Storm Forth. The pendulum mechanic is very resilient to battle losses. The almost do not exist unless your opponent can guarantee that you will not be able to successfully summon everything back on the following turn. On the other hand, Water would have to Instant Fusion for Dweller and discard two for Megalo in order to out them. It can also make Abyssgaios and Dweller but that is essentially the same thing. Your only other reliable out is in the form of Trishula, but again, all of these things lose out to disruption. When Water is disrupted, it does not get back all of its resources on the next turn like pendulum decks.
-High OTK factor
-Powerful normal summon
-Amazing Instant Fusion abuse
-Easy access to Trishula
-Dealing with Dark Destroyer/Eclipser
-Too many normal summons leading to clogged hands
-Glass cannon factor
Until next time, duelists! Remember, Play Hard or Go Home!
-The Dark Magician