What do your plays actually do?

Hello Duelists! As most of you guys know, being in a situation where you can only win by topdecking is far from ideal. But different decks can do very different things with just one card. I'll be taking a look at the big three decks and evaluating how many plays per turn you have, how hard it is to access them, how many resources they consume, and how much they actually do.

There are two types of "Scary" decks in Yugioh. One is the "I'm going to put up a humongous unbreakable board and you can't really do much about it" deck, such as Dragon Rulers used to do with 2 Dracossacks on their first turn, or Sylvans, which would end with Felgrand, Dracossack, and Stardust. The other is the "My cards never really go away" deck. These decks are scary because they maintain card advantage almost no matter what.  Felgrand and Dante are both scary, but for entirely different reasons.

How many cards go into these plays?

This is probably the most important thing to consider when looking at a deck. Some decks can make scary plays, but at the cost of most of their hand.  The  purest example of this was Infernities.  While not all of the combos require most of your hand, all of your resources will end up on  your board at the end.  If your opponent manages to push through a board wipe like Exciton, you're almost certainly losing the game if you don't topdeck a Soul Charge or Infernity Archfiend.

An example of the opposite was Sylvans when Soul Charge was at three, because their gigantic boards only required 2-3 cards, such as Lonefire Blossom and Soul Charge. At the end, you would still have 3-4 cards in your hand.
How easy is it to access the play?

Some decks have multiple ways to get to the same end point and some decks only have a very specific way to get to that point. Infernities had many ways to get to the same basic ending field (4-5 Monsters on the field and 2-3 Infernity traps set) when going first, and what made the deck so scary was that not only could it OTK, but it could also end with several Infernity traps. The entire deck was filled with synergistic combo cards, so you would almost never “brick”.  The power and consistency of Infernities was demonstrated when they won the World Championship in 2014. An even better example would be Dragon Rulers in July 2013 where it was very easy to end in a Dracossack or two, and there were many combinations of cards that would allow you to end in this field, not just two specific cards.

Sylvans, on the other hand, nearly always required Soul Charge to do impressive things.  However, this was mitigated by the fact that Kuribandit and Sylvan Charity made it very easy to get to Soul Charge very fast.

Let's look at these criteria in today's meta


Burning Abyss

This is where Burning Abyss come into the picture. This deck meets all the criteria that I just listed that all of the previous best decks had. It can access Dante very easily, all of the cards replace themselves, so not many cards go into making the play, and it is "scary", especially with the addition of Virgil. They have a huge advantage in simplified game states and a very solid early game. In the early game you can summon multiple Dantes on the first turn and maintain a lot of card advantage and board presence all at once. Almost all of their cards replace themselves when sent to the graveyard so it's very easy to outgrind your opponent and have more card advantage than them at almost all times. Looking at how the deck fulfills these characteristics, Burning Abyss is the best deck, right?


Sometimes, the ability to simply reduce your opponent's life points to 0 overwhelms traditional indicators of what makes the best deck. What Qliphort do is they avoid the problem of being out-advantaged by simply making it irrelevant. They do this by OTKing the Burning Abyss player, and not giving them a chance to overwhelm them next turn with all the card advantage that BA would accumulate. While BA play powerful trap cards such as Phoenix Wing Wind Blast and Fire Lake of the Burning Abyss, this is mitigated by Qliphorts playing more Spell/Trap destruction.  The main problem Qliphorts have is that they can't often set up unbreakable fields on their first turn without opening unlikely combinations of cards. However ending with a monster equipped with Saqlifice and some backrow isn't too shabby either. Qliphorts also have many different ways of putting over 8000 damage on board by turn 2 which is a very scary thing that your opponent will have to watch out for.  All that aside, Qliphorts don't really fail with the traditional measurements either – Scout is an incredible way to generate advantage quickly, and it's very easy to access.  The Pendulum summoning mechanic itself gives Qliphorts more plays per turn, as do cards like Laser Qlip.


Shaddolls are, in anything, skewed even more in the direction of ignoring the traditional metrics than Qliphorts.  The deck has steadily transformed to focusing on being able to OTK on turn 1.  The deck has very few 1-card plays (Shaddoll Fusion only counts when you're playing against BA, really).  Mathematician is a card, but level 7 synchro monsters are incredibly reactive, not proactive.  The don't do much except answer an opponent's board – not something you want to be summoning turn 1.  The addition of cards like Enemy Controller definitely make the deck more explosive by giving them more plays, but it's one of the worst cards to draw on an empty hand and doesn't do anything by itself.  Shaddolls pretend to float, but they don't recover card advantage in ways that lets you continue to make plays after they hit the grave unless you draw other specific cards.  Overall, this seems to be the weakest contender despite being a marginal increase in speed over Qliphorts, and the results of several ARGs and YCSs over the last few months have born that out.

That's all for this week's article! If you'd like to see me write about a certain topic feel free to message me on Facebook. The Circuit Series stops by Orlando, Florida next on January 3-4, I hope to see you all there!

And as Always Play Hard or Go Home!