Hey everybody, I’m back this week after an exciting weekend at YCS Dallas. I made Top 32 with an interesting Shaddoll deck. This week I want to explain why I chose Shaddoll over Nekroz, Burning Abyss, or some other alternative deck. I will then write a follow-up article explaining some card choices that seem counter-intuitive or outright bizarre, such as the inclusion of Elemental Hero Blazeman or siding five extra deck monsters. I want to explain my reasoning behind my card choices this week.
I want to start out by saying that there is definitely room for improvement in the list. I’m in my last semester of college, finishing my book, and starting a company, which hasn’t left me with any real time to play test. I had no idea what I was going to play when I showed up to the event on Friday and had done no play testing. I figured that I didn’t want to play anything too off the wall and wanted to at least stick to something I was somewhat familiar with and had at least some experience sometime.
It’s important to acknowledge time constraints when preparing for a tournament. We’re not playing in an idealistic world where we have unlimited time to test every option available. You should learn you circle of competence. Know what you do know and acknowledge what you don’t know. Then don’t try and go outside of your circle of competence without the time that would be necessary to expand it.
I knew that was going to be pretty much limited to Nekroz, Burning Abyss, and Shaddoll. I particularly did not want to play Nekroz. Not only could I be perfectly content never summoning another Manju in my life, given how much I’ve done it with Nekroz consistently being at the top since its release in February, but I also thought it was a poor choice for the event. Nekroz has the most powerful engine, so it’s fine to classify decks as Nekroz and Non-Nekroz, because head-to-head Nekroz will beat all other engines. Against non-Nekroz decks, you will lose a certain amount of games to floodgates like Mistake. In the Nekroz mirror there was a paradox between leaving a field and losing to Trishula or not leaving a field and dying to Masquerade. I didn’t feel like Nekroz had a good matchup against Nekroz or non-Nekroz decks, so I knew I didn’t want to play it.
Burning Abyss had the inherent advantage of not losing to floodgates. It seemed very appealing to never lose to them flipping Mistake and you not having the out to it. Burning Abyss didn’t really have bad hands, whereas a deck like Shaddoll has to draw a Fusion spell to be able to play the game. That was another big draw for me to the deck. There were two things that were stopping me from wanting to play it, as well as other smaller problems like Royal Decree and Flying “C.” The first of these was that Burning Abyss was an inherently smaller deck than Nekroz. I didn’t like the idea of having to play a deck where if I put my engine against a Nekroz engine, without any externalities besides the engine, I would lose every time. Nekroz is an inherently bigger deck, and in Yu-Gi-Oh, bigger is better. The second problem was Norden. Not only did every single other deck gain 3 one-card Abyss Dwellers, they all gained 3 one-card Abyss Dwellers that I couldn’t use myself if I played Burning Abyss.
I really liked the idea of Shaddoll, but my biggest problem was that I just didn’t think they were good enough. The Shaddoll monsters are inherently subpar cards in comparison to all the other decks in the meta. Squamata and Dragon are so subpar compared to cards like Unicore and Cir. The real power in Shaddoll lies in their extra deck capabilities. This seems underwhelming when every single card in Nekroz is good against the Extra deck. Brionac bounces, Clausolas negates, Unicore negates, and it just seemed counter-intuitive to play a deck revolving around the extra deck when the most played deck specializes in beating the extra deck.
The reason that I think it was still powerful to use an extra-deck based strategy is because how much more quality cards they are in comparison to other decks. With the exception of Valkyrus who draws cards, all the other Nekroz monsters take away from your opponent. They get rid of the opponent’s cards; they negate the opponents cards, etc. The extra deck options for Nekroz are all the same thing. Rhapsody banishes, Dweller prevents activation, Castel bounces, etc. Diagusto Emeral is the only extra deck card and Valkyrus is the only main deck Nekroz ritual that gives you additional cards instead of taking cards away from your opponent.
All +1s are not created equally. Generally speaking I would rather give myself an additional option than take away an additional one from my opponent. This was the biggest draw for me to Shaddoll. Construct, Tsukuyomi, Trapeze Magician and Norden are all cards in the extra deck that work to give me extra cards, instead of just limited or taking away from my opponent When my friend James said that I could use his Minerva for the event, I was sold on the deck. It’s basically a rank 4 version of Dante that works to give me extra options instead of taking them away from my opponent.
Minerva also provided something I believe to be a necessary component of success; the ability to get lucky. If you think about it, making top cut at a tournament is not an average performance. Therefore you can’t perform at the average and reasonably expect to do well, since average isn’t doing well. This was one reason I really liked Burning Abyss in previous formats. Sure, you won’t always mill Graff or Cir. But sometimes you will. It gives you an additional chance to go beyond the average. Minerva does this, because while I won’t mill a Shaddoll or Clown every time, sometimes I just will and my ceiling is higher because of it. For what it’s worth, I think this is a big factor for why Infernoid went undefeated. Sure, he won’t always open Reasoning. But sometimes he just will. I’m a big proponent of building your deck to give yourself a chance at getting lucky.
Time constraints kept me from testing lots of new ideas, so I limited myself to deciding between Burning Abyss, Nekroz, and Shaddoll. I reasoned that all the decks I might play had some problems with them. Nekroz had to battle floodgates and the paradox of Trishula and Masquerade. Burning Abyss was a smaller deck than Nekroz and had to deal with a lot more Abyss Dwellers, while not having access to playing Norden themselves. Shaddolls had access to Norden, the ability to get lucky, a high ceiling, and a plethora of cards that gave me advantage instead of just taking it away from my opponent. All of these lead me to choosing to play Shaddoll for YCS Dallas. Next time we’ll take a look at some of the deckbuilding constraints I had to overcome in building the deck and take a look at the reasoning I used in an attempt to solve it. Until next time, play hard or go home!