1st Place Regional Report – Dragunity vs Debris Ruler

ARG Circuit JohnnyEntry 22

Hey duelists.  Patrick and Frazier recently wrote on the merits and drawbacks of the Dragunity and Classic (Debris) variants of Dragon Ruler, each offering his own unique conclusion on which deck is better.  While Pat favors the Dragunity deck, Frazier is an advocate of Debris.  Both did a good job of hitting the major points in the debate.  Rather than parrot what’s already been said, I am going to build upon the discussion through a tournament report relaying my experiences.  My one-year anniversary writing for ARG is coming up soon, and I have just a few thoughts to share before I begin talking about my regional experience.  Please consider the following:

Before you begin this read it would do you good to reflect on what draws you in about ARG, as opposed to the many other sources and sites that talk about this game.  There are youtube channels, other article sites, facebook groups, and forums.  However, one thing that ARG and only a few others really distinguish themselves by is that the articles are geared toward the competitive player.  Thus, going into an ARG article, the question of “What additional information can I gather to improve myself as a competitor?” should be at the forefront of one’s mind.  The reason I am taking a step back to highlight what seems so obvious to some of you is because there seems to be the most internet flaming against the most helpful articles on this site.

I won’t call out any particular individuals, but if you look at the comments on either facebook or the articles, you can see there are people who post hateful, inflammatory comments against both Patrick and Frazier, simply for sharing their (well thought-out) opinions.  For that reason, we all need a little reminder to read with the intent to improve our game, not the intent to put down our fellow duelist.  In a world where there is already enough hatred (both on- and off-line), the ARG writers have respectfully ignored the comments directed against them and have continued to produce work with the intent to help others.  They haven’t asked me to defend them, but as a friend to both Frazier and Patrick, I have to say it doesn't seem entirely right that they're being called things I can't even quote in this article just because they want to share their thoughts about the game we all love.

The professionalism and insight that writers like Pat and Frazier have shared are what attracted me to ARG originally.  In just a few days, I will be celebrating the one year anniversary of my first article.  It has been great working with them, and to honor them as fellow human beings (internet commenters often forget they are responding to actual humans), as well as to honor the spirit of competition, I hope that should you continue reading, you read with the intent to learn and grow.  Reading with this mentality is how we improve at the game.  Name-calling doesn’t really lead to any sort of improvement (unless you’re a competitive "yo-mama" battler).  If you’re here to hate, well, you can just skip the article and post your comment right away, since flaming doesn’t require any content knowledge.

 flamvell guard

Choosing a Deck

Why debate?  Debate sharpens the intellect and gives us greater perspective on whatever we’re deliberating.  Debate is the mind’s way of combatting itself with the weapons of reason, and conquering that great peak we call Truth.

Carefully compare the opposing army with your own, so that you may know where strength is superabundant and where it is deficient. - Sun Tzu, The Art of War

In the middle of August, after the TCG list was made known, I was taunted for playing Dragons.  “What are you going to do in September?” they would ask me, assuming I would be hopeless without the babies and Super Rejuvenation.  I would usually reply with a joke, not willing to get into any sort of argument about why Dragons would still be the most prominent deck.  Time would reveal that.

Before the list even took effect, the competitive community was practicing hard, trying to find the ideal build for the new age.  The first build to surface involved the plant engine, which I found abhorrently slow and would certainly not survive the duration of the format.  Pat, however, gave me a great tip to pursue the Dragunity variant, and so when September 1st (and YCS Toronto came), I was ready to take on the format with a deck I thought was past its prime: Dragunities.

Dragunity Knight - Vajrayana

Early on, I liked that the deck opened well so consistently.  On average, an opening hand in Debris Ruler usually dictates the player set and pass, or make some Ravine play and pass.  Sometimes the opening play is to summon a level 8 synchro (holding Maxx “C” increases the likelihood that this is the correct turn 1 play), or to pass with Ancient Fairy Dragon sitting in defense, but overall, Debris Ruler has slow starts.  However, the Dragunity deck commonly opened the synchro play with minimal commitment, and drew into critical traps with ease.  One important thing to keep in mind is that there’s a difference between opening the lv 8 play more vs. opening the lv 8 play and it being the correct turn 1 play more.  In Debris Ruler, opening a lv 8 play is usually no sweat, but it’s most often not the correct turn 1 play because there is no threat to clear and it requires the sacrifice of a color.

On the other hand, strong openings had their drawbacks.  I found early on that Maxx “C” into Blader was frustrating to play into.  I practiced, but unsure of what to change (whether in the build or in my plays), I went back to normal Dragon Ruler.  Still liking the speed of Dragunity, I tried to bring that over to the regular Dragon build by main decking 3 Upstart Goblin, 3 Cards of Consonance, 3 Sacred Sword, and 3 Reckless Greed.  This deck destroyed the rogue matchup, but was not effective against the mirror, since all my draw power left me no room to run backrow protection against Blader.

I played several games against Pat with this turbo version of what I’ll call Corsesca Dragons (it mains 3 Corsesca and has no space for real traps or Trooper or Debris).  I was determined to show him that 3 Maxx “C” plus a million ways to go into Crimson Blader in my deck would be too much for Dragunity to handle.  Sometimes theory alone isn’t enough.  What worked in my head just wouldn’t play out in actual games.  Pat stomped me, again and again.  Maxx wasn’t working the way I wanted it to, and I quickly saw why.  Pat was only making Maxx-susceptible plays when he had protection to set.  When he didn’t, he would just pass to me, and the very nature of Dragons, even my super-sped up version of Dragons, disallows for ridiculous pushes after a passed turn.  I thought that Pat would be relatively unprotected since he only ran around 6 or 7 real backrow, but because of all the draw cards in the main deck, the probability of seeing them nearly doubled, so it was more like 10 backrow in terms of drawing odds.

Trying to look at the results from all angles, I considered that perhaps I was just drawing way below average.  But as I looked at the slow opening hands I kept drawing, it’s not that they were below average, it’s that the average hand in Dragons is just slow to begin with.  It’s not uncommon to not make a push in the mirror for a good while.  In the meantime, Pat kept drawing opening play after opening play, and it wasn’t that he was getting lucky.  The average hand of his deck just naturally dealt more aggressive opening plays.

As a player who focuses on the most common matchups, I tend to run the deck that counters the most common deck, which in this case would be Dragunity to counter regular Dragons.  However, this was not without drawbacks.  For instance, at ARGCS Ft. Worth, I lost to Infernity, a matchup that would have been made significantly easier had I played the opponent with a traditional build.  The inclusion of cards like Tidal and Debris Dragon helps make the Dragon deck ignorant to the wall that Infernity attempts to put up, lending credence to what Pat said in his article about Dragunity having a weaker rogue matchup than Debris Ruler.  Another drawback, like Pat said, is the mirror match.  It isn’t anything like the Debris or Blue-Eyes Ruler mirror, where there are vast decision trees with an array of possible outcomes.  The Dragunity mirror is painful and almost like a coin toss when both players have competent builds and technical ability.

Malefic Stardust Dragon

Ultimately, when the time came for the San Antonio Regional, I had settled on a version of Dragunity that ran Flamvell Guard over Red-Eyes.  Pat and I were both looking for a card to replace the dead weight that was Red-Eyes Darkness Metal Dragon.  At one point I even tried Malefic Stardust Dragon to protect Ravine, but its attack restriction proved quite poor.  Guard offered searchable Consonance fodder without the aid of Ravine while also adding fuel to my FIRE attribute for Blaster, and to top it all off, gave me the level 8 option even when I didn’t have a readily available Dux play.  It was around this time that players were starting to realize that Emptiness wasn’t good anymore, and I cut a copy from my deck for an additional Raigeki Break (which today is now Mirror Force since Dragunity cannot support multiple Raigeki Break/Phoenix Wing the way that Debris Ruler can).  I also sided Maxx “C” for some fringe matchups (Infernity, Karakuri, Hieratic, Mermail), which Pat is vehemently against, since he argues that Skill Drain alone covers those matchups.  I agree to an extent, and overall, the Dragunity deck doesn’t need that many cards in the side.  There are 13 essential side deck slots and 2 that can go to anything (hence why I inserted Maxx for the fringe matchups).  The most dominant decks (Dragunity and Debris Ruler) only require 2-4 side slots depending on who goes first, which leaves 9 slots for the other likely-to-face decks, such as Evilswarm and Spellbook.


Regional Report

The San Antonio regional saw 292 entrants.  I’m always crazy about numbers, so I did some just-for-fun calculations during the event.  First, doing 8/292, I found 2.7% of the players would top and receive a mat, and half that number of players would top and also receive the top 4 deck box prize.  Next, multiplying both numerator and denominator by 4, I found that by player ratio alone (NOT difficulty, mind you), getting top 8 would be the equivalent of top 32 at a 1,168 person YCS (8/292 = 32/1168).  They told us the tournament would be 9 rounds.  Usually I map out how many people have what record at each round upon hearing this, but after doing this at several regionals, I realized that top 8 almost always comes out the same: 1 undefeated, 1 or 2 x-2s, and the rest x-1 or x-1-1.

This tournament took place during the same weekend Billy popularized Ancient Fairy spam, which was also a week before Joey’s World released, so there will be no Sixth Sense in this report.


Round 1 - Andy Nguyen
Final Countdown
Table 63
Dice Roll: 7 - 5 (1st)
Game 1: 8000 to 8000 - 6000 - 7000 - 8000 - 5200 - 2600 - 0
Game 2: 8000 - 7000 - 6900 - 4400 - 2800 - 4400 - 3500 - 1500 to 8000 - 5200 - 2400 - 0

This was the first Final Countdown matchup I’d had since the Shock Lock Wind-Up format.  Having learned the deck before, I knew that FC depended on successfully setting and passing, while also maintaining chainable cards on board.  One incorrectly set card would lead to punishment.  For this reason, I had to conserve Raigeki Break and make sure to use it on the end phase when I had absolute certainty of my following push.  I knew that if he messed up with his sets I would capitalize with Scrap Dragon.  Unfortunately, since I took Red-Eyes out of my deck, I couldn’t do the infinite recursion with Scrap-Red-Eyes.  Instead, I relied on Dracossack.  7 turns of Final Countdown passed, and on the 8th I felt ready to make a game push.  I attacked with Colossal Fighter, he chained Swift Scarecrow, I chained Raigeki Break to target Colossal so that Scarecrow wouldn’t resolve properly, he called a judge, I got an appeal, we received a time extension, I attacked with the other monsters, and then I won on the 8th turn.

The only times I had sided out Upstart Goblin prior to this match had been against Burn and one time against Dragons when I was going into time at the start of the last game.  This was another time I sided out Upstart.  In game 2, I started to lose life somewhat quickly as I realized that he had completely shifted strategies.  For some reason it didn’t cross my mind that he was going to side into Burn, not that it mattered, since I side the same for both decks.  With 2800 remaining, I capitalized on Thought Ruler Archfiend to restore life points.  I also took advantage of the Ojama Tokens he dealt me by syncing them with Phalanx.  With a few comfortable turns left under time, I took the game.  Had he run a few more chainable cards and not given me an unchainable pop with Scrap Dragon, he would have taken it.

final countdown

Round 2 - Dustin
Table 18
Dice Roll: 8 - 7 (1st)
Game 1: 8000 - 6700 - 8000 - 9800 - 8800 - 10700 - 8700 to 8000 - 6600 - 3800 - 3000 - 1800 - 0
Game 2: 8000 - 6100 - 5100 - 3800 - 3100 - 1100 - 2700 - 1350 to 8000 - 9000 - 8800 - 9700 - 7000 - 5900 - scoop

Dustin was new to regionals and did not play Hunder in a way that accurately represented their potential in the matchup.  I once again defaulted on Thought Ruler, knowing that decks like Hunder have a high likelihood of drawing spells and traps that target.

Round 3 - Jonathan Lerma
Blue-Eyes Ruler
Table 3
Dice Roll: 8 - 12 (2nd)
Game 1: 8000 - 7700 - 5700 - 3000 to 8000 - 5200 - 2700 - 1350 - 2350 - 0
Game 2: 8000 - 5400 - 2900 to 8000 - 9000 - 4500 - 2500 - 0

As was typical of the testplaying I had beforehand, where other Dragon Ruler variants could not pump out extra deck monsters at the pace that Dragunity could, in this match I established a field first, even when I stopped and passed under Maxx “C”.  The one card they get off Maxx is almost never sufficient to punish a field of Dux+Phalanx+backrow.  Consider that even under ideal conditions, where they have access to all four colors, they have to spend two colors for their turn to trade with just one of any backrow I run, so that they would need all four colors just to tie with two backrow, unless they push with big Dragons only, in which case they have to play against the darkness of potential Torrential or Mirror Force without a solid read.  After the match, my opponent said he felt like he couln’t do anything.  I just nodded, but in my head, I thought, “That’s how I always feel when I play normal Rulers vs Dragunity.”

Blue-Eyes White Dragon

Round 4 - Jaime Zarate
Table 7
Dice Roll: 6 - 2 (1st)
Game 1: 8000 - 6200 - 5000 - 4600 - 2650 to 8000 - 9000 - 8150 - 6250 - 6200 - scoop
Game 2: 8000 - 6400 - 4400 to 8000 - 5200 - 3200 - 8 - 0

This was the one game 1 I had where going 1st was essential, since I could get Bottomless down for his Ophion.  In game 2, he couldn’t open it, so we played draw-pass for a good long while.  We were both at full backrow, which surprised him, because he was used to facing normal Rulers that don’t run a lot of facedowns.  The thing is after siding, I have even more traps in my deck, trading away less useful monsters like Mystletainn and 3rd Dux for traps like Skill Drain and Divine Wrath.  When he was finally able to stick an Ophion, I activated Warning, and my momentum snowballed after I drew enough monsters to win.

Siding out monsters for traps in a deck that already has a low monster count means draw-pass games like our game 2.  On the one hand, I can’t go for game as early, but on the other hand, I have absolute coverage against the opponent’s own attempts.  Jaime flipped over his entire backrow afterward to show me what he was sitting on, which included one or two Gozen and other Ophion support cards that don’t work without Ophion on board.  He expressed disappointment that I had the summon response trap for his Ophion and asked what would have happened had I not had it.  We went over the scenario: he would detach for Ophion’s effect, I would Divine Wrath, then he would Dark Illusion.  I would Raigeki Break, to which he would Safe Zone, to which I would MST.  This would have been slightly better for him, but the hypothetical scenario ignores that the Warning that magically disappeared would likely have been some other card useful against him.  I went to the restroom, and then came out and realized that we ran the scenario incorrectly.  I walked up to where we had our match, where he was still sitting, disappointed.  I told him I just realized Dark Illusion can’t negate Divine Wrath, so even without Warning, I still came out on top of the exchange.

Dark Illusion

Round 5
- Justin Abraham
Tidal Mermail
Table 5
Dice Roll: 9 - 4 (1st)
Game 1: 8000 - 4000 to 8000 - 9000 - 10000 - 9100 - 7200 - 6800 - 6600 - 6400 - 3800 - 0
Game 2: 8000 - 6000 - 8000 - 2600 - 0 to 8000 - 6300 - 6100 - 6000 - 3600
Game 3: 8000 to 8000 - 5200

This match was against a familiar face.  Justin is from my local in Houston, Strike Zone.  Three players from our local topped nationals earlier this year, including Larry Chapman, myself, and Justin.  Justin gave me the most challenge all day, demonstrating resilience even under Crimson Blader.  Game 2, I saw somewhat questionable siding against me, with him opening both Decree and Abyss-Sphere.  Even so, he opened Maxx “C” and then drew into additional copies.  He had a copy for each of the first three of my turns, and since 99% of the time the correct play is to pass after giving a card, he had three turns of free reign.  I feel this is not a demonstration of any weakness unique to Dragunity Ruler, since Debris Ruler would face a similar struggle when under 3 consecutive turns of Maxx “C.”  Even under this great advantage, I think the game was still winnable for me.  I managed to stabilize, but with only 2600 life points left, I was vulnerable to any push he had, which Tidal gave him.  I wish regionals had coverage because I would love to review this game and see if I can find a way to make convert it into a win.  In game 3, I walled up with Stardust.  Stardust isn’t perfect vs. Mermail since they can hide Infantry at the bottom of a chain, but it still neutralizes a number of possible hands they have involving Pike/Turge and Infantry/Marksman, plus destruction spells and traps like Torrential and MST.  We went to time, where I led 8000 to 5200, but we went ahead and finished the game afterward to see how it would have ended, and it was still decisively mine.  Game 2 ended up being my only loss for the day.

Round 6 - Paeden Hall
Fire King
Table 3
Dice Roll: 11 - 5 (1st)
Game 1: 8000 - 7000 - 6900 - 3450 to 8000 - 9000 - 8000 - 9000 - 10000 - 7500 - 4700 - 3800 - 1000 - 0
Game 2: 8000 - 7900 to 8000 - 5200 - 3700 - 2700 - 300 - 0

Paeden is a friend of mine whom I’ve chatted with at countless regionals since we met during Dino Rabbit/Inzektor/Wind-Up format.  Going into the match, I knew he ran triple Fire Ferret, but not much else.  We drew our opening hands, and I was excited because I opened my draw engine.  However, there had been miscommunication between the head judge and the T.O., so we had to reshuffle our hands and start over.  I was disappointed because my first hand was so much better than my second, but Paeden told me he opened Maxx “C” and Veiler in his first hand, so it evens out in the end.

Fencing Fire Ferret

I spent the first few turns familiarizing myself with his plays, since I wasn’t sure what to expect.  When I triggered his Yaksha, I was cautious because I have a natural fear of floaters and recruiters that I haven’t seen before.  As the game progressed I saw that the only real threat was High Garunix looping and Onslaught, and Blader took care of things.  In game 2, he got an early trigger on his High Garunix, and as he ended his turn, I contemplated what play I would make to counter his board.  I drew for turn, and it was D.D. Crow.  “Well, that simplifies things,” I thought.  He attempted to summon High Garunix, and I chained the Crow, sheepishly admitting that I ripped it.  Had I drawn a different card I would have likely attempted Blader again, or possibly Gae Dearg to search the Crow.

Since I was finishing all my matches super early, I found plenty of time to relax for the next round.  I wished Paeden luck and decided to get dinner after this round.  I really wanted him to top.  To my disappointment, he ended up losing in time the next round to a guy named Heraclio (reminds me of Heraklinos) who resolved Dark Hole on his last turn against a full field.  To make it worse, as Paeden contemplated what he could have done differently, he realized summoning Abyss Dweller instead of walling behind his level 4s would have won him the game by being ahead in life in time.  These kinds of situations are rare, which is why practicing is important so that you can learn all the rare situations your deck can play out of.

I wrote down the four decks that were still x-0: a Karakuri player that knew what he was doing, a standard Fire Fist, myself, and a Trigon Dragon deck.  Out of the three possible pairings for the next round, I was hoping to play either Fire Fist or Trigon Dragon Ruler because if I got paired against Mr. Karakuri I wouldn’t be able to Maxx “C” him until I sideboarded.

Round 7 - Edgar Sanchez
4-Axis Fire Fist
Table 1
Dice Roll: 5 - 6 (2nd)
Game 1: 8000 - 4000 to 8000 - scoop
Game 2: 8000 - 6300 - 5500 - 3100 to 8000 - 7000 - 8000 - 9000 - 8800 - 6000 - 0

Game 1 saw my 2nd decisive Return flip in 14 games, though I had it regardless.  Game 2, he Mind Drained early on.  I had to contain myself because it always amuses me when players side things against Dragunity that only pose problems for Debris Ruler.  When I went for a play, he dropped Maxx.  I contemplated how to end my turn, but then realized I wasn’t the only one under Mind Drain - Maxx "C" was an illegal activation on his part.  He took back the play, and I gained the knowledge of Maxx “C” in his hand.  At one point I summoned Dux and Phalanx to his Emptiness and proceeded to use Dux’s beefy attack to swing over one of his level 4s.  Afterward, he could not recover, due both to his oversiding and to the natural disadvantage floodgate decks have vs. combo decks when they trade enough resources.  He expressed regret at not having sided Imperial Iron Wall instead of Mind Drain.  I didn’t tell him that Iron Wall sucks just as much as Mind Drain against Dragunity, just in case he did take me to game 3 and was contemplating bringing in Iron Wall.

He was disturbed by my attack with Dux play after the match and asked whether I did it because “YOLO” without fear of his backrow.  I find questions like that miffing because of the imprecision of a phrase like “YOLO” and the underlying assumption that I’m not actively processing with my head.  I explained that the play was correct because if I win the battle, he loses his monster and Emptiness, and I get to sit on Stardust in main phase 2.  If I lose the battle, he has his monster but loses Emptiness (because he would have to use Lance or Mirror Force to stop my attack), can attack over Phalanx next turn, and I lose Dux, but I get to special summon again.  If I don’t attack, the same outcome as losing the battle occurs but in a different way: he would attack Phalanx, Dux would lose the attack boost needed to clear his monster, and I would lose Dux later since I’d still be under Emptiness and he still had his facedown.  Therefore, attacking was the correct play.  I'm not a fan of "going for it" just because I feel in my gut I have to make a push.  I try to go with the play I believe gives me the highest weighted probability of taking control, which will sometimes mean passing and other times mean doing what looks like a "YOLO" to other people.

Round 8 - Arturo Carrillo
Debris Ruler (Trigon)
Table 1
Dice Roll: 8 - 2 (1st)
Game 1: 8000 to 8000 - 9000 - 10000 - 7200 - 4700 - 5700 - scoop
Game 2: 8000 - 7100 to 8000 - 6100 - 4200 - 3700 - 1800 - 2800 - 3800 - scoop

Arturo hails from Epik in Ft. Worth (the other competitive local in Texas besides Strike in Houston), and he was one of the better opponents I had this day.  Both games were a quick landslide, as I was able to set up before he could stick monsters on board, as had been the constant theme of not just that day but my matches against Dragon Ruler in general.  The case is usually that you have to downgrade 3 colors to 2 for a significant synchro summon, or else already have a loaded grave.  The first scenario slows you down for the next turn regardless of whether they remove your monster, and the second scenario is simply slower to establish in Dragon Ruler than in Dragunity Ruler, owing to a number of factors: Dragunity runs 5 Dragon Ravine and 6 additional cards to draw into those 5 copies, Dux plays fuel Dragon Rulers, Consonance has more synergy, etc.  While Frazier and Pat are absolutely correct that Debris Ruler shows what it’s made of in mid to late game scenarios, Dragunity Ruler takes out the opponent early and doesn’t offer space to set up much in the way of the late game.

After the match Arturo deliberated with himself whether summoning Thought Ruler was correct - I had Stardust on board and several sets but answered Thought Ruler with Bottomless, my only out.  I assured him that he made the correct play because Thought Ruler dodged any of 2 copies of Break that could have been set as well as Book of Moon and Compulsory, whereas Stardust would only have dodged the 2 Break + Bottomless and not run over my Stardust, and Blader/Colossal would have lost to every possible combination.  Thought Ruler was the only summon that my entire deck would have had one immediate out to (Bottomless), and this scenario is an example of how learning to make the correct play should be by what is mathematically the correct play, even if it fails occasionally.  Stardust had roughly twice the probability of losing to my backrow vs. Thought Ruler.  The correct play is not always the best play because the best play obviously would have been to read my mind and know I had the one out to Thought Ruler.  Since mind reading isn't currently possible, Arturo made the correct play, which is the best play one can make based on probability.  Addendum: shoutouts to Rizzi for pointing out that this analysis was incorrect.  Check the comments to find out why!

Thought Ruler Archfiend

Round 9 - Heraclio Alvarez
Debris Ruler (Dandylion)
Table 1
Dice Roll: 12 - 11 (1st)
Game 1: 8000 to 8000 - 9000 - 7000 - 8000 - 6000 - scoop
Game 2: 8000 to 8000 - 7800 - 7600 - 7100 - 5200 - 2400 - 0

Going into round 9, I was eager to face my opponent, Heraclio, for a number of reasons.  With the exception of my round 1 match against Final Countdown and round 5 against Justin, all 6 of my matches had ended with 10 or more minutes left on the clock (another advantage of Dragunity over Debris, I would contend).  On the other hand, Heraclio had been taking forever to finish each of his rounds.  He had received a warning for slowplay already, and the judges were clearly upset with him but unwilling to issue the second warning for his gameloss.  Instead, he received constant reminders to speed up his play, from both the judges as well as his own friends who watched.  It wasn’t just this particular point that annoyed me, but rather that he had come from out of town to play at my locals the night before, and we had a draw round 1 that would have been a very decisive victory for me had he not played so slowly.  (He had a draw going into round 9 of the regional as well)

Even playing at a brisk place, Dragon Rulers naturally go to time a lot, and players should accommodate that by being familiar enough with their cards so that they can play even faster than average.  That's a side note I would mention to players who are switching from other deck to Dragon Rulers: you must play faster than you played with whatever deck you used to run unless you want to go into time.  I mentally prepared myself to give him verbal reminders should he continue to stall against me.  Fortunately he was never able to take me to midgame, let alone lategame.

Game 1 ended really quickly since apart from drawing above average, Debris Ruler cannot keep up with the average opening of Dragunity Ruler (a level 8 every turn).  Heraclio was visibly disappointed in his draws, and for the umpteenth time of the day, I withheld my urge to comment that this is what you have to expect if you play Debris Ruler.  In game 2, he summoned a Tetherwolf, which I presume he sided in to facilitate the XYZ summon of Dracossack.  Tetherwolf + its token cannot be cleared by any level 8 synchro I could make, apart from a Scrap Dragon sacrifice play.  However, I realized that Dux + Phalanx was a natural counter to this, since Phalanx would clear the token and Dux (at 1900 attack) would clear Tetherwolf by 200.  I made the play, putting me up both in card advantage and field presence by main phase 2.  The match ended with nearly 30 minutes left on the clock.

Mecha Phantom Beast Tetherwolf


These were the standings after the final round.
1st place Johnny Li with Dragunity Ruler (undefeated, 18-1 in games)
2nd place Arturo Enrique Carrillo with Trigon Ruler (1 loss)
3rd place Alfredo Alejandro Tiznado with Blue-Eyes Ruler (1 loss)
4th place Cody Mertz with Morphing Jar Hero Beat (1 loss)
5th place Heraclio Alvarez with Plant Ruler (1 loss 1 draw)
6th place Jaime Uriel Zarate Cordoba with Evilswarm (1 loss 1 draw)
7th place Christopher Sean Martinez with Gearkuri (1 loss 1 draw)
8th place Gerardo Garza Jr. with Tidal Mermails (2 losses)

There are endless things to say about how the Dragunity and Debris decks compare.  If you want a definitive answer on which is better, I’m sorry I can’t answer that for you.  However, I do have some critical points to help guide the evaluation process:

1. “Better” depends on what you mean.  The deck that wins the head-to-head matchup isn’t necessarily the better one.  Other matchups have to be taken into consideration as well.  For instance, if I had lost round 3 at this regional, there is a good chance I would have lost a second time and not topped.  This is because losing in an early round greatly increases the likelihood of facing rogue throughout the day, and Dragunity struggles against Rogue moreso than standard Dragon variants.  This includes decks like Blackwings.  On the other hand, going x-0 for the first few rounds helped me a lot because it reduced the likelihood of facing rogue and increased the likelihood of facing Debris, which is a safer matchup.  Debris Ruler also has a more fair mirror match than Dragunity Ruler, which is a mirror that is so frustratingly luck based that I would sooner take a break from the game then play mirrors all format.  Those are just two examples of how the Debris Ruler deck can be "better" even if it has the disadvantage against Dragunity in a head-to-head matchup.  Therefore, which deck is better depends on what element of better you are evaluating: head-to-head or against the field.  Some of the things I like about Dragunity: I think the risk of going into time or getting a draw is much lower with Dragunity Ruler, since matches are quick as long as you know what to do.  Additionally, apart from the Dragunity mirror, I find that the luck factor is incredibly reduced when playing Dragunity.  With any other variant of Dragons, you cannot go through an entire tournament without dropping a game or more to opening unplayable.  Sometimes this misfortune takes place in the finals, like what happened to Scott Page in game 3 vs Pat at ARGCS Ft. Worth.  Recently Scott didn't do so well at a regional we attended either, again bringing up how his deck has been crapping out on him in terms of opening hands.  As I listened to what he described, I honestly just couldn't relate to his complaints.  It has been a long time since I opened a hand that I couldn't play into a win with the Dragunity variant, which is one of my favorite things about the deck (the opening hands).

2. Accurate opinions cannot come instantly.  This is a fallacy that a number of people are guilty of; making conclusions about one deck while not actually having mastered it.  You have to ask yourself, do you base your conclusion off theory, or results as well?  Do play both decks to (near) perfection?  If not, then if one deck seems worse than the other, it could be because of the build or plays rather than it actually being worse.  I made this mistake early on when I ruled out Dragunities because I thought they were too weak to Maxx.  When I returned to the deck, I learned how to properly answer Maxx and have since struggled much less against it.  In fact, I was under Maxx "C" constantly throughout this entire regional.  Since every normal Dragon Ruler deck maindecks 3, it was dropped on me all day.  However, in none of those games did the card bring my opponent closer to victory, apart from the solitary game I lost to Justin, which I think was winnable if I had a way to go back and review it.  Do you base your conclusion of one result, or several?  I made this mistake early on as well.  I thought that I was just drawing some exceptionally bad hands at first when Pat stomped me during testplay, but after enough opening hands with both decks, I realized the Dragunity deck’s average opening was just more playable.  It's important to let information from several matches influence our conclusions, rather than let a few isolated incidences mislead us to the wrong conclusion.

3. The answer can change.  I’m not in agreement with some that Sixth Sense doesn’t belong in Dragunity.  I still consider the card very useful, as calling 3 and 4 gives you nearly a 60% chance of having a result that outright gives you an unbeatable position in the early to mid game.  Even so, I think new cards like this as well as changing trends in how people construct their decks does influence which Dragon Ruler variant is the Ruler of them all.  With that said, the debate will be ongoing and unless the meta could magically be frozen in time, there will not be a definitive answer that will hold true for every event.
7 Colored Fish

We’re all familiar with the give a man a fish vs. teach a man to fish mantra.  I'm a huge fan of it.  These three general points I’ve given are not to convince anyone that one variant of a deck is better than the other, but rather, to give tools for evaluating and comparing decks across all formats.  General principles like having defined constructs for "better," identifying confounding variables when comparing deck performance (such as whether they are being built or played correctly), and using data correctly are all important in making a deck choice across the formats.

The Circuit Series comes to Worcester, MA on November 16-17! Until next time,

Play Hard or Go Home.




P.S. As I mentioned in my last article, I have a book on competitive philosophy in the works.  It will be here on ARG, so stay tuned.  Lastly, shoutouts to all my opponents at the regional.  Your sportsmanship has made for a positive experience.  For the first time I am happy to say no one tried to lie, cheat, or ruleshark me the entire day.

Johnny Li

Johnny Li

Houston, TX
Johnny Li

Latest posts by Johnny Li (see all)