Well, we've successfully made it through another meta, and the next set, Clash of the Duel Masters, is only a week away. The preview cards we'v received so far (such as the ones I previewed in my article last week) promise that this set will shake up the meta in all sorts of ways. With the release of the set so close and the last few pre-Clash Kaijudo Master Challenges this weekend, I'm going to take this article to discuss my opinions on where we're at currently.
Looking at the coverage from the first two weeks of KMCs, which my fellow writers have summed up nicely, we have a couple clear contenders at the "tier 1" level. Light/Water/Darkness control won in Georgia, California, Texas, and Wisconsin, more than half of the KMCs held so far. 5-civilization Dragons, and its popular streamlined variant "Greed Dragons", has also been incredibly popular, with Greed Dragons taking the entire top 4 spots at Kentucky. While 5-civ Dragons hasn't won an event besides that, it has had many other high showings, such as a second place finish in California. These two variations seem to be far and away the best choices right now, with popular decks such as Dark Saber-Bolt, Blurple, and mono-civ strategies falling somewhat behind. So what do these strategies have in common?
The answer is that they have the absolute best late games of any deck out there, and certain cards released in Dragonstrike Infernus have made the late game an incredibly important time. [ccProd]Lyra, the Blazing Sun[/ccProd] is probably the main cause of this shift. A lot of people blame [ccProd]Andromeda of the Citadel[/ccProd] for the emphasis on the late game and the current stagnation of strategies like Blurple and mono-Fire rush, but Lyra is really the card that gives Light/Water/Darkness control the ability to even reach that point in the game against those decks. It has become an instant three-of in just about any deck currently using Light, and can spell the end for your opponent's tempo in a game. Coming down as early as turn 4 with the ability to lock down one of your opponent's creatures (and preventing the threat of an evolution on that creature attacking you next turn), it's really no wonder why Lyra has affected the meta in such a way.
Of course, while Lyra helps these decks reach the late game, they have to have ways to regain their footing; otherwise, a deck like Greed Dragons would have no way to come back against a rush deck at zero shields. This is where [ccProd]Andromeda of the Citadel[/ccProd] comes in. This card is, in my opinion, the sole reason LWD Control and 5-civ Dragons are viable against Saber-Bolt and other aggressive strategies. Getting two additional shields on summon is crazy, and with so many of these decks playing two or three copies of this card, it's not at all uncommon to see both players in a game go through 9-11 shields. In addition, Andromeda's second effect makes it an uphill battle for aggro decks to thrive while it's in the battle zone. When multiples hit the board, it often spells the end of the game.
Of course, these are just a couple dragons we've seen take a hold of the top decks. Because of this emphasis on the late game, the other boss creatures released in Dragonstrike Infernus have been able to thrive. In such decks as 5-civ Dragons, [ccProd]Infernus the Awakened[/ccProd], Lyra, and Andromeda are all maxed out to three, with tons of other dragons such as [ccProd]Herald of Infernus[/ccProd], [ccProd]Twin-Cannon Maelstrom[/ccProd], [ccProd]Tatsurion the Unchained[/ccProd], [ccProd]Spellbane Dragon [/ccProd]and more being able to shine. [ccProd]Dracothane of the Abyss[/ccProd] and [ccProd]Dragon of Reflections[/ccProd] have made appearances in Light/Water/Darkness control as well. What this has done is basically turn games between two of these types of decks into a battle of who can get the most threats into the battle zone at the right time.
WotC has definitely made sure that these creatures are worth their high level, but regular summoning isn't the only way to get these creatures into the battle zone. In the more aggressive variants of 5-civ and Greed Dragons, [ccProd]Herald of Infernus[/ccProd] and [ccProd]Bottle of Wishes[/ccProd] are easy ways to "cheat" these high-level creatures into the battle zone. They each also help deal with the threat of rush decks against these late game-dependent decks. Herald of Infernus can attack over any commonly played rush creature, and if it's allowed to bring out an Andromeda with its effect (or Infernus in some cases), it basically locks the game. Bottle can do the same thing, but with less consistency. As a shield blast, however, it punishes all kinds of aggressive decks and can give huge benefits to a player if it hits just about any dragon or removal. These two cards have found play in many dragon decks as a result, and definitely increase the playability of the boss dragons in the right decks.
Dragon decks aren't the only strategy taking advantage of the "boss creature" mentality in the current meta. Dark Saber-Bolt, which is one of the most successful strategies outside of those strategies, operates entirely on the principle of summoning a bunch of late-game threats. [ccProd]Bolt-Tail Dragon[/ccProd], Billion-Degree Dragon and [ccProd]Bronze-Arm Sabertooth[/ccProd] are all very playable cards, and Sabertooth has the potential to out-speed dragon decks. Even so, Lyras have the ability to stall into late game, at which point Andromeda can cause Dark Saber-Bolt problems. Dark Saber-Bolt compensates by also finding room for a massive amount of removal, including [ccProd]Terror Pit[/ccProd], [ccProd]Root Trap[/ccProd], and in some cases even [ccProd]Death Smoke[/ccProd] in multiples.
In short, the giant finishers released in Dragonstrike Infernus have been completely dominating the meta for the last few weeks. Even if your deck doesn't run them specifically, you've no doubt been forced to adapt your card choices to deal with them if you want to keep up. You either need to attempt to out-pace the dragons, get rid of their threats through removal and discard, or play even more threatening cards. Only time will tell if Clash of the Duel Masters will take away some of the emphasis on these cards. With more preview cards, we should hopefully have a good idea of what to expect next week, when I'll dedicate my article to future possibilities with all the new cards! Until then, leave a comment down below with your thoughts, and Play Hard or Go Home!