Discovering Counters to the Meta in a Defined Format

dalton b.In the weeks between events I typically get on the popular online simulator Dueling Network and look through a list of old decks I have made. I personally have hundreds of decks that span across multiple formats, and usually are made to counter the meta from that time period. Luckily, the format we are currently in is quite similar to the March 2013 format before Lord of the Tachyon Galaxy unleashed the game warping Dragon Rulers upon us. When looking through my list of decks I found a few that stood out to me: Frog Monarch, Gadgets, and Agents. All of these decks had favorable matchups, or incorporated cards that were strong vs Fire Fist and Mermail. After making some necessary updates I decided to test them out for the new format!

Frog Monarch

One of the major reasons I considered Frog Monarch as a viable choice was due to their strong Mermail Matchup. Mermails often focus on consolidating their cards into strong boss monsters that are often immune to being destroyed by monster effects, with examples being [ccProd]Mermail Abyssgaios[/ccProd] and [ccProd]Mecha Phantom Beast Dracossack[/ccProd]. Luckily, these cards can easily be countered with [ccProd]Enemy Controller[/ccProd], [ccProd]Soul Exchange[/ccProd], [ccProd]Raiza the Storm Monarch[/ccProd], and [ccProd]Caius the Shadow Monarch[/ccProd]. One of the things that draw people to Mermail is how easily they can create OTK’s. [ccProd]Battle Fader[/ccProd], [ccProd]Tragoedia[/ccProd], and [ccProd]Gorz the Emissary of Darkness[/ccProd] can prevent them from happening, and allow your monarchs to punish your opponent for overextending. Going into games 2 and 3, the Monarch player could side into [ccProd]Obelisk the Tormentor[/ccProd] and [ccProd]Vanity’s Fiend[/ccProd], making the matchup even more favorable. A new card the archetype gained was none other than [ccProd]Mobius the Mega Monarch[/ccProd]. This mega monarch says that when you tribute summon it using a water monster, you can destroy up to 3 spell and trap cards your opponent controls, and they cannot respond to its effect! This would be quite devastating in the Fire Fist matchup for example as most players are currently setting their entire hands to counter their opponents plays so they don’t lose to [ccProd]Mystical Space Typhoon[/ccProd] and [ccProd]Forbidden Lance[/ccProd].


When I looked at Gadgets I remembered that they were a popular choice for YCS New Jersey last year because of how easily they could summon [ccProd]Abyss Dweller[/ccProd]. By using [ccProd]Double Summon[/ccProd], [ccProd]Kagetokage[/ccProd], and [ccProd]Tinplate Goldfish[/ccProd], a gadget player had access to a steady stream of Dwellers to stop Mermail in their tracks. They seemed even more appealing due to the new weapons they gained in [ccProd]King of the Feral Imps[/ccProd], [ccProd]Evilswarm Exciton Knight[/ccProd], and [ccProd]Number 101: Silent Honor Ark[/ccProd]. These new rank 4’s gave gadgets another way to reload their hands for rank 4 summons, and strong counters to established fields. Because all of the monsters replaced themselves, Gadgets would theoretically be able to out resource an opposing deck in a drawn out game. This would be advantageous since games last a long time in our slower format.



Most recently I have been experimenting with the Agent archetype. In Judgment of the Light, a card called [ccProd]Transmodify[/ccProd] was receiving a lot of attention for its ability to turn [ccProd]Infernity Necromancer[/ccProd] into [ccProd]Infernity Archfiend[/ccProd] to generate more combos. In Agents specifically, it allows you to turn your [ccProd]Mystic Shine Ball[/ccProd]s, [ccProd]Heralds of Orange Light[/ccProd], and [ccProd]The Agent of Mystery - Earth[/ccProd] into [ccProd]The Agent of Creation - Venus[/ccProd]. Another overlooked interaction was how Transmodify could turn a Shine Ball into [ccProd]Banisher of the Radiance[/ccProd]. If your opening hand included Venus and Transmodify, your final field could include Venus, Gachi, and Banisher! This would be incredibly difficult for both Fire Fist and Mermail to get through. [ccProd]Brotherhood of the Fire Fist - Bear[/ccProd] and [ccProd]Brotherhood of the Fire Fist - Gorilla[/ccProd] cannot activate their effects as long as Banisher is face up, they would all get removed when destroyed rendering [ccProd]Coach Soldier Wolfbark[/ccProd] unplayable, and all of your monsters are at 2000 atk so they will be difficult to destroy in battle without a Forbidden Lance. Banisher is well known for flood gating Water and preventing them from using all of their effects. With such a strong play against arguably the best two decks of the current format, Agents could be viable again right?

Identifying Flaws:

Although all of these decks have seemingly strong plays versus the top two decks, problems occurred in testing that indicated they were not viable choices for a large scale tournament. Frog Monarch was extremely slow, and dependent on the opponent making plays to gain advantage. There was an inherent consistency issue of relying on [ccProd]Treeborn Frog[/ccProd] to summon your monarchs. If you did not have access to Treeborn, you almost automatically lost the game. It also lost to some combinations of Abyss Dweller, Mermail Abyssgaios, and [ccProd]Fossil Dyna Pachycephalo[/ccProd]. Gadgets were plagued by inconsistency from hands containing too many monsters, or being countered by [ccProd]Thunder King Rai-Oh[/ccProd] and [ccProd]Mistake[/ccProd]. Also, the popularity of [ccProd]Fiendish Chain[/ccProd] and [ccProd]Effect Veiler[/ccProd] create an unfavorable environment for Gadgets to thrive in. Agents had possibly the strongest opening play of all the aforementioned decks, but had some of the same consistency issues ranging from drawing too many Shine Balls, [ccProd]Master Hyperion[/ccProd]s, or [ccProd]Archlord Kristya[/ccProd]s. One thing I noticed was how after resolving a Venus play on turn 1 every Earth or Venus that was drawn afterwards served no purpose. I typically want every card I draw to be immediately playable, and all of these decks in some way seemed to contradict that principle.

Learning from Failure:

Because the core of these archetypes were not good enough I had to move to decks with a stronger set of central cards. This led me back to playing Mermail and Fire Fist again. I didn’t simply discard all my ideas, but I applied some of the lessons I learned to the best decks.  For example, I saw how strong Vanity's Fiend was against Mermail, and how it could definitely be useful in a Water Mirror Match. Since [ccProd]Atlantean Heavy Infantry[/ccProd] has seen a decline in play, it would be much more difficult to out Vanity Fiend than when it saw play before. When playing Agents I saw how effective Banisher of the Radiance was against water, and how it could have applications in the Fire Fist side deck. After playing with Gadgets I saw how strong it was to have monsters that replace themselves in a drawn out game. Since Bear, Gorilla, Wolfbark, and Tiger King can all do this with additional effects to destroy cards, I decided Fire Fist was the more appealing deck.

My take away point from this article would be to never dismiss an idea without exploring it. As a competitive player you always want to know that you have left no stone unturned when preparing for your next event. This can apply to testing an interesting tech card, or an entirely new deck. ARG Las Vegas March 15-16th is getting closer and closer (click the pic below for deets), and until then I will constantly be searching for cards to give me an advantage over my opponents. Do you think there will be a hot new tech card or innovative deck that has success at the event? Until next time, Play Hard or Go Home!


Dalton Bousman

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