Game of Thorns

Samuel PedigoHi everybody, it’s been a while since my last article. I’d hoped to write one on Pure Geargia but I prefer to Top with a deck before publishing an article about it. (Congratulations, though, to Mike Steinman for making Top 32 with our build at YCS Chicago). This article will be an exception, though. After having played Gears for so long I wanted to give something else a try. Because they have the ability to abuse two of the most powerful cards from Dragons of Legend, [ccProd]Soul Charge[/ccProd] and [ccProd]Kuribandit[/ccProd], and access to their own version of [ccProd]Graceful Charity[/ccProd], I decided to give Sylvans a chance. I played them at YCS Philadelphia and despite not making Top 32 like I wanted, I wanted to write an article on the deck anyway. I still believe it has a lot of potential. Given how different my build is from the others that I have seen, perhaps this article will inspire somebody else and they'll be able to solve the puzzle. But at the very least, it's still a really fun deck and I recommend giving it a try if you've got the time.

It’s no surprise my build is different, though, as there are many ways to play Sylvans. What you’ve seen to this point are mostly monster-heavysylvanprincessprout decks focused on trying to use the wide-array of Sylvan monsters as a toolbox of sorts. Between [ccProd]Sylvan Sagequoia[/ccProd], [ccProd]Sylvan Flowerknight[/ccProd], [ccProd]Sylvan Marshalleaf[/ccProd], [ccProd]Sylvan Komushroomo[/ccProd], Sylvan Cherubsprout, [ccProd]Sylvan Princessprout[/ccProd], [ccProd]Sylvan Peaskeeper[/ccProd] and the others, they have an answer for everything. But add too many tools into the box and suddenly you might find yourself pulling out nothing but screwdrivers and hammers when all you need is a wrench—in other words, the deck bricks and a lot because it draws clunky hands. To me, the best way to solve a problem is with a universal tool and in this case the way to do that is focus on doing one thing really, really well and letting the Extra Deck give your "universal tool" all the functions it needs to solve any problem.

Right away, Leaf and Shroom were out for me. Compare it to Patrick’s Mermail deck from the January 2014 format where he took out [ccProd]Atlantean Infantry[/ccProd] to add cards that furthered his combos. I had a fundamental issue with Peas, too, since it’s only really live if you have [ccProd]Lonefire Blossom[/ccProd] in the grave but you’re usually already winning if that’s the case. Cherub’s actually a nice tech in builds running a large number of [ccProd]Mount Sylvania[/ccProd] (and even[ccProd]Terraforming[/ccProd]) since you’ll be much more likely to setup an early excavation for either [ccProd]Spore[/ccProd] or [ccProd]Copy Plant[/ccProd]. Oddly enough though I found that this small “tuner package” to be three more cards that were good when you were already in a good position but didn’t do much to help facilitate plays on their own. They were the last cards out of my build (and I actually did use them in Philadelphia). Princessprout on the other hand is actually exactly what this deck needed: Something that stacks itself and extends combos when excavated. Consider a few scenarios:


[ccProd]Sylvan Hermitree[/ccProd] [ccProd]Sylvan Princessprout[/ccProd] [ccProd]Sylvan Charity[/ccProd] [ccProd]Miracle Fertilizer[/ccProd]

Activate Charity, stack Hermit and another card, summon Princess, excavate Hermit, stack Princess, Miracle Fertilizer for Hermit, excavate Princess, draw a card, special summon Princess as a Level 8 and XYZ for a Rank 8. Replace Princess with Spore and you actually might be in trouble, depending on what else is in your hand.


[ccProd]Soul Charge[/ccProd] with Sylvan Hermitree and Sylvan Princessprout in grave

Okay so let’s say they dealt with your board. Soul Charge both of your monsters back. By using both of Princessprout’s abilities you’re able to draw a card and make a Rank 8 xyz. Copy Plant can’t do that.


sylvan charityBasically I found that the most consistent way of running the deck was to really focus on this particular interaction and attempt to abuse it as much as possible: summon Tree(s) (ideally Hermit), draw cards(s), recycle Charity and make Rank 7 and 8 XYZ monsters. Originally I began by running 3 [ccProd]Mount Sylvania[/ccProd] 3 [ccProd]Terraforming[/ccProd]. It’s actually really good IF you’re going first because you’re able to discard Hermit and stack Princess all at once, then Fertilizer Hermit back to draw a card and make a Rank 8. That’s a Rank 8 xyz, a draw, the field spell and a floating Miracle Fertilizer for three cards. But of course it’s easily interrupted and isn’t quite as powerful with Sage and Soul Charge in place of Hermit and Fertilizer. One option for mitigating the minus with Sage is by replacing it with [ccProd]Sylvan Guardioak[/ccProd] to gain access to [ccProd]Constellar Ptolemy M7[/ccProd] and other Rank 6 xyz. By making M7, you can detatch Princess and add it back. It’s pretty good in terms of raw card advantage but it’s not quite the same as having a free draw and having [ccProd]Divine Dragon Knight Felgrand[/ccProd] on the board to negate your opponent’s monster effects (unless you happened to have [ccProd]Maxx “C”[/ccProd] in grave!) Because Oak also lacks a powerful excavation effect, I decided to use Sage instead. Sagequoia’s ability to special summon himself is a nice option to have, too, even if it does feel as though it misses timing 99% of the time. I arrived at the following Sylvan lineup:


3 [ccProd]Sylvan Hermitree[/ccProd]

3 [ccProd]Sylvan Sagequoia[/ccProd]

3 [ccProd]Sylvan Princessprout[/ccProd]


mountsylvaniaI found that running six copies of Sylvania made me draw it far too much (shocking, I know) but four seemed like the right number for drawing it on a consistent basis while not seeing it too often. I replaced the two Terraformings with [ccProd]Phoenix Wing Wind Blast[/ccProd] and found a good amount of success with it, particularly when going second. It dealt with a monster or a backrow while also planting some seeds in the ground so that when I applied some Fertilizer a powerful Tree would grow. Because of this, I completely replaced Sylvania (and Terraforming) with 3 PWWB 3 [ccProd]Raigeki Break[/ccProd]. They really get the engine going—and once it’s online, even with this smaller lineup, the advantage really snowballs. Yes, it takes away from the deck’s ability to go off going first (and stack Princess) but it needs to be able to win going second. If it can’t do that then it’s not viable anyway and I found this to be the most effective way of doing so. Here’s the defensive trap lineup I came to use:


3 [ccProd]Phoenix Wing Wind Blast[/ccProd]

3 [ccProd]Raigeki Break[/ccProd]

1 [ccProd]Complsory Evacuation Device[/ccProd]

1 [ccProd]Bottomless Trap Hole[/ccProd]

3 [ccProd]Maxx “C”[/ccProd]


[ccProd]Bottomless Trap Hole[/ccProd] and [ccProd]Compulsory Evacuation Device[/ccProd] are pretty self-explanatory. They’re both good, generic traps. [ccProd]Torrential Tribute[/ccProd] missed the cut because often times you have a Tree on board and can’t afford to lose it and [ccProd]Solemn Warning[/ccProd] simply costs too many life points in a deck that aims to abuse Soul Charge. Some Sylvan decks don’t use Maxx “C” because it conflicts with the stacking but this deck is pretty precise in doing so—to the point that when something is put on top of the deck with Princess or Charity, it’s generally excavated right away, so there’s very little conflict. This is also a good time to briefly explain why I didn’t use The Seventh One: Besides conflicting with Maxx “C”, when you have Charity, you’re usually already winning anyway.

When I used the deck at YCS Philadelphia (which was drastically different than it is now), I found that I needed Lonefire, Soul Charge or Miracle Fertilizer to resolve in order to win so I simply added more copies: 3 [ccProd]Call of the Haunted[/ccProd]. Sylvan Blessing is another option but it only works early game if the stars are perfectly aligned, and even if you do have Hermit and Princess it’s a minus since you’ll still end with only a Rank 8 XYZ and a draw. Better late-game but that's normally not as much of an issue. You also generally want something to stack and the 3 Princess in this build doesn't really suffice.


3 [ccProd]Soul Charge[/ccProd]

3 [ccProd]Miracle Fertilizer[/ccProd]

3 [ccProd]Call of the Haunted[/ccProd]


[ccProd]Kuribandit[/ccProd] is the glue that holds everything together. You’ve probably been asking yourself: How is a deck that’s centered aroundkuribandit 3-card combos viable? Believe it or not, the deck is able to begin summoning Trees by Turn 2 approximately 90% of the time (who says consistency has to be an issue for Sylvans?) and a major reason for that is Bandit, because he can complete the entire puzzle by himself: excavate Hermit, add Fertilizer. He single-handedly boosts the consistency of the deck by approximately 20% and late-game, which is the gripe many Sylvan players have about the card, he can be discarded as cost for the traps. The spells help with consistency, too:


3 [ccProd]Kuribandit[/ccProd]

2 [ccProd]Lonefire Blossom[/ccProd]

3 [ccProd]Sylvan Charity[/ccProd]

3 [ccProd]Upstart Goblin[/ccProd]


Then there’s an assortment of Rank 3s 7s and 8s in the Extra Deck. As you can see, it’s very centered around the send-and-special-a-Tree gameplan and it does it pretty effectively. There’s even room for a number of powerful defensive cards. I found the strategy to be just a bit too fragile, though. While it has the ability to special summon a Tree ninety-percent of the time, it doesn’t go off quite as often because of the wealth of backrow in the current format. Sometimes PWWB and multiple revival cards are enough to fight through it but Bottomless Trap Hole (and [ccProd]D.D. Crow[/ccProd] post-board if your opponent happens to be siding it) is a game-breaker and the presence of [ccProd]Traptrix Myrmeleo[/ccProd]‘s and her ability to search out Bottomless Trap Hole doesn’t help. Despite my best efforts, I don’t see Sylvans being able to be a major WCQ contender but it’s still fun to play. I recommend trying it out if you’re looking for something new and who knows? Maybe you’ll crack the code.


Finally, good luck to everybody attending ARGCS Washington, D.C. this weekend, May 31st - June 1st! Click the picture below for the details. It should be an awesome event and even if you don’t attend, make sure to follow the coverage closely. It’s WCQ season and there’s no doubt what happens at the June ARG events in DC and Philadelphia will have a major influence on the World Championship Qualifier events—and nobody gives you a better look at the action than!



Samuel Pedigo
I began playing competitively at YCS Dallas in 2011 and currently have seven premier event tops, including a 2nd place finish at the 2011 NA WCQ. I pride myself on playing complex decks that often challenge the player with in-game puzzles to determine the optimal play. My friends make fun of me for creating spreadsheets detailing most (or all) of the combos in the deck that I'm playing. In addition to the mental stimulation, I feel as though these kinds of decks offer the most flexibility and gives the player a much higher influence on the outcome of the game. I'm also the host of the Yu-GI-Cast! It's a podcast dedicated to Yu-Gi-Oh. Although Billy, Scott and I aren't able to make podcasts very often, I try to update the page regularly with articles and news about the three of us. Here's the URL: PLAY HARD, PLAY SMART, OR GO HOME!
Samuel Pedigo

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