Hunting Season in Florida

YCS Miami is right around the corner and while some players are just sticking to what they know best for the last event under the current banlist, others are scrambling trying to find the best deck for this event. Last weekend was the first time Fire Fists were tournament legal and their presence was surely felt. It won at least 1 regional and dominated other events. I got Deck Devastation Virused 5 times this weekend and it was all because of Fire Fist. It's really comparable to Inzektors in the way that if you let them get their monster effects off it just snowballs and you lose quickly after. Definitely makes it harder to choose a deck for Miami. Play the mirror and try to master battle phase tricks? Or should you play Water and try to either dodge DDV or run multiple copies of Salvage to mitigate the damage it can do? What about Wind-Ups.. the deck that get absolutely slaughtered by the Virus? You could just ignore the matchup or hope to not come across more than 1 or 2 during the event.. but let me tell you from personal experience this weekend, that isn't the best plan! What's left? Geargia gets hit hard by the Virus as well. Agents could be a solid pick but just like Water they leave weak floater monsters out for Fire Fist - Gorilla to run over and plus off. A build with protection traps and Forbidden Lance would probably work best. Prophecy? They got some new tricks with the release of Cosmo Blazer but maybe that's pushing it.

Dino Rabbit is the last deck and it's one I find to have amazing matchups across the board. The first and probably most obvious this is Macro Cosmos. An early Macro can shut down Agents and Water and give you free wins similar to how Magician Shark can. Macro can shut Fire Fists down in similar fashion, cutting them off from popping Fire Formation cards and shutting off their free advantage. In the matchups that Macro is weak against it can still do small things like stop Sangan, Wind-Up Rat, Monster Reborn and make hand traps useless. It's basically 2 cards in your deck that can give you free wins and while I see some people cutting them in favor of hand traps I don't understand why. Moving onto other trap cards, Bottomless and D. Prison are great right now. Any kind of removal helps against Fire Fist and this deck already runs them. Combined with Torrential Tribute, Solemn Warning, Solemn Judgment and Book of Moon this deck runs plenty of removal, and that's not even counting their trump card in the matchup..

..Forbidden Lance! This card is so good. It lets you get around any Fire Fist monster, even Tiger Bear. It shuts off any boost their monsters are getting from Tenki, Tensu, Tensen, Tensu, or Horn of the Phantom Beast while lowering their ATK even more. It's also good at protecting your Evolzars which are crazy good here because Dolkka shuts off Bear and Gorilla and Laggia acts as yet another removal card. 2 BTH, 2 Prison, 2 TT, 2 Warning, 1 Judgment, 1 Book, and 3 Lance is already 13 removal cards and Laggia is just the icing on the cake. If you already have too much monster removal it can also act as spell or trap removal too. If they're drawing Tensens, Tensus and Horns and they can't keep a monster up those cards become 1 less card they have to deal with a Laggia. Negating even a single Fiendish Chain or Dimensional Prison from them could clear the way for attacks if they don't have the right hand to stop you. Mystical Space Typhoon also becomes huge in protecting Laggia here because they have to reveal where they set their Fire Formation traps if they search them off effects, revealing the true backrows you need to Space. Even if they have a 2nd card against your Laggia you could still have Lance to save it! A ton of removal, especially when some can act as both monster and s/t removal, is how you're going to beat Fire Fists.

Even the worse monster in the deck - Kabazauls - can run over or tie with Bear and Gorilla pumped by a single Tenki or Tensu while Sabersaurus can simply run them over. It might not seem relevant at first because if you're trading your Kabazauls for a Fire Fist monster on your turn that most likely means they already hit you with it but when you look at the game from their point of view it makes grabbing a 2nd Tenki they can't activate until next turn harder when they need to protect their monsters with traps. While they could just trade their guy for one of yours and activate that Tenki to start the loop all over again they risk you drawing MST or any trap to stop their summon. That's only if they were able to swing at you without popping their Fire Formation card first and putting their guy at 1600. If they had to go Tenki-Bear, pop and attack or something similar they're almost forced to grab a trap. Guaiba is relatively dead against this deck and they know the moment they give you an opportunity to change it into an Evolzar you're going to take it. Speaking of Guaiba, Fiendish Chain is a card that lets you stop a search after they've tributed to pop with Bear or Gorilla and leave their guy defenseless which is when Guaiba can come down and turn into an Evolzar. Even the worst monsters in your deck - and the ones that seem bad - can turn into great cards just off the simple fact that Fire Fists is so weak to big monsters + negation/removal.

The mirror is sure to be huge since the deck won YCS Barcelona but there are a few tricks you can use to sway the matchup in your favor. Before I was fortunate enough to Top6 at last year's WCQ I had taken a break from the game. I hadn't played since YCS Indy 2011! That meant no invite.. and I wasn't planning on going to nationals. I had stopped playing in favor of getting a job and working out a lot more and workout out a ton at the gym. I found my future fiance and was pretty happy with life except for one thing, I missed all the friends I had made playing the game. And that's why most of us play, isn't it? Traveling takes a hard 2nd place to seeing all my friends and getting to hangout with people that are passionate about the same thing you are. Anyways I played Rabbit from time to time when I had free time and my friend Chris Hentz was sure to tell me everything he knew about the deck when I told him I was going to LCQ the week before the event. I played 6 Rabbit mirrors and against players like Nizar Sarhan and won them all. The first and probably most important strategy I used for the mirror?

Side out your Mystical Space Typhoons

And while you're at it keep your Dust Tornadoes in your side deck, you won't be needing them. Most people I've talked to and watched actually do the opposite and try either side in an extra Dust Tornado or even max their s/t removal games 2 and 3. I played 2 MSTs at the WCQ and while it's true that Chaos Dragons were part of the reason, the mirror also played a part. The theory is pretty simple - you can grind through their backrows, but not their Evolzars. Put yourself in the situation where your opponent opens well and you're staring down a Laggia and a couple backrows on your first turn. Chances are you didn't side out your Solemn Warnings or Bottomless Trap Holes since they're just too good against Dino Rabbit to take out. You also probably only took out 1 Lance if any since it's too important to have a copy of Forbidden Lance at your disposal to coutner any copies your opponent plays on you. To add to those 6 or 7 cards you also have 3 Kabazauls and 3 Sabersaurus.

That's at least 12 cards that won't do anything to a turn 1 Laggia. Do you really want to add MSTs and potentially even Dusts? All those cards even do are 1-1 with your opponent who has the advantage and wants that to happen anyways. It might help you make a play around that Laggia + their other cards but your other cards have to be pretty broken for that to happen. MST is better if you're going first because you have the chance to setup a turn 1 Laggia or power play and MST helps you simplify the game while you're ahead but.. what if you open medicore + MSTs? It happens even more with Rabbit and Tour Guide at 2. Then your opponent goes over you with a Rabbit or something and you're almost in the same position you'd be in if you went 2nd. You have an extra card from going first but is it really worth the risk? If you're going to open well you're in a good spot anyways. A lot of the time I kept that 3rd Lance in but that was it. That's just taking an unnecessary risk and those can cost you games real quick.

Max Snowman Eater.. and then some

While mastering your grind game is going to be the #1 thing you can do to better your Rabbit mirror sometimes your opponent draws too well and it's not enough. Snowman Eater is the great equalizer here being able to kill Laggia, kill a normal and protect your lifepoints or help setup for a rank 3 xyz play. I think anytime the Rabbit mirror is relevant at all I would be siding at least 3 Snowman Eater. That leaves the "and then some" and there are a couple other cards that can be just as good. First up is a card that has the same Laggia killing trait as Snowman Eater and that card is Fossil Dyna Pachycephalo. I had to turn my decklist in early so I wasn't able to play this card but my friends Joe Giorlando and Chris Hentz each used 1 copy and it seemed to workout pretty well. It's an extra Laggia out and in that format you could play the "Protect the Dyna" game against Chaos Dragons and be relatively successful. It hit Hieratics and some other rogue matchups, too. In the current format you could easily side it in against Wind-Ups and be able to comeback from any huge field they make save Tiras-Maestroke. I didn't realize how popular Dyna actually was until I started watching high rated DN games and Wind-Up players just kept falling victim to the card. I even saw someone Magician Shark a Worm player and when he got to Mage-Shark-Mage his opponent activated W Nebula Meteorite to flip up his set Dyna to blow the field! Definitely one of the coolest Dyna plays I've seen.

Gorz is another card and one I did in fact use. Being able to drop him and a 1700 or 1900 ATK token in the grind game is no joke and neither is outing a Laggia when your opponent gets greedy and doesn't play around him. The presence of Gorz being in your deck is just so important on its own. If they see it game 2 then they'll be hesitant to attack directly game 3 unless they have the right cards to do so. This is huge because it gives you time to draw an answer a Laggia they aren't attacking with or force Dolkka in rare situations where you would've lost if they had made a 2nd Laggia. They might even be too scared to attack with their normals in fear of getting blown out by Gorz followed up by any copies of Mystical Space Typhoon or traps to back him up. You won't have MSTs in your deck but your opponent doesn't know that!

Dino Rabbit is definitely one of my top picks for YCS Miami. It will always have that weakness of having to play slow grind games but right now it's not too bad. Game 1 against Wind-Ups might be a little hard if they open right but by the same token they could open those Magician-Rat-Factory hands and your normal monsters themselves will be enough to get you ahead so that when they do finally draw into something it won't matter. Then when Maxx "C"s come in games 2 and 3 you'll be at a huge advantage. Even a Kabazauls is hard to get around when you have a Maxx "C" active! If you don't draw the blowout Macro against Agents it's still a fine matchup. Just try to save your Bottomless Trap Holes, Solemn Warnings, Book of Moon and Laggia negates for their Hyperions and Kristyas. Hyperion is especially hard to get rid of if you if they get one to stick. Water is your real blowout matchup with Fire Fist not too far behind. Master the grind game and hope luck is on your side if you play any mirrors. The deck that'll probably give you the most trouble is Machina Geargia and knowing that a deck like that is your hardest matchup is a pretty great feeling. Until next time!

- Mike Steinman