Hey readers, I’m Tyler Nolan, some of you might recognize me from the Yugioh deck doctor articles I recently started writing. Since the release of Kaijudo back with Dojo edition, I’ve found the game to be charming in its apparent simplicity, but challenging in its very deep gameplay. Since then, every set I’ve been grinding out matches with a few friends of mine trying to build the best decks. In this article I’m going to expand on what I think the competitive metagames would’ve shaped into, had it been given a chance to develop, under Dojo Edition cards, and Rise of the Duel Master cards.
While the Razorkinder vs. Tatsurion duel decks came out a bit before Dojo Edition, the card pool wasn’t wide enough for an interesting metagame to emerge, so I’m just going to start my analysis here. It was a very slow game with the only good fast attackers being Bolt-Tail (who is very slow, more of a control finisher) and Gilaflame (probably the best card in the game at the time)The most notable cards in Dojo Edition are the following:
Gilaflame the Assaulter: Without a doubt in my mind, Gilaflame was the best card in the Dojo Edition metagame. He was extremely difficult to kill, was bigger than just about every playable creature in the game, and had fast attack, making him very good for finishing off opponents low on shields.
Logos Scan/Spy Mission: Easily 2 of the best cards in the Dojo Edition metagame. WFX(X) decks had enough good blockers to stay alive very consistently versus the rush strategies of the time, and the card advantage from these cards gave you a very powerful late game.
Razorkinder: Another staple of the control decks. The format was extremely slow, so floaters, even at 7 mana, were extremely powerful.
Root Trap/Terror Pit: Obviously very powerful cards. In this metagame, these were usually much better than their cheaper counterparts of Return to Soil and Bone Blades because of how many expensive creatures saw play.
Comet Missile: This made the Rush deck playable. It was your only way to actually deal with a Star Lantern in the early stages of the game.
Essence Elf: This card was deceptively insane. He doesn’t look very powerful at first glance, but 1000 power went a long way. Razorhides, and Aqua Senechals were heavily played by almost every deck, and this card let you kill their Razorhide with yours, which is a huge advantage swing. Upgrading all of your blockers is also not irrelevant, and in rush this card let you get away with a lot more attacks. There are very few cards I never wanted to lay as mana, this was one of them.
Bolt-Tail Dragon: I didn’t like this card at first, but after seeing numerous people on forums use it, I figured I had to try it out. This card was (and possibly still is) the best hard finisher that control decks had access to. He didn't die to Razorkinder, and fast attack is just such a powerful ability.
Specter Claw/Fumes: These cards felt almost staple in any control deck as methods of dealing with Gilaflame, who otherwise just took over the game. Once we started playing these though, it wasn’t very difficult to counter by playing more Logos Scans in the Gilaflame decks. This is where the first big metagame shift occurred. We had rush decks with Gilaflame, which lost to Specter Claw and Fumes. Then we had midrange decks built to just abuse Gilaflame, which completely destroyed the Specter Claw decks.
After that, we stopped trying to build around opposing Gilaflames, and just see if we could ignore him. We played mostly white decks with:
Grand Gure, Tower Keeper: Now this card was pretty miserable, though it deserves a note here because it was insanely powerful. You’re playing the control versus Gilaflame Midrange. They get in some early hits after comet missiling your Star Lantern. You eventually stabilized by dropping a couple more blockers, but you know Gilaflame is about to happen and completely ruin you. You take one hit from Gilaflame, down to 2 shields. You then drop Grand Gure on your turn, and shut Gilaflame down. Of course, they have a 2-mana answer to this guy in Comet Missile, but they had to use them early in order to get damage in. Not only did Grand Gure wall of Gilaflame, but it also walled opposing Bolt-Tail dragons in control mirrors. This guy was extremely hit-or-miss, because when he died to a Comet, it was the worst feeling, but when he walled a Gilaflame, he was amazing.
This is where interesting brews started occurring. We had a good idea of what the best cards in the game were. Control and Midrange were clearly the prevailing strategies, now the question was: How do we go over the top?
Terradragon Regarion Doom: Yeah, we went deep. This card was the real deal though. The shell we played him in was a Water/Nature/Fire list, with the fire just being a splash for 2 Bolt-Tails, 3 Gilaflames, and 2 Tornado Flames. We were primarily nature for ramp cards, and water was just for blockers, Logos Scans and Spy Missions. Versus other control decks, this guy was the nuts. He was an out to an opposing Bolt-Tail dragon that left you with a gigantic double breaker. Once he swung in, the only ways to deal with him were Root Traps and Terror pits, which were often laid as mana, so he ended up just being an out to opposing Bolt-Tails who just killed your opponent.
Of course, we tested plenty of other decks, but none of them were really notable. Had we continued pushing the format, I’m not sure what would’ve emerged to beat the W/N/F deck, possibly an offshoot of the W/D/F deck with Black Feathers in it, to go over the top in card-advantage. Maybe a slightly bigger midrange deck is right in the sweet spot for beating the control decks, though we weren’t able to find anything. It was around this point that Rise of the Duel Masters came out, and a huge shakeup occurred in the metagame.
Rise of the Duel Masters:
So in Rise, we got a lot more tools. This huge set gave every color something new, and changed a lot. Logos Scan and Spy Mission were still extremely powerful, though Gilaflame lost a lot if its power. In Rise, there were 3 Pillars of the format, every reasonable deck played at least one of these pillars:
Logos Scan/Spy Mission: One of the two ways to get ahead on cards. Control decks either played this card, or the next card, as there wasn’t really any other way to get ahead. Sure, Skull Shatter was a thing, but that came down so late that it was irrelevant most of the time.
Stormspark Blast: Games were still slow, and this card was a huge trump in locked up boardstates. For those of you who play Yugioh, this card was a Raigeki almost every time you played it. The game usually ended a turn or two after the Stormspark Blast happened, but even if it didn’t, you were so ahead on cards most of the time that the win was inevitable. It might seem like a really good idea to play both Stormspark and Logos/Spy Mission in the same deck, but the problem with that is because you waste turns just drawing cards, you don’t end up with enough creatures to fully utilize your Stormspark Blasts.
Comet Missile: Yeah, this card got a lot better. This card let Aggro and Rush decks exist for a while. It was a mana-efficient answer to the best blockers in the game, Star Lantern, and Gloom Hollow. While rush decks weren’t the best thing, they certainly wouldn’t have been a thing at all without Comet.
There were many decks that we tested during this time period. Most of them revolved around the Water pillar, but there were a couple for the others as well.
W/D/F Control: This seemed like a natural thing, the deck was really solid previously, and it got a few new tools from Skull Shatter, and Scaradorable of Gloom Hollow, as well as a powerful way to apply early pressure in Gigastand. Then we started making decks that were actually good.
W/L Rally: At first this seemed like a huge gimmick, but it wound up testing really well. It was the only deck actually able to use both Stormspark and The draw-2s effectively, since it forced the game late so often. You completely destroyed the aggro/rush decks because almost half your deck was blockers, then once you had a critical mass, you just played a Rally the Reserves and killed them. This deck wasn’t without problems though, as a blasted Stormspark Blast on your Rally turn had potential to be devastating, and there were plenty of counters to this kind of deck available. The colors you played also didn’t have very good removal, so you were just all-in on your gameplan, hoping your opponent didn’t have a way to deal with your plan.
W/N/F Control: this quickly became “the deck” for our group once we saw all the weaknesses in the Rally deck. It completely invalidated the Rally deck as a strategy because of Mighty Shouter, who if allowed to attack even once, dismantled the deck. The deck ramped up to 6 with Bronze-Arms, and Razorhides, dropped a Mighty Shouter, who when played on turn 5 was extremely difficult to deal with in that card pool, it was pretty much Death Smoke or bust. Eventually, if they survived the Shouter push, you had Bolt-Tail to finish them off. This deck won much faster than any of the previous control decks, and was pretty much the end of advances for control decks.
W/F Hyperspeed: This deck was another gimmick, it was really all-in on Hyperspeed not dying, and played a lot of big creatures. Eventually, the entire early game was sacrificed in order to play Crystal Memories, and just destroy the control decks. Of course, with the concession to the early game, you flat-out lost to rush. And thus the first 0-100 matchup among legitimate decks was found.
L/N(/D) Control: This went through a lot of iterations, and we never actually settled on a build we were happy with. This deck wasn’t very good, it was just made as an attempt at a control deck that could deal with Mighty “Relevant the Elephant” Shouter. The main idea was solid, turn 5 Grand Gure was an answer to Mighty Shouter…Until they Comet Missile your 6 drop, and you’re completely blown out. So then we added some Dark cards to hopefully make them unable to maintain a hand of both Shouter and Missile, but the early game just wasn’t long enough to both ramp, and attack their hand. Your gameplan was just always less consistent than theirs. You also didn’t have any draw-2s, so you fell behind in a lot of matchups.
F/N Rush: Pretty much the same deck as it was in Dojo, filled the same role in the metagame of just beating up on the slower decks with low blocker counts. There were some lists that played 3 Stormsparks as the only white cards, just hoping to either shield blast them, or play them as lands. They were that high-impact.
L/F Rush: In Rise, Light got a 1-drop attacker, Magris the Magnetizer. This rush deck was different from all the prior ones because you had to clear their field before killing them, else you risk blasting a Stormspark and losing to the counterswing. You had ways to get though a couple blockers because of Shaw K’Naw, and Blinder Beetle, as well as Comet Missile. What you gained in interaction though, you lost in speed. While you gained a 1-drop, you lost Essence Elf, Razorhide, and quite a few 2-drops.
Then right before Evo-Fury, Wizards posted an announcement that they had no intention of running high level organized play, and on cue, all of us gave up on the game. Last week though, Wizards made an announcement that they are having high-level events though. Myself, and at least one member of my playtest group has decided to get back into the game, and started testing Evo-Fury. Evo-Fury really did change absolutely everything, but what we found there, however, is subject for another article.
Until next time, Play Hard or Go Home.