Sidedecking for the New Format

sean mccabeHey duelists! Let me take a moment to introduce myself. My name is Sean McCabe and I’m from Philadelphia, PA. I’ve been playing this game since the very beginning. During my years playing this game, I have acquired an ARG Circuit championship as well as 8 YCS tops including a 2nd place. The decks I’ve had the most success with have been anti-meta type decks that had excellent matchups against the top deck of the time. When you’re going against the grain, it isn’t enough to simply know the cards of opposing strategies; precise side decking makes all the difference in the world. You need every advantage you can get to take down the tier one archetypes.

At the beginning of any new format, side decking becomes a much more difficult task. This is due to the banlist hitting the top decks, which in turn makes a ton of decks more playable. This particular banlist has temporarily boosted Fire Fist, Spellbooks, Geargia and Water decks in particular. There are plenty of playable decks but those 4 decks stand out in terms of popularity. An important part of side decking at the beginning of every format is making sure the cards you choose to side have the versatility to be sided in multiple matchups. Obviously different decks will have different side decks but here I’ll try to speak as generally as possible. Keeping in mind the need to trump the aforementioned top tier decks, here are some cards I think have great potential in this new format.

mind crushMind Crush

[ccProd]Mind Crush[/ccProd] has probably been my favorite side deck cards for the last several formats, and this one is no different, as Spellbooks and Water remain top contenders. Hitting a [ccProd]Mermail Abyssmegalo[/ccProd] or [ccProd]Mermail Abyssteus[/ccProd] out of a Water player’s hand often single-handily wins the game. [ccProd]Mind Crush[/ccProd] is my favorite side deck tech against Spellbooks due to its ability to hit [ccProd]High Priestess of Prophecy[/ccProd] out of the hand (alongside their plethora of search cards). [ccProd]Mind Crush[/ccProd] has some added versatility because you can slide it in when you’re up against lesser-seen decks such as Bujin. Although it may seem like a good idea at first glance, I would stay away from siding [ccProd]Mind Crush[/ccProd] in against Fire Fist or Geargia decks as it does little to slow them down and can sometimes be a dead card against them.

Black Horn of Heaven

[ccProd]Black Horn of Heaven[/ccProd] is an interesting card not only for its effect but because it’s a counter trap. Getting over commonly-seen cards like [ccProd]Forbidden Lance[/ccProd] or [ccProd]Trap Stun[/ccProd] is a perk that can’t be ignored. Black Horn is my primary side option against Geargia decks. While many people choose to side in [ccProd]Nobleman of Crossout[/ccProd], I think this isn’t enough for most decks. Nobleman doesn’t interact with your opponent at all unless their play involves setting [ccProd]Geargiarmor[/ccProd]. While [ccProd]Geargiarmor[/ccProd] is an important card to stop, you can’t afford such a narrow card in your side deck. Another card I see people side for Geargia is [ccProd]Cyber Dragon[/ccProd], but I tend to steer clear of him as well. By the time Geargia starts special summoning your life points are either at 0 or you’re put in an unwinnable situation by the time your turn rolls around. Black Horn has the ability to stop their summon for the turn as they won’t always have the ability to Synchro or Xyz while saving the [ccProd]Geargiarmor[/ccProd]. Black Horn also has the added benefit of being very potent in Dragon, Constellar, and Evilswarm matchups.


[ccProd]Overworked[/ccProd] is a card that saw plenty of play 2 formats ago before Dragon Rulers were released. With the resurgence of Fire Fists, [ccProd]Overworked[/ccProd] becomes a staple in almost any side deck. Its ability to act as a trap version of [ccProd]Raigeki[/ccProd] makes it a great card to draw at any point in the game against Fire Fist. Even in the First Fist mirror match a well-timed [ccProd]Overworked[/ccProd] could easily turn the game in your favor. It can also be sided in against rogue decks like Harpies and even Bujin depending on how many cards you have to side out.

Fairy Wind

Another neglected common card, [ccProd]Fairy Wind[/ccProd], can be absolutely devastating against Fire Fist at the right moment. Out of all the cards on this list [ccProd]Fairy[/ccProd] Wind is the one I have the least experience with. However with the ability to hit all the important Fire Formations (Tenki, Tensu, Gyokkou) and [ccProd]Fiendish Chain[/ccProd], this card has plenty of targets and can get some insane value. Just being able to get rid of all your opponent’s face-up Fire Formation so they can’t use Bear can be game changing. The burn damage for this card is a nice bonus and shouldn’t be ignored completely as it can often deal 900 or even more.


[ccProd]Mistake[/ccProd] is very interesting card. Its ability can shut down many decks before they get a chance to start. [ccProd]Mistake[/ccProd] has been my favorite card from the new set mostly because it hurts my least favorite deck: Spellbooks. It shuts off virtually every key play they have. While [ccProd]Mistake[/ccProd] is face-up, Spellbooks essentially can’t play the game unless they draw Temperance and a playable Spellbook. Since you can chain it to any of their search effects, it’s not always easy for them to play around it. Even if they draw an answer later, they’ve still lost one of their key search cards. While [ccProd]Mistake[/ccProd] has uses against every top deck I would be careful while siding it to make sure it hurts their deck more than your own.

These cards won’t work in every deck so be sure to test a few games with them to make sure they’re worth one of those valuable 15 slots. Which brings me to my last point: make sure to test games 2 and 3! Too many times right before an event have I heard “What should I side deck?” Even if you are a master duelist and 2-0 everyone you’ll be playing half of your games sided. A lot of players forget that, and don’t put enough stock into their side games choices. While getting your main deck perfect is very important, side decking is equally as important. Knowing what to side out and which cards to put in is invaluable to tournament success. Common mistakes include siding too much for one matchup or siding out too many cards from the core of your deck. Just agreeing to test game 2 and 3s against your friends once your main deck is set is a great idea if you plan on doing well at the next event. Remember – your side deck isn’t just an “extra” 15 card pile. Your main deck choices should inform and complement your side deck choices.

Thanks for reading! Since this is my first article let me know how I did! If there’s anything you’d like to see me write about in the future or any questions just post below and I’ll be sure to read them.

Sean McCabe

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