Greetings duelists! Naturally, I am prompted to introduce myself, so my name is Dimitri Sfiridis. I've been playing Yu-Gi-Oh! competitively since around 2005, after the game was first introduced when I was a mere child in 4th grade. I've managed to garner a few regional tops since then, and have been traveling moderately for the game since the last Shonen Jump tournament held in Philadelphia. (Won my Michael Kohanim, to clarify.) During my travels I was unfortunate enough to bubble three events, but have gained numerous friends, and a great degree of skill and understanding of the game that I can attribute to befriending some of the greatest players the game has produced as of recently, including Frazier Smith, Steven Silverman, and Sean McCabe, who all play at my local cardstore Alternate Universe situated in Bluebell, Pennsylvania. Wall of introduction text now over, let's get straight into it!
It was very difficult for me to decide on what I was going to discuss in this article, since a lot of topics have been covered by other entries, as well as by the featured writers on this site. While I wished to take a more fundamental route and speak of more in-depth things such as game mechanics, playing cards timely and properly, keeping up with changes/trends, etc, I thought it best to write about something very generalized, and what better than to discuss a certain archtype or deck! I'll be covering and discussing the Water Synchro deck, which as of the latest YCS in Brighton, managed to take the 4th place spot! If you haven't kept up with the coverage of YCS Brighton, and would like to take a look at Lars Junginger's deck, check out the Europeon coverage site on yugioh-card.com.
Lars' deck was, while built well, not something I could really call Water Synchro. With Fishborg Blaster recently making his way to the Forbidden List, and Formula Synchron going to 1, many thought this archtype to be washed up. (Ha!) I used his build as a skeleton, and changed it to my liking, and it has been performing very well in the matches I've run with it! Here's the build, and after you take a look, I'll be divulging information on card choices, how the deck runs, some basic combos, and cards/match-ups you should be wary of if you decide to pilot this deck yourself:
3 Tour Guide from the Underrworld
3 Reborn Tengu
3 Maxx "C"
2 Swap Frog
2 Treeborn Frog
2 Deep Sea Diva
2 Caius the Shadow Monarch
2 Thunder King Rai-Oh
1 Lonefire Blossom
1 Glow-up Bulb
1 Gorz, the Emissary of Darkness
1 Black Luster Soldier - Envoy of the Beginning
3 Enemy Controller
2 Mystical Space Typhoon
1 Monster Reborn
1 Heavy Storm
1 Foolish Burial
1 Pot of Avarice
1 One for One
1 Mind Control
1 Creature Swap
1 Trap Dustshoot
1 Gachi Gachi Gantetsu
1 Wind-Up Zenmaines
1 Leviar, the Sea Dragon
1 Number 17: Leviathan Dragon / 2nd Gachi Gachi Gantetsu
1 Number 39: Utopia
1 Formula Synchron
1 Armory Arm
1 Ally of Justice - Catastor
1 T.G. Hyper Librarian
1 Brionac, Dragon of the Ice Barrier
1 Orient Dragon
1 Black Rose Dragon
1 Scrap Dragon
1 Stardust Dragon
1 Trishula, Dragon of the Ice Barrier
The Elite Four:
One of the reasons why the "Plant" Synchro decks do so well is because they have a very consistent engine that has synergy with cards like Reborn Tengu who can float through Synchros and produce a game winning field with next to little investment. We all know this, though. Ironically enough, these happen to be the only Plant monsters in the deck, and probably the most reliable Synchro engine you can ask for these days, so naturally they make an apperance here. I won't dwell too much on this, but this is essentially what's going to fuel most of your Synchro plays naturally, but that's not to dismiss...
The Water monsters that the deck derives it's name from: Two copies of Swap Frog, two copies of Treeborn Frog, two copies of Deep Sea Diva, and one copy of Ronintodin. I'd like to address the two of Diva choice first, as that's probably going to be the most questioned out of the line-up. While Swap and Treeborn fit the Synchro niche nicely here, (And I'll explain some combos with them in a second!), and the inclusion of Ronintodin allowing you acess to Gachi Gachi Gantetsu, Diva was included to add more fuel to the fire, or in this case, the water. Only playing two copies in a 40 card deck means that they shouldn't crop up in your opener together, and since I'm not playing any other targets, this is comforting. Diva has amazing synergy in this deck coupled with cards like Reborn Tengu, Enemy Controller, Mind Control, and Creature Swap. With Enemy Controller, in provides you with a Tribute needed, AND another Tuner, meaning you can use these 2 cards together to create a Synchro immediately, while clearing your opponent's board of a daunting monster, barring things such as Exceeds. Couple it with Tengu, and your field is amassed rather quickly. While the prevalence of Maxx "C" might make this card less appealing to some, I can only argue that it shouldn't dishearten anyone from playing it. This deck special summons almost every turn, and if you can put a stopper in one Maxx "C" play, you usually have enough resources on the following turn to continue mounting your offensive. I thoroughly enjoy watching my Diva summon go unanswered, because of how explosive it is in this deck coupled with the aforementioned cards. Ontop of this, Agents is still a very competitive deck, and Maxx "C" more times than not will be forced into a +1 against them, as well as against the ever popular Rescue Dino deck. Maxx "C" is going to be played in 3's for as long as the format permits, so I would recommend only adjusting your deck to combat this card if it won't make it less consistent. In these crucial situations, passing my turn after a chained C isn't as fearful. Gachi Gachi access provides a solid wall, while two Caius allow me to play around Maxx "C" quite nicely as well.
Swap Frog and Treeborn Frog are quite the stars in this deck. Swap Frog offers you a very strong turn 1 play if you happened to not open any copies of Tour Guide or Thunder King. Treeborn Frog being level 1 is quite nice, it allows this deck to make the ever popular Librarian/Formula a lot more accessible than even the regular Plant deck! Not to mention Swap, Treeborn, and Diva can be used to fuel other Synchro plays, such as:
Diva + Reborn Tengu + Treeborn Frog = Trishula. (Have Treeborn and Tengu on field, summon Diva, synchro for level 6 of your choice, then Synchro the level 6 monster, the second Diva, and Treeborn for Trishula.)
Swap Frog + Reborn Tengu + Treeborn + Level 1 Tuner = a Level 8 Synchro, plus a draw.
Tengu + Treeborn + Glow up Bulb = Librarian and Formula Synchron, assuming you haven't already used Glow-Up Bulb's effect.
Level 3 Monster + Tengu + Diva = Trishula
And these are only some of the unique and varried plays you can make utilizing the Water engine of the deck. try picking up the deck and toying around in testing/fun games, see what you can come up with. Multiple copies of Swap, Treeborn, and Diva ensure that these combos appear moderately through the game. Paired with Reborn Tengu or a Plant Tuner and you can generate easy advantage, and/or access normally inaccessible Synchros in a pinch.
Other Notable cards
Originally, I wasn't playing Tour Guide, but after changing the deck around and testing with them, I figured this deck, like many others, can very much benefit from it. Levair plays are above and beyond with this deck, Ronintodin fueling the ability to recur removed monsters such as Swap or Treeborn, to allow Gachi Gachi access or to fuel a synchro play. Not to mention Zenmaines is a very prominent turn 1 play now, barely any player will leave Sangan to float nowadays with Thunder King running around, so it's much more common place to simply make Zenmaines while you build your resources and dwindle theirs as they try to remove him from the field. This is especially helpful in a deck like this that benefits from having multiple cards to work with a turn, pumping out some amazing plays like the ones listed above. The same can be said for Gachi Gachi.
Thunder King might seem like an odd choice in this deck over Effect Veiler, as this deck's normal summon should begin your string of combos, and the deck lacks any backrow so Veiler would appear to be a go to "hand-trap." However, with how splashable and how good Thunder King is in the current enviornment, and how Veiler is starting to see less and less play, I decided to play him instead. There's really no reasoning behind other than it's Thunder King. He's good at almost any point in the game especially turn 1, ( and barring already staring down a threat at a later point in the game), and he's a Light to feed BLS which is also included here.
Creature Swap is a card I really wish I could play a second copy of. Earlier I mentioned how prevalant a turn 1 Zenmaines play is. Outside of Caius and BLS, most decks don't main cards to immediately deal with him. Well, imagine you're going second, and you have this card! Now, you can do things like play Swap Frog, fueling your engine and then trade it for their Zenmaines! They've used a power card like Tour Guide, which at the time, was a safe and costless play. Now, they've essentially wasted it as you've taken it for yourself. This card changes tempo for you as soon as you play it, and it isn't limited to taking care of just Zenmaines. You can use it to take opposing Thunder Kings, other Synchro Monsters, etc. With so many of your cards being combo pieces and boasting poor stats stand alone, (Treeborn Frog being an option for this card almost all of the time), this card just makes sense to play. If you don't have a stronger play available, or you need to be conservative, this card allows you to take control of the game and apply a lot of pressure for next to nothing.
Match-Ups, The good and bad
Since the conclusion of YCS Brighton, I've had a moderate amount of testing with this deck and I can easily and proudly say you shouldn't have an issue with Plants. This deck is essentially a clone of the Plant deck with another engine splashed in, so the match up plays strikingly similar to a Plant mirror, the only difference aside from your other engine is that you play no backrow. This is a very dismal fact about the deck, aside from Maxx "C" you have seemingly no ways of interrupting an opponent's play, so you have to use your turn to create a field that is substantially hard for your opponent to deal with even with their plays going off unanswered. Gachi Gachi, Tengu, and Tour Guide all play key roles in this fact, Tengu floating and Gachi and TGU making walls for your opponent to waste cards on. Gachi Gachi also allows for your Turn 1 TK to be pretty much unkillable, so they'll have to burn a Tour Guide or something of the sort to get him out of the way at 2300 attack, and you still have your Gachi at the end of it all.
Dark World is probably this deck's hardest match up next to Dino Rabbit. And it's not even like it's unwinnable or a complete blow-out, it's the fact that the deck packs cards like Deck Devestation Virus that pretty much cripples your hand, and that it can drop a 3000 beater on the field very early and unopposed. However, if your opponent can't manage to finish you or put you in a position to lose quick enough, cards like Enemy Controller can ruin your opponent's day. Suddenly, your opponent will find themselves staring down their own 3000 beater, while you have amassed an army of your own through multiple synchro plays. Take note also that the most popular Dark World decks right now aren't playing cards like Solemn Warning usually, so this is very advantageous to us. Simply remember to play conservatively here in this match up, and make Gachi Gachi and Zenmaines as quickly as you can, so your following turn you can punish your opponent if they decided to overextend.
Rabbit is the deck's hardest match up, but what doesn't that deck wreck on? It's Samurai 2.0 to be quite frank, Laggia and Dolkka pretty much shut this deck down entirely, and with no way to prevent them from even coming out, you'll find yourself losing quickly to one of them backed with protection. The best plan of attack here is again to rely on cards such as Enemy Controller, because this will force them to negate with Laggia immediately, and Enemy Controller coupled with Sangan or Tengu will allow you to kill Dolkka thanks to a helpful ruling! This deck is very linear and playing against it fundamentally comes down to how many cards you can preserve while answering their lock down monster and backrow. Naturally, this is easier said than done and the reason why the deck is so powerful and managed to capture the top 3 spots in the UK. This match up and Dark World is what you should probably side the most for. The makeshift side I had been trying consisted of things like Warnings, Black Horns, a 3rd Caius, Reapers, and more removal and anti-meta type cards, similar to how most Plant decks side currently. Some uncommon choices this deck can take advantage of and that are effective right now would be: Electric Virus, Snowman Eater, D.D. Crow, Marionette Mite, Neo Spacian Grand Mole, and possibly a second copy of Creature Swap.
Well, that's it Yu-Gi-Oh'ers! Hopefully I've inspired you to pick this deck up for yourself. It's quite the powerhouse, and it's a fun, yet still highly competitive alternative to Plants if you've been playing them forever and want a change of pace. Here's to a next time, duelists, good luck in your future Yu-Gi-Oh! endeavors! Dimitri signing out.