The Winning Touch: Rodrigo’s Dragons

joe giolandoI have never written an article like this before, so feel free to comment below on what you think after reading. Anyway, seeing as how National reason has begun around the world, the Yu-Gi-Oh community suddenly has an array of decklists to devour. With the North American World Championship Qualifier right around the corner, I know I have been keeping an eye out at some of the decks which have found their way in the Top of other country's nationals. As should have been obvious, Prophecy and Dragon Ruler are head and shoulders above the rest of the competition right now, and National results have only been confirming that. What is interesting is trying to pinpoint exactly what has been making certainly builds of these powerful decks successful. Over the course of the next few weeks I hope to showcase a handful of unique takes on these two format powerhouses.

blasterThe first deck I want to look at today is from this past weekend in Spain. YCS Champion and member of United Gosus Rodrigo Togores took home his National championship with this build of Dragon Rulers:

1 [ccProd]Flamveil Guard[/ccProd]

3 [ccProd]Blaster, Dragon Ruler of Infernos[/ccProd]

3 [ccProd]Redox, Dragon Ruler of Boulders[/ccProd]

3 [ccProd]Tidal, Dragon Ruler of Waterfalls[/ccProd]

3 [ccProd]Tempest, Dragon Ruler of Storms[/ccProd]

2 [ccProd]Reactan, Dragon Ruler of Pebbles[/ccProd]

2 [ccProd]Stream, Dragon Ruler of Droplets[/ccProd]

2 [ccProd]Burner, Dragon Ruler of Sparks[/ccProd]

2 [ccProd]Lightning, Dragon Ruler of Drafts[/ccProd]

3 [ccProd]Effect Veiler[/ccProd]

3 Maxx "C"

1 [ccProd]Swift Scarecrow[/ccProd]

1 [ccProd]Exploder Dragon[/ccProd]


3 [ccProd]Gold Sarcophagus[/ccProd]

3 [ccProd]Super Rejuvenation[/ccProd]

1 [ccProd]Book of Moon[/ccProd]

1 [ccProd]Monster Reborn[/ccProd]

1 [ccProd]Heavy Storm[/ccProd]


2 [ccProd]Breakthrough Skill[/ccProd]

2 [ccProd]Raigeki Break[/ccProd]


2 [ccProd]Obelisk the Tormentor[/ccProd]

1 [ccProd]Swift Scarecrow[/ccProd]

2 [ccProd]Tsukuyomi[/ccProd]

2 [ccProd]Mystical Space Typhoon[/ccProd]

3 [ccProd]Eradicator Epidemic Virus[/ccProd]

3 [ccProd]Skill Drain[/ccProd]

2 [ccProd]Royal Decree[/ccProd]


3 Number 11: Big Eye

3 [ccProd]Mecha Phantom Beast Dracossack[/ccProd]

1 [ccProd]Mermail Abyssgaos[/ccProd]

1 Gaia Dragon, the Thunder Charger

1 [ccProd]Armory Arm[/ccProd]

1 [ccProd]Black Rose Dragon[/ccProd]

1 [ccProd]Colossal Fighter[/ccProd]

2 [ccProd]Crimson Blader[/ccProd]

1 [ccProd]Scrap Dragon[/ccProd]

1 [ccProd]Thought Ruler Archfiend[/ccProd]

droll & lock birdThe first thing I want to take note of is that Rodrigo decided to use zero copies of Droll & Lock Bird between both his main deck and side deck. Droll & Lock Bird was heralded as the perfect answer to Prophecies when [ccProd]Spellbook of Judgment[/ccProd] was originally spoiled, but Rodrigo elected to go against the preconceived notion that the card is a side deck (and sometimes main deck) staple. The thing with Droll & Lock Bird is, the likelihood of efficiently stopping a Spellbook player from ever resolving a mammoth [ccProd]Spellbook of Judgment[/ccProd] is just so low. Think about it for a second. Dragon Rulers are a relatively grindy deck type which tries to eventually bury the opponent in card advantage. There are obviously situations where the deck can swiftly deal 8000 points of damage, but with the rise of cards like [ccProd]Swift Scarecrow[/ccProd] and the volume of hand traps being played - that is a risky game plan. So alternatively, Dragon Rulers tend to find the best way to weed out incremental amounts of card advantage while dealing as much damage as they can. So in other words, games tend to extend a considerable amount longer than players tend to realize. Frazier Smith made a comment this weekend about the amount of matches he saw go into time while judging the Maryland Regional, and it is really so true. Games are taking longer this format, if that is the volume of cards at each deck's disposal or the inability to deal 8000 points of damage swiftly enough. The problem with Droll & Lock Bird is that you need to stop every attempt to resolve [ccProd]Spellbook of Judgment[/ccProd]. The functionality of the Spellbook archtype makes it so that a single resolution and subsequent tutor through the deck sets the Spellbook player up for continuous activations. A well trained Spellbook player will know what cards to search to ensure they can simply chain together their card advantage, and reuse [ccProd]Spellbook of Judgment[/ccProd] additional times with help of [ccProd]Spellbook of Eternity[/ccProd]. Droll & Lock Bird may successfully stymie a Spellbook player early in the game, but ultimately their archtype is designed to tutor whatever piece to their card advantage machine they are missing, and they will be able to resolve a Spellbook of Judgment... eventually. And eventually actually exists in Yu-Gi-Oh right now.

DarkHoleSYE-NA-C-1EThe next thing I want to talk about is the lack of [ccProd]Dark Hole[/ccProd]. As I alluded to a few weeks ago, we would begin to see a fleet of previous staples begin to be flushed out of the competitive circuit. While Heavy Storm seems to be holding on, [ccProd]Dark Hole[/ccProd], [ccProd]Mystical Space Typhoon[/ccProd] and an array of traps have hit the wayside. [ccProd]Heavy Storm[/ccProd] has this mythic status of being one of those cards you simply cannot get yourself to allot to the side deck, but it still would not be that out of the question. Anyway, Rodrigo's decision to cut [ccProd]Dark Hole[/ccProd] is something we see through numerous other decklists from the previous few weeks. It does exist as an out to [ccProd]Obelisk the Tormentor[/ccProd], something which should not be ignored, but Rodrigo solved that issue by maining a single copy of [ccProd]Exploder Dragon[/ccProd]. Instead of hoping to draw the singleton out to problematic cards like Obelisk, Jowgen, Kycoo and an array of other problem cards, why not have a singleton creature you can tutor from your deck? These are the witty tech choices I mentioned would become format defining a few weeks ago. Masters of the Dragon Ruler archtype are becoming able to adapt their deck to maximize efficiency throughout a long tournament, and cutting [ccProd]Dark Hole[/ccProd] is a perfect example. Replace [ccProd]Dark Hole[/ccProd] with a tutorable Dragon which can be used to special summon Dragon Rulers.

While [ccProd]Dark Hole[/ccProd] has fallen out of popularity, another old spell card seen a resurgence in play. I mentioned the importance and monster position shifting cards in my article regarding the new era in Yu-Gi-Oh, and [ccProd]Book of Moon[/ccProd] becoming a virtual staple in Dragon Rulers is a prime example of that. Pushing through [ccProd]Crimson Blader[/ccProd] in the mirror match (and Prophecy/Mermail for that matter) is so prevalent that this quick-play Spell has made a massive rebound. While it may be restricted to one, it slots in perfectly as being a versatile out to a variety of situations while doubling as a pseudo-defensive card. Not that it hasn't done that for a decade now. But its true potential is back on full display again.

[ccProd]Raigeki Break[/ccProd] is a unique pick by Rodrigo. Instead of playing something like [ccProd]Mystical Space Typhoon[/ccProd] to counter the deck which try and play fair, Rodrigo found a way to counter problematic cards like [ccProd]Imperial Iron Wall [/ccProd] while at the same time doubling as an out to Jowgen/Kycoo and so on. Not only does [ccProd]Raigeki Break[/ccProd] return any unfavorable board position to one where you are in position to drop a fleet of hefty Dragon Rulers, it even has the added benefit of having the cost be voided in conjunction with [ccProd]Super Rejuvenation[/ccProd]! Well oiled machine much?

Much of the side deck is self explanatory, but there are a few things worth noting. Perhaps a few months ago people would have immediately assumed Light and Darkness was an inclusion in builds of Dragon Rulers. But [ccProd]Obelisk the Tormentor[/ccProd] has emerged as one of the absolute best counters in the mirror match. There are only a handful of legitimate ways to remove an on board [ccProd]Obelisk the Tormentor[/ccProd] in the mirror match. Unfortunately going forward, people have become more aware of the threat. Previously you would have been able to catch a considerable amount of players off guard, but the cat is out of the bag. Rodrigo mained [ccProd]Exploder Dragon[/ccProd] for a reason, but he still thought it would a worthy enough side deck choice.

Tsukuyomi[ccProd]Tsukuyomi[/ccProd] is another card which has been a considerable rise in play. It is an out to virtually every legitimate problem monster in the game. From Ophion to Jowgen, [ccProd]Tsukuyomi[/ccProd] can come down every turn to turn off the stun creature and open up your ability to special summon - basically the only thing Dragon Rulers are trying to do.

The extra deck is incredibly standard. Rodrigo made room for a second copy of [ccProd]Crimson Blader[/ccProd], acknowledging the likelihood of elongated games and the potential need for a second copy. People are quickly adapting to the length of games, and Rodrigo prepared correctly with zero copies of Droll & Lock and multiple Bladers.

If the response is positive I will certainly continue to look for other decklists, more specifically different archtypes. If you found this to be a bore or anything of the like please let me know below and I will always look to find something else to write about each week!

Joe Giorlando

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