New Jersey is quickly approaching and it's a special kind of event. When I say special I mean it's going to be the only event under the current "format" where Hidden Arsenal 7 is legal but Lord of the Tachyon Galaxy isn't out yet. These are always cool events because not everyone is preparing for it - anyone not going to Jersey is probably having fun with the new, (not) balanced cards that will be out for Nationals. That means the group of us that are going to this are testing under this sort of made up format that everyone else is oblivious to. And boy is there a lot to work with. The format before HA07 was already pretty diverse, but now there are a ton of different possibilities when it comes to choosing a deck:
1) Mono Mermail
2) Fire Fist/Dino Fist
3) Macro Rabbit
5) Frog Monarch
6) Tinplate Gadget
That's 8 top decks! Not even including Karakuri, Samurai, Hieratics, Electrum OTK (or any other Hero variant), and more. You definitely can't counter every single one of these decks (give us 20 card side decks Konami!) but still, I'm going to break the top decks down and give some pretty good techs and ways to counter each one. Which deck(s) you decide to ignore in your side deck is going to be your call when you get to the event but I at least want to share my thoughts and give you the tools you need to beat each if you had skipped one or two of these decks while preparing. So let's get to it!
Not really sure what there is to say about this deck that hasn't already been said but there's no harm in going over what has worked in the past. My personal opinion is if you're deck can side [ccProd]Banisher of the Radiance and[/ccProd]/or [ccProd]Dimensional Fissure[/ccProd]/[ccProd]Macro Cosmos[/ccProd].. you should definitely take advantage of it. Truth is the Mermail deck is so powerful and adaptive that it can play around anything you throw at it isn't locking them out of the game. [ccProd]Maxx "C"[/ccProd],[ccProd]Tragoedia[/ccProd], [ccProd]Debunk[/ccProd], [ccProd]Mind Crush[/ccProd], [ccProd]Deck Devastation Virus[/ccProd]...? Yeah sure, those cards are good against the deck. But as long as they still have plays you're going to have a hard time, especially if your hand was weak and you were counting on those cards to put tempo in your favor. Locking them out with Banisher, [ccProd]Abyss Dweller[/ccProd], and [ccProd]Dimensional Fissure[/ccProd] and just hoping they don't have more outs than you can stop has given me the best results and that's really sad. That, along with a 53 Mermail deck winning the last YCS, really shows how overpowered the deck is in terms of explosiveness and flexibility.
Still, flexibility can only go so far when every one of your opponent's first concern when building their deck is the Mermail matchup. I don't think I'm ready to face opponents that are extremly prepared for me for 11 rounds straight and I'm starting to see people around me finally feeling the same way. Fire Fist is obviously the best deck when it comes to spitting out [ccProd]Abyss Dweller[/ccProd]s backed with protection in Game 1 with even more hate post-siding and I really think that matchup is what Mermail players should be the most wary of. Evilswarm is definitely not a problem for Mermail as some people preach, in fact Mermail was the hardest matchup I had while I was testing the Evilswarm deck. Zenmaines and [ccProd]Bahamut Shark[/ccProd] were huge problems that consistently hit the board thanks to [ccProd]Abyss-Sphere[/ccProd] and it's too hard to get Ophion out then have to protect him from both Heavy Infantry and xyz threats.
I'm sure you're all going into these next 2 paragraphs thinking "Okay this man is biased, he's obviously going to go on and on about how great this deck is and how great of a meta call it'll be for Jersey" but if you're thinking that then I'm going to prove you wrong right now. This deck got so much weaker in my opinion.. it's obviously still a great pick but you should be aware of the new challenges you're going to face as a Fire player this weekend. I picked the deck for San Diego because there were 3 really popular decks.. Macro Rabbit, Fire variants, and Mono Mermail. I felt like Macro Rabbit was an auto-win and any type of mirror would be too thanks to [ccProd]Reborn Tengu[/ccProd] and a full suite of protection traps. Like I said above when it comes to Mono Mermail, I feel like this is the best deck to take it down. So other than hitting a slew of Wind-Up decks which was my only worry (See: 2 [ccProd]Dust Tornado[/ccProd], 2 Rivalry, 2 [ccProd]Maxx "C"[/ccProd], 1 [ccProd]Thunder King Rai-Oh[/ccProd]) I wasn't really scared of any matchup. Now let's add into the mix.. Gadget, Evilswarm, and Infernity. Gadgets aren't too bad but they play the same removal game except with floaters so you're removal isn't as effective, similar to one reason why Wind-Ups are a hard matchup. Your [ccProd]Dimensional Prison[/ccProd]s and [ccProd]Mirror Force[/ccProd]s aren't really going to do much other than -1 against one of their floaters.. especially when you're facing down a [ccProd]Gear Gigant X[/ccProd]. That's one of the scariest cards in this matchup since they are able to just sit on it and search twice before throwing it into your removal for a plus. Fortress isn't too big of a deal in this matchup but everything else is so they're going to do everything they can to pressure you before bringing Fortress out.
Evilswarm isn't too bad I guess but it definitely isn't an easy matchup like most people are assuming it is. I saw ARG's Cordero post a poll on Facebook asking what deck would win if they went head to head and literally almost everyone said Fire which really surprised me. If they go into an Ophion that you can't stop you're instantly in trouble. This is usually how it goes.. XYZ into Ophion, search Pandemic, go. Next turn protect Ophion from the 1 threat in your deck (Tenki-Bear) with a wide variety of outs.. MST, [ccProd]Fiendish Chain[/ccProd], [ccProd]Breakthrough Skill[/ccProd], [ccProd]Bottomless Trap Hole[/ccProd], [ccProd]Solemn Warning[/ccProd], [ccProd]Solemn Judgment[/ccProd], etc. What happens next turn is they detatch to search for the 2nd Pandemic, then they let you Prison or [ccProd]Mirror Force[/ccProd] their Ophion for a +1. The next XYZ they bring out will most likely be Evilswarm Thanatos (Why do I see some lists still not playing him?) and he's no joke when he's backed by at least 2 Pandemics. If they don't want to or can't bring him out then they can just summon Thunderbirds and beat you down that way.. Oh you have [ccProd]Fiendish Chain[/ccProd] for it? Pandemic. Game over. As for the Infernity matchup.. you could say every deck has a bad one but that really isn't true. If they can't get going fast then Mermail will destroy it, and decks like Frog Monarch that have hand traps have a better chance. Especially with all the little things that come in Game 2.. small things like Necromancer walling you is a HUGE problem, especially when your best out to it (Tenki-Bear) is going to be countered by both sides.. monster removal like [ccProd]Overworked[/ccProd] and S/T removal in the form of MST and [ccProd]Dust Tornado[/ccProd]. There are just a ton of small problems like that post-board and if you can't pressure them, you won't win.
A pretty old strategy revamped by Tinplate Goldfish, this deck seemingly got a lot better overnight. Tinplate was exactly what Gadget needed - a searchable [ccProd]double summon[/ccProd]. Getting 1 turn [ccProd]Gear Gigant X[/ccProd]es is nothing to laugh at, especially when the first can search for another Goldfish for the same play to happen all over again next turn. Huge advantage generating XYZs are seeming to be a trend for this weekend.. GGX, Ophion, etc. It really gives cards that can respond to your opponent at any time a huge amount of added value.. [ccProd]Infernity Break[/ccProd] and [ccProd]Raigeki Break[/ccProd] (Undine Water) are what come to mind when it comes to themed removal but for everyone else we're going to have to settle for cards like [ccProd]Compulsory Evacuation Device[/ccProd]. More on that later.. Gadgets also have that "I win" card in the form of [ccProd]Ultimate Offering[/ccProd], similar to a [ccProd]Gateway of the Six[/ccProd] that can mean game at any time, not just during the early turns of the duel. [ccProd]Daigusto Emeral[/ccProd] gives a huge boost to this deck as well, and is actually the reason some of the people I talk to are messing around with the deck. Emeral is ridiculous, netting you 2 draws for free if you can protect him for a turn. All in all Gadget is a pretty good deck for Jersey, albeit being a bit slow. Floaters will be king at this event and this deck is chock full of em!
I think this deck is a trap. There really isn't a reason to play this at Jersey unless you think you're going to play against 11 rounds of Fire and Macro Rabbit because truthfully it's other matchups aren't very good. Like I said earlier Water is actually really hard (and that's just the Mono Mermail version), Gadget is hard, Infernity is hard, Frog Monarch is hard.. it basically has all the good matchups Fire has except it doesn't have a 50/50 Water matchup and the consistency isn't there. There just aren't enough Evilswarms released yet.. you could play the Dinosaur one to combo with [ccProd]Sabersaurus[/ccProd] if you're going that route or [ccProd]Lonefire Blossom[/ccProd] to act as a 4th copy of Mandragora but neither of those options seem very appealing. It can also get clogged with multiple copies of MST, Pandemic, [ccProd]Forbidden Dress[/ccProd], and Heavy early game and if you're playing off the top of your deck to make an XYZ chances are you're going to be playing from behind all game. It just isn't there for Evilswarm right now and my suggestion is to just wait until the new set comes out to play it but that's just my opinion.
This deck is even more of a trap! With having previous success with this deck (Top 32 Nationals 2010) I was very excited to pick this deck up again, but I was quickly reminded why I dropped the deck immediately after Nationals. The inconsistencies with the deck are just so huge. I could only loop maybe half my games if I were lucky, and half the loops I performed didn't really do much. This was all with the XYZ build, as the synchro build makes it even harder to setup combos, comes with bad draws like [ccProd]Infernity Avenger[/ccProd] and [ccProd]Infernity Mirage[/ccProd], and is weaker to Ophion. The Mermail matchup is atrocious with this deck too and since that's the deck you should be expecting the most of, I don't really see why anyone would want to take this deck to the YCS. Maybe if Evilswarm really did push Mermail out of the spotlight then this deck might be an okay pick but even then, good luck not drawing bad for 11 rounds. Luck is really going to have to be on your side, and this is coming from 1 of the 3 people to top Nationals with Infernity at its prime. It's just not worth it.
Now for tech cards for the weekend I've really been preaching [ccProd]Compulsory Evacuation Device[/ccProd] in my articles lately and I think it's a really powerful card. It's one of the few cards that are good against GGX and Ophion and it also doubles as a great side deck card if you happen to run across an Infernity player. It's even a decent 1-of if you wanted to dedicate a slot in your main deck to it as it can deal with Diva plays and Abyssgaios against Mermail. As for Evilswarm.. if your deck is really that hurt by Ophion then I suggest playing a couple copies of [ccProd]Breakthrough Skill[/ccProd] alongisde Compulsory. Grand Mole is another solid answer against the deck and if you're really scared of it of course there are always other options available to you like [ccProd]Chaos Trap Hole[/ccProd], [ccProd]Morphing Jar #2[/ccProd] and [ccProd]Prideful Roar[/ccProd]. When it comes to the Fire or Rabbit mirror match I've really taken a liking to [ccProd]Memory of an Adversary[/ccProd]. It's the card I wanted when I sided [ccProd]Pot of Avarice[/ccProd] in San Diego.. a +1 tempo swinger. It acts as extra copies of removal except you get the monster next turn. Anyone who's played this mirror, as well as something similar like the Hero mirror knows how huge this is. In a game where both decks can only summon one monster per turn barring [ccProd]Monster Reborn[/ccProd] or Tensu, starting your turn with a monster on board and still being able to summon if that one dies to removal is huge. I sided a copy when I got 1st at my regional 2 weeks ago and I've been starting to see it pop up in regional decklists in 2 other regionals since then. I really think this is going to be a huge card as sadly it couldn't be kept a secret after so many people started experimenting with it. I'd definitely recommend siding a copy or 2 as the person who resolves this will most likely win the game right there, harnessing the same power Retort has in the mirror match while being a tad bit more consistent.
That's about all I've got for this article but good luck if you have an event this weekend! And as always if you see me at Jersey please come up and say hi, I love meeting new people. That about wraps it up so remember to play hard or go HOME!