YCS San Diego: Before & After

frazier smithGreetings, duelists! I hope everyone enjoyed the Battle Pack YCS this past weekend--I know I sure did. I was able to fight through 14 rounds of Swiss and make the Top32 cut with relative ease. Not only did the event run very smoothly, but it also gave me and many others a taste of something different from the linear constructed format. Mermails and Fire Fist ended up in the finals again, consistently proving themselves as the best two decks in the format (as of now). The outcome was exactly the same as that of the very last YCS in Austin, Texas, which was only 2 weeks ago. Unfortunately, the whole tournament did not stay Battle Pack sealed as I would have loved it to be, just like the first Battle Pack YCS in Sheffield. Maybe they'll switch it up in the future for us. After playing in that format, I can easily see the difference in skill level between the average, the good, and the great players. Some people packed very well, some people packed average, and very few people packed poorly. This article is going to give you my thoughts on the event before and after, as well as what I did to prepare for it. I'll start by giving you my decklist and the extra cards I pulled, then we'll analyze it altogether.

treeborn frogMonsters: 16
2 goblin attack force
1 ape fighter
1 voltic kong
1 treeborn frog
1 snowman eater
1 asura priest
1 exiled force
1 breaker the magical warrior
1 goblindbergh
1 twin barrel dragon
1 drillroid
1 machine fortress
1 airknight parshath
1 power giant
1 white night dragon

Spells: 10
1 harpies feather duster
1 graceful charity
1 burden of the mighty
1 creature swap
1 scapegoat
1 autonomous action unit
1 fiend's sanctuary
1 mystical space typhoon
1 shield crush
1 tribute to the doomed

Traps: 4
1 solemn judgment
1 fiendish chain
1 nightmare wheel
1 magical cylinder

Extra deck: 3
1 gem knight pearl
1 leviathan dragon
1 grenosaurus
1 wind up zenmaines (just kidding)

Extra cards: 17
2 half or nothing
1 horn of the unicorn
1 needle ceiling
1 tour guide from the underworld
1 amazoness trainee
1 backup warrior
1 chaos necromancer
1 fabled raven
1 makyura the destructor
1 morphing jar
1 muka muka
1 shield warrior
1 stealth bird
1 theban nightmare
1 white night dragon
1 wind up dog

Right off the bat, I'll start off by saying that my deck was certainly not bad. While I don't think it was great, it was definitely something I could work with. Essentially, I was given the pieces to assemble a control deck. The cards I received were not meant to be put together into some aggressive type deck, which is really good for me because I've never been that type of player. I had many little combos that worked well together if I waited to assemble them. I think that was a big key to my success Day 1.

I played every single spell I packed, except Horn of the Unicorn. I do not believe in that card, and many of my monsters would not work well with it (Goblin Attack Force, Asura Priest, Treeborn Frog, Snowman Eater, Exiled Force, etc). Also, my monster count was relatively low so that made it even more undesirable. But what I really don't like about Horn is the drawback to it--having to draw it turn after turn if your opponent deals with the monster equipped, or even the equip card itself. Literally every time I played someone who used Horn of the Unicorn on me, they lost that game shortly after.

I had Scapegoats, Creature Swap, Asura Priest, and Treeborn Frog. Needless to say, those cards work well together in the sense that I can give you my Goats, Priest, or Treeborn, and take your monster for free. Asura will come back to me during the end phase, and Treeborn will come back to me during the standby phase. I can also put a Goat into attack mode, Swap it, and deal damage to you based on what I took. I didn't get any Monarchs with my Frog, but I can't really complain because in Battle Packed sealed, just having Frog is good by itself due to its walling properties.

I played Machina Fortress, Drillroid, and Twin Barrel Dragon as a mini-machine package. With only 30 cards in the main deck, it's not too unrealistic to special summon Fortress by having 1 of the other 2 machines in hand. Fortress was also good for killing ridiculous monsters like Guardian Sphinx, the Monarchs, Dark Ruler Ha Des, and the other bosses outside of Dark Magician of Chaos and Obelisk the Tormentor.

I used Goblin Attack Force as more of a wall than an attacker because I understood how difficult it can be to deal with when it doesn't attack, and that's exactly how I played it. On other occasions, I would use it to clear bigger monsters like Gene Warped and Slate Warrior, or any of the other 1900s, leading to a +1 until they killed it in defense position with something that didn't have particularly high attack power. This made Goblin Attack Force a bait card because it would lure out something weaker in your hand, knowing that you can't resist the urge to kill a monster with 0 defense, sitting in defense. Then, I could summon something like Ape Fighter, Voltic Kong, Breaker, or Asura Priest to destroy that and possibly keep the plus 1 that started the whole exchange.

solemn judgmentMy traps were decent. Solemn Judgment is undoubtedly one of the best cards in sealed since you have no idea what you'll be up against, and it stops everything short of Obelisk indiscriminately. Fiendish Chain is widely used in constructed so we already know it's great. Magic Cylinder and Nightmare Wheel gave me a mini-burn package that could steal games that were otherwise lost due to a lack of card advantage. As a side note, I realized that it might not be the best idea to let yourself fall too low on lifepoints if you could help it, only because of cards like Ring of Destruction, Magical Cylinder, Cloudian Poison Cloud, Blast Sphere, and Nightmare Wheel. In standard Yu-Gi-Oh, these aren't legitimate fears.

As for identifying conflicting cards in my deck--since every player should be aware of them--I immediately noticed that my spells and traps did not work well with Treeborn Frog. This made some of my decisions harder than they would've been if I didn't pack the reviving amphibian. I had Burden of the Mighty, Autonomous Action Unit, Fiendish Chain, Nightmare Wheel, and Solemn Judgment. All of the aforementioned cards conflict with Treeborn. This forced me to wait until the absolute latest moments to play them. I wouldn't even set Solemn Judgment out of fear that I could lock out my Frog and then have nothing worthy of Solemning. I never wanted to Solemn something stupid just to retrieve Treeborn.

My packs also granted me some simple removal in the forms of Exiled Force, Drillroid, Snowman Eater, Shield Crush, and Tribute to the Doomed. Surprisingly, I found Drillroid to be exceedingly useful in Battle Pack sealed. I knew of its weakness to Blast Sphere, but other than that, it served as a stellar out to Metal Reflect Slime, Guardian Sphinx, and all those annoying monsters that can't die as a result of battle once per turn.

In the cases of Snowman Eater and Exiled Force, you had to know how to wait on them for an opportune time. I wouldn't set Snowman on turn 1 because there were cards like Card Trooper and Witch of the Black Forest in the set, but as soon as you put something 1900 or less on the field, I would immediately set it. I wanted your guy to not only die, but to also leave the Snowman unscathed by the battle.

I only ever sided 1 card every round, if at all, and that was White Night Dragon for Needle Ceiling, depending on what type of deck and player you were. I decided not to main Needle Ceiling, though I know how well it can work with Scapegoats. I didn't like the idea of having a potentially dead card so early on and it was out of that or White Night Dragon for the last spot. White Night was chosen because of Treeborn, Autonomous Action Unit, Fiend's Sanctuary, and Creature Swap. He won a few games.

If you're thinking about Morphing Jar, then you must consider a few things before calling it an "auto-include." The first thing is that that I am using 30 cards with Graceful Charity and Airknight Parshath—I don’t want to bring myself too close to decking out. The second is that I had no intention of accelerating my opponents' deck when mine operated pretty slowly in comparison to others. I worked hard to diminish card advantage and I hated to see someone gain 5 new cards for any reason other than decking out. I attacked into 1 Morphing Jar during the tournament and it made the guy lose much, much worse.

The most powerful cards in my deck were obviously the two banned ones, Harpies Feather Duster and Graceful Charity. I don't think I need to explain much on either of those except that I held Graceful until I drew into Treeborn Frog or until I REALLY needed to fix my hand. If they set one backrow, I would use Mystical Space Typhoon or Breaker the Magical Warrior. If they set more than one backrow, I would use Duster--if I had it of course.

tour guideThe rest of my cards that weren't used in the main deck were nearly unplayable. I had a Tour Guide from the Underworld and no other level 3 fiend monster. If I did have a target for her, my deck would've instantly been nuts. That one extra power card would've been great, but alas, I didn't have it. Makyura is banned but terrible in sealed, Muka Muka is too gimmicky, and Stealth Bird couldn't be protected. Everything else is obvious if you read it.

In preparation for the event, I read all the cards from the Battle Pack on my Yu-Gi-Oh app for the iPhone, and made myself aware of every rare and every threat. I also played an 8-man practice tournament the night before with Jeff, Billy, Silverman and a few others. I talked with Simon He about his experiences at the first Battle Pack tournament since he made Top8. Other than that, my years of playing this game coupled with my keen ability to evaluate risks made it pretty simple.

My only loss in Swiss was to Peter Gross, who happens to be the same guy that won YCS Sheffield, the first ever Battle Pack YCS. I only went to game three twice in 9 rounds--one of them being against Peter. My opponents had great cards like Pot of Greed, Gorz the Emissary of Darkness, Snatch Steal, and Ring of Destruction, but they didn't know how to use them (Pot of Greed is the only one you don't need to do anything but activate it to play it correctly). It was very entertaining to see others play better decks and misuse them. The skill gap was as palpable as the cards themselves.

Day 2 was constructed with only 5 rounds of Swiss. I used the exact same Dino-Fist deck--card for card--that I used to go undefeated at the Maryland regional 2 weeks prior. I hadn't even taken the deck out of the deckbox since then. I finished X-1 losing only to Frog Monarchs after siding incorrectly. I didn't know he was going to bring in Messenger of Peace so I sided out my MST(s), Heavy Storm, and Gorilla. I knew I was losing the match after turn 1. All he had to do was pay 100 every turn to guarantee it. My other matches were 2 Dino Rabbit decks, 1 Elemental Hero Electrum OTK deck, and 1 Dark World deck. I won both games against all of those, too.

In Top32, I played against Dino Rabbit yet again and we got deck checked. I swear every time I get deck checked, either me or my opponent draws terrible in game one. In this case, it was me; I drew 0 monsters for 3 turns. They also seemed to be very far apart, so every time I got a new one, he had removal for it. It was an extremely frustrating game one. I managed to barely pull out game two and then in game three he opened with Rabbit and Solemn Judgment. He even had another Rabbit, but when I passed back to him, he drew another Kabazauls to make it dead. I wasn't even meant to stand a chance--I've been eliminated from the playoffs just like this by Dino-Rabbit far too much in the past. Sadly, it was my other pick for Day 2. I even wrote the decklist on the night before Day 2 for my friend, Oran Mesica, who used Dino Rabbit to get to Top8. To me, it was clear to see that it was a good meta call, knowing there would be infinite Mermail decks and only 5 rounds. I just think that the Fire Fist package is a little bit more consistent than the full dinosaur package. I stand by that. Here is a copy of the decklist:

fire fist - bearMonsters: 15
3 brotherhood of the fire fist- bear
3 gene warped warwolf
3 sabersaurus
2 rescue rabbit
2 tour guide from the underworld
1 brotherhood of the fire fist- gorilla
1 cardcar d

Spells: 13
3 fire formation- tenki
3 mystical space typhoon
2 forbidden lance
1 fire formation- tensu
1 dark hole
1 monster reborn
1 heavy storm
1 pot of duality

Traps: 13
2 fiendish chain
2 dimensional prison
2 bottomless trap hole
2 torrential tribute
2 mirror force
1 solemn warning
1 solemn judgment
1 starlight road

Side deck: 15
3 dimensional fissure
2 rivalry of the warlord
2 dust tornado
2 effect veiler
2 banisher of the radiance
2 snowman eater
1 mind control
1 overworked

Extra: 15
2 brotherhood of the fire fist- tiger king
1 evolzar Laggia
1 evolzar dolkka
1 maestroke the symphony djinn
1 gagaga cowboy
1 leviair the sea dragon
1 abyss dweller
1 wind up zenmaines
1 temtempo the percussion djinn
1 number 50: blackship of corn
1 number 39: utopia
1 number 30: acid golem of destruction
1 steelswarm roach
1 stardust dragon

In hindsight, I don't think I would've done much differently. I was confident in my decisions and I don't recall any crazy misplays outside of siding incorrectly for Frog Monarchs. I did not want to use Mermails because I knew I wasn't going to be the luckiest person in the room using them. The mirror match is dreadful. If you don't believe me, then ask Jeff how he lost in Top8, or Billy how he lost in round 5. I know it's the best deck, and it also caters to how I play, but I wanted something more consistent, and I feel that Fire Fist is that deck.

After having played in my first Battle Pack sealed YCS, I can say that I’ve definitely gained a lot of respect for the format. It felt good to punish people for their mistakes or overextensions, something that doesn’t get to happen too often in constructed right now. If you could, I would recommend that you and your friends try to buy about 3 boxes of Battle Pack, open all the packs, sleeve the cards, and shuffle them up. You’ll need to remove the rares and Starfoil cards from the rest of the cards to make sure that each player only gets 10 standard rares and 10 starfoil cards. It won’t be a perfect replica, but it’ll be close enough to enjoy and get the experience.

Thanks for reading!

Remember, Play Hard or Go Home!

-Frazier Smith

-The Dark Magician

Frazier Smith

Latest posts by Frazier Smith (see all)