What I Would Play For YCS Anaheim 2014: Artifact Shaddolls

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Even though I won’t be competing in Anaheim, I’ve tested more for this event than I have in a long time. New Challengers is a really exciting set because it redefined the format so much, even though the two best decks remain the same. Both Shaddolls and Burning Abyss are almost completely different strategies than we knew before, and Qliphorts have become a very popular deck, to say the least. As I write this Burning Abyss and Qliphorts are both … Continue reading

Six Big Questions Heading Into YCS Anaheim

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With two weekends of Regional Qualifiers plus two ARGCS tournaments in the books, The New Challengers has made a huge impact.  Those tournaments generated a ton of information, and while the widescreen view is pretty clear there are a ton of very important issues just under the surface that are completely unresolved.  The big picture? Qliphorts and Burning Abyss appear to be the two decks-to-beat heading into YCS Anaheim, with Shaddolls seemingly slipping into obscurity and Satellarknights making a big … Continue reading

Exploring the Format: Burning Abyss With New Challengers

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It’s arguable what deck was really the best before the release of The New Challengers, but it was clear that Burning Abyss and Shaddolls were the only two strategies in the running. Both decks had so much going for them that it’s kind of crazy to think that NECH could shake things up, but it happened. Both decks get a ton of the new tools and now operate fairly differently than they did before. While I still hold Shaddolls near … Continue reading

How Earned Byes Can Win You Championships

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Two weeks ago TCGplayer hosted their first-ever YGO Series Championship – the culmination to five months of points-driven qualifying events.  Earning 20 qualifying points got you into the tournament, but if you nabbed 60 more you could cash them in for something else entirely – two byes that would let you skip Rounds 1 and 2.  The winner of that tournament, Mackenzie King Franklin, was one of the competitors that took the two-bye option.  Veteran competitors like Jeff Jones, Patrick … Continue reading

Analyzing Options: De-Fusion And El Shaddoll Fusion

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De-Fusion has seen a lot of play this format as a Side Deck option against Shaddoll variants. Defensively, you can use De-Fusion even if you’re not playing a Fusion-based strategy, to immediately remove a Shaddoll Fusion Monster from play much like Compulsory Evacuation Device.  The catch is that De-Fusion’s better in some ways, one of them being that it’s a Quick-Play spell instead of a regular trap card. That makes it faster and more flexible.  When you talk about using … Continue reading

Exploring the Format: Koa’ki Meiru

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As the wait for The New Challengers become shorter and shorter the current format has settled down pretty nicely. Burning Abyss and Shaddolls have scored the most tournament success by a significant margin, and thus are the two strategies that you should be building your deck to beat. Satellarknights are still a viable strategy as well though, so it’s not like you can count it out. So what’s one of the better ways to counter the Satellarknight game plan? A … Continue reading

Drilling Deep With Geargiauger!

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There are several distinct factors that make the best strategies of this format successful.  One of the biggest is a strong opening play.  If your deck can hit the ground running with a reliable Turn 1 set-up, odds are good that you can be competitive: Burning Abyss loves throwing down Dante, Traveler of the Burning Abyss to get things started, while Satellarknights and Shaddolls lay down infrastructure early to create flexible, high-impact moves on followup turns. Strong early games are … Continue reading

YCS Dallas 1st Place: Billy Brake’s 60-Card Control

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Decks exceeding the 40 card minimum have been around for quite a while: 41 and even 42 card decks were quite popular in the older days of the game, and more recently duelists like Long Dao and now Billy Brake have won Championships with massive 53 and 60 card decks respectively. What allows these strategies to be successful even though they go against the basic concepts of consistency? Looking at a deck like Mermail as a starting point, it would … Continue reading

Exploring the Format: Six Samurai

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Six Samurai was once the greatest deck in competition. While the majority of its success was thanks to [ccProd]Gateway of the Six[/ccProd], the Samurai were still quite a threat even once Gateway was Forbidden. With [ccProd]Reinforcement of the Army[/ccProd] now completely off the F&L List all Warrior strategies get a huge boost in consistency. Comboing off on your first turn is integral to the Samurai strategy, so when such a powerful lock type strategy suddenly becomes more consistent in accomplishing … Continue reading

Surprisingly Competitive: Burning Chaos Queen of Dragons

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Last month I was surprised to see Daniel Nunnally Top 8 the Minnesota Regional Qualifier with a deck I’d considered when Duelist Alliance released, but had never seen in tournament competition – a Chaos Ritual build starring [ccProd]Saffira, Queen of Dragons[/ccProd]. Nunnally’s a familiar face: he took second place at YCS Chicago in 2012 and scored several big tops since. He played Saffira with Tour Guide from the Underworld to fetch [ccProd]Djinn Releaser of Rituals[/ccProd], turning Saffira into a one-sided … Continue reading