Alexander Thomas’ WCQ Top 32 Madolches!

At the North American WCQ there was a lull in the action between the Top 64 and Top 32.  The top cut deck checks were being conducted, which meant that the remaining main event competitors got to take a bit of a break while the diligent judge staff vetted the integrity of their cards, sleeves, deck lists, and everything else.  I remember going back into the Deck Check Team’s area and seeing all 32 decks on a table.  Curious, I approached one of the judges.

“So are 31 of these decks Prophecy and Dragon Rulers?”

“Uhh, well… possibly.”

“Want to help me double check really quick?”

We did double check: I quickly perused half the deck lists, and the judge helping me out skimmed the other half.  Sure enough, all but one of the decks were Prophecy and Dragon Rulers.  Another staff member approached and asked, “Hey!  Are those ALL Prophecy and Dragon Rulers by now?”

“All but one!” I replied.

“What’s the one?”

“Madolche!”

Alexander Thomas wound up being the last duelist in the North American World Championship Qualifier to play a non-Dragon non-Prophecy strategy, and sadly his downfall arrived about an hour after I made that discovery.  You can read all about that in his Top 32 Feature Match.  Though Thomas’ run ended before he could reach the Top 16, it was still a heck of a showing from a deck that most never expected.  I think the average WCQ player had no idea that Madolche had proven itself a game-winning force in the current Advanced environment.  The deck had a couple of impressive finishes since Lord of the Tachyon Galaxy released, one of them being Thomas’ own first place finish at the Seattle Regional in June.

So HOW Did This Happen?
If you’ve been following along here at the CoreTCG Blog, you know that a couple months ago Robert Boyajian spoke of one common way competitors can beat Prophecy and Dragon Rulers: sheer speed.  There are a couple of big combo plays involving M-X-Saber Invoker, Madolche Hootcake, and Madolche Queen Tiaramisu that can result in OTK’s, and a few of the successful Madolche decks we’ve seen this format aimed to win with those kinds of moves.  This deck doesn’t really do that.  It can certainly OTK thanks to Ultimate Offering, but it’s much more control-oriented; it eschews cards like a third Madolche Messengelato and T.G. Warwolf, which an OTK build would place priority on.

Instead, Thomas ran this…

Alexander Thomas’ Madolche – 40 Cards
Top 32 – 2013 North American WCQ
Monsters: 18
3 Effect Veiler
3 Madolche Hootcake
3 Madolche Magileine
2 Madolche Messengelato
1 Madolche Mewfeuille
1 Madolche Puddingcess
3 Maxx “C”
2 Thunder King Rai-Oh

Spells: 7        
1 Book of Moon
2 Forbidden Lance
1 Madolche Chateau
2 Madolche Ticket
1 Mystical Space Typhoon

Traps: 15
2 Bottomless Trap Hole
2 Compulsory Evacuation Device
2 Dark Bribe
1 Imperial Iron Wall
1 Madolche Nights
1 Madolchepalooza
1 Mirror Force
1 Scrap-Iron Scarecrow
1 Solemn Judgment
1 Torrential Tribute
1 Ultimate Offering
1 Vanity’s Emptiness

Side Deck: 15
2 Anti-Spell Fragrance
3 Droll & Lock Bird
3 Gozen Match
1 Heavy Storm
1 Imperial Iron Wall
2 Kycoo the Ghost Destroyer
1 Madolche Chateau
1 Madolche Marmalmaid
1 Metaion, the Timecard

Extra Deck: 15        
1 Abyss Dweller
1 Diamond Dire Wolf
1 Fairy King Albverdich
1 Gagaga Cowboy
1 Leviair the Sea Dragon
1 M-X-Saber Invoker
2 Madolche Queen Tiaramisu
1 Maestroke the Symphony Djinn
1 Number 16: Shock Master
1 Number 30: Acid Golem of Destruction
1 Number 39: Utopia
1 Number C39: Utopia Ray
1 Soul of Silvermountain
1 Wind-Up Zenmaines

This deck is all about disrupting your opponent’s early game moves, creating both pressure and card advantage with Madolche effects.  While Thomas’ previous build from the Regional in Seattle had played for big, aggressive damage – going so far as to run Guardian Eatos – this version’s a little more on-theme and trades Thomas’ former Kycoo the Ghost Destroyers for Thunder King Rai-Ohs.  It also Main Decked some tech cards Thomas didn’t run in his last Regional showing: Vanity’s Emptiness and Imperial Iron Wall.

As random and wacky as this strategy may look, it’s really all about precision.  Madolche Magileine searches out any Madolche monster you need, adding it to your hand.  Madolche Ticket serves the same purpose, converting your destroyed Madolches (and Madolche Queen Tiaramisu effects) into more searches.  Madolche Messengelato fetches Madolche Ticket and Madolche Chateau, the latter protecting your card presence by returning destroyed Madolches to your hand.

Tiaramisu is your coup de grace, providing a tremendous finish that’s usually a field-clearing +2, often turning into a +3 or +4 off of Ticket and Chateau.  Note that with Ticket and Chateau on the field, Tiaramisu can blow away two of your opponent’s cards and place an additional 2100 damage on the field in the form of a buffed Madolche Messengelato.  Bring out Madolche Hootcake instead and use that to Summon Messengelato, and suddenly you’re scoring even more pluses… and kicking out up to 6400 Battle Damage.  All that proactive search power makes the deck extremely precise and consistent.

Hootcake Holds It Together
This might not be news to you, but it was the release of Madolche Hootcake that brought everything to a head for this strategy.  With 1500 ATK – which becomes 2000 ATK with Chateau on the field – it’s a solid beater by Madolche standards.  More than that, it gives you a way to clear your graveyard for cards like Madolche Puddingcess and Madolche Nights, and builds on the deck’s already-impressive search capabilities: once a turn, by banishing a monster from your graveyard, Hootcake Special Summons any one Madolche of your choice from your Deck (anything but another Hootcake).

That means it’s the perfect combo with Madolche Messengelato, which has an admirable 1700 ATK and grabs you an on-theme spell or trap from your deck when you Special Summon it so long as you control a Beast Madolche.  Since Hootcake’s a Beast itself, that gives you instant access to Madolche Chateau, Madolche Ticket, Madolche Nights, or Madolchepalooza.  It’s an immediate +2 that puts a base 3200 ATK on the field, and sets you up with one of four options:

-Chateau, which boosts you to 4200 ATK and protects your card presence by recycling fallen monsters.

-Ticket, to protect your card presence by searching more monsters to replace destroyed one.

-Nights, negating a key monster effect, and shielding you from stuff like Jowgen the Spiritualist – again, more insurance to protect your position.

-Or Madolchepalooza, a card that ends games by creating an explosive rush of attackers.

It’s important to understand that Hootcake and Messengelato don’t just gain card advantage and deal damage – the cards  you search also protect your position in the game and help you adapt to the situation at hand, helping you work towards a win.

In addition, Hootcake’s banishing cost means you can run Maxx “C” and Effect Veiler, without interfering with the handful of effects that require you to have a monster-free graveyard.  Looking beyond Messengelato, Hootcake also Summons one of your trickiest, most dangerous cards…

The Power of Puddingcess
Thomas continues to play Madolche Puddingcess despite it being a rare choice for most Madolche duelists, and it continues to win him huge tournament games.  Though Puddingcess is Level 5 and Thomas only runs one copy, he can search it out with Madolche Magileine or Madolche Ticket, then Special Summon it with Madolche Mewfeuille.  Or he can just bring it out straight from the deck with Hootcake.

When Puddingcess is on the field and there are no monsters in your graveyard, it goes from a middling 1000 ATK to a respectable 1800.  That’s a fair chunk of damage for a Madolche.  More importantly, every time Puddingcess battles an opponent’s monster, it destroys an opposing card of your choice after damage calculation.  That effect happens whether Puddingcess survives the battle or not.  So if your opponent attacks her to take her down, they’re always losing something.  Maybe they’re losing their attacker; maybe they’re losing something else entirely as you soften them up for a big press next turn.  Your opponent never knows what you’ll choose, and that makes Puddingcess a difficult card to approach.  Many players won’t even realize that Puddingcess’ effect works if she’s destroyed: watch enough Madolche matches and you’ll inevitably see people throwing away games because they don’t understand how the card works.

That destruction effect doesn’t trigger if Puddingcess makes a direct attack, so it really punishes your opponent for leaving stuff like Spellbook Magician of Prophecy or a Mecha Phantom Beast Token on the field.  That means you can turn common minus scenario into 1-for-1’s, or glean +1’s from situations where your opponent would feel safe otherwise.

And that’s really what makes this deck so good.  On one hand, it’s got a big surprise factor, a ton of disruption, and the ability to make branching plays off individual cards that create more damage than your opponent may anticipate.  But on the other, it’s also really good at gaining card advantage, keeping it, and dealing with the plays your opponent makes for free.  In an era where few decks can keep up with all the pluses of the Dragon Ruler and Prophecy strategies, that’s what makes Madolches so viable.  Not even Evilswarm or Atlantean Mermails generate so many free cards so quickly, and neither protect their position this well either.

And That Makes The Stun Cards Better
If you look at the two top decks in this format, it’s intriguing to see how they use all those free cards they generate.  The Dragon Ruler deck largely gathers a ton of monsters to throw around, making big Xyz and free Special Summons to unleash a stream of attackers.  The Prophecy deck is virtually the opposite: it runs very few monsters, but the majority of its free pluses off Spellbook of Judgment come in the form of control-oriented spells, not monster cards.  Each Judgment gets you one free Special Summon, but easily nets three to five free spells.  Viewed from that perspective, the two decks sit at the opposite sides of a spectrum.

The Madolche deck’s cool because it sits right in the middle.  Hootcake, Magileine, Ticket, and Chateau all get you free monsters, while Messengelato, Puddingcess, and Madolche Nights all offer control-oriented effects that are largely free as well.  Thomas built on this dichotomy by adding even more control effects that cover a wide range of functions: Effect Veiler keeps monster effects in line; Maxx “C”, Vanity’s Emptiness, Imperial Iron Wall, and Thunder King Rai-Oh restrict Summoning; while Bottomless, Compulsory Evacuation Device, Mirror Force, Torrential Tribute, and Scrap-Iron Scarecrow stop would-be attackers.  All that free card advantage even allows Thomas to run double Dark Bribe to stop power spells, and to take apart key effects like Super Rejuvenation and Spellbook of Judgment.  In any other deck Dark Bribe would be tough to justify, but since Thomas can nab both free attackers and free control effects, he can capitalize on the brief setback Bribe dishes out and take full advantage of the time it buys him.

This deck’s brilliant.  It doesn’t quite reach the same level of free-card-craziness as Dragon Rulers and Prophecy, but what it lacks in brute card economy it makes up for with flexibility.  It’s easy to see both why this strategy did so well, and why was so easy to misunderstand and disregard before the WCQ.  It’s a subtle strategy.  That said, Thomas’ top was no fluke – this deck is for real, competing on some very strong fundamentals.  If you’re looking for a highly competitive strategy to play as you wait for Regionals to start up again in late August, it’s a great choice.

What do you think of Madolches in tournament competition?  Tell us your thoughts down in the Comments!

-Jason Grabher-Meyer

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