Analyzing Options: Awesome Mermails

Mermails have been a powerful strategy since their release. From the original Genex Mermail strategy, to Mono Mermail and Big Mermail, to Combo Mermail and OTK Mermail, and finally today’s Awesome Mermail concept, it seems like Mermails can find a way to be successful in virtually any format. But that said, it’s rare to see two different variants finding success in the same period, which is the precise situation we have now. Awesome Mermail decks come in two very distinct flavors; one that wants to go first, and another that really wants to go second.

But which strategy is better?

YCS Anaheim was the breakout tournament for new Mermail strategies thanks to the release of Toadally Awesome in Invasion of Vengeance. Different takes on Mermail were successful all through Day 1 and day 2, with a few making it through into the Top 32 despite the dominance of strategies like ABC and Metalfoes. The biggest question for Mermails that weekend had to do with initiative: whether it was better to build your deck hoping to go first or second. The decision was complicated by the fact that every other strategy in the format has a heavy advantage going first.

With that in mind, do you let your opponent have a great Turn 1 and build your strategy to go second knowing that whether you win or lose the die roll you’ll be going second? Or do you take the same path as every other strategy and try to win the coin flip to go first?

Prior to YCS Anaheim, Patrick Hoban made the Top Cut of an ARGCS with an Awesome Mermail deck built to go first. His initial design led to the popularity of the variant running Swap Frogs and a single Ronintoadin. Koty Angeloff made the Top Cut of YCS Anaheim with an exact copy of Hoban’s Main Deck, employing a few changes in the Extra Deck and Side Deck.

Let’s take a look.

Koty Angeloff’s Awesome Mermails – 40 Cards
300px-MermailAbyssmegalo-ABYR-EN-ScR-1EYCS Anaheim, November 27th, 2016
Monsters: 30

3 Aqua Spirit
2 Atlantean Dragoons
1 Atlantean Heavy Infantry
1 Atlantean Marksman
1 Deep Sea Diva
2 Mermail Abyssgunde
1 Mermail Abysshilde
1 Mermail Abyssmander
3 Mermail Abyssmegalo
1 Mermail Abyssocea
2 Mermail Abysspike
3 Mermail Abyssteus
1 Mermail Abyssturge
1 Moulinglacia the Elemental Lord
3 Neptabyss, the Atlantean Prince
1 Ronintoadin
3 Swap Frog

Spells: 9
3 Instant Fusion
1 One for One
3 Pot of Desires
1 Soul Charge
1 Upstart Goblin

Traps: 1
1 Abyss-sphere

300px-BahamutShark-ABYR-EN-ScR-1EExtra Deck: 15
1 Abyss Dweller
2 Bahamut Shark
1 Castel, the Skyblaster Musketeer
1 Elder Entity Norden
1 Leo, the Keeper of the Sacred Tree
1 Mechquipped Angineer
1 Mermail Abyssgaios
1 Number 39: Utopia
1 Number S39: Utopia the Lightning
1 Tatsunoko
3 Toadally Awesome
1 Trishula, Dragon of the Ice Barrier

Side Deck: 15
1 Dark Hole
3 Dimensional Barrier
2 Forbidden Chalice
2 Maxx “C”
1 Raigeki
3 System Down
3 Twin Twisters

This version of the strategy centers around a combo with Mermail Abyssocea, much like the Combo Mermail decks of long ago. But despite the similarities, Toadally Awesome’s a strict upgrade to Mermail Abysstrite, so summoning double Bahamut Shark for double Toadally Awesome is what you’re really trying to do.

The combo requires Mermail Abyssteus along with any Water Monster and a Level 4 Water Material that you can accelerate into play, like Aqua Spirit or Instant Fusion. You ditch whatever Water monster you have to Special Summon Mermail Abyssteus, then use its effect to search your deck for Abyssocea. You then Normal Summon Abyssocea and use it to send Abyssteus to the graveyard, so you can Special Summon Mermail Abysshilde and Mermail Abyssmander from your deck.

Next you use Aqua Spirit, or Instant Fusion for Elder Entity Norden, to get a second Level 4 Water Material onto the field. You overlay it with Abyssmander for your first Bahamut Shark. You’ll detach Abyssmander from Bahamut Shark to summon your first Toadally Awesome, and then you can use the effect of that Abyssmander from the graveyard to pump up your Abysshilde and Abyssocea to Level 4. From there you overlay them for the second Bahamut Shark and Special Summon the second Toadally Awesome! It’s really hard for your opponent to deal with two Bahamut Sharks backed up by two Awesomes, so you can almost guarantee another Toadally Awesome summon the following turn. If your opponent can only manage to get through one Awesome you’re almost guaranteed to win.

300px-MoulinglaciatheElementalLord-ABYR-EN-SR-1EEven if you don’t open with that specific combo, you can still do all the great things Mermails are known for; Neptabyss, the Atlantean Prince sets up a Mermail Abyssmegalo play into Moulinglacia the Elemental Lord, discarding cards from your opponent’s hand. Neptabyss can easily Special Summon Atlantean Dragoons to the field too, so you can make Bahamut Shark more efficiently.

Even opening with just a Swap Frog guarantees you a Toadally Awesome. You have an abundance of Water Monsters to discard for its effect, letting you dump Ronintoadin and summon Swap Frog again, putting another in the graveyard. That won’t just get you a Toadally Awesome – it’ll get you one with Xyz Materials so you can fetch another Frog from your deck in the Standby Phase.

Aside from the single copy of Abyss-sphere that Angeloff played over the more popular Abyss-scale of the Mizuchi, everything about this list is very straightforward. I think the big difference here is that Abyss-scale of the Mizuchi’s chiefly used for more damage, typically adding 1600 damage to your attack since Mermail Abyssmegalo swings twice. But in terms of disruption, Abyss-scale’s very weak against Pendulums because it only negates their effects; they can still be used as Pendulum Scales.

That’s even worse against Metalfoes, since the first Pendulum Scale they play is typically just going to be destroyed with their next Pendulum Spell anyways. Abyss-sphere lets you use the Atlanteans in your hand by fetching Mermail Abysspike as a discard outlet and disrupt your opponent further, while also letting you add more damage to your second turn, which is when this deck tries to win.

Let’s take a look at Blake Meyer’s build from Anaheim. It’s more of a traditional OTK list that tries to go second, but it’s got some new twists.

Blake Meyer’s Awesome Mermail – 40 Cards
YCS Anaheim, November 27th, 2016
GamecieltheSeaTurtleKaiju-DOCS-EN-R-1EMonsters: 26

1 Aqua Spirit
2 Atlantean Dragoons
2 Atlantean Heavy Infantry
2 Atlantean Marksman
1 Deep Sea Diva
3 Gameciel, the Sea Turtle Kaiju
2 Maxx “C”
1 Mermail Abyssgunde
3 Mermail Abyssmegalo
1 Mermail Abysspike
3 Mermail Abyssteus
1 Mermail Abyssturge
1 Moulinglacia the Elemental Lord
3 Neptabyss, the Atlantean Prince

Spells: 14
1 Abyss-scale of the Mizuchi
1 Dark Hole
3 Instant Fusion
3 Moray of Greed
1 One for One
1 Raigeki
1 Soul Charge
2 Twin Twisters
1 Upstart Goblin

crystronquandax-inov-en-ur-1eExtra Deck: 15
1 Abyss Dweller
1 Armored Kappa
1 Bahamut Shark
1 Black Rose Moonlight Dragon
1 Coral Dragon
1 Crystron Quandax
1 Elder Entity Norden
1 Leo, the Keeper of the Sacred Tree
1 Mecha Phantom Beast Dracossack
1 Mermail Abyssgaios
1 Number 101: Silent Honor ARK
1 Tatsunoko
2 Toadally Awesome
1 Trishula, Dragon of the Ice Barrier

Side Deck: 15
3 Anti-Spell Fragrance
2 D.D. Crow
2 Flying “C”
1 Forbidden Chalice
3 Solemn Strike
2 System Down
1 Twin Twisters
1 Vanity’s Emptiness

Mermails still do one thing better than any other strategy right now: killing your opponent, fast.

The deck has the highest and damage cap of any deck right now. It uses a minimal number of cards to search its combo pieces, and easily fields enough damage to attack through a couple blockers and still make game. That’s why every successful Mermail list since the release of Neptabyss, the Atlantean Prince has waned to go second, trying to exploit that advantage.

Mermails are so good at kicking out damage, and it just doesn’t make much sense to ignore what your deck’s great at. The trick is that Toadally Awesome lets you play a better Turn 1 even if you can’t kill your opponent, or you’re left with enough materials to still do your thing. I already mentioned how good Neptabyss is at Special Summoning Atlantean Dragoons for easy Level 4 Materials, and this build still uses a full set of Instant Fusions for more Rank 4 abuse.

Moray of Greed is the biggest difference between this version of Mermails and previous OTK variants. Much like Allure of Darkness in Burning Abyss, Moray offers a contingency plan: you can run lots of redundant combo cards to boost consistency, and when you don’t need them you can exchange them for other options.

toadallyawesome-inov-en-scr-1eNeptabyss, the Atlantean Prince is the night and day difference that made this OTK strategy viable, so it makes sense that anything you can do to dig for it would be good in the long term. Neptabyss fuels your graveyard with Atlantean Dragoons, and bringing it back by tributing Neptabyss is huge. That lets you put any other Level 4 Water into play, so you immediately have Bahamut Shark into Toadally Awesome to force through your OTK. At the very least you can keep your opponent from mounting a comeback if you clear their board. Meyer also ran Mermail Abyssturge, similar to older combo variants from long ago, trying to find more ways to make Bahamut Shark.

The last thing about these aggressive Awesome Mermail decks is that they typically Side Deck cards that help them perform better going first. Meyer ran a full set of Solemn Strikes and Anti-Spell Fragrance to ensure that when he went first, he’d have a decent chance at winning as long as he drew a trap and could summon Toadally Awesome. I actually like this variant much more, because it can play both roles after Side Decking, while knowing that it’s going to go second in Game 1 regardless of the die roll result. It really plays to the strategy’s biggest strengths, and it works especially well in such a wide format.

Mermails have always been strong, and Toadally Awesome pushes them to a new level. These kinds of builds will continue to be successful as long as Awesome’s around, so make sure to prepare for the Awesome Mermail matchup.

-Robert Boyajian

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