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Deck Profile: Billy Brake and Jeff Jones’ Mono Mermail

Since the release of Abyss Rising¸ Mermails have been a big part of competitive metagames. The raw power and consistency of the deck made them quite the force, especially among the big names in high-level competition. With new support from Cosmo Blazer things got even better: Mermail Abyssteus allowed some older cards to shine and paved the way for a new version of the archetype. Billy Brake and Jeff Jones are both huge names in this game, and have been for quite some time, arguably the two best players currently competing. When great minds like this work in synch magic is bound to happen, and it looks like it has! This is their brainchild, affectionately called “Mono Mermail.”

Mono Mermail – 40 Cards
Monsters: 25

3 Atlantean Dragoons
1 Atlantean Heavy Infantry
3 Atlantean Marksman
3 Deep Sea Diva
2 Mermail Abyssgunde
1 Mermail Abyssleed
3 Mermail Abysslinde
3 Mermail Abyssmegalo
3 Mermail Abysspike
3 Mermail Abyssteus

Spells: 9
1 Dark Hole
2 Forbidden Lance
1 Heavy Storm
1 Monster Reborn
3 Mystical Space Typhoon
1 Pot of Avarice

Traps: 6
3 Abyss-sphere
2 Abyss-squall
1 Solemn Judgment

Extra: 15
1 Ally of Justice Catastor
1 Armory Arm
1 T.G. Hyper Librarian
1 Dewlorean, Tiger King of the Ice Barrier
1 Gungnir, Dragon of the Ice Barrier
1 Stardust Dragon
1 Scrap Dragon
1 Mist Wurm
1 Gachi Gachi Gantetsu
1 Wind-Up Zenmaines
1 Number 17: Leviathan Dragon
1 Abyss Dweller
1 Number 11: Big-Eye
2 Mermail Abyssgaios

Billy managed to take this all the way to 3rd place at the most recent YCS in Miami, narrowly defeated by Elijah Gersten piloting Wind-Ups, in the Top 4. Unfortunately Jeff didn’t make top cut because he was paired against Billy in the last Swiss Round, meaning that only one of them would be able to break through into the playoffs. That says a lot; not a lot of players were runing this version of Mermail and the two best were basically supposed to make it into the Top 32. When a deck with such low representation is capable of taking multiple people that far, that usually means something, so let’s talk about why this version of the strategy is so good.

Push
The previous iterations of this deck were capable of huge pushes, being able to power through a ton of protection and come out in a much better position than going in. That’s is even more true for this new build: Mermail Abyssteus allows you to go nuts while maintaining card presence throughout the whole process. Abyssteus can grab Mermail Abyssgunde, which means that your Mermail Abyssmegalo gives you even more cards. Abyssteus can also simply fetch an Abysslinde, giving you a 2400 DEF wall and a recruiter without any loss of cards. Maximizing your discard outlets is essential, and that’s why there are full playsets of Abyssteus, Abysspike, and Abyssmegalo.

Abyssgunde is a much bigger deal than it seems. It gives you a ton of resiliency to cards like Solemn Warning, and can do some neat stuff with very little. If your back’s against the wall, Abysslinde can grab Abysspike to discard your Abyssgunde, giving you any Level 3 Water while getting your Abysslinde back into play. The Level 3 could be another Abysslinde, an Abyssgunde to do the same thing again, or an Atlantean Marksman if you plan to go on the offensive. Abyssgunde also gives you ways to bring out Abyssleed, which is much better than it seems if you’re Special Summoning it for free. With the ability to search so much between Abyssteus, Abysspike, and Atlantean Dragoons, you can find Abyssmegalo to discard Abyssleed and Abyssgunde. From there you get to eliminate a random card from your opponent’s hand and either leave some big bodies in play, or make Mermail Abyssgaios. If you’re at a point where your opponent’s developed their field, Number 11: Big Eye can devastate them by taking an essential monster after you tear a card from their hand.

The only cards this version lost was the Genex engine. Although powerful, the engine’s typically slow unless you’re searching Abyssmegalo, and it makes your hand clunky when you’re stuck drawing multiple copies of Genex Controller. Trading those for more discard outlets and more things you want to discard usually means you’ll see a lot of similar hands, which is a good thing. If you can replicate effects with different cards you’ll achieve a higher level of consistency, though it may stick you with a more linear, predictable plan as well. However, because you’re only replicating discard outlets and things you want to discard, this strategy doesn’t have that problem; the newer cards do different things, which gives you different angles from which to approach your opponent.

Abyss-squall is also something new, and it’s pretty insane. You can search it with Abyssmegalo, and it gives you huge late game power after your opponent’s broken through your set up, or you’re trying to grind through theirs. The ideal Abyss-squall will give you two level 7 Mermails in addition to an Abysslinde, allowing you to Summon whichever Rank 7 you want while still giving you a Special Summon with Abysslinde so you don’t miss any opportunities. Big Eye can end a game pretty quickly if there isn’t a lot going on, but the other option is much more exciting: Mermail Abyssgaios.

Control
I often talk about decks shifting gears being a very good thing; adapting to situations and taking advantage of them in the best way possible is always an important feature. Mermails could normally do that fairly well, but they didn’t really shine in that regard. You can easily pump out a ton of aggression to break through defenses and disrupt your opponent’s plans, but that isn’t really what you want to be doing in a controlling role. True control requires you to be reactive to your opponent’s moves, while either protecting a win condition or building towards one. Abyssgaios is the main man in that kind of scenario, literally being the king of the sea.

Most decks can simply not deal with Abyssgaios: it can stop every Fire Fist, Inzektor, and Wind-Up monster, blanking their effects and making your opponent waste cards while you build momentum and tempo. On the opposite end of the spectrum, bigger monsters can’t declare attacks while Abyssgaiois is in play, so barring something like a Scrap Dragon effect or an ability triggering in the graveyard Abyssgaois is indestructible to opposing monsters. While it IS vulnerable to spell and trap card removal, Forbidden Lance gives you some extra protection for Abyssgaios in addition to being an effective choice for this strategy as a whole. You can hold it in your hand to dodge pesky things like Mystical Space Typhoon, and be as proactive as you like until you feel it’s necessary to set it.

In general, Abyssgaios is fairly easy to bring out, and when you do you can usually get a card with Abyssleed for free as well. A big body with a negation effect has always been very relevant; Just look back at Jinzo, Light and Darkness Dragon, Gladiator Beast Heraklinos, or Stardust Dragon. When Abyssgaios is combined with Abyss Dweller, things start getting really crazy. Not only is Abyssgaios’ ATK high enough to negate basically anything, you’re also able to stop graveyard effects with Dweller. That forms a sort of soft lock, and if you can pull if off in the mirror match, you’re almost guaranteed to win.

Overall, this new take on Mermail is by far the realest of deals. Capable of everything the old versions could do and more, it’ll be one of the defining strategies next format. Congratulations to both Billy and Jeff for doing so well in Miami and creating such a monstrosity. Do you think that the Mono Mermail deck is the frontrunner come next format? Make sure to tell us in the Comments below!

-Robert Boyajian

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