Exploring the Format: Blue-Eyes White Dragon

Prior to Structure Deck: Seto Kaiba and Invasion: Vengeance, Blue-Eyes White Dragon was quite the force in the competitive scene. Accelerating huge monsters into play is a good way to win, and the Blue-Eye strategy was really consistent with its high number of draw cards and search effects. The deck slams down threats quickly and often.

But ABC-Dragon Buster, Metalfoes, and Paleozoics really raised the bar in terms of power level. Each of those decks can snowball out of control very quickly without needing many cards to start, whereas a Blue-Eyes player will usually need to use every card in their hand to do so, and they don’t relaly try to play for card advantage.

That said, Blue-Eyes isn’t necessarily inferior just because it operates in a different fashion from those strategies. Because Blue-Eyes fields are so strong, you can typically just kill your opponent on the following turn. There’s no need to try and grind them out with Toadally Awesome or anything like that, it’s just raw damage big enough to end the game.

300px-AzureEyesSilverDragon-SDBE-EN-UR-1EThe biggest issue with that plan is that if a Blue-Eyes player loses their field, they’re probably losing the game if they invested a decent number of cards. Blue-Eyes has a bit of resilience thanks to Return of the Dragon Lords and Azure-Eyes Silver Dragon, but it’s far from ideal. When you make a field it has to count; if you can manage that then it’s easy to win.

Blue-Eyes is also good going second, a strength that a lot of strategies lack right now. ABC-Dragon Buster can’t typically produce a field strong enough in one turn to regain initiative, so they can’t take back a field that’s already dug in with relevant threats. But Blue-Eyes has good tools to accelerate stuff into play and eliminate established progress.

Blue-Eyes Alternative White Dragon plays a big role in that, since it takes minimal set-up and clears cards without even attacking. Couple that with further acceleration in the form of graveyard recursion – think Rise of the True Dragon Lords and Silver’s Cry – and you’ve got a recipe for success.

Is all of that a good enough reason to sleeve up Kaiba’s mighty engines of destruction? Probably, but the real reason I think it’s worthwhile right now has a lot more to do with the shape of current competition. Blue-Eyes can run a lot of cards that are just very good right now. Sometimes you can turn matchups on their head because one strategy’s just so well positioned against another in one particular way that everything comes to revolve around that one interaction.

Blue-Eyes definitely has that going against Metalfoes, which many believe is the best deck right now.

Inherent Advantage
So what makes Blue-Eyes so good against Metalfoes? Blue-Eyes has key Pendulum disruption that’s super easy to play. Blue-Eyes Spirit Dragon is an obvious highlight, since its effect stops the summoning of multiple threats and it puts a big wrench into what Pendulums want to do the most: Pendulum Summon. If your opponent invests two cards into their Pendulum Scale they need to see big results. Blue-Eyes Spirit Dragon stifles that much-needed payoff; one monster per Pendulum Summon is definitely not enough to contest a Blue-Eyes field.

That said, I think the bigger player here is Dragon Spirit of White. Disrupting Pendulum Scales is huge, and the fact that Dragon Spirit can also banish them is insane. Your opponent can’t recoup any of their losses because their Pendulum Monsters get banished; they can’t bring them back with a Pendulum Summon.

That’s huge when you consider how much of an impact just one Majespecter Unicorn – Kirin can have. Dragon Spirite of White’s easy to summon thanks to The White Stone of Ancients, and on top of that, Metalfoes are especially fragile if you hit them towards the end of their combo rather than the beginning. Your opponent will begin destroying their own Pendulum Scales to fill their Extra Deck and search for threats, and as they begin to assemble their Pendulum Scales for the last time, you can flip Silver’s Cry to bring back your Dragon Spirit of White and set them back miles.

Let’s take a look at the list Patrick James piloted to a second place finish at the recent ARG Invitational:

Patrick James’s Blue-Eyes – 40 Cards
BlueEyesAlternativeWhiteDragon-MVP1-EN-UR-1EMonsters: 23

3 Galaxy Soldier
3 The White Stone of Legend
3 The White Stone of Ancients
3 Sage with Eyes of Blue
3 Blue-Eyes Alternative White Dragon
3 Blue-Eyes White Dragon
2 Dragon Spirit of White
2 Maxx “C”
1 Effect Veiler

Spells: 17
3 Melody of Awakening Dragon
3 Return of the Dragon Lord
3 Cards of Consonance
3 Trade-In
2 Pot of Desires
2 Silver’s Cry
1 Soul Charge

Extra Deck: 15
2 Blue-Eyes Spirit Dragon
1 Azure-Eyes Silver Dragon
1 Vermillion Mech Dragon
blueeyesspiritdragon-ct13-en-ur-le1 Crystal Wing Synchro Dragon
1 Michael, the Arch-Lightsworn
1 Black Rose Moonlight Dragon
1 Number 95: Galaxy-Eyes Dark Matter Dragon
1 Galaxy-Eyes Cipher Dragon
1 Galaxy-Eyes Full Armor Photon Dragon
1 Number 38: Hope Harbinger Titanic Galaxy Dragon
1 Alsei, the Sylvan High Protector
1 Cyber Dragon Infinity
1 Cyber Dragon Nova
1 Constellar Pleiades

Side Deck: 15
3 Lava Golem
3 System Down
3 Twin Twisters
3 Forbidden Chalice
3 Typhoon

There’s a lot to take away from James’ list; it’s really different from what we’ve seen before.

One big example is Galaxy Soldier, a monster that we saw maybe half the time in previous Blue-Eyes lists. It’s one of the big reasons that this deck is so successful. James noted that it’s one of the best cards in his deck because it fixes hands in a great way. It gets you to Cyber Dragon Infinity too, which is obviously huge, but the chance to discard a necessary Stone or Dragon to the graveyard so you can begin to combo off or draw cards is huge. Blue-Eyes is notorious for having horrendously bad hands, so you want to build your deck in a way that minimizes the chance of brick draws. Galaxy Soldier’s key to James’ precautions against that.

In addition to a full set of Galaxy Soldiers, James also ran a full three Cards of Consonance. At one point Cards of Consonance wasn’t played at all, as Blue-Eyes Duelists would much rather Normal Summon their Tuner rather than discard it for more cards. Blue-Eyes Spirit Dragon is this deck’s bread and butter, so ditching a Tuner in hopes of finding another one isn’t always the best plan. But consistency is king here; the deck maxes out on Cards of Consonance so he can dig through his deck to find his best cards. He also played a full set of The White Stone of Legend to go along with Consonance, as the ideal card you want to pitch for it.

James’s list is pretty standard other than that – he just maxes out on all of the best cards he can. Consistency is tremendously important right now, as we saw with both Billy Brake’s Metalfoes and Joshua Schmidt’s Paleozoic Frogs from YCS Bochum.

Side Deck Tech
The Side Deck’s a bit more interesting, though it’s still only five different cards in total.

Gameciel, the Sea Turtle Kaiju’s very popular in Blue-Eyes since in worst case scenarios, you can just ditch it with Trade-In to find more cards. But James has gone in a very different direction by playing Lava Golem instead.

lavagolem-dpbc-en-r-1eThere are two huge differences between Lava Golem and the Kaijus, the first being how many monsters are tributed. A single disruptive threat usually isn’t enough to beat you, but when it’s backed up by traps that can be a huge problem. For example, if your opponent has both Masked HERO Dark Law and Toadally Awesome with a trap, and you Kaiju one of their threats, the remaining monster plus the trap is still probably good enough to beat you. On the other hand Lava Golem will deal with both threats, so you essentially get a 2-for-1 off your opponent and only need to worry about their trap.

The other difference is that Lava Golem locks you out of your Normal Summon, whereas the Kaiju do not. Blue-Eyes isn’t very reliant on its Normal Summon compared to strategies like ABC, so you can probably afford to take that loss if it means getting another threat out of the way. This trend of making bigger and better fields with multiple resilient and disruptive threats is what makes Lava Golem so good right now. Fielding two big threats is much easier than three, which is probably why we don’t see The Winged Dragon of Ra – Sphere Mode here, but the fact that Lava Golem can also be thrown away to Trade-In while Sphere Mode can’t is probably a factor too.

We haven’t seen Forbidden Chalice much since the release of Kaijus, but it’s notable for being more flexible. It can answer problematic threats going second just like the Kaiju, but if you don’t need to do that you can always set it to disrupt your opponent if they try to push back. Cards that can play both roles are pretty big, as we demonstrated by stuff like Book of Eclipse in the past.

Typhoon’s practically a Side Deck staple. It’s just so good against Metalfoes since they empty their hand and then rely on their Pendulum Scales towards the end of their combo; you can use it to disrupt the combo at any point you see fit. It also deals with random floodgates you may come across like Vanity’s Emptiness and Anti-Spell Fragrance, and even recursion traps in Dark Law decks. The fact that it can play such a strong role in so many matchups makes it just an absolute all-star right now.

Can Blue-Eyes keep up? I definitely think so. It has a great matchup against Pendulum strategies with enough consistency and power to go toe to toe with everything else in the format. What do you think of Blue-Eyes?

-Robert Boyajian

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