Exploring the Format: Zoodiacs Post MACR

With all the hype surrounding True Kings and True Dracos, it doesn’t seem like Zoodiacs are getting the attention that they should with the cards they gain from Maximum Crisis.

It might not seem like much, but Zoodiac Chakanine unlocks all of the combos that were lost once Zoodiac Ratpier was Semi-Limited, all on its own. We saw just how dominant Zoodiacs were when Ratpier was unrestricted, and a competitive shift thanks to Maximum Crisis positions the strategy exactly where it wants to be.

Zoodiac Chakanine’s going to be used in combination with Zoodiac Ramram to get you that extra Xyz Material you need for your biggest combos. Zoodiac Ratpier can send Zoodiac Ramram to the graveyard, so when you rank up into Zoodiac Chakanine, you already have it in the right place. From there you can stack a Zoodiac Drident on top of your Chakanine and use its effect to destroy the Ramram. That triggers Ramram’s and grabs Ratpier from your grave.

ZoodiacChakanine-MACR-EN-UR-1EThat sequence should give you the two Xyz Materials you need to make a Rank 4, which will usually be Daigusto Emeral or Zoodiac Broadbull depending on what you want to accomplish. A single Zoodiac Ratpier is the double Fusion Substitute combo now thanks to Zoodiac Chakanine’s ability to grant you another Xyz Material, and you can probably make an even bigger Fusion Substiute play by using Chakanine to revive an Xyz you can then use as Fusion Material for Elder Entity Norden.

But with that said, the queston of whether you actually want to use Fusion Substitute right now is a bigger problem. The Extra Deck’s especially tight with Maximum Crisis in the mix, and you have more Main Deck disruption you need to worry about, but we’ll explore those topics a bit later.

Zoodiac Hammerkong’s relevant too. While its effect doesn’t seem very impressive at first glance, just having another Zoodiac Xyz will make some of your bigger plays a lot easier. You can get an extra Xyz Material whenever you want it, and it lets you get more out of your Fusion Substitute combos. Hammerkong’s effect can come in handy some times too, especially if you’re ever disrupted and left with two Zoodiacs; you can make Hammerkong and Drident to make it tougher for your opponent to break your field.

Hammerkong can be a pretty big resource drain since it requires you to detach in the End Phase, but there is a way to get around that: you can use Chakanine to Special Summon your Hammerkong and negate its effect until the end of the turn. From there, you can stack a Zoodiac Tigermortar on top of your Chakanine and use the effect of Tigermortar to detach a material from itself so you can put a material on Hammerkong. From there you place a Drident on top of your Tigermortar, and in the End Phase your Hammerkong will not need to detach a material because its effect is negated. But once your opponent’s turn starts, its effect will come online and it will have a material.

We expect a few things to happen to the competitive environment once Maximum Crisis drops. The first obvious, a lot of True King Dinosaurs and True Draco variants. True King Dinosaurs are a very combo centric strategy, using True Kings to enable Dinosaur effects and ending with powerful fields. Evolzar Laggia and True King of All Calamities can pose a huge disruptive threat, which makes them especially powerful going first.

Master Peace, the True Dracoslaying King is the best True Draco monster by far; it’s really hard to remove if it’s Tribute Summoned with a Monster and a Spell, and it also has a disruptive effect as well. Both decks are very good at fielding disruptive threats, which means you need to have Main Deck answers to these types of threats. So what’s the best way to answer a resilient monster?

Players have run Kaiju with Zoodiacs really commonly in the past, and they only fell out of popularity because they were bad in the Zoodiac mirror match. Interrupted Kaiju Slumber is an OTK enabler thanks to Zoodiac Chakanine, and lets you hedge against the mirror match if you encounter it. Otherwise, you’re really just playing the engine because the Kaijus are so good at answering any problem you might face. Even beyond True King Dinosaurs and True Dracos there are a ton of monsters in the format you want to have absolute answers for; stuff like Toadally Awesome.

Since it’s so easy to pull off the double Fusion Substitute combo, and since the Kaiju engine lines up so well against the most popular strategies, Zoodiacs have a ton going for them. Let’s see what a deck would look like with the Fusion Substitute combo.

ZoodiacRamram-RATE-EN-C-1EZoodiacs – 42 Cards
Monsters: 22

3 Zoodiac Whiptail
2 Zoodiac Thoroughblade
2 Zoodiac Ratpier
2 Zoodiac Ramram
3 Ash Blossom & Joyous Spring
3 Speedroid Terrortop
1 Speedroid Taketomborg
1 Lunalight Blacksheep
1 Thunder King, the Lightningstrike Kaiju
1 Jizukiru, the Star Destroying Kaiju
1 Gadarla, the Mystery Dust Kaiju
1 Gameciel, the Sea Turtle Kaiju

Spells: 15
3 Zoodiac Barrage
3 Fire Formation – Tenki
3 Cosmic Cyclone
2 Interrupted Kaiju Slumber
2 Fusion Substitute
2 Instant Fusion

Traps: 5
3 Solemn Strike
1 Imperial Order
1 Zoodiac Combo

ZoodiacHammerkong-MACR-EN-C-1EExtra Deck: 15
3 Zoodiac Broadbull
2 Zoodiac Drident
2 Zoodiac Tigermortar
1 Zoodiac Boarboaw
1 Zoodiac Chakanine
1 Zoodiac Hammerkong
2 Daigusto Emeral
1 Gagaga Samurai
1 M-X-Saber Invoker
1 Elder Entity Norden

This deck has a lot of pros I mentioned before, but the cons are there as well. The Extra Deck is the biggest issue, because you want to run three copies of Zoodiac Broadbull and Elder Entity Norden for your Fusion Substitute combos, but it’s hard to make room for Zoodiac Chakanine and Zoodiac Hammerkong as well.

Normally I’d want two copies of Chakanine, but you really just can’t do it with this deck. You could maybe slim a copy of Zoodiac Boarbow for a second Chakanine, but the need for another “Zoodiac” name so you can lengthen a combo or stack an extra Xyz Material comes up a lot. Gagaga Samurai’s the next card you can consider cutting, but because Chakanine lets you do the full Zoodiac Ratpier Rank 4 combo you want the Samurai as an OTK enabler. That’s especially true since the Kaiju engine opens up more OTK combos.

Your Rank 3 options are limited to just M-X-Saber Invoker, which is definitely a sacrifice. Speedroid Terrortop gets a lot worse in terms of utility, but it still offers a high-powered play without using up your Normal Summon. Totem Bird was important against trap strategies and decks that played That Grass is Greener, but I think heavy trap strategies can’t really deal with the True King Dinosaur and True Draco decks.

Now, because of Ash Blossom & Joyous Spring, That Grass Looks Greener does get a lot weaker, so you can still hedge against it. Speedroid Terrortop’s just too good not to use because it forces your opponent to have an answer without requiring any other resources on your end.

AshBlossomJoyousSpring-MACR-EN-ScR-1EAsh Blossom & Joyous Spring being in almost every Main Deck is going to cause you some problems too. Typically your opponents will use it to stop whatever would start your combo sequence, which is fine since Zoodiacs have such a high level of redundancy. But if your opponent uses it when you ditch your Lunalight Blacksheep for Fusion Substitute, you can find yourself stuck with an awkward field. It’s easy to just stack Zoodiac Drident on top of an Xyz, but that might not be enough since you’re not drawing all of the extra cards.

The Main Deck is also pretty tight, but isn’t as bad. I could see going up all the way to 45 cards if I felt certain choices were necessary, but right now I want to keep it as consistent as possible. At first I was playing 40 cards without Instant Fusion, but I think the power level of that card is just a little too high right now to cut it. Since you already use Extra Deck space for Elder Entity Norden, it seems like an easy decision to include Instant Fusion, since it can kick off your Fusion Substitute combos and retains high utility even after you make that play. I also considered playing just three Kaiju, but I think you want the Kaiju engine more for the Kaijus right now than the Slumber, so skimping on it doesn’t seem too beneficial.

Cosmic Cyclone is one of the best ways to handle the True Draco deck, and while it’s weaker than Twin Twisters against many other strategies, I expect to see a full set of Cyclones in just about everything. It’s still fine against Paleozoics since you get to banish their traps before they become monsters, and banishing key Fusion Spells or Pendulums from Metalfoes is pretty good as well.

You have to make some Main Deck sacrifices to fit the combo too, cards you could play otherwise if you skipped the combo or the Kaijus. Ghost Ogre & Snow Rabbit’s great right now, but having too many hand traps and Kaijus is definitely a situation you want to avoid. Dimensional Barrier was absurdly powerful last format, but I think with the rise of True Dracos I don’t want to Main Deck it. It’s a powerful Side Deck tool that we’ll see a lot of in the coming weeks, but it’s just not good enough against some of the best strategies from Maximum Crisis.

I expect Zoodiacs to be one of the best strategies this format. As long as there are good ways to answer Master Peace, the True Dracoslaying King, Zoodiacs still do absurdly powerful things without requiring many resources to do them. Zoodiacs might take more of an anti-meta role at first, and whether or not Fusion Substitute is the right way to go is another question worth considering, but we’ll see what happens at YCS Pittsburgh.

-Robert Boyajian

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