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Running The Numbers: Library of the Crescent and No-Priestess Prophecy

So the big news the past week is that Andrea Zenari took second place at the Italian National Championships with an innovative Prophecy build. Zenari did a few things very differently from what we’re used to. Instead of trying to make flashy plays with two to three copies of High Priestess of Prophecy, Zenari didn’t run any. Instead, he relied on triple Kycoo the Ghost Destroyer. Kycoo’s effect cuts off opposing Prophecy players from banishing cards for Spellbook of Fate or their own High Priestess effects. More importantly, it stops Dragon Ruler duelists from banishing cards in their graveyard for Special Summons. That means they either have to remove cards from their hand to Summon monsters at tremendous cost – likely a losing scenario – or make plays with purely with baby Dragon Rulers; cards they may not have, and that can be almost as costly if they aren’t balanced with Super Rejuvenation.

Zenari also ran double Phoenix Wing Wind Blast instead of Waboku or Threatening Roar, taking advantage of the extra cards a massive Spellbook of Judgment play can generate. He also made two deck choices that boosted his consistency: he played triple Upstart Goblin, which we’ve seen a few times before; and triple Spellbook Library of the Crescent, which is virtually unheard of.

Before we go any further, check out Zenari’s deck list:

Andrea Zenari’s Priestless Prophecy – 40 Cards
Second Place, Italian Nationals WCQ
Monsters: 7
1 Jowgen the Spiritualist
3 Kycoo the Ghost Destroyer
3 Spellbook Magician of Prophecy

Spells: 29
1 Book of Moon
1 Heavy Storm
3 Spellbook Library of the Crescent
1 Spellbook of Eternity
3 Spellbook of Fate
3 Spellbook of Judgment
1 Spellbook of Life
3 Spellbook of Power
3 Spellbook of Secrets
2 Spellbook of the Master
2 Spellbook of Wisdom
1 Spellbook Star Hall
2 The Grand Spellbook Tower
3 Upstart Goblin

Traps: 4
2 Phoenix Wing Wind Blast
1 Solemn Judgment
1 Solemn Warning

Side Deck: 15
1 Apprentice Magician
3 Droll & Lock Bird
3 Mind Crush
3 Mystical Space Typhoon
2 Old Vindictive Magician
3 Summon Limit

Extra Deck: 15
1 Abyss Dweller
1 Daigusto Phoenix
1 Diamond Dire Wolf
1 Evilswarm Nightmare
1 Evilswarm Thanatos
1 Gachi Gachi Gantetsu
1 Gagaga Cowboy
1 Gem-Knight Pearl
1 Maestroke the Symphony Djinn
1 Number 16: Shock Master
1 Number 39: Utopia
1 Number 96: Dark Mist
1 Photon Papilloperative
1 Shining Elf
1 Wind-Up Zenmaines

This deck has received some in-depth discussion a few times the past week, but most discussion has revolved around the lack of High Priestess and the strength of Kycoo the Ghost Destroyer. While most Prophecy players were Side Decking or maining Kycoo as a once-off, Zenari played it to the hilt to lock his opponents out of their best plays. And don’t get me wrong, that’s important. But at the same time, not many people are really focusing on the intricacies of Spellbook Library of the Crescent: everybody’s kind of nodding at it, remarking that “Oh, well that makes openings more consistent,” and then moving on.

That’s not enough for me. Personally, I want to know just how much more consistency you get for playing Crescent. Especially because as good as Crescent can be on Turn 1, it’s not very useful later on when you can’t activate it. Let’s talk about the math behind this card, and figure out if it’s really worth playing. Did Zenari take that second place finish because Library of the Crescent made his build more consistent, or was he successful chiefly because he ran Kycoo over High Priestess?

Let’s Find Out!
Okay, so the number one scenario any Prophecy players wants to see right now is the opening turn combo of Spellbook of Judgment and Spellbook of Secrets. By playing Judgment, then Secrets, then Spellbook of the Master for a fourth Spellbook, you wrack up at least three free searches in your End Phase plus a Special Summon. Whether you’re playing High Priestess of Prophecy and want to make that play so you can search three Spellbooks in your End Phase, bring out Justice of Prophecy, then banish it to search out Priestess and another Spellbook; or if you’re not running Priestess and just want to bring out Jowgen the Spiritualist or Kycoo, that Judgment play is really what you’re looking for. Your win ratio spikes like crazy if you can get it off.

You’ll always run three copies each of Judgment and Secrets, but Spellbook Magician of Prophecy can stand in for any one of those cards. That means provided your opponent doesn’t have Effect Veiler, Fiendish Chain, or Breakthrough Skill to stop Magician’s search effect, you have just under a 25% chance of seeing the combo in your opening hand. If Magician’s offline, that falls to about 14%. Honestly, those aren’t great odds. Dragon Rulers generally do what they want more than once in every four openings.

So let’s consider Spellbook Library of the Crescent’s impact. The main point of running Crescent is to use it as another stand-in card that helps you get to either Spellbook of Judgment or Spellbook of Secrets as needed. You’ve got about a 40% chance of opening with a Crescent if you play three, which is pretty strong. From there, Crescent has a one-in-three chance of getting you to a specific spell card you need, so maxing out on Crescent effectively boosts your odds of getting to Judgment or Secrets by more than 10%. That’s a big jump from 25%, taking you from hitting your play once in every four games, to more than once in every three. In a three-game match that’s huge.

There’s a little more to Library of the Crescent than just that, too. While Crescent forces you to choose three differently-named Spellbook spells and then gives you one of them at random, you can manipulate those one-in-three odds a little by including Spellbook of the Master in the cards you nominate. You can use Master to mimic Library and take another shot at the card you want if you didn’t get it the first time around. Remember, you can’t use Library if you have any Spellbook spells in your graveyard, but you can copy its effect with Spellbook of the Master. That’s sort of a desperate measure: it’ll deprive you of making your conventional Secrets, into Master, into another Spellbook play to rack up ‘books with Spellbook of Judgment, but sometimes you’ll have a hand that can deal with that and still let you activate your desired number of Spellbooks over the course of the turn.

For instance, if your opponent is playing aggressively and you open with Spellbook of Judgment and Spellbook Library of the Crescent, it might be reasonable to do the following:

-Activate Spellbook Library of the Crescent, picking Spellbook of Secrets, Spellbook of the Master, and a third ‘book of your choice.

-If you nailed Secrets, you can activate Spellbook of Judgment and proceed as normal.

-If you got Master instead, here’s where the fun part comes in.

-Activate Judgment anyway.

-Activate Master for another Crescent effect. That’s one spell for Judgment.

-This time pick Spellbook of Secrets and two more Spellbooks you’d be alright with activating this turn.

-If you hit Secrets this time, you can activate it to get a Continuous Spellbook, play it, and search three spells with Judgment in the End Phase for Jowgen. If you miss Spellbook of Secrets you can still activate whatever you searched, but you’ll need to play a third Spellbook from your hand to get up to the necessary three card threshold for Jowgen. That’s a risk, and it requires you to have a Spellcaster on the field for Master. But it can be worthwhile, and it gives you a slightly higher chance of making your Spellbook of Judgment play. That one-in-three chance is actually a bit better than it looks.

The gist? Running three Spellbook Library of the Crescent gives you slightly more than a 10% boost when you’re trying to make your Judgment plus Secrets combo. Considering the odds of doing that without Crescent, that’s huge. In addition, even if you fail to get the card you need with Library of the Crescent the first time around, you can include Spellbook of the Master in your three nominations and get another chance at what you need. Failing on the first random pick isn’t necessarily the end of your play sequence.

Alot of people have reacted to the use of triple Crescent by noting that once you go off and Crescent becomes useless because Spellbooks stack up in your graveyard, you can search one out with a giant Spellbook of Judgment and just turf it to the graveyard. I think that’s overzealous: if you’re searching so many cards with Spellbook of Judgment that you draw to seven or more and have to pitch stuff, you’re probably not making the best decisions along the way. Remember, this deck is less likely to have to resort to that kind of thing because it’s only running seven monsters – there’s less hand clogging and a greater chance of drawing stuff you can set.

A more interesting observation along the same lines, is that Zenari played double Phoenix Wing Wind Blast, and likely made more frequent use of Jowgen the Spiritualist than a conventional Prophecy build. Those three cards all have discard-costed effects for which you could pitch a dead Crescent. I’m really becoming a fan of Wind Blast right now: it can deal with Mecha Phantom Beast Dracossack and Number 11: Big Eye before their effects activate; it can bump backrow cards when you aren’t running Mystical Space Typhoon; and it can clog your opponent’s next draw when they’re looking for outs to the Jowgen and Kycoo this deck revolves around.

So Is It Worth It?
I think Spellbook Library of the Crescent is totally worth running, especially if you’re playing Kycoo and Wind Blast to really capitalize on it, and compensate for its drawbacks. Note that there’s alot of important synergy there: Crescent isn’t quite as good if you aren’t playing Wind Blast, and at the same time the added chance to make your Judgment plus Secrets combo makes it easier to survive with a lower monster count. You’ll have a better chance of Special Summoning Kycoo or Jowgen with Judgment, and a better chance of drawing into them thanks to the added deck thinning. On one hand it’s valuable to understand the hard numbers that quantify how useful these cards are. But at the same time, you can’t just regard Zenari’s use of Kycoo, Crescent, and Wind Blast in a vacuum. The interaction between the three different cards makes them all better than they would be alone.

Speaking of looking at things in a vacuum, it’s also worth noting that if certain metagame trends materialize, this strategy gets even better. Right now there’s a kind of renaissance going on amongst highly experienced Dragon Ruler players, who are quickly discovering that Vanity’s Emptiness + Mecha Phantom Beast Dracossack might be the new Royal Oppression + Stardust Dragon. Over the past couple weeks we’ve seen competitors in the know start making room in their Side Decks for Emptiness, but some are even starting to Main Deck it. Emptiness is a hugely powerful card right now, stopping Dragon Rulers cold and keeping High Priestess of Prophecy from hitting the table. But this deck, with its lack of Priestess, is virtually unaffected. Sure, you’ll miss out on your Special Summons with Spellbook of Judgment. But that’s not a huge problem, and if you can Fate or Jowgen away your opponent’s one big Special Summoned monster and force them to trigger the destruction effect of their own Emptiness, that’s going to give you an amazing advantage. A Game 1 Emptiness is virtually useless against Zenari’s deck, and if every Dragon Ruler player is maining double Emptiness going into the North American WCQ, that’s another factor working in the strategy’s favor.

While Dragon Rulers are dominant, players seem to be prioritizing the Prophecy matchup less and less. This might be just the deck to take advantage of that trend. It’s by far the most consistent Prophecy build we’ve seen, and it could be perfectly poised to capitalize on shifts in the metagame over the next four weeks. What do you think? Is Spellbook Library of the Crescent worth it? Could we see Prophecy deftly maneuver around a field of Dragon Rulers in Chicago? Tell us your thoughts down in the Comments.

-Jason Grabher-Meyer

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