Shadow Specters Craziness: Non Aggression Raccoon Ojamas?!

It’s been a pleasantly weird couple of weeks for me since Shadow Specters dropped.    As a long-time Noble Knights fan, and the guy who got to preview the new Noble Knight cards over on the official Konami Strategy Site, I headed into SHSP totally jazzed about that theme.  And I love the new cards – I’m still working on perfecting my build, and playing with a bunch of different concepts trying to find the right one (“What if I ran like, NO monsters but Borz and Medraut just to make Artorigus Rank 5 on Turn 1 as consistently as possible?”).

What I wasn’t expecting from Shadow Specters, was to be captivated by so many other strategies.  With no more YCS tournaments scheduled for North America, I’ve been splitting my time between competitive playtesting and just totally insane casual stuff, and today I want to show you one of my favorite decks from that latter category.

I’ve never written on Ojamas here on the CoreTCG Blog.  If you’re a long-time reader of my work that might surprise you!  I’m one of the biggest Ojama fans around, and any time new cards come out I’ve always got Ojamas in the back of my mind, looking for new additions to the strategy.  While Ojamas might not seem like much on their own, they actually do a ton of different stuff.  In fact, one of the hardest questions when you’re building any Ojama deck is which abilities you want to build for, and which to leave by the wayside; with 40 cards, you just can’t do it all.  Some of my favorite Ojamabilities are…

-Fueling discard-costed cards with Ojamagic, and the free Ojamas it gets you.  That means stuff like [ccProd]Lightning Vortex[/ccProd], [ccProd]Phoenix Wing Wind Blast[/ccProd], and [ccProd]Snipe Hunter[/ccProd].

-[ccProd]Creature Swap[/ccProd] fodder.  [ccProd]Ojama Blue[/ccProd]’s perfect since it gets you a plus when you run it over, but you can Swap pretty much any jank Level 2 you like.

-Level 5 Synchro Summons.  You play a ton of Level 2’s, and that works well with [ccProd]Junk Synchron[/ccProd].

-[ccProd]Tragoedia[/ccProd] gets really big when you’re searching so many free cards.

-A resolved [ccProd]Ojamagic[/ccProd] also lets you throw down huge fields of Level 2’s with [ccProd]Ojama Red[/ccProd].

-Even without [ccProd]Ojama Red[/ccProd], [ccProd]Ojama Country[/ccProd] makes it easy to Special Summon an extra Level 2 to make Rank 2 plays.

-[ccProd]Ojama Country[/ccProd] can revive [ccProd]Ojama Knight[/ccProd] as well, giving you a way to trade your Level 2 Ojamas for a Level 5 beatstick with 2500 ATK.

-[ccProd]Instant Fusion[/ccProd] for [ccProd]Ojama Knight[/ccProd] opens up Rank 5 Summons and Level 8 Synchro plays with [ccProd]Junk Synchron[/ccProd].

-[ccProd]Junk Synchron[/ccProd], [ccProd]Tragoedia[/ccProd], and Extra Deck monsters let you play Chaos monsters.

-The sheer volume of Lights you send to the graveyard can make Lightray boss monsters viable.

-Cards like [ccProd]The Big March of Animals[/ccProd], [ccProd]Triangle Power[/ccProd], and [ccProd]Thousand Energy[/ccProd] can boost a swarm of Ojamas into an OTK.

…and that’s just a partial list!  There’s really too much stuff to fit in one build, and your Extra Deck is particularly limiting when you’re trying to balance Rank 2’s, Level 5 Synchros, Level 8 Synchros, Rank 5’s, Level 7 Synchros for use with [ccProd]Quickdraw Synchron[/ccProd] (a great way to pitch unneeded Ojamas).  Not to mention a wealth of other Extra Deck monsters for when you [ccProd]Creature Swap[/ccProd] and take different Levels of monsters.

That said, some of these options are better than others.  Generally, no matter what kind of Ojama deck you’re building you’re going to use [ccProd]Ojama Blue[/ccProd] with [ccProd]Ojama Country[/ccProd] and [ccProd]Ojamagic[/ccProd].  They generate a ton of free cards, give you a powerful recursion effect, and let you mess around with ATK and DEF.  It’s where you go from that nine-card core that can vary so much.

And That’s Where SHSP Makes Stuff Awesome
One of my favorite picks from Shadow Specters isn’t a highly competitive card, and it’s largely flying under the radar: [ccProd]Baby Raccoon Ponpoko[/ccProd].  A Level 2 Beast, Ponpoko Special Summons another Level 2 Beast from your deck in face-down Defense Position when you Normal Summon it.  In terms of Shadow Specters, Ponpoko works with [ccProd]Baby Raccoon Tantan[/ccProd] to help you Xyz Summon [ccProd]Number 64: Ronin Raccoon Sandayu[/ccProd].  And that’s cute, but it’s not exactly a strategy in and of itself.

But add in some Ojamas and things get much more interesting.  One of the biggest challenges for Ojama decks in the past has been finding access to [ccProd]Ojama Blue[/ccProd].  Players used to resort to stuff like [ccProd]Shining Angel[/ccProd], hoping to chump-block an attack or even making suicide strikes, all to Summon [ccProd]Ojama Blue[/ccProd] with Angel’s recruiter effect.  The problem there is that recruiters can be destroyed by traps or monster abilities before they’re ever destroyed in battle; making a kamikaze attack leaves you wide open to stuff like [ccProd]Mirror Force[/ccProd], while waiting around for your opponent to attack you twice – once into Angel and once into Blue – is just way too slow.  Most Ojama decks haven’t even bothered with that, resigned to inconsistent draw acceleration to get the central combo going.  There’s really been no good way to get to [ccProd]Ojama Blue[/ccProd], so you’ve had to max out on [ccProd]Ojamagic[/ccProd] and [ccProd]Ojama Country[/ccProd], and downplay cards that would be better if you could get to Blue more often, like [ccProd]Creature Swap[/ccProd].

[ccProd]Baby Raccoon Ponpoko[/ccProd] solves all that.  You Normal Summon it, Special Summon [ccProd]Ojama Blue[/ccProd] straight from your deck face-down, and from there you can use it as one half of those all-important Rank 2 plays.  Alternatively you can [ccProd]Creature Swap[/ccProd] it to your opponent, or Swap them [ccProd]Ojama Blue[/ccProd] to hit over it with whatever you take.  There’s no waiting around, because the Special Summon happens instantly.  If you already have your set-up going you can still use Ponpoko as a quick +1, then Special Summon back an Ojama for a Rank 2 with [ccProd]Ojama Country[/ccProd].  And since Ponpoko’s a Level 2, and everything it Summons is also Level 2, [ccProd]Junk Synchron[/ccProd] gets way more consistent in the early game.

It’s like a Christmas Ojamiracle!

This all comes with some spectacularly good timing for a few different reasons: some of the best discard-costed effects are especially powerful right now; you can play your Ojama Countries to blow away stuff like [ccProd]Dragon Ravine[/ccProd] and [ccProd]The Grand Spellbook Tower[/ccProd]; and another powerful Rank 2 that bolsters the Ojama strategy was just released.  Don’t get me wrong, Ojamas won’t be winning a YCS any time soon.  But since there are no YCS tournaments any time soon anyways, that’s not really a big concern.  After a ton of testing and a lot of back-and-forth bouncing between deck concepts this is what I settled on:

Non-Aggression Raccoon Ojamas – 40 Cards
Monsters: 23
3 [ccProd]Ojama Blue[/ccProd]
3 [ccProd]Baby Raccoon Ponpoko[/ccProd]
2 [ccProd]Ojama Green[/ccProd]
2 [ccProd]Ojama Yellow[/ccProd]
2 [ccProd]Ojama Black[/ccProd]
1 [ccProd]Ryko, Lightsworn Hunter[/ccProd]
3 [ccProd]Junk Synchron[/ccProd]
3 [ccProd]Snipe Hunter[/ccProd]
2 [ccProd]Tragoedia[/ccProd]
1 [ccProd]Chaos Sorcerer[/ccProd]
1 [ccProd]Black Luster Soldier Envoy of the Beginning[/ccProd]

Spells: 12
1 [ccProd]Book of Moon[/ccProd]
1 [ccProd]Dark Hole[/ccProd]
1 [ccProd]Tuning[/ccProd]
2 [ccProd]Instant Fusion[/ccProd]
2 [ccProd]Ojamagic[/ccProd]
2 [ccProd]Ojama Country[/ccProd]
3 [ccProd]Creature Swap[/ccProd]

Traps: 5
1 [ccProd]Compulsory Evacuation Device[/ccProd]
1 [ccProd]Torrential Tribute[/ccProd]
3 [ccProd]Non Aggression Area[/ccProd]

Extra Deck: 15
2 [ccProd]Ojama Knight[/ccProd]
1 [ccProd]Ally of Justice Catastor[/ccProd]
1 [ccProd]Armades, Keeper of Boundaries[/ccProd]
1 [ccProd]Frozen Fitzgerald[/ccProd]
1 [ccProd]Colossal Fighter[/ccProd]
1 [ccProd]Scrap Dragon[/ccProd]
1 [ccProd]Crimson Blader[/ccProd]
1 [ccProd]Daigusto Phoenix[/ccProd]
1 [ccProd]Gachi Gachi Gantetsu[/ccProd]
1 [ccProd]Number 64: Ronin Raccoon Sandayu[/ccProd]
2 [ccProd]Herald of Pure Light[/ccProd]
1 [ccProd]Number 61: Volcasaurus[/ccProd]
1 [ccProd]Gaia Dragon, the Thunder Charger[/ccProd]

There’s a lot of cool stuff going on here, so I want to focus on the awesome, unique moves you can do with this thing.  The base gameplan isn’t complicated: you want to get to [ccProd]Ojama Country[/ccProd] and [ccProd]Ojamagic[/ccProd] as fast as possible, pitch [ccProd]Ojamagic[/ccProd] for the discard-costed effect of your choice, and then get your quick +2 or +3 by searching [ccProd]Ojama Green[/ccProd], [ccProd]Ojama Black[/ccProd], and [ccProd]Ojama Yellow[/ccProd] from your deck.  [ccProd]Ojamagic[/ccProd] can’t miss timing, so pitching it for a cost still triggers it.  But, you do have to have one of each Normal Ojama in your deck to get your search – it’s all or nothing, so there’s a lot of pressure to resolve [ccProd]Ojamagic[/ccProd] before you draw two of any one Normal Ojama.

You have more ways to use those Normal Ojamas than you might think.  [ccProd]Non Aggression Area[/ccProd] is my favorite – you can activate it practically for free, and combined with easy access to [ccProd]Crimson Blader[/ccProd] I’ve spent entire games where Dragon Ruler and Dragunity Ruler opponents couldn’t Summon.  Both of those decks are really vulnerable to [ccProd]Non Aggression Area[/ccProd], and while it’s a tricky card to play at times, take my advice – if you draw it, set it.  Because if your next turn rolls around and you realize your opponent’s going to go off all over you a turn later, you don’t want to be stuck holding [ccProd]Non Aggression Area[/ccProd] useless in your hand.  The “must be activated in your Standby Phase” clause makes it a bit more complicated than a regular trap card, so always, always set it.  If you don’t want to use it by the time your next Standby Phase rolls around you can certainly sleep on it, but at least you’ve got the option.  More often than not you’ll want to activate it.

[ccProd]Snipe Hunter[/ccProd]’s your other big discard outlet, also played in triplicate.  Snipe’s been a big Ojama favorite for a long time, largely because it’s repeatable: you can pitch one Ojama for [ccProd]Lightning Vortex[/ccProd] or [ccProd]Phoenix Wing Wind Blast[/ccProd], but then what?  You’re still stuck with a fistful of Ojamas and no forward momentum.  [ccProd]Snipe Hunter[/ccProd] eats your Normal Summon for the turn, but it can wreak havoc on the field and create mass simplification by destroying several of your opponent’s most important cards at once.  That makes your card advantage really powerful, and slows down the game to the point that you can start finding ways to win.  It’s also a great answer to certain problem cards like [ccProd]Evilswarm Ophion[/ccProd] and [ccProd]Thunder King Rai-Oh[/ccProd] – cards that can lock you out of your bigger moves.  Snipe Hunter’s even a Dark monster for Chaos Sorcerer and [ccProd]Black Luster Soldier Envoy of the Beginning[/ccProd].

All that’s pretty obvious, but there’s more going on here.  For instance, [ccProd]Herald of Pure Light[/ccProd]’s another newcomer to the Ojama strategy; it lets you trade extra Ojama cards from your hand to get back powerful stuff like BLS.  You can also send Normal Ojamas back to your deck when you’ve suffered awkward draws and can’t play [ccProd]Ojamagic[/ccProd].  Just take back a useful card (or even the Ojama in question), and stuff that Ojama back in your deck so you can move on with your +3.  Herald’s another Light monster too, which was important in previous builds where I was using [ccProd]Lightray Daedalus[/ccProd].  I can’t overstate [ccProd]Herald of Pure Light[/ccProd]’s importance, but it’s the only Rank 2 I’m running more than one of, so hopefully that spells it out.  The days of making three [ccProd]Gachi Gachi Gantetsu[/ccProd] with no real plan for winning are long gone.

The other big discard outlet is [ccProd]Ojama Country[/ccProd], which serves four different purposes.  The first is resuscitating Level 2 Ojamas for Rank 2 plays.  That’s huge.  You’ll also use it to revive [ccProd]Ojama Knight[/ccProd] as an attacker or Level 8 Synchro fodder.  I’ve noted before that easy access to Crimson Blader is really powerful this format, and this deck is deceptively good at playing it.  Third, [ccProd]Ojama Country[/ccProd] is endless [ccProd]Creature Swap[/ccProd] fodder.  Fourth, whatever you Special Summon with Country, you’ll turn on its ATK-DEF swapping effect… provided the Ojama stays on your field.  Note that I don’t say, “the field,” but “your field.”  If you grab back an Ojama and then Swap it off to your opponent, ATK and DEF scores return to normal until you bring down another Ojama.  Use that to your advantage.

If you’ve never seen [ccProd]Frozen Fitzgerald[/ccProd], make sure you’re familiar with that too.  Coming in off a Dark Tuner and a Beast non-Tuner, it’s basically built for Ojamas.  It’s got 2500 ATK whether [ccProd]Ojama Country[/ccProd]’s turned on or not, and it’s yet another discard outlet.  It survives battles so you can block attacks, make attacks, or even use it as a Level 5 Synchro Material.

All The Freaky Details
So now that you know the discard tricks that make the deck work, there are some important odds and ends to keep in mind.  First, Ponpoko’s amazing in the early game, but it can be a bit underwhelming later on when you’re all set up.  That’s one of the reason why Ryko, Lightsworn Hunter’s here.  Since Ryko’s a Level 2 Beast like your Ojamas, you can Ponpoko it to the field when you’ve already got your Ojama tricks going.  It’s also a great answer to those problem monsters I mentioned, like [ccProd]Evilswarm Ophion[/ccProd].

You can also deal with Ophion – not to mention virtually anything else – with [ccProd]Number 64: Ronin Raccoon Sandayu[/ccProd].  If you Xyz Summon it, its effect gives you up to two Token monsters that resize themselves to match the biggest monster on the field; that’s an immediate trade against your opponent’s biggest monster, followed by 1000 damage from Sandayu.  Keep Sandayu protected, and you can deal 2000 damage the turn following by Summoning a second token that mimics itself… or you can combo it with [ccProd]Ojama Knight[/ccProd], or a bigger Synchro to really bring the hurt.  You can even combo Sandayu with [ccProd]Gachi Gachi Gantetsu[/ccProd]’s ATK bonus to power over anything.  Sandayu proved to be surprisingly useful in testing, while cards like [ccProd]Armored Kappa[/ccProd] fell by the wayside.

[ccProd]Instant Fusion[/ccProd] can place you in some tricky situations.  You always want to have [ccProd]Ojama Knight[/ccProd] in your graveyard once [ccProd]Ojama Country[/ccProd] gets going, but you don’t want to waste [ccProd]Instant Fusion[/ccProd] if you can avoid doing so.  The contention comes from the attack limitation of Instant Fusion – you can’t attack Instant Fuse a monster and then attack with it that same turn.

If you’ve got [ccProd]Instant Fusion[/ccProd] with a Level 5 on field to make a Rank 5, or just a [ccProd]Junk Synchron[/ccProd] to make a Level 8, that’s awesome.  But sometimes you don’t have either of those, and you still want to drop [ccProd]Ojama Knight[/ccProd] just to have it available next turn for attacks via [ccProd]Ojama Country[/ccProd].  That’s a hard decision and the answer can go either way depending on your game position.  It’s rough when you commit to a useless Knight, only to rip a [ccProd]Junk Synchron[/ccProd] next turn.  But in general, you can learn to make those decisions more effectively just by knowing it’s a tough decision and considering it carefully.  When in doubt, provided Life Points allow it, I’d suggest activating the card.  I’ve had more instances where I’ve regretted not getting [ccProd]Ojama Knight[/ccProd] into the mix than cases where the restraint paid off.

Keep careful track of where your Lights and Darks come from, too.  Of your Level 5 Synchro options, [ccProd]Armades, Keeper of Boundaries[/ccProd] is Light, while [ccProd]Ally of Justice Catastor[/ccProd]’s a Dark.  [ccProd]Frozen Fitzgerald[/ccProd] is sadly neither.  [ccProd]Herald of Pure Light[/ccProd] can get you another Light in your yard, but there’s no generic two-material Dark Rank 2 yet.

Depending on how competitive your metagame is, you might want to swap some cards around.  Non Aggression Area’s amazing against the top decks, but it’s weak against a field of rogue strategies and casuals.  If you find [ccProd]Non Aggression Area[/ccProd]’s not working for you, then swap it out for three [ccProd]Magical Mallet[/ccProd].  I find between those two options one of them’s always right.  You can even Side Deck whichever one you aren’t maining if you’re playing full matches.

Overall, you’re probably going to open one in every five games with two Normal Ojamas in hand.  That’s a beat.  Those games are really tough to win, and that’s what keeps Ojamas from being truly competitive.  But, with a bit of luck and a lot of smart play, even those games can be won a portion of the time.  The other 80 percent of your games are much smoother, but be prepared to adapt.  This deck consistently does stuff, but it doesn’t do the same stuff game after game.  You need to know all your options, how to use them, and how they interact to strengthen eachother.  This is Yu-Gi-Oh! played for style points.  It’s sort of a Challenge Mode, and when it all comes together you feel like a million bucks.  It’s just a blast to play!

Don’t believe me?  Try it yourself, get a little time with it so you can learn all the moves, and then tell me what you think down in the Comments!  While we’re at it, tell me if you want to read about more insane casual strategies like this one.  I’ve got another deck waiting in the wings if you’re into that kind of thing, and I think it’s really cool.

-Jason Grabher-Meyer

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