YCS Atlanta was quite a surprising event. If you’d told anyone before the tournament that not only would Invoked Windwitches be in first place after the Swiss Rounds, but that Paleozoic Frogs would take the whole tournaent, no one would’ve believed you.
Zoodiacs still dominated the Top Cut representation just like they did at YCS Seattle, but Paleozoic Frogs managed to be the second most represented strategy with three duelists piloting it to a Top Cut finish. A lot can happen in two weeks though, and Fusion Enforcers introduced the new Invoked theme; many duelists tried to take advantage of it. Aleister the Invoker’s another one-card engine that you can splash into just about anything, much like Zoodiac Ratpier.
Even with those twists and turns, every duelist came ready to beat Zoodiacs. The format’s still so fresh, that there’s no clear consensus on what the best variant of the strategy is let alone how to counter it. That means there was a wide variety of tech played throughout the tournament.
Because Zoodiac is such a dominant strategy, Main Decking tech choices rather than Side Decking them will give you a stronger advantage. Almost every strategy is running Zoodiac Ratpier, so if your tech answers either Ratpier or the fields it creates, then you probably want it in your Main Deck.
One of the big perks of doing coverage for YCS tournaments is getting the chance to watch all of these unique strategies play out, and the following the ones that I thought made the biggest impact over the weekend.
Mass destruction is one of the best ways to answer Zoodiacs, and we even saw stuff like Main Deck Needle Ceiling at YCS Seattle to fill that role. Keeping on theme, everyone wants to be Main Decking tech for the Zoodiac match-up, so cards like Forbidden Apocrypha were very popular. Several players made it into the Top Cut with three Main Decked copies, which says a lot.
Apocrypha’s a mass destruction effect you can use going first or second, which makes it much easier to Main Deck. My Body as a Shield and Starlight Road were two of the big ways players were trying to combat mass destruction, and Forbidden Apocrypha gets around both because it sends monsters to the graveyard rather than destroying them. I think it’ll see a lot of play moving forward, but I’m not sure if it’ll continue as a Main Deck choice.
Forbidden Apocrypha and Xyz Universe are very similar. Apocrypha gets rid of more monsters in certain situations and you can use it against non-Xyz strategies, but it also gets rid of your own monsters if they share the same card type. Xyz Universe can only answer Xyz, but you field a powerful threat yourself after it resolves.
Main Deck Xyz Universe was not as popular as Forbidden Apocrypha at YCS Atlanta, but we still saw a Zoodiac deck maining three copies in the Top 32. I don’t think it’s as good as Forbidden Apocrypha, but having both exist in the same format means you can expect duelists to play around both of them more often.
Lullaby of Obedience
Many duelists Main Decked three full copies of Lullaby in Zoodiacs to steal opposing Speedroid Terrortops and Zoodiac Ratpiers from their opponent, effectively giving them more ways to start their combo.
Lullaby of Obedience is super strong in the early game, but it gets much weaker as the duel progresses, so Main Decking three copies helps you see it in your opener. If you can manage to get a full field before activating Lullaby, you can also steal your opponent’s Maxx “C” by forcing them to put it in your hand, because you don’t have space to Special Summon it. It’s a pretty high-risk high-reward gambit, but that might just be what you need in a format like this if you want to have a real edge.
This is probably the only time we’ll see Lullaby of Obedience used this way, just because Speedroid Terrortop and Zoodiac Ratpier are seeing so much play
While we did see Chain Disappearance at YCS Seattle, players were maining full playsets at YCS Atlanta.
Hitting a Zoodiac Ratpier’s basically game on its own, as it’s very hard to play a mirror match when you don’t have your core Zoodiac combo. The Zoodiac mirror match centers around playing Daigusto Emeral and Zoodiac Combo to recycle your cards and keep playing the grind game, but if your opponent can’t use Ratpier, you don’t even really need traps to win.
That said, Chain Disappearance gets substantially worse as the game wears on; much like Lullaby of Obedience, you really want to see it in your opening had. But it’s strong against a wide variety of strategies, giving it more utility over a spread of matchups. The vast majority of the field is running Zoodiac Ratpier already, but Chain Disappearance hits everything from Infernoid Decatron, to Aleister the Invoker and even Frogs, so you can see why it’s worth Main Decking.
Much like how the Kaiju engine can grant you a powerful advantage going second, Shaddoll Fusion plays a very similar role. A Shaddoll Burning Abyss deck made it into the Top 32, and while it did run Zoodiac Ratpier, Shaddoll Fusion’s an absolute powerhouse right now.
El Shaddoll Winda lines up very well against Zoodiacs, and if they don’t have some way to get it off the field then they’ve probably lost the duel. El Shaddoll Shekhinaga’s no laughing matter either, and the opportunity to send Zoodiac Ratpier to the graveyard to start a combo with Zoodiac Tigermortar’s pretty strong. You can also yard Glow-Up Bulb to make Naturia Beast with a Zoodiac Ratpier during your combo. Shaddoll Fusion was commonly Side Decked during the reign of Nekroz against Burning Abyss, and it could be especially strong now since it gives you another summoning way to play around Dimensional Barrier.
Different Dimension Ground
That Grass Looks Greener is by far one of the most powerful cards in the format. A single copy can net you so many free effects, it’s almost like starting the game with a second hand.
Because That Grass Looks Greener only really requires you to play a big deck, we’ve seen it pop up in a lot of different strategies lists. We didn’t see many ways to counteract it at YCS Seattle, but Different Dimension Ground was one of the most popular Side Deck choices at YCS Atlanta. A one-card answer that usually turns That Grass Looks Greener into an auto-loss rather than an auto-win is crazy, and it even lines up well against specific strategies like Infernoids.
We’ve seen Different Dimension Ground achieve all-star status in prior formats, and it makes sense that we’d see it return now as one of the most effective ways to counter graveyard based strategies.
Similar to Different Dimension Ground, Soul Release draws a bull’s eye on decks that depend on the graveyard.
Your opponent usually won’t mill too many relevant cards off That Grass Looks Greener unless they get very lucky, so one Soul Release can often clean up all their progress. You can play it after That Grass Looks Greener resolves, which is huge, because you can draw it in the mid or late stages of the game and still get great use of it.
It’s also much stronger against graveyard based strategies that don’t rely on That Grass Looks Greener, like Paleozoic Frogs. Banishing any number of Paleozoics or Infernoids from your opponent’s graveyard is going to change how the rest of the game plays out, and a well timed Soul Release can win you the game on the spot.
While we saw a decent number of Artifact Lanceas played at YCS Seattle, it showed up as an absolute Side Deck staple at YCS Atlanta. The new Invoked cards from Fusion Enforcers are very susceptible to it; responding to Invocation with Artifact Lancea can be devastating. You either force your opponent to make a suboptimal Fusion Summon using way more resources than they wanted to, or you just stop the Invocation altogether while getting a look at your opponent’s hand and Extra Deck.
It’s a good deal either way, and the fact that you can search Artifact Lancea off of Artifact Sanctum makes it especially strong in any strategy running Artifacts already. You’re basically siding six copies of Artifact Lancea thanks to Sanctum, so it’s really hard for Invoked players to resolve Invocation the way they want to.
UDS Las Vegas and YCS Prague are fast approaching, and I’m excited to see what comes out of both events. The UDS will be a very different environment due to the points-driven invite system, so we can expect a unique tournament environment that sees players doing everything they can to tech against Zoodiacs. YCS Prague will give us our first taste of the European take on the current format too, so that should be exciting as well.