YCS Seattle was the Championship debut of Raging Tempest, and thus marked the dawn of the Zoodiac era.
Zoodiac Ratpier opens up the opportunity for every strategy to have a one-card combo that produces a field of any Rank 4 Xyz plus a Zoodiac Drident; quite the reward for such a minimal investment. Because Ratpier’s easily searched with Fire Formation – Tenki, Zoodiac Barrage, and M-X-Saber Invoker, you can that you’ll see that combo really consistently, especially if you have easy access to Rank 3’s. The base power level of every strategy has jumped because of Zoodiac Ratpier, so competitors are forced to react to the new normal.
In addition to Zoodiac Ratpier, That Grass Looks Greener has drastically raised the power level of many graveyard based strategies. Milling 24 cards from a single effect on Turn 1 is crazy, and many different themes see tremendous gains from building around Greener by pushing to 60 cards. Everything relevant you send to the grave is effectively a drawn card, so you can imagine how fast things get out of hand.
That Grass Looks Greener is so powerful that many duelists go so far as to run Left Arm Offering just to find it, making the 60-card deck size much easier to manage. Everything from Infernoids, to Zombie Lightsworns, and even Paleozoics can use Greener, so the potential for blowouts is huge.
Such big shakeups mean a lot of room for tech innovation. A brand new environment filled with new strategies and high-power edcards is what makes dueling so exciting, so let’s delve into the different ways duelists approached YCS Seattle.
60 Card Counter
While you’d expect every 60-card strategy to be built around That Grass Looks Greener, that’s not necessarily the case. Playing more cards in your deck actually gives you a way to counter opposing strategies that are trying to build around Greener.
If you can mitigate the disparity between the size of your deck and your opponent’s, you can effectively render their Greener moot, or at least blunt its impact. Destin Kaspi managed to make the Top 32 of YCS Seattle with a 60 Card Burning Abyss list, playing a single copy of That Grass Looks Greener but not making it his main focus.
In addition to that, Brendan Beckman made the Top 32 with a 59 Card Zoodiac list playing no Greener, just so he could avoid getting blown out by the powerful spell.
Spiritual Swords of Revealing Light
Speaking of 60 Cards, Billy Brake managed to make the Top 8 of YCS Seattle with a 60 Card Zoodiac Infernoid list. It ma be the most powerful deck in the format, playing the Zoodiac engine, Void Vanishment, and That Grass Looks Greener, so expect to see a lot of it as we head into YCS Atlanta.
One of Brake’s biggest innovations was Spiritual Swords of Revealing Light, a trap you might not be familiar with unless you saw The Dark Side of Dimensions movie. It plays two important roles for 60 Card Zoodiac Infernoids. The first effect is great for protecting your monsters, most of which have little or no stats to keep them secure. Zoodiac Drident and Infernoid Decatron are key disruption tools, but they’re not strong enough to survive very long on their own. f you can stop your opponent from swinging over them, you can usually stop them from advancing their game plan.
Paleozics were one of the most dominant strategies up until Raging Tempest, but the deck’s future is up in the air as competitive metagames continue to shift. Two different Paleozoic decks made it into the Top 32: Esala Wathuthantrige topped with a Paleozoic Zoodiac hybrid, and Jason Nobile got there with a standard Frog variant.
Wathuthantrige played two copies of Lost Wind, a new trap out of Raging Tempest that can negate the effect and halve the ATK of a Special Summoned monster permanently, and which you can set to your field from the graveyard for one additional use. It’s great alongside Paleozoic Marella, and typically plays better than Breakthrough Skill.
Ed Acepcion also used Lost Wind in his 60 Card Paleozoic Frogs, and the chance to hit it with That Grass Looks Greener is pretty strong. I think we could eventually see Lost Wind as a possible staple trap in the right format.
With Zoodiac Ratpier the lynchpin Zoodiacs rely on, it makes sense that a card like Chain Disappearance would be strong right now. A single hit with it can be devastating, since Zoodiacs need to loop through their Daigusto Emerals and Zoodiac Combo to function, and losing Ratpier can lose the game on its own.
You can hit the Xyz as well, which is a nice option to have although not what you really want Chain Disappearance for. It’s also very strong against the Zoodiac Infernoid deck, as it removes Infernoid Decatron. You can even use it against Void Feast to banish both copies of Decatron, which is one of the few ways to beat that card.
Dimensional Barrier’s one of the most powerful cards in the format, especially against the Zoodiac Ratpier combo. Forcing your opponent to basically skip anything proactive for a whole turn is a huge gain in tempo, and can end many games as soon as Turn 2.
Some duelists – including James Sooklaris who made the Top 32 of YCS Seattle with Zoodiacs – played Night Beam to beat Barrier. It’s one of the few solid ways to answer the card, though sometimes you have to get a little lucky picking the right target. Even when you don’t, Night Beam still trades with whatever card your opponent set, so it’s never too bad.
Blaze Accelerator Reload
Board wipe effects are especially good right now. The basic Zoodiac Ratpier combo ends with Zoodiac Drident and Daigusto Emeral for only a single card, so you need to make sure you can clear that field efficiently if you want to stay in the game.
We saw a lot of players running Dark Hole, Raigeki, and Interrupted Kaiju Slumber all weekend, but by far the most interesting board clear was Blaze Accelerator Reload, played in combination with Volcanic Scattershot. Esala Wathuthantrige ran Paleozoic Morella in his Paleozoic Zoodiac deck to send Reload to the graveyard, triggering a Raigeki effect at Spell Speed 2 on either player’s Main Phase.
In addition to the field clear, the 1500 damage from Volcanic Scattershort is nothing to scoff at. Even if you can’t game your opponent completely, anytime you put them in the 1500 or lower range they’re dead as soon as you get Blaze Accelerator Reload to the grave.
Zoodiacs have a bunch of two card OTK combos, so you have to be careful not to just die sometimes. If your opponent has the read that your backrow’s dead, they’re naturally inclined to try and OTK you. We saw a bunch of different Mirror Force options at YCS Seattle and each has its own pros and cons.
I’m personally a fan of Quaking Mirror Force because it’s so flexible, while also being hard to recover from, though I think there are good arguments for each as we saw basically every one played at least once this weekend.
Continuing the trend of mass destruction, Needle Ceiling played a big role in Seattle. Max Reynolds finished 3rd Place with his Zoodiac list, Main Decking Needle Ceiling as another board wipe effect.
Torrential Tribute is a staple trap right now as it’s one of the few ways next to Dimensional Barrier to stop Zoodiacs. Needle Ceiling does basically the same thing, and plays an even better role going second. If your opponent uses Interrupted Kaiju Slumber, you can trigger it without them needing anything else but Zoodiac Ratpier during their combo. If the field’s empty your opponent will need to open with Speedroid Terrortop or an extended combo to trigger it.
As a counter to all of the mass destruction, some Zoodiac duelists took a page from the OCG and teched a copy of Zoodiac Ramram. It’s got an effect that revives a Zoodiac from your graveyard when it’s destroyed, so if you field it at the end of a combo, you still have the defense of Zoodiac Drident thanks to the Zoodiac Whiptail you get to search off of Zoodiac Broadbull.
That happens whenever you open with Zoodiac Barrage plus some way to get Zoodiac Ratpier, whereas otherwise you can launch it for Zoodiac Thoroughblade or hold it for the following turn. Zoodiac Ramram can also be used as an Xyz Material if you’re trying to play through a lot of backrow, which we saw Chancy Wigglestove do in one of his Feature Matches.
A lot happened at YCS Seattle, and I think the format is far from solved. There are so many ways to play Zoodiacs, and with so many diverse options, I think we have a long road ahead of us. That Grass Looks Greener adds another layer of complexity to the format as well, with many players using it for big payoffs, and others just boosting their deck size to answer it. What tech do you think we’ll see at YCS Atlanta?