What defines the best deck in a format? This is a question that’ plagued duelists for as long as the game has existed. There’s rarely a concrete answer to such a big question, and it seems like Konami’s slowly taking us to a place where it’ll be tougher and tougher to come to one solid conclusion. However, sometimes the answer isn’t as difficult as you may think. When you’re searching for the best strategy there are a handful of key aspects you should be looking for: Consistency, Power, Resources, Speed, and Versatility.
While that may seem like a ton of different factors, you can take a look at the decks that have performed exceptionally in past formats and see that they all hit on these points. Dragon Rulers for example hit all of these items very directly, and were capable of just about everything. Something like Evilswarm has good Consistency and Speed, but they seem to always fall short because they don’t have the same amount of Power or Resources as the other strategies. It was clear that Prophecy was a strong contender in the beginning of last format, but it ultimately fell by the wayside because the Dragon Ruler deck was so superior. While Dragons may still exist to a certain degree in the January 1st format, I don’t think it has the same capabilities it once did, and Prophecy seems like the easiest choice for the best deck right now.
While some of your opening hands with Prophecy may seem a little rough at first, they’re almost always one card away from doing exactly what you want. [ccProd]Spellbook Magician of Prophecy[/ccProd] and [ccProd]Spellbook of Secrets[/ccProd] are probably the best toolbox cards in the format right now because they both allow you to find whatever you need right then and there, for no cost. That means there are six cards that immediately get your game plan going without needing anything else; once a Spellbook Magician hits play you know almost immediately what’s about to go down. This is something Prophecy and a lot of the previous top contenders exemplify: redundancy. If your opening hands keep delivering the same results within a couple turns, you have the consistency you need to be successful.
If those two cards alone weren’t enough, [ccProd]Spellbook Library of the Crescent[/ccProd] does something very similar while being one of the best cards to have in your opening hand. It gives you a 33% chance at finding [ccProd]Spellbook of Secrets[/ccProd] immediately, while filling your graveyard with fodder for all of your other effects. By selecting [ccProd]Spellbook of the Master[/ccProd] as one of your other options with Crescent, you have another chance at finding that Secrets assuming you have a Spellbook in your hand (you can mimic [ccProd]Spellbook Library of the Crescent[/ccProd], since Master ignores activation conditions). Spellbook of Power’s the worst search card in your deck simply because it requires you to destroy a monster in battle, but that’s not even much of a problem when competitive metagames are filled with attack targets of all different sizes. Spellbook of Power’s also key because it’s another unique Spellbook with a different name; since Spellbooks are generally limited to one activation each per turn, it helps you load your graveyard with as many Spellbooks as you can in the shortest time possible.
While Justice of Prophecy’s a little slow at times, it does quite a bit for your consistency because it can turn any useable Spellbook in your hand into [ccProd]Spellbook of Secrets[/ccProd]. I want to emphasize how important Secrets is, because it’s the card that gets everything going, and Justice basically allows you to trade cards in your hand for more optimal pieces at the end of your turn. Even with all of that said, I haven’t touched on how powerful it is to trade Justice for a [ccProd]High Priestess of Prophecy[/ccProd]. It’s just bonkers. Priestess is one of the most powerful cards Prophecy has, so having a monster like Justice – that gives you access to say many of your best cards – is pretty awesome.
While “Power” might seem like a vague term, it’s basically a generalization for what the deck is capable of doing. A good example of Power in this context is something like [ccProd]Dark Armed Dragon[/ccProd] or [ccProd]Mecha Phantom Beast Dracossack[/ccProd]; these are cards that immediately impact the bored and demand answers from your opponent. If a [ccProd]Dark Armed Dragon[/ccProd] or Dracossack stick around for more than a turn or two, it’s typically pretty easy to tell who’s going to be winning that game.
The first card that showcases the Power that Prophecy has is the High Priestess herself. Much like Dracossack and Dark Armed, [ccProd]High Priestess of Prophecy[/ccProd] can take over a game almost immediately if it goes unanswered. Every turn that Priestess stays in play, you get to destroy an opponent’s card for free.
But the one card that exemplifies Power in every form is [ccProd]World of Prophecy[/ccProd]. Not only does it get you some of your cards back, but it clears the field as soon as it hits play. Regardless of what kind of a jam you end up in, World’s your reset button; it lets you regain control. The best part about it? You can Summon it with just one card, [ccProd]Temperance of Prophecy[/ccProd], and you don’t lose any other cards in that exchange assuming the Spellbook you activate for Temperance does something useful. Having a card that impacts the game that much, and doesn’t take much effort to Summon, is absolutely awesome.
Spellbook of Fate’s another card with an absurdly high power level. Quick-Play spells will always be the best type of removal, because you can activate them at just about any time, and [ccProd]Spellbook of Fate[/ccProd] doesn’t even target. Forcing your opponent to react to Fate immediately just to get rid of another card is extremely powerful, not to mention that the card gets banished, instead of being destroyed. Banishing monsters is huge in a ton of match-ups because a lot of decks have tricks involving the graveyard. A well-timed Fate can end the game.
Resource management is one of the most important factors when it comes to defining the best deck in the field, because it gives you a way to achieve an element of inevitability. The concept behind inevitability is that if your deck can grind better than your opponent’s, you’ll ultimately put yourself so far ahead that losing is almost impossible. You can see an example of inevitability in both past versions of the Dragon Ruler deck, from both the March 1st and September 1st formats. The only games that Dragons really lost were the ones where it couldn’t get to the later stages of the game. The same goes for Prophecy: they can win anytime they reach the late game thanks to one card: [ccProd]The Grand Spellbook Tower[/ccProd].
The Grand Spellbook Tower basically gives you an additional draw phase every turn, so as long as you can keep making 1-for-1 trades with your opponent you’ll end up ahead, simply because you’re drawing more. It makes everything free. If you can keep making even trades, suddenly your opponent’s losing a card every turn and you aren’t losing anything in overall card economy.
The best apart about this is that Spellbook of Fate’s new Limited status doesn’t even affect you, because you get to put it back on the bottom of your deck every turn. Combined with the search power of [ccProd]Spellbook of Secrets[/ccProd] and [ccProd]Spellbook Magician of Prophecy[/ccProd], you have consistent access to your best removal card on every turn of the game; Fate’s always a problem for your opponent. Most decks can’t beat a Tower that sticks because they just get buried in cards; Tower basically becomes a win condition.
How fast a deck can get going is sometimes an issue, especially with strategies that hinge on inevitability to build wins across the long term. As I mentioned before, Prophecy can get going with as little as a couple search cards, and can quickly reach what most decks would consider an end game using only Justice or Temperance and a single Spellbook. Justice lets you start grinding immediately, and ultimately sets you up to finish your opponent the following turn, putting them under a ton of pressure knowing that they’ll have to face [ccProd]High Priestess of Prophecy[/ccProd].
Temperance does something similar, forcing your opponent to start acting immediately, but the difference is that you don’t need to wait a turn. Temperance into World takes so little effort that you can combat any deck regardless of how fast your opponent gets off the ground. Similarly, Tempest can even fetch Priestess if you need to start dealing with threats and you don’t have the infrastructure to use World’s effect yet. Temperance is the one card that you can always rely on to get you out of tight situations, or put your opponent into bad positions, as early as Turn 1.
It isn’t too difficult to see that a deck with a ton of search cards has the ability to get through whatever you need to; it’s as simple as that. Between all of the redundant search effects, a big chunk of your deck can turn into practically whatever you want. I’ve seen Prophecy get out of insanely tough situations that almost no other deck could escape, simply because you can always get to whatever you want, and you can play your turns accordingly. Unless something happens that prevents you from actually playing your cards in the first place, you have outs to everything and you can do whatever you please.
What I hope you take away from this discussion isn’t just the list of reasons why I personally believe Prophecy to be the best deck for January 1st, but more the root theories at work: how to find decks that can compete at the highest level that may go undiscovered otherwise. The sooner you can decide whether a deck is competitive on that level, the sooner you can choose to either work on it and devote time to it, or to disregard it and move on. Do you believe there’s a deck that might be better than Prophecy for the beginning of the new format? I always want to know, so tell me down below.