Battling on a Budget

Rob Pace


At this point, saying that playing Yu-Gi-Oh! competitively has become expensive is like saying that the Earth is round.


The real question is, does it have to be? Is it possible to consistently beat the best decks in the world with your budget deck?

Anybody who's read most of my articles can guess the answer to that. Today we're going to hammer out the first draft of a tournament-viable budget deck designed to take down Dark Armed Dragon, Lightsworn, and Six Samurai - the Big Three decks to beat.

The common factor in the functionality of Dark Armed and Lightsworn decks is the fact that neither has a significant ability to generate card advantage outside of a few key combinations. In fact, both decks have very little oomph when you deny them their biggest power cards; without Dark Armed Dragon, that deck becomes a subpar Warrior deck whose draw engine has no win condition except for perhaps a luckily timed Dark Magician of Chaos. Similarly, the Lightsworn deck has very little combat focus prior to dropping a Judgment Dragon; while it does have bigger bodies than the Dark Armed deck, cards like Wulf fall short in combat when faced with a deck designed for it.

So, how do we deny these power decks their overpowered card combinations? Traditional hand control decks can be effective in stripping portions of these combinations away before they can be abused, but the randomness of traditional discard effects alone fails to shut down these decks consistently enough to be considered successful. The newer secondary form of hand control that's floated in and out of competitive play the past few months, though, has been proven as savagely effective. Spin effects like Phoenix Wing Wind Blast and Legendary Jujitsu Master have managed to slow many games to the point that Monarchs have been able to work their way into a few Day Twos in a format that is typically much too fast for them to survive.

In order for our budget deck to dominate, we're going to combine typical and newer methods of hand control in our build. The combination will effectively strip our opponents of any chance to get their draw engines going until it's too late.

    Budget Crush Rob Pace    
Main Deck
Side Deck
1 Cyber Phoenix
1 Deep Diver
2 Frost and Flame Dragon
3 Hydrogeddon
2 Mobius the Frost Monarch
2 Mother Grizzly
1 Neo-Spacian Grand Mole
1 Sangan
2 Thestalos the Firestorm Monarch
1 Treeborn Frog
3 Volcanic Shell
Monsters [19]
1 Book of Moon
1 Brain Control
1 D.D. Designator
2 Foolish Burial
1 Heavy Storm
1 Lightning Vortex
1 Monster Reborn
1 Mystical Space Typhoon
1 Premature Burial
1 Smashing Ground
Spells [11]
3 Drop Off
3 Magic Drain
1 Mind Crush
2 Phoenix Wing Wind Blast
2 Threatening Roar
1 Torrential Tribute
1 Trap Dustshoot
Traps [13]
Deck Total [43]



The key to our budget build is consistency; we're running Mother Grizzly in order to filter our deck, fill our Graveyard, and pull out tricks like Treeborn Frog and Deep Diver. Deep Diver, by the way, is one of the most underrated cards in the game today; the little man gives you search access to all the monsters in your deck that are not typically searchable; the only downside (and the reason that he's not widely played) is the fact that the card doesn't go directly to your hand. The versatility of this card, however, is so great that it's fully worth the investment. Whether you're searching out the right Monarch for the moment or a Frost and Flame Dragon, the advantage generated by that monster will greatly outstrip the investment in one card being sent to the Graveyard.

Volcanic Shell is an interesting card in this build. It can be sent directly to the Graveyard in order to generate additional Shells that can be discarded for Phoenix Wing Wind Blast or used as floating tribute bait. Either way, a single Shell in the Graveyard will generate two additional Shells in only one more turn, and those three cards are more than enough to provide removal bait for your two copies of Frost and Flame Dragon.

Again, consistency is the key to our build. We're running enough deck search effects to play the same game over and over again regardless of what deck is sitting across the table. The real killer here, though, is our trap lineup; the majority of our hand control cards reside here. Three copies of Drop Off and two copies of Phoenix Wing Wind Blast are going to keep our opponents from drawing into Solar Recharges and Allures or Destiny Draws, while our full complement of Magic Drains will severely punish their activation or negate them entirely at the cost of a card from our opponent's hand.

You might be wondering why, with all the solid and already defined budget decks available already, this is the build I'm championing today. The real reason is the main reason that I think that this deck can be tournament viable; the sheer number of search effects in the deck coupled with Volcanic Shell's card-in-hand generator provides us with a skeletal structure that can be customized to different metagames while maintaining its consistent performance. It only takes three cards rotated in from the side deck - either Light Imprisoning Mirror or Shadow Imprisoning Mirror - to completely shut down Lightsworn or Dark Armed Dragon, yet we can still win reliably without them. Our ability to block draws through our traps and punish our opponent's field structure with our Monarchs and Frost and Flame Dragon is so synergistic that I'd gladly enter an SJC with this deck over Gadgets or any other budget build floating through the metagame today.

This is only a skeletal build, though; it's been playtested against Dark Armed Dragon and Lightsworn decks, but hasn't yet been modified to the smoothest and most consistent build that it can be. That, my friends, is a task I'm going to leave to you; I'll be posting this build in the TCGPlayer Yu-Gi-Oh! deck forum and asking for feedback from the public. This is a first for me as a deckbuilder and I'm excited to see what the community will add to the concept. Whatever the community decides, I'll be taking the deck to a local tournament in the northern California area to throw down with the best of the best - regional winners, SJC Day Two contestants, and the typical local tournament variety of everything from Dark Armed and Lightsworn to Gigaplant and JinzOTK.

I'll post the results of my tournament foray in the deckbuilding forum, and I'm going to be looking for criticism from all of you. Do you agree with me that this build is viable, or do you believe that you have to spend hundreds or even thousands of dollars on a deck in order to compete?

As a long-time player (my first cards were from the original Yugi and Kaiba starters just after the game's release), I cannot remember a format that I've delighted in as a deckbuilder nearly as much as this one. I've found over and over again that it's much easier to shake things up when the majority of the community puts an almost blind faith in the big dogs to win everything; when pro players and casual players alike complain that the best decks cannot be beaten, rogue decks like this one have the most room to slip in under the radar and completely devastate the playfield.

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