After Starstrike: Rock Stun

Jason Grabher-Meyer

1/4/2011 10:42:00 AM

Towards the end of last year, my creative vigor was renewed with the release of StarstrikeBlast. I talked about several new, competitive decks I'd put together, covering my favorite of the new crop of strategies. But one deck that I didn't get around to discussing happens to be one that isn't seeing much discussion anywhere – and even less play in tournaments. The quiet advent of the new Rock Stun deck has gone largely ignored by most Duelists, who've instead favored Gravekeepers, Plant Synchro, and other strategies that (ironically) have a very tough time against this deck.

You have to wonder: why is that? Why has a new, Championship-level deck been passed over so entirely? I think the answer to that Question actually lies in the explanation of what makes Rock Stun so good: the fact that similar Anti-Meta Stun decks, as well as LIGHT Gemini Beatdown strategies, just haven't done very well the past few months. After Anti-Meta Stun took YCS Indianapolis, and the very similar LIGHT Gemini Beatdown took YCS San Jose, alot of Duelists figured out simple tactics with which to beat aggressive Beatdown strategies. Side Decks were Fine tuned, tech was recognized, and general play philosophies like “don't do much until you draw Trunade or Cold Wave” led to a failing success rate for Stun Duelists. Combined with a relatively high price tag, that meant less and less play for Stun.

And therein lies the rub: the Rock Stun Duelist received a new card in StarstrikeBlast that fixes its biggest problems and really brings the strategy home, leading to never-before-seen power levels for decks like the following:

Simple Rock Stun – 40 Cards
Monsters: 17
3 Koa'ki Meiru Wall
3 Koa'ki Meiru Guardian
3 Koa'ki Meiru Sandman
2 Fossil Dyna Pachycephalo
1 Neo-Spacian Grand Mole
1 Morphing Jar
2 Thunder King Rai-Oh
2 Doomcaliber Knight

Spells: 12
3 Pot of Duality
1 Monster Reborn
1 Dark Hole
2 Mystical Space Typhoon
3 Book of Moon
2 Smashing Ground

Traps: 11
1 Solemn Judgment
2 Solemn Warning
2 Bottomless Trap Hole
1 Mirror Force
1 Torrential Tribute
2 Dimensional Prison
1 Royal Oppression
1 Seven Tools of the Bandit

Koa'ki Meiru Wall was an absolute game-changer. Go ahead: wait for that Cold Wave or Trunade – the Wall says no. The much-dreaded Dark Hole, that so often steals a Stun Duelist's advantage? No dice there either: you might as well just give Koa'ki Meiru Wall a beard, a robe, and a pink card border (while still keeping half your Life Points). As a mid-game answer to the Stun deck's biggest, most feared problems, the Wall is incredible. An early game Wall also stops draw cards, as well as important themed spells like Necrovalley, Black Whirlwind, and Charge of the Light Brigade that make their respective decks what they are. Monster Reborn, Book of Moon, and Mind Control all become aimless 1-for-1's that don't hit their intended mark, stopping big comebacks and keeping your monster's best Trigger and Continuous effects online.

And it's a Rock! Finally, Koa'ki Meiru Guardian and Koa'ki Meiru Sandman get a new addition to complete their trio: one that's good enough to justify going full-Rock in order to make their constant reveals. With nine field-stabilizing Rock monsters, you're free to play Fossil Dyna Pachycephalo, Neo-Spacian Grandole, and Morphing Jar, knowing you'll be able to use them as reveals when their often-situational effects aren't quite ideal. That's good, because when those effects ARE right for the situation, they're amazing. Neo-Spacian Grand Mole gives you another way to punish your opponent for investing in Synchro Summons, while ensuring that Ryko, Lightsworn Hunter and Gravekeeper's Spy don't win their controller any ground. Morphing Jar is huge in a deck that can often set 4 cards to its back row in a single turn, and that capitalizes so well on simplifying 1-for-1's. And Fossil Dyna Pachycephalo is a format-shattering card when it stays on the field, epitomizing the Stun concept as it's now defined.

Side decking is integral to this kind of deck's success, right down to the monster lineup. For instance, a third Thunder King and Doomcaliber Knight are clutch in Game 2 and 3, since Thunder King will obviously be more desirable against search-heavy decks like Blackwings and X-Sabers, while Doomcaliber Knight is a favored pick against Scraps, Plant Synchro, and Gravekeepers. With so many simple 1-for-1's that are relatively interchangeable, your Side Deck can make full use of stuff like Chivalry (GK's), Trap Hole (BW's and Sabers), and Pulling the Rug (Gadgets and Monarchs). With mained copies of Mystical Space Typhoon, you're already optimized for Royal Decree, but when in doubt you can always use one of my favorite, underrated Side picks for this format - Breaker the Magical Warrior.

In fact, your toughest matchup Questions generally won't occur between Duels; they'll come during your opening plays when you decide which monster you try to Stun your opponent with first, or when you decide which monster should be your second to follow up with. While those are tough calls with often few to no solid “rules” to guide you, remember the following:

-Doomcaliber Knight and Koa'ki Meiru Guardian screw up almost everybody on an opening play.

-Koa'ki Meiru Sandman protects your over-extensions from Mirror Force and Torrential Tribute, allowing you to play a little harder and more aggressively than conservative Duelists may expect. A first-turn Sandman can also protect whatever your second turn Summon may be from anything short of Counter Traps.

-Koa'ki Meiru Wall can be a great opening, and a real mid-game Stun to the face, but only if it's protected.

-Thunder King Rai-Oh is a great opener against the right decks, but weak against others. It's often a better “gotcha” card played against a Set Darksoul or Gravekeeper's Recruiter when it's unexpected, than it would be as an opener.

-Always open with Morphing Jar if you can set a bunch of back row cards A true veteran might recognize the signs, but the reality is that people are so used to seeing Ryko, Darksoul, Recruiter, or Spy these days that they don't recognize what used to be telegraphed tells of a Jar. The early game is when your opponent is least likely to have committed multiple cards, and when you're most likely to nab pure card advantage with Morphig Jar.

-Never open with Grand Mole. Never even show your opponent Grand Mole if you can avoid using it as a reveal cost. If your opponent knows you have Grand Mole and isn't brain-damaged, they'll never Set a monster or Synchro Summon without protection against it. There are times where guiding your opponent's play may be worthwhile, but those situations are rare and usually you'll just be stuck with a dead, in-hand reminder of the GX era. And nobody wants that.

The order in which you play your monsters is really one of the few skills this deck requires – it's not really tough to play as long as you have basic matchup knowledge and a solid understanding of core theory. Card advantage, good! Simplification ,good! Not getting to use your monster effects when more Appropriate monsters sit in your hand, bad. Keeping your opponent from using their effects, good! Royal Decree, bad. Destroying Royal Decree, good! And so on. Your Pot of Duality and Royal Oppression plays have a next-to-zero chance of interfering with your Special Summons because you usually won't make any. You'll almost never have to worry about Synchro Summon plays because unless you Monster Reborn a Tuner or side Cyber Dragons in against Gadgets, you won't need an Extra Deck. You don't need to worry about D.D. Crow, because it doesn't matter what's in your Graveyard. The worst thing that can happen if your opponent Effect Veilers you is that you don't attack that turn. An afternoon or two of practice is likely all you really need to master this deck: finding the cards is actually more difficult than playing them once you get the order-of-Summon stuff down.

So that's it from me – no more complicated play notes required for you to put this together and start winning competitive tournaments with it! Join us next week, as we slide a little bit more back into casual territory and look at a decks that I know alot of you already love and adore – a Fabled World build that I've absolutely fallen in love with, and that I could definitely see earning a Fabled fan an invite to Nats.

See you then!

-Jason Grabher-Meyer

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