Sleeper Picks In Battle Pack Sealed – Part 2

Jason Grabher-Meyer

7/23/2012 10:50:00 AM

Last time around, we looked at five cards that I consider to be under-the-radar highlights in Battle Pack Sealed: cards that might not be as obvious as some of the marquee power-rares in the set, but that are deceptively strong when the chips are down. Today I want to look at ten more sleeper hits; ten cards that you should pay special attention to when they show up in your Draft or Sealed packs, that can make game-breaking differences in your Battle Pack performance.

Back in Part 1 we wrapped things up with Underworld Shackles, a powerful Equip Spell that I find noteworthy because it's an absolute answer to almost any monster, of any size. Today I want to pick up where we left off, looking at one of the best battle tricks in the format!

Prideful Roar:
It's difficult to overstate the power of Prideful Roar. Something like Mirror Force is indeed better on defense because it can take down more than one monster at a time. And while Raigeki is obviously better on your turn, and something like Fissure can also take out a key monster of your choice under the right conditions, it's versatility that makes Roar so good. It can be activated both when you're attacking, and when you're being attacked, giving it a level of flexibility that even the strongest of defensive traps, and the deadliest of destruction spells, can't really match. The Life Point cost is nominal, save for situations where you're forced to pit a much smaller monster against a far bigger one, and in those situations paying some Life Points is usually preferable to getting smashed on by a huge beatstick anyways.

The other cool part? Prideful Roar doesn't target. And since it's a be-all end-all answer to any monster regardless of size, that means it's one of the few cards that can take down Obelisk the Tormentor if your opponent manages to Summon it. If you haven't played much BP Sealed, that may not sound like a big deal, but if you've got a few play sessions under your belt you'll know that Obelisk wins tournaments, and having answers to it is a rare thing.

You haven't really scooped 'til you've scooped to an Egyptian God Card.

Blackwing - Zephyros the Elite:
Speaking of Obelisk, some of the most surprisingly potent cards in Battle Pack Sealed are support cards that help you make Xyz and Tribute Summons. With an effect that lets you bring it back from the graveyard once per game, often as part of a much bigger combo, Blackwing - Zephyros the Elite is one of the best. At 1600 ATK it's a no-risk beatstick that can do some damage, trade off against another 1600 ATK attacker, or be used to over-extend and place pressure on the opponent when it would be too risky to do so with a more invested card.

As discard fodder for something like The Tricky, Zephyros is tops, and pitching it for The Tricky and then immediately Special Summoning it back is a great way to get two Special Summoned monsters for a big Tribute Summon. Zephyros is especially good as Tribute or Xyz fodder if it lets you reuse a one-shot card that's left on the field: that's where stuff gets really crazy. You can get back Monarch monsters, Worm Barses, or Breaker the Magical Warrior to play their abilities again. You can Recycle Flip Effect monsters, too. If you played Call Of The Haunted and then removed the attached monster from the field without destroying it (say, because you used it as Tribute or for an Xyz Summon), you can Recycle Call for another free Special Summon. Kunai with Chain, Shadow Spell, Fiendish Chain... Plenty of defensive Continuous Traps can be Recycled as well, providing valuable protection. You can even bounce Swords of Revealing Light to shut down your opponent's attacks for five turns instead of three. There are a ton of different ways to play Zephyros, and that incredible level of versatility is what makes it so dangerous. If you open a copy, be sure to examine all of your cards very carefully for possible combos. Making a killer play with Zephyros can win games.

Magic Drain:
The last trap card on my list, Magic Drain is the perfect example of a card that functions one way in Constructed play, but that takes on an entirely different context in Sealed. In Constructed, where common tournament-level decks can play as many as twenty or more spells depending on the format, it's often easy to discard a Spell Card for Magic Drain. While a card like Magic Jammer or Solemn Judgment is said to provide “hard” negation, Magic Drain is referred to as a “soft” negation card, because it comes with a caveat that can allow your opponent to stop the negation from happening. As a result, Magic Drain doesn't see much play.

But over in the world of Battle Pack Sealed, things are hugely different. Here, spell cards are both tougher to come by due to the way Battle Pack: Epic Dawn is collated, and inherently more difficult to part with due to their power level. While there are big power spells you'd have trouble giving up, there's also just the simple fact that even basic removal spells like Fissure, and ATK buffs like Ego Boost, are worth so much more in a format where Special Summoning is infrequent, and comebacks are generated more often through battle tricks than big, reliable combos.

Straight up, when you chain Magic Drain in Battle Pack Sealed, you have a far better chance of actually negating your opponent's spell than you would in Constructed. While your opponent will sometimes be able to buy their way through the negation, it's pretty infrequent, and that makes Magic Drain a great pick. In addition, since so many of the most powerful cards in this format are spell cards, the ability to negate one or discard one is worth so much more. Stopping a Change of Heart, Raigeki, or Harpie's Feather Duster is the kind of thing that can save you from losing, while shutting down a surprise Forbidden Lance or Ego Boost when you go to make a big attack can win things outright.

The power of high-DEF monsters to stabilize the field when your opponent gets an edge and places you in crisis mode, continues to be an underrated facet of Battle Pack Sealed competition. Unlike Constructed, where defending monsters are largely a joke unless they come packing a killer effect, defenders are often quite important in Battle Pack Sealed; they ward off attacks long enough for you to make a consolidating play towards a comeback (via a Tribute or Xyz Summon), or at least let you draw towards an out.

Drillroid's cool, because it blows through the opponent's big defenders and keeps them from making those strong, consolidating plays by minimizing their field presence. Sometimes you could accomplish that by making a consolidating play yourself – trade up into something like Number 39: Utopia or Gem-Knight Pearl, and you could muster enough ATK to get through a strong defender. But Summoning Drillroid instead means you can smash through opposing walls without leaving yourself open to simple 2-for-1 exchanges: you prevent your opponent's ability to mount a comeback through a consolidating play, while also avoiding consolidation yourself. That's ideal.

At 1600 ATK, Drillroid is a decent attacker on its own, and it can occasionally alienate your opponent from plays they'd want to make otherwise. It's a Machine-Type, so it combos with Machina Fortress, and it's a Level 4 so it opens up Rank 4 Xyz Summoning options. It's an easy card to underestimate, especially since it can't stop Flip Effects, but if you spend some time with it you're going to come to appreciate it.

As far as base gameplay mechanics go, I don't think Spirit Monsters really reached their full potential in Constructed play. Sure, a handful of them were useful in certain formats: Asura Priest saw some play for a while; Yata ruined lives when it was legal; and Creature Swap combos happen from time to time. Kinka-Byo's pretty cool, and it's still played in Mystic Piper strategies. But overall, the actual base mechanic of a monster that Returns to your hand at the End Phase of every turn? That's usually been more of a drawback in Constructed than an advantage, and I don't know if Spirits were originally conceived that way. The mechanic seems too interesting to be one-sided like that. Having to Return a monster to your hand at the end of any turn in which it's face-up has the potential to be a double-edged sword in the right play environment, and that could create cool, skill-driven situations.

And though that potential never really crystallized into results in Constructed, it finally became a reality in Battle Pack Sealed, and nothing exemplifies that more than Yaksha. With 1900 ATK Yaksha is a topnotch beatstick, capable of swooping in to deal a big direct hit or taking down anything with 1800 ATK or less. But unlike Insect Knight or Luster Dragon, once Yaksha makes its attack it bounces back to your hand in the End Phase. That's actually really useful if you play it right. If you think your opponent has a mass-removal card like Raigeki or Dark Dust Spirit, Yaksha allows you to make a brief over-extension; execute a powerful attack; and then take your card back so you don't wind up giving the opponent a free 2-for-1 off that removal effect. If your opponent controls a big monster with 2000 or more ATK, and they go to lean on you by playing another attacker with 1800 attack points or less, Yaksha can pick off the smaller monster without being run over next turn. Combined with Yaksha's effect, which can let you outplay cards like Mirror Force, Prideful Roar, and Ego Boost, it's a surprisingly strong card.

Tanngrisnir of the Nordic Beasts:
In Constructed play, Tanngrisnir of the Nordic Beasts was largely played just to provide Synchro Materials for Nordic strategies. In Battle Pack Sealed it's a completely different card: since there are no Synchro Monsters in this format, but plenty of one-Tribute and two-Tribute monsters, it lets you Tribute Summon alot of big, high-Level monsters. Dark Magician of Chaos and Obelisk the Tormentor love this guy, and it's not too shabby with Monarchs or Dark Dust Spirit either. In fact, throwing this card on the table in face-up attack position is a great way to score a quick 1200 damage and discourage your opponent from attacking, since beating down Tanngrisnir can mean big penalties on the following turn. Heck, since it's a Level 3, just keeping it on the field for one turn can buy you enough time to make a big Rank 3 Xyz in a pinch.

Whether Tanngrisnir is set to block three attacks in a single turn; Summoned to do some damage and then ward off the opponent; or simply played to create big Tribute Summons, it's got an amazing ability to break the current tempo of the Duel and then establish a new one. It's a powerful wall, a tricky threat in battle, and often the start of big combos that are tough to stop. This was one of the cards I really underestimated before the WCQ, but it put in a ton of work all weekend long and really proved itself.

 Phantom of Chaos
Phantom of Chaos59320
Set Battle Pack: Epic Dawn
Number BP01-EN196
Level 4
Type Effect Monster
Monster Fiend
Attribute DARK 
Rarity Common
Card Text

Any Battle Damage your opponent takes from battles involving this card becomes 0. Once per turn: You can target 1 Effect Monster in your Graveyard; banish that target, then, until the End Phase, this card's name and ATK become that monster's name and ATK, and it gains that monster's effects. You must control this face-up card to activate and to resolve this effect.

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Phantom of Chaos:
One of the cool things about Battle Pack Sealed is that there are a ton of monsters running around with cool effects. Alot of them are big guys that wouldn't see play in Constructed because they're too costly or too slow, while others are little dudes that have topnotch effects, but that just don't have the ATK or themed synergy to survive in the Advanced Format.

All those cool effects don't just make Battle Pack Sealed a cool play experience: they also make Phantom of Chaos a really powerful card. On its most basic level, the Phantom can be played to banish a big attacker from your Graveyard, making a one-shot attack to take down your opponent's biggest threat. From there it'll either get run over next turn, or it'll bait the opponent into a defensive card like Mirror Force. But beyond that, it can also be played to mimic game-winning monsters like Jinzo, Tragoedia, or... well, pretty much anything that we're discussing in this article. Blue Thunder T-45, Amazoness Sage, and even the next card on this list about an inch down from here can be banished to let you replay their abilities with Phantom. And once you use those sweet effects the Phantom's still a Level 4, so you don't have to leave it on the field to get run over. With a bit of planning, you can abuse your best effects or swing over your opponent's biggest monster, and then immediately leverage Phantom of Chaos into a Rank 4 Xyz Summon. Very cool!

Pitch Black Warwolf:
At 1600 ATK, it's really easy to underestimate Pitch Black Warwolf. It's actually been successfully played in a few limited cases in Advanced Format Constructed, but those low attack points make it a tough sell in a format where beatsticks are plentiful and trap cards are relatively rare. I remember seeing this in one of my very first Battle Pack Sealed pools, and wondering how often Warwolf's effect would really be relevant.

Well, it turns out the answer is “surprisingly often.” Even though there are only about eight trap cards that really get shut down by Pitch Black Warwolf (a few other traps can still be played, but simply become less surprising, like Call Of The Haunted), they're all powerful battle tricks that are usually the basis for big comebacks. While they won't all appear in every sealed pool you face, they actually wind up comprising a large percentage of many opponents' comeback cards, and that's what makes Warwolf so good. In a play environment where your number of comebacks is directly tied to your win percentage, Warwolf restricts your opponent's outs. It also lets you play aggressively, allowing you to over-extend despite the threat of Mirror Force, and allowing you to ignore some of the caveats that would normally come with sending a dominant monster to go crush a smaller one (you don't have to worry about Prideful Roar or similar ATK pumps). You'll rarely want to use Warwolf on its own: you can definitely throw it out there for some damage, to draw out a bigger attacker into a removal card and control tempo. But it's at its best when it's a second attacker, reinforcing the position of a bigger threat.

Pitch Black Warwolf's viability exemplifies a really important element of Battle Pack Sealed: you win games by restricting your opponent's moves, and maximizing your own. That's actually a lesson you can carry into Constructed competition as well, even though that fact is more easily obscured there due to the flashiness of big combos and Special Summon swarms. The moral of the story? Any card in BP Sealed that keeps your opponent from using their cards is a big deal.

I want to close this discussion by talking about two cards that are high-risk, and high-reward. Gilasaurus is the first. If you cracked a big high-Tribute monster, especially Obelisk the Tormentor, then Gilasaurus is one of the best cards you can play. While giving your opponent a free +1 in the form of a Special Summon from their graveyard is really poor, being able to throw down a free Special Summon in the early game before the opponent has anything in their Graveyard is great, especially if it leads into the massive threat of Obelisk.

While Gilasaurus is a Level 3 and potentially a decent Xyz Material, you'll probably only want to play it in a deck packing powerful Tribute Monsters. It's not very good in the mid or late game, and you have to work to play around it when you draw it at those points. Like Machina Fortress, this is one of those cards that gets markedly better in 30-card Sealed instead of 40-card Sealed, because you'll have a greater chance of drawing it (and a matching Tribute) in your opening hand.

Horn of the Unicorn:
I don't think a single card epitomized the concept of risk versus reward at the North American Ultimate Challenge like Horn of the Unicorn. Horn's awesome, because you can use it to get a small attacker over a bigger one. Then, if the opponent has a removal trick to destroy your Horn-equipped beater, you get the Horn back and can head into your next turn knowing that you can equip it to a different monster and be in a dominant position once again. That's great. In Battle Pack Sealed, games can be won just by having more ATK pumps than the other guy.

The problem is that Horn flips one of the fundamental hallmarks of BP Sealed upside down. Normally in this format, you're struggling to not run out of ATK boosts and battle tricks. With Horn clogging up your draws, the challenge becomes one of keeping decent monsters in Supply so you have something to equip. If you run out of attackers to boost, the Horn puts you in a really rough position where you can't draw anything else, and you usually have to make no moves in order to draw into some bodies. That's a death sentence, and there were definitely situations at the WCQ where a player's eyes lit up when he saw that his opponent was low on cards, but had just played Horn.

One big thing to remember? Horn has to resolve in order to get to the field, and it has to go from the field to the graveyard in order to be Returned to the top of your deck. That means if you negate Horn's activation with Magic Drain or Solemn Judgment, it doesn't get spun into the opponent's next draw (something many competitors misunderstood during the Ultimate Challenge). If you're running Horn yourself, knowing this ruling can mean the difference between winning and losing, so make sure you understand how the card works.

So there you have it. A whopping fifteen cards that are total game-breakers, that are fairly easy to misjudge the true potential of. You may only get a couple of these in any given sealed pool, but if you play them right, they can make a tremendous difference to your performance. Like I said before, one of the biggest skills in BP Sealed is the ability to recognize the deeper potential and hidden uses of innocuous cards. Dig deep and make the most of whatever you open – do that, and you can claim victory even with sub-par cards.

-Jason Grabher-Meyer

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