Competitive Corner: No-Priestess Prophecy

Joe Soto

6/12/2013 11:32:00 AM

How's it going TCGplayers? The last round of Regionals before the North American World Championship Qualifier is over, so congratulations to those of you who locked up those invites just in time, and congratulations to Top 8 competitors for a job well done! Additional congratulations go out to fellow TCGPlayer writer and teammate Thomas Vo, who took down the Frederick, Maryland regional with a perfect 9-0 record with Dragon Rulers. While Dragon Rulers and Prophecy are still at the top of the food chain, Evilswarms and even Madolche have pushed their way through to the top.

Last week I went over the format powerhouse that is Dragon Rulers; we've seen their power in the fact that the majority of Regional Top 8 decks since the release of Tachyon Galaxy have been Dragon Rulers. We get it, Dragons are really really good, but what about the other deck "on top"? Prophecy have put up the second best results, thanks in no small part to Spellbook of Judgment, letting you crush your opponents under massive card advantage. Yet even though there are tons of cookie-cutter lists doing well, there's still plenty of room for innovation in this format; many Dragon Ruler duelists have put Light and Darkness Dragon in their Main Deck to have better matchups in the mirror and against trap-heavy decks.

This week I'll be looking at one of the more innovative Prophecy builds, piloted by Andrea Zenari all the way to a second place finish at the Italian World Championship Qualifier. Seeing Prophecy at the top tables is nothing new, but Zenari's build is just too cool not to discuss. Like always, let's get started with the list.

    No Priestess Prophecy Andrea Zenari    
  Location:  WCQ - 2013-06-01 Italy Nationals - 2nd Place
Main Deck
Side Deck
1 Jowgen the Spiritualist
3 Kycoo the Ghost Destroyer
3 Spellbook Magician of Prophecy (UTR)
Monsters [7]
1 Book of Moon
1 Heavy Storm
3 Spellbook Library of the Crescent
1 Spellbook of Eternity
3 Spellbook of Fate (UTR)
3 Spellbook of Judgment
1 Spellbook of Life
3 Spellbook of Power
3 Spellbook of Secrets
2 Spellbook of the Master
2 Spellbook of Wisdom
1 Spellbook Star Hall
2 The Grand Spellbook Tower
3 Upstart Goblin
Spells [29]
2 Phoenix Wing Wind Blast
1 Solemn Judgment
1 Solemn Warning
Traps [4]
Deck Total [40]
1 Apprentice Magician
3 Droll & Lock Bird
3 Mind Crush
3 Mystical Space Typhoon
2 Old Vindictive Magician
3 Summon Limit
Side Deck [15]


1 Abyss Dweller
1 Daigusto Phoenix
1 Diamond Dire Wolf
1 Evilswarm Nightmare
1 Evilswarm Thanatos
1 Gachi Gachi Gantetsu
1 Gagaga Cowboy
1 Gem-Knight Pearl
1 Maestroke the Symphony Djinn
1 Number 16: Shock Master
1 Number 39: Utopia
1 Number 96: Dark Mist (UTR)
1 Photon Papilloperative
1 Shining Elf
1 Wind-Up Zenmaines
Extra Deck [15]

The three Spellbook Magician of Prophecy are a mainstay for the theme: they add necessary consistency; they synergize well with The Grand Spellbook Tower and Spellbook of Fate; and any Stratos-like search effect is always invaluable. But the first thing you probably noticed about Zenari's decklist is a card that you probably didn't notice; there isn't a single copy of High Priestess of Prophecy!

For the longest time, Priestess has been touted as the go-to boss monster of the Prophecy deck, and her Dark Armed Dragon-like abilities made her an attractive weapon. Yet Priestess isn't as effective as people would like to believe. Needing three Spellbooks in hand isn't always the easiest requirement to fill, and Priestess can be a dead draw if you open up with her and almost any other monsters. "But she can blow up cards!" Normally that effect's too good to pass up, but in our current format dominated by Prophecy and Dragon Rulers, one destruction effect a turn just doesn't cut it. She's also not big enough to get over Mecha Phantom Beast Dracossack without help from Spellbook Star Hall, and you need another monster to help you clear away the Mecha Phantom Beast Tokens. Priestess is a "win-more" or "win faster" card; it doesn't really increase your chances to get through difficult situations.

In a format littered with Dragon Rulers and Prophecy, the new Spellcaster boss has quickly emerged as Kycoo the Ghost Destroyer. With only seven total monsters in the Main Deck, this can be considered a "stun" variant of the Prophecy archetype. Kycoo is a gigantic threat against Dragon Rulers, shutting down a lot of their Special Summons as they can't use the fuel in their graveyard. By dropping Kycoo, you force your opponent to waste resources from their hand or use the Baby Dragons at times they may not want to. Just remember that when Kycoo connects, remove all of the Baby Dragons and other fodder, leaving them with big Dragons which are once per turn; you also don't want to banish the big Dragons and set off their effects, giving your opponent a small window of opportunity to make a push with Baby Dragons or access to Blaster, Dragon Ruler of Infernos' destruction ability.

Kycoo pulls double duty by shining in the Prophecy mirror match, shutting off your opponent's Spellbook of Fate - the main source of removal for the Prophecy archetype. You still get to use yours, however, so Fate can still protect your field.

And There's More!
Kycoo isn't alone in attempting to lock down your opponent. The powerful Jowgen the Spiritualist makes its way into the deck to outright stop Special Summoning and serve as removal for anything that already managed to hit the table. Going off with Spellbook of Judgment, Normal Summoning Kycoo, and Special Summoning Jowgen in the End Phase is this version's marquee play, and by playing "protect the Kycoo/Jowgen" you can lock up games in a hurry. Jowgen forces opposing Dragon Ruler duelists to try and run Jowgen over with their Baby Dragons, specifically Stream, Dragon Ruler of Droplets and Reactan, Dragon Ruler of Pebbles (they're the only ones big enough). You still need to watch out for Breakthrough Skill and Book of Moon, but Spellbook of Fate lets you get around the latter.

 Kycoo the Ghost Destroyer
Kycoo the Ghost Destroyer67042
Set Legendary Collection 3: Yugi's World
Number LCYW-EN242
Level 4
Type Effect Monster
Monster Spellcaster
Attribute DARK 
A / D 1800 / 700
Rarity Secret Rare
Card Text

When this card inflicts Battle Damage to your opponent, you can remove from play up to 2 Monster Cards from their Graveyard. Your opponent cannot remove from play cards from either player's Graveyard.

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While I can see Jowgen in the Main Deck as a two-of, and maybe even a three-of depending on what type of metagame you're preparing to face, usually the one copy will get the job done because you have so many different ways to protect it. Spellbook of Life can bring it back if it's ever destroyed, and Spellbook of Wisdom stops Dark Hole, Spellbook of Fate, and even a slow-rolled Torrential Tribute.

Moving on to Zenari's myriad Spellbooks, one jumps out right away: Spell Library of the Crescent. Crescent's become more and more popular in the OCG lately because it gives you a stronger Turn 1 play and helps you fix hands without Spellbook of Secrets or Spellbook of Judgment. Although you can only activate it when you have no Spellbooks in your graveyard, Crescent's added consistency, especially on the crucial Turn 1 is incredibly important. The Grand Spellbook Tower and Spellbook of Fate can clear your graveyard of Spellbooks if you're in need of a Crescent activation. While three copies may seem like too much for such a conditional effect, this maximizes the chances you have of seeing it Turn 1.

The benefit of running fewer monsters is that you free up extra slots for Spells and Traps. Zenari used a playset of Upstart Goblin to effectively play a 37-card Main Deck. Not just good for deck thinning, Upstart Goblin helps to boost your Spell count after resolving a Spellbook of Judgment. It helps you dig towards more answers and the additional searches off of Judgment put it over the top.

Three Spellbook of Secrets and Spellbook of Judgment are the new standard, but what may surprise people are the three copies of Spellbook of Fate which is usually run at two. I'll say this right now, Spellbook of Fate is the best card in the deck. Yes, Spellbook of Judgment makes all the magic happen, but Spellbook of Fate is your universal answer for any problem. Dracossack getting you down? Fate it away. Someone attacking your defenseless Spellbook Magician of Prophecy? Fate it and put it face-down to grab you another Spellbook. Fate's critical for getting around big monsters and especially for protecting Kycoo and Jowgen. A standard play against Dragon Rulers after they've gone off is to search Fate off of Judgment, and while still in your End Phase, activate it from your hand to banish the Dracossack or whatever else is threatening you. This works especially well if you already had a Fate in hand, because now you're free to set it and have an extra piece of defense for next turn.

What interested me the most about Zenari's list was the three copies of Spellbook of Power. Normally seen as just a one-of or two-of, the third Power lets Kycoo, and occasionally Jowgen, get over the biggest threats. Power helps augment the boost from Spellbook Star Hall, a vital card for this stun version of Prophecy. You want to maximize your spell usage to not only bury your opponent under card advantage, but to boost your Kycoo and Jowgen out of attack range. Power's additional search is also great at getting you a copy of Spellbook of Judgment for your next turn. Remember that in the mirror match it's often wise to set a Judgment so that you can chain it in response to your opponent's activations; it's the equivalent of a Maxx "C". You present your opponent with a difficult decision: do they go off into your Judgment, knowing you'll have every option available next turn, or just sit back and have both players down a Judgment. Little card advantage battles like these are the key to victory in the Prophecy mirror.

Against Dragon Rulers, as previously stated, Spellbook of Fate is your best weapon against big Xyz Monsters like Number 11: Big Eye and Mecha Phantom Beast Dracossack. If you have only two Spellbooks in your graveyard you can turn their boss monster face-down, buying you time or even letting you push over it with Spellbook of Power. Banishing your opponent's biggest threats is the key to success. Sometimes it can be beneficial to banish the second big Dragon Ruler Summon, shutting off any chance at an Xyz or forcing your opponent to burn more resources to get a Dracossack or Big Eye to stick.

 Spellbook of Fate
Spellbook of Fate67259
Set Abyss Rising
Number ABYR-EN059
Type Spell Card
Attribute SPELL 
Rarity Ultra Rare
Card Text

If you control a Spellcaster-Type monster: You can banish up to 3 "Spellbook" Spell Cards from your Graveyard; apply this effect, depending on the number of Spell Cards banished for this card's activation. You can only activate 1 "Spellbook of Fate" per turn. // * 1: Return 1 Set Spell/Trap Card on the field to the hand. // * 2: Change 1 monster on the field to face-down Defense Position or face-up Attack Position. // * 3: Banish 1 card your opponent controls.

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The rest of the Spellbook lineup is pretty standard, although I'd like to see another Spellbook Star Hall going forward. Star Hall just puts Kycoo and Jowgen so far out of reach for your opponent, and running two speeds up the process of ending the game. It's also great in the mirror match because it triggers off of ANY Spellbook activation, letting you overpower your opponent. Having them burn a Fate on a Star Hall only to have you drop a second one (or by already having two in play) can often be too much to come back from apart from a big High Priestess of Prophecy play.

Zenari ran a sparse four traps, but they're ones Prophecy can't do without. Solemn Judgment and Solemn Warning are just too powerful not to run, and Solemn Judgment is more crucial than ever, especially in such an explosive format. Dragon Rulers and Prophecy need to burn through resources to put an OTK on the field, so you aren't in the same kind of danger if you Solemn Judgment early; the threat you just got rid of probably bought you a lot more time. The last two slots are pretty flexible. Some duelists run Breakthrough Skill for additional Dragon hate, while others run Waboku or Threatening Roar to protect your monsters, especially Jowgen. But Zenari chose a throwback in Phoenix Wing Wind Blast. Not only can you get redundant Spellbooks out of your hand, you can fuel a Spellbook of Fate while setting your opponent behind a turn. The power of giving your opponent a dead draw for their next turn may seem insubstantial at first, but it can be backbreaking when your opponent's trying for an answer to Kycoo or Jowgen.

Off To The Side
Zenari's Side Deck is pretty standard. Three Droll & Lock Bird shine in the mirror match, shutting down Spellbook of Judgment. The bird however is a highly metagame dependent card; there were Prophecy duelists all over the Italian WCQ, giving Droll & Lock Bird plenty of times to be effective. Three Mind Crush help against your matchup against the big three of Dragon Rulers, Evilswarm, and Prophecy, tearing crucial cards from your opponent's hand. I can't talk enough about how much I love Mind Crush right now, and three copies makes sure you see it as often as possible.

Three Mystical Space Typhoon can shine in the mirror match by blowing up Spellbook Towers and Star Halls when needed (be sure to chain it to Tower's effect so you can force it to miss the timing). It's also great against Evilswarm's many defensive traps.

Now the next three slots have always been Rivalry of Warlords for me personally, but Zenari chose to run three Summon Limit. Locking your opponent to only two Summons a turn means no Dracossack play, and makes it a lot tougher for Evilswarm to go into Ophion (the same goes for all of the Constellar Xyz). Rivalry can shine by shutting off the option of going into Xyz, but with Dragon Rulers running all Dragons, they can still get aggressive if Jowgen's shut down.

Zenari rounded out his Side Deck with two copies of Old Vindictive Magician and a lone Apprentice Magician. Old Vindictive is your Spellcaster version of Man-Eater Bug, and it's a great piece of removal that can be searched out by Apprentice. Apprentice Magician can also get Spellbook Magician of Prophecy in a pinch, giving you an additional Spellbook search. While it may seem a little odd in the Side Deck, Prophecy's strategy does offer some flexibility. More monsters coming in Game 2 and Game 3 also give you a fighting chance against the dreaded Eradicator Epidemic Virus. Your best chance once it resolves is to play defense, or hope you have a Spellbook of Judgment and Spellbook Magician of Prophecy in hand to fight through the destruction.

The complete lack of hand traps is a notable omission; Zenari relied on his actual traps instead, and the defensive utility provided by various Spellbooks. But feel free to change around the numbers of cards like Droll & Lock Bird and Mind Crush to make room for Effect Veiler and maybe even Maxx "C".

Overall, I believe Zenari was on to something special. By cutting out High Priestess of Prophecy he streamlined his deck to combat the game's two biggest strategies right now. Give this version a try and you might be surprised at the results!

~Joe Soto

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