Looking Back At YCS Toronto: 1st Place After Swiss

Tyree Tinsley

9/18/2015 11:02:00 AM

Hello again fellow duelists! I'm back this week to give a recap on YCS Toronto, which I had the pleasure of attending a few weeks ago. Before I do though, let me give my congrats to my good friend Marcus Carisse for getting 2nd Place with Nekroz, and Gabe Orosan-Weine for taking down the event with Burning Abyss!

As most of you already know I decided to play Nekroz at YCS Toronto. I understand most are tired of seeing that deck over and over again, and believe me so am I, but I didn't feel equally comfortable with anything else. Even though Burning Abyss ended up winning the YCS, I still felt that both that deck and Shaddolls had a few too many problems for me to play them for the event. The YCS itself was a good experience for me, as I landed in 1st Place after the Swiss Rounds of the main event, unfortunately losing in Top 32 because of a pretty bad start in Game 3.

Today I want to go over my thoughts heading into the YCS, and the Nekroz deck I played there, as it's a tad different from the standard build most others were running. Let's get into it, shall we?

Prepping For YCS Toronto
Going into the YCS I was talking to my good friends Patrick James and Chris Pobee-Meensah, who got 2nd at the 150th YCS, about what we were expecting to see over the course of the weekend. It was an easy conversation to have since we were riding in the same car to the event. Being the first big tournament of the season we had a lot to consider, and many macro-level questions ran through our heads: what will most Nekroz decks look like? What big matchups can we expect? What match-ups will we see most often in Swiss? Should we be siding Ghost Ogre & Snow Rabbit to counter Chicken Game?

We answered those questions with weeks of testing leading into Toronto. We also had to decide on what deck would be the best choice for the event, and after spending most of our time testing Shaddolls and Burning Abyss, we narrowed it down to Shaddolls and Nekroz.

Shaddolls had the new Performage engine for Light support, as well as having a play very similar to Djinn Releaser of Rituals in the Nekroz match-up, El Shaddoll Anoyatyllis. But even with those advantages, we still found that with only six core fusion spells, you just don't see them enough in your opening hand and even if you played Polymerization to solve that, you ran the risk of seeing too many fusion spells and thus awkward hands. There was no doubt in my mind that Shaddolls could get to the top cut, but the goal when I enter any event is to win. So we ended up falling back on Nekroz, leaving the problem of the mirror match and other decks that can floodgate you out of the tournament.

One Error that most people make during deck building is simple ambition: they try to accomplish too much with their Main Deck alone, which means maining cards to take care of rogue and mirror matches. You see people running combinations of Mystical Space Typhoons, Shared Rides, Denko Sekkas, and other very match-up specific cards. It's really hard to avoid doing that, because you want to have outs for cards like Mistake while also having cards for the mirror.

But that approach can lead to some really awkward hands, especially going first. Imagine opening your game with a hand of Nekroz Cycle, Shared Ride, MST, Nekroz Mirror, and Nekroz of Gungnir going first. And even worse, from there you could draw cards like Shared Ride against Burning Abyss or Mystical Space Typhoon in the mirror match, which is essentially like skipping your draw phase. We tried a lot of things to remedy the problems the deck was having, and after a lot of playtesting this is the deck I decided on.

    Performage Nekroz Tyree Tinsley    
  Location:  YCS - 2015-08-30 Toronto Canada - 17th - 32nd Place
Main Deck
Side Deck
1 Exa, Enforcer of the Nekroz
1 Glow-Up Bulb
1 Great Sorcerer of the Nekroz
3 Manju of the Ten Thousand Hands
2 Mathematician
2 Maxx "C"
2 Nekroz of Brionac
2 Nekroz of Clausolas
1 Nekroz of Decisive Armor
1 Nekroz of Trishula
3 Nekroz of Unicore
3 Nekroz of Valkyrus
2 Performage Damage Juggler
1 Performage Hat Tricker
1 Performage Trick Clown
3 Senju of the Thousand Hands
1 Shurit, Strategist of the Nekroz
Monsters [30]
1 Book of Moon
2 Nekroz Cycle
2 Nekroz Kaleidoscope
2 Nekroz Mirror
1 Preparation of Rites
2 Reinforcement of the Army
Spells [10]
1 Torrential Tribute
Traps [1]
Deck Total [41]
1 Breakthrough Skill
1 Denko Sekka
3 Mind Crush
3 Mystical Space Typhoon
1 Raigeki
2 Retaliating "C"
2 Royal Decree
1 Shaddoll Dragon
1 Vanity's Emptiness
Side Deck [15]


2 Abyss Dweller
1 Blue-Eyes Ultimate Dragon
1 Castel, the Skyblaster Musketeer
2 Daigusto Emeral
1 Diamond Dire Wolf
1 Evilswarm Exciton Knight
1 Gagaga Cowboy
2 Herald of the Arc Light
1 Naturia Beast
1 Number 104: Masquerade
2 Number 80: Rhapsody in Berserk
Extra Deck [15]

The card that makes the deck different from most is Mathematician. There are times when you can't get to a Valkyrus going into your opponent's turn after you make a play, and with Performage Nekroz becoming more popular I was finding that an OTK was a very real possibility even if I had Valkyrus. That threat of Number 104: Masquerade's very real, and Mathematician helps with that.

If you have a hand that might not get you a Valkyrus, or a Unicore to get one back from your graveyard, you can summon Mathematician instead and send Glow-Up Bulb to the graveyard. That lets you Tune with Mathematician to make Herald of Arc Light, which makes it harder for your opponent to reduce your Life Points to 0 in a single turn. You can also make Herald in Main Phase 2 to hinder your opponent after making a Valkyrus play, whereas summoning a Manju or Senju would leave you open to Nekroz of Trishula.

Outside of Number 104: Masquerade, Herald is another way to game your opponent through a Valkyrus too, which is never a bad thing! It's another card you want to see in your opening hand. One cool thing you can do is if you have access to Performage Hat Tricker and Glow-Up Bulb, you can Special SummonBulb from the grave and then Summon Hat Tricker to make Naturia Beast, which a Nekroz opponent has very limited outs to unless they run Dance Princess.

Naturia Beast is also good against Qliphorts in the early stages of the game, or when you need to stop a Scout or any Pendulum Monster from hitting the field. Herald's ability to negate anything outside of Summons is huge; you can use it to negate any trap your opponent flips, and then search for a ritual afterwards to advance your position. It's sort of like Mystical Space Typhoon in that way, but it's still useful in the mirror match! Herald's continuous banishing effect can be great against the mirror and Burning Abyss as well, and it's especially good against Kozmos. Stopping a Kozmos player from activating Honest's effect, or dumping a hand trap that has to be sent to the graveyard, can win games. Mathematician even lets you side cards like Peropero Cerperus or Shaddoll Dragon, which I opted to do to out floodgates or certain problem monsters.

The next thing I want to discuss are the Performage cards. As you saw from Toronto, not everybody chose to run them. I decided to do so because if I was facing a mirror match and my opponent wasn't running them I felt I had a slight edge being able to make Number 104: Masquerade much more easily than the standard Nekroz deck. Damage Juggler gives you five cards to block damage versus the normal three, and unlike Valkyrus you can use Damage Juggler's effect whenever you like, even if you don't have a Nekroz card in the graveyard.

 Performage Damage Juggler
Performage Damage Juggler102429
Set Clash of Rebellions
Number CORE-EN015
Level 4
Type Effect Monster
Monster Spellcaster
Attribute LIGHT 
A / D 1500 / 1000
Rarity Common
Card Text

During either player's turn, when a card or effect is activated that would inflict damage to you: You can discard this card; negate the activation, and if you do, destroy that card. During either player's Battle Phase: You can discard this card; reduce the next battle damage you would take this turn to 0. You can banish this card from your Graveyard; add 1 "Performage" monster from your Deck to your hand, except "Performage Damage Juggler". You can only use this effect of

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It has uses outside of the Nekroz match-up as well, stopping Wavering Eyes, Gagaga Cowboy, and the Chicken Game Magical Explosion deck. Performage Trick Clown also gives Nekroz Cycle more utility, since you can use Trick Clown with it to bring back Unicore and make an instant Rank 4 to out cards like Mistake or other floodgate cards in Game 1. Special Summoning Hat Tricker when there are two or more monsters on the field so you can go into a Rank 4 is good when don't have the right situation to make the most Performage Trick Clown's revival ability. I played two of each Performage in my earlier builds of the deck, but I kept drawing them at inopportune times and you don't really want to see too many in one hand, so I ended up cutting them down to the ratio you see above.

I played Book of Moon, Maxx C and Torrential Tribute to allow more interaction with opponents on their turn. Floodgate cards aren't the only way for Nekroz to lose sometimes your opponent just applies too much pressure for you to handle if you have a slow or weak hand. Maxx C helps stymie Burning Abyss and the mirror match, forcing them to either stop or give you extra cards, which hopefully gives you the combo pieces you need to stay in the game. It isn't bad against Shaddolls or Satellarknights either; you can hinder their plays if you hit them with Maxx C on Satellarknight Vega or Shaddoll Falco when they try for a push to counter your board.

Torrential Tribute and Book don't give you extra cards like Maxx C does, but they do allow for huge tempo swings that can devastate your opponent, especially in the mirror match. They're also some of the few cards that answers monsters like Vanity's Fiend, Majesty's Fiend, and Spell Canceller.

As you see above there is no Nekroz of Gungnir in the Main or Side Deck. I found that with the release of the Performage cards, Damage Juggler in particular, it was really risky to try and use Nekroz of Gungnir to go for game through an opposing Nekroz of Valkyrus; if the opponent has Damage Juggler to survive, you leave yourself open to a total board wipe. It isn't that great in most other match-ups either due to its high cost. Using Gungnir costs you the ritual spell you played to Summon it, the Gungnir itself, and the Nekroz you pitch from your hand to activate Gungnir's effect. Throwing those three cards into a Fiendish Chain or Breakthrough Skill could be enough to lose you the duel. I found Gungnir was really only good against Qliphorts, clearing Scout on your turn and disrupting their Pendulum Scales on theirs.

Breaking Down The Side And Extra Deck
Taking a look at the Side Deck, I played two Retaliating C and three Mind Crush for the mirror match. Retaliating was great going second; chaining it to your opponent's first ritual can mess up their whole turn, and it can banish Shurit, Strategist of the Nekroz Shurit if they used it for their Tribute, along with whatever Ritual Spell they activated in the first place. A lot of the time my opponents would either find themselves open to Nekroz of Trishula because they couldn't clear their own field, or if they could clear it with Valkyrus' Tribute effect they wouldn't have any Nekroz cards in their graveyard to stop an OTK next turn anyways. Retaliating C was also great against Shaddolls.

Mind Crush was another blowout card, and it was even better when your opponent made you go first. Opening with two copies is usually game right there, and playing around Mind Crush can be really difficult for your opponent depending on your hand. The only decks I sided Mind Crush against were the mirror and Kozmos. It's pretty mediocre most of the time vs Burning Abyss, Qliphorts, and Satellarknights, since the main issue against those decks when you're running Nekroz are just the traps they set, not their monsters. Mind Crush doesn't really help with those threats.

 Mind Crush
Mind Crush67095
Set Legendary Collection 3: Yugi's World
Number LCYW-EN295
Type Trap Card
Attribute TRAP 
Rarity Ultra Rare
Card Text

Declare 1 card name; if that card is in your opponent's hand, they must discard all copies of it from their hand to the Graveyard, otherwise you discard 1 random card.

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For rogue decks I sided Shaddoll Dragon, Denko Sekka, two Royal Decree, and three Mystical Space Typhoons to handle backrow. Dragon gave Mathematician more utility in Games 2 and 3, and even if you drew Dragon you could still use it for Nekroz of Valkyrus' effect or Nekroz Cycle to destroy a backrow. Breakthrough Skill and Raigeki were mostly run for cards like Vanity's Fiend, Majesty's Fiend, Anoyatyllis, and Spell Canceller. I didn't want to play too much spot removal because those cards are generally not very good when your opponent doesn't have any of those problematic monsters on field.

Since I already explained the Naturia Beast, the only thing really worth discussing in the Extra Deck is the two copies of Number 80: Rhapsody in Berserk. In testing I found that I needed a second copy from time to time. Using one early on to banish resources, and another later in the game when your opponent's had to leave ritual spells or Damage Jugglers in the grave can be very good. After you Summon the first Rhapsody, your opponent might feel a sense a relief since most players only run one. Many players will start to leave more spells in the graveyard or even put Trishula there using Nekroz of Valkyrus, so the second Rhapsody comes into play there.

Overall the deck performed pretty well, getting me a first place finish in the Swiss Rounds and my friend Patrick James getting second with the same Main Deck! That said I'd definitely make some changes: I'd cut the Book of Moon to get the deck back down to 40 cards. I'd also include Dance Princess of the Nekroz and Nekroz of Gungnir in the Side Deck; Dance princess is good against heavy backrow decks, ensuring that your rituals go through as well as retrieving important cards that were banished.

Gungnir would come in solely against Qliphorts. Your Game 1 against Qliphorts isn't as strong with this version of the deck, so more cards to help that match-up after siding couldn't hurt. The last change I'd make would be to add another Denko Sekka or a Royal Decree to the Side Deck. MST is faster than Decree since it's a spell, but Decree and Denko are both big blowout cards, covering multiple backrows at once. It's really important to see those cards early on, so I'd bump up the numbers there.

I know that most of you guys would rather read about non-Nekroz strategies, so for the next couple of weeks I'll try to stick to topics that are more conceptual; look forward to those in the coming days. Until next time, guys!

-Tyree Tinsley

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