Side Deck Theory: New Format Regional Results

Kelly Locke

4/26/2016 11:00:00 AM

The first Regional weekend since the April 2016 F&L List was a big win for Monarchs. We recorded numerous Top 8 Monarch lists in our deck archive, which seems to speak volumes of the deck's popularity and match-ups against Kozmos, Burning Abyss, and Phantom Knights. For all its consistency issues there are still plenty of players who can make it to the final rounds of Regional events.

The rest of the field – Kozmos, Burning Abyss, and Phantom Knights – are keeping pace with the evolving format. The spiking price of Kozmo cards should be enough of an indicator that the theme has huge demand, especially with new support just a few weeks away in Shining Victories. After the series of leaks and reveals last week, we know the upcoming Kozmo cards are worth playing. That's good news for competitors who invested in the deck in the wake of Infinite Gold.

Set Breakers of Shadow
Number BOSH-EN086
Type Trap Card
Attribute TRAP 
Rarity Secret Rare
Card Text

Target 1 "Kozmo" monster you control; destroy it, and if you do, banish 1 card your opponent controls or in their Graveyard. You can only activate 1 "Kozmojo" per turn.

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Neither Burning Abyss nor Phantom Knights get further support in SHVI, and their outlook is worsened by the approaching threat of Ghost Reaper & Winter Cherries. Those strategies are likely headed back to the drawing board in a few weeks to address changes in the Kozmo match-up. Their biggest changes will probably be Side Deck options, especially with new tech arriving in SHVI.

So how about Draco Performapals? Nate Kirlin made the Top 8 of the Seattle Regional playing a build with Summoner Monk, Allure of Darkness, and Pendulum Rising. The strategy isn't dead, but the F&L List certainly put it more in line with other decks. I'm hesitant to say that Draco Performapals are finally balanced, although I'd be surprised if they managed to make more than a few Regional tops in the coming weeks.

Masked Heroes showed up in North Dakota, and Atlanteans topped in Seattle. Both decks have a bit more room to grow with Infernoids, Draco Performapals, and Magician Pendulums seeing less play. Masked HERO Dark Law's been consistently good in nearly every match-up for a while now, so it's no surprise to see it showing up on the other side of a new format.

There are new innovations out on the competitive scene alongside the usual standbys. We'll take a look at both the new and old this week as we close in on the release of Shining Victories.

Siding Artifacts In Monarchs
Jared Stone made the Top 8 of the Leeds Regional with Extra Deck Monarchs. He played Speedroids and Brilliant Fusion in his Main Deck, but I want to draw attention to the seemingly out of place cards in his Side Deck: Artifacts. Stone sided eleven Artifact cards against Extra Deck-heavy match-ups, covering a key weakness in this breed of Monarchs. Stone couldn't lock his opponent out of their Extra Deck with Domain of the True Monarchs because he was playing an Extra Deck himself, shutting off Domain's first effect. Artifact Scythe offers the same Extra Deck lockout on a limited basis, but didn't force Stone to give up his Xyz and Fusions.

Artifacts are great tribute fodder too. Artifact Sanctum's yet another card in this build that sets up Tribute Summons, but its utility goes well beyond that. Artifact Moralltach's a non-targeting answer to Kozmo Dark Destroyer and Dante, Pilgrim of the Burning Abyss. It's not the best out to those monsters if Erebus the Underworld Monarchs is available, but it can be useful in a pinch. Moralltach often deals with some of the more common backrow in Games 2 and 3, including Mask of Restrict.

Artifact Ignition and Twin Twisters answered the threat of Mask as well. Between Ignition, Sanctum, and Twin Twisters, Stone could side eight backrow removal cards. Of course, he wasn't siding everything as a single conversion. Artifact Scythe was only for strategies that were actually using an Extra Deck, like Burning Abyss and Pendulums. Artifact Lancea came in during the Kozmo match-up for obvious reasons.

 Artifact Sanctum
Artifact Sanctum82687
Set Primal Origin
Number PRIO-EN072
Type Trap
Attribute TRAP 
Rarity Ultra Rare
Card Text

Special Summon 1 "Artifact" monster from your Deck. You can only activate 1 "Artifact Sanctum" per turn. You cannot conduct your Battle Phase the turn you activate this card. If this card in its owner's possession is destroyed by an opponent's card: You can target 1 card on the field; destroy that target.

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It's not quite a full conversion side, but Stone's strategy undergoes a paradigm shift nonetheless. Adding so many Artifacts into the mix, most likely at the cost of his Speedroid or Brilliant Fusion engines, makes the deck more reactive than proactive. It's excellent if you're going first in the duel, which Stone could predict based on the outcome of the first game and what his opponent was playing.

Partial conversions with Artifacts could have potential elsewhere. We've seen Artifacts in Kozmos before, though I don't think they'll be returning to them anytime soon. The utility of Artifact Sanctum makes it a great choice for decks that need supplemental engines. Modern Kozmos have enough support to avoid teching off-theme monsters, but the same can't be said for new, upcoming themes. It's worth looking into.

Phasing Out The Standbys
The format hasn't changed enough to impact the bulk of Side Deck choices, so there's plenty of “business as usual” in the first group of Top 8 lists. One of the more interesting changes is the diminished use of Anti-Spell Fragrance. With Pendulums balanced there's less reason to Main Deck, or even Side Deck, the best anti-Pendulum floodgate in the game. Pendulum match-ups are still common, just not common enough to warrant Side Deck slots. Instead, Burning Abyss and Kozmos simply assume they'll win the match-up with minimal siding. It's not so much arrogance as it is an understanding that these strategies are much less effective than they were a month ago.

On the other hand, the declining use of Anti-Spell Fragrance offers an opportunity for Pendulum strategies to sneak under the radar. Could a Magician Pendulum or Igknight build top a Regional where fewer players are siding Fragrance? What about Zefra Turbo or Majespecters? Nate Kirlin made it happen with Draco Performapals, so there's no reason why a well-built Pendulum theme couldn't compete at the Regional Level.

Effect Veiler's not as useful this format either. You're no longer playing it to negate Performapals, and instead running it purely for Monarchs. Maxx “C” edges it out in most situations and has far greater match-up utility, so for now you can expect Veiler to take a back seat to other hand traps. Flying “C” continues to be a go-to against Burning Abyss, and Ghost Ogre & Snow Rabbit is seeing slightly less play than Veiler. It's not particularly useful anywhere, especially with Pendulum themes fading from competition.

In addition to Flying “C”, Mask of Restrict is just as popular now as it was last format. I'm sure nobody's surprised by that: it's easily the best Side Deck pick against Monarchs. Likewise, System Down remains one of the best choices for the Kozmo match-up. Cyber Dragon and Cyber Dragon Core have been trending down since the final weeks of the last format, mostly in response to the rising play of Kozmojo and Solemn Strike. There are too many things that can go wrong between Summoning a Cyber Dragon and attempting to Summon Chimeratech Fortress Dragon. System Down might have its own weaknesses, but it's a safer route when your opponent has backrow.

Enemy Controller's back in Burning Abyss Side Decks for the mirror match. You can take control of opposing copies of Dante, Traveler of the Burning Abyss and overlay your own Beatrice, Lady of the Eternal over it. That keeps their copy of Dante out of the graveyard, at least temporarily, and puts a Beatrice in play to advance your strategy. Alternatively, you could add your opponent's Dante or Beatrice to your own to Xyz Summon of Number F0: Utopic Future.

 Number F0: Utopic Future
Number F0: Utopic Future97868
Set World Superstars
Number WSUP-EN026
Type Xyz/Effect Monster
Monster Warrior
Attribute LIGHT 
Rarity Secret Rare
Card Text

2 Xyz Monsters with the same Rank, except "Number" monsters
f(This card's original Rank is always treated as 1.) Cannot be destroyed by battle, and neither player takes any battle damage from attacks involving this card. At the end of the Damage Step, if this card battled an opponent's monster: You can take control of that opponent's monster until the end of the Battle Phase. If this face-up card on the field would be destroyed by a card effect, you can detach 1 Xyz Material from this card instead.

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Even if you're not using your opponent's monster for an Xyz Summon, simply taking control of an opposing Dante is a great way to disrupt their plays. If you activate Enemy Controller immediately after Dante hits the field they'll miss out on activating its effect, and they can't make their own Beatrice. Yes, most of the time you'll want to respond to the Summon with Solemn Strike, Solemn Warning, or Chaos Trap Hole, but Enemy Controller's utility makes it strong.

One advantage of playing Enemy Controller over, or alongside, Summon negation is its ability to deal with established boards. Vanity's Fiend or Majesty's Fiend got you down? Rotate them into Defense Position and attack over their low DEF. You can also tribute Flying “C” to get it off the board, or tribute a monster taken by Utopia Future. There's just so much you can do with this card in Burning Abyss despite the targeting immunity of Kozmo Dark Destroyer.

There's one truly new card Side Deck pick roaming around. We'll cover it next week as we inch closer to Shining Victories.

Until next time then


Kelly Locke is a West Michigan gamer, writer, and college student with too much free time on his hands. Besides playing Yugioh, Kelly posts Let's Play videos of Minecraft on his Youtube channel and plays a possibly unhealthy amount of Destiny. He's currently studying marketing at Western Michigan University, and hopes to graduate before Dragon Ravine is Unlimited.

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