Siding For: Demise Qliphorts

Kelly Locke

6/14/2016 11:00:00 AM

I didn't expect to be talking about this deck again so soon.

Qliphorts were the first cohesive Pendulum theme in the game, taking tournaments by storm despite competing against Shaddolls, Satellarknights, and Burning Abyss at full power. The deck fell off in popularity when Qliphort Scout was Semi-Limited and Saqlifice Limited with it, and finally died completely when Scout was Limited. Towers Turbo, the only competitive Qliphort strategy left, was entirely defunct following the Forbidding of Apoqliphort Towers shortly thereafter.

Qliphorts never really died in the OCG, where Scout has remained Semi-Limited for over a year. During that time it was a viable Stun strategy, loaded up with traps and floodgates to stall opponents out and eventually grind through their resources. Card of Demise brought that strategy to the TCG, where the lack of Harpie's Feather Duster has helped the deck avoid blowout games.

I think it's about time to discuss siding for this match-up, especially after a few Regional tops and a Top 32 showing at YCS Providence. It's a totally different deck these days, and nobody wants to lose to Qliphorts in a big tournament. Of course, you don't want to dedicate too many Side Deck cards against a rogue strategy either. We'll look at a few cards that strike a healthy balance between over-siding and under-siding, but first we need to talk about how Card of Demise complicates the match-up.

Lending A Hand With Card of Demise
Qliphorts aren't the only theme where Card of Demise is seeing play; they're not even the only Stun strategy running it. That said, they're easily the most popular deck that's using Demise to fuel an anti-meta strategy, at least for now. It's an extraordinarily powerful card that was relatively overlooked when it was first released, but it's now getting the attention it deserves. And it deserves a lot: its incredible ‘draw three' effect is shockingly short on activation conditions.

Card of Demise delivers a disproportionate amount of resources for its asking price. Just give up your Special Summons for the turn and any further damage against your opponent, and you're rewarded with a straight +2 that puts Pot of Greed to shame. Drawing three cards is huge, especially for decks relying on outpacing opponent's with sheer card advantage. Believe it or not, that's actually a minority of decks these days.

 Card of Demise
Card of Demise116962
Set Millennium Pack
Number MIL1-EN014
Type Spell Card
Attribute SPELL 
Rarity Ultra Rare
Card Text

Draw until you have 3 cards in your hand, also for the rest of this turn after this card resolves, your opponent takes no damage. During the End Phase, send your entire hand to the Graveyard. You can only activate 1 'Card of Demise' per turn. You cannot Special Summon during the turn you activate this card.

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Incremental exchanges have long since ceased to be the way players gain card advantage over each other. The nearly-unlimited streams of self-replacing monsters that flood out of modern themes, coupled with the Pendulum mechanic, have forced players to rely on floodgates. That's been the case for years now, but recently Twin Twisters has helped reign in the effectiveness of that type of card.

Enter Card of Demise: suddenly floodgate-heavy strategies are viable again because you can outpace your opponent's removal. Twin Twisters destroys two cards, but you're drawing into three new cards each turn. For decks with limited off-theme removal options, Card of Demise is devastating. Finally drew into an out for your opponent's Rivalry of Warlords? Expect them to have two or more additional floodgates set and waiting.

These strategies win games by stalling in the early game and grinding out card advantage with draw and search effects. Meanwhile, Qliphorts will do everything they can to deny you your advantage-generating effects, and you'll end up running out of cards if you let them get away with it.

Why Qliphorts?
Qliphorts have surprising immunity to a number of floodgates, and a few even help them. Skill Drain and Lose 1 Turn bring Normal Summoned Qliphorts up to 2400 or 2800 ATK. Re-qliate is a searchable Continuous Trap with a roughly similar effect that can be reset with Qliphort Stealth. Rivalry of Warlords, Imperial Iron Wall, and Soul Drain don't impact them, and they can effectively play around their own Mask of Restrict.

Card of Demise makes non-floodgates more viable as well, including Solemn Strike, Solemn Warning, Chaos Trap Hole, and Drowning Mirror Force. Although floodgates give you the best bang for your buck, Demise's draw power means you can afford to play removal that might only stop one card. Relying on one floodgate is risky, but it can pay off if you're short on resources. When you're ahead in card advantage it's perfectly fine to make safe even trades, because ultimately you won't be running out of cards any time soon.

 Qliphort Monolith
Qliphort Monolith95529
Set Secrets of Eternity
Number SECE-EN020
Level 5
Type Pendulum
Monster Machine
Attribute EARTH 
A / D 2400 / 1000
Rarity Secret Rare
Card Text

Pendulum Effect You cannot Special Summon monsters, except "Qli" monsters. This effect cannot be negated. During the End Phase, if you Tribute Summoned this turn: You can draw a number of cards equal to the number of "Qli" monsters you Tributed for Tribute Summons this turn.
Monster Effect Unhandled exception at 0x1i-666 in qliphort.exe: Access violation writing location 0x00-000 Continue, ignoring this error? ...[ ] Xlmgzxg drgs gsv Hzxivw Givv rh uliyrwwvm. Gsv hxlfitv szh yvvm fmovzhsvw.

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Further, Qliphorts make a great Stun deck by design. You can play a low monster count while effortlessly replacing them through Pendulum Summons and Qliphort Scout searches. It's rare that you'll run out, and both Qliphort Carrier and Qliphort Helix have excellent removal effects of their own. Stealth's effect can't be responded to with Solemn Strike or any other card, and once it's Normal Summoned it's fairly difficult to get off the field. Qliphort Monolith and Soul Transition offer more draw power, and Pot of Duality adds a bit more precision to the huge number of draw effects.

It's a great strategy when Scout's in play, and extraordinarily tough to beat if it can resolve enough draw effects early in the duel. The key to winning is playing enough blowout cards to push past their set-ups, or winning the game before they can get the ball rolling. Since the later method is reliant on luck, we'll focus on the former.

Emptying The Castle
The most popular card being sided against Qliphorts right now is Full House. Tahmid Zaman sided three of them in his winning Burning Phantom Knights build from YCS Providence.

Resolving a Full House can knock out both ends of a Pendulum Scale plus three set backrow, or some combination of face-up floodgates, Pendulum Spells, and set traps. It's the quickest way to open the field and make way for your plays, but it's reliant on your opponent setting at least three cards. If they stick to two, or only commit three when they have The Huge Revolution is Over to protect them, you'll have to nuke one of your own backrow. Decks that are short on spells and traps to set might find Full House difficult to resolve, especially if you side in multiple copies.

Full House directly counters Card of Demise by targeting set cards. Demise's End Phase discard forces your opponent to set their spells and traps to avoid losing them. That makes Full House live more often, and frequently on your opponent's turn. The single-easiest way to beat this match-up is to set Full House Turn 1, then pulverize their backrow and Pendulums during their End Phase.

When you're going second your opponent can fill their Spell and Trap Zones with set cards, so even destroying three of them might not be enough. Multiple copies of Full House are fine, but you'll have to target your own cards if you want to activate them on the same turn.

Drawing into too many monsters is a death sentence for most Stun decks. Qliphorts can play out of it for a while, but it's hugely important to draw into as many traps as possible. As a result, Qliphorts are reliant on a rather small number of monsters and very vulnerable to losing them permanently. Destruction won't get you anywhere, but banishing Qliphorts will put them out of reach permanently. The best way to do that? System Down.

 System Down (UTR)
System Down (UTR)58727
Set Cybernetic Revolution
Number CRV-EN041
Type Normal Spell Card
Attribute SPELL 
Rarity Ultimate Rare
Card Text

Pay 1000 Life Points. Remove from play all Machine-Type monsters on your opponent''s side of the field and in their Graveyard.

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Kozmos have already made System Down into a great Side Deck pick this format, and Qliphorts only add to its match-up utility. You probably don't need to look beyond System Down if you're already siding it for Kozmos. Still, it's not for everyone. Imperial Iron Wall blocks System Down, and virtually every Qliphort player will be siding a playset. If you're playing a strategy that loses to Imperial Iron Wall, you'll find yourself with a bunch of dead System Downs if you side them against Qliphorts.

You can also use System Down to deal with Tribute Summoned Qliphorts that are otherwise immune to a vast majority of monster effects. There's no such built-in immunity to spells. There's another caveat here: Necrovalley will negate System Down if there's a Machine-Type monster in either graveyard. Keep that in mind if you're playing Machines yourself.

Beyond Full House and System Down you're looking at more anti-backrow cards like Malevolent Catastrophe, Trap Stun, and Royal Decree. These cards are mostly outclassed by Full House though, and they're hard to recommend over it. Anti-Spell Fragrance works just as well against Qliphorts as it does elsewhere.

Ghost Ogre & Snow Rabbit has a ton of potential targets here too. Qliphort Scout, Monolith, Re-qliate, and Lose 1 Turn can be destroyed by Ghost Ogre. Holding Legs is also tons of fun in this match-up. It clears the way for aggressive plays, baits out Chaos Trap Hole and Solemns, and its graveyard effect can come in handy for taking one set card out of the equation. That won't work under Necrovalley either, although it's nice to have in a pinch.

It's important to turn the tables against Qliphorts as quickly as possible. Once Card of Demise, Pot of Duality, Qliphort Monolith, and Soul Transition get rolling things will begin to spiral out of control. Carrier, Helix, and Stealth will force their way through just about any defensive set-up, and meanwhile you'll be locked behind floodgates and a horde of other traps. Coming back from that position will take a lot of work, and even more patience.

It's a frustrating deck to play against because it explicitly sets out to prevent opponent's from playing the game. Unfortunately it's only one example of the many degenerate strategies being fueled by Card of Demise.


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 is currently studying marketing at Western Michigan University, and hopes to graduate before Dragon Ravine is Unlimited.

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