Not All Demise Decks Are Created Equal

Doug Zeeff

7/11/2016 11:00:00 AM

There are a lot of great spells right now: Emergency Teleport, Pantheism of the Monarchs, and Twin Twisters might be some of the most impactful cards in current competition. However, none of those are as consistently rage-inducing as Card of Demise, which has singlehandedly brought forgotten theme to the forefront of tournaments, as well as given powerful new avenues to Kozmos.

One thing I've found interesting is how differently the TCG has received Card of Demise compared to the OCG. Overseas, Card of Demise immediately found a home in Qliphorts just as it has here, chiefly because they still had two copies of Qliphort Scout at the time. Here though, we've seen countless strategies bolstered by Card of Demise, both on a casual level and through actual tournament success. This could be because Qliphort Scout's Limited here, or because our metagame is more wide open in general, but one thing remains true: there are a heck of a lot of decks trying to draw three cards for free.

I say “for free,” but technically that's not true. You really only get that value out of Card of Demise if you can deplete your hand and manage without Special Summoning for a turn, otherwise it's sort of a waste. Naturally, that rules out any decks like Burning Abyss, Monarchs, and Performapals. If you're Special Summoning every turn or trying to maintain constant card advantage then Card of Demise is only going to hold you back.

 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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Outside of Qliphorts, I've seen duelists run Card of Demise in Kozmos, Majespecters, Spellbooks, Gravekeepers, Yosenjus, Counter Fairies, and more. Generally speaking, all of those decks sort of share the same thing in common: they don't need to Special Summon on the turn they use Card of Demise, and they play a lot of traps. As you probably know, traps are the perfect fit for Demise decks because you can set them to the field, draw some more, and then fill up your backrow.

While those similarities stay constant across the board, I think there's some defining characteristics of great Demise strategies that set them apart from their less popular, or less effective counterparts. Today I wanted to take the time to analyze what makes a theme a choice pick for the insane spell.

Right Off The Bat…
Pendulums have a huge leg up in terms of being a better fit for Card of Demise. Despite the Pendulum Summoning mechanic conflicting with Card of Demise's drawback, the ability to place extra monsters into the Pendulum Scale to deplete your hand makes getting the full drawing value much easier. Pendulum themes using Card of Demise can usually get away with playing a slightly beefier monster lineup for that reason.

Without Special Summoning, a deck using regular Effect Monsters is in a tight spot if they start their turn with three monsters and a Card of Demise. On the other hand, Pendulum decks can easily Scale two monsters and Normal Summon the other, speeding up their hand depletion significantly.

But Card of Demise isn't for every Pendulum theme out there. As mentioned, Qliphorts and Majespecters are two of the best options for playing Demise in a deck with Pendulums. That's true for Qliphorts because there are plenty of worthwhile standalone monsters to Normal Summon, and Qliphort Monolith carries a unique interaction with Demise that's mirrored by Majespecter Cat – Nekomata in Majespecters; when you're resolving multiple effects in the End Phase you can choose the order, so as long as Demise's discard effect finishes you're free to use those monsters' effects to replenish your hand.

Counter Fairies are a midway point because they feature a variety of Effect Monsters and Pendulum Monsters. That basically decides your Normal Summon for the turn, forcing you to Scale the Pendulums before Summoning the Effect Monster, but in most cases that doesn't matter. That particular deck really always wants to have a Guiding Ariadne in the Pendulum Zone with a Bountiful Artemis on the field to make the most out of its Counter Traps.

Card Advantage Is Everything
Another key factor of successful Demise decks is that their main goal is to bury the opponent in pure card advantage. Making 1-for-1 trades with traps is fine, but it's even better when you're getting three free traps from Card of Demise. But eventually your opponent's going to get through the board you set up, so cranking out card advantage via other means is important in maintaining a good win/loss ratio.

For example, I think that Qliphorts, Kozmos, and Spellbooks are all great at keeping up the pace. Qliphorts can establish an early Qliphort Scout to repeatedly search whatever they need, Kozmos can abuse Kozmo Tincan to grab Kozmos each End Phase, and Spellbooks can earn an extra draw each turn with The Grand Spellbook Tower.

Strategy-wise, by playing a deck with Card of Demise you're acknowledging that you're playing a weaker theme, which is true for all of the previously named decks outside of Kozmos. Most strategies that dominate tournaments are doing so because they Special Summon so much or because they search a million cards every turn. If a deck can play Demise in the first place then it's inherently flawed from the get-go, but Demies tips the scales in the games where you see it.

Between Pot of Duality, Upstart Goblin, and theme-stamped deck thinning you should have a decent chance of seeing Card of Demise in the early game, which is definitely crucial because…

You're Not Always Going To Have It
No matter how well you build your deck there's never a guarantee that you'll see Card of Demise in the early game or at all. Even a deck like Dragon Rulers bricked from time to time, and that deck could see basically any two Dragon Rulers and have a playable hand. For all intents and purposes, Card of Demise is an unsearchable three-of that you don't have a reliable way of seeing every single match.

What that means is sometimes, you're going to have to win without ever resolving a Card of Demise, and that has a big impact on which Demise decks are successful. None of the listed strategies can truly hold their own in competition without Card of Demise except for Kozmos. Don't believe me? Enter a tournament with Demiseless Qliphorts, Gravekeepers, or Yosenjus and let me know how it goes. Chances are if the event is bigger than a locals you're going to have a rough time for many of the reasons I've already listed.

Card of Demise is specifically designed to breathe new life into “dead” strategies that couldn't compete with newer themes without drawing three cards for free, which puts you in a rough spot if you can't get those free cards.

 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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That's why it's not surprising that Demise Kozmos have taken over as the new go-to Demise deck, even over Qliphorts. The Qliphort strategy's great for a lot of reasons: it can make use of some of the best floodgates in the game, they're all Pendulum Monsters, and it packs plenty of deck thinning. But Kozmos are distinct from virtually any of those decks because they can Special Summon huge monsters on the opponent's turn through Call Of The Haunted as well as the Psychic-type Kozmo pilot effects. Not only that, but even when you don't draw Card of Demise you're still just playing trap-heavy Kozmos, a version of the deck that saw repeated success at a variety of tournaments.

Does that mean other Demise decks aren't worth playing? Not exactly. Of course, you're free to play whatever you want, especially if you've been a longtime fan of any deck that can use Demise. But it does mean that not all Card of Demise decks are created equal, which is something to seriously consider if you plan on entering a tournament with one of the “lesser” themes mentioned. What do you think of Card of Demise, and what decks do you think it fits in the best? Let me know in the comments; I'd love to hear your thoughts.

-Doug Zeeff

Doug Zeeff hails from Michigan and is currently an English major in college. When he's not found emailing Konami about why there's not a single walrus card in all of Yu-Gi-Oh! you can find him regularly posting unorthodox, unfiltered semi-Yu-Gi-Oh! related content on his Youtube channel, Dzeeff. In his spare time he enjoys eating cheese, playing Overwatch, and, of course, playing Yu-Gi-Oh. Click here to follow him and his adventures on Facebook!

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