Theory’s Company: Collaboration

Loukas Peterson

7/13/2016 11:00:00 AM

Due to my insane work schedule, my hectic post-college life has drastically cut into the amount of time that I can spend physically traveling to events. I do miss the days when Doug and I were traveling to virtually every Regional within a five hour radius for two years straight, almost crashing my truck and getting several Top 8 finishes along the way. But in this past 2015-2016 season, I only had time to visit two Regionals with a couple of meager X-2 finishes, winning no free playmats and coming away with the knowledge that Psy-Frames could lose really easily to Apoqliphort Towers.

That being said, due to some really strange last-minute circumstances, I made it to the World Championship Qualifier last week… but I had no idea what to play. The night before, I just stared at my cards and wondered just how the heck I could make a competitive deck out of anything I owned. With little time to test, I wasn't about to make my own iteration of Burning Abyss, Monarchs, or Kozmos, and it goes against my code to straight-up copy a popular deck.

Looking at the success of Card of Demise-flavored decks, I knew that I had to give my favorite strategy a shot. Look below to see my list:

    Demise Spellbooks Loukas Peterson    
Main Deck
Side Deck
1 Jowgen the Spiritualist
2 Kycoo the Ghost Destroyer
3 Spellbook Magician of Prophecy
Monsters [6]
3 Card of Demise
3 Into The Void
2 Pot of Duality
2 Spellbook of Eternity
2 Spellbook of Fate
1 Spellbook of Life
1 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
1 Twin Twisters
Spells [25]
2 Breakthrough Skill
2 Drowning Mirror Force
2 Quaking Mirror Force
2 Rivalry of Warlords
1 Solemn Warning
Traps [9]
Deck Total [40]



If anyone's surprised to see me playing Spellbooks, I have to ask: why? Drawing extra cards via The Grand Spellbook Tower and banishing threats with Spellbook of Fate is literally catharsis to me. The first time I activated Spellbook of Fate over the weekend, I couldn't wipe the stupid grin off my face for an hour.

I could talk all day about why I chose to run certain cards, but we're not here to analyze a deck that didn't make the Top Cut. I think it's pretty close to the best version of itself, given the necessity for some interesting choices.

Borrowing Ideas Is Best Ideas
When I say borrowing, I don't mean blindly finding deck lists and copying strategies with absolutely zero input of your own. Since we have a finite card pool in Yu-Gi-Oh! there are only so many different ways you can spin a single strategy. Technically with the thousands of cards in the environment, there are an uncountable number of 40-card combinations possible, but a “Fire King Kozmo” deck can only look so different from other strategies with the same name.

Yes, you could start adding Snapesnatch and Freya the Spirit of Victory to poke holes in my argument, but shut up.

Jason does a great job of keeping the deck archive up to date with tons of top cut strategies from all over the globe, and you know what I say to that? Go read them! That compilation's not the only resource for deck lists, but it's a deep well of knowledge and strategies that have excelled in big events. Seeing the results of other decks is invaluable to you for decisions to choose a final selection of 40 cards because someone else did a lot of the testing for you.

Take Demise Kozmos for an example. Both Frazier Smith and Sean McCabe helped popularize the strategy, and if you're unfamiliar with it, you can take a look here to get up to speed. The principle there is that any card that could generate a +2 of card economy and further facilitate your strategy in the process would push a deck over the top. Unlike Demise Qliphorts – which builds from the bottom up, by taking a less-than-competitive “meh” deck and making it better with more draw power – Demise Kozmo builds from the top down. It's already a Top Cut strategy that somehow gets better from the insane Card of Demise.

 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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Let's say you had that crazy idea before Smith or McCabe's lists made their debut, like, while you were driving to work one day, but you couldn't formulate good ratios or justify ditching your hand with Demise's drawback during the End Phase. When you get home, you don't have time to test online, and before you know it you never bother trying to get all the cards and the deck's a distant memory, so you never get to test out your theory.

If someone else hadn't popularized the idea, that great concept would have been lost forever! But a few days later, you see that your crazy idea miraculously worked in someone else's hands. You rejoice and start compiling the deck yourself while referencing one of the successful builds, excited to destroy your friends with the strategy that proved it was strong enough to make Top Cut at a YCS.

There's just one minor issue – as you start to sort through tech choices, run the numbers, and start considering complex iterations of common plays, you wonder just how the deck could be improved.

Steal Ideas, Not Decks
Keep in mind, the exact deck that you see online qualified one player at one certain event given that he played against certain opponents. You'll never really reproduce those exact results with that deck ever again. New cards could be released, you could have terrible luck in drawing, your matchups could be different – literally anything could change and you'd be up the creek without a paddle. You could easily take the exact same deck to locals and get absolutely crushed. After all, a finished deck list is really just a fleshed out idea, not an auto-pilot vehicle set in stone that guarantees victory just by assembling it.

Hypothetically, say that McCabe liked his strategy, but he thought Kozmo Farmgirl was a terrible idea, and the next time he would build the deck he knew he'd only play two copies. Without watching an interview or talking to him, how would you have any idea that was the case? When “collaborating” with other duelists by looking at their proven strategies, you have to keep that in mind as well. Often times, you're not seeing perfect ratios, you're seeing concepts that have stood the test of time. Remember, the key here is that you're collaborating inadvertently, not “stealing” a deck core. You're creating your strategy based off ideas that proved to work.

Look at how Kozmos evolved. With Kozmo Tincan finally assuming full power, Oasis of Dragon Souls and Call Of The Haunted are staples in most builds of the strategy since you're yarding tons of ships in the process. Combined with Tincan's ability to trigger in the End Phase and Kozomtown's effect that away unnecessary monsters, Card of Demise is just begging to be played. You can refresh your hand to find much-needed traps while not clogging your backrow, since Kozmotown's a Field Spell that won't block one of your five Spell and Trap Card Zones.

Tincan can wait until after Demise resolves to give you a free card, and even without Tincan on field and wasted Kozmos hitting the yard, chances are you'll break even with Card of Demise and makes your revival traps live from Turn 1 forward. Satellarknights had a similar opportunity there, but they're seriously hurting now that Reinforcement of the Army's Limited to one-per-deck. You want to trigger your most powerful traps ASAP to get your Satellar train going, and opening with multiple copies and no way to yard Satellarnights is lethal.

Go With What Will Win
As you can see, that's how I decided to play Demise Spellbooks. I was already familiar with the strategy but borrowed the idea of capitalizing on Card of Demise in a deck that, at first glance, may not appear to benefit. You don't necessarily want to be discarding monsters in Spellbooks, and several of your spells need other ‘books in hand to activate, so furiously speeding through your deck may not be the best idea.

But you have to look at what will win you the duel and capitalize on that. It's no surprise that The World of Prophecy and High Priestess of Prophecy are the heavy hitters, but how does the deck win? With Spellbook of Fate, of course.

That means it's worth setting up for Spellbook of Fate at almost any cost, even if it means possibly discarding a card or not summoning Kycoo the Ghost Destroyer on your first turn. Card of Demise technically conflicts with some of the major Kozmo cards. In fact, it actually conflicts with practically all of them. But it helps you get to your winning strategy faster. Spellbooks win by out-resourcing your opponent with Spellbook of Fate and The Grand Spellbook Tower.

 High Priestess of Prophecy
High Priestess of Prophecy60170
Set Return of the Duelist
Number REDU-EN020
Level 7
Type Effect Monster
Monster Spellcaster
Attribute LIGHT 
A / D 2500 / 2100
Rarity Secret Rare
Card Text

You can reveal 3 "Spellbook" Spell Cards in your hand; Special Summon this card from your hand. Once per turn: You can banish 1 "Spellbook" Spell Card from your hand or Graveyard to target 1 card on the field; destroy that target.

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Problem is... Your winning strategy may be downright awful, and the best approach to the deck's already out there. For example, with Fire King Kozmos, you may be tempted to make the deck even more of a hybrid. The Fire King cards will all trigger the Kozmo effects, and if you needed deck thinning, Trade-In works with Fire King High Avatar Garunix and Kozmo Dark Destroyer. That's not the best direction to go, but if you're really itching to play in that direction, you've already seen that the synergy of popping your own cards works pretty well in Kozmos.

The hardest part for me making decks comes down to weeding out the ideas that are “neat” versus “neat and good.” I've fine-tuned lots of rogue strategies, and even though you can consistently do “Strategy A” that Strategy A may be awful. For example, I created a truly awful Sylvan/Fire King/HERO deck. And while it's literally the most disgusting thing I've created in a while, it does a really good job of producing a Number 66: Master Key Beetle to keep Miracle Fertilizer alive. Is the end goal good? Yes. Does hemorrhaging your resources to make a vulnerable strategy function seem like a good idea? No.

In the end, it's important to have creativity and novel ideas of your own, but I guarantee you you'll be able to make whatever strategy you're working on better and more cohesive by looking at what others have said. No duelist has ever succeeded on an island alone, stewing in their thoughts.

Just remember, beat your opponents before they beat you.

-Loukas Peterson

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