Side Deck Theory: NAWCQ Review

Kelly Locke

7/19/2016 11:00:00 AM

The North American 2015-2016 competitive season came to an end last week in Pittsburgh as Erik Christensen claimed victory at the North American World Championship Qualifier. Christensen had already won YCS Dallas with Infernoids, and after apparently concluding that one YCS win with an insane deck choice wasn't enough of an accomplishment he went on to win the most competitive event of the year. Talk about a great season!

It's not quite over yet for Christensen and the other qualifying duelists, but for the rest of us it's time to relax, play at local tournaments, and try out some casual strategies before August.

Although there are no major events until after The Dark Illusion, there's still plenty to talk about from the WCQ. This week we'll be breaking down the major trends from the event and taking a look at Top 64 Side Decks.

The Old Guard Remains
Monarchs and Burning Phantom Knights had an incredibly successful weekend at the WCQ. No surprise there: those decks have been in nearly every Top Cut at Regionals and YCS events since their debut. Both strategies have outstanding match-ups against the rest of the field, including Kozmos and Performapals. They're also relatively difficult to side against, due in part to Twin Twisters.

Looking ahead you'd expect Konami to take the data from TCG WCQ's and develop a Forbidden & Limited based in part on that information. Does that mean Monarchs and Burning Phantom Knights are getting the axe, and Kozmos will go untouched? I can't say, especially given the number of times Burning Abyss has seemingly escaped death. We might be in for another year of Kozmos, and at least another format or two of Monarchs.

Analyzing events so close to the end of a format is always risky. The European WCQ will be taking place after this article is finished, so a new F&L List could suddenly appear before it goes live. Whether that happens or not, I think it's worth taking a look at the deck lists we have listed on the database. There's a ton of insight into trending tech choices, including emerging Side Deck picks that we'll be talking about today. Many players had success with unconventional picks, and those cards might be the most interesting aspect of their deck lists.

At this point most of the strategies in the Top 64 have been refined to an exact science, but Side Decks are always changing in an effort to counter and surprise opponents.

Knockout Punch To Anti-Spell Fragrance
I mentioned Typhoon last week in my article on Secret Village of the Spellcasters, but it's worth mentioning again here. Typhoon showed up in numerous Side Decks in the Top 64, including Monarchs, Burning Abyss, Performapals, and Pendulum Magicians. It was primarily played to answer Anti-Spell Fragrance, another hugely popular Side Deck choice in the Top 64. As a trap Typhoon is unaffected by Fragrance and Secret Village of the Spellcasters, and as an added bonus it couldn't be negated by Magic Deflector. Players running Deflector to protect their floodgates found their cards being destroyed by Typhoon.

Typhoon's utility made it a great choice even if your deck didn't lose to spell disruption. It's playable on your opponent's first turn, knocking out Field and Pendulum Spells before they can resolve. Sky Iris, Fire King Island, Magical Abductor, Wisdom-Eye Magician, Qliphort Scout, and Qliphort Monolith are excellent targets for Typhoon's effect. Demise Qliphorts will almost always leave Typhoon live in your hand; they have to, or else Card of Demise will rob them of their draws.

Set Battle Pack 3: Monster League
Number BP03-EN235
Type Trap Card
Attribute Trap 
Rarity Common
Card Text

Target 1 face-up Spell/Trap Card on the field; destroy it. If your opponent controls 2 or more Spell/Trap Cards and you control no Spell/Trap Cards, you can activate this card from your hand.

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You can do nearly as much with Typhoon as you can with Mystical Space Typhoon, like busting Phantom Knights' Fog Blade, Call Of The Haunted, or Oasis of Dragon Souls. Ghost Ogre & Snow Rabbit is a tempting alternative for destroying Field and Pendulum Spells, but it can't stop these cards and it's similarly powerless against Anti-Spell Fragrance and Secret Village.

Typhoon's own lack of coverage against set cards was covered by additional copies of Twin Twisters and Denko Sekka in some Top 64 builds.

Chaos Hunter Replaces Imperial Iron Wall
With the WCQ in the record books it's finally clear that players have started to prefer Chaos Hunter to other anti-banishing options. It's no big surprise that a floodgate monster's preferable to a card that typically gets blown out by Twin Twisters. Chaos Hunter's easily the best choice for decks that can Pendulum Summon it, like Pendulum Magicians and Performapals.

Chaos Hunter's great both aggressively and defensively against Monarchs and Kozmos. Most notably it prevents Kozmo monsters from banishing themselves to Summon additional monsters. It ensures that new ships don't hit the field and keeps Kozmojo face-down, letting you make aggressive plays and take out monsters with minimal interruption. Chaos Hunter defends your set-ups against your opponent's plays, plus its Summon effect is chainable to a Special Summon. There aren't a whole lot of situations where that comes in handy in either match-up, but it's nice to have nonetheless.

Monarchs have a tough time playing against Chaos Hunter because it locks them out of several key effects, like Pantheism of the Monarchs, The Prime Monarch, and Eidos the Underworld Squire. Chaos Hunter makes it much harder for your opponent to make another Tribute Summon, though it's certainly not impossible. In a Top 64 tournament report one Domain Monarch player reported staring down a field including Chaos Hunter and Secret Village of the Spellcasters, then simply bypassing it with Edea the Heavenly Squire and Erebus the Underworld Monarch.

 Chaos Hunter
Chaos Hunter39235
Set Storm of Ragnarok
Number STOR-EN085
Level 7
Type Effect Monster
Monster Fiend
Attribute DARK 
A / D 2500 / 1600
Rarity Secret Rare
Card Text

When your opponent Special Summons a monster, you can discard 1 card to Special Summon this card from your hand. Your opponent cannot remove cards from play.

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Chaos Hunter's excellent against Burning Phantom Knights. Not only does it shut down numerous graveyard banish effects from Burning Abyss and Phantom Knights cards, it also protects your monsters from Farfa, Malebranche of the Burning Abyss. It really punishes players who Summon Beatrice, Lady of the Eternal on Turn 1. If you can Summon Chaos Hunter off Beatrice's Xyz Summon your first turn plays will be much harder for your opponent to respond to. It's a great card to draw off Maxx “C”, and effectively forces your opponent to play at a pace you dictate through your use of hand traps.

Kycoo The Ghost Destroyer popped up as yet another alternative to Imperial Iron Wall. In Scott Semle's Majespecter Pendulum Magicians it acted as a fourth Chaos Hunter, giving him a way to control his opponent's graveyard as well as block all of the relevant banish effects in Monarchs. It's not quite as effective against Kozmos, so it's likely that he only sided it against Monarchs and Phantom Knights.

Reflecting Banish Effects
Farfa's a threat to many of the top decks and particularly to their Xyz Monsters. Chaos Hunter is just one way to answer it, and Mirror of the Ice Barrier's another. It's hardly the first time Mirror has shown up in Side Decks at high levels of competition, and it almost certainly won't be the last. Activating it in response to Farfa's resolution will let you banish two cards your opponent controls. That's a +1 of card economy since your monster will be returning at the End Phase.

Actually, it's even better than a +1. Not in terms of card advantage, but because knowing you have Mirror of the Ice Barrier in your back pocket let's you plan ahead for a massive shift in the direction of the duel. Banishing two monsters can be rolled into a game-ending play on the same turn. It's actually not difficult: bait out a Farfa, banish your opponent's monsters, then play the rest of your hand under relative safety. Mirror of the Ice Barrier won't have the same impact if you can't capitalize on its field-clearing power right away, though that's certainly not it's only use.

You can also play Mirror of the Ice Barrier to banish cards from your opponent's hand or graveyard, and there's yet another Farfa-like situation with cards in your hand. Responding to PSY-Framelord Omega with Mirror will permanently banish two cards from your opponent's hand. Those cards won't be coming back to them during your opponent's next Standby Phase, so once again there's a frequent situation where it can be played as a solid +1.

 Mirror of the Ice Barrier
Mirror of the Ice Barrier38589
Set Starstrike Blast
Number STBL-EN055
Type Spell Card
Attribute SPELL 
Rarity Common
Card Text

During this turn, if a card(s) is removed from play from your hand, your side of the field, or your Graveyard by the effect of an opponent's Effect Monster, apply the appropriate effect(s): * Your hand: Remove from play 2 random cards from your opponent's hand. * Your side of the field: Remove from play 2 cards your opponent controls. * Your Graveyard: Remove from play 2 cards from your opponent's Graveyard.

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Going forward we might see even more of Mirror of the Ice Barrier, especially if D.D. Crow gets more popular. Granted, you might find yourself simply playing your own copies of D.D. Crow. Mirror is also outclassed wherever Ally of Justice Cycle Reader could be played.

Erik Christensen's Side Deck is probably my favorite. Mystical Refpanel, Typhoon, and Solemn Scolding were amazing picks for the event and clearly performed well. Refpanel's a blowout card in the mirror match where resolving it against Pantheism of the Monarchs ends the game then and there. Solemn Scolding's so versatile this format, especially against Pendulum strategies. It's shocking that we don't see more of this card–maybe Life Points do matter after all?

There's an outstanding question here that's currently impossible to answer: how many of these cards will still be relevant by the time The Dark Illusion hits? We'll find out in a few weeks.

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

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