Side Deck Theory: YCS Minneapolis Review

Kelly Locke

10/25/2016 11:00:00 AM

YCS Minneapolis concluded two months of Regionals since The Dark Illusion hit the TCG. It was the final event before the release of Structure Deck: Seto Kaiba and the debut of the ABC strategy, so it represented the final event of the post-TDIL competitive landscape.

While the format itself isn’t changing, the introduction of ABCs will force players to reconsider their match-ups, reevaluate tech choices, and adjust their Side Decks. We’ll talk about that match-up in the future, but for this week I’d like to focus on the most popular cards from Minneapolis.

Majespecters, Metalfoes And Blue-Eyes Assert Dominance
Blue-Eyes were the most represented strategy in the Top 32 with eight players making the cut. Metalfoes, Majespecters, and Burning Abyss Phantom Knights had roughly equal representation, while a variety of rogue strategies picked up the rear. Blue-Eyes didn’t make it to the Top 4 where Pendulums dominated. The final match-up of the event was a Metalfoes mirror match.

There are a few ways to interpret these results. Blue-Eyes were certainly more represented as a single theme, but Pendulums ended up winning the event. There were twelve Pendulum decks in the Top 32, so it’s not terribly surprising to see them claim three spots in the Top 4. However, “Pendulums” includes only Majespecters and Metalfoes. Performapals, Pendulum Magicians, and D/Ds didn’t quite make the cut. They’re still very successful in Regionals, but aren’t quite capable of winning consistently at the championship level.

Majespecters saw a huge boost in their competitiveness thanks to Ties of the Brethren. Its effect draws out two more Majespecters from the deck, triggers their effects, and gives players enough fodder to fire off three Majespecter spells or traps. The Majespecter engine is already strong right now, mostly thanks to Majespecter Unicorn - Kirin, so the extra support from Brethren helped push the deck right up to championship level.

 Ties of the Brethren
Ties of the Brethren123485
Set Legendary Decks II
Number LDK2-ENY02
Type Spell Card
Attribute SPELL 
Rarity Ultra Rare
Card Text

Pay 2000 LP, then target 1 Level 4 or lower monster you control; for the rest of this turn after this card resolves, you cannot Special Summon monsters, also Special Summon 2 monsters from your Deck, with the same Type, Attribute, and Level as that monster, but with different names from each other and that monster. You cannot conduct your Battle Phase the turn you activate this card.

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If you take away nothing else from YCS Minneapolis, let it be the emergence of pure Majespecters as a powerful competitive strategy. This is a match-up you need to Side Deck for, which might mean more than just siding Solemn Strikes. Anti-Spell Fragrance will definitely rise in popularity alongside Mask of Restrict, Mistake, and Full House, but those cards will be competing for space in an increasingly cramped Side Deck.

Kozmos barely stood out against Lightsworns, Mermails, and Infernoids. Without real data it’s hard to tell if Kozmos were more popular than these rogue strategies at YCS Minneapolis. Lightsworns are extremely niche given that Minerva, the Exalted Lightsworn is so rare, and Infernoids and Mermails are decidedly rogue. Does that mean Kozmos are underperforming?

They haven’t been topping nearly as many Regionals this month, so this might be a sign that Kozmo’s popularity is declining.

Jowgen And Statues Stop The Game
Last week I wrote about Barrier Statues and other Special Summon-blocking monsters. Many of those cards were seeing increasing Side Deck play, but a few were even making their way into Main Decks. We saw both sided and mained floodgates at YCS Minneapolis, including a playset of Jowgen the Spiritualist in both Marcus Hayden’s and Joel White’s Metalfoes. Jowgen didn’t come into play during the Finals, but it definitely helped Hayden and White claim first and second place.

Jowgen the Spiritualist is a perfect fit for Metalfoes. It’s a floodgate that can’t be disrupted by backrow removal, keeps Kaijus at bay, and packs an aggressive monster removal effect. Jowgen helps protect early set-ups of Ultimaya Tzolkin and Crystal Wing Synchro Dragon, but it can just as easily wipe out weaker fields with its ignition effect. Metalfoes can turn Jowgen ‘off’ by destroying it to set a Metalfoes spell or trap from the deck, so players are never stuck behind their own floodgate. For those reasons nearly all of the Metalfoes players in the Top 32 ran Jowgen in their Main Decks.

 Jowgen the Spiritualist
Jowgen the Spiritualist78052
Set Astral Pack 3
Number AP03-EN015
Level 3
Type Effect Monster
Monster Spellcaster
Attribute LIGHT 
A / D 200 / 1300
Rarity Common
Card Text

You can discard 1 random card from your hand to the Graveyard; destroy all Special Summoned monsters on the field. Neither player can Special Summon monsters.

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Although Jowgen was the most popular floodgate monster among Metalfoes players, it was nearly matched among the Top 32 by Barrier Statue of the Stormwinds. Majespecters sided Stormwinds against Blue-Eyes, Burning Abyss, Kozmos, and other decks that were short on Wind monsters. Koa’ki Meiru Drago and Fossil Dyna Pachycephalo also made an appearance in a couple of Side Decks.

Lastly, Ally of Justice Quarantine continues to see play in Side Decks to counter Blue-Eyes and occasionally Lightsworn. Quarantine, along with Koa’ki Meiru Drago, is well-positioned to deal with the Light-heavy ABC deck. However, ABC’s have strong Normal Summons that can destroy Quarantine and Drago. They won’t be nearly as effective as they were against Blue- Eyes.

Swords And Books Over Kaijus?
It might surprise you to learn that Kaijus aren’t an answer to everything! Swords of Concealing Light and Book of Eclipse were sided over Kaijus at YCS Minneapolis to counter cards that Gameciel, the Sea Turtle Kaiju can’t touch. It might seem obvious, but Special Summon- blocking floodgates aren’t vulnerable to Special Summons. There are better options for dealing with Jowgen and friends: cards like Dark Hole, Raigeki, Swords of Concealing Light, and Book of Eclipse are equally effective at bringing your Special Summons back online.

Swords of Concealing Light and Book of Eclipse have excellent match-up utility and generally fit everywhere you’d normally play a Kaiju. Set-ups with Ultimaya Tzolkin, Crystal Wing Synchro Dragon, and Blue-Eyes Spirit Dragon are easily disrupted by forcing those monsters face-down. You can use Floodgate Trap Hole and Quaking Mirror Force in some situations, but they’re reactive instead of proactive. The difference is that Swords and Eclipse are better suited for dealing with monsters that are already on the board, while Floodgate Trap Hole and Quaking are slightly more effective against monsters that hit the field that turn.

With four cards to choose from it can be hard to decide which one you’ll play in your Side Deck. And actually, you might not have to settle for just one. Joel White ran a single copy of Book of Eclipse and Swords of Concealing Light in his Side Deck, plus a full set of Kumongous the Sticky String Kaiju. There’s plenty of opportunity to explore with vastly different ratios of removal options. With no real consensus on the best cards or ratios, there are a few guidelines you’ll want to consider.

 Swords of Concealing Light
Swords of Concealing Light67081
Set Legendary Collection 3: Yugi's World
Number LCYW-EN281
Type Spell Card
Attribute SPELL 
Rarity Ultra Rare
Card Text

When you activate this card, change all monsters on your opponent's side of the field to face-down Defense Position. Monsters on your opponent's side of the field cannot change their Battle Positions. Destroy this card during your 2nd Standby Phase after activation.

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Proactive removal’s usually preferred in aggressive strategies that can immediately capitalize on a Swords of Concealing Light or Kaiju Summon. Infernoids and Mermails can follow up on a Book of Eclipse with an OTK. Neither can do much while their Special Summons are restricted, so having instant outs to floodgate monsters is especially important.

Both of these YCS-topping lists are interesting because they also sided cards to help them when playing first. Benjamin Deeter sided three Waboku, and Leonard Anaya sided three Anti-Spell Fragrance, two Drowning Mirror Force, and two Floodgate Trap Hole. It seems awkward to side traps in highly aggressive strategies, but both players had to prepare for situations where they’d be forced to play first. You can’t end the duel with pure aggression if you don’t have a Battle Phase.

Reevaluating Side Deck Choices With ABC
When Monarchs debuted earlier this year they caused an immediate change in the competitive landscape. The same is true with ABC’s, which are already topping Regionals at an alarming rate. With just one Structure Deck release Konami has introduced a new deck to beat. I think we’ll see three changes between YCS Minneapolis and the Regionals leading up to INOV:

-More hand traps, specifically Ghost Ogre & Snow Rabbit and Ghost Reaper & Winter Cherries

-Jowgen and other monster floodgates moving exclusively to decks with lots of defensive traps

-More anti-Machine, anti-Light Side Deck tech

First, hand traps need to be revisited in light of the ABC match-up. Ghost Ogre and Ghost Reaper are already played, but the extra match-up utility will likely land them in more Side Decks than ever before. I think those two cards will finally reach their full potential with so many different strategies running around that are incredibly vulnerable to their effects.

ABC-Dragon Buster makes short work of Jowgen by banishing it well before it gets a chance to activate its effect. Ideally you’d play Jowgen after baiting Dragon Buster’s banish effect, then use Jowgen to destroy it while it’s stuck on the field. Otherwise, you can play Jowgen and defend it, but the deck runs numerous Normal Summons that can carve a path straight over its 200 ATK. Koa’ki Meiru Drago’s more likely to survive, but even that’s risky. Ghost Reaper and Dimension Barrier are much better suited for keeping Dragon Buster off the field.

Finally, cards like System Down, Ally of Justice Cycle Reader, and Light-Imprisoning Mirror could make a comeback while ABC’s are popular. This deck has fewer on-theme methods of destroying backrows, so continuous floodgates can wreak havoc with their strategy over the course of several turns. The many of the same cards that are being sided against Blue-Eyes will also work in this match-up, and I think we’ll see a renewal in interest for anti-Light tech that doesn’t work against Blue-Eyes, but gets the job done against ABCs.

Next week we’ll talk specifically about the ABC match-up, how it works, and which cards to side for it.

Until next time then


Kelly Locke is a West Michigan gamer, writer, and college student. In addition to writing on TCGplayer, Kelly writes personal blog covering Yugioh, Destiny, and other hobbies. You can follow him on Twitter and check out his Youtube channel. He is currently studying marketing at Western Michigan University, and hopes to graduate before Dragon Ravine is Unlimited.

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