Siding For: ABC-Dragon Buster

Kelly Locke

11/1/2016 11:02:00 AM

ABC's debuted in Structure Deck: Seto Kaiba, and if you attended a Regional in the last couple weeks you likely have first-hand experience playing with or against the new strategy. It's classic Konami fashion to bring in a powerhouse strategy a month or two after a Forbidden & Limited List, position it well above the current decks at the time, and watch it run rampant over the competitive landscape. We've seen this with Monarchs and Nekroz, and now it's ABC's turn to demonstrate exactly why we need regular updates to the F&L List.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not suggesting waiting out the format. Side Decks are one of the few tools we have as players to level the playing field, and we don't need to wait on new restrictions to help us with bad match-ups. There's always a way to make a match-up easier, or favorable. ABC's are just like any other deck with vulnerabilities: it can be exploited, manipulated, and defeated with the right cards and tactics. This week we'll be discussing exactly which cards, and which tactics best dismantle the alphabet factory.

Assembling The Dragon Buster
There's never been a popular or successful Union theme in the game until now. ABC's play three Union monsters in their Main Deck: A-Assault Core, B-Buster Drake, and C-Crush Wyvern. Each Union offers its partner immunity to the effects of a specific card type while it's equipped. In keeping with traditional Union effects you can destroy an equipped Union if the monster it's attached to would be destroyed. Lastly, all three monsters have an effect that activates when they're sent from the field to the graveyard.

Union mechanics have a few niche uses, but in reality this theme could have just as easily been designed with equip monsters. Cyberdarks, Dragunity, and Inzektors used monster-equipping to largely the same effect. In fact, Inzektors probably did it better than ABC's do with purely on-theme support.

Luckily ABC's get a huge helping hand from Union Hanger, which is essentially a Field Spell version of Dragunity Divine Lance with an initial search effect. Union Hanger prevents you from Special Summoning the freshly-equipped Union, but that doesn't matter too much when you're trying to Summon ABC-Dragon Buster.

 ABC-Dragon Buster
ABC-Dragon Buster123794
Set Structure Deck: Seto Kaiba
Number SDKS-EN041
Level 8
Type Fusion/Effect Monster
Monster Machine
Attribute LIGHT 
A / D 3000 / 2800
Rarity Ultra Rare
Card Text

"A-Assault Core" + "B-Buster Drake" + "C-Crush Wyvern"
Must first be Special Summoned (from your Extra Deck) by banishing the above cards you control and/or from your Graveyard. (You do not use "Polymerization".) Once per turn, during either player's turn: You can discard 1 card, then target 1 card on the field; banish it. During your opponent's turn: You can Tribute this card, then target 3 of your banished LIGHT Machine-Type Union monsters with different names; Special Summon them (this is a Quick Effect).

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Speaking of which, ABC-Dragon Buster is the ace card of this strategy and the force behind its strength. It has outstanding stats, easily-met Summoning conditions, and two chainable effects. If you've ever wondered “What if Farfa, Malebranche of the Burning Abyss banished any card, permanently?” then you have your answer with Dragon Buster. It plays a lot like Beatrice, Lady of the Eternal, and can be repeatedly Summoned from the Extra Deck so long as you resolve its tribute effect.

As if a chainable banish effect wasn't enough, you can tribute ABC-Dragon Buster to Special Summon three Light Union Machines. In other words, you can break it down into its component monsters to dodge targeting effects. This deck wins games by simply moving from one self-replacing monster to the next, much like Kozmos and Burning Abyss; most of your removal will either Backfire or miss the target altogether. If your cards aren't having any impact, while at the same time you're losing card after card to Dragon Buster's 3000 ATK and banish effect, you'll end up losing the duel before you can make a dent in your opponent's Life Points.

The ABC-Dragon Buster deck had an impressive run in the OCG before it was recently shut out. We can glean some insight from OCG Side Decks, but a couple of our best options are currently locked away in Invasion: Vengeance. In the meantime, let's take a look at a selection of the best Side Deck cards for this match-up.

Shutting Down The Factory
ABC's depend on a Main Deck of Light Machines, and an Extra Deck with special consideration for ABC-Dragon Buster. Banishing is also extremely important here, both to Summon Dragon Buster and to activate its effect. Beating this deck means punishing your opponent for their dependence on the Extra Deck, Machines, and banish effects. Luckily we have plenty of cards that exploit those vulnerabilities.

Let's start with the obvious choices. Ghost Reaper & Winter Cherries was a massively popular Side Deck pick in the OCG against Blue-Eyes, D/D's, and ABC's. Banishing all copies of ABC-Dragon Buster is devastating for your opponent, leaving them to work with an inadequate Rank 4 engine and the occasional chance to make Cyber Dragon Infinity. That's not good enough to stay competitive unless the ABC player also has a floodgate at their disposal. We've seen what Ghost Reaper does to Burning Abyss, and its impact here is nearly identical.

Anti-Extra Deck cards like Artifact Scythe, Amorphage Sloth, and the upcoming Dimension Barrier from Invasion: Vengeance also keep ABC-Dragon Buster out of the game. Counter Traps and Summon negation are also very effective here. If Dragon Buster doesn't hit the field, it can't bounce out of the way of danger. Solemn Strike, Solemn Warning, Majespecter Tempest, Black Horn of Heaven, Grand Horn of Heaven, and Thunder King Rai-Oh present additional obstacles for your opponent to clear before they can Summon Dragon Buster. As usual, Vanity's Fiend and other generic, Special Summon-blocking floodgates are strong Turn 1 plays.

 Ghost Reaper & Winter Cherries
Ghost Reaper & Winter Cherries117933
Set Shining Victories
Number SHVI-EN040
Level 3
Type Tuner/Effect Monster
Monster Zombie
Attribute DARK 
A / D 0 / 1800
Rarity Secret Rare
Card Text

During either player's turn, if your opponent controls more monsters than you do: You can discard this card; reveal 1 card in your Extra Deck, then look at your opponent's Extra Deck, also banish all cards in their Extra Deck with the same name as that revealed card. You can only use this effect of "Ghost Reaper & Winter Cherries" once per turn.

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Your opponent can't Special Summon Dragon Buster if they can't banish cards. Imperial Iron Wall, Chaos Hunter, Artifact Lancea, and Necrovalley limit your opponent's options by denying them access to Dragon Buster. Controlling a floodgate like Iron Wall over the long term is a great strategy not just for beating ABC's, but also for match-ups against Kozmos and Infernoids. It forces your opponent to Xyz Summon something other than Bujintei Tsukiyomi, and that might be far from their most optimal play.

It's hard to keep ABC-Dragon Buster off the field if you're playing second. The most direct method is to draw into Ghost Reaper in your opening hand, or grab it off the couple of draws you're likely to get from a Turn 1 Maxx “C”. But Ghost Reaper isn't the only early-game hand trap that can throw a wrench into your opponent's plans. Ghost Ogre & Snow Rabbit can destroy Union Hanger when it tries to equip a Union from the deck, potentially leaving your opponent one letter short of Dragon Buster. Ghost Ogre can destroy Dragon Buster during your opponent's turn, when it can't tribute itself to Summon banished Light Union Machines.

Ally of Justice Cycle Reader's another hand trap option. Banishing Unions from the graveyard is reminiscent of how one used to stop Judgment Dragon from hitting the field by removing Lightsworn names. You can knock two monsters out of the graveyard following Bujintei Tsukuyomi's effect, and leave your opponent with no way to Summon ABC-Dragon Buster that turn. Finally, Effect Veiler's an excellent pick for this match-up to negate Gold Gadget and Silver Gadget.

There are plenty of proactive ways to destroy or remove ABC-Dragon Buster, but many of them can be dodged with Dragon Buster's effect. Raigeki and Dark Hole will simply net your opponent more searches, Summons, and recycling effects, so instead we need to side in cards that either can't be dodged, or don't care about Buster's tribute effect. Kaijus are one option. You can tribute Dragon Buster to Summon your Kaiju while leaving the rest of their machines in the Banish Zone. Easy enough, but most duelists know how to play around Kaijus this format.

Fear of Kaijus encourages ABC players to tribute their ABC-Dragon Buster before the Main Phase. That's why System Down's so strong here; even if your opponent tributes Dragon Buster, they'll end up having their materials banished again. Either way they won't have those materials available next turn to Summon another Dragon Buster. That's a serious setback for your opponent and sends them scrambling to rebuild their field and graveyard.

You can answer ABC-Dragon Buster with various forms of effect negation. Solemn Strike will negate it outright, Light-Imprisoning Mirror will stop both its on-field effect and its graveyard effect, and Skill Prisoner lets you block two shots from Dragon Buster's banish cannon. I'm a big fan of Light-Imprisoning Mirror here, but your opponent can still answer it with Twin Twisters or an Xyz Summon using Photon Thrasher and another monster.

 Imperial Iron Wall
Imperial Iron Wall103944
Set Structure Deck: Synchron Extreme
Number SDSE-EN038
Type Trap Card
Attribute TRAP 
Rarity Common
Card Text

Cards cannot be banished.

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Skill Prisoner narrowly edges out Breakthrough Skill in this match-up because Dragon Buster can typically dodge targeted effect negation. Breakthrough Skill is better against gold and Silver Gadget, many of the Xyz, and sided floodgates like Vanity's Fiend. Skill Prisoner blocks two targeting monster effects from Dragon Buster, Castel, the Skyblaster Musketeer, or Diamond Dire Wolf. Breakthrough might be the best choice for your deck, and in general it has better Side Deck utility. Definitely test both if you think you're going to play either of the two.

Many of the cards I've suggested here are countered by Pot of Acquisitiveness from Invasion: Vengeance. It's perhaps the best way to play against Ghost Reaper & Winter Cherries, System Down, and Ally of Justice Cycle Reader. Pot of Acquisitiveness is also a great Side Deck choice against ABC's. When your opponent targets three of their banished Light Union Machines you can simply toss them back into the deck and draw a card.

Finally, I have to mention Dimension Barrier ahead of its release in Invasion: Vengeance. You can block Xyz or Fusion Summons for an entire turn, and negate monsters already on the field of the selected card type. It's a must-play next format that we'll be talking about months from now, and you'll want to keep it in mind if you're planning on attending an event post-INOV. There are plenty of great options to choose from in the meantime if you're headed to a Regional before the next set releases. It's a tough match-up for such an inexpensive and accessible deck. I expect it to be the deck to beat for the remainder of the year.

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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