Under the Radar: Paleogagaga

Loukas Peterson

11/9/2016 11:00:00 AM

I arrive at a lot of my strategies by bouncing random ideas around with my friend Chris; sometime's our text conversations are just strings of Yu-Gi-Oh!-centric words with a bunch of question marks and exclamation points. Sometimes those chats produce diamonds in the rough, and sometimes I'm left crying on the floor of my room in a pile of Fabled cards. We both enjoy reducing the other to a pile of emotionally broken goop.

The newest booster set Invasion: Vengeance is already shaping up to be one of the better releases in recent history. With a swell of new themes and strategies, it does a lot to breathe life into some older styles of play. Occasionally we'll get new toys for old decks that amount to little more than a pat on the head, but SPYRALs, Subterrors, Yang Zings, Satellarknights. and about ten other decks get really good cards that escalate them to new heights.

It's like Konami said “Hey, what decks aren't Fabled? Let's give support to those!”

The suspiciously named Toadally Awesome is ready to make a lot of duelists really happy and even more duelists sad; the price tag on Toadally Awesome right now absolutely correlates to its sheer power.

Sure, it takes two Aquas to field Awesome unless you've got a Bahamut Shark, but holy moly is it worth it. Obviously, its first effect means Swap Frog is never too far out of your reach, but its second and third effects are just as good. By sending an Aqua to the yard, you'll negate pretty much anything and then get to steal that card from your opponent. Then when Awesome dies, you'll get any yarded Water back. So even without Bahamut Shark, you'll negate something, steal a card, and then recycle Toadally Awesome to the Extra Deck.

Do you see why it's so expensive?

Not All Cards Are Made Equal
Doug “Wait, Is Your Neck Really Broken?” Zeeff likes to frequently remind me about my “silly” rule about excluding Pot of Desires from the decks I write about, but let me recap it for you: the only reason I exclude the card from most of my deck lists here on TCGplayer is because I'm a realist. Many casual players don't have $250 dollars to drop on a playset, and since a lot of my Rerouting decks are tailored for local and casual play, a lot of people would effectively be staring at a 37 card deck.

And so while Toadally Awesome needs Aqua monsters and Palaeozoic fit the bill, I actually wanted to create a Palaeozoic deck without the new Secret Rare. More or less, the deck started as a Gagaga deck with a need for some other theme to complement the strategy. My love for Palaeozoics, fueled by Paleozoic Opabinia, spawned what you see below.

    Paleogagaga Loukas Peterson    
Main Deck
Side Deck
2 Dododo Buster
3 Gagaga Child
2 Gagaga Head
2 Gagaga Magician
3 Gagaga Sister
Monsters [12]
2 Gagagarevenge
3 Onomatopaira
Spells [5]
1 Breakthrough Skill
2 Imperial Iron Wall
3 Legacy of Yata-Garasu
2 Paleozoic Canadia
2 Paleozoic Dinomischus
1 Paleozoic Leanchoilia
2 Paleozoic Marrella
2 Paleozoic Olenoides
3 Paleozoic Pikaia
2 Storming Mirror Force
3 Waboku
Traps [23]
Deck Total [40]


1 Abyss Dweller
1 Castel, the Skyblaster Musketeer
1 Cat Shark
1 Daigusto Phoenix
1 Fairy Knight Ingunar
1 Gachi Gachi Gantetsu
1 Herald of Pure Light
1 Norito the Moral Leader
1 Number 38: Hope Harbinger Dragon Titanic Galaxy
1 Number 39: Utopia Beyond
2 Paleozoic Anomalocaris
2 Paleozoic Opabinia
1 Sky Cavalry Centaurea
Extra Deck [15]

While the Paleozoic monsters may give you prehistoric nightmares, I dare you to take another look at the theme. They've seen some limited success due to their slow nature and somewhat strange rulings, but I think the deck as a whole has a ton of potential, and that's been born out time and again in the OCG.

Because the lore, history, and context of cards is so important to me, I'm going to make you sit through a brief history lesson. The real-world Paleozoic Era aptly mirrors this theme and is part of the Phanerozoic Eon, which is another way of saying these creatures you're seeing are depicting icky things from over 500 million years ago. before Pangea had formed.

It was a pivotal period in evolution, when life took a huge leap from “invertebrate uglies” to the more familiar reptile, fish, and amphibian life today. So far all of the Paleozoic monsters released look like evil Roly-Polys because they were created to reference various armored arthropods, but appendages like tails, fins, and limbs were novel at that time in Earth's history.

History aside, the reason I picked up the deck is simple: Paleozoic Opabinia. Unlike Paleozoic Anomalocaris, Paleozoic Opabinia takes a measly two monsters to make; you'll get a 2400 DEF body that's immune to monsters effects, and that lets you activate Paleozoic trap cards from the hand, on the cheap. Its first two conditions don't need Xyz Materials to activate, let alone Paleozoic, so the deck finally has something to do on Turn 1. Paleozoic traps turn into monsters from the graveyard, and the older Paleozoic decks required you to flood your graveyard to do anything; they largely accomplished a whole lot of nothing on Turn 1. Now you have the option to hurry up and play what you need right out of the gates.

That's where I started to diverge from the Frogs and Toadally Awesome. Unless you open with Swap Frog, Unexpected Dai, or Graydle Slime Jr., a first turn Paleozoic Opabinia isn't really on the table. On top of that, the more you build around Frogs the more you realize the Paleozoics are superfluous, and Ifound that Frog Paleozoics were inferior to other Frog decks in the long run. I knew I had to move on.

 Paleozoic Opabinia
Paleozoic Opabinia124816
Set Invasion: Vengeance
Number INOV-EN099
Level 2
Type Xyz/Effect Monster
Monster Aqua
Attribute WATER 
A / D 0 / 2400
Rarity Super Rare
Card Text

2 Level 2 monsters
This card is unaffected by other monsters' effects. You can activate "Paleozoic" Trap Cards from your hand. If this card has a Trap Card as Xyz Material: You can detach 1 Xyz Material from this card; add 1 "Paleozoic" Trap Card from your Deck to your hand. You can only use this effect of "Paleozoic Opabinia" once per turn.

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Gagagas are surprisingly good at making Rank 2 monsters. Both Gagaga Clerk and Gagaga Child make Rank 2's with virtually any other Gagaga monster. Onomatopaira yards Paleozoic cards and thins your deck, while Gagaga Sister gets you Gagaga Revenge - you'll find that you can't always Special Summon multiple Paleozoic from your graveyard, and Revenge fills the gaps when that happens.

If you can get just one Paleozoic trap card into your graveyard on Turn 1, you'll have a great setup moving forward. If you start with Onomatopaira or Gagaga Sister plus Paleozoic Pikaia you can make several Rank 2's, and if you're lucky, you'll land a Paleozoic Anomalocaris next to your Paleozoic Opabinia and really get the ball rolling. Ideal setups can even field two Opabinia and an Anomalcoris so you can start raking in benefits super early.

Ratios… Are My Worst Enemy
If you've ever played a rogue deck, you'll know that figuring out the right number of cards to play can often be really hard; a lot of rogue decks just don't have the same consistency of more popular strategies. If you're piloting ABC-Buster Dragons, you know that your deck's good enough to get out of pretty much any bind, and some ratios just aren't very important. Piloting Paleogagaga against decks like Blue-Eyes White Dragon and ABC's, I found that I needed to adapt my tech choices and carefully manage ratios of certain cards.

The result? I think it's worthwhile to main Imperial Iron Wall. ABC-Dragon Buster is the deck's hardest matchup by far, and Iron Wall's still useable against Blue-Eyes, Pendulums, and Burning Abyss. Cutting your opponeont off from their ABC-Dragon Buster is a must, but Iron Wall stops your Paleozoics from being banished as well. While Breakthrough Skill conflicts with Imperial Iron Wall a bit, it's better to just yard it straight from the deck with Paleozoic Marrella anyways.

The Paleozoic decks we've seen do well in the past, are generally like Johannes Rogiers's trap-heavy version or Patrick Joyce's Barrier Stun success. But Paleozoic Opabinia and Toadally Awesome are powerful enough to steer the theme away from those slower builds. Gagagas are just one way to crank out the pivotal Paleozoic Opabinia; there are countless versions out there waiting to be tried.

The Gagagas let me play one of my favorite themes, and offer a way different approach to the Extra Deck…Namely niche Rank 6 baddies like Norito the Moral Leader or the surprisingly useful Fairy Knight Ingunar. Gagaga Head turns Gagaga strategies from trash to fancy trash, and in Paleogagaga it makes the Extra Deck that much more bountiful.

Just remember, beat your opponents before they beat you!

-Loukas Peterson

Loukas “I Told You The Cubs Would Lose Game 7” Peterson lives in Madison, Wisconsin where he's earned the honor of Employee of the Century at his basket-weaving job. When he's not getting lost walking to the grocery store, his days are spent shaking his fist in the direction of Konami's North American headquarters demanding Fabled support or an archetype based around rainbow flags. In his spare time, Loukas dresses up as various road signs around his neighborhood, intentionally spelling things wrong to confuse drivers.

Do you love winning with unconventional strategies? Do you love creating mash-ups? Does your deck need an injection of crazy? Send the following to rerouting.tcgplayer@gmail.com to have your deck featured in the “Re-Routing” deck fix column!

-Your Main and Extra Deck list. (No Side Deck needed, but please send a written deck list, not a screencap; screencapped deck lists will be filed and then burned in the furnace accordingly… and your deck should be TCG legal).

-Your name and city.

-Remember, please use full card names! Abbrevs and mis-sipllngs make Loukas' life sad. Try your darndest to get the TCG name on there.

-A paragraph or two describing your deck: what it does, why you're playing it, and its strengths and weaknesses. “Winning” is not a strategy per se, and neither is “beating your opponents before they beat you.”

-Your favorite card from the build and why – make me fall in love with the deck! The cooler your strategy the more I'll want to fix it, and if you throw in funny jokes, that'll surely get my attention too; be warned, unfunny jokes will push your deck to the back of the stack. Don't be afraid to get creative! New stuff takes priority, because I'm not bored of it yet! –LJP

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