Competitive Corner: Toadally Awesome Paleozoics, Mermails, and Heroes

Jason Grabher-Meyer

11/11/2016 11:00:00 AM
 Comments

Toadally Awesome was absolutely huge in the OCG.

The card once known as “Treatoad” made a tremendous impact on Asian tournaments, crystallizing into a few different strategies. At different points in time, Toadally Awesome was winning tournaments in dedicated Frog builds, as well as Paleozoic, Hero, and Mermail variants. Nowadays Frogs are a much smaller part of the OCG scene, chased away by new releases like the Darklords and Zodiac Beasts. But from July to October, Toadally Awesome was everywhere.

We can glean a lot of information from Awesome's run in Asia, but to parse that info correctly we need to acknowledge a few factors that made Toadally Awesome very different in OCG territories.

First, Rescue Rabbit: it's Limited here, but it's not on the F&L List at all in the OCG. That meant players could run three copies, Special Summon stuff like Frog The Jam and Psychic Kappa, and overlay for Toadally Awesome as a simple 1-for-1. That made dedicated Frog decks – as well as simple Speedroid variants – much more powerful than they can be here.

 Toadally Awesome
$62.45
$55.36
$53.19
Toadally Awesome124750
Set Invasion: Vengeance
Number INOV-EN052
Level 2
Type Xyz/Effect Monster
Monster Aqua
Attribute WATER 
A / D 2200 / 0
Rarity Secret Rare
Card Text

2 Level 2 Aqua-Type monsters
Once per turn, during the Standby Phase: You can detach 1 Xyz Material from this card; Special Summon 1 "Frog" monster from your Deck. Once per turn, during either player's turn, when your opponent activates a Spell/Trap Card, or monster effect: You can send 1 Aqua-Type monster from your hand or face-up from your field to the Graveyard; negate the activation, and if you do, destroy that card, then you can Set it to your field. If this card is sent to the Graveyard: You can target 1 WATER monster in your Graveyard; add it to your hand.


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Second, Paleozoics took longer to arrive in Asia then they did here. While the “Froggezoic” deck was eventually a wild success, it didn't actually appear for months in the OCG, because Japan didn't get their Paleozoics until Extra Pack 2016 launched in September. Even then, it took a while for Paleozoics to catch on. Invasion: Vengeance – named Invasion of Venom in Japan – released in early July, but Paleozics wouldn't arrive for another two months.

That lands us in an interesting situation: the final Paleozoics launched alongside Toadally Awesome in our version of Invasion: Vengeance, so there's no delay here; all the components of the Frog Paleozoic deck arrived together. At the same time, Rescue Rabbit's still Limited – probably for the better – so dedicated Frog decks are tougher to build.

Where did that leave Toadally Awesome on its first tournament weekend? So far four Top 8 deck lists centered on Toadally Awesome have emerged from the last round of Regional Qualifiers, and the gist is that while Toadally Awesome didn't smash the tournament scene the way ABC-Dragon Buster did, nor Blue-Eyes White Dragon before it, all three versions of the strategy made at least one Top 8.

Today I want to take a quick look at each. Toadally Awesome's going to see more play as more copies of the elusive Secret Rare are opened, so you really need to know what works if you want to run it yourself, or at least know what you're up against if you don't.

While it's too small of a sample size to really make blanket statements, as far as logged deck lists are concerned, the most successful Toadally Awesome deck over the weekend was this – Frog Heroes. Which actually contains no Frogs, but I feel like “Awesome Heroes” might be a little ambiguous?

Toadally… Heroes? I don't know. If you feel strongly one way or the other, let me know down in the comments. For now, check out the list.

    Awesome Heroes Raymond Graham    
  Location:  Regional - 2016-11-05 Concord North Carolina - 5th - 8th Place
Main Deck
Side Deck
3 Elemental HERO Bubbleman
3 Elemental HERO Shadow Mist
1 Summoner Monk
3 Tin Goldfish
Monsters [10]
3 A Hero Lives
1 Dark Hole
3 E - Emergency Call
3 Instant Fusion
3 Mask Change
3 Pot of Desires
1 Raigeki
1 Reinforcement of the Army
3 Twin Twisters
Spells [21]
1 Call of the Haunted
2 Floodgate Trap Hole
2 Mask of Restrict
2 Solemn Strike
1 Solemn Warning
1 Vanity's Emptiness
Traps [9]
Deck Total [40]
2 Ally of Justice Cycle Reader
2 Anti-Spell Fragrance
1 Dark Hole
2 Flying "C"
1 Mask Change II
1 Masked HERO Dian
3 Quaking Mirror Force
3 System Down
Side Deck [15]

EXTRA DECK

1 Abyss Dweller
2 Bahamut Shark
1 Castel, the Skyblaster Musketeer
1 Daigusto Emeral
1 Diamond Dire Wolf
1 Elder Entity Norden
1 Masked HERO Acid
2 Masked HERO Dark Law
1 Number 39: Utopia
1 Number S39: Utopia the Lightning
2 Toadally Awesome
1 Traptrix Rafflesia
Extra Deck [15]
Notes:


There are two big ways to Summon Toadally Awesome: you can give it a proper Xyz Summon by actually overlaying a pair of Level 2 Aquas, or you can use any two Level 4 Water monsters to make Bahamut Shark.

Once per turn you can detach an Xyz Material from Bahamut Shark to Special Summon a Rank 3 or lower Water Xyz from your Extra Deck. That means you can Summon Toadally Awesome without Xyz Materials; you won't get to use its Frog-Summoning ability, since that requires Materials, but if you're not running Frogs that's not a problem. You'll still get a free negate-and-swipe effect by sending Toadally Awesome itself to the graveyard, and when you do, you can recover one of the monsters you used to make Bahamut Shark.

Frog Heroes are really good at making that play, because they have a few different ways to field two Level 4 Waters. Raymond Graham topped the North Carolina Regional with the build above, but James Rowland topped with a very similar build in Kansas as well. Both used the same techniques to unleash Bahamut Shark, and the coolest aspect of this new Hero variant is that the deck gives up virtually nothing to get a powerful new control element.

While previous Hero decks ran triple Goblindbergh and Summoner Monks to help Special Summon Level 4's, the new breed drops copies of those to make room for Tin Goldfish. It's an easy trade to make: while Goblindbergh was searchable with cards like Reinforcement of the Army, Tin Goldfish isn't. Instead it's a Water monster, pairing with Elemental Hero Bubbleman or Elder Entity Norden to make Bahamut Shark.

While Summoner Monk won't trigger Tin Goldfish's Special Summon effect – it needs to be Normal Summoned for that to work – both of our Top 8 Hero duelists ran Monk in part to ensure access to it, and Instant Fusion gives access to Norden. That made Bahamut Shark plays really easy, and Rowland even went one step further by adding Number 37: Hope Woven Dragon Spider Shark to his Extra Deck.

How good is Toadally Awesome in this strategy? On its own the Bahamut Shark combo's pretty great. But coupled with Masked HERO Dark Law it's downright nasty, protecting Dark Law while it shuts off your opponent's graveyard and search effects. That's a brutal combo, and it's going to be the centerpiece of Hero strategies going forward.

    Paleozoic Frogs Alfie Danklefsen    
  Location:  Regional - 2016-11-05 Lenexa Kansas - 5th - 8th Place
Main Deck
Side Deck
3 Barrier Statue of the Torrent
3 Dupe Frog
2 Maxx "C"
2 Ronintoadin
3 Swap Frog
Monsters [13]
3 Card of Demise
3 Pot of Desires
1 Raigeki
2 Wetlands
Spells [9]
1 Bottomless Trap Hole
3 Dimensional Barrier
3 Floodgate Trap Hole
3 Paleozoic Canadia
3 Paleozoic Dinomischus
2 Paleozoic Hallucigenia
2 Paleozoic Marrella
3 Paleozoic Olenoides
3 Paleozoic Pikaia
3 Quaking Mirror Force
3 Threatening Roar
1 Vanity's Emptiness
3 Waboku
Traps [33]
Deck Total [55]
3 Anti-Spell Fragrance
2 Dark Hole
2 Full House
3 Gameciel, the Sea Turtle Kaiju
2 Ghost Reaper & Winter Cherries
3 Light-Imprisoning Mirror
Side Deck [15]

EXTRA DECK

1 ABC-Dragon Buster
1 Blue-Eyes Spirit Dragon
1 Cat Shark
1 Daigusto Phoenix
1 Dante, Traveler of the Burning Abyss
1 Number 45: Crumble Logos the Prophet of Demolition
1 Number F0: Utopic Future
2 Paleozoic Anomalocaris
2 Paleozoic Opabinia
1 Sky Cavalry Centaurea
3 Toadally Awesome
Extra Deck [15]
Notes:


On the flipside of the coin, this Paleozoic Frog deck piloted by Alfie Danklefsen at the Kansas Regional Qualifier demonstrated the second common method of Summoning Toadally Awesome: a regular Xyz Summon with two Level 2 Aquas. Stalling with triple Threatening Roar and Waboku, the deck slows things down with a wall of monsters and a long string of disruption effects, then outlasts your opponent by leveraging recurring Level 2's into a range of Rank 2 plays.

Those recurring Level 2's come in two categories, and if you read the deck name you can probably guess that they're Paleozoics and Frogs: you can score a free Paleozoic Level 2 trap monster every time you activate a trap card, once per chain; and you can banish Frogs to revive Ronintoadin again and again. In this deck, that meant Dupe Frog and Swap Frog, both of which have effects that help you gather fodder for Ronintoadin in the first place.

The Rank 2 toolbox falls into a few different categories. Toadally Awesome controls the game along with Number 45: Crumble Logos the Prophet of Demolition and Paleozoic Anomalocaris. Cat Shark, Daigusto Phoenix, and Sky Cavalry Centaurea all push damage. And Paleozoic Opabinia searches the Paleozoic traps you want, when you want them, as well as letting you activate them from your hand. Most of these monsters serve two different purposes or more, but they're generally split between those control, damage, and support roles with some occasional overlap.

The deck wins games faster than you might suspect, especially when Wetlands gets involved with its 1200 ATK bonus. You've got a ton of removal power between your Rank 2's and the effect of Paleozoic Dinomischus, but the position-shifting effect of Paleozoic Canadia and the stat-halving ability of Paleozoic Hallucigenia help you push through troublesome monsters as well.

Add the preventative disruption of Dimensional Barrier, as well as the flexible control of Floodgate Trap Hole and Quaking Mirror Force, and you've got a deck that can limit your opponent's Summons, eliminate their monsters, and then sweep the game in one or two turns.

With nothing but Water monsters in the Main Deck you can even run Barrier Statue of the Torrent. Thirty traps makes it incredibly easy to set everything you draw with Card of Demise, and since there aren't any key monsters you absolutely must see to win, you can run Pot of Desires risk-free. It's a smart, resilient strategy that manages a ton of variety and options despite a strong element of redundancy, and Alfie Danklefsen's Top 8 finish is likely just the beginning of a strong run for the deck.

    Frog Mermails Devon Wilson    
  Location:  Regional - 2016-11-06 Providence Rhode Island - 5th - 8th Place
Main Deck
Side Deck
2 Atlantean Dragoons
2 Atlantean Heavy Infantry
2 Atlantean Marksman
1 Deep Sea Diva
2 Dupe Frog
3 Gameciel, the Sea Turtle Kaiju
2 Maxx "C"
1 Mermail Abyssgunde
3 Mermail Abyssmegalo
1 Mermail Abysspike
3 Mermail Abyssteus
1 Moulinglacia the Elemental Lord
3 Neptabyss, the Atlantean Prince
2 Ronintoadin
3 Swap Frog
Monsters [31]
1 Abyss-scale of the Mizuchi
3 Instant Fusion
2 Moray of Greed
1 One for One
1 Raigeki
1 Soul Charge
1 Twin Twisters
Spells [10]
1 Vanity's Emptiness
Traps [1]
Deck Total [42]
2 Anti-Spell Fragrance
2 Forbidden Chalice
2 Ghost Ogre & Snow Rabbit
2 Royal Decree
2 Shadow-Imprisoning Mirror
1 Solemn Warning
3 System Down
1 Twin Twisters
Side Deck [15]

EXTRA DECK

1 Abyss Dweller
1 Bahamut Shark
1 Castel, the Skyblaster Musketeer
1 Cat Shark
1 Coral Dragon
1 Elder Entity Norden
1 Herald of the Arc Light
1 Leo, the Keeper of the Sacred Tree
1 Mecha Phantom Beast Dracossack
1 Mermail Abyssgaios
1 Number 11: Big Eye
1 Tatsunoko
2 Toadally Awesome
1 Trishula, Dragon of the Ice Barrier
Extra Deck [15]
Notes:


The Frog Mermail deck is cool because it combines both of those approaches into one: it's got Level 4 Water monsters like Mermail Abysspike and Atlantean Dragoons to play with Elder Entity Norden to make Bahamut Shark, and it's got Level 2 Frogs to Xyx Summon Toadally Awesome directly.

The deck works because of the synergies between its two halves: you can discard extra Frogs you don't need to Special Summon Mermail Abyssmegalo and Mermail Abyssteus, you can pitch a useless Frog for Mermail Abysspike, or you can cycle them back into the deck to draw replacements with Moray of Greed. Swap Frog and Ronintoadin help you build and constrain your graveyard, making it easier to Summon Moulinglacia the Elemental Lord, and so on and so on.

The result is essentially the same explosive go-second-and-go-off OTK deck that was scoring Top Cut finishes before Toadally Awesome, but with better access to Cat Shark to make one-turn wins, and a newfound resilience thanks to the Frog element. Ever since the summer WCQ season, Atlantean Mermails have been one of the most successful glass cannon decks in the game. High-risk and high-reward, Mermails could go second and hammer clean through decks like Burning Phantom Knights and ABC-Dragon Buster.

But now, that OTK aspect is bolstered by a strong control element, and suddenly the cannon's not made of glass anymore. The deck's even faster, and at the same time it can now weather a beating and mount the occasional comeback. If you've been ignoring Atlantean Mermails so far this format, you might need to give the matchup more credit. And if you've been interested in playing the deck yourself but you couldn't rationalize the risk-reward proposition, now's your chance to give the deck a shot.

Paleozoics, Heroes, and Mermails all saw some Top Cut play before Invasion: Vengeance, but Toadally Awesome elevates those strategies to new heights. While we may not see a dedicated Frog deck without Rescue Rabbit, Awesome's a game-changer for these three decks, and you can expect to see more of them in Top 8's and Top 32's moving forward. Keep an eye on the deck archive next week to see what impact Toadally Awesome has in its second weekend out; I don't think it's going to disappoint.

-Jason Grabher-Meyer


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