Competitive Corner: Patrick Hobanís Frog Mermails

Doug Zeeff

11/22/2016 11:00:00 AM

It's hard to ignore Patrick Hoban's impact on Yu-Gi-Oh. He's topped over 30 events and won several of them. He's also revolutionized standard lists for popular decks time and time again. Recently, he took leave of absence from most Yu-Gi-Oh events that lasted nearly half a year, but he's done pretty well for himself so far in the short time he's been back. Hoban topped a Regional Qualifer with Hero Burning Phantom Knights back in October, a deck choice he made solely because he already knew how to play Burning Abyss and wouldn't need to do a lot of testing to slip back into competition.

This past weekend Hoban went to the first of three events he'll be attending in the coming weeks: ARG Circuit Series Charlotte. He managed to make it all the way to Top 4 with Frog Mermails, using a build that looked alot like the decks he topped previous YCS and ARGCS events with, like this one from Las Vegas in 2013.

His previous experience was a huge part of his decision to play Frog Mermails. Post event, Hoban remarked that he thought Metalfoes were the better choice, but he didn't have enough time to learn the deck to his satisfaction. Circuit Series events usually have a higher concentration of truly competitive players than your average YCS, so Hoban knew he'd be stuck in a ton of mirror matches if he played Metalfoes. The Metalfoes mirror is often decided by who knows their deck better, so Hoban anticipated that he'd be at a disadvantage.

But in classic Hoban-style, he took the generic Frog Mermail deck and made some key adjustments to optimize it. Take a look at what he played.

    Frog Mermails Patrick Hoban    
  Location:  ARGCS - 2016-11-20 Charlotte North Carolina - 3rd - 4th Place
Main Deck
Side Deck
3 Aqua Spirit
2 Atlantean Dragoons
1 Atlantean Heavy Infantry
1 Atlantean Marksman
1 Deep Sea Diva
2 Mermail Abyssgunde
1 Mermail Abysshilde
1 Mermail Abyssmander
3 Mermail Abyssmegalo
1 Mermail Abyssocea
2 Mermail Abysspike
3 Mermail Abyssteus
1 Mermail Abyssturge
1 Moulinglacia the Elemental Lord
3 Neptabyss, the Atlantean Prince
1 Ronintoadin
3 Swap Frog
Monsters [30]
3 Instant Fusion
1 One for One
3 Pot of Desires
1 Soul Charge
1 Upstart Goblin
Spells [9]
1 Abyss-sphere
Traps [1]
Deck Total [40]
3 Anti-Spell Fragrance
1 Atlantean Heavy Infantry
1 Atlantean Marksman
3 Gameciel, the Sea Turtle Kaiju
2 Maxx "C"
1 Number 80: Rhapsody in Berserk
3 Twin Twisters
1 Vanity's Emptiness
Side Deck [15]


1 Abyss Dweller
2 Bahamut Shark
1 Castel, the Skyblaster Musketeer
1 Elder Entity Norden
1 Leo, the Keeper of the Sacred Tree
1 Mechquipped Angineer
1 Mermail Abyssgaios
1 Number 101: Silent Honor ARK
1 Number 39: Utopia
1 Number S39: Utopia the Lightning
1 Tatsunoko
3 Toadally Awesome
Extra Deck [15]

Most, if not all Atlantean Mermail decks that have topped this month aimed to Summon Bahamut Shark as early as possible. Once you get it to the field you can bring out Toadally Awesome, currently one of the best Xyz in the game. There are plenty of Level 4 Waters to make Bahamut Shark with, and players have been searching for new ways to reach their ideal fields consistently.

One of the biggest difference makers here is Mermail Abyssmander, which we've seen a few times in the past. While Abyssmander's in the graveyard you can banish it to boost all your Mermails by 1 or 2 Levels. There are several combos hinging on that effect, but the most common sees you start with Mermail Abyssteus, Aqua Spirit, and any Water:

-Discard to Special Summon Mermail Abyssteus, searching Mermail Abyssocea.

-Normal Summon Abyssocea, sending Abyssteus to the graveyard to bring out Mermail Abyssmander with any Level 3 Mermail.

-Banish Abyssteus from your graveyard to Special Summon Aqua Spirit from your hand.

-Overlay Aqua Spirit and Abyssmander for Bahamut Shark, detaching Abyssmander to Special Summon Toadally Awesome.

-Banish Abyssmander from your graveyard to make your two Mermails Level 4.

-Overlay for a second Bahamut Shark, and then bring out another Toadally Awesome.

While it's only technically a +1 in card economy, it's extremely hard to deal with two copies of Toadally Awesome. Since it negates and steals cards, it effectively turns every negation into a +2. However, it's worth noting that Hoban said post event that he didn't use that play as often as he thought he would, and he was unsure if he'd play the necessary combo pieces going forward. Banishing Abyssmander or Abyssocea from your deck with Pot of Desires messes up the combo too, so that's something to consider.

 Toadally Awesome
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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One thing Hoban did that I'm a huge fan of is run actual Frogs. Three Swap Frog and one Ronintoaden help out his first turn plays, and get him to Toadally Awesome even more often than a regular Atlantean Mermail list. A single Swap Frog makes Toadally Awesome as long as you have another Water to discard, and that's a difference maker when you're going first with five cards.

I say that because Hoban made sure to note that while most players think Atlantean Mermails want to go second, he actually found the opposite to be true. Cards like Solemn Strike, ABC-Buster Dragon, and Fullmetalfoes Alkahest are nearly impossible to deal with without taking huge losses in card economy. By prioritizing combo cards like Swap Frog and Mermail Abyssteus it's clear that if he wins the die roll he's going first.

That also explains why Hoban was running such a slim Atlantean lineup, reminiscent of his build from 2013 with two Atlantean Marksman, one Atlantean Dragoons, and no Atlantean Heavy Infantry. Now he's playing the standard three Atlantean Prince Neptabyss and two Atlantean Dragoons, but only one copy of Heavy Infantry and Marksman. Those two do absolutely nothing when you're going first other than get discarded for Swap Frog, Abyssteus, and Abyssmegalo, so he wanted to minimize the chances of drawing them.

And sure, there's one more copy of each in his Side Deck, but he said that he rarely wanted more than two total copies of Marksman or Heavy Infantry in his main. He'd merely swap out whichever one was worse against whatever deck he was facing to have better discards.

What's Missing
If you've been paying attention to Atlantean Mermail lists this past month, you might have noticed two cards that really stand out as not appearing in Hoban's build. The first is Abyss-scale of the Mizuchi, the search of choice for Mermail Abyssmegalo. Mizuchi gives a Mermail 800 ATK, and it negates the first spell that your opponent plays. Hoban dropped it completely for Abyss-sphere even though he's opted out of Mermail Abysslinde. In his eyes, Mizuchi doesn't add anything to his deck; it's a complete brick. Abyss-scale advances your game position and provides defense in a pinch, so that's what he went with instead.

Maybe a bigger upset, though, is the lack of Moray of Greed. At this point, more Regional topping lists are using at least one Moray than not, so it's interesting to see Hoban not run it. Moray of Greed can put back cards like Mermail Abyssmander, Mermail Abyssocea, and dead Atlanteans, and then give you three cards for your troubles.

If I had to take a guess, there were probably a few factors that let Hoban to pass on it. The most obvious one is that he's playing a 40-card deck with triple Pot of Desires and Upstart Goblin, whereas the builds with Moray of Greed usually run more than 40 cards.

 Upstart Goblin
Upstart Goblin67065
Set Legendary Collection 3: Yugi's World
Number LCYW-EN265
Type Spell Card
Attribute SPELL 
Rarity Ultra Rare
Card Text

Draw 1 card, then your opponent gains 1000 Life Points.

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The other way of thinking could be that since Hoban's cut back on the dead draws as much as possible, he simply shouldn't ever draw two dead Waters anyways. The only true bricks going first are Mermail Abyssmander, Atlantean Heavy Infantry, and Atlantean Marksman. The odds of opening with two of those and Moray of Greed is quite slim to say the least. By building a better deck from the ground up, he's removed the need for a card like Moray of Greed. I'm interested to see if other players will follow suit.

Hoban wasn't shy to point out that he doesn't think Frog Mermails are necessarily the best deck. His losses were mostly to ABC-Buster Dragon, and that's arguably the best and most popular strategy of the format. While Frog Mermails have a ton of powerful openings, they're always going to be slightly less consistent than decks like Metalfoes or ABC's because you have to open with a specific combinations of cards.

He also said that his Side Deck was pretty much thrown together because he didn't have time to test it properly. I wouldn't be surprised if Hoban either switched his Side Deck or changed to Metalfoes for YCS Anaheim, but there's no way of knowing until next weekend.

Overall, it's great to see Hoban getting back into the flow of the game, and making Top 4 at an event with a new take on an up-and-coming strategy!

-Doug Zeeff

Doug Zeeff hails from Michigan and is currently an English major in college. When he's not found emailing Konami about why there's not a single walrus card in all of Yu-Gi-Oh! you can find him regularly posting unorthodox, unfiltered semi-Yu-Gi-Oh! related content on his Youtube channel, Dzeeff. In his spare time he enjoys eating cheese, Overwatch, and, of course, playing Yu-Gi-Oh. Click here to follow him and his adventures on Facebook!

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