Competitive Corner: Brian Serio’s 9th Place SPYRALs

Jason Grabher-Meyer

11/25/2016 11:00:00 AM
 Comments

I got a lot of requests to write on this deck. But you know what? I would've written on it even if I hadn't.

Sometimes a deck comes along that's just so cool, and so smartly assembled, that I can't wait to discuss it even if it didn't quite make a top cut. The SPYRAL theme's been anchored on a handful of promising effects for a while; the theme got off to a promising start, and received more good looking support on its second outing in Invasion: Vengeance. But in the era of ABC-Dragon Buster, Metalfoes, and Toadally Awesome, it's tough for half-released themes with only a handful of cards to compete.

The latest SPYRAL support debuted to sort of lukewarm reactions, which was a bit of a surprise to me because all those cards are grounded in strong card economy and offer flexible effects. The problem isn't that the new INOV cards were bad: it's that they had poor positioning, especially against a couple key cards like ABC-Dragon Buster.

Charming Resort Staff's a strong recruiter that gets you to your key card, SPYRAL Super Agent… but only if it's destroyed, and not banished by Dragon Buster. SPYRAL Master Plan's even better, searching SPYRAL Resort and a SPYRAL monster when it's sent from the field to the graveyard… but not if it's banished by Dragon Buster.

Both cards are a little slow, too, a factor that hampers SPYRAL MISSION – Assault as well. Add the threat of cards like Majespecter Unicorn – Kirin and Paleozoic Dinomischus, and you wound up with a bunch of obviously solid cards that just weren't a good fit for current competition. Even the new SPYRAL Resort wasn't good enough to keep the full SPYRAL strategy viable.

 SPYRAL Super Agent
$15.00
$3.93
$1.81
SPYRAL Super Agent121342
Set The Dark Illusion
Number TDIL-EN086
Level 4
Type Effect Monster
Monster Warrior
Attribute EARTH 
A / D 1900 / 1200
Rarity Ultra Rare
Card Text

If this card is in your hand: You can declare 1 card type (Monster, Spell, or Trap); reveal the top card of your opponent's Deck, and if you do, Special Summon this card if it is a card of that type. If this card is Special Summoned by the effect of a "SPYRAL" card: You can target 1 Spell/Trap Card your opponent controls; destroy it. You can only use each effect of "SPYRAL Super Agent" once per turn.


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So flash forward to last weekend, and all of a sudden Brian Serio came within inches of a Regional Top 8 with a dedicated SPYRAL deck.

How did he do it? By just straight-up ignoring those three misfit SPYRAL cards, and riding simple interactions between the four original SPYRALs to victory. While three of those four new cards may've been misplaced in today's competitive landscape, one was a clear hit, and Serio figured out the winning approach: the original SPYRAL cards were always the kind of cards Top Cut dreams are made of, and the only missing piece of the puzzle was SPYRAL Resort, which was singlehandedly good enough to make SPYRALs a Regional contender.

The SPYRAL deck takes a really unique approach to competition, and if you're not familiar with how the strategy works it's easy to misunderstand. When Serio's deck first started making the rounds there was a lot of confusion about how he actually won, but the gameplan's simpler than it looks. The devil's in the details and since we're only talking about five cards I want to cover each one.

First up, SPYRAL Super Agent. At 1900 ATK, you can Special Summon it from your hand by correctly guessing if the top card of your opponent's deck is a monster, spell, or trap. Whenever Super Agent's Special Summoned, whether you Special Summon it with that effect or something else, it can pop an opposing spell or trap card for an instant +1 of card economy. Super Agent goes hand in hand with SPYRAL GEAR – Drone, and together they make the deck's win condition. Everything else serves to support those two cards.

When you Normal Summon or Special Summon Drone, you get to look at your opponent's top three cards and rearrange them. That lets you stick your opponent with a potentially mismatched or even useless card, and you set yourself up to Special Summon Super Agent. Once SPYRAL GEAR – Drone's in play, you can tribute it on either player's turn, target one of your SPYRAL monsters, and boost the target by 500 ATK for each card on your opponent's field. In addition, you can banish Drone from your graveyard to get back a fallen Super Agent from your graveyard.

 SPYRAL GEAR - Drone
$1.37
$0.30
$0.10
SPYRAL GEAR - Drone121344
Set The Dark Illusion
Number TDIL-EN088
Level 1
Type Effect Monster
Monster Machine
Attribute WIND 
A / D 100 / 100
Rarity Rare
Card Text

If this card is Normal or Special Summoned: You can look at the top 3 cards of your opponent's Deck, and if you do, place them on top of their Deck in any order. During either player's turn: You can Tribute this card, then target 1 "SPYRAL" monster you control; it gains 500 ATK for each card your opponent controls. You can banish this card and 1 "SPYRAL" card from your Graveyard, then target 1 "SPYRAL Super Agent" in your Graveyard; add it your hand.


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There are two details you might've just missed. First, Drone's tribute-to-boost ability is Spell Speed 2. That means you can Normal Summon it, rearrange your opponent's deck, use that information to Special Summon SPYRAL Super Agent, and when it hits play its destruction effect will trigger. When that effect activates you'll target a spell or trap card to destroy, but you can then chain Drone's effect and tribute it off before Super Agent destroys its mark. So if your opponent controls three cards, you can target one with Super Agent, tribute Drone on the chain, boost Super Agent with all three cards for a total of 1500 ATK, and then destroy the card you targeted.

Even better, Drone's ATK boost is permanent, and that's the key factor. The entire point of this deck is to boost up a Super Agent a couple times and swing for game. If that takes more than one turn to accomplish that's fine, because Super Agent will keep all of its ATK boosts and then swing just as hard next time. So all you have to do is put together the combo and defend Super Agent long enough to win with it. It's not uncommon to see Super Agents with 8000 ATK or more, and the entire point of the deck is to establish one big Super Agent and protect it, or throw several of them at your opponent until they're out of answers.

That's where the other SPYRAL cards come in. SPYRAL GEAR – Big Red revives a SPYRAL monster from your graveyard, equips it, and keeps it from being destroyed in battle. It can bring back a Super Agent and stop it from being destroyed, or revive a Drone for another ATK boost.

SPYRAL Quick-Fix searches a Big Red or a Drone from your deck whenever it's Normal Summoned or Special Summoned. If it's in your graveyard and you control Super Agent, you can discard any card to Special Summon Quick-Fix and get another search. Quick-Fix and Drone are both compatible with Machine Duplication, and a combo of Super Agent, Drone, and Duplication is often an OTK. The option to pair Duplication with Quick-Fix keeps Duplication live when you've already run through your Drones.

Finally, INOV's new SPYRAL Resort holds it all together. It stops your opponent from targeting your other SPYRAL cards, so it compliments Big Red's protection from battle and makes it ludicrously tough for a lot of decks to eliminate Super Agent. Once per turn, SPYRAL Resort searches you a SPYRAL monster as well, getting you to that Super Agent and Drone combo.

There are some built-in drawbacks to keep everything under control, and a big part of Serio's success involved breaking those restrictions. Most important: you need to shuffle a monster from your graveyard into your deck in each of your End Phases, or SPYRAL Resort destroys itself. That's tricky because you'll often want to banish a used SPYRAL GEAR – Drone plus another SPYRAL to get back a Super Agent with Drone's effect. And while Quick-Fix's “discard to revive me” ability is great, it banishes itself if it goes to the graveyard once you revive it that way.

So it's tough to keep SPYRAL Resort on the field if you play it on Turn 1, before you get a chance to place monsters into your graveyard. And while you want to keep it on the field as long as possible to protect your Super Agent, and to keep searching free stuff, it conflicts with two of your most important cards.

How did Serio play around that? Take a look at his build and we'll discuss the different ways he managed it.

    SPYRAL Brian Serio    
  Location:  Regional - 2016-11-20 Rosemont Illinois - 9th - 16th Place
Main Deck
Side Deck
2 Ghost Ogre & Snow Rabbit
2 Maxx "C"
1 Speedroid Taketomborg
3 Speedroid Terrortop
3 SPYRAL GEAR - Drone
3 SPYRAL Quik-Fix
3 SPYRAL Super Agent
Monsters [17]
3 Machine Duplication
1 One for One
1 Raigeki
3 SPYRAL GEAR - Big Red
3 SPYRAL Resort
2 Terraforming
2 Twin Twisters
1 Upstart Goblin
Spells [16]
1 Bottomless Trap Hole
3 Solemn Strike
1 Solemn Warning
2 Storming Mirror Force
Traps [7]
Deck Total [40]
2 Anti-Spell Fragrance
2 Effect Veiler
2 Flying "C"
2 Lava Golem
3 Light-Imprisoning Mirror
2 System Down
2 Unwavering Bond
Side Deck [15]

EXTRA DECK

1 Abyss Dweller
1 Castel, the Skyblaster Musketeer
1 Dante, Traveler of the Burning Abyss
1 Downerd Magician
1 Ghostrick Dullahan
1 Leviair the Sea Dragon
1 M-X-Saber Invoker
1 Number 30: Acid Golem of Destruction
1 Number 39: Utopia
1 Number 54: Lion Heart
1 Number S39: Utopia the Lightning
1 Slacker Magician
1 Super Quantal Mech Beast Grampulse
1 The Phantom Knights of Break Sword
1 Totem Bird
Extra Deck [15]
Notes:

Sergio took 9th Place at the Regional


The spell and trap lineups are basically what you'd expect, minus SPYRAL MISSION – Assault. Machine Duplication, One for One, Terraforming, SPYRAL Resort, and Upstart Goblin are all about getting you to the cards that make you win. Raigeki and Twin Twisters clear the way for your attacks, and SPYRAL GEAR – Big Red offers resilience and protection. The traps are just simple removal.

But the monster lineup is where the money is. By slimming down on mismatched SPYRAL cards, Serio made room for two suites of monsters that a lot of SPYRAL decks don't run: hand traps and Speedroids. And that's a bigger deal than it might seem.

Hand traps are always good these days; Maxx "C" slows down most strategies or at least gives you more chances to draw into combos, while Ghost Ogre & Snow Rabbit can destroy problematic cards on your opponent's turn, before they cause problems on yours.

And that's great, but the really cool thing was that Serio could play hand traps early and load cards to his graveyard by doing so. SPYRAL Resort doesn't need to shuffle back a SPYRAL monster every turn to stay on the field – any monster is fine. So if Serio went second and pitched a hand trap on his opponent's turn, he could play SPYRAL Resort on his turn, without restricting his use of SPYRAL GEAR – Drone or SPYRAL Quick-Fix. That's a big deal; it means he got to use all of his best cards whenever he wanted, cheating their drawbacks.

The Speedroids accomplish something similar, while also bringing a Rank 3 toolbox into the mix. Serio played seven Rank 3's total: The Phantom Knights of Break Sword and Super Quantal Mech Beast Grampulse were more removal; Totem Bird gave him something to do on Turn 1 going first, shutting out stuff like Union Hangar; M-X-Saber Invoker could set up SPYRAL Super Agent in a pitch, prepping for SPYRAL GEAR – Big Red; Leviair the Sea Dragon could Special Summon back monsters banished with Quick-Fix's ability, or the effect of Drone; and Dante, Traveler of the Burning Abyss was an alternative opening that could place a monster in the graveyard to keep a Turn 1 Resort on the table.

That interaction with SPYRAL Resort is particularly awesome, because you can play Speedroid Terrortop and Speedroid Taketomborg for a Rank 3, detach Taketomborg, and shuffle it back with Resort in the End Phase. That kept his next two Terrortops totally live, solving the only real caveat of playing Speedroids.

Meanwhile the Rank 3 toolbox offered longevity, troubleshooting, and Turn 1 plays to a strategy that often runs out of steam, bumps into things it can't OTK over, and often hates going first. The Speedroids are even better here than they are elsewhere, which is really kind of a horrifying thing to write.

 SPYRAL Resort
$1.49
$0.40
$0.13
SPYRAL Resort124806
Set Invasion: Vengeance
Number INOV-EN089
Type Field Spell Card
Attribute SPELL 
Rarity Super Rare
Card Text

Your opponent cannot target other "SPYRAL" cards you control with card effects. Once per turn: You can add 1 "SPYRAL" monster from your Deck to your hand. Once per turn, during your End Phase, sh


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With an understanding of the core strategy as well as Serio's customizations, the next big point of discussion is obvious: matchups. Serio and other competitive SPYRAL players have largely remarked that the deck eats Metalfoes alive, but struggles with ABC's and Toadally Awesome variants.

Metalfoes are really poorly positioned to tackle this strategy. The expected Metalfoes backrow has no defense beyond Vanity's Emptiness, so there's nothing to stop the SPYRAL player from going off. At the same time, those dud backrow cards combined with on-field Pendulum Spells means a single SPYRAL GEAR – Drone is often pumping SPYRAL Super Agent by 2000 to 3000 ATK. And since the deck Summons monsters into attack mode really recklessly, it's often really easy to hammer damage over a Pendulum or Fusion Monster and win in one or two turns.

SPYRAL Super Agent's destruction ability peels apart Pendulum Scales, and the Drone's stacking effect can ensure that your opponent never puts their field back together. Metalfoes Orichalc, Metalfoes Mithrilium, and Fullmetalfoes Alkahest all have abilities that can take Super Agent of the table, but none of them work when you're protecting Super Agent with SPYRAL Resort. Outlier answers like Castel, the Skyblaster Musketeer can't touch it either.

So the Metalfoes matchup is really good. But ABC-Dragon Buster and Toadally Awesome can be tougher, since Dragon Buster can eliminate SPYRAL Resort on your turn, break into three monsters, and then wreak havoc the following turn. Meanwhile Toadally Awesome can preempt your combo and keep you from ever getting things into GEAR in the first place.

I'm going to die, cold and alone in pun hell.

But the answer seems really simple: throw some Kaijus at it. Even this version of SPYRALs will often win if an ABC player makes the pretty standard move of de-fusing their ABC-Dragon Buster before your Main Phase 2 to avoid the threat of Gameciel, the Sea Turtle Kaiju, because if you're facing three monsters instead of one, that's a minimum 1500 ATK boost for SPYRAL Super Agent.

Add 500 ATK for Union Hangar and 500 ATK more for something like Bujintei Tsukuyomi, and suddenly you're looking at a SPYRAL Super Agent with 4400 ATK. Your opponent can either feed you a huge ATK bonus or lose to Gameciel anyways, which would contribute ATK to Drone's effect as well.

Kaiju would answer Toadally Awesome too, breaking its control over the game while offering a direct line to your opponent's Life Points. While Raigeki and Storming Mirror Force are both solid against ABC-Dragon Buster, I could easily see giving them up for a trio of Kaiju. You'd do just as well if not better against ABC's, and you'd vastly boost the deck's odds against Toadally Awesome.

This kind of SPYRAL deck has a ton of potential right now, especially because people still have no idea how it works. If you try this in a tournament yourself, be prepared for your opponents to misplay as they try to target Super Agent while you control SPYRAL Resort. They won't know SPYRAL GEAR – Drone's boost is permanent, they'll try to destroy monsters in battle when they have Big Red equipped, and they'll underestimate the sheer amount of chaos you'll cause with Drone's stacking effect.

Right now, SPYRALs are the ultimate underdog strategy and they've got everything going for them. If you've already got Solemn Strikes, Twin Twisters, and Terrortops, there's nothing here that's gonna break the bank – there's really no need for Pot of Desires, since it conflicts with Machine Duplication. I wouldn't be surprised to see SPYRALs hit a Top Cut this weekend, and if you've been looking for the right time to give the deck a go, that time is definitely now.

-Jason Grabher-Meyer


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