Siding For: Paleozoic Frogs

Kelly Locke

12/13/2016 11:02:00 AM

Paleozoics started showing up at Regionals immediately once they got the second half of their support in Invasion: Vengeance. They've remained a popular competitive strategy since, and continue to challenge the game's best decks at every level of competition.

YCS Anaheim really solidified Paleozoics as a serious championship-level strategy. Five Paleozoic Frog players made the Top 32, and Michael State took his build all the way to the finals. State's performance alone was enough for the final holdouts on this deck to take interest, but by that point in the night it was clear that Paleozoics were more than just a flavor of the month theme. November was dominated by ABC's and Metalfoes, yet Paleozoics weren't far behind. It's not a stretch to consider it one of the leading decks to beat this format.

Of course, Paleozoics owe much of their success to Toadally Awesome. I've already discussed siding for Toadally Awesome in a previous article, and I'm not sure much has changed since then. My article emphasized siding cards with high utility to cover all decks that might be playing Toadally, because at the time Paleozoics were no more common than Lightsworns, Mermails, or Heroes. That appeared to be the case at YCS Anaheim with the exception of Lightsworns. Public access to Minerva, the Exalted Lightsworn is still skewing results a bit.

I'm not seeing any evidence of changes post-Anaheim. If anything, Paleozoics are topping more in line with other Toadally Awesome strategies. That said, there's one thing that's worth noting from my previous article: I wrote it under the assumption that Paleozoics were a rogue strategy. That's not the case anymore, and I think the shift warrants a full discussion on how to side for the match-up.

That brings us to this week's topic: how to side for Paleozoic Frogs.

Super-Ancient Deep Sea Traps
The entire Main Deck line-up of Paleozoics consists of trap cards that double as monsters. Each trap contributes to a toolbox of useful effects; most are some form of removal, like Paleozoic Dinomischus' targeted banishing. The Paleozoic traps are a bit lackluster on their own, but their activated effects are largely a bonus. Their Summoning effects are what really make them worthwhile.

When a trap's activated while a Paleozoic is in your graveyard you can Summon Special Summon it as a Level 2, Water Aqua-type. That's super useful for Rank 2 plays, and it fits the criteria for Toadally Awesome. Adding another Rank 2 engine to the mix gives the deck enough speed and Xyz power to keep up with the game's best strategies. The two Xyz Monsters, Paleozoic Anomalocaris and Paleozoic Opabinia, can be Xyz Summoned with any two Paleozoics or Frogs, as can Toadally Awesome.

Paleozoics combine interrupting card effects with recurring Level 2 monsters to create a powerful Rank 2 stun strategy. Early game simplification with Paleozoic Dinomischus and Paleozoic Olenoides quickly takes cards out of the game, but those Paleozoics won't stay in the graveyard for long. Paleozoic players can quickly build momentum and card advantage by Summoning their traps from the graveyard alongside Ronintoadin. From there, converting those monsters to Rank 2's like Toadally Awesome puts the deck on a clear path to victory. Paleozoics thrive in the late game, but their early game set-ups are just as dangerous.

 Denko Sekka
Denko Sekka94557
Set The New Challengers
Number NECH-EN041
Level 4
Type Effect Monster
Monster Thunder
Attribute LIGHT 
A / D 1700 / 1000
Rarity Ultra Rare
Card Text

Cannot be Special Summoned. While you control no Set Spell/Trap Cards, neither player can Set Spell/Trap Cards nor activate Spell/Trap Cards that are Set on the field.

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This match-up alone has brought Denko Sekka back into Side Decks as players look for answers to a backrow-heavy strategy. Paleozoics are playing around thirty traps, so you have to be able to deal with big Spell and Trap Card Zones. You'll typically see openings of three to four set cards with Toadally Awesome and Dupe Frog. That board's tough to break no matter what you're bringing to the table, but Denko Sekka makes your life a little easier by taking those traps out of the equation.

Denko Sekka makes the interrupting Paleozoic traps irrelevant. The only thing Denko fears is Solemn Warning, but the odds of running into a Limited trap are relatively slim. That said, Breakthrough Skill could negate Denko on your turn, so be aware that you're operating on borrowed time. There are a few things you can do while your opponent's under Denko Sekka's effect: you can start attempting to clear backrow, try to push for game immediately, or play it safe and set up with cards that don't interfere with Denko's effect.

I'm not a big fan of waiting things out; especially in this match-up where your opponent isn't bothered by heading into the late game. The last thing you want to do is give your opponent more time to find an out to your sided card, and most likely they'll be trying to destroy your Denko Sekka with whatever Xyz they have on the field from the start of their turn.

Paleozoic Opabinia complicates your play with Denko Sekka a bit more. Its effect lets your opponent activate Paleozoic traps from their hand, and there's no chance your opponent won't hold onto an out to Denko. Optimistically it's somewhat rare to open with both Opabinia and Toadally Awesome, so seeing a Paleozoic Xyz might make the rest of your hand more viable. The odds are in your favor here as it's more likely that you won't open Denko Sekka. In that case, Opabinia is preempting a sided card that you might not even draw.

I mentioned this in my Toadally Awesome article, and it's worth repeating here: Denko Sekka will prevent your opponent from setting a card they negated with Toadally's effect. That's kinda useful if you absolutely have to bait it, and unfortunately that comes up more often than not. Also, this interaction isn't particularly relevant if you know you'll be pushing for game on the same turn you Summon Denko.

Going Slightly More Retro
Wiretap's also making a fresh appearance in competitive play. Michael State sided two copies in his Paleozoics to answer Dimensional Barrier, Solemn Strike, and Solemn Judgement. Wiretap is also great against Paleozoic traps since it shuffles the negated card back into the deck. It's too fast for a Paleozoic to chain to and keeps the graveyard low on potential Level 2 monsters. Wiretap also dodges any negation attempt from Toadally Awesome and can negate a Paleozoic trap activated from the hand.

Wiretap's a smart choice for a slow, already trap-heavy strategy like Paleozoics, but what about other decks? It's harder to recommend Wiretap unless you're going first, and in that case you might be better off with Dimensional Barrier. Stopping Xyz plays will make your opponent's Extra Deck irrelevant and leave them with nothing but weak monsters and a decent backrow to keep them safe. Dimensional Barrier's not a long-term solution though, and Paleozoics play plenty of cards to block or punish attacks for a few turns to draw things out.

 Twin Twisters
Twin Twisters122518
Set 2016 Mega-Tins Mega Pack
Number MP16-EN221
Type Spell Card
Attribute SPELL 
Rarity Super Rare
Card Text

Discard 1 card, then target up to 2 Spell/Trap Cards on the field; destroy them.

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That brings us to Twin Twisters and other backrow removal effects. Twin Twisters definitely has a lot of value in this match-up, but Cosmic Cyclone might be slightly better, banishing its targets to keep them out of the graveyard. Is that enough reason to play it over Twin Twisters? Maybe not, but there are other advantages to Cosmic Cyclone in Pendulum match-ups where banishing a Pendulum Spell is far more effective than simply destroying it. Cyclone saw play in Justin Tam's Majespecter Metalfoes at YCS Anaheim and continues to show up frequently in Regional lists.

There are a couple of old-school picks that work as viable alternatives to Denko Sekka. Royal Decree's a solid option that can be played ahead of Toadally Awesome, forcing your opponent to Summon something other than Toadally Awesome. It's a great choice if Frogs are your biggest concern. Jinzo's being played in Metalfoes because it's so easy to Pendulum Summon. Unlike Denko Sekka, Jinzo still lets you activate your Metalfoes Pendulum effects. The trade-off is that it's much more vulnerable to Solemn Strike since you'll typically be Special Summoning it. However, if you have the tribute fodder available it's easily the best choice here for an anti-trap floodgate. Infernoids, Burning Abyss, and Monarchs should look no further than Jinzo.

Taking Aim At Frogs
You can also side specifically against the Frog engine. Chain Disappearance, Power Filter, and Chaos Hunter can easily fit into your Side Deck for this match-up even if they do nothing to stop the Paleozoics. Chain Disappearance banishes any Frog and all other copies of it in the deck, which may leave your opponent with very few Frogs at their disposal. Hitting Ronintoadin might give you a look at your opponent's hand if they're only playing two copies. That insight into your opponent's hand, combined with banishing a key monster, makes winning the duel from there very easy.

Power Filter stops Frogs from hitting the field at all. And the Band Played On works too and has a bit better match-up utility. Neither card is seeing a lot of play right now thanks to Twin Twisters. Chaos Hunter isn't afraid of backrow removal and still stops Ronintoadin from being Summoned. Elvis Vu nearly sided it at YCS Anaheim while playing against Michael State before sticking with Twin Twisters.

 Chaos Hunter
Chaos Hunter39235
Set Storm of Ragnarok
Number STOR-EN085
Level 7
Type Effect Monster
Monster Fiend
Attribute DARK 
A / D 2500 / 1600
Rarity Secret Rare
Card Text

When your opponent Special Summons a monster, you can discard 1 card to Special Summon this card from your hand. Your opponent cannot remove cards from play.

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Chaos Hunter actually helps Paleozoics by keeping them in the graveyard after they leave the field, but it stops a key part of the Frog engine at the worst possible time: immediately after Swap Frog is Special Summoned.

No matter how you side against this deck you run the risk of losing to Toadally Awesome. Kaijus can advance your position a bit, but they won't do anything to help you with backrow. You can build a Side Deck with both, or prioritize whichever form of removal your deck is worse at. Have an easy time dealing with Toadally Awesome, but find yourself losing to traps? Side more backrow removal. If backrow isn't a problem then you can focus your attention on beating Toadally Awesome and preventing Summons.

Paleozoics can be a little annoying to play against, but I have to recognize that it's the first time we've seen the trap-monster gimmick done right. Hopefully we'll see more themes like this in the future.

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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