Competitive Corner: Abyss Actor & Yang Zing Metalfoes

Jason Grabher-Meyer

1/6/2017 11:00:00 AM

Regional Qualifier action returns this weekend, but today I want to discuss a few decks from the last Regionals of 2016.

Why? Well, I think there were some big breakthroughs made in those final weeks of competition, and historically speaking, whenever we see innovation in December it gets lost in the shuffle. People sort of give a brief nod to tournament results at that time each year and then move straight into the holidays, where tournament prep and keeping up with new developments takes a backseat.

Coming off a huge win in the hands of Billy Brake at YCS Bochum, Majespecter Metalfoes were one of the biggest decks of 2016, and that probably won't change until we see Zoodiacs in Raging Tempest, or a new F&L List. Even with those two factors in place, there's a good chance Metalfoes will remain relevant. I'm all for that; the deck's seen a lot of personalization and small-scale innovation over the course of its run, and it's a generally reactive strategy that allows at least a reasonable amount of skill on the high end.

So when we saw two big new variants of Metalfoes emerge in December, I was really intrigued. All of a sudden arguably the most complicated strategy of the current “Big Three” – Metalfoes, ABC's, and Paleozoic Frogs – was seeing two new, very different lines of innovation, both of which had specific reasons for being played, and both of which saw tournament success. To make things even more interesting, one of those decks was actually pretty hyped months before, but just never materialized here in the TCG; while the other was largely a surprise, fueling the fervor for a fan-favorite group of cards. Those decks were Yang Zing Metalfoes and Abyss Actor Metalfoes respectively.

Let's start with a look at Yang Zing Metalfoes first. We've seen a few different Regional Top 8 builds plus a YCS Top 16 version at YCS Anaheim, but I want to zero on this version, played by Quinton Brown at the Arlington Regional just under a month ago.

    Yang Zing Metalfoes Quinton Brown    
  Location:  Regional - 2016-12-10 Arlington Texas - 5th - 8th Place
Main Deck
Side Deck
2 Archfiend Eccentrick
2 Bi'an, Earth of the Yang Zing
1 Bixi, Water of the Yang Zing
3 Chiwen, Light of the Yang Zing
3 Jiaotu, Darkness of the Yang Zing
2 Maxx "C"
2 Metalfoes Goldriver
3 Metalfoes Silverd
2 Metalfoes Steelen
1 Metalfoes Volflame
1 Speedroid Red-Eyed Dice
1 Speedroid Taketomborg
3 Speedroid Terrortop
2 Suanni, Fire of the Yang Zing
3 Zefraniu, Secret of the Yang Zing
1 Zefraxi, Treasure of the Yang Zing
Monsters [32]
1 Metalfoes Fusion
1 Painful Decision
1 Upstart Goblin
1 Yang Zing Path
Spells [4]
2 Metalfoes Combination
3 Nine Pillars of Yang Zing
Traps [5]
Deck Total [41]
3 Book of Eclipse
2 Dark Hole
2 Kumongous, the Sticky String Kaiju
3 Magical Spring
3 Mystical Space Typhoon
2 System Down
Side Deck [15]


3 Baxia, Brightness of the Yang Zing
1 Chaofeng, Phantom of the Yang Zing
2 Denglong, First of the Yang Zing
1 Herald of the Arc Light
1 Hi-Speedroid Chanbara
1 Ignister Prominence, the Blasting Dracoslayer
1 Metalfoes Mithrilium
1 Nirvana High Paladin
1 Number 38: Hope Harbinger Dragon Titanic Galaxy
1 PSY-Framelord Omega
1 The Phantom Knights of Break Sword
1 Yazi, Evil of the Yang Zing
Extra Deck [15]

The Yang Zing Metalfoe variant exists to solve a couple problems regular Metalfoes decks often run into: it's designed to make bigger opening turns that are tougher to fight through, and it's got a higher power ceiling, capable of breaking big boards and solving more problems on the way to an OTK. The deck's a bit more complicated and a little more vulnerable to certain forms of disruption than a more standard Metalfoes build, but the good news is that right now, some of its biggest silver bullets just aren't seeing play. That's created an opening for this strategy.

Jiaotu, Darkness of the Yang Zing is the real lynchpin: it's an amazing card that creates massive first-turns, but in a standard Yang Zing deck the number one problem is seeing it reliably. Most of the Yang Zing monsters can search it with self-replacing effects, but to trigger them, you've gotta be able to destroy your own cards.

Metalfoes are awesome for that, since their Pendulum Effects pop your own cards to search spells and traps. You'll build Pendulum Scales along the way, expanding your range of options and extending your combo plays with your Yang Zings, while grifting free cards that work with some of your bigger threats to make even more impressive moves. There's a ton of synergy here with the Metalfoes making Jiaotu more consistent, then making the payoff for a successful Jiaotu even better.

And that was all possible when Metalfoes first launched. That root “use Metalfoes to destroy Yang Zings, then make Pendulum Summons with them” thing worked. But it wasn't enough. People tried, it saw middling success, and the concept just didn't really catch on. But with the release of two key cards in Invasion: Vengeance, the entire concept got more flexibility and a way bigger control element: Denglong, First of the Yang Zing makes the deck more consistent, and it searches Nine Pillars of Yang Zing to help you lock down your opponent and make wins.

Nine Pillars is a crazy-powerful card. It negates at Spell Speed 3; it shuffles away whatever you're negating instead of destroying it, making it a stellar answer to stuff like Toadally Awesome; and its destruction “cost” can actually feed you bigger plays, and keep you more reactive. Remember, if you destroy one of your Yang Zings with Nine Pillars they won't usually miss the chance to use their effects, so long as you played Nine Pillars as Chain Link 2. What looks like Infernity Barrier at first glance – which is already an amazing card – is actually just better for the way it fits current competition.

 Denglong, First of the Yang Zing
Denglong, First of the Yang Zing124746
Set Invasion: Vengeance
Number INOV-EN048
Level 5
Type Synchro/Tuner/Effect Monster
Monster Wyrm
Attribute LIGHT 
A / D 0 / 2800
Rarity Ultra Rare
Card Text

1 Tuner + 1 or more non-Tuner monsters
If this card is Special Summoned: You can add 1 "Yang Zing" card from your Deck to your hand. Once per turn: You can send 1 Wyrm-Type monster from your Deck to the Graveyard; this card's Level becomes the sent monster's. If this face-up card leaves the field: You can Special Summon 1 "Yang Zing" monster from your Deck. You can only Special Summon "Denglong, First of the Yang Zing(s)" once per turn.

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Those two cards were the missing pieces the deck needed. With Denglong in the mix the strategy got better card economy, better Turn 1 control setups, and a series of flexible answers that made it easier to make your core combo, which is basically how the deck wins. What IS that combo? Good question.

All you need to go off with this strategy is a single self-replacing Yang Zing that Special Summons from your Main Deck; any Metalfoes monster; and two more Yang Zing cards. Doesn't matter what they are, you just need two of them to fuel Jiaotu, Darkness of the Yang Zing. With those four cards you can do this:

-Normal Summon your Yang Zing. Again, it barely matters which one it is. You're just going to destroy it to search another.

-Activate your Metalfoes monster as a Pendulum Spell, and use its effect to destroy your Normal Summoned Yang Zing.

-Use the Metalfoes effect to set Metalfoes Combination from your deck, and Special Summon Jiaotu, Darkness of the Yang Zing with the Yang Zing effect.

-Use Jiatou's ability to send those two in-hand Yang Zing cards you started with to the graveyard, and Special Summon Zefraniu, Secret of the Yang Zing and Chiwen, Light of the Yang Zing.

-Baxia's effect will destroy Metalfoes Combination to revive Jiaotu, triggering Combination to search a Metalfoes monster and complete your Pendulum scale.

-You'll use that second Metalfoes Pendulum Effect to destroy Chiwen and set Metalfoes Fusion from your deck.

-Chiwen's effect will Special Summon Zefraxi, Treasure of the Yang Zing from your deck.

-Tune Zefraxi to Jiaotu for Denglong, First of the Yang Zing, searching out Nine Pillars of Yang Zing.

-Pendulum Summon Zefraxi and Zefraniu, searching another Nine Pillars with Zefraniu.

-Tune Denglong and Zefraxi for a second Baxia, triggering Denglong's Special Summon. This step can see some variation, but you generally want to avoid Suanni and B'ian, because you may want to use them on your opponent's turn. (Popping one of your Yang Zing monsters with Nine Pillars and Special Summoning Suanni lets you Special Summon Chiwen and Denglong to get Yang Zing Path, while Special Summoning Bi'an makes Herald of the Arc Light for another negation).

-Use the second Baxia's effect to pop Metalfoes Fusion and revive Jiaotu again.

From there you have a lot of different options in how you finish the sequence. Some builds of this strategy will use Zefraxi to pair the two Baxia for Ultimaya Tzolkin into Crystal Wing Synchro Dragon. Some may make Void Ogre Dragon. Brown's build favored Number 38: Hope Harbinger Dragon Titanic Galaxy. Regardless, the combo generally ends with three or four negations on the field: at least two Nine Pillars, a negation-driven monster, and a potential Herald of the Arc Light for next turn.

 Baxia, Brightness of the Yang Zing
Baxia, Brightness of the Yang Zing92384
Set Duelist Alliance
Number DUEA-EN051
Level 8
Type Synchro/Effect Monster
Monster Wyrm
Attribute LIGHT 
A / D 2300 / 2600
Rarity Secret Rare
Card Text

1 Tuner + 1 or more non-Tuner Wyrm-Type monsters When this card is Synchro Summoned: You can target cards on the field, up to the number of different original Attributes of the Wyrm-Type monsters used for the Synchro Summon of this card; shuffle them into the Deck. Once per turn: You can target 1 card you control and 1 Level 4 or lower monster in your Graveyard; destroy that card on the field, and if you do, Special Summon that other monster from the Graveyard.

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All of those options have merit, but the builds with Void Ogre and Ultimaya Tzolkin tend to be a little less consistent in the opinions of some players. Brown kept his strategy tight and gave up a little range for more precision.

There's a lot of adaptability here. The core combo can change a bit depending on whether your last in-hand card was a monster or not. The Speedroids can create plays for Hi-Speedroid Chanbara, PSY-Framelord Omega, The Phantom Knights of Break Sword, or Yazi, Evil of the Yang Zing depending on what you need to accomplish. You can also play them into Denglong, First of the Yang Zing to get your strategy going if you have an awkward hand and need to patch up a hole in your combos.

Chaofeng, Phantom of the Yang Zing creates big disruption in the right match-ups, too: it's common to make it with a Light monster to lock out ABC-Dragon Buster, but it's great against Blue-Eyes White Dragon and Burning Abyss variants as well.

The real star of the show once you go on the offensive is Baxia, Brightness of the Yang Zing, clearing away your opponent's field so you can make a clean shot for game. Combined with stuff like Yazi, Evil of the Yang Zing and The Phantom Knights of Break Sword to force out backrow, the deck's better at breaking big fields than virtually anything else in the format. If you make a big setup Turn 1 and defend it, your third Baxia clears the way for a win. If you went second the game plan's basically the same, as you look to clear a path and then push for a win, biding your time to build your combo if needed.

The resulting deck can outperform virtually anything else going first, and packs a superior ability to disassemble a dug-in field going second. I think it's got tremendous potential in the coming weeks as very few players understand how to take it apart, and many of the cards you don't want to see – stuff like Ghost Ogre & Snow Rabbit – just aren't being played right now. If you want to see some different variants, check out Zach Stone's similar version from YCS Anaheim, playing Oracle of Zefra over Brown's Fullmetalfoes Fusion, or check out Nick Bradish's 50-card version with Ultimaya Tzolkin and Void Ogre Dragon instead of Number 38: Hope Harbinger Dragon Titanic Galaxy.

And if you're looking for something really different, check this out.

    Abyss Actor Metalfoes Nick Torrez    
  Location:  Regional - 2016-12-18 Altoona Iowa - 5th - 8th Place
Main Deck
Side Deck
3 Abyss Actor - Sassy Rookie
2 Abyss Actor - Superstar
3 Abyss Actor - Wild Hope
2 Archfiend Eccentrick
1 Luster Pendulum, the Dracoslayer
3 Majespecter Raccoon - Bunbuku
1 Majespecter Unicorn - Kirin
3 Metalfoes Goldriver
3 Metalfoes Silverd
3 Metalfoes Steelen
3 Metalfoes Volflame
2 Raremetalfoes Bismugear
1 Rescue Rabbit
Monsters [30]
1 Abyss Script - Rise of the Abyss King
1 Fullmetalfoes Fusion
1 Metalfoes Fusion
1 Mystical Space Typhoon
3 Painful Decision
Spells [7]
1 Metalfoes Combination
2 Metalfoes Counter
1 Solemn Warning
Traps [4]
Deck Total [41]
3 Cosmic Cyclone
2 Gameciel, the Sea Turtle Kaiju
1 Great Shogun Shien
2 Jinzo
2 Maxx "C"
1 Raigeki
2 System Down
1 Vanity's Emptiness
1 Zombie World
Side Deck [15]


1 Abyss Dweller
1 Castel, the Skyblaster Musketeer
1 Dark Rebellion Xyz Dragon
1 Diamond Dire Wolf
1 Fullmetalfoes Alkahest
1 Ignister Prominence, the Blasting Dracoslayer
1 Leviair the Sea Dragon
2 Metalfoes Mithrilium
2 Metalfoes Orichalc
1 Number 11: Big Eye
1 Number 39: Utopia
1 Number S39: Utopia the Lightning
1 The Phantom Knights of Break Sword
Extra Deck [15]

While the Yang Zing Metalfoes deck is more Yang Zing than Metalfoes, this variant's much closer to what we're used to seeing. Adding Abyss Actors to an otherwise pretty standard Metalfoes deck gives you the chance to outperform more conventional builds in the mirror match, and gives you superior card economy that lets you overwhelm Paleozoic Frog decks. Jackie Bernal laid the groundwork for this strategy in the ARGCS, but Nick Torrez did a great job of building on Bernal's fundamentals to take a Top 8 finish at the Regional Qualifier in Altoona, Iowa.

The easiest way to approach this deck is to go card by card, starting with Abyss Actor - Wild Hope. It's got a really awesome effect that searches another Abyss Actor card from your deck when it's destroyed, so if you pop it with a Metalfoes Pendulum Effect you'll get a double search. That's similar to what we saw in the Yang Zing variant, where the strategy hinged on popping a self-replacing Yang Zing for a double search. Wild Hope's a decent beatstick at 1600 ATK plus an effect that can buff it a little, and if you ever get two Abyss Actors going in your Pendulum Scales it can help you Pendulum Summon bigger monsters. That might've contributed to Torrez's choice to Side Deck both Jinzo, AND Great Shogun Shien.

Abyss Actor - Sassy Rookie's another solid beater with some great effects. It resists destruction once per turn, and when it IS destroyed as a monster, it Special Summons Wild Hope from your deck. You can play it as a Pendulum Scale to protect one of your Abyss Actors from destruction, destroying it instead, and if it's destroyed in your Pendulum Zone it can pop an opposing monster of Level 4 or lower in revenge.

Both Wild Hope and Sassy Rookie are Rank 2's, helping you hit that low Scale some players would run Majespecter Cat – Nekomata to try and nail instead. And since they're Level 4's the deck's much better at making Rank 4's than standard Metalfoes. While a regular Metalfoes deck would only run Number 39: Utopia and in some cases Castel, the Skyblaster Musketeer, Torrez ran all three plus Diamond Dire Wolf, Abyss Dweller, and Dark Rebellion Xyz Dragon.

Abyss Actor – Superstar packs a notable 2500 ATK, and when it's Tribute Summoned or Special Summoned, your opponent can't activate spells or traps in response. That's cool for a lot of reasons, the biggest one being that you can Pendulum Summon it with a bunch of other monsters and your opponent can't stop any of them once they hit the field.

 Abyss Actor - Wild Hope
Abyss Actor - Wild Hope125278
Set Destiny Soldiers
Number DESO-EN022
Level 4
Type Pendulum/Effect Monster
Monster Fiend
Attribute DARK 
A / D 1600 / 1200
Rarity Secret Rare
Card Text

Pendulum Effect : Once per turn: You can target 1 "Abyss Actor" card in your other Pendulum Zone; its Pendulum Scale becomes 9 until the end of this turn, also you cannot Special Summon monsters for the rest of this turn, except "Abyss Actor" monsters (even if this card leaves the field).
Monster Effect : Once per turn: You can make this card gain 100 ATK for each "Abyss Actor" monster you currently control with different names, until the end of this turn. If this card is destroyed by battle or card effect: You can add 1 "Abyss Actor" card from your Deck to your hand, except "Abyss Actor - Wild Hope". You can only use this effect of "Abyss Actor - Wild Hope" once per turn.

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There are also some very specific interactions that leverage that ability. A big one that's seen lots of discussion can occur when your opponent has Fullmetalfoes Fusion set: you can Tribute Summon Superstar by tributing Metalfoes Orichalc, and then blow away Fusion with Orichalc's effect. When you do, your opponent won't get a chance to chain it, because Superstar won't let them. It's great for circumventing a possible Fullmetalfoes Alkahest.

As a Level 7, Superstar let Torrez play Number 11: Big Eye in his Extra Deck. More importantly, it can search Abyss Scripts and then recycle them from the Pendulum Zone. In this deck that means Abyss Script - Rise of the Abyss King, a field wipe that can knock out as many as three cards in one go. If you control Abyss Actor - Superstar the Script has another effect that keeps your opponent from responding when you activate it, too. That field clearing power can shatter big boards and clear the way for OTK's.

While the Abyss Actors variant of Metalfoes is nowhere near as different as the Yang Zing version, it has notable advantages in some of the biggest matchups. It would be a shame if the deck slipped through the cracks, because it really deserves to see more play in 2017. Give these strategies a shot yourself and see what they're capable of! Not only can stand side by side with more established versions, they're also easier to build on a budget since none of them run Pot of Desires.

If you've been looking to play Metalfoes but haven't got your Pots yet, these are great options that can give you the element of surprise, and bring you a ton of success in the new year.

-Jason Grabher-Meyer

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