Competitive Corner: Michael Duke on Numeron Kaiju SPYRALS

Jason Grabher-Meyer

2/17/2017 11:04:00 AM
 Comments

You can file this one under “Decks That Were So Cool I Couldn't Let Them Fade Into Obscurity.”

Raging Tempest has made a huge impact so far, and while decks like ABC's, Majespecters and Mermails all managed to Top 8 the first weekend of the RATE era, everybody's focus is on the sudden impact of Infernoids and Zoodiacs. There's a lot of variation there, with Infernoids played in both 40-card and 60-card variants with and without Left Arm Offering, while Zoodiacs Top 8'd in pure and Kaiju variants, Metalfoes decks, Burning Abyss, and… also Infernoids.

And those decks are going to be absolutely huge at YCS Seattle and beyond. Don't get me wrong, Zoodiacs and Infernoids, man – that's where competition's at. But you're going to hear a lot about those strategies in the coming weeks. But you know what you won't hear much about? SPYRALS.

While SPYRALS may see some Top Cut action thanks to new support cards like SPYRAL GEAR – Utility Wire, SPYRAL Tough, and SPYGAL Misty, you almost definitely won't hear about the ridiculously cool build played by Australian YCS winner Michael Duke that used his freshly-won Championship prize card Number 93: Utopia Kaiser to make a 30,000 ATK Number 100: Numeron Dragon as its win condition.

Except for right now. Right now you're going to hear about it.

Why?

Because 30,000 ATK Numeron Dragon, that's why.

    Numeron Kaiju SPYRALS Michael Duke    
  Location:  Regional - 2017-01-28 Canberra Australia - 5th - 8th Place
Main Deck
Side Deck
1 Charming Resort Staff
1 Gameciel, the Sea Turtle Kaiju
1 Gem-Knight Garnet
2 Ghost Ogre & Snow Rabbit
1 Jizukiru, the Star Destroying Kaiju
1 Kumongous, the Sticky String Kaiju
2 Maxx "C"
3 SPYRAL GEAR - Drone
3 SPYRAL Quik-Fix
3 SPYRAL Super Agent
1 Thunder King, the Lightningstrike Kaiju
Monsters [19]
3 Brilliant Fusion
1 Foolish Burial
3 Interrupted Kaiju Slumber
3 Machine Duplication
1 One for One
3 SPYRAL GEAR - Big Red
3 SPYRAL Resort
3 Terraforming
2 Twin Twisters
Spells [22]
Deck Total [41]
2 D.D. Crow
1 Denko Sekka
3 Dimensional Barrier
2 Flying "C"
3 Retaliating "C"
3 System Down
1 Twin Twisters
Side Deck [15]

EXTRA DECK

1 Castel, the Skyblaster Musketeer
1 Gem-Knight Seraphinite
1 Ghostrick Angel of MIschief
1 Ghostrick Dullahan
1 Number 100: Numeron Dragon
1 Number 107: Galaxy-Eyes Tachyon Dragon
1 Number 13: Embodiment of Crime
1 Number 31: Embodiment of Punishment
1 Number 39: Utopia
2 Number 63: Shamoji Soldier
1 Number 9: Dyson Sphere
1 Number 93: Utopia Kaiser
1 Number S39: Utopia the Lightning
1 PSY-Framelord Omega
Extra Deck [15]
Notes:


Michael Duke's from Campbelltown in New South Wales. He's been playing Yu-Gi-Oh! since 2011, and he ran his then-favorite deck – Karakuris – from 2011 to the end of 2012. He started playing more competitively in January of 2013. He was drawn into higher levels of play by his friends, Nicholas Hillier and Yue Xu, whom he credits as helping him reach new levels in the game.

Everyone keeping track knows about Duke's win at YCS Sydney a month ago, but he's got plenty of Regional and LLDS creds too. When Fire Fists made a comeback in 2014, Duke managed to top three Regionals with them, winning two. In 2015 he scored another Regional top piloting Qliphorts just before the arrival of Nekroz, which he then Top 8'd with as well. He took a Top 8 at the Stage 2 Local Legends Duelist Series in New South Wales, piloting PSY-Frames, and he'd repeat with that deck in 2016, topping the Australian National Championship and a Regional Qualifier with the same strategy.

That short recap of Duke's history show's a penchant for creativity and daring rogue play, but his latest success overshadows all of his creative accomplishments. The deck we're looking at today wins in ways we've never seen before, and I wanted to know where it came from. I asked Duke: how did this innovative version of SPYRALS come to be?

Duke explained: “A friend told me about a video Konami made, showing the SPYRAL Quik-Fix plus Machine Duplication combo, and how it could make Number 93:Utopia Kaiser. So I started testing a build with it.

“My brother wanted to practice a bit before YCS Sydney, mostly to get the hang of his deck since he hadn't played in about two years. I decided to play him with SPYRALS. I just threw the Extra Deck together real quick and decided to use Number 100: Numeron Dragon in the Extra Deck instead of Utopa Kaiser, and found that the strategy could do a lot of damage with it. I realized that playing Numeron Dragon and Kaiser together would be even better than just one or the other alone, but I decided not to test the deck any further since I didn't have a copy of Number 93: Utopia Kaiser.

“After getting my hands on a copy of Utopia Kaiser,” by, you know, winning one in a YCS, “I started testing the deck a lot more for upcoming Regionals. The first list I tried was based on the SPYRAL list used by Liyn Jay Garcia at ARG Orlando. My Main Deck was very similar, but I made room for Speedroids and I skipped Number 78: Number Archives, gearing the Extra Deck toward the Kaiser/Numeron combo.

“I played it at a locals and unfortunately went 2-2, so I felt quite disappointed. I wasn't sure whether I'd still play it at Regionals. Two days before the event I suddenly got the idea to Main Deck a full Kaiju engine with Interrupted Kaiju Slumber and four Kaijus, since I realized that my biggest problem was that when I was going second – which I always did – I couldn't get past established boards and still OTK.”

 Interrupted Kaiju Slumber
$4.99
$2.98
$2.00
Interrupted Kaiju Slumber111188
Set Breakers of Shadow
Number BOSH-EN089
Type Spell Card
Attribute SPELL 
Rarity Super Rare
Card Text

Destroy as many monsters on the field as possible, then Special Summon in Attack Position, 2 "Kaiju" monsters with different names from your Deck (1 on each side), but they cannot change their battle positions, and must attack, if able. During your Main Phase, except the turn this card was sent to the Graveyard: You can banish this card from your Graveyard; add 1 "Kaiju" monster from your Deck to your hand. You can only activate 1 "Interrupted Kaiju Slumber" per turn.


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Duke made a big sacrifice for the Kaiju engine, cutting his Speedroids to make room. “They didn't do as much as I hoped, since M-X-Saber Invoker summons SPYRAL Super Agent in defense.” Bringing that key card out in defense mode meant it couldn't be used for big attacks with lots of ATK boosts, rendering it nearly useless. “I tested with my friends and the deck was so much better with Kaijus that we started thinking it might realy do well.”

With further testing, one of Duke's friends suggested cutting SPYRAL Master Plan and the three copies of SPYRAL MISSION – Assault he was running in that early build, in favor of Brilliant Fusion. That led to the final build Duke would wind up taking to the Regional Qualifier in Canberra. He only had two weeks between YCS Sydney and the Regional, so there wasn't much time for Duke to learn the deck once he arrived at the final version.

If you haven't seen this deck before now, you might have pieced together what it does, but I wanted to get Duke's explanation of how it works. The primary win condition here is easily one of the coolest combos I've ever seen in this game, and the fact that Duke could execute it consistently still blows my mind. Here's the play sequence he described.

-Starting with a hand of SPYRAL Quik-Fix, SPYRAL Super Agent, and Machine Duplication, Duke would Special Summon Super Agent, then Normal Summon Quik-Fix to search SPYRAL GEAR – Big Red.

-From there he'd Machine Duplication Quik-Fix to Special Summon two more from his deck, and search two copies of SPYRAL GEAR – Drone.

-He'd overlay two of the Quik-Fixes for Number 31: Embodiment of Punishment or Number 13: Embodiment of Crime – doesn't matter which – fnd detach a Quik-Fix from it for Punishment's effect.

-That would let him use the detached Quik-Fix's revival effect, returning it to the field in exchange for a discard. Duke would pitch a Drone, and he'd search another Drone with the newly-revived Quik-Fix once it hit the field.

-He'd then overlay his two on-field Quik-Fixes for whichever of Number 13 or Number 31 he hadn't summoned yet, and overlay both Embodiment Xyz for Number 93: Utopia Kaiser. Doing so detaches the Quik-Fixes from the Embodiments.

-Duke would revive the Quik-Fixes by discarding the cards they searched in the first place, bringing them back to make Number 63: Shamoji Soldier. He'd detach a Quik-Fix again – it doesn't matter which effect of Shamoji Soldier he'd choose – and revive the Quik-Fix one more time to make a second Shamoji Soldier.

-He'd overlay those for Number 100: Numeron Dragon.

-Then he'd use Number 93: Utopia Kaiser to Special Summon Number 107: Galaxy-Eyes Tachyon Dragon and Number 9: Dyson Sphere.

-And then it's on. Duke would follow up with Number 100: Numeron Dragon's effect, which gives it 1000 ATK for every Rank on the field. With 30 Ranks total, Numeron Dragon would skyrocket to a whopping 30,000 ATK. More if the opponent controlled Xyz Monsters. And while Utopia Kaiser's effect halves battle damage for the turn, Duke's opponent would still need a monster with over 14,000 ATK to survive.

 Number 100: Numeron Dragon
$1.62
$0.55
$0.37
Number 100: Numeron Dragon121474
Set Dragons of Legend: Unleashed
Number DRL3-EN021
Level 1
Type Xyz/Effect Monster
Monster Dragon
Attribute LIGHT 
Rarity Secret Rare
Card Text

2 "Number" Xyz Monsters with the same name and Rank
Once per turn: You can detach 1 Xyz Material from this card; this card gains ATK equal to the combined Ranks of all Xyz Monsters currently on the field x 1000, until the end of your opponent's turn. When this card is destroyed by card effect: You can destroy as many monsters on the field as possible (min. 1), then each player Sets 1 Spell/Trap Card from their Graveyard to their field. When an opponent's monster declares an attack while this card is in your Graveyard and you have no cards in your hand or field: You can Special Summon this card.


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That combo comes with a catch: you have to Special Summon SPYRAL Super Agent in the first place, which means guessing the top card of your opponent's deck. But Duke had a workaround: “If you have One for One, Machine Duplication, Super Agent or Quik-Fix, and Foolish Burial, [you can guarantee the combo].” That's a bit of a mouthful but it's not as far-fetched as it sounds: essentially any combination of cards that puts SPYRAL Super Agent into the graveyard and fields Quik-Fix with Machine Duplication works. You just want to revive Super Agent with SPYRAL GEAR – Big Red for that guaranteed Special Summon.

There was a lot of talk about that combo when Duke's list first came to light, but I wanted to know if the deck had any secondary win cons. SPYRAL decks have been topping tournaments for quite a while now, without Numeron Dragon and Utopia Kaiser. I was curious if that new combo was a replacement for previous game plans, or an add-on to the existing strategy.

Duke's answer spelled it out pretty clearly: “The other frequent win condition is an OTK with SPYRAL Super Agent and SPYRAL GEAR – Drone, which mostly happens when you can't risk going for Xyz Summons because your opponent has backrow, and you'd rather be protected by SPYRAL Resort.” He noted that the combo requires your opponent to control a lot of cards to maximize the ATK boost from Drone, so it works best against Pendulums and similar all-in strategies. If you're not familiar with that approach, the idea is that you buff Super Agent with two or three Drone effects in one turn, and protect it with cards like Resort if necessary. The boost from Drone is permanent, so if the OTK doesn't work out you can still try again next turn.

Getting further into the operation of the strategy, I asked Duke if he preferred to go first or second, and what he'd do when he couldn't play from his favored position.

“This deck was built to go second with the Kaijus and the four hand traps,” he explained. “There isn't a lot that can be done with this build going first. If I open with SPYRAL Quik-Fix and Machine Duplication then I can establish Number 93:Utopia Kaiser with Tachyon Dragon and Dyson Sphere.” Pretty solid. “If I don't, then the best I can usually do is summon Drone to try and give my opponent a bad draw, and summon Super Agent in the hopes that they can't overpower the boosted Agent.”

That plan's most successfully when you have SPYRAL Resort to keep your opponent from targeting Drone or Super Agent. Duke also noted that he sided in Dimensional Barrier if he thought his opponent would choose to go second in a big to avoid his OTK, affording himself a bit more defense if he'd made the right read.

Duke identified Quik-Fix as the MVP of the strategy. “It just lets you get so many searches and lets you make so many Rank 1's. And since you need to discard for its revival effect, it sets up your graveyard with Big Red targets as well. Quik-Fix is the main reason that I wanted to pick the deck up in the first place. The fact that it just keeps getting better as they release more SPYRAL GEAR cards is awesome.”

 SPYRAL Super Agent
$39.00
$30.00
$28.96
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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If you've read these kinds of interviews before, you'll know that one of my favorite questions goes a bit deeper into the spotlighted strategy: if someone were to pick this deck up for the first time, and they had some idea of the basic combos and goals, what do you think they might miss at first glance? That was the question I posed to Duke. The deck's got a really remarkable central plan, but it's often easy to lose the finer details in the shadow of something that awesome.

“Well, one of the things that some people might not realize is you can lure out a Maxx “C” with a Drone and a Super Agent. When you stack the deck with Drone, people expect you to call your opponent's top card correctly with Super Agent.” Okay, this is really cool. “But you can call it wrong on purpose just to get them to drop the Maxx “C” and then they don't get a draw.” Duke was careful to specify that such a situation only comes up rarely, and it only matters if you can't OTK through the Maxx "C" anyways. But still, how neat is that?

Duke continued: “Another thing people might not realize is that if you're running low on cards to discard for Quik-Fix, you can discard Super Agent and then use Drone to get it back to your hand, then discard it again for another Quik-Fix. Also, if you're forced to go first and have the Numeron plus Kaiser combo you can summon Kaiser, Number 13, and 31 to make all three of them indestructible.” Oh man. I love this deck.

With so much new SPYRAL support in Raging Tempest, I wanted to know what Duke thought of the new cards. Maybe it wasn't on topic, but I dunno; the first YCS winner of the year just topped with a super-cool SPYRAL deck and it seemed like a good chance to ask a really knowledgeable individual about new material.

Duke obliged. “I think SPYRAL Tough is really good, since it gives you more copies of Agent and it allows for more Rank 4 possibilities. It gives the deck some badly needed monster removal and the fact that Tough's effect isn't once-per-turn means you can remove a number of cards in one go.

 SPYRAL Tough
$1.25
$0.37
$0.15
SPYRAL Tough127343
Set Raging Tempest
Number RATE-EN087
Level 4
Type Effect Monster
Monster Warrior
Attribute WIND 
A / D 1900 / 1500
Rarity Rare
Card Text

This card's name becomes "SPYRAL Super Agent" while it is on the field or in the Graveyard. Once per turn: You can declare 1 card type (Monster, Spell, or Trap) and target 1 card your opponent controls; reveal the top card of your opponent's Deck, and if you do, destroy the targeted card if the revealed card is the declared type.


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“I mean, for example, if you had SPYRAL Tough, SPYRAL Super Agent and SPYRAL GEAR – Big Red in hand you could destroy a card with Tough, then summon Agent and destroy a backrow, then make Castel to shuffle a card away and Big Red Tough back to destroy another card.” Those two destructions would require you to call your opponent's top card correctly, but it's still a huge potential impact. “Tough also helps you get Agent on the field,” Duke noted. “Even if you fail calling the top card with Tough, you'll definitely know what it is for Super Agent. I think Tough's probably going to be a 2-of.

“I think that the new SPYRAL GEAR – Utility Wire is really amazing too, since as I've said, Quik-Fix is amazing and you quickly run through all of your [searchable cards]. Utility Wire gives you more cards to search and discard for Quik-Fix's revival effect, or more stuff to set to keep your opponent from making a comeback. The fact that it returns cards to the top of the deck so that you know what to call for your Agent and Tough is amazing, and gives the deck some much needed defense in the process. I think it's probably going to be a 2-of as well.”

“SPYGAL Misty has a great effect, but I don't think it will see much play since it's not a SPYRAL monster and can't be searched with Resort, or Special Summoned back with Big Red. I'll still need to test Misty out a bit more before making a final verdict.”

And that led to the big question: did Duke think SPYRALS could survive Zoodiacs?

“I'm not too sure,” he answered, “since I haven't done enough testing against Zoodiacs using this deck. The Kaiju engine should help in clearing opposing boards and the fact that they leave a lot of Xyz on the field should make Numeron OTK's much easier. However I feel that if you can't OTK, then Zoodiacs will deal with Resort really easily, along with any monsters on the board, and then have more disruption to stop you from making a comeback. I think if this deck is going to survive Zoodiacs then the Kaiju and Zoodiac variants have the highest chance of success. But of course, more testing will be needed.”

That was it! With the interview complete, I asked Duke if he wanted to give anyone some props to finish things out. He unleashed a torrent of shoutouts in response, demonstrating a common trait of Championship-winning players: an eagerness to give people credit for their assistance.

“I want to give shoutouts to David O'Donnell,” Duke started, “for bringing the Utopia Kaiser combo to my attention and for helping me with my first few builds of the deck. Mitch Butler for testing with me the two nights leading up to the Regional, for the Brilliant Fusion suggestion, and for convincing me to stick with the deck for the Regional Qualifier. Shoutout to Benny Manns for giving me a lift to the tournament.

"Shoutout to Darren Havey for lending me two SPYRAL Resorts for the event. Shoutout to Trung Nguyen for helping me re-sleeve my deck quickly before the start of the fifth round. Shoutout to Darcy Meritt for lending me Number S39: Utopia the Lightning. And finally shoutouts to Nicholas Hillier and Yue Xu for helping me improve all those years.”

Congratulations to Michael Duke for two huge back-to-back accomplishments, and my tremendous thanks for taking the time to tell us about his innovative, wickedly cool strategy. With the first weekend of post-RATE Regional Qualifiers in the books the future of the SPYRAL theme is still undecided, but thanks to Duke, an important chapter in the strategy's past is now chronicled for posterity.

Thanks to him for the interview, and thanks to you for reading!

-Jason Grabher-Meyer


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