Side Deck Theory: Forbidden Apocrypha

Kelly Locke

3/21/2017 11:00:00 AM

Forbidden Apocrypha has flown under the radar since its release in Breakers of Shadow, but it recently emerged as a top Side Deck pick against Zoodiacs. It was widely popular at YCS Atlanta and continues to see play at Regionals everywhere.

So why was Forbidden Apocrypha seemingly ignored for over a year? For starters, it launched at a time when Pendulums were easily the best deck in the game. As long as it was utterly useless in the biggest match-ups of the format it was entirely unsurprising that nobody played it.

Consider 2016's top decks. Performage & Pals, Kozmos, Burning Phantom Knights, Monarchs, ABCs, Metalfoes, and Paleozoics either Summon only one of each Extra Deck monster type, or play monsters you'd rather not send to the graveyard. By the time it's live against Yang Zing or Blue-Eyes you'll most likely have lost your set trap to Baxia, Brightness of the Yang Zing or Dragon Spirit of White.

Zoodiacs Xyz Summon aggressively with combos that require multiple Xyz Monsters to stick around on the field. It's the perfect mark for Forbidden Apocrypha; its activation conditions are difficult to play around, and Zoodiac Xyz don't activate effects when they hit the graveyard. Mass removal is popular right now almost entirely due to Zoodiacs, and Forbidden Apocrypha's one of several cards riding out that trend.

Great Going First Or Second
Forbidden Apocrypha takes on two roles in your Side Deck: it's a defensive play stopper against Extra Deck heavy strategies and an aggressive board clear that wipes out Turn 1 set-ups. It's a lot like playing a second or third Torrential Tribute.

You can respond to the second Xyz, Synchro, or Fusion monster to hit the field and knockout all of your opponent's monsters of that card type. That said, Apocrypha doesn't have to respond to a Summon. You can activate it so long as its conditions are met, which lets you bait out further plays from your opponent or chain to backrow removal.

The best way to play around Forbidden Apocrypha is to avoid putting down more than one Xyz, Synchro, or Fusion. But Apocrypha doesn't care whose side of the field those monsters are on. Taking a page from Xyz Universe, we can put Forbidden Apocrypha to work in match-ups where both player's primary Extra Deck monster types are paired up. If you want to ensure an Apocrypha activation even if your opponent only Summons one Extra Deck monster, then Summoning your own is the best way to keep the card as live as possible.

 Forbidden Apocrypha
Forbidden Apocrypha122527
Set 2016 Mega-Tins Mega Pack
Number MP16-EN230
Type Trap Card
Attribute TRAP 
Rarity Common
Card Text

Declare 1 Extra Deck monster card type (Fusion, Synchro, or Xyz); if 2 or more monsters of the declared type are on the field, make each player send all monsters of that type from their field to the Graveyard.

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It's usually not that important to keep Apocrypha always-on against individual Summons. You don't want to gimp yourself by siding out Solemn Strikes or Dimensional Barriers to play it anyways, as they're usually better options in most match-ups. Apocrypha finds its niche as chainable mass removal with utility as a defensive trap, but for the most part your other traps will do their job and keep your opponent's monsters off the field.

Despite being a trap Forbidden Apocrypha's actually well-positioned for going second. Setting Apocrypha on Turn 2 against Zoodiacs is a solid play, and so long as it doesn't get blown out by Twin Twisters you'll almost certainly resolve it. Apocrypha's blowout effect limits your opponent's ability to go off on the following turn even if you've left them with a sizeable field. It might not save you against a Turn 3 swarm of Infernoids, but most of the time it will keep you in the game another turn and create a massive opening for Turn 4.

Forbidden Apocrypha doesn't destroy, so My Body as a Shield and Starlight Road can't negate it. Those two cards are showing up less and less lately, and that's partially thanks to Apocrypha. It's harder to recommend My Body as a Shield with so many non-destruction effects finding their way back into Side Decks. It was inevitable that players would eventually start to avoid destruction effects. That vulnerability gap with Zoodiacs closed quite a while ago thanks to their own siding practices.

Wasted Utility
Although you can't call Pendulums with Forbidden Apocrypha there's no denying its enormous utility against various Xyz, Synchro, and Fusion strategies. Its utility as a going-first or going-second Side Deck pick, and its flexibility during the duel make it a great all-around card. Unfortunately it has one crucial problem that's keeping it out of Side Decks: it's really not that great against anything other than Zoodiacs. Few other decks are running headlong into Apocrypha's effect.

For now Apocrypha has low match-up utility. That's surprising for such a versatile card, but with Solemns and Dimensional Barriers already Main Decked there's little room for yet another strict anti-Zoodiac card. As I mentioned in my last article, we have to avoid the temptation to throw every possible Side Deck card at Zoodiacs. Not only are you weakening your Side Deck's match-up utility, but you're also making yourself vulnerable to new techs or variants of Zoodiacs.

Even in that all-important Zoodiac match-up it's not uncommon to have your Apocrypha negated by Totem Bird. It's a bit awkward to play Apocrypha to answer fields that typically include a card that can negate it. You'll have to pair Apocrypha with another spell or trap, like a Solemn or Dimensional Barrier. From a siding perspective you'll need to find another card, likely a monster or spell, to swap for yet another trap.

 Totem Bird
Totem Bird68212
Set Lord of the Tachyon Galaxy
Number LTGY-EN086
Level 3
Type Xyz/Effect Monster
Monster Winged Beast
Attribute WIND 
A / D 1900 / 1400
Rarity Secret Rare
Card Text

2 Level 3 WIND monsters // During either player’s turn, when a Spell/Trap Card is activated: You can detach 2 Xyz Materials from this card; negate the activation, and if you do, destroy it. This card loses 300 ATK while it has no Xyz Materials.

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That said, having built-in synergies with your Main Deck makes your sided cards slightly more effective. Baiting Totem Bird, or tributing it with a Kaiju, is the best way to clear a path for a freshly-set Forbidden Apocrypha. This play shows up with other traps like Void Feast, Drowning Mirror Force, and Storming Mirror Force.

I'm not sure if Forbidden Apocrypha will have a time in the spotlight again. The upcoming rule changes regarding Link monsters will only discourage Extra Deck-spam strategies. The likelihood of Apocrypha even being live could drop to a point where everyone would rather have an answer to the one Extra Monster Zone Summon or a Link Summon. Apocrypha's even worse off than Dimensional Barrier heading into the second half of the year.

Forbidden Apocrypha Versus Xyz Universe
So which is better: Forbidden Apocrypha, or Xyz Universe? Excluding match-ups against Synchro and Fusion strategies both of these cards perform roughly the same from a practical standpoint. Each of them sends Xyz Monsters from the field to the graveyard with a non-destruction effect. They're chainable to essentially anything, disrupting your opponent's plays, and work just as well against an established field.

Apocrypha trades Xyz Universe's free Special Summon for a bit more firepower and three times as much utility. You can send five of your opponent's Xyz to the graveyard with Apocrypha – a serious upgrade from Xyz Universe's two. In most match-ups addressing two monsters is perfectly fine, but Zoodiacs are actually Summoning at that volume. Sending one or two more monsters to the graveyard is a welcome bonus and doesn't go unnoticed.

Although the free Special Summon from Xyz Universe is enticing it's sometimes more trouble than it's worth. You'll need to play a card in your Extra Deck for all of the match-ups in which your siding Xyz Universe. Most of the time that's a Rank 7 or 8 Xyz, but what if you don't have the room? You could side the target, but in addition to eating up precious Side Deck space you'll instantly reveal your sided tech if you side out an Extra Deck monster.

There aren't that many monsters you'd want to Summon with Xyz Universe anyways. Kicking away your opponent's field is usually good enough. I could maybe see Divine Dragon Knight Felgrand, D/D/D Duo-Dawn King Kali Yuga, and Aegaion the Sea Castrum being sided in for further disruption on your opponent's turn. It feels slightly win-more, but we're talking about theZoodiac match-up after all. Every extra piece of disruption is worth it when your opponent can launch their plays with just one card.

Keep in mind that Xyz Universe will still send monsters to the graveyard if Vanity's Emptiness or Dimensional Barrier are chained. It won't send a monsters to the grave if one of the targets leaves the field, or if it's negated. Universe can be negated by Solemn Warning and can't activate under an active anti-Special Summon floodgate–neither weakness is shared by Forbidden Apocrypha. Unless you have an excellent, themed Xyz you want to Summon with Universe I'd recommend sticking with the higher utility, less vulnerable, and more compact Apocrypha.

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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