As A Player: Philadelphia Regional, April 8th 2017

Joe Frankino

4/12/2017 11:00:00 AM

The last time I competed in a Regional Qualifier it was September 2016. Earning the WCQ invite was actually the secondary goal for that tournament; the primary goal was to prepare for the Summer 2016 UDS Invitational which was the next week in Chicago. My final standing was 100-something, but if one of my losses was a win instead, I would have made top 64 and earned the invite.

Over the last few years, I've set a goal to prove myself as not just a competent judge, but also as a skilled player since I think there's a common thought in the community that judges aren't capable of playing the game, hence why they judge. I'd like to prove that wrong, but also, I've never played in the WCQ in my 11 years of playing and judging this game, so it's always something I've kept in mind when I've entered Regional Qualifiers.

But more importantly, I'm of the opinion that I can earn my invite with a deck of my own choosing and not simply “copy what works.” To that end, I'm bringing my favorite recent strategy, Blue-Eyes White Dragon, to a Philadelphia Regional in hopes of making it As a Player.

The Deck
If you were following along with the UDS Invitational coverage from last year, you may have seen this feature match where I ran Blue-Eyes White Dragon to a mediocre Day 1 finish, not making Day 2. I've used variations of the deck since then, but haven't been able to get myself to tournaments to play in them.

When Raging Tempest hit the shelves and That Grass Looks Greener revolutionized deck construction, I took a look at the decks that could use it and saw that they gained a huge advantage if they resolved it for 20+ cards. So my initial thought was “I can mitigate that by playing 60-cards myself. But can I also run That Grass Looks Greener? Does that work?”

So I threw in cards that I had to cut in order to make previous builds of the deck hug the 40 card minimum, then added more cards to pad out the strategy and get it to 60. I also wanted to keep in mind that the most represented deck of the format, Zoodiacs – while popular for its ability to create fields with just single cards – is particularly vulnerable to board wipes. Zoodiac duelists can make a Daigusto Emeral / Zoodiac Drient field very easily and recover it should things go awry, but they can't protect that field without some off-theme help like Starlight Road.

Keeping all of that in mind, here's what I came up with.

    Joe's 60-Card Grass-Eyes White Dragon Joe Frankino    
  Location:  Regional - 2017-04-08 Philadelphia Pennsylvania -  Place
Main Deck
Side Deck
1 Amorphage Goliath
1 Arkbrave Dragon
3 Blue-Eyes Alternative White Dragon
3 Blue-Eyes White Dragon
2 Dogoran, the Mad Flame Kaiju
3 Dragon Spirit of White
1 Effect Veiler
2 Gadarla, the Mystery Dust Kaiju
2 Gameciel, the Sea Turtle Kaiju
1 Maiden with Eyes of Blue
1 Master with Eyes of Blue
1 Maxx "C"
3 Sage with Eyes of Blue
3 The White Stone of Ancients
1 The White Stone of Legend
Monsters [28]
2 Dark Hole
2 Dragon Ravine
3 Dragon Shrine
1 Future Fusion
2 Interrupted Kaiju Slumber
1 Raigeki
3 Return of the Dragon Lords
3 Silver's Cry
1 Soul Charge
3 That Grass Looks Greener
3 The Melody of Awakening Dragon
3 Trade-In
2 Twin Twisters
Spells [29]
2 Dimensional Barrier
1 Torrential Tribute
Traps [3]
Deck Total [60]
2 ?
1 ABC-Dragon Buster
2 And the Band Played On
2 Anti-Spell Fragrance
3 Ghost Reaper & Winter Cherries
1 Metalfoes Mithrilium
3 Pot of Desires
1 Toadally Awesome
Side Deck [15]


2 Azure-Eyes Silver Dragon
1 Black Rose Moonlight Dragon
2 Blue-Eyes Spirit Dragon
1 Crystal Wing Synchro Dragon
1 Five-Headed Dragon
1 Galaxy-Eyes Cipher Dragon
1 Galaxy-Eyes Full Armor Photon Dragon
1 Michael, the Arch-Lightsworn
1 Number 38: Hope Harbinger Dragon Titanic Galaxy
1 Number 95: Galaxy-Eyes Dark Matter Dragon
1 Stardust Spark Dragon
1 Vermillion Dragon Mech
1 Zoodiac Drident
Extra Deck [15]

This version of the deck runs six board wipes and the normal suite of deck searching and graveyard-recurring effects. The Side Deck was designed with what I thought I would be seeing the most of in Philly. My only huge concern was Infernoids, as there would be little I could side to get an advantage in that matchup. I'd simply ride on the hope that their Left Arm Offerings and That Grass Looks Greener would be blanks against my deck since it was also 60 cards.

A note before we get into the report: I usually write down what causes LP changes to help recall what happened after the fact, but for whatever reason, I didn't do that this time, so my memory recall will be a bit worse. But I'll try to hit the main points.

1) Table 105 vs. ABC-Dragon Buster
Ok, so I don't usually go off like this, but this particular match annoyed me quite a bit.

On his first turn, my opponent did the standard Union Hangar / Bujintei Tsukuyomi combo to set up an ABC-Dragon Buster on Turn 1. The problem was his pace of play. He went through the combo taking probably two minutes longer than he should have, pausing between each step.

I'm sorry, but at this level of competition you can't do that. There's only 40 minutes in a match. You can't be slowing down on your opening turn. There's literally no extra information to process. He saw none of my cards going first. You have to know what you're doing. His turns just took way too long.

We went back and forth trying to maintain field presence but he was able to use Daigusto Emeral to put back two of his spent ABC-Dragon Busters to continue the pressure and he ended up taking Game 1 which took 30 minutes.

In game 2, I sided in Ghost Reaper & Winter Cherries, And the Band Played On, and ABC-Dragon Buster. During the course of the game he had a monster and four face-down cards in his backrow. I Normal Summoned Sage with Eyes of Blue and he used Solemn Strike to stop the effect. Thinking it unlikely he could have two Solemn Strikes face-down, I activated Winter Cherries, but he did in fact have a second Strike. Them's the breaks.

 Ghost Reaper & Winter Cherries
Ghost Reaper & Winter Cherries117933
Set Shining Victories
Number SHVI-EN040
Level 3
Type Tuner/Effect Monster
Monster Zombie
Attribute DARK 
A / D 0 / 1800
Rarity Secret Rare
Card Text

During either player's turn, if your opponent controls more monsters than you do: You can discard this card; reveal 1 card in your Extra Deck, then look at your opponent's Extra Deck, also banish all cards in their Extra Deck with the same name as that revealed card. You can only use this effect of "Ghost Reaper & Winter Cherries" once per turn.

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Gamescape North Unlimited - Near Mint 1 $5.50
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Alwaysplus Gaming Unlimited - Lightly Played 1 $5.70
TenSeCrush 1st Edition - Near Mint 1 $6.20
MagnificentTCG Unlimited - Lightly Played 1 $6.25
MagnificentTCG Unlimited - Near Mint 1 $6.94
CoreTCG Unlimited - Near Mint 2 $6.99
Kirwan's Game Store 1st Edition - Near Mint 3 $7.00
Deck Factory Gaming Unlimited - Lightly Played 2 $7.50

Later on, with my opponent at 4300 LP and me at 3100, I activated Return of the Dragon Lords on Dragon Spirit of White. But he chained the now Limited and errata'd Imperial Order to negate the spell. That turned out to be his undoing since it also turned off his own Union Hangar and I was able to keep monsters on the field long enough for Imperial Order's own maintenance cost to sap away enough of his LP to make a comeback possible.

But at that point we were in time – to my great chagrin since I knew it was completely avoidable. I took Game 2 to force the draw.


2) Table 115 vs. Jordan Gottlieb (Menagerie.dek (… just read the match))
I don't remember Game 1 too much since my LP notes only read “8000-8000” followed by a “0” under my name. I think I remember seeing Yang Zings with Zoodiac cards which I thought was neat.

For game 2, I sided out That Grass Looks Greener as I usually do for 60-card matchups and sided in Ghost Reaper & Winter Cherries, And the Band Played On and Pot of Desires. That wasn't very effective because Jordan started playing Infernoid cards along with his Yang Zing and Zoodiac cards. This deck caught me completely off guard and he totally dominated the field, keeping me from getting a foothold.

After the match, he showed me that the deck also played Dark Contracts and D/D/D cards which didn't come up in either game. To recap, Jordan's deck mained Zoodiacs, Infernoids, Yang Zings and D/D/D's with zero copies of That Grass Looks Greener. Even though I lost this was still a fun matchup.


3) Table 176 vs. Decided Not To Show Up
Opponent no showed! Time for lunch!


4) Table 121 vs. Pedram P. (Paleozoic Frogs)
I opened up well in Game 1, getting in a direct attack with Blue-Eyes Alternative White Dragon and The White Stone of Ancients. From there I Synchro Summoned a Blue-Eyes Spirit Dragon and Pedram couldn't make a comeback.

I sided in Ghost Reaper & Winter Cherries, Toadally Awesome, And the Band Played On, and Pot of Desires. Game 2 was more of a back and forth. While I was able to resolve Ghost Reaper & Winter Cherries, Sky Cavalry Centaurea kept my main threats off the field for a bit.

 Sky Cavalry Centaurea
Sky Cavalry Centaurea105414
Set 2015 Mega-Tins Mega Pack
Number MP15-EN225
Level 2
Type Xyz/Effect Monster
Monster Beast-Warrior
Attribute LIGHT 
A / D 2000 / 0
Rarity Ultra Rare
Card Text

2 Level 2 monsters
This card cannot be destroyed by battle while it has Xyz Material. At the end of the Damage Step, if this card battled an opponent's monster: You can detach 1 Xyz Material from this card; return the opponent's monster from the field to the hand.

Store Condition Qty Avail Price  
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Dolly's Toys & Games 1st Edition - Near Mint 6 $5.42
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Kaibacorptrades 1st Edition - Near Mint 1 $5.99

I was still doing chip damage to his LP through Sky Cavalry Centaurea but without a way to generate card presence through Todally Awesome, I was able to out-resource Pedram using Dragon Spirit of White and multiple Special Summon effects, eventually just putting enough big dragons on the board that he couldn't find an answer.


5) Table 78 vs. Irving Burgos (Paleozoic)
I didn't deal any damage to Irving in game 1, and based on the LP notes, I took a few direct hits from Toadally Awesome.

I sided in Ghost Reaper & Winter Cherries, Todally Awesome, And the Band Played On, and Pot of Desires. This still didn't end very well since I couldn't gain any traction.


I'd have to win out from here to have a chance at an invite.

6) Table 108 vs. Rafael Rosa (Dark Magicians)
Fun facts: I've never played against Dark Magicians before, but I'm somewhat familiar with the cards. Rafael started out with Dark Magical Circle for Magician's Rod, which he Normal Summoned to get Dark Magic Attack.

There was a bit of back and forth from there, including a bit where I cleared Rafael's field with Raigeki before reading what Eternal Soul does when it leaves the field, but I managed a win with 3400 LP left.

For Game 2 I sided in And the Band Played On and nothing else. Rafael started with Magician's Rod, finding Dark Magical Circle. He activated it to get Magician Navigation. He set two face-downs and activated Secret Village of the Spellcasters before passing. That's normally a very strong open against any spell-based deck.

I Normal Summoned Sage with Eyes of Blue but Rafael shut down its effect with Skill Drain, which was fine since I only needed Sage on the field to activate spells under Secret Village. Rafael Special Summoned Magician of Dark Illusion after Skill Drain resolved. I proceeded to use That Grass Looks Greener to send a whole bunch of cards to the graveyard, including Arkbrave Dragon, Dragon Spirit of White, two copies of The White Stone of Ancients and Master with Eyes of Blue.

 Blue-Eyes Alternative White Dragon
Blue-Eyes Alternative White Dragon120948
Set The Dark Side of Dimensions Movie Pack
Number MVP1-EN046
Level 8
Type Effect Monster
Monster Dragon
Attribute LIGHT 
A / D 3000 / 2500
Rarity Ultra Rare
Card Text

Cannot be Normal Summoned/Set. Must first be Special Summoned (from your hand) by revealing "Blue-Eyes White Dragon" in your hand. You can only Special Summon "Blue-Eyes Alternative White Dragon" once per turn this way. This card's name becomes "Blue-Eyes White Dragon" while it is on the field or in the Graveyard. Once per turn: You can target 1 monster your opponent controls; destroy it. This card cannot attack the turn this effect is activated.

Store Condition Qty Avail Price  
WeebSenpais Store 1st Edition - Near Mint 3 $20.55
ygofanatic 1st Edition - Near Mint 3 $23.89
GetYourCardsHere 1st Edition - Near Mint 11 $23.95
ClericGaming 1st Edition - Near Mint 1 $24.12
Top Caliber 1st Edition - Near Mint 3 $24.68
Yugi selller 1st Edition - Near Mint 1 $26.00
OverdoseGaming 1st Edition - Near Mint 9 $27.95
Godmatron Gaming 1st Edition - Near Mint 3 $30.00
Sell Cards Sales 1st Edition - Near Mint 1 $40.00

I used Master's effect on Sage, Special Summoning Dragon Spirit of White, and used its effect to target Skill Drain, chaining its other ability to Special Summon Blue-Eyes White Dragon from my hand. When the chain resolved I got my original-recipe Blue-Eyes White Dragon while Dragon Sprit of White's effect successfully resolved to banish Skill Drain. From there I attacked with Blue-Eyes into Magician's Rod, and in the End Phase the last two Dragon Sprits of White banished the face-down Magician Navigation and Dark Magical Circle.

Arkbrave Dragon's effect Special Summoned the previously-used Dragon Spirit of White in Rafael's Standby Phase, banishing Secret Village of the Spellcasters and leaving me with a field of three Dragon Spirits of White and a Blue-Eyes White Dragon. Rafael activated another copy of Dark Magical Circle but couldn't find anything in his top three cards and conceded.


7) Table 71 vs. Angel Jose Mateo-Viera (Paleozoic Frogs)
This was a great match. I couldn't set up the Dark Matter / Amorphage Goliath lock, but I did manage to Special Summon Goliath on its own to put pressure on Angel until he used Lost Wind to negate its effect and halve its ATK. The most annoying part of this match happened when we had to start doing actual math – Goliath attacked directly for 1375 damage, leaving Angel at 3625 LP. Luckily the game was over soon after that with me taking Game 1.

Game 2's notes are really short. I'm at 8000, I'm at 3600, I'm at 600, then I'm at 0.

Game 3 went into time, but I had a big field advantage using Soul Charge to Special Summon Gadarla, the Mystery Dust Kaiju, Sage with Eyes of Blue, Master with Eyes of Blue and Dragon Spirit of White with an Azure-Eyes Silver Dragon already out. Angel couldn't fight his way back into the game from there.


8) Table 52 vs. Tyler Austin Hoch (60-card Zoodiac Infernoids)
No detailed notes sadly, but I won Game 1 with 6000 LP remaining. I believe I resolved Future Fusion successfully which set up my graveyard for an unprotected Amorphage Goliath play, but Austin dealt with it easily. The Five-Headed Dragon that followed was not so easily answered.

Tyler started off Normal Summoning Infernoid Decatron and I chained Ghost Reaper & Winter Cherries to banish all of Tyler's Zoodiac Dridents from the game before he could copy Infernoid Devyaty's effect. I also remember setting up the Number 95 / Goliath lock with a Return of the Dragon Lords in the graveyard which was answered by a Decatron copying Infernoid Attondell, tributing itself to banish Return, followed by a Raigeki.

Tyler resolved Void Imagination for Infernoid Tierra, but I forget how I was able to deal with it. I somehow did, and was able to take Game 2, and suddenly I was one match away from a potential WCQ invite.


Between rounds, I spoke to a few players and one of them also had a 5-2-1 record.

“So we might play each other”

Head Judge: “Attention duelists: online pairings are posted.”

Me: “I'm at table 34. Where are you?”

“Also table 34.”

“Well then.”

9) Table 34 vs. James Jared Randolph (40-card Paleozoic Frogs)
If I remember this correctly, we both had relatively weak openings, but I was able to field a Blue-Eyes Alternative White Dragon for a direct attack before James banished it with Paleozoic Dinomiscus, and I got in a direct attack with a Dragon Spirit of White.

With me at 5800 LP and James at 2500 LP with a Toadally Awesome on the field, I drew into a second Alternative and figured I could try for game. I used my on-field Dragon Ravine, pitched a Dragon Spirit of White, and dumped the third Alternative from the deck. I used The White Stone of Ancients from y graveyard to try and get back the Alternative, forcing the Toadally Awesome negation, sending itself as the cost. That afforded me the opportunity to drop the freshly-drawn Blue-Eyes Alternative White Dragon and attack for game.

 Toadally Awesome
Toadally Awesome124750
Set Invasion: Vengeance
Number INOV-EN052
Level 2
Type Xyz/Effect Monster
Monster Aqua
Attribute WATER 
A / D 2200 / 0
Rarity Secret Rare
Card Text

2 Level 2 Aqua-Type monsters
Once per turn, during the Standby Phase: You can detach 1 Xyz Material from this card; Special Summon 1 "Frog" monster from your Deck. Once per turn, during either player's turn, when your opponent activates a Spell/Trap Card, or monster effect: You can send 1 Aqua-Type monster from your hand or face-up from your field to the Graveyard; negate the activation, and if you do, destroy that card, then you can Set it to your field. If this card is sent to the Graveyard: You can target 1 WATER monster in your Graveyard; add it to your hand.

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Plagues Payplace 1st Edition - Moderately Played 2 $6.49
Game Goblins 1st Edition - Lightly Played 3 $6.69

Sadly game 2 is also lacking details, but I do remember Dragon Spirit of White continuing to be the MVP of this tournament, putting in all kinds of work and banishing James's key cards. I took Game 2 with 4600 LP left.


Final standing: 43rd out 475 competitors. Invites went to the top 48, securing me my second WCQ invite – I got my first way back in November 2010.

So this was a long time coming, and I'm glad I finally redeemed myself. I made the decision to judge at the 2011 North American WCQ to gain experience, but right now I think I'm going to opt for the experience of playing in the World Championship Qualifier this Summer, so you'll see me in Chicago on July 8th and 9th!

Post-Event Analysis
Dragon Spirit of White was the MVP of the weekend. With the majority of my matches being Paleozoic Frogs, the ability to break even on Summons and force bad trades like Paleozoic Dinomiscus on a Dragon Spirit of White after it's already paid for itself was generally good.

The second MVP was Ghost Reaper & Winter Cherries. Stripping away Toadally Awesomes and Zoodiac Dridents was so clutch in restricting my opponent's plays that I'll definitely continue to Side Deck it.

I drew Future Fusion twice and resolved it once. It's difficult to say if it's going to stay in, but we'll see.

Xyz Universe looked like a good idea, but since I didn't encounter any pure Zoodiac matchups, it never came in. I'm not sure if this event will reflect the metagame at the WCQ, but we'll see.

And after all that, I'm still salty over the slow-playing ABC player from Round 1.

If you have questions about Regional Qualifiers, card interactions, game mechanics, or tournament policy, send me an e-mail (one question per e-mail please!) to and your question could be answered in a future edition of Court of Appeals!

-Joe Frankino

Joe is a Yu-Gi-Oh! judge and player from Long Island, New York. You can read his non-card game things at and watch his video game streaming things at

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