Side Deck Theory: The New F&L List's Debut At YCS Denver

Kelly Locke

4/18/2017 11:00:00 AM

The first YCS under the latest Forbidden & Limited List took place in Colorado earlier this month. YCS Denver gave us our first look at Championship-level competition as we begin to approach the World Championship Qualifier later this summer.

Although the current F&L List will almost certainly be in effect for the North American WCQ, there's still another core set release waiting for us in May and two Structure Decks that hit shelves last week. That said, trends this early are helping indicate which decks we're most likely to see after the release of Maximum Crisis.

Metalfoes Return
The sudden return of Metalfoes might have caught you off guard if you tuned out shortly after the Forbidden & Limited List announcement. When Paleozoics emerged unscathed there was very Little Doubt that it would quickly become the new deck to beat, but as YCS Denver showed us those early assessment ended up being dead wrong. Surprisingly it was Metalfoes that surged ahead in the new format. After losing Majespecter Unicorn - Kirin Metalfoes players have found new ways to stay competitive, and for the first time in months more duelists are picking up the deck instead of dropping it.

A major player in the new Metalfoes strategy is Baobaboon. Although it was legal for YCS Prague it didn't make much of an impact there. Metalfoes had a much bigger showing at YCS Guatemala City, but the deck still didn't take off until after the format changed. Seven Metalfoes players made the Top 32 at YCS Denver and outperformed both Infernoids and Paleozoics in terms of Top 32 presence. A recent uptick in Metalfoes Top 8's at Regionals confirms a growing trend of players returning to the deck and those picking it up for the first time.

Set Raging Tempest: Special Edition
Level 3
Type Effect Monster
Monster Plant
Attribute DARK 
A / D 1200 / 1000
Rarity Super Rare
Card Text

If this card is Normal or Special Summoned: You can draw 1 card, then place 1 card from your hand on either the top or bottom of your Deck. If this card is destroyed by battle or card effect: You can Special Summon any number of "Baobaboon" from your Deck.

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From a match-up perspective Metalfoes are surprisingly well-positioned this format. Dimensional Barrier and Solemn Strike remain the deck's biggest obstacles to overcome, but a diverse pool of cards and various Summoning methods helps Metalfoes stay in the game even when their Summons are prevented. Shutting down Pendulum Summons leaves the Zoodiac and Baobaboon engines available for Xyz plays, and Fusion Summons add a third Summoning method to the strategy. There are plenty of ways for Metalfoes to dodge backrow and keep up the pressure against Zoodiacs, Paleozoics, and Infernoids.

Just check out that match-up against Paleozoics: Metalfoes can hold their own in the late game by virtue of being a Pendulum theme. Free card advantage in the form of Pendulum Summoning from the Extra Deck is better than any advantage-generating interaction in the Paleozoic deck. Metalfoes can thrive at points in the duel where Zoodiacs simply fall apart despite the best efforts of Daigusto Emeral and Zoodiac Combo.

The early game has always been a challenge for Metalfoes, and for Pendulum strategies in general. It's easy to get blown out by Twin Twisters or Solemn Strike, and Pendulum Summoning itself is a two-card investment and two-card combo. You need both ends of a Pendulum Scale to get your plays going. Recall that Metalfoes started gathering attention in the TCG well before The Dark Illusion when OCG players realized that adding cards like Vortex Trooper increased the deck's consistency.

Baobaboon's essentially a better form of hand correction that also doubles as a simple Rank 3 engine. Rank 3 Xyz Summons naturally validate a Zoodiac engine by way of M-X-Saber Invoker, and from there you have a complete idea of the modern Metalfoes framework.

Were Paleozoics Overhyped?
After the current F&L List was announced the most frequent criticism seemed to be that Paleozoics were untouched. The deck was clearly performing well at all levels of competition, including a couple of YCS wins. YCS Denver wasn't the overwhelming show of force we expected from Paleozoics, and players took notice. To be fair, the deck has underperformed here compared to Europe for some time. Metalfoes might have stolen the spotlight at Denver, but I don't think Paleozoics are dead and gone. Instead, they're going to have to adapt to changing Side Deck trends that address them directly.

It's difficult to know what exactly is in store for Paleozoics going forward. Are they about to be power-creeped out of the game? Will players drop the deck in favor of Dinosaurs, True Dracos, Subterrors, and SPYRALS next month? I'm not sure the deck really has a life beyond Maximum Crisis, and that's a complete reversal of my opinion from just a few weeks ago. I personally thought Zoodiacs would remain the deck-to-beat with Paleozoics as a close second. Instead Metalfoes seem to have taken up the second place slot.

Side Deck trends have a huge impact on how decks perform at major events. A quick glance at Metalfoes Side Decks reveals that players were heavily siding for Paleozoics. A new opportunity will arise if the deck drops in play and anti-Paleozoic Side Deck cards fall out of favor. We've seen what can happen when players don't side for the Paleozoic match-up, and there's no evidence yet that the deck is dead. We don't know the entry numbers at YCS Denver, so the Top 32 could be misleading.

We'll find out more about the competitive state of Paleozoics with each Regional weekend.

Trends In Answering Backrow
Royal Decree is showing up more and more often as a key Side Deck pick against Paleozoics and other trap-heavy strategies. It's one of the few answers to Dimensional Barrier, and that's hugely important for decks that rely on and one particularly Summoning method, but it's tough to play if you need traps of your own for defense. These days Royal Decree is actually best at protecting offensive plays by negating Solemn Strike and Mirror Force variants.

For Metalfoes Royal Decree takes on another crucially important role: negating Imperial Order and Anti-Spell Fragrance. Royal Decree isn't slowed or negated by either card, and any Metalfoes effect lets you shut it off if you want to resolve your own traps. Metalfoes Combination works fine with Royal Decree regardless, because the effect you most often want to resolve activates in the graveyard. While fragile, Royal Decree hits too many problem cards to pass up.

Metalfoes players are exploring other options of dealing with backrow outside of Royal Decree and Denko Sekka. Photon Cerberus showed up in Lane Frazier's 60-Card Majespecter Zoodiac Metalfoes as a solution to heavy backrow without the no-set clause of Denko Sekka. Its effect prevents both players from activating trap cards for the rest of the turn, but it doesn't stop either player from setting cards. You can still activate the effects of Metalfoes Pendulum Monsters while Photon Cerberus is on the field.

Frazier also sided Typhoon to address Imperial Order and Anti-Spell Fragrance. Although Photon Cerberus could stand in for Royal Decree against most traps it was still useless against continuous floodgates. Typhoon gave Frazier an immediate answer to both floodgates, and in some cases he wouldn't have to wait a turn. Interestingly, Frazier included an Imperial Order in his Main Deck. Typhoon doubled as an out to both his own copy and his opponent's. Elsewhere Typhoon could disrupt opposing Pendulum strategies by knocking out a face-up spell or trap card during this opponent's first turn.

 Holding Legs
Holding Legs116952
Set Millennium Pack
Number MIL1-EN004
Level 4
Type Effect Monster
Monster Fiend
Attribute DARK 
A / D 800 / 600
Rarity Super Rare
Card Text

If this card is Summoned: Return all Set Spell and Trap Cards on the field to the hand. You can banish this card from your Graveyard, then target 1 Set Spell/Trap Card your opponent controls; that Set card cannot be activated until the end of your opponent's next turn.

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Other Metalfoes players stuck with more conventional choices. Tyler Wilson sided Royal Decree, Denko Sekka, and Holding Legs as his solutions to backrow. Denko Sekka continues to be a solid long-term pick against trap-heavy strategies, while Holding Legs creates an opening for a single turn. Metalfoes are one of a handful of decks that can get the full value from Holding Leg's effect, mostly because it activates whenever it's Summoned–including Pendulum Summoned. You can save your Normal Summon for another card while baiting out backrow with Leg's effect. There's nothing better than Pendulum Summoning a single copy of Holding Legs and watching it get hit with a Solemn Strike or Warning.

Another advantage of Holding Legs is its second effect which stops your opponent from activating a targeted set spell or trap until the end of their next turn. You can still take one set card out of the equation even if you lose your Holding Legs to some form of negation. You can also destroy it with a Metalfoes Pendulum effect to load it into the graveyard earlier, which is especially useful if it was hit by some kind of effect negation.

With so many news was to tackle the Paleozoic match-up it's no surprise that Metalfoes are making a comeback. Of course, backrow removal and negation isn't limited to one match-up this format. Zoodiacs are relatively trap-heavy on their own. Solving your opponent's boards often starts with one question: can I play around Dimensional Barrier and Solemn Strike? That Grass Looks Greener is one way of answering that question, and cards like Denko Sekka, Holding Legs, Royal Decree, and Photon Cerberus are also equally valid.

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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