Side Deck Theory: Early Season Regional Tech

Kelly Locke

8/28/2017 11:00:00 AM

The first batch of Regionals for the 2017-2018 season ended with mostly predictable results despite the enormous rule changes put in place last month. Link Monsters are finally here, but that hasn't stopped Zoodiacs and True Dracos from dominating the competitive scene. Players are taking note, however, and adjusting their Side Decks to counter Link-infused strategies.

True Dracos Zoodiacs, Pure Zoodiacs, and Kaiju Zoodiacs are still locked in a battle of rock paper scissors. These match-ups have largely defined the format going back to May. True King Dinosaurs and Demise True Dracos have effectively become the remainder of the field, with Invoked Windwitch and some 60-card strategies existing a step above the remainder of less-than-competitive strategies.

The advent of the Link era didn't shatter that game of rock paper scissors; we have plenty of examples in the Deck Archive of each Zoodiac variant making appearances in Regional Top 8s. Those decks aren't going anywhere, and that's a testament to the versatility of the Zoodiac engine. I'd guess that Zoodiacs, and other themes released earlier this year, were designed to remain playable after the Link rule change. There would've been far more community backlash against Links had KDE rendered Dinosaurs and Zoodiacs completely unplayable just a few months after their release.

Missus Radiant plays a huge role in the current Zoodiac strategy. The newfound dependence on Links has exposed Zoodiacs to a new set of Side Deck cards, including Overworked and Number 103: Ragnazero. But they're hardly the only effective Side Deck cards for the new Link-focused Zoodiac strategy. Floodgate Trap Hole and Quaking Mirror Force were very popular at the first batch of Regionals. Both cards punish players for using the Link mechanic, but their uses are nuanced and the match-ups they're played in make a huge difference to their efficacy.

 Quaking Mirror Force
Quaking Mirror Force130146
Set Structure Deck: Dinosmasher's Fury
Number SR04-EN036
Type Normal Trap Card
Attribute TRAP 
Rarity Common
Card Text

When an opponent's monster declares an attack: Change all Attack Position monsters your opponent controls to face-down Defense Position. Monsters changed to face-down Defense Position by this effect cannot change their battle positions.

Store Condition Qty Avail Price  
Omega Card Games 1st Edition - Near Mint 4 $0.75
Battlegrounds Games 1st Edition - Damaged 1 $0.85
Yatalock 1st Edition - Near Mint 1 $0.89
Franks Cave 1st Edition - Damaged 1 $0.99
fangproductions 1st Edition - Near Mint 1 $0.99
Ultra Okay Gaming 1st Edition - Heavily Played 1 $1.00
Blue Diamond 1st Edition - Near Mint 1 $1.00
Element Gaming 1st Edition - Near Mint 1 $1.00
Gsantsm 1st Edition - Near Mint 1 $1.09
Neverland Games 1st Edition - Moderately Played 1 $1.16

Floodgate Trap Hole and Quaking Mirror Force set your opponent's monsters and prevent them from being flipped face-up. Remember that Link Summons require face-up monsters like Synchro and Xyz Summons. By setting your opponent's monsters you're excluding those cards from being used as Link Materials. Simple, right? Book of Moon and other cards with similar effects are solid choices.

But what really makes Floodgate Trap Hole and Quaking Mirror Force stand out is their ability to ‘lock' zones. In the past only the quantity of zones stuck with unflippable monsters mattered to you. As long as you could Summon enough monsters to access your Extra Deck you were usually fine. Locking down zones matters much more now. Any Zone with a monster stuck in it can cripple your ability to Summon Extra Deck Monsters. If you hit an early Xyz, Synchro, or Fusion with Floodgate Trap Hole your opponent will need to destroy or tribute it before they can Summon another.

Quaking Mirror Force doesn't stop combos outright, but it's excellent for locking up whole fields of Extra Deck monsters. Pure Zoodiacs have trouble dealing with flexible Normal Traps, and even Battle Phase traps can have a huge impact in the match-up. Flipping monsters in zones with Link Arrows pointed to them negates the entire purpose of Missus Radiant or Decode Talker, and each trap behaves very differently based on their activation condition: Floodgate Trap Hole will stop your opponent from building up their field, and Quaking Mirror Force punishes players who over extend.

Link mechanics themselves encourage overextending, so Quaking Mirror Force is positioned better than ever.

Deflecting Problem Cards
Magic Deflector remained a popular pick over the weekend as duelists looked to fill the gaps in their hand trap coverage. Deflector's a harder stop to Dragonic Diagram and helps to bait out and negate backrow removal. Cosmic Cyclone and Twin Twisters are still outstanding cards this format and it's largely up to Magic Deflector to counter them.

There's no hand trap in the game that can save you from Twin Twisters.

Magic Deflector wasn't the problem solver at the top tables. Zaphion, the Timelord saw play in Chris Watton's 60-card Plant Zombie Lightsworns . Zaphion sends all of your opponent's spells and traps back to their deck and clears the way for aggressive plays later in the turn, or next turn. Its resistance to destruction makes it tough to stop without Summon or effect negation. At the very least Zaphion is likely to bait out a Solemn Strike.

 Zaphion, the Timelord
Zaphion, the Timelord136821
Set Battles of Legend: Light's Revenge
Number BLLR-EN032
Level 10
Type Effect Monster
Monster Fairy
Attribute WATER 
Rarity Ultra Rare
Card Text

Cannot be Special Summoned from the Deck. If you control no monsters, you can Normal Summon this card without Tributing. Cannot be destroyed by battle or card effects. You take no battle damage from attacks involving this card. At the end of the Battle Phase, if this card battled: Shuffle all Spells and Traps your opponent controls into the Deck. If this card is sent from the field to the GY: You can draw 1 card. Once per turn, during your Standby Phase: Shuffle this card into the Deck.

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Astoundingcards 1st Edition - Near Mint 1 $0.01
PrivateCardSoldier 1st Edition - Near Mint 1 $0.51
Titan Production 1st Edition - Near Mint 1 $0.60
Sunshine Games 1st Edition - Lightly Played 2 $0.81
GameTimeCC 1st Edition - Near Mint 2 $0.98
Gaming Goat Joliet 1st Edition - Near Mint 2 $0.99
SCS CardShop 1st Edition - Near Mint 2 $1.03
Kpw Cards 1st Edition - Near Mint 2 $1.22
xpertgamingshop 1st Edition - Lightly Played 1 $1.24
Yugioh Black Market 1st Edition - Near Mint 5 $1.25

Time Maiden helped Watton make the most of Zaphion, the Time Lord. Time Maiden could be loaded into the graveyard by any of Watton's discard or mill effects, and from there he could banish it to Special Summon Zaphion from the deck. Quick access to Zaphion helped Watton break up established backrow, fling Field Spells back into the deck, and apply pressure to his opponent without expending any of the resources in his hand.

Heavy Storm Duster was played, but few decks in the Top 8s ran it. Twin Twisters and Cosmic Cyclone were far more popular. Imperial Order saw slightly more play than Heavy Storm Duster, but it was eclipsed by Magic Deflector. Players don't want to give up their own spells even if doing so will rob their opponent of them. True Draco variants were a bit more likely to play it, and it's worth noting that most of the reports on our database are Pure Zoodiacs.

Other Interesting Side Deck Picks
Cameron Neal's Kaiju Zoodiacs played a full set of Appointer of the Red Lotus in the Side Deck. Appointer has been hit or miss with Zoodiac players this format, but it's hard to ignore its effectiveness against hand traps. It's also a great pick for breaking up combos by banishing freshly-searched cards. Appointer of the Red Lotus should be a known factor by this point, but it's not yet seeing the level of play its price tag warrants. As a result it's somewhat unexpected. Players still aren't prepared to suddenly lose a card in their hand, or have their hand's contents revealed.

Macro Cosmos has been making a showing lately in Zoodiacs to answer the True Draco match-up. Dylan Tischer sided a copy in his Pure Zoodiacs to keep himself safe from True King and True Draco spell and trap cards. Macro Cosmos is only suited to defensive play when sided in Zoodiacs: ultimately it will burn the Zoodiac player out of resources too, but in the meantime it's harder for True Dracos to make aggressive plays. Master Peace, the True Dracoslaying King can't destroy anything if the graveyard stays empty. Better yet, Macro Cosmos is essentially immune to True Draco Heritage and Disciples of the True Dracophoenix.

William Preising played an awesome Volcanic True Draco hybrid with Main Deck Volcanic cards, but his Side Deck is also worth checking out; he sided three Fossil Dyna Pachycephalo and Heavy Storm Duster to compliment his radically different True Draco build. Fossil Dyna's slow, but it slows down your opponent even more. Preising had plenty of ways to defend his floodgate thanks to Blaze Accelerator Reload and Lose 1 Turn – not to mention all the usual True Draco tricks.

 Heavy Storm Duster
Heavy Storm Duster139249
Set Code of the Duelist
Number COTD-EN076
Type Normal Trap
Attribute TRAP 
Rarity Super Rare
Card Text

Target up to 2 Spells/Traps on the field; destroy them. You cannot conduct your Battle Phase the turn you activate this card.

Store Condition Qty Avail Price  
OL trading 1st Edition - Near Mint 2 $0.50
DavidNJames Unlimited - Near Mint 1 $0.70
Rare Value Games Unlimited - Near Mint 3 $0.75
autocards 1st Edition - Near Mint 2 $0.75
Duel Monsters Pro Unlimited - Near Mint 1 $0.85
Yatalock Unlimited - Near Mint 3 $0.89
Yatalock 1st Edition - Near Mint 1 $0.89
The Next Level Games Unlimited - Near Mint 1 $0.90
realgoodeal 1st Edition - Near Mint 70 $0.94
IDeal808 1st Edition - Near Mint 64 $0.95

In this build Heavy Storm Duster serves the purpose of floodgate removal and generating card advantage. Preising wouldn't always win games fast, but his deck thrived in the long run. Heavy Storm Duster accentuates his strategy's competitive advantage over other True Draco variants by leveraging even more +1's on top of an aggressive Volcanic engine. The extra draws from Blaze Accelerator Reload and Magic Planter can even outpace Demise True Draco variants.

Kerry Fischer's Side Deck for his True King Yang Zing Dinosaur build was very surprising and especially interesting. Although his monster line-up was already at thirty-three cards he managed to pack in even more monsters in his Side Deck, including a set of Effect Veiler. That might seem like an odd choice, but Fischer was already maxed out on Ghost Ogre & Snow Rabbit as well as Ash Blossom & Joyous Springs.

Fischer wasn't alone in maxing out nearly every hand trap at his disposal. Chris Watton also sided Veilers alongside Ash Blossoms after maining three Ghost Ogres. Fischer's choices were a bit more surprising, however, since he was running a 44-card build against Watton's 60. Ten hand traps out of 44 cards is incredible, and it shows that there's still room for Effect Veiler despite how great Ghost Ogre and Ash Blossom are.

That said, Ghost Ogre was the clear favorite at Regionals over the weekend. Part of that might be due to its accessibility to players versus Ash Blossom, but even those who ran Ash Blossoms were often siding them in favor of Ghost Ogres. Clearly the format is still being worked out. Each weekend reveals new Side Deck tech that is uniquely awesome in the post-Link environment. YCS Toronto is only just getting started at the time of writing, so we'll talk about the first YCS of the season next week.

Until next time then


Kelly​​​ ​​​Locke​​​ ​​​is​​​ ​​​a​​​ ​​​West​​​ ​​​Michigan​​​ ​​​gamer and writer.​​​ ​​​​​​ ​​​In​​​ ​​​addition​​​ ​​​to​​​ ​​​writing​​​ ​​​on TCGplayer,​​​ ​​​Kelly​​​ ​​​writes​​​ a ​​​​​​ personal​​​ ​​​blog​​​ ​​​ ​​​covering​​​ ​​​Yugioh,​​​ ​​​Destiny,​​​ ​​​and​​​ ​​​other​​​ ​​​hobbies.​​​ ​​​You​​​ ​​​can follow​​​ ​​​him​​​ ​​​on​​​ ​​​​​​ Twitter​​​ ​​​ ​​​and​​​ ​​​check​​​ ​​​out​​​ ​​​his​​​ ​​​​​​ Youtube​​​ ​​​channel​​​ .​​​ ​​​​​​ ​​​He​​​ ​​​also studied marketing at Western Michigan University.

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