Competitive Corner: Calvin Tahan's True Draco ABC-Dragon Buster

Doug Zeeff

10/3/2017 11:00:00 AM

Whether you like him or not, it's hard to deny Calvin Tahan's success. He's taken a variety of crazy strategies to equally crazy finishes at huge tournaments. Some highlights include his Top 8 YCS Charlotte Fish deck in 2011 , 1st Place ARG Richmond Super Quantums in 2016 , and, most recently, his Top 8 Regional Qualifier 60-Card Brilliant Kaiju ABC's list this last May.

Style-wise, all of those decks are pretty different from each other. But they all have one thing in common, and it might be Tahan's biggest advantage over the competition: the decks he plays are usually the perfect metagame read.

It's not surprising then that Tahan made it all the way to the Top 4 of the recent UDS Invitational in Kissimmee, Florida. The Forbidden & Limited List changes were announced September 18th, giving duelists just five days to come up with a new strategy to dominate the tournament. If that wasn't enough, the UDS Invitationals have long been known as some of the hardest tournaments out there due to a grueling number of rounds and extremely high level of invite-only competition.

Like many people, Tahan likely saw that Dragonic Diagram and Master Peace, the True Dracoslaying King were still unrestricted. While some players dove towards a purer Card of Demise variant of True Dracos, pretty much all of them flopped at the UDS. Against decks like Pendulum Magicians, Demise True Dracos weren't consistent enough for such a long tournament. But Tahan went a different route, playing only the most powerful True Draco cards in combination with ABC-Dragon Buster. The result was an incredibly versatile deck that regularly started with Dragon Buster and Master Peace, the True Dracoslaying King.

That's a pretty difficult field to beat, and in a wide-open format those types of boards reign supreme. Let's take a look at his list:

    True Draco ABC-Dragon Buster Calvin Tahan    
  Location:  UDS - 2017-09-24 Kissimmee Florida - 3rd - 4th Place
Main Deck
Side Deck
2 A-Assault Core
3 Ash Blossom & Joyous Spring
2 B-Buster Drake
2 C-Crush Wyvern
3 Ghost Ogre & Snow Rabbit
2 Gold Gadget
2 Master Peace, the True Dracoslaying King
1 Maxx "C"
2 Silver Gadget
Monsters [19]
3 Dragonic Diagram
1 Gateway to Chaos
3 Set Rotation
3 Terraforming
1 True Draco Heritage
3 Twin Twisters
3 Union Hangar
1 Upstart Goblin
Spells [18]
2 True Draco Apocalypse
1 True King's Return
Traps [3]
Deck Total [40]
2 Cosmic Cyclone
1 Gadarla, the Mystery Dust Kaiju
1 Gameciel, the Sea Turtle Kaiju
3 Ghost Reaper & Winter Cherries
1 Imperial Order
1 Interrupted Kaiju Slumber
1 Kumongous, the Sticky String Kaiju
1 Magnet Reverse
3 System Down
1 Union Scramble
Side Deck [15]


3 ABC-Dragon Buster
1 Abyss Dweller
1 Ancient Fairy Dragon
1 Bujintei Tsukuyomi
1 Castel, the Skyblaster Musketeer
2 Decode Talker
3 Diamond Dire Wolf
1 Gear Gigant X
1 Proxy Dragon
1 Tornado Dragon
Extra Deck [15]

If you're unfamiliar with the ABC theme, here's a quick breakdown: Union Hangar's by far the most important card, getting you to two different “pieces” of the ABC-Dragon Buster puzzle.

To summon ABC-Dragon Buster, you'll need A - Assault Core, B - Buster Drake, and C- Crush Wyvern on your field or in your graveyard. Union Hangar searches one of them, and then equips another to it when it's summoned. That leaves you to find a way to the last combo piece, although there are multiple ways to get it. One of the classics is Union Hangar and Gold Gadget, which you can use to make a Link Monster or Rank 4 Xyz. As long as you equipped B - Buster Drake, you'll get a search effect for C - Crush Wyvern.

At that point you just need the C - Crush Wyvern out of your hand. Bujintei Tsukuyomi was an oldschool choice, letting you pitch your C - Crush Wyvern for two fresh cards. But Tahan's main goal was to destroy the in-hand C - Crush Wyvern with Dragonic Diagram, searching a Master Peace, the True Dracoslaying King in the process of setting up his boss monster. Another benefit is that he could use the Dragonic Diagram to destroy either Gold or Silver Gadget, which triggers their graveyard effects to summon the other Gadget.

What made this deck so consistent was its use of Field Spells. Make sure to check out Tahan's deck profile if you have a chance, because he runs through a couple test hands to show you how consistent the deck really was. All you need to get going is two Dragonic Diagrams or Dragonic Diagram and Union Hangar. It's not that the other cards in your hand don't matter, it's just that resolving two Field Spells on your first turn is the easiest way to win the game.

And boy did he play a lot of Field Spells.

Obviously three copies each of Dragonic Diagram and Union Hangar are musts. And naturally, three Terraformings follow suit. But Tahan took it two steps further: not only did he play three Set Rotations, he also ran one copy of Gateway to Chaos. In matchups where Tahan's opponents weren't playing Field Spells, Set Rotation was just extra copies of Terraforming, boosting the chances of opening with each Field Spell exponentially because he'd essentially have nine copies of them.

 Set Rotation
Set Rotation131181
Set Maximum Crisis
Number MACR-EN064
Type Quick-Play Spell Card
Attribute SPELL 
Rarity Short Print
Card Text

Set 2 Field Spell Cards with different names from your Deck on the field (1 on your field, and 1 on your opponent's field). While either of those cards remain Set on the field, neither player can activate or Set other Field Spell Cards.

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Gateway to Chaos gave Tahan an edge in any matchup where his opponent was also using Field Spells, such as True Dracos. By giving your opponent Gateway to Chaos with Set Rotation, they can't play another Field Spell until they flip it face-up. That's difficult because Gateway to Chaos has a mandatory search effect for Black Luster Soldier Ritual monsters. If your opponent isn't playing one, then they can't play any Field Spells for the entire game. That's almost an auto-win against a variety of decks.

Building Around Link Summoning
This wasn't the first tournament with Link Summoning in the mix, but it was the first one where the new F&L List and Link Summoning were both in effect. Because Link Summoning made so few changes to Zoodiacs, players didn't really get a chance to experience what a real Link Summoning era would be like until the F&L List arrived. To many people's surprise, the top deck at that event was Pendulum Magicians, with most builds not running a single Link Monster in their Extra Deck.

Tahan used three Link Monsters: two Decode Talkers and one Proxy Dragon. But I'm more interested in how he designed his deck to play around the new restrictions. You can see the first measure in the simple choice to run True Dracos. Some players gravitated towards things like Brilliant Fusion to accelerate their combos, but that can be clunky if you can't also get a Link Monster on the field.

By playing Master Peace, the True Dracoslaying King, Tahan could easily throw two gigantic threats on the field every turn. He didn't have to jump through any hoops, either, because the True Draco engine would never need to dig into the Extra Deck in the first place.

For even more stopping power, Tahan ran seven hand traps in his Main Deck. A ton of people just played Ash Blossom & Joyous Spring in their Main Decks at the UDS, but Tahan's decision to Main Deck Ghost Ogre & Snow Rabbit as well seems to have paid off. He went through a few combos in post-event interviews where he uses his hand traps to summon Ancient Fairy Dragon too, leading to a variety of off-the-wall plays that you wouldn't expect in this type of deck.

Look to the Extra Deck and you'll notice a full three copies of Diamond Dire Wolf. It's great because it destroys itself and frees up your Extra Deck Zone. You can often make two Diamond Dire Wolfs on your second turn because one ABC-Dragon Buster tag out effect just puts so many monsters on the field at once, and then you can use the Xyz Materials that are now in your graveyard to make a follow-up ABC-Dragon Buster. Cards like Decode Talker and Proxy Dragon were useful to some degree, but the entirety of Tahan's Main and Extra Deck seems streamlined to avoid summoning Link Monsters, taking advantage of powerful standalone cards to score wins.

I'm not sure if this exact list has the potential to be a real contender moving forward. Circuit Break is coming up fast, and the only events before its release are Regional Qualifiers. I think this deck could easily earn you an invite at one of those Regional Qualifiers, although it would probably need some Tuning to stand up to SPYRALS at YCS Dallas in a few weeks. But I think this is another example of Tahan's excellent deck-building, and I can't wait to see what he comes up with once Circuit Break drops!

-Doug Zeeff

Doug Zeeff hails from Michigan and is currently an English major in college. When he's not found emailing Konami about why there's not a single walrus card in all of Yu-Gi-Oh! you can find him regularly posting unorthodox, unfiltered Yu-Gi-Oh! content on his Youtube channel, Dzeeff. In his spare time he enjoys eating cheese, Overwatch, and, of course, playing Yu-Gi-Oh. Click here to follow him and his adventures on Facebook!

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