Side Deck Theory: Answering Trickstar Reincarnation

Kelly Locke

12/5/2017 11:00:00 AM
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The second YCS Prague of 2017 helped highlight a trend that was already apparent at Regional events: Trickstars are better than ever, and they're giving SPYRALs a serious run for their money.

The competitive environment since the November Forbidden & Limited List is still largely defined by decks that can stand up to SPYRALs, which remains the dominant strategy despite receiving two serious hits. Trickstars are performing well in a large part because their match-up against SPYRALs is so strong. In fact, Trickstars have about an equal match-up against nearly every deck in the game when playing first thanks to their non-interactive play style. Love it or hate it, Trickstars are an excellent pick this format at every level of competition thanks to one key card: Trickstar Reincarnation.

Trickstars were the second most represented deck at YCS Prague and eventually claimed seven spots in the Top 32 – with SPYRALs leading in both categories. It's an outstanding result, particularly compared to Pendulum Magicians which lost far more players in the transition from Day 2 to the Top 32. Trickstars converted forty-one Day 2 players to seven in the Top 32, while Pendulum Magicians managed to land just two out of thirty Day 2 qualifiers. To be clear, we don't know the records of those players who made Day 2, but the comparison is just as valid with entry representation. The difference there was just twelve players – 147 to 135. Ultimately the falloff was more extreme for Pendulums.

 Trickstar Reincarnation
$34.98
$24.99
$17.90
Trickstar Reincarnation139241
Set Code of the Duelist
Number COTD-EN068
Type Normal Trap
Attribute TRAP 
Rarity Secret Rare
Card Text

Banish your opponent's entire hand, and if you do, they draw the same number of cards. You can banish this card from your GY, then target 1 "Trickstar" monster in your GY; Special Summon it.


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Duelists at YCS Prague came prepared for the Trickstar match-up with heavier Main Deck tech against Trickstars and – of course – plenty of Side Deck answers to the deck's most dangerous cards. Trickstars have two big gimmicks that both involve Trickstar Reincarnation, so players sided heavily for that trap at the cost of eliminating Side Deck picks for other match-ups. In a format that's far more diverse than it was a little over a month ago it's a telling sign that players are willing to side in upwards of four cards for a single match-up.

The Trickstar threat is real, and this week I want to check out some of the most popular Side Deck picks from YCS Prague.

‘New' Answers For Trickstar Reincarnation
Going second against Trickstars without a hand trap available can make you feel helpless. There's little you can do if your opponent opens up with a hand loop or a burn OTK. For those unfamiliar with how the deck works: Trickstar Reincarnation and Droll & Lock Bird can rob you of your hand and prevent you from drawing new cards. The combo depends on at least one other card to fulfill the activation conditions on Droll & Lock Bird, and that's often solved by a second Reincarnation or any of your own search or draw effects. It's a nearly impossible position to win from if you're hit by it, but it does require your opponent to actually draw into Droll & Lock Bird. A somewhat lesser used strategy, although just as effective, involves Life Point burn through Trickstar Lycoris' effect.

While Trickstar Reincarnation is the most immediate win condition it's not something you need to answer directly to win. We've known for a long time that one of the best ways to beat this match-up is to deal with the deck's multiple search effects, including Trickstar Candina, Terraforming, and Trickstar Light Stage. Droll & Lock Bird and Ash Blossom & Joyous Spring do a great job of keeping your opponent away from their best cards. They're among the premier hand traps this format for a reason, and the Trickstar match-up's certainly no exception.

You have plenty of options while going second, including Solemn Strike, Solemn Warning, chainable backrow removal to destroy Trickstar Light Stage, and floodgates like Light-Imprisoning Mirror, Imperial Iron Wall, and Mistake to shut your opponent out of the duel. Burning Life Points is risky, but negating a Candina Normal Summon or effect is almost always worth it.

Negating that search effect, or stamping out future ones, is also a viable strategy towards breaking up Trickstar Reincarnation combos. Floodgates have all the usual vulnerabilities to backrow removal, especially Twin Twisters and Cosmic Cyclone, but they're still effective in combination with other sided cards.

Among the most challenging cards to play in this match-up are monster-based floodgates. They're swiftly solved by monster removal and often easily outed by Eater of Millions. There are exceptions, but tempting choices like Thunder King Rai-Oh need to be heavily supported to stick around on the field long enough to make a difference. Unfortunately Rai-Oh does nothing to stop Pot of Desires, and as a result your opponent is likely to find an out to it. However, floodgates and negation bodies can take the pressure off Ash Blossom and give you more flexibility on when you use your resources.

Chaos Hunter & Epsilon Overtake Prague
There were two big Side Deck trends at YCS Prague related to Trickstars: Chaos Hunter and PSY-Framegear Epsilon. Both cards surged in popularity and were a vital component of many player's Side Deck strategies. They both set out to accomplish the same goal of stopping Trickstar Reincarnation on Turn 2, and they're a great addition to other hand traps like Droll & Lock Bird and Ash Blossom & Joyous Spring. They're different enough that it's worth talking about each to help you decide between the two, and luckily they're also common alternatives to two of the rarest hand traps in the game.

Let's start with Chaos Hunter: I've been a big fan of it for years as an incredible answer to banish-heavy strategies. Time hasn't erased decks like Infernoids, and common tech cards from Cosmic Cyclone to Pot of Desires are keeping anti-Banish floodgates relevant. Chaos Hunter and Imperial Iron Wall are easily the best choices among blanket anti-banish floodgates, but only Chaos Hunter can answer a Turn 2 Trickstar Reincarnation. As long as your opponent Special Summons at least one monster you can activate the effect of Chaos Hunter, Special Summon it, and block your opponent's banish effects for as long as it remains face-up on the field.

Chaos Hunter's a long term solution that quickly defeats hands with multiple Trickstar Reincarnation. It also halts Cosmic Cyclone, so you can safely pair it with Continuous Traps like Light-Imprisoning Mirror or Mistake to further hurt your opponent.

 Chaos Hunter
$2.24
$0.30
$0.04
Chaos Hunter108814
Set Structure Deck: Master of Pendulum
Number SDMP-EN014
Level 7
Type Effect Monster
Monster Fiend
Attribute DARK 
A / D 2500 / 1600
Rarity Common
Card Text

When your opponent Special Summons a monster (except during the Damage Step): You can discard 1 card; Special Summon this card from your hand. Your opponent cannot banish cards.


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It's easily sided in by replacing Pot of Desires, and the same can be said for PSY-Framegear Epsilon: you need cards to defend yourself when playing second, and Desires won't help you until it's too late. Drawing additional cards means you'll be taking more damage from Trickstar Lycoris, or possibly running straight into a Droll & Lock Bird combo. Neither outcome is particularly appealing, and since it directly clashes with Chaos Hunter there's no reason to leave it in.

But there's still plenty of reason to side Chaos Hunter without trading places with Desires while going first. If you can Summon it through a Tribute Summon, Pendulum Summon, or another effect like Firewall Dragon you have a great Turn 1 solution to your opponent's set-up. It's much more effective than PSY-Framegear Epsilon in that case, and blocks your opponent's first Pot of Desires. Your own Desires will get you two cards closer to your sided cards, and you're much less likely to see conflicts between them.

PSY-Framegear Epsilon's a somewhat more recent development that topped our sales charts here at TCGplayer immediately after YCS Prague. YCS winner Raphael Neven sided three copies in his SPYRAL build , but he wasn't alone. Multiple players in the Top 32 sided Epsilon, and the card instantly became recognized worldwide as a viable alternative to Chaos Hunter.

Epsilon's a highly specific answer to Normal and Continuous Trap Cards, so in most Trickstar lists it exclusively negates Trickstar Reincarnation. That's fine, because with Reincarnation out of the picture decks like SPYRALs and Pendulum Magicians can easily overtake their Trickstar opponents.

While PSY-Framegear Epsilon doesn't require your opponent to Special Summon a monster, it's activation conditions can cause problems. You can't control a monster to activate it, which gives your opponent an opportunity to play around Epsilon by waiting to activate Reincarnation until you do control a monster. That's a bit of a Gamble, however, because you could also empty your hand long before you commit to a Summon. There's an additional layer of strategy where Trickstar players are siding Heavy Storm Duster to punish their opponents when they set their hand before activating a search effect in an attempt to avoid losing their hand.

The big trade-off between Epsilon and Chaos Hunter is the utility of Summoning two monsters through Epsilon, and the continuous floodgate of Chaos Hunter. Epsilon can help launch both Synchro and Link Summons, and it's an overall better picks for decks that are also looking for an out to Dimensional Barrier. Chaos Hunter puts in work against Zombies and Infernoids where banishing is crucial, but more importantly it's the ideal going-first card between the two. They're both excellent choices, although if you're already playing PSY-Framegear Gamma it's extremely easy to simply swap to Epsilon during Games 2 and 3.

Trickstar Reincarnation's currently Limited in the OCG, and it seems primed for a similar hit here in the TCG. In the meantime Chaos Hunter, PSY-Framegear Epsilon, and other hand traps can help keep you in the game against what's arguably the least interactive match-up in serious competition. It's not a match-up that many players enjoy, and I'm certainly among them, so hopefully these new innovations will make playing against Trickstars a bit more bearable.

Until next time then

-Kelly


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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