Side Deck Theory: YCS Melbourne Highlights

Kelly Locke

1/23/2018 11:00:00 AM

YCS Melbourne was the first YCS of 2018 and one of the final events before the release of Extreme Force in early February. Despite being the first YCS anywhere in over a month, the top cut looked pretty much identical to what we've seen elsewhere: SPYRALS have a clear leg up on the competition with Trickstars and Pendulum Magicians trailing in their wake. The competitive scene hasn't changed much since the last Forbidden & Limited List in November, and without knowing the full set list for Extreme Force it's hard to tell how much that will change next month.

In the meantime players have been experimenting with Side Deck tech to given them an edge in highly competitive match-ups.

Recent Regionals have cemented Chaos Hunter and Mind Crush as top-level picks, and both Solemn Strike and Solemn Warning are still seeing their usual amount of play. Kaijus, hand traps, and of course Evenly Matched saw their fair share of action, but there were other choices at Melbourne that deserve a second look. The Artifact engine appeared in the Top 8 after declining in play months ago, and Forbidden Chalice cracked the Top 4 .

There's a lot to talk about just in the 1st Place deck list by Ryan Levine . His Side Deck contains four of the cards I want to to discuss this week: Bottomless Trap Hole, Floodgate Trap Hole, Magical Spring, and Ghostrick Jackfrost.

Trap Holes Return Without Rafflesia
Traptrix Rafflesia was an unfortunate victim of the Link era with the introduction of the Extra Monster Zone, and since then it's been outpaced by better defensive Xyz Monsters like Toadally Awesome and Number 41: Bagooska the Terribly Tired Tapir. It's hard to make a case for Rafflesia these days, but that doesn't mean Trap Hole cards aren't playable. In fact, many players at YCS Melbourne avoided Solemns altogether and sided Floodgate Trap Hole and Bottomless Trap Hole instead.

These cards have seen plenty of competitive play in the past, but there's a very specific reason they're showing up now: you want to avoid sending Trickstars and SPYRALs to the graveyard whenever possible, and both Trap Holes accomplish that goal while the Solemns fail to do so.

Trap cards this format outside of Evenly Matched are all about halting Link Summons, and while Solemn Warning and Solemn Strike accomplish that goal they unfortunately allow your opponent to make follow-up plays. Negating and destroying a SPYRAL Super Agent sets up SPYRAL GEAR - Big Red and SPYRAL MISSION - Rescue to immediately return Agent to the field. Ideally you'd wait for your opponent to Link Summon SPYRAL Double Helix before flipping your Summon negation, but Super Agent's spell and trap removal effect makes that plan far too risky.

 Floodgate Trap Hole
Floodgate Trap Hole141507
Set 2017 Mega-Tins Mega Pack
Number MP17-EN114
Type Normal Trap Card
Attribute TRAP 
Rarity Ultra Rare
Card Text

When your opponent Summons a monster(s): Change that monster(s) to face-down Defense Position. Monsters changed to face-down Defense Position by this effect cannot change their battle positions.

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The best option to answer Super Agent plays is either some sort of floodgate which SPYRALs can easily navigate around or a trap that deals with Super Agent without sending it to the graveyard. That's where Floodgate Trap Hole and Bottomless Trap Hole become invaluable.

Their non-targeting effects make a Link Summon with Super Agent as a material impossible, and by keeping it out of the graveyard your opponent's recovery options become unplayable. Both effects of SPYRAL MISSION - Rescue and the maintenance cost of SPYRAL Resort require a SPYRAL monster to be in the graveyard, making a well-timed Trap Hole deceptively disastrous to your opponent's early game strategy.

Fool Me Once, Can't Get Fooled Again
I've noticed a trend among players at my local gaming shop where long-time fans of Madolches inevitably picked up Ghostricks, then much later began playing Trickstars. If I had to guess I'd say it has something to do with the art styles in each theme.

As a result I thought it was incredibly fitting to see Ghostrick Jackfrost show up at the championship-level as a Side Deck pick against Trickstars: one tricky theme facing off against another. Jackfrost has seen competitive play in the past as a defensive hand trap in a number of match-ups. Its non-targeting effect made it an excellent choice against Bujins, and today you can use it to flip monsters like SPYRAL Sleeper face-down.

That said, Ghostrick Jackfrost was sided almost exclusively for the Trickstar match-up. It comes into play when your opponent's attempting to deal damage through direct attacks with Trickstar Candina. You'll typically see the first attack come through with Candina, then your opponent will activate Trickstar Lycoris by targeting Candina to return it to the hand. With multiple copies it's possible to get OTK'd here, especially if you've already taken burn damage.

But Jackfrost can halt the first attack and defend against the second. If your opponent tries to bounce their Candina out of the way to stop Jackfrost's Summon you can simply activate Jackfrost on the next attack. Either way you're likely to avoid taking any Battle Damage that turn.

Ghostrick Jackfrost isn't a high-impact Side Deck pick, but it's a great way to stall out a bit longer in the match-up. You'll be safe as long as your opponent isn't loading up on a huge field filled with Link Monsters since Jackfrost is powerless against them. But because Jackfrost is so easy to play around it's worth asking whether it'll be viable in the future. Even Ryan Levine commented that he'd be unlikely to play it going forward.

This trick may have only worked once at a Championship-level environment, but I suspect we'll see Jackfrost at smaller even local-level events moving forward.

Prohibition Beats Everything
Prohibition may be the single-most versatile card in the game next to Psi-Blocker, and now both cards are returning to the competitive scene in a big way to counter hand traps, SPYRALs, and Evenly Matched.

Nearly every strategy can use Prohibition to declare a hand trap before they make their opening play, and while it's risky to do so it's not unreasonable. Calling Droll & Lock Bird after seeing it in Game 1 can save you from having to deal with a punishing temporary floodgate that turn, leaving your opponent with a dead card as they head into Turn 2. If your opponent has Ash Blossom & Joyous Spring instead you'll still need to play through it, but if you're more afraid of Droll than Ash there's little reason not to try and blow out your opponent's defenses preemptively.

More commonly Prohibition's used to shut down SPYRAL Super Agent in the SPYRAL match-up a move that keeps Prohibition safe from Super Agent's effect. In addition, SPYRAL Tough also becomes useless when it hits the field, sparing Prohibition from yet another piece of themed removal. That leaves Twin Twisters and SPYRAL Sleeper as potential outs, and those cards are much more difficult to use compared to SPYRAL Super Agent and SPYRAL Tough.

Set Structure Deck: Machina Mayhem
Number SDMM-EN022
Type Spell Card
Monster spell
Attribute SPELL 
Rarity Common
Card Text

When you activate this card, declare 1 card name. Cards with that name and their effects cannot be used. Cards on the field before this card was activated are not affected (including face-down cards).

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There's still plenty of risk associated with siding Prohibition or Psi-Blocker against SPYRALs. Your opponent could be holding a One for One, Twin Twisters, or Evenly Matched in their opening hand. SPYRALs are still very difficult to pin down with floodgates, and Prohibition will almost always end up switched with Ghost Reaper & Winter Cherries when siding for playing second.

While going first you can also use Prohibition to prevent the most dangerous Turn 2 cards from hitting the table: Evenly Matched, Magical Spring, and even Raigeki are worth considering. You might not make that choice often if you only draw into one Prohibition, but with two it's a valid choice.

Making The Most Of Ghost Reaper & Winter Cherries
Dane Neil was the only Pendulum Magician player to make the Top 32 at YCS Melbourne, and much like Trickstar players he was also siding Prohibition to preempt his opponent's hand traps. In the right match-up Prohibition also halts big SPYRAL plays, shuts down Magical Spring, or simply prevents Evenly Matched from hitting the field. It's easily supported by Mist Valley Apex Avian, and it's exactly what the deck needs to keep its field safe from the game's biggest mass removal cards.

Neil did something in his Side Deck that wasn't particularly new, but it's worth pointing out: in addition to siding three copies of Ghost Reaper & Winter Cherries Neil was also siding two Eater of Millions. Since his Extra Deck is already loaded with Winter Cherries targets he can't Summon there's no reason not to banish them for Eater of Millions. Neil wasn't going to be Summoning Toadally Awesome against SPYRALs, or playing SPYRAL Double Helix against Paleozoics or Frog hybrids. What better way to make use of these dead cards than to banish them for Eater of Millions?

It's a very minor element of siding strategy that pays off nicely. If you're trying to add a bit more efficiency to your Side Deck it's definitely one way to cleanly integrate two cards that stress your Extra Deck without severely reducing your Xyz, Link, and Synchro Summoning options. That's hugely important for the highly-versatile Pendulum Extra Deck, and Eater of Millions itself is an awesome pick for this strategy. It plays around Dimensional Barrier and Anti-Spell Fragrance, and it also baits out Solemn Strike and Solemn Warning so your Pendulum Summon is safe.

With Pendulums having such a weak showing in the Top 32 I'm starting to wonder how successful they'll be post-Extreme Force without a new Forbidden & Limited List. In Games 2 and 3 the resilience of SPYRALs makes them an immensely challenging match-up, and meanwhile Pendulums will remain as vulnerable as ever without drastically changing their builds to accommodate more outs to Magical Spring and Evenly Matched.

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​​​ ​​​Yu-Gi-Oh!,​​​ ​​​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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