Casual Capers - Bubble Blade!
Jason Grabher-Meyer

I totally had a deck in mind to write about this week, and it went completely out the window when I started playing this thing instead! I know I said I'd spend the next few weeks talking purely about casual decks, but this strategy is so close to being truly competitive that it's kind of mind-blowing. It's not quite on the level of the top decks, because every now and then it draws one too many auto-loss hands that are tough to recover from. But it's incredibly close, and more than that, it's hugely fun.

And it plays triple Elemental Hero Bubbleman!

Bubbleman? Yes, Bubbleman! I've talked quite a bit about Blade Armor Ninja over the past several weeks, but those discussions have largely revolved around actual Ninja strategies. I've noted that Blade Armor could be played in other decks as well, but I never really discussed those possibilities in my articles. Today we set that straight and look at my favorite of the bunch: an Elemental HERO scheme that uses the Special Summoning powers of Photon Thrasher and Bubbleman to churn our Blade Armor Ninjas en masse! With a single opening, this deck can unleash a flurry of monsters and end the Duel in an instant.

How It Works:
Since Blade Armor Ninja requires two Level 4 Warrior-types as its Xyz Materials, this deck is all about getting multiple Warriors to the field in one go. Photon Thrasher can be Special Summoned from your hand whenever you don't control a monster, and it's great at drawing out Thunder King Rai-Oh's negation effect. Elemental Hero Bubbleman represents the other end of the spectrum: you can Special Summon it from your hand when it's the only card left there. Note that while Bubbleman looks like it only has a single ability, it actually has two separate effects: one that lets you Special Summon it, and another that rewards you with extra draws if you Summon Bubbleman and don't have any other cards. You don't need to be down to your last card to Special Summon Bubbleman: you just have to empty your hand. You'll hopefully never need to use that second effect, but it's the first one - the easy Special Summon - that makes this strategy work. Since you can search Bubbleman with E - Emergency Call and Reinforcement of the Army, you can set those cards and then flip them one by one, grabbing a Bubbleman each time and Special Summoning it. The real trick is clever hand management: you want to ensure that your hand isn't clogged with monster cards, so that Bubbleman's effect is usable as often as possible.

Towards that end, this deck runs very few monsters. In addition to triple Thrasher and triple Bubbleman, we'll run Elemental Hero Stratos and three copies of Elemental Hero Neos Alius. Both are strong Level 4 Warriors, and Neos Alius allows us to play Gemini Spark as a versatile problem solver. By playing more Elemental HERO monsters we also create a sub-theme for this strategy that can pay off in the form of big Fusion Summons. Our core gameplan is going to revolve around Blade Armor Ninja, but Fusion Monsters are going to give the reliability and longevity this needs to be a real contender.

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What's awesome about the 10-card monster lineup is that it means we have plenty of room to play the definitive tech cards that are so important right now. If you've been reading my deck articles recently, you'll notice that several of them came with the caveat of, “This strategy's cool, but since it can't fit Maxx “C”, Effect Veiler, and Fiendish Chain it's best saved for casual play.” That's not the case here. Triple Maxx “C” is an easy addition to this deck, because even if you want to go off early and Maxx “C” would just get in the way of Bubbleman plays, its own effect allows you to dump it from your hand.

It's even useful for Fusion combos in a pinch, since you can banish Maxx “C” as one of your Materials for Miracle Fusion. This strategy wants to play two or three copies of Miracle. The exact number's up to you, but regardless of how many you run, its functionality is largely the same: it drops big beaters to the field, following up on - or supplementing - your Blade Armor plays. A single Blade Armor can deal 4400 battle damage all on its own, but stacking the Materials to unleash it also sets you up with the graveyard presence you need for big hitters like Elemental Hero The Shining and Elemental Hero Absolute Zero later on. The first turn you Summon Blade Armor Ninja, you can kick one of its materials to the grave. If it survives another turn, you'll yard the second material. Miracle Fusion is huge here as a result.

For that very reason, it pains me to run just two copies of Miracle Fusion. But space is tight, and Super Polymerization is deceptively important. Super Poly is awesome because it's chainable, breaks up the opponent's field, and can be played during the battle phase for surprise wins. But it's more important here than it would be in other HERO strategies, because its discard cost helps you manage your hand. If you draw multiple copies of Neos Alius or Thrasher, they can keep you from the empty hand you need to Summon Bubbleman. Super Poly is a lifesaver in those situations, making it an integral part of this strategy. Concerns about hand management actually have me testing builds of this deck that play a third Miracle Fusion over the third Photon Thrasher, but I'll leave that choice to you. For now, I'd say start by playing the deck as written.

While the monster and spell lines for this strategy benefit from a bit of explaining, the trap lineup is just the usual suspects: triple Fiendish Chain, triple Solemn, Torrential Tribute, and Trap Dustshoot. To reiterate, triple Fiendish Chain goes in everything right now. If you can't play Fiendish Chain, your strategy has a built-in disadvantage against other decks; it won't fare as well against Wind-Up and Inzektor combos, or the mighty Evolzars. Fiendish Chains have gotten pretty pricy these days, as has Maxx “C”, because both cards are ubiquitous in competitive strategies. If you don't own a playset of both, you can definitely replace them here with another Gemini Spark, another Miracle Fusion, and four more trap cards, but bank on the results being more casual. Here's what my version of the deck looks like:

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This deck's cool for two reasons: first up is the fact that people literally laugh at you when you Stratos into Bubbleman. People just can't believe it, and their disbelief grows exponentially when they actually lose. But this strategy's also cool because it plays to two very different paces. On one hand, its strong defensive lineup lets it peck away at the opponent's life points, subverting their every move with Spell Speed 2 answers. On the other, it can match aggression with aggression, baiting out field presence and then using it to Special Summon Photon Thrasher and make Blade Armor Ninjas. The ability to switch between a tight set of control tactics and a blunt-object shoving match makes it difficult to approach.

It's also a great fit for current metagames. Not only does this strategy play quickly and disruptively against the top decks, but it dodges the three common tech choices everybody's running: Effect Veiler barely touches it; Maxx “C” is almost never more than a 1-for-1; and if a Lucky Fiendish Chain does slow down one of your bigger monsters, you've got at least seven answers. It's a shame we don't have Daigusto Emeral to keep it form running out of steam, and Elemental HERO Escuridao would make Super Polymerization even more effective against Spirit Reaper, but it's still a great fit for competition.

Keep in mind that alot of your plays have subtle synergy, and you need to take advantage of that to achieve the best results. For instance, you'll probably notice that the Extra Deck runs double Elemental HERO Great Tornado, an uncommon choice for most HERO variants since their only WIND monster is usually Stratos. But things are different here: since Blade Armor Ninja is a WIND monster, a fallen copy can give you the option of playing Great Tornado off later copies of Miracle Fusion - that can help you power over big attackers that would normally require a removal trick. By the same token, while Number 39: Utopia is generally played for its 2500 ATK or as last-ditch defense, it's also a LIGHT monster. That gives you more ways to Summon the all-important Elemental Hero The Shining.

Keepin' Those Hands Busy!
I keep coming back to this, but it really bears repeating; the number one skill you'll have to learn that's specific to this strategy is managing your hand, so that your cards stay live at all times. Since Photon Thrasher can only be Special Summoned when your field is empty, it can clog up your plays. The same can be said for Elemental Hero Neos Alius, which usually requires a Normal Summon. Most Yu-Gi-Oh strategies reward conservative playstyles: we're conditioned as competitive players to avoid over-extending and committing more cards than are necessary to the field. But the definition of “necessary” in this strategy breaks from the norm. If you have a +2 over your opponent, but those two cards are copies of Bubbleman and you can't Special Summon them, your card advantage doesn't matter. You need to put yourself on a clock with this deck, balancing the need to reserve cards with the need to keep your hand liquid.

Another important point that goes against intuitive tactics is this deck's use of E - Emergency Call and Reinforcement of the Army. Normally, in a deck with very few monsters (and a strong want to draw spells and traps instead of monster cards), you'd aim to use your search spells as soon as you draw them - that way you lower your chance of drawing monster cards, and boost your chances of drawing something else. But here, that's not always the case. Sure, you want to pop a Call or Reinforcement on turn 1 if it means getting to Elemental Hero Stratos, but remember that you can set a hand full of search spells in one shot: you can't set a hand full of monsters. Holding back your Calls and Reinforcement means that you can search out a Photon Thrasher at just the right time, or string together multiple Bubbleman Summons by searching one out, Special Summoning it; searching out another one, Special Summoning that; and so on. One of the coolest things about this strategy is that it rewards you for playing familiar situations a little bit differently than you normally would. You build a set of perspectives other strategies won't afford you, and it trains you to think about things from a different angle. That's invaluable, because the more perspectives you have, the easier it is to see possible plays no matter what you're running.

This deck is a ton of fun, because it offers a unique play experience; huge surprise factors; and happens to be a great fit for most metagames. It's the right strategy at the right time, and it turns alot of heads: most people just don't even realize it exists right now. The deck's explosive and intelligent at the same time, and aside from the anti-meta cards, it's really affordable to build. Give it a try! The look on your opponent's face when he gets whupped by Bubbleman is guaranteed to make it all worthwhile.

-Jason Grabher-Meyer