What The Fix?! Battlin' Boxers!
Battlin' Boxers are surprisingly good.
Every now and then a new theme drops with just a few cards, and despite not having a multi-set heritage backing it, it proves to be surprisingly viable. I remember being at YCS Toronto last year and seeing the shocked looks on peoples' faces when Geargia were tearing up the field. The Geargia monsters were a small suite of cards that not many people were talking about, but their core combos were so efficient and consistent that the deck instantly made the Top 4. Fire Fists are another example: they hit the ground running in Cosmo Blazer and arrived with everything they needed to compete. That wasn't a big surprise, since the deck was massively hyped, but it's still worth recognizing since usually it takes a few sets for a new strategy to get off the ground.
To me, Battlin' Boxers follow that pattern. With a limited number of effect monsters and just two Xyz, they have a core synergy that's simple and efficient. We've talked about Battlin' Boxers here on TCGPlayer before, impressed by the resiliency and sheer size of their boss monster, Battlin' Boxer Lead Yoke. Since Lead Yoke's tough to destroy with effects, and a growing ATK that puts it well out of the attack range of most popular monsters, it's really tempting. You can also make Lead Yoke for free by combining the recursive powers of Battlin' Boxer Glassjaw and Battlin' Boxer Headgeared. The strategy isn't without its challenges and we'll talk about those shortly. But for now, Lead Yoke and the combos that support it were enough to get my attention when I received this submission...
I've been playing Battlin' Boxers since they were released, and I've tried it many different ways. After a lot of testing and playing in tournaments with competitive players at my locals, this is the final list that I've found to be the most consistent.
I basically try to set up my combo ASAP with Lavalval Chain Turn 1, dropping my combo of Battlin' Boxer Switchitter and Battlin' Boxer Glassjaw because Battlin' Boxer Lead Yoke is tough for my opponents to get around. They need something like Compulsory Evacuation Device, Dimensional Prison, Number 11: Big Eye, or Evilswarm Bahamut to stop it. So I run double Forbidden Lance and three Xyz Reflect; I think Reflect's amazing when my opponent tries to take Lead Yoke with Big Eye or Bahamut, stopping their play, dealing 800 damage, and destroying their monster. I play two Safe Zones as well, because 3800 ATK can still clear the path for my other monsters to make direct attacks.
-Bobby Barrows - Boston, Massachusetts
So while Battlin' Boxer Lead Yoke can be efficiently Summoned, and resists attacks as well as the destruction effect of Mecha Phantom Beast Dracossack, it's vulnerable to bounce abilities, banish tricks, and the monster theft offered by Number 11: Big Eye and Evlswarm Bahamut. Everything Bobby mentioned is a valid concern, and I really like his use of Xyz Reflect - a forgotten Ultra Rare from Order of Chaos - to beat those problems. However, I'm also concerned about Spellbook of Fate in the Prophecy matchup. Fate doesn't target, so you can't stop it with Xyz Reflect.
I think Bobby's identified a number of cards he needs to play around, and he's done a solid job of creating a deck that can do it. But I'd like to fine tune his build for the biggest matchups right now, and I'd like to add a couple cards that will make his deck more flexible and consistent. There are some missed opportunities here, and if we fix that this deck might be a real contender. Check out Bobby's submission:
@@@@@DECKID=96872@@@@@ Bobby's done some things I really like here, and some of my favorites have more to do with the cards he chose not to run. Alot of Battlin' Boxer decks you see in Regionals or popping up on more casual message boards are playing a few cards that just aren't very good: while Battlin' Boxer Counterpunch has a promising sort of Honest effect, it's also a painful topdeck. And though Battlin' Boxer Lead Yoke is a stellar card that's perfectly positioned to take advantage of competitive trends, Number 105: Battlin' Boxer Star Cestus is the worst. It's just terrible. It abandons the efficient 1-for-1 Xyz combo with Battlin' Boxer Switchitter and Battlin' Boxer Headgeared, and trades it for a more costly play that doesn't really do anything unless you somehow control a field of small Boxers. It's not good, and you don't need to play it.
...And Bobby isn't! And that's outstanding. He's also not trying to shoehorn in Rank Up tricks or any other (f)unplayable cards that are largely geared for casual play. He wants this deck to be competitive, and he's made competitive choices.
So it's with that goal in mind that I want to make things even more focused, speeding up both the central strategy and quickening the pace of its counters for Dragon Rulers and Prophecy. I like the core cards Bobby's laid down so far, but I want to change up alot of the accompanying picks to help the deck be more competitive. Let's make some cuts!
First up, Photon Thrasher is an easy drop. Thrasher helps you Summon Rank 4's, but it's not making them as 1-for-1's or doing anything to support the key Battlin' Boxer strategies. This deck doesn't do much until it gets to Battlin' Boxer Switchitter, but trying to find off-theme alternatives isn't really the right way to fix that. What we need to do is stick to the theme, play to our strengths, and get to Switchitter faster and more frequently. I'm tossing both Thrashers.
I kind of love Kycoo the Ghost Destroyer here. Locking Dragon Rulers out of their Special Summons can win games, while stopping a Prophecy player from banishing for Spellbook of Fate is huge. The problem is that Kycoo eats your Normal Summon for the turn, and the big decks are going to have an easier time destroying a monster than they would a backrow card. There's a trap that mimics Kycoo's effect, but that doesn't share its weaknesses to Breakthrough Skill nor destruction by battle. We'll talk about that toward the end of the fix, but for now we have to wave Kycoo goodbye.
I like Forbidden Lance's ability to outplay Breakthrough Skill and Spellbook of Fate, two cards that can devastate Battlin' Boxer Switchitter. That said, I'm going to be adding cards that are a bit more flexible in dealing with those threats, so I need to cut lance to make space. Go ahead and playtest Lance yourself if you feel it might be the right card for your style or your metagame - it's not a bad call here since it shores up some of the deck's biggest weaknesses. But I don't think it has the utility of the cards I want to play instead, so it's a reluctant drop.
This deck packs alot of monster effect negation, and I'm going to be adding more. That said, I have to cut Fiendish Chain to make room for those new additions. I like Fiendish Chain over stuff like Breakthrough Skill and Effect Veiler in decks that can really benefit from its ability to stop attacks. If you run something like Gear Gigant X, which generates more free cards the longer it stays on the field, Fiendish Chain is amazing. But this deck openly welcomes attacks and never really leaves weak monsters on the field. Fiendish isn't the right choice here, especially once your opponent brings in Mystical Space Typhoons against you in Games 2 and 3. I went back and forth on Safe Zone, too, and wound up dropping it. I'm more concerned with protecting my plays up until the point I've Summoned Battlin' Boxer Lead Yoke, rather than protecting Lead Yoke itself. That card protects itself quite nicely, and my main concern is keeping Dragon Rulers in check in the early game, getting to Switchitter, and using its effect without interference. Safe Zone just doesn't do any of that, and by the time Lead Yoke's on the table we have other ways to defend it.
With Kycoo gone there's virtually nothing in this deck that I'd want to Monster Reborn. The one-time staple spell is an easy cut. We have better removal options than Solemn Warning, too; stuff that won't cost Life Points and create loss scenarios. This deck plays to a fairly slow pace and it's got alot of defense, so Warning isn't a big priority. Lastly, I'm dropping one Xyz Reflect. I think it's a really clever choice, but again, it protects an established field instead of helping you build that field in the first place. I found that shifting the deck's priorities a bit really paid off in testing.
With those cards cut, we've got thirteen open slots to play with. I immediately want to add a third Maxx "C" and two Effect Veilers. If you want to beat Dragon Rulers these cards are a great way to do it. Keeping that deck passive for one turn with Maxx "C" can buy you the opportunities you need to take charge of the game; lock your opponent down for two turns with a pair of Maxx "C" and you often win right there. Effect Veiler cuts of Spellbook Magician of Prophecy at the knees, and helps solve the problem of Number 11: Big Eye and Evilswarm Bahamut.
Two Blaster, Dragon Ruler of Infernos were another easy to add. We're playing a ton of Fire cards, several of which like being in the graveyard. Blaster's destruction effect can solve problems - including preempting a set Spellbook of Fate - and open up attack opportunities to deal surprising amounts of damage. Its own Special Summon effect gives you something to do with extra Battlin' Boxers you stack up in your graveyard thanks to Battlin' Boxer Headgeared, and its 2800 ATK helps you win games faster. This is a no-brainer to me; I can't comprehend why so many Battlin' Boxer players don't run it.
With Blaster in the mix and four Normal Summoned monsters cut from the original build, I'm going to add a third Battlin' Boxer Sparrer. While you might remember that I wasn't keen on Sparrer when I did my Tachyon Galaxy Set Review a few weeks ago, I've come around on it. It has synergy with Blaster since it's a Fire monster, and it can deliver alot of what Photon Thrasher offered while staying on-theme. It helps you in the early game if your combo takes a while to come together and it lets you make plays that wouldn't be possible otherwise. It's not the strongest card in the Boxer lineup, but I think it's worth running.
Speaking of the early game and consistency, double Pot of Duality helps you dig towards Battlin' Boxer Switchitter. Giving up Special Summons for the turn is workable because this deck plays a ton of control traps and hand traps that slow things down. Getting to Switchitter is a huge priority, and Duality really helps. Since Battlin' Boxer Lead Yoke tends to stay on the field for a turn or two once it's Summoned, Duality's not even a bad topdeck in the mid-game.
Triple Compulsory Evacuation Device is a must for me here, so I'm adding a third copy. It punts away the big Xyz Monsters we want to get rid of - stuff like Mecha Phantom Beast Dracossack and Number 11: Big Eye - and it also helps you exploit one of the big weaknesses of Spellbook of Fate: your opponent can't activate it unless they control a Spellcaster. Kick their 'caster off the table and they're powerless to stop you from making Switchitter plays. I'm adding two copies of Bottomless Trap Hole for the exact same reasons; it's awesome at besting the biggest Xyz in the format, and it can get Kycoo or High Priestess of Prophecy out of your way barring a Spellbook of Wisdom.
That's a little rough, because my last addition actually conflicts with both Bottomless and Blaster. Imperial Iron Wall is just too good to not play right now. With one card you can shut down Dragon Rulers almost completely, forcing them to rely on Heavy Storm, Blaster, or double baby Dragon Ruler effects to try and get to Mecha Phantom Beast Dracossack. The same card shuts down High Priestess of Prophecy and Spellbook of Fate, and Prophecy has virtually no answers Main Decked. While Iron Wall hurts a few of our cards here, you'll usually win if it's face-up. If you're playing in a competitive environment right now and Imperial Iron Wall doesn't ruin your own strategy, you should really consider maining it. It's an amazing tool for rogue decks, and we've seen people Top 8 Regionals with Iron Wall Main Decked before. We know it works.
I liked everything Bobby did with his Extra Deck. Even with additional Effect Veilers I don't think we need to look at adding Synchros, and like I noted earlier, he's not running Star Cestus so I don't have to take it out! I do want to drop one Blade Armor Ninja for a Photon Papilloperative, but that's the only change I'll make. Papilloperative will let Bobby steal games when his opponent controls Mecha Phantom Beast Tokens: if he can put together a Rank 4 without restricting his Special Summons or giving up his Battle Phase due to Boxer effects, he can push 2100 damage through a Token. It won't be relevant very often, largely because your Boxer effects do get in the way, but it's an option worth having.
That brings the total list of changes to the following:
-2 Photon Thrasher
-2 Kycoo the Ghost Destroyer
-2 Forbidden Lance
-2 Fiendish Chain
-2 Safe Zone
-1 Solemn Warning
-1 Monster Reborn
-1 Xyz Reflect
+2 Effect Veiler
+1 Maxx "C"
+2 Blaster, Dragon Ruler of Infernos
+1 Battlin' Boxer Sparrer
+2 Pot of Duality
+1 Compulsory Evacuation Device
+2 Bottomless Trap Hole
+2 Imperial Iron Wall
-1 Blade Armor Ninja
+1 Photon Papilloperative
The new build looks like this!
@@@@@DECKID=96873@@@@@ I almost wanted to run a third Imperial Iron Wall. Though it's not very useful against Evilswarms, it really spikes your win ratio in the two biggest matchups of the format, and it does almost nothing to restrict your own plays. Having a more permanent answer to Spellbook of Fate, instead of relying on one-turn blocks like Forbidden Lance, is huge. Killing off about half of your opponent's cards in the Dragon Ruler matchup is amazing. While Imperial Iron Wall might not stay on the field forever, this deck has the speed and consistency to end games in two or three turns when Iron Wall's up. More than that, if your opponent does break through and get Iron Wall off the field, you have enough defense to survive and recover. Relying more on hand traps helps you accomplish that as well, making you more resilient to Heavy Storm.
Play around with this build and figure out what works best for you. Depending on the balance in your metagame between the Big Three strategies - Dragon Rulers, Prophecy, and Evlswarm - and the weighting of those decks versus rogue picks, you might find that certain cards are better than others. Side Decking is important here, because many cards that are almost-rans for the Main Deck may be worth siding, or vice versa depending on the shape of competition where you play.
While the Battlin' Boxer concept still needs further testing, and would benefit hugely from wider play and development, there are strong seeds here. Put some work into it, and you might be surprised by how well this budget deck can do.
Big thanks to Bobby for sending it in, and another big thanks to you for reading! I'll see you next week!
Want a deck fix from yours truly, and see your strategy featured in a "What The Fix?" here on TCGPlayer? Just send the following to fixmydeckjason (at) gmail (dot) com to be considered:
-Your Main and Extra Deck list. (No Side Deck needed, but please send a written deck list, not a screencap.) Remember, your deck should be TCG legal!
-Your name and city.
-Remember - please use full card names! Abbreviations and mis-spellings make Jason's life sad.
-A paragraph or two describing your deck: what it does, why you're playing it, and its strengths and weaknesses.
And don't forget, the cooler your deck is the more I'll want to fix it, so don't be afraid to get creative! New stuff takes priority, because I'm not bored of it yet! -JDG