As a change of pace, it would be more prudent to look over and talk about what decks are currently seeing some attention as we enter June 2018 in this “new” playing field, as well as point out their individual strengths and weaknesses they bring to the table. With the recent introduction of the [Dark Saviors] Deck Build Pack, the game’s been shaken as more and more players pick up [Sky Strikers] as their go-to archetype moving forward, especially when facing threats like [Goukis] and [Trickstars]. The ban list effective as of May 21st, 2018 has also forced some of the more prominent figures of the format to change their deck profiles to reflect the adjustments, which either crippled their presence in the game as a whole or reinvented their play style to be better acclimated. But what has changed the game more drastically than any one archetype at this moment has been a change in the “end of match” procedures, with many a duelist voicing their opinions for or against the updated rule. Nonetheless, the changes in the TCG format has brought about a number of new contenders to challenge long standing veteran decks and their achievements are worth noting for those interested in picking up the decks in the near future – considering the number of decks seeing play as of late, I’ll only briefly talk about the top 5 most commonly played decks between May 23rd and May 29th, 2018, courtesy of [TCGPlayer]’s deck archives.
Who Are the Decks to Beat?
First and foremost, the “Sky Strikers” have amassed a large following since their initial announcement and release in the OCG, with many arguing that the deck itself can be seriously considered as “Tier 0” material (which remains to be seen as the time of this article’s release). With a single monster in the Main Deck, two Link Monsters to switch between, and a large arsenal of in-archetype Spell cards to further their plays, many made the connection that the deck would be akin to [Zoodiacs] from several formats before. Due to the nature of the deck, many have already experimented with engines to see what suits the deck the best, with [Toon Table of Contents], [Foolish Burial Goods], and the [Bamboo Sword] series seeing play in one way or another. But what has caught the attention of many players is that it’s entire Spell line-up is not constricted by a hard “Once Per Turn” clause, which can give the player a serious advantage in both card economy and field control when properly recycling their materials, sans their Field Spell. Coupled with boss monsters that can bolster their own attack strengths or drain the opponent’s monsters ATK/DEF stats for each Spell card sitting in the GY, and you get a deck that is proficient in controlling the flow of the duel, as long as the opponent didn’t Side Deck accordingly and play cards like [Anti-Spell Fragrance] to break the momentum.
With the change in the “End of Match” procedure and dodging two ban lists in a row, “Trickstars” have managed to stay where they are competitively using burn damage to drain the opponents down to critical levels, which makes a huge difference between advancing onto the next round or leaving the venue with the new rules in place. Having been relevant since their conception into the game, as well as having most of their archetypal cards reprinted in the [Star Pack VRAINS], the core is rather inexpensive, bearing in mind the deck runs cards like [Ash Blossom & Joyous Spring], [Ghost Ogre & Snow Rabbit], and [Droll & Lock Bird] at three each, as well as their infamous [Trickstar Reincarnation]. Their biggest threat are cards that negate or use the Effect Damage taken against the “Trickstar” player, with cards like [D/D/D Rebel King Leonidas] and [Beelze of the Diabolic Dragons] the first to come to mind. As of late, their more recent support has been more focused on Link Summoning, and while that’s definitely nice to see for a deck that was released during Link Format, it currently has little use for them in its current state – “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” incarnate, as it were. While not the most popular choice among the player base for its “scummy play style,” the fact that it’s practically unhampered if not buffed by the new changes make it a viable deck to pick up for the current format.
As a little recap, and to reiterate for those who are in the know, the [Altergeist] deck is set to have a few of their cards reprinted in the upcoming [Battles of Legend: Relentless Revenge] booster pack with erratas to fix their effects. Before, the deck had recently gained a reputation as a strong Control deck after the release of [Altergeist Multifaker], who singlehandedly bolstered the deck enough to bring it into competitive relevance. Its greatest strength is also its greatest weakness: the deck revolves around and generates fields off of the activation of Trap cards; with the release of [Red Reboot], many players have found themselves to be on edge when considering the match-up, as the aforementioned card has been a popular choice amongst duelists at every tournament event thus far. Still, the deck is set to become an even more serious threat, as the text change opens up more combo opportunities and stronger presence on the board through [Altergeist Manifestation] and [Altergeist Hexstia], respectively. A stronger deck now since its initial release, it only sees itself viable for more support that could potentially overthrow the more prominent of competitive figures in higher play as it is a deck used by one of the more prominent characters in the “Yu-Gi-Oh! VRAINS” anime series.
Similarly, the “Gouki” archetype was an anime original deck many players turned their attention away from, as they were generally unremarkable when compared to some of the other decks that were played during their release, more prominently [Pendulum Magicians]. However, the release of [Isolde, Two Tales of the Noble Knights] in [Extreme Force] and the [Knightmare] Link Monsters in [Flames of Destruction] opened the gateway for them to unleash terror in the form of Extra Link Summoning, effectively blocking the opponent from Extra Deck Summoning entirely by Co-Linking their own monsters from one Extra Monster Zone to the next, even pushing it further with [Knightmare Corruptor Iblee] sitting on the opponent’s field, blocking all forms of Special Summoning. As an aggressive deck, the archetype’s greatest strength comes from their monsters’ ability to float, as well as using the “Gouki” monsters repeatedly to feed the Link Summoning by rapidly Summoning and reviving to continue their combos. However, as the deck is heavily reliant on “Isolde, Two Tales of the Noble Knights” and general monster effects to get their final board set up, if the deck were to get disrupted or preemptively struck by [Ghost Reaper & Winter Cherries], they falter in the recovery aspect. An entertaining deck to watch, but a nightmare to duel against, it’s already pushed past most of its opposition and has the number one spot in its sights.
With the introduction of the “Knightmare” archetype, a familiar face also received indirect support through their strengths – [SPYRAL] has seen some more time in the spotlight, having incorporated the “Knightmare” Link Monsters to lock the board down tight through Co-Linking. Like before, they work off of manipulating the opponent’s top card to generate their board, using [SPYRAL GEAR – Drone] to reorganize the top 3 cards of the opponent’s deck in any order for the player to call which ever type of card to fulfill a Special Summon or an effect’s requirement, with previous ban lists attempting to water down their effectiveness to little avail. Like the aforementioned “Goukis,” “Isolde, Two Tales of the Noble Knights” and the “Knightmare” series’ inherent abilities have proven to be invaluable towards the deck’s recent successes. With the deck’s current resources, the best way to counter them would be to use cards like “Droll & Lock Bird” and “Ash Blossom & Joyous Spring” to limit the cards being moved from the Deck, and using “Ghost Reaper & Winter Cherries” on their [SPYRAL Double Helix] can effectively shut the deck down hard. For those who still have their “SPYRAL” cards lying about, now would be a good time pick up the deck again.
That Can't Be All, Right?
Of course, this is only the tip of the competitive iceberg, with decks like “Pendulum Magicians,” [Mekk-Knight], and [True Draco] still seeing placements in tournament play, as well as a few appearances in low numbers, like [Paleozoic] [Frogs] and [Fur Hire]. However, this is only a rough overview of the current state of the game, as the format is still solidifying with each passing tournament event until the midway point between now and August 2018. I try to keep myself from being biased towards a few of these decks, but I can safely voice both my concern on a centralized meta around certain archetype and my pleasure in seeing a varied pool of archetypes making their mark, despite the fact that some of these archetypes had already garnered a reputation from a format or two before. I’m hoping that the game sees some more variety added into the bunch – the “Knightmare” Link Monsters have definitely played a large role in expanding the Link library in many decks, and only time will tell if more decks come back from the brink to place their bets on the table.