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War League Autumn 2017 Report

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+scuzzlebutt    23495

It's been more than two years since my last serious tournament report. Let's get it.


I did notoriously terribly in season 1/Summer 2017 and never really found a deck I was comfortable playing. For most of the season, I believed Thunder Dragon Chaos/Chaos Control was the best deck in the format, but I never felt like my list was good enough to show it. My performances with it were mediocre the few times I did use it in wars/ranked, punting a completely winnable g3 to Francis in the ALN war and never actually scoring any good wins. For the most part, I kept Thunder Dragon Chaos on a shelf in the back of my mind while deferring to crappy aggressive pure recruiter lists that I was good at getting lucky with.


Fast forward to September. I started off the season pretty badly. In the first week, I went 3-7, ranked in Silver and #34 out of 34. Tristan, ACP, Me., and Shining Blue-eyes were all literally destroying me, not even close. At some point I said fuck it, I'm going solo Thunder Dragon. I began with a lot of digging through the old Goat Format thread and other stuff. I asked Jazz and Ynusgridorh about lists and ended up with something extremely close to what both of them showed me:




I believe this is 1-2 cards off of an optimal Thunder Dragon list. Some of my guiding principles were as follows:

1) Multiple Dekoichi is no longer viable when everyone is on Shining Angels. You have to hit them below the belt with a bunch of different 1-ofs that you can set in various situations. DDWL, SDM, Dekoichi, Dark Mimic, Spirit Reaper, Sangan, Magician of Faith, and even TIV or Asura Priest can make for solid sets with the right backrow. Many of these cards can also be summoned to put some kind of immediate pressure on the opponent, even Dekoichi. At one point, N3sh had me experimenting with Fusilier Dragon in the slot where SDM is in the above list, but ultimately I think SDM is the more consistent card. Ynus hates that I play Dekoichi over the third Scapegoat, but I like giving myself a wide range of monsters that I can set, and I hate the early-game "speedbumps" that you can incur from drawing multiple Goats too early.

2) Goat and Meta are absolutely necessary. When you don't play these, you usually end up with stuff like Solemn Judgment and Return from the Different Dimension. These encourage you to try to end games quickly, which takes away from the magic of Thunder Dragon. The best use of Thunder Dragon is not opening Thunder Dragon+Graceful Charity. It's opening with Thunder Dragon, grinding out the game for long enough that your opponent draws their crappy "dead" Duo, and then sealing a late game with TD+Charity. You want to be able to make games last as long as possible, and nothing does that better than Goats and Meta.

3) Raigeki Break/Phoenix Wing Wind Blast/Card Destruction are only worth playing with Night Assailant. I had some success siding Night Assailant, most notably against decks with Gravekeeper's Spy, but the card never really made me want to maindeck it. Discarding Thunder Dragon for Break/Blast is not as good as it looks on paper because simplification is the worst thing to be doing with your Thunder Dragons. 


Upon switching to this list, my winrates against Tristan and SBE immediately improved, and they only got better as I got more comfortable with the deck. Eventually, I took a single match over Me. before his retirement at the hands of Silver, and I came the closest to taking a match off of ACP than I have ever been in the past. At one point, we had three ESPN members all in platinum+top 10 with the same list, and eventually members of other teams took note and tried to replicate our success. Some of the things I learned throughout the course of over 100 ranked games with TD Chaos Control were as follows:


1) Goats and Meta completely change the way you play the early and mid-games. When you're playing Chaos Turbo, it's often correct to continue Setting monsters after resolving your first Dekoichi, assuming you don't have a Tsukuyomi. This is not so with Chaos Control. Even if you don't have a Scapegoat, it's often better to leave your opponent guessing as to whether or not one of your backrows could be Scapegoat, since this fear is often what protects you from having the game snowball in your opponent's favor following a mid-game Heavy Storm.

2) Sequences of set monsters make or break games. I see people do things like turn 1 Pot of Greed, set a monster, pass, then their opponent summons something like Sangan then NoCs their set Faith, and then in the next game, they'll do the exact same thing. I refuse to believe that every time I see this happen the player actually has nothing else to set other than Faith every single time. The best "mode" of Skilled Dark Magician is the set/defense position Skilled Dark Magician. On the contrary, I think people set Tsukuyomi far too often, especially in the early game. Tsukuyomi is one of the few removal cards in the format that can Smashing Ground a TER, and then do it again to a second TER later down the road. If your opponent goes Serp+Meta and absorbs your set Tsukuyomi with TER, you're left in a really bad position, often a worse one than if you had just set whatever flip effect monster you had in the first place.

3) Chaos mirrors are roughly as skillful as pure Goat mirrors, just in a different way. People talk about Chaos Sorcerer decks like they're the cancer killing Goat Format or whatever, but really, they're often just refusing to accept that stuff like summoning Parshath into an empty board and 5 opposing cards in hand could possibly be a bad thing to do in some matchups. Yes, Chaos Sorcerer is a very good card. No, it won't get you anywhere if you don't actually play it correctly.

4) Level 1s are not the only targets for Metamorphosis. Most Goat decks opt not to play the singleton Jinzo nowadays, which means Thunder Dragon-based Chaos decks (either Control or Turbo) are the only real decks in the format that have access to both the Level 5 and Level 6 Fusion toolboxes. All of these monsters are extremely powerful once you learn to use them correctly. I summoned Fiend Skull Dragon, Dark Balter the Terrible, Reaper on a Nightmare, Ryu Senshi, Dark Blade the Dragon Knight, Ojama King, and Gatling Dragon for significant advantage all multiple times throughout the season. There was even one time where Dark Flare Knight was relevant, but I didn't think to bring him out until after the game was over, lol.


As my worst matchup in the top 10 (ACP) became increasingly inactive and supplanted by players whom I had notably better matchups against, I was able to lock in Master rank hours after SBE and Soul got it. I had a couple scares in the weeks leading up to playoffs with some bad losses, but nothing I was unable to recover from. Here's what the rankings looked like at the end of the season:




And here are my end-of-season head-to-heads with some of the most notable players of the season:



2-2 vs G-sop
1-3 vs Me./Chevalier de Fromage
4-5 vs N3sh
5-2 vs Tristan
7-5 vs Shining Blue-eyes
0-4 vs ACP
9-3 vs WorldGoneMaad
1-1 vs Based Loli



Up until a few days after the end of the season (but before anyone had started playing for playoffs), I was 90% sure I would be playing the same list. I had also been experimenting with a more traditional 0-goat 0-meta "Chaos Turbo" list, but I was never getting the same winrates as I did with the Chaos Control list. Either way, as long as ACP was in the playoffs, I knew I wanted to play him and beat him with Thunder Dragon. For those that don't know, he actually hasn't dropped a legitimate match to TD since he first started playing his Angel list in season 1/summer 2017. I was prepared to break that curse, until, you know, he up and left the site. After that, I didn't really have any reason left to stick to Thunder Dragon, since HyperBeam would already be playing it and there was no history to make by beating Allen. Moreover, it just didn't feel right to have a playoffs with Thunder Dragon and no Shining Angel. So, I went with this list:




The maindeck is 100% credited to Ynus and the Seraphim. I hate playing Premature Burial and Call of the Haunted in decks without Airknight, and I especially hate playing zero Asura Priest and zero Tribe-Infecting Virus. Without Prema+Call, I think Merchant loses a lot of its luster. Also, Book of Moon is incredible and near-staple at 3 here. I sided the standard Mind Control+Dustshoot for Hyper's Thunder Dragon deck and two WMC in case he played with his Flip Flop variant. I figured Soul would be on some kind of Spy Goat, so I left myself with the option of siding into Mind Con+Spy+Guard vs him, although it didn't come up in our games. With no ACP, I was able to side 0 Neko Mane King, since obviously neither Hyper nor Soul were going to play Empty Jar.


WSF vs Soul (Goat Control)

I pretty much just showed him the nuts for two games straight. Oh, yeah, and on top of that I got a free Morphing Jar read by hitting his Pot of Greed with my Duo in game 1.


WF vs HyperBeam (Chaos Turbo)

I spent most of the later season studying HyperBeam's play and felt extremely comfortable reading his sets, and I think it paid off in this match. I pulled game 1 out of my ass and stole game 3 on the first turn with a Mind Control that was meant for his Faith but ended up hitting his Morphing Jar instead. By the way, I'm an idiot for scooping game 2, which I probably would have won if I had realized he didn't have enough LP to crash DDWL into my BLS.


GF vs HyperBeam (Chaos Turbo)

He shits on me in game 1 and I never really get anything going. He got me a lot in this game with the good old "multi-tournament conditioning" strat, where I kept playing my NoCs and TERs assuming he was playing his sets the way he was playing them in the first match and getting punished for it. Oh, yeah, and apparently I banished a DDWL and an Angel for a Sorc in this game without either of us noticing it, lol. Oops. Sorry about that Hyper


Game 2 looked like more of the same for a while, but I think I started adapting about halfway through the game, and was ultimately able to get in with Snatch on his Sorcerer, banish his Thunder Dragon, Mind Control his Morphing Jar, Meta into Dark Blade and attack to banish his only darks and lights. He flips the Morphing Jar back down and up again during his turn, putting me to 5 in deck, but my Heavy Storm the following turn goes through, giving me an easy game shot. 


I honestly deserved to lose game 3 the way I played out the first 3-4 turns. Setting Serpent was far too safe imo, and it forced me to play into his Heavy Storm later down the road to keep important options safe from Duo. I tightened up after that and closed it out, but I kind of had to get lucky to do so.


I have no idea what I'll be playing yet in the Winter 2018 season, but I have certainly learned to love the Chaos Sorcerer. As many of you already know, I've been experimenting a lot with Empty Jar too, which I think is a stupidly underrated deck for so many reasons. Seriously, you guys better start siding Nekos if you aren't already. I have a few more ideas that I haven't fleshed out enough to feel comfortable with sharing, but suffice it to say, I'm looking at a lot of different options. In my opinion, the top 3 decks in the format, based on the current totality of theory and practice, are pure Goat Control, either Angel-based or Thunder Dragon-based Chaos Control, and Empty Jar, and my number 1 goal going forward is to become the best player I can with all three. 




The Seraphim






All my haters

Mullet Club Goat Team Feat. Silver

My best friend Thunder Dragon




Silver playing upstart in 41

Bullet Club Current Team Feat. Metro

Mafia section


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That Head2head is triggering. Season 3 I might have to come for that ass teammate. Congrats on the season win. 

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