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ACP's Goat Manifesto, ed. MMF

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Preface

 

This document should be seen as the end product of ACP’s journey throughout Goat Format, so to speak, as well as his final gift to DuelistGroundz. While I have taken it upon myself to add this preface and have been requested to finish the parts that he did not, the vast majority of this work should be attributed solely to ACP. With this section, my intent is to outline the historical context for the often unique theories and philosophies that came to define ACP’s approach to Goat Format.

 

The earliest incarnation of the ACP everyone knows and loves (to hate) is “ACP the Gadget Guy.” After scoring his first regional top 8 with Gadgets following the release of Shrink, ACP continued to play Gadgets at a high level long after they were considered a top-tier deck in the TCG. One of the best “ACP stories” from this era in my opinion is a brief, seven-line conversation at a 2008 Florida regional with ACP and local legend David Pratt, recounted by ACP as follows:

 

Quote

 

“Hey Allen C. Pennington, what’s up?”

“Huh?”

“Can I see your deck list?”

“Oh, sure.”

“Wow, three maindeck Pulling the Rug? Nice.”

“Uh, thanks.”

“This deck is amazing. Allen C. Pennington, you’re the best duelist!”

 

 

The first thing to realize about this exchange is how hilarious/satisfying it feels to say the sentence “Allen C. Pennington, you’re the best duelist!” out loud, but it is important for much more than just this undeniably top-tier meme. I believe “being the best duelist” became an overarching goal, a quest if you will, for ACP the Gadget Guy. Sure, Gadgets weren’t great in the September 2009 format, they were probably worse than decks like Lightsworn, Zombies, or even Blackwings, but this didn’t matter to ACP the Gadget Guy, who would consistently rely on solid theory and fundamentals to carry him through fields of more powerful and more popular decks. As undoubtedly one of the best players in Florida for most of this period, ACP the Gadget Guy had little trouble finishing in the top 8 of most regionals, yet when faced with large fields of national-level talent, top 16/32 finishes at SJCs and YCSes consistently eluded him.

 

Beginning sometime in 2010, ACP began to branch out from his beloved Gadgets into other archetypes, most notoriously with his list of Frog FTK which, to no one’s surprise, he dubbed “Next Level Frogs.” This name is particularly relevant for this history for the reference it makes to Chapin’s Next Level Magic, the book that ACP would probably tell you himself helped him achieve much of his success in this phase of his career.

 

Having reached a point where he was largely comfortable with his fundamentals, the post-Gadget ACP became much more concerned with finding what could be considered objective solutions to formats. In other words, his focus shifted from “being the best duelist” to “being the duelist with the best deck.” This was no doubt motivated in part by his studies in mathematics which accelerated during this era of his career, his love for these studies being a part of his personality that no one on DuelistGroundz is unaware of at this point. In 2012, ACP finally broke his premier event curse at YCS Chicago with Chaos Dragons (ironically the same event at which I suffered my first premier bubble loss), and went on to a number of top cut finishes at premier events in the years that followed. With each of these performances, ACP seemed to get closer and closer to his ideal of “the best deck,” and ACP himself will probably tell you that he truly does believe that the Gishki and Domain Monarch decks he topped with in 2013 and 2016 were, indeed, the best decks of their respective formats.

 

With these key points about ACP’s development as a player in mind, it should come as little surprise that he was one of the first players willing to explore “the lame decks” in Goat Format during the Revival era, to the point that Jazz hilariously tried to ban him from playing shit like Empty Jar during the 2014 War League after a single match. The last thing ACP, and especially hyper-analytic post-Gadget ACP, is ever concerned with is how much fun his opponent is having. After all, losing is generally considered by most people to be not a fun thing to do, and yet, in order to be the best duelist with the best deck, you will probably have to make more than a few opponents suffer such a fate, whether it be in a “fun” matchup like a Plant mirror or with a “lame” deck like Gishki. If ACP is ever going to deviate from such a “lame” strategy, the reason will probably be that he no longer believes that such a strategy is “best” or “optimal,” which, incidentally, ended up being the case in 2017 when he created his Angel Chaos deck, explored later in the article.

 

After “retiring” from modern premier events, ACP had time to reflect on his career and re-evaluate some of the principles that previously guided him. At the same time, a series of events known quite well to most of us here on DuelistGroundz began to chip away at his trust in the YGO community at large. The ultimate product was a period of tempestuous critiques, directed at both the work of his former selves and that of the community around him. The first breakthrough in the era of this new critical ACP came with the Average Prize Model, an attempt to move beyond the traditional conception of best-deck-as-best-average-matchup towards a truly comprehensive attempt to solve any given format given a few key parameters. He also began to rail heavily against the model of “power vs consistency” developed circa 2013-2014 by Max Reynolds, Patrick Hoban, and Noelle Evelyn. In ACP’s opinion, these two terms shared a single referent; he never saw any reason to distinguish between them. One final theory he never got around to publishing had to do with the threat-answer dichotomy. In private messages, ACP once proposed to me that there existed a third type of “hybrid” card between these two well-known categories that he called “assists,” which largely accounted for the massive shift in the YGO metagame circa 2009-2010 towards Royal Oppression and similar effects (Skill Drain, Archlord Kristya, Vanity’s Emptiness, and so on).

 

2017 has been a bittersweet year for Goat Format. The metagame saw possibly more development in the span of 12 months than in the format’s entire 11-year history prior, with no less than seven major tournaments to boot, and yet, at the end of it all, we are left without the two great Masters that made such development possible. I often describe the entire modern history of Goat Format as a footnote to the work of Kris Perovic, but with this publication, we might be entering a new era. That is to say, it may be the case that Goat Format, from here on out, will be a footnote to the chain of events that left our community with neither ACP nor KP.

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Introduction

 

This guide is written to serve as a reference for the popular decks in the Exarionless Goat Format metagame of DuelistGroundz, as of late 2017. I wrote back in 2015 that removing Exarion Universe from the format would allow for the metagame to diversify, and I believe that this prediction has come to pass. Note however that a fair bit of this guide is still useful for those who do play Exarion goats with no CRV.

 

I’m not necessarily going to write about every single playable deck in the format, nor even every one that I consider viable. I will only be describing the ones that are at least somewhat present in the DuelistGroundz metagame as of writing. I still believe that there are a number of decks that are waiting to be explored and may even become relevant later. Although this format was tournament legal more than 12 years ago, we still see advancements in the metagame to this day.

 

Note that, in this article, there are two things that I will not do in order to keep the guide fairly unbiased:

1. I will not post any decklists. Rather, I will be talking about the “core” of each deck and general options that can be played. Individual tech choices will change over the years, but general strategy will not. I do not want to stifle any future innovation by endorsing a particular list.

2. I will not make quantitative statements about matchups. To describe any matchup as 50/50, 60/40, or 70/30 would be a lie, because we have no kind of statistical evidence to indicate what any particular matchup is in any meaningful way. Rather, I will talk about a deck’s strengths and weaknesses and what to watch out for. It’s more important to understand why a deck loses a match than how often it loses.

 

Editor's note: I will be releasing the remainder of the article in the following weeks in the form of five sections: Fundamentals, Control, Chaos, Aggro, and Combo.

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Fundamentals

 

Although this is intended to serve more as a description of the metagame rather than a goat format theory article, I want to talk about some of the general concepts that I will use as a reference for the strengths and weaknesses of each deck. Without understanding these concepts, some of my analysis of each deck will otherwise be difficult to follow.

 

Card advantage and virtual card advantage: In goat format, cards are a very important resource that will dictate the pace of most of the match. Virtual card advantage is the same concept as card advantage, except you don’t count the cards that are not able to be used. Examples of cards that can generate virtual card advantage are King Tiger Wanghu, Necrovalley, and Royal Decree.

 

Damage output and life/time advantage: Ultimately, nearly every game is going to be won by someone’s lifepoints being reduced to zero. A deck’s ability to push for damage is valuable, even for “control” decks. Damage can be forced through with cards like Airknight Parshath, Ring of Destruction, Tribe-Infecting Virus, etc. Incremental damage with cards like Sangan, Dekoichi, etc. is also very important. Understanding how decks reduce their opponent’s lifepoints to zero is going to shape the strategy that you take in any matchup. I refer to a monster that threatens to attack for damage every turn as “aggressive pressure.”

 

Early game: This is something that I’ve pushed the importance of recently. The “early game” can be defined as the period of time in a game in which the majority of each player’s options are not available to them, generally because they are still in the players’ decks (e.g. they have not been drawn or otherwise tutored yet). A strong early game is going lead to either card advantage or a lifepoint advantage (the two prior concepts), which is what makes it so important. The simple act of setting a face-down monster on the first turn of the game can surprisingly put a lot of pressure on your opponent (I refer to this as “defensive pressure”), as the consequences of not dealing with it can often be huge. The player going second will often need to fight back against this kind of play, and thus the ability to respond to this initial threat is going to be important as well.

 

One of the most common early game interactions across all matchups that a good player must be versed in is the first set versus the first Nobleman of Crossout. Suppose Player 1 starts off the game with a Pot of Greed into a set monster and a set backrow and Player 2’s opening hand includes a Nobleman of Crossout. If Player 1’s set monster is a Magician of Faith and he manages to resolve its flip effect, the resulting advantage can often snowball into a win for him. However, there is considerable risk in setting a Faith here first, since the odds of Player 2 having a Nobleman of Crossout in her first 6 cards are roughly 1 in 3 games. An experienced Goat Player 1 will typically opt instead to try to bait a Nobleman of Crossout with another set monster before setting a Magician of Faith, even if he does open with one of his Faiths. As you can see, a set monster with a power spell in grave such as a Pot of Greed carries with it an immense amount of early-game pressure on the opponent. Even without a Faith in hand, you can often do things like Pot of Greed, set Asura Priest, set Book of Moon on your first turn. If your set does not get Crossed Out, you learn a little more about your opponent’s hand, and if it does get Crossed Out, you can rest knowing that any flip effect monsters you draw in the future are significantly more likely to resolve.

 

Some useful probabilities for evaluating risk and reward during the early game are as follows:

12.50% = the probability of a player drawing their one and only copy of Sinister Serpent in their first 5 cards

28.08% = the probability of a player drawing at least 1 of 2 Noblemen of Crossout (or any other 2-of) in their first 6 cards

39.43% = the probability of a player drawing at least 1 of 3 particular cards (e.g. 1 of the three “trinity pieces,” 1 of 3 copies of Scapegoat, etc) in their first 6 cards

 

Late game: The late game is a bit of a nebulous concept to modern YGO players, but once upon a time, there were formats in which games could conceivably continue to the point that the majority of each player’s options were either available to them or otherwise already used (e.g. in the Graveyard or banished). While the early game is usually characterized by defensive pressure, the threats to each player in the late game are usually the more traditional, aggressive type, as it is unlikely that both players reach the late game with full stocks of 8000 Life Points. This is the point at which you have to be careful in order to not “just randomly die” to cards like Ring of Destruction, Airknight Parshath, and Black Luster Soldier.

 

Late games in Goat Format are distinct from many other formats in a few ways. Most notably, decking out is a very real concern in many games, to the point that simply activating a draw effect such as Pot of Greed or Graceful Charity can often be a commitment in itself if one leaves themselves with less cards in deck than their opponent to do so. For example, suppose I have a Thousand-Eyes Restrict along with three sheep tokens on the field, and my 2 Airknight Parshaths are both in my Graveyard. If I summon Tsukuyomi to reset my Restrict and absorb a face-down monster, and the Tsukuyomi is flipped face-down by a Book of Moon at the end phase, I will need to make an awkward play such as using a Nobleman of Crossout on my own Tsukuyomi or a Ring of Destruction on my own Restrict if I am to win the game by reducing my opponent’s Life Points to 0. Decks that opt to play Chaos Sorcerers instead of Airknight Parshaths are at even greater risk here, for obvious reasons.

 

Another distinctive feature of the late game in Goat Format are maximized states of information. This requires a bit of background information to explain properly. First, realize that most decks in Goat Format start with the same core of staple cards, such as Pot of Greed, Snatch Steal, Ring of Destruction, etc. Some decks here and there may find some niche reasons to cut some of these cards, but in general, in a Goat Control mirror, you can always expect a certain set of monsters, Spells, and Traps to be somewhere in the opponent’s deck. Furthermore, many of these cards constitute an intricate network of  Rock-Paper-Scissors-like options. This is to say that almost every card in Goat Format has at least one kind of “soft counter.” For example, Snatch Steal is often held for opposing Black Luster Soldiers and Airknight Parshaths, and consequently, Mystical Space Typhoons and Books of Moon are often conserved in order to counter opposing Snatch Steals targeting these monsters. Heavy Storm often allows one to assemble a game shot relatively easily, unless one of the opposing backrows is a Scapegoat, in which case the player will usually require another specific card, usually either Tribe-Infecting Virus or Asura Priest, in order to assemble enough damage to win the game. Nobleman of Crossout is a key answer to set flip effect monsters, most notably Magician of Faith, but a player can be punished for using a Nobleman of Crossout on bait such as set Tsukuyomis or D.D. Warrior Ladies.

 

With these two points in mind, we can begin to understand the ways in which a good Goat Format player will need to navigate each late game. As each player draws deeper and deeper into their decks with each passing turn, they become increasingly certain about which cards their opponents might have in hand. Suppose I know my opponent is playing 2 Noblemen of Crossout, but they have played neither of them so far and they have five cards remaining in deck during my turn. What exactly is the probability that they actually have zero Noblemen in their hand?

 

Well, it’s actually 1.28%, but the exact number is not as important as the broader implications. The point is that it would be perfectly reasonable for me to assume during my turn that I should be playing around at least one copy of Nobleman of Crossout. Now let’s say my opponent has also not used a Snatch Steal in this game thus far, and I have a Black Luster Soldier in my hand with no accompanying copy of Mystical Space Typhoon or Book of Moon. In about 9 out of 10 games, my opponent will have their Snatch Steal at this point after they draw for their turn, so I will probably want to hold my Black Luster Soldier if I have no way of guaranteeing survival against it in the event that it is indeed Snatch Stolen.

 

Mid-game: While the early game and late game in Goat Format can both be assigned relatively static definitions, there is a third “phase” that is much harder to draw bright definitive lines around. The middlegame, or mid-game for short, is something that few would deny exists, but that somehow escapes precise definition by even the most experienced Goat players. Chess players will be familiar with such a notion of a mid-game, i.e. one that blends relatively seamlessly on either end into the early and late games. In other words, we can’t be sure exactly where the early game stops and the mid-game begins, but we can be sure that there usually exists some phase of the game that can be classified as neither the early game nor the late game by our preceding definitions.

 

While it has no clear rigid definition (except in relation to the early and late games), the mid-game does nonetheless have a recurring set of aims and goals that an aspiring Goat player will probably want to pay attention to. First, since we are not actually in the late game, we are usually not at the point at which we can outright lose to single copies of certain cards, and a player would certainly like to keep things this way, at least for themselves, as long as possible. To this end, activating rather than holding removal cards like Sakuretsu Armor becomes more attractive. To ensure that our “clock” remains faster than our opponent’s, so to speak, we may find ourselves using a Nobleman of Crossout in conjunction with Tsukuyomi to alleviate pressure from cards like D.D. Warrior Lady or perhaps even Shining Angel.


At the same time, our mental projection of the “flow” of the game from start to finish is more clear at this point than it was during the early game, so we may start to develop some sort of idea of cards we will need to be conserving for the late game, such as Snatch Steal, Ring of Destruction, Mirror Force, and Torrential Tribute. It is rare that one needs all of these in order to prevent themselves from “just dying” to the opponent later down the road, but it will probably be the case that they will need at least one of them to this end. As the name suggests, we need to find an appropriate middle ground between just throwing all of our options at the opponent and hoping for the best and doing nothing at all while we get beaten down by Asura Priests and Airknight Parshaths until our Life Points hit zero.

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Control

 

In the contemporary Goat landscape, nearly every relevant deck is typically classified as control. Control itself is something of a loaded term with quite a bit of historical baggage, but for our purposes, it will suffice to say that the label of “control” means that they seek to gain card advantage to take over the game and lead to their eventual victory. Naturally, there are many different ways of doing this. In a control mirror, one player will have to take the role of the aggressor, as opposed to the role of defender or controller, depending upon the matchup and the current gamestate.

 

Goat Control

Popularized by Wilson Luc + Max Suffridge (c. 2005)

Other notable players: Michael Bonacini (2014), Kris Perovic (2014-2017), Jazz (2014-2018)

 

The namesake of the format, Goat Control is largely a good-stuff deck that plays some of the more situational but high-impact cards that other decks in the format are not willing to touch, namely Airknight Parshath and often Morphing Jar. Goat Control is one of the most well-rounded decks in the format, having good sources of card advantage, a strong ability to inflict incredibly damage and set up game shots, as well as a pretty reasonable early game (assuming good deck construction). It typically one of the higher skill control decks in the format (having less cheese than the other control decks) and understanding how to use your power cards is essential to having a high win rate with the deck.

 

Although it is not the only deck to play these cards, the main core of the deck is 2-3 Scapegoat, 2-3 Metamorphosis, and 2 Tsukuyomi. In addition, the deck typically plays 2 Airknight Parshath, although some lists opt to only play one. Magician of Faith and other flip effect monsters round out the rest of the core, typically either Gravekeeper’s Spy and Guard or Magical Merchant. It is also worth noting that goat control almost always plays 1-2 Dust Tornado to help the deck force through its most important threats like Airknight Parshath

 

Gravekeeper’s Spy + Tsukuyomi can lead into a Gravekeeper’s Guard lock, which can be hard to deal with. Gravekeeper’s Spy is also among one of the best defensive monsters in the format and is good for early game mixups. Its defensive nature ensures that your tribute monsters are less likely to be stuck in the hand. Magical Merchant, on the other hand, as the advantage of being a level 1 light monster, which serves to make deck construction a bit less awkward by ensuring that your Metamorphosis and Black Luster Soldier are more likely to be live when you need to use them.

 

Notable tech options for the deck include Chaos Sorcerer, Jinzo, Asura Priest, Blade Knight, Spirit Reaper, Dekoichi, Skilled Magicians (either one), Creature Swap, and Ceasefire.

 

The deck’s biggest strength in the current metagame is arguably its ability to setup many different kinds of game shots that most other decks cannot do. Although goat control is a control deck, it is very scary to fall to the range of 3000 lifepoints or less when playing against them. The other popular decks in the format typically seek to just play a bunch of chaos monsters when going for deck, which can be easily stopped by a Scapegoat. On the other hand, Goat Control has the ability to force through damage through combinations of cards like: Black Luster Soldier, Tribe-Infecting Virus, Asura Priest, Airknight Parshath, Jinzo, Premature Burial, Call of the Haunted, Metamorphosis, Ring of Destruction, Ceasefire, Heavy Storm, and Mystical Space Typhoon/Dust Tornado. It’s because of this strength that I think cards like Solemn Judgment are a poor choice right now.

 

Goat control does not have very many weaknesses, although it can often be poor at dealing with early game defensive pressure, as the deck does not have many tools to fight this. Often they are simply forced to hope that they have a Nobleman of Crossout or something similar. A turn 1 set of Dekoichi, in particular, can be pretty difficult at times for goat control to deal with, which is why Dekoichi saw ubiquitous play in prior years before the meta evolved into the more Chaos-oriented game that we see today.

 

Flip Control aka “Flip Flop”

Popularized by Mike Rosenberg (c.2005)

Other notable players: the Brady Bunch (2012-2017), Soul (2017), Personofsecrets (2017)

 

Flip Flop Control, also frequently known as Tsuku Lock, is conceptually quite similar to Thunder Dragon Chaos. Decks that have a hard time and dealing with Thunder Dragon Chaos are typically going to have time dealing with Flip Flop Control as well. Many of the choices are quite similar, except that deck eschews the Chaos Sorcerers and Thunder Dragons for more flip effects monsters and synergies.

 

The core of the deck starts out pretty similar, with 2-3 Dekoichis and 2-3 Magician of Faith. 2-3 Mask of Darkness and 3 Tsukuyomi are additional staples for this deck, and other possible flip effects include Gravekeeper’s Spy and Guard, Night Assailant, and Morphing Jar. The deck almost always plays no copies of either Metamorphosis or Scapegoat and instead chooses to support its monsters with 3 Solemn Judgment and 2-3 copies of Sakuretsu Armor, both of which are great targets for Mask of Darkness. Book of Moon is almost always a 3-of, as it has great synergies with the flip effect monsters while serving as protection from opposing Thousand-Eyes Restricts. In order to splash for Black Luster Soldier, some combination of Airknight Parshath, Asura Priest, D.D. Warrior Lady, and Magical Merchant are played.

 

Time Seal is optional for this deck, and it can serve as a win condition in combination with Mask of Darkness+Tsukuyomi. It can also bait out spell/trap removal, but it’s not particularly good at doing much else for the deck. Dust Tornado and Trap Dustshoot are other possible options that serve in combination with Mask of Darkness. Winning decklists in the past have also played Thestalos the Firestorm, reminiscent of the popular flip effect+Thestalos card advantage engines of later years. Apprentice Magician+Old Vindictive Magician is another potential tech option. This deck is still quite underexplored so there are many different possibilities here. Even something like Wave-Motion Cannon could be used as an additional win-condition.

 

The deck’s strengths are quite similar to Thunder Dragon Chaos: great early game defensive pressure. Going first, some of it’s turn 1 plays are almost straight up unbeatable. Mask of Darkness + Ring of Destruction can kill people quickly. Mask of Darkness + Solemn Judgment lets you counter so many things that you feel like you’re playing Magic: The Gathering. Dekoichi+Tsukuyomi can also get out of hand very quickly, especially given how well the deck protects its Dekoichis. The deck has a lot of late game inevitability, and the opponent will almost always be forced to take the role of the aggro player, which not everyone is well-prepared to do. The fact that is deck is underplayed means that others are more likely to make tactical errors against it.

 

That being said, the deck has a fair amount of weaknesses. Given the emphasis on Solemn Judgment, it is possible to randomly die to a Ring of Destruction, a Ceasefire, a Heavy Storm into a bunch of monsters, or even a Wave-Motion Cannon if you’re not careful. The deck is also quite susceptible to Mind Control, a card that people are already siding for Thunder Dragon Chaos. A well-timed Nobleman of Crossout can be devastating, and most people are also siding Mystic Swordsman LV2 or Blade Knight. Royal Decree is another popular sidedeck card that can single-handedly ruin your gameplan, and you may often be forced to side in Mobius the Frost Monarch just in case to counter it. That being said, the deck can be a strong pick if people are not sufficiently prepared for it.

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Chaos

 

[Devoting a subsection here to Chaos is a little misleading, as it may be taken to imply that Chaos itself is an “archetype” or relative role akin to the traditional Control/Aggro/Combo triangle, but these decks span so many of these archetypes while still retaining common threads that I have decided to cover them all separately in this section.

 

Chaos itself has become something of an elephant of the room in the contemporary Goat metagame, as most of the decks that will be covered herein existed either barely or not at all during the 2005 metagame. Back then, the term “Chaos” was most often seen alongside “Dimension Fusion” or “Return,” and if this guide had been written during 2005, this section would have most likely been replaced by sections on these two decks at the end with the rest of the Combo strategies.

 

Oh, yeah, and just to be clear, if this was my manifesto, I would be classifying Angel Chaos and Thunder Dragon Chaos together as "Chaos Control," but Allen would probably literally find and castrate me if I did that to his article. Out of respect to him, I've decided to retain his naming system for his own article. -ed.]

 

Thunder Dragon Chaos

Popularized by the Brady Bunch + Nostalgic Duelist (c. 2012)

Other notable players: Ynusgridorh (2014-2018), MMF (2017), HyperBeam (2017-2018)

 

Spics of Life (no racism intended), the fourth Brady Bunch team, were among the first to recognize that Chaos Sorcerer was a very powerful card in the goat control and to attempt to build a deck around it. The issue was that good quality lights in the format were few and far between, to the point that Goat Control decks had to put considerable thought into making sure that they had enough lights to support just Black Luster Soldier itself. The 2012 solution to this problem was to simply play Thunder Dragon, which guaranteed access to 3 light monsters and was a reasonable card in its own right. You’ll later see that other solutions to the “light problem” were discovered in subsequent years.

 

Key aspects of this deck are its strong defensive pressure, better than any deck in the format with the exception of the Flip Flop decks. This was accomplished through the use of 2-3 Dekoichi, 2-3 Magician of Faith (often 3 of each), and 2 copies of either Night Assailant or sometimes Mask of Darkness. Raigeki Break or Phoenix Wing Wind Blast had synergy with both Night Assailant and the deck’s namesake. These traps had the advantage of being an answer to an early game set monster (in addition to Nobleman of Crossout) while also been a better answer to Thousand-Eyes Restrict than Book of Moon. Solemn Judgment is also frequently played as a 3-of. It’s a very high-risk card, but serves the role of protecting Tsuku locks (1-2 copies) or Chaos monsters (1 Black Luster Soldier, 2-3 Chaos Sorcerer) either of which can single-handedly take over the game. Sakuretsu Armor is also a fairly common choice as another way to buff the “protect the Dekoichi” strategy. Card Destruction was often played due to potentially huge plays with Thunder Dragon and Night Assailant.

 

The deck has gone through numerous evolutions over the years, but the basic formula of flip effects+Thunder Dragons+Chaos monsters has stayed the same. These decks were among the first to implement the singleton copy of Skilled Dark Magician, now common across many other decktypes, and the advantages of such a card to Thunder Dragon Chaos are obvious, as the card can attack over threats like Kycoo the Ghost Destroyer in the mid and late games while also serving as Nobleman of Crossout bait in the early game. The Ynusgridorh-MMF line of Thunder Dragon players took to splashing copies of Scapegoat and Metamorphosis (often with Dark Mimic LV1 as additional support) to help them out in the card advantage department at the cost of the deck’s early game potential and the greater likelihood of hands filled with dead cards. Others, such as HyperBeam and Kewl`Kat, have gone in the direction of improving the deck’s potential to create game shot opportunities by adding cards like Morphing Jar, Cyber Jar, and rarely even 1-2 copies of Dimension Fusion or Return from the Different Dimension. Some other underexplored tech options include Mystic Tomato, Spirit Reaper, Skilled Magicians, Upstart Goblin, My Body as a Shield, Creature Swap, Trap Dustshoot, and Serial Spell.

 

The deck’s biggest strengths are the deck’s strong game going first and its ability to poke with cards like Dekoichi, forcing the opponent to commit a threat to the board which can then be answered with Chaos Sorcerer. It’s also worth noting that the deck is along one of the easiest decks in the format to play, as it much easier to play a Chaos Sorcerer correctly than it is to play a Metamorphosis or an Airknight, which causes the deck to be somewhat overplayed in lower-level communities (although there are also very good players that will use the deck).

 

In addition, of the control decks, Thunder Dragon is by far the one that is most easily hated by the sidedeck. Trap Dustshoot is very good against the deck, due to the fact that it’s high synergy with a lot of pieces that need to work together. In addition, Trap Dustshoot is unlikely to be dead in the mid game due to the fact that Thunder Dragon ensures that the deck with often have many cards in its hand. Mind Control has also surged in popularity recently as an out to both the deck’s many set flip effect monsters and chaos monsters. Kycoo the Ghost Destroyer, while not usually a huge blowout, is yet another common sidedeck card that poses a potential threat to the deck. The last weakness of the deck is that is more susceptible to losing due to opening hand variance than the other control decks. Multiple Thunder Dragons, multiple chaos monsters, dead copies of Metamorphosis, and so on can cause the deck to sometimes lose games before they really begin.

 

Angel Chaos

Popularized by ACP (c. 2017)

Other notable players: MMF (2017)

 

Shining Angel was the second proposed solution to the “light problem” by players who were largely unsatisfied by Thunder Dragon’s inability to impact the field in any meaningful way. While Shining Angel, on the surface, seems nearly as useless as Thunder Dragon, there are a number of potential synergies that Shining Angel opens up that other decks do not have access to, hence the deck being named after the card.

 

The core of the deck is 3 Shining Angel, 2 Magician of Faith, 1-2 Magical Merchant, 0-1 Roulette Barrel, 1 D.D. Warrior Lady, 2 Tsukuyomi, 2 Chaos Sorcerer, 3 Metamorphosis, and 1-2 Scapegoat. Potential dark monsters include Dekoichi, Kycoo the Ghost Destroyer, Skilled Dark Magician, Night Assailant, and Spirit Reaper.

 

Shining Angel’s “obvious” searches are additional copies of itself and the staple D.D. Warrior Lady, but the fact that can search the level 1 monsters Magician of Faith and Magical Merchant is extremely important to the deck’s strategy. This gives Angel Chaos greater access to Thousand-Eyes Restrict than any deck in the format. Additionally, Roulette Barrel is played either in the main deck or sidedeck as a searchable way to wall out aggro decks. Shining Angel can search Magician of Faith/Magical Merchant not only as a metamorphosis target but as a way to combo with Tsukuyomi or Book of Moon as a way to access more option. Shining Angel and the decks flip effects serve as a mixup similar to the Apprentice Magician/flip effect mixups that were popular in 2006. Your opponent is put into a dilemma in which it is unclear to them whether it is correct to attack the deck’s set monsters or not.

 

The deck is still fairly new and underexplored so there are not a large amount of tech options that have been tried yet. Some less standard choices include Airknight Parshath, Asura Priest, and Dark Mimic LV1.

 

The deck has the advantage of having the most numerous (although not necessarily the most powerful) early game options. Shining Angel’s ability to be effective on both offense and defense has been compared to Exarion Universe (although it's clearly not as good overall, mostly due to its lack of piercing). In addition, with 3 Metamorphosis and 3 Chaos monsters, the deck arguably has more card advantage sources than any other deck in the format. Of the chaos decks, it is one of the most difficult to sidedeck against, as no common sidedeck cards save for Asura Priest are very good against the deck.

 

However, the deck’s ability to set up gameshots is rather poor, with no Airknight Parshaths, Asura Priests, and often no Tribe-Infecting Virus. Because of this, Scapegoat is way better against Angel Chaos than it is against most other control decks in the format. Angel Chaos can get into some very awkward late game scenarios, especially if it is not piloted well. In addition, the deck can sometimes have a more difficult time getting chaos-typed monsters in its graveyard, especially if the opponent opts to just never attack them and instead banish them with their own Chaos Sorcerers and Nobleman of Crossouts. Asura Priest is also quite annoying for the deck, and it deals with Shining Angel while not being able to be answered by Chaos monsters or Metamorphosis.

 

Chaos Recruiter

Popularized by Kris Perovic + Brian Richardson (c. 2016-2017)

 

Chaos Recruiter is the most aggressive of the Chaos decks while simultaneously the least aggressive of the aggro decks, to the point that I considered creating a separate category of “midrange” decks for the purposes of this guide. However, Chaos Recruiter has a couple of key things in common with the other aggro decks in the format which led me to feel comfortable classifying it on the aggro side of the spectrum:

 

1. It is always summoning monsters, not setting them.

2. Its win condition is more focused around battle damage than the accumulation of card advantage.

 

For an aggro deck, it has a lot of resilience with a core of 3 Mystic Tomato, 1-2 Newdoria, 0-1 Spirit Reaper, 1 Sangan, 3 Shining Angel, 1 D.D. Warrior Lady, and 2-3 Chaos Sorcerer along with 1 Black Luster Soldier. 2 Asura Priest is also mandatory, as it is a strong light that counters Scapegoat, a card that would otherwise be annoying for this deck. 1-2 Creature Swaps are typically played, as they have great synergy with the recruiter monsters and the Asura Priests.

 

Optional choices are Blade Knight, Don Zaloog, Magician of Faith, Tsukuyomi, Tribe-Infecting Virus, and Sinister Serpent. Little of the spell/trap lineup is set in stone (save for staples), although maindeck Trap Dustshoot is often played for the same reason that it is in Beastdown. Solemn Judgment is also sometimes played, although it is not as good in this deck as it is in others. Compulsory Evacuation Device can be used instead of Book of Moon, as it can protect monsters from removal while not also exposing them to Nobleman of Crossout. Return from the Different Dimension (1-2 copies) has also started to catch on recently as an alternate win condition. It specifically helps in the games that go a bit longer.

 

One of Recruiter’s biggest strengths is how well it deals with Dekoichi, and the deck surfaced at a time when Dekoichi was quite popular, leading to an initial strong performance from the deck. It does quite well at dealing with early game defensive pressure from decks like Thunder Dragon Chaos. Unlike the other aggro decks in the format, it also shrugs off opposing Tsukuyomis quite well. Although battle damage is the deck’s main goal, is it also reasonably prepared to play a long game with cards like Chaos Sorcerer and Creature Swap. The deck has one of the easier learning curves, and it is also less prone to being hated out by sidedeck options than the other aggro decks in the format.

 

Like Beastdown, Recruiter has trouble at dealing with an early game Gravekeeper’s Spy, although mid and late game Gravekeepers can often just be cleaned up by a Chaos Sorcerer. Although attacking with a bunch of recruiter monsters sounds easy enough, the deck’s power cards must be used very carefully. Creature Swap can be countered by a chained Scapegoat, and Chaos Sorcerer can be sucked up by a Thousand-Eyes Restrict. Recruiter Chaos can often have trouble against Angel Chaos in particular, as the decks are largely similar but Angel Chaos more prepared to deal with opposing threats and take over the late game. Return from the Different Dimension and Asura Priest are very valuable in this matchup.

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Aggro

 

The history of aggro in Goat Control format is a bit complicated. A lot of people forget that, in 2005 before the battle position ruling change, Zombies (an aggro deck) was the deck to beat. Even after the battle position change, Jae Kim was able to make 2nd place at SJC Charlotte in June with Zombies, using sidedecked Mind Crushes and Trap Dustshoots that were considered revolutionary in aggressive decks at the time. Good stuff aggro decks with cards like Berserk Gorilla and D.D. Assailant were quite popular as well, considered by many to be the most popular deck going into 2005 U.S. Nationals. The first iterations of Goat Control were thus focused more on stifling aggression from aggro decks than beating other copies of Goat Control and aggro decks were not super teched out to beat the control decks, as that wasn’t the entire meta the way it is now in 2017.

 

In 2017 however, many of the aggro decks can afford to play cards that are downright terrible against other aggro decks while excelling in a field full of control decks. While Scapegoat was the ultimate anti-aggro card in 2005, the tables have been turned with aggro decks largely seeking to invalidate the card as a defensive option. Some aggro decks have taken more of an anti-meta “stun” flavor, while others are a bit more focused on more generic power cards.

 

Beastdown/Zoo

Popularized by Tyler Nolan + Matt Cairoli (c.2014)

Other notable players: Gojira (2015-2017)

 

This deck was originally constructed for the Exarion Universe meta, playing 3 copies of Exarion Universe itself and lots of other monsters that could kill opposing copies in battle. The deck is a classic beatdown deck, in the sense that the main goal is simply to put lots of aggressive pressure on the opponent and take advantage of some of the high-synergy decks with poor early games. If they stumble at any point in assembling the various 2+-card-combos they need in order to play the game, they’re probably just dead.

 

Since the loss of Exarion Universe, the core of the deck has existed in a sort of flux between Berserk Gorilla and King Tiger Wanghu. Lists that do not play King Tiger Wanghu often choose to pack their deck with big damage plays in the form of Injection Fairy Lily, with Giant Rat as a potential way to search it out (and gaining piercing from Enraged Battle Ox). Gigantes is a possibility for fast damage as well, although it is not a beast. More commonly in this day and age, however, the Zoo player will elect to retain King Tiger Wanghu while dropping Berserk Gorilla and Enraged Battle Ox entirely. With these six slots, the Zoo deck can add chaos monsters such as Black Luster Soldier and Chaos Sorcerer alongside extra darks and lights, typically some number of Skilled Magicians and more narrow Warrior-type monsters, to support them.

 

A Reinforcement of the Army package (1-2 copies) with D.D. Assailant and Mystic Swordsman LV2 or Blade Knight is quite common. Abyss Soldiers and Sinister Serpent+Sangan can be played together as an efficient answer to Thousand-Eyes Restrict or simply to bounce back a blocker and attack for damage. Skill Drain is occasionally played as well, with some decks choosing to tech it as a 1-of and others playing 2 or 3 copies. Bazoo the Soul Eater and Return from the Different Dimension can also be played together in this deck, allowing the deck to occasionally win games that would otherwise be unwinnable.

 

The deck does not have a particularly large number of strengths, which explains its declining numbers over the years. However, it does do well against control players without the proper matchup knowledge and sidedeck cards. Lists with King Tiger Wanghu in addition to Enraged Battle Ox turn Scapegoat into a total joke, so your opponent will be forced to rely on other options to stop your assault. Nobleman of Crossout is another card that is virtually dead against Beastdown. Tyler Nolan once famously said that “if we start the game with 0 monsters in our deck to set, and our opponent draws a Nobleman of Crossout, that's very similar to resolving a Delinquent Duo.” Berserk Gorilla is also quite good at answering cards like Airknight Parshath and Skilled Magicians. Of the aggro decks in the format, it is the one that will typically kill the opponents the fastest, and certain builds of the deck are good at achieving both incremental damage and setting up game shots out of nowhere. As a result, this is one of the few decks in the format that can take advantage of 3 maindeck Trap Dustshoot, as disrupting their early game options and gaining information can make it very easy for you to go aggro without being punished.

 

However, the deck is quite soft to Gravekeeper’s Spy and other 2000 defense monsters, moreso than the other aggro decks in the format. Another issue is that Tsukuyomi is substantially more popular today than it was in 2005, which can kill most of the deck’s monsters by setting them. The Beastdown strategy is heavily committed to winning by at least the mid-game. Should another player reach the end game with a reasonable life total, they will probably win. With its distinct lack of power cards, Beastdown is also more prone to losing to a lucky combination of the trinity, Snatch Steal, Black Luster Soldier, etc. In fact, Beastdown can have a pretty hard time dealing with chaos monsters in general. Sidedecked copies of Kycoo the Ghost Destroyer will be required to avoid getting crushed by Chaos Sorcerers. Solemn Judgment can be effective against certain combo decks, particularly in conjunction with maindecked Trap Dustshoots, and the standard use of Reinforcement of the Army opens up access to a few other sidedeck options such as Zombyra the Dark with Deck Devastation Virus.

 

Warriors/Gearfried

Popularized by the Based Loli (2017)

 

The Based Loli took Season 1 of DGz’s Goat Format War League by storm, coming in mid-season and making waves with wins over players like Kris Perovic and Soul. Most of his games during this season were played with unconventional Warrior variants. His early lists included Gearfried the Iron Knight alongside Smoke Grenade of the Thief, a combo which was by no means unknown during 2005, but that saw minimal play at the top tables and certainly not as much development as the Goat Control and Beastdown/Zoo lists of the time. Gearfried the Iron Knight is a deceptively powerful card in the format, boasting stats that cards like Kycoo the Ghost Destroyer and Enraged Battle Ox can only dream of. A set Gearfried will block a Breaker the Magical Warrior after the latter removes its counter to destroy a backrow, and a Normal Summoned Gearfried can safely attack without requiring a followup Sakuretsu Armor or Mirror Force for protection against an opposing Tsukuyomi. Blast with Chain can also be included in Gearfried lists, often as a 1- or 2-of, and opens up a number of Damage Step tricks, particularly with Don Zaloog.

 

Later in the season, however, he dropped this combo in favor of a heavier reliance on King Tiger Wanghu, which retains all of the strengths it brings to the table in the modern Beastdown/Zoo lists. Like Gearfried, Wanghu cannot be profitably targeted by Tsukuyomi, as the Tsukuyomi will still be destroyed by Wanghu’s effect even if it flips the Wanghu face-down, and as is the case in Beastdown/Zoo, Wanghu offers an extra dimension of virtual card advantage against Scapegoat in a deck that would otherwise be soft to it.

 

The core Warrior engine, featuring Mystic Swordsman LV2, Blade Knight, D.D. Assailant and Warrior Lady, and Exiled Force, remains the same with or without the addition of Wanghu. Exiled Force and Mystic Swordsman LV2 incur a slight amount of negative synergy with Wanghu, but nonetheless remain too good not to play. Less conventional options for the Warrior toolbox include Don Zaloog, Mystic Swordsman LV4, and Zombyra the Dark. Lastly, like Beastdown/Zoo, this deck can and usually does play two copies of Abyss Soldier. Much like Gearfried, the card’s stats alone make it a force to be reckoned with; drawing an extra WATER monster to support the effect is usually icing on the cake.

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Combo

 

Empty Jar

Popularized by Jonathan Navarro + Jorge Fabian Pina Lizarraga (c. 2005)

Other notable players: ACP (2012-2014)

 

Empty Jar, then called “Cookie Jar Deck Destruction,” took Mexican nationals by storm in Goat Format and immediately began making the rounds on web forums such as Duelistgroundz and Pojo. The Mexican national champion in 2005, Jorge Lizarraga, went on to take the deck all the way to a 2nd place finish at Worlds (both in Swiss and top cut).

 

Empty Jar decks typically deck their opponents out over the course of a few turns with a sequence of complex plays involving Morphing Jar and Cyber Jar and ending in Card Destruction and Serial Spell. A common misconception is that Empty Jar simply uses Books of Taiyou and Moon on the same copy of Morphing Jar until the opponent decks out; given the amount of draw cards the deck plays for consistency, this is usually not practical as the opponent will almost certainly have more cards in deck than the Empty Jar player. Instead, Cyber Jar is recycled through Book of Taiyou and The Shallow Grave until two things happen: 1) the Empty Jar player has both Card Destruction and Serial Spell in their hand, and 2) the opponent’s hand is large enough for two Card Destruction effects to deck them out, e.g. 12 cards in hand with 20 cards left in deck.

 

Thunder Dragon makes a cameo appearance here; a Thunder Dragon can ensure that Reload functions as a “true mulligan” for six new cards on the first turn, and Thunder Dragons make for great discard fodder for effects like Dragged Down Into the Grave and A Feather of the Phoenix. Mystic Tomatos are also played to block damage if a combo is not found on the Empty Jar player’s first turn; a Tomato that is destroyed by battle can search for either a Cyber Jar (so that the Empty Jar player can begin a combo with one of each Book) or a Sangan (so that the Empty Jar player can crash the Sangan into a larger monster, add a Cyber or Morphing Jar to their hand, and begin a combo with Book of Taiyou in their Main Phase 2). Needless to say, Books of Taiyou and Moon are typically played at 3 copies each, as well as The Shallow Grave, which is essential for recycling Cyber Jar. Spell Reproduction is also used, usually to recycle whichever one of Book of Moon, Book of Taiyou, or The Shallow Grave that the Empty Jar player needs to continue a combo.

 

Empty Jar would likely be an oppressively powerful deck if matches were played in a best-of-1 format and/or without sidedecking. However, Neko Mane Kings out of opposing sideboards pose an extremely potent threat to the Empty Jar player. As the Empty Jar combos naturally help their opponent draw into them, the Empty Jar player will need to find a way to combo through Neko Mane King(s) in the 99.9% of games (not an exaggeration) in which all three of the opponent’s Neko Mane Kings are not within the bottom 5 cards of their deck. A common misconception is that cards like Minar and Elephant Statue of Disaster were sided back in 2005 for Empty Jar as well, but these cards were actually used against Last Turn; the burn damage from these cards is not enough to naturally kill the Empty Jar player with a playset of either and even if it was, neither of them trigger off of Cyber Jar’s effect.


So, as combo decks tend to do, rather than sidedecking for the opponent’s deck, Empty Jar sidedecks against the cards the opponent is likely to sidedeck for Empty Jar. There are typically three ways to do this: Exchange, Mind Control, and Prohibition. Exchange is the best option to protect Morphing Jar activations from in-hand Nekos, as the Neko effect does not trigger if it is sent from the opponent’s hand to its owner’s Graveyard. Mind Control adds a similar interactive dimension to the Cyber Jar combos, with one caveat. If the Empty Jar player’s opponent Special Summons Neko Mane King and at least one other monster off of Cyber Jar’s effect in face-down Defense Position, the positions of these monsters on the field is technically randomized, meaning the Empty Jar player will not know which card they need to Mind Control in order to continue safely with the next Cyber Jar activation. Nevertheless, playing through Neko 50% of the time (or 33%) is definitely better than playing through it 0% of the time, and there are minor workarounds; for instance, if one of the opponent’s two set monsters is Neko and the other is a Magician of Faith, the Empty Jar player can Mind Control the Magician of Faith and subsequently flip it face-up to recycle the Mind Control for the now-lone set Neko (even if the Magician of Faith was summoned by Cyber Jar in the same turn!). Prohibition is the most foolproof guard against Neko, as it prevents the effect from triggering off of either Jar’s effect, but it must be activated before a Neko is Special Summoned by Cyber Jar.

 

Reasoning/Gate aka H.A.M.

Popularized by Vince Tundo + Mike Powers (c. 2005)

Other notable players: B. Darnell Alexander (2012)

 

Reasoning/Gate could be described as a particular form of Dimension Fusion Turbo, in that it is a “Turbo deck” that uses Dimension Fusion to great effect, but at the same time, it does so much more, and the core engine of Reasoning and Monster Gate is more flexible than it might first appear. One way to play it is “DMoC Launch,” in which you Reasoning or Gate into a Dark Magician of Chaos, activate Spell Economics and Mass Driver, tribute the Magician for Mass Driver, and then Dimension Fusion it back 40 times to deal 8000 damage.

 

However, following a deck profile posted by Dubkdad1 on YouTube in 2012, the most common Reasoning/Gate build became what was called “Heavy Tribute” in 2005. This version of the deck plays ten or so monsters and attempts to set up game shots through Chaos Sorcerers, Dimension Fusions, and Dark Magician of Chaos.

 

An important principle of deckbuilding here is the diversification of levels in the monster lineup. 3 Sacred Crane are staple as one of the deck’s sole means of generating card advantage. 3 Byser Shock are often played as a pseudo-Trunade that also affects set monsters; many game shots begin with a Reasoning or Gate into a Byser Shock. The deck usually plays at least 1 Jinzo for similar reasons. Dark Ruler Ha Des is an option to allow safe attacks over recruiters and flip effect monsters. 3 Scapegoat along with 2-3 Metamorphosis are also popular, as Metamorphosis has a ton of targets beyond the typical level 1 Goat Tokens and Scapegoat serves an additional purpose in setting up for Monster Gate plays. While it is generally standard to play a minimal or nonexistent Trap lineup in these decks, Jazz has shown that is possible to play a “Grindy Gate” variant with a more traditional Trap lineup.

 

The most effective sidedeck option against these decks is undoubtedly Threatening Roar, which is preferable to Waboku in case a Dimension Fusion fetches a D.D. Warrior Lady. Trapless variants have a hard time dealing with Spell Canceller as well. Perhaps more importantly than any single sidedeck choice, the opponent of the Reasoning/Gate player must understand how to evaluate risk/reward in order to call correctly for Reasoning. There is no single correct answer to the question of "what do I call when they activate Reasoning," but a good place to start is to ask yourself if you can deal with a Reasoning hitting a Dark Magician of Chaos. If the answer is no, you should probably call 8. If the answer is yes, you may want to consider calling something like 4, 5, or 6, depending on the situation.

 

Last Turn

Popularized most likely by some 12-year-old Japanese kid on 2ch (c. 2001)

Other notable players: Gojira (2017)

 

The core Last Turn combo dates back to the first post-TCG World Championship, and is impossible to trace back to a single player. The basic combo is well-known: the Last Turn player summons Jowgen the Spiritualist, pays all but 1000 or less of their Life Points for a Wall of Revealing Light, and then activates Last Turn to win the game.

 

The Last Turn combo is remarkably flexible, and can fit into a number of shells. Most commonly, however, the deck is played as a pure combo deck, maximizing on Upstart Goblins, Solemn Judgments, and Giant Trunades. Shining Angel is an option for fetching Jowgens, and more recently, Non-Aggression Area has been utilized in place of or alongside Jowgen. Self-Destruct Button can be played to reset games in which a Wall of Revealing Light is found with no other combo pieces.

 

Last Turn is simultaneously one of the most and least resilient combo decks in the format. It can be splashed in a particularly passive Goat Control deck as an additional win condition, and it can be sided into by many other decks. One of the only counterplay options in game 1 is Book of Moon, which can be chained to Last Turn to flip Jowgen face-down and allow the opponent to Special Summon a monster to attack over the now-defenseless Jowgen. However, things become much more difficult for the Last Turn player in games 2 and 3 if the opponent is sidedecking Elephant Statue of Disaster or Minar. With an Elephant Statue/Minar in the opponent’s hand, the Last Turn player will immediately lose all their remaining Life Points upon resolving the initial component of Last Turn’s effect, and there are almost no effective ways of preventing this from happening, save for a few awkward cards like Exchange or Dragged Down into the Grave.

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Mascis    4423

Tldr acp a nerd who I beat with dark magician I’m the truest yugioh moto boy 

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+mmf    23370
5 hours ago, Joe. said:

Damn - no love for the best deck. Bazoo is mad. 

I would have added a section for DFT, but Allen said he only wanted to include decks that were present in the current DGz meta.

 

In other words, be the change that you want to see in the world, or in this article!

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+Urthor    10171

MMF tell be about how intentionally choosing to go second in goat format is good

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+mmf    23370

latest?cb=20160614190113

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