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Are we entering a very dark world? Or will the light prevail?

Hello duelists, as of late I haven’t been playing too much, but with a string of big events as of late and Ohio on the horizon, I have geared back up in order to put up some good showings (which have, unfortunately, eluded me). Most of my time recently in card games has been spent playing magic, and for those of you don’t know or play, in Magic, every set released brings a wide variety of new cards and deck options, continually changing the metagame. Unfortunately, yugioh generally isn’t like that with the exception of a new “broken” card being released, or an archetype being given more additional support. Sometimes sets bring little to the table to create new decks and leave the metagame stale and boring. Fortunately, Konami has been putting at least some thought into their current releases, reviving multiple archetypes through their structure deck releases. Agents was the latest, and Dark World will be the next example of a revived archetype. This is the archetype I will discuss and give my thoughts on it’s ramifications on the current metagame as we know it (dominated by Plant and Agent variants), and if these decks will be able to weather the storm that is Dark World.

Historically, Dark Worlds have been an underplayed, tier 3 or lower deck (I mean, who has ever considered them tier anything before, really?), though they were fairly reasonably supported. The problem with types of deck such as this is that they are reliant upon a game mechanic of some sort which creates a negative advantage, their reliance being upon being discarded from the hand. There has seldom been a card that enables Dark World creatures to trigger that gives you a positive advantage outside of triggering their effects. Sure Goldd and Sillva are free 2300 beaters, and some of the other guys destroy a backrow or creature, which is fine and all, but without a discard outlet or more powerful inherent effects, they are just unimpressive. Enter Dark World structure deck. Let me introduce my friends, Snoww, Grapha, and the Gate, not to mention we now have Tour Guide. This new iteration of Dark World doesn’t look a thing like the clunky Dark World decks of the past. Given a searcher, a catch all destruction card that doubles as a boss monster (laughable card design, Konami), in addition to a field spell that pumps your guys (oh yeah, and it’s a reusable discard outlet for all those silly dark world guys), the new version of this deck has incredible power. Not to mention Tour Guide from the Underworld can search up Broww which you can THEN bounce to summon Grapha, or attack with the team, or use different level 3 exceedes. But, everyone knows this already, it is obvious that these cards have a inherent power level on par of decks that are normally considered tier 1, and maybe even more-so. So the question we need to ask ourselves in the weeks leading up to YCS Ohio is, is this the bandwagon to hop on, or are the existing decks still going to reign supreme? If Dark World is the deck to play, what sort of resistance should be we expecting in addition to what we need to do to trump the mirror, and if it is not the deck to play, what cards should we be packing in order to beat them.

An Argument for Dark World

In order to answer these questions we need to assess Dark World’s match-ups against the decks that are currently popular, Plants and Agents.

Agents - Dark World actually has a fairly good match-up against agents at least on the surface. Dark World (which will from now on be referred to as DW since the capitalization of each word is getting old) in pre-boarded matches is on the same speed as the Agent deck, but they have some slight advantages that allow them to take advantage of the Agent players. Firstly, DW has a tutor for any piece of its combo it wants that operates at spell speed 2. Basically, Snoww operates at a level that Agents cannot really answer, they have their own searcher for the key combo piece (Earth for Venus) but it operates at spell speed 1 and needs a turn to elapse to be effective (unless you hard-draw the Venus in which case you need something to do with it), where as Snoww can search and the DW player can proceed with the turn as normal. This comes to the second point where DW trumps Agents, the base level Agent plays operate on an inherently less powerful level than the base level DW plays. Generally, your base line of play with Agents is to use Venus to establish board presence with Gachi and simultaneously apply pressure to them and hinder opposing establishment of board presence. With DW though, this play is not a particularly powerful line of play since they have an arguably higher base level of plays in that they are acquiring boss monsters (Grapha) free of charge turn after turn from the early turns of the game (since, as stated earlier, DW has a very powerful searcher at their disposal). On the topic of boss monsters, Agents does not trump DW in that regard either. Master Hyperion, while a reusable piece of removal, is only equivalent in power level to Grapha as they are both pieces of removal and 2700 free monsters, but in the heads-up game, Grapha is obviously superior to Hyperion in terms of longevity and its ability to be reused. Fortunately for Agents though, their second boss monster, Archlord Kristya, is a particular beating for DW as they have a low density of removal that truly and permanently answers Kristya. In my testing, most of my games won from the Agent perspective have been won fast and with the use of multiple boss monsters before they can establish a Grapha presence or disrupt me in any significant way.

Plants - Now plants is an entirely different monster from Agents, but similarly has the ability to flood the board and take control of the game state regardless of what part of the game. In my experience though, Plants seems to have a much longer required set-up time than Agents in order to completely wrench the game away from an opponent, but probably does so in a more powerful fashion. DW definitely has a good match-up in this department, just like it does against Agents. They have a sufficient amount of disruption (which I will talk about in detail in the next paragraph) along with a sufficient clock in order to force the plant players to pull the trigger sooner rather than later. It is my belief that plants operates on a higher power level than that of Agents due to the utility that it offers (as opposed to just multiple Venus plays backed by boss monsters) with a multitude of Synchro monsters backed by the hand-traps and inherent card advantage, but at an equivalent or lesser level than DW due to an equivalent amount of powerful inherent card advantage, but a lack of boss monsters and its slow, tempo-based game are hurt greatly by the aggressive game that DW can play. There is a lot more to say about this match-up as it would stand if DW were inserted into the metagame today, but most of it is based around disruption packages, which I will discuss concerning DW in comparison to both Plants and Agents combined, now.

Disruption - As we stand now, Effect Veiler and Maxx C are the two prominent forms of disruption within the game. They are difficult (sometimes) to read, have very inherently powerful abilities, and allow us to control how the flow of the game without any committal to the board. Both Agents and Plants are packing these cards in multiples, and they are the defining features of both mirror matches, and the opposing match-ups. Unfortunately, neither of these cards are really valid ones against DW. Looking at a base DW monster lineup, which includes 3 of Broww, Beige, Grapha, Snoww, Tour Guide, a singleton Sangan and Fabled Raven as the norm, we can see that neither of these cards is particularly effective against this lineup. The summoning of Grapha is a summon condition, so there is no ability to respond to its summoning with Maxx C. While you can also respond to Beige and Tour Guide with Maxx C, drawing a single card and not truly stopping their combo or whatnot is not the primary use of Maxx C. Using it as a -1 card advantage “your opponent cannot (should not) special summon”, is also not a truly effective use of Maxx C against this deck. Similarly, Effect Veiler’s primary use is not truly realized against this deck. Tour Guide is the only true target for the card, and while stopping them from getting Sangan is pretty good, its not good enough. Raven is the only other target that Veiler can be used on, but his effect is not a cost so Veiler will only amount to a loss in card advantage at best. Mind Crush packages are also not as good anymore, since there are only a few inflection points in which the Plant/Agent player can hurt DW with Mind Crush without naming a DW monster (namely the Gate). While Plants and Agents are durdling around with hand-traps, DW packs multiple viruses, Deck Devastation and Epidemic Eradicator Virus give you free information as well as potentially massive pluses in card advantage at little to no cost since you can just re-buy Grapha the following turn. This provides DW with a sort of “Crush Card” factor but to a greater extent, the theory being that if you open with the ability to resolve one of these cards on the first or second turn cycle, you will inevitably win the game due to superior knowledge and your opponents lack of options. Before the problem was drawing the virus in addition to the two or three targets for it turn one or two, but with DW, you have the ability to search the virus sacrifice, and only need to draw the virus in order to easily trigger them. The other problem for Plants and Agents is that they are only packing Trap Dustshoot, while DW has not only Dustshoot, but the aforementioned viruses, as well as three copies of Dragged Down to the Grave in order to extract information (Unless you’re playing people who want horrid mirror matches and are playing Dark World Dealings; also, ninja stock tip, Ultimate Dark World Dealings are 40$ at the moment for whatever reason, the perceived value of them is only 20-25$, so make your money on them now before everyone realizes its terrible). This is truly irrelevant for the DW player as their opponent knowing that they are going to discard a specific DW in a turn or so isn’t as important as knowing that a Hyperion or One for One combo is going off next turn.

If Ohio were today, the Plant and Agent decks of now would be vastly unprepared to handle DW as it will be, but what changes can we make in order to ensure that DW is not the driving force behind the format, and that these two decks still remain playable?
An Argument for the current meta-decks

Luckily, we still have three weeks to go until the time Ohio comes about, so we have time to accurately assess the impact of DW upon these two decks, although there will be no official tournament data that we can look at in order to determine the best choice for the event.

An argument for Agents - As I have already stated, Agents operate on a lower power level than DW, but that doesn’t mean that they are wholly inferior. Archlord Kristya is really the trump card in this match-up, the DW player generally has less than 5 outs to it, and after going through a Grapha or two, that number will dwindle to about two or three. Agents will need to necessitate playing cards that have the ability to find the Kristya faster. More Pot of Duality is an option, but it too greatly hinders the ability to do early Kristya/Venus plays which are still a semi-valid line of play against DW, and a very valid line of play against all other archetypes. Gold Sarcophagus is a card that I believe will be widely adopted, it can obviously search Kristya or Hyperion in order to lock up the board or finalize a game push, as well as just get good value cards such as Dark Hole or Storm if the game isn’t going favorably for you. Two turns may be too long to wait in order to get the card given that DW can put a great amount of pressure on you early, but Kristya is needed lest all be lost to DW without an exceptional draw from the Agent player. I also believe, as said earlier, that the hand traps will start to die down a little bit. Maxx C and Veiler will be good against the other special summon oriented decks, but I expect a fair portion of the metagame to be DW if the starters are released on time and widely as they should be. This will likely relegate extra copies past one to the side board in order to be brought in against these more favorable match-ups. For Agents though, Herald of the Orange Light is still an acceptable hand trap for the main board as it actually hinders their plays, and most importantly from what I’ve found, their ability to search needed cards with Snoww.

An Argument for Plants - Plants I believe is hurt much more by this shift than Agents will be. Plants needed the hand traps in order to play a tempo-oriented game and play draw-go with the opponent for a few turns before going off. With DW being prominent, they don’t have the ability to do that to the same extent as currently and I believe will dwindle slightly in numbers. Their plays are still inherently powerful and their match-up with DW is more fair in comparison to that of Agents as of now, but the deck will need to be re-tooled more in order to face the challenges that DW puts forward for it. My good friend Joe Giorlando (CaptainSure) played a stun conversion side in Toronto which he said worked quite well for him and I believe that this conversion side will either be needed, or more pieces of it will need to be integrated into the main-deck in order to hinder DW. These cards will be needed in order to maintain the early tempo-based game that Plants needs to set up their powerful plays.

On a whole, both of these decks will need to begin removing non-chainable backrow such as any main decked Mirror Forces or Dimensional Prisons, Mind Crushes, and the like in favor of chainable spells and traps in order to not get punished by opposing Dark World Lightnings and Graphas. Side boards also need to be completely re-tooled with cards such as Kycoo and Crows to remove opposing problem cards like Graphas, Banisher of the Radiance and Dimensional Fissures in order to completely shut off discard effects, and Fossil Dynas, Thunder King Rai-Ohs (not that hes not already highly played but I expect an increase) and the like in order to shut down the powerful plays that DW can produce. Shadow Imprisoning Mirror is also another card that should be expected in large number come YCS Ohio, and it is one that the DW players should be expecting to face and will probably necessitate them main decking Mystical Space Typhoons in twos or threes, which the other decks will likely do too in order to shut down opposing Gates, Lightnings, as well as the standard spells and traps that will still be played such as Torrent, Dustshoot, and other general utility traps. I leave out side board cards such as Goldd, Sillva, Reign-Beaux and Gemini Imps for the fact that they are very narrow and only hit a very small segment of cards in the deck or are too situational. Out of these cards the most potential for plays is Gemini Imps since it gives you much needed card advantage when they activate Dragged Down, but is seemingly too situational and likely not needed.

The verdict?

Even after playing and watching these match-ups multiple times, I have not come to a conclusion given the correct deck choice that I would recommend for the YCS. It is likely that Plants and Agents will evolve in some of the ways that I have suggested, as well as other variations to facilitate the need to beat DW. The thing that is for sure though, is that Dark World is a real, consistent deck that is not to be taken lightly, and will likely be around for as long as they leave Grapha at three and don’t hit any of the other pieces of the deck. Thanks for reading, I will keep everyone updated on anything else I find out about these match-ups and optimal side-boarding against DW in the forums!

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January 2015

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