The Great Escape – Looking Into Chain Beat

There’s always been a niche, big or small, for the non-archetypal, anti-meta-ish deck. It’s had its days in the sun, such as Courtney Waller’s YCS Kansas City 2011 victory with Chaos Stun, and there always seems to be that one guy at your locals or regionals that manages to pilot some sort of 40goodcards.dek to a respectable result.

However, it’s generally pretty predictable and linear, whether it’s classic Chaos Stun or Light HERO Beat. It’s very much the same core of cards that everyone thinks of when they hear the deck’s name, plus a couple techs such as, say, Imperial Iron Wall that are specific to the meta. Thusly, I’m writing about a deck that’s under the radar (one near-top at a YCS and two regional tops), has the anti-meta feel at heart but a slightly different approach, and packs a lot of flexibility and intriguing techs: Chain Beat.

Firstly, a quick history: The origins of the effects of these two cards stretches way, waaaaay back, to the days of Invasion of Chaos, and the venerable Strike Ninja. By banishing two DARKS from your Graveyard, Strike Ninja could dodge pretty much anything he pleased, providing valuable field presence and rendering traps like Mirror Force and Bottomless Trap Hole practically useless. Following suit years later were Shuttleroid and Winged Rhynos. Those two cards, the attack-dodging Shuttleroid and the trap-evading beater Rhynos, were a bit more situational, but lacked any cost like Strike Ninja’s graveyard-clearing. From there, it was years’ waiting for Wind-Up Rabbit (and later Thunderbird) to release, as the most powerful cards in this niche yet. Wind-Up Rabbit gave users of its archetype an inane amount of flexibility and defense with its ability to bounce any of its friends (or itself) out of play with huge chainability, and Evilswarm Thunderbird is a step below that, but with the added ATK boost up to 1950 and compatibility with cards such as the archetypal boss Ophion.

Wind-Up Rabbit and Evilswarm Thunderbird, the two core monsters of the deck, con their way out of getting hit by such cards as Dimensional Prison, Dark Hole, and generally any other that puts them in danger. They can easily slip out of poor situations with their effects, then return right back to the field to keep your field presence intact (and, with heavy backrow, you can deplete the foe’s resources whilst you beat down with your ‘hoppers’). Therein lies the name, of course; you chain your hoppers to their cards to keep them safe, then beat down on them after you parry their thrusts. It forces the opponent to expend extra resources if they want to get rid of the hoppers (something like a Dark Hole + Fiendish Chain combination), and for decks like this it’s that lessening of resources that leads to wins.

Of course, just having Rabbit and Thunderbird doesn’t lead to wins: for one thing, you need to have ample protection. If you do dodge the foe’s, say, Dark Hole, then you’re still left with a wide open field into which they can attack. If you have that key Torrential Tribute or Solemn Warning, though, then you’ve suddenly put your opponent on the ropes, at least for a moment.

However, there’s one card in particular that can highly mitigate the issue of preventing your hoppers from getting steamrolled and suddenly makes them a lot more fearsome: Black Garden.

The appeal of this relatively forgotten Field Spell is pretty obvious, with Wind-Up Rabbit essentially becoming 2800 and Evilswarm Thunderbird running over everything short of Malefic Cyber End Dragon once their ATK is reset, since all other monsters get halved ATK stats. You can also plop it down after summoning a card like Fossil Dyna Pachycephalo or Thunder King Rai-Oh, giving them extra protection as they lock the foe down. Not only this, but if you do need to get your hoppers out of the way for whatever reason, the tokens generated by Black Garden give you some extra protection, so that they’re not swinging directly at you every time your mons have to make an escape. Finally, as an aside that you’ll pull of very rarely, there are a couple viable targets for Black Garden’s revival effect as well, namely Brotherhood of the Fire Fists Bear/Gorilla and Banisher of the Radiance.

It’s worth noting some rulings involving Black Garden, especially since they work mainly to your benefit. For instance, if you summon an Evilswarm Thunderbird under Black Garden, you can chain Thunderbird to Black Garden’s effect, and thusly avoid the ATK-halving right off the bat (and return the next Standby Phase at a now-massive 1950 ATK. Going by this same logic, if a foe summons a monster (say, Black Luster Soldier) under Black Garden with 1500 or more base ATK, you can activate Bottomless Trap Hole and successfully get rid of the monster. The chain would end up as Black Garden on CL1 and BTH on CL2, and since the chain resolves in reverse (meaning the ATK halving from Garden hasn’t taken place yet), Bottomless will get rid of the threat.

One other note: if your foe tries to Lance their monster to shed Black Garden’s effect, they can only do it on the same chain as Garden. If they miss that opportunity, then the mon’s attack is halved for good (also, monsters like Tragoedia get their attack halved once, and then it never changes again. So, if your foe summons E-HERO The Shining at 3200 ATK, it will be halved to 1600 and stay that way even if they Miracle Fuse later).

There are some other ways to make the deck unique as well, to catch the foe off guard. Compulsory Escape Device seems tailor-made for our hoppers, for instance: since the targeting happens upon activation and the spinning on resolution, you can target your Evilswarm Thunderbird for Escape Device’s effect, then bounce it away to safety while the foe’s monster still gets taken out. Monster techs range from standard anti-meta choices like Thunder King Rai-Oh and Kycoo the Ghost Destroyer to adding Fire Fist – Bear to the mix (which allows you to run Tenki to search him or Rabbit out, and adds valuable monster removal), or even Madolche Magileine (this one being a tech utilized by Wilson Tsang and his Garden Chain Beat build that finished just outside the top cut at YCS New Jersey a couple months ago (15 X-2s didn’t make it, and he was one of them). Spells are highly modifiable as well, especially in the vein of S/T removal/Lances, and the Trap lineup is wide open to whatever techs you want, from staples/semi-staples to Vanity’s Emptiness and Macro Cosmos to Dark Bribe and Compulsory Escape Device. I’ve even seen Robbin’ Goblin used in this deck!

As an example, this is one of the Chain Beat decks I’m currently working with; while there are some other intriguing options (one of my current projects is a teched-out version that allows for easier access to the newly released Master Key Beetle), this one is relatively standard:

Monsters (12):
3 Wind-Up Rabbit
3 Evilswarm Thunderbird
2 Fossil Dyna Pachycephalo
2 Brotherhood of the Fire Fist – Bear
2 Kycoo the Ghost Destroyer

Spells (13):
1 Dark Hole
1 Heavy Storm
2 Mystical Space Typhoon
1 Monster Reborn
2 Pot of Duality
1 Terraforming
3 Black Garden
2 Fire Formation – Tenki

Traps (15):
1 Solemn Judgment
1 Solemn Warning
3 Compulsory Evacuation Device
2 Torrential Tribute
2 Mirror Force
2 Bottomless Trap Hole
2 Fiendish Chain
2 Vanity’s Emptiness

And for comparison’s sake, let’s take a look at the deck Wilson Tsang piloted months ago:

Monsters (12):
2 Evilswarm Thunderbird
3 Wind-Up Rabbit
2 Brotherhood of the Fire Fist – Bear
3 Madolche Magileine
1 Banisher of the Radiance
1 Thunder King Rai-Oh

Spells (15):
1 Dark Hole
2 Mystical Space Typhoon
1 Monster Reborn
2 Pot of Duality
2 Forbidden Lance
3 Black Garden
1 Terraforming
3 Fire Formation – Tenki

Traps (13):
2 Breakthrough Skill
2 Compulsory Escape Device
1 Solemn Judgment
1 Solemn Warning
1 Dimensional Prison
2 Mirror Force
1 Magic Drain
2 Torrential Tribute
1 Starlight Road

Obviously, flexibility is a huge strength of the deck (as it should be). Builds for the deck can range from anti-meta, to a variant somewhat similar to Chain Burn (using draw traps and Accumulated), to a variant very similar to Chain Burn, to a more Beast-Warrior-oriented build (which may utilize tour old friend Winged Rhynos). Not only that, but side decking is incredibly lithe as well, with only a couple common sides really being unable for use (Gozen Match/Rivalry of Warlords spring to mind, as well as the lethal Imperial Iron Wall). Beyond that, the deck is very adaptable based on the matchup and the player, so it can conform to the situation at hand pretty easily (the deck doesn’t really have a specific bad matchup, per se, which makes it a relatively decent choice in any meta that isn’t totally blazing fast).

For those of you out there who like control decks, Chain Beat is a choice worth considering. It’s got a Gadget-like set-up, what with recurring monsters and a huge backrow, but it’s much more under-the-radar and is more new-age, you could say. Not only that, but it’s very much a budget deck, making it easy for those on a short financial leash to access. Give it a try, if you want a change of pace (yet a deck that can definitely manage to hang with the meta, especially with your personal touches); at the very least, you’ll annoy the hell out of the foe with Rabbit and Thunderbird hopping everywhere.

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