Hey everyone, Ryan Levine here. I’m a member of the Org’s newly founded event team and I have the privilege to write our team’s inaugural article. This will be a departure from the Org’s regularly scheduled programming, and will focus on the highest level of competitive TCG play. Even if you have little interest in the competitive side of the game I implore you to try something new and read on. In this article I’d like to talk about the deck I piloted to a top 16 finish at YCS Toronto last week, the state of the game as a whole, what goes into preparing for an event, and how to analyze and learn from the things you do wrong.
Here is the deck profile I recorded for the Ygorganization YouTube channel:
2x Dinomight Knight, the True Dracofighter
3x Ignis Heat, the True Dracowarrior
1x Master Peace, the True Dracoslaying King
1x Maxx “C”
2x Zoodiac Ramram
2x Zoodiac Ratpier
1x Zoodiac Thoroughblade
1x Zoodiac Whiptail
2x Disciples of the True Dracophoenix
3x Dragonic Diagram
2x Fire Formation – Tenki
2x Shuffle Reborn
1x Soul Charge
3x True Draco Heritage
3x Zoodiac Barrage
3x Dimensional Barrier
1x Skill Drain
1x True Draco Apocalypse
2x True King’s Return
1x Zoodiac Combo
1x Abyss Dweller
1x Daigusto Emeral
1x Missus Radiant
1x Zoodiac Boarbow
2x Zoodiac Broadbull
3x Zoodiac Chakanine
3x Zoodiac Drident
1x Zoodiac Hammerkong
2x Zoodiac Tigermortar
1x Dinomight Knight, the True Dracofighter
2x Ghost Ogre & Snow Rabbit
2x Zaphion, the Timelord
3x Cosmic Cyclone
2x Dark Hole
2x Floodgate Trap Hole
1x Imperial Order
2x Magic Deflector
This may seem obvious, but you can’t begin to think about what cards go into your deck until you decide what deck you’re going to play. I identified 3 decks as “viable” for this event (viable meaning I believe they had a chance to win the event) with one very close behind the top 3, and I’d like to briefly explain what those decks were, and why I did or did not choose to play them.
True King Dinosaur:
This was the straggler I mentioned, not quite in the top 3 but very close. This deck obviously has some very powerful combos but I don’t think it does too many unfair things without Diagram, and if drawing Diagram was a requirement for my deck to be good I would like to be searching Master Peace, not Lithosagym. In addition, Zoodiac is so absurdly powerful it would take a lot to justify not playing them and I don’t think they really fit in this deck.
Pure True Draco:
This deck I acknowledged had a lot of potential, but again suffered from the lack of Zoodiac cards in the same way dinosaurs do. I believed there COULD be a way to consistently beat Zoo with this deck if I approached the deck building in a different manner but did not have enough time and probably lacked the ingenuity to do so. Basically, I identified problems the deck had but could not figure out how to solve them. As it turned out, Joshua Schmidt played a truly unique build of pure True Draco to 3rd place at YCS Rimini by solving these problems.
After a shocking defeat at the NA WCQ, Zoodiac managed to win both ARG Circuit events after Link summoning went into effect last month, despite the True Draco hybrid variant being theoretically better suited to the new rules, and I had to ask myself why. The most obvious reason is because the deck is still very, very strong – possibly even the most dominant deck the game has ever seen – and the Link rules did not hinder it much at all. Link summoning also invalidated a counter to the deck, Flying “C”, as you can now simply link summon a missus radiant using it as a material. I also believe after True Draco Zoo did so well at the NA WCQ, people began maining cards and setting up their turn 1 plays to be better suited to that matchup than pure Zoodiac, such as summoning Abyss Dwellers blindly in game 1s and cutting Dimensional Barrier from the main deck. Now that the deck had proven itself to be just as good, if not better, after Links, I believed things would revert to their pre WCQ status; main decks geared towards pure Zoodiac. Now, the existence of Dimensional Barrier would not be enough to dissuade me from playing pure Zoodiac if it were in fact still the best deck; that honor goes to a card that recently surged in popularity: Floodgate Trap Hole. I felt this card created scenarios where you sometimes just can’t play around it and are locked out of the game until you draw an out. Additionally, I did not think there were too many cards that outed floodgate trap hole and did something productive enough to justify putting it in my deck. Shuffle Reborn and Enemy Controller were the only ones I could think of, and that just wasn’t enough for me.
True Draco Zoo:
In incredibly simple terms, I considered this a Zoodiac deck that doesn’t lose to floodgate trap hole, can sometimes play through dimensional barrier, and is a little bit more powerful, but sacrifices some consistency. As previously mentioned, I believed most of the field would be geared towards pure Zoodiac, not the True Draco variant, giving it an additional advantage. I too believe pure Zoodiac would be the most represented deck, so in the end I decided on True Draco Zoo built to beat pure Zoodiac.
Most of the deck list is pretty standard so I’ll only talk specifics about the more unorthodox cards.
Pot of Desires:
Although it doesn’t seem like much at first glance, the lack of Pot of Desires is probably the most defining characteristic of this deck. The theory behind cutting Pot of Desires is extreme, and I by no means am certain it is correct, but I will present the thoughts behind the decision in their entirety and allow you to make your own decisions.
Pot of Desires has seen near constant play since its release in TDIL, and for good reason. It is obviously an incredibly powerful card; Draw 2 cards with no immediately tangible downside, provided your deck can consistently support having 10 cards randomly removed. One of the only decks that has not played Pot of Desires has been pure Zoodiac before the F/L which semi-limited ratpier. Before this list the deck was entirely dependent on summoning all 3 Ratpiers in one turn, nearly every turn, and if even one were to be banished from Pot of Desires you would be at a severe disadvantage in a mirror match where your opponent would still have access to all 3 of their Ratpiers. In this unique circumstance the existence of Ratpier in your deck (or more realistically on your field) was roughly equal to a +1 every turn as it allowed you to summon a near infinite number of Daigusto Emeral, albeit once per turn. Pot of Desires provides a +1 the turn it is activated, but if removing even one of the Ratpiers in your deck meant you were no longer making a free Emeral every turn you would be breaking even the turn you played it, as you were no longer getting the +1 from Emeral, and losing a +1 every subsequent turn. This interaction is pretty unique and most top decks since Desires’ printing (Blue eyes, ABC, Paleozoic, etc.) have been constructed of largely 3-of cards where banishing only one copy wouldn’t cripple you. Banishing all 3 copies of Blue-Eyes White Dragon would be a problem for a Blue-Eyes deck, but the odds of banishing all 3 copies of a card with Pot of Desires is barely over 1%, compared to over 60% to banish 1 copy of a 3-of. These numbers aren’t exact as you could also draw or search for a card before activating desires, but it should demonstrate the vast differences in probability between these concepts. These numbers only matter for searchable cards. If you banish an unsearchable 1-of such as Raigeki or Soul Charge with Pot of Desires it doesn’t matter unless you draw every single card in your deck as far as probability is concerned, as it was equally likely to be in your top 10 as it was to be the absolute bottom card of your deck.
In which category does Draco Zoo fall? I would argue it falls somewhere in the middle, and you can build it to fit either one, and each provides their own advantages and disadvantages. In my deck without desires I played 1 copy of Master Peace and only 3 True Draco traps. Master Peace is not a card you want to draw multiple copies of, is easily searchable with Dragonic Diagram once you actually want to summon it, and usually ends the game when it is summoned; this makes multiple copies unnecessary. The only reason you would need multiple copies would be to reduce the chances of banishing all copies with Pot of Desires. Similarly, you want to draw 1 or 0 True Draco traps in your opening hand and would much rather search them with Dinomight Knight, so 2-3 traps is the best way to facilitate this. Although I did end up playing 2 copies of Disciples of the True Dracophoenix I believe I could have played only one. Without the threat of Pot of Desires banishing your only copy, one may be all you need, and you’d rather have True Draco Heritage in most cases. I believe these ratios provide the most consistent version of the deck by cutting down on the number of cards you don’t want to see in your opening hands while keeping the core win conditions of the deck intact.
The most common Draco Zoo decks you may see, which include Pot of Desires, play 2-3 Master Peace, 4-5 True Draco traps, 2-3 Disciples, and sometimes a few additional zoo monsters such as a 3rd copy of Ramram or a Bunnyblast. They dilute their deck with multiple copies of cards, which I believe to be unnecessary, to mitigate the downside of Pot of Desires. This brings me to my main argument: is it worth playing Pot of Desires if it means you must make your deck worse? If the answer is yes, then how much worse can you make your deck before it starts outweighing the benefits of Pot of Desires? In these examples, I believe their decks to between 4 and 6 cards worse than what I deem to be the optimal numbers. Is that too much? Good enough? I don’t think there is a hard rule like “5 cards worse is too much” and it varies from deck to deck, but for this event I decided that was enough and I would rather have what I deemed to be an overall more consistent deck by removing Pot of Desires and the filler cards that went with it.
This card has seen quite a bit of play in pure True Draco but, to the best of my knowledge, it has not seen play in True Draco Zoo. As I mentioned previously, I wanted to build a True Draco Zoo deck that was built to beat pure Zoodiac, and this card does just that. Skill Drain is uniquely powerful against Zoodiac in a manner similar to Dimensional Barrier: The Zoodiac xyz monsters have 0 attack. Assuming you dodge S/T removal and play around their Drident, you can draw Skill Drain when you go second and it will not only negate your opponent’s Zoo’s effects, but will remove their attack points as well. This buys you a few turns to draw into a way to flip an otherwise unwinnable game. Another aspect of the card that made it so powerful was people didn’t expect to see it in a Zoo deck, and rarely played around it. The most common use for Skill Drain was setting it alongside Drident and a True Draco monster, using both of my monster’s effects before shutting down their turn with skill drain, then tributing skill drain for a second True Draco to turn my Zoodiac cards back on and OTK. None of my opponents were ready to face a game 1 Skill Drain and I didn’t lose a game I drew it, going 1st or 2nd.
Put simply, I don’t believe my deck was perfect by any means and these are the changes I would like to make.
For the most part I believe deck building should be based on theory, not playtesting. This means you shouldn’t cut a card or add a card to your deck because you played a couple games where it was good or bad, you must be able to see the overall effectiveness of cards in the long term and against the field of decks you expect to play against. Even the best plans go awry, and the way I used Ignis Heat in this deck was one of those times.
I am not saying Ignis Heat is a bad card, but I built my deck, and more specifically side deck, around it in the wrong way. I built my side deck assuming Ignis was good going second against pure Zoodiac, Draco Zoo, and pure True Draco; as well as being decent going first against Draco Zoo and pure True Draco. It turned out this was not the case, and Ignis performed very poorly going first against anything, and was mediocre even going second against pure Zoodiac. One of our future articles will talk about side decking, but basically what this meant for me that my entire side deck plan, what goes in and what comes out, was entirely incorrect for every matchup and I had to come up with a new plan in the middle of the tournament.
For example, this was my original side deck plan for going first in the Draco Zoo mirror:
2X Shuffle Reborn
1X Skill Drain
1X Dimensional Barrier
1X Dinomight Knight
2X Magic Deflector
1X Imperial Order
When building my side deck I did not believe I had very many cards I wanted to side out against the mirror, so I did not include a large number of cards meant for going first against Draco Zoo. As I realized later in the tournament I did not want multiple Ignis Heat in my deck going first, even against the mirror, my side outs jumped from 4 to 6 or 7. It was not a complete disaster, as quite a few of my side deck cards can potentially be slotted in going first or second in the matchup, such as Cosmic Cyclone and Ghost Ogre. However, it was far from ideal, and in hindsight I would have included a 3rd Magic Deflector in my side deck at the very least had I understood I needed more cards to fill that role. Going forward I would not main deck 3 copies of Ignis Heat, and this would also lend itself to cutting a True Draco spell.
Shuffle reborn is a card commonly played in pure Zoodiac, but not often in Draco Zoo. We decided to play it in this deck primarily to beat ghost ogre on our rat when going first, and thought it provided more utility going second than something like my body as a shield or pianissimo would. As it turned out, ghost ogre saw less and less play and the primary reason we played the card was basically nonexistent. I was not entirely unhappy with this card, but 1 copy could very easily be cut to bring the main deck total to 40, or another card entirely could occupy that slot.
Disciples of the True Dracophoenix:
I mentioned this briefly as part of my Desires discussion, but I would like to talk about it a little more in depth. This is a card I could not evaluate entirely on theory, and I needed to play a number of matches with the deck to completely understand its usefulness. In theory getting 3 True Draco cards into your graveyard seems very easy; in fact, just tribute summoning either Ignis or Dinomight using a Draco spell/trap and then resolving their effects gets you 3 True Draco cards right there. The problem with this theory, I found, is that the game usually lasts just long enough to resolve Disciples once, but never twice. If you have put 6 True Draco cards into your graveyard in the same game you are either attacking for game the turn your second set of 3 hits the grave or your opponent has broken your board 2-3 times and you have already lost. Games in this format do not usually go long enough to support Disciples shuffling back Disciples to ‘go infinite’ with your True Draco cards, and because of this I do not believe the second copy of Disciples is necessary. This is especially true if 1-2 copies of Ignis Heat are cut from the deck.
Thanks for reading, and I hope you enjoyed it and learned something! When the next F/L list is revealed and the new competitive season heats up expect more articles from myself as well as the rest of the team. Any feedback is welcomed, as this is a new process for us and we’re trying to provide the best content we possibly can.