A primer courtesy of Jackson Casanova for the latest new format in the TCG. A must read for those who want to participate in the YCS side events featuring it.
Hey lads and lasses, it’s been a few weeks now since the release of Speed Dueling. Like many of you, I’ve spent a good deal of my free time these few weeks playing it, testing the various Decks, cards and techs. Boy, is it just a lot of fun. If you haven’t tried Speed Dueling yet, I hope this might convince you to give it a shot. Between all the members of groups and chats, like this one, and my own testing, I think I’m finally able to write a mostly correct assessment of the format and what cards you can and should be trying to play in it. So here goes, an Advanced Format Speed Duel Primer!
As far as things go, I consider there to be 5 viable Decks, in various forms. They are: Toons, Dragon Caller, Harpies, Amazoness and Gravekeepers. And with each of those, I think there’s more than one viable build. But instead of bombarding you all with 10+ different deck builds, I’m going to cover what I consider to be the core of each Deck and the various other options you can play in the format. Let’s start with the obvious big one, Dragon Caller decks.
Dragon Caller, named so after the key component Skill card: Dragon Caller. I trust most of you are aware of it by now, but this skill allows you to draw either Lord of D. or Flute of Summoning Dragon and immediately get the other half of the iconic combo. Therefore, reducing what would often be a 3 card combo down to a 2 card combo. This Deck was the first myself and many others jumped on because of how obviously powerful it was. After all our testing though I found 2 very different viable builds of the Deck all dependant on if you’re aiming to Go First or Second.
Go First Variation;
3 Blue-Eyes White Dragon
2 Dragons of your choice
3 Lord of D.
2 The Flute of Summoning Dragon
3 Champion’s Vigilance
Go Second Variation;
3 Blue-Eyes White Dragon
3 Tyrant Dragon
2 Dragons of your choice
3 Lord of D.
3 The Flute of Summoning Dragon
The Go First variation of this deck aims to establish a large threat in the form of our Dragons and backing them up with traps as consistently as possible. This is one of the few Decks which I feel has the least amount of flexibility because after running the numbers on it. When running 20 card decks the optimal number of cards to run if you want to draw exactly 1 of something in a 4 card hand is actually 5. 5 copies of the card affords you the highest possibility of drawing exactly 1 copy. We, of course, also play Champion’s Vigilance; this card is a copy of the incredibly powerful Counter Trap Card, Solemn Judgment, which to this day is still limited to 1 copy per Deck in Master Duels. Here we get to play 3 at the cost of needing to control a Level 7 or higher normal monster like Blue-Eyes White Dragon.
With the go second variation of this list we are aiming to deal 4000 points of damage to our opponents as fast as possibly by summoning not 1 but 2 Dragons with our Dragon Caller Combo as often as possible and ending a game on the spot. Unlike the first list where we want to see exactly 1 Dragon and exactly 1 of our Dragon Caller combo, we want to see multiple Dragons with our combo as much as possible. Running these numbers gives you an 80% chance of summoning 1 Dragon going second and a whopping 60% chance to summon 2.
The Dragon Caller Deck is the Deck by which we must compare our ability to answer threats. They have the biggest monsters in the format and thus the biggest threats. However, while they are big they don’t really do much else once they’re on the field, they are quite literally just big dumb monsters. So, with that in mind they can fall easy prey to the effects of other decks Monsters, Spells and Trap. We do get access to 2 really cool cards that other decks do not being Burst Stream of Destruction and Stamping Destruction. Dragons really like destruction go figure.
Burst Stream of Destruction is our premium Monster removal and it’s how we can deal with Amazoness Swords Woman and opposing Blue-Eyes White Dragons.
Meanwhile, Stamping Destruction is our premium Spell/Trap removal, as not only does it let us target and destroy any Spell/Trap on the field including Field Spells, but it also inflicts 500 points of damage. This is a powerful effect, but it does come with the drawback of only being playable after summoning a Dragon which still leaves our Dragon Caller combo vulnerable to the likes of Magic Jammer and opposing Champion’s Vigilance.
One deck down, let’s talk about Gravekeepers next. Now I do personally believe that there are multiple ways you can build this deck. However, I have only been able to find one core that worked well. The core is very simple.
3 Gravekeeper’s Recruiter
1-3 Gravekeeper’s Chief
1-3 Gravekeeper’s Oracle
0-3 Legion the Mad Jester
0-1 Rogue Doll
2-3 Wonder Wand
0-1 Gravekeeper’s Stele
3 Rite of Spirit
At the least that’s only 10 cards it seems small and it is, but this Deck excels at slowing the game down and doing what it wants to do. This is also a Deck that can be played using a variety of skills. Your options include Power of Dark, Destiny Draw and Millennium Eye. The core gameplan of this list revolves around Gravekeeper’s Recruiter and Rite of the Spirit. You’re going to use Gravekeeper’s Recruiter to add Chief and Oracle to your hand and then use Rite of Spirit to summon Recruiter back letting tribute summon either option and then add another card to your hand on top of it. Once it gets going, it’s hard to stop it, as you overwhelm your opponent with a never-ending stream of resources. Gravekeeper’s Chief is used when you need to get multiple monsters on the field, and Gravekeeper’s Oracle is used when you need to do something impactful. Oracles 3rd effect is extremely powerful as it permanently reduces all your opponent’s monsters by 2000/2000 effectively turning even the biggest monsters into some of the weakest.
Wonder Wand is another crux of the Deck, since all our monsters are Spellcasters, not only can we get an extra 500 ATK points onto any of them, but we can also turn our monsters into 2 new cards, or 3 in Recruiters’ case. Also setting up our Rite of Spirit plays.
Legion the Mad Jester can be used with or without Rogue Doll as an additional resource grabber, but his real use comes from when you get to use his additional Normal Summon to play Gravekeeper’s Chief, letting you do plays even when you don’t draw Rite of Spirit. That version of the deck quickly becomes monster dense however.
Finally, Gravekeeper’s Stele can allow us to be liberal with our low monster count, getting us 2 Monsters back in the end game to squeeze every last drop from our resources.
Ultimately Gravekeepers are a slower deck and they suffer from a lack of removal options, but if your opponent can’t finish you quickly it can often feel as though you have a never-ending stream of resources for them to have to deal with.
Time for Harpies. Harpies are the deck I think has the most potential to be played in different ways. You have access to several different Skills that change the way you build and play the deck. Both Destiny Draw and Millennium Eye for much the generic good Skills. But you also get access to Kaiba’s Beatdown Skill since Harpie Lady Sisters is level 5 or higher. And combined with Amazoness you also get access to Tribal Synergy a very powerful draw skill. At its core though, Harpies have some very powerful Spell and Trap removal and some situational Monster Removal.
3 Harpie Lady 1
3 Elegant Egotist
2-3 Harpies’ Hunting Ground
2-3 Wild Tornado
0-2 Harpie Lady Sisters
0-3 Amazoness Swords Woman
Your secondary monsters are heavily dependent on what skill you choose to play with. Sisters is mostly for the Beatdown Skill, Swords Woman obviously finds her place in Tribal Synergy decks and Birdman is your generic filler monster to bring the monster count up. The crazy thing about Harpies is how quickly all their various buffs can stack together. Harpie Lady 1 gives 300 ATK to all WIND monsters per copy, and the Field Spell gives another 200. Beatdown can give a further 300 per Sisters as well. With something like Cyber Shield or Kunai with Chain it’s not unrealistic to see some of their attacks come close to or higher than 3000. Elegant Egotist is our core combo card making sure we get extra uses out of Hunting ground and extra buffs from Beatdown or Harpie Lady 1.
The card that isn’t immediately obvious is Wild Tornado, why would we play more Spell/trap destruction when we already have Hunting Ground? And the answer is it’s actually Monster Removal. You see if we destroy our own Wild Tornado’s while they are set with Hunting Ground we can destroy any face-up card on the field. So, we get to use that to remove some pesky monsters. Just be wary that it does target so once again we will need to get rid of that pesky Lord of D before we can sweep away those Dragons, unfortunately Tyrant Dragon will always protect himself from Wild Tornado, so we must rely on other ways to deal with him.
Harpies are the deck that excels at dealing with Spell/Trap heavy decks like Amazoness and Gravekeepers but can struggle against established threats that the likes of Dragon Caller decks provide.
Speaking of Amazoness they are probably the deck that builds themselves the easiest. This is the Deck that I feel appreciates the powerful Tribal Synergy skill the most. In addition, you could also play Millennium Eye or if you feel up to it even Last Gamble. The Amazoness core is pretty large but it makes up for it with some very powerful effects and gameplans because of it.
3 Amazoness Swords Woman
3 Amazoness Village
3 Amazoness Heirloom
2-3 Amazoness Sage
0-2 Amazoness Chain Master
0-3 Harpie Lady 3
That’s a large core. Amazoness Swords Woman alongside Heirloom and Village are your absolute core of the game plan here. You get to turn your Swords Woman into an unstoppable berserker that not only causes your opponents to take huge amounts of damage but then also destroys their monster at the end. And if they somehow manage to destroy her you can summon another one out of your Deck thanks to Village.
You’ll want to play another 3-4 Amazoness monsters between Sage and Chain Master to flesh out the ranks. Sage also comes with a powerful Spell/Trap Destruction effect and Chain Master although at a hefty cost can see the opponents hand and potentially steal a monster. I recommend playing at least 2 Sage and only 1 or 2 at most of Chain Master. We choose Harpie Lady 3 for our Tribal Synergy card this time because none of our monsters will benefit from Lady 1’s buff and locking out a big Dragon for 2 turns can sometimes mean the difference between having the time to deal with it or not.
Now Last Gamble, in most decks it’s honestly not worth it. There’s just not enough impact you can make if you’re already so far behind but not Amazoness. Last Gamble can dig you into Swords Woman and Heirloom in a pinch which not only means you won’t be taking that last 100 points of damage but you’re be destroying one of their prime monsters in a pinch as well. It’s not my preferred skill but the potential is there if you want to try it.
Amazoness is a Deck that excels at dealing with big monsters like Blue-Eyes, not only destroying them but often dealing upwards of a 1000 damage at a time back to the opponent. If you’re not careful sending Swords Woman into Blue-Eyes several times thanks to Village can deal 3900 points of damage. Doesn’t take much more to end the duel at that point. However, they rely on Village and Heirloom so decks like Harpies can take away their Spells and make the individual Amazoness vulnerable.
Finally let’s talk about Toons.
Toons are a blast to play and build. They can attack directly so you don’t have to worry about removing those pesky monsters. Most of them are also Special Summons so you can Summon most of them very quickly. But they have some major weaknesses. First, they are very reliant on Toon World and if Toon World is destroyed you’ll destroy any of your Toons as well. Secondly both Toon Mermaid and Toon Summoned Skull must pay 500 Life Points to attack and cannot attack the turn they are summoned, so you only get a couple shots to make your attacks count. And lastly if your opponent happens to be playing Toons as well you will be required to take their Toons our first otherwise your Toons will have to attack theirs.
As for skills I feel like we only have one real choice at the moment and that is “It’s a Toon World” which makes us start with a copy of Toon World in play letting us use all of our Toons off the bat.
Despite all of that we get some seriously cool ways to play the deck, we also get Toon Table of Contents which can search for any Toon Card which helps us be more consistent than most other decks. We also get access to the super powerful Toon Rollback which allows one of our Toons to attack twice this turn. When Toon Summoned Skull attacks directly twice with his 2500 ATK that’s enough to end the game on the spot even if your opponent has 2 Blue-Eyes White Dragon out. Without further ado the core.
3 Toon Table of Contents
3 Toon Mermaid
0-3 Toon Masked Sorceress
0-3 Toon Summoned Skull
0-1 Toon World
1 Toon Rollback
0-3 Amazoness Swords Woman
Now those numbers might look crazy but there is a method. As is the case with most decks you don’t want too many monsters and Toons are no exception. You can play as many Summoned Skull as you feel necessary, but I find 1 to be plenty when you have 3 copies of Toon Table of Contents. Toon World is our backup just in case our Skill card “It’s a Toon World!” gets destroyed early on, you can opt not to play this if you like and go all or nothing, but I prefer it. Toon Rollback is one of our win conditions and every Toon Deck should play 1, even on Mermaid it’s a scary 2800 points of damage, just one more Mermaid attack from 4000. And the odd one out Amazoness Swords Woman. I include her here because if you don’t want to go all in on an OTK plan you can choose to play her instead. Her effect alongside Toon Mermaid means you have this crazy Deck that doesn’t rely on normal ways to win. You instead attack directly with mermaid and send the Swords Woman into their big monsters and make them take a bunch of damage until eventually they lose before you do. That version of the deck is super fun to play and tries to not care what the opponent is doing.
Mimicat gets a mention for this deck as a very powerful effect, that suffers from a lack of usage right now. Since it’s still early days in Speed Duels not a lot of decks want to send their own cards to the Graveyard on the first turn, so you often won’t get to play Mimicat until turn 3 or 4 and by then it’s probably too late and you would have wanted something else instead. But keep an eye on this card as it’s sure to get better in the future.
Ultimately Toons are a huge Glass Cannon in the current format. They can easily ignore everything the opponent does and go straight for the win, but are easily stopped by Kunai with Chain, Windstorm of Etaqua and any S/T removal. Even still they are a great deck to try out and catch a few people unprepared.
Whew that was a lot. We still have a little bit more to talk about though. Time to bring up the dark horse of the format, all the other decks people are trying. Dark Magician, Red-Eyes, Fusion Decks and Relinquished. Even Spellcaster/Goodstuff Beatdown. The issue all these decks suffer from is summoning their core monsters are all 3 card combo’s. You need Fusion/Ritual/Tributes + the tributes/Materials + the monster to be summoned. And unless your 3-card combos are as strong as Amazoness Swords Woman + Village + Heirloom or Blue-Eyes + Dragon Caller + Vigilance you’re just not good enough yet. All those decks do have the potential to compete and I’ve definitely lost games to them, I just don’t consider them core to the format right now. All it takes though it one piece of support to bring them up to the front so don’t give up on them yet.
Well thanks for reading through that slog, but that’s what my couple weeks of testing has found of this format and I love it. It’s mostly a triangle format:
Dragon Caller > Harpies > Amazoness > Dragon Caller
Where Toons and Gravekeeper’s can both beat Dragon Caller. Gravekeeper’s lose to Amazoness but can win against Harpies half of the time. Toons lose to Harpies but can beat Amazoness. And then Toons and Gravekeeper’s can both beat each other depending on what techs they choose.
Time to now talk about the cards you’ll be using to flesh out those last slots in all the cores. We have a number of nice Spell/Traps we can play in pretty much every deck right now.
Windstorm of Etaqua and Kunai with Chain. These are our traps that help us win battles. Both are exceptional at stopping attacks as you can switch attacking monsters into Defense Position. A prepared opponent will play around Windstorm of Etaqua given the chance by playing monsters into both Attack and Defense Position. Kunai brings a different threat to the table by also being able to give your own monsters 500 ATK points. In decks like Harpies that quickly gets out of hand.
For Spell and Trap removal we have Wild Tornado and Dicephoon. Now I already spoke about Wild Tornado thanks to Harpies, but other decks can play it as well as ways to deal with Amazoness Heirloom and Toon World that sometimes doubles as a surprised removal when the opponent destroy it. Dicephoon may seem risky but it actually has a 66% chance to destroy at least 1 card, and those are odds I’m happy to take when it means I can destroy Champions Vigilances before I have to make my move. It also has that rare chance to destroy 2 S/T’s and that can be game winning on its own. So, if you’re a risk taker don’t forget to try this one out.
For Counter Traps we have 3. Seven Tools of the Bandit, Magic Jammer and Trap Jammer. Personally, I largely ignore Trap Jammer as being restricted to the Battle Phase is pretty harsh at times. The Discard cost of Magic Jammer can be offset easily by things like Gravekeeper’s Stele or Amazoness Chain Master and the 1000 LP cost of Seven Tools often doesn’t really matter as much as stopping that crucial trap from resolving. Magic Jammer gets an extra mention as stopping The Flute of Summoning Dragon or Elegant Egotist is often enough to ruin entire turns for their respective decks. Stopping the Amazoness Spells is also rather potent.
Lastly, one of my favourite cards in the current format. The Golden Apples. This card is a lot of fun to mess with, it pairs really well with Destiny Draw allowing you to get multiple uses out of such a powerful Skill, but it harkens back to the days where players lived in fear of Gorz, the Emissary of Darkness. You can use it flesh out low monster counts in some decks and catch an unprepared opponent by copying the ATK of their biggest monster.
Honourable mentions go out to Ryu-Kuishin Powered, Rogue Doll and Gearfired the Iron Knight for being the strongest Normal Summons (The former two with Power of Dark) Out of the 3, Rogue Doll has the most potential being a Spellcaster meaning it can work with Wonder Wand and be added to the hand by Blue-Dragon Summoner and Legion the Mad Jester. Copycat also gets a cool mention here as being able to out any monster in a neutral gamestate. He suffers from only being able to copy the original not the boosted attacks of other monsters and from not working with Power of Dark. That being said, he is again a Spell Caster so can work with Wonder Wand. Finally, a HUGE mention goes to Time Wizard, this card has the potential to be the most impactful normal summon in the format. And when you can just get him in a pinch with Destiny Draw he may just be worth a slot in some decks. Honestly any format that makes we think about the viability of Time Wizard seems like a fun one to me.
Thanks for sticking around and good luck with Speed Duels.