Meta in Motion - June 2018/July 2018

Since the last “Meta in Motion” article, the format has seen a shift in what’s been seen as competitively viable, though two archetypes from before have stood the test of time (for the moment) and carved their names as this season’s decks-to-beat. From the deck archives from the last NAWCQ, SAWCQ, and European Qualifiers, [Goukis], [Trickstars], and [Sky Strikers] had the most top cut representation, with the latter two archetypes having been meshed together to dominate the competition – in terms of representation, “Sky Striker Ace”/”Trickstar” practically dwarfs every other deck in the format, even the Pure variant, and is only closely followed by “Goukis” statistically. While the former archetypes made up a majority of the tournament’s population, decks like [SPYRALs], [Mekk-Knights], and even [Paleozoics] struggled to make their mark at the WCQs, with nearly 1800 participants dueling for the coveted first place position. With the ban list rumored to be released in August of 2018, there is an air of concern about the current state of affairs, what with “Sky Strikers” having access to a number of problematic cards at their disposal, as well as the results broadcasting a possible need for Konami’s TCG department to handle the issue through either limiting or outright banning particular aspects of the top contending decks. Despite the uncertainty as to how the ban list will handle the current play space, there’s no doubt that “Sky Strikers,” “Goukis,” and “Trickstars” will continue to reign supreme in the current format and are the most popular decks moving forward into July.

What’s Changed?

In terms of population and popularity, the competitive field barely changed - however, considering the aforementioned “Sky Striker Ace”/”Trickstar” deck’s population count and overall success in the game’s most recent TCG event, it is worth noting as to how and why this particular deck has managed to do so well in the current climate, as well as understanding how best to approach the deck if matched up against it. First and foremost, the “Trickstar” core is incredibly small, having only to rely on [Trickstar Candina], [Trickstar Lycoris], and [Trickstar Lilybell] as the only Main Deck monsters, [Trickstar Light Stage] as their Field Spell and as their archetypal searcher, and the infamous [Trickstar Reincarnation] to heavily disrupt the opponent’s hand and to be used as a revival card to either extend plays or recover fields. As a result, the deck is open to different variations, utilizing a high number of hand traps, Token generators, and draw cards, among other options, to optimize and differentiate them from the competition. It also utilizes perhaps the game’s most simplistic engine to boost their consistency and efficiency; as a quick recap, all of the “Sky Striker Ace” Spell cards have a simple requirement of not controlling any monsters on the player’s field in order to resolve, and as an added bonus, if the GY has three Spell cards when you activate any of the “Sky Striker Ace” Normal Spell cards, they all have a second effect that range from an additional draw to gaining control of one of your opponent’s monster. The combination of the two resulted in a deck with great competitive capabilities and with a low difficulty rating, but not without weaknesses that can and have been used to shut down the strategy.

While the deck sees great success through the use of the “Sky Striker Ace” Spell cards and with “Trickstar” effects effectively burning the opponent for every card added to the hand (voluntarily or not), that’s not to say the deck is without flaws . Looking at it analytically, one can note that the two archetypes of the deck suffer from their own specific weaknesses, namely with “Sky Striker Ace” having to rely so heavily on said Spell cards and with the “Trickstar” archetype having difficulties setting up a board with more than one monster at a given moment. If one were to play a card like [Anti-Spell Fragrance], it can effectively end any chance of the deck had in making any substantial plays unless an out is used before the card is formally resolved. Meanwhile, considering the nature of “Trickstars,” and how reliant they are on “Trickstar Candina” touching the field through a Normal Summon in order to search for combo pieces, negating said summon does a good job in hurting opening plays – that is to say that the player doesn’t already have the combo cards in hand but at that point that’s up to RNG and the luck factor in play. It’s a generalization to say that’s all the deck suffers from, that the deck has no real means to get around the issues, and that the deck practically gets shut down if one were to apply pressure on these fronts, but recognizing that these issues could mean a victory does help in choosing the right Side Deck options when faced against “Sky Striker Ace”/”Trickstars” in any setting, be it casual or competitive.

What’s Next for the Format?

With the ban list speculated to be around the corner, it’s difficult to not imagine how drastic the shifts in competitive viability the current contenders will be once the changes are implemented, as well as to how serious Konami’s TCG department can change the landscape with their Forbidden/Limited list additions, with many already voicing their opinions on how “Sky Striker Ace” as an archetype could be and/or should be adjusted. It could be argued that, if the reigning decks were out of the way, decks like [Altergeists] and [Burning Abyss] could see some success, with some decks already archived to have made it pretty far in their respective tournament settings. While I try to stay unbiased for the sake of competitive analysis and deck building suggestions, it wouldn’t be a lie to say that the current competitive climate would stand to benefit from their absence from the game, or at the very least move in the right direction if/when specific cards in their arsenals move to either the Limited or Forbidden list.