Friday, March 29, 2013

The HEROs Still Lives

I'm really hesitant on posting anything remotely similar to a deck list this format just because everything is pale in comparison to the Incarnate Dragons. The Archfiend's of Judgment of the Light are good, very powerful in some match up even. But, after a brief discussion between myself and Mike, and between myself and Kyde, we came up with the same conclusion (in 2 separate conversations), that as long as it's not on par with the Incarnate Dragons, its not going to do much. Granted, I still hold my position that the Archfiends are an amazing deck, and as a beatdown based deck, nonetheless. Its consistent (maybe not on par with Firefist), it had some pretty sick plays and also it knows whats it doing and how its gonna get the job done. But sadly, the deck is still inferior to Incarnate Dragons, although I have to point out the margin isn't as big as some of the other decks like Mermail Atlanteans. Maybe my build wasn't as good, but only time will tell.

Now, today I'm gonna give a my two cents on how HEROs do in the current Metagame. As some long time readers of this blog may know, I really love HEROs, they are one of my two all time favorite decks (the other being Hieratic, no doubt). Sadly, to many, this format is the bane of HEROs, as every deck in the format outplays them and the introduction of Incarnate Dragons sealed the fate of HEROs as a non-competitive deck. Although a reasonable amount of people ran HERO Beat this past weekend at ACQ Malaysia, I would have to assume that they played the deck because it was their only option. However, despite my gloomy start, this blog post is NOT a post to discourage people from playing HEROs this format, on the contrary, I would say, HEROs aren't dead like most people think they are.

Before you start reading, I must give a fair warning on my part. Some may feel utterly offended with the things I'm about to say. I'm not referring to anyone in particular unless expressly stated. Also, I must point out that, I shall assume that both players are of exactly the same level. Meaning, they are equally matched in terms of skill, as the better player will have a greater advantage despite the matchup.

We are now basically playing a format where 1 deck laid dominant, where only very few decks could be even relevant to take on the Behemoth known as Incarnate Dragons; Verz being the noticeable exception. However, this kind of condition will always come into the favor of the HERO player. I understands that the power held by these decks are miles ahead of what HEROs can do. But with a more concentrated top deck count, its easier to utilize the 15 card limit of our side decks. HEROs are a deck that heavily depends on games 2 and 3. It always had been and always will be. While HEROs will have a hard time going against the established Tier 1s and that 0.5 of this Meta in Game 1, I've always find games 2 and 3 a 50-50 split, where generally, the better player wins.

However, this doesn't sound like a good deal at all. From the statement I've made just now, its as if I was saying, your gonna give a win to your opponent and then attempt to win 2 50-50 games in a roll. As such, the possibility of you winning the match would be 25%, even less so if your playing against someone whose better than you. However, thats just one side of the story. Truth is, if you could pull of 50-50 wins post side decking against the top decks of this format using HEROs, I dare say, you are better than the majority of the players at your locals. Cause, while HEROs have the luxury of siding any number of cards in and out without affecting their original game plan, the deck is inconsistent. While being worshiped as the most consistent anti-meta deck until a few years ago, a HERO deck's consistency is a joke when compared to Firefist and some of the newer decks, even when we had our entire tutor engine with us, HEROs still open random hands 1/4 of the time. So, if you can go 50-50 against these top decks, despite the inconsistency, you had to be pretty good (unless your stacking).

One of the things most players would say bout HEROs this format is, "they are bad against everything". But I've always thought, "so, whats this everything you say of?"

Verz and earlier Mermail Atlanteans were viewed as HERO killers, where they would have a dominant game 1 against HEROs, and the real match would only start post siding. I'm always puzzled with this statement and it is still puzzling me as of now. Who made these statements? Cause if they are true, I shouldn't be winning against these decks as much as I am. Verz, to me, is a 50-50 game, throughout the whole match. I've never once felt that my deck couldn't do anything against it, and that some of my cards are dead (Miracle Fusion and Super Polymerization). Maybe thats because I'm not sticking to the norm of main decking 3 Miracle Fusions, but if you can't break from the norm, don't play HERO, cause if you can't adapt, your out. Mermails are a joke, I've always viewed them as free wins when I played HEROs. Truth is, I've rarely lost a match to Mermail Atlanteans (except Asia Plus, which was team tournament and I didn't have a full deck with me) when I'm playing HEROs. This might offend someone, but, were you trying to play every game exactly the same?

Firefist IS a tough matchups to HEROs, despite no one realizing it. Remember my attack-power-theory I've made last year, where a 100 attack boost takes you a long way when your playing against a beatdown based deck, yup, that definitely applies here. Firefist, both 3 and 4-axis, have a considerable amount of advantage game 1. What lead them to this dominating position is the lack of an obvious general strategy. Yes, we all know what both these deck can do, and what is their best plays. But, unlike some decks, stripping them of their abilities to make these big plays doesn't hurt them as much. I'm not saying that these are unstoppable match-ups, nor do they hold considerable advantage even post-siding, however, the advantage is definitely there, especially when HERO's main weapon, their huge attack power and ability to search-and-destroy specific targets, aren't exactly helping them.

Now, lets us finally talk about the match up everyone is here for, VS Incarnate Dragons. No doubt, there is an huge gap in advantage in game 1. Super Polymerization is a card I find extremely good versus the Incarnate Dragons. Getting rid of LaDD without much trouble is definitely good, but thats not the main point. Incarnate Dragons, doesn't play a lot of defensive cards, because of how boss like their monsters are and how unfair their gameplan really is. However, that is something we could use to our advantage (I've demonstrated this last ACQ with my Hieratics). Once our guys get pass that front row, it's just a matter of whether your could take the game. Its not as easy as ABC, but its how you'll have to win game 1 with. However, you can't play too many copies of Super Poly in the main deck, because you risk making your chances against Verz and Firefist matchup worst. All you can really do in the game 1 against Incarnates would be to hope for the best, play your best grind game and look for that one game defining opening. Games 2 and 3 are considerably much easier (I'm not saying the game is in your advantage, its just that the win-lose-ratio is much closer to 1-to-1), especially when they don't know what your gonna do. Thats why I despise of Alive HERO, true, they can OTK much simpler, but its too easy to side against them, the same can be said to standard HERO Beat; which is why my current version of HEROs, are neither.

Now for something really really cliche. The one thing I really depend upon when I play HEROs, is, the  Heart of the Cards. Yes, I can't believe I've just said that myself .... But throwing away the thoughts of advantage and also risk management is one way I think HEROs can really survive this format. This may seem contradictory to most people, as I've always said that grinding for plus-ones are how HEROs are meant to be played. Well, I'm gonna quote Wallace from Pokemon (yes, I'm quoting a character from Pokemon, laugh all you want), "when facing an opponent as powerful and overwhelming as this one; logic, theory and also personal preference must be cast aside.

"The Sam Style", this is a term used by some of us Malaysian bloggers, in reference to Sam Kee, our most recent ACQ Champion. He sets a lot when his using a control based deck, when I say a lot, I meant his whole hand. Sometimes, without protection; and sometimes, random things like Dark Hole. While no doubt being a high-risk move, as a Heavy Storm might spelled game, the chances of your opponent opening Storm is much lesser than Typhoon. Even when he did, Starlight Road immediately comes to mind as there is no way a player as experienced as he is would ever make such a fatal misplay. While I've never discuss this with him personally, in my opinion, thats is a really really good opening for a control deck. I mean, if you set two, holding 2 more in hand, and your opponent plays Storm then proceed to kill you, whats the difference? Its usually game over when a top tier deck plays Storm, no matter what advantage you hold; looking at the other side of the coin, if he doesn't hold Storm, 4 cards is always gonna be better than 2. I really do hope that made sense. I've been practicing this "style" of his since the end of last year, and its been proven to be a very successful opener. You should definitely do this against Incarnate Dragons, because LaDD killed Storm for you.

Finally, something very personal, and I'm not sure how this is gonna help your game. I'm actually very dependent on Bubbleman. If you've played against me or seen me play, you'll know that I absolutely love Bubbleman (no pun intended). You'll sometimes see me, setting 2 of my own cards, play Storm and drop Bubbleman. Thats quite insane for some people, and I especially love the face Sazabi showed me last weekend when I did it in a friendly match against Kyde. My theory behind this play is simple, if my cards aren't gonna help me win, why keep them when I could potentially draw into an out? There is really no way of being certain of what your gonna draw and hence why some people despise of my play. But, in reality, it helped me won more games than losing. I mean, why bother keeping Gemini Spark when yo have no Allius? Mike is one guy who I induced the hate for Bubbleman more than anyone else. Also, maybe its just me, but I've always draw broken cards with Bubbleman, hence, Heart of the Cards.

Time to wrap things up. I've never have problems playing HERO this format, despite what I've always saying. The reason why I've chose Hieratics and not HEROs last weekend was purely because people weren't as familiar with Hieratics as compared to HEROs. I'm not sure whether my playstyle or my deck was the defining factor on why I'm capable of doing what people deemed highly unlikely. But, I've received a lot of feedback from people that my playstyle and also the way my deck works just departs a lot from your standard HEROs. Maybe I was able to do so because my opponent's aren't fully aware of what I've been doing? That could also very well be the determining factor. When I've first played mirror matches against Mike last year, I was dominating him for the first dozen of games, but the games after that were like 50-50, he did say something on getting used to how I played. Well, who knows.

Thanks for reading this long blog post. I'm really sorry for not posting anything on a regular basis, its just that there isn't much room for innovation this format. The next set is definitely gonna be interesting. And please, if you have something to say, please do so, I welcome all constructive criticism, as my theory and views might very well be entirely wrong and different from the truth.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Dragon Slayer Mode Activate : ACQ Report

ACQ Malaysia had just passed and Sam had defended his title once again using the same Verz deck that won him the last Christmas Tourney. The top cut was full of Incarnate Dragons and I was told that there were more than 20 Incarnate Dragons joining the tournament (don't quote me on the exact number). While the number of Dragons were 2 times more than what many of us had anticipated, the results were not surprising, either Dragons take another win due to their OP performance, or Verz stood their ground and take the game.

As for myself, me and Kyde (the blogger) had this anti-Incarnate Deck planned out. We started working together a week before the event and fine tune it just in time. We were confident in saying, as long as we don't miss play, or face anyone above our caliber (ie, Wesley etc), we should be able to take down any Incarnate Dragons in our way. The deck we were building was actually Hieratics, surprise surprise (well, considering its me and Kyde, its not that much of a surprise). However, Kyde wasn't confident with his luck and he claimed that he will open double vanilla every game, so he opt to not test it out. Having nothing to lose, I pick the deck up and played.

Round 1 : Vs Incarnate Dragons

Right from the start, our strategy was put to the test. While Kyde keep telling me that the deck we build will come out on top, I wasn't as enthusiastic. I was all negative bout my opponent having the right outs at the right time and shit.

Duel 1 : Maxx C, Veiler and Fader all did their job to stall the game for close to 20 minutes. My opponent was so confused as to what the hell was I playing. Threathining Roars keep skipping his turn and wasting his Dragons. He finally wanted to go for game with a Crimson Blader, double Draco-Sac but I dropped another Fader on him. He made 2 Tokens and passed. That was the opening I was looking for. I finally revealed to him I was playing Hieratics (yes, for the first 20 minutes, my opponent didn't even knew what I was playing). I made Atum and Volcasaurus, Volca destroyed Blader for 2800 damage, and double Gaia pierced through 2 tokens for the remaining 5200.

Duel 2 : I was again controlling the board. I tribute Aset for Su, played something unneccessary at the moment and attacked LaDD (1800 because it negated Eset's effect), he summoned Draco-Sac via LaDD. I was holding Veiler and Reborn, among others. My game plan now was to recycle the Maxx C in grave with M7 and win the game next turn. I quickly played Reborn before checking my grave, thats my fatal misplay, I didn't had another level 6 since LaDD negated Aset. My control quickly fell apart after that and got killed a few turns later.

Duel 3 : I open 2 Hieratics, Maxx C, Fader, Cardcar and Reckless. I set Reckless and played Cardcar for 2. He played DIMENSION FISSURE (I'm not sure why he sided this in, but it had something to do with stopping my hand traps) and I quickly chained Maxx C. He passed with no further action, maybe because he didn't want me to plus off Maxx C? I had 3 Hieratics now in hand, Reckless if I don't , and a Fissure on the other side of the field had stopped Veilers. Since Incarnate don't play Trago, I just go for the kill.

Outside of the misplay in game 2, I was obviously controlling the match, even my friend next to me was stunned at my performance. I myself couldn't believe the strategy me and Kyde build was actually working. After the match, me and Kyde even went as far as stating Incarnate Dragons as free win matchups.

Round 2 :  Vs Firefist 3-axis - Ivan

When I saw Ivan's name on the notice as my next opponent, I wet my pants. Not only is he a very accomplished player, he was one of the dudes we test played with. He basically know most techs in the deck, and in the match, he did very well in playing around them. While he doesn't have any recent major wins, he is definitely among Malaysia's finest.

Duel 1 : I was able to gain advantage through Maxx C and also stop Bear with Faders. The deciding moment was when he used Spirit targeting another Firefist in grave and attempt to make something bigger than Wattail, but I chained Maxx C. I gain so much advantage that I won by trading card for card.

Duel 2 : I opened double Vanilla, but other wise, the hand was pretty solid, with my tech to kill 3-axis, Skill Drain in hand. He set a monster and a backrow. I played Convocation for Aset and attacked, setting Skill Drain and MST (Eset is 1900 under drain). He played Fire Formation Gyokko targetting MST and summoned Spirit, which I chained Skill Drain to. Obviously I was very pleased but turns out he had Reborn and made Acid Golemn with both level 3s. Acid Golem destroyed Eset. I wasn't sure if Golem could attack here, since Spirit DID activated his effect but was negated by Skill Drain, but I didn't notice this until after I placed Eset in the grave. He set 2 cards to the back and passed holding 1. I drew into Convocation and decided that its time to go for game. I played Storm, search and special Tfenut, tribute it for Wattail and special summoning another Wattail from hand. I made Atum but his last card was Veiler. I set Reckless Greed but he topped an MST, forcing me to play the card and I didn't draw any out, knowing I can't draw for the next 2 turns, I scooped.

Duel 3 : I opened Cardcar but he had Veiler for it, and I set Reckless. Blaster forced me to played Reckless too soon and put me on draw phase lock for 2 turns. He did his shenanigans and ended. I had an OTK hand and went for it, however he showed me 2 more Veilers and stopped me right there. I had no comeback now and knowing I can't draw next turn, I scooped.

After the match, he told me that he was aware of my set cards being Reckless Greed. He purposely targeted them to force me out of tempo since the card is really bad when activated at a wrong timing.

Now to my decklist. But I'm sure most of you aren't interested since I didn't won the event or made a top 8 showing.

monster (26):

3 Hieratic Dragon of Su
3 Hieratic Dragon of Eset
3 Hiratic Dragon of Nebthet
3 Hieratic Dragon of Tfenut
2 Wattail Dragon
1 Red-Eyes Darkness Metal Dragon
3 Cardcar D
3 Effect Veiler
3 Battle Fader
2 Maxx C

spell (10):

3 Mystical Space Typhoon
1 Heavy Storm
1 Nobleman of Extermination
1 Monster Reborn
2 Hieratic Seal of Convocation
2 Mausoleum of the Emperor

trap (5):

3 Reckless Greed
2 Threatening Roar

extra (15):

1 Gustav Max
2 Gaia Dragoon
2 Hieratic Dragon King of Atum
2 Constellar M7
1 Photon Streak Bounzer
1 Gauntlet Shooter
1 Number 61 Volcasaurus
1 Constellar Pleiades
1 Tiras Keeper of Genesis
1 Shark Fortress
1 Ancient Sacred Wyvern
1 Black Rose Dragon

side (15):

3 Electric Virus
2 Droll & Lock Bird
2 Tragoedia
2 Skill Drain
2 Overworked
2 Imperial Iron Wall
2 Dimension Fissure

Now, you've must be wondering how the deck stops Incarnate. I've showed this decklist to quite a few guys yesterday after I scrubbed but no one understood how it was meant to be played, even the dude who lost to this don't get it.

LaDD is a pain in the ass, but I actually want to see it across the board. LaDD makes sure that my opponent can't do anything other than attack with it and Drago-Sac. Fader doesn't stops the attack, but it makes LaDD a 1800 without even wasting any card, that makes it in kill range for Hieratics. Also, post side boarding, Trago and Fader makes LaDD an instant 800 after it and Drago-Sac attacks, again, I lose no card at all.

As you can see from the main board, there are a lot of cards that gets you extra draw or just last you a turn longer. Maxx C acts like a pseudo Threatening Roar in this case. The problem with most Incarnate players is that they tried to go for game too fast, that waste their resources in a few turns. My deck was built to stall the game to the point that the Incarnate player would have almost nothing in his grave and left for pickings. Again, I doubt this would work on someone like Sharmir or Andrew, since its main goal is to force my opponent into misplay.

Post side board, the game swings heavily into our advantage. Tragoedia served as another arrow in the knee to LaDD and also lets me make Gustav Max, with my own Red-Eyes or the one from across the field via Electric Virus. I would never leave a monster on the field unless its a Bounzer or backed with Veilers in hand, hence Big Eyes is of no threat.

Imperial Iron Wall may seem bad at first glance due to Drago-Sac, but I can justify this card choice. I side this in together with a copy of Skill Drain. I take out all Spell and Trap Removal and Mausoleum. Between Maxx Cs, Veilers and also Skill Drain, there's not much Drago-Sac can do. While Blaster is ever present, you just need to play it right. Also, Iron Wall isn't a card that was meant to stay on the field for long, as long as it bought you a turn or two, it's enough for you to take the game.

Now, being Hieratic, this deck is inherently weak to Verz. I main deck 2 copies of Mausoleum for that match up. While it doesn't change the fact that it's still a bad match up, it does give you some hope of winning game 1. Games 2 and 3 are anyone's game. I've tested the side deck against Verz extensively and the win-lose-ratio is about 1-to-1, or 50-50. Skill Drain and the MVP Electric Virus puts up a lot of work in this match up. That said, I doubt this deck can beat Sam's Verz, its very very unlikely I could even take a game, considering its Sam.


In case your wondering how Shark Fortress contributes to the deck. I've had some people question me this card's effectiveness. Me and Kyde will outright tell you "Its broke!"

Before Fortress, there was no 3-card-OTK if you have Red-Eyes in hand (REDMD being one of the 3 cards). But Fortress made it possible. Atum into a level 5, banishing Atum for REDMD and bring back another level 5, making Shark Fortress is OTK for those of you who're aren't aware of this.

Nebthet, a second level 5 Hieratic and another random Hieratic is also an OTK even if your opponent had monsters.

Nebthet pop monster gives you 2 Vanilla for Atum. REDMD brings back a level 5(EDIT) for Pleiades which in turns bounces REDMD. REDMD specials itself by banishing Atum and summons a Vanilla from grave. M7 overlays on Pleiades makes 8000 damage on the board.


I would really loved to at least make top 32 (or 24), that would be the best shout out for this deck. Unfortunately I had to play a contributor to this deck's structure. Ivan was the one who said "Lol, Fader and Trago in hand, LaDD dies faster", I think he was joking, but damn he was spot on.

Finally, shout outs to Kyde, couldn't have build this without you. He was the one who came up with the Mausoleum and Roars. Fader was mine, and I made the last minute call of main decking Maxx C, right call for the format indeed.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Training and Trolling

Yesterday, I've went to Gamers Arena for a full day training session with Kyde (the blogger). We also met up with a few friends there and best thing was, the big three decks were all present, so that training session was awesome!

We literally did nothing but playing cards from 2 pm to 8 pm, basically testing out tech and our side decks, since as Andrew (the other blogger) noted, its gonna be a bloodbath from the bottom this time.With most accomplished players not even bothering to go for Seed.

Finally, the day can't end without some trolling when I hang out with Kyde. I would really like to share some of them but they are either too much of an inside joke to be funny or too sensitive to certain readers of this blog.

All I can say is, as long as I don't open crap, Super Poly is gonna do some work. Thanks for reading this update post thing.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Incarnate Dragon Domination

Is the year of the dragons (talking bout Chinese Zodiacs here) really behind us? Cause Incarnate Dragons is extremely broken as of now. We're talking bout close to no cost monster spamming, and when I said monster spamming, I'm talking bout huge ass monster spamming. Last weekend was Singapore's Asian Championship Qualifiers and my money was on the Incarnate Dragons to win them, just because of how broken they really are, or at least make a flashy debut because the deck has such an expensive pricetag I figure not many would play it.

At the beginning of the day 5 Incarnate Dragons were present, and 4 made it to the top 16 cut. Then 3 made it to top 4 and leading to an Incarnate Dragon mirror match in the finals. You can't make a flashier entrance into the metagame than that. I shall quote Wesley Seek (Singapore WCQ rep 2012 and writter of HLG) in calling this "a monstrosity" of a deck. While we see a dominating top 4 presence quite  few times now in the long history of Yu-Gi-Oh!, never had we seen a deck that dominated the competitive scene in such a one sided manor while representing such a small number at the start of the day, less than 5 percent of the people entered the tournament with the deck.

Now, since Malaysia's format pretty much depends on the Singaporean format as a backbone, we are safe to say that the ACQ yesterday was solid proof that the Incarnate Dragons are worth their pricetag. I still say Mermail Atlanteans (Merlanteans), Verz and Firefist will still represent a much more common threat as they are reletively inexpensive in comparison and thus has more showings. BUT, if your aiming for the win, like myself, you CANNOT look pass the Incarnate Dragons like a ghost where you pretend that you'll never meet. You KNOW you'll meet them somewhere sometime if your planning on taking the trophy and air-ticket home.

I shall not pray for no showings of the dragons for Malaysian ACQ, thats not possible. Instead, I pray all of them meet Verz in their first game and open THE most unplayable hand ever so I don't have to meet them personally. Sounded cheap? Yeah, very. But I firmly believe that the only deck that could effectively take down Incarnate Dragons are Incarnate Dragons. At the moment, the Incarnate Dragons, ARE tier 0.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Asia Championship Qualifiers 2013

A year ago, in this faithful event, I let victory slipped pass me. I've been replaying that game 2 of me against Sam in my head a million times or more. Just to show how much I really want a win. This year's ACQ is about 2 ~ 3 weeks ahead, and this may very well be my last OCG event (well, chances of me playing WCQ are quite high but not certain) since I'm going to the US come September.

I'm not gonna do a meta break down cause I am absolutely clueless of what people are gonna play. Prophecy seems hot, and High Priestess being the only money card making the deck quite affordable for competitive players. Verz and Firefist, along with Mermails all have strong presence in Malaysia. The new Incarnate Dragons are super broke, but they have a big pricetag to go with them, so I'm not sure how many will be paying for a deck like that. That said, I do see people playing that deck will do good, since its THAT good. None the less, we are gonna see HERO variants, Dark World and also Agents in the mix. 

As for myself, I don't really have much time to playtest. I haven't really play for weeks now until 2 days ago. Chances are I'm gonna be totally random and play some hit or miss OTK deck. With 8 or more very viable decks in the format, side decking is gonna be tough, especially if every match up is just as deadly as the rest. I'm gonna be either set 5 and hope they don't have Storm, or go crazy and hope they don't have Veiler.