This weekend the best players from around the country will meet in Sydney to murder each other with cute anime girls, robots, wrestlers, dragon men and wizards, among many other things. Being split into two events, the National Championship offers great testing for the Oceanic Championship the following day. If you want to test some spice, Nationals is a good time to give it a go.
For events of this size and importance it is a great idea to target decks with tech slots in your main deck, as well as having cards ready in your Side Deck. Let’s do a quick rundown of the decks we expect to see a lot and need to beat.
Sky Strikers are the biggest force in the meta right now, with Trickstar variants in particular taking up 16/32 of the top cut at YCS New Jersey last week. The Trickstar variant plays like a sort of tempo deck, with accessible control tools and interruption and a random free FTK in the form of Droll and Lock Bird + Trickstar Reincarnation. It is a weirdly tough nut to crack. Other variants play much like their parent decks, just with a faster engine for making Link monsters.
The pure Sky Striker variant is notably slower than the others, lacking a proactive win condition and generally winning through attrition. It boasted the highest win rate in NJ’s top cut last week, despite its small representation. If you decide to play this deck, I recommend learning your lines very fast as the new End of Match procedures really harm this deck in Swiss rounds.
The final powerhouse deck to be concerned about is Gouki. Gouki are a bunch of wrestling men that refill your hand as you jam them on the table, making them great for making big link boards of indestructible Knightmare monsters and abusing Firewall dragon to go super wide. The combos from this deck are insanely consistent, which is troubling when you consider how powerful their boards can be. This deck has been a major contributing factor to the warping of the format to Main Deck hand traps.
There are other decks out there still doing well, such as 60 card Pendulum, True Draco, Invoked and even ABC somehow. We can’t reliably main deck for these match ups however, so we just have to splash our Side Deck a bit.
For the sake of brevity I’ll stick to the absolute best and must-have cards for this event:
Droll & Lock Bird: This card is actually the best hand trap in the game right now. You should be aiming to Main Deck three copies of it if you can; it is unfortunately a bit expensive due to its insane demand and single reprint, but is absolutely worth it.
PSY-Framegear Gamma: This card negates Droll and other hand traps whilst tiptoeing around Called By The Grave. Not to mention if you use it on your own turn you get a free Omega, which is just absurd. If your deck can effectively bait a hand trap without playing any men, this card is definitely worth your time.
Ash Blossom & Joyous Spring: This card negates searches. Every deck searches a lot this format, so it is just always useful. Even better, this card can negate Gamma and leave your opponent in an awkward spot. Worth playing in nearly any deck.
Ghost Reaper & Winter Cherries: With the best decks in the game often wanting to go first and either make Link combos or use Link monsters for free resources, she is a reliable way to throw their game plan out the window. Best targets include: Isolde, Two Tales of the Noble Knights, SPYRAL Double-Helix, Sky Striker Kagari and if you’re playing against something weird you can always flip a Borreload Dragon or Knightmare Unicorn.
The Winged Dragon of Ra – Sphere Mode: Gouki decks often make scary co-linked boards of indestructible cards. The ball does not care about this, it just squashes three cards and lets you pick apart the board afterwards. Great option for targeting Gouki.
Called By The Grave: If you like to go first, this card is a must-have. It negates all hand traps outside of Gamma and Infinite Impermanence and offers some cute plays against decks like Spyral and Sky Strikers when you banish their Agent/Raye.
Shared Ride: The standard Gouki combo often has a three link chain where they search for three cards. Throw this card on chain link four and draw three cards and end their turn. Considering that Maxx “C” is banned and this card isn’t, we should take what we can.
Twin Twisters: Sky Strikers often set bulk backrow with Multirole and a lot of it includes good cards, such as Engage and Widow Anchor. This card is a must have if you want to actually play the game and not have your cards stolen or negated. Or preferably get the Multirole off the board, that’ll do it.
Anti-Spell Fragrance: All of the best decks play many green cards, and this card forces them to wait a turn to play green cards and leave them on the field. This is good news. Rogue strategies want to play this card, but even pure Strikers can play it and later kill it with Multirole or Area Zero.
Evenly Matched: This is probably the second best card of the format after Droll. If you want to go second all the time I would recommend main decking three copies. Being one of the few cards to pull apart a full Knightmare board or Striker full backrow single-handedly, it is an absolute must-have. Would also recommend playing around this card a lot more, people don’t and lose for stupid reasons.
Imperial Order: See Anti-Spell Fragrance, but instead of waiting a turn it’s forever if they don’t draw an out. This card is a bucket of fun but does hinder some strategies. Do not play in Sky Striker unless you like burning to death.
As a final note, I would highly recommend getting well-acquainted with your deck and knowing all of your basic plays inside and out. The new End of Match procedures are incredibly brutal and punish long games heavily. Furthermore, I recommend conceding games that you have no chance of winning the second you recognise that is the case. Time is a big deal, and if you can’t break a Soul Charge Gouki board just jump straight to game two and shove in Evenly Matched. If you’re attending, may you draw like a god and play flawlessly. If you’re not, hit up your locals and go get ’em tiger.