Disclaimer: Submitted by a friend referring to a regional BEFORE Zoodiac was released. I think the story holds true even more so now.
Once again, Yugioh players await the release of a new pack that completely redefines the meta as we know it. And once again, the rarity of the cards for that particular archetype are among the hardest to obtain, and priced the highest on preorders. For a deck that already mandates a minimum investment of $400 of cards both in the main and extra deck, the recent revelation that 3 of the core cards in Zoodiacs are secret rare certainly do not offer much resolve to those looking to play the deck, myself included. The deck has shown extreme success in the OCG, a likely precursor to what will happen in the TCG. Unless Konami issues an emergency banlist, similar to what they did during PePe (Performapal Pendulums), the cards will likely maintain their $50+ value and the deck cost will sit at around $600-800. For anyone, this is an enormous sum of money to put aside for one deck, especially when metalfoes and ABCs cost as little as $200-300 to build. Although it is, there are definitely ways to minimize the initial investment and still have decent success. You can still play meta, at a discounted price, as long as you are willing to accept that you will lose some matches because you don’t have the expensive cards to win.
Personal Example 1: Philadelphia Regional with Metalfoes (No desires, no barriers, no strikes).
I played Philadelphia Regional with a Metalfoes list as seen below. Granted I borrowed most of the deck (Thank you to player who loaned me the cards), I was able to be successful (initially) without pot of desires, dimensional barrier, or solemn strike in my decklist. By the end of round 5, I was undefeated with a record of 5-0 against 1 Brilliant ABC and 4 mirror matches. Although every single one of my opponents activated pot of desires at least twice during each match, I was still able to edge out my opponent because of my conservation of resources and deep knowledge of my deck. Despite them generally having +1 or +2 advantage due to desires, or stopping me for an entire turn with strike/dbarrier, I was able to play around it. I instead played a very Orichalc/Mithrilium/Alkahest turbo version, which utilized my monsters as traps in place of dbarrier and strike. There were plenty of times where I would have won sooner if a summoner’s art was a strike/barrier/desires instead, but I was still able to make it work. At least until the later rounds.
Rounds 6-9 were an absolute nightmare. Round 6 was against an extremely rude mermail frog player who attempted to blatantly cheat me on 4 separate occasions. Game 1 he opened double toad moulinglacia (ban soul charge pls) so I scooped before he could see what I was playing. Game 2 I bricked and he opened with gaios, the equip spell that negates spell cards, and moulinglacia. He tried to attack for game with moulinglacia, but I reminded him gaios had xyz material attached to him and he couldn’t win that turn (despite saying he played the deck for years and is the best mermail player ever). He then tried to use swap frogs bounce effect twice in one turn, and tried to scoop my cards for me when he tried to attack with gaios for game when I had bounced moulinglacia the previous turn, rendering him unable to conduct his battle phase. In the end, I grinded enough to make Vermilion with gofu and cleared his board to put him at 4k life. He topdeck’d soul charge and trish’d me, but I drew eccentric and was able to pop his trish and swing for game. In this case, the presence of strikes and barriers didn’t matter, but desires certainly would have helped me come back game 2 quicker and not get sucked into time, leaving the match in a draw.
Rounds 7-9 truly proved the power of expensive staples. Round 7 my opponent outgrinded me in the mirror because he could desires twice to gain more advantage than I could, and Round 8 my opponent had barrier and strike, calling fusion and then striking my pendulum summon in my last attempt to make a play. Had he been playing any other card, I would have been able to steal it from him. However, the true power of these staples spoke for themselves, and I couldn’t win.
Round 9 my opponent opened infinity kirin and I had no way of outing it easily without strike, so I proceeded to lose that game as well due to low advantage.
The same scenario occurred with my budget ABC deck. I ran it at Yugioh day at Alternate Universes, a pretty competitive locals, opting to play floodgates and chalices over dbarriers, desires and strikes. I ultimately finished top 8 and received a token, but the two matches I lost were because I didn’t have those staples, and my opponent had them instead. The advantage they bring is just too strong to pass up.
What started out well, proved that at the highest level, the fact remains that expensive staples will outright win you games. Any top 8, 16, 32 YCS or regional decklist will reflect that. You can still be competitive, but you will never be able to consistently perform because the fact is you’re at a disadvantage. Unfortunately, the same rule applies to anti-meta decks this upcoming format. As of right now, Zoodiacs will ultimately dominate the format-and the market-until nationals. That doesn’t mean you can’t build anti-meta decks, but if you do, they require the expensive staples to be relevant. Unfortunately, this is not a format for budget players. If you’re a budget player reading this, I’m sorry to say you should take a break until after nationals. Hopefully everything will cool down by then, or just suck up the initial cost and sell the strikes and barriers before nationals to minimize loss. Either way, it’s going to take a huge chunk out of your bankroll.