Friday, April 23, 2010

Deck Essay #2: Absolute Zero

It is true that in the Traditional Format, many cards long since forgotten in the Advanced Format become playable; this is due to the abundance of effects that have been deemed too powerful for Advanced Format game-play (and subsequently Forbidden), and with Cyber-Stein, Magical Scientist and Metamorphosis, Fusion Monsters are just one group of such cards. Through the three aforementioned cards, immensely powerful Monsters such as Thousand Eyes Restrict, Cyber Twin Dragon, Dark Balter the Terrible, and Ryu Senshi – just to name but a few – become highly playable in the Top Tier. While it would be plausible for me to illustrate how to build around any of these cards (and that is something I will indeed do at a later date), in this essay I will be analysing another Fusion Monster that has, for the most part, dropped out of competitive play in both the Advanced and Traditional Formats due to restrictions (and restrictions that were unjustified, I might add) in the March 2010 Forbidden and Limited Lists: Elemental Hero Absolute Zero.

The central Win Condition of the Absolute Zero Deck is to create a massive and game ending swarm of Synchro Monsters, backed up by the eponymous card, Elemental Hero Absolute Zero, to take the game in a single turn (which is most often, given an acceptable hand and a thorough understanding of in-game tactics, executed as early as the second turn). The Deck runs upon a basic, Destiny Hero-based DARK Synchro undercarriage, which is then supplemented by the addition of Miracle Fusion, the card necessary to Summon Elemental Hero Absolute Zero, and a number of WATER Attribute Monsters to fulfil the second half of the Summoning Requirement. The WATER Monsters of choice are typically multiple copies of the Tuner Monster Deep Sea Diva, although the Traditional Format will give access to some other powerful options. The result is a Deck that is so powerful and so versatile that the majority of opponent’s will not know what to do.

Now, while I must admit (I would not attempt to hide this fact) that Absolute Zero has lost a good deal of speed and potential, I have found, through rigorous testing and studying of different builds, that it will still perform very successfully when the addition of proper cards is made. Unfortunately, however, the majority of Duellists I have seen playing this Deck (or indeed any other DARK Synchro variant) have not been making correct choices; see, Absolute Zero, by its very core architecture of mixing two completely different themes together (that is, the DARK and the WATER), has a tendency towards inconsistency. Ergo, it comes as a surprise to me that every Duellist I have seen has persisted in playing powerful, strategy-specific, low utility cards, and have hence suffered low success rates due to unbalanced hands and dead draws – needless to say, then, this is the incorrect direction to take; instead, one should be adding less-powerful, generic, high utility support, support which will provide more stable and consistent hands and an overall better build.

The Monsters: 17

2 Destiny Hero – Malicious
2 Deep Sea Diva
2 Cyber Dragon
1 Elemental Hero Stratos
1 Destiny Hero – Disk Commander
1 Dark Grepher
1 Dark Armed Dragon
1 Dark Magician of Chaos
1 Sinister Serpent
1 Tribe Infecting Virus
1 Necro Gardna
1 Sangan
1 Witch of the Black Forest
1 Plaguespreader Zombie

The first thing I will point out is the very slim Hero count: with Destiny Draw now Limited, there is very little motive to devote as much space to Destiny Heroes as in the Decks of old. For this reason, Destiny Hero – Fear Monger, Destiny Hero – Dasher, Destiny Hero – Diamond Dude, and Destiny Hero – Doom Lord, which were all viable choices before (that is, with multiple Destiny Draws), have all been dropped, leaving only the most necessary two: Destiny Hero – Malicious acts as not only the Deck’s primary access to Level Eight Synchro Monsters but also, because it is sent to the Graveyard after being used the first time, as one half of the cost for Miracle Fusion (in that way layering one use upon another to create a flawless synergy); and Destiny Hero – Disk Commander, which is present in every Traditional Format Deck to add much needed draw power. Elemental Hero Stratos is, of course, included to search for any Hero at any given time.

Next, the WATER aspect, which, as one will notice, is also very small: I included only two copies of Deep Sea Diva, accompanied by Sinister Serpent and Tribe Infecting Virus. These latter cards are well justified by being exceptionally powerful by acting as retrievable discard fodder and (potentially) mass removal, respectively, but the inclusion of Deep Sea Diva is, I must admit, the most difficult decision I made when constructing this Deck; for while commonly accepted Absolute Zero Deck architecture dictates the use of this card, I find it to be too low on utility (for example, if one should draw it when one cannot Synchro Summon, or if one draws multiple copies at once). I believe the Psychic Synchro engine to be far more versatile, but I knew I wanted to include three copies of Miracle Fusion in the Deck, so more WATER Monsters were necessary. Having made the decision to include Deep Sea Diva, and taking into consideration my slight dislike of the card, I came to the conclusion that two was the correct amount of copies.

From there, the Deck plays many of the cards one might expect to see in any DARK Synchro variant: Dark Grepher and two copies of Cyber Dragon where included to aid in Syncrho Summoning, for both can be Special Summoned from the hand (ergo, allowing the Normal Summon of Deep Sea Diva), and Dark Grepher can be used to send any of the Monsters to the Graveyard that need to be thither to make combos (that is, Destiny Hero – Malicious, Destiny Hero – Disk Commander, Necro Gardna, Dark Magician of Chaos, and Plaguespreader Zombie); Necro Gardna provides free negation of one attack, Dark Magician of Chaos has one of the most powerful Effects in the Game and can easily be Summoned with the amount of Special Summon cards the Deck wields, and Plaguespreader Zombie for its versatility and speed in Synchro Summoning; and finally Sangan and Witch of the Black Forest are included to search for needed Monsters.

Dark Armed Dragon is included for extra firepower, as it is in most DARK Synchro Decks, although it is imperative to note that it can be Summoned very consistently in this Deck due to the overall low DARK Monster count and the ability to regulate the number of DARKs in the Graveyard through Miracle Fusion, Monster Reborn, Premature Burial, and Call of the Haunted. It is indeed one of the most powerful cards in the Game, and Absolute Zero, unlike most other Decks it is splashed into, can use it to great effect for just this reason. As such, one should never discount the possibility of Dark Armed Dragon as a successful draw, and one should therefore always maintain complete control over the contents of the Graveyard.

The Spells: 17

3 Miracle Fusion
1 Pot of Greed
1 Graceful Charity
1 Card Destruction
1 Destiny Draw
1 Allure of Darkness
1 Painful Choice
1 Monster Reborn
1 Premature Burial
1 Heavy Storm
1 Harpie’s Feather Duster
1 Change of Heart
1 Snatch Steal
1 Dimension Fusion
1 Reinforcement of the Army

I made the decision early on that I wanted to include three copies of Miracle Fusion in the Deck, for that would allow the best possible chance of drawing it quickly – remember, a Deck such as this wants to win as fast as possible. While this can on the rare occasion create dead hands, I think the amount of times it creates perfect hands makes it a justifiable choice. One will primarily find Destiny Hero – Malicious and Deep Sea Diva being removed for the cost of Miracle Fusion, but if there is a choice do not hesitate to think about the possibility of potential combos further into the turn: one will need to take into consideration the current contents of the field (that is, how many Monster Zones are occupied); the contents of the hand (for example, does it contain Graveyard revival or Removed from Play revival); the contents of the Deck (for example, if I remove Stratos, and subsequently Summon it back to the field, can I claim a search); and the remaining Synchro Monsters in the Extra Deck (for example, do I have any Level Eight Synchro Monsters left to Summon after a Dimension Fusion swarm).

To set up for the game winning turn Destiny Draw, Allure of Darkness, Pot of Greed, Graceful, Card Destruction, and Painful Choice are included to move the Deck along (although, one cannot forget the possibility of Dark Magician of Chaos or Destiny Hero – Disk Commander turning revival into additional draw power), and Reinforcement of the Army is included to search for any needed Warrior at any given time. Opening with any one (or multiples) of these cards will most often be a precursor to victory, but, as in all Decks, one will need to exercise precision when carrying out plays – one incorrect move can mean disaster.

From there, five slots were devoted to generic Traditional Format support cards: Monster Reborn, Premature Burial, Change of Heart, Snatch Steal, and Dimension Fusion. It is interesting to note how synergistic these cards become in a Synchro-based Deck, for each one can provide not only their reuse and theft of Monsters that they do in all Decks, but also Monsters to be used as Synchro Material. Again, this is layering one use upon another to create a flawless synergy.

Finally, the last two slots are given to the most basic support cards possible, Heavy Storm and Harpie’s Feather Duster for Spell and Trap Card removal, although at this point you may be screaming, “O, but wait! Jamie, you have failed to include Raigeki and Dark Hole; surely these are two cards that should be included in all Decks, are they not?” I must answer (if indeed you did speak this) in the negative. Due to Elemental Hero Absolute Zero’s effect, it seemed plain folly to me to include Raigeki and Dark Hole when one could simply Summon Absolute Zero and suicide it into an opponent’s Monster to clear their front field. In essence, Miracle Fusion becomes one’s Raigeki. In truth, Raigeki and Dark Hole could be included, but I opted to drop them for other cards.

The Traps: 6

1 Imperial Order
1 Call of the Haunted
1 Mirror Force
1 Crush Card Virus
1 Ring of Destruction
1 Return from the Different Dimension

As is always the case in Traditional Format meta Decks, the Trap line-up is short and needs little justification: Imperial Order is far too valuable in shutting out the opponent’s Spells for a turn (more often than not cancelling said turn entirely); Call of the Haunted creates an extra Monster alike to the other generic support cards aforementioned; Mirror Force, Crush Card Virus and Ring of Destruction are far too powerful forms of removal to not play; and Return from the Different Dimension adds extra combo potential by creating more Monster Cards. Short and concise.

The Extra Deck: 15

3 Elemental Hero Absolute Zero
2 Stardust Dragon
2 Colossal Fighter
1 Thousand Eyes Restrict
1 Dark Strike Fighter
1 Black Rose Dragon
1 Brionac, Dragon of the Ice Barrier
1 Dark End Dragon
1 Goyo Guardian
1 Ally of Justice Catastor
1 Thought Ruler Archfiend

Since Absolute Zero is a Synchro-based Deck, I felt the need to include the Extra Deck in this essay. The three copies of Elemental Hero Absolute Zero are our focal point, and three is included for, with three copies of Miracle Fusion, one should have no trouble in Summoning multiple copies if necessary. Having said that, however, one must know the appropriate time to summon it, for it is slightly more complicated than most people care to acknowledge. Apart from simply swarming the field for a One-Turn-Knockout (which is indeed the most likely scenario), there are two main instances in which Elemental Hero Absolute Zero is indicated: the first is when the opponent has committed heavily to their field but has left their hand with few to no cards (in which case one will be able to punish their overextension with Elemental Hero Absolute Zero’s destruction effect); and the second is in the late game – although I will admit that Traditional Format very rarely reaches a late game – when both players have few to no cards remaining (in which case one will be at a distinct advantage with such a strong and easily summoned Monster).

From there, the rest of the Monsters are mostly obvious picks, although there are more Level Eights than most Decks would play due to Destiny Hero - Malicious: Stardust Dragon and Colossal Fighter are both included at two copies each, for they are the chief Synchros one will want to Summon; Thought Ruler Archfiend because gaining Life Points can be a valuable asset in Traditional Format, and it is even better having that effect attached to a Monster as large as this is; Dark End Dragon because its effect allows the player to remove any troublesome Monster; Black Rose Dragon to clear the field if the opponent takes control of the Duel; Dark Strike Fighter as a game winning Monster; Goyo Guardian as a powerful and strong Level Six Synchro; Brionac, Dragon of the Ice Barrier to clear an opponent’s field; Ally of Justice Catastor to help against non-DARK Decks; and Thousand Eyes Restrict in the event one is able to borrow a Magical Scientist or Cyber-Stein from the opponent.

I have done my utmost in this essay to show just how viable the Absolute Zero Deck still is in the current Traditional Format – to tell the truth, it will most likely always be a viable Deck. It is capable of enormous turns in which the end result is something alike to a Stardust Dragon, a Colossal Fighter, a Dark Magician of Chaos, and an Elemental Hero Absolute Zero (or two) with cards still in the hand to spare. Unfortunately, however, I will reiterate at this point that the Deck is prone to dead hands due to the amalgamation of the two different themes, so at times such as this the player will need to persevere; having said that, I will also illustrate to anybody wishing to delve deeper into the darkest reaches of Yu-Gi-Oh! and study the intricacies of Governing Theories, that Absolute Zero is a very useful tool for observing the concepts of synergy and utility for just this reason.

I hope some Duellists out there take notice of my findings regarding this Deck. It is a great Deck, and much fun to pilot, and so it saddens me terribly when I see people including completely incorrect cards in their builds or, even worse, discounting the Deck entirely. As a competitive Deck, Absolute Zero continues to be a contender in the Top Tier.

No comments:

Post a Comment