Thursday, May 19, 2011

Deck Essay #13: Dark World

I have before me an article written by Jason Grabher-Meyer regarding an interesting variant of Dark World called ‘Third Planet’, and there is a line therein which, I think, perfectly defines the quite simply Brobdingnagian affinity players have for this archetype, and it reads thus: “At the beginning of a new format there’s always somebody who thinks Dark World will be dominant”. One need only look back through the history of the game, with nothing more than a quick glance, to discover how very true this statement is: rewinding back to the formats of 2005 and 2006, during which time the Spell Card Graceful Charity was frequently jumping to and fro between Forbidden and Limited status, Dark World was one of the most popular and variable themes available and subject to many, many innovations (of which the aforementioned deck is one); fast forward to the years 2007 and 2008, and, with the release of Dark World Dealings and Dark Armed Dragon, respectively, the theme again saw renewed interest and premier play; and, finally, we return to the present status of the Yu-Gi-Oh! card pool in which the recent release of the Fabled archetype has once again thrown fresh light upon the possibility of Dark World as a Tier 1 deck.

Unfortunately, however, the strategy has never, despite this long history of being innovated and played to a remarkably high degree, had a triumphant showing at any major tournament; to the best of my knowledge, the only Top 8 appearance the deck can boast was that made by Theeresak Poonsombat at the 2006 Shonen Jump Championship in Anaheim. This fact is a much contested issue, but the general consensus amongst deck architects is that the strategy is too slow on its lonesome to be of any real threat, and is, as such, combined with other archetypes to seemingly ameliorate the faculty of the Dark World theme. This does, alas, induce clearly unwanted inconsistencies, and the results are underwhelming at best. Such is obviously a poor decision, and, thankfully I must say, an unnecessary one in the Traditional Format. In this essay, I will be delving into the world of darkness, literally (in the sense of exploring the Dark World theme) and figuratively (in the sense of exploring another deck from the Dark School of thought), to create a consistent, powerful and fast build of this amazing strategy; to do so, I will omit any fancy yet inconsistent tricks, making only a slight alteration to allow the inclusion of Chaos.

The Monsters: 19

3 Sillva, Warlord of Dark World
3 Broww, Huntsman of Dark World
3 Thunder Dragon
2 Goldd, Wu-Lord of Dark Lord
1 Black Luster Soldier – Envoy of the Beginning
1 Chaos Emperor Dragon – Envoy of the End
1 Dark Armed Dragon
1 Dark Magician of Chaos
1 Destiny Hero – Disk Commander
1 Necro Gardna
1 Plaguespreader Zombie
1 Morphing Jar

Now, I generally include, before the discussion of the Monster Card list, a paragraph within the introduction which begins with something along the lines of: “The central Win Condition of the...” However, the Dark World deck is so overtly simple that such a subsection would prove completely superfluous. The strategy does two things, and only two things: first, it draws cards; and second, it Special Summons big Monsters. The only intricacy present is that it often accomplishes both at precisely the same time.

Having said that, however, the deck was not simple to construct (as I would stress that no deck is simple to construct): from the very first instance, there is much to think about. As has already been mentioned, this particular exploration of Dark World is using Dark World alone, although the Envoys and Dark Armed Dragon have been included, more so as tech than anything else, due to the ease with which they could be incorporated; this means that much time and consideration needed be to be taken when constructing the line-up of Dark World Monsters. I think there is little justification to be presented when I say that only three cards from the theme are competitively viable, but the number of copies is a topic of discussion: Sillva, Warlord of Dark World is, too my mind, the most powerful option in the Traditional Format due to the high possibility of it being discarded, and thus its effect activated, by the opponent (Card Destruction and Delinquent Due, two very popular cards, spring to mind) – I included a full three copies; next, in order to improve the speed of the deck (a recurring premise herein), I included Broww, Huntsman of Dark World also at a full three copies; and, finally, with so much space having already been taken up, I made the difficult decision of dropping Goldd, Wu-Lord of Dark World down to only two copies.

One will have undoubtedly noticed the set of Thunder Dragons in the above list. I had originally been playing the exact list presented in this essay, only with three copies of Cyber Dragon for the deck’s source of LIGHT Attribute Monsters, but I found the deck still moved too slowly for my liking. It is my distinct belief that a strategy that is capable of as much Special Summoning as Dark World is (easily creating a full field at a moment’s notice) should be as fast as possible in order to achieve quick victories, depriving the opponent of any time to retaliate; but the deck as it stood was simply falling short too often, and so, after due consideration (and finding nought else in the way of plausible Spell Cards), I deemed the inclusion of Thunder Dragon an appropriate decision; not only does it fill the previous requirement as being of the LIGHT Attribute, it also thins the deck by two cards, drastically increasing the probability of drawing key cards quickly.

Thence, having discussed all of the strategy-specific cards, we are now come to the support section of the exposition: only five Monster Cards fall into this category, for the deck is, to reiterate, highly focussed on achieving its goal quickly and fluidly. Dark Magician of Chaos, Destiny Hero – Disk Commander, Plaguespreader Zombie and Necro Gardna all reward the player for discarding from the hand even and most especially when Dark World Monsters are not present, with each one having a powerful effect usable from the Graveyard, whether it be retrieving a Spell Card, drawing cards, facilitating Synchro Summons or negating an attack, respectively.

The final card, Morphing Jar, stands out as an incredibly powerful addition to the Dark World arsenal, filling the two requisites for the deck to function properly: discarding cards from the hand and drawing more cards. While I would usually cringe at the prospect of including a slow-paced Flip-Effect Monster in a Traditional Format deck (and especially in a fast-paced, One-Turn-Knockout-based strategy), its effect is far too incredible here to omit. I have also made an addition for the sole purpose of easing my mind regarding Morphing Jar, but
I will mention that later.

The Spells: 18

3 Dark World Dealings
3 Upstart Goblin
1 Pot of Greed
1 Graceful Charity
1 Card Destruction
1 Allure of Darkness
1 Card of Safe Return
1 Painful Choice
1 Premature Burial
1 Monster Reborn
1 Harpie’s Feather Duster
1 Raigeki
1 Snatch Steal
1 Dimension Fusion

One will notice, first and foremost, the plethora of simple draw cards: ten in total, a complete quarter of the deck. I have included so many individual draw cards here because, apart from the obvious reason of needing to find key cards to formulate quick wins, the Dark World-specific draw card, Dark World Dealings (of which I have obviously included three copies), only draws, at the majority of times, a single card. This is a detriment to the theme, and so more drawing cards need to be included: I have included three copies of Upstart Goblin, which draws another additional card, and in truth the deck will have no problem for the most part dealing with the extra Life Points the Spell Card presents the opponent; both Pot of Greed and Allure of Darkness simply draw two cards, with only the latter requiring some form of payment which is easily done here; and, finally, Graceful Charity and Card Destruction are included for their obvious power in all decks, but for their specific ability here to discard a Dark World Monster and trigger its effect. Painful Choice has also been included, although, even though it is a nice addition, it unfortunately does not recognise its amazing potential in this strategy.

Monster reborn and Premature Burial have been included as more ways to Special Summon Monsters, creating easy swings at the opponent. However, with the additional potential for Special Summoning from the Graveyard the Dark World theme presents, the single allowed copy of Card of Safe Return becomes a simple choice; both Sillva and Goldd will be sent first to the Graveyard before being Special Summoned, which means each will trigger the effect of Card of Safe Return, drawing another card. When the deck gets going, it is immensely easy to draw huge strings of cards during a single turn, by the end of which the pilot will have multiple Dark World Monsters backed up by Dark Magician of Chaos, a Chaos Monster (or both) and/or a Synchro, although one must obviously remember to draw for Card of Safe Return should it be in play.

Dimension Fusion has also been included, for Dark Magician of Chaos, Plaguespreader Zombie, Black Luster Soldier – Envoy of the Beginning and Chaos Emperor Dragon – Envoy of the End will all Remove Monster Cards from Play, whether themselves or other cards. This creates an alternate Win Condition in the case the deck does draw dead (I would not dare, even in my wildest dreams, to think a deck, even one constructed by myself, is completely flawless), or indeed a way to fight back against an opponent who may have broken one’s first attempt at game.

From there, I have, in the interests of maintaining a level of versatility across individual games, included three Traditional Format power cards, the three I would consider staples in this format: Harpie’s Feather Duster and Raigeki are used to destroy an opponent’s back row and front row, respectively; and Snatch Steal, a card that can remove a threat from the opponent’s side of field with which one can do whatever one wants. I see many, many players on message boards insisting that there are in fact six staple tech cards in the Traditional Format (the other three being the brother cards to the aforementioned: Heavy Storm, Dark Hole and Change of Heart), but I must disagree: barring some special cases, the cards I have included here which are, to mind, the most powerful three, are sufficient to compete successfully in the modern Traditional Format. In truth, I would be hard pressed to find room for the others even should I desire to.

The Traps: 3

1 Imperial Order
1 Ring of Destruction
1 Mirror Force

I am quite sure that, as people read this list of Trap Cards, they will get to the end then read it again, and possibly even a third time; the fact that both Imperial Order and Ring of Destruction are included is in need of little justification, being that they are inarguably the two most powerful non-specific Trap Cards in the game, but the last card, Mirror Force, is undoubtedly where most people would stumble, especially considering it takes precedence over the obviously more powerful Crush Card Virus. However, I would urge people that, just as in all things I do, I have not made this decision randomly or without due consideration.

The reason I have added Mirror Force instead of Crush Card Virus to this deck is because of Morphing Jar. While I have no doubt that Crush Card Virus would be a very good, and very easily activated card herein (three possible Tributes, along with the general speed of the deck, make this undeniably plausible), the Trap would serve no purpose in protecting a Set Morphing Jar play on the first turn of the game, which is something I discovered was needed quite often – in such a case, one would need to be able to gain the advantage of Flipping Morphing Jar oneself on one’s own turn, at which time one would be able to one’s new five cards (and any Dark World Monster that were Special Summoned) before the opponent. I will not deny that I was indeed shocked when I realized that Mirror Force was a needed card in this deck, for I most often omitting it for the other more powerful options, but it was a change I was happy to make for the greater good. It is a decision I stand by.

While many people consider the Dark World theme to be nothing more than a handicapped oddity, with no worth to its name past only non-competitive ‘fun decks’, the movement to the Traditional Format offers the deck exactly what it needs: an increase in possible speed. With the progression through the deck amplified to the large degree that I have presented in the above decklist, which has been accomplished through some strange, yet unconsidered but suitable additions, the strategy is easily able to hold its own against the various other Top Tier decks. I would say, having made that bold statement, that the deck still does fall victim to some degree of inconsistency, more so than other Top Tier decks, but I firmly believe that this aspect can be rectified even further through more testing and slight variations in architecture. The ideas I have presented here are the best I could accomplish within the given time I allocate myself for each individual deck study (with only some special cases taking my personal fancy and being developed to that further degree), so I sincerely hope somebody takes notice of my findings and carries on from where I left off. The strategy deserves it.

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