Sunday, March 25, 2012

Deck Analysis #22: Painful Choice.dek

There is not the shadow of a doubt in my mind that, were I to conduct a survey of the player base, putting forth the question: “What single card do you consider to be the most powerful?” – many a person should answer in return that either Pot of Greed or Graceful Charity occupy that most coveted position. And why should they not? I hardly disagree; the two mentioned Spell Cards most often turn, single-handedly, a dead hand into a playable one, and with no cost (in terms of the former) or occasionally very little cost (in terms of the latter – that is, to clarify, one having to discard options that one would rather have kept). However, when analysing the immense potential for Graveyard-abusing strategies within the game of Yu-Gi-Oh!, and when constructing such amazing decks, I find the top honour must be instead bestowed upon Painful Choice, rather than the previous two: the sheer amount of set-up possible from activating only the single Spell Card is unparalleled, and, though it does not, on its own, grant the drawing of further cards (which is, of course, an all-important aspect to the Traditional Format), it does, assuming an even remotely acceptable hand, facilitate the long and powerful list of combo plays necessary to such a deck – it is almost always the best card to draw.

With this fact in mind, I set myself some time ago about constructing a deck that could take the amazing capabilities that Painful Choice could render in what we might term a normal Traditional Format meta deck (that is, one with, say, five or six prime targets for the Spell Card, a usual number), and then amplify it well beyond anything previously imagined. While some people might argue that to do such a thing is not possible within a consistent strategy, and subsequently question the project, I myself was not perturbed, for I quickly realised that the extra Graveyard-based Monster Cards would give the deck access to an additional retinue of discard-costed draw cards, thus increasing consistency and speed by granting a use to those otherwise dead cards. Now, while I was not able to remove the entirety of the inconsistency issues from the deck (a feat which is, for the most part, impossible even in a standard deck), the majority of them have been allayed, and, despite the possibility to still draw a completely useless hand on occasion, the end result is something that I am very pleased with. So, without further ado, I present Painful Choice.dek!

The Monsters: 18

3 Wulf, Lightsworn Beast
2 Necro Gardna
2 Destiny Hero – Malicious
1 Destiny Hero – Dasher
1 Destiny Hero – Disk Commander
1 Elemental Hero Stratos
1 Dark Magician of Chaos
1 Black Luster Soldier – Envoy of the Beginning
1 Chaos Emperor Dragon – Envoy of the End
1 Dark Armed Dragon
1 Plaguespreader Zombie
1 Glow-up Bulb
1 Morphing Jar
1 Cyber Jar

Now, I did mention, before, that a standard number of prime targets for Painful Choice would be around five or six; here, however, there is an almost unheard of twelve. With this vastly increased number of possible dead draws, the deck needed to be constructed accordingly. This meant including cards which would be able to function in such a way so as to either aid those dead draws in becoming live, or simply exchange those dead draws for other cards. The final product, therefore, is a delicate balance between Painful Choice targets, cards which in some way help that specific strategy, and a relatively small but essential selection of the obvious power cards. I shall discuss these groups in that order.

To begin the immense assortment of prime targets for the eponymous Spell Card – that is, those cards which one, if given a complete, uninhibited access to the deck, would choose above all others – we find arguably the most interesting cards of the lot: a full set of Wulf, Lightsworn Beast. With Painful Choice, once the opponent has made their decision, sending the remaining cards to the Graveyard (and, therefore, directly thither from the deck), the effect of Wulf will trigger to Special Summon itself to the field; not only does this give simply a (or many) free, high-ATK Monsters, but also Monsters with which to create Exceed or Synchro combos. While it is undoubtedly the worst card of the entire deck to draw (being that, aside from discarding it for a draw card, Wulf is completely useless in the hand), the payoff is most definitely worth the risk. From there, a pair of Necro Gardna is included, simply for their amazing ability to stop required attacks, while also regulating the number of DARK Attribute Monsters in the Graveyard (a point I will elaborate on more in due time). There are followed then by the Tuners, Plaguespreader Zombie and Glow-up Bulb, each for their ability to be Special Summoned from the Graveyard in order to initiate Synchro Summon potential. Finally, before I move into a rather more specific suite of cards within this category, we find the single allowed copy of Dark Magician of Chaos, whose combo potential is, quite simply, second to none.

To complete the grouping of Painful Choice targets, while at the same time forming, synergistically as it does, the backbone of the drawing engine (and, therefore, the entire strategy), a set of Destiny Hero Monsters has been included. Not only do these cards – that is, Destiny Hero – Disk Commander, Destiny Hero – Dasher, and a pair of Destiny Hero – Malicious – round out this list, bringing the count of prime targets to the aforementioned twelve, they can all be discarded for Destiny Draw (or, for that matter, any of the other discard-costed draw Spells the deck runs), thereby facilitating the immensely fast, consistent movement through the deck that is possible in the modern Traditional Format. Each, of course, also brings their own use to the deck once loaded into the Graveyard: Malicious acts as Synchro or Tribute material; Disk Commander draws two further cards upon its Special Summon from the Graveyard; and Dasher allows the Special Summon of any Monster drawn during the Draw Phase – an effect which crosses into the second category of cards by turning a potentially dead Wulf into a live top-deck.

There exists, at this point in the analysis, the need to point out the degree of care one must exercise when activating one’s single copy of Painful Choice. With so many possible targets, each of which brings a completely different purpose to the strategy, it is essential for one to consider from every single angle the best course of action to take when presented with the Spell Card. One must consider the remaining contents of the hand, the remaining contents of the deck, the contents of the field (and the opponent’s side as well as one’s own), the contents of both Graveyards should they already be built up, the strategy the opponent is piloting, as well as the almost endless number of possible outcomes to an equally endless number of plays. The card requires an immense level of knowledge and skill to successfully play here, effectively becoming a painful choice for the pilot as well as the opponent.

We come, thence, to the second group of cards – the ones which help the deck function smoothly by granting some sort of use to the large amount of otherwise useless cards. Although we find only two here, both are essential, for each boasts an effect that can single-handedly turn a hand of dead cards into a set of amazing options. Morphing Jar, while inarguably the less powerful of the two, allows one to dump these Graveyard-based cards for fresh ones, thus fulfilling two purposes at the same time. Cyber Jar, on the other hand, allows one to keep the initial hand, only supplementing it along with the distinct possibility of Special Summoning copies of Wulf, Lightsworn Beast, amongst other things. Should one find oneself with a less than favourable hand, resolving a single Jar can be game-breaking; one might argue (and argue convincingly, I might add) that this would be rather difficult in the Traditional Format, but I find the risk, once again, to be worth the payoff.

Finally, the Monster Cards are completed as we discuss the final section of the tripartite list. With the vast array of LIGHT and DARK Attribute Monsters, both of the Envoys and Dark Armed Dragon become obvious inclusions. With the speed at which the deck can move through itself, all the while placing the required Monsters into the Graveyard (and, for the condition of Dark Armed, regulating those Attributes), one is able to Special Summon them with relative speed and consistency. The deck is already capable of creating an enormous field, but these three cards put the icing on the cake, so to speak, and can easily be discarded for draw Spells if they are not needed.

The Spells: 19

3 Hand Destruction
2 Destiny Draw
1 Allure of Darkness
1 Pot of Greed
1 Graceful Charity
1 Card Destruction
1 Painful Choice
1 Foolish Burial
1 Reinforcement of the Army
1 Monster Reborn
1 Premature Burial
1 Dimension Fusion
1 One for One
1 Harpie’s Feather Duster
1 Snatch Steal
1 Raigeki

It has been mentioned many a time, thus far, that the deck includes a series of options intended to turn the unavoidable dead draws of such a strategy into live options, but the list of Monster Cards contained very few; here, however, we find this statement played out to the highest degree. A full three copies of Hand Destruction, backed up by the single allowed copy of Card Destruction and the already staple copy of Graceful Charity, give the pilot a total of five cards that exchange these otherwise useless Monsters for new options, discarding the Graveyard-based cards for future combos while also sifting through the deck at break-neck speed. We will also discover the single allowed copies of both Foolish Burial and One for One, each granting even more uses again for these potential dead draws by, in the former case, sending them from the deck to the Graveyard (achieving, in this way, a miniature Painful Choice effect), or, in the latter case, discarding one in order to Special Summon another from the deck to the field. One will most often find Foolish Burial being used in conjunction with Wulf, Lightsworn Beast, although it can of course search any Monster one wishes; whereas, on the other hand, One for One will almost exclusively be used to grant access to Glow-up Bulb, although, again, the card does have another, if far less desirable, option (that is, Destiny Hero – Disk Commander).

From there, the Spell line-up is filled out by mostly obvious choices that require little justification: Pot of Greed, Allure of Darkness and Reinforcement of the Army complete the Destiny Hero-centred draw engine by either drawing cards or searching for draw card targets; Monster Reborn, Premature Burial and Dimension Fusion come in as both potential draw cards (that is, by reviving the Disk Commander or the Dark Magician of Chaos) or ways to create extra Synchro or Exceed material; and the usual slimmed-down field control suite of Harpie’s Feather Duster, Snatch Steal and Raigeki give individually powerful options when required. Although termed ‘obvious choices’, it is essential to note these cards, for, while each is mostly considered as such, their presence helps to balance the deck by cushioning the possible damage from dead draws, or merely just adding that extra level of consistency. There is no point playing a hugely powerful combo deck if it has the distinct possibility of drawing useless card after useless card.

The Traps: 3

1 Imperial Order
1 Crush Card Virus
1 Ring of Destruction

As is almost always the case, Trap Cards are generally shunned in favour of faster cards that can specifically contribute to the central win condition. However, in relation to the statement concluding the previous paragraph, it is necessary here to include a group of Traps that will be able to give the pilot better hands across the overall gamestate, in so doing creating a more consistent strategy in the long run. With the build pretty much packed solid, though, we find only the most powerful options possible included here: Imperial Order and Crush Card Virus can each single-handedly win games if played correctly, for both in their own distinct way has the ability to control an opponent’s moves; and, as has been known for many years now, although the destruction is, of course, a welcome aspect, the burn damage of Ring of Destruction is of immense usefulness.

The Extra Deck: 15

1 Number 39: Utopia
1 Steelswarm Roach
1 Trishula, Dragon of the Ice Barrier
1 Stardust Dragon
1 Colossal Fighter
1 Scrap Dragon
1 Thought Ruler Archfiend
1 Dark Strike Fighter
1 Black Rose Dragon
1 Goyo Guardian
1 Brionac, Dragon of the Ice Barrier
1 T.G. Hyper Librarian
1 Ally of Justice Catastor
1 Armory Arm
1 Formula Synchron

With the fifteen card limit straining the contents of the Extra Deck more and more as each new booster set is released, the ability to construct this aspect of the complete deck is becoming increasingly important. Here, with the vast amount of possible plays, versatility is prized most of all, thus resulting in fifteen single cards. To begin with, a pair of Rank 4 Exceeds (that is, Number 39: Utopia and Steelswarm Roach) is included due to their ease of access thanks to Wulf, Lightsworn Beast combos. We go from there into a huge toolbox of the most powerful, most flexible Synchros possible: Trishula, Dragon of the Ice Barrier for its amazing ability to remove possible threats from an opponent’s hand, field and Graveyard simultaneously; Stardust Dragon and Thought Ruler Archfiend for protection in the myriad potential gamestates; Colossal Fighter and Goyo Guardian for, not only their effects, but also their sheer size; Scrap Dragon, Ally of Justice Catastor and Black Rose Dragon for their invaluable destruction effects; Dark Strike Fighter for the distinct opportunity to end a game on the spot; Brionac, Dragon of the Ice Barrier for Premature Burial combos and its field-clearing effect; T.G. Hyper Librarian and Formula Synchron for their draw effects; and Armory Arm for, although it is rather useless sometimes, it quite often proves itself to be of immense value in creating larger, more complicated combos as a passing summon (that is, a Synchro Summon to then initiate more Synchro Summons). Every card here has been chosen for its usefulness across the widest possible scope of situations, with each also being unproblematic to summon by means only found within this deck.

When thinking to myself of win conditions, there are two primary ways in which a deck can be constructed: the first is to build around a central combination of cards, or a set of synergistic combos, ensuring that the strategy functions most efficaciously towards achieving those manoeuvres – for example, the Dimension Fusion Loop; and the second is to build around a key card, one which can, by the merits of its effect alone, create victory, ensuring, again, that the strategy ameliorates such. The latter is what I have done here, and, while purists might argue that to construct a deck around a single card – and, furthermore, a single card that we can only use one copy of – would be folly, and would not constitute the deck being named after it, I find I must disagree; when the single card in question has the aforementioned quality of a win condition, as Painful Choice does, it most definitely deserves to be the eponymous card. To build such a deck, one must simply fill the strategy according to its needs, which means, here, finding other possible uses for dead Painful Choice targets when they are inevitably drawn, a feat which has been done by including suites of both discard-costed draw Spells, to exchange the dead draws for other cards, and options to turn the dead draws into live options. Not only does this address the consistency issue, but it also creates an immense speed at the same time, something that is, on the whole, never a bad thing in the Traditional Format.


  1. Hiya Jamie! Deck is so fast it will be hard to find any deck to beat this besides a FTK deck. Your sidedeck can be adjusted to win the FTK game, since this is OTK/FTK/Control(that is, your going to win game 1 if they don't stop a DSF 1st turn with Brio+Prem,CED or Ring of D! Your only problems will be some sort of anti-meta, but those also fail against us if we manage to break their stall.I <3 Exceeds,they are a T1 gameplan-Steelswarm is OP.

    To the sidedeck.I <3 Hand Traps in Yugioh, and against another OTK-style we get free draws off their Jar effects so D.D Crow can provide set up. Effect Veiler also sets up.
    Against Makyura-FTK the plan is to get rid of their Exchange in the opening play w/ Card Destruction.Imperial Order gives lock out 4 a OTK.I x3 Wata 4 FTK.x5 slots for MST and MoNightmare,and SSerpant.Going 2nd facing OTK/Anti-Meta MST is for I.Order. MoNightmare gives us a way to dig 4 HFDust, and SSerpant. SSerpant gives us a long game. Games take longer against Anti-Meta so it makes sense.So x3Hanewata,x3Effect Veiler, x3DDCrow,1Heavy Storm,x3 MST,X1MoNightmare, x1SSperant is 15.FTK(gambling on this one, hope they drop Armageddon Knight and I Effect Veiler it)(Hanewata for other FTK varients), OTK(we beat them outright), and Anti-Meta! D.D Crow could be swapped for Droll&Lock Birds to insure we cripple Makyura-FTK or other related ilk.. but I don't like having tons of distance from my deck like Lock Bird presents. Atleast with D.D Crow we can have the chance to + our graveyard, and - theirs another card while giving us Dark food. Lock Bird might be a needed evil though and/or Neko Mane King in stupid heavy FTK metagame. Konami needs to print a Dark hoser besides Crow for us to use. Crow only functions as a sweet tool for being a One for One target, Dark, and the effect is useful. That is in the FTK matchup.. cause in the OTK we get to abuse the Crow. Reading some things up, if they printed Elephant Statue to deal 2500 instead of 2000 it would be a instant viable card to stop Makyura from activating Exchange of the Spirit. But now it only deals 6000 maximum so it does not make the cut. I guess we could run x3 Elephant, and then in our Draw Step Poison of the Old Man them? In Yugioh do you have to take your draw before you deck out? If not then that could be a semi-noob/pro tour tech to stop Makyura unreliably. But I'm not sweating that deck since the Earth Monster options all but eradicate it.

  2. In a straight up Chaos Control mirror we have all the effects they have, and then some! The Summoner Monk list is very closely related to CControl and for explaining the mirror I will crituqe that decks engine versus this, but does not contain not near as much explosiveness. The synchro game is better with Monk, and the lvl4Light Tuner, and the lvl1 Psychic Head, Emergency Teleport and Krebons. Those cards are dead in the water against this deck bar Emergency Teleport even if they can do a few more tricks with synchros. Summoner Monk can be Veiler'd, Emergency Teleport is a terrible card if they cannot finish the Synchro summon for the turn and creates inconsistancies if the 3 targets in the deck are gone, and the Light Tuner is a terrible thing to have to waste a Normal summon on and then commit something else to the SSummon to get a synchro. Hand Destruction would be they key here for us to dump our hand and then dump them our of the game!

    Against Anti-Meta we just can play around their bad graveyard cards and win. I guess we can play Dark Hole in the sidedeck over Heavy Storm if they like to run lots of Creature's that disrupt us, or even some Hand Manipulation cards trio Delinquent Duo, Confiscation, Forceful Sentry become good here to hit their additional hate for us or their own hand traps.

    I'm guessing some sort of Dark World deck would do alright against us since they get their effects activated like crazy. Those aren't common, but would be interesting to see how broken a well timed Sillva could be, or Grapha and friends. Hopefully we could just sidedeck out Hand Destructions, Card Destruction and then play with the sidedeck tools to fit the situation.

    If this deck is not the threshold of power in Yugioh as far as consistancy, speed, and power goes.. Nothing is. The other decks in the format are gimmickey, and this one just uses broken cards that synergize well together. Like the Dasher, I would not have thought to use with Wolf like that. Good find there, and it just shows what good deckbuilding skills translate too- good plays!