Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Deck Analysis #24: Last Turn

When I consider the list of decks that can claim victory on the very first turn of the game (a list relatively large in the Yu-Gi-Oh! Trading Card Game, and, of course, even more so in the Traditional Format), I find it can safely be split into two distinct categories: on one side of this fissure is the selection of decks that have no hope of ever claiming a tournament, whether local or otherwise – the decks that, while interesting and fun to play, are simply too inconsistent to function at the degree necessary to be successful; on the other side, however, is the selection that takes consistency and efficiency to the highest levels possible in this great game – the decks that have won, or placed very highly in, tournaments across the globe. Now, this latter list has, to my mind, only a grand total of five strategies upon it: the Dimension Fusion Loop; Exchange of the Spirit; Magical Scientist; Last Turn; and Frog FTK. Having already written analyses of the first three (and, in one case, reworked the list for inclusion in an essay), and the very last holding no interest to me whatsoever due to its invariability in deck architecture, I have but a single one left to discuss: Last Turn. I should like to do so now, in this article, shining a light on a deck which has fallen out of fashion with First-Turn-Knockout enthusiasts. 

The reasoning for this is a complicated discourse between its amazing consistency and the ease with which it can be countered. Due to a relative lack of dead draws brought about by the ability to utilize an extensive list of draw Spells, the modern Last Turn deck has the opportunity to be arguably the most consistent First-Turn-Knockout there is; it does not get weighed down in the early turn by Trap after Trap when one has not sent Makyura to the Graveyard, or useless copies of Cyber Valley or Spell Power Grasp; and nor does it falter in the late turn by drawing extra copies of Armageddon Knight, Machine Duplication, or Royal Magical Library. That said, however, the simple combo of Jowgen the Spiritualist, Wall of Revealing Light and Last Turn is rather more fragile than something like Exchange of the Spirit, although it must be said not more so than a burn-based one. There appears to be some misinformation about the strategy, which I will delve into, but, to begin with at least, I will ignore this argument in order to showcase my list for this, the final First-Turn-Knockout deck (barring extenuating circumstances) I will be covering.

The Monsters: 11

3 Broww, Huntsman of Dark World
3 Destiny Hero – Dreadmaster
2 Destiny Hero – Dogma
1 Destiny Hero – Disk Commander
1 Dark Magician of Chaos
1 Jowgen the Spiritualist 

Within the proverbial First-Turn-Knockout structural study guide, there is clearly noted the need for the smallest Monster count possible; the ability to draw through the deck and find the combo consistently is markedly increased with such being achieved. Here, this has been accomplished by dropping Jowgen the Spiritualist down to only a single copy (where others might play two or even a full three), thus decreasing the chances of drawing a Jowgen without the remainder of the win condition, and thereby increasing the chances of finding further acceleration. The number of discard targets has also been slimmed as much as feasible, furthering this goal, and there have been, needless to say, no unnecessary inclusions of any kind.

The remaining ten cards from the list of Monsters occupy the category of discard targets. Firstly, a full set of Broww Huntsman of Dark World find use as acting as ideal discards for the Graceful Charity, Card Destruction or the copies of Dark World Dealings from the Spell Card line-up. Thence, a full set of Destiny Hero – Dreadmaster and a pair of Destiny Hero – Dogma come in as discards for either Destiny Draw or Trade-in, while Destiny Hero – Disk Commander functions as the most optimal discard for the former and Dark Magician of Chaos the most optimal for the latter. All, furthermore, can be Banished for the effect of Allure of Darkness.

Short and concise. The Monster card list is exceedingly simple, but every card and its number of copies have been meticulously chosen.

The Spells: 27

3 Trade-In
3 Upstart Goblin
3 Into the Void
3 Dark World Dealings
3 One Day of Peace
2 Destiny Draw
2 Hand Destruction
1 Card Destruction
1 Allure of Darkness
1 Pot of Greed
1 Graceful Charity
1 Painful Choice
1 Harpie’s Feather Duster
1 Monster Reborn
1 Premature Burial

We are now come already to the list of Spell Cards, quite obviously the most substantial portion of the deck. As was mentioned in the introduction, the strategy is characterised by the ability to run a huge amount of draw Spells; this is partially due to the size of the win condition (only three cards), and partially due to the lack of any necessity to play a very specific engine – that is, there is no need to use a Makyura the Destructor engine in order to activate Exchange of the Spirit on the first turn, nor is there a need to play a Cyber Valley engine in order to load the required cards into the Banished zone. Furthermore, with the Normal Summon at all times going to Jowgen the Spiritualist, any Summon-based engines such as these (and, in addition, the Royal Magical Library engine), also become redundant. This essentially creates a consistency while not perfect (no deck can ever be one-hundred percent consistent) is exceedingly high.

To begin with, the above line-up contains a selection of complicated draw two cards – that is, complicated in terms of them requiring a specific discard as a cost. Firstly, a full set of Trade-in comes as an easy pick with the ability, as noted earlier, to include six Level Eight Monsters; more could indeed be played, given that many of these targets could and would be discarded or Banished for other Spells, but, in terms of overall consistency, I have found this to be unnecessary. Next, the allowable pair of Destiny Draw also discovers their use for precisely the same reason, while a full set of Dark World Dealings requires a little more discussion: I have categorised them with the draw two cards due to the simple fact that, when combined with Broww, Huntsman of Dark World (as should be done), they do indeed draw two cards; however, they can, of course, be activated in order to draw only a single card, but I must stress that this only be done in extreme circumstances – the minus one (-1) from this, and the continued minuses from doing this multiple times, quickly depletes one’s hand presence, something which is highly detrimental to the successful drawing of the deck and subsequent activation of the win condition. Too few cards in hand can (and most often will) mean the creation of dead draws, either by drawing a Spell Card without its discard or the reverse, so this must be avoided. To round out this suite, the single allowed copy of Allure of Darkness is undoubtedly the most versatile, being that any of the ten DARK Attribute Monsters can be Banished for its effect; caution, of course, must be used when deciding, based on the remaining draw cards in the hand and deck.

From there, the hitherto constantly aforementioned massive collection of draw Spells is completed by the following list of simple selections – that is, not requiring a specific discard, or requiring no discard at all: full sets of each Upstart Goblin, Into the Void and One Day of Peace draw a single card without the need for trading in a second, maintaining a constant and consistent stream of fresh options; two copies of Hand Destruction (only two, for the uncomplicated issue of space) and the single allowed copy of Card Destruction can be used when one has a superfluity of dead cards, finding new ones in unfavourable game positions; and the obvious inclusions of Graceful Charity and Pot of Greed are still, without a doubt, the best cards to draw in any deck, let alone a First-Turn-Knockout. These additions require very little justification, although they are, as one might guess, absolutely essential.

The remaining Spell Cards in the above line-up are all ones that have actions not entirely draw-based. I must admit that the first here, Painful Choice, was very difficult for me to include: with only two prime targets for its effect, I was hard pressed to find any ultimate justification to play it – the validation that screams, “Yes! This card must be played!” – but I have, for this analysis, tentatively slipped it in, anyway; it could very well be dropped for the third copy of Hand Destruction, or even a Foolish Burial to achieve much the same outcome without sacrificing other cards from the deck, but I must also admit that it is rather nice being able to search for both Dark Magician of Chaos and Destiny Hero – Disk Commander at the same time. It is a complicated choice to my mind, and one which will necessitate individual opinion and preference.

Thence, however, we have very little complication: Harpie’s Feather Duster is a Main-Decked answer to any Spell or Trap Cards that might stop the combo, should one be playing second (and, of course, to be Sided out when playing first); and Monster Reborn and Premature Burial are here to not only draw cards by Special Summoning Dark Magician of Chaos (and retrieving a draw Spell) or Destiny Hero – Disk Commander, but also to Special Summon the Jowgen the Spiritualist if one needed to discard it in order to continue the draw engine.

The Traps: 2

1 Wall of Revealing Light
1 Last Turn

In order to achieve the win condition, one must Summon Jowgen the Spiritualist, then activate Last Turn when possible, selecting one’s Jowgen; every other card on the field and in the hands are then sent to the graveyard, as per the Trap’s effect, and the opponent attempts to Special Summon a Monster from their deck and attack, again as per the Trap’s effect. However, with Jowgen preventing them from Special Summoning, it will be the remaining Monster on the field, thus ending the game in one’s favour. With there being no other requirement than to have one-thousand Life Points or less to initiate the combo, the final card to be included in the deck is a single copy of Wall of Revealing Light for its variable Life point cost; unless one has taken some damage, one will pay seven-thousand Life Points, leaving the total at exactly the one-thousand necessary to activate Last Turn (or two-hundred, if one activated Premature Burial), and, if damage has been taken, one should then, of course, vary the amount paid accordingly.

Now, I mentioned in the introduction that the combo is somewhat more fragile than others; this is due in part to the nature of the draw engine, and in other to the timing of activating Last Turn. While the draw engine is exceedingly consistent, it does, quite often, allow the opponent to draw additional cards, getting them closer to the many First-Turn-Knockout counters available: Droll & Lock Bird will shut down one’s drawing capabilities, as it does with all such decks; Effect Veiler will negate Dark Magician of Chaos and Destiny Hero – Disk Commander; D.D. Crow will prevent them from ever hitting the field, and will completely ruin one’s proverbial day if Jowgen the Spiritualist was targeted for revival; and Neko Mane King will end one’s turn if discard by Hand Destruction, Card Destruction or Dark World Dealings. Furthermore, one will also need to be extremely careful when playing second (especially in Games Two and Three), for Imperial Order and Royal Decree will spell doom of the most painful degree. From there, the timing in which to activate Last Turn also requires some note; it should never be done during their Draw or Standby Phase, for an opponent’s Sinister Serpent can be added back to their hand, Normal Summoned and used to attack over Jowgen’s two-hundred points. Again, one must remember that the opponent will be drawing cards, so this is not as unlikely as it might sound at first. Thus, Last Turn should only be activated during the opponent’s Main Phase 1 or Battle Phase.

With that rather long paragraph of possible counters said, I think it essential to note that the deck in no way lacks competitive viability because of it. It is unaffected by Hanewata as burn-based First-Turn-Knockouts are, and Hanewata is, it must be cited, a rather more common Side Deck choice than some of those stated above. In addition, while I did mention it, there is in actual fact only a minute range of affect by Effect Veiler, and only in situations where one is relying solely on resolving a Destiny Hero – Disk Commander or Dark Magician of Chaos to continue. Lastly, the formerly very powerful counter of Elephant Statue of Disaster is, thanks to One Day of Peace, no longer so; with the draw Spell negating all burn damage to both players, an Elephant Statue being sent to the Graveyard by Last Turn’s own effect, where once would have ended the game on the spot, is now nothing more than another useless in-hand card. Of course, proper play is still essential, as it is with all decks, not only those centred around battle; a single miscalculation can and quite often does end in tragedy, although I will admit that this build of Last Turn is far less complicated than the other First-Turn-Knockout decks I have presented. With a huge array of draw Spells, only some of which require specific discard costs, there is only so much that can go wrong; short of an opponent’s Hand Trap, the deck should function smoothly the majority of them time, although the occasional less than favourable hand will require some thinking to play out of adequately.

Love them or loathe them, First-Turn-Knockouts are a part of this game, although, with the amount of possible counters on the increase, and players becoming better and better at using said counters, they are nowhere near being the indestructible force they once were, even though the vast majority of players still decry them as such. Here, we have a strategy that, while not one-percent consistent (again, no deck can ever be perfect), is far more so than many others of this category, even some of those commonly cited as being the best in the game. With no need to include cards such as Armageddon Knight, draw Traps, Machine Duplication, Royal Magical Library – those cards which can clump together or be drawn at inopportune moments – the deck suffers fewer dead hands than those respective contenders, albeit at the cost of a more fragile win condition and a slightly higher chance of being stopped. I will reiterate, though, that every First-Turn-Knockout can be countered; it just remains to be seen whether the trade-off here is worth it.


  1. Great deck as always, Jamie! Have you (either for this deck or for any of your FTK decks) tested out the Toon engine (that is, 3 copies of Toon Table of Contents and 1 Blue Eyes Toon Dragon)? The advantage is that it thins your deck by 4 and makes your trade-ins more consistent. The disadvantages are twofold: One, if you draw multiple copies of the engine then you have created a dead draw, and two, Thunder King Rai-Oh shuts it down. Still, it might work in a deck like this.

    1. Thank you for the kind words. I have tested the Toon engine in various forms (with Blue-Eyes Toon Dragon for Trade-in, Toon Cannon Soldier for Dimension Fusion Loop, and Toon World for Royal Magical Library), in addition to Thunder Dragon, but I find them too inconsistent due to the ease with which they can be dead draws: not only is it possible to draw multiple copies, but, since they don't actually draw cards on their own, any hand consisting of the search cards plus combo cards will also be dead.