I'm a big fan of decks with alternate win conditions. They're just fun to play. I mean, honestly, have you ever flopped down all five pieces of Exodia and seen the look on your opponent's face? Or watched them squirm as Final Countdown gets closer and closer to its culmination, slowly grinding towards a “huzzah for you” victory? It's irresistible.
Ben McCrae takes that premise to the ultimate degree by combining every alternate win condition I can think of into one deck. Exodia? Check. Final Countdown? Ben's got it covered. Last Turn? Yup. He's running everything but Destiny Board. The kicker? He's winning. Check it out.
Ben McCrae's “Ultimatum”: 40 Cards
1 Exodia the Forbidden One
1 Left Arm of the Forbidden One
1 Right Arm of the Forbidden One
1 Right Leg of the Forbidden One
1 Left Leg of the Forbidden One
3 Big Shield Gardna
2 Jowgen the Spiritualist
1 Sinister Serpent
2 Upstart Goblin
2 Level Limit - Area B
1 Pot of Greed
1 Graceful Charity
1 Final Countdown
1 Monster Reincarnation
1 Reinforcement of the Army
1 Wave-Motion Cannon
1 Book of Moon
3 Skill Drain
3 Solemn Judgment
2 Last Turn
2 Wall of Revealing Light
2 Gravity Bind
2 Good Goblin Housekeeping
1 Fake Trap
1 Magic Jammer
1 Barrel Behind the Door
1 Spell Canceller
1 Ojama Trio
1 Barrel Behind the Door
1 Heavy Storm
1 Mystical Space Typhoon
1 Seven Tools of the Bandit
1 Lightning Vortex
1 Card Destruction
1 Jowgen the Spiritualist
1 Divine Wrath
1 Hallowed Life Barrier
1 Pikeru's Circle of Enchantment
Jowgen the Spiritualist and the Exodia pieces are here for their respective win conditions, Last Turn and Exodia. Sinister Serpent feeds discards and provides defense, Sangan searches for anything in the deck, and Big Shield Gardna? Well, it does a lot.
Not only does it absorb Nobleman of Crossout and act as a huge wall, but it combines with one of the deck's other lynchpin cards. Skill Drain is highly important to the strategy. “It's an amazing card, and it just counters everything”, explained McCrae. It also negates Big Shield Gardna's effect, keeping it in defense position when it gets attacked. Pretty awesome.
Level Limit - Area B, Wall of Revealing Light, and Gravity Bind all create an impenetrable wall of defense. Reinforcing the defenses are Fake Solemn Judgment and Fake Trap, which McCrae was getting a lot of use out of.
Monster Reincarnation trades cards for discarded Exodia pieces or grabs Jowgen as needed. Wave-Motion Cannon gives something to distract the opponent and can actually press a win if Barrel Behind the Door catches a big Ring of Destruction or similar effect. However, Final Countdown is the most interesting inclusion in the deck. Not only does it present a win condition, but it's also a perfect example of this deck's theme of distraction.
“Sometimes I'll Good Goblin Housekeeping an Exodia piece to the bottom of my deck”, said McCrae, describing his strategies and frequently used tactics. “They think ‘he's running Exodia! I need to worry about his hand!' and they play with the wrong thing in mind. Then I Last Turn to win the game and they never see it coming. It's great.” It's a powerful theory that works for any of the deck's goals—play one very visibly, and most opponents will never see the second one coming.
The deck is all about misdirection. It tricks opponents with a pool of cards not generally seen in tournament play and a block of brutal effects, like Skill Drain, that players are aware of but simply aren't used to dealing with on a regular basis. Watching McCrae play in round 2, I saw his opponent forget over half a dozen times that Skill Drain was on the field.
While this is a stylish deck that is customized to fit McCrae's play style, it's worth looking at for Nationals. It has the surprise factor backing it now, and that'll probably remain the case for a while. It's very difficult to side deck against, as it doesn't have any particularly poor matchups in the current environment. It has plenty of answers for Ben Kei decks, and can win despite the long stalled blocks the deck creates. Against standard Chaos and Chaos Zombie or Warrior decks it has reams and reams of defense that are incredibly difficult to overcome, and it's packing tons of dangerous things that need to be removed when they hit the field, which can give those decks headaches. This deck can even give Tsukuyomi- and Thousand-Eyes Restrict-Lock a run for its money, as the three copies of Solemn Judgment can cut Metamorphosis off at the knees as long as Magician of Faith isn't around to continually bring it back into play.
The simple grace of this deck just can't be explained. While it looks like a pile of “assorted noob jank,” it coasts along doing its thing and is incredibly difficult to disrupt. There's a teaching in Kung Fu that the river is stronger than the rock. While the rock is solid and hard to break, the river flows around it, flexible, fluid, and impossible to stop. It's a cliche, but that's what watching this deck brings to mind.
McCrae stated that when he made the deck he was “just looking for something different to play. I wanted something that could stop Chaos, but that could also, you know, stop everything else. I think I found that.” He very well may have, and with this being his first major premier tournament showing (flying the flag of Superhero City, a local store) the Yu-Gi-Oh! world may have a new celebrity worth watching in the immediate future.
This article was originally written by Metagame.com, what was formerly the official website for large Yu-Gi-Oh! tournament coverage. It has been preserved by GoatFormat.com so that players can learn from this historical tournament coverage.
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