Every big event has a few pieces of tech—splashable, single cards that people are experimenting with either to expand and protect their own options or to hinder the opponent’s. Sometimes, the single card trends at major events carry on and become accepted parts of the global metagame. Other times, they fade straight into obscurity, and these articles are the only record of their existence. Either way, they’re always fascinating and often highly indicative of player attitudes. The magic number usually seems to be four, and sure enough, four major pieces of tech have emerged from SJC Indy.
Big Shield Gardna: Gardna has been played by many topnotch players, and it’s finally getting the respect it deserves. Arguably the best opening card available to duelists in a turn 1 situation, Gardna succeeds in maintaining board presence and protecting your life points. It also dishes out a fair chunk of damage to virtually anything that attacks it.
In addition, Big Shield protects itself from Nobleman of Crossout and virtually any effect one can generate on his or her first turn, aside from a suck-up from Thousand-Eyes Restrict. Even then, sheep tokens can’t be used for a tribute for Metamorphosis, so a player would need to tribute a real monster in order to disrupt your defense. With that or a double-summon trick being the only possibilities for disrupting Gardna, the card’s value becomes clear.
We live in an era when players expect facedown monsters to be either Magician of Faith, Sinister Serpent, or another pint-sized, low DEF effect monster. The surprise factor that can be gained through the use of Gardna in the mid-game is big, and the life point swing it can create is nothing to be sneezed at.
If Big Shield Gardna makes it to the Top 8, expect to see the deck imitated, just like Max Suffridge’s Gravekeeper’s Spy tech was. Slowly but surely, duelists have come to realize how important the opening turn really is. While Big Shield Gardna doesn’t give you a dual offensive like a truly ideal opening would, it’s an incredibly effective piece of defense. In the current play environment, where conservative trends are so popular, this card has been a long time coming.
Magical Merchant: Favored by members of Team Savage, and now by Team Overdose and others, Magical Merchant can accomplish a variety of goals. However, its main uses are to bury monsters in your graveyard to aid the use of Premature Burial and Call of the Haunted, and to dig for Sinister Serpent. Sinister Serpent is a terribly important card in most duels. While I don’t agree that Sangan is the official “fetch Sinister” card, the Serpent is definitely powerful, and having another tool for bringing it into the field is always good.
The cool thing about the Merchant is that it can act as both a defensive wall and a method of tempo manipulation. While you can’t determine for sure what your pull will be, you can examine your graveyard and hand, determine what is left, and then decide when the Merchant’s effect will go off. That adds up to a great deal of control, and it can let you exchange an on-field, one-shot defender for a spell card. It’s basically an exchange of resource types, and the result is flexibility and choice. Even though the Merchant will be destroyed if it’s smacked around by virtually anything, it replaces itself on a card-for-card basis. That’s a winning mechanic.
Dual Decree: The use of two copies of Royal Decree has been a popular choice for many duelists today. Jae Kim, Emon Ghaneian, and others are running it and have changed their entire trap setups as a result. A duelist is often seen running Call of the Haunted, Ring of Destruction, Mirror Force, Torrential Tribute, and a fifth trap determined by taste (anything from Sakuretsu Armor or Bottomless Trap Hole to Ceasefire or Windstorm of Etaqua). Now, we’re seeing duelists pass on anything they can’t make immediate use out of, since it might sit on the field for a couple of turns and thus get locked down by a Decree. While most people are still running the usual spread of five or six traps, the Decree duelists are running as little as Ring of Destruction and Call of the Haunted to meet their pairs of Decree. The result is a trap-locking engine that doesn’t hurt itself much but can really limit an opponent. Again, positive results may see this strategy imitated in the future.
Chain Disappearance: The last piece of “new” tech is actually old—I’ve been talking about Chain Disappearance for weeks now. The difference is that people are now playing it in large numbers. The card stymies the use of Thousand-Eyes Restrict, Scapegoat, and Magician of Faith. In this environment, all three can be game-winning cards, and having one trap that can wreck them all could be priceless.
There isn’t much to say about the Chain that hasn’t already been said. Duelists know why they should be playing it, and now, they’re finally running it!
While those are the four big cards of the day, a few others have been hot on the minds of competitive players—namely, Cyber Dragon and Cybernetic Magician. Though Cyber Revolution is not legal for this event, there are many players who’ve expressed interest in running these two cards in a wide variety of decks. Cyber Dragon gives you a reason to enjoy going second, something that has been lacking in higher levels of play. Cybernetic Magician, on the other hand, can be tech in virtually any Chaos or Goat Control deck. It can also be the core of a variety of decks, including a One-Turn KO build. Bryan Coronel was among the players interested in doing so, and he wasn’t alone at the top ranks of the game. By next month, it’s likely that these cards will be in an article much like this one.