While Draco Pals, Kozmos, Monarchs, and Burning Abyss continue to lead competition, and decks like Phantom Knights and Atlanteans continue to press in from the competitive fringes, we just keep seeing nutty one-hit wonders Top 8’ing Regionals.
While it’s easy to disregard new strategies that top once and then seem to disappear, especially those that won their success at smaller Regional Qualifiers, the weird rogue decks that are seeing success this format generally take one of two approaches: they either look to extrapolate an accepted trend to new heights, or they look to beat existing play patterns with speed or another alternative that the big decks just aren’t pursuing.
Examples? The Kuribandit Kozmo deck from the recent Sydney Regional comes to mind as one of those “extrapolation” strategies; it played Kuribandits and Telekinetic Power Wells with triple Kozmo Tincan and Kozmo Strawman, escalating the graveyard-filling power of Tincan to yard more cards, and then reviving them more aggressively with over a dozen recursion effects. The Rescue Hamster build of Draco Pals that topped in Doncaster was another example, escalating the Extra Deck trend fueled by Dinoster Power, the Mighty Dracoslayer and Painful Decision, and leveraging that into a Turn 1 play that would kick four cards to the Extra Deck and make Naturia Beast for free.
Last week we looked at a deck here on the CoreTCG Blog that took the second approach, doing stuff the top decks aren’t doing, as Alex Robertson’s Raidraptors sped past the top strategies and pressed damage through crowded fields, all thanks to the numerous ATK-shrinking effects of the Raidraptor Xyz Monsters. This week we’re going to look at a similar strategy that’s not as fast, but manages to capitalize on the current pace of play by neutralizing your opponent’s monsters, then ignoring them to make game-winning attacks.
Ryan Cook managed to Top 8 the Glasgow Regional this week with a Speedroid Ghostrick hybrid, going so far as to express his confidence by running a single Upstart Goblin as his 41st card. Ignoring that bit of hotdogging, I think the strategy has an interesting approach that’s worth discussion, and the deck itself is a ton of fun to play. Here’s what it looked like.
Ryan Cook’s Speedroid Ghostricks – 41 Cards
March 5th, Glasgow Scotland Top 8
2 Caius the Shadow Monarch
3 Ghostrick Jiangshi
2 Ghostrick Lantern
3 Ghostrick Mary
2 Ghostrick Specter
2 Maxx “C”
2 Speedroid Taketomborg
3 Speedroid Terrortop
1 Allure of Darkness
1 Ghostrick Mansion
3 Twin Twisters
1 Upstart Goblin
1 Bottomless Trap Hole
2 Breakthrough Skill
2 Fiendish Chain
1 Ghostrick Scare
2 Magic Drain
2 Needle Ceiling
2 Quaking Mirror Force
1 Solemn Warning
Side Deck: 15
3 Anti-Spell Fragrance
1 Crush Card Virus
2 Flying “C”
1 Macro Cosmos
3 Mask of Restrict
1 Soul Drain
2 Starlight Road
2 System Down
Extra Deck: 15
1 Downerd Magician
2 Ghostrick Alucard
3 Ghostrick Angel of MIschief
3 Ghostrick Dullahan
1 Number 39: Utopia Roots
1 Number F0: Utopic Future
2 Stardust Dragon
1 The Phantom Knights of Break Sword
1 Totem Bird
This deck’s heavy on defense: you can negate attacks with your effects, replace monsters destroyed that were destroyed in battle, shrink the ATK of your opponent’s attackers, and turn your opponent’s monsters face-down. You also have some generic effect negation to keep monsters in line, and some monster destruction that ranges from the mundane like Solemn Warning, to the unique like Needle Ceiling.
Ghostrick Mansion is key: it keeps face-down monsters safe from attacks, instead letting them make direct presses instead, ignoring the face-downs. It also halves the damage from anything but Ghostrick monsters. So the goal is to keep your monsters safe for a couple turns by turning them face-down and letting your opponent go face, then make direct attacks yourself that bypass your opponent’s monsters by turning them face-down too. We’ll talk about how the deck accomplishes that as we go.
For now, let’s look at the Ghostrick monsters.
Turn Down For What?
The deck plays five Level 1 Ghostricks which lead into the Rank 1 Ghostrick Dullahan. Cook ran three Ghostrick Mary at Level 1: when you take damage, you can discard it to Special Summon another Ghostrick from your deck in face-down defense position. He also played two Ghostrick Lanterns. When your opponent makes a direct attack against you or attacks one of your Ghostricks, you can negate that attack and Special Summon Lantern in face-down defense. So Mary helps build your field when you take damage, while Lantern protects your Life Points, and shields your field from disruption.
Ghostrick Dullahan’s a Rank 1 that starts with 1000 ATK and gains 200 more attack for each Ghostrick card you control – including spells and traps, and Dullahan itself. Once per turn, its Quick Effect lets you detach an Xyz Material to halve the ATK of a targeted monster until the end of the turn. It can discourage attacks by threatening to cripple anything that attacks your monsters, and it can troubleshoot opposing monsters by shrinking them and running them over.
Ghostrick Dullahan also has a signature Ghostrick Xyz effect, where if it’s sent to the graveyard it adds a Ghostrick card from your graveyard to your hand. That’s an important recovery trick when it’s destroyed, but it also combos with the Ghostrick boss monster which we’ll discuss shortly.
Back in the Main Deck, Ghostrick Jiangshi and Ghostrick Specter work together to search and draw cards. Jiangshi’s a Level 3 that searches your deck for a Ghostrick with a Level equal to or less than the number of Ghostrick monsters you control, whenever it’s flipped face-up. Ghostrick Specter’s another Level 1: you can Special Summon it when your opponent destroys one of your Ghostricks with an effect or an attack, and if you do, you get to draw a card. So Jiangshi searches a stream of cards until your opponent runs it over, and when it goes down you replace it with Specter and another draw.
Ghostrick Alucard’s a familiar Rank 3 Xyz that pops set cards. It’s played in other strategies just to remove face-downs, largely backrows, but it takes on a much wider context here where you can turn opposing cards face-down and then blow them away. It also draws your opponent’s attacks to itself, and its 1800 ATK is really valuable when it’s attacking around your opponent’s face-downs via Ghostrick Mansion. Like Ghostrick Dullahan, it gets back any Ghostrick card from your graveyard when it’s sent there itself. With Jiangshi as his only on-theme Level 3, Cook ran three Speedroid Terrortops and two Speedroid Taketomborgs to supplement the Xyz Materials for this card, then leveraged them into The Phantom Knights of Break Sword and Totem Bird as well.
The real star of the show – the card that draws everything together – is Ghostrick Angel of Mischief. You make it by using any Ghostrick Xyz you have as the Xyz Material, and from there it’s a 2000 ATK beater that searches you any Ghostrick spell or trap from your deck once per turn. That gave Cook reliable access to Ghostrick Scare and Ghostrick-Go-Round, and its how he managed to skate by on just one Ghostrick Mansion. You really don’t want to draw multiples of that card, but since Angel can search it out, and Dullahan and Alcuard can recycle it, you only need one copy anyways.
Since you use Dullahan and Alucard as Xyz Materials for Ghostrick Angel of Mischief, and you immediately detach one of its Materials as soon as it hits play to search a card, those recursion effects become combo fodder: just detach Dullahan or Alucard from Angel to search with Angel’s ability, and you get to take back a card with the Dullahan or Alucard effect as well. You can make Ghostrick Alucard for free after scoring free cards with Jiangshi and Terrortop, pop a set card (+1 in card economy), overlay it for Angel, then detach it to search (+1 [+2]) and retrieve another card from your graveyard (+1 [+3]).
That’s an instant +3 that sets you up with whatever two cards you need to start winning, and it’s repeatable every time you can make another Rank 3. The right start arms you with enough defense to hold off your opponent, as well as the search power to win in as few as two turns.
Ghostrick Scare’s a one-shot Normal Trap that can turn all of your Ghostricks face-up and shift all of your opponent’s attackers face-down, blocking them for a turn and setting you up to attack through them with Ghostrick Mansion. And while it’s only a one-shot, it’s again recyclable with Dullahan and Alucard. It also triggers Jiangshi’s search ability to make things even more brutal, effectively replacing its own cost in card economy and making game-winning Xyz Summons easier on your following turn.
Ghostrick-Go-Round is similar, but it’s a repeatable Continuous Trap that works on your turn and your opponent’s, flipping one of your Ghostricks face-up or face-down to do the opposite to one opposing monster. Note that neither of the trap cards target your opponent’s monsters: they only target your own monsters, so they can answer Kozmo Dark Destroyer and Kozmo Forerunner no problem, addressing them without triggering their effects. You just trap them face-down and attack around them, never actually destroying them. Cook played double Quaking Mirror Force to similar effect, locking everything face-down permanently and often clogging his opponent’s field to make what other attackers they could still field that much more manageable.
With no copies of Solemn Strike to 1-for-1 your opponents, and a strategy that often lets your opponent accrue field presence, Needle Ceiling’s shockingly viable. You’ll rarely if ever destroy your own monsters, since your Ghostricks remain face-down hiding and Needle Ceiling only destroys face-ups. Popping your own Xyz isn’t terrible since Dullahan and Alucard replace themselves anyways, and Angel of Mischief gets you so many free cards the moment it hits the field you don’t really care. It’s a brazen strategy that looks weird on the surface, but actually involves so many little intricacies that the synergy can be surprising.
The Rest Of The Deck’s Pretty Standard
Well, kind of. Maxx “C” keeps your opponent from going too crazy with Special Summons, while Raigeki, Bottomless Trap Hole, and Solemn Warning are all pretty standard removal. Twin Twisters is especially notable here since the deck generates so many free cards, some of which aren’t useful if you’re opponent’s not attacking you at the time; Angel of Mischief and Jiangshi keep your hand well stocked for Twisters, ensuring that you score those quick, beguiling wins you’re aiming for.
Allure of Darkness is like a Pot of Greed when your deck feeds you so many free Dark monsters, and double Breakthrough Skill and Fiendish Chain neutralize a range of threats while still clogging the field with your face-down effects. Caius the Shadow Monarch’s easily the odd duck out. I guess it banishes problem monsters while having the ability to kick out a little extra burn damage? It feels out of place, but it has some obvious uses. I’m not sure it’s the best call.
Magic Drain fends off opposing Twin Twisters, messes with Monarchs, and threatens to blank Raigekis and Dark Holes that could turn a stable two-turn win set-up into a loss otherwise.
On one hand this deck is total jokes. But on the other there’s some strong theory going on and it takes a really weird approach to some of the top strategies; it does stuff conventional players won’t be ready for, and that makes it both a blast to play and potentially successful. I don’t know if I’d like the deck’s chances to Top 8 a larger Regional, but you could definitely get your invite with it regardless, and Ryan Cook deserves some major props for his work designing it!
Just make sure to drop that Upstart Goblin. That was, uhh… Let’s call that one “ambitious.”