Analyzing Options: Beating ABC-Dragon Buster

Well, Kaiba’s done it again. The new ABC theme is real, and it meets every expectation I had and more. The deck’s goals are very simple, but its sheer power level is way beyond those of the current top strategies. It’s definitely going to be the best deck once the necessary cards are released in Structure Deck: Seto Kaiba, and Metalfoes are the only other strategy anywhere close, thanks to support from Invasion: Vengeance.

abcdragonbuster-sdks-jp-urThe key to ABC’s success is consistency thanks to high redundancy. The deck revolves around a simple combo that sets up everything for minimal investment, quickly snowballing out of control. To me the strategy’s sort of reminiscent of Nekroz, because it has a consistent way to make an ideal Turn 1 play that you piece together to set up a devastating turn two. The big difference is that the combo pieces are much easier to manage. The combo requires the Field Spell, Union Hangar, and a way to get an extra Light Level 4 into play – think Photon Thrasher, Performage Tricklown, Gold Gadget, or Silver Gadget.

When activated the, Union Hangar will search you A – Assault Core or C – Crush Wing from your deck. Typically you’ll grab Assault Core, and then you’ll play your other card to get your extra Level 4 Light material into play. So Photon Thrasher, a Gadget, or Brilliant Fusion sending Performage Tricklown will hit the table, and next you play the Assault Core or Crush Wing that you searched with Union Hangar.

That summon will trigger Union Hangar, grabbing B – Buster Drake from your deck and equipping it to your Assault Core or Crush Wing. You overlay it with your Level 4 Light for Bujintei Tsukuyomi, at which point Buster Drake B will fall to the graveyard because the monster was used as an Xyz Material. That triggers its effect so you can search whichever monster you were missing, either A – Assault Core or C – Crush Wing. You set everything you can before activating the effect of Bujintei Tsukuyomi, ditching your hand and most importantly the last ABC monster to the graveyard, and draw two new cards.

That will give you A, B, and C in the graveyard so you can banish them for ABC-Dragon Buster. With traps to defend you, ABC-Dragon Buster will help you build momentum by tributing itself for the banished copies of A, B, and C, getting them back to the field and triggering Union Hanger to get another monster from your deck. On the next turn, you can detach the equipped monster to special summon it and trigger Union Hangar again. that gives you the materials for two Rank 4 Xyz, as well as triggering the effect of whichever monster you equipped last, likely setting you up to summon two copies of ABC-Dragon Buster.

Yeah, it’s crazy. Two cards do all of that, and it lets you play great traps like Anti-Spell Fragrance and Solemn Strike because they fit so well with your game plan. The ABC deck is the best Rank 4 strategy we’ve ever seen – it’s not even close. But the deck is still weak to a number of tech options, which is good news. There are a ton of cards that are very effective against it, and whether you’re trying to beat ABC-Dragon Buster or playing it yourself, it’s good to know what the most popular answers are going to be.

allyofjusticecyclereader-ha03-en-sr-1eAlly of Justice Cycle Reader: A definite staple at three in every Side Deck I build going forward, Cycle Reader’s one of the best cards you can have against ABC decks. When your opponent goes to activate the effect of Bujintei Tsukuyomi you can chain Cycle Reader to banish two cards from their graveyard, so even if they had the full combo they can’t actually summon an ABC-Dragon Buster that turn to set up.

Stopping your opponent from summoning ABC-Dragon Buster is the best game plan against ABC because without it, the deck just becomes a weak Rank 4 strategy. The best part about Cycle Reader is that it gives you a way to stop the deck’s powerful Turn 1 even if you’re going second, and that’s huge. It’s also strong at other stages of the game, since removing resources is another great way to try to fight ABC. If you can survive or disrupt their initial onslaught just enough to force them into a grind-heavy mid-game, you can often win just by running them out of ways to summon Dragon Buster.

Cycle Reader can be useful against Blue-Eyes White Dragon too, which means you get more utility out of those Side Deck slots – always super nice. D.D. Crow’s also very effective against ABC, but it only just does half the work of Cycle Reader so I don’t see myself Side Decking it.
That said, I could definitely see myself playing D.D. Crow if I really wanted a Main Deck hand trap to fill that type of role, since it also has uses against Metalfoes.

chaoshunter-sdmp-en-c-1eChaos Hunter: When your opponent overlays for Bujintei Tsukuyomi, slamming Chaos Hunter down feels real nice. The Bujintei will still do its thing, but as long as Dragon Buster doesn’t hit the field you’re in a good spot.

Chaos Hunter isn’t weak to stuff like Twin Twisters since it’s a monster. However, it can be answered by stuff like Kaiju or Book of Eclipse, so if your deck’s already weak to those then Chaos Hunter probably isn’t your best option. That said, having a Level 7 is nice if your deck can do something with it, and the option to Pendulum Summon it is never a bad thing.

Chaos Hunter also has that advantage of being useful even when you’re going second, which is super important against ABC.

Imperial Iron Wall: Playing basically the same role as Chaos Hunter, Imperial Iron Wall prevents ABC-Dragon Buster from hitting the field. It’s susceptible to Twin Twisters, but like Chaos Hunter, it’s a great choice if Twin Twisters wouldn’t be good against you anyways. If you’re not running many trap cards then Imperial Iron Wall gets a lot better.

Your opponent’s unlikely to have a specific out for Imperial Iron Wall, but because the deck’s so good at making Rank 4 Xyz plays it CAN be dealt with. Iron Wall’s probably one of the weaker options overall.

Light-Imprisoning Mirror: An oldie but a goody, Light-Imprisoning Mirror shuts down a ton of stuff in the ABC deck. Stopping a Gadget or Bujintei Tsukuyomi can win you the game, but it’s weak to removal much like Imperial Iron Wall, and it’s not the best against Photon Thrasher.

However, the one upside is that your opponent probably won’t read a Light-Imprisoning Mirror when you have it set, set so that Photon Thrasher will probably be used to summon Bujintei Tsukuyomi anyway. Much like Iron Wall, I think Light-Imprisoning Mirror is fine, but there are probably just better options. Chiefly ones that still keep you in the fight if you lose the die roll.

ghostreaperwintercherries-shvi-en-scr-1eGhost Reaper & Winter Cherries: Another personal Side Deck staple, Ghost Reaper & Winter Cherries just does the best job of making sure ABC-Dragon Buster’s never summoned. It’s strong in several matchups, it only requires one additional Extra Deck slot, and can easily spell victory if your opponent’s not prepared for it.

There are a couple downsides to Ghost Reaper & Winter Cherries, the first being you can’t progress your own position in the game if your opponent chooses to just pass or play around it. But that’s not the worst stalemate to be in; as long as you have Ghost Reaper & Winter Cherries, you just need to make sure you never commit a monster to the field so they can’t Ghost Reaper you.

The second issue is a bit more glaring. The new Pot of Avidity from Invasion: Vengance is the counterbalance we needed to make sure that Ghost Reaper & Winter Cherries doesn’t end the game on the spot, and a single copy can get you back into the game when no other card can. Keeping that in mind is important if you’re all-in on a Ghost Reaper & Winter Cherries game plan.

Pot of Avidity: While it’s a great way for ABC to counter Ghost Reaper & Winter Cherries, Pot of Avidity’s also very good against the deck as well.

When your opponent tries to tag out with their ABC-Dragon Buster on your turn, shuffling them away basically puts them right back to where they were before. You stop your opponent from gaining any advantage with ABC-Dragon Buster, and even though they got to develop their position a little the fact that Avidity also trades for a card is super nice.

It’s important to keep in mind that if your deck’s weak to Ghost Reaper & Winter Cherries, you’ll already want this card in your Side Deck to beat it. It has a lot of value especially in something like the ABC mirror. However, Pot of Avidity’s weak to Anti-Spell Fragrance in turn, and your opponent can let Fragrance resolve before tributing their Dragon Buster.

System Down: Another supremely high impact card that I expect to see a lot of, System Down does a great job running your opponent out of monsters; even if they respond by tributing ABC-Dragon Buster they’ll still lose all the monsters that hit the field.

300px-SystemDown-RYMP-EN-C-UEIf your opponent’s Turn 1 was especially good, you get the additional upside of hitting any Machines they put into the graveyard. The biggest con to System Down is that much like Pot of Avidity, Anti-Spell Fragrance will set you back a full turn in using it, so it might end up being useless. But you already want Twin Twisters in the ABC matchup, so having that means you’re more likely to resolve System Down when it matters.

Kaijus: The Kaiju are going to be staples for a long time. Getting rid of resilient threats and replacing them with a weak Kaiju is serious business, and eliminating an ABC-Dragon Buster cuts your opponent off from tributing it to gain card advantage. It really keeps them from setting up, so it can turn a game right on its head. That said, smart ABC players will just tag out their Dragon Buster as soon as they can, so sometimes you can wind up having to tribute away something like Bujintei Tsukuyomi for your Kaiju instead of a better monster.

The biggest upside with the Kaiju cards is that they fit into your Main Deck so easily, and you can expect them to be good in several matchups. Right now, every deck is trying to build impressive fields with powerful monsters, and that makes the Kaijus fantastic answers across the board. There are further upsides too: Gamecial, the Sea Turtle Kaiju is a Water monster for Mermails, and it’s a Level 8 you can Trade-In if you’re playing Blue-Eyes White Dragon. Radian, the Multidimensional Kaiju’s a Dark, so it can fuel Allure of Darkness in Burning Abyss or D/D/D.

There are tons of potential Side Deck options that you can use against ABC decks, and depending what angle you want to fight them from, you need to find what’s best for you. How do you plan to beat ABC-Dragon Buster?

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