If you’ve been a long-time reader of tournament coverage, you may remember Matt Highline from his near-miss showings at events like last year’s Shonen Jump Championship in Chicago. Highline has always been determined to do his own thing, and over the years he’s gone from an ambitious novice player with a mission, to a highly experienced (not to mention creative) duelist just inches away from his breakthrough showing.
Today he may have that breakthrough. Here in Round 3, Highline is 2-0 with a deck that many duelists (including me) had previously given up on, planning to shelve it until it gets a big boost from the upcoming booster set Crossroads of Chaos: Zombies.
1 Il Blud
3 Zombie Master
2 Goblin Zombie
2 Pyramid Turtle
2 Dark Armed Dragon
3 Destiny Hero – Malicious
2 D.D. Crow
3 Allure of Darkness
2 Card of Safe Return
2 Emergency Teleport
2 Hand Destruction
2 Foolish Burial
1 Monster Reborn
1 Heavy Storm
3 Solemn Judgment
2 Dimensional Prison
2 Phoenix Wing Wind Blast
1 Mirror Force
Il Bluuuuuuuuud! Whether or not Il Blud is really worth running these days is often up for debate, but at the very least, Highline gets serious style points for running the Zombie boss monster. There’s a lot more to it than style though; the deck’s real lynchpin card is Goblin Zombie, and Il Blud is just one of the cards that makes it crazy.
With three copies of Krebons and two Emergency Teleport, this deck is getting a head start on the Synchro action Zombies will explode with in a few weeks. Goblin Zombie is integral, because paired with Krebons it can be used for a Synchro summon for Goyo Guardian. When the Synchro summon is completed, Goblin Zombie then lets Highline seek out Il Blud, Zombie Master, or Mezuki: all cards that then let him reuse Goblin Zombie to keep the free cards coming. Paired with Il Blud, Goblin Zombie can be special summoned for free, and when Krebons is tuned to Il Blud, Goblin Zombie hits the graveyard and gets another free search. The amount of deck thinning this deck can do thanks to Goblin Zombie and its constant reuse can get pretty crazy.
And that’s before Card of Safe Return enters the picture. The Zombie stable is huge here, letting Highline repeatedly refill his field after it’s wiped by an opposing Dark Armed Dragon or Judgment Dragon. Powering through card after card means that Highline has an exceptionally strong mid-game, while monsters like Pyramid Turtle, Krebons, and Goblin Zombie make a defensive wall that can slow down TeleDAD’s necessary speed.
Two D.D. Crow shut down Malicious, and Highline runs three copies of the key Destiny Hero himself. The kicker? He does it without Destiny Draw. Instead he can discard them for Phoenix Wing Wind Blast. It’s a great card for Zombies, since it often clears the field to let you swarm for your win when Solemn Judgment or a single big monster would stop you. He also plays two copies of Foolish Burial, which he can play to get his first Malicious into the graveyard. Once that’s accomplished he can load up on Mezuki, or if he’s already got the proper recursion cards available, Highline can even use Foolish Burial to get a key Zombie into his graveyard so he can bring it back — useful with that one copy of Il Blud.
Three Allure of Darkness and two Hand Destruction form the basis of the deck’s draw engine, giving it enough card filtering power to match wits with TeleDAD. The Hand Destructions have been a favorite of mine for ages, and they give another way to get Destiny Hero – Malicious or Mezuki into the graveyard. Hitting Card of Safe Return often means a guaranteed win, so all that draw power is really worth it, even if the one card loss in presence can’t be redeemed immediately through the discard of Malicious or Mezuki.
The pressure this deck places on its opponents often forces them to make reckless attacks — when Pyramid Turtle or Goblin Zombie are on the field, most strategies need to press through them as soon as possible to have a chance at winning some time in the near future. That means making attacks not backed by spell and trap destruction, and that makes Mirror Force good again. Highline is running it alongside two copies of Dimensional Prison, one of his few non-monster answers to Stardust Dragon.
Highline just finished his third round and is still undefeated with a 3-0 record. I really think he’s done some cool things here, especially pairing Malicious with cards Zombies already want to run. His diligence is paying off, and today may be the day he makes Day 2.