For a deck theme that was received largely with skepticism, Plants have seen a tremendous amount of testing in drastically different configurations over the past few weeks. Every message board and local tournament has at least a few people striving for that perfect Plant build, but the one I’ve been playing myself, is the one Jerome McHale is piloting here this afternoon. McHale has secured a 5-1 record with Blackest Garden, a heavily control-oriented build of the Plant theme that eschews popular picks for the ability to slow the game down to a crawl. Here’s what it looks like:
2 Tytannial, Princess of Camellias
3 Lonefire Blossom
3 Botanical Lion
2 Lord Poison
1 Gigantic Cephalotus
3 Cyber Valley
1 Card Trooper
1 Gorz the Emissary of Darkness
3 Black Garden
3 Mark of the Rose
2 Miracle Fertilizer
1 Monster Reborn
3 Phoenix Wing Wind Blast
3 Solemn Judgment
1 Torrential Tribute
1 Mirror Force
Summing up this deck in the limited time span afforded during coverage is pretty much impossible, but I’ll do my best to give you a good idea of what it does in the time I’ve got! In short, it’s all about slowing things down and, in true McHale fashion, negation. Black Garden feeds these two themes in two major ways.
First, its effect halves the ATK of any monster that’s normal summoned or special summoned to the field. All those big Synchro monsters? Not very good when they top out at 1500 ATK or less. In addition, every normal or special summon a duelist makes while Black Garden is active gives the opponent an 800 ATK / 800 DEF Rose Token, which slows down things even more by absorbing damage.
But the Rose Tokens serve several higher purposes. McHale can tribute them for Pollinosis, a counter trap that’s essentially Solemn Judgment. He can remove one Token with Cyber Valley to draw two cards and get two draws for relinquishing a single real card. But the really big hitter is Tytannial, Princess of Camellias. When Tytannial’s on the field Rose Tokens can be tributed for her effect, negating any effect that targets anything on the field and destroying the source of the offending effect.
That means Dark Armed Dragon, Phoenix Wing Wind Blast, Dimensional Prison, and other commonly-seen disruption cards simply won’t work. In addition, Mystical Space Typhoon, Dust Tornado, and Breaker the Magical Warrior are all helpless to destroy Black Garden when Tytannial’s on the field. Tytannial and Pollinosis protect Black Garden, and Black Garden feeds Tytannial and Pollinosis. When the deck establishes that lock it’s almost impossible to fight out of, and it protects the lock with three Solemn Judgment in addition.
Play a big monster before activating Black Garden, and your big monster stays big, while everything coming after it shrinks down. Three Lonefire Blossom generally summon Tytannial for precisely this purpose, but they’re also handy for getting to Nettles when you have Mark of the Rose in hand; take a monster with Mark of the Rose, attack with it, then remove it for Cyber Valley or tune to it with Nettles so you don’t have to give it back. The ability to search one Lonefire with another, tributing the second for the Plant you actually want, is awesome because it immediately loads your graveyard for Mark of the Rose and Miracle Fertilizer. Again, the comboing between those cards is cyclical; Lonefire feeds Mark of the Rose, while getting Nettles to combo with it.
Gigantic Cephalotus fills the need for “another big Plant beatstick” that helps set up your Plant-centric effects, while two Lord Poison do the same thing. The Lords are important because they provide a lot of strength in the mid and late game, bringing back fallen copies of Tytannial to re-establish a broken lock.
Three Phoenix Wing Wind Blast round out the deck’s lineup of important cards. While most decks couldn’t support three Wind Blast, it’s totally the right call here, letting McHale get Plants into the graveyard to set up combos while eliminating large monsters (Synchro or otherwise) from the field. That’s important, because a monster topdecked a turn after being spun away is only a shadow of its former self if Black Garden hits the field in the mean time.
This deck does a shocking number of mean things, and the sheer range of options it presents its user with certainly makes it feel comparable to high-option decks like TeleDAD. It does ridiculous stuff: matching Dark Armed Dragon’s ATK with Tytannial’s and locking down its effect, slamming Lord Poison into a Garden-halved Judgment Dragon and special summoning, or Synchro summoning Level 8’s with nothing but Nettles and a pile of Tokens. Fill the opponent’s field with Rose Tokens so he or she can’t do anything, or flop a big hitter and swing through one Token each turn off of your Normal summon. You really need to play this thing a while to start to see all of the possibilities.
This might be the best slow-pace control deck ever created, and I’ll be surprised if McHale doesn’t make it to Day 2. Right now he’s got a 5-1 record, beating five TeleDAD decks and losing only to a Lightsworn Zombie Dark Armed Dragon hybrid deck that came out of nowhere. While this deck stumbles a bit over Lightsworn and sides heavily against it as a result, its main decked matchup with TeleDAD is excellent, slowing the deck down and often using that speed to create opportunities in which it can pilfer TeleDAD’s best monsters. Try it out for yourself — it’s far and away the best Plant deck I’ve ever seen.