Coming off three consecutive wins here today, Brandon Thieben is just one of many duelists undefeated this morning with a creative new strategy. Centered on Chain Energy, Thieben’s deck plays a ton of Machine monsters and a handful of Monarchs to take advantage of the slower metagame we’re seeing here today. The result is a deck that players are having a tremendous amount of trouble playing against, mixing burn damage with disruption and aggressive attacks protected by Cyber Phoenix. Check it out . . .
The deck consists primarily of three types of cards: Machines, Monarchs, and burn support. The burn cards are all reactive, so they ward off attacks and help slow the pace of the duel. Chain Energy and Dimension Wall create big penalties for the type of aggression most duelists are trying to win with today. Three Reflect Bounder and three Zoma the Spirit do the same, while also providing attack power. As demonstrated in Thieben’s Round 3 Feature Match, the average player just doesn’t know what to do when confronted by these cards.
Reflect Bounder also ties into the deck’s Machine theme, which provides a grinding attack power that benefits from the pace set by the burn cards. Cyber Phoenix and Limiter Removal are both great in this metagame, but Limiter is unsearchable and it takes time to put together the kind of field that can really take advantage of the Phoenix. The uncertainty created by the burn cards mitigates that factor and gives the deck time to set up. From there Cyber Phoenix ensures that Book of Moon or Enemy Controller won’t interfere with attacks. That’s especially good in the case of Blue Thunder T-45, which gets inestimably better when it can make the precision attacks it wants.
The deck maxes out on Dekoichi the Battlechanted Locomotive, a card that might still be too slow for this format if not for the tempo this deck usually establishes. The Dekoichis take advantage of the Machine support, but their main use is the one we all associate them with: tribute fodder for Monarchs.
The Monarch base is only three monsters: one Raiza the Storm Monarch and two copies of Caius the Shadow Monarch, but they really get the job done. Thieben’s opponents seem to be choosing not to attack Reflect Bounder pretty frequently, making for easy tributes. Zoma the Spirit can be held until it’s needed, which makes it pretty easy tribute fodder too. D.D. Crow is everywhere today, and Thieben isn’t running Treeborn Frog as a result — the cool twist to that is that it appears he doesn’t actually have to run it to drop Monarchs reliably anyway.
Marshmallon and Gravekeeper’s Spy keep the deck strong on defense and provide even more tribute fodder. Spy completes the flip effect tribute engine, giving the deck ample ability to tribute Monarchs without actually giving up card presence much as classic Monarch decks used to do two years ago. Thieben’s deck is unique because it draws on past strategies not just by bringing them into an era where they happen to be relevant, but by manipulating elements of his strategy to increase that relevancy.
Lightning Vortex is one of the hottest cards here this weekend, and Thieben is one of many players running it to achieve a dual purpose. Obviously, it fends off swarm decks like Samurai or aggressive Dark Armed Dragon builds, but it’s also exceptionally good against Plasma Control. Not many players are running dedicated Destiny Hero – Plasma decks this weekend, but the strategy was a big issue for many competitors heading into this event. Being able to rid the field of amassed monsters, or even just Sheep tokens that were summoned by Scapegoat in the battle phase, gives the Plasma player’s opponent a big advantage.
Three Solemn Judgment round out the more interesting cards in the deck’s lineup: it’s another exceptionally popular choice, and it’s a card that just keeps gaining popularity over the course of this format. It’s especially good here in Nashville, since the metagame was so undecided and difficult to predict. Anybody playing Solemn in a vaguely-defined metagame will have the advantage of flexibility, and it’s especially useful here because it can help Thieben keeps cards on the table. Whether that means preserving tribute fodder, a key Cyber Phoenix, Chain Energy, or an attacking Monarch is variable. But whatever the case, this deck thrives when it commits cards to the field, and Solemn Judgment makes that a viable strategy in a nine-round competition.
Whether or not Brandon Thieben’s deck can go the distance is unclear, but he’s one of many duelists playing tech cards like Caius and Lightning Vortex, and his strategy is a great example of the kind of off-the-wall stuff we’re seeing here in Nashville.