I hope you all had a good weekend, whether you were playing at the Shonen Jump Championship in Florida or opening up rare cards from Phantom Darkness at the Sneak Preview. Maybe you even got a Darknight Parshath, and hopefully you enjoy the set. I love it personally, because it has a lot of cards that let me have new kinds of fun with themes I’ve played with before, like Six Samurai or Gladiator Beasts. I like it when cards that support both an intended theme and an additional theme are released, because those cards open up new deck design ideas. That principle is certainly in line with today’s deck, which comes to us courtesy of Joseph in Missouri.
I’ve always been interested in making Exodia competitive, and I think I may have stumbled across the right concept. Since Sangan and Emissary of the Afterlife are the only good options for searching out the pieces, I figured I should use them as much as possible. Premature Burial, Call of the Haunted, Spear Cretin, and The Shallow Grave all allow me to pull back my searchers many times over. Two Spear Cretin cards can also create a wall that stymies all attacks, at the expense of filling my opponent’s field with possibly useful monsters. Foolish Burial is what makes this competitive now, giving me consistent access to Sangan to get the head of Exodia.
There are two main difficulties that I’m running into with this strategy. First of all, an opponent playing Card Destruction or Morphing Jar is essentially an automatic loss, since running cards to pull the pieces out of the graveyard would clog up my hand and slow it down in the majority of matches. I’ve toyed with the idea of using protection like Gravekeeper’s Watcher to negate such cards, but haven’t had a chance to test it. Secondly, I don’t know what to use for the side deck. I would fall victim to any hand control or D.D. Crow that my opponent sided in, so I would like to switch to some other strategy that would not be so vulnerable. I’m thinking something along the lines of a normal monster beatdown, given that I already have the Emissaries, but I don’t know how to make a good build from it.
Here’s what Joseph’s decklist looked like when he sent it to me:
Exodia the Searchable One—40 cards
This deck is a fine example of competitive "classic" Exodia. Focusing mainly on draw power, stall, and searchers such as Sangan, Witch of the Black Forest, and Emissary of the Afterlife, this is the Exodia build we all know about and have some vague familiarity with. Some of us were avid fans of the deck and played variants like the fate of a civilization depended on it. Others simply liked it, and still others never tried it because, as Joseph says, the deck is flawed.
The more the creators of the game toy around with the mechanics inherent in adding cards that remove cards from play or discard cards from the hand, the more this deck has to counter with the same limited number of spaces. And failing odds somewhere on the side of 1 in 3,290,040 (I’m not a math major, sue me*), you aren’t getting Exodia in your opening hand. You need speed and luck and an opponent not using Macro Cosmos. Spin cards like Raiza the Storm Monarch and Phoenix Wing Wind Blast make things even worse. The only good thing we can say for the deck is that it is not hated much by side decks . . . unlike certain decks such as Burn, Zombies or Six Samurai, which have occasionally earned the ire of the full fifteen-card side.
It all comes down to the fact that the strategy simply isn’t fast enough. You can stall with Waboku and Swords of Revealing Light to draw cards or search out cards, and that’s about all this deck can do. Despite six copies of Jar of Greed (or a facsimile), Foolish Burial, Monster Reincarnation, and enough searching to make your head spin, the deck simply suffers from not finishing what it wants to do quickly enough.
Fortunately, we can supply this deck with the TLC it so richly deserves thanks to Phantom Darkness. With Dark Grepher and Armageddon Knight, this deck can now focus on a more reliable strategy of card draw, searching, and graveyard recursion. The old deck focused on stalling and gradually achieving victory by getting all the pieces of Exodia. The new deck will focus on rapidly filling the graveyard with Exodia pieces for recursion through a number of methods (say Backup Soldier and Monster Reincarnation). The way this works is by using one of the effects of Dark Grepher. By discarding a Dark monster from your hand, you can put another Dark monster in your graveyard from your deck. Since all of the Exodia monsters have the Dark attribute, the end result will usually be turning two Dark monsters in your hand into two pieces of Exodia in your graveyard.
This normally wouldn’t be too impressive since it basically turns your Dark monsters into Foolish Burial: cool, to be sure, but certainly not the incredible addition necessary to turn this deck into a competitive beast. However, there is another item of note: the four Exodia monsters are not only Darks, but also normal monsters. No effect! And this wouldn’t be impressive unless we had cards like Backup Soldier or Dark Factory of Mass Production. Luckily we do, and the end result is amazing. With Dark Grepher, a single piece of Exodia, and Backup Soldier or Factory, you can get the entire set of five pieces into your graveyard over the course of a few turns. You can discard one Exodia piece to search out a second for the graveyard, and then return those two to your hand with Backup Soldier or its spell twin to search out two more pieces over two more turns. Combined with Sangan and Monster Reincarnation, a fast win with Exodia is very possible. The fantastic idea becomes probable and practical, and we have ourselves a new strategy for this Exodia deck.
This also allows us to use Reinforcement of the Army to further thin the deck by searching out the crucial Dark Grepher, and this means that a number of cards which are slow or less efficient can be cut to emphasize swiftness. In other words, let’s start changing things.
The first thing we want to do here is cut the entire deck except for the pieces of Exodia. Our new strategy merits reconsideration of what we intend to do, and since it is a major reworking, we’re going to keep it quick since I just cut 35 cards. What is crucial to this strategy is three copies of Dark Grepher and two Reinforcement of the Army cards, plus three each of Dark Factory of Mass Production and Backup Soldier. I talked about the viability of Monster Reincarnation, but Phantom Darkness gave us an alternative that is altogether better than the Rise of Destiny super rare, at least in this deck. Dark Eruption is essentially Monster Reincarnation without the discard in this deck, making assembling the pieces shorter work. I add three copies of the spell card. That puts us at nineteen cards (I think, not a math major), which is unfortunately not a legal deck, so it’s clear that we’ll need to flesh out our strategy with something else. Sangan and Emissary of the Afterlife fill in where Dark Grepher falls short, since they are both Dark monsters and thus work well with the awesome Warrior. Running The Shallow Grave allows us to get more use of out Sangan. Discard a Dark monster for Dark Grepher, put Sangan in your graveyard, and then use The Shallow Grave to put Sangan back on the field.
Another Dark monster seems prudent to add at this point, since with only twelve in the deck, I feel that it may be hard to achieve the desired effect of actually using Dark Grepher to search for pieces of Exodia. So I’m adding Armageddon Knight, another card that can work well independently of Dark Grepher to get Exodia into your hand or your graveyard. Dark monsters actually work better in this deck than Foolish Burial due to their ability to function with versatility and either be, for example, an Armageddon Knight or a Foolish Burial if Dark Grepher is in play. That’s why Foolish Burial won’t be in the final build.
Finally, I add more graveyard-to-field monster recursion, flesh out the deck with Upstart Goblin and Reckless Greed, and I’m left with 38 cards. Replacing Marshmallon in the original build with Spirit Reaper because it works well with Dark Grepher makes sense in an abstract way, since it adds stall which this deck lacks and may be able to use. The last card is a pain though, since it is a single copy and there is no definite way to go. You can offer up Breaker the Magical Warrior or Burial from a Different Dimension, but both feel more like side-deck cards than main-deck ones: you won’t need them in every matchup. Foolish Burial is simply not as good as a Dark monster in this deck. How are we supposed to best this riddle? I mean, the deck already functions perfectly well with the 39 cards it has. But I want to add something that doesn’t just draw a card like Jar of Greed: I want a card that works well with everything in this deck. And it hits me. Dark Grepher wants Dark monsters. Backup Soldier wants normal monsters. And it is in that line of thought that I feel justified adding Skull Servant to this competitive Exodia deck.
Exodia the Super-Searchable One—Matt’s Fix—40 cards
While my very last choice may seem odd, the rest of the deck is solid. Should you choose to test this deck out, feel free to use something besides the Zombie-of-ultimately-dubious-utility. My next choice would have been Giant Trunade to give the deck some viability against Macro Cosmos-type decks, but alternatively you can cut Skull Servant and Reckless Greed for Legacy of Yata-Garasu. You can also use Cyber Valley, previewed by Matt Peddle last week.
One thing I particularly like about this is that Reinforcement of the Army makes room for the side deck to include solutions in the form of Warrior monsters, such as Exiled Force or the Dark alternative, Destiny Hero - Doom Lord. The majority of the deck has been explained by me in boring ways already, so I’ll just cut this short and say that I expect the new deck to turn a lot more heads . . . though regardless of whether it earns a winning record, I think anyone would be interested in a deck where Skull Servant is not only present, but a key player.
With that, I invite you all to do what Joseph did and e-mail me your decks for submission! I promise I won’t try to fit Skull Servant in there. Send me a deck, your feedback, or both (preferably that last one) at email@example.com! Until next time, duelists!
* It is worth noting that I am also not a law major, so please don’t actually sue me.