When I first sat down and decided to decipher the multitude of text of Black Garden, I had no idea that I would end up playing a deck based around it at Shonen Jump Championship Detroit. I didn’t even have any plans to go, but I as wrote this article I had to keep going back and changing it completely because I was finding new and exciting things to do with Black Garden that were much better than my previous ideas. Eventually, I had to turn the deck in as you see there. It’s nowhere near the power level of the list I wound up playing, but it put down the foundation for what I think is the best control deck in the game. After all, it actually works against Teleport Dark Armed Dragon, a feat widely considered impossible!
One of the distinguishing characteristics of the Yu-Gi-Oh! TCG is its exciting, fast paced gameplay, but have you ever sat down and thought about why the game is the way it is? It’s the fact that there’s really nothing stopping you from playing whatever you want whenever you want. Outside of the basic rules for playing spell cards and trap cards and performing normal summons, you’re free to do as you will. Play all the spells you like, set all the traps you can, special summon as many monsters as you need! This is what crazy kill turns and miraculous comebacks are made from, but what if all that changed? What if the total number of cards you could play in any given game was finite and some of those cards took more of your allotment than others?
We’ve had the ability to implement such a rule by way of a card effect since almost the beginning of the game, and yet no one really considers how damaging it would be to the game’s top decks. Teleport Dark Armed Dragon decks basically have to play all of their cards to win, and if they can’t, they usually lose. Take new Spellcaster decks for example. If they can resolve and maintain Secret Village of the Spellcasters, any deck relying on huge numbers of draw and search cards is dead in the water. One of the biggest problems with such a deck is that it was difficult to put a tight enough clock on the opponent to force him or her to take drastic action that you would, ideally, prevent. Even if you could come up with a game situation that made it impossible for the opponent to work, you still had to win the game somehow, and to make matters worse, too much of your deck was taken up with bizarre low-utility combo pieces for you to do anything in games where you didn’t get your perfect setup.
Enter Crossroads of Chaos. Now there’s a way to incorporate the play-limitation strategy into a deck without building the entire thing to house stall cards, Chain Energy, and whatever burn cards you might need to actually finish the game once the opponent pays him or herself down low enough. Sure, Queen of Thorns only hurts people when they normal summon or special summon non-Plant monsters from their hands, but making a player lose 1000 life points for summoning any of the monsters that he or she needs to get things rolling or wrap things up is very good, especially if you can make those monsters useless afterward.
Enter Black Garden. Since I first saw the text for Black Garden, I’ve constantly put off figuring out exactly how to make it work owing to it being ridiculously complex to build around and use. Despite that, the fact that it’s ridiculous has certainly not escaped my notice, and after throwing ideas at Jason for a while it finally dawned on me how many uses this card really has. Today’s deck has seen about five different total overhauls, entirely because I keep discovering new things that I can do with Black Garden as time goes by. In fact, it’s changed completely from a deck focused on Queen of Thorns and Chain Energy to one that almost exclusively abuses Black Garden to make my opponents suffer. Here’s what it looks like as of the time I’m turning this in:
3 Lonefire Blossom
3 Lord Poison
1 Tytannial, Princess of Camellias
3 Gigantic Cephalotus
3 Ryko, Lightsworn Hunter
3 Black Garden
1 Monster Reborn
3 Miracle Fertilizer
3 Mark of the Rose
3 Solemn Judgment
3 Phoenix Wing Wind Blast
1 Mirror Force
3 Queen of Thorns
Extra Deck: 15
3 Goyo Guardian
3 Stardust Dragon
2 Thought Ruler Archfiend
2 Colossal Fighter
1 Gladiator Beast Gyzarus
1 Gladiator Beast Heraklinos
Please refrain from banging out an angry email telling me about how this isn’t a real Plant deck. There are zero copies of Symbol of Heritage and Swing of Memories in here, and I’m not relying on throwing a bunch of Gigaplants on the table and hoping for the best. If that’s the kind of Plant deck you like to run, then I’ll salute you for sticking to your guns. Just don’t complain when everyone else pulls out their orbital bombardment platforms.
Speaking of bombardment, you’ll notice that the word "bombardment" doesn’t really describe this deck at all. It’s more of a giant puddle of muck that you push your opponent into and laugh as that player sinks deeper and deeper toward his or her demise, and it all starts with Black Garden. Actually, I think I’m getting slightly ahead of myself there. It actually all starts with getting the cards we need out of the deck. You don’t necessarily need them in your hand, and in fact, I’d much rather dump a lot of them than draw them. One of the traits shared by both Plant and Zombie decks is a certain resiliency to destruction, or at least the capability to make it not the handicap it used to be. Whereas Zombies can churn out a horde of dudes every single turn if necessary, Plants take a much slower approach to growing their army, focusing on steadily marching out new troops instead of vomiting them all over the field. A major advantage to the Plant approach is that it doesn’t really require Card of Safe Return as one card can just sit on the field pumping out an extra Plant every turn instead of having to spend all your one-shot effects on rushing the opponent. Thus, if I can toss Plants into the graveyard early I can start building a field early as well.
To aid in this endeavor, I’m employing the all-star Ryko, Lightsworn Hunter in addition to the ever popular Phoenix Wing Wind Blast! Both cards generate extremely powerful effects while letting me toss cards into the graveyard for future use. Ideally, what you want to do is construct a situation where you control Queen of Thorns and Black Garden. The basic premise is that not only will summons from the hand cost 1000 life points for your opponent, but also they’ll give you a token that lets you pay for various protective effects and leave your opponent with a monster that can barely run over the token you just created. Against Teleport Dark Armed Dragon, your opponent likely won’t have to pay very many life points since that player will be getting most of his or her cards out of the deck with Destiny Hero – Malicious or Emergency Teleport, but even if you just have Black Garden in play, you’ll still have two tokens to do with as you will. I suggest that you use one of them to activate Pollinosis and negate the summon of your opponent’s Synchro monster.
Basically, you’re playing a timing game with Black Garden. The ideal way to use it is to drop your important monsters and then throw down Black Garden to protect them. If you don’t have a hand that really supports getting out Queen of Thorns quickly, then you should just tear the single copy of Tytannial out of your deck with Lonefire Blossom and try to ride it to victory. The plan is simple. Black Garden turns every opposing monster into a weakling that your Tytannial can mop up while preventing your opponent from claiming priority with any of his or her ignition effects due to Black Garden triggering immediately upon the summon. Thus, when you go and negate a Synchro summon and your opponent tries to drop Dark Armed Dragon on you to clear away all your stuff, the opponent has to wait until you get a token and his or her Dragon goes down to 1400 ATK before that player can do anything else. If your opponent summons a Gladiator Beast monster and uses Test Tiger to swap it out for Gladiator Beast Murmillo, he or she is in for a nasty surprise because you’ll just tribute one of the tokens to negate it with Tytannial and rush the opponent’s life points with the rest.
What’s that? You say you’ll just use Gladiator Beast War Chariot to negate my monster effect? Not to worry: my deck plays an effective six copies of Solemn Judgment, and I still have a monster left to pay for Pollinosis to negate your Chariot. In fact, the only card the deck really worries about once it’s set up is Honest. Everything else can be negated at activation or spun away by Phoenix Wing Wind Blast before it resolves, even Royal Oppression and Skill Drain. With a strategy that laughs at both mainstream and anti-metagame decks all at once and reaps the benefits of a full set of Mark of the Rose, I’ll be amazed if no one tries Plants in Atlanta and beyond. Black Garden even wrecks Gorz; that’s how good it is.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to finish trading for a lot of copies of Mark of the Rose and Black Garden and reopen The School of Duel. Until next time, play hard, play fair, and most importantly, have fun!