We’re two thirds of the way through the day, and some dominant pieces of tech have emerged. Four cards are seeing a ton of play, and some of them are pretty surprising. Let’s start with the obvious, and work our way to the more unexpected.
Injection Fairy Lily: Lily’s been on the comeback trail since late in the last format, when duelists started to use her as a tech answer against, and alternative to, Cyber-Stein. Not running Stein yourself? Then you, too, can afford the life points to pay for your own little syringe-happy stab-sprite!
A single direct shot with Lily can knock a Stein player down to 4600 life points, enough to turn Stein into a dead draw for the remainder of the duel without some outside intervention. Even if she swings into something like Mystic Tomato, she’ll still do enough damage to alienate potential Stein plays if the opponent activated Confiscation or took 1000 damage elsewhere. She attacks over Monarchs, Cyber Dragon, Dark Magician of Chaos, Ultimate Tyranno, and just about any other big tribute monster that’s seeing play here today. She’s especially good in this metagame because Lily is at her best when she can attack freely. In order to do that you need two things: life points to pay for her effect, and something to back her up so she doesn’t succumb to successive attacks on the following turn. With so many duelists running Sakuretsu Armor and Widespread Ruin, most decks here are even better equipped to support Lily than those found in other regions of the country.
On a more global metagame level, Lily is a spectacular fit. Most metagames are playing incredibly fast right now, with monster exchanges taking place on a turn by turn basis and more monsters being summoned than set. Face-up attack position targets are exactly what you want to use Lily to attack; her pump is a waste if you’re just pouring her extra ATK into a defense position monster you can’t pierce. It’s a great time to use her, either as a splash into an aggressive beatdown deck, or as a core component of a Ratbox deck.
Gravekeeper’s Spy: Gravekeeper’s Spy always sees play at the beginning of a new format. Players are often wary of surprising new strategies, and strong defensive monsters that can generate instant ATK power at no cost are tempting. A pair of Gravekeeper’s Spy is an auto-in for many duelists when they simply have no idea of what else to play. They also tend to accompany the format-opening crush of Monarchs pretty well. Viva tribute bait.
However, Spy might be more than just an early-format card this time around. Not only are they great tribute support in Dasher and Monarch decks, and free attackers in an era when attacking is everything, but they also stop Hydrogeddon. While Hydro isn’t seeing as much use here as it did in Boston, it’s certainly not going to slow down nationwide simply because it isn’t quite as popular in the Texan metagame. Hydrogeddon is one of the cards defining the current pace of play in many areas, and the field presence it can provide often means that overwhelming forces can be amassed as early as turn 1. The Spy’s ability to shut down a Hydrogeddon’s attack, and then leave it vulnerable to counterattack or even just removal on the following turn, can be invaluable. It turns what could otherwise be a mounting threat into a liability for the opponent, provided you can follow up with a decent attack. You even get an extra Spy in the process! Sometimes the best defense isn’t a good offense; it’s actually just a good defense, and Gravekeeper’s Spy offers that like no other card can.
“Oh I’m sorry. You wanted some field advantage? I think I’ll take some field advantage instead.” That’s what Spy says to Hydrogeddon. Then Hydrogeddon cries. That’s what Water monsters do.
Drillroid: Drillroid is seeing play, both as part of dedicated Machine builds where it can act as a sort of unsearchable toolbox component, and in normal aggressive beatdowns. In the latter, it can take down potential problems like Spirit Reaper, the aforementioned Gravekeeper’s Spy, and Sand Moth on its own. In conjunction with Book of Moon and Enemy Controller, it can take down virtually anything, and a lot of duelists are running it with a pair of Controller to get the highest payoff from its effect.
Lots of competitors are using it in order to run one Overload Fusion as a late-game KO card. In a deck with three Cyber Dragon, three Dekoichi the Battlechanted Locomotive, Jinzo, and two Drillroid, the prospect of Fusing five fallen Machines for a 2000 ATK Chimeratech Overdragon in the late game is quite viable. Chimeratech is undergoing a transition in public opinion right now, moving from being viewed as a primary OTK to base a deck around, to a late game finisher along the lines of Return from the Different Dimension. As the latter, it’s a daunting threat, and Drillroid is the perfect way to make that happen in a deck that isn’t necessarily dedicated to Machines.
Widespread Ruin: The most surprising card I’ve seen played all over the place today is Widespread Ruin. A lot of duelists are maxing out on Sakuretsu Armor, and, instead of Bottomless Trap Hole, they’re turning to this classic trap for its higher utility. Then again, some are running all three, maxing out on Sakuretsu and then running a mix of Widespread and Bottomless.
While Widespread Ruin has the disadvantage of being less precise than Sakuretsu Armor, that’s only really an issue if you’re facing Mystic Swordsman LV2 or Spirit Reaper. With the recent limitation on the latter, and with Swordsman seeing relatively infrequent play, Widespread is an easier sell. Book of Moon and Enemy Controller haven’t gone down in popularity and, while both can be used to stymie Sakuretsu Armor and its targeted effect, Widespread will just nail another monster if one’s available. The same goes for Deck Devastation Virus, Spiritual Earth Art — Kurogane, Beast Soul Swap and other cards like them. Widespread is simply more difficult to play around.
Injection Fairy Lily has definitely reached the level of enduring tech, and there’s really no reason why Gravekeeper’s Spy should see any sort of decline in play. In fact, as Hydrogeddon gains popularity, Spy probably will as well. I don’t think Drillroid will see as much play elsewhere as it has here; it’s almost strange, how many copies of it I’ve seen today. Still, it’s certainly useful in this format and, if late game Chimeratech catches on, it will be an important part of that engine. Three of the four tech trends here seem likely to influence play in other parts of North America, while the fourth is anybody’s guess.