JK3: Observations after my Return
I don't want to sound like a whiny
voice that pleads for change, promises calamity, and
pleads for the impossible.
The game is thriving. The most recent
Shonen Jump Championship had a thousand
participants, booster sales and the secondary market
have surged incredibly from their pathetic Rise of
Destiny, The Lost Millenium etc. lows, and the
publishers of Yu-Gi-Oh! product clearly have huge
momentum on their side.
The following words on this column
may alarm some of you, but it must be said
Crushing Disappointment with the
One of the first things I did upon
returning to the game and reading most of the match
profiles at SJC Costa Mesa was build a Dark Armed
Dragon deck with pieces of tech versus the mirror
and practice it nonstop. I did not do this in real
life, but used a program called Yu-Gi-Oh Virtual
Desktop. I had numerous duels with very good players
(they did not know it was me), and actually learned
the mechanics of how the deck worked.
I'm not sure what general opinions
are, but I'm here to at least offer my take that the
Lazaro Bellido build is almost perfect. All of the
cards pack incredible synergy with one another, and
even the one-of choices such as Dust Tornado and
Raigeki Break are incredibly well thought out.
Versatile cards in the hands of great players
multiply their utility tenfold, as evidenced by
incredible plays such as chaining Enemy Controller,
tributing his own Dark Magician of Chaos, in a chain
to Dimension Fusion, or chaining Strike Ninja's
effect to Dimension Fusion.
Now I made a few adjustments (no real
need to go into them at this moment right before SJC
Columbus). A few cards to match my playstyle, and a
few cards that were too great to ignore. The deck is
very solid. I feel I have a good fundamental
understanding of how Dark Armed Dragon works.
After learning it, I custom-built a
deck to counter it. The deck packed numerous pieces
of tech, capitalized on a huge weakness of the
metagame, and used different pieces of overlapping
synergy to really "in theory" destroy the popular
Dark Armed Dragon builds that popped up. I tested it
online with two great players, Chris SoRelle and
Brian Bodkin, and really tuned it to perfection. I
believe it went 22-4 against some of the best
The deck was built from the
ground-up to counter Dark Armed Dragon. Reliances on
the Dragon itself, reliances on 1400 attack monsters
such as Armageddon Knight, and a huge reliance on
traps were all accounted for in my build. Power
cards such as Crush Card Virus, Royal Decree, and
others were all included.
Armed with this deck, I took it to
playtest with disgraced and exposed Overdose
superstar Emon (who now runs his own business and is
doing very well for himself playing in seedy back
alley Youtube matches with rising stars on the
circuit), Adam Corn, and Hugo Adame.
Losing to Dark Armed Dragon
I expected many of the decks
principle mechanics to work out and salvage a few
games. However, the build was too fast and destroyed
me. Even after running multiple copies of D.D Crow
(as in three in the main-deck) and a heap of
monsters that sped the game up, certain plays would
smash me repeatedly.
In my sets with Hugo and Adam (who
are both some of the best duelists in North America,
if not the world), I was faced with opening hands
that were impossible to climb back from. Destiny
Draws or Armageddon Knight would pitch Disc
Commander or Dark Magician of Chaos, who would then
hit the field, only to hit the field again. By the
time I removed a Dark from the graveyard to leave
two, another Destiny Draw or Snipe Hunter would
pitch another and then Dark Armed Dragon would hit
Conceptually, a lot of the design
elements that hurt Dark Armed Dragon, which may lead
to bad hands, are actually worked around by most
duelists through a clever, innovative concept that
we call STACKING THE DECK (read: cheating). If you
want any chance whatsoever against the big name
duelists, and even the mid-tier ones, I would
suggest eight pile shuffling repeatedly (my next
article will discuss the issue of cheating).
After getting my hopes and dreams of
DaD-worthy counters getting crushed by this new
regime, I wanted to analyze the mechanics of
advantage that underscore why the deck type is so
broken. Somewhere out there, I hope somebody is
I also have read numerous threads in
the message boards where people claim either the
deck-type, or the monster itself, are not broken. I
find this ridiculous. Even names such as Jason
Grabher-Meyer and Jerome Mchale (who admittedly,
have vested interest in promoting game diversity and
enthusiasm), claim Dark Armed Dragon itself isn't
broken. Oh really? Let's discuss.
Before I start, I would like to state
that the point of this article isn't to cry about
Dark Armed Dragon dominating the metagame. Each
format has a deck that dominates, and I have no
problems with that. Heck, I can just play DaD myself
at every Shonen Jump in the future. The problem,
actually, can be described in another way.
Here is the problem:
I think I am one of the best
deckbuilders in the game. You can argue with my
playstyle, reads, and general in-game ability all
you want, but there is a sterling record of my
written works that discuss deck-building, synergy,
and tech that pretty much show I know what I'm
doing. I put my head together with some of the best
duelists in the nation to think up a pure counter to
Dark Armed Dragon (this is a theoretical counter).
It got smashed.
My journal is an anomaly.
If the top Yu-Gi-Oh players can't
devise strategies to smash Dark Armed Dragon
consistently, what hope does the average kid going
to a local tournament or regionals have? With the
prohibitive cost of Yu-Gi-Oh product, I think this
is just asking of trouble.
My next article will go into detail
about the strengths and weaknesses of Dark Armed
Dragon, and why countering those weaknesses is a lot
more difficult than I imagined. I suspect it will
have something to do with the deck dropping multiple
2800 floaters in a turn, while cycling through a
quarter of the deck on a typical turn with all of
its splashable drawing options.
Jae Kim is a creative contributor
to Pojo.com. You may contact him (every e-mail will
be answered) at JAELOVE@gmail.com. He can also be
found contributing to the Message Boards and the
Card of the Day.