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Vs. System

The Big Shift – A New World for DM?: Part Uno
By J.Matthew Markulin
October 16, 2006

Yep – it’s a been a little while since I’ve been able to toss in my two cents on into the Pojo article pool. Since that time Duel Masters has taken quite a hit. You know what I say? Forget that and play on!


As I scan through the message boards of various sites hosting Duel Masters I notice a great deal of complaints. Many of these complaints are about Petrova, Channeler of Suns, a strong and under-costed card. Some players have quickly discovered that Petrova not only bears strength in the power it grants it’s named allies, but has proved nearly unkillable in the right situation during an attack thus quickly leading to the end of games. Other complaints have been about Soulswap, a cruel shield trigger spell which many of us are finding as new a powerful use for everyday. Still, most of the dispute has revolved around Bombazar, Dragon of Destiny. No one can actually argue that Bombazar is not powerful. The dragon has proven itself again and again, including at this years NACC. Even now, months later, Bombazar proves to be a devastating card, however some metagames have begun to tame the dragon. The catch -  this change has come through a severe metagame shift!


Frankly, this has made the current metagame the most exciting I have experienced in some time. Preparing for the Bomb has forced all Duel Masters players to rethink their deck’s construction and strategy of play. The advent of new deck styles or even the revamping of previous ones is just what the metagame needed.


So, what tactics have players resorted to in order to combat the changing metagame? Many players’ initial reaction and one that has worked to for some but not by far all has been to severely increase their blocker count. True more decks have begun to feed their card advantage through the destruction of blockers thanks to cards such as Wind Axe, Savage Warrior and Scarlet Skyterror, yet still blocker heavy tactics are proving plausible so long as the player is able to maintain blockers in hand and carefully watch how many of what type he keeps fielded.


Personally I have gone the route of few others. Reorganize my defensive priorities. In the past I saw my defensive priorities in this order…


1)      Creature Removal

2)      Blockers

3)      Shield Triggers


This order was important in the former metagame that presented us with a great deal of control and players consistently fielded and successfully swung with the likes of Bolmeteus Steel Dragon and Cryptic Totem. Creature removal had to be primary over blockers as blockers merely gave the opponent something to target with their own removal. Shield Triggers where commonly last with some people not even bothering to consider them after being forced to send to many of them to the discard without triggering thanks to Bolmeteus Steel Dragon.


Considering blockers now often wind up losing you a turn as you play them and creature removal is simply not fast enough for turn four and five kills I have restructured my evaluation of this…


1)      Shield Triggers

2)      Creature Removal


Yep, you might first notice that I have not even bothered with blockers in this set up. In addition, what was once the last priority has now become the first. Fortunately, enough sets have been released that we now have a whole array of powerful shield triggers to pick from. Properly selected in the right amount and perhaps even dusting off the old Emerals can make those shields work for you.


With that in mind let’s take a look at some of the strongest shield trigger options…




Locomotiver – Since this cards release it has become more and more useful. Not only does it knock a card from the opponents hand, but it also gives you a creature to whack away at the likes of Deadly Fighter Braid Claw and so forth.


Terror Pit – You can’t get much smoother or classic than this sucker. Since the beginning of time (or at least Duel Masters) any deck running even a couple of Darkness cards has needed to run this card. In fact, players have even gone to the extent to simply splashing this card. Yep, it’s been that good and still is.




Burst Shot – While Searing Wave was introduced to us after this card, players didn’t use Burst Shot the metagame proved a need for it. Now Burst Shot has become more commonly used than the Wave and for good reason.


Comet Missile – Limited in function, yet it rarely seems to make a difference. Most blockers run by players limbo under that 6000 number giving Comet Missile plenty of targets out there. Of course, this is pretty much just an offensive card.


Magmarex – Another card that took a little while to come into it’s own. Magmarex has proved to be worth his weight even when he knocks off only a single creature as he fields a 3000 powered beastie who is ready to rumble!


Phantom Dragon’s Flame – It didn’t take long for people to identify this shield trigger as worth while. The problem for some players at first was choosing between Phantom Dragon’s Flame, it’s lower cost cousin Volcanic Hammer and higher costed brother


Ten-Ton Crunch – Newer version of Phantom Dragon’s Flame only with more of a punch!


Tornado Flame – Fits right in after Ten-Ton Crunch, however the cost is getting pretty expensive for the penalty of only being able to kill certain creatures.


Volcanic Arrows – The mana cost is more than right, however the cost in shields is rather scary for many. Still, a good card which is intended to be used more offensively than defensively. Just doesn’t cut it in  today’s creature selection, though.


To be continued…


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