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Vs. System

Exploring the ’05 Metagame:
“Control Freaks”
By JMatthew
August 15th, 2005

Pure control seems to have fallen into great favor amongst most control players predictably leaving Terminus control in the dust. In this article we explore control decks I have observed proving themselves most consistently through out the Invitational season. Interestingly (or perhaps, once again, predictably) Water is present in every single one of these deck types. Check them…

Water/Darkness/X(/X) Pure Control

It wasn’t to long after the release of the bronze_arm_tribefirst few Duel Masters sets that players began to realize that Water and Darkness could be a powerful combination for control. Consistently these decks run a strong base of cyberlords thanks to Emeral and Corile with the addition of Illusionary Merfolk for ungodly card advantage. Sometimes we may see Aqua Hulcus, Energy Stream and Thrash Crawler, but you may notice nearly all of the these  Water cards tend to focus on hand advantage. The Darkness portion of these decks inevitably begins with a healthy dose of Terror Pits. Sometimes you may see yet another piece of Darkness removal such as Death Smoke or Hopeless Vortex, however many players are now choosing to take up these select portions of their decks with hand destruction instead. Locomotiver is often the first choice, however additional hand destruction such as Ghost Touch and Lost Soul are far from unheard of.

A lot of new cards have come out since then and those older Water/Darkness decks have been forced to adapt. Adding another civilization or two seems to have been the answer. What civilization, though? Frankly, nearly any seem to work. Fire has shown a great deal of strength thanks to powerful removal such as Searing Wave and the newly introduced Apocalypse Vise. Creatures such as Pyrofighter Magnus, Twin Cannon Skyterror and Bazagazeal Dragon have been regular introduction of Fire and won more than there fair share of matches. Nature has been used to assist with it’s usual mana advantage thanks to creatures like Bronze-Arm Tribe, though powerful spells such as Natural Snare and Mana Nexus seemed to be far from forgotten. The true focus on Nature has come about much more recently thanks to the introduction of Cryptic Totem. Even “nerfed” this card is proving to be perhaps to strong. Light, while sometimes added to Water/Darkness appears to be the least likely to show up. When Light is used the predictable addition of Holy Awe is always a first with other varied Light cards based upon taste.

Example Winning Deck:

Steven Cantrell

Buford, Georgia Invitationals
July 30, 2005
1st Place 14 and under
Courtesy of
The Purple Deckout - Invitation Circuit GA
Total: 48 Cards

3x Emeral
4x Aqua Hulcus
4x Corile
4x Illusionary Merfolk
2x Thrash Crawler
2x Energy Stream
4x Bronze-Arm Tribe
2x Cryptic Totem
2x Faerie Life
4x Mana Nexus
3x Bloody Squito
4x Locomotiver
4x Terror Pit
2x Lost Soul
4x Holy Awe

Liquid Beast

True, Liquid Beast is actually an agro/control deck – still the control portion of the deck fits nicely into the topic…and it wins. One of the more “old school” of the control decks, Liquid Beast has been rearing it’s ugly head since shortly after “Evocrushinators of Doom” hit the stores. While the deck has seen a great many changes in that time, the core premise of the deck has remained the same. Quick and mean beat-down with early Beast Folk and Liquid People which later evolve into more powerful creatures with useful abilities just in time to counter the opponents defense.

Example Winning Deck:

Joshua C Bauer

Austin, Texas

July 16th, 2005
1st place 15 and up

Courtesy of The Austin Duel Masters Invitational - Pat’s Games


2x Fighter Duel Fang
4x Barkwhip, the Smasher
4x Bronze-Arm Tribe
4x Torcon
3x Crow Winger
3x Natural Snare
4x Mana Nexus
2x Crystal Lancer
2x Crystal Paladin
4x Aqua Guard
4x Aqua Hulcus
2x Emeral
4x Aqua Surfer
4x Terror Pit
2x Corile

The Initiation

Recently a new evolution creature known as Cbronze_arm_triberaze Valkyrie, the Drastic broke out on the scene and allowed the once passed over race of Initiates to garner a great deal more attention. Magris, Miele, and Sarius began breaking out of commons boxes in droves. Coupled with a few strong, yet cheap blockers and early creature removal becomes quick and easy. Water is added into the majority of decks so that they might be given a little bit of a boost in draw power once they have exhausted their hand. Illusionary Merfolk is definitely a good choice to go with, though some players have also taken Marinomancer into consideration so that they are not forced to have a cyberlord in play. Optionally, Mist Rias is a powerful draw mechanism and can allow you to play mono-Light – still the overall trend seems to be adding Water.

Some of these decks also choose to add Angel Commands such as Aeris or Siri so they have the ability of including Big Al aka Alcadeias, Lord of Spirits. While Big Al had fallen out of favor recently, I can personally attest to the strength of this card once it hits the board. Normally, nothing much short of a Corile can take Big Al out…and even then if the opponent is patient you will never have a chance to knock off his Angel Command evo-bait. 

Yet another option many players are taking into consideration is running Hydro Hurricane. This has proven to be a powerful card in many decks in the past and can still win games. However, Initiation decks which run Hydro Hurricane tend to run them sparingly and only to ensure the win right before the final push. This portion of the deck appears to suggest that Initiation is more of a Terminus control or even combo deck. Since the deck certainly does not rely on Hydro Hurricane I was not choose to classify it as such despite any arguments otherwise.   

Example Winning Deck:

Aaron K Pieratt

Austin, Texas

July 16th, 2005
2nd place 15 and up

Courtesy of The Austin Duel Masters Invitational - Pat’s Games


4x Magris, Vizer of Magnetism
4x Sarious
4x Miele
3x Craze Valkyrie, the Drastic
4x Holy Awe
2x Senatine Jade Tree
4x Corile
4x Emeral
4x Spiral Gate
3x Illusionary Merfolk
2x Energy Stream
2x Aqua Hulcus
1x Thrash Crawler


I will immediately admit that Mono-Water has not been winning Invitationals. Still these decks have made an impressive impact on the environment. More upsets have occurred thanks to Mono-Water than perhaps any other style of control deck. Build vary drastically – still only as drastically as the limited amount Water cards available allow. 

Example Winning Deck:


Rockville, Maryland
July 17th, 2005
3rd/4th Place
Courtesy of DM - Realms


4x Aqua Guard
4x Madrillon Fish
4x Angler Cluster
4x Emeral
4x Aqua Hulcus
4x Aqua Soldier
4x Crystal Lancer
4x Corile
4x Brain Serum
4x Spiral Gate
4x Terror Pit


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