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[Goat Format] Side Decking
In 2005 Goat Format, almost everyone played Goats and the side deck was mainly used against stall/burn/autowin/OTK. In recent adaptation of the format, new viable deck types emerged, particularly Chaos builds (Recruiter or Flip Effect) and Zoo (Warrior/Beast aggro). Other deck types you may see in the format include Zombies, Monarchs, Gravekeepers, Dimension Fusion OTK, Machine Chaos, Strike Ninja and Reasoning-Gate. While you should have some answers to these decks in your side deck, you want to keep Chaos, Goats and Zoo/Aggro in mind first.
I’ve found that having a well-rounded side deck of “general” cards is better than using a lot of niche cards. The key to side decking is removing the least effective cards from your deck within a given matchup and replacing them with viable cards. Your biggest risk against matchups is having dead cards which simply do not work well against the deck type; as a result, you need to have a versatile enough side deck to be able to side out 8 cards if needed. The problem with side decking very specific cards like Kinetic Soldier, Des Wombat or Royal Command is that most of your side deck cards won’t be viable against most matchups. Relying on a few potent cards is a problem if you don’t draw them (or draw them too late). Also, most cards in Goat format is balanced; and there’s not really one card that can dominate them all (within any given matchup), so you may as well go for versatility.
Below, I’m going to list cards which, through my personal testing and observation, are great side deck options.
1. Dust Tornado – It hurts Gravekeepers. It interacts with Burn/Stall/Autowin. It’s more useful against Zoo than most of your cards (taking out their trap cards before they use them). In general, it’s a good card to side when you believe your opponent will be siding in deadly Spell/Trap cards against you. There are plenty of niche rogue Spell/Trap out there and Dust Tornado handles a lot of them. Additionally, it’s not particularly bad against any matchup so you can side it in whenever you need a spare card to side in. There are other cards which handle trap cards (Jinzo, Mobius, Decree, etc.) but those cards have downsides which make them unreliable for many players. Dust Tornado is the most versatile side deck card overall, and it’s something you want to have 3 of in your main and side deck combined before even considering any other spell/trap removal choices.
2. Sakuretsu Armor – If you’re finding monsters like Airknight Parshath, Mystic Swordsman Lv2, Spirit Reaper and so on to be a problem, this is your answer. Against most decks, it’s not a bad card. And it’s really good against decks with overwhelming monsters like Gravekeepers, Reasoning-Gate, and especially Zoo. Zoo decks are the reason that you want to have 3 Sakuretsu Armor in your main and side deck combined.
3. Exiled Force – Extremely versatile and good against any matchup. It adds a reliable target to Call of the Haunted and Premature Burial. It handles set monsters, Thousand-Eyes Restrict, Chaos Sorcerer, Pyramid Turtle and even niche boss monsters like Horus LV8. I thought the lack of field presence would be possible, but Sakuretsu Armor and Scapegoat provide good defense while many players simply prefer to set their Flip Effects (or conserve their resources) when I have an empty field anyway.
4. Mystic Swordsman LV2 – This is such a good card, and would be in all of my main decks if it weren’t for the more offense-oriented decks (like Zoo) in the format. Mainly, it stops Magician of Faith from recycling power spells. It can be protected with Sakuretsu Armors and it additionally limits the opponent’s plays. Often, if they only have defensive monsters, they choose not to set a monster. It gets under most stall decks, it’s helpful against auto-win builds (or any OTK-ish deck which needs cards like Cyber Jar).
5. Trap Dustshoot – Against decks which conserve cards in their hand, this card can stop potential threats before they hit the field. Against Chaos decks which use Thunder Dragons to inflate their hand size, this is the best way to stop Chaos monsters (or starve them of their LIGHT’s/DARK’s. Against OTK decks, you can disrupt a key element of their strategy and add further pressure. In general, if you lose the first duel, you may want to side in a playset of Dustshoots (during game 2) to immediately get to their hand before they activate cards.
6. Mind Control – Yes, it’s at 3 in this format. The main use of this card is to use the opponent’s Flip Effects for yourself, which is an overall +1. But make sure your opponent doesn’t use defensive monsters which lack a Flip Effect. It’s viable to side in 1 against standard Goats (with Magical Merchant and Magician of Faith). But it’s mainly excellent against Flip Effect Chaos; apart from being reliable against their Flip Effects, it’s also a way to get Chaos Sorcerer to banish itself. With Exarion gone, Mind Control is better in Goats than ever.
7. Bottomless Trap Hole – Despite being mediocre against Goat and Chaos matchups, it’s worth siding a copy against other matchups. I would side no more than 2 (and even 2 may be pushing it) because it’s not a card you want to draw after the opponent already summoned their monster. However, it does have utility against Zoo, Zombies, Gravekeepers, Reasoning-Gate or any deck with several large monsters.
8. Blade Knight – As a LIGHT for BLS Envoy, it’s good way of enabling the player to side out a LIGHT (or two) if needed without having their LIGHT count too low. It handles Flip Effects, so it’s good against Goat and Chaos decks which use several of them. Remember that it only negates monsters that it destroys (so no Gravekeeper’s Spy).
9. Asura Priest – As with Blade Knight, it’s another LIGHT for BLS Envoy. Oftentimes I only main 1 Asura (in case I’m not facing a Goat deck) and then I side the second one in if I am. However, it’s not a bad card against Chaos builds because they can’t be banished by Chaos Sorcerer (and they get over most of their other monsters).
10. D.D. Assailant – Not good against Goat or Chaos because it doesn’t punish many of their monsters. However, like Bottomless Trap Hole, this card, apart from being a reliable beater in itself, can help you maintain field advantage. It also fills your banished pile against Dimension Fusion OTK.
11. Scapegoat – Splashing in a Scapegoat in the side deck can help if you’re having trouble against aggressive decks or OTK’s (especially ones which lack in piercing damage).
12. Reinforcement of the Army – Several of the cards I mentioned on this list are Warriors (Exiled, Blade Knight, MSLV2, DDWL, DDA), and ROTA is a good opportunity to maximize their full potential (if you are siding a few of them), as well as assure that you have a chance drawing into them during your match.
13. Creature Swap – If you have the Goat tokens, recruiters and/or Spirit monsters to bargain with, and you’re not maining it, it can be an excellent card. While not reliable against Goat builds (which will often use Scapegoat and just give you a token), it can gain you a Chaos Sorcerer or a Flip Effect against a Flip Effect Chaos build. It’s also potentially good against Zoo in reducing their field dominance. Gravekeeper, Reasoning-Gate, Zombie and other decks which use strong monsters can also be countered by Creature Swap. Even against alt-win decks, denying them the monster they need is more than half of the cards in your deck can do against that matchup.
14. Book of Moon – When you just need a card to side in, you can’t go wrong with the versatility Book of Moon (especially if you are using Flip Effects, trying to counter Thousand-Eyes Restrict or protecting your beat-sticks.
15. Dekoichi the Battlechanted Locomotive – Another card you can rarely go wrong with. It’s a DARK for Chaos. Draw power and good stats are never bad. Worth siding in against any deck which doesn’t carry a lot of strong monsters to get over it.
Although many will swear by running cards in 2’s and 3’s for extra consistency, my personal experience has led me to the opposite conclusion. This is subjective (and based on personal preference), but the risk of drawing 2 of the same card can be problematic. I also want to have as wide of a swiss army knife as possible so that my playstyle isn’t predictable or boxed in a corner.
In later articles, I will cover more side deck choices (both good and bad), as well as describe matchups.
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