Home > 2011/03 – Charlotte, NC, Yu-Gi-Oh! Championship Series > Tech Update: Beating Synchro Summons

Tech Update: Beating Synchro Summons

March 19th, 2011

With Dragunities, Samurai, and X-Sabers quickly rising to the top tables here this morning, the prediction seems to’ve come true: in this format, moreso than ever before, victory often hinges on a single Synchro Monster. XX-Saber Hyunlei, Legendary Six Samurai – Shi En, Stardust Dragon, and the newly-popularized Thought Ruler Archfiend have been winning Duels left right and center, and the Decks that can stop those Synchro Summons have a big advantage.  If you can negate or preempt a Synchro Summon, you can dodge massive Duel-shifting effects like those of Brionac, Dragon of the Ice Barrier and Black Rose Dragon.  Even just being able to negate those effects is often enough to stave off defeat, leaving the opponent open to a counter-attack.

Almost every knowledgeable Duelist is playing specific cards to try and beat the Synchro threat, and they generally fall into two categories: cards that are themed and unique to particular Decks, and cards that are splashable.  The Decks with theme-specific answers are doing particularly well as we see how the win/loss records are shaking out each round, so let’s take a look at some of the top choices in both categories.

Saber Hole:
With Solemn Warning now Semi-Limited to 2 per deck, and Book of Moon Limited, Saber Hole is being run by plenty of high-ranked X-Saber Duelists.  Playing a Saber Hole or 2 is almost like adding a third or a fourth Solemn Warning to your Deck, allowing the X-Saber Duelist to be more free and aggressive with how they spend their limited supply of Summon negations.  While Saber Hole can’t stop Special Summons that are the result of effects, they can still stop Normal, Flip, Special, and Synchro Summons, working wonders at keeping an opponent from establishing field presence.  Because negation can be played more frequently, it’s tougher for the opponent to play around that negation with Trap Stun: the cards just aren’t left to hang around on the field as long, which means they both out-speed and out-number the opponent’s trap negation options.

The Limitation of Book of Moon is really relevant here, because Saber Hole requires a face-up X-Saber monster to be activated.  In previous formats, triple Book of Moon made it easier for an opponent to rob the X-Saber Duelist of their face-up X-Saber, rendering Saber Hole a dead card.  That’s rarely an option now, and cards that can fill a similar role (like Smashing Ground) seem to be unpopular in today’s field: especially when compared to the former popularity of triple Book.  The ability to negate more Summons than virtually any other Deck is 1 of the factors making X-Sabers a top competitor this weekend.

Legendary Six Samurai – Enishi:
While Samurai Duelists here today experiment with Spirit of the Six Samurai in noteworthy numbers, few Duelists are playing Legendary Six Samurai – Enishi.  It’s actually a really good pick for this format, with solid ATK on its own; the potential to reach 2200 ATK with its effect; and a killer ability that can build momentum and shatter opposing Synchro Summons.  When Enishi is accompanied by another Six Samurai it can use a powerful effect once a turn: including on your opponent’s turn.  That effect lets you remove 2 Samurai from your Graveyard to bounce a face-up monster back to its controller’s hand, acting as a Spell Speed 2 version of Brionac’s effect.  If your opponent has a Synchro Monster like Stardust Dragon on the field, Enishi eliminates it without costing you any cards from your hand.  If your opponent goes for something like Hyunlei or Brionac instead, Enishi can punt the opponent’s Tuner back to their hand to preempt that Synchro Summon.  That deprives your opponent of their Synchro Monster’s effect, and creates openings that an aggressive Samurai Duelist can easily take advantage of.

Since Enishi’s ability requires the removal of 2 Six Samurai from the Graveyard, it can conflict at times with Enishi, Shien’s Chancellor and Double-Edged Sword Technique.  But a lot of the same monsters Shien’s Chancellor is played to eliminate, can be dealt with by the Legendary version of Enishi; and as long as you play your Sword Techniques aggressively, you can follow them up with Enishi for more control – without any conflict.  Enishi doesn’t seem to be nearly as popular today as some of the other cards on this list, but it’s a great option for this environment, and it could grow to be a big factor in future tournaments.  It’s definitely a card to experiment with if you play Samurai.

Icarus Attack:
The Blackwing hallmark is a unique entry on this list, because it’s the only card that can accomplish 2 goals in a single move. Icarus Attack can be played to eliminate 2 halves of a Synchro Material pairing, or it can pick off the most important Material (usually the Tuner) and a back row card, softening up the opponent’s field so that the remaining monster can be attacked to generate momentum.

And it’s not just for Blackwings anymore!  Though Icarus Attack is certainly one of the big remaining reasons to play Blackwings or Vayu Turbo variants, it’s also 1 of the big strengths of the up-and-coming Dragunity strategy.  Many Dragunity Duelists aren’t running it, working off the logic that their Winged Beasts are usually traded for Synchro Summons long before they’d be Tributed for Icarus, but it looks as if the Duelists playing Icarus Attack are being quite successful.  Even if Icarus isn’t always a live card, it’s a tremendous combo with Dragunity Legionnaire; works to keep a Dragunity Dux or  Legionnaire useful in the face of Effect Veiler; and can combo with Vortex the Whirlwind when a Dragunity Duelist wants to Synchro Summon with Legionnaire, but still keep Icarus Attack online.  It’ll be interesting to see how played Icarus is in the Dragunity Decks we see in Day 2.

Gemini Spark and Hero Blast:
We saw it in action in our Round 4 Feature Match, as Jerry Wang broke Synchro Summon after Synchro Summon with his Miracle Gemini Deck! Gemini Spark and Hero Blast unite to create a suite of extremely precise monster removal; sniping away at vulnerable Tuner monsters to leave would-be Synchro Materials stranded on the field for a followup attack!  Both cards also help the Gemini Duelist draw or retrieve more cards, building momentum and helping them stay aggressive.  Both of these cards don’t just prevent big moves and create openings: they also help the Gemini Duelist press attacks and take advantage of the openings both cards make.

Both Spark and Blast are easily Chained as well, making them a great choice for a tournament where double Mystical Space Typhoon is so popular. Gemini Spark uses 2 cards (the Spark and its Tribute) to destroy a card and draw a card, while Hero Blast requires just a single card (the Blast) to destroy a card and retrieve another.  Both are pretty good deals, but they become incredible bargains when they’re Chained to opposing removal like Typhoon.  Spark is also 1 of the few cards seeing play today that can fill this sort of disruptive role, without falling victim to Trap Stun or Seven Tools of the Bandit.

Effect Veiler:
Transitioning from the themed Synchro hate to the generic, splasahable answers that can work in most Decks, Effect Veiler sits at the top of the heap!  With an effect that’s extremely tough to negate or preempt, it’s an absolute answer to some of the most threatening Synchro Monsters in the game, as well as many stellar Effect Monsters.  While Hyunlei, Brionac, and all the rest tap to Veiler, it also shuts down Gladiator Beasts every which way; stops powerful Special Summon effects like that of Debris Dragon; and even negates Stratos’ ability.  While Veiler was previously a Side Deck card for most Duelists, it’s appearing in Main Decks en masse today, both as a 1-of and in pairs.  In a wide-open field where the relatively Veiler-proof Blackwings aren’t nearly as omni-present as they were before, it’s an extremely safe choice.

Thunder King Rai-Oh and Doomcaliber Knight:
Rounding out our list, these 2 storied beatdown monsters are being run in all sorts of Decks in this tournament.  While they were previously relegated to monster-hate strategies; Blackwings; or Side Decks, both of these cards are now appearing frequently in Gravekeepers, X-Sabers, Gladiator Beasts, and in countless other places. Doomcaliber Knight in particular seems to be gaining steam, seeing early game play backed with removal against Decks like Samurai and Dragunities.  Doomcal’s high ATK means that it can be played as a preventative measure, or in a retaliatory fashion to destroy a monster and then negate something else later.  Both Doomcaliber and Thunder King are extremely reliable, splashable, and versatile, and that’s leading to considerable play in this weekend’s mixed field.

The best Decks here today all have answers to the Synchro Summons that are defining so much of this tournaments.  No matter what kind of Deck you play, think carefully about what measures you can take to outplay these universal threats.  Dig deep, and find those answers.