Friday, 8 July 2016

Learn your ABCs: Part 1

With the rising popularity of ABCs since its victory in the Asia Championship 2016 (link to Event Coverage), and the announcement of Kaiba & Yugi's Structure Deck debuting in the TCG, it seems that both OCG and TCG players are currently scouting out cards to play in the deck, or against it.

This week, Dueling Cancer seeks to introduce the cards that should be considered for playing the ABC deck, or against it.

1) Staples

a) A is of Avidity

Pot of Avidity, as mentioned before in its own solo Card Discussion article, fits nicely into the deck built on banishing its cards. While it has yet to be released and hence, not being able to effectively test-play it in the competitive scenes, on theory, it looks effective as an anti-side at the very least.

Its existence reduces the effectiveness Ghost Reaper & Winter Cherries, which is a popular side deck choice in the OCG when players are faced against a Mirror-Match, as Avidity is capable of retrieving those banished copies of ABC-Dragon Buster, a feat previously achievable if not for the combined efforts of Burial from a Different Dimension and Pot of Avarice. The latter isn't even played in most competitive ABC builds.

b) B is for Burial

Burial from a Different Dimension allows ABC players to not only perform another summon of ABC- Dragon Buster but also retrieve copies of their ABC parts that may have been removed by the opponent's Ally of Justice - Cycle Reader and/or D.D. Crow.

Both of which has emerged as popular side deck choice for this current meta. Cycle Reader keeps other meta decks such as Blue-Eyes and Phantom Abyss (or as TCG calls it PK Fire) in check, and D.D Crow is the preferred choice for D/D/D players, being a searchable by Where Arf Thou?

c) C is for Cupidity

Deck builds which abuses Pot of Cupidity has emerged in the OCG scene, which is no surprise seeing that it has became the next staple and splash-able card since the introduction of Twin Twisters. Cupidity on its own, is a +1, at the cost of banishing 10 cards in the deck, which may not be much, but the deck thinning and the extra draw is arguably important and worth the while, given that ABC is a combo-orientated, in the sense that it only requires a few cards to make an impressing first turn field.
(First turn plays will be elaborated more on the third part of this article series!)

While I may not be a fan of it, players argue that the deck functions on searching out its key components anyway. Hence, as long as at least one copy of A-Assault Core, B-Buster Drake or C-Crush Wyvern, they can proceed onto building their complete field.

It is worth noting that players would probably have to play 3 copies of A, B and C to optimise their deck for Cupidity, in order to not risk banishing all copies of them. This, in turn, would leave the player with two** less card space to include in their deck. Along with the copies of Cupidity that players include (assuming three copies), that is a five/six-card slot sacrificed to include the pseudo-Pot-of-Greed engine.

(**Note: I mentioned two to three as players usually play three copies of B, despite only including two copies of A & C. This is because B's searching ability is the most-used among the three and B is usually used to be equipped for the starting plays.)

d) D is for Deck Thinning and Deck Searchers 

The field spell, Union Hanger is key to a good first turn field.
(Once again, stay tuned for Part 3 of the article for the combos and plays. Patience is a virtue.)

Terraforming, the obvious choice for searching out your key combo piece, along with Upstarts Goblin and/or Chicken Game are alternatives to the risky Pot of Cupidity.

Chicken Game may not be so relevant to our TCG folks since it is in the FORBIDDEN realm alongside Stratos, but apart from the draw-one, its potential lies in the fact that it can be easily removed from the field (and hence won't get in the way of OTK plays) and at the same time, search out Union Hanger, all thanks to Ancient Fairy Dragon.

Fairy Dragon is also the reason why players would opt for the Synchro-ABC build - to search out the deck's field spell easier and faster. (More Below!)

e) E is for Everything Else

In terms of Spell/Trap removal for the deck, Twin Twister emerges as the optimal choice as ABC players would benefit from the discard cost to get their parts into the graveyard faster. Being capable of destroying two S/T also puts it apart from other options such as the traditional Mystical Space Typhoon and the latest Cosmic Cyclone. The latter is even less preferred since ABC is likely to face the threats of Imperial Iron Wall -ish cards, and unless chained to those floodgates, Cosmic would not be capable of removing the backrows.

Transmodify , alongside Galaxy Soldier are the culprits responsible for summoning Cyber Dragon Infinity in this deck. The discard cost of Soldier also serves as means to gather the ABC parts in grave.

Gold Gadget & Silver Gadget are also popular choices which suddenly rose in popularity (and price) with the introduction of ABCs. Being the same ATTRIBUTE & Type as the ABC monsters, they are suitable targets for Transmodify and also the summon of Bujintei Tsukiyomi.

2) Deck Builds

2.1) Synchro-ABC Build

As mentioned above, the synchro build seeks to abuse the effect of Ancient Fairy Dragon and at the same time, exploit Chicken Game's potential in the deck. Starting with a hand consisting of Chicken Game, players would proceed to draw a card via the field spell's effect, perform a synchro summon , destroy Chicken Game (since it won't serve much purpose for the rest of the turn even if you keep it on the field) and replace it with Union Hanger.

There are a couple of ways to speed up the summoning of this Signer Dragon:

Galaxy Soldier can search out the Normal Level 2 tuner, Galaxy Serpent. One copy should be more than enough, since it is searchable by Soldier's effect. But feel free to add in a copy of Unexpected Dai if you prefer. The idea is the summon Soldier, then search out Serpent, and normal summon it to perform a 5+2 synchro summon.

There is an additional advantage of including Ancient Fairy in the deck - you can search out your second copy of Union Hanger when your second turn comes.
While you can only activate it once per turn, assuming your first copy lives to see another turn, you can trigger its union-equip effect, then pop it with Ancient Fairy's effect, get the second copy, then activate the second -blah blah blah- and here is the important part.

"You can use the second copy's equip-union effect again".
 Because there is no "once-per-turn" clause to it.
The card only mentions that ''You can only activate 1 "Union Hangar" per turn.''

The downside to Galaxy Serpent's inclusion is the sacrifice of performing a Normal Summon on it. This is where player's preferences diverge and some goes down the path of finding Chicken Little - Cockadoodledoo.

Cockadoodledoo is an underrated which many players do not believe it to be good. It saw a little play in Dracopal days as a quick mean to special summon out a Level 4 from hand (as ChickenLittle-san will tune to summon Ancient Fairy Dragon) and then Fairy Dragon will probably be used to summon Elder Entity N'tss alongside a fellow xyz monster.
But I digress... that is all in the past.

Cockadoodledoo provides a free summon to the player. Not starting the chain is a nice thing to note, since your opponent won't be able to benefit from the special summon via Maxx' C 's effect. Being a tuner at Level 3 (assuming you go first in the game) is its best feature, as it can interact with the Level 4 monsters in your deck to summon out Ancient Fairy Dragon
Although seldom used in the later stages of the game, as a Level 4, it can be used to xyz summon or a synchro summon for a Level 8

Players also include Black Rose Moonlight Dragon as a secondary option for a synchro summon, with it being capable of interfering with Blue-Eyes decks.

2.2) Cyber Dragon Engine.

The array of LIGHT Machine-Type monsters in the ABC deck and the archetype itself means that these cards can benefit from the searching effect of Cyber Repair Plant. Including a Cyber Dragon engine with a monster lineup of Cyber Dragon - Core and Cyber Dragon would also allow the player to have a better first game match-up in a Mirror-Match.

Perhaps most importantly, and the best selling point of a Cyber Dragon Engine, is the advantage of allowing the user a better second turn, even if the opponent manages to set up a lockdown with ABC Dragon-Buster and Cyber Dragon Infinity. Players can even extend into an OTK after clearing the threats by summoning out Chimeratech Fortress Dragon. You would also have successfully baited out Dragon-Buster's removal effect upon the special summon of Cyber Dragon, leaving you one less thing to worry about. Let you open with two Cyber Dragons in your hand, and in the absence of your opponent's backrow threats, you can clear your opponent's ABC Dragon-Buster and Cyber Dragon Infinity.

The ability to have a good second-turn game is a strong advantage. ABC players are usually expected to go first, and build their field. Surprise your opponent by opting to go second (if you have lost your first game), and you would probably catch their off-guard after they have sided in their 'go-second' side deck cards. The effectiveness of this trick is further amplified in a Mirror-Match, due to the nature of an ABC deck - the opening hand is important. Opening with their sided-in hand-traps instead of the combo pieces or deck searchers/thinning (such as Terraforming and/or Chicken Game) would almost guarantee the player to not have a good opening field, making them more vulnerable to an OTK by you during the second turn of the game.

Chimeratech Rampage Dragon deserves a paragraph on its own for its ability to not only dump the needed parts into the graveyard to get ABC-Dragon Buster out, but also clear threats from the opposing board. Finally, it contributes to OTK plays with its ability to attack up to three times. Alongside Dragon Buster, it should be capable in dealing sufficient damage to secure the player a win.

2.3) Xyz Build

Xyz-oriented builds of the ABC deck focuses on extending plays with the xyz monsters. Popular choices include Bujintei Tsukiyomi to drop their hand to gather the ABC parts in the graveyard. Evilswarm Exciton Knight can be seen at two copies in some builds due to its ability to clear the board. (Sorry TCG)
In my humble opinion, this deck benefits the most from xyz monsters that detaches two materials, seeing how you would prefer your ABC parts in the graveyard. Diamond Dire Wolf (which usually targets itself) and Castel the Skyblaster Musketeer are popular versatile choices to turn to. It is also worth noting that Dire Wolf can target Castel & Tsukiyomi for its effect.

Xyz builds also fully exploits the effects of Gold & Silver Gadgets to swarm the field.

2.4) Brilliant Fusion

For "scums of fusion"
Or people of Academia. 
Brilliant Fusion's inclusion is an interesting idea, where the player opts to play Galaxy Serpent but NOT play Galaxy Soldier. Brilliant Fusion will dump Serpent and Gem-Knight Lazuli to grave, allowing you to add Serpent to your hand via Lazuli's effect. Then, with the additional normal summon provided, summon Serpent, and tune it with Gem-Knight Seraphinite to call (yes once again) Ancient Fairy.

This is exceptionally useful since it allows you to not only search out your Union Hanger, but also

But sadly, like many other decks which opt to run the Brilliant Fusion engine, it is gravely inconsistent, as drawing into your copies of Lazuli will cripple the deck's engine. Drawing into Serpent will also kill you the same way, as you won't be able to get a +1 over Lazuli's effect. And in ABC, where resources are scarce, you can't afford to not get a +1.

Yugioh Intro to Expert Players posted a decklist recently so feel free to view it.(link)

2.5) Karakuri 

Dsummon already has a video uploaded before ABC was even released. His explanation is detailed enough so I will just leave the link here and thank him for saving my time in explaining this part of the article. xD

2.6) Symphonic 

Symphonic Warriors Miccs and Symphonic Warrior Guitaars
are used in the Symphonic Warriors engine to swarm the field. Miccs is used to provide a second normal summon and at the same time, fulfill half the conditions needed to summon Cyber Dragon Nova.

Symphonic Warrior Piaano can be used for a Synchro Summon with the Level 4 monsters, should players choose to squeeze in space for Ancient Fairy Dragon. Symphonic Warrior Basses, which can tweak its level, also allows a larger variety for synchro summon plays.

3) Techs

Honest and Limiter Removal are both options worth considering for OTK potentials and also to allow your monsters to run over monster threats more easily. However, currently, there are more versatile threat-removal options to consider, with Swords of Concealing Light being the most popular.

Red Resonator is also a neat addition, opening doors to more synchro monster options. It also provides access to Level 6 synchro monsters, one of which is the staple Coral Dragon, which is capable of clearing threats on the board. We will discuss more of this in the upcoming articles of the series. Addition of the Resonator engine also allows the player to play Synkron Resonator which is vital is extending plays with Ancient Fairy Dragon even after the Signer Dragon's usage has expired - By doing a 7+1 into Crystal Wing Synchro Dragon.

Instant Fusion can provide the user with an extra material to be used for synchro or xyz summon. In TCG, the most obvious target goes to Elder Entity Norden which can extend to a one-card xyz with its effect. This can allow players to clear the threats on the board at the cost of 1000LP. The extra deck space is also not very tight in a standard ABC deck, with only its boss monster and Cyber Dragon xyz monsters being the key components, allowing players to include more of the R4NK toolbox monsters.

Like many non-pendulum decks, ABC can also main-deck three copies of Anti-Spell Fragrance.


On an ending note, this list is only a suggestion by our team and is by no means perfect.
If you feel that some cards are worth mentioning, but did not make it to the list, feel free to share your criticism/feedback with us either in the comment sections below or on our Facebook page.

Many parts of this article pushes towards the exploit of Ancient Fairy Dragon and its interaction with Chicken Game, which is probably irrelevant to TCG folks since Chicken Game is non-existent. Sorry for that. We will try to find more engines to fit into the TCG landscape, so allow us time to brainstorm and also let us know if you have suggestions.
Planet Pathfinder is a worthy mention, although it is probably not worth your normal summon.
Synchro summoning should also be prioritized, if not considered, as it would trigger the ABC monster effects, as it is "sent from the field to the graveyard." And in synchro-orientated builds, triggering C's effect should be the priority, to ensure a constant field advantage needed for the synchro summons.

On the next article, for Part 2, we shall focus on the cards that counter the deck instead. Stay tuned.
Brought to you by Ken Sir

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