Sunday, 16 October 2016

FAQ: Why Anti-Spell Fragrance?

Or ASF, as many would call it by its initials

First off, Anti-Spell shuts down pendulum decks, which at that time, ABC's main foe was (pun intended) Metalfoes. Metalfoes provided a very bad matchup for ABC players. The combined forces of Fullmetalfoes Alkahest and Majespecter Unicorn - Kirin, prevented Union Hangar from successfully resolving, as they will likely just target the Union monster summoned by ABC player. Without the ability to gather their Union parts from the deck, ABC players find themselves struggling to pilot the deck towards their win condition.
Anti-Spell Fragrance can grant the ABC player a very one-sided game, if the Metalfoes player do not draw into their spell/trap removal early in the game. ABC-Dragon Buster and the Rank4s could easily rush for an OTK, or massive inflicted damage that the opponent can't recover from. Dragon Buster's banish, and Rank4s like Diamond Dire Wolf also prevents access to face-down set spells. In the face of Anti-Spell Fragrance, Metalfoes player can't even use spell cards like Pot of Desires and Painful Decision. ABC players simply won't allow them to wait for a turn.
If Metalfoes open with a hand full of pendulum cards? Pretty much a 'Let's go into Game 2" scenario. They will have to struggle with normal summons after normal summons, something which Dragon Buster has no problem answering.

Furthermore, by forsaking the Rank5 engine, and giving up on Cyber Dragon Infinity, ABC players can now abuse the draw power, to the maximum extent, garnered from Pot of Desires. No worries about banishing Galaxy Soldier, no waiting til you used up Soldier to use Desires.

An immediate plus 1, it allowed the deck to start with a stronger field. Their desperation to thin out their deck, to draw into their floodgates is further supported by the fact that some players choose to also run three copies of Upstart Goblin, alongside the playset of Pot of Desires in their deck. Upstart Goblin allows the player to have the option to twinkle between a 43 deck size, or the standard 40 card deck size. If they were to venture into 43cards, the extra three copies of Upstarts serve as means to cushion the impact of Pot of Desires. Also in the second and third games, it provides the player with an option to side out the copies of Upstarts. This works well in tandem with the [Minimal Side Deck] approach, whereby players would include five playsets of cards in their side deck.

For example, the ABC side deck would consist of:
  1. D.D. Crow
  2. System Down
  3. Cosmic Cyclone
  4. Shadow-Imprisoning Mirror
  5. Swords of Concealing Light
All played at three copies each. Against PK BA and Blue-Eyes, Upstarts will be swapped for D.D. Crow. Mirror Matches (Kozmo was absent back then) will prompt them to side in System Down. Cosmic Cyclone allows the player to keep trap-heavy decks in check, Shadow-Imprisoning Mirror accounts for anything DARK-related, such as Synchro DARK and D/D/D. Swords of Concealing Light is to answer the threat of Metalfoes, HERO (Dank Law~) and Darklords.

This method and approach minimises any worries or dilemmas in side-decking process, (Should I side A in, or B?), but sacrifices a better Game 1 matchup against a certain type of deck, at the expense of having a better second game as you won't make any poor side deck decisions in a split-second decision.

Players would eventually move away from this approach, and ABC players eventually opted to move some side deck cards to the main. At the final weeks of September, players started experimenting on shifting D.D. Crow, replacing Maxx "C", to the main as well as a playset of Book of Eclipse to allow them to have a better game 1.

But I digress...

Anti-Spell Fragrance is an effective floodgate in these recent years where Pendulums remain relevant. It slows down any deck that involves the use of spells, so even if you find yourself playing against a Blue-Eyes deck, they will not be having access to their spells for their first turn. This protects your ABC-Dragon Buster from normal spell cards, for a turn. That is of course, if you as the ABC player wins the dice roll.

Furthermore, any attempts made, by your opponent, to set their spells to be used during the next turn, could be thwarted by you, should you opt to banish their set cards at the end of their turn.

The drawback of this card, is unfortunately not unnoticeable. There are risks involved - starting poorly without access to Union Hangar via Terraforming would usually result in a "set 4/5 end turn" situation for ABC players. Drawing into your Terraformings AFTER Anti-Spell resolves only adds onto your worries, as you now have to wait for two turns for you to get your Union monster via a search.

Lastly, I would like to address the decline in effectiveness of Cyber Dragon Infinity in today's OCG meta. To answer the threat of this machine lord, players started including Santa Claws in their main or side, to demolish their opponent's investment into this Rank6 monster. Lava Golem was a close substitute, killing two birds with one stone, or rather - tributing away two cards with a single monster. Kaiju has yet to arrive in OCG.
Cyber Dragon Infinity's effect can also be easily baited out, especially in mirror matches. Kirin, Archfiend Eccentrick, and the plenty of other meta techs like Book of Eclipse. ABC started out with their Rank5 engine, and players have since found out ways to counter their attempts at a lockdown.

Now with Kaijus, Cyber Dragon Infinity's effectiveness in providing the user with an effective lockdown, takes a further nosedive.

Anti-Spell Fragrance stood the test of time in being a more favourable option to include in ABC decks, to allow them a stronger opening field. Its effectiveness can't be compensated or replaced by Cyber Dragon Infinity, which is seeming more and more like a one-trick pony. Forcing the opponent to set their spells and wait for a turn, also works well with ABC's play style which can remove those set cards from the board.

Cyber Dragon Infinity is better off being benched, or in a Metalfoes deck with a Qli engine. You can still play it in ABC if you like it. Just that in competitive play, Rank4s are more versatile in answering opposing threats and propelling the player towards their win condition.

The recent drastic fall in numbers of Metalfoes opponents has prompted many ABC players to move Anti-Spell back to the side, and/or reduce it to two copies. 

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