Hey guys! This week, I’m going to be looking at some of the data from ARG Raleigh, so that we can figure out the most common builds of the top decks. This will be a three-part article, where I will look at the Qliphorts, Burning Abyss and Shaddolls in their own separate articles. And since I’ve been spending a lot of time talking about Qliphorts, let’s focus on their impact on the meta first! There were 7 Qliphort decks that made the Top 16 at ARG Raleigh this past weekend, and while they all played similar cards, I’d like to highlight some specific card choices that certain players made that others didn’t, etc.
For the rest of my article, I’m going to be basing my information off of this spreadsheet. Basically, it’s a compilation of every card in every Qliphort player’s mainboard, sorted alphabetically so that all the same cards are grouped together. Just click the link, it’ll make more sense to you.
First let’s talk about choices for the main engine. Obviously, everybody played three copies of the Qliphort Scout, since the card is just way too good to not play three copies of. I think that Qliphort Scout is the most essential card in the deck, meaning that you either play three or you’re not playing Qliphorts. When the deck inevitably gets hit, I don’t think Scout will be the card that gets touched because it’s so important to the deck, but that’s a whole lot of speculation. Similarly, almost everyone played the three copies of Saqlifice and Summoner’s Art. Based on the data, if you’re playing Qliphorts, you need to be playing three of these three cards.
Anyways, onto the other parts of the engine. While most people this weekend opted for three copies of Qliphort Carrier, two players mainboarded two copies. This seems like a preference thing, since this card doesn’t play too major of a factor in terms of the main skeleton. It’s probable that these players saw this card too often in their testing and wanted to cut it down, or wanted to make room for better cards. Don’t get me wrong, bouncing your opponent’s monsters (or your own!) to the hand is awesome, but it’s not necessarily the deck’s win condition. Similarly, two players decided to play two copies of Qliphort Disk and Qliphort Helix, although the rest of the Qliphorts that topped played three copies. I could argue that all of these may be preferential choices, since we haven’t had the cards long enough to decide what the optimum build is. However, based on this data, it seems that most Qliphort builds just opt to play three copies of all of their good cards.
It looks like both of the “extra” Pendulum monsters in the Qliphort deck are staple, since all seven decks played several copies of both Odd-Eyes Pendulum Dragon and Performapal Trampolynx. However, it seems that the Qliphort players weren’t all decided on exactly how many of each of these cards to play. While most Qliphort players were playing either 2 or 3 Pendulum Dragons, Courtney Waller decided to play a single copy, which I thought was a bold decision. But hey, they ended up topping, so who am I to talk? Waller’s build taught us that we don’t necessarily need to play three copies of Pendulum Dragon, although 2 or 3 copies seems to be the standard. Similarly, everyone was playing either two or three copies of Performapal Trampolynx, which is to be expected, since the card is nowhere near important enough to play 3 copies.
In terms of minor engine cards, only two players that topped were playing Laser Qlip. While this is definitely a sick field spell, it really doesn’t seem like you’re currently going to need the extra normal summon. The deck is just way too fast. But maybe once the deck slows down, we might do the whole Terraforming / Laser Qlip thing? Who knows, we’re still playing with those quick Qliphorts!
Next, four of the seven Qliphort players played Qlimate Change; three duelists played 1, one duelist played 2. It’s interesting that the Qliphort players seemed divided on this card. I mean, it’s a +2 on it’s own, and it has infinite potential to let you plus even harder. I think this card is sick, so I’m definitely surprised that more people weren’t playing the 1 copy. But eh, I also think this deck is pretty tight on space, so it’s certainly possible that there are just better choices.
Only two of the decks that topped were playing the 1 copy of Qliphort Shell. I don’t really know if this was interesting or not, honestly. I mean, at its core this card is nothing more than a 2800 double-tapper that can trample. Which is awesome, don’t get me wrong, but that’s all the card really does. One of the players that mained the copy of Shell also mainboarded a copy of Limiter Removal, which is probably the most interesting reason play the Qliphort Shell. I’ve heard that a 5600atk monster that can double-tap and trample is pretty strong, but what do I know? I’m not going to expand on this, but I think that if you’re going to experiment with Shell, you should definitely play Limiter Removal.
Let’s talk Jeffrey Torres and Matthew Nistico that mainboarded two copies of Madolche Nights. Are they crazy? Well, maybe. For those unfamiliar, Madolche Nights is a countertrap that says: “When a monster effect is activated, if you have no monsters in your Graveyard: Negate the activation, then if you control “Madolche Puddingcess”, shuffle 1 random card from your opponent’s hand into the Deck.” So how is this relevant to the Qliphorts? Well, you’re not going to be shuffling cards from your opponent’s hand into the deck, so why are you playing a countertrap that can just negates monster effects? Well, because we’re dealing with tons of different monster effects this format! I mean, it’s an odd card choice, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t an interesting tech! I wonder if Madolche Nights will actually impact the meta, or whether or not this was a one-time thing?
Now let’s talk about interesting cards that are in the mainboard. I’ve had this theory for a really long time that you ought to mainboard cards that you’d normally play in your sideboard as long as they hit enough cards. Although it wasn’t a major trend this weekend, there were a few decks that were mainboarding what are typically considered sideboard cards.
For instance, four Qliphort players ran numerous copies of Forbidden Chalice over the weekend; three players chose to play two copies, while one player mainboarded three copies. Forbidden Chalice is awesome because it has a little bit of tactility; you can use it as a damage step tool, or use it to turn your or your opponent’s monsters off, but that goes without saying. It’s also interesting to note that most of the Qliphort players that played Forbidden Chalice also opted to play Skill Drain. Although 4/7 of the Qliphort players ran the three copies of Skill Drain, it seems that Skill Drain Qliphorts didn’t impact the meta nearly as much as players had expected.
Next, there were three Qliphort players that opted to play triple Night Beam in the main. Not only is this extra removal is currently necessary in the competitive meta, but it also is a great out to the Burning Abyss players, since you can hit their Wing Blasts and Karma Cuts without much worry. Honestly, I think this was a really smart decision, since it disrupts your opponent’s response for your plays before you even have to commit to the board. And since all the new Burning Abyss guys have sick effects when they’re discarded, you’d ideally want to get rid of your opponent’s reactive traps without setting them off. This is a similar reason why three of the Qliphort players also opted to run three copies of Wiretap in the main, although Wiretap doesn’t necessarily stop the Burning Abyss effects that would activate when you pay the cost for cards like Karma Cut and Wing Blast. But, it seems like we might be in another trap-heavy format, so all this extra removal in the mainboard is pretty necessary. As a third alternate, three Qliphort players were mainboarding several copies of Trap Stun, which accomplishes similar things that Night Beam and Wiretap do. However, you can chain to the Trap Stun pretty easily, which is worth noting. If you were building Qliphorts, you basically get some freedom to choose how you’d best want to deal with your opponent’s spell and traps. However, I personally think that Night Beam might be the strongest option out of all of these, since it forces your opponent to play an extra trap card if they really want the card that you targeted to go off.
The last “sideboard in the main” that I noticed from ARG Raleigh was that one Qliphort player was mainboarding the Soul Drain. Why wouldn’t you, honestly? If it’s a floodgate, doesn’t hurt your deck, and dampers your opponent’s deck heavily, why wouldn’t you mainboard a sideboard card like Soul Drain? Props to Courtney Waller, you definitely knew what you were doing this weekend, and you have my nod of approval.
Anyways, I hope this helps you guys get a better understanding for what a competitive Qliphort deck looks like! Even though it plays a few Performapals, it’s still a really threatening deck that has definitely made an impact on the current meta! Now that you know what the standard deck looks like, go out there and build it or beat it!