Laval-Whats? An analysis of James Chow’s Laval Artifact deck! (1st Place ARGCS Providence, RI)

Main Deck:

Extra Deck:

ShootingQuasarDragon-JUMP-EN-UR-LEFor those who are unfamiliar with the Laval engine, it’s pretty standard. Previously, this deck has been used for its awesome ability to make easy Shooting Quasar Dragons. Basically, the deck was able to easily fuel the graveyard, and then it was able to just Rekindling all their monsters back to make up to TWO Shooting Quasars in one turn. However, that was when Rekindling was at three. When Rekindling was put to one, both Lavals and Fire Kings took a huge hit to their deck structure. And although Fire Kings were able survive after losing Rekindling (shout-out to my boy Scott Sheahan!), it initially seemed like Lavals were unable to recover from this loss. However, the Laval engine has found new life paired with the Artifact engine, thanks to James Chow! James Chow is a 17-year-old duelist from NY that had previously topped YCS Philly in 2012. Chow’s Laval Artifact deck was not only able to make Top 16 at the ARGCS Rhode Island that took place over this past weekend, but he also won the entire thing! Chow’s valiant effort with this deck demonstrated once again that almost any deck can fit with the Artifact cards!

Before I continue with an analysis of the deck itself, I feel like I should discuss some of the card choices that James Chow made:

kuribanditx2 Kuribandit / x3 Soul Charge: At this point in Yu-Gi-Oh!, the reason to include these five cards almost goes without saying. Kuribandit enables you to thin your deck, all while digging for the valuable Soul Charge. In addition, you’re able to send your Laval Volcano Handmaidens to the grave, letting you thin your deck even further. You also play Breakthrough Skill, giving you another card that you actually want Kuribandit to send to grave.

x1 Blaster, Dragon Ruler of Infernos: Again, a very self-explanatory card choice. You play the single copy of Blaster because you’re playing eight Fire monsters that you can send to the graveyard ridiculously easily. In addition, you might obviously end up milling the Blaster off of the Kuribandit. 2800 ATK is also very relevant in this format, just as it has been in previous formats. Simply, there’s no reason not to play the one copy of this card that you’re allowed to.

300px-LavalLakesideLady-HA06-EN-ScR-1Ex3 Laval Volcano Handmaiden / x3 Laval Cannon / x2 Laval Lakeside Lady / x3 Molten Conduction Field / x1 Rekindling: Meet your Laval engine. This is honestly very self-explanatory as well; you want to send all of these cards to your graveyard so that you can make Lakeside Lady plays to pop your opponent’s facedown cards. Laval Cannon is then useful because he’s able to re-utilize the cards that you banish off of Lakeside Lady, as well as re-send them to the graveyard after you resolve Cannon’s effect. You want to activate your Molten Conduction Fields immediately when you draw them, since you don’t want to risk drawing into a Lakeside Lady, or worse, the Handmaiden. Because of all this, Laval Cannon actually becomes one of the only Normal Summons that you really want to make by default. Just by Normal Summoning him successfully and having banished Laval monsters, you’re able to open up Rank 4 plays, as well as Level 5 and Level 7 Synchro plays, all of which are obviously useful. Just like with Blaster, you play the Rekindling in addition to the triple Soul Charge because this deck’s entire goal is to utilize and reborn monsters from the graveyard.

ArtifactMoralltach-PRIO-EN-SR-1Ex2 Artifact Beagalltach / x3 Artifact Moralltach / x3 Artifact Ignition / x3 Artifact Sanctum / x1 Double Cyclone / x1 Malevolent Catastrophe: This Artifact engine line-up is extremely standard. The Double Cyclone could potentially be considered a tech option, although most of the other decks that used the Artifact engine also played one or two copies of it. Those unfamiliar with this archetype apparently haven’t been playing Yu-Gi-Oh! lately, since these cards have been in a majority of decks since the release of Primal Origin. Basically, you’re able to use Artifact Sanctum to special summon Moralltach on your opponent’s turn and destroy their monsters. But you’re also able to play out of instances that you draw the Artifact monsters by playing cards like Artifact Ignition and Double Cyclone. You might have noticed that this deck opts to play the x3 Ignition over any copies of Mystical Space Typhoon. This is because of the inherent synergy that Ignition has with this deck, all while doing the exact same things that Space Typhoon does. You pretty much abuse the ability to easily spam these monsters to push for damage, or Xyz into Constellar Pleiades to disrupt your opponent’s plays on their own turn.

20131120194601!DustflameBlast-HA06-EN-SR-1Ex1 Dustflame Blast: This card is really interesting because while it can destroy your opponent’s cards, it also has a great level of synergy with your own Artifact monsters. Once you’ve used both your Lakeside Lady’s effects, you’re pretty much just using Volcano Handmaiden has a tuner monster for your Soul Charges and Rekindling. This means that you can afford to banish them from your graveyard, as long as it results in simplifying the gamestate so that you can push for game. You can pop your opponent’s threats, you can pop your Artifact cards so that you can pop your opponent’s threats, etc. This card is amazing, but since you have to banish all of your Laval monsters, you have to assume you’ll only be able to easily resolve this card once per game.

Since I’ve discussed the card choices that Chow opted to play, I’d like to show you a few test hands so that you can see what Chow’s opening hands may have looked like throughout the weekend.


While these test hands didn’t necessarily demonstrate it, the deck is able to brick in some pretty crummy ways. For example, when you draw all of your Laval Volcano Handmaidens, you’re gonna have a bad time. In these circumstances, you’re pretty much forced to set a Handmaiden to go off, but even then, players are really wary of facedown Hands and stuff at the moment, so luring an attack really sucks. This is one of the flaws that this deck has, in my opinion; however, this is also why this deck is able to be successful in this format. While it’s not able to explode necessarily, it’s able to grind out games, which is essential for competing in the current gamestate.

20131108220210!MoltenConductionField-HA07-EN-ScR-1ERealistically, with this deck, you don’t want to draw almost any of your cards. You don’t want to draw your any of your Laval engine because you want to send them to the grave off of Conduction Field. Additionally, you don’t want to draw your Artifact engine for the exact same reason. This makes the deck rely more on drawing your Artifact Sanctums and Conduction Fields than anything else. While this sounds like a bad idea for a deck, you have to remember that you’re playing awesome cards like Pot of Duality and Kuribandit to guarantee you get to make your plays.

Additionally, I want to emphasize how much this deck relies on the power of Monster Reborn-like cards like Call of the Haunted, Rekindling and Soul Charge. More often than not, you’ll find yourself winning games by Soul Charging for 4, going into Constellar Pleiades and another Xyz and just wrecking shop from there. You can also obviously Call of the Haunted a Moralltach to pop more cards, or simply Rekindling all your Laval monsters out to start Synchro Summoning.

Although you inevitably got excited when you heard the words “Synchro Summoning” in relation to this current format, I gotta tell you, there’s not a whole bunch of it. Like normal, you play a diverse range of Synchro monsters just in case you go into any of them. However, this appears to be pretty rare, since you can typically solve almost all of your problems with Artifact cards.

There are a handful of things that this deck does interestingly. Simply put, the deck relies heavily on the Artifact Engine to push for damage, while the Laval engine is purely a supplement on power and slow plusses. For instance, one of the interesting things this deck does is rely on Molten Conduction Field to send multiple Laval monsters to grave to fuel Laval Lakeside Ladys’ effect. Her effect is especially useful because it’s able to pop all the facedowns that Moralltach cannot. This is especially useful because it really takes your opponent by surprise at first; if you’re able to introduce to your opponent the fact that you’re playing Artifacts without revealing any Laval monsters will completely change their playstyle at first. And then you’re able to drop your Molten Conduction Field and start popping backrow before you push with your dudes.

300px-LavalLakesideLady-HA06-EN-ScR-1ELike I’ve said above, it seems as though this deck should be called Artifact Lavals, and not the other way around. The Laval monsters do a handful of very useful things: they provide access to white cards in the extra deck, they allow you to pop backrow cards that Moralltach can’t, but they also have some awesome synergy with Kuribandit, ensuring that you almost definitely send a Laval Volcano Handmaiden (or three!) to grave while grabbing a Soul Charge in the process. In my testing, it’s pretty clear that this deck uses the Artifact monsters as its primarily win condition, and then uses the Laval engine as a supplementary engine to destroy facedown cards, fuel the graveyard and provide access to some white monsters that Artifact deck can’t normally access on their own.

This deck is unique when compared to the standard Artifact/Traptrix variants for several reasons. First and most obvious, this deck doesn’t run the Traptrix monsters, instead supplementing them for more the Laval engine. While the Artifact/Traptrix builds use the Traptrix monsters as an additional way to gain plusses, the Laval build instead uses the graveyard as its second resource moreso than the hand. Instead of using a Myrmeleo to fetch a Bottomless Trap Hole, you’re instead using Molten Conduction Field to thin your deck of cards you don’t want to draw and fuel your graveyard for Lakeside Lady and Soul Charge. It seems like a pretty even trade-off, in my opinion; even though you’re forced to rely on your Moralltachs to disrupt your opponent’s turn instead of Trap Hole cards, you’re then to use Lakeside Lady to destroy set cards and promise that your power cards will resolve successfully. And then, instead of playing Traptrix Wolfba Dionaea to open up Rank 4 plays, you’re instead cutting down on the Xyz options to open up Synchro plays.

300px-StardustSparkDragon-YF05-EN-UR-LESo, why was this deck effective this weekend? In my opinion, this deck was effective because even though most players were prepared to face Artifact variants, I believe that the Laval/Artifact combination was able to effectively throw players off. Players unfamiliar with the Laval engine would be taken off-guard, since they theoretically only know how to play against half of what the deck does. In addition to this, the deck is able to utilize Synchro monsters that can shut down other Artifact variants by playing Synchro monsters like Stardust Spark Dragon.

20131012171909!SoulDrain-REDU-EN-R-1EThe next question, how will this deck be as effective in the meta when we get the Shaddoll monsters next weekend? This is certainly a question worth asking. In my opinion, this deck very well may have been a one-hit wonder for only this premiere event. When we get the Shadoll monsters, all of their effects will activate when we manage to send them to graveyard, effectively nullifying our deck’s goal of destroying cards for minimal costs. “Okay so that’s not so bad, I’ll just play cards like D. Fissure, Macro Cosmos and Soul Drain to counter them,” says the outcry of duelists, eager to counter Shaddolls! Well, since all of those floodgates that counter Shaddolls also counter what your deck is trying to do, your deck will be sided against by default.

This past weekend, we saw:

  • 6 decks that sideboarded Soul Drains out of the Top 16 decks
  • 6 decks that sideboarded Dimensional Fissures out of the Top 16 decks
  • 3 decks that sideboarded Macro Cosmos out of the Top 16 decks
  • 4 decks that sideboarded Baninisher of the Radiance out of the Top 16 decks

But next weekend, I believe we will be seeing more cards like these pop up in more players’ sideboards, since the threat of Shaddolls will actually be real. Since we’ll be seeing more cards that cut off the graveyard as a resource, a deck like Artifact Lavals sadly won’t be as effective. Although this deck is very interesting, and it’s amazing to see a unique Artifact build for the first time in a while, I don’t believe the deck will be around for much longer.

But anyways, that was James Chow’s Laval Artifact deck! What do you think about it? Do you think I’m wrong, and that this deck will actually perform swimmingly once we get Duelist Alliance? Let me know in the comments below!

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