The Sherlock Method: Deck-Building and Normal Summoning


Jonathan Moore here, back to educate and reiterate! Today I’ll not be defining what a normal summon is (hopefully you already know all about that aspect already) but more so talk about what it does for the top three decks, and why it’s either super essential or not so essential to certain decks out there. I’m going to introduce to you the “Sherlock” method of deck building and analyzing.

To explain the Sherlock method, it’s very much about going from analyzing the pieces of what you’re working with to whittling down to specifics. With due credit to the detective, whenever he got to a scene, he would first pick out what to look at (often missed by others), examine these details, come to generalizations and then go in depth, add back story to how the workings came to be, and then defy any other rationalizations before giving the final verdict. My method of deck building and review after testing is very similar. Here it is somewhat simplified so that you can go through the processes with me!

Step 1: Pick your deck. (Probably the hardest choice)
Step 2: Examine. Define it’s functions and goals
Step 3: Generalizations. Learn the basic combos
Step 4: Specifics. Learn your situational plays and in depth combos.
Step 5: Supplement. Learn what you want you want to integrate into your side deck based on the format and how it works with your deck
Step 6: Counter. Analyze your decks weaknesses and strengths and cover the weaknesses and play to the strength
Step 7: Review. Is your deck the best it can be to suit both you and the format? If the answer is no, start over!

Dueling network/YGO pro are perfect for testing this. You can scrap, rebuild, reconstruct, redefine, create, and test out many new decks without having to pay a penny until you’re comfortable enough to get into it. You can also test for the formats ahead for when new sets come out to bolster your current deck to give it the consistency and/or power plays that make it the deck for you. Being able to see the future is nice, but we have to live in the now to win the events, rather than constantly trying to be good later.

The dust has cleared after YCS Toronto. The whole top 32 consisted of Burning Abyss, Satellarknights, and our very own Galo Orbea running one of the many El Shaddoll decks. While he lost to the eventual winner of the tournament, ARG’s very own Patrick Hoban, he can hold his head high having competed to the best of his ability and taking another notch into the belt of his career.

When the set released, many people put Satellarknights and Burning Abyss in the backseat, saying that Shaddolls were the best. Soon it came to everyone’s attention though that with proper deck building and side decking, all three could compete, thus dominating the format and leaving it seemingly void of the remnants of past sets.

As drafting in the YCS scene doesn’t allow us to see a clear archtype winner, the ARG Circuit in Atlantic city let us see a shocking Satellar mirror match finals in which our own Chase Furman managed to take a strong victory. You can reference his tournament report to get a solid idea about Satellarknights, and can use his build to start to create your own. I myself have been working on Burning Abyss builds with Billy Brake. Overall, I think the deck has some ground to make up for, so I’ve begun trying to test a combination of Satellarknights with Burning Abyss. The extra deck is CRAMMED, but the deck doesn’t rely on the normal summon as hard as Tellarknights do, and gains more extra deck power than the rank 3’s a regular Burning Abyss deck might offer. Most importantly, I’m having fun with it and it’s my own creation. When you’re having fun playing the game, you’re more likely to do well!

Now, let’s review the mechanics of these top decks. El Shaddolls has been the front runner in everyone’s mind, and for very good reasons. Let’s examine.

1) They all consist of flip effect monsters in the main deck.
2) They also all have double effects for when they are sent to they graveyard by card effects (this does not include costs).
3) They have a tuner in Shaddoll Falco who has the flip effect of bringing back any of your graveyard monsters in f/d defense mode. With Sinister Shadow Games (Which is also a Foolish Burial for any of your Shaddoll monsters) on your opponent’s end phase, you can just explode on them in the next turn.
4) They can use Shaddoll Squamata when sent by Shaddoll fusion (or any card effect for that matter)
5) They have a powerful summoning card in Shaddoll Fusion that is basically cost free if your opponent has summoned a monster from the extra deck, but can also dump Shaddolls from your hand to get their effects off and go on the offensive if your opponent hasn’t set up like that.
6) Almost all of their monsters have high base attack, meaning if Vanity’s Emptiness has been up, they’ll start to win the battle war slowly over the other two decks.

ShaddollFalcon-DUEA-JP-RShaddolls do not rely on Normal Summons at all. They can set their assets on the field, and not really worry so much as what happens to them, or abuse them depending on the hand that is drawn. Shaddoll Fusion and Shaddoll Falco give access to the extra deck in a way other decks can’t really abuse by using powerful fusions (except for deck perhaps using copies of Super Polymerization as a counter choice to the Shaddoll matchup), synchros, and XYZ monsters. This power house is harder to disrupt with Effect Veiler than the other two big decks, although it still has its vulnerabilities to Maxx “C”. It also has weaknesses in that it relies on set up and countering opponents plays, which can allow it to become overwhelmed when power pushes are made on it if the proper defenses aren’t there. Side decking isn’t so hard, as Light-Imprissoning Mirror won’t self inflict upon the deck, and Chain Disappearance will put in work on Burning Abyss. Emptiness, and perhaps a well timed Non-Fusion Area from the side deck in a mirror match will help too, but as with any mirror match, it becomes about managing resources and counter plays to the opponent.

Burning Abyss is the wrench in the machine work for many people. They were unexpected, and we don’t know what is to come as they are a TCG exclusives. What will we see from them in the future? We only have five cards from them so far, four of which are highly competitive and a trap card that could become good in the future. Let’s examine.

DanteTraveleroftheBurningAbyss-DUEA-EN-ScR-1E1) The three effect monsters, Cir, Graff, and Scarm all work in conjecture, allowing field flooding from Graff and Cir, as well as for defensive means when attached as XYZ materials.
2) Both Graff and Scarm allow for deck thinning.
3) All three work the same as Dandylion so they allow you to play powerful cards that would pitch them for costs, yet retain advantage and even perhaps establish a field presence. This means Phoenix Wing Wind Blast and Karma Cut are viable.
4) With use of said traps, the deck no longer relies on the normal summon of Tour Guide
5) The deck relies almost fully on the use of special summons since Tour Guide from the Underworld is the most powerful play, or normal summoning one burning abyss monster and special summoning the next one is the most typical play, making Dante to detach the one who wasn’t special summoned.
6) This combo goes into allowing perhaps another exceed, depending on your hand and/or mills, and order of summoning (EX, normal Graff, special Scarm, make Dante, pitch Graff, mill 3 (perhaps a cir here), and if cir wasn’t milled, fetch a Scarm or Cir depending on the field set up you want, and then special a Cir from hand as his effect hasn’t been used, overlay again).
7) You can cover this deck’s relying on XYZ summons and other special summons with Monarchs and Majesty’s Fiend, otherwise emptiness will eat you alive.

MysticalSpaceTyphoonSDMA-EN-C-1ESince you can’t side deck into Shadow-Imprisoning or Light-Imprisoning Mirrors, so that you aren’t hurting your own deck’s engines, you have to find other ways to shut down your opponent’s deck. Skill drain combos well with the deck against Satellars as it shuts down all their monsters, and your Acid Golem can highly benefit from it, towering over most all their cards. Non-Fusion Area or Super Polymerization are good counter calls to Shaddolls. You have to time your Nobleman Of Crossout to avoid being done in by Sinister Shadow Games if you plan to play that card, but I could find siding in more copies of Mystical Space Typhoon and Monarchs a better plan for that.

Finally we come around to Satellarknights. This deck is like fire fist meets warrior tool box and was handed an Infernity Barrier! While they don’t have many monsters to work with and their attacks are not impressive, they make rank 4’s fairly easy. These powerhouses of the XYZ world are fearsome, but the main weakness of the deck is that both Stellarnova Alpha and all these XYZ’s need the normal summon to be able to go off.

1) With three copies of a Wolfbark in Altair and Stratos in Deneb, the deck’s normal summon engine is strong when it goes off.

2) The deck is extremely vulnerable to a turn one Veiler before setup. Remember this if you have an Alpha but only one Deneb with no other monsters.

3) The deck is as vulnerable to Maxx “C” as Abyss and Shaddoll, thanks to Altair needing to get two special summons to complete an xyz, but the plus off Deneb with Altair can let you stop their for the turn too.

4) The deck has modest attack compared to Shaddoll under Emptiness, so be prepared for that battle. The deck packs plenty of room for backrow defense since the engine runs so few monsters.

5) Being the deck with the room for the most backrows, your battle becomes using your resources wisely to draw theirs out, while countering theirs so that eventually you outshine them in both advantage and presence.

The deck is very weak to Light Mirror and Skill Drain. While Stellarnova Alpha and your other backrow should help with this battle, it’s still an issue with fighting Shadolls. Mystical Space Typhoon seems more and more to become the counter card of the format, especially if you have to go second, to counter your opponent setting up before you.

So does this examine and analyze method work for you when deck building and deciding what to do in the format? What do you usually do to decide upon which deck to pick, and which of the three do you want to play? Which of the three sounds the most fun to you? To counter the format even if you decide not to play one of these three, you need to know all of them in and out, so give your deck the Sherlock treatment, keeping both your own playstyle and the format in mind! Questions, comments, concerns, and ideas are always welcome and appreciated!

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