The TCG Meta Snapshot is a project by some of the writers at YGOPRODeck that aims to encapsulate the state of the meta for a given 1-2 week period.
The TCG Meta Snapshot also aims to rank decks in a somewhat looser tier system. The tiers that we will use are as follows:
Tier 1: Highly Competitive Meta Decks. 10% or more of tops, as ranked by Pojo. This will roughly correspond to Pojo’s Tier 1, with some overlap from Pojo’s Tier 2.
Tier 2: Semi-Competitive Meta Decks. Less than 10% of tops, as ranked by Pojo. Corresponds to the rest of Pojo’s Tier 2, Pojo’s Tier 3, and Rogue.
Tier 3: Semi-Competitive non-Meta/Rogue decks. 1-2 tops. Specifically includes decks that only top small events or get lower rankings at medium events. It can also include decks that can potentially beat but have not yet in a given format.
Tier 4: Casually Competitive non-Meta decks. Decks that can compete at the local level, but cannot top an event.
Aggressive and highly consistent, Kashtira has become a fully fleshed-out archetype thanks to the reinforcements it's received in Photon Hypernova. The deck focuses on both banishing cards face-down, which is one of the best removal mechanics of all time, paired with the ability to lock the opponent's Main Monster and Spell/Trap Zones, coupled with excellent swarming and searching. The deck relies on a couple of 1-2 card combos to get going and has a fair amount of flexibility on how much it's willing to commit to the board. Even if some of its plays are stopped, its starters, such as Pressured Planet Wraitsoth and Kashtira Unicorn are absolute powerhouses in their own right.
Because of their high stats and removal effects, the deck is also surprisingly decent at going second. The deck has nearly everything it could ever want, sans an easy way to negate the opponent's cards or effects. This in turn makes it prone to blowout cards. Despite that issue, Kashtira is a ferocious threat.
Despite people preparing quite a lot for Kashtira, the deck has proved itself to be a Tier 1 mainstay, especially after winning Team YCS Vegas alongside its high usage across the Top 16. Aside from that, it's garnering solid usage across the regional scene. Branded Despia and Labrynth aren't far off though, as those appear to be the top three choices in this current format. Without further ado, how about we take a look at some of the promising lists from the event?
Team Back for Seconds comprised of Dominic Couch, Alexander Cancell, and Stephen Silverman managed to win the Team YCS Vegas tournament with none other than Pure Kashtira! Silverman's list had a few differences, but the core idea of the strategy remained the same. This list is relatively standard and is a great starting point for anyone who wants to pick up the deck, packing solid ratios.
Despite Couch's explosive performance in the finals, locking out the entire Spell and Trap Zones of his opponent in Games 1 and 3, the plan most of the time was actually to go for conservative lines similar to Zoodiac a few years back. This can be done by only summoning 4 times on your turn and ending on a 3-material Kashtira Arise-Heart. Being able to play around would-be silver bullets in the form of Evenly Matched, Nibiru, the Primal Being, and Lava Golem is definitely a huge selling point for this play, especially when Arise alone can hard carry in the matchup. Backing this up is a wide assortment of defensive Quick-Play Spells. Both Book of Moon and Book of Eclipse serve this purpose, but there's also the newly rediscovered Forbidden Lance, turning Arise into an absolute roadblock that's extremely difficult to get rid of. Conventional answers such as Triple Tactics Talent, Enemy Controller, and opposing books are stopped dead in their tracks by the Lance. It's not just for Arise either, as it can help the deck overcome some major issues such as Skill Drain going second or Infinite Impermanence going first. Lastly, the 800 ATK decrease can sometimes be clutch, preventing opponents from going for Divine Arsenal AA-ZEUS - Sky Thunder attempts.
Kashtira Ogre and Kashtira Preparations aren't fully standard yet, but they help the deck a lot as it opens up new combo lines and gives them sizeable recovery, letting you come back from certain board breakers. For example, if you have Scareclaw Kashtira and the opponent Nibirus, you can resummon Arise by banishing it with Scare and then reviving it off Prep. Pretty good stuff! The extra grind alongside Kashtira Birth goes a long way.
In some matchups though, you may be inclined to perform the full zone lock, which is also a valid line of play. It's a 3-card combo that needs Pressured Planet Wraitsoth access, Fenrir or Unicorn, then either Kashtiratheosis or Kashtira Birth. Ogre is also a vital part of what makes this work, so let's kick off an example combo courtesy of Dominic Couch himself!
Example Hand: Fenrir, Wraitsoth, Birth
Use Wraitsoth to add Unicorn, which you can then Special Summon to the field, adding the missing Kash spell to your hand. In this case, we'll be grabbing Theosis. Activate Birth to Normal Summon Fenrir and use its effect to add Kashtira Riseheart. Overlay the two 7s into Kashtira Shangri-Ira and then SS the Riseheart. Use Riseheart's effect and banish Scareclaw Kashtira (will be important later), banish the top 3 cards of your opponent's deck, and then Shangri-Ira locks the first zone of your choice. Wraitsoth triggers, targeting your own Shangri-Ira. Use its effect to detach Fenrir and let it hit the GY. Couch recommends locking S/Ts as it stops most blowouts, but hitting monster zones is okay in certain matchups. Now that Shangri-Ira's effect had activated, overlay your Riseheart into Ariseheart.
Once you've established the boss of the deck, this is where the fun begins. Use Kashtiratheosis targeting Ariseheart, summoning out Kashtira Ogre from the deck. Theosis gets banished due to Arise, letting you add the Scareclaw back to your hand (make sure to attach the Theosis). Ogre then searches for Kashtira Big Bang, which you want to banish off Scareclaw to summon itself. Big Bang lets you summon the final material of the first Shangri-Ira to your side of the field. Make a second spaceship, and then use Birth to revive Fenrir. We're almost done, as now we have two level 7s to make Number 89: Diablosis the Mind Hacker! Use Hacker's effect to probe the opponent's ED and rip a card out of your choice. This sets off a bunch of chains, and then Hacker will get to corrode their deck. As a result, 5 zones will be locked. If you already opened a Scareclaw Kash, or a Tearlaments Kashtira should you be running her, you can banish Preparations off Rise to get it back with Theosis later. A terrifying sight to behold, for sure.
Blind Second Kashtira
Tim, Alex, and Theo played an interesting variation of Kashtira, opting to go Blind Second! This allowed them to place a respectable Top 16 finish at YCS Vegas. Going second has its upsides for sure, as suddenly most main deck board breakers aimed at you become ineffective, and you're able to capitalize on the mirror if people are playing more conservatively. Kashtira itself can naturally go second nicely thanks to their free Special Summons and excellent removal with Fenrir's effect to banish face-down. Wraitsoth's destruction effect and ATK boost are also important factors when trying to play through the opponent's setup. Should the opponent have activated Shangri-Ira's effect to summon on your turn, that also makes it so any Kashtira monster can go into Arise-Heart!
Triple Tactics Thrust is the star of the show, as this card has been relegated to Side or not even played at all in most variants of the deck. However, when blinding second it's live more often than not, letting you access a slew of Power Spells that can take the game. Harpie's Feather Duster is key in making sure you don't auto-lose to opposing Books, Dark Hole to wipe the field and clear Iblees on your field, Triple Tactics Talent stealing their monster goes a long way, or even getting Pot of Prosperity if the hand situation is looking dire. With the help of a Power Spell or two, Nibiru tends to not be a concern as you can get over 8000 damage in just 4 summons. But if that's not possible, breaking their board and establishing Arise isn't half bad. Special mention to the likes of Donner, Dagger Fur Hire, and Dark Armed, the Dragon of Annihilation who can really help in softening up the board. Zeus is a lot more accessible when you're having to battle, as well.
Lava Golem becomes a lot more reliable when you're blinding second, as it removes the weakness of having it rot in your hand when you're on the play. Lastly, Dinowrestler Pankratops and Ghost Belle & Haunted Mansion are the breakout techs for their list, the former helping in out cards such as Skill Drain all while being an additional Level 7 that helps push for damage, while the latter pulled its weight against Branded Despia. Baronne de Fleur is a divisive card among Kashtira players as of now, but it can theoretically help going second as well, forcing a negate and an on-demand pop at the same time. It can come up in the instance where you eat a Dimensional Barrier and cannot access your usual Xyz plays.
All in all, it's quite the unique way to play Kashtira for sure, but if the Books continue to be popular, the deck may have to adapt with techs such as Forbidden Lance and Enemy Controller to prevent the deck from instantly folding when going second.
Shunping Xu brought Adventurer Kashtira to the table and managed a successful Top 16 finish at Team YCS Vegas! Number 7: Lucky Straight is unfortunately just for show to invoke the spirit of Vegas, and isn't actually a serious card that came up. His list plays a lot differently and runs a very minimal Kashtira package, due to the large space requirement of the Adventurer package. He did mention cards like Kashtiratheosis contributed to brick hands, however.
Wandering Gryphon Rider is the most notable card here, as it gives the deck an actual omni-negate while remaining as a free Level 7 extender at worst. Illegal Knight is another option that can help clean up boards and prevent the opponent from establishing their plays. Usually, people only run Gryphon, but you have a lot of incentive to include this knight in your deck! It gives your Fateful Adventure some extra value should you have already opened either Level 7, as adding an extra Water Enchantress isn't too valuable. Rite of Aramesir helps trade favorably against the likes of Ash Blossom & Joyous Spring among other things. Dracoback, the Rideable Dragon is excellent to have going second searched off Fateful as it forces a lot of interaction and can even snipe set Books. Since the deck needs not its NS effects, there's no major conflict to consider. Adventurer also pushes damage faster onto the table, allowing for unsuspecting OTKs. Both the Token and either Level 7 is 4000 damage after all.
Evenly Matched and Dark Ruler No More rounded out the deck as generic blowout cards that cover a wide variety of matchups. Shunping noted that he hardly even went for his Extra Deck plays, mentioning that the combination of the Adventurer cards sticking paired with both Unicorn and Fenrir was often enough to overwhelm his opponents! Last but not the least, Hey, Trunade! is a heads-up choice that forces Skill Drain and Gozen Match to be flipped all while dealing with the rest of Labrynth's backrow. This gives you a perfect shot to use Dracoback and bounce the remaining floodgate back to their hand, or deal with the difficult-to-remove Lady Labrynth of the Silver Castle.
Hector O and the rest of D-Boyz brought Spright Kashtira, which is a unique mix that makes use of Mecha Phantom Beast Dracossack to bridge the deck into Spright plays. This is done by making Barricadeborg Blocker into Spright Sprind thanks to the MPB tokens. For example, Fenrir gets to this play by adding Riseheart, Normal Summoning it (and thus not locking you to Xyz), and then changing it to a Level 7. The team also employed the act of leading with Kashtiras to bait players into using their Books in an attempt to immediately end their turn, but then surprise their opponents by then playing Nimble Beaver. The usual Kash endboard is also supplemented by the negation talents of Spright Red and Spright Carrot, There's a lot of potential with this list, but only time will tell if this variant will pick up steam.
Elijah Green made use of Set Rotation as a crafty tech that gives the deck some extra consistency and safety versus Evenly Matched and Infinite Impermanence. Since they control a face-down Field Spell, both Trap cards are blocked, unable to be activated from the hand. For the most part, it acted as an extra copy of Wraitsoth, but he could also grab Primitive Planet Reichphobia which added Scareclaw Kashtira to your hand. Lastly, Reichphobia's free destruction effect is handy in awkward board states. Number 41: Bagooska the Terribly Tired Tapir is another tech that popped up, acting as plan B by overlaying 2 Risehearts together in dire circumstances.
Renren plus the other Phantom Thieves have been theorying a small Koa'ki Meiru package that's comprised of Koa'ki Meiru Guardian and Diamond Core of Koa'ki Meiru in Kashtira. The idea is fairly similar to how Drytron would NS Guardian a few years ago post-side. Guardian acts as a way to help protect against the dreaded Nibiru, the Primal Being which pressures the deck unlike any other. It takes up fewer slots than the Adventurer package and has no bricks to boot. As a bonus, Diamond Core searches the Guardian and even doubles as material for Arise-Heart! You can banish it to protect the Guardian from blowing up that turn forcing the opponent to deal with the negate and destroy if they didn't see Nibiru. This can even extend to Koa'ki Meiru Drago, blanking nasty matchups such as Branded. Even if it doesn't catch on, it's an idea worth looking into nonetheless.
That concludes our look into Kashtira for February 2023! I hope you enjoyed this snapshot! Whether we like it or not, these conquerors are here to stay. Until next time folks, keep calm and avoid getting attached under Arise-Heart. Renren out!