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 into Pojo’s Tier 2.
Tier 2: Semi-Competitive Meta Decks. Less than 10% of tops, as ranked by Pojo. Corresponds for 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 top small events or get lower rankings at medium events. Can also include decks that can potentially top but have not yet in a given format.
Tier 4: Casually Competitive non-meta decks. Decks that can compete at the locals level, but cannot top an event.
The year is 2019. Trickstars have now been meta viable for nearly eighteen months and – remarkably – very little has changed. Since the last time we took a peek at our Fairy friends, builds have cut cheesy win conditions like Chain Summoning for more consistent game-enders like Cyber Dragon and Dinowrestler Pankratops. The deck boasts an impeccable rogue matchup alongside hyper-specific maindeck answers to meta decks. If you’re looking for a deck with staying power, Trickstar remains a viable option.
Trickstar currently occupies the third and final spot in Tier 2. Notably, the difference between playable Tier 1 and 2 decks is lower than usual, so this doesn’t mean the deck can’t pick up sets against Altergeist and Dark Warrior. Just keep in mind that there’s been no playable Trickstar support in TCG since June of 2017.
This is Frank Talwar’s Top 8 list from ARG Ottowa.
Frank’s list is playing a split of Cyber Dragons and Dinowrestler Pankratops in the maindeck, since each excel in different matchups and seeing either in multiples can be frustrating. The side contains the third copy of each, allowing for more targeted answers post-board.
The three Dimensional Barriers and the Super Polymerization package tell you all you need to know about the Thunder Dragon matchup.
This is Akeem Abrahim’s 9th place list from the January 6th Parissipany, NJ Regional.
This list elects to play significantly more three-ofs than Talwar’s, opting to consistently find both Heavy Storm Duster and Gozen Match to slow the game down to a crawl. Of note is the singleton Grinder Golem, used to chain together Knightmares and Borrels.
Abrahim has boarded slightly differently for Thunder Dragon as well, electing to play Artifact Lancea and Inspector Boarder as his outs of choice.
Gozen Match is weaseling its way into more and more Trickstar maindecks of late. Once a potent sideboard threat, its wide application against all four other meta decks often earns it a mainboard slot. It’s the least useful against Thunder Dragon, though it can still prevent multiple Thunder Dragon Colossus from finding their way onboard.
Trickstar is in desperate need of about two additional playsets of good cards to supplement its lineup of must-plays, and one of those slots is usually filled by Mind Control. Mind Control is amazing against both Thunder Dragon (stealing Colossus) and Sky Striker (stealing a link monster without triggering Sky Striker Ace - Raye’s effect).
Cyber Dragon fills a similar role to Mind Control, eating errant Sky Striker Ace – Shizuku and Thunder Dragon Colossus with Chimeratech Megafleet Dragon. Additionally, you sometimes get paired up against the one Cyber Dragon duelist at the event and get a free win. Even in worst-case scenarios, it can get in for chip damage without worrying about Gozen Match.
Despite Trickstar’s amazing search loop, they still fall behind in advantage grinds to the likes of Sky Striker and Altergeist. Heavy Storm Duster provides a wonderful opportunity to sneak two-for-ones, as well as a maindeck out to Revolver’s True Ace – Imperial Order.
Finally, while Grinder Golem can no longer enable the Firewall Dragon OTK, it’s still a powerful card. Link setups to clear the way when going second are more than enough of a reason to consider tossing a copy of this bad boy into your 40.
You’ll need to practice this matchup frequently. It’s one of the most popular decks in the TCG, and unfortunately there silver bullets that solve skill differentials.
Make sure you’re optimizing your use of handtraps, especially during game one. Think about which pieces of the advantage loop you can commit to stopping. Using Infinite Impermanence to negate Sky Striker Ace - Kagari’s effect is usually a good bet. Try to establish a read on your opponent to determine if you want to chain Ash Blossom & Joyous Spring to the effect of Sky Striker Airspace - Area Zero or to the end-phase Sky Striker Ace – Shizuku. In games two and three, consider boarding into PSY-Framegear Gamma and, if you’re desperate, Ghost Reaper & Winter Cherries. Be careful with the latter – skilled Sky Striker players can easily overwhelm Trickstar, even without Kagari.
Gozen Match is a fine inclusion when going first, but remember to activate it before your opponent normal summons Sky Striker Ace - Raye. Mind Control and Cyber Dragon are stellar when going second. Don’t be afraid to keep in Dinowrestler Pankratops – Pank and Trickstar Candina represent enough attacks and disruption to chew through Raye’s recursion and deal some chip damage to your opponent’s LP.
Above all, aim to end the game as quickly as possible. Unlike most matchups, you are not favored as the game goes long.
After the Rick-and-Morty level mental test that is the Sky Striker matchup, the Thunder Dragon matchup seems comparatively easy. Turn your brain off, get rid of the Thunder Dragon Colossus, and try to OTK.
Unfortunately, different Thunder Dragon setups require different answers. Cyber Dragon is amazing at clearing ONE Thunder Dragon Colossus, but not so good at clearing several. Evenly Matched is fine if they go for a huge Curious, the Lightsworn Dominion start, but awful if they play “protect the castle.”
You’ll spend a significant amount of this matchup leaning on your handtraps. Try to guide your opponent to the board you feel you can out. If you can easily deal with one Thunder Dragon Colossus, disrupt as much as possible and lay down a Cyber Dragon. If you draw into boardwipes, it might be worth saving your interaction. In games two and three, board into cards like PSY-Framegear Gamma and Artifact Lancea when going second.
If you’re going first, you can ease into whatever floodgate floats your boat – There Can Be Only One is fantastic versus Thunder Dragon and Dimensional Barrier can be similarly devastating. Just watch out for Denko Sekka and activate Trickstar Reincarnation responsibly.
If I could play one matchup for the rest of my life, it would be Altergeist. The Trickstar vs. Altergeist matchup is amazing. It’s skill-testing, interactive, and outside of bombs like Droll & Lock looping and Imperial Order, pretty even.
In game one, they’ll have a significant amount of dead cards. One card that will not be dead is Secret Village of the Spellcasters, which is now all but a staple. If they can land it with Altergeist Multifaker backup, you’ll be hard pressed to win the game. Use the second effect of Trickstar Light Stage intelligently – it may be better, in some cases, to force the activation of a known trap like Altergeist Manifestation at a time when it’s less beneficial to your opponent than hitting a dead game one trap like Rivalry of Warlords.
In games two and three, no matter how sexy the loop is, consider boarding out of Droll & Lock Bird. If you’re playing Evenly Matched, it shines here, though expect some number of Wiretap and Mind Crush to make an appearance. Cards that pressure your opponent are reasonable, especially ones like Dinowrestler Pankratops that don’t mind being returned to the hand. Consider boarding into Ghost Ogre & Snow Rabbit if you’re playing it – it’s not fantastic against much, but stopping a face-up Altergeist Protocol or Personal Spoofing is a blowout.
The Warrior Link matchup is extremely interesting and unique. It's the only matchup in which you could probably perform the die roll and walk away.
There’s not a lot to talk about here. Game one on the draw, fire off handtraps indiscriminately in an attempt to prevent your opponent from popping off. Infinite Impermanence shines against almost any monster in the extra deck. On the play, I congratulate you on your victory, provided you have drawn two (2) relevant pieces of interaction.
Post-boarding, Ghost Reaper & Winter Cherries is a good option. Smart opponents may forgo the Number 86: Heroic Champion - Rhongomyniad line entirely to end on The Phantom Knights of Rusty Bardiche, so make sure you leave in enough resources to chew through two Phantom Knights' Fog Blade. Above all, don’t prematurely concede to Topologic Gumblar Dragon – Trickstar Light Stage and Cyber Dragon is a two-card hand that still wins the game.
The first thing you should do when playing against another Trickstar player is shake hands and nod in silent Trickerhood.
Game one will probably be determined, in some way, by Droll & Lock Bird. Not only does Droll & Lock Bird represent an easy loop against the ever-searching Trickstar, it’s also fantastic when played as intended. Ash Blossom on the Candina search can be equally devastating. Use Trickstar Reincarnation to cut off your opponent’s access to their problem Trickstars – whoever leaves an unanswered Trickstar onboard first usually walks away with the match.
In games two and three, consider boarding into cards that line up well against Trickstar Candina specifically. Solemn Strike and Mind Crush are amazing on the play. Anti-Spell Fragrance is also reasonable – as long as you set up first, you’re in the clear. On the draw, consider PSY-Framegear Gamma and board out of do-nothing Trickstar Lycoris bait like Infinite Impermanence.
It's been a long year-and-a-half of playability for Trickstar, and they remain the potent meta threat they have always been. While they're currently scraping the edges of rogue status, they remain easy to pick up, rewarding to play, and have game in every matchup. The day may come when normal summoning Trickstar Candina is no longer good enough, but we clearly aren't there yet.