Board breaking has long been the standard of tempo in Yugioh. Usually this means maneuvering around several negation cards. With the advent of Numeron Network, monster-based board breakers have split into different niches. Cards like Number S0: Utopic ZEXAL and Mystic Mine demand certain answers as well. How do you construct a deck that can answer all of these threats? First, let’s look at what cards overlap each niche, then observe the math behind drawing cards going second.
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The ZEXAL Board Break Niche
Utopic ZEXAL can be dealt with in two ways. You can either use a reactive card that can respond to it, or destroy Numeron Network before it can summon the pieces.
This compact engine’s power isn’t just its massive impact. It is also flexible, since it can outplay Lightning Storm and Nibiru, the Primordial Being. ZEXAL’s effect is Speed Spell 2, meaning that it is difficult to use Infinite Impermanence on it, unless the opponent decides to use its effect during the Standby Phase. Therefore, our answer must either be preventative or reactive.
Forbidden Chalice and PSY-Framegear Gamma counter a Standby Phase ZEXAL, while also letting you make a play if your opponent waits. Chalice is the more flexible of the two, and can be used as a Trap during the opponent’s turn. Gamma is also useful if you go first, protecting you from hand traps.
Trap cards solve the issue somewhat. However, they hardly overlap with the other board breakers. Control decks like Altergeist can afford to run many traps, but most decks cannot.
Negation Board Break Niche
Negation boards are the same, but the meta situation is not. These boards and ZEXAL create a paradox in deck building by demanding separate answers. While some answers overlap, they are rarely what you would want.
Traditional hand traps such as Ash Blossom & Joyous Spring have a chance to stop a combo completely. Alternatively, The Winged Dragon of Ra – Sphere Mode and Dark Ruler No More offer almost no chance to respond to their board breaking capabilities. In exchange, their inflexible reaction speed leave them vulnerable to ZEXAL.
S/T Removal Niche
Monsters aren’t the only oppressive cards! Mystic Mine is the quintessential S/T threat, acting both as a floodgate and a board breaking tool. Then we have the Golden Land traps, which can be somewhat nullified by removal. Dragon Buster Destruction Sword may not need S/T destruction, but can be helpful.
Besides the generic S/T removal such as Twin Twisters and Cosmic Cyclone, the only one that purely overlaps with the other board breakers is Lightning Storm. If you’re thinking of cutting this kind of removal, be prepared to take a loss when meeting one of these cards!
The Paradox and Statistics
The problem in regards to deck building is that each of these boards demand an immediate answer. Specifically, ZEXAL warps what cards you would normally run to board break. To parse the meat of the problem, let’s take a look at statistics regarding drawing your first five cards.
If you need a hand trap such as Ghost Ogre, here are your chances per copy. At a certain point, you will experience diminishing returns around seven copies, and again at 11. For this example, let us say that you would like to average a 63.9% chance – seven copies. Those are seven deck slots, which isn’t a big deal. However, like I have mentioned, these cards do not entirely overlap with our other board breakers. Here is a chart detailing the chances of drawing a board breaker like Dark Ruler No More when you draw six cards.
Similarly, you experience diminishing returns after six pure board breakers. At this point, around 13 cards in your deck are dedicated to either ZEXAL or breaking negation boards. For the sake of this argument, let’s say Lightning Storm overlaps the board breaker niche and the S/T removal niche.
Having to invest around 13 slots into board breaking is quite a bit. There are three conclusions we can come to in regards to that number.
First, this meta is not kind to rogue decks. Decks such as Fluffal, Madolche, and Mermail rely on multi-card combos, meaning that they may not be able to fit that many tech cards and still be able to complete a combo.
Second, cards that combine multiple roles get better in metas that present paradoxical boards to break. Inversely, more specific metas allow for more specific options, and less deck investment overall.
While this may seem obvious, decks that have compact engines and with cards that perform both combo and board breaking functions will have the edge in these meta. Cards like Eldlich the Golden Lord denote a top tier deck. Observing these trends and doing the math can help players come to a conclusion on the viability of rogue decks and predict the capabilities of future meta.