HAT format, which took place during the middle of 2014, is widely regarded as one of the most diverse formats in Yu-Gi-Oh! history. A plethora of crazy and innovative decks made the top cut across many events. What many players were not aware of was the storm brewing ahead. Specifically, the release of Duelist Alliance to the TCG on August 14/15th, 2014.
The set introduced new archetypes such as Satellarknights, Burning Abyss, and Shaddolls. These three decks alone would be responsible for the transition to a new era. Hand-Artifact-Traptrix, Sylvans, Mermails, and Infernities are just a handful of decks that became mostly if not completely irrelevant. Old decks just weren’t equipped to handle the power creep.
YCS Toronto would be the biggest testing ground for the completely new metagame so far. Going into the event, Burning Abyss was relatively unappreciated. It was a TCG exclusive that didn’t already have a developed strategy from the OCG. That left most players looking to Satellarknights and Shaddolls.
None other than Patrick Hoban would be the one to lead Shaddolls to victory. I’ll leave his deck profile below for you to peruse and reference as needed. Afterward, we’ll talk about both Shaddolls holistically and Hoban’s build specifically.
|Patrick Hoban’s Shaddoll Deck|
|Monsters||Black Luster Soldier – Envoy of the Beginning x1
Chaos Sorcerer x2
Shaddoll Beast x3
Shaddoll Squamata x2
Shaddoll Dragon x2
Shaddoll Hedgehog x1
Shaddoll Falco x1
Raiden, Hand of the Lightsworn x3
Lyla, Lightsworn Sorceress x2
Black Dragon Collapserpent x2
White Dragon Wyverburster x2
|Spells||Shaddoll Fusion x3
Super Polymerization x3
Soul Charge x3
Upstart Goblin x3
Charge of the Light Brigade x1
Allure of Darkness x1
|Traps||Vanity’s Emptiness x3
Sinister Shadow Games x2
|Extras||El Shaddoll Construct x3
El Shaddoll Winda x2
Castel, the Skyblaster Musketeer x2
Abyss Dweller x1
Evilswarm Nightmare x1
Number 61: Volcasaurus x1
Arcanite Magician x1
Scrap Dragon x1
Black Rose Dragon x1
Stardust Spark Dragon x1
Goyo Guardian x1
|Side||Flying “C” x3
Mystical Space Typhoon x3
Rivalry of Warlords x3
Ryko, Lightsworn Hunter x2
Mind Control x1
Chain Disappearance x1
Compulsory Evacuation Device x1
Sinister Shadow Games x1
Table of Contents
High Impact Monsters
The first thing we’re going to talk about is the impactfulness of every individual monster. Within the Shaddoll archetype, every main deck monster had a FLIP effect and an effect that triggered when it goes to the graveyard. These effects included drawing cards, searching from the deck, and removing opponents’ cards. They’re high value by design. This is a requirement for a fusion deck like Shaddolls to function at a high level.
The list also included some cards that would traditionally be classified as “Chaos.” Black Luster Soldier – Envoy of the Beginning and Chaos Sorcerer are relatively free to summon and can bring down the hurt. Both are relatively large monsters and can banish monsters that are tricky to get rid of through battle or float when destroyed. Black Dragon Collapserpent and White Dragon Wyverburster were newer “Chaos” cards that saw a lot of play in Shaddolls (especially after Hoban won this event). They were primarily fodder for Xyz and Synchro Summons and could self-replace if used for the latter.
Lightsworn and Artifact cards, which we’ll talk about in a second, are more examples of cards which have the potential to be highly impactful.
Lightsworn vs Artifact
El Shaddoll Construct requires a Light attribute monster as well as a Shaddoll monster. Therefore, mixing engines was usually considered a necessity for Shaddolls. There are a few examples of decks that ran neither, but most lists had either Lightsworn or Artifacts. Hoban went with Lightsworns, but Joshua Schmidt won a YCS in Europe soon after with Artifacts.
The Lightsworn variant was much faster with Raiden, Hand of the Lightsworn and Lyla, Lightsworn Sorceress milling cards. Milling Shaddoll monsters was a pretty free way of getting your engine going and to start Fusion Summoning. Raiden was also a more conveniently leveled tuner than Shaddoll Falco and helped get to level 7 and 8 Synchros such as Black Rose Dragon and Scrap Dragon. He and Lyla are both level 4 and synergize with the Collapserpent and Wyverburster for making rank 4’s.
It contrasted sharply with the Artifact engine, which often played three of both Artifact Moralltach and Artifact Sanctum. You gave yourself greater capacity to win the game through a controlling playstyle by playing them. In addition, Artifacts opened up more rank 5 plays in tandem with Shaddoll Beast. It was the slower variant, but it had a stronger turn one going first.
The path Hoban went with Lightsworn (and Chaos cards) would win out. Most people who weren’t playing this variant eventually migrated to it. It proved stronger overall because of its greater flexibility in going first or second and its explosive one-turn-kill potential. Moralltach would be limited on the January 2015 Forbidden & Limited List, eliminating the Artifact variant altogether.
Shaddoll Fusion and Super Polymerization
Shaddolls had access to two of the most ridiculous fusion spells ever printed.
Firstly, their own fusion spell could use monsters in the deck if the opponent controlled a monster from the Extra Deck. That’s absolutely insane. It completely circumvented the card advantage issues associated with fusion decks. It helped make Shaddolls the first competitively viable fusion deck in a very long time.
Secondly, Super Polymerization could use monsters on either side of the field for the simple cost of discarding one card. Furthermore, nothing could respond to it. It was The Monarchs Stormforth for Fusion Summoning that had little to no counterplay outside of preemptively activating Vanity’s Emptiness. It was particularly good in that format because Shaddolls’ main competitors, Satellarknights and Burning Abyss, ended on Light attribute monsters. Using your opponent’s board to make your own Construct was so strong that Super Polymerization would be Limited and subsequently banned because of Shaddolls.
When playing at a YCS event, consistency is key. This can be encapsulated in no better way than Hoban’s famous three Upstart Goblin‘s in the main deck. The ratios of the cards he played are all geared towards seeing his most powerful cards as often as possible while minimizing the appearance of dead cards.
Many cards in the monster lineup are bad to see too many of, and some are preferential to have. Shaddoll Beast increased the consistency by having the effect to draw more cards. He played no other Shaddoll monster at three. They all had their niches, but see too many in your opening hand and you won’t have enough spells to make your plays. Similarly, he avoids playing too many Lightsworn monsters and too many Collapserpent and Wyverburster.
Hoban played three of every spell card, excluding the ones that were limited. Shaddoll Fusion, Super Polymerization, and Soul Charge were all very important cards to see throughout the entire game. All of the non-power spells—three Upstart Goblin, one Allure of Darkness, and one Charge of the Light Brigade—helped improve consistency.
Traps continued the same deckbuilding trend. Vanity’s Emptiness could win games by itself, so Hoban played it at three. Sinister Shadow Games was a very strong card going first, but slow going second. Going second and opening multiple could be catastrophic. Thus, he stuck to two and sided the third for when he knew he was going first.
Keeping Matchups in Mind
As previously mentioned, the two biggest threats to Shaddolls were Satellarknights and Burning Abyss. As with Super Polymerization in the Main Deck, Hoban played several cards in the Extra and Side decks which were well catered towards combating those decks.
To start, I somehow haven’t mentioned El Shaddoll Winda yet. Every Shaddoll deck should be playing her, but I think this is a good place to point out her effectiveness in the meta. Burning Abyss and Satellarknights both relied heavily on multiple Special Summons to make Dante, Traveler of the Burning Abyss and Stellarknight Delteros. Winda outright prevented this and put Shaddolls in a favorable position.
Some other notable examples from the Extra Deck: Abyss Dweller negated effects in the Graveyard, perfect for Burning Abyss and the mirror. Evilswarm Nightmare is an interesting tech card that pops up now and again. During this format, it was used to flip cards like Construct, Winda, and Arcanite Magician face down. It gave a huge tempo advantage in the mirror. Castel, the Skyblaster Musketeer prevented all of the meta relevant boss monsters from floating.
In the Side Deck was Flying “C”, which worked wonders against both Burning Abyss and Satellarknights. It turns off Xyz Summoning, their main summoning mechanic. Like Abyss Dweller, Rivalry of Warlords was very effective going first against Burning Abyss and the mirror. Dante and Construct were both Fairy types, while Burning Abyss and Shaddolls had Fiend and Spellcaster type Main Deck monsters respectively.
Patrick Hoban assembled a Shaddoll deck with a high ceiling and explosive plays and did so without sacrificing consistency. Future lists would be different due to a Forbidden & Limited List shortly after the event, but a similar core would be maintained for some time.
Duelist Alliance format is well worth studying if you want to understand the modern game. It was the transition into a game where decks have significantly more recoverability and resilience as well as more streamlined ways of developing boards. These early decks laid the important new groundwork for theory in future Yu-Gi-Oh!. I highly recommend examining and trying to understand other decks from this time. By doing so, you will inevitably improve your deckbuilding skills.
We’ll end on a thought pertinent to our current format of diversity. As HAT format can attest: one set could wipe it all away.
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