Salamangreats in January 2021?
It’s a new year. The Pandemic still hasn’t ended. There are no in-person events. And lastly, the meta is plagued with control decks but is topped by two combo-centric ones that have similar goals – prevent your opponent from playing.
Today we’re going to take a look at an old ally. A deck albeit past its heyday can still net you wins against the current juggernauts. We’ll examine whether or not it can defeat boards that boast the True King of All Calamities, Vanity’s Ruler, and Herald of Ultimateness.
Table of Contents
Main Deck – Salad-y Concoction
Since the infamous January 2020 banlist where Miragestallio got banned, there has been a raging debate on whether Flame Bufferlo or Lady Debug is the better starter in Salamangreat decks. The answer is simple: it depends.
They both have their strengths. Bufferlo can easily be “chain-blocked” with Balelynx, in order to protect its ability to draw 2 cards. This has always been a valuable utility to have. Not only do you draw cards – you also could potentially set up your graveyard.
So if Bufferlo is so good, why did I opt to go for Lady Debug? Well, because it searches Gazelle, which gets your entire Salamangreat engine going. It’s extremely important to have your motors running from the get-go. This will allow graveyard set-up, and resource and interruption recursion. Another thing is, Bufferlo needs set-up in that you need a Cyberse monster as a discard fodder. This makes Lady Debug better both in a vacuum, and in a simplified game state – which you will find yourself in a lot with all the control decks going rampant.
Foxy as a starter?
Salamangreat Foxy is something that a lot of Salad players do not consider as a starter. This is understandable, what with the limits of Gazelle and Salamangreat Circle. However, one thing that people gloss over, is that most players do not interrupt Foxy’s excavation effect. Again, this is also understandable on their part. After all, it is not a guaranteed hit. But therein lies the magic. It almost always goes untouched, and in this deck, if you have Foxy in hand with no other Salamangreat cards, you have a 79.68% chance to hit at least one Salad card. There’s a 31.32% chance that you hit one of the traps – Salamangreat Roar / Salamangreat Rage. That’s 1 in every 3 attempts that you get a free interruption! (not even counting the off chance that you hit Gazelle).
Now, I’m not going to babble on and give you all the numbers. You can figure that out with math. I will say, however, that some people still believe that PSY-Framegear Gamma on our normal summon ends our turn. That’s not the case anymore, especially with Foxy. There are instances where you would have Gazelle in hand already or have a searcher like Cynet Mining / Salamangreat Circle. In these scenarios, you could potentially search Gazelle first, then go into Foxy to try to dig further for interruptions, or just plus off of the card by getting a Salad monster.
Compact Salad Engine
Salamangreat has always been one of the best decks when it comes to recurring its resources. This means that you do not need an extensive engine. Jack Jaguar is the best recursion tool that the deck has. Being able to shuffle back Extra Deck monsters while triggering Sunlight Wolf‘s effect is invaluable. This is the reason it’s at 2. We cannot afford to banish all copies of it off Pot of Desires. Spinny, on the other hand, has lost most of its value in the deck. It is, at best, an extender that you can use from the hand. Falco is a tiny bit more useful, as it can bounce our Gazelle back to hand and directly set our spells/traps from the graveyard (mostly the traps). However, this is not mandatory to win – and you usually get to send Falco before activating Pot of Desires anyway.
Will of the Salamangreat is an amazing card. It really is. Heck, it’s a recursive Monster Reborn / Soul Charge for our deck! However, it does not help this variant as much as it would a combo-centric one. In this iteration of the deck, we’re not trying to wombo-combo and build an unbreakable board. We’re not trying to play through Nibiru. This is the reason why this card is at one in this variant.
Lastly the traps. Salamangreat Roar and Salamangreat Rage. There is nothing much to say here. These cards are interruptions! An omni negate and a card that destroys 1 or more cards. These are almost always going to be live and will help in slowing down the juggernauts of the meta, alongside the hand traps that we’ll have at our disposal!
Interruptions, you say?
This is the most fun part of the deck! Handtraps and legitimate traps. These are inherent interruptions that are always going to be live. In this variant, we make use of a mix of interruptions that do well against the main contenders of the current meta.
Virtual World, Drytrons, Zoodiac, and Eldlich are arguably the best contenders of today’s metagame. Skull Meister and Ghost Belle all interact really well with the decks mentioned above. Ash Blossom is just an all-around, timeless handtrap that deals with a myriad of things. Forbidden Droplet is in there as a main-decked out to Vanity’s Ruler and Shenshen. It also has its niche uses due to it being able to halve the attack of the monsters it affects. Lastly are the Torrential Tributes and Solemn Strikes. Strike has always been a good card that stops inherent special summons like AA-Zeus and Accesscode. With Drytron players slowly moving into the Herald of Ultimateness build, Solemn Strike is just increasing its value in control decks, since it is still going to be able to deal with Ultimateness even when you go second.
Extra Deck – Old Salads with New Toys
3 Balelynx, 3 Sunlight Wolf, 2 Heatleo
This has been the standard Salamangreat Extra Deck Ratio forever. Some people have cut Heatleo to 1. I respectfully disagree. In a control-heavy format (with the exception of Virtual World and Drytrons), Heatleo deserves two spots in the Extra Deck. Shuffling back 2 back row cards and the ability to alter attacks – these are indispensable assets to have.
Now then, I’m no longer going to hold off on the glaring differences from other decklists: (a) the absence of Rank 4’s and (b) Geonator Transverser.
First of all, if you haven’t noticed yet, I do not have Parallel eXceed in the main deck. As I’ve mentioned – we’re not trying to combo off. We’re not playing this deck to combo when there are heaps of other decks out there that do it better – be it meta or rogue. The list does not make Rank 4’s easily. It could be done, of course, with Salamangreat Fowl and/or the Parallel eXceed, but that’s not the goal.
Now onto the next one. Geonator Transverser. This would usually be seen in Drytron lists. However, I believe people severely underrate the capabilities of this card. It protects itself and its linked monsters from destruction. What does this mean? This means that even if its effect to swap monsters gets negated, you’d still have this on board! This deals with Red-Eyes Dark Dragoon much easier than Borreload Dragon will. Oh, and don’t spill it to others but – if you get to out Vanity’s Ruler with Forbidden Droplet, and are able to combo off – you can swap a monster for it, and keep your opponent from special summoning on the next turn.
Side Deck – Meta Hate
With the Top 2 Decks of the format essentially saying “NO” to you playing the game if they establish their boards, hand traps are of absolute essence to all decks – very much like the previous format. Cycle Reader is an absolute menace against Drytrons as it can simultaneously banish and stop one Drytron name and Benten. This is due, in part, to the ruling that a Benten tributed as cost, when banished in the same chain, will not be able to activate (KDE-US). Droll & Lock Bird is another “Stop your turn right there” button against Drytrons. However, some people fail to see that Virtual World can get hurt by this too. They play Coral Dragon, Archethys, and Stardust Charge Warrior, along with Pot of Desires, Qinglong, Lulu, and a possible Upstart Goblin. In addition to that, you may also see Invoked Dogmatika, which can also get crippled when you droll them on the search of Aleister by Magical Meltdown. This gives Droll insane value in the deck!
While combo-hate is mandatory, back row hate must not be forgotten. After all, it is a control-plagued meta. We need to get back row-removal cards in the side deck. Lightning Storm and Harpie’s Feather Duster are amazing blowout cards against control decks. In addition to that, Salamangreat is still able to play Red Reboot since Accesscode can just win you the game in one turn! Or at the very least wipe the entire board.
Now, then, not everyone can realistically afford Lightning Storms and Droplets. No need to fret! There are always budget options out there!
Lightning Storms can always be subbed out for Cosmic Cyclones and Twin Twisters. Cosmic is still a solid 1-for-1 against Eldlich as it prevents their interruption AND prevents their trap from floating! As for Forbidden Droplet, you can always use Dark Ruler No More. This card has recently been reprinted in a Structure Deck so it’s more affordable now. Granted, it’s not a quickplay spell, but it still cannot be responded to by monster effects!
Floodgates are also an option! Light-Imprisoning Mirror, Mistake, Gozen Match, Rivalry of Warlords are all decent viable options! Mistake and Rivalry of Warlords probably are at the top of my list. Mistake just outright stops searching. This absolutely cripples Drytrons and forces them to use Knightmare Phoenix on it. Not only does this make their plays awkward, but it also effectively temporarily cuts them off of Union Carrier due to the lack of EMZ and arrow pointers. Rivalry of Warlords is another one that is useful. This is due to the fact that it hits several decks. Invoked, Drytrons, and Virtual World all will find this difficult to deal with.
Attempting to combo, when almost all other combo decks out there do it better than we do, seems pointless. Going control, I believe, is the wave! At least for now. However, do not let this distract you from the fact that this deck is still capable of ending games in an instant. Update Jammer into Accesscode is still something that is ridiculously easy to go for in this deck. Not only does give you 1000 damage, but it also allows you to pop cards in the process while not being responded to. You can have as many as FIVE attributes to use as fodder!
The metagame has certainly shifted under Salamangreat’s feet. New decks, strategies, cards, and mechanics have been introduced. The deck is still held back from its full power by the Forbidden and Limited List. The current juggernauts are hard to deal with. However, there are always some routes to take that can give us the best chance to take down some of the meta’s heavy hitters. Creativity and the will to play a certain deck will always get you somewhere. Now, onward my fellow Salad duelists, and control your way to success!