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 than the one used on Pojo. 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 into 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 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.
Table of Contents
No deck has escaped the judgment of the banlist like Paleozoic. Arguably the best control deck in the format, Paleozoic uses the advantageous typing and generally good effects of the Paleozoic trap monsters alongside a secondary engine (usually Frogs) to repeatedly summon Toadally Awesome. This is also backed up by several powerful traps, such as Imperial Order and Solemn Strike. Paleozoic has been playable since the release of Toadally Awesome and while it saw a dip in playability during Zoodiac format, several determined duelists piloted the deck at the NAWCQ, one all the way to the Top 8. Now, with the release of Mistar Boy in the special edition of Code of the Duelist and the slow decline in play-rates of its worst matchup, True Draco, the deck is once more making a powerful case for inclusion in Tier 1. Its multitude of answers make the deck very forgiving, though the decision of when to deploy traps and how to use Toadally Awesome‘s powerful effect mean the deck has an incredibly high skill cap, allowing well-researched players a chance to shine.
Paleozoic currently occupies the bottom tier 1 spot. Most of its matchups are wildly different based on the skill of a the pilot, but the majority of Paleozoic players will find the top decks to be slightly unfavorable matchups and tier 2 and lower as massively favored.
We’ll take a look at two different versions of the deck – one from mid-September which showcases a very defensive style of gameplay, and one from this past weekend which aims to be as aggressive as a deck playing 20 traps can possibly be.
This is Joshua Schmidt’s 1st-place list from the Munich, Germany Regional right after the release of Mistar Boy. The three missing cards in the extra deck are link monsters removed by the reporting software.
This is a deck prepared for a wide playing field – cards like Lost Wind have lost a bit of their luster as players have gravitated towards True Draco and Trickstar. One common thread between this build of the deck and others from a similar period is that almost every build of Paleozoic has removed Card of Demise from their main deck in favor of Pot of Desires – a similar card without the pesky summoning restriction. I imagine that about 90% of Joshua’s first turns involved making a Toadally Awesome and setting four cards. The side deck is almost exclusively tailored to decks that rely on Spell/Trap cards, with a whopping 9 side deck options for anyone who dared to lay down a green piece of cardboard.
This is Gavin Knox’s 21st place deck from this weekend’s Brooklyn Regional. This is a far more aggressive build of Paleozoics, with a myriad of interesting tech options.
The most interesting choice is the decision to play Blackwing – Gofu the Vague Shadow. In a deck that doesn’t ever really need more than the one extra monster zone, it seems redundant to include a one-card Decode Talker, but apparently the 3300-attack beatstick was a good enough deterrent against decks looking to beat over individual cards or target his backrow. Decode Talker also offers the further advantage of providing low cost targeting protection by tributing a Frog or Paleozoic monster. The maindeck Kaiju are definitely a concession to the persistent popularity of True Draco. Finally, the Spellbook engine is a slightly less risky take on drawing two cards as often as possible.
Describing tech choices for Paleozoic doesn’t make a lot of sense since every card but the 9-12 Paleozoic traps and the 8 frogs are specifically reserved for powerful traps. Currently, Paleozoic players have to decide between Heavy Storm Duster, Dimensional Barrier, Solemn Strike, Reckless Greed, Lost Wind, Storming Mirror Force, Quaking Mirror Force, and Waboku as the go-to format superstars. As a general rule any powerful trap card, especially chainable ones, are eligible for inclusion in this incredibly flexible deck.
Paleozoic is also a perfect home for floodgate traps. More trap-heavy builds are happy to include several copies of the current floodgate of choice, Anti-Spell Fragrance, and some are even integrating copies of Mistake into their main deck. With respect to the field, Paleozoic has enjoyed relative success in previous formats by playing copies of Rivalry of Warlords or Gozen Match, depending on which is the most powerful.
As shown above, some Paleozoic players have been cutting copies of traps and playing more proactive cards, designed to improve their ability to go second in a format where setting five traps isn’t as powerful as it used to be. Most famously, they have used Spellbook Magician of Prophecy‘s advantageous typing to supplement the deck with a small Spellbook of Knowledge engine. Since this change means the deck no longer has to rely on Card of Demise to refill its hand, it can now add hand traps, Kaiju, and yes, even Blackwing – Gofu the Vague Shadow to the main deck.
Finally, once new cards are released in CIBR the deck will need to dramatically reconsider what cards it plays. Traps like Evenly Matched are a nightmare for the deck, and the rise of a SPYRAL dominated meta will improve the power of cards like Grand Horn of Heaven while decreasing the power of cards like Heavy Storm Duster. The soon-to-be-released Ojama Duo is also questionably playable and a few OCG decklists have seen success by removing the Frog engine from the deck entirely and replacing it with Ojama Red, Ojama Blue, and a single vanilla Ojama, using Paleozoic Marrella to send Ojama Duo to the Graveyard.
This matchup, like all matchups in Yu-Gi-Oh, is very die-roll dependent. Paleozoic excels in its ability to prevent decks from establishing a board, but Pendulum Magician’s ability to gum up the boardstate as early as their first turn can give reactive versions of the deck a very rough time. Additionally, most Pendulum Magician players will end their first turn by making a copy of Tornado Dragon, the top predator against Paleozoic. Clever Pendulum Magician players can use the several quick effects in the deck and extra deck to prevent the Paleozoic player from ever accessing their Paleozoic effects in the Graveyard.
While the above paragraph might seem a little frightening for fledgling Paleozoic players, the deck also has fantastic options in the sideboard. Anti-Spell Fragrance pulls its own weight, as does Mistake. Well-timed Heavy Storm Dusters can shut off pendulum summons for the turn or remove copies of Time Pendulumgraph from the field. Droll & Lock Bird and Ash Blossom & Joyous Spring are critical to shut down turn one plays from the deck when going second. Individual spell and trap destruction like Cosmic Cyclone, Twin Twisters, or even maindecked Paleozoic Olenoides and Paleozoic Dinomischus are fantastic at preventing play extension.
True Draco is a nightmare for Paleozoic. The decks often lacks maindeck outs to a Master Peace, the True Dracoslaying King that was tributed using a monster and a trap card, their spell cards can destroy yours, they’re notoriously hard to out-advantage, and to top it all off the activation of the smaller True Draco monsters prevents you from activating your own Paleozoic trap cards in the Graveyard. While the limiting of True King’s Return and the banning of Dinomight Knight, the True Dracofighter have improved Paleo’s chances, they’re still not great.
Despite this, there are several pretty good sideboard options for this disaster of a matchup. Many players have opted to play multiple copies of Mask of Restrict in order to prevent Master Peace from ever making it onto the field in the first place. Unfortunately, this card is weak going second and easily outed by any of the True Draco spells’ Graveyard effects. In its place, you can use some combination of Gameciel, the Sea Turtle Kaiju, Ghost Ogre & Snow Rabbit, and Droll & Lock Bird, three historically-powerful cards against True Draco, to improve your win percentage.
Barring any shenanigans, this should be a good matchup. Unfortunately, shenanigans are the main gameplan of Trickstar, so the match could probably be determined by rolling dice and then showing each other your hands. Unlike most games, you’re not going to have to stop Trickstar from ever landing a threat – their 1800-attack beaters don’t match up well against Dupe Frog and Toadally Awesome – but you will have to do your best to prevent setting up a Chain Summoning play for your opponent.
While many people have channeled their fear of being burned for 6400 in draw phase into sideboarding Hanewata, you can easily improve your Trickstar matchup by siding exclusively cards that are already good elsewhere. Droll & Lock Bird and Ash Blossom & Joyous Spring are incredible, as always. Individual Spell/Trap destruction, like Cosmic Cyclone, Twin Twisters, and Heavy Storm Duster can prevent multiple Trickstar Light Stage from being activated in one turn. Finally, if your opponent is playing the Windwitch engine, it might be worth your while to board in a few Kaiju, assuming you’re not playing maindeck Lost Wind.
The Paleozoic mirror is particularly skill-testing. The ability to get a Paleozoic summon off of your opponent’s trap card activation, the excitement of multiple negates on board at once, and the ability to navigate some of the most gummy board states in the history of Yu-Gi-Oh all help to make this one of the most interesting matchups in the current meta. Routinely, the winner of the game (if both players are at roughly equal skill-levels) is the player who gets ahead on Paleozoic cards in their Graveyard, though if there IS a skill disparity, the more-studied player will usually come out on top.
Handtraps are very good against Paleozoic because they can interrupt your opponent’s attempt at Paleozoic activations. D.D. Crow is particularly strong since it can banish two frogs from your opponent’s Graveyard in response to a Ronintoadin activation. Kaijus are fine – as long as you have the ability to control the only Toadally Awesome on the field, you’ll be in a pretty good spot. Finally, you may be in the habit of boarding out Paleozoic Marrella, but this is a matchup where the additional card in the Graveyard can matter immensely.
ABC is a fine matchup. It helps that it is one of the few remaining decks where Paleozoic Canadia actually does anything – it’s fantastic at preventing a Bujintei Tsukuyomi from becoming a Proxy Dragon, great for stopping a Union Hangar activation, and good enough as a card that forces ABC-Dragon Buster facedown on your opponent’s turn. Additionally, Paleozoic is one of the few decks that can outgrind three ABCs.
Like any field spell reliant deck, Magic Deflector, Anti-Spell Fragrance, and Imperial Order are very good. Most hand traps are also quite powerful – Ghost Reaper & Winter Cherries, Droll & Lock Bird, Ash Blossom & Joyous Spring, and Maxx “C” are all incredible. Be careful not to over-board, however – it can be enticing to just jam all 15 cards from your side deck, but you’ve got to make sure your linear game plan is good enough that you can still consistently open Toadally Awesome. If the deck is playing True Draco, cards like Ghost Ogre & Snow Rabbit become much more powerful as well.