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
Pendulum Magicians are a Pendulum deck focused on utilizing the various different Magician Pendulum monsters to summon Rank 4 Xyz monsters and Level 8 Synchro Monsters. The deck also controls the board through the use of their Trap, Time Pendulumgraph. The deck’s main strengths are its high degree of consistency and toolbox nature, allowing the deck to work its way out of a variety of situations. It has relatively high recoverability when set up properly with cards such as Oafdragon Magician, Star Pendulumgraph, and Astrograph Sorcerer.
With the loss in power of SPYRALs, Magicians was expected by some to return to the top spot it held in the meta prior to Circuit Break. While this has turned out not to be the case, the deck has still managed to stick in the bottom Tier 1, being roughly equal in terms of competitive representation with Trickstars at some events, but less so as the month of November dragged on.
We will be going over 3 different deck lists that topped for Magicians in November.
The first of these lists is Esteban Vences’ Top 8 Pendulum Magician list from YCS San Diego.
This list is very interesting for a few reasons. First off, Vences chose to run a larger number of hand traps than normal for Magicians. He opted to main deck not just the standard 3 Ash Blossom and 1 Maxx “C”, but also the full PSY-Framegear Gamma engine. The reasoning he gave for this inclusion ties into his other major tech choice: running 3 copies of Pendulum Call. Before this event, Pendulum Call had generally been viewed as a last resort card to use in Pendulums. This is primarily due to its vulnerability to Ash, causing a -2 when negated which can be nearly impossible for Magicians to recover from. This is where Gamma comes in, giving Pendulum Call the protection from Ash it normally lacks.
Outside of Pendulum Call, Vences’ main deck is otherwise a very normal Magician list. It’s his side deck where his list once again starts to shine. Included are 3 copies of PSY-Framegear Epsilon, the PSY-Frame that negates Trap cards. This serves to help counter Trickstars when they are going first, giving an edge against a meta very heavily laden with Trickstars.
Lastly, he opted to side 2 copies of Psi-Blocker. Psi-Blocker had seen usage back in the early days of Pendulum Magicians in late 2015, but fell out of favor due to the ease with which it can be destroyed. However, with somewhat of a decline in easily accessible monster removal cards, especially when going second, Psi-Blocker can be used again.
This next list is Marcel Brunner’s Top 32 Pendulum Magician build from YCS Prague. Brunner’s list is far closer to what would generally be considered the “standard” Pendulum Magician build. His ratios are relatively standard outside of running 2 copies of Oafdragon Magician. His reasoning here is that Oafdragon’s scale effect can help to get Wisdom Eye Magician back to hand on the first turn. He identifies this as being key to setting up scales again after being blown out by Evenly Matched. His only other notable inclusion are 2 main decked copies of Cosmic Cyclone and Wavering Eyes. Wavering Eyes is a sensible choice when expecting the mirror match relatively frequently. Cosmic Cyclone, on the other hand, has worked its way out of the Magician main decks recently. However, it functions well in both the mirror match as well as against various rogue matchups and even against SPYRAL to some degree, especially when going first as a way to disrupt SPYRAL Resort.
As for Brunner’s side deck, we see 2 major inclusions of note: Lava Golem and Chaos Hunter. Running Lava Golem over Kaijus is a very sensible meta call for the current game considering the prevalence of SPYRAL. While Kaijus were generally better when True Draco was a popular matchup due to the deck’s usual focus on only one monster, boards produced by decks such as SPYRAL, Infernoid, or Burning Abyss almost all include multiple difficult to bypass monsters.
Chaos Hunter serves as a counter for the Trickstar matchup primarily. This is because it can be Special Summoned by its normal effect or Pendulum Summoned, blocking the opponent from banishing your hand with Trickstar Reincarnation. Chaos Hunter is particularly potent against Trickstars due to the deck having a difficult time getting past a 2500 ATK monster without drawing a board wipe, Eater of Millions, or Honest. Chaos Hunter can also be useful in the Infernoid matchup, something that is becoming more prevalent as the meta develops.
The final and most interesting part of Brunner’s side deck is his inclusion of a playset of Full Force Virus. This card originally showed up in the meta in a Kozmo build during the end of the Zoodiac format to counter that deck, but had mostly fallen out of favor without Zoodiac predominating. However, the ease with which Magicians can get a monster to satisfy the card’s activation condition makes it a still powerful choice. The card can be particularly deadly against a deck such as a Trickstar when going first, removing all of the opponent’s important Trickstar monsters from hand. It can also be useful against SPYRAL, getting rid of Quik Fix, Drone, and Super Agent.
This last list is Matthew Evan Harris Vanden Heuvel’s SPYRAL Magicians list. Although this is not a dedicated Pendulum Magician build, it is a very interesting hybrid worth taking a look at. Matthew chose to run the most minimal possible SPYRAL engine that is still able to maintain the full suite of standard SPYRAL combos. The rest of his deck is subsequently filled with Magicians for both normal Pendulum Summons and easy summoning of SPYRAL monsters.
The most interesting thing about the Magician part of the deck is which Magicians Matthew chose to run. He elected to run only the Magician monsters that function largely on their own, omitting key cards seen in pure Magician decks such as Double Iris Magician and Oafdragon Magician. He also opted to run 3 copies of Pendulum Call to make sure that he was able to very consistently get his scales up and also to get extra level 4 monsters for making Extra Deck plays. This choice was backed up by the main decking of the PSY-Frame Gamma engine, much like what we saw with Vences’ Magician deck.
Outside of the two title engines, Matthew tied them together with a Supreme King engine. This engine functions by using Supreme King Dragon Darkwurm to search out Supreme King Gate Zero. This not only gives an easy 1 card set of scales, but also gives a 0 scale with which to Pendulum Summon the two level 1 SPYRAL monsters.
For Matthew’s Extra Deck, he chose to primarily focus on Rank 4 Xyz monsters with a minimal Link section of the Extra Deck. Most notably, he omitted Timestar Magician. Although Timestar Magician may seem key to standard Magician builds, Matthew’s low Magician count benefits far less from its inclusion or use and his deck is usually far better off focusing on more powerful Rank 4 Xyz like Tornado Dragon or Bagooska.
As the post-November Forbidden List format has developed, Pendulum Magician builds have more or less solidified. This does mean that there haven’t been an exceptional number of newly discovered techs making their way into the competitive builds of the deck.
The main tech option, as highlighted in the decklists section, is the inclusion of 3 copies of Pendulum Call alongside PSY-Framegear Gamma. This can help to both increase the consistency of the deck to get out scales while simultaneously baiting out the opponent’s Ash Blossom. The main risks here are drawing Pendulum Call without Gamma and getting hit by Ash. This will usually result in a loss as most Magician players can’t produce a board with only 3 cards in hand due to need 2 of them for scales.
Another tech option going forward for the deck is the inclusion of 2-3 Mist Valley apex Avian. Although this is an older tech for the deck, it has started to make a minor resurgence, popping up in some lists from smaller events. It can thrive in these settings because, while it definitively drops the deck’s overall consistency, this can be outweighed by the benefit that its negations provide in a shorter event.
The biggest matchup of the format, SPYRAL, should be expected at any big event going forward until it gets hit further. The main difficulty with the SPYRAL matchup is that the deck’s biggest weakness is hand traps, something which Magicians often have a hard time maindecking large quantities of. While some topping builds are main decking 6-10 hand traps, the more common ratio is just 3 copies of Ash Blossom and 1 copy of Maxx “C”. This means that going second vs SPYRAL merits adding in several hand traps to make sure that they will get used. Common ones to use are Droll & Lock Bird and Ghost Reaper & Winter Cherries. Droll & Lock also has merit in the mirror match while Ghost Reaper, depending on Extra Deck space, can be useful against Burning Abyss and ABC as well.
Going first against SPYRAL, you should generally focus on getting counters to Evenly Matched, as it can very easily destroy a Magician player’s advantage. The three main counters are the Artifact Engine (3 Artifact Sanctum, 1-2 Artifact Lancea, 1-2 Artifact Scythe), Solemn Scolding, and Mind Crush. While the Artifact engine is good, I personally recommend against it in Magicians as the deck can’t afford the consistency drop from siding that many cards for one purpose. Instead, Solemn Scolding or Mind Crush should be preferred with the choice largely coming down to personal preference.
With Pendulum Magicians still in Tier 1, the mirror match can be relatively common at all levels of play. Many players are still opting to run 2-3 copies of Wavering Eyes between the Main and Side Decks in preparation for this matchup. Cosmic Cyclone can also be very potent in removing Purple Poison Magician or Time Pendulumgraph.
Outside of these more staple choices, Magicians has a few specific counters that it can run for the mirror match. These are Pendulum Storm and Pendulum Hole. Both of these cards come with the great benefit of being searchable off of Duelist Alliance, meaning only one copy needs to be included in the side deck. Pendulum Storm is definitely the more potent of the two. It can serve as an alternative to Wavering Eyes, carrying some advantages over its more notorious counterpart. These are primarily the ability to destroy other Spells/Traps the opponent may have (mainly their Pendulumgraphs) while also not being vulnerable to Ash Blossom. Pendulum Hole, on the other hand, has fallen out of favor. However, it can still be a worthwhile inclusion in the Side Deck given extra space. It can serve as a searchable and more powerful version of Solemn Strike in the mirror match.
Another side deck option worth mentioning for the mirror match is Zaphion the Timelord. While the fall of True Draco from the meta has made this less versatile, the card can still be very useful in both the mirror match and the Paleozoic matchup for dealing with the opponent’s backrow threats and scales safely.
The Trickstar matchup is extremely variable for Pendulum Magicians. While the deck doesn’t have the problem of losing key 1-ofs to Trickstar Reincarnation that many decks have, it can still be devastated by the large number of hand traps that Trickstars run. To counteract the deck, there are a few options. First, running additional backrow removal such as Mystical Space Typhoon and Twin Twisters can be very helpful at baiting out the opponent’s Trickstar Reincarnation or Solemn Strike while also being able to stop Trickstar Lightstage from getting a search. Outside of that, Droll & Lock Bird can also be helpful at mitigating the large number of the searches the deck often performs.
Some more unique side deck options to an opponent’s Trickstar Reincarnation are Artifact Lancea as well as Chaos Hunter. Chaos Hunter has the benefit of providing a strong monster on board, but unlike Lancea it cannot counter Evenly Matched. Mind Crush can also be very potent going first at countering both Evenly Matched and for removing an opponent’s Trickstar Lycoris from hand when it is attempting to Special Summon itself.