TCG Meta Snapshot: SPYRAL Oct. 2017

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.

Archetype Explanation

SPYRAL is a deck that came out in The Dark Illusion in August of 2016. However, the deck has only recently rocketed into the spotlight with the release of an extremely powerful new SPYRAL Link Monster: SPYRAL Double Helix. The deck relies on its ability to generate huge amounts of card advantage which allows them to get a board consisting usually of 4 or more disruptive plays with protection in the form of Ib the World Chalice Priestess, SPYRAL Resort, and SPYRAL GEAR – Last Resort.

Tier Ranking

Although it was thought that the deck might not be as dominant in the TCG as it currently is in the OCG, SPYRAL has proven this fundamentally wrong at YCS Dallas on October 21-22 2017. The deck took 29 of the 32 top spots despite being new in the meta. This has given it a solid position as the sole member of the current Tier 1.


We will be looking at two of the topping lists from YCS Dallas. The first of these will be Marcello Barberi’s Top 32 SPYRAL list that focused more on going second in the first game of a match. The other list will be the Gabriel Marini’s that went undefeated in Swiss and landed him in the Top 4.

Although we saw a lot of small variants of the SPYRAL list at YCS Dallas, Barberi’s build definitely sets itself apart in a few key ways. First of all, he clearly built the deck with the intent to go second. He accomplished this by main decking 13 different hand traps. To make room for this extremely large number of hand traps, Barberi chose to drop several additional combo pieces and extenders that other builds ran. This included the omission of Set Rotation, Double Summon, and most importantly SPYRAL Gear – Utility Wire. While Utility Wire is often one of the major disruption cards in a turn one SPYRAL board, it does nothing to help going second. The likely logic that went in to the choice was that SPYRAL is already powerful enough going first without Utility Wire that it wasn’t worth running for the potential disadvantage it can cause when going second. His list is also 45 cards which, although seemingly less consistent, seems to have largely worked out for Barberi as the deck has so many different play starters in it.

Barberi’s other notable tech choice was the inclusion of three Blackwing Gofu – the Vague Shadow. Although Gofu had seen use in the pre-Double Helix iterations of the deck that focused on getting out SPYRAL Sleeper as quickly as possible, this was mostly dropped in favor of the more combo oriented builds from the OCG. However, it makes sense for Barberi’s deck as his focus was on going second, making SPYRAL Sleeper essential to breaking his opponent’s SPYRAL board.

As for his side deck, he primarily focused on a variety of Traps that would benefit him when going first in later games including Solemn Strike and Solemn Scolding. Evenly Matched also makes an appearance in his Side Deck, a seemingly popular choice at the event. Evenly Matched has the benefit of allowing any player to out their opponent’s board when going second. However, the main drawback to this strategy is that a well-placed Set Rotation can lock the opponent out of the ability to play Evenly Matched directly from their hand as they would control a card on their field. Because of this drawback, the popularity of Evenly Matched may see a drop in use going into YCS London.

Marini’s main deck is relatively standard for what we saw making the top cut at the event. The main ratio difference in Marini’s list from many others was the inclusion of only two SPYRAL Super Agent. The reasoning given for this is that the summoning effect of Super Agent is a hard once per turn, meaning it can only be done once regardless of how many different copies of the card you draw. This can easily make extra Super Agents dead in hand, taking away a key slot in the hand that could be be taken up by a powerful combo piece instead.

Marini also elected to run Gofu, much like Barberi. The main reason behind this is the versatility that the card offered, allowing both Synchro and Link plays. Gofu is a 1 card way to make Ningirsu, one of the easiest outs to the Set Rotation lock which can prove deadly for the deck. Marini also chose to run Herald of the Arc Light as an additional Synchro monster to be summoned using Destrudo that has been lowered to level 3 along with a SPYRAL Gear Drone or SPYRAL Quik Fix. The reasoning behind this was that Herald of the Arc Light is one of the few cards that can offer protection against an opponent’s Evenly Matched when going first in games 2 and 3 of a match.

The final point of interest in Marini’s list is his side deck. Although he ran some of the standard choices such as Evenly Matched for going second and Solemn Scolding for going first, he interestingly ran Secret Village of the Spellcasters. The philosophy behind this was to use the field spell to lock the opponent out while controlling either SPYRAL Master Plan or Ib, World Chalice Priestess. While this tech choice may not see widespread adoption, it is is definitely something interesting to consider.

Tech Choices

As SPYRAL has just made it’s full on debut in the meta, the amount of tech choices currently being used is relatively narrow. In spite of this, there are a few common options. The first of these is Lyrilusc Recital Starling and D.D. Crow.

The advantage of Recital Starling is that it gives an extra disruption when going first. D.D. Crow can be very useful as it can potentially stop Quik Fix from summoning itself from the Graveyard as well as banish Destrudo before it can be summoned. The downside is that Recital Starling is relatively useless when going second, especially when compared to Ghostrick Dullahan which is usually ran in its place. D.D. Crow also can end up not being useful at preventing the opponent from summoning back Quik Fix if they discard SPYRAL Mission Rescue for Quik Fix’s cost as that card’s Graveyard effect can be chained to D.D. Crow. While there were a handful of top lists at YCS Dallas that elected not to play this combo, if Destrudo solidifies itself as permanent fixture in SPYRAL lists, D.D. Crow will undoubtedly be played right along with it.

The next popular tech option was the inclusion of both Gofu and Coral Dragon. This never saw widespread play in OCG, but this can largely be attributed to Gofu being Limited on the OCG Forbidden List. The advantage of Gofu is that can help extend a hand into SPYRAL Sleeper and/or Double Helix without needing Machine Duplication or Double Summon. The main disadvantage is that Gofu is largely a dead card when drawn past turn 1, meaning that he can serve as a potential hit to consistency.

Another tech choice run by a small number of topping SPYRAL players was the inclusion of SPYRAL Gear Fully Armed. This card was very popular in SPYRAL builds prior to the release of Double Helix, but has largely been dropped in favor of more consistent choices. However, it still does seemingly have a place in the meta. This is due to its ability to more safely out an opponent’s copy of SPYRAL Sleeper equipped with SPYRAL Gear – Last Resort. Getting past Sleeper protected by both Last Resort and SPYRAL Resort can prove to be a tough challenge and Fully Armed’s non-targeting banish can bypass all of Sleeper’s protection. The card can potentially be useful in either the main or side deck at a single copy due to its high searchability as a SPYRAL Gear.

The final tech choice that we saw succeed at YCS Dallas was the inclusion of a second SPYRAL Gear – Last Resort. This was run by some players in order to more easily enable rank 4 plays in the deck. Having multiple copies of Last Resort gave the option to still have a Last Resort in hand or deck for use with Sleeper while being able to more easily get out Abyss Dweller, Tornado Dragon, or Number 41: Bagooska.


As SPYRAL has rapidly proven itself as more or less the only stand out contender of the format, the matchup I will focus on primarily is the mirror match. However, I will also briefly go over options against what I consider to be the more difficult or more common (at a locals level) lower tier matchups for the deck.


If playing at any event above a local tournament or a small regional, the SPYRAL mirror match will be exceedingly common. Because of this, it is often worthwhile to consider running certain cards in the main deck to counter the opponent.

The main way to achieve this is through hand traps. While there are a variety of hand traps right now that can be effectively used against SPYRAL, there are a few that should be looked at before others. Besides the obvious choices of Ash Blossom & Joyous Spring and Maxx “C”, Droll & Lock Bird is the next most potent option against SPYRAL. As the deck heavily relies on repeated searches, Droll & Lock Bird will effectively shut an opponent’s ability to accrue advantage down.

Other strong hand traps include Ghost Ogre & Snow Rabbit and Psy-Framegar Gamma. Ghost Ogre, although nowhere near as potent as it was during Zoodiac format, can still potentially stop a SPYRAL player if timed well. There are three main points in the early SPYRAL combo where Ghost Ogre can be effective: on the activation of SPYRAL Gear – Drone’s effect, on the activation of SPYRAL Resort’s effect, and on the activation of SPYRAL – Double Helix’s effect. Using Ghost Ogre on Drone can, if the opponent lacks the proper follow-up cards in their hand, prevent them from summoning Double Helix. This is, unfortunately, a risky gamble as there are a variety of cards that most SPYRAL builds run that can get past this including SPYRAL Gear – Big Red, Soul Charge, One for One, and Double Summon.

If used on Resort, this can potentially stop the opponent from ever getting their combo pieces in the first place. This is even riskier than using Ghost Ogre on Drone, however, as the disadvantage can be ignored if that player already had a way to get Double Helix in their hand or if they have another way to get out SPYRAL Resort. This is relatively likely, considering that many builds run 3 Resort, 3 Terraforming, and 3 Set Rotation. The main reason to use Ghost Ogre on Resort is if the opponent used Set Rotation to play it. This is because, unless they are able to successfully resolve SPYRAL Super Agent to destroy the field spell they set to your field, they will be unable to activate any further field spells.

The final time that it is effective to use Ghost Ogre is against SPYRAL Double Helix. While this won’t prevent the opponent from getting the monster from Double Helix’s effect, because Double Helix will no longer be on the field, they will not be able to summon a monster, but will be forced to add it to hand instead. This means they will likely be unable to effectively gain card advantage off of Master Plan. The main way around this is for the opponent to either search an alternate combo piece that they can use to continue into a different board or search Master Plan anyways. If they search Master Plan regardless, they likely have a way to both get it into the Graveyard from hand and subsequently revive it with SPYRAL Gear – Big Red or SPYRAL Mission – Rescue.

Despite these drawbacks, in my personal opinion SPYRAL Double Helix is generally the best card to hit with Ghost Ogre, especially if you have been tracking what resources your opponent has already burned through. If they have already used their various once per turn effects such as SPYRAL Super Agent and SPYRAL Gear Big Red, then hitting Double Helix will be likely to stop the opponent entirely or force them to end on just SPYRAL Sleeper.

The last significant hand trap of note is Ghost Reaper & Winter Cherries. Although initially lauded as a key hand trap in the matchup, it has been omitted from most of the top lists so far. This is largely due to the fact that Ghost Reaper doesn’t actually cause any explicit loss in card advantage which can be deadly in such an advantage dependent mirror match. That is not to say that Ghost Reaper doesn’t carry the potential to decisively turn the advantage against an opponent who has a less than optimal hand that would need to rely on Double Helix to make or break a board.

The last major card being used against SPYRAL is Evenly Matched. This card was very popular in side decks at YCS Dallas due to its versatility and ability to out a full SPYRAL board without targeting. The card does come with major downsides, however. These are primarily that the card will become inert against Set Rotation as the field spell that you are stuck with prevents Evenly Matched from being activated in the hand. The card will also drastically drop off in use after the release of Tri-Gate Wizard as it can negate Evenly Matched relatively easily.

Another viable side deck engine and counter to Evenly Matched is the Artifact engine. This consists of 3 Artifact Sanctum, 1 Artifact Scythe, and 1 Artifact Lancea. This engine is extremely versatile when going first as Scythe can effectively shut the opponent out from making a board. In addition, Artifact Lancea can also be summoned and subsequently tributed to stop the possibility of Evenly Matched if the opponent is telegraphing such a play.


Although decidedly less popular in the top cut of events going forward, Magicians is definitely going to maintain a presence at the earlier tables, at smaller regionals, and at local tournaments. As such, knowing the basics the matchup is useful. Fortunately, SPYRAL has a relatively easy matchup versus Magicians if played right. Some important things to note against Magicians are that D.D. Crow is essentially useless due to the deck’s relative neglect of the Graveyard as a resource, meaning that it is usually better to prioritize Sylvan Princessprite when making a rank 1.

The deck can also potentially disrupt your plays using Time Pendulumgraph if you are going second against them. To get around this, it is important to try and either bait out the use of Time Pendulumgraph or destroy it somehow. One of the easiest ways to do this is with SPYRAL Super Agent. Although randomly guessing for his effect is generally ill-advised, if you need to preserve your Drone for further plays, Magicians is the best matchup to guess against. Due to the nature of Pendulums, a Magician player’s deck will almost always be made up of a large number of monsters. Because of this, Monster is a usually a very safe guess and will often pay off.

As far as side decking goes, while Anti-Spell Fragrance can be a powerful option, it is largely unnecessary and not really worth the side deck space. One of the more important calls is to keep Set Rotation in deck in order to prevent the opponent from utilizing Evenly Matched as this will often be used against SPYRAL. While this advice applies to every matchup given how generic Evenly Matched is, Magicians in particular wouldn’t otherwise be affected by the Set Rotation lock as they do not rely on a field spell.


One of the most anticipated match-ups of the format, ABC has proven to be a relatively easy opponent for SPYRAL. This is largely due to the overlap in effectiveness of Ghost Reaper & Winter cherries between ABC and SPYRAL. If going to any event that you suspect to have a large ABC presence, it is very important that you run an ABC Dragon Buster in either the Extra Deck or Side Deck as a Ghost Reaper target. Otherwise, the standard disruptive cards like D.D. Crow and normal hand traps can very easily shut ABC down.


Trickstar was notable for being one of the top represented non-SPYRAL decks at YCS Dallas. This can largely be attributed to the huge number of hand traps that the deck can run as well as the ease with which they can utilize both Evenly Matched and Ghost Reaper. Generally, the more successful builds of Trickstar seem to lean towards either being entirely focused on controlling the game with hand traps or using Kaijus to out the SPYRAL board. Because Trickstar uses so many generic staple cards, specific Side Deck cards aren’t really needed for the deck. A hand trap that can potentially counter Trickstar is Psy-Framegear Gamma due to its ability to stop a hand trap used against an open board. This can be particularly useful at stopping Droll & Lock Bird which can very easily lead to an FTK.

True Draco

The final matchup of note, this is likely the easiest of the non-SPYRAL matchups that I have mentioned so far. Due to the focus on targeting disruption, True Draco is largely impotent against SPYRAL and will have a hard time breaking your boards so long as SPYRAL Resort is on the field. One obvious thing to watch out for, however, is Master Peace. Master Peace can easily pose a problem mainly due to his high attack and immunity to monster effects which serve as SPYRAL’s main form of removal. The main way around Master Peace is either through Kaijus, boosting the attack of a monster with SPYRAL Gear Drone, or by using SPYRAL Gear Fully Armed. Fully Armed is likely the weakest of these options as it is prone to disruption and can brick, but is a relatively useful card in several matchups outside of just True Draco due to its untargeted banishing effect. True Draco is also very prone to the Set Rotation lock as it forces them to waste their Spell/Trap destruction on their own field spell instead of on disrupting your field.

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A self-styled scholar with a minor in history. I played the game from its beginnings until 2008 and started again in summer of 2015. Since then I have been devouring as much Yu-Gi-Oh! history and theory as I can and hope to share that knowledge with all of you!

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