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 ones 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 for 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.
One of the only decks that could consistently top during the nightmarish hellscape of SPYRAL format, Trickstar has emerged from the other side of the November banlist untouched, more streamlined, and just as degenerate as before. While the ever-climbing popularity of Paleozoic Frogs and Burning Abyss may jeopardize its continued success, a positive SPYRAL matchup plus a natural immunity to the new go-to removal spell, Evenly Matched, makes Trickstar a formidable deck with the ability to both steal games with its FTK as well as access powerful lategame combos with Firewall Dragon and Trickstar Lilybell.
Trickstar currently occupies the third and final spot in Tier 1, behind SPYRAL and Pendulum Magicians. A strong SPYRAL matchup and the ability to FTK going first cement its playability, but a waning Pendulum Magician matchup and several very lopsided winrates versus Burning Abyss and Paleozoic continue to prevent Trickstar from occupying the top two spots.
This is Joel White’s 1st place list from ARG St. Louis. This represents the most popular “straight up” variant of Trickstar. It’s a very tight list playing almost exclusively good cards both in the main deck and in the sideboard. A wide array of powerful link monsters means you’ll be able to use two (usually) of your four generic link fodder cards, and all three powerful generic link 4 monsters allows you the flexibility to always have an answer to your opponent’s board.
This is Marlon Reimnitz’ 1st place list from the Aurich regionals last week. Trickstar decklists are finally circling an optimal build – the only difference between this list’s main deck and White’s is two Chain Summoning for two Solemn Strike. The side deck deserves special attention, as it is much more targeted toward True Draco ABC and Pendulum Magicians, while boarding less targeted answers against better matchups like SPYRAL.
One of the positives of Trickstar’s continued popularity is that the deck has become much more uniform. Where previously, deck builders were desperately scrounging for playable cards with which to supplement their 10-card Trickstar suite, builds have now settled on several different playable options.
Scapegoat has emerged alongside Blackwing – Gofu the Vague Shadow to give Trickstar access to Borreload Dragon and, along with a few other materials, Firewall Dragon. While previously an interesting tech option but nowhere near the consistent inclusion it is now, the addition of Borreload Dragon to the list of powerful generic Link 4 options has solved both Trickstar’s inability to beat over large monsters sans Honest as well as its inability to clean up gummy board states by stealing whatever gives you the most trouble. As always, including any generic link support gives Trickstar access to infinite damage as long as they can pump out a Firewall Dragon and a Link Spider with a Trickstar Lilybell attached, a Trickstar Lycoris somewhere in the hand or graveyard, and a large monster on your opponent’s side of the field.
Eater of Millions also returns as a powerful include to out powerful monsters without worrying about using your normal summon. With so much redundancy in the extra deck, you won’t miss losing your 3rd copy of Link Spider if it allows you to banish your opponent’s Borreload Dragon. Because the aformentioned monster is becoming more popular and more accessible to more decks, the Windwitch suite and its now power-crept Crystal Wing Synchro Dragon have all but vanished from decklists.
Handtraps have always been a contentious inclusion in Trickstar, since its already playing three copies of arguably the most powerful hand trap in the format. Despite this, the continued popularity of SPYRAL has necessitated the inclusion of 3 Ash Blossom & Joyous Spring and 3 Ghost Ogre & Snow Rabbit in almost every list. Incredibly cautious players have also begun to include copies of PSY-Framegear Gamma as well, as Trickstar Lightstage is one of the most likely Ash Blossom targets in the deck.
In the wake of the SPYRAL bannings, the previously mediocre Pendulum Magicians are back to tier one. They’ve received a lot of new toys and their worst matchup is now severely mitigated, which had both returned the Pendulums to playability and made the once about-even matchup a lot harder.
Out of the sideboard, most of the previously-powerful answers are still good enough. Twin Twisters and Cosmic Cyclone do a good enough job of destroying scales, Ash Blossom & Joyous Spring is great at stopping Double Iris Magician searches, and even Ghost Ogre & Snow Rabbit can destroy Wisdom-Eye Magician without repercussions. When going first, Anti-Spell Fragrance is still incredibly powerful, and if you expect your opponent to go into resilient servant dragon monsters, a package of Kaiju may be in your best interests. Finally, Evenly Matched was printed specifically for this matchup. Keep in mind that this is one of the few matchups where going long doesn’t favor you, as Magicians may well be able to answer every threat in your deck.
As evidenced by their continued presence while SPYRAL was occupying 90% of the metagame, Trickstar is one of the few decks that can consistently defeat SPYRAL. While it’s true that SPYRAL’s most powerful board is almost impossible for Trickstar to chew through, the inclusion of a 13-card handtrap suite has evened up the matchup. When going first, sitting on a Trickstar Lycoris is usually enough to deal upwards of 2000 damage to a SPYRAL opponent attempting to go off, so with clever baiting and reserved handtrap activation, you can easily assemble enough damage on the following turn. Scapegoat is another all star when going first, since it singlehandedly assembles Firewall Dragon boards.
When going second, drawing handtraps is critical. An interrupted SPYRAL board will routinely end with a single monster, usually one with very little attack. It isn’t difficult for Trickstar to then assemble 8000 points of damage if they can sufficiently interact on their own turn. If you don’t trust your ability to draw handtraps, boarding in Kaiju to deal with Trigate Wizard or SPYRAL Sleeper is always an option to ensure you can make your plays uninhibited. If you are also able to bait out or tribute over a SPYRAL Sleeper, link summoning Trickstar Holly Angel can deal upwards for 3000 damage with clever activations and repeated use of Trickstar Lilybell.
As Trickstar builds have begun to eschew Chain Summoning, mirrors have become less draw dependent and more skill-based. Still, drawing handtraps is the best way to ensure that you’ll come out ahead in this matchup.
In games 2 and 3, you’ve got a lot of options for evening up the matchup. One of the few ways to interact with the usually painful Droll & Lock Bird combo is to board into Psy-Frame Gamma in an attempt to negate it. Unfortunately, you’re going to have to get slightly lucky, since the top 10 cards of your deck can’t contain a Psyframe Driver, unless you’re playing more than one of it. Most handtraps are fantastic, as all but Ghost Ogre & Snow Rabbit have a pretty high percent chance to end your opponent’s turn, and if all else fails, cards like Cosmic Cyclone and Twin Twister can be activated mid-Reincarnation, preventing the standby phase swings from being nearly as devastating as they would otherwise.
Paleozoic is one of your worse matchups and unfortunately it is on the rise. As people begin playing Evenly Matched as an answer to turn 1 boards, the meta will naturally shift towards decks like Paleozoic, which can make a natural counter easily. Their incredibly-gummy boards, their frequent negation, and their ability to main deck cards like Anti-Spell Fragrance are bad news for Trickstar.
One of the best things you can do in this matchup is to win the die roll. If you’re not skilled enough to do that, Kaiju are a pretty good answer to Toadally Awesome. Twin Twister and Cosmic Cyclone are great at breaking up backrow, and hand traps that you can activate anytime (a la Maxx “C”) are at a premium for breaking up Paleozoic plays – the most effective of which is D.D. Crow.
Burning Abyss is not a good matchup for Trickstars. All the monsters float, they have tons of defense points, and the entire deck resists most common hand traps. This makes stopping their plays in order to edge out a couple of swings with Trickstar Lycoris very difficult. If the Burning Abyss player gets to go first, they will likely use all the monsters in their hand, making Trickstar Reincarnation loops or Droll & Lock Bird combos much less effective.
This, along with Paleozoic Frogs, is one of the very few matchups where you may consider boarding out of Droll & Lock Bird when going first, as the only search your opponent is likely to perform is at the end phase with Scarm, Malebranche of the Burning Abyss. Boardwipes are fine in this matchup, and Kaiju are excellent, as anyone who tributed over a Beatrice, Lady of the Eternal in 2015 can attest to. Finally, if you’re playing any copies of D.D. Crow, this is one of the matchups where they excel the most.