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
Trickstar is a deck that, in many ways, exemplifies the worst in Yu-Gi-Oh. It is a series of cards with massive individual value that just so happen to piece together broken, game-ending combos in about 30% of their games. Most Trickstar builds aim to either end the game in the opponent’s standby phase by using Trickstar Reincarnation while several copies of Trickstar Lycoris are on their side of the field, or by banishing the opponent’s entire hand with the aid of Droll & Lock Bird. Most pieces of their combos are searchable and many of them are good cards in their own right, which separates the deck from other FTK strategies by its ability to play a value game that can stretch over several turns. Since its monsters punish opponents that add cards from their deck to their hand and play multiple spell cards in one turn, it is an exceptional choice in a meta dominated by Pendulum Magicians and True Draco.
Trickstar currently occupies the top tier 2 spot. Despite favorable or even matchups against top-tier strategies, the deck is routinely bricky and without a copy of Trickstar Lightstage has trouble assembling any of its game-ending combos, especially when going second.
In the interest of showcasing different builds of the deck, I’ve included a Windwitch and a non-Windwitch build of the deck. We’ll discuss it more in tech choices, but the playerbase seems very divided on whether these cards are worth it.
This is Renee Villalobos’ Top 8 list from YCS Guadalajara in mid-October. This is about as standard as Trickstar lists get, with a medium-sized Windwitch engine, three copies of Ash Blossom & Joyous Spring, and a sideboard built to combat Paleozoic and Pendulum Magicians.
Renee is playing as many handtraps as possible in an attempt to prevent her opponent from establishing a board, as a few well-placed attacks from a Trickstar Candina can easily seal the game. The lack of Ghost Reaper & Winter Cherries or dedicated link strategies allows her extreme flexibility in the extra deck, including a Bujintei Tsukuyomi, a Stardust Dragon, and even a Firewall Dragon without enablers. The side deck is very segmented, with options specifically designed to improve some of Trickstar’s worse matchups, like Paleozoic. By moving Solemn Strike and Solemn Warning to the board, Renee’s list can supplement the linear play of Trickstar with the most potent stun option against her opponent’s strategy.
This is Ashley Velasco’s 2nd place list from the Hawaii OTS Championships in September. This deck attempts to go a little further all-in on the combo, adding copies of Present Card, Side Effects?, and D.D. Dynamite for extra points of damage.
The most interesting part of this build, however, has got to be the inclusion of Ties of the Brethren. This card allows a Trickstar Candina to become an Honest and a Barrier Statue of the Heavens for the meager cost of 2000 life points. Unlike other Ties of the Brethren decks, this build doesn’t leave any monsters they don’t want on the field – you can return Honest to hand in MP2 to protect your Barrier Statue of the Heavens or prepare to chew through a large monster on your next turn.
Trickstar players often find themselves at a bit of a loss when deckbuilding. As of COTD, there are only three Trickstar monsters and really only one you want to be drawing into. After adding Trickstar Lightstage, Trickstar Reincarnation, and Terraforming, you still have 27 card slots left to fill. Because of this, many Trickstar players have adopted one of several other linear game plans, designed to steal them games in the matches where they fail to draw into Trickstar Candina.
Windwitches were an early contender for best pair alongside Trickstars. Their 1300-damage opening board and Crystal Wing Synchro Dragon‘s ability to protect your Trickstar plays from their natural predator, Ash Blossom & Joyous Spring, made them a perfect match. Unfortunately, as builds became more and more streamlined, the summoning restrictions of Windwitch – Glass Bell made the engine a prime candidate for removal from the deck.
Another option for Trickstar players has been to include multiple copies of Scapegoat and Blackwing – Gofu the Vague Shadow, both to protect their own life points in bricky hands or, more often, solve the deck’s inability to out large monsters by making Firewall Dragon. Firewall Dragon also has fantastic synergy with the archetype – with a 1700+ attack monster on the opponent’s side of the field, a Trickstar Lilybell in hand, and a Trickstar Lycoris in the hand or in the Graveyard, the archetype can make use of Firewall Dragon’s summoning effect to repeatedly summon Trickstar Lilybell, add a Trickstar Lycoris from the Graveyard back to the hand, run it into the large monster, summon the Trickstar Lilybell from hand, and repeat.
More streamlined burn strategies often brick, but occasionally yield results. Dark Room of Nightmare has snuck into builds alongside Disturbance Strategy, both of which improve the chance of the Droll & Lock combo of going off as well as assembling lethal damage with Trickstar Lycoris. Builds completely devoted to the “Card-Destruction-Lite” traps will usually also include Present Card as a way to out opponents who set their own hand in fear of being burned out.
Finally, cards that were overlooked in Zoodiac format, like Eater of Millions, are seeing a fair amount of play as well. Without Zoodiac Drident running amok, Trickstar players will guarantee they draw their field spell by including 3 copies of Set Rotation and a Gateway to Chaos. More adventurous Trickstar players have experimented with the above Ties of the Brethren build in order to ensure their Trickstar Candina will be sufficiently protected by an Honest.
A common theme with Trickstars is that your win percentage versus top decks relies very heavily on your ability to draw Droll & Lock Bird. This is one of the more powerful options against Pendulum Magicians, the unquestionable best deck of the format. In games where they fail to assemble a board, doing large amounts of damage will usually be enough to win, since leaving a Canadia or a Lycoris on-board nets you several thousand points of damage pre-pendulum summon. Going second, however, or failing to combo out your opponent will require you to find an out to Supreme King Dragon Clear Wing or Tornado Dragon, Time Pendulumgraph, and Purple Poison Magician.
Sideboard options against Pendulum magicians are few and far between. Ash Blossom & Joyous Spring are always welcome, Twin Twisters and Cosmic Cyclone are fine on the draw, and Anti-Spell Fragrance, Unending Nightmare, and Dimensional Barrier are reasonable on the play. You can also assemble some interesting board-states by forcing an early flip of Time Pendulumgraph with your field spell, following up by using Ghost Ogre & Snow Rabbit once your opponent tries to activate its effect. Make sure to keep your deck as redundant as possible going second – you’re going to need multiples of your field spells to chew through Psy-Framelord Omega, Tornado Dragon, and Time Pendulumgraph.
True Draco is one of Trickstar’s better matchups. While it can be hard for many decks to out a Master Peace, the True Dracoslaying King, Trickstar is one of the few archetypes that can win a game without ever needing to declare an attack. The small True Dracos both add cards to hand, fueling Lycoris’ burn damage, and chain to your cards, enabling Chain Summoning OTKs in hands that were otherwise bricky. Routinely, True Draco players will be playing one of several different tribute fodder engines alongside Spellbooks and by adding cards to their hand inexperienced True Draco players who neglect to set their hand before adding that Invocation or that Spellbook of Knowledge will open the door to the Droll & Lock combo. Even if they play correctly, drawing several dozen cards a turn means an active Lycoris is a direct threat to any True Draco player’s well-being.
As always, Droll & Lock Bird is fantastic in the main deck, but Ash Blossom & Joyous Spring is an all-star in this matchup as well. Kaiju are also worth considering, as both insurance against Master Peace, the True Dracoslaying King and to give you access to another boardwipe with Interupted Kaiju Slumber. Ghost Ogre & Snow Rabbit are powerful against any deck playing Dragonic Diagram and Cosmic Cyclone, Twin Twister, and Unending Nightmare are all very strong against their assortment of spells. This is often a matchup which will depend on your tech choices, as decks with Scapegoat can play through an active Master Peace by assembling Firewall Dragon and decks playing Windwitches can walk over the measly 2950 attack of their flagship monster.
The Trickstar Mirror is the worst possible Yu-Gi-Oh you can play. At the August Philly Regional, I played Round 8 against another Trickstar player. I won the die roll. I FTK’ed him game 1. He FTK’ed me game 2. I FTK’ed him game 3. This is the darkest timeline.
With the exception of games won by the FTK, build differences are critical in the Trickstar mirror. Windwitches are amazing going first, but have trouble chewing through the multiple handtraps played in Gofu builds. Eater of Millions can shut off Lycoris by banishing it and preventing its Trickstar Reincarnation. As always, Droll & Lock Bird pulls its weight and Ash Blossom & Joyous Spring is a fantastic main deck option, but after that things change based on your opponent’s board plan. When side decking, if you expect your opponent to transition to a more streamlined build on, bring in quick-play spells – Cosmic Cyclone, Twin Twisters, etc. – to not only gum up their field spell searches, but also to get cards out of your hand in case you’re staring down Lycoris and two Reincarnations without an Ash Blossom in sight. If you expect them to keep in large monsters like Firewall Dragon and Crystal Wing Synchro Dragon, the Kaijus might be in your best interest. Finally, Anti-Spell Fragrance is a powerful option on the play.
Thankfully, Paleozoic isn’t nearly as popular as it was a few weeks ago, but its tendency to set as many cards as possible and build gummy, interactive boards makes the matchup quite bad for Trickstar. Toadally Awesome is still a fantastic card, and setting your Trickstar Reincarnation effectively wins the Paleozoic player the game. With a bevy of tools to interact with your otherwise fragile combo plays, a lack of draw engines and multiple spell activations per turn, and a boss monster that both out-damages and negates most of your plays, this is one of the worst matchups Trickstar can muster.
When sideboarding, cling to your spell and trap removal. Twin Twisters and Cosmic Cyclone are once again at home in your side deck. Consider boarding out of Droll & Lock Bird when going second – it might seem counter-intuitive, but you’re never going to get the combo off through interaction anyway. Ghost Reaper & Winter Cherries is a fantastic sideboard option for both the play and the draw, since often your opponent will have to commit several monsters to the board for Mistar Boy plays. However, because of the wide range of different trap cards the deck plays, you may lose to Paleozoic Opabinia even after banishing all 3 Toadally Awesome.
Trickstar’s ABC matchup is very draw-dependent. In games where the ABC player has to rely on Union Hangar doing all the heavy lifting, they’ll find themselves on the receiving end of a Droll & Lock Bird or a Trickstar Reincarnation doing its best impression of Mind Crush. In games where the ABC player defaults onto the Master Peace plan, sets several cards in order to set up a massive Bujintei Tsukuyomi, or finagles their way to an ABC-Dragon Buster without a Union Hangar, the Trickstar player may find themselves at a massive disadvantage. Whereas Master Peace, the True Dracoslaying King usually doesn’t give Trickstar a lot of trouble, TWO Master Peaces plus the ability to banish Trickstar Reincarnation is very difficult to overcome.
Thankfully, sideboarding for this strategy isn’t particularly difficult. Ash Blossom & Joyous Spring and Droll & Lock Bird are as incredible as ever on the draw and if your opponent is all the way in on ABC, Ghost Reaper & Winter Cherries isn’t awful either. Kaiju are incredible, both against ABC and Master Peace. Finally, almost every floodgate trap hoses this strategy, including Dimensional Barrier, Unending Nightmare, and Anti-Spell Fragrance.