While we await the future installments of the Metalfoe articles (Part 1 can be viewed here), allow me to remind players, or perhaps introduce, an old friend to pendulum decks in the past.
It’s a bird, it’s a plane. Yes, it is Starship Spy Plane.
TCG is lucky to have this card as a common. OCG’s is a subscription promo, making it harder to be obtained. Let’s first analyze Spy Plane’s effect.
If your opponent controls a face-up Xyz Monster, you can Special Summon this card (from your hand). When this card is Special Summoned from the hand: Target 1 Spell/Trap Card your opponent controls; return that target to the hand.
Spy Plane surfaced for a while during the reign of Performapal Performages (Pepe)。 After months of topping tournaments, big scale or small, players started to brainstorm for tech ideas to differentiate their decks from others. Hence came the idea of Spy Plane.
Apart from being a free special summon, it specializes in getting rid of backrow threats. During that era, the meta wasn’t very diverse. The most common decks were, of course, Pepe. Backrow threats in that deck were likely to either be Hole traps or Solemn Strikes. Spy Plane‘s job is simple:
- Summon itself out via its own effect, and eliminate a backrow threat on the board.
- Should your opponent have negated its summon via Solemn Strike. No harm. It is a one-for-one card exchange. It is far better than having your entire pendulum summon negated by Strike.
- If you successfully resolve its effect, then proceed on with your plays. (E.g. Performapal Monkeyboard, Performapal Skullcrobat Joker, etc)
- After that, Spy Plane is likely to be used to participate in an xyz summon and not stay on the field to see another turn.
- In that format, OTKs were very prominent and common. If not, it will be a lockdown with Naturia Beast on the field. Returning an opponent’s backrow card to their hand will end up stalling them for a turn for you to perform your plays, safely without interruption.
So what is cool about Spy Plane and what makes it more superior than Mystical Space Typhoon which can also remove backrow threats and serve as a one-for-one card exchange?
- Spy Plane is a monster, and Space Typhoon isn’t. (Duh~!) Apart from baiting a trap (as afore-mentioned), it can be used for what monsters can do – attack, xyz summon, synchro summon. Being Level4 also fits into the Pepe’s deck playing style perfectly.
- Back then, Anti-Spell Fragrance served as a very popular main deck option for non-pendulum decks to act as a floodgate. Burning Abyss was the second most common deck after Pepe back then, as was notorious for their trap-heavy and low spell count to abuse Anti-Spell Fragrance. This single continuous spell is capable of shutting down the entire deck. Sure, Space Typhoon could chain itself to Fragrance to prevent it from resolving. But what happen if it comes late, and Fragrance has already resolved? Spy Plane surpasses the quick-play spell in this aspect. Be it a late arrival or in your opening hand, it can be summoned right off the bat to get rid of Fragrance, no need to wait for Space Typhoon to set itself for a turn, then use it during the next. Don’t forget, we are talking about an era whereby the game can be ended in a turn. OTKs were just so common and easily achieved with the Rank4 toolbox.
- Back then, Level4 tech options were very popular. All for the sake of xyz summons and OTK. Shaddoll Dragon was more preferred than Space Typhoon and Kycoo the Ghost Destroyer was played more than Imperial Iron Wall.
Now, we finally arrive at its summoning conditions. During the time when it was popular, it wasn’t all that hard to fulfill. First turn setups involving xyz monsters were so common. Be it a Lavalval Chain left on the field after helping to mill Glow-Up Bulb or Traptrix Rafflesia threatening to punish you should you forget about its effect.
“So what about now?” is probably the most famous question. What I have mentioned up til now is of course about its effectiveness in the past. Now, Pepe is nothing but a relic of the past in the OCG. But Spy Plane continues to remain relevant, especially in OCG. Sure, many non-xyz decks has surfaced – Metalfoes, Monarchs, Infernoids. These decks can still xyz summon, but it just isn’t such a common sight that you are confident your copy of Spy Plane can be summoned whenever you draw it.
But with the rise of Frog Heroes in the OCG, who is also following the trend of main-decking Anti-Spell Fragrance, it would seem that it is time for pendulum decks to call forth the help of Spy Plane once more. With Treatoad out on the field, Spy Plane could perhaps either bait its negation effect or remove a backrow threat to ease your mind by having you worry about one less thing. Should they not negate, and feel that it is a trap, feel free to perform a Level4 normal summon yourself, then xyz for Number S39: Utopia the Lightning and attack. All the while, no effects were activated, rendering Treatoad‘s effect useless.
Perhaps Metalfoes will find it a pleasant edition, as you can use it to take out Anti-Spell Fragrance or single set backrow cards that might turn out to be Solemn Strikes. Unpleasant matchups against non-xyz decks? Side it out. Simple. Or if you really feel that uncomfortable putting it in your main, feel free to side deck it. And only side it in against xyz-based decks like Tellarknights & Burning Abyss.