I was going to write about Pot of Desires but my thoughts are the same as pretty much everyone else’s. Drawing two cards is great, but if you need specific cards, you shouldn’t play Pot of Desires. I then saw Johnny Li top 32 another event with a Kirin deck. Burning Abyss is a strong deck, but Kirin is very difficult to deal with. Let’s look at the deck I think is the best deck of the format, until it changes.
The main decks that Johnny and Joshua played are the exact same, card for card. I believe all of Joshua’s choices were correct because no one would be playing Blue-Eyes and TDIL wasn’t out yet. When Johnny played the deck, Blue-Eyes is an opponent to watch out for and TDIL was legal. Johnny mentioned he didn’t have the time to do thorough testing and actually tune the deck, so it was mostly learning the deck as best he could as to not make mistakes.
2 Dragonpit Magician
1 Oafdragon Magician
1 Wisdom-Eye Magician
3 Performapal Pendulum Sorcerer
1 Performapal Skullcrobat Joker
1 Performapal Monkeyboard
1 Performapal Lizardraw
2 Performapal Odd-Eyes Unicorn
1 Performapal Odd-Eyes Light Phoenix
3 Odd-Eyes Pendulum Dragon
3 Magical Abductor
3 Majespecter Unicorn – Kirin
3 Majespecter Raccoon – Bunbuku
2 Archfiend Eccentrick
1 Mist Valley Apex Avian
1 Effect Veiler
3 Sky Iris
1 Odd-Eyes Fusion
1 Igknight Reload
1 Upstart Goblin
2 Mystical Space Typhoon
EXTRA DECK: 15
1 Super Quantal Mech Beast Grampulse
1 Totem Bird
2 Abyss Dweller
1 Majester Paladin, the Ascending Dracoslayer
1 Castel, the Skyblaster Musketeer
1 Photon Papilloperative
1 Dark Rebellion Xyz Dragon
1 Number 39: Utopia Beyond
1 Number 11: Big Eye
1 Red-Eyes Flare Metal Dragon
1 Odd-Eyes Absolute Dragon
1 Odd-Eyes Rebellion Dragon
1 Odd-Eyes Meteorburst Dragon
1 Odd-Eyes Vortex Dragon
SIDE DECK: 9 Monsters / 6 Spells
3 Maxx “C”
2 Ghost Ogre & Snow Rabbit
2 Denko Sekka
2 Kycoo the Ghost Destroyer
1 Secret Village of the Spellcasters
1 Mystical Space Typhoon
2 Twin Twisters
2 Spell Shattering Arrow
I was playing a much heavier Majespecter/Magician deck and having decent success with it, but it was lacking something that I couldn’t quite put my finger on. After looking at this list, it became incredibly clear. My mistake was three-fold. I was playing way too many Magicians. I was not playing Pendulum Sorcerer. And, I was playing only two copies of Odd-Eyes Pendulum Dragon.
The Magician engine is very versatile, but it’s clunky. You have no easy way to destroy your own scales, outside of Sky Iris, and they all want another Magician while you want Abductor as your low scale. Joshua surprised me when he said his deck was at 36 cards (with the third Odd-Eyes Unicorn) and he decided to add the Magician Engine and cut an Odd-Eyes Unicorn because Dragonpit does just fine as an unrestricted high scale with the potential upside of having another Magician. Yes, you lose access to Xiangke, more Oafs, Nobledragon and even Dragonpulse if you want to go that far. But like I said, Dragonpit is fine as a high scale with a potential upside. Oafdragon is a low scale, low enough to Pendulum Summon your Raccoons, Archfiend Eccentricks and any other miscellaneous Level 3s you’re running. Oafdragon also has the added benefit of being able to get back cards from your Graveyard/Extra Deck if/when that comes up. Don’t forget that it can make Utopia Beyond for quick OTKs with Odd-Eyes Pendulum Dragon. It helps make Meteorburst sometimes, but I think Meteorburst is a mistake that I’ll get to later. The last card in the Magician lineup is Wisdom-Eye, which is a no-brainer if you’re running two different Magicians and Level 4s in your deck. It just does everything and is searchable through Odd-Eyes Pendulum Dragon, which is important.
Performapal Pendulum Sorcerer is part two of what I was missing. It destroys any extra Sky Iris/Terraformings if you need to, but it also destroys your own scales to set new scales. Pendulum Sorcerer gives you more Rank 4 access. Pendulum Sorcerer also lets Monkeyboard and a Scale 5 or higher, make a Rank 4, draw a card and still have Unicorn. With more cards, you can do more things involving Rank 4s and searching Pendulum Dragon or Magicians. In the first couple games I played with this build I made the mistake of searching Joker first with Monkeyboard instead of Sorcerer, which is a mistake in the same way that searching Nekroz of Brionac into
In the first couple games I played with this build I made the mistake of searching Joker first with Monkeyboard instead of Sorcerer, which is a mistake in the same way that searching Nekroz of Brionac into Shurit was a mistake when you could go Shurit into Brionac. The Performapal lineup doesn’t contain any Guitartles, or any other Performapals for that matter because they don’t match well outside of decks that are heavier on Performapals. Guitartle, in particular, is bad because it’s Scale 6 and doesn’t destroy itself. Need I say more? Probably. You want to be able to Pendulum Summon Levels 4 AND 7. The only way to do that is with Scale 3 or lower and Scale 8 or higher. Anything that’s Scale 4-6 is bad because it doesn’t let us win. Lizardraw is in the deck to combo with Magical Abductor in order to search the Effect Veiler. Guitartle was played in older Rank 4 Performapal builds and DracoPals because those decks don’t care so much about Levels 6+. Radish Horse is a card I initially thought wasn’t good but really is. I haven’t done enough testing to know if two is correct, but it might be. You want to use the first to make a Rank 4 before your Pendulum Summon to bait out any backrow or Beatrice, which also encourages playing Diamond Dire Wolf. Then you can use the second in combination with or without Odd-Eyes Unicorn to get a giant attack with Odd-Eyes Pendulum Dragon through. What’s holding me back from multiples is that Radish Horse doesn’t make amazing plays first turn and isn’t an Odd-Eyes.
The last piece I was missing was the third Odd-Eyes Pendulum Dragon. I played it when Qliphorts were at full power, and again when Qliphorts were weak because it didn’t conflict with Pot of Duality. I played it before BOSH because having a 2500 ATK monster just sitting in your Extra Deck waiting to come out for free was very good then. I only played one copy in my Magician/Specter deck because I just wanted to summon Kirin and sometimes set a Majespecter Trap Card. Johnny Li mentioned that one axis of attack that this deck takes is fire. If you’re not immediately familiar with the term, that’s because it either comes from a game I don’t play or he made it up. Both are fine, but what fire means is the ability to end a game very quickly. In Magic, this is often referred to as reach, not the ability. If your engine fires off and does what it’s supposed to, you can very quickly end the game. Odd-Eyes Pendulum Dragon is the way this deck does that. There are many ways to do so, but the easiest to set up is make an Xyz to weaken an opposing monster and use Odd-Eyes Unicorn to pump Odd-Eyes Pendulum Dragon to deal enough damage to win the game. The most famous are Utopia Beyond and Odd-Eyes Pendulum Dragon on their own to deal 8000 damage. Radish Horse, Dark Rebellion Xyz Dragon and Photon Papilloperative do the same thing of weakening an opposing monster and/or pumping our own. Even Pendulum Sorcerer can help out if you Pendulum Summon Joker at 2800. Sometimes, you just leave your opponent between 500 and 1500. Combining multiple Pendulum Dragons to make Red-Eyes Flare Metal to close out the game can easily pick up a little bit of win percentage when you would have lost should they make a comeback.
If you’ve been following the competitive scene, you should know by now that Magical Abductor is a good card. It does everything, including search for Effect Veiler. The nuance of Abductor comes in when you don’t have Terraforming/Sky Iris. It’s still great and the reason Joshua chose to include Lizardraw in his deck. Effect Veiler is searchable through a monster Magical Abductor. Droll & Lock Bird is too if you’re afraid of jank decks.
Majespecter Kirin is the real reason to play this deck. Johnny Li’s fire, tempo and card advantage apply more to Magic where your plays are limited by how much mana you have. The fundamentals of the game are different. If you could only summon maybe twice per turn, then cards that remove single monsters would become better. Control/aggro/midrange decks don’t exist so much in Yugioh. And like those, the philosophy of tempo exists less in Yugioh. Card advantage and fire both exist. Pendulum decks are inherently good at card advantage. Odd-Eyes OTKs are great for fire. And Kirin skirts the line of card advantage and fire where tempo lives. Kirin is the best attempt I’ve seen in all of Yugioh at a tempo card. If you can fight your opponent on an axis that doesn’t even exist, that’s even better than next leveling them. Beatrice, Dark Destroyer and Erebus are all good cards, but the generic Kirin fights them from up the hill as it dances from your hand to the field and from the field to your hand. Bunbuku is just to search Kirin and sometimes destroy with Sky Iris/Sorcerer and occasionally make a Rank 3.
Archfiend Eccentrick has been talked about at length by many other people. It does a lot of things but doesn’t do any of them the best. The versatility still makes it a worthy inclusion. Don’t forget that even though it’s not the ideal high scale, Kirin just wants 5 or lower and 7 or higher. A sad Monkeyboard and Archfiend Eccentrick can Pendulum Summon Kirin.
Apex Avian is the last monster in the main deck. I think it was fine for Joshua as card number 40, but now that we have Radish Horse, Apex Avian can be replaced. Apex Avian needs to be Pendulum Summoned and isn’t a scale. Radish Horse lets you make Rank 4s before you Pendulum Summon in a similar fashion to full power TCG Peformages and Pals. Pendulum decks are weak to Solemn Strike and being able to bait strike out with Dire Wolf is important and adds a safety net to your Pendulum Summon. Radish Horse also lets Odd-Eyes Pendulum Dragon OTK more and can be used as Sky Iris fodder or as a low scale.
That’s enough about the monsters. Triple Sky Iris and Terraforming are necessary. When you don’t see Sky Iris your deck is very slow and it doesn’t do very much. It really shines with Sky Iris. Odd-Eyes Fusion was not very good in older builds, but sometimes just dropping another 2500 ATK monster is the difference between a win and a loss. Don’t forget it clears a monster, has 3000 DEF and can negate things. Upstart is for that tiny bit of consistency and an extra counter on Abductor. Igknight Reload plays a similar role to Upstart, but it’s different. You can’t Upstart or Lizardraw after a reload. You have so many Pendulums that you’ll probably draw good ones when you put back redundant scales. Remember that you can Pendulum Summon something, bounce it with Kirin and put it back with Igknight Reload should you need it from your deck, like if you’re out of Odd-Eyes cards in your deck. Two copies of MST are the last two cards in the deck. Joshua didn’t have access to Cosmic Cyclone because TDIL wasn’t legal. Johnny didn’t have time to test it. I’ve played with Cosmic Cyclone and it hasn’t appeared to come up. I’ve banished a couple Fog Blades, but that Fog Blade wouldn’t have been the difference in the match. I’ve never used Cosmic Cyclone on an opposing scale but I have used MST to destroy my own Pendulum Monsters to Pendulum Summon them. If it was Cosmic Cyclone, I couldn’t have done that and the hand would have bricked. Plus, MST doesn’t cost LP. That never mattered for me, but it might come up.
If I were to play in an event right now, I’d play this Kirin deck but I’d cut Apex Avian and one Archfiend Eccentrick for two Radish Horse. You can leave in double Eccentrick if you’d like. Apex Avian has only ever been a little extra pressure for me, where Dweller, Dark Rebellion or Castel could have held down the fort or provided the extra ATK for game. Radish Horse can be an out to Domain with Joker. Archfiend Eccentrick can’t stop Anti-Spell Fragrance, which is the scariest thing, but Radish Horse can help make Diamond Dire Wolf. Radish Horse has downsides, but so does Apex Avian. Apex Avian is a bigger body and more flashy, but Radish Horse synergizes with everything in the deck.
The Extra Decks are the same with the exception where Johnny cut Big Eye and the second Dweller for Utopia and the Lightning and swapped Meteorburst Dragon for a second Vortex Dragon. Grampulse is fine. I’d rather have Break Sword than Totem Bird. Negating something has been less valuable than destroying a monster to OTK. I haven’t wanted a second Abyss Dweller yet, but if I had the space, I’d play two. Johnny Li said that a blind Dweller is better than any other blind Rank 4. This is because Burning Abyss and Monarchs aren’t a cakewalk. Any advantage you can get against them is great. I know another pendulum sounds great, but completely hosing whatever is going on in their Graveyard for their first turn is devastating. Once you know you’re playing against a Demise deck, Blue-Eyes or Pendulums, you can safely go for Majester on your first turn and search whatever you need to OTK on the next turn. Castel is a staple. Photon Papilloperative was new tech all the way from 2012 when it was used to turn Wind-Up Rat to Attack Position to use it and get back the Magician that summoned it to do more things. Here it helps Odd-Eyes Pendulum Dragon push through Dante and Beatrice for big damage. Dark Rebellion Xyz Dragon is similar, but much larger than 2100 and a respectable body even without using its effect. Utopia and the Lightning replace the second Dweller, but if you can’t use the Lightning, use a second Dweller and another card of your choice. Utopia Beyond is necessary for quick kills with Odd-Eyes Pendulum Dragon. Red-Eyes Flare Metal gets you there. So many times you can deal between 7000-8500 and then you’re able to make REFMD. Sometimes a comeback can be mounted without activating anything, but usually, it can’t through your indestructible REFMD. Big Eye is a card Johnny cut. I never found myself wanting it in testing. Pilgrim Dante and Dark Destroyer can’t be targeted. Big Eye can take a Beatrice, but then what? Odd-Eyes Absolute, Rebellion and Vortex Dragon are all needed if you run Odd-Eyes Fusion. You don’t need the second Vortex, nor do you need Meteorburst. The second Vortex has never come up for me, but maybe it will for you. Unlikely. Meteorburst can be made with Veiler + Level 6 or Ghost Ogre + Level 4, but neither are likely. And the matchups where you’re bringing in Ghost Ogre, you probably don’t really want to make Meteorburst with your Ghost Ogre.
I think Johnny Li’s side deck is perfect. It’s the same as Joshua’s but adjusted to combat Blue-Eyes with two Kumongous. And I think 2 Maxx “C” and 3 Ghost Ogre is better than the opposite because Radish Horse helps you pick up some percentage points against Burning Abyss but isn’t as good against Pendulums. But it’s really about what you think is more popular, Burning Abyss or Pendulums.
This is the list I would play if I were to enter a tournament right now. The Big Eye in the Side Deck isn’t a Big Eye. It’s Maxx “C” if I’m in the U.S. or Ghost Ogre if I’m in Europe. If your locals is heavier on Burning Abyss, play Maxx “C”. If it’s Pendulums, play Ghost Ogre. I appreciate the time you took to read this. If I’m being completely honest with you, purchasing yourself a Vortex Dragon and clicking ads helps, but it would help so much more if you pledged directly through my Patreon. If you have the means to support content and like the content I produce, please consider pledging. Even a buck a month will help to keep this site going.
And just between you and me, bad decks are like torture for me. One of the Patreon rewards is me deck doctoring whatever garbage (affectionately) you’ve come up with. Just provide a starting list. Deck doctoring makes me want to hurl. I can’t hurl if I haven’t eaten, so please provide the funds to eat a good meal, so I’ll be able to bring something up after putting legitimate time and thought into your request.