Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Weathering the Storm: Your Survival Guide for a Heavy Storm Format

Heavy Storm.  The card strikes fear into the hearts of set backrow everywhere.  With the advent of the September 2011 ban list (click for link!), this powerhouse shapes the format.  It forces good players to play conservatively - that is, to carefully monitor the amount of spells and traps that occupy the backfield.  

For some, this is a blessing: no longer can players set 3 - 4 backrow and summon an oppressive monster such as Thunder King Rai-Oh or Gladiator Beast Laquari.  For others that struggle with playing conservatively, this is an absolute nightmare.  However, non-conservative players aren’t the only ones disheartened by the return of Storm, for Heavy Storm does something far worse: it promotes easy OTKs.  It’s a card that, when played before a massive swarm, nearly guarantees a game win.  

Fortunately, there are things a player can do in order to mitigate the transition from a Storm-less to Storm-y format.  I’ve addressed some options below:

1.  Stop playing backrow! 
Take advantage of the OTK format, play a deck that can easily OTK.  Don’t run the Solemn Brigade (2 Warning, 1 Judgment), Mirror Force, and the staple traps.  Replace those with cards that increase the consistency and power of the OTK.  This option also leaves your opponent with “dead” maindecked copies of Mystical Space Typhoon and Heavy Storm.  When using this approach, be sure to use OTK stoppers such as Gorz or Tragoedia along with cards such as Effect Veiler.  Of course, this option is not for everyone, but if your deck is one that can easily create an OTK situation, it’s definitely worth considering.

2. Play Effect Veiler.
This card stops big pushes right in their tracks: Veiling a Tour Guide, Boggart Knight, Hyperion, Black Luster Soldier, Dark Armed Dragon, and Judgment Dragon will (hopefully) grant you a turn to come back.  It’s tough to stop a Veiler, especially without the help of Trap Dustshoot and Mind Crush (articles on how to play these cards later!).

On a side note, I hear a lot of talk about Maxx “C”, and frankly, some people are spot on whereas others have missed the ball.  Maxx “C” is a great card, but not against everything.  People tell you, “Yo, bro.  Side ‘dis against Agents.”  No.  Bad idea.  Outside of the Venus into Shine Ball (which will generally only happen once per duel), this card has no use.  However, against decks like Plants (which is far from dead), this card acts like an Effect Veiler on steroids - one that grants plusses in terms of card advantage instead of the inherent minus one [-1] of Veiler.  It’s amazing against the Plant matchup.  In summary: play Veiler over Maxx “C”, but if you have the side deck space, Maxx “C” is definitely worth consideration.

3. Play cards that can easily be chained to backrow destruction. 
Examples include Trap Dustshoot, Mind Crush, Call of the Haunted, Limit Reverse, Mystical Space Typhoon, and so forth.  These plays grant plusses instead of minuses in terms of card advantage when Heavy Storm hits the field.  If you don’t understand how a Typhoon hitting a Call of the Haunted or Limit Reverse is a plus, consider the following case:
    1. Player A plays Typhoon, targeting Player B’s backrow.
    2. Player B chains Call of the Haunted, targeting Sangan/Goblin Zombie/Darksoul in the graveyard.
    3. Chains resolve backwards (rulebook link here!).  Call of the Haunted resolves first as Chain Link 2, special summoning SanganTyphoon resolves as Chain Link 1, destroying Call, sending Sangan to the graveyard.  Sangan triggers and resolves, and get your Veiler/Maxx "C"/Key card.  Total card advantage (C.A.): 
      1. Opponent: [-1] for Typhoon = [-1]
      2. You: [+0] for Call getting destroyed in exchange for Typhoon, [+1] for Sangan search = [+1].  This gets your opponent a [-1] in terms of card advantage, while you create a [+1].  The same is true for a chained Typhoon, Dustshoot, or (correct) Mind Crush.

4.  Do not, I repeat, do NOT play Starlight Road.  
The newly-unlimited Mystical Space Typhoon makes this card a complete joke for most decks.  Competitively speaking, everyone will most likely be playing a total of three Typhoons in the main and side deck (typically, 2 mained, 1 sided).  Additionally, in this OTK format, it’s hard to afford being a card down in terms of card usability (read: versatility), only to have your situational trap blasted by a Typhoon.  If you're playing a deck that relies almost exclusively on backrow, such as TG Skill Drain, this may be a reasonable choice.  Additionally, this is an OK side deck option against some decks, but against others, it’s simply a poor card choice.  Cards like Trap Dustshoot, Effect Veiler, and Gorz are far more versatile and effective at stopping an OTK.  Playing conservatively will reward you much more than hoping you draw into a Starlight Road.  Which brings us to my next point:

5. Play conservatively!  
This is one of the hallmarks of a good player.  Don’t play cards you don’t have to.  Don’t make big pushes you don’t need to.  Let your opponent waste cards to get rid of your field, then make your big push.  Don’t set more than 1 backrow on the first turn.  If you do, and you get hit by Heavy Storm, you’re already a card down before the game even starts!  Here’s the card advantage, for those confused:

    1. You:  2 backrow lost in exchange for 1 Storm (a “two for one”) = [-1]
    2. Opponent: [-1] for playing Heavy Storm, [+2] for your destroyed traps  = [+1]

At this point, you have 4 cards while your opponent has 5, meaning you’ve just had a [-1] in terms of card advantage, while your opponent has a [+1].  You’re not in good shape!  If you have problems getting devastated by Heavy Storm, you may need to consider changing your playstyle.  Play conservatively!  This, along with understanding card advantage, will grant you almost immediate results when you play.  

I'm aware that many of you may not be intimately familiar with card advantage.  Be sure to check my article on card advantage if you're having trouble understanding these concepts!  In the meantime, use these strategies if you’re having trouble!  At least one of them is bound to help.  
Dr. House

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