Regional Top 4 with Raccoons: A lesson in denial of results oriented thinking, rejection of popular practice, and time management

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Regional Top 4 with Raccoons: A lesson in denial of results oriented thinking, rejection of popular practice, and time management

Mensagem por dracofu em Qui 06 Mar 2014, 13:10

Regional Top 4 with Raccoons: A lesson in denial of results oriented thinking, rejection of popular practice, and time management

There is a lot I want to say in this article. I want to talk about the theory that went through my mind in the weeks leading up to this regional, and I also want to talk about this deck and why I made the changes I made from the “standard” I have seen floating around. You might be even asking, “Okay, you topped a regional with 114 people. Why is this relevant, and why should I even bother reading?” That is a fair question. So, I will divide this article into two parts: the first part will talk about the theory side and cater to the competitive players, while the second part will focus solely on the deck itself and how it works. Control+F your way to whichever part you wish to read, though I would highly recommend you read both parts.
Part 1: A lesson in denial of results-oriented thinking, rejection of popular practice, and time management
Part 2: Regional Top 4 with Raccoons

Part 1: A lesson in denial of results-oriented thinking, rejection of popular practice, and time management
A short backstory. My area only has Regionals twice a year, and I was unable to attend the first, so this was my shot at getting an invite to the NAWCQ. I started testing Hieratics about a month ago, and after talking with a couple friends I decided it was going to be the best pick, mainly because of the four Dragon Rulers. Testing on Dueling Network and with friends yielded a positive win ratio against the big decks, I lost one match at locals over three weeks, so why did I change decks?
From the moment the Hieratic Ruler became popular, Hieratic Seal of the Ashes jumped in price praised as the “next Dragon Ravine”. The card looked insane at first, giving you fuel to summon a Dragon Ruler every turn. But I had some serious problems with it, and these problems were magnified as testing continued.
1) This card was not a spell, and it did not give you access to Dragon Rulers on its own.
You had to set this card to get any value of it, and the cards you were sending to the Graveyard were not Dragon Rulers; they were Hieratics. These Hieratics were combo pieces of your deck. Every time you send one from the Deck to the Graveyard, you are decreasing the amount of combo pieces you have left in your Deck by putting them in your Graveyard, without getting any value from them first.
2) The Special Summon effect only happens if your opponent makes a mistake, you resolve a card that destroys it, or if your opponent wants you to Summon a monster.
I am sure every time you had Ashes set and your opponent throws a Mystical Space Typhoon into it you inwardly cheered, and proudly slammed your graved Hieratic onto the board as your opponent realizes their Typhoon turned into a threat in your favor. Most of the time, your opponents will not blindly throw their Typhoons into your face-downs. They will wait until it is a) necessary to use them or b) until they can respond to a Continuous Spell/Trap Card that is a threat.
The other option is you resolving a card that will destroy it: A Wingbeat of Giant Dragon and Scrap Dragon, or some lesser-played cards such as Double Cyclone. Scrap Dragon is legitimate, but this card only gives you an insane benefit when I resolve Wingbeat? Well, let me just count on one hand the amount of times I resolved a Wingbeat and did not win that game. I will also count the amount of times I actually resolved Wingbeat after drawing or activating it: that number was far below 50% I assure you, and was the reason I ended up cutting the card from my final list even though it was such a blowout.
When your opponent wants you to Summon a monster, they want to Crimson Blader you or they are using you controlling a monster to their advantage. They can MST your Ashes in the Battle Phase, force you to Summon a Hieratic, and then lock you out of your next turn.
3) The card provides no threat, does not put the opponent on a clock, and does not generate any advantage on its own
The only way this card does any of those things is as a supplement to the Dragon Rulers. This means that no matter what you do, this card is ALWAYS a part of a combo. Other cards are like this too, but Ashes has this problem on top of others. It could sit there the entire game, and your opponent would never have to worry about it except for dealing with the Dragon Rulers. You get advantage off the Rulers, but you are sitting at a negative in the first place because of Ashes.
4) This card does not help you deal with established fields
If I draw this card facing down a Tiger King, a known Wolfbark in hand, and a couple backrow, how am I supposed to use this card to tackle that field? You can’t. This is not a problem with just Ashes, but with several other cards in the deck.
See all the problems I just had with Ashes? I could not understand why every list I saw that did well opted to play three copies of the card.
The deck was doing sort of well, but Fire Fists were more represented. It kept a presence at the events that went on during the couple weeks after the new format started, but I knew there was still something missing. This is what I am talking about, going against results oriented thinking – a couple of years ago, I would have said to myself “the deck is doing well at events, I’m winning my locals with it, I have a positive win ratio in testing, I am making the right choice with this deck”. But that is not the right way to think. You have to learn to pick up on trends, and notice inconsistencies within your own victories, as well as solve problems when you lose.
Trap Stun, Call of the Haunted, Reckless Greed, Hieratic Seal of the Ashes, Skill Drain, and so on. All of these are terrible cards to draw to established fields. Hieratics is a combo deck entirely, and you needed 2+ monsters to break fields. All of these cards are designed to fuel your monsters, but if you had too many of them you had that many less cards to work with for the turn. How would it feel to be staring down a strong opening yet be stuck at a -2 because you opened Seal and Reckless? Another problem is that every combo required 2 or more cards to go off, and could often be stymied by a single Trap Card. Yes, the Dragon Rulers could help you recover some of that lost advantage but that is a process that occurs with a +1 every turn (per Ruler), and your opponent will not often sit and wait for you to recover that lost advantage, both in board presence and raw cards.
The final problem with Hieratics was the difficulty in dealing with floodgate cards, and how dealing with them was counter productive to your own strategies. Ophion, Fossil Dyna, and Thunder King. All of these cards are huge problems because they prevent you from executing your plays or searching your cards. If you get rid of them, you eliminate 3 cards from your pool of available combo pieces: the 3 Tefnuit. That leaves you forced to draw a combination of Su and Eset to begin a push. The only way around that is using cards like Skill Drain, Forbidden Chalice, or Fiendish Chain. Fiendish and Drain have a similar problem to the above listed cards in that they don’t do well being drawn to established boards, because by that point you are on a clock and have to wait until next turn to be able to actively deal with the threat at hand. Even once negated, those threats still have bodies. Forbidden Chalice works instantly, but again does not deal with the monster itself, making you even more vulnerable to a single trap. Trap Stun requires you to wait a turn and Wingbeat does not resolve consistently enough for you to be able to rely on them to get around your opponent’s backrow. Then of course there was the Spell/Trap form of floodgates, which you only had a certain number of non searchable cards to counter. Otherwise, you were prevented from making a single play. It is not like the previous incarnations of Dragon Rulers where you could Blaster any problem card away fairly reliably.
This is what you need to do if you want to succeed. You need to carefully analyze every victory, loss, and card interaction. You cannot just assume that all the winning you are doing will continue once you sit down at whatever tournament you are practicing for. A little bit of results oriented thinking is okay: Hieratics had topped several events and I was winning with them, so I must be doing SOMETHING right. But do not get fooled. Despite this, I was able to pick apart the weaknesses, and ultimately determine this deck would not be able to keep up at whatever event I planned to attend.
So after coming to all these realizations, I decided to put the deck down. The problem? I had learned this all too late, I only had five days before the Regional. I had two options. Continue with Hieratics, and hope that I was able to bypass or fix all of these issues to get the victory, or look for a new strategy. Fire Fists, Mermails, Prophecy, and anything else real were not options. I started looking through the internet and came across a deck list in DuelistGroundz’s deck garage. It was a Raccoon deck, and I had been curious about these cards because a friend of mine loves Beast-Types. I already knew about Obedience Schooled, but there was a Trap Card that caught my eye: Burst Rebirth. (Pay 2000 Life Points to Special Summon a monster from your Graveyard in face-down Defense Position). The combination between this card and Baby Raccoon Tantan was the start of the process. I threw the decklist together, played some games against Fire Fist, and could see some of the lines of play fall into place. Besides Obedience Schooled being ridiculous, this card could have some one-card plays, and did not overly rely on combinations of cards.
I asked around, and almost every build I saw was playing Junk Synchron for some sort of OTK with Sandayu’s tokens. Junk Synchron could also be used to summon Level 5 monsters. I tried it out, and the OTK never came up. The only time you were able to throw 8000 damage on the board was in a situation where your opponent could not develop a field before you were able to get to your combo. Wait a moment, is that not something this deck shared in common with Hieratics? Also, Level 5 Synchros are not threatening. At least not enough to have them as the main reason for playing a card. Ally of Justice Catastor and Armades, Keeper of Illusions clear one threat, but then they are stuck there, easily dispatched. I would much rather play a card that got rid of a problem, and presented a continuous threat to the opponent.
Do not always play a card because everyone says to play it. You need to develop your own theories, and evaluate them through practice. I applied the same strategy to constructing this deck that I did to the Hieratic deck. Identified the problems, then fixed them (I will discuss this further in part 2). Now that I had learned a bit how to play the deck, it was time to compare it to other matchups. Another problem arose: I only had four days at this point, and do not have nearly enough time to test every matchup and every card I would like to. Now what?
With a limited amount of time at your disposal, you need to prioritize what you are going to do and what you are going to test. Fire Fist, Geargia and Rogue decks were going to be my most popular matchups, so I largely ignored Water as a deck and only played a handful of games against it. If I were able to optimize my deck for my expected matchups, then anything else I hopefully will not encounter because it is not expected. If you have a limited amount of time before an event, take this approach. Prepare for what you expect, and everything else is everything else. At Nationals last year, I prepared for Dragon Rulers, Prophecy, and Evilswarm. Every other deck was irrelevant. I faced two other decks, and though I was potentially unprepared, I was able to import cards from my side that were there for other matchups but applied to these unexpected decks.
This is another important aspect of deck building: understand every possible use for cards in your deck. You may or may not know this, but did you know if your opponent attacks a set Baby Raccoon Tantan with Brotherhood of the Fire Fist – Gorilla, your Tantan flips and gets you Kalantosa, which then destroys Gorilla before he can activate? Obedience Schooled plus a Level 2 Beast answers Atum + Dracossack and Tokens, while leaving you with double Sandayu and a 2600 Token? Or it turns into Naturia Beast plus Sandayu? Testing allows you to try silly things with cards you would never do in actual tournament games, so you can find out all of these interesting applications. The last thing I want to mention is that in some cases, when you are facing a lack of time, you just need to straight up Theory-oh. Apply this to the non essentials – in my case, additional side and Extra Deck choices. I had to assume that 3 Maxx “C”, Dimensional Fissure, and Soul Drain would be enough hate for Water.
In this section of the article, I discussed the importance of looking past results and thinking for yourself. I also talked about how to ignore popular opinion, and form your own theories and beliefs while putting them to the test. Finally, I discussed how to deal with a lack of time when practicing for an event when all seems lost days before. Just remember to always give a critical eye to everything you see, and never assume one way or the other that anything is true or absolute.
Part 2: Regional Top 4 with Raccoons
In this part of the article, I am going to talk about the Raccoon deck. I will show you the list I played, things that went well, things I would change, and why I opted to play certain cards over others. First off, here is the list:
3 Baby Raccoon Ponpoko
3 Baby Raccoon Tantan
2 Kalantosa, Mystical Beast of the Forest
1 Elephun
1 Wind-Up Kitten
1 Tree Otter
1 Ryko, Lightsworn Hunter
1 Thunder King Rai-Oh
2 Effect Veiler
2 Caius the Shadow Monarch
3 Upstart Goblin
3 Mystical Space Typhoon
3 Obedience Schooled
3 Fiendish Chain
2 Burst Rebirth
2 Horn of the Phantom Beast
2 Mirror Force
2 Mistake
1 Bottomless Trap Hole
1 Torrential Tribute
1 Solemn Warning
3 Number 64: Ronin Raccoon Sandayu
1 Herald of Pure Light
1 Gachi Gachi Gantetsu
1 Daigusto Phoenix
1 Downerd Magician
1 Slacker Magician
1 Thunder Unicorn
1 Underworld Fighter Balmung
1 Naturia Beast
1 Naturia Barkion
1 Armory Arm
1 Mist Bird Clausolas
1 Leo, the Guardian of the Sacred Tree
3 Maxx ‘C’
1 Kycoo the Ghost Destroyer
3 Overworked
1 Dimensional Fissure
1 Soul Drain
1 Dust Tornado
1 Dark Hole
2 Black Horn of Heaven
2 Dimensional Prison
The monster lineup
You will notice there are four one-of beasts, but no Junk Synchron, Key Mouse, or “The Fabled” monsters.
- Junk Synchron: Level 5 Synchro Monsters do not pose a threat. Usually, that is all you will be summoning unless you have a board before summoning Junk Synchron. Frozen Fitzgerald, Junk Warrior, Catastor, and Armades are monsters that are good usually for one attack, then they are easy prey for a lot of cards in the game right now. They also don’t threaten your opponent in any way after they have cleared a monster (which, by the way, has a 2500 attack ceiling of what it can clear unless you are using Catastor, in which case you can run into a Dimensional Prison, a DARK monster, or a monster that straight up negates you like Gaios). The OTK is neat, but it almost never comes up unless your opponent has a bare board. Most times, you are better off building a solid board. The OTK does not get there as often as you might think.
- The four one-of beasts: I only played one of each of these cards so I reduced the risk of both a) drawing multiples, because drawing multiples of any of these is not good at all and b) not having enough targets for Obedience Schooled. Each one of these cards had a crucial role. Ryko is a solid form of removal on his own if you draw him, but not good enough to play multiples. Flipping a Tantan does the same thing as he does. Elephun is a Level 2 Earth Beast Tuner, and playing it allows you to turn a Tantan flip into a Level 4 Synchro, or to turn Obedience Schooled + Level 2 Beast into Sandayu + Naturia Beast, a very strong opening move that puts a lot of pressure on your opponent (especially if you have traps) since you follow up next turn with at least a free 2200 Token. Wind-Up Kitten gets rid of problem cards and Xyz monsters that can’t be destroyed like Tiras, Zenmaines, Gachi, Maestroke, Kagutsuchi, and Silent Honors. Tree Otter is a very nifty card. If you draw it, you can use it in combination with Obedience Schooled to create double Sandayu and two 2200 Tokens, by using his effect on himself. If you already have Sandayu in play, you can pump a token 1000 over your opponent’s most powerful monster. If you have double Sandayuu, he can pump one token 1000 over, and then create a token that is permanently 1000 over. He is also the largest non-Extra Deck play off of Tantan, being 2200 after you flip it. There is also a very niche OTK where if you have a Ponpoko summon Tantan from your deck, it lives for the turn, and you have a level 2 or Tree Otter in your hand, you can do 8500 damage (the end result is Sandayu, 2500 token, and 2500 Daigusto Phoenix swinging twice). Or, if you do not, and Tree Otter is in deck, you still get Tree Otter plus 2500 Phoenix, which is 6200 damage. Off of ONE card. Remember, seeing the strengths in cards is all about seeing everything they can do!
- No “Key Mouse” or “The Fabled” monsters: Key Mouse only does one thing for the deck: Summon Naturia Beast. If you draw it, it is only useful if you have a board full of critters. It is not good with Sandayu already on board (what am I going to do, make Formula? Then what?). It has an effect, which gives it one slight advantage over Elephun, but that effect requires it dying by battle, taking up my Normal Summon, as well as grabbing a card out of my deck that will not do anything on its own, and would have to wait yet another turn before doing anything productive! As for “The Fabled” monster, I did not get to test them as much as I would like, but I felt that The Fabled Unicore would be really hard to maintain in a format where hand size is constantly shifting. I did not want to switch the deck to Unicore control, when I had no idea on where I would even start, when I already had a foundation for this build. I am going to test Cerberrul more.
I played 2 copies of Caius the Shadow Monarch because the theory behind it was I would have tons of tribute fodder in order to summon him. The reality of it is that you do not as often as you would like, and if you do, you are sacrificing a Rank 2 play to summon him. Also, with Fiendish Chain being played at 3 nearly everywhere, it is incredibly difficult to resolve his effect. While Fiendish negates his effect, it also prevents him from attacking with the massive 2400 ATK. Him plus Obedience Schooled allows you to banish a card, then Synchro for Leo, but that is a non-searchable combo that I do not think warrants Caius’ slot. I may play one in the future, but every game I lost was because I had one of these sitting dead in my hand where another trap or monster could have won me the game.
Kalantosa, Mystical Beast of the Forest is a terrible card to draw, but the payoff of summoning it off of Tantan is very worth it. If Tantan summons it, you can destroy any card on the field! Then you have a rank 2 play! An insane payoff just for performing a Flip Summon.
The Spells
- 3 Mystical Space Typhoon mained: I played these in the main deck because they hit so many cards: sphere, Tenki, tower. The biggest one though is Fiendish Chain. That card makes Sandayu and Naturia Beast next to useless, and is one of the easiest ways to break double Sandayu. So, why not main the card that most easily dispatches that weapon and clears the way for your plays? This deck thrives on simplification, and MST delivers.
- 3 Upstart Goblin: “Doesn’t the extra 1000 damage make it harder to win?” I see a lot of decks now that play Upstart Goblin, the full three copies. Do you know why this is? I want you to ask yourself this question before reading below, then I will give you the reason I think it is, and why I run 3 copies of Upstart in almost every deck.
The reason I run 3 copies of Upstart in this deck is because it makes my deck 37 cards, and it increases my chances of drawing Obedience Schooled turn 1. Also, the cards in my hand (or what I need) dictate when I will play Upstart during my turn. Let’s say you draw Obedience Schooled, 4 traps, and Upstart Goblin. Do you Upstart right away, or Schooled first to think your deck? I think the right answer is to Upstart right away, because it increases your chances of drawing a level 2 Beast, whereas if you Schooled first, you lose three of them. It is all about the little things – every decision you make in this game can have an impact on your likelihood of winning game. The impact may be small, and in the single digits of percents, but over time that impact will be felt and can be the difference between x-2 and x-3.
Playing Upstart allows you to see your most powerful cards as quickly as possible. Most of the time, if you have established dominating board presence over your opponent, 1000 life will not make or break your game. (Note: that is not an absolute. This is still a card game where one card like Wolfbark can create powerful shifts in momentum. Always play thinking ahead!)
The traps
- Mained Mistake: Every deck searches, you do not. Helps in what can be a difficult Water matchup, and what is a difficult Spellbook matchup.
- Horn of the Phantom Beast: I did not draw my Horn of the Phantom Beasts a lot, and the theory behind it was that it would make my tokens much stronger than opponent’s monsters and allow me to draw a card too. The problem was this was the card was predicated on me having summoned a Sandayu, generated a token, and gotten an attack through without falling victim to Lance. That is a lot to go through. I have since dropped the card, but may test it again in the future.
- Burst Rebirth: This card is ridiculous! During your opponent’s End Phase (or Battle Phase too I suppose), Special Summon a Tantan from your Graveyard. Then on your turn, flip it, destroy a card, and you have a Rank 2 play without using your Normal Summon. That alone is a +2 in numerical card advantage (not necessarily pure because two of your cards are weak Level 2 beasts) and you have a lot of options at your disposal for the remainder of your turn. I have since upped the number of this card to three copies because I want to see it as often as possible. I have even revived Thunder King Rai-Oh a couple times with this card.
The Extra Deck
- Herald of Pure Light: This card is important for recycling Veilers, and returning copies of Kalantosas from your Graveyard or your hand (since it is terrible to draw) to your Deck to use with Tantan later. You return one of those cards, then Main Phase 2 turn it into Downerd Magician.
- Underworld Fighter Balmung: This is the largest monster you can make off of flipping Tantan and using your Extra Deck, while attacking in the same turn. If he dies by a card effect, you get a Level 4 or lower monster from your Graveyard (very cool to do with Thunder King!).
- Slacker Magician: I played this card because Xyz Encore is a potential out to Sandayu, and though you can’t use it the same turn you activate Obedience Schooled or Ponpoko, it allows you to have a follow up should you get Encore’d. I actually did summon this card at the Regionals! I probably will drop this card from the extra in favor of newer options, though.
- Thunder Unicorn: This was another level 5 option for an Obedience Schooled plus Level 2 Beast play, but I think Sandayu himself is a better option every time ,and I probably will just end up cutting this card. I have yet to summon it, because it has the same flaw every Level 5 Synchro that is not Naturia Beast does: it creates no pressure after it attacks once.
The Side Deck
I am disappointed to say the side deck is largely theory based, and that I kind of just threw it together. That is what happens when you have little time: I side decked cards that could be sided against a variety of matchups. One little note on Overworked: it will destroy your Sandayu tokens. Their original ATK is 0, be careful with that!
I had a lot of fun playing this deck, and am still looking for new possibilities. One of the deck’s greatest strengths is that (for now) people do not know how to play against it, and nobody knows how to side against it. Often when I ask people why they are playing a certain card in their deck, they will say “It is really good I like it”. Take a look at how much thought was put into each card listed above. This was not all unfounded either, it was all tested to some degree (again, five days!). In constructing the Hieratic deck I was going to play, I put just as much critical thought into my card choices. That is the main point of this article, and how I believe I came to create a successful incarnation of the Baby Raccoon deck. That is not to say there are no improvements to be made, always be sure to evaluate your card choices as critically as possible. Meanwhile, it is back to the drawing board for me as I look at the cards from Primal Origins and await for them to be uploaded to Dueling Network to begin my preparations for the NAWCQ. Thank you for reading this monster of an article, I hope you learned something, and feel free to comment!


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