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Desperado Guide

Overview

Desperado Barrel Dragon debuted in the EX Structure Deck, Fullmetal Desperado and revolutionized the coin flip meta. Boasting a strong 2800 Attack stat, it also has a supporting ability that allows you to flip coins and destroy face-up monsters on the field, up to the number of heads. Moreover, when you flip 3 heads, you get to draw a card, provided you successfully destroy a monster on the field. For an exceptionally strong EX card, one would think that the summoning requirements would be somewhat difficult; however, it can be special summoned after a face-up DARK Machine is destroyed by battle or card effect. Using primarily cards from the EX Structure Deck, as well as other staple cards to enhance its consistency and stability, this deck has proven to be a force to be reckoned with.

Introduction

Desperado is a control deck which utilizes Desperado Barrel Dragon’s effect in the battle phase to destroy monsters while supporting Desperado with backrow to maintain field presence and generate card advantage. When paired with Master of Destiny, Desperado decks utilize strong generic DARK machine monsters like BM-4 Blast Spider in conjunction with synergistic coin flip cards like Twin-Barrel Dragon and Ms. Judge. This lineup provides Desperado decks with powerful battle phase control, spot removal, and negations all which make Desperado a versatile deck. Prior to the Master of Destiny nerf (which was when the guide was initially released), Desperado decks utilized a Parshath counter trap package, which provided the deck with a slew of counter traps like Rebirth of Parshath that offer spell speed 3 negates. Since then, we have recently received support on three separate occasions: The Orcust Archetype from the main box Judgment Force, Black Salvo from the Rex Goodwin Event, and Machina Fortress from the mini box Fortress of Gears. In current time, !Master of Destiny is the strongest ability for Desperado, with other abilities also being able to be used for KOG if the Orcust Engine gets used instead.


Skills

  • Master of Destiny

Master of Destiny ultimately caused this deck to be Tier for a time period. While Master of Destiny lost its relevance since the last update of the guide, it is now the main ability that is played; therefore, it will be the ability that is focused on the most. This ability allows you to get 3 guaranteed Heads, provided you have 7 different coin flip cards in your deck. A notable strength is that it turns a risky card like Cup of Ace into Pot of Greed for the first 3 heads, which is significant in terms of assisting your card advantage. Moreover, it guarantees heads for Desperado Barrel Dragon so that it can blow up monsters on the field. Master of Destiny is the true coin flipping connoisseur of abilities.

  • Other Skills

For players without access to the skills above, Desperado decks can be played with these skills. While the tiered version plays !Master of Destiny, decks using these skills can reach King of Games. Draw Sense: High-Level is an ability that can help you see {Desperado Barrel Dragon faster. !The Tie That Binds is an ability that boosts the attack of your monsters by 100 Atk times the number of monsters on your field. This helps Desperado Barrel Dragon attack over a threat such as Invoked Cocytus, which was impossible to attack over before without the aid of another card. !Sealed Tombs is an anti-meta skill that is best abused to counter graveyard centric strategies. !Switcheroo found success with Cyberdark focused variants. When paired with Cosmic Cyclone, Switcheroo enables you to shuffle garnets into the deck such as Elemental HERO Neos, Bacon Saver, and other cards you would rather keep in the deck. Lastly, Destiny Draw is another meta call and best used in decks where seeing one of tech cards can be crucial for winning the duel.


Core Cards

Since the core cards vary depending on the ability, we will start with the cards for Master of Destiny Desperado (since this has had the most success as of late), followed by the cards needed for Orcust Desperado.

Desperado Barrel Dragon (3x)

Duel Links Card: Desperado%20Barrel%20Dragon

The boss monster of the deck. There is no reason to play any less than 3 of it because it can be special summoned when a face-up DARK Machine is destroyed by battle or card effect. Once on the field, Desperado can flip coins in the battle phase and destroy face-up monsters on the field equal to the number of heads, with the additional effect of drawing a card if successfully destroying at least 1 monster if 3 heads appear. Moreover, when it is sent to the graveyard by any means, it allows for the search of a Level 7 or lower monster that has a coin flip effect! Overall Desperado is a powerhouse monster with a fairly simple summoning requirement.

BM-4 Blast Spider (1-2x)

Duel Links Card: BM-4%20Blast%20Spider

Blast Spider is one of the main DARK Machine monsters that enables easy Desperado summons. Alongside an incredible 2200 defense stat, its first effect allows it to pop a face-up DARK Machine (including itself) and another face-up card on the opponent’s side of the field. This is particularly useful for getting around cards like Secret Six Samurai - Fuma, who can prevent destruction if the only thing being destroyed is a Six Samurai monster. This is a soft once per turn, enabling you to pop a face-up card for every Blast Spider you have. On top of enabling the special summon of Desperado, Blast Spider’s second effect inflicts burn damage when a DARK Machine destroys an opponent’s monster by battle or card effect (including its own effect) equal to half of the destroyed monster’s original attack. Blast Spider must be face-up on the field to activate this effect and this effect is a hard once per turn.

Machina Fortress (2-3x)

Duel Links Card: Machina%20Fortress

Arguably the strongest card added in terms of enhancing the Desperado archetype. Machina Fortress is a Level 7 monster with a few amazing effects. The first is that if it is destroyed by battle and sent to the Graveyard, it can destroy a card on the opponent’s side of the field. The other effect is that if Machina Fortress is targeted by an effect monster, it can reveal the opponent’s hand and allow you to discard a card (This is a more situational version of the banned TCG card Confiscation)! To top things off with 2 amazing effects, Machina Fortress can easily be summoned, as it can be special summoned by discarding machines whose levels equal 8 or higher. While daunting at first glance, this includes using Machina Fortress as a discard outlet itself, meaning all that is needed is another Machine to discard in order to summon it. Moreover Desperado Barrel Dragon satisfies the discard requirement in itself, as it is a Level 8 machine. This can enable quick OTKs since Fortress will be summoned, and then Desperado Barrel Dragon can search a monster with a coin flip effect.


Cards Specifically for Master of Destiny

Twin-Barrel Dragon (1-2x)

Duel Links Card: Twin-Barrel%20Dragon

Much like Blast Spider, Twin-Barrel Dragon is another card that assists with destroying cards on the field; however, there are a few key differences: Its effect occurs on summon, it can only pop cards on your opponent’s field, and it requires 2 coin flips. The effect requiring coin flips is great because it can be searched via Desperado Barrel Dragon. Moreover, with Master of Destiny, you are both assisting a met requirement for the ability to function, as well as usually guaranteeing a free destruction of an opponent’s card early in the game. The downsides are that after you use 2 or 3 of your free heads, your chances of destroying a card are no longer guaranteed. Moreover, the only way that Desperado can be summoned with Twin-Barrel Dragon is by it being destroyed by your opponent, which is not as reliable as Blast Spider. While mandatory to run, it is usually advisable to play less Twin-Barrel Dragons than Blast Spiders to accommodate for its late game struggles.

Cup of Ace (2x)

Duel Links Card: Cup%20of%20Ace

The main spell that makes Master of Destiny the best ability to run. What once was a risky card (either a +1 or -3) is now a guaranteed +1 provided you still have 1 of your 3 guaranteed heads remaining. Cup of Ace is semi-limited, so this will take up your two semi-limit slots; however, there are no better semi-limit cards to consider when this card allows you to gain an early card advantage.


Other Relevant Cards in Master of Destiny

Arcana Force XIV - Temperance (0-1x)

Duel Links Card: Arcana%20Force%20XIV%20-%20Temperance

A Level 6 coin flip monster that has a relevant discarding effect: By sending it to the graveyard, you reduce all battle damage from one attack to 0. Very similar to Kuriboh, except it can be searched via Desperado Barrel Dragon.

Ms. Judge (0-1x)

Duel Links Card: Ms.%20Judge

Ever since the counter trap variation of Desperado has become viable, Ms. Judge has become one of the better coin flip options to play. Its continuous effect applies on the resolution of the opponent’s first card to resolve on a chain link (which means Ms. Judge’s effect can also apply to counter traps), and it flips 2 coins. If 2 heads are received, Ms. Judge negates the effect. While usually not a huge deal late game, this is extremely dangerous if opened alongside a counter trap on the first turn of play.

Sasuke Samurai #4 (0-1)

Duel Links Card: Sasuke%20Samurai%20%234

Sasuke Samurai is a new powerful addition to the coin flip options, as he is the Level 30 Reward for DSOD Joey. While Sasuke Samurai battles a monster face-up on the field, it will flip a coin and destroy the monster it is battling if called correctly. Note that this effect occurs before damage calculation, so if Sasuke Samurai were to be set and then attacked by an opponent’s monster face-down, it will not be able to use the effect.

Time Wizard (0-1x)

Duel Links Card: Time%20Wizard

While declining in usage due to the counter trap variation of Desperado not using him, Time Wizard has some fantastic utility against Six Samurai or the mirror matchup. The guaranteed heads to nuke your opponent’s board can be really strong; unfortunately, lots of the current meta decks are not entirely hindered by Time Wizard. As a result, this card has started to see more play as a side card as opposed to being played in the main deck.

Fiend Comedian (0-1x)

Duel Links Card: Fiend%20Comedian

Another card that has declined in usage due to the counter trap variation of Desperado. Before the discovery of the counter trap variation, Fiend Comedian acted as a 1 card blowout against Darklords and Vendreads when timed correctly. Its effect to banish all cards in your opponent’s graveyard if you called the coin flip correctly was devastating. As of late, the counter traps assist in providing similar utility to stopping what Fiend Comedian could have stopped. Regardless, Fiend Comedian is still one of my favourite coin flip cards, and will potentially stay in my main deck.

Head Judging (0-1x)

Duel Links Card: Head%20Judging

While a coin flip requirement, Head Judging is slightly different from the other abilities, as the opponent is the one flipping the coin instead of you. Since the opponent gets to choose, the chances are once again 50/50. Despite Head Judging not working under the guaranteed coin flips, it is still a solid pick because if the opponent calls the coin flip wrong on Head Judging, not only will the monster’s effect of the opponent get negated, but also taken control of. This payoff is usually worth the risk of losing Head Judging by the opponent calling the coin flip correctly.

Rebirth of Parshath (3x)

Duel Links Card: Rebirth%20of%20Parshath

This counter trap is the main reason for the counter trap engine to exist and thrive in Desperado. Its effect allows you to negate a Spell, Trap, or monster effect and send it back to the deck by revealing a counter trap, as well as paying 1000 life points and discarding a card after the reveal. Moreover, if you successfully shuffle the card back into the deck, you are able to summon a Parshath monster from your Main Deck or Extra Deck. The monster we summon with Rebirth of Parshath is the Synchro Avenging Knight Parshath. Avenging Knight Parshath is a 2600 beatstick that can change the position of an opponent’s face-up monster and inflict piercing damage if it attacks a defence position monster. Having access to a minimum of 2 Avenging Knight Parshath will generally allow you to get the most out of Rebirth of Parshath because you seldom are able to resolve 3 in one Duel. The rest of the counter traps that you use with use with Rebirth of Parshath are all not necessarily needed, but 3-4 more counter traps must be used to maximize the utility of the engine.

Divine Wrath (0-2x)

Duel Links Card: Divine%20Wrath

Divine Wrath is undoubtedly one of the better counter traps since it allows the negation of an effect monster’s effect by discarding a card. With numerous problematic monster effects to negate, it is certain that utility will usually be found with this card.

Ultimate Providence (0-2x)

Duel Links Card: Ultimate%20Providence

While usually acting as a “Poor man’s Divine Wrath”, this Card is theoretically the best discard 1 counter trap since it can negate a Spell, Trap, or monster effect; however, Ultimate Providence must discard the same kind of card it is attempting to negate. As a result, there may be cases where you don’t have the right card to discard in order to get the negate you want, making this card slightly less reliable as a tradeoff for its versatility.

Dark Illusion (0-2x)

Duel Links Card: Dark%20Illusion

While a bit more situational, Dark Illusion has increased in play with the abundance of Karma Cut in decks, most notably now that there was a reprint for it in the latest mini box: Arena of Sanctuary. Being able to negate any kind of card that targets is notably strong against decks that specifically target.

Cards Specifically for Orcust Desperado

Orcust Harp Horror (3x)

Duel Links Card: Orcust%20Harp%20Horror

The best of the Orcust Monsters. Not only is this your main target for Black Salvo, but it also special summons your other Orcust monsters from the deck other than itself by banishing itself from the Graveyard. Moreover, this effect can be used after Synchro summoning with Black Salvo since the clause to special summon Dark monsters only occurs for the rest of the turn. Being able to special summon an Orcust gives the deck a way to throw out fodder for Desperado Barrel Dragon.

Orcust Cymbal Skeleton (1-2x)

Duel Links Card: Orcust%20Cymbal%20Skeleton

The main monster summoned off of Orcust Harp Horror. Orcust Cymbal Skeleton can revive an Orcust monster other than itself by banishing itself from the Graveyard. Like Orcust Harp Horror, this can be helpful to get an Orcust monster on the field to trigger a Desperado Barrel Dragon in the future. Unlike Orcust Harp Horror, however, this card has a bit less utility since it is a Level 3 Dark Machine monster as opposed to a Level 4 Dark Machine. Moreover, it is required to have multiple Orcust in the Graveyard to successfully use the effect of Orcust Cymbal Skeleton. Flaws aside, this monster paired with Desperado Barrel Dragon delivers exactly 4000 damage, so some OTKs are opened up.

Orcust Brass Bombard (0-1x)

Duel Links Card: Orcust%20Brass%20Bombard

The other Orcust monster that was released in the box. Orcust Brass Bombard has been underplayed because even though it is a Tuner monster, if it is summoned off of another Orcust monster, only Dark Synchro monsters can be summoned afterwards. Moreover, it has the least helpful effect off all three Orcust monsters since it special summons an Orcust monster from the hand other than itself by banishing itself from the Graveyard. Flaws aside, what Orcust Brass Bombard does offer is an option to make Dark End Dragon, a Level 8 Dark Synchro monster that removes a monster from the field by giving up 500 ATK and DEF. Having this option available is critical to out monsters that are either resilient to destruction or float off destruction.

Orcustrated Return (2-3x)

Duel Links Card: Orcustrated%20Return

The main draw power Spell of the deck. Not only does this allow a draw 2 by sending an Orcust monster from your hand or field to the Graveyard, but it also sets up the Graveyard for Black Salvo if Orcust Harp Horror is sent off of it. Orcustrated Return is ultimately why the Master of Destiny variant has seen a decline, as it gives the deck a reasonable engine without the strict restrictions that Master of Destiny imposes.

Black Salvo (1-2x)

Duel Links Card: Black%20Salvo

Black Salvo is a fantastic new edition that gave the Archetype a Level 7 Synchro Toolbox. Similar to Junk Synchron, Black Salvo special summons a Level 4 Dark Machine from the Graveyard, but negates its effects. Having access to powerful Synchros such as Samurai Destroyer, Psy-Framelord Zeta, and Black Rose Dragon give the deck more versatility to handle a plethora of situations that the deck struggled with before. For example, Desperado had no natural out to Invoked Cocytus prior, but now, a combination of Samurai Destroyer and Desperado Barrel Dragon will out Invoked Cocytus, provided Desperado Barrel Dragon lands a head (an 87.5% chance). All in all, Black Salvo breathed a bit more life into the deck in general.

Cosmic Cyclone (2-3x)

Duel Links Card: Cosmic%20Cyclone

Cosmic Cyclone is critical to play in Orcust Desperado since it not only removes problematic cards, but also allows the triggering of Draw Sense: High-Level, in addition to possibly No Mortal Can Resist.

Dekoichi the Battlechanted Locomotive (0-3x)

Duel Links Card: Dekoichi%20the%20Battlechanted%20Locomotive

Dekoichi The Battlechanted Locomotive seems a bit slow on the surface since you have to set it to use its effect; however, its ability is rewarding enough to still consider if it resolves. Whenever Dekoichi is flipped, its flip effect triggers, which allows you to draw a card. While its effect replacing itself does not seem fantastic, if you draw into Desperado Barrel Dragon while it is being destroyed in battle, it can be summoned right away! Furthermore, if your opponent does not choose to attack it while set, you will be rewarded with an extra card on your next turn after flipping it face-up. Moreover, since Dekoichi the Battlechanted Locomotive is a Level 4 Dark Machine, it is another candidate target for Black Salvo.


Rebirth of Parshath Caution Warning and Examples

As mentioned previously, Rebirth of Parshath is the main reason for the counter trap engine to exist and thrive in Desperado; however, not knowing how it works can lose the game at times because there are situations where Avenging Knight Parshath is unable to be summoned. In order for Avenging Knight Parshath to be summoned, Rebirth of Parshath must successfully negate the card AND shuffle it back into the deck; therefore, if both actions do not occur, no summon occurs. There are two main situations where this arises. The first one is if the card were to resolve in a different place from where it was activated because it sent itself as a cost. The second is if the card was already destroyed by battle, but used a flip effect.


Other Tech and Side Deck Cards

Cyberdark

Duel Links Card: Cyberdark%20Edge
Duel Links Card: Cyberdark%20Cannon
Duel Links Card: Leng%20Ling
Duel Links Card: Elemental%20HERO%20Neos
Duel Links Card: Neos%20Fusion
Duel Links Card: Elemental%20HERO%20Brave%20Neos
Duel Links Card: Elemental%20HERO%20Neos%20Knight

Neos Engine

Duel Links Card: Elemental%20HERO%20Neos
Duel Links Card: Bacon%20Saver
Duel Links Card: Lunalight%20Crimson%20Fox
Duel Links Card: Neos%20Fusion
Duel Links Card: Elemental%20HERO%20Brave%20Neos
Duel Links Card: Elemental%20HERO%20Neos%20Knight

Predaplant

Duel Links Card: Predaplant%20Chlamydosundew
Duel Links Card: Predaplant%20Chimerafflesia

Strong Generic Backrow

Duel Links Card: Cosmic%20Cyclone
Duel Links Card: World%20Legacy%20Clash
Duel Links Card: Enemy%20Controller
Duel Links Card: Paleozoic%20Canadia
Duel Links Card: Floodgate%20Trap%20Hole
Duel Links Card: Mirror%20Wall
Duel Links Card: Wall%20of%20Disruption
Duel Links Card: Drowning%20Mirror%20Force
Duel Links Card: Dimensional%20Prison
Duel Links Card: Bad%20Aim
Duel Links Card: Treacherous%20Trap%20Hole
Duel Links Card: Fiendish%20Chain
Duel Links Card: Karma%20Cut
Duel Links Card: Raigeki%20Break

Side Deck & Niche Cards

Duel Links Card: Genex%20Ally%20Crusher
Duel Links Card: Artifact%20Lancea
Duel Links Card: Necrovalley
Duel Links Card: System%20Down
Duel Links Card: Closed%20Forest
Duel Links Card: Enemy%20Controller
Duel Links Card: Poisonous%20Winds
Duel Links Card: Last%20Day%20of%20Witch
Duel Links Card: Cosmic%20Cyclone
Duel Links Card: Xing%20Zhen%20Hu
Duel Links Card: Generation%20Shift
Duel Links Card: Liberty%20at%20Last!
Duel Links Card: Treacherous%20Trap%20Hole
Duel Links Card: Mispolymerization
Duel Links Card: Cash%20Back
Duel Links Card: Non-Fusion%20Area
Duel Links Card: Light-Imprisoning%20Mirror
Duel Links Card: The%20Transmigration%20Prophecy

Sample Decks

bambihey’s 1st Place Battle Phase #31

Duel Links Card: Avenging%20Knight%20Parshath
Duel Links Card: Avenging%20Knight%20Parshath
Duel Links Card: Avenging%20Knight%20Parshath

Side Deck:

Duel Links Card: Artifact%20Lancea
Duel Links Card: Artifact%20Lancea
Duel Links Card: Twin-Barrel%20Dragon
Duel Links Card: Herald%20of%20the%20Abyss
Duel Links Card: Necrovalley
Duel Links Card: Necrovalley

Yoseilock’s MW #116 (March 18th 2020)

Duel Links Card: Black%20Rose%20Dragon
Duel Links Card: Star%20Eater
Duel Links Card: Dark%20End%20Dragon
Duel Links Card: Samsara,%20Dragon%20of%20Rebirth
Duel Links Card: Psy-Framelord%20Zeta
Duel Links Card: Samurai%20Destroyer

Side Deck:

Voorhees’s KOG Deck (July 7th 2020)

Duel Links Card: Predaplant%20Chimerafflesia
Duel Links Card: Predaplant%20Chimerafflesia
Duel Links Card: Avenging%20Knight%20Parshath
Duel Links Card: Avenging%20Knight%20Parshath
Duel Links Card: Avenging%20Knight%20Parshath

Luxun’s Top 16 PCT Deck (July 24th 2020)

Side Deck

Duel Links Card: Herald%20of%20the%20Abyss
Duel Links Card: Necrovalley
Duel Links Card: Necrovalley
Duel Links Card: Cosmic%20Cyclone
Duel Links Card: Cosmic%20Cyclone
Duel Links Card: Fiendish%20Chain

Matchups

Matchups will be handled with Master of Destiny Desperado as the main deck, but will keep the Orcust Desperado variation in mind if it has been covered in the previous guide update.

Desperado (Mirror Match)

What better way to start the matchup analysis than the mirror matchup. While there obviously is some hand dependence, there are certain critical factors to keep in mind. First of all, in most matchups, opening a hand of any low level DARK Machine and Desperado usually leads to setting your monster so that you don’t take any unnecessary damage. This is not the same for the mirror because your opponent having Twin Barrel Dragon can easily set you back, especially if the Machine you set was your only summonable one. Moreover, with the addition of Machina Fortress it can allow a game to end quickly if the right card gets popped by Twin-Barrel Dragon. There are 2 cases where setting your DARK Machine is a safe play. The first case is if you have more than 1 summonable DARK Machine. If you have more than 1 summonable DARK Machine, you may as well attempt the safe play of setting because you will at least have another one ready in case Twin Barrel Dragon is summoned by your opponent and they pop your set monster. The second case is if you open a live counter trap that negates a monster effect (i.e. Rebirth of Parshath, Ultimate Providence, or Divine Wrath). Having a counter trap turn 1 is always a safe position because most Master of Destiny Desperado builds usually opt out of not running backrow removal in the main deck. The best DARK Machine to set alongside a counter trap is BM-4 Blast Spider. With Blast Spider, you are able to stall out any monster that is not Avenging Knight Parshath, Desperado, or Arcana Force XIV - Temperance (which is seldom tribute summoned). This gives you time to draw more counter traps so that you can later win the counter trap war. If you have neither another summonable DARK Machine, nor a counter trap that negates monster effects, it is usually better to summon it if Desperado is already in the hand. The other critical factor as of late as mentioned earlier is the counter trap war. After both you and your opponent have played a turn, it is highly likely that both players will have 1-2 counter traps set, and possibly even 3 if a player gets lucky and is able to activate double Cup of Ace on their turn. The integral part to keep in mind is that it usually is not worth playing into a counter trap or committing to a counter trap your opponent plays unless you either have no other option or are able to push for game. For example, if your opponent set a monster and a backrow, assume that the backrow is a counter trap that can negate monster effects. If you have a Twin Barrel Dragon in hand and no other play if it gets negated, it is not worth summoning. Rather, a better play would be to set it and your counter traps that you drew. On the next turn, if your opponent passes, then you can attempt using Twin Barrel Dragon because you will both have potential counter traps to defend (if deemed necessary, but you can usually let it go), and another summon/set of a DARK Machine. Keep in mind that if you are able to let a counter trap go at a time where it doesn’t determine the game, that usually means that you will have the advantage to win the counter trap war on the next critical exchange. This potential future critical exchange usually leads into the summon of Desperado, which will help you win the game if you are able to summon one while preventing your opponent from summoning theirs. For Desperado Orcust, the counter trap version has an edge due to being able to negate Desperado. Being able to shut down counter traps quickly with Cosmic Cyclone will be the key to breaking through. For the Desperado Orcust mirror, similar play is reciprocated: Attempt to make plays and push while keeping Desperado in the back as a last resort (the player who plays the last Desperado usually wins the mirror). Furthermore, !Draw Sense: High Level has notable utility in the mirror matchup to guarantee that Desperado gets seen sooner rather than later.

Side Cards

Duel Links Card: Debunk
Duel Links Card: Wiretap
Duel Links Card: Dimensional%20Prison
Duel Links Card: Drowning%20Mirror%20Force
Duel Links Card: Cosmic%20Cyclone
Duel Links Card: Ms.%20Judge
Duel Links Card: System%20Down
Duel Links Card: Enemy%20Controller
Duel Links Card: World%20Legacy%20Clash
Duel Links Card: Karma%20Cut

Elementsaber Invoked

Invoked in general is a difficult matchup since the deck can consistently make Invoked Cocytus, our most hated card to go against because of the ability Destiny Draw. This allows the Invoked player to see their Aleister the Invoker after losing 2000 LP. Moreover, since more decks are converging higher card counts, players are using Elementsaber Nalu, which enables them to go into Invoked Cocytus on the first turn if they are fortunate to open Aleister the Invoker and it or Palace of the Elemental Lords. It is critical to hold onto cards with monster effect negation to stop Aleister the Invoker because once it resolves successfully once, they will be able to cycle the engine for the rest of the game, which is usually game over for Desperado. For a time period, Elementsaber Invoked was playing 25-26 cards, which made it impossible to win if the Desperado player did not have an out to Invoked Cocytus. In current time, however, most builds are playing 20-24 cards, which makes deckout possible via Cup of Ace to hopefully hit Tails, or by using Rebirth of Parshath to shuffle your own cards into the deck to ensure the Desperado player had more cards left in the deck. In order to win this matchup, you need to negate Aleister the Invoker, as mentioned previously, but also not give them a chance to trigger Destiny Draw. This means that if lethal is not possible, do not damage them if you are going to be doing more than 2000 damage; therefore, attacks need to be executed to avoid Destiny Draw by either attacking for less than 2000, or attacking for game while staying over 2000 (Ex: attacking directly with Blast Spider for 1400, then following it up with a direct attack from Desperado Barrel Dragon since 2800 is more than their 2600, so the Elementsaber Invoked player is forced to respond). Once they are in Destiny Draw range, however, be as aggressive as possible since Aleister the Invoker is going to be guaranteed for them on their next turn if they don’t currently possess it. With Orcust Desperado (but more specifically Black Salvo), the deck finally has a way to deal with Invoked Cocytus, despite it being a little difficult to pull off. The Desperado player needs to summon Samurai Destroyer as well as Desperado Barrel Dragon. Samurai Destroyer will be able to negate Invoked Cocytus’ effects when attacking, allowing Desperado Barrel Dragon to clear it provided at least 1 head gets flipped. Despite having a way to out Invoked Cocytus, the matchup is still difficult.

Side Deck

Duel Links Card: Necrovalley
Duel Links Card: Mispolymerization
Duel Links Card: Herald%20of%20the%20Abyss
Duel Links Card: Artifact%20Lancea
Duel Links Card: Non-Fusion%20Area
Duel Links Card: Cosmic%20Cyclone

Blackwings

With the current changes, Desperado remains to have a good matchup against Blackwings. Blackwings like to swarm the field similar to Blue-Eyes, but because of Black Whirlwind and Blackwing - Simoon the Poison Wind, Blackwing swarms are far more likely. Desperado Barrel Dragon has no problem dealing with the swarm potential of Blackwings. Moreover, thanks to the Counter Trap engine, it remains to be one of the only decks that can stop both the counter trap Blackwing Close, as well as Blackwing - Simoon the Poison Wind from setting up Black Whirlwind after banishing a Blackwing for cost. For Orcust Desperado, the deck still has an advantage; however, Blackwing Close does have a greater chance of hurting your plays if Desperado Barrel Dragon is not in the hand.

Side Deck

Duel Links Card: Typhoon
Duel Links Card: Needle%20Ceiling
Duel Links Card: Debunk
Duel Links Card: Divine%20Wrath
Duel Links Card: Ultimate%20Providence
Duel Links Card: Treacherous%20Trap%20Hole
Duel Links Card: World%20Legacy%20Clash
Duel Links Card: Karma%20Cut
Duel Links Card: Floodgate%20Trap%20Hole
Duel Links Card: Paleozoic%20Canadia

Shiranui

Prior to new additions of cards, 20 card Shiranui was close to an even matchup, most notably with !Sealed Tombs prior to its nerf. If Desperado got to set up first, then disrupting Shiranui Squire would normally tip the game into the Desperado player’s favour; however, if the Shiranui player got to set up first, then Desperado would sometimes have difficulty keeping up. Moreover, if the Shiranui player was using the ability !Level Augmentation, summoning Shiranui Sunsaga became even easier, which is a win condition in itself against Desperado since it is unable to be outed if there is Shiranui fodder in the graveyard for Sunsaga’s protection effect. With the addition of Ballista Squad and more people converging to !Level Augmentation, Shiranui became a losing matchup, most notably when playing Orcust Desperado. Orcust Desperado has no solid way to stop the deck. Even with Treacherous Trap Hole buying a turn against Shiranui Squire, the deck has difficulties OTKing. Similar to Invoked Cocytus, however, Shiranui Sunsaga can be outed if the Desperado player is fortunate enough to summon Desperado Barrel Dragon and Samurai Destroyer. Master of Destiny builds, however, have a bit of an easier task, as most are currently teching Necrovalley, which is an incredible card against Shiranui since it renders their Shiranui cards useless. Moreover, Shiranui Sunsaga is unable to protect itself or other Zombies if Necrovalley is on the field. Both variations are losing matchups; however, both decks have the tools to turn the tide.

Side Deck

Duel Links Card: Necrovalley
Duel Links Card: Fiend%20Comedian
Duel Links Card: Kycoo%20the%20Ghost%20Destroyer
Duel Links Card: Artifact%20Lancea
Duel Links Card: Enemy%20Controller
Duel Links Card: World%20Legacy%20Clash
Duel Links Card: Treacherous%20Trap%20Hole
Duel Links Card: Chain%20Disappearance

Dark Magician

Dark Magician is another close to even matchup that is coin flip reliant. If Desperado sets up first, then Dark Magician will have a rough time setting up their ideal board of Dark Magical Circle and Magician Navigation with Dark Magician in the hand; however, if Dark Magician starts and sets up their ideal board, Desperado struggles to put out a safe play since Dark Magical Circle banishes monsters, which avoids triggering Desperado Barrel Dragon in the hand. Ideally, the Desperado player opens Ms. Judge going second to prevent Magician Navigation from resolving for the turn, which could then later tip the match in the Desperado player’s favour. This is not the case, however, if Dark Magician have another usable card to burn the negate of Ms. Judge, followed by flipping Magician Navigation. If Desperado is able to make it to the grind game, they will win most games, as Dark Magician struggle to put Desperado Barrel Dragon without a second Magician Navigation play. Unfortunately, Dark Magician is usually able to end the game quickly if they set up first, making the matchup coin flip reliant. For Orcust Desperado, the match is also somewhat coin flip reliant. Even though Orcust Desperado does not have the counter trap engine, having access to multiple Cosmic Cyclone can significantly help the matchup.

Side Deck

Duel Links Card: Cosmic%20Cyclone
Duel Links Card: Wiretap
Duel Links Card: Ms.%20Judge
Duel Links Card: Treacherous%20Trap%20Hole
Duel Links Card: World%20Legacy%20Clash

Blue-Eyes

Prior to the release of new cards, Blue-Eyes was a winning matchup for Desperado. Since then, however, Blue-Eyes has become closer to an even matchup. With the release of Sage with Eyes of Blue, the deck has increased in consistency. Moreover, with the release of Karma Cut in the newer Selection Box, Blue-Eyes now has a way to avoid triggering Desperado, which was its main prior weakness. To top things off, the deck receiving Blue-Eyes Spirit Dragon not only gave a way to easily summon an Azure-Eyes Silver Dragon, but also Michael, the Arch-Lightsworn to once again banish monsters to prevent the trigger of Desperado Barrel Dragon. New strengths aside for Blue-Eyes, Desperado Barrel Dragon remains to be a dominant threat if the Desperado player is able to summon him. For the counter trap version, being able to negate Sage with Eyes of Blue right away will put the Blue-Eyes player in a dubious position, especially since their main traps in Raigeki Break, Karma Cut, and Divine Wrath all rely on discarding a card. The cards want to send The White Stone of Ancients to maximize utility, which is what Sage attempts to add. If Orcust Desperado is played, it is rare for the Blue-Eyes player to set more than 1 card, so a Cosmic Cyclone can make quick work of it to ensure plays go through.

Side Deck

Duel Links Card: Treacherous%20Trap%20Hole
Duel Links Card: Enemy%20Controller
Duel Links Card: World%20Legacy%20Clash
Duel Links Card: Divine%20Wrath
Duel Links Card: Ultimate%20Providence
Duel Links Card: Ms.%20Judge

Crystron

Crystron is a losing matchup for both counter trap Desperado and Orcust Desperado. Crystron has a sheer amount of consistency with Scrap Recycler, Crystron Sulfefnir, and Crystron Thystvern. Previously, most Crystron were using the ability Transcendent Crystals, which made the deck even more consistent; however, ever since it got nerfed, the majority of Crystron decks have converged to Mythic Depths, which gave Crystron a starting card in Umi. Moreover, it gave the deck another consistency card in Genex Undine, which allows the sending of a water monster in order to add Genex Controller. This send and search in tandem with Citadel Whale and Sea Stealth Attack ultimately are what made the ability Mythic Depths the strongest option. Due to the sheer amount of consistency and floats that the deck has, it is extremely hard for the Desperado player to break through. Moreover, their boss monster Crystron Quariongandrax banishes monsters off the field, which will not trigger Desperado Barrel Dragon. While Transcendent Crystals did get hit, so did No Mortal Can Resist, which was used in Orcust Desperado specifically for Crystron because it is extremely reliant on the Graveyard. Now that No Mortal Can Resist got nerfed, Sealed Tombs is a possibility to play instead; however, it is nowhere near as strong, making Crystron an even more difficult matchup than before.

Side Deck

Duel Links Card: Necrovalley
Duel Links Card: Karma%20Cut
Duel Links Card: Chain%20Disappearance
Duel Links Card: System%20Down
Duel Links Card: Divine%20Wrath
Duel Links Card: Ultimate%20Providence
Duel Links Card: Debunk

Cyber Dragon

Cyber Dragon is a matchup that is winning for Orcust Desperado. If Desperado Barrel Dragon is summoned against the Cyber Dragon player, their only out to it is Cybernetic Overflow. If it is used to destroy a machine and Desperado Barrel Dragon is summoned, it will almost always be a win for the Desperado player since the Cyber Dragon player needs another Cybernetic Overflow or to get lucky with Desperado Barrel Dragon not hitting a head. Moreover, if it is conserved for Desperado Barrel Dragon, then a Cosmic Cyclone will likely be able to snipe it before it can properly out Desperado Barrel Dragon after being summoned. Cyber Dragon needs to win the game quickly; otherwise, Desperado will almost always prevail. Against Master of Destiny Desperado, the matchup is a little easier for Cyber Dragon, as they can snipe off key backrow; however, the dynamic of popping monsters still holds it back against Desperado since it would proc Desperado Barrel Dragon from hand, provided the Dark Machine monster is face-up.

Side Deck

Duel Links Card: System%20Down
Duel Links Card: World%20Legacy%20Clash
Duel Links Card: Artifact%20Lancea
Duel Links Card: Wiretap

Masked Heroes

Masked Heroes are another winning matchup for Desperado. Heroes rely on OTKing the opponent quickly by using Mask Change to make Masked HERO Anki, and then using Anki to kill a monster in battle so that another Mask Change can be added. Fortunately, this glass cannon nature is something that Desperado Barrel Dragon thrives off of since its effect does not target, hence making chain Mask Change useless. This is a significant problem for other decks since most cards that other decks possess target, but Desperado Barrel Dragon is not one of those cards. Moreover, having access to either counter traps or Treacherous Trap Hole (depending on the version) are both strong against the deck. Now that Hero no longer has Hey, Trunade! with Vision HERO Vyon going to 2, Masked Heroes need ridiculous hands to beat a Desperado player who opens Desperado Barrel Dragon, and without Desperado, they still likely need a Mask Change to OTK. The only other scenario where the Hero player might prevail is if they are playing Bring it!, which allows the Hero player to search their deck for a Destiny HERO - Plasma should they lose 1000 LP. Destiny HERO - Plasma not only negates all opposing monster effects, but it also has an ability to steal a monster to boost its attack. Fortunately, most builds tend not to run it, as it can promote bricks at times, which the Hero player might not want. Moveover, Bring it! is not as common as Sealed Tombs or Master of Fusion, both of which are weaker abilities to play against Desperado. All in all, Masked Heroes being strong, but glass cannon is ultimately why Desperado should prevail more often than not.

Side Deck

Duel Links Card: World%20Legacy%20Clash
Duel Links Card: Necrovalley
Duel Links Card: Divine%20Wrath
Duel Links Card: Ultimate%20Providence
Duel Links Card: Arcana%20Force%20XIV%20-%20Temperance

Ritual Beast

Ritual Beast is a losing matchup for Desperado, especially for Orcust Desperado. Ritual Beast have easy access to Ritual Beast Ulti-Pettlephin, which is a nuisance for Desperado since it is a 2800 Defence Fusion that cannot be destroyed by card effects. While Ritual Beast Ulti-Pettlephin is a bit easier to deal with than Invoked Cocytus, the trade-off is that the Ritual Beast player can make it more than once in the game quite easily. If the Desperado player is fortunate enough to be playing the counter trap version, being able to stop Ritual Beast from setting up early on can net a fast win. Unfortunately, if this is unable to be done, the Ritual Beast player will likely win. For Orcust Desperado, Treacherous Trap Hole is the best response to an early combo play from Ritual Beast; however, aside from that, there are not a lot of options that the Orcust Desperado player has in order to shut down Ritual Beast. Necrovalley seems reasonable in the matchup, but it is not as strong as one might think since they can still contact Fusion Summon. Moreover, less builds are playing Ritual Beast Ambush, a card in which they can summon a Ritual Beast Tamer and a Spiritual Beast monster from the Banished pile or in the Graveyard. Necrovalley does stop certain Ritual Beast effects; however, not being able to shut them down of their main strategy, while also having to face a pseudo win condition in Ritual Beast Ulti-Pettlephin is ultimately why both versions of Desperado are going to lose more often than not.

Side Deck

Duel Links Card: Poisonous%20Winds
Duel Links Card: Divine%20Wrath
Duel Links Card: Ultimate%20Providence
Duel Links Card: Summon%20Breaker

Invoked Neos

Invoked Neos is usually a losing matchup for Desperado. While it is rare to see Invoked Neos players use Sinister Serpent as a water target for Invoked Cocytus, Desperado still struggles with the majority of backrow that the deck plays. Having access to a safe turn 1 play in Neos Fusion to send Volcanic Shell not only gives them a monster that is protected from Desperado Barrel Dragon for a turn, but fuel for cards like Karma Cut, Divine Wrath/Ultimate Providence, and even Raigeki Break to snipe set cards. If Desperado can get a reasonable setup turn 1, they can usually hold off on the onslaught the Invoked Neos player can throw. Moreover, with Necrovalley, it prevents Neos Fusion from protecting Elemental HERO Brave Neos and from Invocation from recycling a banished Aleister the Invoker. Invoked Neos having lots of problematic backrow is ultimately what usually tips the matchup in their favour against Desperado.

Side Deck

Duel Links Card: Necrovalley
Duel Links Card: Wall%20of%20Disruption
Duel Links Card: Wiretap
Duel Links Card: Divine%20Wrath
Duel Links Card: Ultimate%20Providence
Duel Links Card: World%20Legacy%20Clash
Duel Links Card: Magic%20Drain

Witchcrafter

Depending on the Desperado build, Witchcrafter can either be an even matchup, or a winning matchup for Desperado. Ideally, the Desperado player has Necrovalley and counter traps. If Desperado is able to get out Necrovalley, Witchcrafter desperately needs to out it; otherwise, all of their graveyard effects will be useless. A counter trap to prevent either Lyla Lightsworn Sorceress, or Black Rose Dragon from outing Necrovalley will usually win the game on the spot. At worst case scenario, some Witchcraft players also main Storm, which is an excellent card in the deck since the Witchcrafter Spells can return from the Graveyard to the hand at the end phase provided there is a face-up Witchcrafter on the field, and the specific Witchcraft Spell did not get activated that turn. If Witchcrafter is able to get out Witchcraft Madame Verre, it can become problematic if there is no counter trap to address it. Fortunately, seeing a counter trap and/or Necrovalley is likely, which ultimately makes the matchup favourable.

Side Deck

Duel Links Card: Necrovalley
Duel Links Card: Karma%20Cut
Duel Links Card: Light-Imprisoning%20Mirror
Duel Links Card: Last%20Day%20of%20Witch
Duel Links Card: Divine%20Wrath
Duel Links Card: Ultimate%20Providence

Gouki

Gouki is a losing matchup for Desperado. Similar to Invoked Neos, Gouki carries a lot of problematic backrow for Desperado to deal with. Moreover, Desperado Barrel Dragon does not really threaten the Gouki monsters, as being sent to the Graveyard simply enables the Gouki monsters to search another copy of a Gouki monster that is not itself. As a result, Desperado does not really threaten the Gouki player. That being said, however, a well-timed counter trap can potentially turn the tide into Desperado’s favour. Unfortunately, Gouki usually having 2-3 backrow at all times can make things problematic, even if the Desperado player negates one.

Side Deck

Duel Links Card: Wiretap
Duel Links Card: Mask%20of%20Restrict
Duel Links Card: Ultimate%20Providence
Duel Links Card: Cosmic%20Cyclone
Duel Links Card: Karma%20Cut
Duel Links Card: Raigeki%20Break

Karakuri

Given how Karakuri is being built in current time, Desperado is a winning matchup against Karakuri. Desperado Barrel Dragon is a huge threat to Karakuri if they go second, as they will not have a live Karakuri Cash Inn to negate Desperado’s effect. Conversely, if Karakuri does set up Karakuri Cash Inn going first, it can usually be baited out by Twin Barrel Dragon or Blast Spider, which allows Desperado Barrel Dragon to potentially clear a Karakuri field later on. Moreover, counter traps are also amazing to disrupt Karakuri; however, most Karakuri builds are running Hey Trunade and/or Cosmic Cyclone, so resolving a counter trap will be less likely. Overall, Karakuri’s best fields still suffer against Desperado, making Karakuri a winning matchup.

Side Deck

Duel Links Card: System%20Down
Duel Links Card: Divine%20Wrath
Duel Links Card: Ultimate%20Providence
Duel Links Card: Ms.%20Judge
Duel Links Card: Wall%20of%20Disruption

Final Words

Desperado a strong deck when it has a card advantage; however, the lack of consistency in getting said card advantage is the deck’s weakness. The counter traps are a strong addition since they are able to disrupt your opponent, but disrupting them does reduce your hand size, so make sure the negations are worth it. Alternatively, if you are playing Orcust Desperado, ensure that you are able to set up your field such that you are able to trigger Desperado, while also summoning Synchros with Black Salvo, if at all possible. Ultimately, Invoked Cocytus is the leading cause of the deck no longer being Tier since it is extremely hard to out; however, the deck has also been power crept by newer Tier decks. Desperado has a solid matchup against decks that are a bit more glass cannon, but weaker matchups against decks that can easily gain advantage, in addition to decks with boss monsters that are unable to be destroyed by card effects. Since the last update, we have had more builds converge back to Master of Destiny builds with the release of Machina Fortress; unfortunately, as it stands in current time, the deck will not be coming back into the metagame any time in the near future. With that being said, if more support gets released in the future that allows the deck to be even more efficient and have more ways to out problematic boss monsters efficiently, it could potentially come back someday.

Acknowledgements

  • Shoutout to my team Phoenix for giving me a chance to play on a team of their caliber. It is because of my teammates in Phoenix that my love for competitive Duel Links flourished and motivated me to become the best Duel Links player I can be. We are a family of clappers, so it would be a crime to not mention them first.
  • Huge shoutout to Gregulator for helping me with the formatting to make the guide even better! He also helped with recognizing everything that should be covered and let me know of any detail I was missing!
  • Shoutout to RandomPl0x for formatting the guide as well as being generous to me throughout the process of making it. I appreciate you and everything you do for Duel Links Meta!

Guide formatted and uploaded by RandomPl0x.
Thumbnail designed and created by RandomPl0x.

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