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.
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. Even though Master of Destiny is still the best ability post-nerf, it does allow other abilities to potentially shine as well, most notably in KOG.
Master of Destiny ultimately caused this deck to be Tier for a time period and will still be the main focus when talking about Core Cards later in the guide, even though it got nerfed. 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 Master of Destiny, Desperado decks can be played with these skills. While the tiered version plays MOD, decks using these skills can reach King of Games. 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. Similarly, Draw Sense: High-Level can be used to manipulate your draw for guaranteed Desperado Barrel Dragons. 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.
I decided to place the core cards after the abilities because I want to clarify that even though there are a few relevant abilities to use with Desperado, we will be primarily focusing on Master of Destiny since that is the most popular and successful ability for the deck.
Desperado Barrel Dragon (3x)
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 (2-3x)
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.
Twin-Barrel Dragon (1x)
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.
Dekoichi the Battlechanted Locomotive (0-3x)
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.
Cup of Ace (2x)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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.
Rebirth of Parshath (3x)
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 (1-3x)
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.
Ultimate Providence (0-2x)
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.
Debunk has become one of the better counter traps of the format. Its effect allows it to negate and banish the effect of a monster in the hand or the Graveyard. This is fantastic against 3 of the meta decks in Darklord, Fortune Lady, and Desperado itself; unfortunately, it is usually dead in other matchups, so it should usually be sent by another counter trap that discards if possible.
With battle traps finding their way back into the meta, as well as counter traps starting to thrive, Wiretap is the perfect card to stop a specific trap from messing up your gameplan. Its effect negates a trap and shuffles it back into the deck, making it a strong choice in the mirror match and heavy backrow decks. Wiretap has intrinsic usage against the majority of the meta decks, excluding Vendread, Spellbook, and Darklord because even though shuffling The Sanctified Darklord back into the deck can theoretically set them back, there are simply better counter traps to use against Darklord specifically.
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.
- Example 1: Darklord Ixchel activates its effect, sending itself and Darklord Superbia as a cost. If Rebirth of Parshath is used to negate Darklord Ixchel, it will negate the effect, but not shuffle it back into the deck because Darklord Ixchel activated in the hand, but is attempting to resolve in the graveyard.
- Example 2: The opponent summons Keeper of Dragon Magic and uses its effect to discard another Keeper of Dragon Magic in the hand in an attempt to search Neos Fusion. If Rebirth of Parshath is used to negate Keeper of Dragon Magic, its effect will be negated and it will be shuffled back into the deck because even though Keeper of Dragon Magic discarded a copy of itself, the original one that used the effect activated on the field and attempted to resolve on the field. The discard of a card for cost does not matter as long as the discard for cost is not the card attempting to use the effect itself.
- Example 3: Twin-Barrel Dragon attacks a set monster. It destroys Ryko, Lightsworn Hunter in battle, but it uses its flip effect to target your set Debunk. If Rebirth of Parshath is used to negate Ryko, Lightsworn Hunter, it will negate the effect, but not shuffle it back into the deck because a monster destroyed by battle is designated to go to the Graveyard.
bambihey’s 1st Place Battle Phase #31
M1TA5H1’s KOG Deck (November 3rd)
albell26’s KOG Deck (November 4th)
Just a reminder that all matchups will be considering the counter trap variation since it has become the most successful in competitive play as of late.
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. 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.
Usually one of your easiest matchups, which is why counter trap Desperado remains to be top tier. Setting up 1-2 counter traps turn 1 is potent against Darklord, especially if one of them is Rebirth of Parshath. With Parshath, your option to negate is quite scarce if it’s your only negation, so it is important to use your negate based on the strength of your hand. For example, if you have a battle trap or Desperado in hand, it is usually a good idea to hold onto the negate to prevent Darklord Superbia from summoning another monster after Darklord Contact is used. This way, you prevent the Darklord player from swarming the field and being able to use another Darklord Contact for the turn since it can only be activated once per turn. This puts the Darklord player into a position where they either have to special summon Nasten from the hand or scoop. If the Darklord player does not open Ixchel and Superbia, it is a better idea to prevent Darklord Desire from outing your monsters. This way, you negate the biggest threat and you have Desperado to summon later on if they destroy your DARK Machine. In cases where your hand is not as strong though, it may be worth risking the negate on Banishment of the Darklords and praying that there is no sufficient follow up play. For your other counter traps, it is important to negate the Darklord effects on the field, especially the effects that pay 1000 Life Points to copy a Darklord Spell/Trap. Life points for Darklord can be scarce, so if put them in a corner where their Life Points are less than 1000, you will almost always win the duel against them. While a favorable matchup for Desperado, there are two common ways Counter Trap Desperado can lose to Darklord. The first way is if Darklord opens full combo first turn (Banishment, Ixchel/Superbia, Contact) or if they open full combo with Cosmic Cyclone going second. The second way is if Desperado opens either a full monster hand or a hand where Rebirth of Parshath is dead. The current most popular ability for Darklord post the Kaibacorp Bling nerf is Compensation, which allows the Darklord player to mill a card and gain 300 LP after losing 1000 LP. It is more common for Desperado to open a live hand than it is for Darklord to open ideally, making this matchup ideal.
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 !Sorcery Conduit. This allows the Invoked player to see their Aleister the Invoker after losing 1000 LP, which they can trigger through Cosmic Cyclone or us damaging them. Moreover, since more decks are converging to 25-26 cards with 30 card Grass Shiranui being a threat, 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 the counter traps 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. Before Elementsaber Invoked was playing 25-26 cards, it was possible to still win the matchup through deckout if no cards in the deck could actually out Invoked Cocytus by either holding 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; unfortunately, now if Invoked Cocytus is summoned with the 25-26 card deck and the Desperado player has no out, the Desperado player will lose the game. 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 !Sorcery Conduit. This means that if lethal is not possible, do not damage them if you are going to be doing more than 1000 damage. Once they use a Cosmic Cyclone, however, be as aggressive as possible since Aleister the Invoker is going to be guaranteed for them on their next turn.
Blackwings have surged as one of the strongest decks in the game, winning the MCS on November 16th. Surprisingly enough, Desperado has 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.
Ritual Beast are problematic for Desperado. While the Counter Trap engine can be strong if Spiritual Beast Cannahawk or Spiritual Beast Rampengu gets disrupted early, ideally alongside Ritual Beast Tamer Elder for the Ritual Beast player, it is one of the hardest decks to break through. Desperado Barrel Dragon struggles being able to break through various Ritual Beast boards, most notably with Ritual Beast Ulti-Pettlephin since it is an archetype themed Invoked Cocytus with 2800 defence. Moreover, Ritual Beast are able to expose the set backrow with Spiritual Beast Pettlephin, making it even easier for Ritual Beast to break through boards with Desperado. The matchup needs to be won quickly; otherwise, Ritual Beast will take control of the match and win it more often than not. Disrupting Spiritual Beast Cannahawk or Spiritual Beast Rampengu early on can set the Ritual Beast player back a turn at minimum, so it is critical to do so when you have an opportunity.
Prior to the popularity of the 30 card !Spell Specialist Shiranui build with That Grass Looks Greener, 20 card Shiranui was close to an even matchup, most notably with !Sealed Tombs. 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, Shiranui Sunsaga 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 30 Card Shiranui, however, Desperado has a losing matchup against the deck. Desperado is forced to play closer to 20 cards to maximize the chance to open Cup of Ace for the needed card advantage. Shiranui exploit this fact with That Grass Looks Greener since they will get a 10 card mill at minimum, which usually sets up an ideal graveyard. Desperado needs to hope that it gets to set up first; otherwise, Shiranui applies too much pressure to the deck. Necrovalley is one of the strongest techs to play since if they have no out to it, Shiranui becomes an easier matchup with the graveyard becoming completely off limits. While this factor does help Desperado’s chances, it still is a rough matchup.
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.
Desperado is arguably the strongest 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. Outside of the counter traps, Desperado operates exactly the same as Desperado using regular traps. If Desperado Barrel Dragon can control the game alongside some backrow, it will almost always end up being a win. Also, getting lucky with non-guaranteed heads never hurts either.
- Shoutout to my Team War team Phoenix for giving me a chance to play on a team of their caliber. It is because of my teammates on 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 Kcful for returning with a vengeance and getting multiple tops with Desperado. He is also fairly active in the chat to help new players while I was not around, which was always appreciated.
- 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!
- Shoutout to the rest of the people that I missed, but still actively help the Desperado channel grow! This deck should be around for a while until more cards like Invoked Cocytus get released. #Cocto0 :kappa: