Duel Links Meta

Duel Links Meta

Sea Stealth Attack Guide

Why would you use a Sea Stealth Attack deck

Have you ever encountered an ‘archetype’ which has had its core cards released a while ago, suddenly becoming competitive due to new insights by players? It is unknown to many players that in December 2018 a major innovation was made to the ‘SSA’ deck and that in January 2019 it became apparent that this innovation has allowed the deck to get far in tournaments and with some luck even win one.

The public opinion on Sea Stealth Attack decks seems still to be that they are not competitive, and that one Cosmic Cyclone would in most cases mean defeat for the ‘SSA’ player. Regarding the first I will say the following. Of the eleven tournaments I have entered since playing with a 26/27/28 cards build I have topped all but three. Also, the conversion rate of number of ‘SSA’ players from swiss to elimination rounds has been good since the Meta Weeklies of December 2018 and January 2019 and was good in Meta Championship Series (MCS) 13 and MCS 14. Regarding the second I will say the following. The most successful ‘SSA’ build at the moment has many ways to deal with the opponent’s cards besides Sea Stealth Attack: plenty of back row cards, frequent access to spot removal with Atlantean Heavy Infantry and consistent access to synchro monsters.

Good ‘SSA’ builds are fun to use. They frequently offer the player choice during a duel and usually require you to plan a turn or 2 ahead. ‘SSA’ is a ‘non linear deck’, and duels are diverse. If ‘SSA’ players survive the first few turns, duels can take many turns and duel skills can pay off. The deck offers the player some deck building choices, namely regarding the back row cards, a tech WATER monster or two, the back row / monster ratio, and to some extent the number of cards in the deck. The deck has few unfavorable matchups and no unwinnable ones, and rarely has unplayable opening hands.


Big Brain Choices

**Choices: should I summon a Mermail Abysspike and discard Genex Undine to search another Genex Undine, summon Genex Undine to send a Dragon Ice from the deck to the graveyard, or should I summon Genex Undine to send a Citadel Whale to the graveyard? All three choices could be correct.**

image

‘SSA’ has become a competitive and fun deck that is being underestimated and underused.

More choices

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About the author

Hi, I am Apoptosis. I have been using WATER decks for a long time, even when very few people were using them. I was ‘still’ experimenting with Hammer Shark decks when ‘Abyss Encounters’ came out and was still using a ‘SSA’ deck in tournaments in June 2018. In November 2018 I pulled Genex Undine out of a pack, (re)discovered the potential of ‘SSA’ decks and since then have been experimenting in an attempt to craft a tier worthy ‘SSA’ deck.


The history of the 26-28 card build

The discovery of the 27 cards build is a result of a series of innovations, and of effort, discussion and chance. Independently from Amaba, I created similar builds to the one that he/she used to reach top 32 in MCS 13. I found the decks decent but not tier worthy. I more or less gave up after extensive testing and published my findings on Reddit. Reddit user ‘indirectt’ suggested playing with 30 cards without That Grass Looks Greener and that idea inspired me to continue my search for a competitive build. The 30 cards ‘Grassless’ build performed well, although not much better than the 20 cards builds. I realized that not only the increased number of cards in the deck made it work, but that the increased number of (indirect) searchers for Genex Controller is even more important, and realized that playing less than 30 cards would be optimal. I tried different sized builds and when reaching top 4 in a tournament after submitting a 26 cards build instead of a 24 cards build by mistake, I decided to discard my notion that my 24 cards version is superior, trust the clue provided by my tournament result and use the 26 cards build from then on. Discussions in the ‘SSA’ channel of the Duel Links Meta discord have further refined the deck. Specifically, it is thanks to MikeLitoris that I include Beautunaful Princess and a third Atlantean Heavy Infantry in my builds. My subsequent experience in tournaments has confirmed for me that the 26/27/28 cards ‘SSA’ deck is a good one. (MikeLitoris’ success with a 3 cards slimmer build in Meta Weekly 57 suggests that that one is viable too, if not better.) I would not recommend others to follow my example and try to improve a rogue deck to make it tiered, as the power of an archetype is largely out of your control. With this guide I hope to increase the popularity of ‘SSA’ decks by helping people do well with it on a competitive level, and perhaps succeed in my goal of making ‘SSA’ a tiered deck.

About this guide

In this guide I only take into consideration builds that have achieved a notable tournament result. People have reached King of Games with (slightly) different builds, but I will only edit this guide for those builds once their competitive worth has been ‘proven’.


Overview

The strengths of the deck

The most powerful thing a Sea Stealth Attack (SSA) deck can do is set up a board with the trap Sea Stealth Attack and a WATER monster whose original level is 5 or higher. This very powerful and oppressive combination allows you to destroy opponents’ monsters at the start of the damage step when they battle with that monster. A ‘SSA’ deck can consistently (see table 1) set up this board through a chain of search cards. Other strengths of the deck type are: having cards and combinations that generate card advantage, the ability to quite easily destroy any face up card on the field using the monster Atlantean Heavy Infantry, access to synchro summoning, having deck thinning mechanics, and for the build consisting of 24-28 cards also using different back row cards (spell cards, trap cards or hand traps that protect your monsters).

The weaknesses of the deck

The ‘SSA’ deck is weakest against fast and explosive decks like ‘Koa’ki Meiru’. First, because using its search engine to set up the full 'SSA' combination and to take advantage of Genex Undine’s effect usually takes at least 2 turns (except with the build using That Grass Looks Greener). Second, because it has a higher chance of ‘bricking’ compared to other decks. Genex Controller is more or less a ‘dead card’ in the beginning of a duel and you will regularly have one in your starting hand. (See table 2.) Also, at least 8 cards in the deck only function well when used in combination with certain other cards, so a lone Mermail Abysspike, Atlantean Heavy Infantry or Citadel Whale are ‘dead cards’ in your opening hand. Furthermore, the deck bricks more because of running more than 20 cards. tough hand against ‘Koa’ki Meiru’: 2 of the cards are ‘dead’

image

For the 24-28 card build, generally the longer the duel lasts the more likely the deck is to win, because having more turns allows the player time to set up the optimal ‘SSA’ board (which is hard to overcome) and to balance out his/her hand, and because draws improve after thinning out the deck. An optimal ‘SSA’ board

image

The other weakness of the deck is having the ‘SSA combination’ disrupted by back row removal cards like Cosmic Cyclone, Unending Nightmare and Dust Tornado. The ‘SSA’ build which uses That Grass Looks Greener is especially vulnerable in this regard.

The different search cards

The aforementioned ‘chain of search cards’ is the following. Citadel Whale when special summoned allows you to set Sea Stealth Attack from your deck. Citadel Whale, a 7 stars WATER monster, can be special summoned from the graveyard. Genex Undine on summon can send Citadel Whale from the deck to the graveyard. Mermail Abysspike on summon allows you to add a Genex Undine from your deck to your hand. And finally Beautunaful Princess on summon can special summon an Mermail Abysspike from your deck. None of the searchers in this chain are necessary to get a Sea Stealth Attack and a 5+ stars WATER monster on the field. Having these 8 search cards in the deck not only allows you to set up the Sea Stealth Attack combination consistently and quickly, but can also lead to card advantage and thins the deck.

image

The importance of Genex Undine

Duel Links Card: Genex%20Undine

The card Genex Undine has allowed Sea Stealth Attack decks to be competitive again. Perhaps this deck should be called ‘Genex Undine SSA (control) deck’. It is important because it makes Citadel Whale searchable and because it is a good card overall. It is good because it can lead to a card advantage of 2 and because it has access to a small toolbox (Citadel Whale, Dragon Ice, Atlantean Heavy Infantry and in some builds Atlantean Marksman or Fishborg Planter). Having Citadel Whale searchable is not only important because it allows you to set up the combination faster and in more duels, but also allows you to play no more than 1 Citadel Whale in the deck (also since it can be special summoned back after it gets destroyed), which leads to less bricking.

Requirements to set up the combination

In order to special summon Citadel Whale you need to tribute two WATER monsters on your side of the field. This is achieved by either protecting your first normal summoned monster for one turn using your backrow cards, by special summoning Dragon Ice, special summoning a Paleozoic Canadia/Paleozoic Hallucigenia from the graveyard, or summoning two ‘Atlantean’ monster in one turn with the effect of Atlantean Heavy Infantry. In the That Grass Looks Greener build this can also be achieved by special summoning Fishborg Planter or Swap Frog.

In some cases you draw Sea Stealth Attack and you will set up the combination by getting Dragon Ice (a 5 stars WATER monster) on the field or synchro summoning Hydro Genex (a 6 stars WATER monster) using the tuner Genex Controller (3 stars) and Genex Undine (3 stars) or in some builds Snowman Eater (3 stars) or Atlantean Marksman (3 stars).


Skills

The only skill you will use with this deck is Mythic Depths, because Sea Stealth Attack requires the field spell Umi to be on the field and the skill makes you start the duel with this condition met.

The previous time ‘SSA’ was a tiered deck, cards like Genex Undine, Dragon Ice and Hydro Genex were not in the game. Some top Sea Stealth Attack decks would use copies of the field spell A Legendary Ocean, which name is treated as Umi, to get big WATER monsters on the field. Those decks used the skill ‘balance’.


Sample Decks

Apoptosis, 1nd place Duel Links Pro Tournament 21 (post [Ancient Gear Awakening] format)

Duel Links Card: Stardust%20Dragon
Duel Links Card: Ancient%20Fairy%20Dragon
Duel Links Card: Flamvell%20Uruquizas
Duel Links Card: Armades,%20Keeper%20of%20Boundaries
Duel Links Card: Hydro%20Genex
Duel Links Card: Poisonous%20Winds
Duel Links Card: Unending%20Nightmare
Duel Links Card: Unending%20Nightmare
Duel Links Card: Void%20Trap%20Hole
Duel Links Card: Wall%20of%20Disruption

Apoptosis 2nd Place Meta Weekly 59(post [Ancient Gear Awakening] format)

Duel Links Card: Genex%20Undine
Duel Links Card: Genex%20Undine
Duel Links Card: Genex%20Undine
Duel Links Card: Citadel%20Whale
Duel Links Card: Dragon%20Ice
Duel Links Card: Mermail%20Abysspike
Duel Links Card: Mermail%20Abysspike
Duel Links Card: Mermail%20Abysspike
Duel Links Card: Snowman%20Eater
Duel Links Card: Atlantean%20Heavy%20Infantry
Duel Links Card: Atlantean%20Heavy%20Infantry
Duel Links Card: Atlantean%20Heavy%20Infantry
Duel Links Card: Beautunaful%20Princess
Duel Links Card: Genex%20Controller
Duel Links Card: Genex%20Controller
Duel Links Card: Enemy%20Controller
Duel Links Card: Enemy%20Controller
Duel Links Card: Drowning%20Mirror%20Force
Duel Links Card: Floodgate%20Trap%20Hole
Duel Links Card: Floodgate%20Trap%20Hole
Duel Links Card: Mirror%20Wall
Duel Links Card: Paleozoic%20Canadia
Duel Links Card: Paleozoic%20Canadia
Duel Links Card: Paleozoic%20Canadia
Duel Links Card: Sea%20Stealth%20Attack
Duel Links Card: Curse%20of%20Anubis
Duel Links Card: Hallowed%20Life%20Barrier
Duel Links Card: Windstorm%20of%20Etaqua
Duel Links Card: Stardust%20Dragon
Duel Links Card: Ancient%20Fairy%20Dragon
Duel Links Card: Flamvell%20Uruquizas
Duel Links Card: Armades,%20Keeper%20of%20Boundaries
Duel Links Card: Hydro%20Genex

Side Deck:

Duel Links Card: System%20Down
Duel Links Card: Poisonous%20Winds
Duel Links Card: Unending%20Nightmare
Duel Links Card: Unending%20Nightmare
Duel Links Card: Void%20Trap%20Hole

MikeLitoris, top 8 Meta Weekly 57

Duel Links Card: Angel%20of%20Zera
Duel Links Card: Armades,%20Keeper%20of%20Boundaries
Duel Links Card: HTS%20Psyhemuth
Duel Links Card: Samsara,%20Dragon%20of%20Rebirth
Duel Links Card: Hydro%20Genex

Apoptosis, top 32 MCS 14, top 8 Meta Weekly 55 (which has Windstorm of Etaqua instead of Aegis of the Ocean Dragon Lord), top 4 Duel Links Pro Weekly 29 (which as a Sphere Kuriboh instead of Aegis of the Ocean Dragon Lord)

Duel Links Card: Stardust%20Dragon
Duel Links Card: Ancient%20Fairy%20Dragon
Duel Links Card: Armades,%20Keeper%20of%20Boundaries
Duel Links Card: Goyo%20Chaser
Duel Links Card: Hydro%20Genex

bingjie98, top 8 Meta Weekly 55

Apoptosis, top 4 Take-out tournament #5

Duel Links Card: Ancient%20Fairy%20Dragon
Duel Links Card: Armades,%20Keeper%20of%20Boundaries
Duel Links Card: Gravity%20Warrior
Duel Links Card: Goyo%20Chaser
Duel Links Card: Hydro%20Genex

Amaba, top 32 MCS 13

Duel Links Card: Stardust%20Dragon
Duel Links Card: Flamvell%20Uruquizas
Duel Links Card: Ancient%20Fairy%20Dragon
Duel Links Card: Gravity%20Warrior
Duel Links Card: Hydro%20Genex

Stevie, 1st place Giveaway Tournament #9

Deadfun, top 8 Meta Weekly 51

Duel Links Card: Stardust%20Dragon
Duel Links Card: Ancient%20Fairy%20Dragon
Duel Links Card: Armades,%20Keeper%20of%20Boundaries
Duel Links Card: Powered%20Inzektron
Duel Links Card: Hydro%20Genex

After MCS 13, Meta Weekly 51 and Take-Out Tournament #5, the 17th Main Box - Revolution Beginning was released, which changed the meta game (‘meta’) drastically, so it is unsure whether the 21 cards builds and the 26 cards build above are still competitive. Of above tournaments, only Meta Weekly 57 took place after the impact of ‘Ancient Gear’ decks in the meta. For detailed information on the tournaments above, see: www.smash.gg.


Core cards

21 card builds

Duel Links Card: Genex%20Undine
Duel Links Card: Genex%20Undine
Duel Links Card: Genex%20Undine
Duel Links Card: Citadel%20Whale
Duel Links Card: Dragon%20Ice
Duel Links Card: Snowman%20Eater
Duel Links Card: Snowman%20Eater
Duel Links Card: Snowman%20Eater
Duel Links Card: Atlantean%20Heavy%20Infantry
Duel Links Card: Atlantean%20Heavy%20Infantry
Duel Links Card: Atlantean%20Heavy%20Infantry
Duel Links Card: Genex%20Controller
Duel Links Card: Genex%20Controller
Duel Links Card: Paleozoic%20Canadia
Duel Links Card: Paleozoic%20Canadia
Duel Links Card: Paleozoic%20Canadia
Duel Links Card: Treacherous%20Trap%20Hole
Duel Links Card: Sea%20Stealth%20Attack

24/26/27/28 cards builds

Duel Links Card: Genex%20Undine
Duel Links Card: Genex%20Undine
Duel Links Card: Genex%20Undine
Duel Links Card: Citadel%20Whale
Duel Links Card: Dragon%20Ice
Duel Links Card: Mermail%20Abysspike
Duel Links Card: Mermail%20Abysspike
Duel Links Card: Mermail%20Abysspike
Duel Links Card: Atlantean%20Heavy%20Infantry
Duel Links Card: Atlantean%20Heavy%20Infantry
Duel Links Card: Beautunaful%20Princess
Duel Links Card: Genex%20Controller
Duel Links Card: Genex%20Controller
Duel Links Card: Paleozoic%20Canadia
Duel Links Card: Paleozoic%20Canadia
Duel Links Card: Paleozoic%20Canadia
Duel Links Card: Sea%20Stealth%20Attack

30 cards build

Duel Links Card: Genex%20Undine
Duel Links Card: Genex%20Undine
Duel Links Card: Genex%20Undine
Duel Links Card: Swap%20Frog
Duel Links Card: Swap%20Frog
Duel Links Card: Citadel%20Whale
Duel Links Card: Citadel%20Whale
Duel Links Card: Citadel%20Whale
Duel Links Card: Dragon%20Ice
Duel Links Card: Mermail%20Abysspike
Duel Links Card: Mermail%20Abysspike
Duel Links Card: Mermail%20Abysspike
Duel Links Card: Atlantean%20Heavy%20Infantry
Duel Links Card: Atlantean%20Heavy%20Infantry
Duel Links Card: Fishborg%20Planter
Duel Links Card: Fishborg%20Planter
Duel Links Card: Genex%20Controller
Duel Links Card: Genex%20Controller
Duel Links Card: That%20Grass%20Looks%20Greener
Duel Links Card: That%20Grass%20Looks%20Greener
Duel Links Card: That%20Grass%20Looks%20Greener
Duel Links Card: Paleozoic%20Canadia
Duel Links Card: Paleozoic%20Canadia
Duel Links Card: Paleozoic%20Canadia
Duel Links Card: Sea%20Stealth%20Attack
Duel Links Card: Sea%20Stealth%20Attack

Sea Stealth Attack (1x, and 2x/3x in the That Grass looks Greener build)

Duel Links Card: Sea%20Stealth%20Attack
One copy of ‘SSA’ is sufficient because you can search it and because you can protect it and Umi from destruction. You do the latter by banishing a WATER monster on your field until the end of the turn, making your face up spell and trap cards indestructible during that time. Note that you can also use this effect, which you can use once per turn, just to protect a WATER monster.

The builds using That Grass Looks Greener uses 2 copies of ‘SSA’ to make it less likely to mill all copies with ‘Grass’ or Fishborg Planter.

Citadel Whale (1x, and 3x in the ‘Grass’ build)

Duel Links Card: Citadel%20Whale
To repeat, one copy of the card suffices because it is searchable and can be special summoned from the grave. Having multiple copies increases the chance to brick. ‘Grass’ builds use 3 copies as those use ‘milling’ as a method to access it.

Citadel Whale’s effect to negate an opponent’s card (effect) that targets your WATER monster can miss timing. Also, you need to negate a card immediately and cannot do it later in the chain link.

Dragon Ice (1x, and 1x/2x in the ‘Grass’ build)

Duel Links Card: Dragon%20Ice
Easy to summon 5+ star WATER monster. It also serves as a hand trap by summoning a 2200 DEF monster on your field in your opponent’s turn or by discarding a Atlantean Heavy Infantry or Atlantean Marksman to destroy a card while you do that. It can be special summoned from the grave, which increases its value as part of your toolbox. This and because there can only be 1 Dragon Ice on the entire field, makes a single copy sufficient.

It can be used as synchro material for a level 8 synchro monster, putting it back into the graveyard allowing for another special summon of the card.

Dragon Ice can miss timing. Which is why you can never summon Dragon Ice in reaction to the summon of a Paleozoic Canadia/Paleozoic Hallucigenia.

Genex Undine (3x)

Duel Links Card: Genex%20Undine
See the paragraph about this card above.

Genex Controller (2x)

Duel Links Card: Genex%20Controller
You need to have a Genex Controller left in your deck in order to use Genex Undine’s effect.

Genex Controller gives you consistent access to a toolbox of synchro monsters, including a 6 stars synchro WATER monster. Access to Genex Controller is even more consistent than access to Genex Undine. As more and better synchro monsters get released, the value of Genex Controller itself increases.

Two Controllers is better than one because you will be able to send a Citadel Whale to the graveyard with Genex Undine even if you draw one of your Genex Controllers. The chance of having one Genex Controller in your starting hand is substantial (see table 2), while the chance of opening with both is very small (see table 3). If you take out a a Genex Controller (and a back row card) from the 27 cards build, you will reduce the chance to open with a Genex Controller from around 31% to 18%, but opening with one goes from bad to disastrous.

That the chance of opening both Genex Controllers in your hand is small decreases the need for 3 of them. Another reason why running 3 copies is not needed, is that by the time you get to summon Genex Undine for the second or third time, you will probably already have access to the Citadel Whale (and Dragon Ice) and using its effect will no longer be critical. A reason that 3 copies are probably too many is that by that time you may already have drawn all of your copies of Genex Controller.

Table 3 Chance to open with both Genex Controllers

Deck size \ Hand size 4 5
20 3.16% 5.26%
21 2.86% 4.76%
22 2.60% 4.33%
23 2.37% 3.95%
24 2.17% 3.62%
25 2.00% 3.33%
26 1.85% 3.08%
27 1.71% 2.85%
28 1.59% 2.65%
29 1.45% 2.46%
30 1.38% 2.30%

With 2 Genex Controllers in your deck

Atlantean Heavy Infantry (2x/3x)

Duel Links Card: Atlantean%20Heavy%20Infantry

‘Infantries’ destruction effect can be used in combination with Genex Undine, Dragon Ice, Citadel Whale and with Mermail Abysspike.

Firstly, the card is good because it gives the player a way to destroy any opponent’s face up card without making use of spells or traps, while the deck gives consistent access to this effect through Genex Undine. Secondly, it is also good because the card often generates card advantage, as its destruction effect activates when you use the card as a cost to something.

Atlantean Heavy Infantry’s first effect can help you summon Citadel Whale in one turn.

Infantry is much better than Atlantean Marksman, which destroys face down cards instead of face up cards, for several reasons:

  • Facedown monsters are less problematic than face up monsters.
  • Back row cards are less problematic than monsters. Back row cards often don’t threaten your monsters unless you attack with them. They can be dealt with by temporarily banishing your water monsters using Sea Stealth Attack in reaction to their activation.
  • Spell and traps may be chainable, meaning may be able to activate in response to Marksman’s effect. Also, continuous trap cards, when flipped face up in reaction to Marksman, will not be destroyed.
  • ‘Infantry’ with 1800 DEF has a higher chance of surviving the opponent’s turn than ‘Marksman’ with 1600 ATK.
  • ‘Infantries’ effect to have an additional normal summon is better than ‘Marksman’s effect that special summons from the deck.

Mermail Abysspike (0x or 1x in the 21 card build, and 3x in the builds with more cards)

Duel Links Card: Mermail%20Abysspike

By discarding a WATER monster, ‘Abysspike’ can search for any level 3 WATER monster from the deck, including Genex Undine. You can use it to:

Beautunaful Princess (1x in the builds with more cards)

Duel Links Card: Beautunaful%20Princess

On summon ‘Beautunaful’ replaces itself for a Mermail Abysspike from the deck, so serves as a fourth copy of that card.

Paleozoic Canadia (3x)

Duel Links Card: Paleozoic%20Canadia

The most used card in ‘Duel Links’ and one of the best trap cards in the game has great synergy with this deck. The ‘Paleozoic’ tokens/monsters can be used as a tribute for Citadel Whale, can be used for banishing to protect Sea Stealth Attack or Umi for a turn, and can be used as synchro material with Genex Controller for an easy Armades, Keeper of Boundaries summon.

In bigger builds, these cards help to ‘unbrick’ hands. The card can be both used as a trap and a monster. Special summoning the tokens can also help with stalling until you draw some monsters.

If you banish such a token using Sea Stealth Attack, the ‘Paleozoic’ monster will not return to the field.

You cannot decide to summon Paleozoic Canadia from the graveyard later in the chain link in response to the activation of a trap. For example if the opponent activates Floodgate Trap Hole, and you chain Enemy Controller, you can no longer special summon Paleozoic Canadia after that, even if you have ‘toggle’ to on. You also cannot summon the card from the graveyard when the activation of a trap is negated (for example by your own Citadel Whale).

Curse of Anubis

Duel Links Card: Curse%20of%20Anubis
Curse of Anubis is arguably a core card. It is a versatile card and is great for allowing your first summoned monster to survive a turn. It is also good as an offensive card.

Furthermore, it can protect your monsters against some of your opponent’s back row cards including Wall of Disruption, Drowning Mirror Force, and Widespread Ruin. It is (very) chainable and deals well with swarming. It can even protect you from the aftermath of a Hey, Trunade! if the opponent already has monsters in attack position on the field. Besides, it has good synergy with ‘Paleozoic’ cards as normal monsters don’t get switched to defense. This for example allows a single ‘Paleozoic’ monster/trap on the field able to take out a Buster Blader the Dragon Destroyer Swordsman even with DNA Surgery on the field. The card is good in every matchup and very good against a ‘Koa’Ki Meiru’ or ‘Vampire’ deck (especially if you can make good use of the ‘toggle off’ feature), two of the worst matchups.

The value of this card has risen since the rise of ‘Ancient Gear’ decks since this is one of the few viable back row cards that does not target.

Fishborg Planter (2x/3x in the 30 card ‘Grass’ build)

Duel Links Card: Fishborg%20Planter

If luck is on your side, this card allows you to special summon a Citadel Whale in one turn. It also helps you access your ‘Whales’ faster by potentially sending one to the graveyard. Furthermore, it can lead to card advantage if you mill (meaning send from the deck to the graveyard) a Citadel Whale, Dragon Ice, or another Fishborg Planter or simply because you mill a WATER monster in multiple turns. It is great in the 30 cards ‘Grass’ build as it can be milled with ‘Grass’ and as that build consists mostly of WATER monsters. It is more risky for the other, more back row heavy, builds. The monster can be used as very accessible synchro material to summon Armades, Keeper of Boundaries. It has great synergy with Genex Undine and adds another good card to the ‘Genex Undine toolbox’.

Swap Frog (2x/3x in the 30 cards ‘Grass’ build)

Duel Links Card: Swap%20Frog

The ‘Grass’ build lacks back row cards, so the possibility to special summon Citadel Whale in one turn is often worth the possible -1 in card advantage. This build has more monster cards that are equally if not more valuable in the graveyard. This 2 stars monster can also be used for a one turn synchro summon of Armades, Keeper of Boundaries. (Genex Controller + Swap Frog).

That Grass Looks Greener (3x in the 30 cards build)

Duel Links Card: That%20Grass%20Looks%20Greener

Cards that you want to mill with ‘Grass’ include Citadel Whale, Dragon Ice, Fishborg Planter, Paleozoic Canadia and the other copies of That Grass looks Greener.

Armades, Keeper of Boundaries (5 stars) (1x/2x)

Duel Links Card: Armades,%20Keeper%20of%20Boundaries

‘Armades’ is one of the best synchro monsters in the game and quite easy to summon using a ‘Paleozoic’ monster or an Atlantean Heavy Infantry. It can serve as a ‘boss monster’ besides or as an alternative to Citadel Whale.

Hydro Genex (1x/2x)

Duel Links Card: Hydro%20Genex

Hydro Genex is an alternative level 5+ WATER monster to Citadel Whale and Dragon Ice. Its effect does not activate when Sea Stealth Attack is active. But the effect can make a difference in duels when the latter is not the case. Hydro Genex is especially important when your ‘Whale’ has been hit by a Floodgate Trap Hole.

Stardust Dragon / Angel of Zera (8 stars) (1x)

Duel Links Card: Stardust%20Dragon
Duel Links Card: Angel%20of%20Zera

Sometimes, for example against ‘Masked Hero’ decks, you want to send your Dragon Ice on the field to the graveyard, in order to be able resummon it (in combination with an Atlantean Heavy Infantry in your hand). Having a level 8 synchro monster in your extra deck allows you to do that by using Dragon Ice as synchro material.


The different builds compared

The 27/28 card build has the best tournament results so far.

The 24-28 cards builds compared to the 21 cards build

Compared to the 21 cards build, the 24-28 cards builds increase the engine of the deck by increasing the number of (indirect) searchers for Citadel Whale, while increasing the number of back row cards in the deck to protect these searchers. These additional searchers are 3x Mermail Abysspike and 1x Beautunaful Princess. The 24-28 cards builds use less Snowman Eaters because the card has become less than great due to shifts in the meta. Additional searchers for Genex Controllers have become more valuable than Snowman Eater. Mermail Abysspike being less able to defend itself than a Snowman Eater and with even a turn one 2100 DEF monster set being less safe than before increases the number of back row cards needed in the deck.

The advantages that the 24-28 cards builds have over the 21 cards build

1.. The 24-28 cards builds have a better likelihood of letting you draw or search Genex Undine before you draw a Genex Controller than the 21 cards build. The searcher (Genex Undine, Mermail Abysspike, Beautunaful Princess)/Genex Controller ratio is 3/2 or 4/2 for the 21 cards build and 7/2 for the 24-28 cards builds. Note that it is possible however to play a 20/21 cards build with more ‘starters’ (Genex Undine, Mermail Abysspike or Beautunaful Princess) than the ‘Amaba build’. Here is an example of such a build (NortyCrosal, top 32 Meta Weekly 60):

Duel Links Card: Genex%20Undine
Duel Links Card: Genex%20Undine
Duel Links Card: Citadel%20Whale
Duel Links Card: Dragon%20Ice
Duel Links Card: Mermail%20Abysspike
Duel Links Card: Mermail%20Abysspike
Duel Links Card: Atlantean%20Marksman
Duel Links Card: Snowman%20Eater
Duel Links Card: Snowman%20Eater
Duel Links Card: Atlantean%20Heavy%20Infantry
Duel Links Card: Atlantean%20Heavy%20Infantry
Duel Links Card: Beautunaful%20Princess,%20Genex%20Controller
Duel Links Card: Genex%20Controller
Duel Links Card: Paleozoic%20Canadia
Duel Links Card: Paleozoic%20Canadia
Duel Links Card: Paleozoic%20Canadia
Duel Links Card: Floodgate%20Trap%20Hole
Duel Links Card: Sea%20Stealth%20Attack
Duel Links Card: Curse%20of%20Anubis
Duel Links Card: Windstorm%20of%20Etaqua

Table 1; the 24-27 card builds have a similar or better chance to open with a starter

Deck size \ Hand size Number of starters in deck Going first (4 cards) Going second (5 cards)
20 5 72 % 81 %
21 5 70 % 79 %
21 4 60% 70%
22 6 75 % 83 %
23 6 73 % 82 %
24 7 78 % 85 %
25 7 76 % 84 %
26 7 74 % 82 %
27 7 72 % 81 %
28 7 71 % 79 %
29 7 69 % 78 %
30 7 68 % 76 %

The following cards count as ‘starters’: Genex Undine, Mermail Abysspike, Beautunaful Princess

2.. With the 24-28 cards builds you are less likely to have Genex Controller in your starting hand. 31% in the 27 cards build vs. 39% in the 21 cards build. (See table 2.)

Table 2 Chance to open with a Genex Controller

Deck size \ Hand size 4 5 6
20 36.84% 44.74% 52.11%
21 35.24% 42.86% 50.00%
22 33.77% 41.13% 48.05%
23 32.41% 39.53% 46.25%
24 31.16% 38.04% 44.57%
25 30.00% 36.67% 43.00%
26 28.92% 35.38% 41.54%
27 27.92% 34.19% 40.17%
28 26.98% 33.07% 38.89%
29 26.11% 32.02% 37.68%
30 25.29% 31.03% 36.55%

Chance to have one or more Genex Controllers in your hand With 2 Genex Controllers in your deck

These two advantages are distinct. You want both: to draw one of the searchers before drawing Genex Controller and to not have Genex Controller in your starting hand. An example of drawing a searcher before Genex Controller but still having a problem: the 2nd and 3rd cards in your deck are Genex Undines, but the 5th card is a Genex Controller and you are going second. An example of not having Genex Undine in your starting hand but still having a problem: the 6th and 8th cards of your deck are Genex Controllers and the 9th, 10th, 12th, 14h, 15th cards of your deck are your first searchers.

3.. You are also less likely to have in your starting hand other searchable cards you may not want to open with namely with Citadel Whale, Dragon Ice and Sea Stealth Attack, or with tech cards that are great to have as a possibility to search or mill but that are often not good to draw namely Atlantean Marksman and Snowman Eater. (It usually is fine to open with one of those searchable cards, but not all three and sometimes not two out of three.)

4.. Having the additional win condition to deck out the opponent

5.. It is not necessary for a 21 cards build to have a small number of back row cards like the ‘Amaba’ build does. Another disadvantage of the 21 cards build if playing with little back row cards is that you are less likely to survive the second or third turn with it, as setting a Snowman Eater has become much less of a guarantee for survival.

The disadvantage of the 24-28 cards builds compared to the 21 cards build

The 24-28 cards builds have a bigger chance of bricking and less balanced hands. The bigger the number of cards in your deck, the less likely the balance (monster/back row ratio) of your starting hand will reflect the balance of the deck. So you will have a bigger chance of drawing for example 8 traps or 8 monsters in a row.

If some of your back row cards are especially good in the meta, you are more likely to draw them. The same applies to side deck cards. If some of your back row cards work best in combination with other cards, such as Aegis of the Ocean Dragon Lord with Paleozoic Canadia and Hallowed Life Barrier with Paleozoic Hallucigenia, you will be less likely to start the duel with dead/bad cards in your hand.

The 24-28 cards ‘Grassless’ builds compared to the 30 cards ‘Grass’ build

Notice that the 30 cards build using That Grass Looks Greener includes all the core cards of the 24-28 cards builds (except a ‘Beautunaful Princess’).

A difference between the two is that instead of relying on back row cards to protect your first monster for a turn in order to summon Citadel Whale in two turns, the 30 cards build uses Fishborg Planter and Swap Frog to summon the ‘boss monster’ in one turn.

Also, in addition to the Genex Undine search engine, the 30 cards build can access Citadel Whale by using any of the 3 copies of That Grass Looks Greener to mill any of the 3 copies of Citadel Whale.

So the advantage of the 30 cards build over the 24-28 cards builds is having 2 ways to quickly access the Sea Stealth Attack combination. It can set it up quicker and more often. The player has a choice on when and whether to activate That Grass Looks Greener when he/she also has Genex Undine in hand. If ‘Grass’ was activated first, the player can decide what to mill with ‘Undine’ based on what he/she already has in his/her graveyard (and hand). ‘Undine’ and ‘Grass’ can therefore complement each other very well.

The 30 cards build is more vulnerable to threats to Sea Stealth Attack or Umi. The 24-28 cards builds are less reliant on the ‘SSA’ combination because of their many more back row cards.

The ‘luck factor’ in the 30 cards build is higher. It is more prone to bricking (and can have bad mills with ‘Grass’ and Fishborg Planter), but the optimal opening hand (combined with a great mills) should be stronger. In this light, the 30 cards build is better suited for beginners, who need luck to win, who want to do well at tournaments than the 24-28 cards builds.

The 27 cards build vs. the 24 cards build

The 24 cards build is a modified and slimmer version of the 27 cards build. It has all the core cards of the 27 cards build. It has taken out Snowman Eater, a non essential card, and 2 back row cards. It cleverly keeps the functions of Snowman Eater in the deck, namely allowing you to trade a redundant Genex Undine in your hand for a more useful monster and being an addition to the toolbox, by replacing one of the three Atlantean Heavy Infantrys with an Atlantean Marksman – which is like Snowman Eater a level 3 WATER monster. This replacement also works because Atlantean Marksman synergies more with the Paleozoic Canadias and Floodgate Trap Holes in the 24 cards deck which you are more likely to draw. This innovation was made by Sunblade NL.

The 24 cards build is more likely to have a ‘starter’ in the opening hand (82%, if taking the average of going first and going second, vs. 77%), but also more likely to have a Genex Controller in the opening hand (35% vs. 31%). It is worse to open with a Genex Controller than not to open with a ‘starter’. The 24 cards build however has the additional advantages of having more balanced hands and drawing the best back row cards more often, including side deck cards, for example (drawing Curse of Anubis instead of Windstorm of Etaqua, Paleozoic Canadia instead of Floodgate Trap Hole or any card instead of Snowman Eater. The 27 cards build has the additional advantages that a third Atlantean Heavy Infantry is generally better than an Atlantean Marksman and that it is less likely to open with a Citadel Whale, Sea Stealth Attack, Dragon Ice or Snowman Eater.

Does this mean that it could be that the more cards in the deck the better and that a 30 cards deck without That Grass Looks Greener might be better than the 27 cards build, because being less likely to open with Genex Controller might justify all the disadvantages? That is probably not the case, because you need to take into consideration the added cost of drawing mediocre cards. If one day, enough WATER support cards are out to fill a 30 cards deck with great cards that all have great synergy together, maybe that will be the way to play ‘SSA’. But for now, filling your deck with more Snowman Eaters is not going to cut it. The 27 cards build can afford one Snowman Eater, a non essential card in itself, because of the toolbox function and the function of swap material for a redundant Genex Undine.

Note that the 24 cards build has a slightly lower trap/monster ratio. Tournament results will be helpful in determining which build is better.


Tech cards

The ideal number of traps / spells / hand traps in the 24-28 cards build

Around half of your non-grass ‘SSA’ deck should be back row cards. Why? The ideal opening hand consists of 2 monsters and 2 back row cards going first, or 2 monsters and 3 back row cards going second. Going first, depending on the matchup, probably you would rather have 1 monster and 3 back row cards then 3 monsters and 1 back row cards, as 1 back row card is often not enough to keep your monster safe. The table below shows the possibility to open with at least 2 back row cards going first and going second.

Table 4: Chance of opening with at least 2 back row cards

Number of back row cards in a deck with 27 cards Going first (4 cards) Going second (5 cards)
10 48% 63%
11 55% 70%
12 61% 76%
13 67% 81%
14 73% 86%
15 78% 90%
16 83% 93%

The actual number of back row cards used in the 27 cards build is: 13+ (including Dragon Ice)

While accounting for this ratio, arguably Dragon Ice can be seen as (partly) a hand trap/‘back row card’, Snowman Eater as partly a back row card, while a ‘Paleozoic’ card can be counted as more than 1 back row card (for example 1.25).

Monster cards

Snowman Eater (max. 1)

Duel Links Card: Snowman%20Eater
This card has several merits. * Including at least one Snowman Eater or Atlantean Marksman in the deck allows you to ‘trade’ a redundant Genex Undine for something more useful using Mermail Abysspike. * Snowman Eater helps to ‘unbrick’ your hand if the rest of your hand consists of only traps or only monsters, as it helps stalling and buying time. * Its high defense points make it easier for you to protect it and make it an easier tribute for the Citadel Whale. * Being searchable using Mermail Abysspike and a good card on its own makes it an addition to your toolbox. * Including one in your deck helps to create uncertainty for the opponent whether he/she should attack your facedown cards or not.

Atlantean Marksman (max. 1)

Duel Links Card: Atlantean%20Marksman
* Searchable with Mermail Abysspike like Snowman Eater * The card is an addition to your toolbox as it allows you to destroy also facedown cards using Genex Undine (or Citadel Whale, Dragon Ice and Mermail Abysspike). * The card works in combination with Atlantean Heavy Infantry by allowing you to summon Citadel Whale in one turn, while Snowman Eater does not. * It has more synergy in decks that play Mirror Wall, Paleozoic Hallucigenia or Floodgate Trap Hole

Abyss Soldier (max. 1)

Duel Links Card: Abyss%20Soldier
Abyss Soldier has a versatile effect, which is especially powerful against extra deck monsters and other ‘boss monsters’. Combining with Atlantean Heavy Infantry or Atlantean Marksman, it can remove 2 cards off the board. With 2000 ATK (with Umi’s boost) it can act as a wall. Compared to Snowman Eater or Atlantean Marksman however, it is not searchable. The card is much better in the ‘Grass’ build because that build has relatively more WATER monsters.

The advantage of having diverse back row cards

Usually people play 2 or 3 copies of a back row card, so why does the 27 cards build have so many single copies of cards? The advantages of having a diversity of back row cards in the deck are first that it is harder for the opponent to predict your actions. Second, cards are often best in specific situations and you can get more value out of them by using them at an opportune moment. For example, you save Wall of Disruption for when the opponent has multiple monsters out or when you have baited out a Breaker the Magical Warrior, save the single Sphere Kuriboh in your hand for when the opponent activates his/her Hey, Trunade!, use Paleozoic Canadia instead of Curse of Anubis when the opponent has only one monster out or when you need another WATER monster on the field, and use Curse of Anubis instead of Paleozoic Canadia if you think you will need the Paleozoic Canadia later to prevent a monster from activating its effect. Usually, the longer the duel goes on, the better you can make use of this toolbox.

Most of the back row cards are not core cards

Most of the back row cards can be changed depending on what is good in the meta or even the player’s play style. Just keep in mind the worst matchups for this deck, that the cards take into account the possibility of bricking and that ‘Paleozoic’ cards have good synergy with the deck. Here follows a list of back row cards that have been used in successful ‘SSA’ decks.

Back row cards

Paleozoic Hallucigenia

Duel Links Card: Paleozoic%20Hallucigenia
This is a ‘Paleozoic’ card that is generally worse than Paleozoic Canadia’. Its merits apart from being a ‘Paleozoic’ card are that you can activate it in the damage step and that it is very chainable. It is a back row card which not only can be used defensively but can be used well offensively. Like Wall of Disruption and Mirror Wall it arguably adds a win condition to your deck and could steal games by dealing (unexpected) battle damage. It is great in certain situations and against certain decks such as against a ‘Masked Hero’ player with only one monster on the field. See the paragraph on Paleozoic Canadia for three technical tips.

Sphere Kuriboh

Duel Links Card: Sphere%20Kuriboh
Sphere Kuriboh gives you an out against ‘one turn kill’ (OTK) decks which use cards like Hey, Trunade!, and of course also allows you to protect your monsters in any situation involving Hey, Trunade!. Furthermore, in cases where you don’t have other back row cards, the opponent’s back row removal cards become dead cards, which helps you survive the initial turns of the duel. Sphere Kuriboh can be better than a Paleozoic Canadia in certain situations, for example when you do not want to trigger a ‘Paleozoic’ card in the opponent’s graveyard or if you have an Atlantean Heavy Infantry play next turn. Finally, it gives the opponent more uncertainty: for example ‘should I attack directly with my monster and reduce my opponent’s life points to 0, or should I play around a possible Sphere Kuriboh and special summon another monster, but risk a Dragon Ice?’ And ‘should I finish the game with an ‘econ take play’ and risk losing to a Sphere Kuriboh?’

At least one copy of this card or its alternatives (such as Hallowed Life Barrier or Mirror Wall) at least in the side deck is required because of the dominance of ‘Koa’ki Meiru’ decks in the meta. This necessity has decreased however since the return of ‘Ancient Gear’ decks, because those have made players favor Cosmic Cyclone above Hey, Trunade!.

Two factors have made this card worse in the meta since the rise of ‘Ancient Gear’ decks and alternatives more attractive. First, this card cannot be activated in response to an attack by Ancient Gear Reactor Dragon and Ancient Gear Wyvern, making it a more or less a dead card in that matchup. Second, the rise of the popularity of the skill The Tie that Binds amongst ‘Koa’ki Meiru’ players to counter ‘Ancient Gear’ decks have made the card less often effective to prevent an OTK.

Floodgate Trap Hole

Duel Links Card: Floodgate%20Trap%20Hole
Like Paleozoic Canadia, Floodgate Trap Hole not only neutralizes monsters by preventing them from attacking and switching them to defense, but also prevents some monsters from activating their effects. Even though Floodgate Trap Hole is generally a worse card than Paleozoic Canadia in this deck, in some situations – such as when you open with mostly or only traps - a Floodgate Trap Hole is preferable. The card is good against ‘Koa’ki Meiru’ and most other decks, and good for stalling in general, especially when used against oppressive cards like Koa'ki Meiru Maximus or Vampire Grace. The card makes you able to afford a higher percentage back row cards in your deck.

The value of this card has risen since the rise of ‘Ancient Gear’ decks because this is one of the few viable back row cards that does not target, (and because ‘Ancient Gear’ decks have decreased the viability of ‘Karakuri’ decks against which this card is not good).

Drowning Mirror Force and Wall of Disruption

Duel Links Card: Drowning%20Mirror%20Force
Duel Links Card: Wall%20of%20Disruption
These cards are great when opening with only or mostly traps. They give you a way to neutralize monsters with your traps instead of just switching them to defense, which is especially important against monsters that can destroy one of your cards every turn, such as Vampire Grace and Koa’ki Meiru Maximus. They help you afford a higher back row ratio in your deck.

These battle traps punish swarming and give the opponent uncertainty: ‘should I risk a Drowning Mirror Force or Wall of Disruption or play it safe?’ and ‘should I destroy the opponent’s monster or one of his/her back row cards?’ They give opponents who know you use these battle traps incentive to target your mostly chainable back row cards with their destruction effects instead of your monsters.

You can play around back row removal by setting chainable back row cards first. The downside of ‘Drowning’ is that it won’t protect your monster cards. My experience in this meta makes me think that Drowning Mirror Force is more useful than Wall of Disruption.

The value of these cards have decreased since the rise of ‘Ancient Gear’ decks because battle traps have become even less viable as Ancient Gear Reactor Dragon does not allow you to activate battle traps.

Aegis of the Ocean Dragon Lord

Duel Links Card: Aegis%20of%20the%20Ocean%20Dragon%20Lord
This card also protects your facedown level 3 or lower WATER monsters from battle destruction. A ‘Paleozoic ‘monster which was special summoned by chaining to this card cannot be destroyed for that turn. The card is good for protection against OTK’s and for putting two WATER monsters on the field for the special summon of Citadel Whale. The card is especially good against ‘Vampire’ decks as they often allow you to send a ‘Paleozoic’ card from your deck to the graveyard which you can special summon and protect with Aegis of the Ocean Dragon Lord. This card can however be a dead card for example if you open with Mermail Abysspike (level 4); it would be another somewhat ‘combo reliant’ card in your deck.

Traptrix Trap Hole Nightmare

Duel Links Card: Traptrix%20Trap%20Hole%20Nightmare
This card was good in the December 2018 meta when ‘Blue Eyes’ and ‘Vampire’ decks were dominating.

Treacherous Trap Hole

Duel Links Card: Treacherous%20Trap%20Hole
This card is one of the most powerful traps in the game, is chainable and is great for surviving the first few turns of a duel. It can be used in the 21 cards version of the ‘SSA’ deck which uses little back row and which uses ‘Paleozoic’ cards which can be removed from the graveyard.

Windstorm of Etaqua

Duel Links Card: Windstorm%20of%20Etaqua
‘Windstorm’ is generally an inferior version of Curse of Anubis which is limited to one copy. It both is chainable and deals with swarming, which makes it a good answer to ‘Koa’Ki Meiru’ decks.

The value of this card has risen since the rise of ‘Ancient Gear’ decks since this is one of the few viable back row cards that does not target.

Enemy Controller

Duel Links Card: Enemy%20Controller
Enemy Controller is one of best back row cards against ‘Koa’ki Meiru’ decks, because you can take control of (‘econ take’) the opponent’s Koa’ki Meiru Maximus on your turn to ‘OTK’ the opponent or at least destroy Koa’Ki Meiru Maximus and another card of the opponent by using its effect, as you will be asked in your end phase to pay the upkeep cost or destroy Koa’Ki Meiru Maximus. It is also a great card and one of your few outs against ‘Ancient Gear’ decks, another explosive and challenging matchup, as you can ‘econ take’ an Ancient Gear Reactor Dragon to ‘OTK’ the opponent or to crash two Ancient Gear Reactor Dragon’s into each other.

It has decent synergy with this deck because the deck has access to quite many (‘fodder’) monsters. In general the card allows you to steal games (‘win games you had no business of winning’) and adds a win condition to your deck. (This is especially easy when you use the card when attacking with Armades, Keeper of Boundaries.)

The card is very flexible, adds to the diversity and versatility of your back row line up, and greatly increases your options and possible plays (which rewards good dueling skill). Think for example of the option to ‘econ take’ an opponent’s monster as a way to get rid of it by using it as a tribute for a summon or as synchro summon material, or to ‘econ take’ a Buster Blader, the Dragon Destroyer Swordsman to be free from its effect for one turn or even use it against its opponent.

The major downside of this card is that having a ‘spell card’ in your deck allows ‘Vampire’ players (already a bad matchup) to get away with letting you mill a ‘spell card’ with Vampire Grace’s effect, while being allowed to send a Paleozoic Canadia to the graveyard could greatly help you summon a Citadel Whale in your turn. Note that ‘Vampire’ players would still be taking a risk even knowing that you use Enemy Controller in your deck by letting you mill a ‘spell card’ as it is possible that you have already drawn your Enemy Controller(s) from your deck. It can be a good idea to ‘side out’ (switch with side deck cards) the Enemy Controllers in your deck in this matchup.

Hallowed Life Barrier

Duel Links Card: Hallowed%20Life%20Barrier
As explained in the paragraph about Sphere Kuriboh, this card is a good alternative to that card as a response to Hey, Trunade!. The card works well when against ‘Koa’ki Meiru’ and other ‘OTK style’ players.

The card is highly chainable to other forms of back row removal too. (But Hallowed Life Barrier won’t save you from back row removal cards that are activated in your end phase, like Reckoned Power or Xing Zhen Hu, while Sphere Kuriboh can.)

The card has some synergy with this deck, because the deck has multiple cards it does not mind (much) discarding, for example Dragon Ice, Citadel Whale, an early game Genex Controller or a Paleozoic Canadia.

Note that if you discard a ‘Paleozoic’ card as a cost to Hallowed Life Barrier, you can immediately special summon that ‘Paleozoic’ card from the grave, which cannot be destroyed by battle (and monster effects) that turn. So Hallowed Life Barrier can be a quick way to get 2 WATER monsters on the field to special summon Citadel Whale.

Another advantage of Hallowed Life Barrier compared to Sphere Kuriboh is that this card protects your monsters from harm against multiple monsters.

The disadvantages of the card are firstly the discard cost, as card advantage is very important even for or especially for this deck, and secondly, it does not decrease the threat of the opponent’s monsters. The card is very helpful to summon Citadel Whale, but what if your Umi has been banished by Cosmic Cyclone and you are facing an attack position Karakuri Shogun mdl 00 "Burei" or Masked Hero Anki?

The card is better in duels where the strategy uses the Sea Stealth Attack combination than in duels in which players (are forced to) opt for a ‘control’ strategy.

Mirror Wall

Duel Links Card: Mirror%20Wall
The value of this card as an alternative to Sphere Kuriboh since it is chainable to Hey, Trunade! has increased because of ‘Ancient Gear’ decks. Unlike Sphere Kuriboh, it is vulnerable to destruction by Koa’Ki Meiru Maximus, but its effect is more powerful.

It is more likely to survive the opponent’s destruction effects then a card like Wall of Disruption since it causes delays which can make the opponent think that the card is chainable. This card gives the opponent uncertainty when (s)he makes a choice whether to destroy your monster or your back row card (even if it causes delays)), while giving opponents who know that you use Mirror Wall incentive to target your (chainable) back row card with their destruction effects.

It is a better card than Sphere Kuriboh against ‘Karakuri’ and ‘Vampire’ decks, since it can defend against swarming, and allows you to punish ‘Vampire’ players for not targeting your back row cards with their Vampire Kingdom destruction effect.

You can protect the card from destruction using Sea Stealth Attack, but you cannot prevent its destruction due to not paying the upkeep costs with that card. The fact that this card is one of the few viable cards that you can activate in the damage step increases its value as a tool in your (back row) toolbox.


Extra deck

Ancient Fairy Dragon

Duel Links Card: Ancient%20Fairy%20Dragon
Despite being a mediocre synchro monster, this one is often used, because it is one of the best level 7 synchro monster in the game. It is valuable to have a synchro monster for levels 5 to 8 as you never know what monster you end up with alongside Genex Controller. A level 7 synchro monster can be brought out with Genex Controller and Mermail Abysspike. The card can be useful against ‘Vampire’ decks, to heal 1000 life points by destroying your own Umi (which can be brought back at a later point with Sea Stealth Attack and to stall with its 3000 DEF.

Powered Inzektron

Duel Links Card: Powered%20Inzektron
It is a generally good 6 stars synchro monster which is good to bring out in situations where you don’t or won’t have ‘SSA’ on the field.

HTS Psyhemuth

Duel Links Card: HTS%20Psyhemuth
The card is basically a 2400 ATK D.D. Warrior Lady. Just like Powered Inzektron this is a good level 6 non WATER synchro monster.

Goyo Chaser

Duel Links Card: Goyo%20Chaser
This 5 star synchro monster is generally inferior to Armades, Keeper of Boundaries, but with less than 2000 ATK it is safe from Vampire Vamps effect and thus can be a safer option against ‘Vampire’ decks.

Samsara, Dragon of Rebirth

Duel Links Card: Samsara,%20Dragon%20of%20Rebirth
This card helps brings out Citadel Whale in the rare situation that you have Citadel Whale in the graveyard, can get a Level 2 (WATER) monster and a Genex Controller on the field but not 2 WATER monsters. Citadel Whale will still search Sea Stealth Attack in this situation because its search effect activates when special summoned in any way. With 2600 DEF and a float effect, it is good for stalling.

It can also be useful in unexpected ways, such as when having an Atlantean Heavy Infantry in the hand and a Mermail Abysspike in the graveyard or when the opponent has a boss monster in his/her graveyard. Like Armades, Keeper of Boundaries, it is relatively easy to bring out.

Flamvell Uruquizas

Duel Links Card: Flamvell%20Uruquizas
This card is a good alternative level 6 synchro monster to bring out when you don’t have Sea Stealth Attack available. This card is more vulnerable to back row due to its low DEF than Hydro Genex, but its piercing effect can be preferable over a life gain effect.

The card can steal games as the opponent often does not expect you to have access to a 1900 ATK piercer. This card can especially be useful in a ‘Vampire’ matchup as ‘Vampire’ monsters often have very low DEF, often have low life points due to paying with it for effects, and often have little back row cards to defend with.

You can use it to punish the common counters to the deck Cosmic Cyclone and Unending Nightmare or make it too expensive for them to pay for those cards. It can save you in unexpected ways, such as when you get matched with a ‘Gusto stall’ deck or a ‘Mecha Phantom Beast’ deck in a tournament.


Side deck

Unending Nightmare and Magic Deflector

Duel Links Card: Unending%20Nightmare
Duel Links Card: Magic%20Deflector
Some common counters to ‘SSA’ decks are the cards Unending Nightmare and Cosmic Cyclone. The counter to Unending Nightmare is your own copy of Unending Nightmare and the counter to Cosmic Cyclone is Magic Deflector. These cards happen to also be great counters against some tiered decks. I do not think it would be good to side in Unending Nightmare or Magic Deflector just to counter a counter.

Vampire decks might run Unending Nightmare to counter the counter to their deck: Necrovalley or just an opposing Unending Nightmare. Siding in Unending Nightmare not only counters their Unending Nightmare, but also allows you to destroy their Vampire Kingdom or Vampire Domain. Magic Deflector is also relevant here by negating these spells, a possible Cosmic Cyclone and by providing protection against big plays after a Hey, Trunade!. The rise of ‘Ancient Gear’ decks and the increased use of the buffed skill KaibaCorp Bling have reduced the popularity of Unending Nightmare and Hey, Trunade! amongst ‘Vampire’ players and increased the popularity of Cosmic Cyclone (and Enemy Controller).

Because Magic Deflector only deals with the ‘Vampire’ field spell for one turn, while Unending Nightmare deals with it permanently, Unending Nightmare still seems a better side deck card against ‘Vampires’ in a ‘Cosmic Cyclone meta’. A ‘SSA’ deck without Umi should win against a ‘Vampire’ deck without Vampire Kingdom. However, it is the case that the ‘Vampire’ player is more likely to draw Cosmic Cyclone than the ‘SSA’ player is to draw Unending Nightmare.

Magic Deflector not only counters the Cosmic Cyclones that are popular amongst ‘Masked Hero’ players, but also counters their most important card: Mask Change. Furthermore, can counter a Hey, Trunade! into Mask Change play. Sometimes ‘Masked Hero’ players do use that card.

‘Buster Blader’ decks need to counter possible Non-Fusion Area’s and Unending Nightmare’s, the counters to their deck. They usually do that however by other means than Unending Nightmare such as using Stamping Destruction, Breaker the Magical Warrior, Dust Tornado or Xing Zhen Hu. Siding in Unending Nightmare can still be good idea to destroy their DNA Surgery’s (and may even help against a Xing Zhen Hu). ‘Ancient Gear’ decks often use Unending Nightmare as a core card to get Ancient Gear Reactor Dragon out. When facing a build that heavily relies on Unending Nightmare, it makes sense to side in an Unending Nightmare of your own. It could still make sense to side it in against a build that does not use Unending Nightmare because chaining Unending Nightmare to the activation of Geartown on the field makes it miss timing.

Poisonous Winds

Duel Links Card: Poisonous%20Winds
‘Koa’ki Meiru’ is a bad matchup and Poisonous Winds is the counter to that deck. Running 2 may be too many as the second copy could be a dead draw. Incidentally, the card is helpful in the ‘Mecha Phantom Beast’ matchup.

General play tips

do not summon

image

You know that the opponent plays a ‘Karakuri’ deck. Ask yourself: ‘can I make the ‘SSA combination’ in the near future, of do I have to play ‘unga bunga’/’beat down’ style for now?’

image

  • Keep possible future plays in mind and keep track of possible cards that you may draw.

  • Every decision counts and should be deliberate.

  • Sometimes it is better to discard Beautunaful Princess with Mermail Abysspike and sometimes the opposite is better. You usually choose the first option if you want to draw another Mermail Abysspike soon. This can be determined by factors including: an abundance or shortage of monster cards in your hand, whether you have a Atlantean Heavy Infantry left in your hand and the number of Mermail Abysspikes left in the deck.

Summon Beautunaful Princess

image

You may want to summon Mermail Abysspike to discard Beautunaful Princess

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  • If there is nothing useful to mill with Genex Undine you may want to mill a Genex Undine if both Genex Controllers are already out of the deck or a Beautunaful Princess there are no Mermail Abysspike cards left in the deck.

  • In cases the only monster in your starting hand is a Genex Controller, it can be good to set or summon it in case your next monster is an Atlantean Heavy Infantry or in case you can special summon a ‘Paleozoic’ monster so that you can synchro summon Armades, Keeper of Boundaries if you need to.

  • Be careful with overinvesting in the ‘SSA combination’ after side decking. Wasting a Paleozoic Canadia just to be able to summon an extra monster by flipping up Sea Stealth Attack might lead to instant regret if the opponent flips up an Unending Nightmare.

  • A tip that applies to any deck type: if you are in a situation thinking ‘if my opponent has card X next turn, I will lose no matter what I do’, then play as if your opponent will not have it, instead of trying to lose’ less hard’ in a futile attempt to adapt to card ‘X’. Always play in a way that makes victory possible, instead of playing to prevent/postpone defeat. Think: ‘how could this duel go in a way that makes me win this duel (despite this bad hand)?’

second duel of the grand finals of Meta Weekly 59 facing a Koa’Ki Meiru player. You lost the previous duel on turn 2 because of a Hey, Trunade! play. Would summoning Genex Undine to send Dragon Ice to the graveyard here be an instance of ‘playing not to lose instead of playing to win’?

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  • When siding against a ‘Koa’ki Meiru’ player, it can be good to replace a monster in your deck with a (hand)trap. This is because it is better to have too many traps than too little in this matchup, especially if you are playing multiple copies of Sphere Kuriboh in your deck which would make a Hey, Trunade! less devastating.

  • It is usually best to activate Sea Stealth Attack in the draw/standby phase, by turning the ‘toggle button’ to on during or before your end phase. Doing this allows you to play around a Galaxy Cyclone, a ‘monster summon’ + Enemy Controller play, and other unexpected situations.

  • Is it wise to attack with Citadel Whale on the turn that you have set Sea Stealth Attack? This depends on the different kinds of back row cards your opponent could have to hurt your Citadel Whale, the rest of your board and how important it is to take out the opponent’s monster or to reduce his/her life points. Note that if you attack an attack position monster with more than 1750 ATK, your Citadel Whale can be destroyed by a Wall of Disruption, Widespread Ruin, Paleozoic Hallucigenia or Mirror Wall, while if you attack a defense position monster while having enough life points, usually a Widespread Ruin, an unpopular card in this meta, is your only risk. I think it is advisable to attack if the risk is low and if you would be in a decent spot even if your Citadel Whale would not survive the attack, for example if you could probably resummon it soon. This is because I believe that ‘Duel Links’ or ‘Yu-Gi-Oh!’ is not all about card advantage or all about playing it safe. Sometimes it is wise to trade card advantage for life points or to take avoidable risks if momentum is on your side.

  • If you have a Sea Stealth Attack set and are about to summon a monster, flip up Sea Stealth Attack first, for example to play around a Paleozoic Canadia.

  • It can be good to play around Drowning Mirror Force (and Widespread Ruin) when you have the ‘SSA combination’ on the field. You then attack only with Citadel Whale, leaving the other WATER monster in defense, in order to be guaranteed of 2 WATER monsters on the next opponent’s turn and have a much safer board. If you have 3 WATER monsters on the field, you could put Citadel Whale in defense and attack with the other two.

  • Remember that one of the ‘win conditions’ of the deck is decking out the opponent.

  • If Sea Stealth Attack is your only back row card, you may want to wait with flipping it face up until you have to, in order to be able to bluff that you have a protective back row card and give the opponent uncertainty, especially if you have a Dragon Ice in the graveyard.

  • Even if you have other back row cards, if you have a Sea Stealth Attack face down, a Dragon Ice in the graveyard and no LV5 or higher WATER monster on the field, you might not want to reveal that you have a Sea Stealth Attack until your opponent special summons a monster.

  • If you have Sea Stealth Attack face down when you are about to special summon Dragon Ice, turn toggle to on, special summon Dragon Ice, then activate Sea Stealth Attack in the same chain link. Your opponent cannot chain card like Enemy Controller or Tribute to the Doomed in the same chain link (because the summon must resolve first), so this will allow you to banish Dragon Ice this turn to protect it from those cards.

  • When you have the toggle button set to ‘off’, and the opponent activates a card that would trigger a delay when toggle button would be set to ‘auto’, the ‘hour glass symbol’ will still light up on the opponent’s screen. Opponents who know this can be hard to fool with the ‘toggle off’ feature. But since many people do not realise the significance of this ‘hour glass symbol’, it may still be worth using the feature.

  • Do not be disheartened from losing a duel on the second turn. It is one of the vulnerabilities of this deck, doesn’t happen often, and there is a good chance you will still win the match (or the tournament).

  • Think carefully what to do with 'Genex Controller in your starting hand when you do not open with Genex Undine or Mermail Abysspike. Genex Controller is not a worthless card!


Matchups

Koa'ki Meiru

This is arguably the worst matchup. Because ‘Koa'ki Meiru’ decks present such a threat, most of the back row cards in the 24-28 card build are adapted to face those. (The 21 cards builds were made before the most recent ‘Koa’ki Meiru’ support was released.) One of the most devastating thing a ‘Koa’ki Meiru’ player can do to you is render your back row useless with Hey, Trunade! or Reckoned Power. One way to defeat this opponent is to just survive his/her attacks as his/her monsters eventually self-destruct. Having set up the ‘SSA’ combination while surviving their turns in which they banish Diamond Core of Koa'ki Meiru is also a great way to win as you can destroy Koa'ki Meiru Maximus on your turn by attacking it with Citadel Whale. It can also work to destroy Koa'ki Meiru Maximus with Atlantean Heavy Infantry and take care of the other monsters with your back row cards.

Often, against a ‘Koa’ki Meiru’ opponent you cannot afford the ‘luxury’ of setting up your ‘SSA’ combination, and you need to save your Genex Undine for destroying Koa’ki Meiru Maximus by sending an Atlantean Heavy Infantry from the deck to the graveyard. Because ‘Koa’ki Meiru’ decks often win in the first few turns, planning ahead on your first turn is crucial. Using ‘Koa’ki Meiru’ might be ‘brainless’ for the opponent, but certainly not for you as the one having to deal with the deck. Duels against ‘Koa’ki Meiru’ often feel like a duel puzzle that you need to solve on turn 1 or 2. Take your time on turn 1 or 2 to craft your strategy.

Just like with other decks you should know you what the top tier decks are capable of by studying top performing deck lists. If you study ‘Koa'ki Meiru’ deck lists, you will notice that they have room for about 6 tech cards. With that and the Forbidden/Limited List in mind, you can deduce during the duel what plays the opponent is capable of.

Do not forget to use the ‘toggle off’ feature to try to bait the opponent to destroy your chainable back row card, like Windstorm of Etaqua or Curse of Anubis with Koa’ki Meiru Maximus. It is not a good idea to use the feature however if your back row card includes a Paleozoic Canadia or Floodgate Trap Hole which you want to activate immediately in response to the summoning of a monster.

Vampire

‘Vampire’ decks are less explosive than ‘Koa’ki Meiru’ decks. But because those are still explosive and because Vampire Kingdom counters Genex Undine, ‘Vampire’ decks are one of few unfavorable matchups.

The ‘toggle off’ button is important in this matchup. Vampire Kingdom makes it hard to have 2 WATER monsters on the field as Genex Undine’s (and Fishborg Planter’s) effect(s) triggers Vampire Kingdom’s effect to destroy a card on the field. Ways to get 2 WATER monsters on the field include the following. First, you can prevent Vampire Grace from activating its effect by flipping it facedown with Paleozoic Canadia or Floodgate Trap Hole. Second, if Vampire Grace’s effect activates usually the opponent will call ‘traps’. The ideal situation is that the opponent will destroy one of your chainable back row cards. The ideal back row cards to chain here are Curse of Anubis, Windstorm of Etaqua and Aegis of the Ocean Dragon Lord as they allow you to protect the ‘Paleozoic’ token that you will summon from the graveyard and your other monster on the field. In order to lure them into targeting your back row cards with Vampire Kingdom you have the toggle button ‘off’ to make the opponent think that you may have a card like Wall of Disruption or Drowning Mirror Force facedown. Using the ‘toggle off’ button is treacherous however as you might make mistakes such as reacting too late to certain cards.

If you think your opponent is probably playing a ‘Vampire’ deck and on turn one only sets a monster and passes, should you attack into it? In this situation, your opponent probably does not have a Gozuki or Samurai Skull in his/her hand to kick start the combinations in his/her deck. At best, attacking the monster would give the opponent one less tribute summon material (if it is a Vampire Familiar or Vampire Retainer) or give you one less 1700 - 2200 ATK beat stick to take care of (if it is a Vampire Retainer). At worst, you will allow your opponent to start his combinations and plays and ‘explode’ on you. The probability of the opponent having any ‘Vampire’ card in hand to pitch to the graveyard to bring a back a dead searcher on the field is higher than him/her having a Vampire Grace in hand. There is probably at least (your opponent might also draw an Enemy Controller or Vampire’s Desire) a 44% chance (3 Samurai Skulls, 2 Gozukis and 2 Vampire Graces with 16 cards left in the deck) that your opponent will be able to start his/her chain of combinations next turn anyway, but you might be able to give yourself more time to set up your own combination by not attacking.

In this spirit, you might not want to directly attack the opponent on turn 2 if you are facing a ‘Mokuba’ player to prevent the opponent from using KaibaCorp Bling to search an Enemy Controller get a Vampire Familiar or Vampire Retainer in the graveyard by using Enemy Controller’s second effect.

Do flip down Gozuki on summon if the opponent does not have any searcher in the graveyard yet.

Be familiar with the way ‘Vampire’ decks are usually build and keep track of the ‘tools’ left in their ‘toolbox’. For example, ‘Vampire’ decks usually only play one copy of Vampire’s Domain, so if there is a Vampire Domain in the graveyard you could deduce that the opponent probably cannot summon a Vampire Vamp next turn and that it is safe to synchro summon a Stardust Dragon, or if there is already a Vampire Kingdom in the graveyard, it can make sense to destroy the Vampire Kingdom on the field instead of Vampire Grace as ‘Vampire’ decks usually only play 2 copies of that card.

Buster Blader

This is a decent matchup, seemingly in ‘SSA’s favor.

You will probably need to set up the ‘SSA combination’ to beat a Buster Blader deck, unless you somehow manage to deck the opponent out using back row cards alone.

Usually both players in this matchup set up their combination, resulting in some sort of stalemate: you cannot attack them, but they cannot attack you either. Paleozoic Canadia is your friend in this matchup. You either win by decking the opponent out or by flipping Buster Blader, the Dragon Destroyer Swordsman facedown so that you can attack it with Citadel Whale. Your opponent will try to make you banish your Citadel Whale and attack you directly with a monster other than Buster Blader, the Dragon Destroyer Swordsman (as Buster Blader, the Dragon Destroyer Swordsman cannot attack directly itself). When the opponent activates the fusion spell card Destruction Swordsman Fusion, you should banish your ‘Whale’ and survive direct attacks by using your back row cards.

Who will set up their combination faster? If the opponent is faster, it can be hard to set up your combination. You won’t be able to use Genex Undine or Mermail Abysspike anymore and have to hard draw Citadel Whale or Sea Stealth Attack, unless you flip Buster Blader, the Dragon Destroyer Swordsman facedown. Even if you manage to mill Citadel Whale, you will need more back row cards to protect your first summoned monster for a turn (except in the ‘Grass build’).

Do not mill Dragon Ice with Genex Undine because you won’t be able to activate its effect once Buster Blader the Dragon Destroyer Swordsman is on the field because Dragon Ice is dragon type by default and will have its effect negated even if in the graveyard. It is better to draw Dragon Ice so that you can tribute summon it.

It is generally good to try and get a second 5+ star WATER monster on the field if you can do that safely. When the opponent threatens your monsters with the Destruction Swordsman Fusion, banish your other 5+ star WATER monster rather than Citadel Whale because you can relatively easily re-summon Citadel Whale by getting two other WATER monsters on the field.

Be aware that Citadel Whale cannot negate the opponent’s Paleozoic Canadia if Buster Blader, the Dragon Destroyer Swordsman is on the field with DNA Surgery active and that an opposing Stardust Dragon can create trouble. Sometimes you may have to play around Breaker the Magical Warriors.

Ancient Gear

Like with the ‘Koa’ki Meiru’ archetype, the revival of the ‘Ancient Gear’ archetype had a clearly noticeable impact on the meta. People started to use Enemy Controller and Cosmic Cyclone over Hey, Trunade!. This made it more difficult to do well with a ‘Sea Stealth Attack’ deck, as Cosmic Cyclone counters the deck’s strongest combination. On the other hand, this made the control (using back row cards) side of the deck stronger, as Hey, Trunade! was problematic for the deck as well.

With the addition of ‘Ancient Gear’ decks to the meta, ‘SSA’ decks have gained another problematic matchup. I am not sure whether ‘Ancient Gear’ decks are favorable or unfavorable, and would guess unfavorable due to the prevalence of Unending Nightmare in the main deck. Like ‘Ko’aki Meiru’ decks, ‘Ancient Gear’ decks are fast and explosive, have an ‘OTK’ play style, and occasionally have immunity to Sea Stealth Atack. Moreover, they use many back row destruction cards which can destroy Sea Stealth Attack such as Unending Nightmare and Double Cyclone, while their boss monster, Ancient Gear Reactor Dragon, having an ATK and DEF of 3000, cannot be destroyed by Citadel Whale in battle even when switched to defense position.

If the opponent in this matchup has destroyed your Sea Stealth Attack, it can be difficult to win. The problem with using Floodgate Trap Hole on Ancient Gear Reactor Dragon is that the opponent can use the face down monster to tribute summon a new Ancient Gear Reactor Dragon, and that you can no longer get rid of the monster using Atlantean Heavy Infantry. Atlantean Marksman is especially useful in this matchup.

Ancient Gear Reactor Dragon cannot negate the activation of Sea Stealth Attack if it is already face up. However, if Ancient Gear Fortress is on the field, you may have to destroy Ancient Gear Reactor Dragon with Sea Stealth Attack on your turn.

If you can survive the opponent’s attack with Ancient Gear Reactor Dragon, you could destroy the monster - which (s)he may have summoned at the cost of reducing her/his number of cards by one – on your turn with Atlantean Heavy Infantry. Sometimes you can destroy the Ancient Gear Reactor Dragon on summon by discarding Atlantean Heavy Infantry to special summon Dragon Ice when Ancient Gear Fortress is not on the field.

Sometimes you may want to prioritise destroying Ancient Gear Fortress (even at the risk of allowing your opponent to special summon an Ancient Gear Reactor Dragon from the graveyard or hand) in order to allow some of your cards and combinations to work on your opponent’s turn (such as Sea Stealth Attack, Atlantean Heavy Infantry, Paleozoic Canadia and Enemy Controller), especially since/when the most successful builds seem to use only one copy of that card. Note that Ancient Gear Fortress protects ‘Ancient Gear’ monsters that were summoned that turn even if they were summoned before Ancient Gear Fortress was activated.

One of your few other outs in this matchup is taking control of Ancient Gear Reactor Dragon with Enemy Controller, especially since the opponent often has reduced life points due to using Unending Nightmare and since ‘Ancient Gear’ decks play relatively few protective back row cards. An ‘econ take’ after one use of Unending Nightmare is not lethal due to Umi, but it is if you have attacked Ancient Gear Wyvern before with Mermail Abysspike dealing 300 damage.

If Ancient Gear Fortress is on the field, you need to banish a WATER monster on the field before the newly summoned Ancient Gear Reactor Dragon attacks to be able to protect Sea Stealth Attack from destruction, even if Ancient Gear Reactor Dragon attacks your Citadel Whale.

The opponent can only use Unending Nighmare (or for example Twister) to destroy Sea Stealth Attack at the moment you flip Sea Stealth Attack up or the moment you banish a WATER monster (to protect Sea Stealth Attack). If the opponent attacks with Ancient Gear Reactor Dragon and you have a second WATER monster on the field, you will be forced to banish one of them (unless they are both level 5 or higher), allowing the opponent to destroy Sea Stealth Attack if they have a quick play back row removal card. It might be better therefore, to keep only (one) level 5 or higher WATER monster(s) on the field to prevent unnecessary banishing, at least if you have back row cards to protect against a direct attack, or if it looks like the opponent will not have an Ancient Gear Fortress or Ancient Gear Town that they can destroy next turn to OTK you. If they do have both Unending Nightmare and Ancient Gear Fortress or Ancient Gear Town on the field and you have the ‘SSA’ combination with no back row cards, your ‘SSA’ combination will likely be broken next turn, but you may have no choice but to summon a second WATER monster just to survive.

Even if there is no Ancient Gear Fortress on the field and you have the Sea Stealth Attack combination set up, to protect Sea Stealth Attack you cannot allow Ancient Gear Reactor Dragon to attack for example a defense position Paleozoic Canadia without banishing a WATER monster beforehand.

Ancient Fairy Dragon can help you stall if the opponent doesn’t use the skills The Ties that bind or Beatdown but for example uses Middle Age Mechs. Beware of Enemy Controller. Stardust Dragon could make it harder for your opponent to summon Ancient Gear Reactor Dragon.

It is not possible to activate Floodgate Trap Hole when the opponent summons Ancient Gear Wyvern with Ancient Gear Fortress on the field.

Side out any Sphere Kuribohs and probably battle traps like Drowning Mirror Force and Wall of Disruption if you can.

Karakuri

Don’t underestimate ‘Karakuri’ decks. They can be explosive by giving many draws during a duel and by special summoning multiple (boss) monsters. They also have access to different synchro monsters such as Armades, Keeper of Boundaries and sometimes Ancient Fairy Dragon and powerful spell cards like Hey, Trunade! or Cosmic Cyclone and Offerings to the Doomed. Keep their usual tech cards in mind during the duel such as: Offerings to the doomed, Paleozoic Canadia, and sometimes Enemy Controller, Treacherous Trap Hole, Hey, Trunade!, Floodgate Trap Hole and Pulse Mines.

‘Karakuri’ is a favorable matchup. This is why you do not need to devote many cards in your side deck against it. The matchup is favorable because once you’ve got the Sea Stealth Attack combination out (preferably with a second WATER monster on the field), it is hard for ‘Karakuri’ to win without Cosmic Cyclone. However, they can prevent you from summoning Citadel Whale with Offerings to the Doomed or by using Hey, Trunade to destroy the first monster you have summoned or to defeat you in one turn. Furthermore, Umi is very helpful in this matchup. It makes the usual OTK tactic of attacking directly with a Karakuri Shogun mdl 00 "Burei" and a Karakuri Soldier MDL 236 "Nisamu" non lethal. It also allows your Mermail Abysspike to destroy a Karakuri Komachi MDL 224 "Ninishi" or Karakuri Shogun mdl 00 "Burei" in defense position and your Genex Undine or Paleozoic Canadia token to destroy a Karakuri Merchant mdl 177 "Inashichi" in defense position or destroy a Karakuri Soldier mdl 236 "Nisamu" in attack position without getting destroyed. Since the revival of ‘Ancient Gear’ decks however, ‘Karakuri’ decks usually have a Cosmic Cyclone in the main deck, making the matchup harder or possibly unfavorable.

When your ‘Karakuri’ playing opponent has a set monster, and you can attack it safely, should you? It depends whether you are ‘preparing for war’ or whether you are ‘ready for the war to break lose’. A set monster is probably a Karakuri Soldier mdl 236 "Nisamu". Attacking into it will either help the opponent by letting it float into a tuner monster like Karakuri Komachi MDL 224 "Ninishi" or barely hurt him/her by letting it float into another Karakuri Soldier mdl 236 "Nisamu", unless you have also have a Mermail Abysspike – which can get over a defense position Karakuri Komachi MDL 224 "Ninishi" to attack safely with and your opponent already has a Karakuri Soldier mdl 236 "Nisamu" in the graveyard (‘Karakuri’ players usually play 2 copies only). So in the beginning of the duel, especially when you are not ready for the opponent to ‘explode’ yet, it may be good to leave the set monster alone. Floodgate Trap Hole is not a good card to use against ‘Karakuri’ as Karakuri Shogun mdl 00 "Burei" or Karakuri Strategist mdl 248 "Nishipachi" can flip a monster back face up with its effect, giving you a -1 in card advantage. When side decking, it is good to replace Floodgate Trap Hole with for example a Mirror Wall.

Remember that sometimes it is good to use Genex Undine to mill an Atlantean Heavy Infantry to destroy their Karakuri Shogun mdl 00 "Burei" to slow the opponent down if you will have access to another Genex Undine soon. (Just take the small risk of drawing Genex Controller in the next few turns.) When your opponent tries to do a synchro summon, you can use Paleozoic Canadia to abuse the fact that ‘Karakuri’ monsters are forced to attack by allowing the opponent to summon a second monster and flipping one of them down. This play can however be countered by a Karakuri Cash Cache. Keep in mind that ‘Karakuri’ players have good access to their tech cards, including Cosmic Cyclone and may even have an Unending Nightmare in their side deck. This is why you need to be extra considerate when choosing between using Genex Undine to special summon Citadel Whale or using it to destroy a card. It can be good to mill Citadel Whale even if Sea Stealth Attack has been/will be banished as ‘Karakuri’ decks use many cards or effects that target (such as Offerings to the Doomed, Paleozoic Canadia and Enemy Controller), which Citadel Whale can negate, and as Citadel Whale can be resummoned from the graveyard.

When Karakuri Merchant MDL 177 "Inashichi" is summoned, turn toggle to on, and if you decide to flip it facedown with a Paleozoic Canadia do that after the opponent has searched a Karakuri card, so that the opponent cannot search a card based on the information that his/her Karakuri Merchant MDL 177 "Inashichi" has been flipped facedown.

Sometimes ‘Karakuri’ players will bait you to use Citadel Whale’s negation effect with Paleozoic Canadia so that they can use Offerings to the Doomed to destroy Citadel Whale, so if your opponent seems to have no access to Karakuri Shogun mdl 00 "Burei", and you have enough back row cards to protect your Citadel Whale in case the opponent does, you might want to let Citadel Whale be flipped face down.

Masked Hero

‘Masked Hero’ is a favorable matchup. ‘Masked Hero’ players can win by ‘one turn killing’ you before you can set up your ‘SSA combination’ or by attacking you directly with Masked HERO Anki while they have already done some damage earlier or while protecting their Masked HERO Anki from your Citadel Whale for example with a double Paleozoic Canadia.

Cosmic Cyclone seems to be especially prevalent in Masked Hero’ decks (especially when they are using ‘Aster Phoenix’ for the skill Destiny Calling). However, you are well capable to win without the ‘SSA combination’ as ‘Masked Hero’ decks don’t have anything explosive they can do apart from attacking with Masked Hero Anki, which you can deal with using your many back row cards.

Playing around Destiny HERO - Celestial often requires some consideration, as Destiny HERO - Celestial can destroy your Umi on attack declaration. Sometimes you may want to let your Umi be destroyed as you can revive it with SSA. Sometimes you want to wait before flipping up ‘SSA’ until you have to, even though you would usually do that in the standby phase, in case they summon a Destiny HERO - Celestial, which would force you to banish a monster to protect it. The probability of the opponent summoning a Destiny HERO - Celestial is often higher than the probability of your opponent activating Galaxy Cyclone and targeting the right card.

If you have an Atlantean Heavy Infantry in your hand, it is often a good idea to keep it there and to save your Dragon Ice special summon for when Masked Hero Anki comes on the field.

Beware of other anti-back row cards such as Xing Zhen Hu and Hey, Trunade! (often at most at one copy because of playing a copy of Destiny HERO - Celestial). Some tech cards, like Paleozoic Hallucigenia and Snowman Eater, are especially good in this matchup.

Control

Control decks are a favorable matchup. First, because they rely on back row cards to win, while ‘SSA’ makes back row cards ineffective. And second, because they generally are slow because of not having access to special summons and because of using defensive back row cards, which is great for ‘SSA’ decks.

Because control decks are so diverse, it is not that practical to discuss how to play against those here.

Spellbooks

‘Spellbooks’ is decent favorable matchup, despite what many people may think. ‘Spellbook’ players can easily banish both Umi and Citadel Whale rendering ‘Sea Stealth Attack’ decks’ strongest combination useless, right? Yes, but you are not going to waste your resources setting up the ‘Sea Stealth Attack’ combination. ‘Spellbook’ decks are weak against swarming and back row heavy decks, and this ‘SSA’ decks is very capable of swarming while having many back row cards.

Your main strategy should be to deal with Silent Magician and Silent Magician LV8 using Atlantean Heavy Infantry and your back row cards, and to deal with Spellbook Magician of Prophecy using your army of small monsters: Genex Undine, Genex Controller, Paleozoic Canadia, You win by outlasting the opponent’s resources as the ‘SSA’ deck is well capable to generate some card advantage.

With this strategy in mind, you should not use Paleozoic Canadia or Floodgate Trap Hole on Spellbook Magician of Prophecy to prevent the opponent from banishing a card that turn. Doing this would give the opponent card advantage, as flipping back Spellbook Magician of Prophecy face up would allow the opponent to search another card. The opponent banishing your cards and Spellbook Magician of Prophecy attacking directly are not the main threats; the biggest threat is Silent Magician and Silent Magician LV8 ending the duel quickly by dealing massive life point damage before you have a chance to generate card advantage or make use of that card advantage.

Keep in mind that you can use the Dragon Ice + Atlantean Heavy Infantry combination on Silent Magician LV8 in the main phase, for example when you summon Genex Undine to destroy Silent Magician with Atlantean Heavy Infantry, but not in the damage step – for example when Silent Magician gets destroyed by attacking into your Snowman Eater.

It can be difficult dealing with Silent Magician LV8 by only switching it to defense with your back row cards, because if you attack it, the opponent might switch it to attack during the battle using Spellbook of Fate. It is best therefore to deal with Silent Magician LV8 with Atlantean Heavy Infantry.

Enemy Controller is ineffective against Silent Magician of Silent Magician LV8, so try to use it whenever the first occasion arises, such as when the opponent attacks your Genex Undine with Spellbook Magician of Prophecy after having used a Spellbook of Power on it, or when the opponent attacks with Breaker the Magical Warrior. Of course, it would be wise to side this card out in a match.

During the duel, keep track of the number of Spellbook Magician of Prophecy’s left in your opponent’s deck, as ‘Spellbook’ builds are usually very similar to each other. Using many resources to get rid of the opponent’s final Spellbook Magician of Prophecy (when Breaker the Magical Warrior is in the graveyard as well) can be worth it as it would make all Silent Magician cards left in the opponent’s deck dead cards and deprive your opponent of any means to win the duel.


Replays

NOTE: (Replays will try to open the app and only work on the mobile phone)

Ancient Gears

No Ancient Gear Fortress? Atlantean Heavy Infantry + Dragon Ice = easy game; no Sea Stealth Attack needed

Turn 2:

Turn 4:

Koa’Ki Meiru

KOG rank up denied; no Sea Stealth Attack needed

Turn 1:

Notice how the rest of the duel more or less plays itself out.

Turn 2:

Turn 5:

  • I decide to destroy Koa’ki Meiru Wall instead of summoning Citadel Whale, because either I finish the game by attacking directly with both monsters, or the opponent stops one of the attacks but is left with only 2 cards in the hand on his/her next turn which would not be enough to end the duel. On the other hand, if my opponent does not have Sphere Kuriboh and I summon Citadel Whale, not being able to finish the duel this turn, the opponent could the duel around next turn with 3 cards in his/her hand.

Karakuri

A comeback of 4 cards vs. 7 cards; winning without Sea Stealth Attack; Genex Controller in starting hand

Turn 1:

Turn 2:

Turn 3:

Turn 4:

Turn 5:

Turn 7:

  • I do not summon Genex Undine, firstly because lacking so far behind in card advantage, the chance is low that I could summon Citadel Whale anytime soon. Secondly, there would be a high probability that the opponent would summon Karakuri Shogun mdl 00 "Burei" soon. Having much less cards than my opponent, I need to use ‘Genex Undine’ to destroy Karakuri Shogun mdl 00 "Burei" with Atlantean Heavy Infantry to have a chance at winning.

Turn 8:

  • I do not activate Curse of Anubis to reduce damage to my life points because generally it is better to use your cards to get rid of the opponent’s cards than to use them to protect your life points. Card advantage is generally more valuable than life points. Also it is not needed to put Karakuri Muso mdl 818 "Haipa" in defense position in order to be able to destroy it by battle, as it switches itself in defense after an attack.

Turn 9:

  • Destroying Karakuri Shogun mdl 00 "Burei" on summon with ‘Atlantean Heavy Infantry’ is an even better way to take care of Karakuri Shogun mdl 00 "Burei", so I decide to go ahead and summon Genex Undine to mill a Dragon Ice.

Vampire

Loss due to misplay; no ‘SSA’ in the whole duel; Genex Controller in starting hand

Turn 1:

Turn 2:

Turn 3:

Turn 4:

  • I see that my opponent, having only 2400 life points, is only ‘2 ‘Vampire’ effects away’ from being able to use the skill Bandit. The chance is high that he/she will be able to use it next turn, so I decide to get value out of Curse of Anubis while I can.

Turn 5:

  • I do not synchro summon to play around Vampire Vamp. I decide to attack with all monsters, even though having an Atlantean Heavy Infantry in attack position severely hurts my life points, so that I can destroy Samurai Skull even if the opponent would have a Sphere Kuriboh and because I decide that at this point, my opponent’s life points are more valuable than mine (also considering that ‘Vampire’ decks need life points to activate effects).

Turn 7:

Buster Blader

A 5 roll? That’s nothing; Genex Controller in starting hand

Turn 1:

  • The opponent using Joey means we are probably dealing with player using the skill ‘Last Gamble’. The opponent could thus be a ‘Buster Blader’ player or a ‘Koa’ki Meiru’ player. With this opening hand we would probably lose against a ‘Koa’Ki Meiru’ player, so we should assume we are facing a ‘Buster Blader’ deck.

  • I get to swap a redundant Genex Undine for a Snowman Eater, thin my deck by 2 cards increasing the chance to draw traps in future turns. It would have been better to summon Genex Undine this turn and Mermail Abysspike next turn.

Turn 5:

  • I summon Snowman Eater in an attempt to synchro summon Hydro Genex. If the opponent sets a back row card next turn, we will use it to tribute summon Dragon Ice instead.

Turn 7:

  • We do not draw a back row card, so we definitely cannot risk Genex Controller being flipped face down on summon.

Turn 8:

Turn 9:

  • I continue in my attempt to synchro summon Hydro Genex

Turn 11:

  • The opponent has no back row cards, so it is safe to summon Genex Controller now.

Turn 12:

Masked Hero

Playing around possible threats

Turn 2:

  • I do not set Sea Stealth Attack to play around back row removal cards, which are common in ‘Masked Hero’ decks. With a set Snowman Eater and a set back row card I felt I would probably not get ‘one turn killed’.

Turn 5:

Control

Free win in a tournament; stalling for ‘Undine’

Turn 1:

  • From facing my opponent earlier in a match, I know that my opponent is using ‘Amazoness’ cards. I summon Atlantean Heavy Infantry in attack position in order to be able to protect Sea Stealth Attack from back row removal cards next turn by removing my monster from play and in order to protect the monster from a possible Amazoness Onslaught.

Turn 4:

Turn 8:

  • Even though my Atlantean Heavy Infantry has no target, I use Mermail Abysspike’s effect. I do this because I can use Genex Undine to destroy a monster as well, because I want to reduce the chance of drawing Genex Controller, and to be able to get a second level 5 or higher WATER monster on the field sooner, through Hydro Genex. Since I have taken control of the field, I want to finish the duel as soon as possible to prevent my opponent drawing a possible side deck card that could turn the duel around, such as a Cosmic Cyclone.

Turn 10:

Spellbooks

A regular ‘Spellbook’ duel; no Sea Stealth Attack combination used

Turn 1:

Turn 2:

Turn 3:

  • Rather than synchro summoning a boss monster, I swarm the field with smaller monsters.

Turn 6:

Turn 8:

  • Notice how it looks like the opponent has summoned the final monster in his/her deck that can be tributed to special summon Silent Magician.

  • I use Paleozoic Canadia on Spellbook Magician of Prophecy to protect my monster. This might allow my opponent to search for a ‘Spellbook’ card once Spellbook Magician of Prophecy gets flipped up again, but the opponent would have searched for one due to the effect of Spellbook of Power anyway. Also, it is less bad that the opponent searches a card at this point in the duel because the opponent might not have a useful card to left in the deck to search and will deck out sooner this way.

Turn 10:

Turn 11:

Bonus duels with the 30 cards ‘Grass’ build (no commentary)


Closing thoughts

According to my estimation of the strength of the deck, if you play flawlessly – which is not an easy thing to do - you will probably reach the top cut with it in a tournament and there is a good chance that you will win money. If you make more than a few misplays in a tournament, you would probably not get far, as the deck seems quite unforgiving of misplays. If more players would use this deck in tournaments, I see the possibility of it becoming at least a tier 3 deck again. (The deck appeared as tier 3 on the tier list in week 9 of 2019 for one week.) Many people who have given the deck a try have found it fun to use. Since not many people have used it competitively, it may be possible to further optimize it. Future release of synchro monsters will improve this deck compared to meta decks that do not make use of synchro summoning. The flexibility of this deck’s strategy during a duel and its back row choices helps this deck stay relevant.


Acknowledgments

Thanks to Dkayed for consistently and regularly organizing highly competitive tournaments and for organizing a platform for discussion and publications.

Thanks to Amaba for being the first to successfully use two ‘Genex Controllers’. Shout out to Stevie for having inspired others to use Amaba’s build by topping with it in tournaments. And thanks for the reminder and inspiration to include ‘Enemy Controller’ in the deck.

Thanks to everyone who in the ‘SSA’ channel of the Duel Links Meta discord have made a contribution to improve the deck or provided company or moral support making the journey of making ‘SSA’ tiered a more fun experience, especially MikeLitoris (who is also the first person to adopt my ideas and use them in a tournament even before I topped in MCS 14).

Thanks to SunbladeNL for bringing statistical calculators in the discussion which brought the discussion forward by making it sharper and providing new insights, for creating table 2, and for proofreading and suggestions for improvement. And for the idea to use ‘Hallowed Life Barrier’ in the deck.

Discussions with you have helped me explain the ideas in this guide. For example, Sunblade NL introduced me to the term ‘starter’ as an alternative to ‘searcher’, Bombo introduced me to the term ‘search engine’.

Thanks to MikeLitoris for proofreading the guide, for the suggestion to start the guide with the paragraph ‘why use a ‘SSA’ deck?’, for most of the ideas in that paragraph, discussion on the AG matchup and other suggestions.

Thanks to Swampertle for proofreading the guide, and for the feedback.

Thanks to Rezileen, Vampire expert, for feedback on (part of) the paragraph about the ‘Vampire’ matchup.

Last but not least, thanks to Jonesy9027 for creating a webpage version of this document, and for giving the guide a major update.

Shout out to the Dutch Duel Links discord for the moral support.

Shout out to DylanTM (, Albormeha23 and MikeLitoris) for requesting this guide (even before I topped in MCS 14).

For feedback and suggestions, you can contact the author on Reddit – username ‘Apoptosis’ – or on Discord – username ‘Apoptosis’.