In this article
- Why would you use a Sea Stealth Attack deck
- About the author
- The history of the 26-27 cards build
- About this guide
- Sample Decks
- Core cards
- The different builds compared
- Tech cards
- Extra deck
- Side deck
- General play tips
- Closing thoughts
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 seven tournament I have entered since playing with a 26/27 cards build I have topped all but one. 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 since 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, 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.
‘SSA’ has become a competitive and fun deck that is being underestimated and underused.
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 26-27 cards 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 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’.
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 27 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’
For the 24/27 cards build, generally the longer the duel lasts the more likely the deck is to win, because 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
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.
The importance of Genex Undine
The card Genex Undine has allowed Sea Stealth Attack decks to be competitive again. Perhaps this deck should be called ‘Genex Undine SSA 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). 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. In the That Grass Looks Greener build this is achieved through special summoning monsters such as Fishborg Planter or Swap Frog. In the other builds it is achieved by either protecting your first normal summoned monster for one turn using your back row cards, or by special summoning Dragon Ice or special summoning a Paleozoic Canadia/Paleozoic Hallucigenia from the graveyard.
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).
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 top tier 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’.
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.
Sea Stealth Attack (1x, and 2x/3x in the That Grass looks Greener build)
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)
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.
Dragon Ice (1x, and 1x/2x in the ‘Grass’ build)
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.
Genex Undine (3x)
See the paragraph about this card above.
Genex Controller (2x)
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 2 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|
With 2 Genex Controllers in your deck
Atlantean Heavy Infantry (2x/3x)
‘Infantries’ destruction effect can be used in combination with Genex Undine, Dragon Ice, Citadel Whale and, in the bigger builds, 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.
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.
- ‘Infantry’ is better synchro material than Marksman (3 stars) as Infantry (2 stars) and Genex Controller (3 stars) make Armades, Keeper of Boundaries (5 stars), one of the best synchro monsters in the game.
Mermail Abysspike (0x or 1x in the 21 card build, and 3x in the builds with more cards)
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:
- trade a redundant Genex Undine for a Snowman Eater or Atlantean Marksman, *trade a Genex Undine for another Genex Undine if you have already drawn a Genex Controller to prevent drawing a redundant Genex Undine,
- or even get card advantage by discarding a Citadel Whale, Atlantean Heavy Infantry, Atlantean Marksman or a Dragon Ice that you may not get to use (soon) in the duel. Mermail Abysspike also helps you thin your deck. Using this card reduces the chance to draw Genex Controller before you have a Genex Undine in your hand.
Beautunaful Princess (1x in the builds with more cards)
On summon ‘Beautunaful’ replaces itself for a Mermail Abysspike from the deck, so serves as a fourth copy of that card.
Paleozoic Canadia (3x)
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.
Curse of Anubis
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 your opponent’s back row cards like Wall of Disruption and Drowning Mirror Force. 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), the two worst matchups.
Fishborg Planter (2x/3x in the 30 card ‘Grass’ build)
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.
Swap Frog (2x/3x in the 30 cards ‘Grass’ build)
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)
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)
‘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)
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)
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 cards build has the best tournament results so far.
The 24/27 cards builds compared to the 21 cards build
Compared to the 21 cards build, the 24/27 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 24/27 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 can defend itself less well than a Snowman Eater and with even a turn one 2000 DEF monster set being less safe than before increases the number of back row cards needed in the deck.
The advantages that the 24/27 cards builds have over the 21 cards build
1.. The 24/27 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 24/27 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 (Apoptosis, top 32 Meta Weekly 53):
Table 1; the 24/27 cards build has a better chance to open with a starter
|Hand size \ Deck size||Number of starters in deck||Going first (4 cards)||Going second (5 cards)|
|20||5||72 %||81 %|
|21||5||70 %||79 %|
|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
Assuming that in the ‘Amaba build’ 2 of the Snowman Eaters are replaced with 2 Mermail Abysspikes.
2.. With the 24/27 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
|Hand size \ Deck size||4||5||6|
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 namely 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 Marskman and Snowman Eater.
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 24/27 cards builds compared to the 21 cards build
The 24/27 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.
The 24/27 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 24/27 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 24/27 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 24/27 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 24/27 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 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 Infantries with an Atlantean Marksman – which is like Snowman Eater a level 3 WATER monster. This replacement also works because Atlantean Marskman 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 (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 (small) 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, Atlantean Marksman 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 Better 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.
The ideal number of traps / spells / hand traps in the 24/27 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, 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)|
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).
Snowman Eater (max. 1)
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 ‘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 ‘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)
- 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).
- It has more synergy in decks that play Paleozoic Hallucigenia or Floodgate Trap Hole
Abyss Soldier (max. 1)
Abyss Soldier has a versatile effect, which is especially powerful against extra deck 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 players’ play style. Just keep in mind that they should 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
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 chainable. It is a back row card which not only can be used defensively but can be used well offensively. It is great in certain situations and against certain decks such as against a ‘Masked Hero’ player with only one monster on the field.
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?’ At least one copy of this card at least in the side deck is required because of the dominance of Koa’ki Meiru decks in the meta.
Floodgate Trap Hole
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 a Floodgate Trap Hole is preferable. The card is good against ‘Koa’ki Meiru’ and most other decks and good for stalling in general.
Drowning Mirror Force and Wall of Disruption
These cards are great when opening with only or mostly traps. They punish swarming and give the opponent uncertainty: ‘should I risk a Drowning Mirror Force or Wall of Disruption or play it safe?’ 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.
Aegis of the Ocean Dragon Lord
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
This card was good in the December 2018 meta when ‘Blue Eyes’ and ‘Vampire’ decks were dominating.
Treacherous Trap Hole
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
‘Windstorm’ is generally an inferior version of Curse of Anubis that is limited to one copy. It both is chainable and deals with swarming, which makes it a good answer to ‘Koa’Ki Meiru’ decks.
Ancient Fairy Dragon
This level 7 synchro monster can be special summoned by using Genex Controller and Mermail Abysspike as materials. It 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 ‘SSA’) and to stall with its 3000 DEF.
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.
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.
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
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.
Unending Nightmare and Magic Deflector
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 may run Unending Nightmare to counter the counter to their deck: Necrovalley. Siding in Unending Nightmare not only counters their Unending Nightmare, but also allows you to destroy their Vampire Kingdom or Vampire’s 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!.
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, it ‘counters’ a Hey, Trunade! into Mask Change play. Sometimes ‘Masked Hero’ players sometimes use that card.
‘Buster Blader’ decks need to counter possible Non-Fusion Areas, the counter to their deck. They usually do that however by other means than Unending Nightmare such as using Stamping Destruction, Breaker the Magical Warrior or Xing Zhen Hu. Siding in Unending Nightmare can still be good idea to destroy their DNA Surgery’, and may even help against a Xing Zhen Hu.
‘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.
General play tips
- When the only monster in your hand is Mermail Abysspike, Atlantean Heavy Infantry or Atlantean Marksman, generally, you should keep it in your hand until you draw another WATER monster. For the first card this is because you want to use Mermail Abysspikes effect as soon as possible to search Genex Undine and for the latter cards because you might draw into a Mermail Abysspike next. Use your back row cards to survive in the meanwhile.
do not summon
Generally, if you have Genex Undine in your hand, you should use its effect as soon as possible to prevent drawing a Genex Controller. Note that once you have used Genex Undine’s effect once, the chance to draw a Genex Controller halves.
Citadel Whale is not always the best card to mill with Genex Undine. For example, you may want to mill a Dragon Ice in case you open with no or few back row cards to protect yourself from an OTK. This would especially be wise if you do have a Sea Stealth Attack available already as you get make a level 5+ WATER monster either through Dragon Ice or by keeping your Genex Undine out of harm’s way with Sea Stealth Attack and using it to synchro summon Hydro Genex. In fact, having a Sea Stealth Attack in your starting hand and having access to Dragon Ice is a great way to open in the ‘Vampire’ matchup.
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?’
Keep possible future plays in mind and keep track of possible cards that you may draw.
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
You may want to summon Mermail Abysspike to discard Beautunaful Princess
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.
With this opening hand summoning Genex Undine to send a Dragon Ice to the graveyard to prevent an ‘OTK’ may be an instance of ‘playing not to lose’
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.
This is arguably the worst matchup. Because ‘Koa’ki Meiru’ decks present such a threat, most of the back row cards in the 27 cards 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.
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.
‘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 the two worst 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 just summoned 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 facedown. Using the ‘toggle off’ button is treacherous however as you might make mistakes such as reacting too late to certain cards or even forgetting that you have a Dragon Ice in your hand that you can summon.
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 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.
This is a decent matchup, maybe somewhat 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 generally good to try and get a second 5+ star WATER monster on the field if you can do that safely. If 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.
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! and Offerings to the Doomed. Keep their usual tech cards in mind during the duel such as: Hey, Trunade!, Offerings to the doomed and Paleozoic Canadia.
‘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. 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 “Nimasu” in attack position without getting destroyed. 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 ‘ready for the war to break lose’. A set monster is probably a Karakuri Soldier mdl 236 “Nimasu”. 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 “Nimasu”, 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 “Nimasu” 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” 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 and often have an Unending Nightmare in their side deck.
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.
‘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.
Compared to the other matchups, ‘Masked Hero’ decks often contain copies of Cosmic Cyclone. 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 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.
NOTE: (Replays will try to open the app and only work on the mobile phone)
Opponent’s skill is The Tie that Binds, which indicates a ‘Koa’ki Meiru’ matchup.
I already have Dragon Ice in my hand, so Genex Undine can be useful in this duel to mill Citadel Whale or Atlantean Heavy Infantry. Getting the Citadel Whale on the field would go a long way in winning me the game, but will I have enough resources to set up the combination? I don’t think so. Summoning Genex Undine now to mill a ‘Whale’ would probably result in me having almost no resources on turn 3 if the opponent would have their full combination next turn. The best game plan seems to be to use my back row cards, including Dragon Ice, to survive the opponent’s attacks, use Genex Undine to destroy Koa’ki Meiru Maximus on turn 3, and use back row cards to take care of the other monsters. If it turns out my opponent will not have drawn their full combination and gives me enough space/time to summon Citadel Whale, I can still get the ‘Whale’ out on turn 3.
Notice how in most other matchups, we would have probably summoned Genex Undine and millled Citadel Whale here. We have adapted our strategy to the opponent.
I summon Dragon Ice, because my opponent might not summon a Koa’Ki Meiru Maximus, which would allow me to stop both attacks for free and have two WATER monsters on turn 3 to summon Citadel Whale.
I did not make good use of the ‘toggle off’ feature in this duel. There was no good reason to keep the toggle on ‘auto mode’ until Koa’ki Meiru Maximus would be summoned or until the battle phase would start. If I had used the ‘off mode’, the opponent might have used Koa’ki Meiru Maximus’ effect on my chainable back row card instead, allowing me to save my Sphere Kuriboh.
Because of The Tie that Binds, I am forced to use both my back row cards to save my life points.
I could have synchro summoned Hydro Genex, but even if the opponent would have Sphere Kuriboh, Hydro Genex’ DEF would also not be enough to survive any of the opponent’s level 4 monsters.
I decide not to set Drowning Mirror Force, because if the opponent would survive this turn through Sphere Kuriboh, with 2 cards in the hand there is no way my opponent will be able to attack directly next turn. On the other hand, I might risk the card being destroyed by a Koa’ki Meiru Maximus. It is better to set it together with a chainable back row card later in the duel, to have a chance of the opponent wasting a destruction effect on the wrong card.
Even though Atlantean Heavy Infantry has decent DEF points, I want to keep Atlantean Heavy Infantry in my hand for if I would draw Mermail Abysspike later in the duel.
I put Genex Controller on the field because, having 2 Paleozoic Canadias, there is a good chance I will be able to make an Armades, keeper of Boundaries later. I set it because I could be facing a ‘Koa’ki Meiru’ deck which can deal much life points damage in one turn.
- I could use Paleozoic Canadia on Karakuri Merchant MDL 177 “Inashichi” to slow down my opponent by preventing him/her from using Karakuri Cash Cache this turn (after putting the toggle to ‘on’ and after the opponent has searched Karakuri Cash Cache. But there is not much benefit in slowing my opponent down in this case as there seem to be no big plays I can make in the next few turns. I find it better to save my back row cards for actual threats.
Against any other deck, it could be good to synchro summon Armades, keeper of Boundaries here as I have sufficient back row cards to protect it. But I know that ‘Karakuri’ players usually use ‘Offerings to the Doomed’ and do not want to risk trading both of my only monsters for that card. Besides, I still want to save Atlantean Heavy Infantry for a possible Mermail Abysspike.
I misplay with my attack because I forget that Karakuri Merchant MDL 177 “Inashichi” would switch to defense. It‘s no big deal however.
I do not flip Karakuri Komachi mdl 224 “Ninishi” face down on summon because the opponent could summon another tuner monster after that.
After the summon of Karakuri Muso mdl 818 “Haipa” I am guaranteed that the opponent cannot synchro summon this turn if I would flip Karakuri Komachi mdl 224 “Ninishi” facedown, so I do. Allowing the synchro summon of Karakuri Shogun mdl 00 “Burei” would give my opponent one free card, would increase the pressure on me and would further widen the gap in our positions.
I protect my Genex Controller with Wall of Disruption to summon my Paleozoic Canadia from the graveyard to be able to make a cheap and easy Armades, Keeper of Boundaries next turn.
I misplay by forgetting to abuse the fact that ‘Karakuri’ monsters must attack, by summoning Paleozoic Canadia in attack position.
- I do not attack with Mermail Abysspike because my opponent did not stop Armades, keeper of Boundaries’ attack, which indicates that my opponent does not have a card like Paleozoic Canadia which makes it more likely that my opponent does have a card like Wall of Disruption.
- 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.
- 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.
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.
- 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.
- We do not draw a back row card, so we definitely cannot risk Genex Controller being flipped face down on summon.
- I protect Dragon Ice instead of Citadel Whale because I cannot resummon Dragon Ice in this matchup while I can resummon Citadel Whale – I even have one of the two required WATER monsters in my hand.
- I continue in my attempt to synchro summon Hydro Genex
- The opponent has no back row cards, so it is safe to summon Genex Controller now.
- I banish a WATER monster before the battle to prevent Stardust Dragon from destroying Sea Stealth Attack. The opponent misplays by not attacking with Buster Blader, The Dragon Destroyer Swordsman first and by attacking with it without Stardust Dragon on the field.
A Bandit Keith player suggests the skill Bandit which suggests a ‘Vampire’ deck.
I want to set one of the two monsters to allow me to synchro summon Armades, Keeper of Boundaries next turn. I could go for the safe play, keep Atlantean Heavy Infantry in hand for if I draw Mermail Abysspike and protect Genex Controller with Sphere Kuriboh, or, seeing I am already in a not so good position opening with a Genex Controller, take the risk of drawing Mermail Abysspike, set Atlantean Heavy Infantry and probably save the Sphere Kuriboh in my hand (as Gozuki or Samurai Skull can’t get over Atlantean Heavy Infantry without Vampire Kingdom. I decide, doubtfully, to go for the latter option.
- Seeing that the opponent would certainly be able to summon Vampire Vamp if I synchro summon Armades, Keeper of Boundaries this turn, I decide to summon Genex Controller and attack with both of my monsters as I am well protected with Curse of Anubis, Windstorm of Etaqua and even Sphere Kuriboh.
- 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.
- 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).
I do not see that I can win the duel by attacking Vampire Retainer and misplay by attacking Vampire Grace instead.
I trade a Snowman Eater for a Genex Undine through Mermail Abysspike assuming that there will be no Vampire Kingdom on the field next turn.
- 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’.
I do not activate Sea Stealth Attack in the draw/standby phase to play around Destiny Hero Celestial. If the opponent would summon it and attack with it, not only would my Mermail Abysspike be destroyed, but my Sea Stealth Attack would become useless, as I could not afford to banish Mermail Abysspike and take a direct attack.
I activate Sea Stealth Attack in the end phase to play around a possible back row removal card.
- 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.
- Summoning my second Atlantean Heavy Infantry would be safer, but I am keeping it in my hand in case I draw a Mermail Abysspike.
- 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.
- I summon Mermail Abysspike instead of Genex Undine to be able to finish the duel that turn.
Bonus duels with the 30 cards ‘Grass’ build (no commentary)
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 many more players would use this deck in tournaments, I see the possibility of it becoming at least a tier 3 deck. 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 its back row choices helps this deck stay relevant.
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.
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.
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, 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.
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’.