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Getting Better: Mermail Mania in SEAttle

This is a column that helps you get better at your favorite games. Whether it's knowing the odds to draw black trains that are left in the deck in Ticket to Ride, or understanding the ramifications of picking a Rocket Courier X-99 early in a game of Ascension, if you're looking to gain an edge over your friends, this is the column for you.

Mermail Decks are an up and coming archetype that you need to be prepared for!

Contrary to the impression my previous article might have given, fans of the Yu-Gi-Oh! TCG have little reason to complain these days – at least as long as we're talking competitive decks. The field is more diverse than ever with around seven different decks shaking up the top tables and a few more tier 1.5 decks that sneak into the knock out portion of the larger events every now and then. The newcomer among the ranks of these most successful decks are the Mermails, who made it all the way to the finals in the recent Yu-Gi-Oh! Championship Series Seattle.

Straight out of the Ocean

Over the years, there have been a number of Water decks making a splash at the competitive scene. The element's brightest moment was Rodrigo Togores' win at the European Championship back in 2010 with a deck that packed a ridiculous number of Frogs. Searching each other out of the deck, Togores' Graveyard filled in next to no time, allowing him to "go off" and defeat his opponent as early as turn 1 thanks to the combination of Mass Driver and Ronintoadin!

Ever since, Water decks have been known for their explosive plays that later often involved Superancient Deepsea King Coelacanth. Most of these decks suffered from a lack of consistency as you could draw into the wrong pieces of your combo, making it hard for you to defeat against your opponent's monsters. The Mermails, who got introduced in Abyss Rising, are one of the most consistent decks that are showing up at the top tables thanks to a variety of cards that allow you to thin our your deck and search for the monsters you need the most.

Consistency All Over the Place

Mermail Abysslinde comes with a familiar sounding effect: After it's getting destroyed and sent to your Graveyard, you can special summon a Mermail monster from your deck. Similar effects on cards like Mystic Tomato or Giant Rat have always acted as the backbone of successful decks.

Even better yet, the deck features another powerful searcher. After it's successful summon, Mermail - Abysspike allows you to discard 1 Water monster to add a Level 3 Water monster from your deck to your hand. This way, you can ditch monsters that won't have a huge effect on the field and get something from your deck that will prove more useful. In some cases, that will be Mermail Abysslinde, who can then defend you for yet another turn and allow you to search for the next Mermail monster.

As long as you're looking at these cards in a vacuum, nothing really stands out and both effects seem to be extremely fair and balanced. This changes as soon as you add Atlantean monsters to the mix as they reward you whenever they're getting discarded to activate the effect of a Water monster! Atlantean Dragoons allows you to search your deck for any Sea Serpent whenever it's sent to the Graveyard to trigger the effect of a Water monster. When combined with Abysspike, this translates to 2 searches instead of 1, so you'll net some card advantage and set up one of your bigger plays.

Since Mermail duelist seemingly can't get tired of thinning out their decks, they also often splash the Genex engine, Genex Controller and Genex Undine. After you Normal Summoned Undine to the field, you can send 1 Water monster from your deck to the Graveyard to add Genex Controller to your hand. And before you ask: Yes, if you ditch an Atlantean monster, you will in fact trigger their effects, either destroying a face-up or set card your opponent controls or adding yet another Sea Serpent to your hand!

Boss Monsters

All of these search effects will help you get your hands on your biggest monsters in no time as well as amassing quite a few monsters on your hand. That's where the boss monster of the archetype, Mermail Abyssmegalo comes in. With 7 stars, you'll need 2 Tributes to summon it to the field the usual way. Fortunately, it comes with a great effect, allowing you to discard 2 Water monsters to Special Summon it from your hand. This way, you don't need your Normal Summon to add Abyssmegalo to your side of the field, allowing for huge damage swings thanks to its 2400 ATK. Even better yet, if you summon the boss monster this way, you also get to search your deck for an Abyss Spell or Trap card. Don't forget that you'll trigger the effects of Atlantean monsters as well. Oh, and on top of all of that, you can also Tribute another Water monster so Abyssmegalo will be able to strike twice during this turn's Battle Phase! Against some decks, not summoning monsters to the field can be a brave move. Against Mermails, it's suicide!

Sneaky deck builders found a second boss monster they could add to the deck without affecting its effectiveness in a negative way: Moulinglacia the Elemental Lord. The Level 8 monster boasts an impressive 2800 ATK, allowing you to overcome almost everything in battle your opponent can throw at you. To Special Summon it to the field, you need to have exactly 5 Water monsters in your Graveyard. Thanks to all of the discard effects and some cards that allow you to reduce the number of monsters in your Graveyard, you can consistently pull off this stunt.
Then, you get to discard 2 random cards from your opponent's hand, often stripping him off his last chance to get back into the game. The only drawback of the card? After it left the field, you'll have to skip the Battle Phase in your next turn. Since your opponent will rarely get to see another turn after you Special Summon Moulinglacia to the field, this will hardly matter.

Spell Suite

You will be familiar with most of the Spell Cards that are run in a Mermail deck. Allure of Darkness seems to be the odd one out, given that most of your monsters are Water. However, Genex Controller is a Dark monster and since all you do with it is add it to your hand with the effect of Genex Undine, it works great together with Allure. You'll rarely have troubles finding a Controller thanks to all the search effects in your deck. Therefore, Allure will rarely be a dead card for you.

It's easy to make Mind Control work as your own monsters feature Levels ranging from 2 to 7. So no matter what you decide to control for the turn, you will have little trouble using it for the Xyz Summon of a powerful monster.
Salvage and Pot of Avarice provide you with some options to return monsters from your Graveyard to your hand or deck, which can be important in case you draw into Moulinglacia late in the game.

Hand Control

Among the Trap Cards is one of my favorite cards of all time: Spiritual Water Art - Aoi. In order to activate it, you need to Tribute a Water monster. You'll then get to see your opponent's hand and you can discard a card of your choice. While technically, this means card disadvantage, clever Duelists will wait for the right moment to trigger the trap. If your opponent wastes a Mystical Space Typhoon on it and you chain it, you will both get to loose 2 cards while you get the main advantage of gaining knowledge about the contents of their hand. Used wisely, it will be a lot easier for you to claim the win.

The last card in the main deck that I want to talk about is Abyss-sphere. It features one of the most powerful search effects of all time: You can Special Summon any Mermail monster from your Deck. Unfortunately, it's effects will be negated and you also won't be able to activate Spell Cards as long as Abyss-sphere is face-up on your side of the field. The monster will also be destroyed during the opponent's next End Phase.
These are all big drawbacks, however, the ability to search for a monster when you need it the most (during your own Battle Phase to go for a game-deciding attack; during your opponent's Battle Phase to defend your Life Points, etc.) is crucial. Since you will still get the effects of Mermail monsters that activate in the Graveyard and you can use the respective monster for a Synchro or Xyz-Summon, there are a number of ways to get the most out of the effect without suffering too much from it's drawbacks.

This leaves us with the following deck:


22 Monster Cards:

2 Mermail Abyssmegalo
3 Mermail Abysslinde
2 Mermail - Abysspike
2 Atlantean Marksman
2 Atlantean Heavy Infantry
2 Atlantean Dragoons
2 Deep Sea Diva
1 Moulinglacia the Elemental Lord
3 Genex Undine
2 Genex Controller
1 Tragoedia

9 Spell Cards:

1 Pot of Avarice
1 Mind Control
1 Monster Reborn
1 Dark Hole
1 Salvage
1 Allure of Darkness
1 Heavy Storm
2 Mystical Space Typhoon

9 Trap Cards:

2 Abyss-Sphere
2 Mirror Force
2 Torrential Tribute
1 Starlight Road
2 Spiritual Water Art - Aoi

Side Deck:

1 Airorca
2 Gemini Imps
3 Gozen Match
2 Imperial Iron Wall
1 Mystical Space Typhoon
2 Shadow-Imprisoning Mirror
2 Soul Taker
1 Trap Stun
1 Ultimate Offering

Extra Deck:

1 Wind-Up Zenmaines
1 Ally of Justice Catastor
1 Armory Arm
1 T.G. Hyper Librarian
1 Gungnir, Dragon of the Ice Barrier
1 Black Rose Dragon
1 Scrap Dragon
1 Gachi Gachi Gantetsu
1 Temtempo the Percussion Djinn
1 Number 17: Leviathan Dragon
1 Abyss Dweller
1 Mermail Abyssgaios
1 Number 11: Big Eye
1 Daigusto Phoenix
1 Bahamut Shark

This is one of the fastest and most consistent decks that has been available for Duelists around the world. You won't be able to rely on the element of surprise for long as players worldwide will quickly adapt to this new archetype, however, it'll be a great choice for one of the upcoming major events, like the YCS Barcelona at the beginning of December. I for one wouldn't be very surprised if Mermails would claim the title there, even though fans of the Spellbook and Madolche archetypes want to have a word about that.

What do you think? Which deck will win the upcoming Yu-Gi-Oh! Championship Series?

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