Recently, the Remote Duel YCS took place. Out of 1,796 total players, 175 decided to enter the event with a Salamangreat deck. This was the third highest representation after Sky Striker (178 players) and Tri-Brigade (216 players). We see that Salamangreat enjoys a lot of popularity at the moment, so you might wonder how a Salamangreat deck looks like in 2021 and ask yourself whether or not it is competitive enough to win a larger event.
To answer the latter question let's take a closer look at the numbers from the YCS. Out of the 175 Salamangreat players, 25 managed to score at least sixteen match points on Day 1 and qualified for Day 2. This equals a conversion rate of 14.3%. In comparison, roughly 30% of Tri-Brigade decks managed to get into the second day, while about 17% of Sky Striker and 22% of Drytron players scored enough points to advance. So Salamangreat's conversion rate was not as good as the rates for some of the top decks.
In fact, Salamangreat barely succeeded in matching the baseline. (Overall 14.8% of participants made it to the second day.)
But let us take a look at those decks that actually ended up making the top cut. About 6% of the 216 original Tri-Brigade decks, 4.7% of the 149 Drytron decks, and 0% of the 178 Sky Striker decks placed in the Top 32. On the other hand, two Salamangreat managed to secure themselves a spot, which is about 1.1% of such decks entered into Day 1. So the top cut conversion for Salamangreat was also not as great as Tri-Brigade's or Drytron's. Yet Salamangreat managed to get into the Top 32 at all, which some other decks with a similar representation did not.
The YCS has not fully concluded at the time of writing. The Top 16 matches are scheduled for July 31. I am really excited to see how far Salamangreat will make it.
Salamangreat is too popular to count as a rogue strategy. However, it is not successful enough for tier one status either. I believe Salamangreat to be a solid tier two deck at the moment.
One point to consider, though, is that its engine is quite small and leaves a lot of room for additional cards. This enables Salamangreat to adapt to any given environment like few decks can. It has no trouble running nine to twelve hand traps, which you can pick depending on the expected metagame. The Remote Duel YCS, by contrast, was the first major event after the July 1 ban list took effect, so it's no surprise that Salamangreat underperformed here. This could well change in the future.
Salamangreat can even run floodgates such as Gozen Match, should a given format consist of many decks that play several different attributes. Moreover, the unbanning of Salamangreat Miragestallio has given the strategy a huge consistency boost.
Let us now take a look at what a current Salamangreat decklist might look like. I am not arguing that this is the best way to build the deck right now. The following should serve more as a general guideline for people who are new to the archetype. As mentioned before, it can easily adapt to any change in the format. This is why a Salamangreat decklist is typically going to change quite often over time.
|Main Deck||Extra Deck|
Those who have played in 2019 may notice that the above looks pretty similar to lists back then. After the ban of Miragestallio in January 2020, people had shifted the deck's focus to a rank four strategy with Parallel eXceed, but now I would recommend going back to a rank three turbo version. Miragestallio is just too good not to use it. It can give you easy access to any Salamangreat monster in your deck, especially Salamangreat Gazelle. However, this comes at a cost.
With Stallio back at one, I would personally refrain from running Parallel eXceed. Stallio locks you into fire monsters for the rest of the turn and this might conflict with eXceed. Moreover, running a rank three and a rank four engine increases the chance of opening unplayable hands. Instead of eXceed we can go back to rank three enablers such as Sea Archiver. There are alternatives that serve the same purpose such as Backup Secretary and Micro Coder. However, I think that Sea Archiver is the best option since it can also be used as a more or less free discard for Flame Bufferlo or Cynet Mining.
In addition, the deck can access Accesscode Talker (no pun intended) like few other decks can. Lady Debug and Salamangreat Jack Jaguar both are one-card combos to go into Accesscode Talker via Splash Mage. If you do have an additional extender, it is also easy to get to Accesscode Talker with Update Jammer. This will enable the Accesscode Talker to attack twice with an attack of 4,300 or 5,300 depending on the link materials used for its summon. This gives Salamangreat players an easy way to OTK their opponents.
The above list includes three Flame Bufferlo (which in my opinion should actually be called Salamangreat Bufferlo since it is a burning cyber machine) and only two copies of Lady Debug. Typically, you would play three of one of them and zero to two copies of the other. You might wonder which one is better. Bufferlo lets you draw two cards and dig through your deck, while Debug can search a card. In my opinion searching is a lot better than drawing. Searching allows you to grab the card you need in a given situation, while simply drawing requires some additional luck. This makes Lady Debug the better card—in a vacuum.
However, we also have to account for the current format. We see an increase in players incorporating Infinite Impermanence into their decks again. Flame Bufferlo lets you play around Impermanence as it activates in the graveyard. Moreover, you can use Salamangreat Balelynx as a chain link two to prevent your opponent from negating Bufferlo with Ash Blossom & Joyous Spring. Lastly, we also see a lot of players using PSY-Framegear Gamma, which can end a Salamangreat player's turn when it is chained to Lady Debug. Again, Gamma does not do too much against Bufferlo. This is why I would run Bufferlo over Debug in the current format even though searching is better than drawing.
With Salamangreat Miragestallio the deck also got back an important piece of removal. While Stallio was banned, the deck struggled a lot against high-attack monsters with destruction protection such as Eldlich the Golden Lord. With Miragestallio you can simply bounce such monsters back to the hand. Nevertheless, there are still several cards that can severely hurt the Salamangreat strategy.
The basic first-turn setup with a relinked Salamangreat Sunlight Wolf and a set Salamangreat Rage or Salamangreat Roar requires the Salamangreat player to conduct more than five summons. This makes Salamangreat very vulnerable to Nibiru, the Primal Being. When the Salamangreat player opens extremely well, they might be able to protect their Sunlight Wolf from Nibiru with Salamangreat Circle. However, this happens very rarely and with the limitation of Salamangreat Circle you do not have this protection very often.
A rather new card that can potentially kill the Salamangreat engine completely is Ice Dragon's Prison. If the opponent manages to banish two copies of Sunlight Wolf, the Salamangreat player will have a very hard time playing the game. In this case one of their only options might be to go for a one-turn kill with Accesscode Talker.
Sunlight Wolf is at the heart of the Salamangreat strategy. It recycles your traps and your monsters. To be able to recycle the traps, however, the Sunlight Wolf needs to be relinked. This will not be possible anymore when two copies of it have been banished with a card like Ice Dragon's Prison. Salamangreat players have to be aware of this possibility and try to protect their Sunlight Wolfs by all means.
Even though there are severe threats to the deck's strategy, I think that Salamangreat is a solid pick for any kind of event. While it can easily OTK its opponent on the one hand, the deck can also play a longer game and try to outgrind the opponent over time. Have you already played Salamangreat since Stallio's release from the ban list? If so, share your experiences and thoughts down below in the comments!
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