The Best Speed Duel Decks Beyond Battle City


Despite organized play for Speed Duel being limited to the occasional Win-a-Mat at Extravaganzas, some unsanctioned events are getting a pretty good turnout consistently. The Speed Duel League allows players to compete for big prizes, and contenders continued to innovate on their strategies.


The Current Format

When I discussed the impact of the Battle City Box in a previous article, I highlighted the fact that it came with both interesting staples as well as entirely new decks. In the new format the single cards have been proving their worth, but the new archetypes haven't been overly dominant. The start of the format saw a lot of people experimenting with XYZ Unions thanks to the raw strength of Union Hangar and with decks such as P.A.C.M.A.N. and Magnet Warriors. But a few tournaments later the majority of players realized that an old strategy, Inner Conflict, was still able to make a big splash. More recently, during the Speed Duel League Series #2, we saw another old strategy re-emerging: Dark Moth!

book of moon breaker the magical warrior
Easily the most popular new cards

Between the three most commonly played decks at the event, Dark Moth was significantly less popular than the other two, with only eleven of 66 players opting to bring it, as opposed to fourteen and sixteen for XYZ Unions and 22 Monarch variants. Despite that, it was the most popular archetype among the Top 16 players—a strong showing for a deck that had fallen more or less off the radar. Let's take a look at a list for each of these decks.

A Bug's Life

The highest ranked duelist playing Dark Moth was niki. We see that cards that used to be popular in the deck like Byser Shock and Dekoichi the Battlechanted Locomotive fell out of favor, making room for Breaker the Magical Warrior and a full set of Sphere Kuriboh. Both are standard picks for the deck and could be seen among most other Dark Moth players.

The main game plan has remained more or less the same. You clear as much back row as possible, bring out a Moth from your deck by tributing an opponent's monster equipped with Parasite, and swing in for massive damage. Ideally you'll even have drawn a second Moth to special summon from your hand using Parasite's second effect.

parasite paranoid Cocoon of Ultra Evolution (Skill)
Apparently, these won't cease to be relevant

While niki approached the deck relatively conservatively, we did see a trend among other players. All other Moth players looked to punish the opponent for trying to play around Parasite by setting monsters via the inclusion of Lava Golem or Santa Claws in their main decks. The dark monsters played to fuel Allure of Darkness went from Newdoria to Gravekeeper's Curse, the latter being an excellent way to deal the last 500 damage Moth can't do.

Winner's Conflict

Bakura's Skill Inner Conflict still reigns supreme. It allows players to steal an opponent's monster until the end of the turn, in exchange for half their life points and the monster's ability to attack. Tribute-based strategies thrive under this skill, and the two noteworthy variants are Apprentice Monarch and Conflict Monarch, where the difference is the inclusion of Apprentice Magician. To deal with potential bricks, the deck runs Allure of Darkness as well.

Just these two decklists alone demonstrate how unique Conflict decks can be. Besides the Blowback Dragon and the three different high level monsters these players picked, the other top cut decklists also included Granmarg the Rock Monarch and Dark Ruler Ha Des, with Spell Canceller seeing play in side decks.

kaiser glider jinzo
Monarchs but without monarchs

Things they do have in common are a full playset of Book of Moon, which is an essential tool in not losing the mirror match after paying half your life points, and Zoma the Spirit, which can be used as tribute fodder or potentially causing a lot of damage, keeping large monsters like Moth or XYZ-Dragon Cannon from attacking. A card you would expect to see in these decks, Soul Exchange, is absent bar a single copy in one of the decks. It seems like giving up your battle phase is too much of an issue after all.

Easy as ABC

When XYZ (not xyz!) monsters were announced for the game, they initially met a lot of hype. Union Hangar would immediately establish a threat, and could in theory do so every time a Y-Dragon Head got summoned. The deck has proven to be a bit of a high-risk, high-reward strategy, where a lot depends on your opening hand—and on how well the opponent is prepared for the matchup. That aside, four players out of the fourteen that entered the event managed to take their transformers all the way to the top cut.

Guillaume Maron - XYZ Union - SDL Series #2 Top 8
Main DeckExtra DeckSide Deck

High-utility beaters is the name of the game in this deck. Thanks to Union Hangar you're able to gather monsters in no time and bring out the Fusion monsters from your extra deck. Your plan B is to banish the materials from the graveyard in exchange for inflicting battle damage thanks to your skill card. A big blowout is Union Scramble, a card that was initially inspired by Seto Kaiba's Return from the Different Dimension.

union hangar xyz-dragon cannon
This deck has a lot of firepower!

There's not too much wiggle room for different technology due to the deck's engine being so large. (At least two X, two Y, and three Z are the norm, along with triple Hangar and Scramble.) But there's one big elephant in the room, and it has 4,000 ATK points. Some players were seen with Obelisk the Tormentor in their XYZ Union decks! Obelisk is relatively easy to bring out, since Union Scramble allows you to special summon up to three of your banished monsters. Unfortunately, with other meta contenders playing Inner Conflict, Creature Swap, and Santa Claws, sticking an Obelisk is not guaranteed to win you games. But it is guaranteed to bring you respect.

"Are You Gonna Eat That?"

Relinquished was the first ritual monster in Speed Duels and remains the most relevant to this day. "Relevant" is a big word, as it doesn't often see play at the top tables. But Yomero proved to the world that it can be done!

This deck is incredibly sticky. Relinquished has been historically annoying to remove from a Speed Duel field, and Illusionist Faceless Magician along with Marik's Skill Shadow Reborn keep bringing it back to the field. Rather than relying on a normal summon of Senju of the Thousand Hands or Sonic Bird to set up the ritual summon, Pre-Preparation of Rites searches the two cards you need, allowing you to save your normal summon for Kycoo or Breaker. Kycoo is seeing play because it counters the XYZ strategy and generally is a big beater. The card's 1,800 attack points mean that, if Relinquished absorbed a strong monster, you should be able to make 4,000-damage pushes with ease.

relinquished pre-preparation Illusionist Faceless Magician
You call it your monster, I call it food

In the side deck we see Lava Golem, thanks to which your Relinquished has a formidable ATK of 3,000; and Switcheroo. Siding skill cards is allowed in Speed Duel, and it's nice to see this uncommon mechanic utilized. The full extra deck is used to bluff Waking the Dragon. Even if you're not playing it, why explicitly tell the opponent if you can just keep that a secret?

Push and Pull

XYZ isn't the only deck where monsters combine: Magnet Warriors are a rogue strategy that can catch people off guard, and that's exactly what it did for Bianxo at this event. The two main things to watch out for are the skill card Magnetic Attraction, which turns your Magnet Warriors into searchers, and the field spell Magnetic Field, which helps magnet warriors both pull other magnets onto the field as well as pushing other monsters off the field!

Delta The Magnet Warrior is the deck's chief normal summon and can be searched via the skill. That means you're basically playing eight copies of it! It lets you send any magnet warrior to the graveyard when summoned, and when sent to the graveyard, you can banish three other magnet warriors to bring out the absolute unit that is Valkyrion the Magna Warrior.

magnetic attraction magnetic field
Opposites attract

Until that happens, Magnet Warriors plays a resilient stall game. Waboku can be used after your opponent attacked to protect your magnet and still trigger the field spell. Similarly, Metaverse can activate it right from your deck. Even though Bianxo chose to run only one copy, it is not limited in Speed Duel like it is in the Advanced Constructed format.


Where there's winners, there's bound to be losers. Of the fourteen different deck types, eight of them did not manage to make it through the Swiss portion of the tournament. Skull Servant and Spell Proof Armor each had three players representing the strategies. It seems like both King of the Skull Servants and a stream of normal summoned, spell-immune Ally of Justice Clausolas just aren't cutting it. Black Stego is the namesake of Stego Control, a new iteration of Rat Toolbox, and saw top cut spots at Speed Duel League's Win-a-Box events.

A single player each decided to run Inner Conflict Fairies, I'm Just Gonna Attack!, Paladin of White Dragon, Spell-Proof XYZ, and Twisted Personality Warriors. None of them made the cut.

The Side Decks

The job of side decks is to make certain matchups easier, and that's no different for Speed Duels. One of the most popular side deck cards for this event was Lost Wind. It is played specifically to counter XYZ Unions, which is the main deck in Speed Duels to make use of the extra deck. It completely nullifies the fusion monsters by negating their effect and slicing their ATK stat in half permanently. Mind Crush is a newer card in the format and was used mainly to counter Moth strategies. Parasite Paranoid triggers in the hand, so chaining Mind Crush to that cancels out its effect, and it heavily punishes the opponent if they made use of Santa Claws to give them an equip target.

lost wind mind crush
Making games two and three a little bit easier

Spell and trap removal is sideboarded mainly in the form of Cosmic Cyclone. Not only can it clear field spells such as Union Hangar and Magnetic Field. Getting rid of a monster is easy thanks to Nobleman of Crossout. The counter to spell and trap removal, Waking the Dragon, often sits in the side deck in order to play tricks on the opponent, especially versus decks that like clearing out your entire back row. It can bring out all sorts of cool cards, such as Arcana Knight Joker, which can counter Parasite and a whole bunch of other cards.

Speed Duels in 2021

With no new product on the horizon and the organized play being where it is, it is tough to say in which direction Speed Duel is headed. It is making big waves in the collector's market, though, with ultra rares from the OTS packs and secret rares from the Battle City Box much sought after. That said, seeing as a lot of the unofficial organized play is taking place online, there's not really any cost involved in giving these a try, bar a bit of entry fee. There are great examples of successful Advanced Constructed players transferring their skills to the format, so if you're giving it a shot that might even be rewarded when physical events start again!

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