Phantasm Spiral: The Menace That Won't Go Away
- Sam Šulovský
Phantasm Spiral is an archetype that never seems to leave the scene. No matter how hard you hit it, it somehow always bounces back. The last time I played the deck, I had multiple copies of Terraforming and Card of Demise on my side, but today we'll look at a recent top list that shows it can well work without them.
I still vividly remember the first time I played against Phantasm Spiral. I had just finished building my first real deck and was facing an opponent who set three cards, activated Pacifis, the Phantasm City and Normal Summoned … a Normal Monster? I had never seen the deck before so I was admittedly confused, but my swift demise quickly established respect for the strategy. Week after week, I'd be matched against that opponent and the matches were always incredibly interesting and very technically challenging. I always left those games feeling like I played an entire tournament's worth of matches. When this same person said he wanted to sell the deck, I immediately jumped on the chance and got my hands on what would come to be one of my favorite decks to play.
What's the Deal with "Phantasm Spiral"?
Phantasm Spiral is an archetype originally based around the Normal Monster Phantasm Spiral Dragon and accompanying Spell and Trap Cards. The big dragon itself is rarely played nowadays, but the Spells and Traps are so strong that they work even without it. The game plan of the archetype is to slow down the game to a halt where trading your cards for your opponent's cards one for one backed with the inherent recursion of Pacifis, the Phantasm City leads to victory. When it comes to grindy, long games, this deck grinds like no other.
For those unfamiliar with the deck, the Field Spell has two incredibly powerful effects that tie the archetype together. The first effect lets you search your deck for a "Phantasm Spiral" card and add it to your hand when you summon a normal monster once per turn. The second effect allows you to easily trigger the effect in your opponent's turn. Its activation condition is incredibly generic and powerful: it activates whenever you don't control any token. Due to it being a field spell, Pacifis, the Phantasm City will always activate in a new Chain Link. This means that if your opponent removes your token using, say, Raigeki, Pacifis will activate in a new Chain. Then it will check to see if you have any tokens on the Field, and since you don't, it creates a new token! Another quirk of the effect is that even effects that have been negated trigger this effect, since it cares about activations, not resolutions.
Now let's look at the different cards you can search for. They are nothing to scoff at! Phantasm Spiral Battle destroys any one card your opponent controls and can be activated from your hand if you control "Umi." Phantasm Spiral Power lets you reduce the ATK/DEF of an Effect Monster your opponent controls by 1000 and negate its effects, both until end of turn. This card can also be activated from your hand if you control "Umi." Conveniently, the name of Pacifis, the Phantasm City is always treated as Umi!
The final puzzle piece to this archetype is the unsearchable Sea Stealth Attack. This, in my opinion, is the best card in the deck aside from the Field Spell. It has everything you could want from a Trap Card: It allows you to reactivate a destroyed copy of Pacifis, it protects your face-up Spells and Traps and it can remove any Monster your opponent controls without targeting. Sign me up!
One of the reasons I love this deck as much as I do is because of how all the cards tie together so nicely. When this deck works, it's like a well-oiled machine and feels absolutely unstoppable. Well, maybe by Evenly Matched …
The Attack of the Sea Monsters
So now that we've went over the core of the deck, let's look at a very recent top cut decklist from an Australian tournament. It's pilot, Henry Lai, went undefeated until the final, where he ultimately lost to claim the second place.
|Phantasm Spiral by Henry Lai, 2nd at Australian Weekend Championship #25|
|Main Deck||Extra Deck||Side Deck|
To address the elephant in the room: the Extra Deck cards are mostly irrelevant — the deck can be played without an Extra Deck. Some cards from the Extra Deck can be useful, even if only as fodder for Pot of Extravagance. The winning formula for Phantasm Spiral is very clear when looking at the decklist. Find Pacifis, the Phantasm City, play floodgates, and play Yu-Gi-Oh! like it's 2002 — beatdown!
The most important aspect of the deck bears repeating. Pacifis, the Phantasm City is the best card in the deck. Card draw and selection is very important because it gets you to Pacifis. The limiting of Terraforming and Metaverse has been a big blow to the strategy, but luckily, we have Pot of Extravagance to prop the deck back up. One can adapt nicely to the current metagame by tuning the amount and type of floodgates the deck runs. I cannot imagine a future where Skill Drain would be unplayable, but other floodgates may be switched out freely to suit any metagame. The best blind choice as of now is unquestionably There Can Be Only One. Due to the great amount of draw power, running powerful limited cards is also better than usual as you can expect to see Macro Cosmos or Imperial Order much more often.
I find it noteworthy that Lai opted to play hand traps in the form of Ash Blossom & Joyous Spring and PSY-Framegear Gamma for a bigger fighting chance when going second. He included an even heavier going-second plan in his Side Deck. Here we find powerful board breakers like Lightning Storm, Evenly Matched, and The Winged Dragon of Ra - Sphere Mode aplenty along with everyone's favorite card … "Have you got a spell negate?"
My Two Cents on Budget Builds
Phantasm Spiral is a budget deck at heart, though I'm certain the three Pot of Extravagance in the main deck have been a discouraging sight. Let me give my opinions on great, cheap alternatives to slot into the place of the more expensive cards.
Fossil Dig can add your prehistoric friend from your Deck to your hand and adds consistency. If Terraforming or Card of Demise ever leave the Forbidden and Limited List, they will fit right back into this deck too! The Paleozoic Trap Cards can be summoned to your side of the field after they are used and are counted as normal monsters and trigger your Pacifis. I have found the most effective of these to be either Olenoides or Canadia.
You can also play any of the Phantasm Spiral Equip Spells and one Phantasm Spiral Dragon to close out games a bit more decisively. The upside to playing one of these is that they are searchable naturally with your Field Spell and can be recurred too!
An alternative to the Solemn brigade is Champion's Vigilance, an often forgotten omni-negate that requires a Level 7 or higher Monster on your side of the Field. Luckily enough, the token Pacifis, the Phantasm City generates is Level 8!
I hope I have done the deck justice with this short article. I urge you to give it a try, you might even have most of the deck somewhere in your bulk commons! I have had a lot of fun and success playing it and will continue to play it from time to time whenever I get the chance. If you are familiar with the deck, do share your experience in the comments!
Opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and not necessarily Cardmarket.