As I'm sure the lot of you are all aware, the release of Storm of Ragnarok and the Legendary Six Samurai are just around the corner, with many a sneak peak taking place this coming weekend. There has been a lot of discussion recently concerning the impact that Six Samurai are going to have on the TCG meta-game, and I have quite a few thoughts of my own concerning the subject. This is going to be a lengthy article, so brace yourselves!
First off, I'd just like to come out and say this: Legendary Six Samurai are NOT a tier zero deck, despite what all of the hyperbole in the greater Yu-Gi-Oh community would have you believe. I've been testing the deck extensively for about a month now against all kinds of different things (GBs, Blackwings, Gravekeepers, etc.) and while there's no doubt that the deck is very, VERY good, it's certainly not "the new Tele-DAD".
For those of you who are completely unfamiliar with what the deck looks like and how it functions, let's break it down with a typical, cookie-cutter OCG build (For the record, this is the exact build I've been using to play test against):
1 Hand of the Six Samurai
1 Grandmaster of the Six Samurai
3 Legendary Six Samurai - Kizan
3 Legendary Six Samurai - Kageki
3 Kagemusha of the Six Samurai
3 Gateway of the Six
3 Six Samurai United
3 Upstart Goblin
3 Book of Moon
3 Shien's Smoke Signal
1 Monster Reborn
1 Dark Hole
1 Giant Trunade
1 Reinforcements of the Army
3 Solemn Warning
2 Double-Edged Sword Technique
1 Solemn Judgment
1 Trap Dustshoot
1 Mind Crush
As you can see, the deck runs frighteningly few monsters, but the thing is, it doesn't really need to run any more than 11-12 creatures given the fact that almost all of them are searchable via Smoke Signal or RoTA.
So, what does the deck do? Well, basically it revolves around swarming and searching via Gateway of the Six. The things you need to watch out for when playing against Six Samurai are Gateway and a Legendary Six Samurai - Shien backed by a Solemn Warning. Once per turn, Shien can negate a spell or trap card that you activate. This might not sound like much, but given the rather small amount of monster removal cards being played in the current meta, it can be incredibly problematic, especially if the Six Samurai player has a Solemn Warning waiting in the wings to shut down your summons.
In essence, Six Samurai performs like a mixture of pre and post-September Infernity. They swarm to get searches from Gateway and then set up mini-locks where their opponent can do almost nothing, or at least force them to make very suboptimal plays to break their board. Essentially then, as an opponent of a Six Samurai player, what you need to do is to make sure that Shien never hits the board. Without Shien the deck is still very strong and can make some very nice pushes, occasionally even performing an OTK, but Shien is more or less their fail-safe, allowing them to make those pushes without concern of a Mirror Force or something similar.
Having said all of that, let's move on to the potential changes the introduction this deck may have on our current meta game. Oh, wait... There won't be any changes. Well, not any significant ones anyway. The standard tier one line-up will still be around: Blackwings, X-Sabers, Gravekeepers, Debris Plants, etc, as none of them have an outright bad match-up against Six Samurai. Blackwings definitely have the best chance out of them all, but Six Samurai don't pose any immediate threat to any of the other decks' performance. Of course, for the first few YCS's of this and the new format in March, Six Samurai will most likely sweep the top spots due simply to the large number of people that will surely run them.
I don't think, however, that this is going to be indicative of the rest of the format at all. Looking at recent tournament results in the OCG more than backs this up. When Storm of Ragnarok first released in November of last year there, Six Samurai were literally everywhere and it looked as if the OCG was moving into a Six Samurai-Blackwing dominant format. Now, however, things have shifted pretty dramatically, and while Six Samurai consistently still top events, it's not nearly as prevalent or unanimous as it used to be.
I predict the exact same thing will happen in the TCG. It only took time until OCG players found the best builds of their own decks and the best side cards to take Six Samurai out of the spotlight, and the same thing will likely happen here. Chain Disappearance, Puppet Plant and Thunder King Rai-Oh are going to be anyone who isn't running Six Samurai's best weapons in combatting them.
It'll be much more interesting to see what happens, if anything, to Six Samurai on the March 2011 ban list.
The release and initial dominance of the deck is imminent, but it's certainly not permanent, and defeating the deck isn't impossible at all. Being prepared and knowing what to side against the deck is in any player's best interests. So prepare yourselves people, because the Storm of Ragnarok is coming in just under a week!