(Submitted by a friend)
Relevant Rogue: Yosenju
Formats in Yugioh tend to change every couple months with new decks controlling the meta. I started playing in Nekroz format and have continued to play through several formats dominated by shaddolls, monarchs, burning abyss, kozmo, pkba, pepe, blue eyes, paleos, and metalfoes. Throughout most of it I have played the same archetype: Yosenjus. I originally chose to play Yosenjus for three reasons 1) I wasn’t sure if I was going to commit to Yugioh and did not want to spend too much getting into the game 2) they were reminiscent of the spirit archetype I used to play as a kid and 3) they were secret rare. What was surprising to me was that I was able to have success with the deck across all of these formats. I will try to explain why I think that is below:
Nekroz Format (Nekroz, shaddolls, qli’s, tellars)
Nekroz of Unicore and Shaddoll Winda were cards that dominated the meta because of their ability to limit a player’s extra deck strength. Though neither monster was that big, it was difficult to find a way to eliminate them without using an extra deck. The Yosenjus, however, almost never special summon and were able to play through these locks in main phase 1 and follow up with xyz plays in main phase 2 if necessary. Similarly, when Qli’s were maining triple vanity’s, Yosenjus were able to play through it without any problems. The fact that Yosenjus could also play limited cards like Macro Cosmos and Dimensional Fissure without any drawbacks further improved the pendulum matchup (as well as several other matchups). Finally, since tellars usually consolidated resources into an xyz monster, Yosenju Kama 1 could easily cause your opponent to lose lots of card advantage. In this format I played pure Yosenjus with floody backrows, basically Yosenju Demise without the Demise.
Pepe Format (PePe, pendulum magicians)
This format lasted all of 2 weeks. However, I believe it provides a good example of how versatile Yosenjus can be. Yosenjus as an engine is roughly 9 cards (playset of each Kama, 12 if you include Tenki). Because of this, it can be combined with several different archetypes. The combination that I had found to be successful in this format was Baby Raccoon Yosenjus. Pendulums dominated this format and the raccoon engine opened up Naturia Beast to cut off the entire mechanic. The Yosenjus could easily remove scales to make Naturia Beast even more terrifying. The raccoons could create a soft lock with Ronin Sandayu. It was easy to control how many cards you had in your hand with the Yosenjus in order to easily negate cards with Fabled Unicore. You could use Diamond Dire Wolf to remove problem cards by targeting your own Ronin Sandayus, making Diamond Dire an extremely powerful option. Furthermore, Ronin Sandayu opened up more OTK’s with the Yosenju monsters. The synergy between the rank 2’s and 4’s doesn’t end there however. Cat shark could create OTK’s with Dark Rebellion XYZ Dragon if you didn’t already have a Daigusto Phoenix on board. Though Pepe was the undisputed deck-to-beat, I believe Baby Raccoon Yosenjus was a good counter to the deck, going first or second.
Monarch Format (Monarch, BA, Kozmo)
Around Pepe format was when we first got Kaijus. At the time we only had Kumongous and Dogoran and there was an obvious gimmick that could be abused with the Yosenjus (kaiju a monster, bounce it back). At the time I considered it to be a fun tech to put in my pure Yosenju build. However, when Breakers of Shadow released Interrupted Kaiju Slumber, I completely changed how my deck was supposed to run. Instead of opting to go first and setting floodgate cards, I opted to go second and wipe boards for OTK’s. The deck became nearly trapless. The only floodgates I kept were Dimensional Fissure and Necrovalley. Both of those cards could be activated before using Slumber to ensure that your BA, Monarch, and Kozmo opponents negged as hard as possible. If you didn’t win that turn, there was good chance that those floodgates prevented your opponent from recycling resources to threaten you the next turn. Kaijus were an absolute godsend for Yosenjus. They didn’t count as tribute summoned monsters, so you could turn off Domain. They didn’t trigger Beatrice’s effect. They didn’t trigger Kozmo ship effects. They also shut down Kozmo pilots’ ability to tag out as well as making set Kozmojos dead. Kaijus also removed Kirin, Cyber Dragon Infinity and Vortex Dragon, cards that used to give us trouble. Since almost nobody played traps this format, Yosenju Kaiju had free reign to just wipe boards and OTK all the time. The deck was also extremely unpopular during this format and almost no one realized that I actually wanted to go second every game. To be honest, I believe this was the easiest format for Yosenjus. OTK’s were way too easy. Everyone would overextend (since Exciton got banned) and consolidate all of their power into a kaiju-able boss monster. The only hard matchup was Mermail and it honestly came down to the die roll.
At this time, Yosenju Demise was pretty popular. I still think that deck sucks in comparison.
ABC Format (ABC, Metalfoe, Paleo)
I wish I could say more about this format. Unfortunately, I had picked up Paleozoics during this format and left Yosenjus in the deck box. The sheer number of trap cards in this format scared the hell out of me and I didn’t want to deal with never being able to summon any Yosenjus. I thought Yosenjus wouldn’t be viable this format. However, I was proven wrong when Yosenju Kaiju got first place at the Portrush Regional. As I said, I thought backrow was the death of the deck. The person piloting the first place deck must have also realized that since his deck profile listed 3x twin twisters, 3x MST, and 2x Nightbeam. I only wish I had the balls to try that first. That being said, I am not upset about playing Paleozoics…the deck is just too good. It just feels so powerful playing a meta deck.
Looking Forward (Zoodiacs)
Through my own playtesting and tournament success, I would confidently say that Yosenjus have been a relevant rogue option since 2015. The fact that the Yosenju engine is extremely small makes it incredibly flexible when mashing it with other engines. The reliance on normal summons is a huge weakness, but it makes for that in its ability to swarm without the use of special summoning. The fact that they return to hand means it becomes much harder for your opponent to remove your card advantage with board wipes, and makes it even more profitable for you to use board wipes like Torrential Tribute and Dark Hole. Yosenjus play using game mechanics that are outside the set used by meta decks, while also providing enough wiggle room to include answers to the problems that meta decks can put up.
I realize I had forgotten to write about Blue Eyes. The only matchup that was easier than Blue Eyes was Kozmo. Your opponent would lose so much if you kaiju’d their spirit dragon. Even if they used soul charge on turn 1, you could break the entire board with just 1 kaiju and 1 slumber. Out of all the events I went to, I only lost to 1 Blue Eyes player ever and he was playing the cheesy Chaos Max turbo version. To be fair, the Blue Eyes matchup was also a matchup I had had plenty of practice with. Outside of events I would playtest with a friend who loved the deck. He’s a good player, but I believe that he was only able to take a couple matches from Yosenjus because he became very familiar with what options Yosenjus have (while the typical Yugioh player at a regional, at the time, had no idea how the deck worked). Therefore, I could abuse the fact that my opponent didn’t know how to stop me. At an event, a match against blue eyes, kozmo, or BA was a free win.
Thanks for reading.