A couple formats ago, if you had told me Geargia was not only going to be really good, but a Tier 1 contender, I would have looked you as if you were crazy. Sure, the deck can easily pump out OTKs, but its reliance on a pseudo-flip effect is what ultimately barred it from entering the competitive scene (besides a small stint at YCS Toronto 2012). However, now it is blatantly apparent that this deck is indeed a force to be reckoned with. With a combination of field-filling combos and a large wave of hype (due to its recent YCS win), Geargia may finally have their time to shine.
What makes Geargias viable? For starters, the Geargia engine itself is incredibly potent. Geargiarmor and Geargiarsenal give the deck necessary searching power; coupled with Gear Gigant X and you end up being able to easily tutor any monster from your deck. Speaking of tutoring, who can forget Geargiauger, an OCG exclusive that offers costless XYZ plays. On the TCG side of things, however, the deck largely hinges its success around one card: Geargiaccelerator. Geargiaccelerator gives you exactly what its name implies; speed. To top off all of that, the deck is also given a limited form of recursion with the Geargiano twins. Despite all of this speed and searching, the one card that truly holds the deck together is Geargiagear. It’s like an Abyss-Sphere that can’t get MSTed. The momentum shifts this card can generate are indescribable. A free XYZ is one thing, but a free XYZ that tutors half of your deck is what ultimately makes Geargia a tier 1 contender.
So the archetype’s current TCG line-up is essentially five monsters and a trap, all of which are useful. That being said, Geargias in the TCG as an archetype alone lack both the speed and the versatility required for a tier 1 deck. Just like Frogs before it, Geargia is a deck that withers in the competitive scene without a secondary engine supporting it and that’s where fellow machines step in.
Let’s start with the more competitive of the two variants. This was the deck that caught everyone by surprise when it won YCS Turin a few weeks back. While I’m fairly certain we were all aware of Geargia Karakuri, we were also all aware that Dragon Ruler was indisputably the single best deck of the format. Sam Pedigo’s YCS Turin build, designed to specifically combat the mighty dragons, reminded us that Lord of the Tachyon Galaxy did not only introduce the most powerful series of cards in the game’s history, it also gave many already powerful decks even more support; for Geargia Karakuri, this support came in the form of Geargiagear.
In my opinion, the thought process behind merging Karakuri and Geargia had to have been something along these lines: “What set of cards could we use to allow us to abuse the lack of a ‘Once per turn’ clause in Geargiarmor’s search effect?” to which someone responded “Read Karakuri Strategist and Burei’s effects.” Karakuri has been lingering around the periphery of the competitive scene for quite some time as a rogue deck that has the chops to OTK but can't manage to do it consistently. What happens when you blend it with an engine as redundant and dependable as Geargia? Some might call it magic.
There’s no sorcery here though. The Geargia Karakuri’s strategy is actually very simple: use one of the many two card combos to swarm the field for advantage and a likely OTK. What makes this deck stand out among others is the fact that its OTK plays not only require a mere two cards but the fact that so many different pairs cards work. The hinge of every OTK (and every large push in general) is Geargiarmor and Geargiagear. Having a set Geargiarmor or Geargiagear presents the deck’s pilot with chances to win every turn it’s available to them. The game for Geargia is to assess the risk and know when it’s safest and most effective to explode. The inherent fragility of such plays are why Geargia Karakuri players nearly always main deck copies of protection cards such as Dark Bribe or Seven Tools of the Bandit. Trap stun can also be expected to rear its ugly head because the moment the Geargia Karakuri duelist makes his play, he wants to face no disruption whatsoever.
The most common combo to push for game is for the player to flip Geargiarmor, search for Geargiaccelerator and procede to summon a Karakuri tuner alongside Accelerator. From there, the combos are a string of looped summoning and searching effects facilitated by Armor and Karakuri Burei(do) to accrue a field of over 8000 attack points worth of damage. Nasty stuff when backed up by Trap Stun or a huge amount of backrow, which any competent build will maindeck a lot of.
The deck’s insane OTK potential seems scary, but fear not. After all, knowledge is power and knowing what to side is the key to easier times in games two and three. Geargia’s strategy is very straightforward (which would be a downfall if the deck didn’t have a lot of recovery/grind prowess) meaning that all you really need to know to combat the deck is when to disrupt its plays and there’s more than enough cards available to adequately disrupt the deck’s plays. Effect Veiler and Fiendish Chain, if not mained, should definitely be high on your list of siding options. After all, what’s more useless to a Geargia player than a Geargiarmor dead in the water after a failled OTK attempt and nothing in grave to work with next turn? Veiler or Chain Armor on its initial flip and they’re stopped for the turn. Royal Decree is also a huge problem for Geargia as it can no longer protect its plays once its flipped and they need to wait it out from there to draw into an MST. A Maxx “C” dropped the moment you know they’re going for the push and not just a search can make your opponent think twice about going off. Because Accelerator is an inherent summon, there aren’t a lot of options to effectively chain Maxx “C” in this match-up. In testing, the team at Know the Meta has found that dropping Maxx “C” after an Accelerator summon is the most effective way to stop the deck. Sure, you may end up eating a ‘neg 1’ in card advantage but you’re opponent will be forced to leave their field wide open for your counter-attack.
And here, we have the slower Geargia build that’s been around since the archetype’s release. This is a tried and true story that should be familiar with any duelist who has faced a Gadget deck in his or her career: Machine engines mix well. Machina Geargia gives you the Rank 4 versatility of the Geargia engine with the added bonus of Machina Fortress who, if you haven’t seen it before, is a very good card. Machina Geargia is not as intuitive or as focused as Geargia Karakuri. Instead of a specific endgame, this build’s overall strategy is more to just toolbox big monsters and win before your resources run out, and run out they will. Daigusto Emeral and Iron Call will see a lot of play in this deck because of this.
Aside from a few obvious necessities, Machina Geargia is a rather open ended deck, so it becomes difficult to talk generally about it, but a few things are certain. Number one: Machina Fortress is always the Machina Geargia player’s objective. Number two: the competent pilot will run protection because both Geargiarmor and Machina Gearframe are fragile on their own. Number 3: They’ll bank on Gear Gigant X for the majority of their plays. Keep these in mind when playing against this deck and you’ll know what to expect as you proceed.
Playing this deck is something like playing a neutered down version of Machina Gadgets. You trade potency and consistency for speed. You’ll keep making Rank 4s and you’ll still tutor Machina Fortress or Cannon for larger plays. As the prevalence of Rank 4s continue to grow because of decks such as this one, it may be wise to include cards such as Mind Control in your main deck to combat a carelessly left level 4 monster. Always keep in mind that a smart duelist will always know how to assess risks and allocate their Gearframes accordingly, so be sure to properly determine whether you feel like Mind Control is the proper choice for your perceived metagame.
Machina Gearframe can be a great boon to a Gear Gigant or Fortress on an unprotected field, and the smart pilot will take advantage of this. Additionally, it helps to always be aware of the fact that Limiter Removal is a quickplay spell. This may seem simple, but many people see it as an OTK facilitator and nothing more. In reality the card can turn a push for game by your opponent into up to 2400 lost life points and another turn of safty for your Geargias and Fortresses.
This variant’s downfall is game two and the fact that Mind Crush, System Down, Royal Decree, Effect Veiler, and Fiendish Chain all hurt to such a degree that the most safety comes in counter-siding. When left counter-siding, a player is then at a significant disadvantage as this deck lacks a certain amount of speed and power to begin with. Of course, if Machina Fortress can get over anything your opponent can spit out: you really should be fine.
Regardless of the variant, there are some strategies one can effectively employ against all Geargia decks. For the side board, common anti-machine cards such as System Down and the Cyber Dragon/Chimeratech Fortress Dragon pair are always good options to have (keep in mind that Geargiarmor is usually face down during the non-Geargia player’s turn so it will be unaffected by these cards). Also, bear in mind that grinding through your opponent’s backrow is much more effective than simply removing it in this match-up. Geargia is one of the few aggressive decks that plays a myriad of defensive cards. Because of this, it can be difficult for the opponent to determine which backrow is the Solemn Warning and which backrow is the Trap Stun or Geargiagear. Let your opponent use their Geargiagears and Trap Stuns before you try to pop your opponent’s set cards. Nothing feels worse than blind MSTing a Geargiagear and giving your opponent a free rank 4.
Geargia isn’t hard to play against, in theory. In fact, its strategy practically lends itself to being easy to combat, but given chainable free monsters (Geargiaccelerator), a loopable search (Geargiarmor), and access to maybe the most versatile extra deck this coming format (Stardust, Dracossack, Scrap Dragon, Burei, Maestroke-- it’s all there), the problem playing it is not knowing how to beat it, but actually beating it. This deck is poised to be less widely played than, say, Spellbooks or Mermails, but it must be on the competitive player’s mind going into any event.
Thanks for reading. Be sure to stay tuned for the next installment of Know the Meta, where we’ll be discussing the infamous Spellbook Prophecy deck. Happy 2014!