Yu-Gi-Oh! Rogue Report: Spooky Tistina

Carter Kachmarik
July 26, 2023


It’s always the decks you least expect to make an impact on you that suddenly take up all your attention, and for me, that’s been Tistina.  Debuting in Duelist Nexus, this TCG-Exclusive deck has been mostly shrugged-off by the playerbase, although some careful brewing has led me to a version of the deck I feel may genuinely have staying power.  It is a pile, certainly, but one that makes great use of a variety of tools in the game currently that have yet been untapped.  First among these are the Scareclaw, a swarm strategy that tries to clear the boards through turning things to Defense Position, and Ghostrick, a “1-card” engine in the Main Deck that turns any ability to make a Rank 3 into Number F0: Utopic Draco Future.  We’ll see how these connect in a bit, but for now, have an open mind, and we’ll dive into what I’m dubbing ‘Spooky Tistina’.

As we covered last week, Tistina is an archetype that you have to evaluate for the purposes of swarming with Link Material, not necessarily for its gimmick.  While the setting effects will come up, more than anything, you’re looking to do some form of the 1.5 card Sentinel of the Tistina line as your opening play every game, which is as follows.  Normal Summon Sentinel, destroy a set card, add Demigod of the Tistina, who summons itself to add Breath of the Tistina, which then has to set a monster (preferably your opponents’), to search Hound of the Tistina, who you can get out of hand with the extra Normal Summon.  Both of your little Tistinas are then legal to reborn, giving you essentially 5 material to work with, and a mid-combo Book of Moon.

Where Spooky Tistina begins to get interesting is the material requirement for Scareclaw Tri-Heart; normally it takes a lot of resources to bring him out, which you then recoup via his effect, but with the Tistinas, not only can we set an opponent’s monster, but also readily bring him out with the protection of I:P Masquerena.  You simply link off Sentinel & Hound for I:P, reborn both, and use I:P, Demigod, and Hound for Tri-Heart, leaving Sentinel onboard.

What you’re going to use that Sentinel for, however, isn’t quite so obvious; most of your “free” Scareclaws, being Astra, Acro, and Belone, are Level 3, so with Tri-Heart they’re now legal to Special Summon.  Using your leftover Sentinel & a Level 3 Scareclaw, you can then make Ghostrick Alucard, who can pop the monster you set, before overlaying into Ghostrick Angel of Mischief, who can detach Alucard to search Ghostrick Shot, which summons back Alucard, which becomes another Angel.  Those angels become Number F0: Utopic Future, triggering Alucard to add back Shot, and then F0 becomes Draco Future.  With all that out of the way, we can then use Tri-Heart to search for Scareclaw Reichheart and reborn the Level 3, searching for Scareclaw Twinsaw and drawing a card.

That’s a lot to take in, for sure, but what makes it all so easy is the existence of Trivikarma, which can banish itself to add a card that mentions Visas Starfrost.  We can get it into the GY mid-combo by using Barricadeborg Blocker, or even better, set it, and use it as our initial pop for Sentinel.  That finds Primitive Planet Reichphobia, which finds our Level 3, and there you have it: Spooky Tistina.  The follow-up is even better, given we have Shot to reborn a stray Alucard, both small Tistinas in grave, and plenty of things onboard.  We can clear our own Tri-Heart for Cross-Sheep, and then banish a Visas and 1500/2100 monster (Reichheart, or hilariously, the accessible Rank 3 Wind-Up Zenmaines) for Vicious Astraloud, popping a card, and reborning either Reichheart or Sentinel with Cross-Sheep, to start either half of the deck again.

Labbing this all out took a lot of time, and a lot of help from friends, but on the whole the deck feels incredibly clean, consistent, and dependable, making good use of the tools presented by each part of the strategy.  Unlike last week’s Tearlament build, this also forgoes Field Spell shenanigans for handtraps, with ample protection on our key boss monster.  Where it falters of course is versus things like Ash specifically, though cards like Triple Tactics Talents bolsters our game into that card, alongside Called By the Grave.  Even though it appears there’s a lot of 1-ofs, there’s actually only one card we absolutely cannot draw, being Ghostrick Shot, which if opened means we have to just use the Ghostrick line as more Link Spam, rather than an F0 play.  There’s even synergy to being handtrapped, however, in the form of Triple Tactics Thrust, which can set our Trivikarma to be popped by an errant Sentinel, potentially.  For every weakness the deck has, aside from one I’ll mention shortly, there’s a strength to make up for it, in ways no one will expect.

That downside is…space.  We want to be running a critical mass of Tistina cards, and while we could potentially shave down the engine to 3 Sentinel/3 Demigod/3 Breath/1 Hound, cutting the Crystal God Tistina package entirely, because Breath can add any card, there are worlds where having access to Divine Domain Baatistina can make or break our game.  Moreover, space in the Extra is exceptionally tight, with cuts to things like Baronne, Apollousa, and Aussa being made to fit everything.  We’ve pretty much cut everything but our main line down as tightly as possible, no wiggle room or flex.  That means the strategy is relatively inflexible, so you need to be reliant and confident in the main combo lines.  There’s also only one lock, being Tri-Heart’s post-effect lock, so until then you can swarm to your heart’s content.  Whether a future version will cut the Ghostricks, I have no idea, but I’ve absolutely loved them as part of our grind game, and initial set up.

There are some similarities to last week’s list, but also a lot more going on behind the scenes.  We’re on exactly 1 of each core Scareclaw, which is a major departure from standard lists: This is because we really only want one in the core combo, and it’s searchable, so playing essentially 3 copies of the same effect means we skirt HOPTs while still playing a solid core.  Twinsaw is our Turn 1 search for Reichheart, and Arrival is our Turn 2 search, though you’re more than welcome to play another Scareclaw S/T in the cases where you open them.  An extra Scareclaw Arrival or a Scareclaw Decline would be very welcome if you find space, even beyond our 2 Arrival/1 Twinsaw.  You could also try playing Ash Blossom & Joyous Spring over Droll, or even Effect Veiler if you want 6 of that effect.  In terms of siding, I would consider things like Solemn Strike if you know you’re going first, or leaning even more into going second with cards like Santa Claws, or even Forbidden Droplet to send spare copies of things like Trivikarma.

It took some tinkering, and dedicating essentially a day of testing with other theorycrafters to figure out this list, but I’m incredibly impressed with what’s been delivered here.  Tistina, despite me feeling beyond neutral on its theming and name, has effect-wise become one of my favorite decks to brew with already, and so fast.  It’s just the right power level to slot into things like this, or Mekk-Knight, Ninja, etc to generate bodies onboard, and tools going second.  It’s well worth giving a look, and as the strategy continues to be explored, I’m sure something potent will arise, especially after its next wave.

That’s the last time we’ll likely take a look at Tistina, unless something new comes about!  What’s your favorite engine to brew with?  What else could you tuck the Tistina package into for the current meta?  Let me know in the comments below!