Invited Author: Helcias Ribeiro
Hello everyone, my name is Helcias Ribeiro and I am from the UK. I spent a majority of my teenage years playing Yu-Gi-Oh!. During covid I made the switch to Digimon, and recently I started playing the One Piece TCG. After reading through all the cards, I was instantly drawn to red as I love the Straw Hats and the Rush mechanic.
Funnily enough, I first had the intentions of playing red Luffy. I liked the idea of having a good Kid match up and I liked the control aspect of Luffy while also having Rush. However, when the game first came out and I started playing Luffy, I came across many flaws that I did not like; this took me to trying Zoro. I instantly fell in love with the deck. Before playing it, I thought it was a very “helmet”, auto pilot deck. There are definitely some helmet aspects to the deck (it isn’t very hard to attach a Don to Zoro and start swinging), but the way you play it, and the choices you make, can have a big impact. I managed to win a couple of tournaments with this deck and it’s the deck I have played the most since the release of the game.
The decklist and key cards
The decks biggest strength is how fast it does damage. I play 11 cards that have Rush (Sanji, Zoro, Luffy), with 4 cards (Nami) that can also search any of them, so effectively 15 copies of Rush cards. This means that you should often see these Rush cards to help you push for damage. Zoro’s ability is beyond broken, you may not think that 1k makes a difference, but it allows 4k characters to hit a leader, it allows 6k characters to ask for 3k counter when attacking the leader, it quickly adds up. The decks biggest weaknesses are defence and the late game. The late game is difficult due to the lack of defence, so the two are connected. None of the Rush cards have counters, and I only play 4 blockers, so the gameplan is usually to win as fast as possible. I will explain below when this might change.
I will discuss card choices that may not be obvious individually, but first let me just highlight the “obvious” MVPs of the deck. Rush Luffy is insane, being unblockable is beyond broken. Your opponent can’t let you take them to 0 life, because one Rush Luffy ends the game. The same goes for Diable Jambe, I have won countless games where I took my opponent down to 0 life in one turn then the turn after I used Diable Jambe + 9 Dons to win. Robin is crazy against decks such as Law that require board presence. The 2 Cost 4k vanillas are amazing because for 2 cost you have a 5k attacker, and they can’t be naturally killed by Robin. Note that Sanji is technically a 2 Cost 4k card, so even if you can’t give him Rush, don’t be afraid to play him as you would a Vivi or Sai.
I will be honest, Yasopp hasn’t come up for me as much as I expected. The idea behind Yasopp is that you can play him on curve against green so that when they drop 8 Cost Kid you have a base 9k attacker (with Zoro) that you can use to get rid of Kid. That has yet to come up for me against the Kid match up, however a 9k attacker for a mere 6 Cost is always nice to have against any match up. The idea behind Law was originally for it to be 2 more copies of Otama (giving minus 2k on play) to pair with Jet Pistol and get rid of 8 Cost Kid.
However, the more I played, the more I realised that this card has many more applications outside of being a second Otama. First of all, he has a body which is the big difference with Otama. It feels really bad playing an Otama because she is not really going to do anything for you aside from her On Play effect and you lose a 2k counter in hand. Law however will be a 6k body with Zoro so he starts to apply pressure from the following turn. Law also pairs really well with Robin. Unless deeply necessary, you don’t want to drop Otama so Robin kills something 5k or less, but dropping Law to aid Robin always feels good
Uta is INSANE. There is so much versatility with Uta. Do you need another 2k counter? Drop Uta. Do you need a Rush Zoro or Sanji? Drop Uta. Do you need a blocker? Drop Uta. Do you need to dig for something that is a Straw Hat with Nami? Drop Uta. You get the point. Uta recurs you most of the deck and you can grab anything you need depending on the scenario. Amazing. Oh, and with Zoro she is also a 5k body, so not only does she recur you something, she will also start swinging next turn.
In theory, this card is pretty nuts. He only costs 3 and with 2 Dons he becomes 7k, with Zoro he becomes 8k, so you see where this is going (hi 8 Cost Kid). On top of it all he is also a 2k counter. However, I have only ever dropped him once, he did put in work, but he was easily KO’d since he only has a 3k base which you are not going to protect realistically. So I mostly use him as a 2k counter. These 4 slots could be anything else, but I would stick to 2k counters to keep the ratio at 10. If I had to, I personally would cut him for 2 more Sanji 2k counters and 2 Brook 2k counters.
Most popular matchups
Kaido – From my experience of playing against Kaido, it is Zoro’s best matchup. Kaido takes a while to set up, whereas Zoro just goes in guns blazing. I wouldn’t really board control and just swing into life unless they have something annoying you want to get rid of. Use your Jet Pistols on Queen. Get a Robin out early to make their little blockers irrelevant. Save Luffy/Diable Jambe for the late game when they’ve put up blockers to save themselves. You’re laughing if they kill your stuff with Kaido/King since you just play down a Rush card again and swing anyway. I’ve won many Kaido games before even getting to 10 Don, that’s how much faster Zoro is. Mulligan for Rush cards.
Kid – This is possibly your hardest matchup. Make sure you save your Jet Pistols and Otamas/Laws for the 8 Cost Kid. As mentioned above, dropping Yasopp on curve is great too. Same principle as above, don’t worry if they board control you since you just play Rush cards again. Try to rush them as much as possible to waste their counters in hand for when they drop the 8 Cost Kid. Luffy/Diable Jambe are MVP as well vs the vast number of blockers they play. Mulligan for Jet Pistol and Otama/Law.
Law – Law is an interesting matchup; they only have 4 life so if you just rush them down then they struggle (this also applies to other dual colour leaders). They do however play a lot of 2k counters, and they have a lot of blockers, so it can sometimes feel 50/50. Law is also very good at board controlling, which as mentioned before is fine but gets annoying. You do have 1 card that is MVP against Law though, and that is Robin. If you play Robin early on curve and you have something like Chopper to protect her, you are pretty set. Rushing them down while killing their board will mean a quick victory for you. Mulligan for Robin.
Doflamingo – Surprisingly, this is actually a very tough matchup. Mingo can consistently drop blockers from hand and with its effect. You can’t aggro with loads of blockers. Don’t try to board control them because they can fill their board so quickly anyway. In this matchup I have found that it’s best to just go full aggro and swing life as much as possible. Use Luffy and Diable Jambe to finish the game. Use your Jet Pistols on Hancock or maybe Pacifistas. If they open Perona you’re in for a bad time, but it’s not unwinnable. Mulligan for Rush and/or
The Mirror – This is where things get interesting. You could play the mirror by seeing who can outrush the other, but that is a bit of a gamble. As mentioned earlier, Zoro’s weakness is its lack of defence. So when playing the mirror, that will be their weakness too. So sure, you can just swing life all the time and just try to outrush them. But that is 50/50. Another approach you can take is board control. Just how you don’t have many counters in hand, they also won’t, so chances are that if you swing into their board they won’t counter. Zoro can’t aggro if they don’t have a board. Now this sounds contradictory to what I was saying earlier for other match ups (oh it’s fine if they board control you since you have Rush), however I have really found that in the mirror if you just focus on having a better board presence than your opponent and don’t worry about swinging life until the late game, you will often win. Mulligan for Robin and Chopper.
If you are still reading, thank you for your patience, I know I wrote a lot. I hope you have found this informative whether you are thinking of playing Zoro or simply wanting to find out how to counter it. The deck is strong, it puts a lot of pressure early game but struggles late game. The deck is easy to be good with but hard to be great with. There will be a lot of tricks here and there that you will learn as you play (such as when to board control or the order of playing certain cards) and you will realise Zoro’s true potential (and that it’s not straight helmet as you may think). I highly recommend this deck; I would be very surprised if I didn’t take Zoro to the Treasure Cups. Thank you for reading and have a wonderful day!