OP-06 Meta Preview and Analysis - What to Expect

OP-06 Meta Preview and Analysis – What to Expect

OP-06 Wings of the Captain will soon be hitting stores in the West (on March 15th), so today, we're taking a look at the Eastern metagame to get an idea of what to expect going into the set!

OP-06 Wings of the Captain will soon be hitting stores in the West (on March 15th), so today, we're taking a look at the Eastern metagame to get an idea of what to expect going into the set! Now, shortly after the Bandai Card Games Fest 23-24 World Tour Final finished, a new banlist was announced with OP05's OP05-041-sakazuki leader, ST06-015-great-eruption, and OP06-116-reject on it.

Currently, this banned card list applies only to the Eastern format, but it is expected that the Western format will adopt these bans at some point in the near future. Whether that's in OP-06 or OP-07 is anyone's guess, so today we'll go with the assumption that Sakazuki will be usable in OP-06. However, I'll add in some speculation for how the meta would change if he ends up banned prematurely.

A Brief Look

For those looking for a quick answer, you should expect to see a lot of yellow and black dominance! Not only are there three new leaders with black or yellow typing, there's also another three leaders coming at the tail end of the set that all have yellow support. Sakazuki, Katakuri, and Enel were all strong decks in OP-05, but we see them get even stronger with new additions like OP06-086-gecko-moria and OP06-104-kikunojo! If you're planning to take them on, you better be prepared to deal with a lot of life triggers and board control!

If Sakazuki gets banned, yellow decks, Moria, Reiju, and (most likely) a few red and green decks will be the go-to decks for most players.

Sakazuki's Insane Meta Dominance

Have you ever looked at someone who was really just naturally strong and thought "what if I injected steroids directly into their veins"? If so, then you and Bandai have something in common. Sakazuki was a strong leader in OP-05, but was relatively balanced compared to the other two threats OP05-060-monkeydluffy and OP05-098-enel. In fact, he was even behind Purple Luffy in the East, since Luffy saw a plethora of wins early on.

However, with the release of OP-06, all that changed. Sakazuki got buffs on both sides, blue and black. While he already had a searcher in OP03-089-brannew, he gets ANOTHER searcher in OP06-050-tashigi. Don't forget that this is the leader that can already cycle cards from his hand every turn. If a Sakazuki player needs a card with the Navy tag, you better believe they're going to draw it.

Sakazuki was also gifted an event form of Rob Lucci in OP06-056-ama-no-murakumo-sword, but the deck has so many options that most players only run two (exactly 50% if you're curious).

And I would be remiss if I didn't mention OP06-086-gecko-moria which enables countless combos since, as I'm sure you've heard, it isn't leader (or even color) locked. This improves Sakazuki's endgame a lot. Previously, they had to rely on OP05-051-borsalino or even (Kaido) for big hits, but now they can drop OP06-086-gecko-moria, bring back OP05-091-rebecca and a 2 cost card.

OP05-091-rebecca 's on play effect triggers which brings back ST06-008-hina from the trash and plays her, which then also activates!

Alternatively, she can also bring back OP03-079-vergo to the Sakazuki player's hand, which is why we started to see a rise in his usage, as he's a searchable 2k counter that gets recycled rather easily.

If that's not enough to see why Sakazuki dominated the 06 meta in the east, I could also mention tech cards like OP06-047-charlotte-pudding which forces your opponent to shuffle their hand into their deck or OP06-043-aramaki which gives you a free OP05-057-hound-blaze every turn and still doesn't end up on most deck lists.

Sakazuki has the golden package of ingredients in OP-06: consistency, options, and the ability to recycle what they need to do it all over again. It's easy to see how he earned himself a ban from the meta moving forward.

However, Sakazuki continues to have two major weaknesses. He cannot control your life or stop your leader from swinging at him. That's why yellow tends to stay strong, even as the meta warps around Sakazuki's removal.

Sakazuki's influence tends to discourage decks that rely on many low-mid cost characters, as they have a terrible matchup against him. If the fleet admiral ends up banned in the west, then it's likely that decks like Red/Green Law, Red/Purple Law, Zoro, and several others will start to see more usage.

Here we can see how often each card was run in Sakazuki's Eastern decklists:

Is Moria Just a Worse Sakazuki?

Yes and no. It's...complicated. While Moria is overall worse than Sakazuki, he benefits from two major advantages.

First, Moria has the ability to spam out more offensive characters than Sakazuki. That means that Moria players can be a bit more aggressive than Sakazuki players and have the ability to apply more pressure early game.

Second, Moria has greater control over his own trash, which means that he worries less about his own characters being KO'd, as he can just resurrect them like a true undead master.

Unfortunately, that's about where his strengths over Sakazuki end. Let's compare, shall we?


Both Sakazuki and Moria typically run the Navy searchers OP03-089-brannew and OP06-050-tashigi. Unfortunately, Moria can only resurrect Thriller Bark Pirates characters, which means the searchers aren't getting them their main combo pieces. Instead, Moria relies on his leader ability trashing cards from the top of the deck. This makes him a bit less consistent early in the game, but his control over the trash means he has at least equal consistency to Sakazuki in the late game.

Board Control

This is where Moria's main weakness (comparatively) jumps into the spotlight. Since Moria is mono black, all of his removal KOs characters (except for OP06-092-brook but he barely sees play in the deck since he's a 6 cost character). This means that anything immune to KO effects can't be easily removed by a Moria player. Compared to Sakazuki, who has access to plenty of bottom decking effects, this can be exploited, especially by Sakazuki players who use OP04-083-sabo and OP02-114-borsalino as blockers.

Resource Management

Much like the card's anime counterpart, Moria can burn out a bit easily, at least compared to his fiery friend. Since Moria's leader skill forces the player to discard a card for cost, long and drawn out games can be an issue for him. Not so with the fleet admiral. Sakazuki's innate ability to cycle cards allows the players to get through their deck quickly, which wouldn't normally make a difference. However, with all the cards that send other cards from the trash to the bottom of their deck, this means that a Sakazuki player will be able to persist over long periods of time.

Moria is certainly not a bad leader and the subtle differences in playstyle can make him worth playing for certain players. However, it does seem that he is worse, overall, than Sakazuki. If Sakazuki ends up banned, Moria will definitely step up to take his place, but given his weaknesses, other leaders will have an easier time challenging him.

Here we can see how often each card was run in Moria's eastern decklists:

Enough About Black! Is Big Mom Still Good?

There's no need to worry about yellow. While the top 2 decks in the Eastern meta were Sakazuki and Moria, the next three spots are all taken by yellow leaders. First, let's go over a couple of the buffs we see in this set.

I mentioned her earlier, but OP06-104-kikunojo is huge for both Katakuri and Enel!

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She, like a lot of the new yellow Wano cards, has a trigger that allows her to be played if the opponent has three or less life. The great part about that is the life condition replaces the usual discard cost for similar triggers. However, what makes Kikunojo stand out above the rest of the Akazaya Nine is her on KO effect. If the opponent has three or less life, the person who played Kikunojo gets to add a card from the top of their deck to their life.

For Katakuri, this gives him a way to build up huge stacks of life. For Enel, it gives him an early way to refill their life, after taking early hits. Yet there's another card that's also worth mentioning, OP06-106-kouzuki-hiyori:

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Hiyori is a very generic support that can benefit any yellow deck! On play, she gives you the option to take a life from your life cards and replace it with a card from your hand. Not only that, she's also a 2k counter. All yellow decks use some bit of life manipulation; however, Katakuri especially benefits from this as the set also comes with the perfect target.

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OP06-115-youre-the-one-who-should-disappear is more than just the typical 0 cost, trash a card, +3000 counter power event. If it happens to end up on the bottom of the life pile, it gives any leader Enel's leader skill. You trash a card from your hand to get an extra life from the top of your deck. When OP06-106-kouzuki-hiyori can add it to the top of a player's life pool, what leader would be able to, without the opponent knowing, move it to the bottom? Katakuri.

If you see a Hiyori early in the game, you should expect a Katakuri player to have one more life than the number of cards in their life pool. This is an easy combo that began to get popular near the end of the eastern meta, as many opponents would forget that the Katakuri set up their last life card on turn three or four. That combined with access to 10c OP03-114-charlotte-linlin, are the reasons we saw Katakuri doing a lot better than Enel in OP-06.

However, you need to do more than just remember their last life if you're going to beat Katakuri players in set 06. You'll need to keep your own life in mind due to OP06-116-reject.

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Reject is a card that gifts yellow players removal for 5 cost characters, but beyond that, it has one extra ability. If the opponent is at exactly 1 life, Reject will deal 1 damage, at the cost of the yellow player drawing a card from their life. This is seen a lot in OP-06 (in 82% of winning Katakuri decks and 90% of winning Enel decks) as it's a great way to surprise an opponent and close out games. This, along with OP05-115-two-hundred-million-volts-amaru function as win conditions during this meta, so you'll have to be careful not to rely too much on 4 cost or lower blockers.

Now if the banlist gets adopted, Reject will no longer be an option for yellow players, but there are plenty of other strong cards that take the empty slot. My guess is that we'll see Katakuri running more copies of OP05-115-two-hundred-million-volts-amaru.

Enel Remains the Worse Katakuri (For Now)

Unfortunately, the god of Upper Yard needs to wait a little longer before he can break away from Katakuri's shadow. Enel continues to do well simply because yellow is great in this meta, but places behind Katakuri and Yamato (we'll get into him a bit later). He tends to play a bit more defensive, just by nature of his leader skill, but you tend to see very similar decklists between the two.

What Are the Differences?

There are really just two main cards that see a lot of play in Enel, but not much in Katakuri. OP04-112-yamato and OP03-116-shirahoshi. OP04-112-yamato is able to fit in much better in Enel's deck, as Enel likes to stick around 1 life, so 9c OP04-112-yamato is constantly able to add life back. Since Enel is unable to play OP03-114-charlotte-linlin, as her ability is exclusive to Big Mom Pirates, OP04-112-yamato acts as the deck's main boss drop.

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For Katakuri decks, OP03-116-shirahoshi has been mostly phased out, as we only see 9% of winning Katakuri decks running the mermaid princess. On the other hand, 100% of winning Enel decks ran her, with the vast majority running 4 copies. The main reason is that Enel still needs the draw power. While it technically generates neutral value (-1 card from hand because you don't get to add the card from life and -1 from hand for Shirahoshi's effect +2 from Shirahoshi's effect), being able to toss out cards without a counter is essential. All of Enel's big drops do not have a counter and that makes him more prone to dead hands.

Thankfully, the future looks really bright for Enel. EB-01 brings plenty of cards designed to specifically benefit Enel decks and they even get a nice boost from starter deck 13, but we'll get more into those in another preview.

Stay positive Enel players! Your time will come soon!

The Many Faces of Yamato

Yamato went through MANY different variants over the course of East's OP-06 meta before finally settling on the dreaded fortress build.

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This deck relies on Yamato's powerful leader ability for offense and focuses the rest of the deck entirely on defense! It sets up an impenetrable wall with OP01-051-eustasscaptainkid-701 and a countless blockers!

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Opponents need to have an answer to OP01-051-eustasscaptainkid-701 or Yamato wins at 8 don.

But fortress Yamato isn't his only option (even if it is the best one)! For an extra surprise factor, some players opted for a completely offensive build. Those players usually went with either the OP-06 Wano engine or used OP-05's Sky Island engine, but both usually added in OP06-035-hody-jones for the surprise win.

When facing off against a Yamato player, figuring out which variant they're playing is going to be essential to earning that victory! If Sakazuki gets taken out of the meta, then you can expect to see this Kouzuki Oden cosplayer shooting to the top of the metagame.

Perona's Slow and Steady Playstyle Will Leave You Feeling Negative and Hollow

While Perona may not have had the biggest impact in the set, coming in at a mere 26 points, she still had a dedicated fanbase. Combining black's cost reduction with green's character resting, Perona could slow down the game until she could drop OP04-031-donquixote-doflamingo to keep all her opponent's best characters in check. Although control players definitely opted more for Sakazuki's bottom decking, Perona's version has its own merits. Most Perona players ran the Doflamingo family engine with OP05-034-baby-5 as a searcher and OP05-030-donquixote-rosinante for protection. The rest of the deck tended to be a mixture between Navy cards and general black staples like OP06-086-gecko-moria and OP04-083-sabo.

When facing a Perona player, you should expect to see a lot of blockers and for them to attempt to gain momentum in the mid-game. By running cards that delete 4 cost or lower characters, Perona players will try to stop you from building your board and then use cards like Kid and Doflamingo to stop you from coming back. However, cards that get around blockers like OP05-115-two-hundred-million-volts-amaru and rush ST01-012-monkeydluffy-938 can easily steal the game from them.

If Sakazuki ends up banned, the main effect on Perona would just be an increase in her popularity. She struggled a little in the Sakazuki matchup, but not enough to push her usage down much.

Reiju Decks Are Like My Math Homework... Solved and Fun!

Outside of a few tech choices here and there, almost every Reiju deck runs the same set of cards. This is because the Vinsmoke Family version is miles better than a general don ramping variant. The Reiju deck focuses on four main targets, Reiju, Ichiji, Niji, and Yonji.

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OP06-069-vinsmoke-reiju is one of the main consistency boosts to this deck! Combined with the leader's ability, Reiju players are able to easily draw three new cards and replenish their hands!

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OP06-061-vinsmoke-ichiji is the main boss drop you'll be seeing when you go up against a Reiju player. While he doesn't have a counter, like his siblings, he does get rush and an impressive 7k attack stat. Beware the Reiju player that leaves 4 don open. They've definitely got an extra attack hidden in their pocket.

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OP06-065-vinsmoke-niji is more of the middle child. He's cheaper to get out than Ichiji, but has less of an impact on the game. He's mostly just another body that Reiju players are going to swarm the field with.

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OP06-067-vinsmoke-yonji is the least used of the four, with many players opting to leave him out entirely. In the OP-06 meta, you'll see blockers become a lot less relevant, but Yonji can still provide some value in certain situations.

Reiju has quite a good matchup versus yellow decks, but had major issues with Sakazuki bottom decking key cards like Ichiji. If players are prohibited from playing Sakazuki, Reiju will see a pretty big spike in her usage. Her playstyle is aggressive and spams out characters rather quickly, so a large boost to her popularity might even push Enel decks down a number of spots.

The Return of Whitebeard is Real!! (Sort of)

In a meta where characters are getting rested, KO'd, bottom decked, or otherwise removed from the field, some players decided to look towards more aggressive leaders. This led to many players taking another look at Whitebeard, who had been almost completely buried in the 05 metagame. His revival may not have been as glorious as a phoenix, but he was a solid choice, ranking just about as well as Perona.
Most players chose to go for more of a Strawbeard variant and incorporated starter deck 10's ST10-004-sanji.

Nami's (White) Snake Back Into Viability

It brings me great joy to announce that OP-06 brings Nami's first true buff in a while (and boy did she need it!).

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OP06-059-white-snake buffs her up +1000 power for the turn and comes with an extra draw, which may not seem like much, but it is a GAME-CHANGER for her. Suddenly, the optimal attack to hit her with goes from 9k to 10k, which takes one extra don for each attack your opponents want to hit you with. Nami enjoyers may have faced despair in 05 with Law and Sakazuki bottom decking everything, plus Belo Bettys rushing us down, but we can finally breathe a breath of fresh smoke.

That being said, OP06-059-white-snake isn't enough to bring her to the top of the metagame, so don't set your expectations too high. However, you can finally put up a decent fight as a somewhat viable rogue deck. Without Sakazuki bottom decking her cards, it's likely Nami would flourish even more than she did in the east.

Luffy's Fall From Grace

Perceptive readers may have noticed that one of 05's biggest threats has gone missing so far. While he was quite a strong leader in 05, the lack of any real buffs in this set meant he was left sitting in the dust. With Enel getting stronger defensively and Sakazuki getting more consistent, Luffy's fragility is too much of a liability. Purple enjoyers can still look to Reiju for solace, but it might be time to hang up the Luffy decks for the time being.

Queen Faces a Similar Fate

Queen has always relied on spamming out blockers and trying to survive to drop big threats. Unfortunately, these blockers are easily dealt with in 06 and even his boss drops can be removed with before they can get an attack off. On top of that, cards that should benefit his playstyle like OP06-104-kikunojo are also pretty weak to removal. In isolation, Queen remains a strong option, but just can't put up a fight in this meta.

Without Sakazuki, the big picture looks a bit better for this hunk of a man, but Moria's KO removal is still an issue for the low cost blockers that populate this deck.

Unfortunately, only one Queen deck topped a tournament in this data, but here's the decklist:

Is Red/Purple Law Overhyped?

Yes. Well...a little. Law's recent success in the Extra Booster meta has gotten the community pretty excited to get their hands on his upgrades. While it's true that he benefits from OP06-069-vinsmoke-reiju giving him more draw power, you may need to leave him cooking a little longer. The Extra Booster set really gives him the final ingredients he needs for his beautiful victory soup to come together.

If you like his playstyle, he's worth investing in, but you'll need to wait a little bit longer to see his true awakening. That being said, even if he hasn't achieved his deck's awakening, he can still be a pretty strong contender in OP06.

Zoro, RG Law, and Belo Betty Are Still Too Weak

Zoro and RG Law took heavy hits with the introduction of Sakazuki. Unfortunately, nothing really changes on that front in OP-06. While Zoro can make some adjustments to remain playable (such as leaning more on Rush characters), at least, Law is pretty much hard countered by Sakazuki (and that was before he got more buffs in this set).

These two would be the most impacted by a Sakazuki ban. Film/Straw Hat Zoro is actually a pretty fun build, making use of new cards like OP06-009-shuraiya and OP06-013-monkeydluffy. Red/Green Law was always a pretty strong deck, but if Law became viable again, he would likely remain close to his original decklists. Once the next set hits (Extra Booster), he gets a good handful of buffs that should skyrocket him into the metagame again.

If we turn to Belo Betty, it's true that she gets some buffs in this set in the form of a new OP06-002-inazuma and OP06-003-emporioivankov, she still remains inconsistent. Personally, I'd argue that's a good thing, as a meta with Belo Betty killing everyone in the first few turns wouldn't be very fun, but it's impossible to dispute that she's still missing her secret sauce to bring the deck together.

What About Starter Deck 12 and 13?

Starter deck 12? Well that's pretty bad honestly. It fits into the category of decks that you'd play for fun, but it doesn't really have the potential to beat the top tier threats. The biggest impact it had on the eastern metagame was the introduction of ST12-003-dracule-mihawk, a 2k counter that allowed players to plop down another Slash character when Mihawk was played. It continues to see play in many decks, including ST11-001-uta and OP06-022-yamato/'s more offensive variants.

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However, starter deck 13 is a completely different story. Much hubbub has been made about ST13-003-monkeydluffy and for very good reason. While he didn't make much of an impact in OP-06, that was more due to how late into the set he came out rather than because he was weak. In Japan, this starter deck released near the end of December, with the next set coming out barely over a month later. This left players only a month to learn how he and the other leaders from the deck work. Most players tended to stick with what worked, but now that he's been out for a while, you should expect to see western players pick him up quickly. This starter deck will be releasing just about a month after OP-06 releases in most western countries.

So how does it work? Well...

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ST13-003-monkeydluffy likes to keep himself around 0 life, as he can then fetch rush ST13-011-portgasdace or blocker OP04-083-sabo from the trash, use their kid versions to get them on the field, and boost his own power by 2k for each until his next turn. This can lead to some crazy combos, especially since the kid versions are only 2 don each.

When it comes to the other leaders, it's likely you'll find they have less impact on the metagame.

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ST13-001-sabo is certainly easier to pick up and play than his little brother and he's no slouch, but you'll find that he's focused more on midgame level characters and doesn't quite have the same combo potential. Sabo likes to use rush characters and yellow Wano cards to get a hit off and then put them back into his life. The Wano cards will get played again when he gets hit and he can repeat the cycle all over again.

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When it comes to the original eldest brother, he's actually the weakest of the three. His combo relies on getting a 5 cost brother (Luffy, Sabo, or himself) off the top of his deck, adding it to his life, putting it on the field, and buffing himself. However, this can be easily disrupted by koing the character or sending him back to the bottom of the deck. In order to do well, Ace has to be able to continue getting more 5 cost characters into his life AND making sure they either get played or get turned face down. If he doesn't do one of those by the end of the turn, the card just goes into the trash.

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However, like with Mihawk in starter deck 12, this Ace is a staple moving forward, especially for Enel decks. It gives yellow decks another rush character (other than Enel and the older starter deck Katakuri) and it gives them one with the same amount of power as Enel. You may want to keep your eye out for this one when facing off against Enel or Katakuri.

Red/Purple Uta and Hody Jones Suck And Here's Why

There are two other leaders that come with this set, but both are very under-tuned when compared to their counterparts. (red/purple Uta) is designed to ramp quickly and use her ability to lower the attack of opponent's characters, which should synchronize with red's form of removal. The problem is that she does not have enough support to be an effective removal deck, as red removal players could easily just play Law, who even has the same colors.

On top of that, most of the red film support she gets in this set is...lacking. Of course, there are a few standouts like and [card]OP06-016-raise-max, but nothing even close to what she needs to be competitive.

On the other hand, Hody Jones is well supported in this set, with almost all the green cards being leader locked to a New Fishman Pirates leader (of which he is the only one). Unfortunately, Hody was designed to deal with a defensive, event-heavy metagame, as he has a focus on resting your opponent's characters and don. However, defensive events are really just not useful in the current state of the game. Most are very telegraphed, outside of the 0 cost events like OP03-072-gum-gum-jet-gatling.

There is one major green staple that comes in the set. Funny enough, he shares a name with the leader:

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OP06-035-hody-jones is a finisher card. Once he gets dropped on the field, the player can rest up to two characters OR don at the cost of taking one of their own life cards. On its own, that would only be okay, but he had a trait exclusive among green cards, rush. This made him a must-run in many green decks.

The only winning Hody deck in the data:

Would An Early Banlist Make All of This Useless?

No you dummy! In games like these, knowledge is always important. While the western metagame may see differences, there is a lot that can be learned from studying this kind of information.

Second, while most of this was written pre-banlist, every section has been reviewed and updated to reflect how the meta may change with these new restrictions.

Now that's it from me today, but if you'd like to see where the data came from, you can find my OP-06 spreadsheet here.

If you would like to see more, feel free to check out the video version of this article:

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