I'm not a combo deck player. To me, trap cards are my main buddies. Basically I look at like this: if you're using trap cards you're interacting with your opponent on both players' turns. Seems simple, and that's because it is. If you're only doing stuff on your turn – as in, you're not playing real traps – then the plays you set up on your turn have to be twice as powerful. While that's not a flawless philosophy, it's one I've adopted the last couple of formats and it's one I strongly defend. For that reason I tend to run builds with a healthy number of trap cards. It's just the way I like to play Yu-Gi-Oh.

Today's strategy completely shatters my ideals.

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As the title would suggest, we're talking about the new Dragon Ruler Plant deck, made possible by the October Forbidden and Limited List. Reminder: this is the first time that the entire five card Plant engine has been legal since Dragon Rulers were released. Back in YCS Toronto 2013 there were variants of Dragon Ruler Plants running around, but it was an incomplete engine that, as most of you already know, wasn't nearly the best way to play Dragon Rulers at the time. I'm here to tell you today that the Limiting of Glow-Up Bulb and Soul Charge does in fact make this version the strongest one of the bunch, and I've got plenty of testing to back it up.

A Garden Amongst Chaos
I realize that Blaster, Dragon Ruler of Infernos; Tidal, Dragon Ruler of Waterfalls; Tempest, Dragon Ruler of Storms; and Redox, Dragon Ruler of Boulders are touchy subjects with a majority of the dueling community. Between the horror that was Super Rejuvenation and the monopoly format it spawned, there's definitely some bad blood with these recursive beasts. Regardless, I've always had a sort of infatuation with them. The idea of monsters that can Special Summon themselves from anywhere and that have synergy with so many other cool cards is just awesome to me. I mean, sure, they weren't meant to be played in the same deck, but the four Dragons working together gives you such a wide range of combos that it's hard not to admire their strength.

But there's a problem: one of the biggest reasons Mythic Rulers was strong in the first place - a theme using the Dragon Rulers with Level 8 Dragons for insane draw power - was because of triple Soul Charge. You could make threatening fields of Divine Dragon Knight Felgrand and Azure-Eyes Silver Dragon with minimal investment, and that's harder to do with the loss of two Soul Charges.

However, I'd argue that the Plant suite - Glow-Up Bulb, Dandylion, Spore, and two Lonefire - cancel out the loss of those two Soul Charges. Essentially you're losing two auto-win cards out of your deck for five really good, versatile monsters. It's a risky trade-off, but the benefits of Plants in Dragon Rulers extend further than just abusing Soul Charge.

It's worth noting that each of the Plants are workable attributes for the Dragon Rulers. Spore is a Wind for Tempest, Dandylion and Glow-Up Bulb are Earths for Redox, and Lonefire works with Blaster. That creates not only basic advantages of utility, but also intricate card interactions that just weren't possible before. For example, a hand of just Lonefire and Blaster means you can Special Summon the second Lonefire and then Glow-Up Bulb, filling your two Fire requirement for Blaster's Special Summon. From there you can do stuff like make Scrap Dragon, revive Glow-Up Bulb with its effect, and then pop it to destroy a card your opponent controls. Throw in Mythic Water Dragon and you're looking at an effortless Divine Dragon Knight Felgrand play that wasn't even on the radar for previous builds.

Essentially you've got a fluid mix of the power cards that you'd normally play in Mythic Rulers, plus the five Plants to help even out your hands. With the exception of Dandylion, they're all pretty much combo enablers with just one live Dragon Ruler. I'm not counting Dandylion because the only Dragon Ruler it really pairs with is Redox, whereas the other four combine nicely with any of your Dragon Rulers. Here's what we're working with:

DECKID=101224I should mention that much like the last deck I profiled, this is a work in progress. Individual changes to suit your own play style are important in any strategy, but this one especially. For example, some people swear by Card Trooper over Kuribandit, but I tend to favor 'bandit. Trooper has more of a board presence, you can banish it for Redox, and you can revive it with Debris Dragon, but it doesn't thin your deck by as many cards as Kuribandit will and it doesn't add a spell or trap to your hand. They're both similar, with Kuribandit provides more consistent deck thinning as opposed to the versatility of Card Trooper.

Furthermore, while I'm certain that you don't want to play more than six traps, I'm not entirely confident on the ratios of the ones you do want. I'm running two copies of Skill Drain, Royal Decree, and Vanity's Emptiness. I feel that's the most well-rounded way to play the deck, but it all depends on your local metagame. For example, if your area's light on Shaddolls I'd probably forgo Vanity's Emptiness entirely. It's obviously a format-defining trap, but I found myself losing to it more than winning with it. The top decks right now all play more outs to it than you do, and as such its only real purpose is preventing you from getting blown out by Shaddoll Fusion.

As for Skill Drain and Royal Decree? I feel that you need to Main Deck at least two of each. Skill Drain's an auto-win against a large portion of the field, barring maybe Shaddolls and Burning Abyss. Shaddolls can simply pop it with Shaddoll Dragon, and Burning Abyss can Phoenix Wing Wind Blast it away. The latter gets stopped by Royal Decree though, and explains why I'm way more fearful of Shaddolls than Burning Abyss. In many of my Burning Abyss match-ups I found myself sitting on Skill Drain for a couple turns, and when they finally have an out to it just flipping up Royal Decree to secure the win. Sure, Skill Drain gets turned off, but by then you've likely amassed so much of an advantage it hardly matters.

Too Bad Soul Charge Is Limited
…because if it wasn't this deck would be insane. Lonefire Blossom and Soul Charge can produce a ton of different outcomes, all of which end you with several drawn cards off of T.G. Hyper Librarian as well as a full graveyard. One of the reasons I like playing Plants in Dragon Rulers is that the cards you're drawing are actually helpful. Starting off with Lonefire and Soul Charge often snowballs into Trade-Ins or Cards of Consonance, pushing you even further ahead.

Even with Soul Charge at one though, this build can grind through pretty much anything. Spore and Glow-Up Bulb effectively give you two Synchros each, and often those Synchros are granting you even more plusses. Free Tuners are swell, and free Synchro Materials – in this case the Dragon Rulers – are even better.

I mentioned before that the Plants fix a lot of bad hands, and it's in ways you didn't expect. First, they allow you to have enough compatible monsters to run One for One, a spell that when resolved usually just wins you the game outright. Second, drawing hands like Tempest and Spore, or Redox and Dandylion unlock the often unused effects of the Dragon Rulers from your hand. Making plays like discarding Spore for Tempest to search Debris, only to revive the Spore with Debris, bringing back Tempest with its effect, and then destroying a card with Scrap Dragon is just unfair.

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Another benefit of the Plant engine is that it gets you to Synchros you normally can't run, such as Formula Synchron, Leo, the Keeper of the Sacred Tree, and Armades, Keeper of Boundaries. The bad news? The Extra Deck's tighter than any number of jokes I'd get fired for including in this article. Some of monsters I want to play but can't find space for include Thought Ruler Archfiend, Number 15: Gimmick Puppet Giant Grinder, Stardust Dragon, Shooting Star Dragon, and Shooting Quasar Dragon. In a four round local tournament I ended up using every single card in the Extra Deck more than once, so I'm having a bit of a hard time deciding what to cut. However, feel free to add or remove whatever you want based on what you deem important!

What matters is that this Dragon Ruler and Plant hybrid is incredibly powerful, and can out-speed a large portion of competitive metagames. Burning Abyss are really the only deck that give it trouble, as you can grind through Satellarknight's back row and can just attack over El Shaddoll Winda. Even though it's not perfect I'd still give it a shot if you're looking for a fun way to unleash combos that have never been possible before. Please let me know in the Comments if you have any questions, concerns, or suggestions!

-Doug Zeeff