Hey there, duelists! It's been quite a long time since you've seen me here on TCGplayer, but I'm honored to be back! The competitive season's at a standstill due to the Corona Card Virus wreaking havoc on our events, so I decided to play something fun and different for my locals this past weekend. After putting in some serious prep and practice I wanted to share it with you all as my first column here on TCGplayer Infinite.

As many of you might remember, Gouki was one of - if not THE - most powerful decks in the summer of 2018. With numerous monsters that could float and replace themselves when they were sent to the graveyard, along with a myriad of cards that could change ATK values, summon multiple monsters and create crazy fields, nobody wanted to be paired against the Gouki strategy.

Last week I decided to draw on that competitive history with some of the new crazy Warrior support that was released between that summer and now, so I dusted off my wrasslin' boots and decided it was time to take my opponents to Suprex City!

Here's the build:

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The Side Deck here runs one copy of Attack Gainer so you can get to Naturia Beast, but for the rest of the side you can choose whatever you feel fits your metagame.

As for the Main Deck, there's a lot going on in that pile of cards that probably needs some breaking down. Most of those 47 cards played can be categorized into one of three blocks: the first are the combo starters, your bread-and-butter cards that you want to see at the beginning of every game. Those are the following:

These all get you access to the most important card in your Extra Deck: Isolde, Two Tales of the Noble Knights. The entire strategy hinges on summoning Isolde, genuinely one of the most powerful Link Monsters ever printed. The ability to bypass the Limited status of cards like Armageddon Knight and Dark Grepher is invaluable, essentially making any two Warrior summons into any monster your deck truly needs. That lets you create a field of Gouki the Giant Ogre and Apollousa, Bow of the Goddess, or other cards co-linked to create a field that suppresses your opponent.

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How does that usually go down? Ideally you'll open with either a Neo Space Connector summoning Neo-Spacian Aqua Dolphin, or Gouki Suprex summoning any other Gouki. Example? Here's a really basic, but really powerful line of play you can make if you open with Neo Space Connector and Blue Mountain Butterspy.

This is a basic play sequence, assuming you only have Neo Space Connector with no extra combo extenders in hand beyond Blue Mountain Butterspy. It ends you on a field of Apollousa with three negates, an I:P Masquerena, and Phoenix Blade as fodder if you need to dump something to the graveyard for a Knightmare effect via Masquerena.

Pretty solid, right?

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There are many more plays here, depending on what you have in your hand. Gouki monsters can change your options significantly, letting you summon Gouki the Giant Ogre to protect your cards from targeting, or even Topologic Zeroboros to wipe the field while you've got a Linkuriboh loaded in your graveyard! There are so many different combinations of moves here that I haven't even begun to find them all. My best advice is to shuffle it up and see what you can come up with.

With the starters in mind and the basic combo established, you also have a large number of cards in the second block, the combo extenders:

Extenders let you play more cards continually. They either help you create a grind game, win that grind game through a war of attrition, or they just build toward one giant finishing move that scores you the 3-count over your opponent.

Cards like Instant Fusion are extremely valuable because they serve as both combo starters - Invoked Raidjin is especially great since it's a Warrior! – as well as an extender. It can even be a defensive card if you use it to break something like El Shaddoll Winda's continuous effect, which could stop you from really playing otherwise. Powerful spells like Monster Reborn and Gouki Re-match can serve dual purposes as well, depending on your hand composition; you can save them to rebuild your field when your opponent gets the upper hand.

One big change that you should note about this Gouki build compared to past versions of the deck is that it's so much more efficient in using the Extra Deck. Even with a weak hand, you can end on I:P Masquerena and Isolde to threaten a Link 2, Link 3 or Link 4 on your opponent's turn. Even most of the Equip Spells serve dual purposes; when you draw them they're just more useful than they were in previous eras. Moon Mirror Shield is specifically played out of a fear of El Shaddoll Winda, since it makes any monster strong enough to destroy Winda in battle.

The final category of cards that flesh out the rest of the deck are the defensive picks. Those are…

With nine hand traps and three Called by the Grave, you'll reliably see at least one defensive card in your opening hand. You can change these cards up according to what you think you'll run into at your local scene, and you can adapt your choices really easily if you find out you made some wrong reads. Personally I found Ghost Belle and D.D. Crow to be underwhelming, though the theory behind them was solid. Go with what works and don't be afraid to experiment.

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As I mentioned earlier on, the last big detail to cover is the use of Attack Gainer in the Side Deck. Having access to a Naturia Beast when your metagame's full of spell reliant decks is great, though it never personally came up for me.

The coolest thing about a deck like Gouki is just how flexible it can be. You can go second, summoning Borrelsword Dragon for a swift OTK after running through all the utility effects of the Knightmare monsters. On the other hand, going first you can create a variety of locks and interruptions that capitalize on some of the weaknesses of the most commonly played decks in the current format.

Another cool point of interest is that many of the cards can be used as combo starters, extenders, OR defensive cards if needed. That level of cross role functionality gives you extra room for creativity in how you sculpt your hand and field over the course of your turn.

With tournaments on hiatus, what cool ideas have you all been exploring in the down time we've had so far? I'd love to hear your successful, and not so successful stories below!