While I can't explain my affinity for them in any reasonable context, Ilove Crusadia decks because you almost always need to play triples of everyMain Deck monster. There's almost no strategy is this game where youactually want to max out on all the monsters in the theme, at least if youwant to be competitive.

That just… doesn't happen anymore, if it ever really did in the past.

But even still, not all Crusadia cards are created equal. The theme's spelland trap cards are a bit lacking in sheer power and running three CrusadiaEquimax in your Extra Deck is barely acceptable in any pure version of thestrategy. Some cards like World Legacy Guardragon are almost part of theCrusadia theme given their relevance and level of necessity, as well astheir actual card art, but they aren't Crusadias in name.

When I first saw today's featured build my eyes gravitated towards theExtra Deck and it took me a few seconds to adjust before I knew what I wasactually looking at. This deck is a mix of almost everything short of thekitchen sink.

Congrats to John Riggs and his Top Cut success at the Regional Qualifier inHouston, Texas! It's not always easy going to an event with a deck thatsees such little mainstream play, but sometimes you can use that to youradvantage. Here's what Riggs ran.

DECKID=109759If you've never played Crusadias before, good news - the cards are allpretty straightforward. The five Main Deck Crusadia monsters all come outfrom your hand as a Special Summon to a zone a Link Monster points to, andthey all give an assortment of additional effects. Crusadia Magius andCrusadia Spatha facilitate open spaces for Crusadia Special Summons fromthe hand or searches from the deck, and Crusadia Equimax negates effectsand pumps itself up for a lot of damage.

While 15 cards might seem like a ton of Main Deck space – enough to keepthe deck from being flexible in its plays – Crusadias are more versatilethan you might expect since the combos they provide are almost alwaysprofitable in terms of card economy. In the same way that Dandylion orDoppellwarrior make a monster that then provides more cards for LinkSummons, Crusadias can do that and more with basically any twoCrusadia monsters. There are some crazy OTKs involving Crusadia Maximustoo, so don't discount the core framework here.

And while the Types and Attributes of the Crusadia monsters may appear tobe pretty random to the average duelist, they allow for interactions thatare easy to overlook. Crusadia Draco retrieves a Crusadia from yourGraeyard when it hits the field, nabbing you a free card in hand, but thefact that it's a Dragon makes it even more important. I'd argue that itsmonster type is actually much more important than the free card economy.

After all, isn't that why Crusadia Magius is so good? Take any Crusadiamonster except Draco and turn it into Crusadia Magius, searching a Crusadiato make sure your hand has Draco in it. A few plays later with CrusadiaSpatha moving the board around, you'll have the requirements for eitherGuardragon Elpy or Guardragon Pisty, whichever you need the most. That'sbecause of Draco's monster type and it wouldn't be possible otherwise.

To boost the odds that you'll make strong plays with the Guardragons early,Riggs played Black Dragon Collapserpent and White Dragon Wyverburster. Andwhile those cards may not turn any heads these days due to their ubiquityin Thunder Dragons, consider it as interchangeable fuel for the Guardragonfire.

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If you think about a combo deck like Gouki in its prime, most of thestrategy was really nothing more than fodder for routine plays; often halfthe deck revolved around the imperative to make a quick Isolde, Two Talesof the Noble Knights. Pairing the baby Chaos Dragons with the Crusadiamonsters mirror that strategy, even if the requirements and conditions forthe core plays look vastly different.

But beyond the basic fodder for big plays consider what Riggs did byleveraging Rescue Cat! Not only is it raw monster fodder and perfect forbaiting out a hand trap, but it fields two copies of Crusadia Leonisstraight from your Deck for the price of one summon, which is a hugeimmediate return on your investment. Better yet, the addition ofValerifawn, Mystical Beast of the Forest also means Naturia Beast is alwaysan option, offering a level of control that most OTK decks don't have.

ALL The Boss Monsters!
Alright, so the pieces are all there, but extra scraps don't turn into bigmonsters on their own, right?

I mean, ten years ago that wasn't true, but Crusadias love a fullfield of interchangeable components. Riggs obviously used Rescue Cat,Crusadia Draco, and other components for the Guardragon threats and NaturiaBeast, but the deck's still brimming with potential that far exceeds thoseuses.

Hieratic Seal of the Heavenly Spheres is an interesting card that wassupposed to be designed for Hieratic decks, but it's just as useful inother strategies – arguably more useful. Not only can it hit monsters, butHieratic Seal of the Heavenly Spheres can bounce faceup cards as well -even your own! Given its favorable Link arrows and a Dragon, it's theperfect follow-up to various Guardragon plays.

Furthermore, Riggs played Cyber Quantum Dragon and Borreload Savage Dragon,each summoned through various methods. I only put them in the same categorybecause they're high Level Synchros, but their effects are wildly differentdepending on the situation: one absorbs a fallen Link Monster to stop anopponent's plays while the other offers protection from targeting. Unlikecertain Link heavy decks, namely locks with Nightmare Link monsters orsomething similar, Riggs built his strategy to pull from all directions.Even if some of the monsters have very specific Summoning requirements.

My personal favorite? Number 38: Hope Harbinger Dragon Titanic Galaxy. Notonly is it a mouthful to say, but it's a surprising out to big threats, andit almost seems like a random addition here at first glance. The fact thatthis deck can make it without branching into anything narrow andspecialized is a big asset.

Another thing I've always appreciated was the utility that Gameciel, theSea Turtle Kaiju provides. It's not a convoluted combo, rather it comesfrom drawing Kyoutou Waterfront with access to make Saryuja Skull Dread.Waterfront gets Kaiju Counters for each yarded card and eventually searchesGameciel, effectively boosting your field presence and providing morenegates.

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It's a small package of cards, but it can be devastating for one turn anddownright lethal over the course of several. Gameciel's only limit onnegation is the number of Kaiju counters on the field, and since youtypically need to play and thus send cards to the graveyard to advance yourposition in the game, Gameciel should have lots of fuel from KyoutouWaterfront over time.

Waterfront also meshes seamlessly with Riggs's Side Deck choices, namelythe Kaiju suite. Sometimes the best offense is letting your opponent gofirst and maximizing your returns. Sometimes you don't have a choice inthat since many opponents in big match-ups want to go first anyways, butthat can work to your advantage. If your opponent wastes resources to put abig monster on board, well, there's a Kaiju for that.

The same can be said for Twin Twisters and Red Reboot. Many of Riggs'combos only required one or two interchangeable cards to work, soeliminating all the cards that could throw a wrench in the plan can becovered in the Side Deck.

That's not to denigrate the power of Interrupted Kaiju Slumber either, astrong board wipe and Special Summon card that easily fields you amonster. Sure, it may give your opponent something to play with too, butthat's always a terrible tradeoff for your opponent if Slumber's resolutionis clearing away multiple cards!

Just remember: beat your opponents before they beat you.

-Loukas Peterson


Loukas Peterson lives in Nashville, Tennessee, hoping one day to run in5th Congressional District on the platform of "Fabled Link Monsters forEveryone." You can find him onTwitteror building a bonfire in his backyard to attract the local wildlife foran audience with his ukulele. Hailed as the only person capable ofcooking Minute Rice in 56 seconds, Loukas is always looking atexpanding his backyard to house every dog in the world without a home.Well, and those with homes already.