I have to admit, I'm a bit sad whenever the namesake of a strategy losesits luster and fades out of competition while the deck it created continueson.

We that happened with decks like Harpie Lady in the past: ever sinceRise of Destiny the original Harpie Lady fell straight out of use.Now it looks like Thunder Dragon has fallen pretty to the same trend, asthe original card from Metal Raiders has started to be phased outof the latest strategy to bear its name: Dinosaur Thunder Dragons.

Then again, lots of Thunder Dragon cards are missing in this new mash-up:something had to give to make room for Dinosaurs! That shouldn't be overlysurprising since Souleating Oviraptor makes Ultimate Conductor Tyranno'seasy to summon and lets you splash it into just about any deck provided youhave the space. That helps Thunder Dragons a lot, since it's a freshmonster from the Main Deck that isn't hampered by Link Markers.

Sure, the ability to totally annihilate every Life Point that ever existedwith Ultimate Conductor's blitzkrieg attacking helps, but the level ofindependence it offers is perfect for a deck where your lynchpin is aFusion monster, and Link Summons are relatively few and far between.

With all that in mind, congratulations to Blair Hunter for his Top 16finish at YCS Pasadena! California Regional Qualifiers are notoriouslylarge and competitive, and even larger events there are no exception. Manyskilled players made the journey out to California to compete, and thoughfewer Thunder Dragon decks took a spot at the top cut than some expected,the Dinosaurs of old were the deciding factor in this build.

DECKID=109351I wouldn't call it surprising per se, but some of Hunter's decisionsresulted in a deck that looks slightly different from those we typicallysee in tournaments. Like Jonathan Rivas'Cyber Dragon deckI highlighted two weeks ago, there are some niche card choices and somecards played in specific numbers that may raise an eyebrow. Granted, ifyou've ever built a deck yourself you've probably reached a point with someof them where you had to make cuts to get the final count down to areasonable number; you can't play a 50-card build just to ensure thatyou've got three copies of everything you might want.

Thunder Dragons have plenty of plays that field strong monsters, but you'llwant to trigger the effects of your various Thunder Dragons as often aspossible to squeeze the most out of the deck. In an ideal setting, you'lluse Thunder Dragonroar, Thunder Dragonhawk, and Thunder Dragondark eachonce per turn. Like most of the Thunder Dragon cards, those monsters canonly be profitable once per turn regardless of your build decisions, andthe goal of using each one every turn clearly played a big role decidingthe direction of Hunter's build.

As much as this is a Thunder Dragon deck, you're not trying to reinvent thewheel and find new ways to play Thunder Dragons. Instead, you're leveragingthe Thunder Dragons that will get you to your next step. ThunderDragonmatrix and Thunder Dragonduo each have merit in their own right, butthey also lead into bigger plays for more damage turn after turn.

Compare Thunder Dragonmatrix to Thunder Dragondark - one instantly fulfillsthe summoning niche for Thunder Dragon Fusions while the other forces youto play to a very specific pattern. The omission of other Thunder Dragoncards like Thunder Dragon Discharge also follows that pattern. Hunterdidn't build the deck to waste time with Thunder Dragon cards, rather,they're a means to an end. Thunder Dragon Colossus shuts down youropponents' searching while the Thunder Dragons keep your economy healthy,and that's really why they're here.

The real strategy, dare I call it that, comes from opening up the ExtraDeck and getting to specific threats. Obviously Thunder Dragon Colossus andThunder Dragon Titan are powerhouses in their own right, but if you've everseen a deck lose because it hinges on a single card, you'll understand whatI mean.

Combining Thunder Dragons with Dinosaurs is a great way to pack more bossmonsters into a deck that wouldn't be possible if you were justconcentrating on Thunder Dragons as a pure theme. Ultimate ConductorTyranno, for example, is massive here. Thunder Dragon Colossus might be aMountain for your opponent to get over on their early turns, but UltimateConductor Tyranno does more to push through opposing threats and end thegame through sheer power.

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Access to the Dinosaur cards also means you can play some powerful nicheXyz Monsters like Evolzar Dolkka. Simply shutting off one of youropponent's avenues to victory can't win you the game all on its own, sohaving a diverse range of boss monsters helps you counter the diversity ofwhatever you'll see from round to round in any given tournament.

Back to specific card counts, notice how Hunter focused the deck. Cardslike Allure of Darkness and Gold Sarcophagus are obviously played to abusevarious Thunder Dragon effects, but you can think of the Thunder Dragons aseffectively being monster versions of the spells I just mentioned. That'spartially due to the nature of the Thunder Dragons' effects and partiallybecause of Hunter's specific build decisions.

Bad Cards = Good Cards?
One of my favorite things about hybrid decks is finding nuggets of obscureawesomeness that won't come up every game; the kind of stuff that might notclick all the time, but when it does, it's paramount to victory.

Hunter's use of Gem-Knight Prismaura instead of Gem-Knight Seraphinitemeant he had an option to fuse for a Gem-Knight monster outside ofBrilliant Fusion. It's not a unique choice, but the intersection ofGem-Knight Prismaura's effect and its typing is a popular debated pick forThunder Dragons, that makes even more sense in this hyper-aggressivestrategy.

Obviously you can field a monster with a one-card Brilliant Fusion whilealso loading up your graveyard, but each Thunder Dragon Fusion's secondaryeffect grants you a way to actually use Prismaura's effect without cloggingyour deck with Gem-Knights. Your tech Gem Knight monster's no longer lockedin the Extra Deck once you've drawn Gem-Knight Amber. Rather, you have anoption to field your Fusion later in the game and recycle key parts to yourdeck.

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Brilliant Fusion – and by extension Gem-Knight Prismaura – gives you anextra tool in your toolbox, and by and large you'll generally be luckier inthe long run by building more luck into your deck. As anyone who's everplayed Brilliant Fusion knows, Lady Luck will occasionally kick you in theteeth by sticking your Main Decked Gem-Knight in your hand instead ofBrilliant Fusion at times when you really don'tNEED a good teeth kicking. But by using theThunder-type Gem-Knight Amber with a backdoor route to Prismaura and itseffect means you up your hit rate, and wind up with fewer opportunities forthings to go wrong.

Worst case scenario - or maybe best case depending on your current cardeconomy – Thunder Dragon Titan's infinitely easier to field. With itsalternate summoning condition it was never impossible, but Brilliant Fusioncould be a one-card Thunder Dragon Titan if this build had Gem-KnightLazuli to recycle Gem-Knight Amber. Granted you'll probably want to banisha different kind of Thundery Dragon from your hand to summon Titan. But oneless Gem-Knight Lazuli means one less dead card to draw.

Defenses! More Defenses! Eh, Not Really
Because of the diverse plays this deck can generate combined with its hyperconsistency, the deck produces very brutal opening plays that can totallyoverwhelm your opponent. Hunter didn't have to sacrifice consistency forpower and diversity, because the Thunder Dragons were used in very specificways.

With "only" eight hand traps you might think the number's too low to seeserious use, but that's actually floating around the perfect ratio if youmath it out. With all the search and draw power it's not necessary tooverload yourself with cards that stymie your overall progress. Of anopening five card hand, you generally want two cards to be devoted togetting your Thunder Dragons rolling; two more can be something likeBrilliant Fusion and a Dinosaur; and the last can be a hand trap. I'lladmit most of the cards beget other cards, but with three big focal pointsin the strategy, simple laws of mathematics dictate that you shouldn'toverstuff the deck with hand traps.

Infinite Impermanence stops opposing hand traps to let you do your thing,and Droll & Lock Bird prevents them from searching their entire deck,so you can see that Hunter tried to cover all his options by diversifyingthe hand traps. It was a fantastic call, and the cherry on the top of thisawesome Dino Dragon sundae.

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 "Marshmallows forEveryone." When he's not submitting ideas for Fabled support and aFabled Link monster, you can find him building a bonfire in hisbackyard to attract the local wildlife for an audience with hisukulele. Hailed as the only person capable of cooking Minute Rice in 56seconds, Loukas is always looking at expanding his backyard to houseevery dog in the world without a home. Well, and those with homesalready.

Do you love winning with unconventional strategies? Do you lovecreating mash-ups? Does your deck need an injection of crazy? Send thefollowing to rerouting.tcgplayer@gmail.comto have your deck featured in the "Re-Routing" deck fix column!

-Your Main and Extra Deck list. (No Side Deck needed, but please send awritten deck list, not a screencap; screencapped deck lists will befiled and then burned in the furnace accordingly… and your deck shouldbe TCG legal).

-Your name and city.

-Remember, please use full card names! Abbrevs and mis-sipllngs makeLoukas' life sad. Try your darndest to get the TCG name on there.

-A paragraph or two describing your deck: what it does, why you'replaying it, and its strengths and weaknesses. "Winning" is not astrategy per se, and neither is "beating your opponents before theybeat you."

-Your favorite card from the build and why – make me fall in love withthe deck! The cooler your strategy the more I'll want to fix it, and ifyou throw in funny jokes, that'll surely get my attention too; bewarned, unfunny jokes will push your deck to the back of the stack.Don't be afraid to get creative! New stuff takes priority, because I'mnot bored of it yet! –LJP