If we're going to be extremely technical, the largest umbrella forclassifying decks that end the game in one turn is "OTK" - an acronym for"one turn kill." It comes across as pedantic to explain that, but keep inmind that the umbrella's extremely wide and branches off in half a dozenways. Today's deck has Regional Qualifying merit to be classified as alltypes of OTK, including a First Turn Kill - an FTK.

Some OTK decks are engineered to delay the game as their main wincondition, stalling long enough to gather needed cards and then finishingthe duel with a massive combo sequence. A good example of that type of OTKis the Quillbolt Hedgehog OTK, which sought to tribute off theHedgehog again and again. But that sort of approach takes setup. Some OTKdecks rely on a backup plan involving plenty of trap cards that let themgrind through opposing strategies; the Wind-Up builds of 2013 are oneexample, winning both through trade-based play as well as the ability toplay Wind-Up Magician and Wind-Up Shark for more than 8000 damage againstan open field.

FTK's are different in that they're engineered to end the game before youropponent can ever play their cards. They don't try to stall, and they don'ttry to interact with the opponent. Dark World Exoida and Exchange of theSpirit decks prior to that card's errata are two historic examples. Anddon't get me wrong, those strategies are scary in their own right.

But what happens when a deck can be classified as every type of OTK atonce? We basically found out when a duelist named Leo, uncredited with alast name in hisTop 8 finish atlast month's Regional Qualifier in Lenexa Kansas, proved that Gem-Knightshave a new lease on life in competition.

DECKID=108399Gem-Knights have been a glass cannon ever since the deck became moderatelyviable. It was explosive, brittle, and not something most people wanted tobother with, kinda like 12-year-old me when I made fireworks in my dad'sgarage.

But Gem-Knight Phantom Quartz, the Link monster from Extreme Force, was exactly what Gem-Knights needed moving forward to keep competitive.It requires two Gem monsters to make, but since all of the Gem-Knights areEarth, you'd historically use Missus Radiant to flood the field withGem-Knight Fusions.

Gem-Armadillo searches a free Gem-Knight, and Gem-Knight Lazuli andGem-Knight Obsidian mitigate your costs as well by paying it forward, butit was hard to field enough damage for an OTK when Missus Radiant didnothing besides offer a wee boost to your attack. That ATK boost does comein handy when you're winning through the Battle Phase, but it just wasn'tenough to make Gem-Knights consistent in the Link era.

Gem-Knight Phantom Quartz is the lynchpin to winning with that Battle Phaseapproach, but more importantly it's played to ensure that you can winbefore your opponent gets a turn. Not only do you get to search anyGem-Knight from your deck when you play it, but Quartz also acts as a wayto Fusion Summon a Gem-Knight monster without using any additionalresources. Just field two Gem monsters, summon Gem-Knight Phantom Quartz,search a Gem-Knight monster or Gem-Knight Fusion, then return the Gemmonsters from your graveyard to your deck for a Fusion Summon at the costof just 1000 Life Points.

Even though the new monster can't attack that turn, you're free to use anyand all of its effects. Gem-Knight Prismaura can pop a card, whileGem-Knight Seraphinite gets an Extra Normal Summon. Worst case scenario,you can use that new Gem-Knight monster as fodder for another Gem-KnightFusion, but the real potential comes from Gem-Knight Lady Lapis Lazuli.

Though you can only Summon one Lady Lapis per turn - a restriction youcan't circumvent - there are ways to use its effect multiple times to deal8000 damage in increments of 500 per Special Summoned monster on the field.The strategy effectively devolves into an algebra problem, and I think Leofound a good balance with his build. If anyone one besides my math teacherfriend Chris is still reading, let me continue.

Each time you use Lapis Lazuli's effect it burns your opponent for thenumber of Special Summoned monsters times 500. Basically you go "SpecialSummons" x 500 x "Lazuli iterations" and hope that number is bigger than8000. It might seem a Little Daunting, but it's surprisingly easy once youget the hang of it.

The hard part is getting Lazuli's effect off multiple times. Whether you'reusing Brilliant Fusion, Phantom Quartz, Gem-Knight Fusion, or Gem-KnightLady Brilliant Diamond, you can only field one Lapis Lazuli per turn. ButGem-Knight Master Diamond gives you a chance to trigger Lady Lapis Lazuli'seffect by banishing another copy, and therein lies the trick.

Back to the calculations: if you trigger three Lady Lapis effects total,you'll need six monsters on the field at least once. But Leo didn't stopthere, realizing that you could also trigger four Lady Lapis Lazuli'seffects by way of three Gem-Knight Master Diamonds and only need fourmonsters on the field each time to deal 8000. Since you'll typically SummonGem-Knight Phantom Quartz and then Gem-Knight Lady Lapis Lazuli, you'llonly need two more monsters on the table if you use Lady Lapis' effect fourtimes.

#####CARDID=22202#####

Crystal Rose and Block Dragon are hugely helpful toward that end. Not onlyare they compatible with Brilliant Fusion, but you can revive both for anextra 500 burn damage. Furthermore, they're both strong on card economy andhelp ensure you can make enough Master Diamonds. Of course, that number maybe three OR four depending on your other resources. You can't start everyduel with Brilliant Fusion, so Leo built his deck to win no matter whatvariables you plug into the equation.

Keep in mind that Gem-Knight Phantom Quartz can recycle Gem-Knights, so youoften make a seemingly endless river of Gem-Knight Lady Lapis Lazulis. Thatsaid, you usually won't have to rely on such extreme outlier cases toclinch victory.

What's Missing?
You can devolve any justification for card choices into a simple yes or noanswer: "Does having this card in my deck get me close to winning thegame?" There are lots of permutations, match-ups, and caveats to thinkabout, but when it comes to spicy tech cards or personal preference, Leocertainly thought about some of the more interesting options.

Leo didn't win every match 2-0 in his 8 round Regional; he ran into somecomplications along the way, but that's the norm for every FTK on themarket. He admitted that sometimes he had to finish with a True King of AllCalamities if he'd fall short of burning for 8000 damage, and with amandate for defense in the Extra Deck, cards like Absorb Fusion didn't makethe cut. It doesn't do that much to boost your chances of making an FTK; orat least not enough to justify saying "no thanks" to any non-Gem Knightsfrom your Extra Deck.

The same philosophy extends to cards like Pot of Desires and Unexpected Dai- having too many copies of those cards will stall your strategy when youstart drawing extra copies. Unexpected Dai gets you to Gem-Knight Lapis andthus Gem-Knight Lady Lapis Lazuli, but you'd rather see the actual card youneed than a searcher when your main goal is "burn your opponent to deaththis turn."

Unlike the days of old where you might play Emergency Teleports to fetchone Psychic monster, Desires and Unexpected Dai mandate inverted ratios.Your main cards are of the highest importance, but having deadweight isunacceptable in an FTK deck. After all, it's just a math problem, and youcan't have too many unknown variables.

In terms of tech choices, the most notable one here was Dragged Down IntoThe Grave. I discussed the validity of the card inthis Fabled articleback in November, but it works like... eleven-teen million times better inGem-Knights thanks to what you can summon in the end. Since you can pitchGem-Knight Lazuli and Gem-Knight Obsidian from your hand and maintain yourcard economy, Dragged Down into the Grave helps you demolish youropponent's hand traps; cards that would stop you from winning otherwise.

Gem-Knight Obsidian fields a Special Summon too, but that's icing on thecake. In the end, Dragged Down into the Grave fulfills three purposes: itthins your deck, Summons extra monsters, and stops your opponent from coylysmirking while activating Ash Blossom & Joyous Spring.

#####CARDID=20407#####

The list of cards Leo needed to start his combos is actually surprisinglyshort. The best 2-card combo you could open with is a "Gem" monster andBrilliant Fusion, but as long as you have access to the Normal MonsterGem-Knight Lazuli and Gem-Knight Fusion, chances are you'll be doing a lotof burn damage. Leo admitted in some rounds he didn't even know what hisopponent was playing because he burned them out too quickly!

Beyond that, Leo played as many cards as possible that could deliver bigresults off single plays. Rescue Rabbit? Sweet, two monsters for the priceof one. Block Dragon? It's free Summons, a way to search Crystal Rose, andfodder for Gem-Knight Phantom Quartz. Gem-Armadillo? Search a Gem-Knightand it's still fodder for a Fusion Summon. The deck manages to beconsistent enough to compete, in part because it runs so many cardsoffering tremendous value and flexibility.

Always Looking To Improve
I talked about the algebraic formula for calculating 8000 burn damage, butthere are other variables that net the same goal. I highly doubt you'lllive long enough to cycle back your banished Gem-Knight Lady Lapis Lazulisand burn eight times for 1000 damage each. Obviously, you might havedifferent numbers of monsters on the field depending on how the game isgoing and if your opponent got to play a turn, but I think there's merit inexploring other options in the Extra Deck outside of the math game.

Before I suggest changes, it's obvious Leo was smart with his Extra Deckchoices. The single Gem-Knight Tourmaline is always at arm's reach, andsometimes you need Gem-Knight Prismaura to deal with a problemcard. Phantom Fortress Enterblathnir follows the same thought, "I gotta popthis threat!"

Sometimes Gem-Knight Master Diamond just can't get the job done and youneed to nuke a card; Enterblathnir is there. But since Leo mentioned henever actually used it, there are other options! Don't go too crazy,though, since about twelve of your Extra Deck monsters are non-negotiable.

In terms of burn damage that doesn't rely on your opponent, Gagaga Cowboyand Submersible Carrier Aero Shark come to mind. With only one Level 4Normal monster, Gagaga Cowboy isn't easy to summon after a long combo.You'd basically need to make Gem-Knight Seraphinite or draw Soul Charge.

However, Submersible Carrier Aero Shark can wind up being fairly easydepending on how you use Gem-Knight Obsidian. The card hasn't been usedcompetitively since 2012 when it was played as an out to Spirit Reaper, butit's probably the easiest way to pop your opponent's last few Life Points.With Gem-Knight Fusion and Block Dragon, it's pretty easy to banish tenmonsters, meaning that victory is within reach even if you can only manage7000 burn damage.

Other cards could be valid choices too - Divine Dragon Knight Felgrand andNumber 38: Hope Harbinger Titanic Galaxy act as a Rank 8 version of TrueKing of All Calamities, and if you somehow fielded three Level 8 monsters,you could play Coach King Giantrainer and burn for some damage that waytoo. Other options like Red-Eyes Metal Flare Dragon or Number 61:Volcasaurus either rely on awkwardly finishing with certain Levels or youropponent having cards; not great, but not entirely off the table either.

Just remember: beat your opponents before they beat you.

-Loukas Peterson


Loukas Peterson lives in Nashville, Tennessee where it's warmer thanwarm, whatever that means. When he's not submitting ideas for Fabledsupport and a Fabled Link monster, you can find making "attempts" at"art" and playing his ukulele terribly, or on Wednesday nights, hangingout with the local mice. Hailed as the only person capable of cookingMinute Rice in 56 seconds, Loukas is always looking at expanding hisapartment to house every dog in the world.


Do you love winning with unconventional strategies? Do you lovecreating mash-ups? Does your deck need an injection of crazy? Send thefollowing torerouting.tcgplayer@gmail.com to 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