Jeff Jones is one of the most well-known innovators in all of Yu-Gi-Oh, and he recently made Top 8 at ARGCS Pittsburgh with a deck that was largely forgotten: Odd-Eyes Magicians. He fought his way through a field of Monarchs, Kozmos, Burning Phantom Knights, and pure Burning Abyss with a suite of Pendulum Monsters, taking the strategy to new heights with specific tech choices and interactions. He didn't lose a single match until the Top 8, where his deck finally ran out of stream and bricked two games in a row against Monarchs.

So how did he do it? While anyone can look at a deck list and figure out roughly how it operates, I thought the only surefire way to get an in-depth analysis was to go to Jones himself. The first thing I asked him was why Majespecter Magicians? He promptly corrected me. Jones told me, "I wouldn't even call it Majespecter Magicians. Just Odd-Eyes Magicians. The only Majespecter I cared about was Kirin, and Bunbuku's basically just extra copies of Kirin."

For the uninitiated, Majespecter Unicorn – Kirin's one incredibly powerful Level 6 Pendulum Monster. It can't be targeted or destroyed by card effects, and during either player's turn you can bounce two cards back to their owners' hands: one Pendulum Monster you control, plus any opposing monster. That's a huge amount of disruption, and it was the linchpin of a lot of Jones' wins. Kirin's also cool because you can bounce back Performapal Skullcrobat Joker to get extra searches.

On the subject, Jones said, "Outside of them having Brilliant Fusion, Monarchs have a real hard time with Kirin. You can bounce The Prime Monarch back to their hand to prevent them from Xyz Summoning or tributing it, and when they play Stormforth you can chain Kirin to bounce their single monster back to hand so they don't have two monsters to tribute. When they activate Ehther you can Kirin and bounce whatever monster they'd be tributing to basically Null and Void that Ehther." Jones was quite aware of the popularity of both versions of Monarchs, and realized that Kirin's effect would sometimes be an auto-win by itself, unless his opponent had Brilliant Fusion.

Before I delve too deep into the nitty gritty of the strategy, let's take a look at his list:

DECKID=104938On the surface this might look like your standard Odd-Eyes Magician list, but there's a lot going on here that isn't totally obvious. Jones piloted a similar strategy at the ARG Detroit Regional a couple weeks ago that I attended, and I asked him about some of the changes he'd made.

"I changed my build from the prior week quite a bit. Before, I was using traps like Solemn Strike and Solemn Warning, but I realized that they really conflicted with my hands. While the traps are great when you have an established game state, they're really bad in your hand when you can't actually start setting up all of your good Pendulum Summons."

He continued, outlining, "I'd rather that trap card have been some sort of spell or Pendulum card to get things going. So I ended up cutting all the traps and relied on my monster traps, Mist Valley Apex Avian and Majespecter Unicorn - Kirin, which worked out exactly the way I wanted it to." It's quite easy for Jones to create threatening Turn 1 fields of Mist Valley Apex Avian, Majespecter Unicorn - Kirin, and a couple other Extra Deck monsters, and those types of openings were almost always free wins. The best counter to those huge fields is a Pendulum Summon, but Jones knew most players had already abandoned Draco Performapal for other strategies.

Tech Choices: Making A World Of Difference
Magical Abductor was another standout choice; we've seen it played successfully before, largely prior to the release of the Pendulum Magicians, but it hasn't seen much recent play. Acting as a low Pendulum Scale of 3, Magical Abductor gets a counter every time you activate a spell. Then when you have three counters on it, you can remove them to search any Pendulum Monster. That makes up for a lot of the consistency that Pendulum Decks lost to the latest Forbidden & Limited List.

I wanted to ask Jones if Magical Abductor was that good, and if it affected his other card choices. He happily replied: "My spells were absolutely chosen because of Abductor. She was a very key part of my deck and I wanted to make sure that any hand I drew her in, I could trigger her effect." It's really easy to roll counters on Abductor with all the spells Jones was playing. Obviously Pendulum Monsters count, but there's also Sky Iris, Igknight Reload, Upstart Goblin, Terraforming, Summoner's Art, and Pendulum Call. Virtually every card in this deck triggers Abductor, and that created the kind of consistency Jones was looking for.

Triple Sky Iris and double Terraforming might seem extreme, but Jones thought otherwise. He told me, "Because Wavering Eyes is Forbidden it gets difficult to load up your Extra Deck with Pendulum Monsters to Pendulum Summon. Sky Iris is basically the new substitute. It replaces itself by destroying a face-up card you control, either Odd-Eyes Fusion or Pendulum Dragon. So you just destroy any of your extra Pendulum monsters to get another one, loading up your extra deck for bigger and better Pendulum Summons with things like Kirin, Odd-Eyes Vortex Dragon, and Apex Avian."

The cool thing about Sky Iris is that it's not only setting up your Extra Deck; it's also giving you a huge Pendulum Monster in return. It's also a repeatable effect, so the longer it's on the field the more value you get with it, unlike a one-time effect like Wavering Eyes.

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I also asked Jones why he decided to play Upstart Goblin and Igknight Reload. For as long as I can remember he's always avoided those cards, so I was curious to know why he thought they were necessary for this particular strategy. "Upstart Goblin's just the next card of your deck in Spell form, so it's a free counter for Abductor. Igknight Reload's like a pseudo Upstart Goblin. It gives you an extra card and replaces itself at the end of its effect, while also allowing you to fix certain hands and trade in Pendulum Monsters for (hopefully) better cards." He then added, "I don't know if I was lucky or not, but I almost always got better cards off of my Igknight Reload then I returned."

In a deck like this, Jones wanted to see the same hands every single game, so consistency spells like that helped on two different fronts: they provided counters for Magical Abductor and a chance at better draws. While that might not be super important for decks with built-in searchers, Jones knew that the first turn of the game was crucial in deciding how the rest would play out. He wanted to build a board a soon as possible to lock his opponent out of the game.

Beating Popular Matchups
This deck is positioned well against a lot of strategies thanks to Majespecter Unicorn - Kirin, but I wanted to know about the Kozmos matchup specifically. Jones explained.

"After Dark Destroyer's on the field, to get rid of it you simply Special Summon Odd-Eyes Meteorburst Dragon from your Odd-Eyes Absolute Dragon's effect, crash your Absolute Dragon into something, and Special Summon Rebellion Dragon' rel=" Rebellion Dragon">Odd-Eyes Rebellion Dragon. It has 3000 ATK and trades with Dark Destroyer, and their Dark Destroyer's effect doesn't trigger, allowing you to swing with everything else for game."

Kirin's not fantastic against Kozmos, but Jones explained that it still had some uses. "What's most important about Kirin is that it forces your opponent to tag out their pilots. Most of the time, Kozmo players want to keep their pilots around as long as possible and tag them out when they see fit, but Kirin doesn't care about that and forces them to trade out their pilot, or risk having no monster on the field at all." Kozmo Tincan gets more value the more End Phases it sees, but Kirin can bounce it back to the hand before any searching can happen. It's not as devastating as say, thwarting Xyz Summons in the Burning Abyss match-up, but it's still a tempo shifter that has the potential to win games.

Odd-Eyes Magicians have been tried before, and they've topped in the past, but I wanted to know if Jones had any combos that might not be readily apparent to the average duelist. "There's probably a lot, because this deck is very different from the traditional Draco Performapal deck," he replied. "Most of the sequences that aren't obvious usually come from the Synchro plays, and they end up being really impressive."

When I questioned what he meant by "really impressive," Jones explained: "One example is that I'd often Pendulum Summon an Odd-Eyes, an Archfiend Eccentrick, and Noble Dragon Magician. From there you can use Noble Dragon and Eccentrick to make The Phantom Knights of Break Sword, detaching Noble Dragon to kill a card, then using Noble Dragon's effect on Odd-Eyes to Special Summon itself and start your Synchro Summoning into Xyz Summoning plays." (Those being Meteorburst, Special Summoning a Level 7 Pendulum Monster, then going into Odd-Eyes Absolute.)

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One thing's for sure: if you thought this was a linear deck because of the streamlined list, you're way off the mark. One of the hardest things about piloting this version of Odd-Eyes Magicians is that you constantly have access to all your cards. That's great if you know what to do with them, but if you don't know what all your interactions can accomplish you may find yourself with awkward, sub-optimal fields.

At the end of the day I think this is still a viable strategy even if the cat's out of the bag. There's a ton of cool stuff going on here, and duelists willing to capitalize and expand on it are going to succeed. I also wanted to thank Jones for answering my questions, and I'll leave you with what he had to say when I asked him if this deck will be strong Post-SHVI: "Oh absolutely. As long as the Pendulum Mechanic exist it'll be able to be abused. Especially with this version, and anything that can use Kirin."

-Doug Zeeff

Doug Zeeff hails from Michigan and is currently an English major in college. When he's not found emailing Konami about why there's not a single walrus card in all of Yu-Gi-Oh! you can find him regularly posting unorthodox, unfiltered semi-Yu-Gi-Oh! related content on his Youtube channel, Dzeeff. In his spare time he enjoys eating cheese, starting summer break, and, of course, playing Yu-Gi-Oh. Click here to follow him and his adventures on Facebook!