How's it going TCGplayers? As we draw ever closer to the North American World Championship Qualifier, many duelists are struggling to find their deck of choice for one of the most important tournaments of the year. Geargia, Traptrix Hand Artifacts, and Madolche have displayed one dominating performance after another and have become the go-to strategy for many. But there are still plenty of other different decks to try out! Sylvans, Bujins, Evilswarms, Infernities, Spellbooks, and Dragon Rulers still offer a wide variety of different ways to attack competitive metagames. This week, I'll be taking a look at an archetype that's always been "love it or hate it," Lightsworn.

With a powerful mill strategy coupled with a wealth of boss monsters, Lightsworns can close out games in a flash. The more popular builds nowadays have incorporated the Dragon Ruler engine alongside Eclipse Wyvern to search out copies of Judgment Dragon and Lightray Diabolos at will. This week I'll be taking a look at Patrick Hoban's Lightsworn Rulers from the Atlanta Regional. As always, let's get started with the decklist!

DECKID=100539In a format dominated by decks that try to win through finesse and set-up – Geargia and Madolche especially – or grinding an opponent down slowly but inevitably like Traptrix Hand Artifacts, Lightsworn Rulers are the two-ton sledgehammer designed to just destroy your opponent as quickly and efficiently as possible. Now that Judgment Dragon's back at three again (why oh why is this card unlimited?), you have the necessary pushing power to get through almost any defense. Most players nowadays are accustomed to dealing with only one major threat at a time, often with lone copies of Traptrix Trap Hole supported by an array of Fiendish Chains. Cards like Lyla and Ehren are so well-positioned now that I'm surprised Lightsworn hasn't seen more play.

Hoban's Lightsworn engine included six different names giving him plenty of flexibility in Summoning Judgment Dragon. The playset of Lumina, Lightsworn Summoner serve as testament to how powerful her effect is. Starting off your turn with a Charge of the Light Brigade or Solar Recharge into a Lumina just gives you such an insane advantage it's hard for your opponent to keep up. Two Lyla provide plenty of spell and trap destruction, serving as your go-to Special Summon off of Lumina any time you're not creating a set-up with Garoth instead. A Normal Summned Lyla's a huge threat that's usually meant to deal with opposing backrow; like Lumina, she's great bait for Breakthrough Skill and Fiendish Chain.

Garoth, Lightsworn Warrior; Jain, Lightsworn Paladin; and Ehren, Lightsworn Monk are your Lightsworn utility suite. Jain gives you the ATK to push over things like Geargiarmor, or you can just spin Geargiarmors back to the deck with Ehren! I'm a big fan of Ehren right now since she's so good at dealing with Ice Hand and Fire Hand, which seem to have popped up in just about everything lately. Ehren gives you a great way to control the field against decks that love to set monsters, and backed up with Necro Gardna, it can be incredibly difficult to deal with. Garoth's included largely beause it can create insanely nutty openings on the back of multiple Luminas. A lone Wulf, Lightsworn Beast gives you an extra name for Diabolos and Judgment Dragon, and it's always nice to randomly mill it for the easy +1 of card economy.

But what makes this deck so powerful are some of the newer cards released since the Lightsworns' debut. A playset each of Kuribandit and Eclipse Wyvern, along with three Dragon Rulers form an explosive and consistent search engine to seek out this strategy's best boss monsters. Kuribandit makes it easy to hit your key spells like Soul Charge and Solar Recharge, while placing cards in the graveyard at the same time. Hitting Eclipse Wyvern lets you search out Judgment Dragon or Lightray Diabolos; its effect has seemingly fallen by the wayside in favor of more consistent strategies like Madolches or Geargia, but when you want sheer power, nothing beats a searchable Judgment Dragon. The Dragon Rulers let you banish the Wyverns at will while giving you additional power on the field, fueling an easy OTK.

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The familiar boss monster of the deck is the mighty Judgment Dragon. Sporting the impressive stats of 3000 ATK and 2600 DEF, JD has been notorious for ending games before they've even started, or being the miracle topdeck to literally win a game all by himself. Now, with the support of Eclipse Wyvern and the Dragon Rulers, it's as easy as ever to find JD and bring him to the field to end the game quickly.

Lightray Diabolos deserves special mention because of how it can wreak havoc on set cards (seeing a trend here?). You can not only get rid of an opposing threat, but you have the potential to screw with your opponent's next draw phase, ensuring that they don't have a chance at coming back should you fail to kill them that turn. I bet many of us have groaned seeing an opponent drop Raiza after Raiza; the ability to deprive your opponent of the ability to see new cards is one of the most unique and powerful tactics in the game; I'd argue it's a close second behind Time Seal's and Yata-Garasu's "you don't draw, ever" effect. Diabolos is also a Level 7, letting you go into Mecha Phantom Beast Dracossack or Number 11: Big Eye after using a Dragon Ruler's effect.

Spells And Traps
The spell lineup seems pretty vanilla as far as Lightsworn decks go, with the one Charge of the Light Brigade and three Solar Recharge serving as your primary draw and mill engines. Allure of Darkness is a great card to have when multiple Kuribandits clog your hand, or you just don't mind getting rid of a Necro Gardna to dig a little bit deeper.

A card that needs no introduction, Soul Charge is easily one of the most powerful cards you can use at any point in the duel. After having playtested with this deck and seeing it in action first hand, I can safely say Lightsworn Rulers have one of, if not the strongest set of Soul Charge plays apart from Sylvans. Lightsworn monsters like Lumina and Lyla synergize wonderfully with it. You can bait out your opponent's backrow with a Lumina or Lyla effect, and if you have more targets in your graveyard, the Soul Charge can enable the likes of Ghostrick Alucard and Diamond Dire Wolf to clear away even more. Apart from Torrential Tribute and Needle Ceiling, most decks nowadays can't deal with that many Special Summons, and the initial Lumina plus Lyla play is enough to warrant the use of one to two backrow cards. Dropping the Soul Charge is just icing on the cake.

Don't forget that you can also get more uses out of a Lightray Diabolos as long as you successfully Special Summoned it the first time around, which lets you pick off another set card.

Hoban only played two different trap cards, but they're vital to the consistency of the deck. The obvious one is Phoenix Wing Wind Blast; always powerful in Dragon Ruler decks because the Dragon Rulers pretty much free to Summon whether they're in your hand, field, or graveyard, Wind Blast also lets you ditch dead cards from your hand hand to enable Judgment Dragon, Diabolos, or simply a Lumina play. Phoenix Wing Wind Blast is pretty much a universal out to anything on the field, especially if you run into something like Evilswarm Ophion or Skill Drain.

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Needlebug Nest is more interesting: it's been pretty popular in the OCG for quite some time. Similar to Needle Worm, Nest mills the top five cards of your deck. Why would you want to run a full playset of a card that's an inherent -1? Needlebug Nest fixes the one thing Lightsworn duelists will always complain about – losing a game because you can't mill anything. Not only does it send a bigger chunk of cards to your graveyard than anything else – even more than Judgment Dragon – it's a prime target to bait out cards like Mystical Space Typhoon and Ice Hand. While it does open you up to negation like Wiretap and Seven Tools of the Bandit, the sheer milling power is more than enough reason to run it.

With three Necro Gardna and three Eclipse Wyvern, milling more cards is never a bad thing. You may run into instances where you either mill a ton of spells or your Judgment Dreagons and Diaboloses get yarded early, but that's the risk you take when you're running Lightsworn. You can also shore up this weakness by including Daigusto Emeral to recycle your threats if needed.

Side Deck Tech
I'll only briefly touch on the Side Deck as its goal is pretty straight forward: stop opposing backrow and stop big pushes. Ryko, Lightsworn Hunter, Mystical Space Typhoon, and Royal Decree are great cards to combat trap-heavy decks like Traptrix Artifact Hands and Geargia; clearing away opposing Fiendish Chains and Black Horn of Heavens are going to be crucial to your success. The other half of the Side Deck, consisting of Maxx "C", Book of Moon, and Xyz Universe, are all great at slowing down your opponent. Maxx "C" forces your opponent to stop and think before pushing further unless they want to accept the challenge and get baited into an Xyz Universe.

I touched on that card earlier, but boy does it feel good to activate it on an unsuspecting opponent. An instant Dracossack or Divine Dragon Knight Felgrand while you're robbing your opponent of two Xyz Monsters is downright dirty. I have yet to see a game where any duelist has successfully activated this card and lost. However, it's still a very new threat to worry about so as time goes on players will be more prepared for it and learn to work around it.

That's all I have for this week guys! If you're a fan of the Lightsworn engine you should definitely give this variant a try. Although you may be sick of the Dragon Rulers, on-demand Judgment Dragons and Lightray Diabolos are hilariously fun to play with. Lightsworn Rulers are also positioned decently well in the competitive field; they're just so fast and overwhelming that decks like Traptrix Artifact Hands, Geargia, and Fire Fist are virtually incapable of coming back from your big pushes. Keep innovating and testing hard! WCQ's are soon upon us.

~Joe Soto

Invictus