The July Forbidden & Limited List dealt a massive blow to Orcuststrategies by placing The Phantom Knights of Rusty Bardiche on theForbidden List. Bardiche unlocked searchable disruption and extenders thatmeshed perfectly with the Dark-heavy Orcust Main Deck, and the decksuffered without consistent access to The Phantom Knights' Fog Blade andThe Phantom Knights of Shade Brigandine.

 

But it wasn't out of the running by any stretch. Knightmare Mermaidremained unrestricted, and the Orcust engine itself was totally untouched.Orcusts have largely succeeded in continuing their legacy as a toptournament pick, and that's in part thanks to their highly flexibleplaystyle and a new extender from Rising Rampage.

The currently competitive format is home to a lot of the same decks we sawlast format, but they're all a bit weaker. Thunder Dragons, Sky Strikers,Salamangreats, and Orcusts had to make harder card choices in August thanthey did in June and early July. We've already seen Pendulums takeadvantage of the waning power of the old guard, and the new promos thatlaunched with the Gold Sarcophagus Tin are already drivingdecisions at the Regional and Local level. Nibiru, the Primal Being is thenext challenge for Orcusts to overcome, and theoretically its releaseshould make Orcusts a less attractive competitive strategy. We'll have towait a little longer to see if this actually pans out, or if Orcust playersare able to find effective ways to counter Nibiru's field-crushing power.

In the meantime let's check out how Orcusts have managed to staycompetitive despite losing the Phantom Knights engine. There's so muchbuild diversity that focusing on any one deck list will completely miss amajority of the new trends. That said, there are a few constants withmodern Orcusts builds this format. At the moment there are essentially twovariants: the Machine-heavy builds that largely embrace last format's heavyplay of Dingirsu, the Orcust of the Evening Star, and Guardragon buildsthat typically feature smaller Orcust line-ups.

Rebooting Orcusts With Even More Machines
Building Orcusts requires a careful dance around the Dark-only Summoningrestriction attached to each Orcust monster.

Once you've activated the effect of Orcust Harp Horror or Orcust Knightmareyou're immediately locked into Dark Special Summons for the rest of theturn, and that makes non-Dark tech and hybrids with non-Dark themes achallenge. Sometimes it's simply more optimal to start your turn withOrcusts effects, but if you're holding monsters of other Attributes you'llend up needing to use those first. Obviously something like KnightmareMermaid works because you'll almost always activate it before youtrigger an Orcust. Other monsters, and particularly extenders, must bechosen with the intent of playing them before you start firing off Orcusteffects.

Bobby Kenny's Danger Machine Orcustsfrom the UDS Invitational last month ran nearly a dozen Earth and WindMachines alongside a large Orcust line-up. His sixty-card build featuredMachina Gearframe, Machina Fortress, and two different Mecha Phantom Beastmonsters that helped him quickly build field presence without committingtoo heavily to his Normal Summon.

Machina Fortress is the real star here: it's an extender, a solid 2500 ATKbody for dishing out damage, and it punishes your opponent for destroyingor targeting it. Kenny used it chiefly as a discard outlet for his Machinesand Orcusts, which let him set up Mecha Phantom Beast O-Lion and his twoWorld Legacy monsters.

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Kenny's Mecha Phantom Beast package dumped Mecha Phantom Beast Tokens ontothe field to fuel Link Summons, and O-Lion let him pick up an extra NormalSummon for Mecha Phantom Beast Tetherwolf. Any time O-Lion's sent to thegraveyard it Special Summons a Token, so Kenny was able to build fieldpresence simply by discarding it with Machina Fortress, a Danger monster,or by sending it to the graveyard with Foolish Burial, Mathematician, orScrap Recycler.

O-Lion's typically played alongside Crystron Needlefiber in the OCG, butO-Lion is useful in the TCG even without Needlefiber. Its banish effect letKenny Normal Summon Tetherwolf from his hand to gain yet another Token, andon its own Tetherwolf is a 1-card Link 2, a material for a Rank 7 XyzSummon, or a surprisingly resilient attacker under the right conditions.

Kenny and other Machine Orcust players like Courtney Hostler used theirlarge Main Deck counts to fuel a new extender: Gizmek Orochi, TheSerpentron Sky Slasher. Of course, it's not just extra Link Material –Gizmek carries an excellent aggressive destruction effect that'sessentially costless as long as you can afford to banish cards off the topof your deck. You'll notice that most of the decks running Gizmek are alsoplaying slightly larger Orcust line-ups with more duplicates than buildswithout Gizmek. It's a fantastic problem-solver for the deck that serves anumber of roles, and it's also a solid discard option for Machina Fortress.

Extra Deck Tech Changes
There's a little more room in the Orcust Extra Deck these days, and playersare filling those slots with a wide variety of monsters. Topologic BomberDragon's trending back up in Orcust builds as players look for ways todisrupt their opponent. Without Fog Blade there are fewer ways to keep youropponent's monsters at bay, so Topologic Bomber Dragon fills that role tosome extent while Orcustrated Babel's on the field. It's the card that putOrcusts on the map initially, and it's fitting that players would return toit after abusing another theme's Link 3 to the point where it had to beForbidden.

Speaking of using Extra Deck cards from other themes, Cherubini, Ebon Angelof the Burning Abyss showed up in both Kenny and Hostler's builds. I cluedin on Cherubini while looking for replacements for Knightmare Mermaidaround the same time Mermaid landed on the Forbidden List in the OCG.

Rank 3s are very doable in Orcusts thanks to Danger!? Tsuchinoko and OrcustCymbal Skeleton, and Cherubini's worth Summoning as a backup in the eventKnightmare Mermaid is negated. Its graveyard-sending effect has a ton ofutility in Orcusts, and you can use it to send things like Mecha PhantomBeast O-Lion, Jet Synchron, World Chalice Guardragon, and Carboneddon inaddition to Farfa, Malebranche of the Burning Abyss. Hostler played a copyof Cir, Malebranche of the Burning Abyss to recover Cherubini mostly forfree. From there Hostler could activate Cherubini's effect again andcontinue funneling his most important monsters into the graveyard.

Ib the World Chalice Justiciar was a top pick in Guardragon variants thanksto its ability to search World Legacy Guardragon, but it also was popularin non-Guardragon variants where it found World Legacy Succession. OrcustMain Decks have prioritized Tuners not just for Borreload Savage Dragon,and that's a big shift from last format's builds.

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Ib's ability to Special Summon a World Legacy monster from the deck ledKenny to play World Legacy - "World Chalice" in his Main Deck, althoughGuardragon builds are of course sticking with World Chalice Guardragon astheir go-to Summoning target. World Legacy - "World Chalice" was a perfectfit for Kenny's Machine-heavy build, and its tribute effect is anotherexcellent piece of disruption that fills in for missing copies of FogBlade.

Time Thief Redoer's just a little harder to Summon without a way to searchThe Phantom Knights of Shade Brigandine. Some Orcust builds have swapped itout for Apollousa, Bow of the Goddess for extra defense and interruption.Apollousa is a Wind monster, but if you have enough Summoning power outsideof the Orcust engine it's totally possible to make it your first priority.Summoning Apollousa first might become mandatory now that Nibiru is legal,and it makes a strong argument for early extenders like SpeedroidTerrortop, Psychic Wheeleder, Marauding Captain, Junk Forward, Draconnet,Souleating Oviraptor, Tenyi Spirit - Vishuda, and Machine-based engines.

Benjamin Deeterplayed a Warrior engine in his UDS Orcust build with two copies of Isolde,Two Tales of the Noble Knight in his Extra Deck and a massive line-up ofMain Deck Warriors. There are so many viable extenders available to Orcusthybrids, including some of the best Warriors in the game. Blue MountainButterspy, Neo Space Connector, and Super Quantum Red Layer act as quickextenders that help rush field presence and create pathways to the Orcustand Guardragon engines without relying too much on any one particular card.Knightmare Mermaid, Isolde, and Guardragon Elpy all help create incrediblystrong ending fields, and the deck's flexibility made many of hisopponent's hand traps useless.

I'm not at all surprised to see Gnomaterial trending up in play whileOrcusts continue to diversify. Almost every other hand trap can be playedaround, including Nibiru. Gnomaterial's much more devastating, becausetargeting a Guardragon Link typically stops your opponent from being ableto use another engine to continue making combos. I'd hesitate to callOrcusts the deck to beat right now – I think Sky Strikers are the closestto holding that title – but they're by far one of the best budget options.Dingirsu dropped in price once Knightmare Mermaid was Limited, and theentire Danger engine is much more affordable. Apollousa's great, but it'snot necessary as long as you're willing to Main Deck more hand traps.

I think we'll continue to see Orcusts succeed at the Regional andChampionship level this format unless players start to make radicallydifferent choices once Nibiru is fully in circulation. In the meantime thedeck still struggles against Gnomaterial and Artifact Lancea, and there'sonly so much Called by the Grave can do to keep your combos alive.

Until next time then

-Kelly


Kelly​​​ ​​​Locke​​​ ​​​is​​​ ​​​a​​​ ​​​West​​​ ​​​Michigan​​​​​​gamer and writer. You​​​ ​​​can follow​​​ ​​​him​​​ ​​​on​​​ ​​​​​​Twitter​​​​​​ for more updates ​​​and​​​ ​​​check​​​ ​​​out​​​ ​​​his​​​ ​​​​​​Youtube​​​ ​​​channel​​​. He​​​ ​​​also studied marketing at Western Michigan University.