It's been an interesting couple of weeks for Pendulum strategies as WorldChampionship Qualifiers wrap up around the world. Last week we broke downWalter Jule's 2nd Place Pendulum Magiciansfrom the North American WCQ, and following Jule's success another threePendulum Magician players placed in theTop 64 of the European WCQ. Magnus Frafjord's build was similar to Jule's with the extra addition ofDestrudo, the Lost Dragon's Frission, Black Rose Dragon, and F.A. DawnDragster. Destrudo's a great tech choice that makes the most of DragonShrine and puts yet another negation body or mass removal effect in play.

Alex Moffatt's Top 32 Pendulum Magicianswere also in line with Jule's build with only a few exceptions. StarPendulumgraph snuck into his spell line-up to help search for extraPendulum Magicians each turn and extend plays as the duel progressed, andhe sided a set of The Winged Dragon of Ra - Sphere Mode to take advantageof his astonishingly few Normal Summons. He also ran Ignister Prominence,the Blasting Dracoslayer, Performage Trapeze Magician, and PSY-FramelordOmega in his Extra Deck. It's worth noting that Jule's Extra Deck wasparticularly sparse on Synchros since he built his Extra Deck with GhostReaper & Winter Cherries in mind.

This brings us to what was easily the most interesting Pendulum build fromthe Top 64:Samir Bachar's Zefra Pendulum Magicians. Bachar took a totally different approach to the strategy that gave it aunique set of strengths playing first in a duel. His two additional enginesare the real stars: Zefras and Majespecters haven't had much competitivesuccess this format individually, but they were still represented in asmall way in the Top 64 of the European WCQ.

It's an especially astonishing feat for Majespecters, but not unheard of inthe lead-up to the event. Even Jule himself commented on avoiding theMajespecter and D/D engines when constructing his build for the NA WCQ.

DECKID=108942Majespecter Kirin - Unicorn was once a defining card in its competitiveera, but after a short run on the Limited List it was finally Forbidden.Its Quick Effect paired with destruction and targeting immunity made itoverpowered against strategies that lost too much momentum when a keymonster was bounced back to their hand. Fielding Kirin on Turn 1 would setopponents back tremendously, and it was only a Pendulum Summon away anytime it left the field. Because it was searchable with Majespecter Racoon –Bunbuku, players could easily tech it into numerous Pendulum strategies,and it quickly rose to the top of the competitive landscape.

Since Kirin's ban we haven't seen much from Majespecters, at least notuntil very recently. Players have been floating the idea of a smallMajespecter engine to gain field presence for Link, Synchro, and Xyz playsfor a couple of months now. Bachar's build is the first real success storyfor that engine, and it's worth talking about as an alternative to othercards commonly played in Pendulum Magicians. Majespecters take advantage ofthe small number of Normal Summons typically present in Pendulum Magiciansand leverage that Summon into one more Pendulum Monster later in the turn,and potentially another later on at the end.

Opening with a Bunbuku in hand is a great way to start the duel. Assumingthere's nothing else to Normal Summon – say, for instance, a Winged Dragonof Ra - Sphere Mode – Bachar could Summon Bunbuku to search for eitheranother copy or a Majespecter Cat - Nekomata. The latter's the ideal pickhere, but Bunbuku's ability to search another copy of itself is definitelyappreciated. Nekomata's effect activates after it's Summoned, but itssearch effect resolves in the End Phase and would ultimately net Bacharanother Bunbuku. That copy of Bunbuku could be used on the following turnto search his final copy.

Keep in mind that this sequence of plays was started with just a singleSummon. In an era of insane two-card Extra Link combos it's easy tooverlook simple sequences that net three free cards over two turns, butthose plays matter over the course of longer games. Unsurprisingly Bachar'sbuild is designed to do exactly that: push the duel into the mid or lategame against opponents who have exhausted their resources during bigearly-game pushes. His Majespecters weren't simply cannon fodder either –they were surprisingly adaptable thanks to the advent of the Link mechanic.

Multiple Majespecters add up to big Link plays with HeavymetalfoesElectrumite or other Link Monsters. There's nothing too surprising here: ifyou can supply a steady stream of monsters with reliable Summoningconditions you're bound to be Link Summoning frequently over the course ofthe duel.

Bachar could also combine his Majespecters to Xyz Summon Totem Bird, addingmore negation bodies to his side of the field. Each additional negationeffect on the board would make his grind game that much more effective asthe duel progressed, but even Summoning Totem Bird later in the game couldcome in handy against a set Scapegoat, or a recovery card like Soul Charge.

Zefras Add Even More Negation
The real power of the Zefra theme has always resided in Zefraniu, Secret ofthe Yang Zing. Its effect searches any Zefra or Yang Zing spell or trap,and that deck searching power combined with Link Monsters is the perfectset-up for Zefra Divine Strike. Pendulum Summoning Zefraniu, searchingZefra Divine Strike, and sending Zefraniu back to the Extra Deck after LinkSummoning Heavymetalfoes Electrumite easily sets up a powerful Counter Trapon top of other negation bodies present in the usual Pendulum Magicians.It's totally possible to play Zefraniu and Zefra Divine Strike bythemselves, but ideally you'd want a way to load Zefranius into the ExtraDeck or add it to the hand quickly. Luckily there are two cards that can doexactly that.

Bachar's Zefra line-up included three copies of Zefraath: a dual-purposePendulum Scale and Extra Deck-loading Pendulum Monster that makes Turn 1Zefra Divine Strike much more consistent. Bachar could activate itsPendulum Effect by sending Zefraniu, turn Zefraath into a Scale 7, and havea Zefraniu ready to Pendulum Summon that turn. Thanks to a copy ofStellarknight Zefraxciton he could make Zefraath a Scale 7 a second timeand load more fodder for Divine Strike. Extra copies of Zefraath, or eventhe initial copy, can also be banished by Zefra Divine Strike if they endup in the Extra Deck.

The engine's topped off with a single Zefra Providence – Bachar avoidedadditional copies of Zefra Providence and Oracle of Zefra to reduceredundancy and leave space for his build's other engines. Zefra Providenceis a great choice here though: it's another spell activation to build SpellCounters for his Mythical Beasts, and a searchable target for Zefraniu incase he needed to search another Zefra monster. Of course, Zefra Providencecould just as easily kickstart the entire engine by searching Zefraath.

Setting up a bit Turn 1 defense and challenging your opponent to 'break myboard' is the essence of modern Yu-Gi-Oh, but not every deck has a plan iftheir board is indeed broken through.

Bachar seems to be in on that assumption and his build runs plenty of MainDeck cards that are often better picks going second. A Main Deck playset ofDroll & Lock Bird is a stark contrast to the hand trap-free builds ofPendulums we're used to seeing. It's a deck that's built to play throughopposing hand traps by leveraging multiple engines simultaneously: Zefras,Majespecters, Pendulum Magicians, and Mythical Beasts have numerous one andtwo-card combos that need to be stopped, and individual disruption effectscan only do so much.

While Bachar would still find himself losing in duels where his opponentopened with Droll & Lock Bird he would still have a better shot atplaying through other forms of disruption. The Zefra engine isself-sufficient and only needs one other Pendulum to function, andMajespecters can continue to grab fodder for Link Summons despite InfiniteImpermanence. Once Zefra Divine Strike was loaded up Bachar could start tomake pushes through disruption by simply negating opposing hand traps, andmeanwhile his own Main Deck copies of Droll & Lock Bird would keep himin the game against insane Gouki and Trickstar openings.

Bachar's teched copies of Archfiend Eccentrick and Mythical Beast Garudahelped him deal with one particularly dangerous spell: Scapegoat.Eccentrick's an excellent, flexible tech pick that works wonders in longergames as a high-utility answer to a variety of threats, and for Bachar itwas largely a way to clear out potentially dangerous backrow before movingin to close out the duel. It could also force Scapegoat to be flippedpreemptively leave Sheep Tokens exposed on the field.

Mythical Beast Garuda is also an out to Scapegoat, but it'sway cooler than preemptively destroying a setcard. Its monster effect lets you Special Summon Garuda when your opponentSummons a monster by removing three Spell Counters from your field. Then,Garuda returns those monsters back to the owner's hand. It's a cool pieceof defense during your opponent's turn, but it can also be played on yourturn in response to an End Phase Scapegoat.

Garuda's an excellent fit with the Mythical Beast engine we've seen invirtually every topping Pendulum strategy this format, and yet it's rarelyplayed. That's not too surprising since it relies on an establishedMythical Beast set-up, but it'll be interesting to see if Garuda catches onwhen Regionals pick up again.

Samir Bachar's Pendulums are a great showcase of various engines and adifferent approach to the usual strategy we see from Pendulum Magicians.The slower, methodical pace led by Majespecters and Zefras reorientsstrategy to succeed not just in the early game when going first, but alsoin the mid to late game by out-resourcing and out-disrupting other decks.Bachar's build also features a cool expansion to the Mythical Beast line-upthat's well ahead of the curve. It's definitely worth trying out this buildif you're looking for a twist on the usual Pendulum Magician theme.

Until next time then

-Kelly


Kelly​​​ ​​​Locke​​​ ​​​is​​​ ​​​a​​​ ​​​West​​​ ​​​Michigan​​​​​​gamer and writer. In​​​ ​​​addition​​​ ​​​to​​​ ​​​writing​​​ ​​​onTCGplayer,​​​ ​​​Kelly​​​ ​​​writes​​​ a ​​​​​​personal​​​ ​​​blog​​​​​​ ​​​covering​​​ ​​​Yu-Gi-Oh!,​​​ ​​​Destiny,​​​ ​​​and​​​​​​other​​​ ​​​hobbies. You​​​ ​​​can follow​​​ ​​​him​​​ ​​​on​​​​​​​​​Twitter​​​​​​ ​​​and​​​ ​​​check​​​ ​​​out​​​ ​​​his​​​ ​​​​​​Youtube​​​ ​​​channel​​​. He​​​ ​​​also studied marketing at Western Michigan University.