Sky Strikers have dominated tournaments almost perpetually since theirrelease, but the Forbidden & Limited List hasn't been kind to them overtime. Even though no single Sky Striker card is outright Forbidden, limitsto Sky Striker Ace - Kagari, Sky Striker Mecha - Widow Anchor, and SkyStriker Mecha Modules - Multirole have kept Strikers from running away withcompetition entirely, while at the same time other strategies have beenrestricted in a similar fashion.

Has that worked? It depends on who you ask. In terms of raw numbers, fewerpeople are playing Sky Strikers at competitive events and fewer have beenmaking Top Cuts, but are Sky Strikers a subpar deck after all of the hits?Not in the slightest. A good Sky Striker player's still an extremelydangerous opponent.

My advice to Sky Striker players that want to keep playing the deck? Do it.

But whatever constitutes a standard Sky Striker deckā€¦ that perfected,consensus-driven build doesn't exist anymore. Consider Pascal Kihm's 1stplace Sky Striker list from YCS London - he ran an influx of traps likeThere Can Only Be One and he sped through the deck with Card of Demise,winning one of the biggest Championships of the year as a result. But havewe seen a carbon copy repeat that sort of performance? Not really.

Sky Strikers have become a deck that's constantly evolving week to week,and you'll never know how the strategy will manifest itself going forward.Today I'll dissect two different Sky Striker variants, one from Altoona,Iowa and the other from the latest Regional in Exeter, England!

First up, congrats to Michael Ashworth for his Dark Sky Striker finish!

DECKID=110249If you think Allure of Darkness is an underused card, just know that it wasonce Limited for competitive play. Then again, Breaker the Magical Warriorspent its fair time in Forbidden and Limited jail too, so everything isrelative. Point is, Allure of Darkness is a unique draw card that doesn'thave any real drawbacks. It's like Upstart Goblin but not Limited anddoesn't give your opponent an extra buff in Life Points.

While it won't score you an easy uptick in card economy like Pot of Desiresor Sekka's Light, there's little to no downside to Allure of Darkness.Technically you have to banish a Dark, but your fodder for banishment comesin the form of hand traps, giving you an advantage when you're going secondand then letting you eliminate those cards when you don't need them.

Hand trap heavy versions of Sky Strikers have historically loaded up on AshBlossom & Joyous Spring, but having cards like Skull Meister, D.D.Crow, and Fantastical Dragon Phantazmay lets you counter your opponent ontheir first turn while having fodder for Allure of Darkness on your turn.Additionally, Phantazmay can cycle through the deck that much faster,yarding more spells so you can reap the full benefits of cards like SkyStriker Mobilize - Engage!

Furthermore, Ashworth packed in extra spells to ensure he had plenty ofwiggle room, focusing both on card economy and picking apart specificthreats any opponent had set up. The additions of Twin Twisters and doubleSky Striker Mecha - Shark Cannon, as well as the all-powerful Mind Control,all helped Ashworth break established boards while he'd load up hisgraveyard for bigger plays.

It might come across as a riskier strategy, but what's even more painful isopening with a poor hand and relying on a single Lost Wind or There CanOnly Be One to see you through later turns. Tone down the pride and becareful not to choke on your aspirations.

Running counter to a trap heavy Sky Striker deck, Ashworth dedicated hisstrategy to breaking boards and it clearly paid off! The additions ofEvenly Matched, Super Polymerization, and System Down goes to show thatsometimes you can pound through established fields and ride Sky StrikerMobilize - Engage! to victory.

Your Focus Determines Your Reality
While there's some sliver of convention when it comes to deck building, thevast card pool - combined with different skill levels, luck, and creativethinking - really show that you can do virtually anything in this game andsucceed with it. Maybe you can't quite build an Ice Barrier OTK, but whynot combine Spellbooks, Sky Strikers, and True Dracos?

That's exactly what Brian Kalina did in the latest Iowa Regional. Check itout.

DECKID=110286When I first saw the list the themes seemed out of place, but as far asboth power and consistency are concerned it's not a maddening idea. Withoutoverloading the Spellbooks, Kalina threw in three copies of Spellbook ofSecrets but only one Spellbook Magician of Prophecy and one Spellbook ofKnowledge? Why did he run them? They're effectively just played to thin thedeck and put spells in the graveyard, making the deck more reliable acrosslonger events.

Sure, blank spells like Terraforming and Upstart Goblin are still seen inmodern Striker builds, but the Spellbooks add a unique flavor we haven'tseen very often in the past. Kalina mitigated the problem of drawing toomany Normal Summons by dropping a Sky Striker Ace - Raye from the deck, buthe also went a step further, prioritizing deck thinning with DragonicDiagram.

While it may not be ideal, Dragonic Diagram's another excuse to play SetRotation to ensure that you'll see Sky Striker Airspace - Area Zero thatmuch faster. Not only will it thin the deck and load up your graveyard withmore spells, but having access to Ignis Heat, the True Dracowarrior andDinomight Knight, the True Dracofighter are surprising counters to youropponent. Everyone's looking for ways to supplement the loss of Sky StrikerMecha - Widow Anchor, and fetching True Draco spells and traps from thedeck might just be the way to do that, popping cards your opponent controlswhile recycling your own cards.

What's keeping Sky Strikers relevant is the constant shuffling of thestrategy. Weeks ago, the anti-Sky Striker mandate focused around beatingThere Can Be Only One, but suddenly the deck now has a myriad of ways topop your spells and traps before you can establish a strategy? That'spretty brutal if you ask me.

Perhaps we won't see every permutation of Sky Strikers that you can thinkof, but it's becoming quite clear that the core Striker concept can meldwith other strategies to make it more reliable and much tougher to beat.And while people are scrambling to come up with counters to True Draco SkyStrikers, we'll no doubt see another iteration of the deck taking thecompetitive scene by storm sometime soon.

Just remember: beat your opponents before they beat you.

-Loukas Peterson


Loukas Peterson lives in Nashville, Tennessee, hoping one day to run in5th Congressional District on the platform of "Fabled Link Monsters forEveryone." You can find him onTwitteror building a bonfire in his backyard to attract the local wildlife foran audience with his ukulele. Hailed as the only person capable ofcooking Minute Rice in 56 seconds, Loukas is always looking atexpanding his backyard to house every dog in the world without a home.Well, and those with homes already.