Of all the decks-that-aren't-really-decks, Monster Mash is by far my favorite strategy without a proper name or home. It's seen many iterations of the past few years with different themes and priorities, but as long as the deck's mostly monsters, it fits the bill.

If you go back as far as 2012 with Ellis Maddalena'sMonster Mash build, you can see the deck's not changed much in principle, only in the evolution of cards played. The very few spells in Maddalena's old schoolMonster Mash were so powerful for the time it warranted their chancy usage ,but in Raul Ramos build today, Sekka's Light has supplanted any other spells because card economy reigns supreme in Monster Mash.

To put it simply, Monster Mash is comprised of many small gears that do one or two things well in a silo, but combined with other small toolboxes they all work in harmony to produce big monsters or long streams of plays. GiantRex, Edge Imp Sabres, Dotscaper, Mecha Phantom Beast O-Lion… those cards might not be connected in any explicit way, but when everything gets you more card economy and everything gels together, the compounding effects work harmoniously to create big boards.

We've seen Monster Mash builds in the past featuring Burning Abyss, Chaos, and Machina not unlike Bobby Kenny'sDanger Dino Orcust deckfrom last year's World Championship Qualifier for North America. But RaulRamos version doesn't have a central core that binds the deck together.Congrats to him on his Top 8 finish and take a look at the specifics of the deck.

DECKID=110353 If the title didn't give it away, there's technically one thing thatdoes thematically tie the deck together, and that's Block Dragon.

Is Block Dragono really a theme all by itself? No, but its large body and recursive power mean you can't dismiss the card as a powerhouse in its own right!

The Dragon That's Not A Dragon
With a moderate ATK and large DEF, Block Dragon's power to summon itself from your hand or graveyard's respectable but not the main draw. Even its ability to do that multiple times per turn for the mere cost of three Earth monsters is overshadowed by its searching ability, especially in a monster mash deck.

You can't overlook Gigantes as another monster to throw down on the field toward big Link Summons or even an Abyss Dweller to stymie your opponent, but the real power comes from Fossil Dyna Pachycephalo. Block Dragon can search any Rock monster you want, as long as their Levels add up to 8, andFossil Dyna Pachycephalo plus Gigantes fits that bill.

Keep in mind that Gigantes and Block Dragon can hit the field shortly thereafter, and with any luck and any other monsters, Saryuja Skull Dreadis right around the corner. Use Saryuja's second effect to summon FossilDyna Pachycephalo from your hand for free, and suddenly you've got an unconventional counter for most strategies you could come up against.

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That's not discounting Abyss Dweller, Apollousa, Bow of the Goddess, orMekk-Knight Crusadia Avramax, nor any of the other powerful Extra Deckmonsters Ramos added to pinch his opponent on the first turn. But FossilDyna Pachycephalo is such an unexpected threat these days and it justdoesn't have a lot of clear answers. It's common to play cards that bait negations or work over large boss monsters, but sometimes having the uniqueability to shut down all Special Summons comes in handy more than any othe reffect would.

Well, there's also Naturia Beast that acts to shut down all spells. But I'dargue that limiting Special Summons is better than eliminating spell cards in a vacuum. For starters, imagine you were playing a mirror match - which would you choose to stop, monsters or spells? The popular tournament landscape isn't much different, but having both at your disposal is necessary.

All Together Now
As much as the deck works with Fossil Dyna and Block Dragon, it's not like you'll automatically open with a perfect hand each and every game with a clear way to summon your oppressive Dinosaur… which is actually a Rock.

Word of advice: don't get hung up on the typing and how it relates to the names and art, or you'll never be happy.

The deck works best when it's either summoning as many monsters as possible or sending them to the graveyard. Ideally quickly. Remember, Fossil Dynavia Saryuja Skull Dread isn't the only way to win, but both Saryuja and the other big Link monsters require a lot of materials to function. There isn't some hidden strategy with some 50-card combo to achieve a specific output.Instead, all the card effects just work in tandem to produce similar effects that snowball for bigger and better results.

For example, Fiendish Warrior Rhino and the Malebranche moonsters largely exist to field and reuse Dante, Traveler of the Burning Abyss. Ramos omitted Beatrice, Lady of the Eternal since excessive Burning Abyssmonsters would be hard to come by without tilting the deck too far towardBurning Abyss. Without those discards Beatrice has no real place here, butDante's amazing here on its own.

Sticking to a few key Malebranches as well as other Level 3 support likeSea Archiver and Edge Imp Sabres get you to Dante, Traveler of the BurningAbyss quickly while also working as fodder for other Link plays.

The same goes for Gallis the Star Beast, Mathematician, and SpeedroidTerrortop - if you draw them early in the duel, chances are you're setting up an early Dante, Traveler of the Burning Abyss to mill your deck away, but they work well in other phases of the game too, seeing as they're largely interchangeable.

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For example, Mathematician yards a quarter of your deck in the most beneficial way possible. While it can't get Block Dragon into place, it lets you see Glow-Up Bulb for your important Naturia Beast play or evenGiant Rex to combo with a stray Gigantes.

Even things like Dotscaper can be used early or late in the game, even if its effects are limited to once per turn. You can either send it to the graveyard early if you want to quickly ascend to a higher Link, or use it late game when you need to be more aggressive. There aren't many cards in this deck that ever feel bad to draw, and Ramos added the Danger monstersas well as Sekka's Light to mitigate less than optimal hands. It'd be nice to yard every card from the deck with Dante or Mathematician, but discarding them isn't a bad follow-up.

Things tend to work out when everything in the deck is interchangeable and the order in which you draw them isn't so pivotal. I suppose opening all three copies of Block Dragon would be bad in a bit of an ironic way, seeing as it's the driving force for the deck, but when a strategy lets you yard everything with pure peace of mind you certainly pique my interest!

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 for an audience with his ukulele. Hailed as the only person capable of cooking Minute Rice in 56 seconds, Loukas is always looking at expanding his backyard to house every dog in the world without a home.Well, and those with homes already.