Back when Pendulum monsters were released in Duelist Alliancealmost five years ago, calling any strategy "a Pendulum deck" would havebeen a huge misnomer.

Even as the game evolved and more Pendulum-specific themes were printed, wedidn't have one singular great "Pendulum" deck per se, as strategies werealready firmly sorted into predefined niches. Qliphorts, Performapals…there were a lot of "Pendulum decks" running around, in a wide variety offorms.

Flash forward to now and that's changed to some large extent. With SupremeKing Dragon Darkwurm's easy recursion and fast access to a low scale,combined with the almost obligatory early Heavymetalfoes Electrumite,virtually any Pendulum deck worth its salt uses many of the same cards.Heck, you could even argue that some Magician cards are necessary forsuccess. At the very least they're exceedingly common in most remainingPendulum concepts.

None of that diminishes the skill it takes to play Pendulums, and I'd argueJohnathan McDonald's Pendulum deck is nuanced and intricate, even if you'veseen all the pieces before. Big congratulations to him for making top cutat the Lubbock Texas Regional!

Here's what he played.

DECKID=109635At this point it's axiomatic that most Pendulum monsters – especially thePendulum Magicians – have powerful effects as both a monster and a PendulumScale. Even if McDonald only needed single copies of cards like Black FangMagician, loading the Extra Deck early means branching out with resources,some of which are recursive and fill different roles, while others are morestatic.

Between Duelist Alliance, Pendulum Call, Harmonizing Magician, andOafdragon Magician, the deck's wide open. Both low and high Pendulum Scalesas well as recursive and destructive effects are available, letting youquickly see specific cards from the deck and getting them back soyou can reuse them after they've hit the Extra Deck.

While most decks try to streamline their options to produce their mostpowerful plays as consistently as they can, Pendulums thread a tiny needleof playability that works because it taps into every facet of negationpossible. Ok, there's no Naturia Beast in the Extra Deck here, but take alook at the monster lineup: it's packed with so many abilities that if youhave the right ones on the table, you can thwart almost anything. BorreloadSavage Dragon, F.A. Dawn Dragster, Hot Red Dragon Archfiend Abyss, andOdd-Eyes Vortex Dragon all get the job done in different ways, and each isfavorable in different matchups.

The Kaiju monsters take care of just about every threat out there, butbarring that kind of specific silver bullet answer, any of those monsterscombined can win you the game. It shouldn't come as a surprise but it'sworth saying: those monsters are all different sides of the same coin.They're negations that by and large stop one card each per turn, but thedifferences between them can be very subtle and having the right ones atthe right times would be challenging for most strategies. Yet Pendulums doit with ease.

How? In short, that's the power of Pendulum monsters, serving dual purposesfrom the start of the game. Technically Dragonpit Magician is one of theodd Pendulums out in that scenario since it's a Normal Monster, butconsider the other Pendulums like Supreme King Dragon Darkwurm.

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A Darkwurm in the graveyard returns itself to the field as a free piece ofboard presence and gives you a low scale as well, thanks to Supreme KingGate Zero, instantly proving its worth even in death. Black Fang Magicianacts as another scale, a way to revive monsters, and is needed fodder forHarmoning Magician. Even Xiangke Magician, coming in clutch with its powerto negate monster effects, works so well because it's both a low scaleand Level 7 monster, feeding into Odd-Eyes Vortex Dragon throughOdd-Eyes Absolute Dragon.

Circling back to Pendulum Call, can you say that many other themes arepacking that much versatility? Given the fact that you can search a highscale, a low scale, a Level 7 monster, a Tuner, or even a monster thatdestroys cards, the Extra Deck toolbox is incredibly diverse.

Competitive strategies will often require a ton of fine Tuning and theaddition of certain off-theme cards and splashable engines to thrive. ButSupreme King Dragon Darkwurm – something you'll already be playing in anyPendulum deck anyways – also works as Guardragon Elpy material, addinganother dimension to the deck that just didn't exist in past versions.

Atone For The Seven Sins
The Magician Pendulums and Supreme King Dragon Darkwurm aren't the onlyhighlights of McDonald's build. Most of the Extra Deck monsters we'vecovered so far are simple tit for tat solutions, but enter AmorphageGoliath and Amorphage Sloth. While they both have the same monster effect,the Pendulum effects are slightly different and help build off thedifferent scales.

Keeping them around for a few turns is difficult since they pop off othermonsters, but having a lockdown on Special Summons, drawing cards, andbanishing monsters can't be overlooked. I'll admit I generally onlyconsider those cards for their monster effects, but having one in thePendulum Zone to accompany the other on the field is another layer ofproactive defense.

Both of the Amorphage monsters are options for Guardragon Elpy, thoughplacing them on the field that way ends your turn. Or at least, it ends anyhoard of Special Summons you might want to make, locking you out ofanything except for Amorphage monsters from the Extra Deck.

There isn't a lot of wasted space here; McDonald ran as many copies ofcertain cards as he could justify to ensure early success. ChronographSorcerer and Mythical Beast Master Cerberus both Summon an extra monster asquickly as possible so you can make Heavymetalfoes Electrumite, sacrificingquality draws later in the game for consistency early on. While that meantcutting down on some of the lesser Magician cards, and playing only twocopies of Dragon Shrine with one Duelist Alliance, the tradeoff's worth itwhen the established board is so scary.

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Surprisingly, one of the key cards in the Extra Deck is Saryuja SkullDread… at least the second copy of it. I don't need to tell youthat recycling a fistful of cards or scoring a free summon from your handis good, but the fact that Saryuja's a Dragon as well is what makes it sucha lock here. Allowing you to cycle through combos using Guardragon Elpy andGuardragon Agarpain with such a stellar Link Monster waiting for you at theend is just incredibly powerful.

Heck, just look a few spots up at LANphorhynchus, the definition ofaccepting fate. LANphyorphynchus exists to give you favorable Link ARrows,but with no effect and wimpy ATK it's just a combo piece playedbegrudgingly out of necessity. Instead of dawdling with subpar Dragons andwasting Extra Deck space, Saryuja Skull Dread takes that up a notch byreturning your investment two-fold. Or four-fold.

Or, I don't know exactly how to calculate the economy of Link monstersbeyond a one to one correlation, so just say a random number. You'reprobably good.

McDonald's strategy and decks like it have been low key competitors formonths now, appearing on and off in Regional Qualifiers and the occasionalYCS Top Cut. With Mythical Beast Jackal King coming off the weekend as thenumber one bestselling card on TCGplayer, Pendulums may be poised to take abigger table share in your tournaments this week and beyond. Make sure youknow the matchup, because these decks are a factor.

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 "Marshmallows forEveryone." When he's not submitting ideas for Fabled support and aFabled Link monster, you can find him building a bonfire in hisbackyard to attract the local wildlife for an audience with hisukulele. Hailed as the only person capable of cooking Minute Rice in 56seconds, Loukas is always looking at expanding his backyard to houseevery dog in the world without a home. Well, and those with homesalready.

Do you love winning with unconventional strategies? Do you lovecreating mash-ups? Does your deck need an injection of crazy? Send thefollowing torerouting.tcgplayer@gmail.comto have your deck featured in the "Re-Routing" deck fix column!

-Your Main and Extra Deck list. (No Side Deck needed, but please send awritten deck list, not a screencap; screencapped deck lists will befiled and then burned in the furnace accordingly… and your deck shouldbe TCG legal).

-Your name and city.

-Remember, please use full card names! Abbrevs and mis-sipllngs makeLoukas' life sad. Try your darndest to get the TCG name on there.

-A paragraph or two describing your deck: what it does, why you'replaying it, and its strengths and weaknesses. "Winning" is not astrategy per se, and neither is "beating your opponents before theybeat you."

-Your favorite card from the build and why – make me fall in love withthe deck! The cooler your strategy the more I'll want to fix it, and ifyou throw in funny jokes, that'll surely get my attention too; bewarned, unfunny jokes will push your deck to the back of the stack.Don't be afraid to get creative! New stuff takes priority, because I'mnot bored of it yet! –LJP