Dinosaur were never a mainstay in competitive Yu-Gi-Oh! until the releaseof the Dinosmasher's Fury Structure Deck back in 2017,which brought us the powerhouse oairing of Souleating Oviraptor andUltimate Conductor Tyranno. One searches your deck for Dinosaurs and onerips apart everything your opponent can throw at you, but both werenecessary to propel the deck to real tournament relevance. True KingDinosaurs and other variants were actually quite prominent for quite awhile, as full-blown Dino decks took repeated Top Cut finishes in bigevents.

As cards become more utilitarian, it's easier to tease apart smaller andsmaller packages of cards and slap them into a mish-mash of other stuffbefore calling it a day. The Phantom Knights cards are the ultimate shiningexample of that, popping up in just about every deck that can make ThePhantom Knights of Rusty Bardiche. Throw some darks on the field, wave yourhands a bit, and moments later you'll have two set copies of PhantomKnights' Fog Blade.

I've seen just about every way you can spin Dinosaurs, but two examplesfrom different sides of the pond this WCQ season proved to be standouts inthe past few weeks. Duelists Bobby Kenny from America and Lars Gunnar fromEurope both piloted "Dinosaur" decks at the World Championship Qualifiersin their respective continents, and both made Top 16 in each of theirtournaments!

Both duelists played wildly different strategies, but we can call both ofthem Dinosaur decks thanks to the prehistoric glue that binds themtogether. It just goes to show that similar suites of cards can producewildly different results in the hands of different players.

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To pick up everything these decks are throwing down the conversation reallyhas to start at Souleating Oviraptor, and by extension Fossil Dig. When youNormal Summon Souleating Oviraptor you send Miscellaneousaurus to thegraveyard, banish it, and you're left with Souleating Oviraptor and a Level1 Dinosaur on the field ripe for combos. In the most basic, static playthat's two monsters on board and enough for whatever Orcust combo you'llneed.

If you're unfamiliar with that combo, it's pretty straightforward andequally explosive. Two monsters turn into Knightmare Phoenix, which in turntrades into Knightmare Mermaid, and then Orcust Knightmare floods the fieldeven more. Kenny opted to run that combo in his build, but Gunnar didn't.Instead consider this play.

The Level 1 Dinosaur from Miscellaneousaurus is most frequently JurracAeolo, in turn letting you Synchro Summon Ib the World Chalice Justiciarand getting youa World Legacy card with her effect. Tokeep it simple let's pick World Legacy Succession, which both of ourDinosaur duelists played. It's basically a Monster Reborn, meaning thecombos are far from done.

Once you've Linked away Ib the World Chalice Justiciar, its second effectkicks in to field a World Chalice monster from your deck or graveyard,which either extends your combos even furtheror sets you up withanother negation. World Legacy - "World Chalice" is the most forgettable"World Chalice" card because of its name, but the card still holds up toscrutiny with a grand total of three insane effects.

Its very first effect doesn't require it to be Normal Summoned, giving youthe power to cast away anything from the Extra Deck for minimalself-sacrifice! Kenny no doubt made extensive use of that to catch peopleoff guard, but Gunnar had different plans. Instead, Gunnar used WorldChalice Guardragon to cut down on targeting effects while also revivingFlamvell Guard from the graveyard!

So for the small price of summoning Souleating Oviraptor you can make awide range of plays that can be aggressive or defensive! That said, thedecks diverge dramatically after that, still holding onto their sharedDinosaur roots.

DECKID=109957Let's focus on Gunnar's deck more with the emphasis on Dinosaurs since theend result of Extra Deck monsters is quite different from Kenny's. Thanksto the combo of Souleating Oviraptor and Lost World, Gunnar has access tomore and different Dinosaurs than a less Dinosaur heavy deck with theoption to lean in to some crazy cards.

Both Babycerasaurus and Petiteranodon trigger when Souleating Oviraptordestroys a card, flooding the field with more monsters to Link away intobig things. Adding in Giant Rex and Carboneddon also means doubling up andmaximizing output, getting twice as much use from every card.

Taking a step back to look at the monsters in the main deck virtuallyeverything has a dual purpose, or at the very least substitutes for usefulcards depending on the situation. Consider Giant Rex and Carboneddon again.While they both put monsters on the board twice, albeit through differentmeans, their secondary aspects are just as useful.

In the case of Giant Rex, banishing it to summon Ultimate Conductor Tyrannomeans fielding a Level 4 Dinosaur, a gateway for Evolzar Laggia or EvolzarDolkka. As for Carboneddon it's quite literally a free discard, since itsuse chiefly stems from being yarded in the first place.

And moving past the Dinosaurs, you can't ignore the Level 1 monstersgenerally seen as fodder - World Chalice Guardragon and Flamvell Guard.While I previously mentioned them as little more than placeholders, keep inmind their power to unlock bigger and stronger Dragons from the deck andExtra Deck.

Since they'll mostly get pitched to the field as a result of Gunnar'snatural plays, often just as afterthoughts, it adds a second dimension tothe deck that elevates them to higher purposes. Instead of just moremonsters to blindly Link Summon through the deck, their ability to turninto the various Guardragon Link monsters puts in a ton of extra work.

DECKID=109954I have to say, I'm more impressed with Kenny's deck than I've been withanything in a while. Those 60-card decks are typically hit or miss with me,but Kenny wove together everything under the sun without turning it into aclunky mess.

Of all the combos this deck has on offer the center point is clearly theOrcust combo, fielding The Phantom Knights of Rusty Bardiche, Dingirsu, theOrcust of the Evening Star, and perhaps a lethal dose of damage along theway. But what really drives the wow factor of the deck is Ib the WorldChalice Justiciar, fielding the aforementioned World Legacy - "WorldChalice."

Take a step back and look a bit closer at just how many cards get you toeither the Orcust combo, Ib the World Chalice Justiciar, or both.Mathematician, Scrap Recycler, Souleating Oviraptor, Trickstar Candina,Fossil Dig, Sky Striker Mecha - Hornet Drones, Sky Striker Mobilize -Engage!, Terraforming, Trickstar Light Stage… that's literally 17 cardsthat can deliver at least one form of some ridiculous combo.

Once you realize just how many cards work that well solo, you'll see whythis thing is so good. It allows you to play through several hand-traps, orgoing second on-field negations. Kenny designed the deck so that even if hewas impeded by disruption, he could survive. Chances are an opponentwouldn't start with four negations to stymie everything Kenny could do, andthus he could proceed as normal some vast majority of the time.

Ultimately, I'd say Kenny's Normal Summon was the most important part ofhis plays, but even if something like Scrap Recycler ran into an EffectVeiler, there was so much more he could do to push forward. When virtuallyeverything acts an extender it's almost hard notto keep going withall of your plays.

Remember the 17 total one-card wonders I mentioned? When you remember thathand traps are often a technical loss in immediate card economy, those1-for-1 exchanges are almost welcome. If someone had to exhaust most or allof their hand to stop Kenny's plays a simple El Shaddoll Winda, PhantomKnights' Fog Blade, or World Legacy - "World Chalice" can return the favorin kind to lock in an early win.

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.